Speer, also known as Stinson and as Stinson's Mill, was near Big Sandy Creek and the present route of Farm Road 312 three miles northeast of Pine Mills and eleven miles east of Quitman in eastern Wood County. The area was settled in the early 1840s by Baptist minister Prescott (Press) Davis and his wife Dorcus. Davis is said to have built the Press Davis Crossing and the Press Davis Bridge over nearby Big Sandy Creek. Some sources state that the area was known as the Speer community by the time the Davises arrived. However, another account suggests that it was not called Speer until later, after the community developed around the mill and home of James Alexander Stinson, a local plantation owner who had served as a colonel in the Confederate Army. By 1853 land-grant recipient Isham Burnett had built a gristmill at his homestead in the vicinity, and sometime between 1865 and 1868 Stinson gained possession of a sawmill at or near the Burnett mill site, at what became known as Stinson's Pond. Stinson is said to have been one of the first in the area to experiment with growing fruit trees, ribbon cane, wheat, and beans. He is reported to have owned forty-three slaves. After the Civil War Stinson ran his plantation on the sharecropping system, and at one time the Stinson property had fourteen tenant houses. One account reports that the community that developed around his plantation and mill was known first as Stinson and Stinson's Mill and then later as Speer. In 1869 Stinson had a two-story house built at Speer from pine and oak grown on his large plantation, and in 1874 Stinson's daughter Sarah Ann (Sallie) was married by Press Davis in the parlor of the Stinson mansion to future governor James Stephen Hogg. In 1886 the Speer post office opened, and by 1890 J. A. Stinson was serving as postmaster. By 1906, however, the Speer post office had closed. Little more is known about Speer, but in 1967 the Stinson home received a state historical marker.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Rachel Jenkins | © Texas State Historical Association
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