Milam County Historical Commission
Milam County, Texas

All credit for these articles go to
Susie Sansom-Piper and
the Rockdale Reporter
Milam County Historical Commission - Milam County, TX
Statue of Ben Milam at Milam County, TX Courthouse
Old Junior High School Building, Rockdale, TX
Milam County Courthouse - Cameron, TX
Preserve America
Settlements on both sides of tracks
by Susie Sansom-Piper
Rockdale Reporter - February 28, 2008
Rockdale has always had black settlements on both sides of the tracks. Here are a few

‘Mexican Town’

So named, because of its majority population of Hispanics, this settlement is located in
northeast Rockdale.

It begins near Belton Avenue and extends to Texas and Hicks Streets.

The families of Elijah Brooks, Edgar Davis, Fred Humphries, Tom West, Elijah Wilbon and
L. K. Alexander resided in this area. A few of the ancestors of the original occupants
still live here but most moved to other sections of Rockdale or to other cities.

In the early sixties, the Rising Star Baptist Church, formerly located in Sharp, was
moved to Texas Street.

‘Marshall Town’

Located in Central Rockdale between Wilcox and Scarbrough streets, it was settled by
whites, blacks and Hispanics.

Black settlers included the Gaylon Loveladys, Bogus Millers, Ace Malones, Mellie Bealses
and the Wright family.

Bogus Miller was a barber who worked downtown with Henry Mosely, serving as barbers to
the white population in the 20s and 30s. Others performed various labor skills.

Only one black family, the Ledbetters, lived at the end of Main and Davilla. Eva
Ledbetter was one of the early Aycock teachers and Ruby Ledbetter operated a teenage
place in The Flat on Second Street.

‘Sunrise district’

Houses in Sunrise were built in the late 50s. Two streets were named for Riley and Vernon
Moore, two brothers who were funeral directors for Phillips & Luckey.

Other two streets were named Peach and Pear.

Among the first occupants were Johnnie and Johnnie Ruth Davis, Phillips and Luckey
mortician and teacher; Obie and Pearl Mack; Archie and Emma Metcalf, plumber and
beautician; Willie Doris Anderson; Selma L. Turner; and Bette Williams, the first black
woman elected to the Rockdale City Council. In recent years more homes have been added to
this settlement, and a trailer home camp has been set up near the railroad.

‘Bad Bottom’

From the earliest existence of Rockdale, this area was called “Bad Bottom” but it has
never been determined why this section of town was tagged with that name.

Bad Bottom is on the northern edge of the city and includes portions of Green, Belton and
San Gabriel streets, all of Rice Street and reaches to the prairie area which borders
Texas Street and Mexican Town.

The same unity existed in this area, for it was also settled with blacks, Hispanics and
whites, and so remains today.

Early settlers included business owner Frank “Doc” Cummings and his wife Courtney. “Mr.
‘Doc” owned an ice cream parlor, a short order café, and a barber shop in The Flat.

“Miz Courtney” was pianist for Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church for many years. Their home, a
large, stately, elaborate two-story bungalow, was considered to be a show place of the
20s, 30s and early 40s.

There were many prominent citizens in this area. Artis Lovelady, a business entrepreneur
of many trades, was a “life-saver” for most blacks during the forties and early fifties.

He seasonally transported people to harvest cotton, corn, watermelons and other crops in
central, south and west Texas. During the winter months, he employed people to work with
his junk yard.

His wife, Fannie, was an employee with the telephone company for many years, and an
outstanding contributor to community activities. Their children became well known and
world wide educators.

Lon and Ardie Williams Sr. were also prominent citizens in Bad Bottom.

Lon A. Williams, Sr. was one of the first black funeral directors for Phillips & Luckey,
and a musician in the Moultry Brothers Orchestra. His wife taught in the Rockdale Public
Schools for many years.

J. L Banks served for many years as H. H. Coffield foreman and buyer of cattle.

Etta Mae Cartwright Walton was a well-known singer, and among the first blacks in Milam
County to broadcast by radio.

Buddy Page was an outstanding employee of writer George Sessions Perry.

Other families in this area who contributed to the progress of blacks in Rockdale were
the Kendles, Davises, Wests, and Dykes.

Many descendants of these families still live in the area.

Rising Star Baptist Church, On Texas Street in far northeast
Rockdale, moved to town from the Sharp community during the 1960s.

Rising Star Baptist Church, Rockdale, TX
Photo by Mike Brown