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Runoff elections happen Tuesday

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Election Equipment 500By Emily Banks Wooten
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Early voting for the May 24 runoff elections ended at 5 p.m. Friday. As of 4:20 p.m. Friday, a total of 1,088 ballots had been cast – 767 at the Polk County Judicial Center, 243 at the Onalaska Sub-Courthouse and 78 at the Sechrest Webster Community Center in Corrigan.

Voting Tuesday will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 12 different locations. Through an agreement with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, the Polk County Clerk’s Office has been approved to conduct elections at countywide polling places. What this means, basically, is that Polk County voters may cast their ballot at any of the 12 polling places available Tuesday, regardless of whether or not they reside in the precinct in which the polling place is located.

Polling places open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday include:

Escapees Clubhouse at 100 Rainbow Dr. in Livingston;

Trinity Lutheran Church at 221 Pan American Dr. in Livingston;

Scenic Loop Fire Department at 1406 FM 3277 in Livingston;

Onalaska Sub-Courthouse at 14111 U.S. Hwy. 190 West in Onalaska;

Blanchard Baptist Church at 2450 FM 2457 in Livingston;

St. Joseph Catholic Church Family Center at 2590 Hwy. 190 West in Livingston;

Dunbar Community Center at 1102 Martin Luther King Dr. in Livingston;

Sechrest Webster Community Center at 100 W. Front St. in Corrigan;

Alabama-Coushatta Administration Building at 571 State Park Rd. #56 in Livingston;

Schwab City Baptist Church at 10998 State Hwy. 146 South in Livingston;

Soda Baptist Church at 8135 U.S. Hwy. 190 East in Livingston; and

First United Pentecostal Church at 404 E. Church St. in Livingston.

Local races that will be on the Republican ballot include the race for Precinct 4 Commissioner between Jason Richardson and Jerry Cassity and the race for precinct chair, Precinct 1, between Traci Barham and Monica Richardson. There are no local races on the Democratic ballot.

Statewide races on the Republican ballot include the races for attorney general, commissioner of the General Land Office and railroad commissioner. Ken Paxton and George P. Bush are vying for attorney general; Tim Westley and Dawn Buckingham are vying for commissioner of the General Land Office; and Wayne Christian and Sarah Stogner are vying for railroad commissioner.

Statewide races on the Democratic ballot include the races for lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller of public accounts and commissioner of the General Land Office. Michelle Beckley and Mike Collier are vying for lieutenant governor; Joe Jaworski and Rochelle Mercedes Garza are vying for attorney general; Janet T. Dudding and Angel Luis Vega are vying for comptroller of public accounts; and Sandragrace Martinez and Jay Kleberg are vying for commissioner of the General Land Office.

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Park dedicated with new name

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Cutline: Mayor Judy B. Cochran and City Manager Bill S. Wiggins stand with members of the Pritchard family – descendants of the Cannon family – at the dedication of Cannon Pond & Park Friday. (l-r) Cochran, Clint Miller, Col. Cannon H. Pritchard, Judson Pritchard, Ross Miller, Jason Pritchard, Vicki Miller, Jimmy Miller, Allison Settlemeyer, Pat Pritchard, Wiggins and Connor Settlemeyer. Courtesy photoCutline: Mayor Judy B. Cochran and City Manager Bill S. Wiggins stand with members of the Pritchard family – descendants of the Cannon family – at the dedication of Cannon Pond & Park Friday. (l-r) Cochran, Clint Miller, Col. Cannon H. Pritchard, Judson Pritchard, Ross Miller, Jason Pritchard, Vicki Miller, Jimmy Miller, Allison Settlemeyer, Pat Pritchard, Wiggins and Connor Settlemeyer. Courtesy photo

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Three generations of the Pritchard family were present for the dedication ceremony of Cannon Pond & Park Friday. The 5.9-acre tract located beside and behind Whataburger in the 1500 block of West Church Street was given to the city by Col. Cannon H. Pritchard and the Pritchard family in memory of his grandparents, Stephen Jason “S.J.” Cannon and Pattie Willis Cannon. The Livingston City Council approved “Cannon Pond & Park” as the name during its May 10 regular meeting.

