LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Sometimes you have to drive miles to find a piece of Texas history and others it all comes together in the same place. In downtown Lufkin, we found five within shouting distance of one another and they’re the subject of this week’s A Mark in Texas History.
Today’s it’s called Cotton Square and it’s in the heart of downtown Lufkin. Cotton Square itself has its own historical marker, which states the square previously was named for Louis Calder. Calder was a friend of J.H. Kurth, one of the founding fathers of Lufkin.
The square used to be teeming with cotton buying, horse trades, switching railroad trains, political rallies and even band concerts.
One such band was the Hoo Hoo Band, a group of Lufkin men who organized a town brass band. They gave concerts in Cotton Square but were defunct by the 1920s, when school bands became popular. But the Hoo Hoo Band remains a symbol of Lufkin pride. They were recognized with a historical marker in 1983.
Right over in the next parking spot is a tribute to Kerr’s Incorporated. At the time this historical marker was erected in 1981, Kerr’s was known as the oldest Angelina County business in continuous operation. Kerr’s was started by a Civil War Veteran named Joseph Kerr. Kerr started the business as a tin shop but it later turned into a leader in steel fabrication.
Just around the corner is KRBA Radio. Redland Broadcasting Association brought the first license to the area in 1938. Station Manager Darrell Yates financed the endeavor and took it over after five years. Today KRBA continues on the air, playing Country Legends.
And just behind the Lufkin ISD administration building is a strange bit of history. The Depot Explosion and Mystery details how on the evening of March second, 1913, the railroad depot at this site exploded. Although a body was not discovered, it was presumed a railroad employee had been killed and his stepmother collected on his insurance. Until 1916, when George Frank Parsons returned to the area. He was with an attorney working for the insurance companies. Parsons stood trial for insurance fraud, but was acquitted.
All five of those markers are within easy walking distance of each other in Cotton Square of Downtown Lufkin.