Streetman
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A HISTORY OF THE FRANCIS ALVIN STREETMAN AND SAMUEL KIRTIS STREETMAN FAMILIES

THE MEMOIRS OF SAMUEL KIRTIS STREETMAN

My father, Francis Alvin Streetman, was born in Cameron, Louisiana, on December 14, 1887, and he died on February 26, 1964. My mother was Essie Gertrude White Streetman, who was born in Dublin, Erath County, Texas, on November 29, 1892, and died in Nederland on November 28, 1970. They actually moved to Nederland twice, the first time in 1914 when I was two years old. I was born in Mamou, Louisiana. The family lived on what was later called the Walling Dairy property, on Peek Road, now Highway 365. My father started rice farming there, and he lost his entire crop during the 1915 storm which drove salt water into the edge of Nederland. They farmed about two more years here, before we moved to Vinton, Louisiana, where my Dad continued to farm rice, and where my brother, Dr. Edward G. Streetman, was born.

Francis Streetman brought his family back to Nederland in 1926, moving back to the same general area on Walling Dairy property, although until 1939 it was Lohman Brothers Dairy (Henry Lohman and brother), who also owned the old Home Laundry in Port Arthur. There were five children in our family. I am a retired dairy farmer. Edward was Nederland's first veterinarian, with over fifty years continuous practice - is now semi-retired. My younger brother, Jack Streetman, is a retired supervisor from Texaco refinery. My sister, Rita Dell, now lives in Youngstown, Ohio. She married Colonel Randall Hendricks, an Army Air Corps officer, now deceased. Dorothy Streetman, the youngest, married Kenneth White, and she died in a drowning accident about 20 years ago.

I remember so well the old Interurban electric trolley that used to run between Beaumont and Port Arthur. The Streetman family lived one-half mile from the Interurban track, which ran through Nederland adjacent to Sixteenth Street, over the right-of-way where the Gulf States Utilities high lines still pass through Nederland. Between 1912 and 1932, the trolley service was operated by the old East Texas Electric Company, which was the predecessor company of Gulf States. I remember so well when a small child was killed in the early days by the Interurban not far from where we lived. I hated to see the old Interurban shut down, but our modes of travel were fast changing in 1930. When I was a teenager about 1926, I plowed farm land where the Mid-Jefferson County Hospital is located today. Many changes have occurred since the Streetmans first moved to Nederland seventy-five years ago.

{The preceding information is from a two-page handwriten script by Kirtis Streetman and given to W. T. Block. From this point on appears on a two-side compact disc, made on January 30, 1990, by W. D. Quick during his interview with S. K. Streetman, with all the questions asked by Quick}.

THE PERSONAL MEMOIRS OF SAMUEL KIRTIS STREETMAN

The Streetmans moved to Nederland twice. I was born in Louisiana, moved with my parents to Nederland in 1914 when I was 2 years old. We lived here two years, and then we moved to Vinton, Louisiana. I was born in 1912 in Mamou, Louisiana. My father, Francis Streetman, married my mother, Essie White, in Louisiana. Father was a farmer. He came to Texas because this was an industrial area, but he continued raising rice after he got here. The 1915 storm wiped him out so he moved back to Louisiana. The land in those days belonged to Lohman Brothers (the Lohmans were Dad's uncles). They started out in 1918 in the hog business in Nederland, until hog cholera killed all their hogs. Then they switched to thoroughbred Guernsey cattle. When we moved back here from Vinton, Father moved back on the Walling Dairy property, but at a different location {{Ed.'s Note: Before the Lohmans sold out to S. E. Walling in 1939, they owned about 100 acres, roughly bounded by Avenue H, Highway 365, South 21st Street, and South 27th Street. The video store building at South 23rd and Highway 365 was built to be the Walling Dairy bottling plant.}}

There were five children in our family. I am the oldest, then Ed (Dr. E. G. Streetman), then Jack, then Rita Dell Hendricks of Youngstown, Ohio. My youngest sister, Dorothy (Mrs. Kenneth) White, was 38 years old when she died in a drowning accident about 25 years ago.

When Dad left the Walling (Lohman) property, he and I went into the dairy business together on the old George Rienstra property on Wagner Road (AvenueH). We bought cows from a man named Lacoste. Later we split up, and my dad, F. A. Streetman, moved his dairy to the Beauxart Gardens Road. I bought 28 acres of the old George Rienstra tract of 80 acres. It was immediately on the west side of the Interurban tracks, now the Gulf States high line through Nederland. My home was located where 1604 Avenue H is located today, almost in front of the Pat Riley Funeral Home. That land is now part of the Oaklawn Addition. In 1942 I sold the property and moved out on 27th Street (1519 27th). I still own 42 acres of a 59-acre tract in Beauxart Gardens. 27th Street is the only other street, except Twin City, that goes completely through Nederland, all the way from Spurlock Road to Highway 365. I remember the old George Rienstra home when it was a two-story home on South Twelfth. He built the house for Lacoste on Avenue H (that Kirtis later bought).

