BROWN'S MILL, HRANICE, OLD DIME BOX & NEW DIME BOX
HISTORY OF BROWN'S MILL, HRANICE, OLD DIME BOX & NEW DIME BOX
By Leonard Kubiak, author and Texas historian from Rockdale, Texas
EARLY HISTORY OF LEE COUNTY
The region that became Lee County was initially home of the Tonkawa Indians, hunter-gatherers who followed the buffalo on foot and sometimes set fire to the prairie to aid them in their hunts. The Tonkawas were generally friendly toward European settlers, but many fell prey to European diseases and to raids by the Comanches and Cherokees. Those who survived were removed by the United States government in 1855 to the Brazos Indian Reservation.
The area was transversed by the camino real later known as the Old San Antonio Road,that passed through the site of present Lincoln in what is now central Lee County. During the era of Mexican rule (1820's), the Lee County area was part of the Milam District, a region extending from El Paso to the Navasota River. After Texas gained independence, the region was a part of the five adjacent counties, Bastrop, Burleson, Fayette, Milam, and Washington.
FIRST US SETTLER IN LEE COUNTY
The first known white settler in Lee County was James Goacher who settled on Rabbs Creek in southern Lee County in 1835 and laid out a pioneer trail known as Goacher's Trace, from his cabin on Rabbs Creek to San Felipe and Bastrop, linking the lower and upper Austin colonies.
James Goacher and his family emmigrated to Texas from Alabama between 1825 and 1834. Him and his son are listed in Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families Vol. II in 1834. The family first settled in San Felipe de Austin, then Rabb's Creek in present day Lee County, and finally Pin Oak Creek. James was selected in 1830 to build a road to connect San Felipe and Mina (the present day town of Bastrop). This was known as Goacher's Trace. James and two of his sons, Samuel and Nathaniel, received land from the Ayuntamiento.
In 1837, most of the family was killed in a Comanche Indian attack on their farm. A married daughter, Jane Crawford, her baby, and two small brothers, James Jr. and William Riley, were the only survivors and were taken captive by the Indians. After about two years, they were ransomed by a trading agent on the Red River. Charles Spalding escorted them back to Texas. Jane and Charles were married and raised a large family. They lived on the farm where the raid occurred.
Goacher Historical Marker
Settlement in the Lee County area remained sparse until the 1850s with settlers from the Southern states moving in. In 1854 a large group of Wends bought a league of land along Rabbs Creek in southern Lee County and settled in and around Serbin. In 1871 the new town of Giddings was founded, in what was then Washington County. In 1874, Lee County (named after Robert E. Lee) boundaries were formally established bounded on the east by East Yegua Creek and on the southeast by Cedar Creek. Giddings became the county seat of Lee County.
Large numbers of Germans and Czechs,Moravians and Danes, moved into the county during the 1880s and 1890s. The 1890 census reported nearly 1,500 people of foreign birth living in the county. Though many of the new immigrants came directly from Europe, a sizable number moved to the area from the surrounding counties because of the availability of inexpensive land.
The first industry in Lee county was a chair-making business founded by William Jackson in the 1840s in the community of Blue, near Lexington.
The area that would become the settlements of Hranice, Browns Mill, Old Dimebox and New Dimebox was located near the East Yegua creek in Lee County in the Stephen F. Austin four-league grant (17,712 acres). Early Anglo settlers in this region were Texas heros returning from the Battle of San Jacinto such as early day surveyer, Horatio Chriesman, William Hawkins, Nicholas Crunk, James Wilkerson, John Cottrell, and a handful of others. Several schools operated in the years prior to the arrival of the Czechs in the 1880s.
John Cottrell Family-Early day anglo settlers in the region that later became Hranice. Cottrell was a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto during the fight for Texas Independence. Many of the early Anglo settlers in the Stephen F. Austin land grant were Texas soldiers in the San Jacinto battle with Santa Anna's army in the fight for Texas independence.
BROWN'S MILL AND POST OFFICE(1877)
The earliest settlement in Lee County near the area that became known as Dime Box was Brown's Mill and post office built in 1877. This mill was located south of the present-day site of Old Dime Box and almost due west of present day New Dime Box. A Union School had earlier opened in that area in January of 1874.