Mayor Judy B. Cochran read the following history of the Cannon Family:

“S.J. Cannon was one of Polk County’s most prominent citizens. He came to Livingston on the train the day after the town burned down in August 1902. He had met Pattie Willis on her visit to his hometown of Thornton, Texas. He dated her for three weeks and then came to Livingston to ask her parents if he could marry her. They were married by the Livingston Methodist minister in December 1902. The Cannons returned to Thornton to live until November 1917 when they moved to Livingston.

“S.J. Cannon was a graduate of Hill Business College and worked in the grocery business and the wagon and saddle business with his father. He was also a licensed funeral director and embalmer. Upon arrival in Livingston, he worked for the J.W. Cochran Funeral Home for 10 years, as well as establishing the Cannon grocery store called ‘Cannon Cash Store’ on the west side of the courthouse at 313 Jackson Ave. which he operated from 1917-1945. He kept two wagons and four horses at the rear of his store and delivered groceries to homes all over Livingston. His home was behind the store at 212 W. Church St., across from the city hall and post office. The store telephone number was ‘92’ and the Cannon home was ‘9.’ During World War II he bought lots in town and built 25 rent houses. He was a member of the Christian Church.

“By 1930 he had acquired 375 acres of mostly wooded areas from Drew Avenue to Long King Creek. He owned land on both sides of Hwy. 190/Church Street that extended north to Martin Luther King Street and south to Choates Creek. This area was known as ‘West Livingston.’ Both sides of Hwy. 190 were fenced in for his 50 head of cattle and horses. He created the pond area for water for his cattle. He gave the school district the land on Hwy. 190 for their high school, junior high, auditorium and football field in the mid-1930s. For 20 years, he sold off pieces of his property for development and improvements in Livingston for homes and new businesses.

“S.J. Cannon was active in various civic organizations of Livingston and Polk County through the years. He served 12 years as a city alderman when Ollege Morrison was the mayor. He also served two terms as president of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce, the only person to do so in the history of the chamber.

“His advice was sought by younger men in the county on business matters, as well as being recognized as a man of unique ability and unquestionable integrity. He served the public without a mark against him which was a record worthy of any man’s ambition. At his death, his funeral was conducted by the ministers of the Central Baptist Church, Livingston Church of Christ and the First Methodist Church. He truly loved Livingston.

“Pattie Willis Cannon was born in Livingston in 1883. Her home was on the corner of Church Street and Drew Avenue. She attended the Livingston Public School and graduated from Kidd-Key College in 1899. She grew up in a home that was dedicated to public service. Her father was an early city alderman that had the city council meetings in the dining room of his home.

“Her father was the first elected district clerk of Polk County who served for 25 years. He was also the U.S. Postmaster for 25 years. Her grandfather was a merchant in downtown Livingston and was the first state representative from Livingston to the 9th Texas Legislature. Both father and grandfather were Masons.

“Pattie Cannon served many years as the tax assessor and collector for the City of Livingston. She was a charter member of the Eastern Star and a member of the Christian Church. She worked beside her husband in the grocery business in making it an outstanding success for 28 years. In 1920, she and her mother were the first women in Livingston to register to vote, much to the chagrin of ‘ole boys in the courthouse. She was one of the first women to get a driver’s license and own an automobile. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1952 with their two daughters, Lois Cannon Norwood and Ruth Cannon Pritchard.

“She was a real Southern lady and always showing graciousness, hospitality, compassion, concern and genuine interest and love for the citizens of Livingston. She had a strong heart for helping others and wanted nothing more than to make everyone’s life better.”

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Results canvassed - Turnout Poor

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Vote Another GraphicFrom Enterprise Staff

The May 7 election results were canvassed by the Polk County Commissioners Court during a special called meeting Tuesday in which the Court approved accepting the results. The Court was only canvassing the two proposed constitutional amendments as the individual cities and school districts canvassed their own elections, Polk County Clerk Schelana Hock said.

