Rockdale: Pictures from the Past
Photos tell story of 139 years
By MIKE BROWN, Reporter Editor
Rockdale Reporter - July 19, 2012
If it’s true that one picture is worth 1,000 words, local historian Dr. Lucile Estell
has just authored a book with 200,000 of them.
contains over 200 historic photos tracing the town’s history from 1873 to the present.
It’s available at book stores, online and from the publisher,
BOOK SIGNINGS - There’s already a book-signing scheduled with Dr. Estell at the I&GN
Historic Depot Museum, from 2 to 4 p.m. July 29. Light refreshments will be served and
proceeds will benefit the depot-museum.
Another book-signing is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 noon Aug. 8 at Elements, 219 North
PICTORIAL - Dr. Estell is also the co-author of a similar book on Marshall for the
Arcadia series on Texas towns. “The idea is that the pictures tell the story,” she
said. Each of the nine chapters consists of historic photos and begins with one page of
prose explaining significance of the photos to come.
“That’s by design,” she said. “The narrative is limited, so we could get in the maximum
amount of pictures.”
Dr. Estell sees the book as an updated and expanded version of the 1974 Rockdale
Centennial book, to date the best collection of historic photos dealing wholly with
Rockdale and the immediate area.
“I tried to concentrate on 1940 and before,” she said. “I believe someone could easily
come up with another book, just as big, focusing on the 40s to the present.”
CLASSICS - Dr. Estell appealed to the public for historic photos and Rockdale residents
came through. “It was my goal to have photos that really told the story of Rockdale’s
history, not just old family photos, although there are obviously plenty of those in
the book,” she said.
Many names familiar to students of Rockdale history will be given faces for the first
time by the photos in this book. Those include “founding fathers” Ben and Joe
Loewenstein, mine owner Hermann Vogel and physician Dr. Dunc Wallis.
There’s a very special name from early Rockdale, milliner, and pioneering female
business owner, Dora Orr Poole. “She was my grandmother,” Dr. Estell said. “I got my
love of history from her.”
SPECIAL PHOTOS - There are many photos which are special to Dr. Estell and to some of
the first Rockdale residents who got advance copies of the book.
“I just love the photo of a little boy going to school at Bushdale, barefoot and
carrying his lunch bucket,” she said.
Another favorite is the 1932 street party in the 200 block of North Main, sort of a
Depression Era rave triggered by a band brought in by Backhaus Bros. grocery when it
affiliated with the national IGA chain. Both those photos are reproduced here.
COVER ICON - In the background of that photo the Buck Henry garage building is clearly
visible. Henry Garage is also on the book’s cover.
“I love history, of course, but I hope everyone realizes Rockdale isn’t all about
history,” Dr. Estell said. “We’ve got a future, too.”
Dr. Estell isn’t putting down the pen, either. She, historian Joy Graham and Steven
Gonzales are teaming up to write a history of the El Camino Real National Historic
Trail, which passes through Milam County.
Historic photos courtesy of Ann Henry, Bert Henry, Dr. Joseph Loewenstein, Robert
Edwards and Gary Jackson
What a big day, and night, for Rockdale in 1932, when the Backhaus Bros.
affiliated with IGA grocery and featured a live band (in back of truck.)
Photo looks down North Main toward the corner of Bell. That’s the virtually
unchanged Henry Garage building top left.
Ready for a school day at Bushdale, barefoot and with lunch pail, is little Albert
Gest. ‘Gibson Girl’ looks in first decade of 20th Century for Lena Howse Loewenstein.
Julius ‘Bose’ Moultry’s blacksmith shop was a fixture for many decades on Mill Street