The following was received from Melinda Creech.  All credit for this poem goes to Ms
Creech. Our thanks to her for allowing us to publish such a great poem on our site.

                           Milano Rock House inspires poem

(in an email to Jerry Caywood)
Thank you. The article was very interesting. I have contacted both Mrs. Williams and
Mrs. Mary Haley. I wrote a book of poems, short prose pieces, and photographs for my
Master's project at the University of Houston Clear Lake. I was awarded the Outstanding
Humanities Student of the Year Award for the work. I wrote a poem about the Red Rock
House. The poem is a pantoum*. I think the form captures the mystery of the house. I
passed the poem along to Mary Haley, and she was very moved. I am attaching the poem,
prose piece,and photograph for you. Thank you so much for your help in gathering
information about the house. I have been trying to get the book, Slow Walking Texas,
published, so far, unsuccessfully.

Thanks again for your help.
Melinda Creech

* Pantoum - A verse form composed of quatrains in which the second and fourth lines are
repeated as the first and third lines of the following quatrain.

                         (History of the) Beard House — Milano

I made the drive from Houston to Killeen several times in 2009 to visit my son and his
family who were stationed at the U. S. Army Base at Ft. Hood.  Traveling on State
Highway 36, I was fascinated by an old red rock house beside the road about two miles
south of Milano.  One time I stopped. I walked along the barbed wire fence in front of
the house imagining who built it, what it looked like before it had fallen into
disrepair, and why had it been so abandoned. I determined to find some answers or at
least raise a few more questions. My research led me to two people, Marie Hubert and
Jeanne Williams, who were able to supply me with a little information.  I discovered a
few facts and a lot of stories. 

The facts are that the house was built around 1891.  That date is inscribed on several
of the red rocks that make up the exterior of the house.  George W. Beard built it for
his wife Amanda (or Samantha) and their son, George. Their names are listed as early
settlers of the Smyrna/Summit/Lone Pine communities just outside Milano. It appears to
have been a fine, two-story house with two fireplaces, one for each floor. The
downstairs parlor fireplace was quite ornate.  There were upper and lower galleries on
the front of the house.  There was a kitchen separated from the house by an enormous
back porch.

The stories about the house are that it was haunted, that treasures are buried within
the rock walls, that rattlesnakes infest the foundation, that the massive cedar tree in
the front yard was used as a hanging tree for renegade Indians, and that the house at
one time was used as a stagecoach relay station on the Old Caldwell and Rockdale Wagon
Road. In 1981, the owners, Ronnie and Jackie Mullinax of Houston, were investigating the
possibility of securing funds to restore the old house. I suppose that investigation was
abandoned because the old house sits beside the road with rotting floors and crumbling

                         The Red Rock House Beside the Road

                     What sadness left you there beside the road
                     Where crumbling walls find angles of repose
                     They could not bear the sorrow of their load
                     Surrendering in silence I suppose

                     Where crumbling walls find angles of repose
                     What sorrow and abandon filled the one
                     Surrendering in silence I suppose
                     And leaving did he know what he had done

                     What sorrow and abandon filled the one
                     Who cut and placed the red rocks there before
                     And leaving did he know what he had done
                     When finally he shut and locked the door

                     Who cut and placed the red rocks there before
                     Did those who came to live there later ask
                     When finally he shut and locked the door
                     And was he proud of such a task

                     Did those who came to live there later ask
                     About the stories of the hanging tree
                     And were they proud of such a task
                     That worked to shroud the house in mystery

                     About the stories of the hanging tree
                     And rattlesnakes they feared beneath the boards
                     They worked to shroud the truth in mystery
                     Of tales not even memory records

                     And rattlesnakes they feared beneath the boards
                     And restless spirits left there long ago
                     With tales not even memory records
                     Tell me your secrets I would like to know

                     Of restless spirits left there long ago
                     Could I not bear the sorrow of the load
                     Tell me your secrets I would like to know
                     What sadness left you there beside the road

                                             Melinda Creech

Milam County Historical Commission
Milam County, Texas
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
                      Landmark Milano Rock House getting makeover
                                  by Jeanne Williams
                        Temple Daily Telegram - April 20, 2011

MILANO — The 113-year-old Milano Rock House has amassed more than its fair share of
folklore, ghost stories and fables.

Now, under the guidance of Texas A&M University anthropology professor Dr. Donnie
Hamilton, this red-sandstone, roadside icon seems eager to settle into its new role as
a restored piece of Texas history. It never ceased to stop traffic and pose for
photographs during its lengthy term as a derelict structure, and through the meticulous
repair process it still rules as the Highway 36 tourist and photographer’s pin-up.

