We chose to go to the 11:00 service as we are not early risers and last night we went to a living history Historical Mansion, The Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House, built in 1878.
We met 12 characters portraying members of all 3 families that lived in the house. We first met Judge Bonner and chatted about life in Tyler during the Civil War. He voted for accepting Texas into the Union after the War.
|Judge Bonner introduces himself as the patriarch|
We met his daughter Mattie who he gave the house to as a wedding present, but Mattie died when she was just 35 years old and the house was sold to Mattie’s sister, Annie and her husband, Sidney McClendon. The McClendons raised 9 children in the house and we met 4 of them on the tour. The funniest of the discussions with the family was with the 2 spinster sisters, Patience and Annie, who when they had to live in old-age homes. They lived in 2 different facilities because they could not stay in the same home...they bickered constantly. We laughed as they fought over every everything.
|Annie, left, and Patience, right, bickered about everything from plates they are eating on to their memories|
We had arrived about an hour before the tours started and met one of the cast, Mary Durham, who played the maid, Annie. Mary told us to just come as we were (dressed for the train ride), no need to go back to the RV and change. When we met her again as Annie, the maid who was with all the children while they grew up, she never broke character or showed any recognition as she told us her story.
These are some of the characters we met:
|Frank's Wife, Dorothy|
|Anne Bonner McClendon and son, Sidney, Jr|
The last character we met was Sarah McClendon, the youngest of the McClendon children and the most famous. She enlisted in the WAC during WWII and after the war became a journalist. She served as a Washington Correspondent covering 12 Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to George W Bush.
Today, after church we drove to New London where in 1934 311 children, teachers, and staff were killed in a horrific gas explosion occurred. Many of the injured children were brought 27 miles to a hospital in Tyler following the explosion, For many years there was not a lot of information about the explosion as it was so devastating to the community they would talk about it. There is a Monument to those killed. One very important safety outcome of the explosion was that all natural gas must have an odor additive added as natural gas has no smell. Had that been added, the children would have known there was a leak somewhere and the spark from a switch on a grinder in the Industrial Arts class would not have set off this disaster.
|Site of the New London Jr/Sr High School-Now East Rusk Jr/Sr Hi|
|Monument to the Lost|
We then drove about 13 miles to Kilgore where the oil boom started in East Texas. We found a cache in what is called the “The Richest Acre”. There are oil wells throughout Kilgore and this little park commemorates that industry. One interesting thing we noticed on top of all the oil derricks in town were stars. I then found this picture on the site of the cache that shows what they look like at night.
|Christmas Tree Park|
|Lit Stars on top of derriks|
We finished our day at a Chinese Buffet in Kilgore before heading home. We were greeting by the most friendly Koi as we entered. The food was excellent as well. It was a wonderful Easter day.
|Hungry begging Koi|
Until our next blog, we cache on. Tom, Barb and Pansy