According to Hock, 2,214 people – or 5.42% of the county’s registered voters – turned out to vote in the election.

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Celebrating our local history - Learning about Chief John Blount

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Descendants of Chief John Blount and their spouses admire the historic marker honoring him that was unveiled and dedicated Sunday at Heritage Park in Livingston. Blount was chief of the Apalachicola Band of Creek Indians that settled in Polk County in 1834. One of Blount’s sixth generation descendants was inaugurated as new chief of the tribe during a ceremony Sunday. (l-r) Eugene LeBeaux, Gleni Tai Blount, Chief Cynthia Healing Woman Tune Murphey and Michael Martin Murphey. Photo by Emily Banks WootenDescendants of Chief John Blount and their spouses admire the historic marker honoring him that was unveiled and dedicated Sunday at Heritage Park in Livingston. Blount was chief of the Apalachicola Band of Creek Indians that settled in Polk County in 1834. One of Blount’s sixth generation descendants was inaugurated as new chief of the tribe during a ceremony Sunday. (l-r) Eugene LeBeaux, Gleni Tai Blount, Chief Cynthia Healing Woman Tune Murphey and Michael Martin Murphey. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Sunday was a day of education and celebration of Polk County history that began with the presentation of “One Feather: Walks in Two Worlds,” a musical production featuring Singer Songwriter Michael Martin Murphey at Across The Tracks Live Music Venue. It was followed by a visit to the newly restored Jonas Davis Log Cabin at Heritage Park and the dedication and unveiling of a historical marker for Chief John Blount. The culmination of the afternoon was the inauguration ceremony for Chief Cynthia Healing Woman Tune Murphey, the new chief of the Apalachicola Band of Creek Indians.

Located in the 500 block of West Church Street, Heritage Park is home to the Jonas Davis Log Cabin, the W.T. Carter and Bro. Locomotive No. 5 and Heritage House, a restored Victorian home. The park and its attractions are owned, operated and maintained by the Polk County Heritage Society.

In recent years the cabin had fallen into disarray, primarily due to the deterioration of its roof which had been taken over by resurrection fern. The Heritage Society had attempted to raise funds for the rehabilitation of the cabin, even attempting to crowdfund through an account on GoFundMe, an online fundraising platform.

“This has been a long time coming. We had just started with a GoFundMe thing, and we’d had some people who donated the first few days and then we got a phone call from Bob Smith asking what we were doing. Molly (Anderson) and I went to his office and met with him, and he said The Smith Family Foundation wanted to fund it and I mean fund it,” Ruth Hollenbeck said. 

Brothers Robert M. Smith and Fred M. Smith, co-trustees of The Smith Family Foundation, gave $35,000 for the renovation and restoration of the cabin on behalf of The Smith Family Foundation.

Jonas Davis, for whom the log cabin is named, was one of the last members of the Pakana Muskogee, Apalachicola Band of Creek Indians to reside in Polk County. Jonas and his wife, Hortense, built the log cabin around 1833 on a bluff overlooking Kickapoo Creek. The cabin was donated to the Polk County Heritage Society in 1980 and moved to its present location in Heritage Park. Jonas Davis was a descendant of Chief John Blount for whom the historic marker was unveiled and dedicated. The inscription on the marker reads:

“John Blount was the son of William Blount, later a U.S. Senator, and a Coushatta woman. While in Florida, he became principal chief of the Apalachee or Apalachicola Indians. During the first Seminole War (1814-1815) he achieved a certain level of distinction by serving as a guide to General Andrew Jackson. After Jackson became president, Blount was invited to Washington, D.C. to be recognized for his zealous efforts and awarded with a silver breastplate that claimed him as Jackson’s ‘faithful guide.’

