Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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February 5, 2013

Book recounts county’s history

Athens — Many people wonder about their home county’s heritage.  Often nothing is written or said about a county’s past.

That’s not the case with Henderson County, because two women have spearheaded efforts to record the history of the county since 1929.

Longtime residents Edith Rounsavall and Betty Hollowell followed the first book written by Judge J.J. Faulk, who wrote the county’s history up until 1929.

Rounsavall’s intentions to write the book grew in part from her knowledge that the Henderson County Historical Museum doesn’t receive money from the county or city, but survives on donations.  She has been a volunteer at the museum.

“I felt this was one way to help it, and it’s something we need,” Rounsavall said of the book. “Every bit of this money goes to the museum.  It is also an appreciation for the history of the county.  When I got the brainstorm to do it, I got Betty into it.”

Betty Hollowell has a long history with family in Henderson and Anderson counties. 

“It’s just part of my heritage,” she said. “I went to school here, and my kids went to school here.  I also volunteer at the historical commission.”

Hollowell has a history of historical book publications, including those about the community and family cemeteries in the area, which today, according to Hollowell, number about 70.

The book was published  through Jason Almgreen, a former resident of Athens, who now resides in the Dallas area, and is employed by TM Publishers.

Rounsavall, in a printed message at the beginning pages of the book said, “After two years and a lot of research, most of it at the Athens Review, I think we have covered the entire county. I have certainly learned that you never get too old to learn.”

Henderson County Historical Society and Museum Vice President Sarah Jane Brown was pleased with the book.

“It’s a great book.  It was very needed. Just for the update on the history of the county,” she said. “This is the first one that has given us other facts, government facts, maybe.” 

Brown has worked out of the Historical Society and Museum building since 1979, when it was bought through money raised.  The building, which is listed in the National Register of Historical Places, is located at 217 N. Prairieville St.  It is also an outlet for the historical book.

“Edith and Betty have been very diligent and focused,” Brown said. “And the printer has done a good job on it, and with the cover.  It’s a really good book.”

Chapters are provided for historical items such as Commissioners Court, taxes, names and pictures of commissioners through the years, Henderson County judges, airports, telephone service, radio days, education, ferries, modes of travel, buses and trains, gins and mills, medical history, fairgrounds, Internal problems, other county offices, district attorneys, district judges, jails, Henderson County Sheriffs and 26 individual histories of county communities.

There are also chapters dedicated to the Nativity Scene issue on the courthouse square, and a list of the notorious murders over the years within the county.

Rounsavall complimented Henderson County Extension Agent Rick Hirsch, who works for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for his agricultural history for Henderson County “over the decades.”

The 330-page hard-bound book sells for $35.  To order, call Edith Rounsavall at 903-675-4903 or Betty Hollowell at 903-675-5250.

The book can also be purchased at a booth at the De Junque de Trunk garage sale to be staged at the Cain Center Feb. 9.

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