James Lowell Bogue Recalls Timpson History with TAGHS Members and Guests

June 20, 2016 - The first thing that June TAGHS speaker James Lowell Bogue revealed to the audience last Wednesday was that his feet were bothering him and he would be more comfortable sitting as he spoke. That admission set a tone of cordiality and informality as attendees commented on and added to Judge Bogue's wide-ranging topics. Everyone present for Judge Bogue's talk was provided with a list of fourteen significant aspects of Timpson's past he wanted to touch on. Having been born in Timpson, graduated from Timpson High School, served as head football coach, middle school and high school principal and currently our Municipal Judge, he knew his topic well.

Though he played football for THS and later coached football there, Judge Bogue opened with the amazing story of THS track star Marion Lee Lindsey Jr.  As a senior in 1917, Lindsey was Timpson's only athlete at the state track meet, yet he won the 50 yard dash, the 100 yard dash, the 220 yard dash, the shot put, and second place in another event.  His point total was sufficient to win the meet single-handedly. This accomplishment becomes even more incredible as Judge Bogue noted because schools were not classed by size in those days. Lindsey won over every public school in Texas. Going on to star in track and football at Rice University, Lindsey died of leukemia at age 28. He is a member of Rice University's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Timpson's economy was agriculture-based until the mid 20th century and Judge Bogue spoke of the significance of both tomato and cotton production. He said that Timpson once had two cotton gins, providing the initial processing of the cotton brought in from local fields. After having been ginned into bales, the cotton was taken to a compress, located near where Smyrna Baptist Church now stands, Bogue remembered, where it was further compressed for shipment by rail. Tomatoes were a big cash crop in Timpson in the first half of the 1900s and Timpson had thirteen tomato sheds at the industry's local peak about 1950, shipping up to 350 rail cars per season. Many of those present shared personal experiences of having worked in the tomato sheds packing tomatoes in their youth. The tomatoes were packed in locally produced wooden crates for shipment, Bogue said.

Among other now gone Timpson industries Judge Bogue discussed was the ice plant. Formerly located on the block now occupied by City Hall and facing what is now Highway 59, the plant was operated by Judge Bogue's uncle, Buell Bogue. Judge Bogue recalled that the ice was frozen in 300 pound blocks and that it was crystal clear, with no bubbles or clouding. The plant workers would chip off a block the size desired by the customer, with 25 pounds costing about 25 cents. Judge Bogue also talked about the old electric light plant which was located on the corner of Marcus and Railroad Streets, the cannery, and the bottling works. Timpson had one of the first soft drink bottling plants in Texas, producing sodas under the Timpson brand and later the Coca-Cola brand.

When payday and the weekend rolled around one of the most popular sources of recreation was going to the “picture show” and Timpson once had three movie theaters, Judge Bogue revealed. The Palace, located near where McDonald's Hardware now stands was the oldest,  the Joy was located near the present site of the Jerry Woods building, and the Fox, still standing, was on Austin Street, a few doors west of the present Timpson Library. Westerns were a Saturday afternoon staple. Judge Bogue also recalled the Blankenship Hotel, located behind the present City Hall, and the depot, located by the railroad tracks near the northwest corner of the town square, which was one of the largest in East Texas at the time.

Judge Bogue and others remembered atttending school in local churches after the old frame school building burned in 1937. By the time he graduated from THS in 1950, the current, though much remodeled, school building had been completed. He joked that the steam heat then provided by radiators in the classrooms worked well except when the weather was cold!     

Timpson once had a frame hospital, Judge Bogue recalled. Known as Whiteside Sanitarium, it was owned by Dr. W. A. Whiteside. Timpson had six other doctors, including Dr. Smith and Dr. Copeland that Judge Bogue could recall. For those who were not seriously ill, doctor's made housecalls.

At the conclusion of his talk, Judge Bogue chatted with TAGHS members and guests. Members were pleased to be able to greet Judge Bogue's wife, Barbara, who felt well enough to accompany him to the meeting following her recent illness.

The Timpson Area Genealogical and Heritage Society meets at 2pm on the third Wednesday of each month in the Meeting Room of the Timpson Public Library, located on the corner of Austin and Bremond streets. The public is invited.