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
Farmers grew crops and families
by Susie Sansom-Piper
Rockdale Reporter - March 6, 2008
Several well known blacks lived south, southeast and southwest of the city limits during
earlier days.

The families considered themselves Rockdalians because of the nearness to the
incorporated town.

The Phil Palmer Farm

South of the city limits in the 30s and 40s, Phil Palmer operated a vegetable farm.

On weekends, he would gather his seasonal crops, greens, sweet potatoes, watermelons and
more and bring them “into town” to be sold.

His only transportation was a small wagon and two mules. At the time, the city limits
ended near the Old Isaacs-Loewenstein home, now a lawyer’s office).

The Phil Palmer farm was in the area now occupied by Brookshire Brothers a shopping
center, the Dairy Queen, Kountry Inn, Chamber of Commerce, and other small businesses.

The Wallace Richards Farm

Wallace Richards, his wife Lula, and their eight children, sons Ike, Dick, Jack, Little
Wallace and Andrew lived about one mile south of the city limits.

Farm life was the same for all in the area, growing cotton, corn, peas, potatoes,
peanuts, and raising hogs, chickens and cattle.

This land was on the north side of what is now US 79 traveling west towards Thorndale.

After reaching adulthood, son Ike built a home on the south side of the highway, and
Rena, a sister of Wallace, built a home nearby. This was near present day Rockdale
Federal Credit Union.

Wallace’s daughter, Jennie, became a well known gospel singer, but died at an early age.

Ike, was one of the last breed of the original railroad workers with the Missouri Pacific
Railroad Company. New developments of farm land in the area prompted him to move his home
to Roberts Street in the city, where he remained until his death.

With the coming of Alcoa, Wallace sold his farm, and the company built a large housing

The land first housed Rockdale’s only Drive-In Theatre, and is now a shopping center and
the sites of the former Wal-Mart and HEB buildings.

Ned Malone Community

Ned Malone, a farmer, and his wife, Mariah founded a community two miles southeast of the
city limits on what is now FM 487.

It consisted of a small group of farmers, the McKinneys, Dykes, and brothers Dick and
Ernest Richards, a farmer and railroad worker.

Josephine McKinney, known as “Miz” Josie, a very fair skinned lady, is vividly remembered
for her elaborate dressing, her long hair which she displayed in a bun, and her beautiful
horse and buggy she proudly road to Rockdale.

She was considered a “living matriarch” in this community. These farmers raised cotton,
corn, sweet potatoes, fruit trees, and peanuts.

A large tank on the farm was often used as a baptismal pool for local and surrounding

The descendants of the Ned Malone family (children of Jack Richards) still occupy this

Sand Hill-Stephen Chapel Communities

Between the Ned Malone Community, present day Praesel Addition, and Richards Providence
was another small settlement known as Sand Hill-Stephen Chapel.

This was said to be located on a road leading to the present-day Alcoa plant.

Pioneer Settlers included Preston Moultrie, the Johnsons, Waltons, Allens, Maloys and

“Grandpa Walton” according to his late granddaughter, Para L. Bacy-Timmes, paid for the
building of the Stephen Chapel Church.

The church also served as a school in the Ned Malone and Sand-Hill Stephen Chapel

“This is where I began my schooling and my first book was called “Will and Mae”, and the
second was “Dick and Jane”, Bacy-Timmes said.

This church also served as a school. Inez Cook was the first teacher and later Lurline
McKinney, daughter of Josephine and Henry McKinney, taught school there.

Residents of this community were also farmers. In the early 30s, many of these residents
moved to Rockdale, and the community decayed and now no longer exists.

Farmland in this area is now Alcoa Property.
The ‘Isaacs House,’ now the Marvin Farek Law Offices, dates from 1896 when it stood on
the edge of Rockdale. South and west of the home during the Great Depression, was the
Phil Palmer Farm.


Isaacs House on Phil Parmer Farm
Photo by Mike Brown