HISTORY OF CARMINE

Carmine was founded on December 24, 1883, by Benjamin J. Thigpen, a highly regarded physician.  He purchased 46 acres of land for $230 and plotted the townsite as “Sylvan”, but subsequently changed the name to Carmean, after one of the original highly-respected settlers of the area, Newton Carmean.  The spelling of the town was changed to Carmine on June 15, 1892, to eliminate confusion for the postal service with the town of Cameron.  The railroad opened a small station in the new city of Carmine where farmers could ship their products to market.

By 1900 Carmine had four general stores, four saloons, two blacksmith shops, a new paper named the New Century, several churches, and ten other businesses.

The Carmine State Bank opened in 1907 and the town received an economic boost that has helped the City throughout the years.  With the bank opening, other industry followed, boosting Carmine’s population growth to approximately 500 in the early 1900’s.

The main economics of yesteryear were cotton, potatoes, chickens, eggs and cattle. Today, the chief source of Carmine’s economy is antique stores, tourism, ranching and the beautiful and historical countryside surrounding the city.

HISTORICAL FACTS

  1. City was founded on December 24, 1883 by Dr. Benjamin Jackson Thigpen, a physician who came to Texas from North Carolina
  2. The railroad was first built to and through Carmine in 1871.  After Dr. Thigpen sold the railroad (known as the Houston& Texas Central Railroad) a right of way in what is now the center of Carmine, a small rail station was built in 1883 and Dr. Thigpen became the station agent.
  3.  The very first name given to Carmine was Sylvan but was subsequently changed to Carmean in honor of John Carmean who was one of the oldest settlers to the area.
  4.  The first post office was established on January 14, 1886 with Elizabeth Price as the first post mistress.
  5.  The spelling of the name of the town was changed on June 15, 1892 because of difficulties with the mail service
  6.  The primary economic base of the city was cotton which was shipped to the coast via rail. The first cotton gin opened in 1889
  7.  The first general store opened in Carmine in 1886
  8.  The Carmine Bank opened in 1907
  9.  In 1910 the city of Carmine had a population of approximately 500
  10.  The first telephone system was established in 1889. 
  11. The city of Carmine incorporated in 1973
  12. The first paved road in and through Carmine was State Highway 20 built in 1925.

"Making Nowhere Somewhere"
An excerpt from A History of Carmine,                           by Tony C. Buban

"People settling and establishing the City of Carmine were only a small part of the army of men and women who were moving westward in the second half of the 19th century to help make nowhere somewhere. 

These pioneers, and they were pioneers to a great extent, were a strong and resourceful breed. Men and women in the thousands were making new starts and building new towns all over this land. 

Only a few short years before the founding of carmine, the railroads laid a transcontinental link between the East and West Coasts. This made possible the growth of such famous towns as Dodge City, Kansas, and Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming.  The Townsite Act of 1844 made possible settlement of large areas of the United States and this in turn was responsible for the creation of many towns. 

The land upon which a good part of Carmine lies is a part of the James Beardslee League. James Beardslee was one of the colonists introduced to Texas by Stephen F. Austin. 

On March 31, 1831, James Beardslee applied to the State of Coahuila and Texas, Mexico for a league of land situated northwest of La Bahia Road, and known as League No. 11, south of Yegua Creek. He received the land with the stipulation that he settle and cultivate the land.  

Land had changed hands through the years until Jacob Graul, in 1873, came into possession of some of the land on the James Beardslee League.  On December 17, 1873, Benjamin J. Thigpen bought 46 acres of land from Jacob Graul for $230.00 and, thus, somewhere was about to become a place called Carmine, Texas."   

Source: A History of Carmine by Tony C. Buhan. 1976.

Carmine Legends and Tales
Excerpts from A History of Carmine

"Much of any town’s history is involved stories that are passed around by word of mouth. Usually no recorded history of these stories exist and many of the dates are questionable. After being told so many times, no one is even quite sure of the details they give you.  Your source will sometimes say something like the following: “Well, when I was a kid, I can remember old man so and so saying that his daddy remembered….” and so goes the tale.  

Inconsistent dates, fuzzy memories, fading names, and the like all contribute to inaccurate stories, but nevertheless, interesting to listen to and perhaps some will enjoy reading these tales and legends. 

Each community, regardless of age and size, possesses tales and legends unique only to that particular community and sets it apart from any other community.  These yarns often provide extra insight into the town and its people through tests everyday happenings.  Carmine is not without her owntales and legends, and with some help, we are able to record and share these."
 

Wagons West

"One day back in the last years of the 1800’s or the very first years of the 1900’s, a family came through the Carmine area following an established route that went through Rocky Ridge Ranch--now owned by Joe Ward--in a covered wagon. No one knows where they came from, but the whole family, except the mother, became sick.

