Pierre Joseph Victor “Joe” Coquat was born in France in 1856. He ran away from home when he was 12 years old, shipping out to sea for a dozen years or so before coming to Texas in about 1880. He settled in Jeddo, a small farming community in Bastrop County.
Minerva Whitehead was born in 1866 near Jeddo. Joe and Minerva married in 1883 on her father’s farm outside Jeddo. They lived there until 1900.
They had two children, Joseph and Edith, who died as toddlers, and six other children; Idell, Richard, Henderson, Dora, George and Louise, all born in Jeddo.
Minerva’s father, Reverend Richard Whitehead was involved in a feud with a neighbor, which resulted in him being shot and killed in 1897. Joe and Minerva were caught up in the feud and decided to leave Bastrop County, moving to more positive prospects, settling on (originally) 300 acres in Live Oak County. In 1902, their youngest son, James, was born in Oakville. Joe farmed and ranched on this land eat of Oakville.
Idell married George William “Billy” Custer, and they had eight children. The only child that moved to Three Rivers was named Jimmie, who married Margaret Cunningham. They had four sons.
Jimmie worked oil field related businesses all his life. Margaret still lives in Three Rivers. Their son, Ricky, also still lives in Three Rivers. Another son, Rocky, lives near McCoy. Rocky works at Valero Refinery. Rocky’s wife, Cindy, and son, Rocky, both work at Texas Energy. David Webb Custer’s son, Larry, lives in Three Rivers and raised two of his daughters, Donna and Rhonda, here. Rhonda married Leroy Wolff and lives in Taft. Larry’s sister, Janis (Sonny) Johnson lives next to him.
Richard married Lola Belle Cocker, and they had four children. Lola Belle, Tom, Mark and Joe. Richard farmed near Oakville. Baby Belle married Buck Arnold who worked for Butter Crust (Rainbow) and delivered bread for many years. They had two children, Mary Amelia and Tommy Joe. Tom managed the Cantarana Ranch for Henderson in La Salle County for many years. His son, James Lewis, currently lives with his wife and children near Oakville.
Mark married Jimmie Greaves. They had a son, Richard, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1969, and a daughter, Denise, now a teacher in Beeville. Denise married Michael Salvagno and lives near Jimmie outside Oakville. Mark was retired from the US Air Force.
Joe and his wife, Janet (Musick), were both teachers in Three Rivers. Tragically, they were both killed in an automobile accident in an ice storm on the to the funeral of a relative in 1979. They had four children - Janis is married to Lynn Bluhm, DVM, and lives near Three Rivers. Joe Allen works at Valero Refinery and his wife, Jacqueline, is a homemaking teacher at Three Rivers High School. Noma and J’Vone left Three Rivers after graduation.
Henderson assisted in the founding of Three Rivers, helping Col. Charles Tips lay out and develop the town site in 1913. He married Irene Murray in 1915, the first couple married in the new Methodist Church building. He was teaching in Sinton along with Jack Montgomery, a lifelong friend, when he was drawn back to help with Three Rivers’ organization, becoming the first mayor in 1926. He was instrumental in developing the oil and gas industry in Three Rivers and the surrounding area. He became the owner of Simmons Oil Company, began Longhorn Drilling Company and Live Oak Gas Company, which supplied natural gas for the town.
He and Irene had three children: Murray, who was a geologist and worked for Longhorn, Ruth, who married Bryant Collin and lived in Austin, and Bob, who bought part of his father’s ranch and was county judge in La Salle County for several years. Bob married Polly Chilton and lived near Encinal.
Dora married Hudson Coker (cousin of Lola Belle) and they had four daughters: Eva, who worked for live Oak Insurance for many years, married Bill Tunis and lives near Three Rivers. They had two children, Carie (Bettie) and Bess (Leslie) Wernli, who still live near Three Rivers. Dorothy married Carl Baker and had two children, Sam and Carla. Nita Sue married Gene McClendon and worked for many years at First State Bank in Three Rivers. Their sons, Kent and Cole (Vickie) still live in the Three Rivers area. Mary Louise married Ross McClendon. They had three children, Rodney, Kelly and Sheila. Kelly (Richardson) and Sheila (Sisk) still live near Three Rivers.
George married Bonnie Roach. They had five children: Charlene, Georgia Fay, Dwain, Don and Jerry. George and his son, Don, worked for Longhorn Drilling for many years. Jerry married Ann College, and they lived in New Iberia, La. Dwain was killed in battle in Korea in 1950. Daughter, Charlene, never married and taught school in both Three Rivers and George West. Georgia Fay married George Hoel and lives in Austin.
Louise married Bryant Dove, and they had two children: Loryle and Homer. Loryle marries Joseph Leroy “Roy” Barnes and had four children; Joe Pete, Diane, Mary and John Barry. Their son, Joe Pete, and daughter, Diane (Billy) Roeske still live on the Bryant Dove home place east of Oakville. Diane and Billy’s son, Will, is a Border Patrol agent stationed in Freer. Mary lives near Pleasanton, and John lives near Cotulla; and Homer married Jeanie Carroll. They had four children: Clay, Kim, Drusanne and Kip. Clay was killed in an automobile accident, as was his son, Trey. Kim works for the county after he retired from Valero. Drusanne teaches school in Three Rivers, and her husband, Clif, works for Valero. Kip has worked for the Texas Department of Transportation for many years and lives with his wife, Regina, and daughter, Sadie, on the century-old Dove Ranch.
James married Hazel Ross, and they had three children; James Oliver Jr., Janeille and Sheryl. James worked for Longhorn Drilling and ranched west of Three Rivers until his death in 1952. After James died, Hazel married Ersell Evans, a widower school teacher with one son, Ronnie. Jimmie Jr. married Madge Carroll, sister to Homer’s wife, Jeanie. They had four children: Jean-Pierre, Angelique, Michael (Happy), and Roddy. After Jimmie Jr. died, Madge married Keith Patton. Both Madge and Keith were school teachers in Three Rivers for many years. Jean is a retired designer and builder and lives on the family Rio Luna Ranch near Three Rivers. Happy retired from the U.S. Air Force after more than 20 years, and his wife, Nancy (Payne), is Live Oak County Treasurer. Angie is retired from Valero Refinery, and her husband, Arlen Zamzow, is a retired TRHS coach. They still live on the family ranch. Roddy is a firefighter and EMT in Mineral Wells and nearing retirement. Janeille married James Teal and worked for McMullen schools for many years. Her sons, Mike and Jim, still live in Tilden. Jim is McMullen County Judge. Sheryl married Ross Young and taught school in Dallas after college. Her sons are Eric and Brett. They live with their families in Colorado and Houston.
Ironically, Pierre Joseph died of pneumonia due to injuries suffered during a feud with a neighbor in Live Oak County in 1923 after moving his family away from the other one that took his father-in-law.
In 1944, Minerva was honored in the Corpus Christi Caller for having nine grandsons serving in the military during World War II. They were Tom Coquat, Mark Coquat, Joe Coquat, Jimmie Custer, Homer Dove, Bob Coquat, Murray Coquat, James Brodie and Roy Barnes. She later was awarded a 10th star when James Oliver Coquat Jr. enlisted in the Marine Corps in early 1945. Diane Roeske says she still has those stars. Minerva died in March 1949 near Oakville.
So, with this article, we pay tribute to a family that had been in Three Rivers since it was founded and who have contributed much to the growth and success of the town.