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NOTES ON KARNES COUNTY HISTORY  

 

 

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Daileyville
Helena
Ox Cart Road

Kenedy

Kenedy Post Office

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   Six murder indictments were issued against the ranchers.  The witnesses were issued subpoenas to appear for the murder trials of William Green Butler in Floresville, and Sykes Charles Butler in Cuero, but they failed to appear and testify.  The Butler family had great influence.

   No testimony indicated that Pleas, Fate, Ed, or Dan Butler played a part in the fracas.  Only William Butler, Sykes Butler, Newton Butler, and six ranch hands are thought to be shooters.  Employees Charles Coleman, Sam Dailey, Cebero Sanchez, and John Trimmell apparently did not fire any shots. 

Caught In The Middle  

    The two Elders were first cousins of William Hamilton Ammons.  His mother was Martha Louise Davis Ammons, and her sister Sarah Ann Davis Elder was the mother of the two Elder victims.  But, Pleas Butler, who was in Daileyville that day, was Ammons' brother-in-law, having married Sarah Jane Ammons.

    Ammons was caught in the middle of a deadly family feud.  This is why, in the 1930's, when his daughter-in-law asked him about the Daileyville affair, Ammons would only say, "Let sleeping dogs lie."

   His older brother Jeff D. Ammons had sometimes helped his Elder cousins serve legal papers out on the ranches.

  Daileyville

    Dr. Owings and Judge Thomas Ruckman established Helena as the new county seat in 1854.  In the beginning, Post Office patrons had to cross the river and go to Goliad to get their mail. 6    Approval was secured for a post office in Helena, and this change was a great convenience for people of the new Karnes County.

   Meanwhile, Bee County had been established to the south.  The need immediately arose for a road to connect Helena and Beeville.6 A state road and a mail route were opened, and it crossed the San Antonio River at the site of Wofford Crossing bridge, near where Runge was later platted.

   In 1869, soon after the Civil War, David Dailey and his brother Christopher P. Dailey opened a general store on this Helena-to-Beeville road.  It was located 8 miles south of Helena and 4 miles east of Kenedy near the Wofford Crossing, about a mile west of  the San Antonio River, and near Escondido Creek.  This was the birth of the storied Daileyville.  A post office was approved, with C. P. Dailey as the first Postmaster.  This building was in the line of fire on September 6, 1886.  The post office was in service from July 5, 1870 until May 27, 1884.  The building was moved to Kenedy in 1887.  Daileyville is now only a pasture on a hill. 6

  The building for the Daileyville store and post office showed bullet holes in its walls in later photographs. The wooden building was later dismantled, and re-constructed in Kenedy to serve as the post office.  C. P. Dailey was postmaster in both locations.  After all, it was his building.

Helena

   The San Antonio & Aransas Pass SAAP railroad began building a line to the coast in 1884. 6 "Karnes County at the time was supposed to have the reputation of being a gun-toter's haven, and the railroad developer said, `If the new line could be run around Karnes County, it would be better for everybody.’” 1

   In the middle 1880's several events occurred which were to spell the doom for Helena's prosperity and lead to its eventual downfall.10  Helena was the largest  city on the proposed route of the railroad to the Gulf. 9  The SAAP Railroad was negotiating for right-of-way to pass through Karnes County.  It was the policy of the day that the railroad demanded both right-of-way and cash to bring the line to a community. 9  The railroad company was running out of cash.  The citizens of Helena were expected to raise either $35,000 1or $60,000 9,10 toward construction costs, as well as to donate the right-of-way.  The town was prepared to donate the right-of-way, but not the cash, because some overconfident citizens thought that Helena was too important to possibly be by-passed.

