June 30, 2015

Everything Has A Story #7

Another Time - Our Texas Years at The Farm

An Old Story for New Friends ...

 [ The Content Was Written Around 2000 ]
Keep in mind this text is all in retrospect..
None of the content is in real time-today.
Only the post scripts/update notes
It was an accidental 'find' to discover it as I had once put it on the internet & lost track of it.
Our Home
[1993 - 2006 ]
It was built in 1906 & replaced an earlier log house structure that burned as I understand from older family connections relaying some of the history -This property was part of a land grant way back then. When I run across our copy of that official paper I'll insert it into this post.


1906 Primative Dog Trot Farmhouse


Personal NoteWe often had visitors asking to tour the farmhouse, the old barn and share our stories of times past. We were happy to indulge and often would spend two to three hours sharing with strangers or new friends. For this reason I put together a brochure to share, explaining a bit of our story and ultimately offering farmhouse tours with advance notice for a minimum number of guests and giving the opportunity for making a token gift to be used for printing materials and often refreshments. What you read below is that brochure text.

fyi:  Just in case you have no idea what a dog trot design farmhouse is:  There is basically an open "hallway in the middle of the house from front to back.  It is wider than a typical hallway in a modern house.  This one had bedrooms off to the left and [originally] living room, dining room, and kitchen on the right side.
As the family grew in size they made changes closing in space on each side of the front porch to make 2 additional though small bedrooms also the same on the left side they closed in part of a back porch [sleeping porch] making the left side 3 bedrooms with windows all along the outside walls. When we cam along it had 4 bedrooms and another bathroom had been inserted between the living rom and dining room. Their original bathroom when they got plumbing was at the end of the open dogtrot.


We are thrilled to share this wonderful  place with all of you.


The Harrison House is different. It's an original dogtrot design farmhouse built in 1906. A young girl once described the farmhouse with the open hallway from front to back saying: "Mrs. Jonell, why does your house have a hole in the middle of it?"

This farm came into the Raffe Simmons family in 1878 by way of a government Land grant and the present farmhouse replaced an earlier  log structure built & burned prior to 1906. This style was a common sight across the southern United States 100 years ago, and was a practical design to meet basic needs of families at the time considering life style and the southern climate.

copied/very retro scene
"dressed for the chore?"
(As I can put my hands on the relatively few farmhouse pictures we have I will insert them into this post-remember, even 15 years ago we were not hour by hour recording our lives with cameras [phones] as we are today..I really must scramble to gather and post what is in various boxes and drawers.)

In July 1994 we began to carefully refurbish, furnish and decorate the old farmhouse, using linens, pottery, kitchen collectibles & early 1900’s furniture such as chifferobes, iron beds, & floor model radios, primitive tables & chairs & wash stands. We finally had a home for the black pot bellied stove we had been hauling around for years [decorative not functioning].  It came from Ted's parents home in Jackson, Alabama.

This Harrison family relic finally
 had an appropriate home at the farmhouse

The Farmhouse dogtrot design is still intact and the only remodeling we chose to do has been to extend the kitchen & add a small porch to the northeast side of the house. On the original side porch the shelf with holes for wash pans is still there and used. A towel hangs from a nearby porch post. The original bath room has been improved & made more attractive with cypress walls , flooring & camp style shower stall. This now functions as a laundry room and shower with the farmhouse's original wood shingle ceiling so thoughtfully preserved by my husband.
Thanks Sweetheart!

We call the additional bathroom our “new old fashioned” bathroom fitted with claw foot bath tub and floor model lavatory. Instead of the usual bathroom cabinets an old Jenny Lynd vanity serves as dressing table and storage. The bath room walls, once covered with multiple layers of newsprint & wall paper are now the 12” wide cypress boards we uncovered in the beginning of this project.

Did I mention Overnight guests must run across the dog trot [hallway] to reach the bathroom in the middle of the night?

Yes, we deliberately chose not to add closets in each of the four bedrooms and chose instead free standing chifferobes [also called wardrobes]  for hanging clothes .