Camping under a grove of live oak trees on what is now part of the Windmill Ranch owned by Conway and Marlene (Schmidt) Waak, a local doctor determined the cause of sickness to be yellow fever.  Needless to say, they were then put under a quarantine at the grove of oaks.  An elderly Paul Schoenst of Carmine, reported to Nolan Schmidt that as a young boy on his pony, he had taken medicine from the Carmine doctor to a nearby hill where the mother of the family met him.  Of course there wasn’t much anyone could do, and soon all were dead, except the mother.  Her family was buried there near the live oaks; perhaps she had to bury the last members alone. 

A large tombstone-shaped rock with a very simple cross scraped on it can still be seen at the site about 2.5 miles west of Carmine.

Of hardy stock that poor woman had to be, because it is said she hooked up the horses to that covered wagon and left, going south, never to be heard from again, and the identity of the family  remains unknown." (Source: Oral History)

 

Love and Death

"Another tale of sadness involves a love triangle but not of the normal kind. Years ago, when a rock quarry was being worked right out of Carmine, many families lived at the quarry.  One family in particular consisted of a man and his daughter, probably a teenager. 

As it happens in our society, some male person was showing her attention and was warned off by the father.  Then, the daughter and the stranger disappeared. By mutual consent? No one knows for sure.  

The father, angry, found the couple after they had caught the train to Ledbetter and were trying to leave.  In the shooting that followed, the old man killed his daughter accidentally.  Returning to the rock quarry and probably out of his mind with grief, he sat himself down on a keg of black powder and lit the fuse."  

 


Bank Robbery

"In its history, the Carmine State Bank has been robbed twice, once successfully, once unsuccessfully.

On November 9, 1932, a man named Hamilton and his partner, O’Dair, robbed the bank of $1,000. Hamilton had been a member of the Clyde Barrow-Bonnie Parker gang. the money was never recovered.  

Two months later, in January 1933, two strangers appeared in town and immediately cause suspicion to be drawn toward them. Having been in the area for two or three days, Deputy Sheriff Jim Floury was notified.  On the day the sheriff arrived, one of the two men entered the bank while the second drove away from the bank. After apprehending the driver, Dee Campbell, Sheriff Floury, and others approached the bank from a rear entrance. Inside was Leon Addington, who was holding a gun on bank president W.H. Streamer; H.L.F. Doerr, Sr, cashier; and W.A. Plueckhahn, assistant cashier. 

Distracted by the forced entry of Sheriff Floury and the others, Addington was shot and killed by Plueckhahn. 

According to Mr. Doerr, Jr, who was a youngster at the time, school was turned out and he remembered that various children from the school came to the bank and looked at the body of Addington, which had been carried outside to await the arrival of an ambulance. 

Mr. Doerr, current bank president (as of XXX), also remembers that W.A. Plueckhahn received a $5,000 reward for his part in preventing the robbery." 

 

Kidnapping

"Back in September of 1931, William Neese, Sr became involved with an incident that few people undergo and live to tell about.  It seems he was on his way to Burton, about 8pm one night to see his finance—later his wife— Lucille. A car pulled along side his, and a man with a gun jumped out onto his running board and forced Mr. Neese to pull over.  The two gunmen robbed him, tied him up, and then took him in his car. Later, Mr. Neese was dumped out and the men left.  

After untying himself, Mr. Neese went for help. The men were caught later and eventually sent to prison. Ironically, these men later escaped, were going through Giddings and pulled the same stunt with a Giddings man who was a friend of Mr. Neese."

 

Double Murder

"John C. Rudolpf and his wife, Maria, met their death, supposedly at the hands of one Andrew Harris on May 13, 1909. John, 77, and Maria, 64, are said to have been keeping their life savings in their home. On that fateful night in 1909, someone killed them, robbed them, and then burned their house.  Many said they thought Harris to be innocent, but some townspeople wanted to lynch the man.  The Rudolpf relatives interceded to prevent this. It is known that Harris went to prison but not what ever became of him. Heresy tells us that years later, a death bed confession of another man cleared Andrew Harris, but this is not a proven fact." 
 

Stabbing

"'A fight over a lady,' says Mrs. Leila Harzke, “resulted in the death of a great uncle of mine, Otto Menn.”

The year was 1898 and the site was a place known as Zwernemann’s Saloon, located to the left of where Renck’s store is today.  A Mr. Brau and Otto Menn were fighting over the attentions of a married lady, who was not carrying either of their names, in a place that was known for gambling as well as drinking.  Otto Menn was stabbed to death and is buried in the Carmine Cemetery. What happened to Brau? No one could answer."  

 

Source: A History of Carmine by Tony C. Buban. 1976.