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Columns October 19, 2010  RSS feed


Random notes from East Texas

A half-dime and other coins: Like others in East Texas, William Williams, 73, likes to poke around ghost towns with his metal detector. What he has unearthed only inches from the ground’s surface may surprise you.

Williams once found a half-dime from 1853. Just for the record, a half-dime isn’t a nickel; it had its own denomination, but it was considerable smaller than a dime Williams also dug up a three-cent piece from 1866, another rarity, as well as a one cent piece the size of today’s quarter from 1885 and another the size of a fifty-cent piece.

Some of Williams’ discoveries are real U.S. coins, but others were created for sawmill towns such as Pine Island, west of Lufkin, where his father once worked.. The coins were often called “tokens” and often used by sawmill owners to pay their employees. The tokens could be redeemed for merchandise.

The Holy Oak:: Images of Jesus and Mary are always popping up in strange places, such as a tortilla in 1977, a grilled cheese sandwich in 2004, and on a dental X-ray, also in 2004. But when Timo Bueno, an employee of a construction company, paused for a lunch break on Jimmy Ezell’s property at Buffalo in Leon County, he looked up at a limb which had been cut.

There, he saw an image of Jesus in the end of the limb. Since then, folks have been coming to Buffalo from all over to see the image and Ezell regrets that the end of the limb, which might have contained additional images, was burned.

After all, a ten-year-old sandwich with the Virgin Mary’s image recently sold on e-Bay for $28,000.

An East Texas link with Canada: When Canada celebrated the 150th anniversary of its first oil discovery last year, a historic East Texas product became a part of the celebration. Lufkin Industries, Inc., of Lufkin, which celebrated its own centennial in 2002, donated a vintage 1938 pumping unit to the Canadian Discovery Centre in Devon, Canada, site of the150th anniversary celebration.

(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of almost 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman. com)

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