Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Adventuring in the Past


Here recently, Bobby and I visited the Varner-Hogg Plantation.  It’s located in West Columbia, only a short drive from here. 

Now, I know about the Hogg family.  James Stephen Hogg was governor of Texas from 1890 – 1895.  He had a daughter – Ima (her first name was taken from her uncle Thomas Hogg's epic Civil War poem The Fate of Marvin, which featured two young women named Ima and Leila. It was not given her because her father was mean-spirited as is said by gossips.)
and three sons – William, Michael, and Thomas.  I am most familiar with Miss Ima (she never married) because of her reputation as a Texas society leader, philanthropist, patron and collector of the arts, and one of the most respected women in Texas during the 20th century.  I’ve been to her home in Houston – Bayou Bend – a beautiful place, with amazing gardens and a collection of some of the finest American furnishings, silver, ceramics, and paintings

However, I did not know anything about a plantation, in Texas, and close by.  Nor did I know who the ‘Varner’ was. 

In 1824, Martin Varner, became one of the “original 300” grantees who received a league of land from Stephen F. Austin establishing his homestead in Texas. The Varners received 4,428 acres and planned to farm and raise livestock on a small scale and establish a rum distillery. 

In 1832 the property was sold to Columbus R. Patton.  He had the current plantation house built along with a smokehouse, sugar mill and slave quarters.  Patton established a very profitable sugar cane/sugar mill operation.  Between 1869 and 1901, the site changed ownership several times.  Then, in 1901, former Governor Hogg bought it primarily because he believed there was a huge oil field in that area.  Gov. Hogg died in 1906 however, in 1920 a huge oil strike made his children very wealthy.

The property is beautiful with large groves of pecan and magnolia trees, plus a number of really big oak trees. 

Greek Revival Style Plantation with a separate kitchen and smokehouse to the side.

Miss Ima donated the property to the state of Texas in the 1950’s with the proviso she could build a small house for her personal use.

The sugar mill was destroyed during the 1900 hurricane and all that remains is a part of a wall (these are all handmade bricks),

several of the sugar cook pots all of which are big, 

and, one of the firepits for cooking the cane down.

Gov. Hogg had a spring fed bath tub built for himself (he was a big man – over 300 lbs.)

There’s also a swimmin’ hole though there’s a bit of an algae problem.  The swimming hole is also spring fed.

Beautiful old oak trees.  Me:  That one, I want that one, Can we fit it in the car, How fast can we get out of here, Do you think someone will notice it’s gone?????

I love the Spanish moss.  All the trees were covered with it and lest you think “oh no parasite”:

1 Spanish moss is not a moss at all. It is a bromeliad

2 Spanish moss isn't from Spain; it's native to Mexico, Central America, South America, the U.S., and the Caribbean. In the U.S., it grows from Texas to Virginia, staying in the moister areas of the South.

3 Native Americans told explorers the plant was called Itla-okla, which meant “tree hair.” (I like that better than Spanish moss.)

4 Although Spanish moss grows on trees, it is not a parasite. It doesn't put down roots in the tree it grows on, nor does it take nutrients from it. The plant thrives on rain and fog, sunlight, and airborne or waterborne dust and debris.

5 It can be used as an arbor roof or to hang over a chain-link fence for privacy, but since it will only live in trees, you have to replenish the supply as the moss dies. American colonists mixed Spanish moss with mud to make mortar for their houses—some of which are still standing strong. Dried moss makes good tinder for fires, and you can make it into blankets, rope, and mattress filling. Mattresses filled with Spanish moss are noted for staying cool on a warm summer night. Because it soaks up and retains water, it is also used for garden mulch.

Although the house was closed for repairs when we were there, it was still a very nice, interesting place to visit.  I’d like to go back in the spring when things are greener.

And, that’s all I know right now.


8 Dec 2020


  1. Wow, such an education in one post. I knew of Ima Hogg, largely because of her name, but not of her doings and interests. I saw Spanish Moss for the first time when we drove down to Florida and saw it in trees in the southern states. It looked very romantic, and I wondered what it lived on, since it didn't seem to be rooted in the trees at all. Now I know more about it.

  2. Interesting facts about Spanish Moss! We don't have that here in Canada because it's too cold.

  3. I Love Historic Architecture and some States have been good at preservation of their Historic Homes and Businesses, others, not so much. This place is Magnificent and I've always wanted to see Spanish Moss, looks so Ethereal. Never traveled to the South where it mostly grows tho'. Growing up in a Military Family we Traveled extensively overseas and across the U.S. but my Dad always got a Compassionate to avoid being stationed in Southern States during those Eras because my Parents had an Interracial/Intercultural Marriage and in those Days it could have been very unsafe for our Family. But, I've always been intrigued by Southern Architecture and of coarse the Beauty, so perhaps some day I might take a Road Trip with The Man, he's been to many of those States. Didn't like them, too Hot and Sticky for him, but he said if I wanna see them, he'd take one for the Team. Especially Louisiana... since New Orleans is on my Bucket List of Must See Places. *LOL*

  4. I love when you have "educational field trips" like this. There is a home here in Seguin that I really want to visit. I thought it was someone's mansion but it's a Texas Historical site. After this virus gets under control I want to visit it and a few other places. here it is...

  5. I always loved Ima Hogg...she was great..and who knew there was so much to know about moss?

  6. How interesting! Mike & I used to do such rambles all the time - maybe after the pandemic is over we can get back to it!