“In addition to his personal connection with Jackson, Blount is known for his activities during the time of the Trail of Tears when the Indian Removal Act of 1830 allowed the government to move Indians from Florida to federal territory in the west. Blount received special permission due to his ties with Jackson to take the Apalachicola Indians to Texas, then Mexican territory, where his uncle, Chief Red Shoes, was already settled on the Trinity River. They reached a bay near ‘Oak Point’ where they were placed on a vessel bound for New Orleans. They suffered various trials and delays which left them with no money for supplies, thus forcing them to travel the rest of the way on land. More tribulations ensued upon arrival at their destination for Blount and his group now numbering 152. Chief Blount was buried at the Coushatta settlement of Red Shoes. Although some of the tribe moved to Oklahoma in 1899, many descendants of Blount’s persevering people still reside in the area.”

  Knowledge of the marker inscription provides a nice introduction to ‘One Feather: Walks in Two Worlds’ by Gleni Tai Blount, the musical production featuring Michael Martin Murphey that is about the story of Chief John William Blount, or Lafarthga, “The Leader.” It is based on the research and writings of Dr. Mary Six Women Blount, sister of the composer. Gleni Tai and Dr. Mary Six Women are sixth generation descendants of Chief John Blount. In the production Murphey portrays both Chief John Blount and Sam Houston.

Gleni Tai is a singer and composer in the commercial and pop fields, an international opera singer and presently serves as a celebrity vocal coach to numerous recording artists in Hollywood. In addition to composing the production, she also played the piano and provided vocals. Her husband, Eugene LeBeaux, a master of brass, played trumpet and trombone for the performance as well as providing vocals. In addition to recordings and live concerts, he also does studio and live work in both Dallas and Hollywood.

In scene one, Houston’s soldiers, though tired, are still celebrating their winning battle against the Indians as they jubilantly brag in a song about their great ability as soldiers, having finally beaten the Indians in the Second Creek War.

Scene two is Houston’s encampment for the Second Creek War. Regimental commander under General Andrew Jackson, Houston has been in close contact with Jackson’s best scout, Chief John, during many battles. Houston arrives to salute the brave soldiers, asking as to the whereabouts of the chief. He describes the great scouting talents of his best scout and close friend, Chief John, in words and song to the regiment. He knows that to go on the ‘trail’ would be almost certain death and wants to offer an alternative to help him out with the Texas Revolution.

Scene three portrays Houston, as president of Texas, reflecting on Chief John’s story. He describes the chief’s difficulties being a half-blood from both the educated world of the white man and the spirit world of the Indian. Remembering the chief’s song, he assumes the character of the chief and sings. A dream visit from the chief’s mother is recalled, helping the chief to decide whether to go on the Trail of Tears with his clan or to accept Houston’s offer to come help him in another battle, thereby taking his clan to Texas to battle once again.

“Chief John Blount left Blountstown, Fla. after the Creek treaty with the Apalachicola Band in 1832, the first Trail of Tears. He was told to go west. He traveled to New Orleans to collect their treaty payment of $13,000, then planned to go to Texas and up the Trinity River to Polk County. He went to the Indian Agent’s Office and received the payment and as soon as he came out, was arrested and put in jail, accused of stealing the money. He was released from jail and fined $13,000, leaving him penniless. He made it to Texas, up the Trinity River to Polk County and within three days died of cholera having contracted it while in jail. Some of the Apalachicola Band went to Oklahoma and some stayed in Polk County in East Texas. That is our path to current times,” Gleni Tai said.

“This meeting is a preview of what we’d like to bring to Livingston on a yearly basis – a fully-cast, fully-orchestrated musical pageant and festival of your history,” Gleni Tai said.

Michael Martin Murphy commented on what an honor it has been to him to be involved with this project.

“I’ve been an activist for Native Americans my whole life and I don’t have a drop of Indian blood,” he said. “Chief John Blount was what they cruelly called a half-breed. John was an educated man and a successful businessman and a family man. He decided to save his family by joining the government side in the Seminole Second War.

