Paul Hancock Shares Pre-Timpson History with TAGHS

November 18, 2016 - Though he has lived in Tyler for the past 50 or 60 years, Paul Hancock still has a clear recollection of his early years in Timpson...and beyond. Speaking to the Timpson Area Genealogical and Heritage Society's November 16 meeting, Hancock put his lifelong interest in history and his former career as a history teacher to full use as he shared old photographs and rattled off names, dates, and family relationships from the days before Timpson was established.

Hancock's ancestor Hardy Hancock settled in the Waterman area, south of Timpson's future site. He points with pride to the fact that the original deed to the Hancock land was signed by Sam Houston. He still owns a large portion of that land. Paul's genealogy includes Yarbroughs and Rathers, the latter family having produced famous TV newsman Dan Rather.

The economic base for the Waterman Community was Bob Waterman's sawmill, which employed many community residents.  The majority of the Waterman Sawmill's production was sent to Europe, Hancock said, but WWI destroyed the European market for lumber and the mill closed.

Many of Timpson's most prominent early residents had moved here from Buena Vista, or “Old Town” as some called it. Located just a few miles northeast of Timpson, Buena Vista had been a thriving community in the 19th century, even competing with Shelbyville for the site of the county seat. Among those families who once made their homes in Buena Vista were the Busseys, the Billingsleys, and the Whitesides.

Another respected Buena Vista family was the Roberts clan, as well as the Whittons. Knute Whitton was the county surveyor during the 19th century though he could neither read nor write, according to Hancock. He served in the Texas Battalion during the Civil War, possible thinking he was joining the Confederate Army. He lost his wife when she was killed by being thrown from a buggy near Arcadia. Two of his sons also became surveyors, though Hancock says they claimed that their illiterate father was a better surveyor than either of them. He lived to be over 100 years old.

The Rains family is well know around Timpson and they count among their ancestors Emory Rains, a one-time Buena Vista resident who arrived around 1816. Though he represented Shelby County in the Republic of Texas legislature, he left the county around the time of the Regulator-Moderator War and settled northwest of Tyler and prospered there. He lobbied the Texas legislature for the creation of Rains County and stood with Sam Houston in his opposition to Texas' secession from the Union. Today. Rains County bears his name as does the Rains County Seat, Emory, Hancock revealed.

The death knell of Buena Vista was sounded when the new narrow gauge rail line linking Shreveport with Houston bypassed the community. The newly established town of Timpson was soon booming and many of the residents of Buena Vista moved to the new town. Hancock said that he remember that the population of Timpson was 1492 when he graduated from THS in 1951. He noted that, although Timpson's population has diminished and it no longer is a boom town, he believes that the future could well bring growth and prosperity.

Noting the importance of the Haynesville Shale and pinnacle reef formations, which have yet to reach their full potential as oil and gas sources, as well as the construction of Interstate 69 through the area, Paul Hancock said he believes there are bright days in Timpson's future.