I bought my cow feed from the Sabine Grain Company in Port Arthur, some from Josey-Miller in Beaumont, and some from Koelemay Grain in Nederland. I raised my own hay and some grain. In 1943, Koelemay Grain sold out to Moak, and later Moak sold out to Bean and Setzer (Setzer Supply Company).

I had no windmill. I got water from a shallow well, pumped at first by a gasoline engine and later changed to an electric motor. We sold our milk to Walling Dairy, at first on Avenue H, but later they built a modern bottling plant on Highway 365 (at South 23rd, now a video store). I also sold milk to Dailey Dairy, which was also an independent milk wholesaler and retailer in Port Arthur. During the 1930s, there were 25 dairies in Nederland.

In 1936, Texas passed a mandatory livestock-dipping law to combat fever tick infestation - it was done state-wide. At first cattle were dipped twice a month. When Ed was 21 years old, he was a cattle-dipping inspector. It was a lot of trouble, and everyone hated dipping. The other inspector in Nederland was Babe (George) Vanderweg, and there was another inspector in Pear Ridge (Port Arthur). There were several dipping vats built - one vat in Beauxart Gartdens, another at C. O. Wilson School, another at Nederland Avenue and 8th Street, on Vanderweg property, another on Lohman property, and one in Port Neches at Highway 366 and Merriman Street. A dipping vat consisted of holding pens for dipped and undipped cattle, and a deep water vat fenced in by two wooden fences spaced four feet apart, that is, the width of a cow or horse, also a shallow well for filling the vat, and a small room for storing insect chemicals. Cows had to be physically pushed into the vat twice a month. The dipping program lasted four months in Nederland.

Even with the electricity used to power the interurban's electric engines passing so close to my house, I still had no electricity at first. We rode the interurban in both directions. There was a tragedy when a small child was killed at Wagner Road by my house. The child's family was named Yawn, from Silsbee - it was a grandchild of the Lacoste family. It happened on June 26, 1928. Joe Bagwell was the motorman on the interurban trolley. We really missed the interurban when it stopped running in 1932.

I went to Nederland High School when it was located at 200 South Twelfth Street, where the YMCA is today. I graduated in 1931, long before the old Langham School was torn down. We attended the Baptist Church, but I had been a Presbyterian for twenty years. We attended the old Baptist tabernacle and later the old two-story, white church at Thirteenth and Boston Streets. I remember well the old tent meetings and the revivals held in the old tabernacle.

My first auto was a Chevrolet car with a small bed built on the back just large enough to hold four milk cans. Later I bought both a pickup truck and a car.

In 1936, I married Elizabeth Dewitt of New York, who was of New York Dutch descent. Rev. Troy Brooks, who was twice the Baptist pastor in Nederland married us. We have two children, a son, Russell, who is a chemical engineer and lives in Houston; and a daugther, Elaine, who works in a chemical plant and lives in Beaumont.

We had much more rainfall in the 1930s than we have today, and more hurricanes too, three of them hitting here between 1937 and 1943. Also drainage was terrible. We always hated to see a lot of rainfall at one time. Peek Road (Highway 365) was a dirt road. Cars were always getting stuck and had to be pulled out with mules. Avenue H east of the railroad tracks was Block Road, and it ran all the way to Port Neches Avenue. There were very few airplanes back then. One day a plane landed in my field, an emergency I guess. There was no airport here then, except a small, private airport, Parker Air Service, down near Port Arthur.

Nederland's physicians around 1930 were Dr. Tribble - Dr. (J. C.) Hines took his place. Dr. (B. H.) Hall was the first dentist in Nederland. Dr. (Bedford) Pace came about 1937; then Dr. (P. T.) Weisbach about 1946 and Dr. (R. E.) Moore in 1947. Dr. Hines was single then and stayed in his office until about ten P. M. every night, or else in the drugstore. My daughter Elaine got sick one night at nine o'clock, and I found Dr. Hines in the drug store. Doctors made house calls in those days. (Ed.'s note: Streetman overlooked Dr. J. H. Haizlip, who practiced in Nederland from 1907 until his death in 1938.)

I got my first telephone in 1944 or 1945 - a party line. The exchange was in a house (now moved) at 403 Twelfth Street, and Mrs. Emily Wallace was the operator on a hand-operated switchboard with plugs. She also ran a paging service if you went to Beaumont or elsewhere. There were only 1,400 people in Nederland in 1940. Mr. (A. C.) Frog Handley, superintendent, ran the Gulf States Utilities Company in Nederland-Port Neches almost by himself, climbing up on poles and everything.

I banked at Port Arthur's Merchants National Bank at first, and later at the First National Bank in Port Neches. There was no bank in Nederland until 1947. (Ed.'s Note: There had been a First National Bank of Nederland in 1902-1905, in which lots of Nederland and Port Neches people had lost sizeable sums of money; hence, the lack of desire to start a second bank in Midcounty in either town.) I bank in Nederland now. W. D. Quick noted that once Kirtis Streetman had been paged at the Nederland State Bank when his cows were loose in town, and K. acknowledged that he used to drink coffee at the bank every morning and chat with friends there.

