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Trinity County News - Breakout

Railroad spur to be removed

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021722 trinity cityA section of an old railway spur will be removed after the Trinity City Council approved a measure on Thursday. Courtesy photo

By Tony Farkas
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TRINITY —Deemed a traffic hazard as well as drainage issue, the Trinity City Council on Thursday approved removing a spur of railway on Pinecrest Road.

City Manager Steven Jones said the rails belong to Union Pacific but have been abandoned for some time.

“When there’s a train coming through town, people use the back roads (including Pinecrest),” he said. “Vehicles hang, we constantly have to fill in potholes, and it’s drainage hazard, which ultimately causes an issue of the quality of the roads.”

Jones said that former city manager Buddy Drake had the paperwork prepared but never finalized. It will be finalized and removed, he said, now that the council has given its approval.

The city currently is looking to begin program of street repair, and this is one glaring issue the city has, Jones said.

In other business, the council:

• discussed repairs at the city baseball fields, which includes the restrooms and the playground;

• heard a presentation from Pineywoods Trash about taking over trash service for the city, which would mean a 10 percent increase in costs. No action was taken;

• tabled a discussion about security cameras;

  discuss contracts for the city’s $4.2 million infrastructure grant, which when signed will allow the city to move forward on construction and design; and

• approved order of election, which will be held May 7.

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The John Henley Hill Family - Part 2

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020322 history hill house 9.doc

Editor’s note: This is the second of three columns detailing the information surrounding the John Henley Hill House.

John Henley Hill, an Indiana Quaker, was born Nov. 30, 1839, in Richmond, Wayne County, Ind. He married Phoebe E. Branson on April 16, 1861, in Wayne County, Indiana. To this union brought two daughters, Olive, born in 1864, and Bertha, born in 1867. 

John H. Henley is enumerated in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Wayne Township, Richmond, Indiana, living with his parents, Harmon and Mary Hill, and his two young daughters, and his profession was listed as a farmer. 

Phoebe Branson Hill died in 1870, and John Hill then married Phoebe’s sister Susanna on March 12, 1871. 

The Hills apparently were prominent people with Harmon Hill showing a property value of $2,000 and a personal estate value of $2,000. This Hill family is also shown in the U.S. Hinkshaw Index to Selected Quaker Records 1860-1940 database online. 

Isaiah Branson, father of Phoebe and Susanna Branson, was born in 1799 in Stafford County, Virginia. He and his family had moved to Wayne County from Uniontown, Belmont County, Ohio, in 1852. It was in Uniontown that Mr. Branson, with strong convictions against slavery, helped a fugitive family to liberty, which caused him a four-year lawsuit. 

Their home in Belmont County was always a refuge for fugitive slaves. The Branson family were all well-educated; in 1876, John and Susanna Hill participated in demonstrating a knitting machine at the Centennial International Exposition of 1876, held in Philadelphia. It was the first official World’s Fair held in the United States. 

It was there that they met Col. George W. Grant, who was from Huntsville, Walker County, Texas, and was the benefactor of a freedman’s colony known as Grant’s Colony, sometimes also known as Harmony Settlement.

This colony was located two miles east of Huntsville in Walker County. It was planned model farming community on 8,000 acres belonging to Col. Grant. Grant provided the land for a school and two churches, and the colony was predominately a freedman’s village. 

Col. Grant described his project at the Colony and persuaded John and Susanna to come to the Colony to manage it. 

After one year, in about 1877 or 1878, the Hill’s left Grant Colony and moved to Trinity. It is not known where the Hill’s lived upon arriving in Trinity but in 1880 John H. Hill purchased 200 acres from S.T. Robb.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Trinity County shows John H. Hill, wife Susanna, and children living in Trinity County. There is another man named Wm. Faulk, born in Pennsylvania with the profession of “mechanic,” in the Hill household. 

In 1908, John H. Hill sold 100 acres, where the home was located, to R.M. Martin and Hill and his daughters moved into Martin’s home in Trinity. John Hill became Trinity’s postmaster in 1906 and served until 1913. 

Later, in 1908, R.H. Martin sells the Hill house and property to J.D. Autry. Autry sells the property to W.J. Dykes in 1919. In 1925, the property is sold to John C. Lott. The house and property remained in the Lott family until the present owner, Bill R. Thomas, bought the house and property in 2013. 