The school later housed the local Presbyterian church, which was one of the earliest of this denomination in the state.
Prior to the establishment of the Brown's Mill Post Office, settlers deposited outgoing mail and a dime in a small box inside Brown's office for a weekly delivery to Giddings. This custom led to the new name for the Brown's Mill post office in 1883.
The Brown's Mill post office closed in December 1883 and moved to a site just to the north (site of present day Old Dime Box).
OLD DIME BOX ESTABLISHED (1883)
Due to confusion with mail addressed to Brown's Mill and Brownsville, the post office requested a name change so in 1883, the townsfolk reflected back on the earlier tradition of depositing outgoing mail and a dime in a small box inside Brown's office for a weekly delivery to Giddings and thus a new town was born.
Kubena's Gin and Mill built about 1888 included a cotton gin, grist mill, steam sawmill and later a molasses mill.
In the 1930s, Old Dime Box had a number of businesses that served area farmers, mostly of Czech and German descent. The community had a Sons of Herman Lodge, Trinity Lutheran Church, and the Old Dime Box Cemetery, also known as the Hannes Cemetery. A Texas Historical Marker was erected in 1968 and honored Old Dime Box as Lee County's second oldest community. In the mid-1970s the town had several businesses, including Marek's Café, Eldie Whitsel's Highway Grocery, and E. B. Kucera's Store. In 2000, the population was still only about 200 and the Trinity Lutheran Church still served local residents.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Old Dime Box, organized in 1900; still active today.
NEW DIME BOX ESTABLISHED (1913)
In 1913, the Houston & Texas Central Railway built its line three miles to the southeast of Brown's Mill/Old Dime Box causing many of the Old Dime Box businesses to relocate to the railroad tracks.
According to "Early Dime Box" by Ella S. Spacek,1991, one of the first businesses to relocate to the New Dime Box site next to the railroad tracks was Frank Hammes who had a store and saloon at the site that is currently a parking lot for the First State Bank.
The new site was called "New Dime Box" and eventually the original site was referred to as "Old Dime Box."
Houston & Texas Central Railway Train Depot in New Dime Box, Circa 1913.
Vince Balcar's Store and Saloon built in New Dime Box (1914).
Vince Balcars Saloon (1914)located in New Dime Box near the railroad.
New Dime Box Blacksmith Shop.
Joe Kocurek General Store and Post Office in New Dime Box (Photo courtesy Steven and Mary Siptak).
New Dime Box around 1924. Shown L-R: Frank McClellan, Richard Zuelhke, Jimmy Hannes, Max Hannes, Hugo Hannes, Bill Jackson, John Burttschell, Albert Karcher, Frank Psencik, Dr. T.C. Loose, Ernest Hannes, Frank Hannes, J.A. Polansky, Adolph Hannes, and Noah Albers.
New Dime Box High School Band, 1940.
New Dime Box Water Tower.
New Dime Box Czech Heritage Museum, located on County Road 141, north of Giddings. This great little museum, staffed by local volunteers, displays variety of old photographs, clothing, tools, implements and interesting stuff dating back to the early Czech settlement of the area. The museum is typically open Friday through Sunday between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. For more details, call (979) 884-0182.
CZECH MORAVIAN SETTLEMENT OF HRANICE (1882)
Hranice, established around 1881, was a Moravian settlement located two miles northeast of New Dime Box in north central Lee County.
Early settlers were farmers drawn to the area by the availablity of rich soil, an abundance of oak trees for building homes, schools, churches.
In the early 1880s, a flood of Czech Moravian immigrants from Fayette County began moving into the area attracted by good land, abundant post oak forests and abundant water provided by the East Yegua Creek.
Hauling Timbers to the local sawmill in early day Hranice
Hranice,named from the Czech word for "high point" or "promontory," was developed as a community center for area Czech Moravian farmers as well as some of their Anglo, Polish, and German neighbors.
A one room school house was initially built in 1886 near the area of the present day Hranice Cemetery.
This one room school had
some thirty-eight students in attendance.