Kirtis told about Jack Fortenberry and his barber ship, also about Jack's years as Nederland's first scoutmaster. Kirtis said that at Jack's funeral, the Baptist minister, Rev. J. P. Owens, said Jack Fortenberry was "the end of an era." Jack lived a long time in the 1200 block of Boston until the end of his first wife's illness, then about 1948, he bought out the Alvarez dairy down at the "S-Curve" - a railroad crossing on Spur 347 (Twin City), 2 1/2 miles south of Nederland, that has since been replaced by a railroad overpass. Jack's home and "lake" are still quite visible from the top of that overpass. K. said that Jack went out of the dairy business and opened up a "barrow" or dirt pit, which supplied the fill dirt for overpasses in that area of Twin City near his home and created the 15-acre lake on the property that Mrs. Fortenberry still owns.

Kirtis Streetman said that he also supplied fill dirt for four area overpasses out near the Jefferson County Airport from his own dirt pirt located north of Beauxart Gardens between Holmes Road and a cafe, known as "Dorothy's Front Porch," on property that the F. A. Streetman estate sold to Burroughs.

Kirtis also recalled Mr. (S. R.) Carter (whose home was on school property at Seventeenth and Detroit). K. said that Mr. Carter was well-read, but was largely self-educated; and he loved conversation and talking to people. K. also said that Carter's (one of Nederland's original Dutchmen dating from 1898) real name was TEN CARTER (presumably meaning in English the cart-driver or wagoner), but he dropped the TEN part from his name. Carter sold his property to the school district at a very reasonable price shortly before he died in 1947. Earlier he had been a rice farmer, but later he became a dairyman, realtor, and home financier. Carter Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Additions to Nederland are named for him.

Kirtis also remembered the Terweys -- Gerrit and Peter. Gerrit was his longtime neighbor dairyman. Pete Terwey worked in a refinery. K. also recalled Kaper family children, but he said he was not well-acquainted with their parents. Kirtis recalled the old Doornbos 2-story home that burned, and the Cale Doornbos home on Helena, but could not remember the earliest Doornbos home near the airport. K. remembered that the Pete Stehle and Edmund Dohman families boarded early-day school teachers, and when the McNeill family sold their old home to Weldon Davis in 1945. K. recalled that McNeill's Grocery and Gardner's Grocery (across from McNeill's at 1155 Boston) were the town's two leading mercantile houses during World War II days - there were no supermarkets in Nederland in those days. There was a McKee's Drug Store on Boston for a short time around 1936-1937. Otherwise, Nederland Pharmacy had no competition for many years, and Mr. (F. A.) Roach, the proprietor, was Nederland's only druggist (that is, along with L. D. "Doc" Gunter).

Dr. Hines' office was adjacent to the Nederland Pharmacy (at 1112 Boston) in the Wagner Building. Minaldi's Shoe Shop has been here since the 1920s. K. remembered the old Mr. Tony Minaldi, now long-since deceased. K. said he had graduated with his son, Joe Minaldi. The old wooden Minaldi building was later torn down, and replaced with brick.

K. said that rather than wait patiently for some long-winded talker to get off a party line, it was easier to get on a horse and ride to the person's house that you wanted to talk to. K. said he used to ride his horse to church and to the Baptist Young People's meetings. There were no blacksmith shops left in Nederland in the 1930's although there were still two former Nederland blacksmiths living here in 1935. In 1915, Lee Meredith had sold out his blacksmith shop on Twin City, across from the depot, to E. P. Delong; however, Delong very soon converted his shop to an automobile repair garage at 11th and Boston, and in 1935 he and Meredith still lived in Nederland. The need for a blacksmith shop in Nederland went out with the rice field days or when most of the rice farmers switched over to dairying. Some of the early service stations were owned by Albert Rienstra (who sold out to Goodie Griffin at Spur 347 and Boston); E. P. Delong, later George Netterville, at their garage at 11th and Boston; "Shorty" Hand at Nederland and Twin City; H. O Morrison at Franklin and Twin City, and L. B. Cobb at Helena and Twin City.

Interurban -- during the 1920s, when auto ownership became much more common, traffic on the interurban was greatly reduced, resulting in its discontinuance. Buses soon replaced the interurban. Taxis at Nederland Pharmacy were common before the war - E. C.Whatley, George Yentzen, Buck Gardner, Sluggie Nagle. All of them hauled sailors.

K. - Yes, Mr. George Yentzen was the same man who had operated the Nederland Bakery. He's the man who started making the "Butter-split" bread, that all the stores handled. Also Bartels Bakery was here then. In 1938, all of them shut down when the new big bakeries in Beaumont, Taystee and Rainbow, dropped bread to 10 cents for a large loaf.Yentzen had a large route, and he also invented the Yentzen Duck Caller, for which he held the patent. It is still being manufactured in Groves. He was a big duck hunter. You could kill lots of ducks in the rice fields around Central Mall.

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