Susanna Hill died in 1892, John H. Hill died in 1916, and both are buried in Trinity Cedar Grove Cemetery in Trinity. 

Compiled by Susanne Waller of the Trinity County Historical Commission.

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Honoring those who serve

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HonoringThoseWhoServe

TRINITY — The Trinity Volunteer Fire Department honored their hardest working members of a hard-working crew on Jan. 27.

The crews also paid tribute to Chaplain Hayne Huffman, who passed away last year.

In all, the TVFD responded to 157 fires and held 23 drills and 11 meetings.

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Local student captures win at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

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021022 kembro

Special to the
News-Standard

FORT WORTH — Anderew Kembro, a 4-H member from Trinity, captured Polled Hereford Reserve Champion Junior Yearling Heifer with LJR MS Womanizer 2799H at the 2022 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo on Jan. 22. 

The 2022 Show is hosting junior exhibitors from across Texas competing for awards and more than $4,280 in Polled Hereford Heifer premiums.

With 4-H and FFA members from 239 of Texas’ 254 counties competing in livestock shows, judging contests and other competitions, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo takes pride in providing learning opportunities in agriculture and livestock production. 

Their experiences not only enlighten them on the importance of stewardship and helping feed the world, they help provide the means to attend college and enter exciting career paths.

“Of everything we do, opening the minds of these amazing youth to the important role livestock production serves for the benefit of society is probably at the top of the list,” said Stock Show President and General Manager Bradford S. Barnes.  “With each passing Stock Show, I’m more convinced that the future is in good hands, especially when it comes to instilling character in our youth and the role they’ll serve in securing our nation’s food supply.” 

The 2022 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is Fort Worth’s largest and oldest public event. Go to www.fwssr.com for information and to purchase tickets. 

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The history of the John Henley Hill House

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020322 history hill house 9.doc

Editor’s note: This is the first of three columns detailing the information surrounding the John Henley Hill House.

The John Henley Hill house and its location is a perfect southern scene of peace and tranquility. 

Sitting proudly on a hill, located just a short distance from the town of Trinity, the house is surrounded by giant Southern magnolias, stately oaks, ancient cedars with sphagnum moss hanging from the boughs and crepe myrtles up against a backdrop of pines. 

The setting is undoubtedly as it was 135 years ago when it was built and landscaped. 

There is evidence that a red brick drive meandered from the road to the house, which must have been an impressive site. The integrity of the property and home has been maintained for over a century. The home, built in 1880 by John Henley Hill, as it stands now, is a near perfect example of simple style, elegance and historical integrity. 

In the late 1860s and 1870s the town of Trinity was beginning to show signs of growth. Promoted by the building of the International and Great Northern Railroad in 1872, and huge land prospects of virgin timber, Trinity was a hub of a growing commerce. 

Farming still was prominent in the outlying areas with farmers using the Trinity River for navigating shipments of cotton and crops to Galveston. When the rail was finished from Houston to Palestine, farmers and merchants were able to ship via the railways and river navigation began to decline. 

In the 1870s, after the Civil War, the old plantation owners of the farmlands began selling off their vast property holdings. 

Trinity served as the county seat from 1873 through 1874 and it was then that residents elected to move the county seat to Pennington. Sumpter, Trinity County’s first county seat, from 1852 through 1873, began to decline after 1873, and many of its prominent citizens moved to Trinity for the advantage of railroad and commerce. 

The first Post Office in Trinity was established Feb. 28, 1872, with Sam. T. Robb as postmaster. Robb, a lawyer and early settler in the town of Sumpter, had moved to Trinity by 1872. In viewing Trinity County Deed records from 1876 to present it is obvious that Robb was also in the business of buying and selling land. 

In the early development of what is now Trinity County, there were several large plantation owners who had migrated west to Texas from the Old South. The lands along the Trinity River were cleared by hundreds of slaves for the benefit of cotton and crop production. Before the railroad was built in 1872, the primary means of shipping crops to market was the Trinity River. 

