Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

Tyler County News

The Tolar Cabin: the other half of the story

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

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.

  • Hits: 2449

TxDOT hosting US 69 corridor hearing

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

US 69 Corridor Overall Location MapUS 69 Corridor Overall Location Map

By Caleb Fortenberry

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has issued a notice for the US 69 corridor project and study. The project, which is dubbed “Gateway to the Big Thicket,” is the subject of a virtual public hearing next week.

The virtual hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19. A video with information about the project will be attached to the following website https://www.txdot.gov, by 4 p.m. next Thursday. The video will be posted near the bottom of the web page, according to a TxDOT news release.

The corridor covers approximately 345 miles of highway from Port Aurthur to Denison. The part of the project projected to reach Tyler County would stretch to FM 1943 near Warren. Involvement with the public began in 2017 and is still an ongoing part of the process.

The proposal for the project is to:

  • widen portions of the highway to four lanes,

  • add 12-foot travel lanes in both directions,

  • include 4-foot inside shoulders,

  • 10-foot outside shoulder on the southbound lane,

  • a 12-foot shoulder on the northbound lane that serves as hurricane lanes,

  • and extend  10-foot trails for biking and hiking.

According to the notice of the hearing, the additional right-of-way width in the project proposal, which would increase the typical 100-120 feet width to 300 feet, would potentially displace five residences and two other non-residential structures.

The in-person version of the hearing, available by appointment, will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at the TxDOT Beaumont District office, 8350 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, TX 77708. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Individuals must call to make an appointment at (512) 560-5108 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To leave a recorded voicemail of concerns, call (409) 402-0151 between Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. and Friday Dec. 18 at 11:59 p.m.

Written comments can also be received at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., through the TxDOT website, or through mail addressed to TxDOT Project Manager, 8350 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, TX 77708 before 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 18.

  • Hits: 3441

Unofficial Tyler County results favor incumbents

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
Voters in Tyler County turned out to polling places on Election Day in smaller numbers than those who chose to vote early. (CHRIS EDWARDS | EASTTEXASNEWS.COM PHOTO)Voters in Tyler County turned out to polling places on Election Day in smaller numbers than those who chose to vote early. (CHRIS EDWARDS | EASTTEXASNEWS.COM PHOTO) 
 
BY CHRIS EDWARDS
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

TYLER COUNTY – With Election Day on Tuesday, the end came to a contentious presidential campaign, and records were shattered, both locally and nationwide.

At this time, former Vice President Joe Biden (D) led incumbent President Donald Trump in electoral votes, with Biden’s 223 over Trump’s 174, but neither candidate had received the necessary 270 to win.

Trump was favored to win Texas with 52% to 46.8% of the vote based on returns. He won Tyler County with 5,581 votes tallied from early voting totals. The other boxes were not available at press time for the presidential race, but that early figure was a sizable lead in the county over Biden’s 1,094.

In the 2016 race, Trump won Tyler County 6,601 votes. The total number in this, and other contested national races will be available on our Facebook page as soon as they are available.

In countywide races, the contest between incumbent sheriff Bryan Weatherford, who ran as a Republican, and his challenger Michael “Mike” King, who ran as an independent candidate, ended with Weatherford maintaining his office. Weatherford received 6,379 votes to King’s 2,961.

In Tyler County, the early voting turnout broke records, with 5,889 early votes counted as of last Friday, according to county clerk Donece Gregory. That total comprised 40.4% of the county’s 14,557 registered voters. 

That turnout mirrored the nationwide trend, with close to 100 million voters opting to cast their ballots prior to Tuesday. 

In statewide races, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) easily maintained his seat in the 36th Congressional District. He received 5,695 votes over Democratic challenger Rashad Lewis’s 899 votes, by early voting numbers. 

The closely watched Senate race between incumbent John Cornyn, a Republican, and Democratic opponent MJ Hegar ended with Cornyn’s re-election. Early voting totals for that race in Tyler County had Cornyn at 5,390 votes and Hegar at 1,077.

The final determination for the presidential race comes on Dec. 14 when Electoral College electors are due to cast their ballots.

Other contested races in the county, which had unofficial totals at press time included mayoral and city council races for Woodville and Ivanhoe, as well as school board races in Colmesneil, Spurger and Woodville. 

Ivanhoe Mayor Cathy Bennett defeated challenger Ray McGlaun, with 330 votes to 321. In the Ivanhoe City Council race, John Craven received 376 votes, Will Warren 312 and Karen Fidler 267.

