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BURR, TX

BURR, TEXAS. Burr, also known as Lawson and Kriegel, on Farm Road 1301 four miles southeast of Wharton in southeastern Wharton County, began when Burr Albert Harrison and a family named Callaway established plantations in the area. Harrison arrived in 1859 and set up sugar, syrup, and grist mills on Caney Creek. The 1860 census recorded eighty-three slaves belonging to Harrison and a total of ninety slaves belonging to four Callaways. The Callaway children were taught by the Harrisons' governess. The community took its first name from Dick Lawson, who built a general store, Lawson's Corner, on the border of the Lawson and Harrison plantations. Harrison died in 1881, and about 1889 his son, Gerard Alexander Harrison, managed the plantation and established a mercantile business that was at one time larger than any general store in Wharton; the brick building remains at Burr. Local plantation owners contributed to a church, which was destroyed by fire soon after the Civil War. Isam Davenport, a black justice of the peace, was in office during Reconstruction and also served as county commissioner. According to residents he used his position to get free labor by arresting other black men for drinking or shooting craps and then sentencing them to "ten days hard labor in Isam Davenport's cotton patch." The first of two Baptist churches at Burr was built about 1892, and the other a few years later. The first Lawson school was established sometime after 1889. A second school, which was subsequently moved to a better location, was built after 1893 on land also to be used for a church and cemetery. Because of limited white enrollment in a largely black community, the white Lawson school began with a term that lasted only four months; in 1905 it had twenty-one pupils and one teacher.

When Charles Kriegel, a native of Germany, came to the area in 1896, leased the Lawson Store, and then took it over in 1897, the community and postal station came to be known as Kriegel. Kriegel became a real estate promoter in the area about 1900, when the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway was built from Wharton through Lawson and Van Vleck to Sargent. The switch for loading cane and other products built in front of the school was known as Kriegel Switch. A mile up the road was Dinsmore, and a mile south was Burr. At this time the community comprised a territory of three or four square miles, but in 1902 only five residents were reported. By 1907 the Lawson school had thirty-one white pupils and a teacher, and the Kriegel school, across the street from the store, had 358 black pupils and nine teachers. A post office named Kriegel was established in 1899 and discontinued in 1910, when Kriegel gave up his store and Gerard Harrison moved the post office to his store. Harrison gave the office the new name Burr in honor of his father. In 1915 the community had two stores, a church, and rural school. The post office was discontinued in 1918, and mail was sent to Wharton. A new Lawson school, built in 1919, had five teachers and 100 pupils in 1942 and was made part of the Boling Independent School District in 1947. One store and a population of eighty-three were reported in 1939, but by 1941 many residents had moved. In 1989 only two businesses remained at the townsite, and cemeteries were near the banks of the creek. In 1991 the store built by Gerard Harrison was still standing and was used for storage.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Annie Lee Williams, A History of Wharton County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1964).

Claudia Hazlewood

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Claudia Hazlewood, "BURR, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrb68), accessed December 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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