“Chief John wore one feather but walked in two worlds. Lafarthga, his Indian name. His mother was an Indian and gave him knowledge of nature and spirituality. He came on a whaling boat from Florida to Texas then came up the Trinity and died a few days after getting his clan safely to Polk County, Texas. What would you do had you been in their moccasins?” Murphey asked, adding, “We hope that a movement will grow in Livingston and throughout the State of Texas.

“You’re probably wondering why I took this story on as I did …” Murphey said as he introduced his wife, Cindy. Cindy is Cynthia Healing Woman Tune Murphey, who just minutes later would be inaugurated as the new chief of the Apalachicola Band of Creek Indians.

“I give thanks for this opportunity and this honor. I give thanks for these people that are here today. I am most proud to be the sixth generation here today, representing that heritage continued with steadfast perseverance and strength,” Chief Cindy said following her inauguration.

The Polk County Heritage Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of local history. Donations may be made by sending checks to P.O. Box 1914, Livingston, Texas 77351. To learn more, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Livingston High JROTC holds ball

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 Medals were presented to the team members of the Joint Leadership Academics Bowl (JLAB) by Cadet Lieutenant Commander Rodriguez.  Team Members L-R Skylar McAdams, Tyler Uvalle, Sonja Wiley, Chelsie Bullock, Enrique Tellez, Gabriella Woychesin, Jase Whiteside, and Leah Robeson. Medals were presented to the team members of the Joint Leadership Academics Bowl (JLAB) by Cadet Lieutenant Commander Rodriguez.  Team Members L-R Skylar McAdams, Tyler Uvalle, Sonja Wiley, Chelsie Bullock, Enrique Tellez, Gabriella Woychesin, Jase Whiteside, and Leah Robeson.

The Livingston High School Navy JROTC held their Military Ball last week, the Big Cat Battalion and guests observed several traditions during their formal event.

Each guest was introduced as they passed through the receiving line (arc sabers) before being seated for the banquet. Cadets conducted the Battalion Change of Command. Cadet Command Master Chief passes Battalion Colors to outgoing Battalion Cadet Commander Sonja Wiley, who relinquishes her command authority and responsibilities of the battalion back to SFC Tinker, who secures the battalion colors and passes the colors to incoming Battalion Commander Cadet LCDR Samantha Rodriguez, who assumes command authority and responsibility for the Big Cat Battalion. SFC Tinker provides authority to Rodriguez to represent, lead and care for all the battalion cadets. Rodriguez then passed the battalion colors back to Cadet Command Master Chief Skylar McAdams to secure and maintain the LHS Big Cat Battalion Colors representing the pride of LHS NNDCC/NJROTC.

The “fallen soldier table” was set and consisted of items representing fallen, missing or imprisoned U.S. military service members. The honor guard folded the flag to add to the table.  The colors were posted by the color guard, the rifle corps conducted their drill, and formal celebration toasts were made.

The guest speaker was Major Charlie Hester, who was the first JROTC instructor for Livingston High School in 2007. Hester expressed how proud he is of the growth in the program at LHS. Hester shared stories, the importance of brotherhood in the service, and how lifetime friends are made by serving your country.

Awards were presented by members of the Hale Sellars Post 312 American Legion. Retired Air Force Major Jeanette Jackson and Kathleen Metzger to Lieutenant Leah Robeson and Cadet Lieutenant Commander Rodriguez, who then presented medals to the cadets who participated in the Join Leadership Academics Bowl. Team members include Skylar McAdams, Tyler Uvalle, Sonja Wiley, Chelsie Bullock, Enrique Tellez, Gabriella Woychesin, Jase Whiteside, and Leah Robeson.

“The Joint Leadership Academics Bowl is a competition including every branch of the JROTC, not just Navy,” Tinker said. “In 2019, we competed for the first time and our team scored a 19. This year, LHS was represented by two teams and they scored a 93 and 96 and advanced to the second of three rounds. I am so proud of the leadership of our battalion and it amazes me to see the growth of these students each year.

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