Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Confederate Reunion Grounds - Mexia, Texas

Wow things are really great here and we are really enjoying it along with our dogs, Boots, Scootin & Boogie!!

We have a 3 day work schedule and then 4 days off.  I am working in the visitor center checking in guest to the site and Fred is working on the grounds.  We are to put in 24 hours for our site but since we are both working we are doing more.  Between noon and 3 Fred  goes to the coach since it is over 100 degrees here and watches TV.  He is then on call with a radio, but chances of him getting called out are slim to none.  He is enjoying playing on the zero turn and just messing around.  My work is not really hard and I am starting to really get into doing other things. The grounds are beautiful here and we are always discovering something new.  There is a lot of history here from the veterans of the civil war meeting to the oil boom in Limestone County in the 1920's.  I have been amazed at all I have been learning and finding out.  This is really a great place to explore.  The Reunion Grounds are located in Mexia, TX at the intersection of the Navasota River and Jack's Creek.

In the 1880 this was the location where the Northern and Southern veterans met for fellowship and the shared memories of their was experiences and sacrifices.   In 1888 the group that meet was formally organized and was named the Joseph E. Johnston Camp of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV).  Joseph E. Johnson was a commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee.  The veterans met each year between the full moon July and August and would have anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 people in attendance.  They finance these reunions by selling plots of the land that was solely for the purpose of camping each year for the reunion. 

At the end of the war there were 4 cannons that were buried by the Confederates in the Fairfield area as they were not sure of the message they received about the end of the war.  As these reunions progress during the  years these cannons were dug up and the two brass ones were melted down and the two iron ones were kept.  One sits in front of the courthouse in Fairfield today and the other one named "Old Val Verde" was used during the reunions and was fired to start and end each day of the reunion.  Today this cannon still sits on the ground underneath the four flags of the Confederate.
In 1894 the Confederate built a pavilion for the purpose of social gathers and the dances held during the reunion.  This pavilion still sits on the grounds and in my opinion is a masterpiece of architecture.  The picture to the left is the pavilion and below is a picture of the top inside.  It is truly wonderful.

Looking down Navasota River
toward Fort Parker
State Park. 
In November 1920 a wildcatter by the name of Albert E. Humphreys struck oil in Limestone County.  He made a deal with the Confederates for water and built a pump house on Jack Creek to supply his wells.
Jack's Creek had an expansion bridge across it and water was pump from this area to the oil rigs.  Col. Humphreys improve the Reunion Grounds in return for the water  and built the Pure Oil  Company clubhouse and a large bathhouse/swimming area for large parties and gatherings.

This is the remains of the chimney where the POCO club. was located.  There are other remains of other homes that were located on the ground in which the care keepers for Col. Humphreys lived.  They maintained the grounds and the pump house.

There is so much more to these grounds and if you ever get the chance stop by and visit.  It is truly a moving place and you can still feel the presents of the Confederates on the grounds.  In April of each year there is a reenactment of a battle of the Civil War and the grounds are alive again with both Confederate and Union soldiers camping and enjoying their selves.  The site today is used for fishing in the Navasota River, family reunions, weddings, group activities and school educational programs.  There is no overnight camping provided on the site, but Ft. Parker State Park is close by with full camping sites provided.  Improvements to the grounds is still being made and more is learned each day about the history of the grounds and the area.  I am truly happy we had the chance to workamp here for 3 months and learn more about the area, the civil war, and the post war activities.