Falsehoods whispered about the house included serving as a hotel and stagecoach stop;
tales of a body found in the well and double suicides on the premises; and ghostly
appearances of a 13-year-old girl and mysterious man in a top hat peeping out an
upstairs window.  Those have been brushed away with the cobweb s, trash, dust, rotted
wood and rat droppings accumulated during its long life alone.

Its reputation as a haunted house was unfairly bestowed because there was no one around
to defend its humble status as the sheltering nucleus of a prosperous and happy family
farm for some 52 years. The Rock House was grander than most farmhouses in the Cedar
Creek area south of Milano, but devoted son George W. Beard designed and built the two-
story, four-room house in 1891 to please his widowed mother, Louisa America Stratton

The Beard family moved to the Cedar Creek area in 1864, where Louisa and her four sons
established a farm as they waited for her Confederate soldier husband to return from
the war. He died soon after arriving at the farm. Son George W. Beard used red
sandstones found on the property to build a two-story house that boasted walls a foot
and a half thick, with a separate kitchen equipped with a pump to bring up spring water
and a large gallery across the back. George planted pear and pecan orchards and built
barns, milking pens and a stable. His mother passed away in 1911, and George died in
1927, leaving behind a widow and 20-year-old son.

The Beard family lived an idyllic life full of adventures, including visits from
Gypsies, daily troubles on Highway 36 and too many events to mention.  The family moved
away in the 1940s and sold the property in 1974.

Since then, the Rock House stood impassively beside the road amidst an overgrown garden
of cedar, wildflowers and bull nettles, weeds, Seven Sisters roses and spider lilies,
as it endured Texas weather assaults that blew off parts of the tin and allowed rain to
penetrate living space below. The spring that supplied the family with cool water never
dried up, despite frequent droughts.

Hamilton, head of the TAMU anthropology department, who specializes in underwater
archaeology, artifact conservation and restoration, and North American historic and
prehistoric archaeology, was among the throngs of passers-by on Highway 36 who saw the
old house as it aged and crumbled. One day it cast its spell on Hamilton.

“I thought it was a shame the house was falling down, and there was no attempt to save
the thing,” Hamilton said. The professor spent two weeks trying to track down the
owners and negotiated the sale 18 months before he bought it.

Now, the house is a welcome respite from the demands of university life.  The
mechanically minded professor, also skilled in carpentry and plumbing, took on
restoration as a personal project. After contracting to have the roof replaced, he has
been busy restoring the interior. Seeing the handiwork of treasure hunters tearing up
floor boards — “as if these people had any money” — and thought of tales that
rattlesnakes guarded the dark space under the house, Hamilton removed the floor boards,
hauled off wheelbarrow loads of rat droppings, stabilized the foundation with a cement
subfloor and replaced the decking.

“It is really a labor of love,” Hamilton said. The 1,000-square-foot house was solidly
built, with cypress beams and facings, but surprisingly was made with no effort to
glamorize stark plaster walls. Two rooms upstairs and two downstairs sheltered a number
of family members.

Ultimately, Hamilton plans to have the house designated as a Texas Historical Landmark,
a move that drew cheers from the Texas Historical Commission.

The Texas Historical Commission works to preserve the real places that tell the real
stories of Texas, said Stan Graves, director of architecture and a Milam County native.
“The preservation of early Texas structures, such as the Rock House in Milam County,
are significant structures worthy of preservation in that they are unique to a
particular area and provide insight into an earlier time period.”

Hamilton learned two lessons in his endeavor to restore the Rock House. First, one
never finishes restoring a rock house; and second, when you buy a house, you adopt its
family. Hamilton tracked down and met Beard family members and received a detailed
history of the house and its residents, complete with vintage photographs and a tour of
the property showing what went where. He sees the finished house not as a residence,
but as a “party house” for special events. Hamilton is installing a bathroom and
kitchen and giving the Rock House its first experience of glowing under electric
lights. “I am just glad the landmark is going to be saved,” Hamilton said. “What I am
hoping for is the house will still be here a hundred years from now.”

All articles from the Temple Daily Telegram are published with the permission of the
Temple Daily Telegram. 
All credit for this article goes to
Jeanne Williams and the Temple Daily Telegram
Amanda Iola Harrell Beard, wife of the builder George W. Beard; Mary Eliza Nobel Harrell, mother of Amanda Beard; and possibly Harrell's younger son stand in front of the Rock House in 1906.

Photo courtesy of Mary Beard Haley
Restoration is under way at the Milano Rock House.  Donnie Hamilton plans to have it decorated as a Texas Historical Landmark.

Photo by Shirley Williams, Temple Daily Telegram
Milano, TX Rock House to be restored
Milano Rock House built by the George Beard family
The Red Rock House Beside the Road - by Melinda Creech
Photo by Melinda Creech