Hranice School Class of 1900. The lumber for this historic school was hauled by oxen and wagons from a mill in Ledbetter. The first teacher was Josef Libich.In additional to providing traditional education programs, the Hranice School became the social center for the Czech-Moravian community where dances, picnics, and plays were often performed. This one room school served the community until 1915 when it was replaced by a more modern 2-class-room school. In 1935, this school was moved to New Dime Box.
The Hranice Czech Moravian Bretheran Church was built near the Hranice Cemetery in 1911. This original church served the Hranice community until struck by a tornado in 1923.
The Hranice Czech Moravian Bretheran Church was struck by a tornado in 1923 and rebuilt by area farmers and carpenters under the leadership of John Maresh of Deanville.
The Hranice Czech Moravian Bretheran Church congregation shown in front of the newly rebuilt church about 1924.
The church was later struck by ligntning in 1954. The third church was relocated to new Dime Box where it stands today.
St. Josephs Catholic Church constructed near the Hranice Czech Moravian Brethren Church about 1909. This church was moved to New Dime Box in 1956.
William Blaha of early day Hranice courting Albina Hejtmancik, his bride to be (1912).
Hranice School Class of 1925. This photo is taken near the new 2-classroom school.
PIONEERS OF HRANICE
Much of the early-day Hranice history was documented by Albert J. Blaha, Sr. a member of the Czech Heritage Society of Texas who was born in Hranice in 1915, attended Hranice schools and went on to graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in Architectural Engineering. In his book, "Hranice: The Moravian Settlement on the Yegua", Mr. Blaha has considerable detail about the pioneer families of Hranice.
Some of the Hranice settlers included the Martin Srubar family, the Thomas Charbula family, the John Krenek Family, the Jan Kocurek family, the Edward
Petras family, the Frank Svach family, the Josef Anton Krupa family, the Josef Blaha family, the John Kocurek family, the Valigura families, the Dubcak family, the Vinc Balcar families, the Josef Koudelka families the Vincent Maresh family, the Martin Polasek family, the Joe Dusek family and others.
During its peak years (between 1900 and 1920), Hranice had developed into a great little town sporting two saloons, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a gin and sawmill, six molasses mills, and two gristmills
Balcar's Store in Hranice Community about 1912.
After 1920 most of Hranice's businesses closed. During the 1930s two churches and a number of dwellings remained. Today, the townsite of Hranice is marked by two side by side cemeteries out on County Road 426 just outside new Dime Box.
Early-Day Filling Station in New Dime Box (Photo taken in 1948). The young man working at the filling station was William E. Blaha (Bill) who was working for his brother Dan Blaha (information curtesy Pam Blaha Iselt of Lexington, daughter of Bill Blaha (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Bookmark this page and come back often. If you have old photographs of Hranice, Dime Box or other nearby settlements or families, please email me a copy and I'll include your photos on this webpage.
Received the following email from Steven and Mary Siptak (email@example.com):
Thought you might like this photo of the home of Joe and Adela Bordovsky Kocurek that sits right at the Y as you go into New Dime Box. Joe owned a general store (picture attached) and was president of the bank at one time.
Joe and Adela Bordovsky Kocurek Family
Joe and Adela Bordovsky Kocurek Home in New Dimebox
Joe Kocurek Store in Dime Box
Received the following email from Dr. Kelly E. Hejtmancik (firstname.lastname@example.org):
My Grandmother’s maiden name was Jurcak. He and his family owned a large ranch in Dime Box. My grandfather, Rudolph J Hejtmancik, was the Superintendent for the Lee County School District for years. He owned and operated a store in Dime Box. He tore the store down and built his house in Giddings with the lumber. Albina was one of the original Hejtmanciks along with my great grandfather, and her half brother. I understand they entered the country through the Port of Galveston and their names are on the emigrant registry.
I have a published and unpublished manuscript from Albert Blaha’s. He worked for Brown and Root and traveled extensively, learned Czech, and acquired a lot of extensive history and genealogy about the Blaha and Hejtmancik family. He has been dead for many years. I understand that his daughter, Susie Blaha, had moved to Dime Box, but it has been a while and I am approaching 65, so things tend to be a little vague.
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