Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


January 21, 2012

Bob Bowman’s East Texas

JACKSONVILLE — Today, an automobile road trip across East Texas is a delight for many families, largely because roads are well-paved, signs mark the towns and distances, and there are ample gas stations and eating places.

But in 1912, Woodson Nash and C.G. Smith, accompanied by their wives, three Nash sons, and a friend, Sam Krauss, hopped in Nash’s touring car--a seven-passenger Abbott Detroit 40-horsepower vehicle--in Dallas and started to Galveston, a distance of 288 miles by way of Terrell, Marlin and other small towns.

Nash had contemplated making the trip in his Chalmers touring car, but decided that it might not be up to the task.

The party stopped at Sanger’s, a store in the Dallas area, where Nash bought a cap because his western hat kept blowing off. Mrs. Nash wore a large Queen Victoria hat, held on with a heavy veil.

In 1912, roads were often impassable and ran across farms and ranches. The Nash-Smith party stopped frequently to open and close gates, some of which were made of barbed wire.

“On the second day, leaving Marlin, we began having lots of sand, and I had to lower the tires’ pressure down to 45 pounds which helped some,” said Smith.

Only two cars passed the party on the way south--a Marton Hanley and a Pierce Arrow. They were enroute to automobile races on the Galveston beach.

On the second day, the Nash and Smith party stopped at Navasosta and spent the night in a small brick hotel. “It was hot and the mosquitoes and bedbugs made sleeping, or trying to sleep, pretty miserable,” said Smith.

On the third day, the party reached a white shell road out of Houston, but, like all the other roads, it was one-way and “we lost time in passing.” The bridges, observed Smith, were also one-way.

The party rolled into Galveston on the evening of the third day “with everyone tired but happy.” The return trip to Dallas also took three days.

Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 50 books about East Texas history and folklore. He can be reached at


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