Whenever possible we have tried to make use of materials left over from the early changes such as windows that once were the doors on corner cabinets we could not use. Some of these are now mirrors permanently attached. Discarded lightwood fence posts now form the hand railings and posts along the front steps. A section of an original picket fence (which was once around this house) now has a place of honor in our front yard and I’m sure I can even find a place for a lightwood log discovered under a storage building. Long ago discarded parts to a once beautiful iron heater have a special place that reminds us and visitors of another time. (a 'graveyard' of sorts)

*(some of those windows made the move to Alabama & are integrated into the décor of our  1930's Brundidge home)

We made the deliberate choice not to add air conditioning units to this house, hung ceiling fans and decided to wait for a/c until we could install  units hidden from view in the attic.

It is our sincere desire to be able to share this wonderful piece of history with the public.
For that reason we do offer farmhouse tours to those who express an interest. We ask that you-
  1.  Make an appointment
  2.  Bring a group with a minimum of 4 people.
  3. We can make this a simple guided tour or we can plan for refreshments or a light lunch that would be a unique experience.

Ted and I do not have a history here, did not grow up in this area, have no family ties with the farm. Ted's family roots are in South Alabama and the Mississippi Delta region. His Mother Daisy Harrison was a Bagley whose Mother was a Harper from Mississippi and his Harrison Grandmother was a Pope. I am from South Georgia. My Williams family is from the same general area of Southeast Georgia and My Mother was a Mobley . Her parents were Marion Albert & Rachel Lee Mobley; Grandpa Mobley's parents James Eli Mobley & Elizabeth Swindle Mobley can be traced to Liberty county Georgia in the OKEEFENOKEE SWAMP REGION.


We cannot claim that our ancestors lived on this farm but we do have very similar stories to tell of the same period of time. Bring your own 'remember when' stories of this or other similar places and we will 'try' to be good listeners.

The Old Barn is equally distinctive and for a short time recently was turned into a unique, comfortable if primitive environment for showing and selling antique, primitive & collectible merchandise- for one weekend each month (Market Days at the Old Barn).

This was done without changing the strucure of the barn; stalls were used as shops with woodshaving floors and hand hewn feed troughs and hay racks were left in place.

While retired we can still be talked into farm and farmhouse tours for history buffs or students of any age, vacationers passing by, folks "coming back home to visit," artists and photographers also.


We are  located on FM 2626 (5.5 miles from HWY 87 North of Newton or just 6.5 miles from HWY 190 East of Newton)
If you can't find Newton,Texas. spot Toledo Bend Tx/La. on your map and work your way a bit west.

We will be looking for you. Watch for the RAFTER H RANCH sign.

All we ask: Bring with you a sweet spirit and your best southern manners...after all "This is a place where God Lives-In us. "

Y'all Come!

Post Script/update: We sold the farm [almost 200 acres] in June of 2006  and since then the OLD BARN and the Farmhouse have disappeared  from the landscape on highway 2626 in Newton county Texas-the new owner's personal preference. They loved the property but not the primitive farmhouse and barn. Sad? YES~ It was History- but you pay your money you get to do whatever you like with the property. So, I just cannot allow myself to dwell on it.

Precious memories of our Texas years. It was a God ordained  season of our lives, the prelude to the next unique season ahead of us here in southeast Alabama...back home closer to our children-filling in a lifetime together since 1959.

*Don't go looking for this house & barn now...IT IS NO LONGER THERE.




  1. Oh I have enjoyed looking at all the pictures. What a wonderful farm house it was. Loved looking at the clothes hanging on the line. Reminded me of my granny. Sweet memories for you I am sure! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  2. AAH! I miss that place... I am a part of a group on Facebook "You Know You're From Newton, If...". One of the men who is a part of the group posted about dog trot houses - their characteristics, etc., and asked if there are any left standing in Newton County. I think there are only a couple left. I adored the house you guys had... and, I loved the detail and care you put into everything. It truly was a gem!


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