W. T. Block, Jr.


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Guest Book

Author and Historian W. T. Block

William Theodore Block, Jr.

7/29/1920 - 12/15/2007

William Theodore Block, Jr., age
87, known as “W. T.” or “Bill” to his friends, passed away at Christus St. Mary Hospital on Saturday December 15, 2007. He was born in Port Neches on July 29, 1920, the son of Will and Sarah Jane Sweeney Block, and he moved to Nederland in 1935. He grew up on his father’s farm, which is currently the land occupied by Oak Bluff Memorial Cemetery.

He graduated from Nederland High School, Cheniers Business and Radio College, and Lamar University with an MA degree in history. He also served 3 years in the U. S. Naval Reserve, and taught at Lamar for 2 years as a teaching fellow.

During World War II, he served from 1942-1946 in the 78th Infantry Division, earning 3 battle stars for the Battles of the Bulge, Rhineland, and Central Europe. After the war, he worked 31 years for the Postal Service, including 20 years as assistant postmaster and postmaster in Nederland, or as officer-in-charge in Orange. Later he served on the Lamar University staff for 11 years, retiring in 1981.

Mr. Block was a dedicated historian, publishing 9 books of East Texas history, many academic articles in historical journals, and he was a guest columnist for Beaumont Enterprise for many years. He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Nederland, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Texas Gulf Historical Society. He was also a Knight of the Royal Order of Orange-Nassau, a knighthood conferred on him by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. He had also been a ham radio operator for 32 years, and served several years as an assistant scoutmaster.

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The links at the left will connect you to each of the major categories on this site. The content is divided into six categories described as follows:

bulletBiography: Some biographical information including an article about W. T. published in "The Southeast Texas Business News" in March of 1996, by Bill Deevy.
bulletBooks: W. T.'s books  
bulletPublished, and
bulletArticles: a summary of W. T.'s articles divided into
bulletHistorical Journals
bulletPopular History Magazines, and
bulletDocuments: several articles are published here online
bulletFamily: articles about W. T's family
bulletPhoto Credit: Several of the photographs in the family section are very old and were in very bad shape.  One of our readers, Mr. Francis M. Barnett, Jr. contacted W. T. and offered to "digitally repair" these photographs. Look at this page to see "before and after" pictures.
bulletGuest Book: leave the site and other visitors messages here
bulletSearch: this site and the web

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What's New

We are in the process of scanning W. T.'s first book, A History of Jefferson, County, Texas, which will be a work in progress for some time.  This book was W. T.'s master's thesis at Lamar University and was published in 1976.

There are now 468 articles published on this site.  Up to this point most of the work has been relatively easy, since the majority of what is on the site to date was written within the last decade and was therefore already in electronic form.

Some of the newest articles represent the beginning of the next phase, converting work that was done in the prior three decades into electronic format.  Sabine Pass in the Civil War was originally published in the East Texas Historical Journal in October 1971.  This article was scanned in from a photocopy of that document.   Scanning is imprecise at best, and downright error prone at worst. Our best efforts to find and correct these errors are being employed, but the process is slow.   Naturally, we welcome any feedback with regard to errors discovered by our readers.