The Hill house sits on one of the earliest plantation sites located in the Elisha Roberts Survey. Roberts, a wealthy slave owner from Kentucky, came to Texas in 1824, settling in San Augustine. He acquired the earliest Mexican land grant in 1831 for 4,428 acres of land in what is now known as Trinity County.

When he died in 1845 the 4428 acres located here in Trinity County, was inherited by his four daughters, Ester Jane Roberts Sublett, Margaret Roberts McDonald, Mahala Roberts Sharp Hall and Ann Roberts Doughtry. Ester Sublett and Margaret McDonald, both widows by 1851, bought out their sister’s 1,107-acre parcels in 1854. 

Ester Sublett owned the west half and Margaret McDonald owned the east half of the original survey fora total of 2,214 acres of land for each of the women. A receipt found in the Elisha Roberts Probate dated February 1846, states: 

Huntsville, 3 February 1846 

$138.57 

… please pay A.M. McDonald (Alexander McDonald, husband Of Margaret McDonald) One Hundred and Thirty Eight 57/100 Dollars for supplies furnished to the Trinity Plantation. 

R. Hannay 

John Hill purchased 200 acres from S.T. Robb and began construction on this house for his family. The John Henley Hill House is located at 2005 Pinecrest Road in Trinity. From the town of Trinity, go south on State Highway 19 to East Tatum Street, Turn left (east) go 2/10 mile to Pinecrest Road, turn right (south) and go 9/10 mile to driveway entrance on left. COURTESY PHOTOSJohn Hill purchased 200 acres from S.T. Robb and began construction on this house for his family. The John Henley Hill House is located at 2005 Pinecrest Road in Trinity. From the town of Trinity, go south on State Highway 19 to East Tatum Street, Turn left (east) go 2/10 mile to Pinecrest Road, turn right (south) and go 9/10 mile to driveway entrance on left. COURTESY PHOTOSAnother receipt found in the probate files reads: 

“Rec’d of Noel Roberts as one of the Executors of E. Roberts, deceased, five dollars for advertizing the Trinity place for rent this 1 March 1848. Signed H.W. Sublett 

These receipts indicate that there was, in the 1840s, a plantation on the Elisha Roberts survey in operation. It is not known where the residence was located on the 4428 acres. The history of Elisha Roberts and his daughters Ester Sublett and Margaret McDonald has an incredible history and legacy. 

The Roberts and Sublett families have early Texas history connections in Texas independence. Ester Sublett is shown in 1860 U.S. Federal Census records as residing in San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas, with her three sons, Franklin, Phillip A. (Jr.) and Henry W. She has a property value in that county of and a personal property value of $35,940. 

The 1860 Federal Slave Schedule for San Augustine County shows Mrs. Sublett as owning 22 slaves at that time. She had inherited 23 slaves from her father’s estate in the 1850s. 

The U.S. Federal Census of 1860 for Trinity County reveals that F.B. (Franklin Bolivar) Sublett, age 30, declared he was a “Planter” with a real estate value of $80,000, and a personal estate value of $90,000. In the same household is shown: J.V. (Josephus) Brooks, Farmer, age 23, also with a personal property value of $6,000, E.J. Sublet (Ester Jane), age 47, P.A. Sublett (Phillip, age 18, and H.W. Sublett, age 15). 

The 1860 US Federal Slave Schedule for Trinity County shows F.B. Sublett enumerated as owning 113 slaves in Trinity County and is the largest slave owner in the county. Josephus (Joseph) Brooks was an overseer for the Sublett plantation from about 1859 through about 1861. 

In his account of the plantation he mentions Mrs. Sublett visiting the plantation several times. Franklin Bolivar Sublett’s dies in 1866 and in 1870, Ester Sublett leases the property to her next oldest son Phillip for $1,000 in gold coin, for a period of one year. 

It was this Phillip A. Sublett, Jr. who shot John Wesley Hardin in Trinity in 1872, and he too dies as a young man in 1873. 

In June of 1877, Ester Sublett sells her 1,107 acres out of the Elisha Roberts Survey to Sam T. Robb, longtime resident of Trinity County. 

In 1880, Mr. Robb sells a 200-acre parcel of that same land to John Henley Hill. 

Compiled by Susanne Waller of the Trinity County Historical Commission.

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