CCHC Chair Elizabeth McCutcheon accepts the 2010 Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Historical Commission.  The Cherokee County Historical Commission once again was recognized by the state for their worthy historical projects.  Left to right, Shelley Cleaver, Dr. Richard Hackney, Mavis Wallace, 'Butch' Holcomb, Dr. Deborah Burkett, Willie Harold Acker, Terry Guinn, Elizabeth McCutcheon and Judge Chris Davis.

Corinth Missionary Baptist Church, near Bullard, Texas celebrated 147 years!  On June 12, 2011, Corinth Pastor John D. Johnson III welcomed guests, friends and representatives from churches throughout Smith and Cherokee Counties.  The Corinth Choir sang and praised God for his many and continued blessings.   Tyler Pastor Derry Hinton of God’s Way Baptist Church provided the 3 o’clock message. Seated and in front is the oldest active member.  CCHC member Dr. Richard Hackney and wife Teresa are on right in back row.
Thanks to artist Audrie Hendrick for loaning several of her paintings for the CCHC window display. On the left below  is member Deborah Burkett who spear headed the 'Artists in Cherokee County' Project.
Rusk resident, Mary Goff turns 100! A life lived 100 years can't be truly appreciated without first putting that life in historical context. Mary Ellen Bailey (Goff) was born February 17, 1912, the same year the sinking of the RMS Titanic occurred and two years before the start of World War One.
 
When your life spans a century your story can't be told quickly. For this tribute three chapters from Mary's 'life book' will be shared: place of birth, employment history and fondest memory of Cherokee County, which by the way resulted in a secret never before shared. (For the full story of Mary's life as told to Deborah and Mavis Wallace, Google the SFA Wevsite--Local Authors, Deborah Burkett, Mary Goff Turns 100)

A birthday party was held at the Rusk First Baptist Church and everyone who attended felt blessed to be there. Seen above left to right with Mary are members of the Cherokee County Historical Commission: Mavis Wallace, ‘Butch’ G. Holcomb, Deborah Burkett and Shelley Cleaver. (not pictured is Elizabeth McCutcheon).
The Rusk Courthouse Photo Preservation Committee is seen presenting Sheriff James Campbell with a canvas of a rare 1930s photo of Sheriff Bill Brunt and his horse Traveler. Long known as a history buff and leader of preservation projects in both Anderson and Cherokee Counties, District Judge Bascom Bentley III speared headed this effort and is seen on the left. Next is Sheriff Campbell, then Jacksonville lawyer Ricky Richards, and County Judge Chris Davis.  Not pictured is the final member of the committee, Deborah Burkett.  She took this photo and is proud to be a committee member, representing the Cherokee County Historical Commission in this effort. (See the projects Section of our Website for more.)
Descendants of Jacksonville Founder Visit Historical Commission Office--Sarah M. Kathan and her son, Kenneth Kathan from Anahuac, Texas. He is a decendant of Jackson Smith. 
 Chair Elizabeth McCutcheon has submitted the Annual Report and once again due to the hard work of each CCHC member the Texas Historical Commission has recognized Cherokee County!  Below are two photos taken in the courthouse, one for the 2010 award and the other for the 2011 award.
John Wilson is pictured at the First Baptist Church of Mixon. Deborah Burkett was pleased he kindly consented to an Oral History Video. John, a Deacon in the church for over 30 years, a wood carver among many other things, stands next to one of his creations--a chair with two sets of rockers. (More on John, his life and family soon as this Website is updated.)
Congrats to the Whitehead and Gonzales families for preserving the Alto Herald! For more on this story link to the Cherokeean and  to the Stephen F. Austin's local authors website--New Home for Old Alto Herald.
Marie Whitehead cuts the ribbon, daughter Terri on the right looks on.
     2011 Dinstinguished   Service Award.
CCHC members gather at the Cherokee County Courthouse to accept the award from County Judge Chris Davis, seen on right. Left to right are: 30 year member Terry Guinn (former Chair), Vice Chair Shelley Cleaver, Deborah Burkett (Committee Chair of Historic Photos and Archives) Mary Taylor (Committee Chair of Oral History), Butch Holcomb and Mavis Wallace. Chair Elizabeth McCutcheon is holding the award.
See the other sections of our Website for more information on historical markers and other activities.
Ole Water Well                      Alto, Texas, 1949
September 2013--Special Thanks to Gayla Needlham for submitting photos from her  family album. All of these images speak to us of farm life in the 1940s.  
Ole Water Well                 by Deborah Burkett                                
                                                                                                                                           
