Christmas Kicks Off in Jefferson, Texas

 Last Friday, November 25th, the Christmas Season Kicked Off with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

 The Excelsior Players presented two scenes from their upcoming play “Miracle on 34th Street”. The play runs December 2nd through the 4th and on December 9th & 10th at the Jefferson Playhouse.

Cowboy Poet Derek “The Texas Tumbleweed” Duncan performed his poem “The Christmas Saint”. Derek’s poem brought some Texas flavor to the ceremony.

 The tree lighting honor went to Caden Whatley. Caden, a student at Jefferson Elementary won a coloring contest sponsored by the Jefferson Jimplecute, the First National Bank and the Jefferson Office of Tourism Development.

 The festivities wrapped up with a visit from Santa Claus, who arrived on a fire truck and visited with all the children.

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Hemlines, Headlocks & High Rollers

  Last Saturday night saw a wide range of events in Jefferson, Texas. From Bottoms Up: The Art of Dressing a Victorian Woman, to Professional Wrestling at the Kellyville Center, to the 2nd Annual Casino Night Benefiting Toys for Tots, there was something for everyone.

 Bottoms Up: The Art of Dressing a Victorian Woman was presented by Books Alive, a charitable function for the First United Methodist Church of Jefferson. Author Deeanne Gist presented her show on how a Victorian era woman dressed. A sold out crowd at the Excelsior House enjoyed a Victorian Dinner Party and there was a prize for the Best Victorian Outfit.

  A night of elbow smashes, headlocks and dropkicks brought back memories of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and the Von Erich Family at the Kellyville Community Center. A new generation of heroes and villains continued the drama of the squared circle.

  The Jefferson Transportation & Visitor Center hosted the 2nd Annual Casino Night Benefiting Toys for Tots. A large crowd, enjoyed a good time while raising thousands of dollars for Toys for Tots.

  Jefferson is known for big events like Mardi Gras, Spring Pilgrimage, the Boo Benefit and Candlelight but even when there’s not a big event going on there’s a lot going on in Jefferson,Texas.

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Jefferson’s Ghost of Christmas Past Home Tours

  On December 17th, 2011 tour some of Jefferson’s most Historic Homes and visit with residents from Jefferson’s past such as Jeannie Epperson, Confederate Captain Joseph H. Pratt and I.E. Smith.

  At the House of the Seasons (409 S Alley) meet Jeannie Epperson who lived in the House of the Seasons. Tours are at 11 AM & 2 PM.  For Reservations 903-665-8000. Tours $7.50.

  Then at Singleton’s Virginia Cross (401 N Soda) you can meet Confederate Captain Joseph H. Pratt. Tours are Noon & 1 PM. For Reservations, 903-665-3938- Tours $7.00

  Also at the Charles House (209 E Clarksville) Meet I.E. Smith who built the Charles House over 100 years ago.Tours are at 3 PM & 6 PM. For Reservations 903-665-1773. Tours $5.00.

  While in Jefferson visit the city’s most haunted home, the Grove (405 Moseley). Tours are at 2 PM Saturday and 11 AM Sunday. For Reservations 903-665-8018. Tours $6.00.

  On Saturday, in the downtown area look for other historic Jefferson characters such as Kate Woods, Jesse Robinson, Bill Rose and Diamond Bessie as portrayed by the Riverport Ambassadors.

  Also enjoy the Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk on Friday and Saturday Evening. The walk meets at the corner of W Austin & North Vale. Ticket sales at 7:30 PM and the walk starts at 8:00 PM. Tours $12.00

  For More Information -The Jefferson Office of Tourism Development at 903-665-3733 or

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The Restoration of Union Missionary Baptist Church

  In 1883 a sanctuary was reborn from the ashes of Reconstruction. The sanctuary, Union Missionary Baptist Church, had fallen into disrepair and resources were needed to restore and preserve the structure. On October 29th, 2011 a Restoration Celebration and Capital Campaign Launch was held to preserve and restore this piece of history that not only belongs to Jefferson and Texas but also to the South and to the United States.

  The Church site at 520 Houston Street has met the spiritual needs of the people of Jefferson,Texas since 1842. The land itself was first donated to local slaves by Captain William Perry and the first structure was erected in 1847.  A white man donating land to slaves was definitely an odd occurrence in a pre Civil War South.

 Texas was spared the physical damage of the Civil War compared to states like Georgia,Tennessee and Alabama but Reconstruction was a violent, destructive time in East Texas. In the fall of 1868 the original Union Missionary Baptist Church was burned to the ground as part of a large backlash against the United States Reconstruction policy.

  The historic significance of this site is that it was not only the center of black religious services but also Freedmen’s Bureau, Radical Republican and Loyal League activities for theJeffersonarea. It is also represents the post Civil War anger of newly disenfranchised southern whites and a measuring device for the racial divide between black and white that has grown smaller through slavery, reconstruction and the civil rights era.

  In 2003 the Texas Historical Commission named the Church to their “Endangered Landmarks Program”. Then in 2006 a non profit group was formed to restore and preserve the church. This group has partnered with the Collins Academy, which leads us to the Restoration Celebration and Capital Campaign Kickoff.

  The event was held inside the church, Saturday afternoon, and featured a powerful, positive sermon from Reverend Allen Green of Second Baptist Church of Eire, PA. The energetic, uplifting music was provided by Reverend Jimmie Nelson who made an old, out of tune piano sound brand new. Although the church building is currently without electricity there was great energy inside.

  Speakers included Mr. Richard Collins of the Collins Academy, Jefferson City Administrator Shawn Ferrell, and Chairperson of the Union Missionary Church Board Pency Floyd, Michael Williams and Sammie DeSpain of the Marion County Historical Commission.

 Everyone who attended this event left with enthusiasm and determination that we can restore and preserve this important piece of American history.

Posted in african american history, christian, churches, civil rights, civil war, confederate, historic preservation, history, reconstruction, texas | Leave a comment

New Books About Jefferson, Texas

  One of the many things that attract people to Jefferson, Texas is the architecture. Jefferson, with a population of around 2,000, has over sixty buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.  

Coincidentally two books, that showcase the architectural treasures of Jefferson, had their debut here on October 21st & 22nd. The authors of both books were all over Jefferson signing the new editions.
 “House of the Seasons” is a historical, photographic, illustrated novel. It is co-authored by Richard Collins, Dan Kuenster, and T.J. Kuenster. The story is based on historical facts that took place in the House of the Seasons and characters who actually lived in the home. The book’s main character is Jeannie Epperson, the daughter of the home’s builder, Benjamin Epperson.The book tells a story of Jeannie’s childhood and her friendship with a ghost during the time of the Civil War.
  “Historic Homes of Jefferson”, written by Cheryl MacLennan, showcases twenty-five, still existing, historic homes built in Jefferson between 1850 and 1880. The book also showcases other buildings in Jefferson such as the Excelsior Hotel, the Jefferson Historical Museum, and the historic Jefferson Churches.
  If you are visiting or live in Jefferson, both books are available at The Jefferson General Store, Beauty and the Book and other locations around Jefferson. If you are not in the area “Historic Homes of Jefferson” is available at

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