This Thursday, the Beeville Post Office, built in 1918 (first class postage then, two cents), will receive a historical marker partly because of its architecture — former Bee County historian Margaret Moser called it a “little Monticello,” referring to the Virginia home of Thomas Jefferson.
As the wording of the marker will testify, the Beeville building is representative of the standardized small town post offices built by the U.S. Treasury Department after the turn of the century.
The post office isn’t the city’s first. That was established in 1859, one year after the city was incorporated.
“The Texas Historical Commission has recognized the current post office as a significant part of Texas history,” says Maggie Price, a member of the Joe Barnhart Foundation, by listing it on the “National Register for Historic Buildings.”
But beneath the Doric columns is something darker.
A workman helping to build the post office and his foreman were sworn enemies. The enmity was so severe that the foreman carried a gun to protect himself from the other.
It was a wise choice, because the workman threatened the foreman with a knife. He pulled his gun and shot the workman and then turned himself in to the police.
Although he was found guilty of murder, the Supreme Court in Washington, presided over by Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, ruled he had acted in self-defense. That ruling established the legal right to use lethal force in self-defense.
The marker will be unveiled and dedicated at a 10:30 a.m. ceremony in the courtyard of the Joe Barnhart Bee County Library, followed by a reception in the library’s Dougherty Room.
The ceremony, Price says, will be dedicated to Moser, “for her tireless, extensive research to write the application” for the marker. It was a five-year effort.
“Most people think all you do is fill out an application, take a picture and turn it in,” says Dr. Barbara Welder, chair of the Bee County Historical Commission. “The application is more like a master’s thesis.” A history of the building, compiled by the Commission, numbers 66 pages.
Price sent the letter of approval for the marker to Moser just before the historian died in late March.
Moser’s son, Chris, will read the content of the marker at the ceremony. Others planning to participate include relatives of former postmasters David Blackmon (George Blackmon), Mrs. Cherry McClintock (Dee Pagel) and Mrs. Jo Adkins (Teal Adkins).
“It is vital that as we move forward, we do not forget our past,” Welder says.
“Not only will the Texas Historical and National Register markers provide awareness in the community of our fascinating history, but they will become a building block for the promotion of local tourism.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.