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Roots in Cottonwood Henderson County, Texas

This is the Cottonwood School in about 1907. The school went in to operation in 1874. The teacher is Robert Hughes Davis, to his right are Robert W. and Edgar Lee Roberson, some of the others in the picture maybe Grahams,Green, Allison, Morton, Frazier, Ballard, Willmon, Gregg, Davis, and others.The school was located near a spring that the early settlers and travelers used for water just east of the Athens & Prairieville road, and a mile north of Clear Creek.


   Recorded history of the Cottonwood Community is almost non-existent. However, through intensive search of Deed Records, Census Records and personal interviews, a small amount of information about the area was obtained.Deed Records indicate that the area was sparsely settled as early as 1845 and as the westward move from the southern states of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi became popular in the late 1840's and early 1850's, this fertile farmland was attractive to the imigrants. It was easily accessible by way of the Old Athens-Prairieville Road which ran through the community. Cotton and corn were two of the main crops grown in this area. The community was named for the many cottonwood trees that grew near the streams running through it. Census Records show that some of the earliest farnilies of the comrnunity were the Stirmans, Greens, Cokers,  Benges, Grahams, Hendleys, Wheelers. and possibly others that were not enumerated on the census. The first school in the community was established in 1874 after 2 1/2 acres was deeded for that purpose on December 30, 1871 by Mary Harris, widow of E.G. Harris, and his daughter Ella Blake and husband, Bennett Blake.  It was a typical one-room schoolhouse which was common for that era. The first teacher, in 1874, was Mr. J. A. Jennings. A new school was built in 1922 one mile south of the original location and the Cottonwood school continued to be active until 1943 when it became a part of theEustace school system.

 There was a community church in the area which met the needs of all the faiths. and for a time, met regularly in the schoolhouse before a separate church was built. A post office was established in the community in 1894 and supposedly. a resident of the community, Mance Morton was the first patron. Therefore, it was named "Mance" and the community became officially Mance, Texas. The Mance Post Office continued to function, with the first postmaster being Roscoe S. Wheeler, succeeded in 1902 by Murray H. Wheeler, until 1905 when the area began being served by the Athens Post Office. After the closing of the Mance Post Office, the community was again known as Cottonwood. Deed Records also show that in 1889 W. H. Graham sold two acres of land (not a part of his home place) to the Cottonwood Mill and Gin Cooperative Association of Henderson County, stipulating that a Mill and Gin be erected with all necessary machinery to serve the people of the community. There were two stores in the area, one located near the Mance Post Office and owned by the Graham family,and the other was near the school and was owned by Robert F. Roberson. There was also a blacksmith shop and a grist mill which was owned and operated by Mance Morton.  In the same area, there was a community dipping vat. used by everyone in the community, for the purpose of dipping cattle.  

        The site of the Post office is now owned by Jerry Morton. The first school house, the dipping vat, and black-smith shop was on property now owned by Lee Roberson. The second school was on property now owned by Danny Davis. The site of the cotton-gin and grist mill was about the area of Jerry Dunn's home. The church was located on CR 2803, just up the hill from CR 2804, on property now owned by Tom Hight. The last school house may have been next to the church before they were bulldozed down.  

Will add more stories of Cottonwood later.

Lee Roberson

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