Woodville Mayor Paula Jones won with 392 votes over Michael G. Maness’s 278 and Kenneth A. Engler’s 69.

In the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees, place 2, John David Risinger received 1,732 votes over Kris Fowler’s 1,450.

For the Colmesneil ISD board’s race for three spots, Kelly Eddins had 633 votes; Kenneth Adaway 590; Clay Bendy 526; Kris Lindsey 470 and Robert Lawson 347. 

For the Spurger school board position, Brad Hatton had 351 votes and Juli Golden 186.

  • Hits: 1437

Meth dealer receives 20-year sentence

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

RobertHolcombMug102920MUGSHOT: Robert L. Holcomb, Jr. Courtesy of the TYLER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – After a long hiatus from jury trials due to the pandemic, Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin is back in action.

On Monday, Babin and first assistant DA Pat “Hawk” Hardy successfully brought a conviction for the state in the case of Texas v. Robert Lloyd Holcomb, Jr. District Judge Earl Stover handed Holcomb a sentence of 20 years in state jail on the charge of Possession of Meth with Intent to Deliver.

“I appreciate Judge Stover for his attentiveness to the evidence and his sense of justice,” Babin said.

During the trial, Holcomb took the stand and testified that he was only a meth user and not a dealer. He also attempted to explain why he was carrying digital scales, a loaded short-barrel shotgun, $800 in cash and close to an ounce of meth when he was arrested.

Babin and Hardy’s evidence proved that Holcomb was a dealer, and one witness testified before the jury that he had purchased meth from Holcomb at least 10 times.

After Holcomb was sentenced, Babin said “The message is that selling meth in Tyler County has consequences.”

Babin gave thanks to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and his deputies’ efforts in apprehending Holcomb.

“Without their efforts, this offender would still be on the streets endangering our law-abiding citizens,” he said.

Holcomb is one of several convicted methamphetamine traffickers who have been tried in Tyler County and received stiff sentences. Following a full year of jury trials in 2019, Babin and his office have had to take most of this year off from the courtroom due to COVID-19.

“I’m glad to be back in the courtroom,” he said. “In addition to this case, we resolved several dozen other felonies last week and will be resolving more cases next month.”

Babin added that last year between the months of March and September there were hundreds of jury trials performed, statewide, but that number has been “barely 20” this year.

“I’m ready to get our justice system moving again, and I know other DAs across the state feel the same.”

Holcomb will be confined in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility.

  • Hits: 2809

Former Tyler County Sheriff Jessie Wolf dies

1 Comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Jesse Wolf 1Wolf when he served as Tyler County Sheriff. PHOTO COURTESY OF KENDALL COLEMAN

 
By Chris Edwards

WOODVILLE – Former Tyler County Sheriff Jessie Wolf died on Monday at the age of 68. Wolf was a long-time lawman in the county and served one term as sheriff. He died of natural causes.

In a profile of Wolf written by the late scholar and community leader Mayme Canada Brown, and published in the Sept. 25, 2014 edition of the Booster, Wolf was described as a stand-out athlete during his high school days at Warren ISD.

Wolf was, according to Brown’s story, one of the “new generation in the time of total integration,” in 1968, and following his graduation in 1970, he and his twin brother James were scouted by Prairie View A&M University and accepted to the program in 1972.

Wolf was a collegiate star athlete, as well, and was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. In addition to being a football star, Wolf also earned a collegiate letter in the university’s track and field division.

Following his graduation from college in 1976, he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. He also played for the Birmingham Americans and the Canadian team the Stamp Platers.

After his semi-pro and professional football career ended, he returned to Tyler County, and worked in law enforcement. He eventually worked his way up to Chief Deputy under the late former Sheriff Gary Hennigan.

jesse wolf 2Jessie Wolf in the ‘70s as a Prairie View A&M football star. BOOSTER FILE PHOTO

In 2004, when Hennigan retired due to declining health, Wolf became acting sheriff, and was later elected to the position. He took office in 2005 and served one term.

Wolf, according to Brown’s piece, made history as the first Black sheriff in the county’s history. When he retired from his law enforcement career, aside from being a highly respected member of the law enforcement community, he was a shining example, as Brown wrote, of someone who had the courage and willingness to move forward in life.

A public celebration of Wolf’s life is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Eagle Summit on the campus of Woodville High School, which will be prefaced by a public viewing starting at 9 a.m. The services for Wolf are being handled by Kendall Coleman and Coleman’s Family Mortuary of Woodville.

  • Hits: 2662