Researching My Grandmother's Birthplace, Goshen, TX
Dec 10, 2007
|We left all our new found friends in Waco. Frank, Dick, John and all left on Saturday to return to their homes around Richardson. Joe & Barb left for DeSoto on Sunday and we packed up to travel to Athens on Monday morning.
We arrived to a damp and cold campground called Lake Athens Marina and RV Resort. There was hardly anyone there so we had the pick of the sites. It really didn't matter because it was wet which ever one we picked. The Resort did have a Restaurant but it wasn't open on Mondays so we cooked ourselves a good supper (which is always the best)
Bright and early Tuesday we took up our quest to find the Goshen Cemetery.
The following is information from the Tri-County News, Thurs., Aug. 1, 1985, Eustace Chamber of Commerce brochure and J.J.Faulk's History of Henderson County. By Ruth Cook.
According to J.J.Faulk in the History of Henderson County, Goshen was once a thriving little town with the first business formed in 1870. When the railroad track was laid from Kemp to Athens and Goshen was not one of the chosen stations, the little community faded into history, leaving only an interesting cemetery.
Those entering into the mercantile business in Goshen were, to name a few, the Warrens, the Huffers, the Goodnights, the Vontananas, the Deens, the Barrons, the Masons, the Meltons, the Enoses, the Sewells, the Kirbys, the Hatleys, and the Lovelaces.
It was customary for the businesses of the time to sell liquor, but if one partake of too much, he faced the Honorable W.H. Griffith who would fine him a fine of $10.00 or more.
There were other businesses beside mercantile, such as carpentry and cabinet making, harness and saddlery, drug store, a rooming and boarding house and a physician. Mail was delivered three times a week.
The first school was built in 1870 by public contribution. It was a large box building and was furnished with split log seats. At one time there were 160 pupils and three teachers. The building was also used for church services by all denominations. The school remained for many years, but was held in a small building with only one teacher.
The first school teacher was Professor McClelland who did not stay long as he was a Republican, and the parents of most of the students were Democrats. Other teachers following McClennand were; Mrs.Howeth, W.A.Hamilton, C.L.Dansby, Prof.Holland, Professes, and W.J.Greer. Greer married a local lady, and his son is now a leading lawyer in the East Texas area.
When the railroad came through, the merchants moved to the small settlement on the rail lines which was later called Eustace. Others moved to Mabank and Kemp.
All that remains now of Goshen is the cemetery which is still in use. The oldest stone is dated 1799 which is probably the birth date of the person buried there. Some of the markers are interesting with tender messages. Some of the grave markers are hand make and quite good in appearance. That is they've lasted through the years and are still readable. The Kirkpatrick children's graves are the handmade ones. There are ten graves of them in a row of varying ages of death. Senseless vandalism has resulted in a locked fence around the cemetery, tabernacle and picnic tables.
About 8 miles from Eustace and turning on a side road for a couple of miles we came upon the 'Goshen Cemetery'. Parked the Green Giant and entered through a lockable gate. We followed a gravel path downhill and eventually came upon a pavilion (or a tabernacle, as mentioned in the preceding article. Looking out from the pavilion, there were the stones stretching out over the low hills.
"Rita", I said, "where shall we start to look?". I was looking forward to a massive search to find GGrandfather's grave!
"Tom", Rita replied, "What about right here on my right hand side!"
I kid you not , there it was!
We went back to Eustace and visited the local watering hole for a late breakfast and perhaps a talk with some of the old boys of the town but unfortunately they all had left for the day and the young waitress didn't have a clue...
Upon leaving the Rest. we discovered a preserved 1800's Log home. The locals said that a lady was tearing down an old home to rebuild and discovered this complete cabin which had been added to many times. The destruction stopped and the cabin was preserved on its original spot. It would represent the housing of the day and indeed Nanny could have been born in something resembling the Log Home we surveyed today.
We travelled back to Athens which was (and still is) the County Seat of Henderson County where all the records are kept. After an intensive search by the county clerk we couldn't find a thing. No Birth Cert. for Nanny, no Death Certificate for either her father J.Robert MacKenzie or her sister Mary. The clerk was very sorry for not being able to produce paperwork but confessed that these duties were not carried out as well in those days as they are today. We were directed to the Historical Society where we we a bit luckier, not with our people but came away with the above notation re Goshen which was a bit more detailed account than the one we had.
No mention was made in it about Nanny's mom being a teacher in Goshen, but Nanny told me that she was and presented me with the hand held school bell that her Mother used to call her pupils to class.
I've had a question mark about how Sara Amelia (Moore) MacKenzie put three children under her wing and travelled all the way back to PEI. I had thoughts about wagon trains etc. and it taking Rita and I all that time to drive from home to Texas!!!!
A side trip to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame in Waco cleared up the question mark. I found a 1870 document with a very solid Railroad system in place.
Another writeup on Goshen found on the Internet:
Goshen was eight miles northeast of Eustace in Henderson County. A post office opened in 1871, and by 1885 the settlement had a population of 150 with two churches, a district school, three general stores, four gristmills couple of cotton gins, a hotel, and a saloon. During the early 1890s, the town began to decline, and by 1896 the population was only twenty-four. The post office closed in 1905, and by the mid 1930s only a church, a school, and a few houses remained at the site. After World War II most of the remaining residents left the area, and by the early 1990s Goshen was abandoned. The only thing left of the town of Goshen is the cemetery. The cemetery was established when a cowboy from a nearby ranch died. He is buried at the cemetery, enclosed by a wall of rocks. As he was a drifter..no one knew his name. Submitted by: Holli Boone Kees
I visited the local Ford Dealership and had the Green Giant serviced for $31.00, a lot better than the 46.00 at home!
With the research finished we grew bored and left for Schertz two days early. We just couldn't take the cold wet weather any more and hoped it would be better further south.
See you there!
Tom & Rita