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  • The Tolar Cabin: the other half of the story

    4EDDIE BOX The Tolar Cabin Kitchen on display at the Heritage Village Museum in Woodville.

    By Col Eddie Boxx

    The Tolar Cabin “dog trot” kitchen remains one of the more popular venues at the Heritage Village museum. Built in 1866 and originally located with the “main house” of the Tolar Cabin near Hillister, it was moved to the museum in 1965.

    The “squared-and-notch” log structure with its “mudcat” chimney represents an affluence not usually found in frontier buildings. However, after viewing, many inquisitive visitors (out of town and local) will ask the understandable follow-up question: “Where is the main cabin?”

    Thanks to the preservation efforts of Ray Hensarling and his family – we can tell you the Paul Harvey-like “rest of the story.”

    Originally constructed by Robert Jackson Tolar for his bride Mary Versailles “Versie” Durham, the cabin and kitchen were adjacent to each other but not connected (see painting). Understandably, the threat from wood-fueled kitchen fires along with the desire to keep the heat away from the rest of the house (especially in summer) made sense. Today, the main cabin remains in the same location – a few miles west of Hillister and situated on a ridge.

    Although ownership has changed over the last two centuries, Al Pritchard ultimately saved the building in 1975. Twenty years later, Ray Hensarling (current owner and steward) and Pat Foster fully restored the cabin in 1995. Nowadays, the building is meticulously maintained and decorated and serves as a unique architectural heritage to a bygone era. Additionally, the cabin (and kitchen) represents a connection to two important Tyler county families – the Tolars and Shivers.

    Robert Jackson Tolar was a nephew to Nancy (Tolar) Shivers (1813-1890), a fearless widow who moved her family via wagon to Texas in 1858 and settled 600 acres west of Woodville. According to the 1850 census, the westward move to Texas was a joint family undertaking as the Tolars lived next door to the Shivers in Simpson County, Mississippi. Located today near the Tyler County airport, the Magnolia Hills estate remains in the Shivers family. Nancy ultimately became the great-grandmother to one of the most influential politicians in Texas history – Gov. Allan Shivers. The quintessential log cabin remains identifiable to American, Texas and Tyler County history.

    When Woodville’s own Gov. Allan Shivers (the ever-astute politician) was running for office (and his family’s Magnolia Hills cabin had long ago cease to exist) jokingly quipped, “I wasn’t born in a log cabin, so I built one.”

    To learn more about the Tolar Cabin or to see for yourself a wonderfully preserved 1866 pioneer kitchen, please visit the Heritage Village Museum or call (409) 283-2272 / (800) 323-0389 or visit our website at: https://www.heritage-village.org.

    Col. Eddie Boxx (Ret., USAF) teaches at Baylor University and writes for the Heritage Village Museum – an organization dedicated to the education and preservation of Tyler County history.

  • Trinity Historical society dedicates markers to Rep. Charlie Wilson and 'Wobbly Bobbly'

    111220 plaque 2TONY FARKAS | TCNS Sharon Wilson Allison, sister to Charlie Wilson, reads the text of a Texas Historical Marker that was dedicated to the U.S. Representative on Saturday November 7, 2020 in Trinity, Texas.

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY — Millions of Google returns on a search, as well as a movie, might give some folks a passing familiarity for Rep. Charlie Wilson, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years.

    For the residents of Trinity, though, Little Charles, as he was known, was the definition of the hometown boy who done good. Because of that, on Saturday an official Texas Historical Marker was dedicated at his boyhood home.

    The Trinity Historical Society also dedicated a marker to the “Wobbly Bobbly,” the Waco, Beaumont, Trinity and Sabine Railroad on Saturday.

    Wilson was born in Trinity on June 1, 1933, and served in both the Texas Legislature and the U.S. House, representing the districts around his home town. He died Feb. 10, 2010, in Lufkin, Texas.

    Susan Madeley of the Trinity County Historical Commission said that there were many accomplishments made by the congressman, particularly with funding for Afghan rebels during that country’s war with the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the subject of the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

    Wilson also was a champion in business and environmental arenas as well, and was known as a consummate dealmaker.

    Sharon Wilson Allison, Charlie’s sister, said she cherished the memories of her time in Trinity and her brother.

    “(My family) would be so honored that you were here,” she said. “Thank you for doing this.”

    Earlier on Saturday, on the southwest corner of Main and Maple streets, the commission dedicated and unveiled a marker commemorating the Waco, Beaumont, Trinity and Sabine Railroad, which was known affectionately by the people of the time as the Wobbly Bobbly Turnover and Stop.

    111220 plaque 1 TONY FARKAS | TCNS Historians Jason Rose (left) and Everett Lueck unveil a Texas Historical Marker that was dedicated to the WBT&S Railroad on Saturday in Trinity, near the site of the now-defunct railroad’s home offices.

    The railroad was chartered in September 1881, and was used primarily as a logging tram, as the area to this day is a large producer of timber. Over the 115.2 miles of track, passengers, mail, pulpwood, tomatoes, vehicles and oil, among other freight, was transported, according to the marker request application compiled by Jason Rose and Madeley.

    It stopped operation in 1959, and the remaining engine was restored and is on display at the Galveston Railroad Museum.