Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hottel Creek

Hottel Creek runs through the K-Bar. It can be called the life blood of the whole place. Like most East Texas creeks it meanders-a lot! The creek only covers less than a mile as the crow flies, but I have traveled it's banks for miles. It is a perennial steam, (year round,) and has deep pools as well as shallow crossings. It has a shale base but is primarily sandy bottomed. It is lined by White Oaks, Red Oaks, Sweet gums, Beach and willow trees. Even though the area is pine forests, hardwoods are prevalent on the banks of Hottel Creek.
Hottel Creek was named for the Hottel family, which settled along the stream during the nineteenth century. The Hottles were very industrious farmers, and cleared and plowed sugar cane and cotton fields along the creek. They even built a cotton gin on it's banks,(see Last Cotton Field,) but by the time the Killams moved into the area they had moved on, having worn out the fields.
Hottle Creek is also known as Hanged Mans Creek. Some of the locals still called the stream this name when Papa moved here. The legend is that the locals found a horse thief here, and after a short trial, hanged the thief from one of the large White Oaks along the bank. Vigilante justice can be swift. Actually, if I had to guess, the hanged man was probably not a horse thief, but a man caught up in the rough politics in the area during the middle of the nineteenth century.
Angelina County was the only Deep East Texas county that voted not to leave the Union 1860. Theories differ as to why, but the area was deeply devoted to Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto, and ardent non-secessionist. He even resigned as Governor instead of taking the Oath to the Confederacy. Houston did have many friends in the county, and this was probably a big reason for the vote. Another was that the settlers of Angelina County were small farmers from the upper south, (Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina,) and not as pro secession as settlers from Mississippi or Alabama. Still another theory was that the election was rigged, not as difficult thing to do when the electorate was white males over 21. If it was close- a few extra votes could make the difference.
During the Civil War, (or War of Northern Aggression as it is known here,) the Home Guard of the Confederacy was very active in the county. They were a political group and did not have to fight in the East as long as they kept the county under control. They were cruel and ruthless, ( ala Cold Mountain.) They allegedly hung Doctors and even wounded soldiers on leave. After the shooting stoped and Reconstruction began, the families ruined by the home guard action took revenge. My guess is that the hanged man was either hung by the home guard or where former home guards being punished.

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