   No effort was made to cooperate with the railroad.9   Many of the citizens of Helena, convinced that they were the only town of any consequence between San Antonio and the Gulf, were of the opinion that the railroad would be compelled to pass through Helena. 9,10

   Other citizens, realizing the importance of having the railroad come through Helena, made the effort to raise the money but succeeded in getting only $32,000.  When this sum was offered, the railroad refused.  Thomas Ruckman vainly tried to raise the additional funds, but failed.  He did his utmost to prevail upon the railroad officials to bring the railroad into Helena, but the railroad remained adamant. 9

   William Green Butler got in touch with  B. F. Yoakum 1 and offered the railroad a full right-of-way across his lands, and the offer was accepted.  Butler also paid a lofty amount toward construction costs.  When the tracks were laid seven miles to the southwest of Helena, the Ox Cart Road was abandoned and Helena began to suffer.  Helena became a ghost town as her stores and businesses moved to Karnes City, starting in 1891.

   Butler did donate the right-of-way, but his vow to "kill the town" is only romantic legend.  Butler was a rancher, cattleman, and business man.  On those cattle drives to Kansas, he learned the economic power of the railroad in providing a market for cattle.  Butler’s business attention was on the railroad and not on Helena. 4 In his twilight years, he sat in a rocking chair on the gallery of his mansion and looked at the SAAP line two hundred yards to the east, running trains in his own front yard.

Kenedy was to be located in Grandma Ammons’ cornfield.

    As the railroad moved southward through Karnes County and reached a point about one mile south of the present location of Karnes City, the railroad company determined to lay out a new townsite, to be called Kenedy in honor of Mifflin Kenedy, one of the promoters of the railroad.  Kenedy Station was established early in 1886 about opposite the J. D. Ammons ranch, with the depot on the east side of the railroad on the Bud Elder land.  This was four miles north of the present city of Kenedy.  By mid-summer, the SAAP had extended freight, passenger, and mail service as far south as Beeville. 11

   On June 1, 1886, railroad surveyors were running trial lines through Daileyville, with the intention of having a tap railroad branch off from the main line at Kenedy Station, to pass through Grandma Ammons cornfield, continue by way of Daileyville, and thence east to Yorktown, Hallettsville, Wallis and Houston.

   But the junction was not destined to be at this location.11

   While the railroad officials were in the process of negotiating the land deal for a railroad junction and a full townsite, the landowner, Sheriff Fate Elder, was killed in the shooting at Daileyville, leaving a widow and several minor children.(9)  Fearing that they could not obtain good title by reason of this unfortunate death, the railroad men began to cast around for a new location for the townsite of Kenedy. 9

   Through the influence of W. G. Butler and J. M. Nichols, whose properties were located farther south, Mifflin Kenedy acquired 667 acres of land from George W. Little. 9,11  This plot was located at the confluence of Escondido Creek and Nichols Creek, four miles south of Kenedy Station.  On this tract the townsite of Kenedy was platted and established.  It was at first called Kenedy Junction, because the railroad to Houston now joined the SAAP at this location.  The therapeutic hot wells were discovered later at this very junction.

   Due to the tragic deaths and the question about a clear title, Old Kenedy Station was used only for freight, passengers, and mail.  It had a depot, a few tents, and some construction buildings.  The “Station” never became a post office.  Walter Lokey, a clerk in John Ruckman’s store in Helena, met the train there to pick up the Helena mail. 11   Approval was granted for a new Kenedy “Junction” post office, and it began service March 12, 1887 in a parked boxcar for temporary use.  The old building at Daileyville with its bullet holes was torn down, and was rebuilt along the tracks at the new townsite.  Again, C. P. Dailey was the first postmaster.  The name was soon shortened to one word, when the post office was established.  For many years, the “Station” townsite four miles north was referred to as Old Kenedy.

   “Mrs. Sarah Elder and her children have through their attorneys, Graves and Little, brought suit against the S.A.& A.P. Railroad Co. for $56,000 damages for breach of contract by failing to keep and maintain a depot at Kenedy, Karnes County, Texas."  From The Karnes County News, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1887.  She was the mother of Fate and Bud Elder.

   On “Black Friday,” August 20, 1886, a terrible hurricane wiped out the major port city of Indianola.  The hurricane wrought havoc at Choate, hit Daileyville, and severely damaged the railroad.(15)  T. A. LeBleu and associates were at that time grading the first mile east out of Kenedy.11

 

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