Clipped From The Paris News

wduffee Member Photo

Clipped by wduffee

GONE ARE SLAVES, INDIANS Old Kiomatia Plantation Still Rises Above River By BILL THOMPSON News Staff Writer KIOMATIA — Rising high and proud above the rich Red Riv e t bottomlands, a sprawling log home still stands watch over the remains of Kiomatia Plantation. More than 130 years have passed since George Wright and his young wife picked the site for their new home. Sweating slaves hewed out the logs that went into its thick walls. Their work has withstood wind, water and the ravages of "time. Four generations later a great grandson, Claiborne Wright, finds it a rather comfortable home. Kiomatia Plant ation has changed. Its sprawling acres, once reaching for miles along Red River, have been divided and sold by heirs. Tenant farmers and day laborers have replaced the slaves. Even rambling, old Red River has deserted the plantation home. Once the river passed through the front yard. But Old Red changed her course in the 1930's and now lies 500 yards to the north. Cotton, corn and other old plantation crops still thrive at Kio- mitia. Claiborne Wright, a 29- year-old North Texas State graduate, oversees the 1,401 acres that remain. Claiborne owns a portion of the acreage but his dad, George T. Wright, holds most of Kioma t i a Plantation. After working it f o r years, he now lives in Paris, driving down twice a week to visit the old place. Just how much sweat and toil went into the "big house" will never be known. But the huge, hand-hewn logs that form its walls and foundation' are mute evidence. "Took some mighty men to build such a house, as this," agrees Clairorne, who spent much of his boyhood days at the plantation. "Some of these logs are more than six inches thick, and some are 30 feet long." Modem lumber now hides the the thick walls. The Wrights have added hot and cold water, butane gas, a modern bathroom, electricity and other new touches to the old house. "When the electricity igoes off during a storm or some- 1NDIAN-PROOF WALLS still stand, strong and sturdy, at Kiomatia Plantation near the banks of Red River. Claiborne Wright, the fourth generation of Wrights to run. the plantation, chops into one of the thick logs with an old axe used to chop them more than 130 years ago. (Paris News Staff Photo). BLOSSOM Paris New» Service Miss Louiso Black has gone to Weslaco to resume her duties as teacher In the high school. Mrs. Harry Shaw with her Bagwell School Starts Monday Enrollment starts at B a g w e 11 tiing," adds Claiborne,- "we get n idea of how it once was." A stately magnolia tree spreads ver the front yard. They brought t up from New Orleans on a flatboat and planted its roots in Kiomatia soil more than 100 years ago. Claiborne and his wife of a year, Margaret, have " carefully p r e- served the plantation's a t m o- sphere. Relics of Indian and 'rentier days hang about the living room. There are muzzle - loading pis- :ols and rifles, old bullet molds, Indian axes, pottery and an old Indian stick-ball bat. Across the way langs a partridge net, once used :o trap game birds for Kiomatia tables. Much of the old plantation's scenery has vanished through its 130 years. Where Red River once ambled through the yard, tr e e s grow and cattle graze. Heavy docks once reached into the river, and slaves loaded thousands of bales of Kiomatia cotton onto flatboats for tie long riv- ei trip to New Orleans. The boats tied up to a huge cotton wood tree to take on their load. Only one of the-old log outbuildings, a sturdy smokehouse, remains near the big house. Inside is a meat trough hollowed from a tree trunk more than three feet thick. Huge hams and bacon slabs once hung from the smokehouse rafters, after a thorough curing in the meat trough. A Negro cook and. her family live behind the plantation house. Other tenant houses scatt e r e d among the cotton and corn fields house tenant families and day laborers. - Kiomatia's land is still fresh, despite more than 100 years of cultivation without fertil i z e r or soil - building practices. "We picked 313 bales of cotton off 360 acres last year," recalls Claiborne, "but the drought will drop that figure considerably this year. "About two years ago. we put the first fertilizer to the land, and we're building it back up." The old Wright home is deep- seated at the top of a small, sharp- rising hill, That afforded protection from the Indians and a flooding river in the old days. Back during the big Hood of 1908, only the hill and plantation house remained above the raging wsters. Coons, possums, mink and other small game play in the woods nearby. Quail call freely through the underbrush. Gone are the deer and big game. Late-evenings around the plantation brings the scent of wood- smoke from the tenant house chimneys. And vou can almost hear the old ^..^.^ •>"•—"' ~- - darkles who plunked their banjos, school Tuesday, September 6, at ,, mn , .„„,. ml>1 , n - hnl .. tnn£ ,«. 8:30 a. m., according to C. A. Cass, principal. hummed their melancholy songs and rocked their pickaninnies to the laxy rhythm of old Red Riv-

Clipped from
  1. The Paris News,
  2. 05 Sep 1954, Sun,
  3. Page 21

wduffee Member Photo
  • Clipped by wduffee – 30 Jun 2013

Want to comment on this Clipping? Sign up for a free account, or sign in