Content of Exhibit:
SE Texas was directly involved in American and Texas history, and we will share the documents to prove it. From an original letter from President Lyndon Johnson to a Silsbee citizen surrounding the assignation of President John F. Kennedy, to original Presidential Inauguration Invitations, all a part of our collection of 51 original letters and documents from Lyndon Johnson between the years 1954-1965. All of these letters are relevant to SE Texas history, including letters from LBJ to David Read of Silsbee surrounding Sam Rayburn, the presidential nomination, private invitations to the LBJ Ranch, and an original postcard from Lady Bird.
In addition, we will be exhibiting an original 1863 lithograph of the Emancipation Proclamation with Abraham Lincoln's signature. This document was printed in Chicago while Lincoln was still alive. After the war, it was acquired by a Union soldier (Pvt Cordyn Williams, Ohio), and traveled with four generations of The Williams family to its final home in Silsbee, Texas. Copies of this rare document are in The Smithsonian, and in The Metropolitan Museum in New York. Accompanying this document are copies of the original 1865 mustering out papers of Pvt Williams from the US Army, a decorative 1865 wall hanging celebrating his battalion, Company E, 32nd Division of The Ohio Infantry. A final document in the Emancipation Collection is an original receipt for the purchase of a slave family, a grim reminder of the enormity of the importance of this document in American History.
We will also display several 1824 original handwritten letters from Congress, during the term of President Madison. The letters discuss Daniel Webster and General Dearborn, and display a postmark of Washington DC in 1824. The Congressman who wrote these letters was the father of the namesake of our town, Nathaniel Silsbee. Additionally we will share the original copy of a speech made to Congress by John Henry Kirby protesting The New Deal in the Roosevelt administration. A copy of this speech is protected in The Library of Congress, we will be displaying the original, along with hand written notes in the margins.
Finally we will exhibit numerous other historic documents surrounding the development of the oil and railroad industry, as well as two original letters written in 1881 on the letterhead of the Senate of The State of Texas.
Event and Exhibit
Moved to November 2023
Few people lived in the Neches River bottom as late as 1970. Man was noticeable only in the occasional cabin or lean-to hunting camps built on the higher river bank ground. Some of these camps belonged to locals known as the Dog People because of their hunting methods—handed down by their ancestors who had found this wilderness shortly before the Civil War—using a local-bred dog called a cur. The dog was bred for bravery, endurance, and devotion and would run its quarry until it bayed or turned back so the hunter could kill it. This type of hunting—not to be confused with sport—was a method of survival that often prevented starvation for families during the Depression years.
I. C. Eason grew up in those lean times. His oral stories of generations of Dog People come from around the campfire, from the fishing boat, in front of a pot bellied stove. In the 1970s, I. C. Eason made the decision to prove ownership to his land, which, along with most river bottom land, had never had a deed filed on it. With a lawyer he took on the big companies who wanted to cut the timber, drill for oil, lay pipelines and put up miles of power lines. All of a sudden he was in the middle of a big battle, and he soon became known as “The King of the Dog People.”
“I ain’t got nothin’—what I’ve got I’m sittin’ on it. This is my whole life. It’s mine, and nobody’s gonna take it from me, not as long as I draw breath and gun-powder burns.” —I. C. Eason
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturdays from 10AM-4PM.
"Anyone can shoot a deer, but it takes a man to shoot a varmit." Ben Lilly, Bear and Lion Hunter circa 1900.
Antique guns from southeast Texas for hunters and lawmen.
Ice Plant Exhibit
A room in the Ice House Museum, stripped to original features, explains the manufacture of ice in this building 95 years ago.
Spellbound by The Big Thicket
Award-winning local photographer Michelle Esclovan brings the Big Thicket to life in breath-taking photography.
John Henry Kirby was born in this beautiful and historic corner of SE Texas.
Programming made possible with funding from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as a part of the Federal ARP Act.
This project is funded in part by the B. A. & E.W. Steinhagen Benevolent Trust through the
Southeast Texas Arts Council
2023 Funding is made possible through the Foundation of Southeast Texas and
The Junior League of Beaumont