Posts Tagged ‘Living History’

Images from Pilgrimage and the Battle of Port Jefferson

May 10th, 2011 by carriagehouse

This past weekend was Jefferson’s 64th Annual Pilgrimage and Re-enactment of the Battle of Port Jefferson.  Our Battle of Port Jefferson re-enactment is the largest Civil War re-enactment in the State of Texas.  The weekend kicks off with four of our historic homes opening for tour.  This year, we had a wonderful assortment of homes in different styles and architectures.

The Angel Rose House

 This was one of my favorite homes on tour and for a very unique reason.  It is the sister house to the Carriage House Bed & Breakfast.  I need to do much more research but I think these two historic homes must have a shared history.  I walked through this house and marveled at how the layout matched my own house.  I walked away with a ton of new ideas.  The Angel Rose house was also built in 1920 and is a Craftsman kit house ordered out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog for $900.  The home has had many additions added to it over it’s years and has been fully restored all the way to traditional Craftsman paint colors.

 This amazing home is a beautiful example of a classic Southern Colonial Greek Revival home.  This property sat empty for many years and was purchased last year and is in the process or being restored.  Only the carriage house and the pool house were on tour this time since they are the only structures that have been completed.  The main house is still very much a work in progress.  These beautiful buildings sit on a large piece of land that used to be a cotton and pecan plantation.

This home built in 1852 is one of the oldest homes in Jefferson and was built by one of the of the original founders of Jefferson, Allen Urquhart.  The rest of the house (three front rooms) was added in 1855 by a local merchant by the name of William Clark (hence the name, William Clark House).  I loved the sunny yellow paint that many of the rooms were painted in. It gave the entire house a cheerful feel to it.

This is one of the grandest homes in Jefferson filled with amazing art and priceless antiques.  This home was built by Col. David Browning Culberson who is famous for many things including defending Abe Rothschild at the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial.  This house is another example of the traditional southern architecture of the time, Greek Revival, and was inspired by a Greek Temple.

The home tour was not the only thing going on in town this past weekend.  The town was full of Civil War re-enactors trying to recreate life in 1864.  Entire families were living in tents set up in various parks and lots throughout town.  Not only did they dress in traditional Civil War garb, but they fully immersed themselves in the lifestyle of the time.

Riverport Ambassadors at the Pilgrimage Parade

One of the fun events of the weekend is the annual Pilgrimage parade Saturday morning.  Tom and I are members of a local tourism organization called the Riverport Ambassadors.  We dress up in period dress and assist the tourists on weekends.  We do step on bus tours, and educate the public on Jefferson’s colorful past.  Like many local organizations, we participate in the Pilgrimage parade.  You can’t see me real well, but that’s me in the middle in the sea foam green dress with the black parasol.

Civil War Skirmish on Austin Street

The parade ends with a gun battle and a skirmish in our beautiful Historic Riverfront District before the Civil War heads out to the battlefield set up at Tuscumbia Ranch.  In addition to all of these fun activities, we also have a quilt show, an heirloom plant sale, an art show, the Grande Hertiage Southern Ball, the Great Locomotive Chase, the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial play, and evening Twilight Garden Strolls.

The Battle of Port Jefferson

April 12th, 2011 by carriagehouse

Civil War Skirmish

Today is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

East Texans were a 1000 miles away from the first canon fire at Ft Sumter, and at that exact moment, they were all  more concerned with their cotton farms and timber trade.  Here in Jefferson, we were a bustling and busy riverport full of the promise of a bright and profitable future.  As our high school teachers taught us all, the Act of the Northern Aggression (as it is referred to this side of the Mason Dixon Line) was a war that forever changed the South.   The War Between States didn’t quite make it here to East Texas and to Jefferson.  It ended in a bloody battle in Mansfield Louisiana but the repercussions are still felt here today.   In fact for those of us that live in the South, the spectre and the remnants of the Civil War are all around us with grave markers still adorned with flowers and old confederate powder magazines along busy boat tour routes .  It often feels like a not so distant memory…almost as if it is something that we discuss when friends gather around.  In fact, we Southerners feel compelled to re-enact it year after year after year (almost as if we are expecting the outcome to change).  Here in Jefferson, we host the Battle of Port Jefferson the first weekend of May each year.

In Jefferson, we try and imagine that it is 1864 all over again.  What would have happened had the war not stopped downstream from us?  What would have happened at the Battle of Port Jefferson?  We know that the Union Army wanted to take what it considered a very strategic port, the Port of Jefferson.  What would that battle have looked like and what would  have happened to Jefferson?

If you are looking for something to do May 6th through the 8th, then come on down.  The largest Civil War re-enactment in Texas will be right here that weekend.

I have to tell the story of last year, because as you know it is never a dull moment here at the Carriage House Bed & Breakfast.  Tom and I were still serving breakfast when the Civil War broke out in front of our house…seriously, the Civil War.  I was pouring a cup of coffee when a canon was fired and a brigade of soldiers on horseback came clomping and racing up the street.  It startled me so badly that I almost dropped the carafe of coffee in one of  our gentleman’s lap.  Now you have to admit, you have never stayed at a B&B were breakfast was interrupted by the Civil War before, now have you.  So Tom and I did what any sensible innkeeper would do.  We told everyone to grab up their cups of coffee and head out to the porch where we watched the skirmish from the comfort of rocking chairs and  porch swings.  It was breakfast and a show.  This year, we are going to be smart about it and serve breakfast a little earlier, so everyone will have time to find a place to watch the battles and skirmishes.  You have to admit though, that makes a pretty good rookie innkeeper story.

Living History at the Old Oakwood Cemetary in Jefferson,Texas

February 28th, 2011 by carriagehouse

On April 2, 2011, the Riverport Ambassadors, a group dedicated to promoting tourism and interpreting the  history of Jefferson, Texas, will be conducting a narrated dramatic tour of Old Oakwood Cemetery, one of Texas’ and Southeast U.S.A.’s most interesting final resting places.   At five gravesites, actors in period costume will dramatize biographies and events that made the lives of those buried within both significant and interesting.  This dramatization will be in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club’s ownership of the historic Excelsior Hotel.


Tours begin April 2, 2011 between 5:30 and 6:15pm

at the main entrance of the Old Oakwood Cemetery.


Five vignettes will be featured: 

  • Diamond Bessie (1854 – 1877) immortalized by the drama that has been viewed to sellout audiences for over fifty years, The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial.  Diamond Bessie, a New York manufacturer’s daughter turned prostitute, was murdered in Jefferson at age 23.
  •  German immigrants Kate Woods and daughter Amelia arrived in Jefferson in 1877 and purchased the Excelsior Hotel. 
  •  Bad guys Jesse Robinson and Bill Rose killed each other in a gun fight in 1871, and are buried handcuffed together in the same grave. 
  •  Jessie Allen Wise, historic Jefferson icon, for whom the Excelsior Hotel’s owner, the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club, is named. She will be immortalized by her granddaughter–civic leader and historian Mary  Margaret (Wise) Harvey.
  •  Confederate Captain Joseph H. Pratt, who commanded the 10th Texas Field Battery that supported Colonel William Henry Parsons under the flag of Parson’s Brigade during the War Between the States.  This distinguished battery fought gallantly throughout the South during the Civil War.


Donations to the Old Oakwood Cemetery to support restoration will be gratefully accepted. Cash or checks payable to Old Oakwood Cemetery Association.


Reserve your space for the April 2, 2011 tour at  Tickets are also available at the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast by calling 903-665-9511
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