* * * * * DO WHAT YOU LOVE * * * * *
Stephenville Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter, November 2019
Our family was recently invited to an event unveiling a historical marker for the home in which we raised our children; our home for just over 17 years. The marker deems it the oldest home in Parker County; built in 1854 by the Woody family originally from Roane County, Tennessee. The details state how this family set out on foot with just a few possessions; the mother, Elisabeth, having given birth six weeks earlier to a son. They walked for six months until they reached the spot where some of their other family members had begun a homestead in Fannin County, Texas. The Woody’s all pitched in to assist finishing the working farm, then moved on to White Settlement where they resided temporarily until their dream home was completed on a tract of land overlooking and encompassing a lovely creek in the Veal Station community.
The final result was a sturdy dogtrot style dwelling; still standing today, having a few modifications over the decades to bring it up to modern standards.
It consisted of two rooms, each containing a fireplace and yellow pine hand-hewn floors imported by oxen from Louisiana. The rooms were separated by an open breezeway...for the dogs. An upper room periodically rented out to weary travelers as they passed through via stagecoach and later by students attending Parsons College, was accessible through an exterior staircase and doorway.
Up until 1995, the year we purchased, the home had only been owned by members of the Woody family. Soon after moving in, we began to discover many unique features of our homestead, known only to the Woody’s up to that time.
After the initial foundation inspection of our home's crawl space...also "questionably" referred to as a pier and beam foundation...our inspector struggled to pull himself out of the tiny trap door located in the floor of a closet in the original portion of the home. He was covered in cobwebs and a little sweaty but had a big grin on his face. "This house isn't going anywhere," he said. "I have never seen anything like it. Your house sits on fossilized logs and stacks of stone, but it is as solid as the day is long."
One weekend, we met some members of the local Archaeological Society, who had ongoing dig sites alongside the creek and at the back of what was soon to become Woody Creek Estates...the subdivision envisioned by Chuck Fowler and Arvil Newby, the men who had partnered to renovate the dogtrot house and plat the surrounding land, acquired by them at an auction. Many Indian hearth sites were discovered as the dig unearthed grinding stones and arrowheads; tools indicating food preparation and temporary campsites mainly for the hunt.
We also found that the creek never ran dry, even during times of drought, and the water was always cold indicating it was spring-fed, probably the reason the Woody’s chose this spot to settle. The well, utilized by our home as its only water source, ran cold as ice and was as pure as any water bottled and sold. It soon became evident that the Woody’s had been fortunate enough to hit an underground spring at a depth around 100 feet; the result of prayer or good luck. As homes were newly built in our subdivision, this luck was realized, as well after well consistently had to be drilled 250 feet to the Paluxy or 400 feet to the Trinity aquifers.
Then there was the time that a tornado in our area downed trees and utility lines in front of and behind our home, but we emerged from the underground tornado shelter to find that the house itself sustained no damage at all. We were without electricity for 24 hours which when you consider the hardships endured by the pioneering Woody family, was not a hardship at all.
For 17 years we enjoyed our home, continuing to make improvements to the house, barn and land, raising a family, and contributing to our community in various ways; but I never really thought about how we were honoring the sacrifices made by this brave family with a spirit of adventure. The historical marker put it all into perspective; how the Woody’s traveled so far out of their comfort zones to expand horizons and pave the way for future generations. We have so much to be thankful for.
By Lisa H. Owens