Date Added Name of Article
Nov. 11, 2006 Veteran's Day Program and Marker Dedication to Thomas Deye Owings
June 6, 2006 David Choate, Jr.: A San Jacinto Veteran
  Rev. John August Tubbe: An Immigrant Farmer, Sawmiller, and Preacher
  Isaac Ryan: Lake Charles is Proud of Its Alamo Hero
Feb. 25, 2006 An Extinct Sawmill Town and the Olive-Sternenberg Partnership That Built It
Feb. 19, 2006 A Brief History of the Early Beaumont Jewish Community
Feb. 15, 2006 Auto Biography
Nov. 25, 2005 Benjamin Johnson: Veteran of Battle of San Jacinto
  Robert B. Russell: A Veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto
Nov. 13, 2005 Col. W. H. Griffin: A Texas Confederate Commander
Aug. 28, 2005 James B. Likens: Pioneer East Texas Lawyer and Military Hero
May 22, 2005 Capt. Daniel Goos: An Early Lake Charles Sawmiller
  My Hero, Father Ivan
  Village Mills Hangs Tough After Heyday
  Sawmill Boom Reached Zenith During 1880s
  Sawmill City Bronson Also Had Status as Rail Terminus
  Sawmill Town Now Only Few Old Foundations
  Sawmills Deserved Dangerous Reputation
  Texas Sawmills Once Rolled Out Barrel Industry
  Evadale Makes Comeback From Near Ghost Town
  First Iron Smelting Attempt In Texas Ended In Ashes
  Fostoria Once Was Prosperous Sawmill Town
  Fredonia Rooted In River History
  Fuqua Hummed As Sawmill Town in Early 1900s
  Hardin County Village Thrived On Cotton Trade
  Huge Sawmill Once Operated West of Lufkin
  Jasper Figures In Much Early Texas History
  Lumber Town of Manning Once Prospered
  Majestic Trees Towered Over Area In 1850
  Many Sawmill Towns Died Out In East Texas
  Old Ghost Town Once Was Home To Great Pioneer
  Salem Townsite Once Produced Lumber Boom
  Steam Power Led Advances in Sawmilling
Feb. 5, 2005 Dr. Lewis S. Owings: A Brief Biography
Jan. 16, 2005 A History of Nederland Education and the Nederland Independent School District
  De Families KOELEMAY
Sept. 6, 2004 I Remember My Brother Broomtail
Aug. 29, 2004 Thomas Deye Owings of Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas: Frontier Iron-Smelterer and Military Hero
July 25, 2004 Samuel P. Henry: “Father of Cameron Parish”
July 2, 2004 Dr. Edward Arrel Pye: A Texas Medical Hero
  I Remember “The Lucky Stiffs”
June 27, 2004 Albert Gallatin Van Pradelles: Cotton Merchant of Wallisville, Texas
May 22, 2004 Two Brothers and a Brother-In-Law in East Texas
April 18, 2004 Beaumont's Big Business
  Capt. William E. Rogers: Beaumont Steamboatman
Feb. 15, 2004 Familie uit Hoogkarspel in 1897 aan de wieg van stadje Nederland in Texas
  A History of the Gatze Jan (George) Rienstra Family
  A History of the Gatze Jan (George) Rienstra Family (Dutch translation)
  A History of the Bauke Westerterp Family
  A History of the Bauke Westerterp Family (Dutch translation)
Oct 28, 2003 Updated: Napoleon Wiess: Steamboat Captain and Confederate Soldier
Oct. 6, 2003 Early River Boats of Southwest Louisiana
Sept. 13, 2003 Updated: The baptism of fire of the 309th Infantry Regiment
May 29, 2003 A Brief History of Wiess Bluff, Texas
May 26, 2003 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Chapter XI)
  Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Chapter X)
May 24, 2003 From Cotton Bales to Black Gold
  Napoleon Bonaparte Wiess
May 18, 2003 Some Notes on the Adrian Johan Elings Family
Apr. 1, 2003 Requiem for a Confederate Gunboat: The CSS Josiah H. Bell
Mar. 10, 2003 Was the “Black Panther” Actually a Jaguar?
Mar. 3, 2003 Alanson Burson: Father of Nederland, Texas
Feb. 12, 2003 Skull Island on Mermentau River: A Slave Ship’s Inhumanity
Jan. 25, 2003 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Chapter IX)
Jan. 25, 2003 Ghost of Nicaragua Smith Still Haunts Graveyard
Jan. 10, 2003 Black Panthers: Did Such an Animal Ever Exist?
Nov. 29, 2002 The Big Thicket Bear Hunters Club of Kountze
March 3, 2002 Alexander Gilmer: Industrialist of Orange, Texas
Sept. 22, 2001 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Chapter VIII)
April 25, 2001 Biography of William P. Doran--Texas’ First War Correspondent
Nov. 7, 2000 Diary of 1st Sergeant H. N. Connor