      A photo like the one seen here, taken in Alto in 1949, can certainly take us back to another era. When Gayla Needham shared a family album with the Cherokee County Historical Commission recently, I couldn’t resist using this image as the focal point for my column.
     At the time this photo was taken I was doing much the same thing. As a little girl spending summers with my grandparents, Willie and Viola Langston, in Mixon, Texas, I was always eager to help; just couldn’t wait for the bucket to come up.
Granddaddy pretended to let me pull the rope and I would squeal when I looked into the bucket and saw a frog floating there. Nothing more exciting than that!
    Yes, we drank the water, bathe in it—my grandparents had a galvanized tub on their enclosed back porch just for that purpose. Grandmother would heat water on the stove to make it more bearable—so we wouldn’t shiver and shake. 
    Nelda Jett remembers staying with her Granny, Alice McWilliams, “In the morning early we’d draw water, put it in the tub, set it in the sun. In the evening the tub and water were warm, ready for our bath...”
     In this photo Syble Starling McGaughey McMahon seems tickled; as she senses her daughter’s anticipation. According to Gayla, “We used the well for our drinking water, bath water…for everything. When the water bucket came up, sometimes we had wiggle tails in the water…I loved to count the wiggle tails!” (It’s left up to the reader to determine what wiggle tails are.)
     Deciding to collect ‘Ole Water Well’ memories from others; I was amazed at the detailed stories people shared. According to Mrs. Navoleine Roddy, “In the 1930s my sister, Doris and her friend Christene dropped a bar of soap in the well, ‘Do we tell Papa’, they wondered.”
    Others like Ray Langston, said, “It’s a wonder we didn’t die drinking that well water…”
Before one could drink the water, first it had to be located and a well dug.
    Curtis Lindsey enlightened me on the fine art of dowsing or ‘witching for water’.  In the Mixon area, northeast Cherokee County, Sam Stockman was the ‘go to guy’. 
According to Curtis, “The only kind of twig Sam Stockton ever used was from a peach tree. I don’t know if it worked every time…’bout the only sure thing a peach twig is good for is a whoopin.”
    In Arthur Ellis’ 1938 book, The Divining Rod: A History of Water Witching, he cites peach tree or willow tree twigs, metal devices or even buggy whips could be utilized.
    Another unique way to witch for water was shared by Jeannie Musick. She recalled, “In 1964, my parents had a “witcher” come to our house to find a spring…he must not had the right kind of stick or twig because they dug three wells…finally my grandfather, Cecil Gregory, remembered there had been an ole well near the creek behind the barn…so he and my uncle, Clay, kept going back and forth over the creek bed with a tractor till they hit water. We drank well water for about three years and Great Uncle “Bucker” always teased ‘that was the reason my brother and I grew so tall’...”
    In closing, as far as drinking water today--who knew we’d be buying bottled water by the case creating sales close to $12 billion a year; a far cry from wiggle tails in a bucket, I’d say.
(Note: Thanks to everyone who shared ‘ole water well’ memories! They are preserved in our Cherokee County Historical Commission archives.
The CCHC Photo Contest. Due to participation in the contest many, many photos have been added to our archives. Winners will be announed as soon as each winner can be contacted. Gayla Needlham entered the contest and also shared numerous images from Alto, Texas.
All of the CCHC members and officers (Chair Elizabeth McCutcheon,  Vice Chair Shelley Cleaver and Secretary, John Thomason) welcome you to our website. Please visit each section of our site for history projects and activites. The "Contact Us" section gives details about our office hours. Come by for a visit!
Preservation Activities
September 2013 and Mary Goff is still with us!!!
     Chair Elizabeth McCutcheon has submitted the Annual Report and once again due to the hard work of each CCHC member the Texas Historical Commission has recognized Cherokee County!
   We couldn't acomplish this without the support of the citzens of our county and the Commissioners Court!