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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Where credit is overdue...

 Ann Fuqua was kind enough to bring me this great old photo of Navasota's grandfather of photographers, Earl Mercer.  So I thought I would re-run some of his classic photos of Navasota life.

Earl Mercer

Recently a wonderful little treasure was shared with me. Billy Williams showed me a tiny photo souvenir album from Navasota. In 1943 Earl Mercer sent this selection of hometown shots to a serviceman and Navasota historian, named Hamer Wilson, to remind him of home. It was and still is the quintessential Navasota photospread...
We can trace our history back to when the Spanish blazed La Bahia Trail through here in 1689 in search of the interloper Rene Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle, the French adventurer who had claimed the whole Mississippi Valley for France and established a fort on the Texas coast. He was never aprehended because his men had mutinied and killed him and several of those loyal to him, somewhere in the area. Today Navasota is the only town in America with TWO statues of the ill-fated Frenchman who laid the groundwork for the Louisiana Purchase; One placed in 1930 by the DAR, the other a gift from the French. No other town in Texas has made so much of a tribute to the French hero, or received as much attention from the French government in the process.

Cotton was the reason. The fertile Brazos and Navasota river valleys were the home of Texas' first and most prolific plantations. Navasota was placed on the map by the H&TC Railroad in 1854 because it was ideally situated at the fork of these two rivers, to be the central gathering point for all agricultural products being produced in the heart of the farming region. From here it could be shipped to Galveston by rail. Every autumn, for one hundred years, cotton lined the streets as it awaited the market.

Cattle was no less important, and today is the area's biggest agriculutral product. These Navasota cowboys are branding a calf so that he cannot be claimed by any neighboring rancher. Blessed with good rainfall and tall, nutritious grass, the area was originally stocked with wild mustangs and longhorns, feral descendants of the livestock left behind by the Spanish Conquistatores, which soon gave way to more profitable European breeds.

Because of great geography, Navasota has always been an ideal distribution center for Texas industries. In 1943, it was the Holsum Food cannery that was the leader in bringing industry to town. Today there are TWO industrial parks, north and south of town for industrial development.

If Navasota is famous for anything, it is the area wildflowers, especially the Texas Bluebonnets, which still grace many pastures and roadsides from March through April. If Navasota has one underrated but consistent asset, it would be her young people, who always shine in the face of competition. Time after time, over decades, in sports, academics, and the arts, Navasota youth delivers way above expectations.

Thanks again to Ann and Billy for making this blog possible!
 You can see the rest of this article at my "PAGE" on the main page
called "Nava- Saga," just click on the link below.

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