North Texas Deaf Senior Citizens
Field Trip to
Corsicana, Texas

October 15, 2011

Photographers: Bert Hill, Laura Hill, Sara Harris and Mack Harris

Group picture taken at Glenn Cumbie Museum of Aviation and Military History
(Click on the picture to make it bigger.)

About Corsicana, Texas

Corsicana is a city in Navarro County, Texas, United States. It is located on Interstate 45 some fifty-five miles south of downtown Dallas. The population was 24,485 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Navarro County.

Founded in 1848, Corsicana was named by José Antonio Navarro after the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the birthplace of his father, who died when Navarro and his many siblings were young.

Women's' groups have had a strong role throughout the history of the city, with one of the earliest efforts being the establishment of the Corsicana Female Literary Institute, a school which operated from 1857 through 1870. The first public library in Corsicana opened in 1901 by effort of the women's' clubs of the city. A 1905 library gift by Andrew Carnegie gave the library a permanent home and its first full-time, professionally trained librarian. The library today is housed in a dedicated building downtown and boasts more than 52,283 books, 6,306 audio materials, 783 video materials, and 122 serial subscriptions.

The Corsicana Jewish community dates from 1871; while there are few Jewish residents of Corsicana today, the Historical Society has restored the 1898 Moorish Revival Temple Beth-El, Corsicana, now used as a community center.

The Corsicana YMCA was founded in 1884, and has grown with patron funding facilitated by local community leaders over 125 years, including in its earliest days George Taylor Jester (1847–1922), a wealthy dry goods and cotton distributor, later banker and lieutenant governor of Texas.

The Corsicana oil field was accidentally discovered in 1894 by water prospectors hired by the Corsicana Water Development authority. It was the first commercially significant oilfield find in Texas. An even larger oil field, the Powell oil field, was discovered in 1923, some ten miles east of Corsicana. Another significant area oil and gas find occurred in 1956. Each oil and gas discovery brought a renewed development boom to the city.

During World War II, an airman flying school called Corsicana Air Field trained thousands of pilots.

Stopped at Corsicana Visitor Center to pick up Sue Kerly for guided tours.

Sue Keryl at far background

Muriel Buie (left), ASL Interpreter with Iris Goldstein, Field Trip Coordinator

First Tour -- Pioneer Village Historical Museum

Pioneer Village Historical Museum is a re-creation of pioneer days in Corsicana and Navarro County with replicas of old buildings and information about Navarro County. It is also home to the Lefty Frizzell Statue and Museum.

Sue handing out brochures

Second Tour -- First United Methodist Church

FIRST PERIOD 1851 - 1871

The first permanent settler was a Methodist preacher, the Rev. Hampton McKinney who brought his family here from Illinois in the preceding year. As other settlers arrived, it is most likely that he began the organization of a Methodist group, or society. People of other denominations followed McKinney very soon and they, also, were interested in starting churches of their own faith. In a small frontier town it was not easy to establish houses of worship with the handful who were interested. And so, in the beginning, there was no strict line drawn between Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist. They worshiped together and each gave his hand in fellowship to the others."


There were two old, representative families here, the McKinneys and the Kerrs. The McKinneys were Methodists, the Kerrs were Cumberland Presbyterians. For many years they worked together as Christians. For some time after the town was organized, there was no church. Although McKinney was a local preacher, and Kerr was an elder in his church, the town had no regular preaching service. They were both frontiersmen and hard working men.


These two old heroes kept the weekly prayer meeting for a long time. One night it was raining, there was no moon, and the two men met for prayer meeting, and no one else came. They talked about the condition, and agreed to discontinue the weekly prayer services. They finally concluded that they would have a closing prayer and abandon the custom. While they were on their knees praying they were both overcome with religious emotion. They clasped arms, and after the old style, they shouted their praises to God.

A man passing by in the rain heard their shouts, hitched his horse, and went in to see what it was. He was so impressed with their earnestness that he went forward and asked them to pray for him. They did so and he professed conversion. Instead of abandoning the custom, they mutually agreed to have another prayer meeting the next night, when, perhaps it might not be raining.

When the next night came, a goodly company attended prayer meeting in the schoolhouse. A great revival sprang out of that meeting. They agreed to send for a preacher. The Methodists sent for David Rose, an Englishman who lived in Hill County, forty miles away, a member of the Texas conference. The Cumberland Presbyterians also secured a preacher. The town became very religious. School adjourned every day at the hour of preaching and all students attended. Out of that meeting grew several churches.


