Treasure Chest Thursdays: Mulberry Bower

It was during one of my visits home for the holidays in 1998 that I came across the “5 Generations” photo that I featured for Wordless Wednesday, 23 March 2011. That photo featuring my 97-year-old great-great-grandmother (Lula Routt Green) is what launched my research into my father’s side of my family tree.  Based on a few names he could remember, I was able to glean from the 1870 and 1880 census that Lula Routt, born 12 September 1867 in Chappel Hill, Washington County, Texas, was the daughter of Osborn and Sallie Routt.  Lula was born 13 years after slavery ended in Texas. Prior to her birth, her parents — Osborn and Sallie —  were slaves on one of the eight plantations in the Chappel Hill area.

So I turned to the Internet to find and connect with Chappel Hill’s Historical Society to learn more about the plantations in their town during the 1860’s. My email queries put me in direct contact with the town’s well-respected historians, Nath & Judy Winfield who sent  the email below:

Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 15:13:23  -500
Subject: Plantation Homes

Re: your inquery about plantation homes in this area:

Joseph William Routt, my maternal great grandfather, came to Washington Co. from Huntsville, Alabama in the mid 1840’s, bringing his family with him. He bought a tract of land between Chappell Hill and the Brazos River and began building a house. Before it was completed, it was blown down in a storm, whereupon he moved the location a short distance south and built again. I have a drawing of the floor plan, typically Texan in style, with a dogtrot and rooms on either side, one with a fireplace. The kitchen was a separate building about ten steps behind the house, with a large fireplace for cooking (My great grandmother bought her first stove after the War). When he became to old to raise cotton, Mr. Routt moved to town. My grandfather sold the property and moved the cotton gin into Chappell Hill. The house has been somewhat modified over the years and has been moved to the outskirts of Chappell Hill. I tried, unsuccessfully, to buy it at the time it was moved. The Routt Plantation was called “Mulberry Bower…”

Can you say — hit paydirt?!  HIT PAYDIRT! What are the chances of the great-grand son of the Slaveholder who may have owned and brought my ancestors to Texas would be sharing family history with me via email?!

All I can say is — WOW!

A few weeks later 16 September 1998, I received  the drawing  of the Old Routt House as well as a photo of  the house after a room had been added on the front porch in 1846:

Old Routt House Drawing, circa 1846
John W. Routt House, circ 1846

I cannot begin to explain the emotions I felt that day in 1998 when I actually saw this drawing and photograph of the house that I know my ancestors helped build, kept cleaned, and worked hard and long in the fields of the Mulberry Bower Plantation.

So what has become of this house since 1846? Well, a recent road-trip to the area revealed that the house still exist today and that it sits back along FM 2447 not far from the National Historic District of Chappell Hill, TX.

Routt descendants purchased another small 4-room house of cedar from a carpenter/sawmill owner in 1898. The house was enlarged with Victorian trim and two chimneys. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in Texas on February 20, 1985 (see below):

Routt House photo taken 20 May 2011

So if you have some Routts in your family tree, or slave ancestors who have connections with the Mulberry Bower Plantation, let me hear from you because – I’m Claiming Kin!

14 thoughts on “Treasure Chest Thursdays: Mulberry Bower

  1. Pingback: 2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge | Claiming Kin Genealogy

    • Alma Busby, you have truly made my day and I soooo appreciate YOU for reading my post and letting me know your grandmother’s connection to the Routts in Washington County, Texas too. I would love to hear more from you about your grandmother’s life on this land. Are you researching your family tree by chance? I would love to know how you’re coming along with your family research. Again, thank you!

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      • Oh my goodness, I am thrilled to hear from you!!! You have inspired me to find out more!

        My great grandmother told us stories about Chip Routt all the time. She was born in 1886, and died in 1995. She was really close to her siblings.

        Alma
        alma_busby@yahoo.com

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      • I am over here grinning like a chesire cat over finally making a family connection with someone who has Routt ancestors from this area . . .woo-hoo! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sending her year of birth. With that information and her parents’ names I’m going to go through many of the records, files, and notes that I currently have and be on the lookout for them in any current research that I do this coming weekend.

        Thanks for sharing your email address with me too! I’ve added you to my kinfolk address book — LOL! This is truly exciting and such a blessing too. Take care and I will be in touch with more information soon!

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      • I’m so overwhelmed and grateful. My 83 year old mother says you are a blessing.

        We are truly family!!

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  2. This was a once-in-a-lifetime find, surely! From your contacting the town’s historians, the direct descendant of the owners of Osborn and Sallie wrote back to you, with a drawing and photograph! We expect this kind of information to be long lost. But here, people “stayed in place” and let time pass. Time, with its powerful effects.

    Did you ever see a documentary film called “Moving Midway”? Someone recommended it to me recently. It’s a film about physically moving an old plantation house, but it turns into quite a genealogical story! Many different views of Southern ways are expressed during the film, some of them quite subtly and some of them very frankly. It has some amazing scenes, especially toward the end.

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  3. Hit Paydirt, imagine, OMG ,Wow, great find. A few adj that come to mind, I can only imagine the emotions on the road trip returning home. Hope this can lead to more treasures.

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  4. Pingback: Claiming Kin » Blog Archive » Surname Saturday: Routt

  5. Pingback: Claiming Kin » Blog Archive » Talented Tuesday: Nicole L.Taylor

    • Hi Kristin, thanks for checking out my feature for today; I truly appreciate you. Because this property belonged to his family and he did spend time there as a child he had access to this information. I am just grateful that he shared the details because he could have chose not to. Again, thanks!

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