Sept. 3, 2000 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Chapter VII)
July 4, 2000 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Chapter VI)
July 1, 2000 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (TOC, Chapter V)
June 26, 2000 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Chapter IV)
June 25, 2000 Book (in progress): A History of Jefferson County, Texas (Introduction, Chapter I, Chapter II, and Chapter III)
June 4, 2000 Crazy Ben Dollivar's secret gold cache
Mill manager paid big price by dismissing ‘untouchable’
Sawmill town Aldridge had sad history
State border relocated east during survey
Oil industry in East Texas traces roots back to 1860s
Turpentiners worked hard for product
Rainbow Bridge 1938 opening brought an end to area ferries
There's a story on lone grave near Texas 347
Area's history of bootlegging soared during Prohibition
Area Civil War period marked by hard times
Why don't we commemorate brave masses of immigrants
Two area cities in late 1800s fought major fires together
Shooting death of lumberman still a mystery
Blockade runs at Sabine Pass commonplace in Civil War
My dad and I once got stuck in Suckersville
Temple made mark on lumber industry
Former slave's death in 1889 attracted rare news coverage
Lafitte's men captured our imagination for many years
Jan. 22, 2000 Christmas week in Simmerath
Nov. 7, 1999 Pioneer music in Beaumont contained lots of brass horns
No man is an island unless hunted skunk launches scent
Sawmill town Bessmay gave its life to fire
Area resident rallied behind Union cause
Schools in Beaumont trace to pre-Civil War
Yellow fever plagued area during 1860s
Fate intervened in Confederate hero’s search for black gold
U. S., Republic of Texas once nearly clashed because of fees
Big cat stories in East Texas are numerous but lack proof
Change came to Port Neches via relocation of post office
Olive, Texas is now a ghost town
Rice Still Dominates Jefferson County Agriculture
Sept. 5, 1999 A History of the Frederick George Smith Family of Johnson’s Bayou, La.
Sept. 4, 1999 Strong Spell swam river ferrying lead steer of herd
Sweeneys were among first settlers of Grand Chenier
Lucas gusher fever affected so many folks, far and wide
Aug. 15, 1999 Mud, cow led to sale of refinery acreage
June 3, 1999 Strange case about corpse still unsolved
Treasure tale keyed digging in East Texas Piney Woods
Confederate flag remains symbol of hate to many today
June 1, 1999 Area's greatest archeological site was ruined
Dairy farm’s end stopped wonder bra for milk cows
Emancipated men gave city so very much in early years
Whale gave Port Arthur’s economy boom in early 1900’s
Beaumont had two pioneers who aged well
Pre-boom Spindletop gave hints of its riches
Pirate Lafitte, Bowie dealt in slave trade via SE Texas
May 8, 1999 Tulip Transplants to East Texas: The Dutch Migration to Nederland, Texas
Hurricanes decimated Nederland ‘city tree’
Some Notes on the Civil War Jayhawkers of Confederate Louisiana
Some Notes on the Pioneer McGaffey Families of Sabine Pass, Texas
Feb. 7, 1999 Real cold war occurred here during 1890s
Foxy advice on gambling serves well
Prank led to empty sleeve
Spindle Top once isolated plague victims
Jan. 6, 1999 Demise of Reptilian ‘Big Tooth’ drew crowds
Bringing joy to the needy in Depression was fulfilling
Celebrations of Christmas in Beaumont change little
Sorry, Sarge, you’ll have to take my heart
Jan. 3, 1999 Entertainment in Beaumont has news roots

Dec. 1, 1998

Versatility Was Proud Boast of Area Civil War Outfit

Fort Manhassett Disgorges Huge Treasure of Artifacts

Nov. 27, 1998 Smith’s Bluff and Grigsby’s Bluff, Texas
"Didja Knows" About Nederland, Texas
Broomtail and I Met the Ku Klux Klan
The Legend of the Olive Ghost Train
Nov. 24, 1998 New Chapter In History of Sabine Pass Written
Calcasieu Pass Victory, Heroism Equal Dowling’s
Nov. 23, 1998 Sabine Pass in the Civil War
Where was Fort Grigsby?
Nov. 19, 1998 Bootlegging brothers' joy short-lived
Pranks rule 'olden days' celebrations of Halloween
Spooky legend lives on
Nov. 7, 1998 Lamar University 75th Anniversary

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