In 1852, Rev. Addison wrote, "Friday, in the evening, I got to Corsicana, stopped at the tavern, the proprietor of which is a local preacher." (No doubt, he stopped at Hampton McKinney's tavern-boarding house) "found a large crowd of boarders--soon the supper bell rang. It was 'Hurrah Boys'; the first one gets there gets the best chance, no blessing asked, as fast as they struck the seat, so quick would their fork stick in a piece of meat, and they fell eating. Well, we got through supper after a while, all the boarders, or most of them went to see the elephant--which is a ten pin alley over which is the impressive sign, 'Corsicana Elephant'.

After twenty years of worshiping in a communal church, a building committee was appointed in 1866 . The H. and T. C. Railroad had not yet made it to Corsicana so the lumber was hauled by wagon from Groesbeck and Houston. Mr. Carruthers of Groesbeck gave the lumber. The original wooden building was built by Mr. Carrol who received $4,000 at the completion of the church.


This first church had "amen corners" in the custom of the day. These were benches to each side of the altar, one side for women and one for men. The elderly were seated here.


There was also a spire, 125 feet tall topped by four large brass balls, one on each corner, that glistened in the sun. The landmark could be seen for quite a distance, but according to early history, "it's glory was not to last." A storm blew the steeple off and it was replaced, but not for long.

Again a storm came, this time in the day and from the north, laying the steeple low in the preacher's peach orchard. After that it was not replaced. Only the square part which included the four brass balls remained and the little church was shorn of much of it's beauty. The early church was lighted by candles, later replaced by oil lamps and heated by a large wood stove at each end.


This early wooden building was the location of the famous 'Flea Convention` of Texas Democrats. The Convention was held in Corsicana at the Church building because it was the largest auditorium around and the Convention paid $200 per day which retired the debt, after which it could be dedicated. There was no stock law at the time. Town hogs had taken up shelter from hot weather under the building and the resulting fleas which disturbed the delegates gave the Convention its unwelcome name.


Beside the church each summer, a brush arbor was built for protracted meetings. The sermons were long and sin was forcefully denounced. Many became happy and the 'mourner's bench' was often filled with people, convicted of their sins, and asking forgiveness.


In 1896, the large and current gothic sanctuary was begun. The first service was held in our church on May 2, 1897. The first song sung was PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW The second song was COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING. Scripture reading was PSALM 88, read by Rev. M. S. Hotchkiss. The sermon text was from part of the 7TH verse of ISAIAH -FROM MY HOUSE ... The first member received into the church 'in the new sanctuary was S. A. Pace, Jr.

Tall, stained-glass folding doors

Close-up stained glass

Third Tour -- Capehart Telephone Collection

Largest privately owned collection of items built by Western Electric, Bell Systems, Bell Labs and America Telephone and Telegraph. The collection has a bit of everything from telephones, to central office equipment, insulators, test sets, switches, phone directories, tools, teletype, signs, advertisements, military items and a lot of paper items. An innovative and unique museum experience, the 3C's explores communications technology from the 1880's through the 1990's.

Model 15 TTY is there.

Fourth Event -- Lunch at Collin Street Bakery

Fifth Tour -- Russell Stover Store

The nation's largest handmade candy company has built their largest plant in Corsicana. They produce Russell Stover, Pangburns and Whitmans candies in the amount of 180,000 pounds per day. You can purchase these candies in their outlet at the factory.

Sixth Tour -- Navarro Pecan Company

Navarro Pecan Company was organized in 1977 and is one of the largest pecan shellers in the world. Our plant is located in Corsicana, Texas on a 25 acre site 50 miles south of Dallas, Texas. The plant covers about 200,000 square feet and has an annual shelling capacity of more than 50 million pounds of inshell pecans a year. In striving to process the cleanest pecans possible, Navarro Pecan uses state-of-the art equipment during the pecan shelling process.

Navarro Pecan Company has the capacity to refrigerate more than 20 million pounds of pecans at our own location, maintaining them at the peak freshness for shelling throughout the year. We also utilize refrigerated storage warehouses across the United States for both inshell and shelled pecans providing accessible distribution to many food manufacturers that use pecans as an ingredient in the United States and abroad.

Navarro Pecan Company is centrally located for customers worldwide. Our strategic location is 3 hours from the Port of Houston, Texas where we conveniently ship pecans all over the world including: Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Our location also provides direct access to inshell pecans from the major pecan growing regions in the United States and Mexico.

Seventh and Last Tour -- Glenn Cumbie Museum
of Aviation and Military History

Located on the site of the WW II training field, the Cumbie Museum is a treasury of artifacts and memorabilia of Aviation and Military history from WW I to the present day. An extensive collection of WW II items from Corsicana Field and other theatres of war, including the Home front, are on display.

Going home

That's all, Folks!

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