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Wood County History

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Wood County History

By LOU MALLORY — Chairman Wood County Historical Commission

More on the colorful history of the Alba area

(This is the third installment of a four-part series on the history of Alba. An unknown writer has supplied much of the information in these articles.)

Alba, located in the extreme western portion of Wood County, has a long and colorful history. It was first settled, granted or homesteaded during the period from 1843 to 1870.

In the history of Alba, the communities of Salem, Enon, Pleasant Ridge and Hoyt are included as they are now considered to be a part of Alba. Each of the above-named communities had its own identity from the mid 1800s until about 1920. However, due to motorized transportation and decreasing populations, these small communities have for all practical purposes been consolidated into one city – Alba.

Starting around 1843, a continual migration of people seeking land and employment occurred in the area that is now Alba.

In 1843 Texas had just begun the business of legislative government, having won her independence just seven years earlier. The state at that time was divided into large districts and rather large counties. This particular part of East Texas was in Nacogdoches District, Sabine County.

One of the first land grants was given to Admiral Jason Sherman. It is believed the admiral received from headright, which included 1,240 acres of land, for his aid in the Texas fight for independence.

His grant was signed by Governor Pickney Henderson, and registered in Rains County in 1845. The name Sherman has no mention in the early history of the Alba area. It is assumed that Admiral Sherman, who was originally from Alabama, sold his land to some of the early area settlers.

The first laying off of lots was made by George McCown in 1881. It is not known if the city limit boundaries were established at this time. In 1901, McCown's survey did establish the city's defined limits. Alba became an incorporated city on July 21, 1908 with the boundaries that had been defined in 1901. On September 1, 1908, McCown again made a survey and new boundaries were established.

In 1887, the first depot was built in Alba and John Wilson Loyd was the first stationmaster. Up and until this time, the town had gone by the name of Albia. The son of the railroad superintendent had a son named Alba, and the post office department was petitioned to have the name altered to Alba. The petition was granted.

During this period, churches, schools and local organizations furnished opportunities for organized social gatherings. Individual entertainment could be found in playing baseball, and racing horses, or at a rifle range located at the local lumber yard. On "Smokey Row" there was a confectionary that could be compared to a present day Dairy Queen and on Saturdays, many people frequented a bandstand where the local band performed.

If courting can be considered recreation, John Loyd, a local resident, told of local customs in the 1870s. "I went courting in a buggy. Women were skittish. If you tried to kiss a girl, she slapped your face and told you to mind your own business and she meant it." He added, "Social gathering were held at home, or in churches or school buildings. Everyone rode ponies. The girls had their own ponies and rode side-saddle. Boys and girls rode in pairs, side by side."

(The final installment in this series will appear in the next issue of The Gazette.)