December 31, 2021
(photos and memories of Coldspring, Texas from June 2000 and December 2021)
We’ve reached New Year’s Eve, an appropriate day for reflection. For many, the year 2021 has been a deadly year, an awful year, as bad or worse than its predecessor. There is much to consider.
In the quiet sunshine of Coldspring, Texas, a park bench offers you a place for reflection with (literally) an engraved invitation:
SIT AND ENJOYJack G. Stevens Family
THE YESTERDAYS, TODAY,
AND THE TOMORROWS
Good advice and I took it.
Coldspring, Texas has a population of 853, so it’s an excellent place to do as the Jack Stevens family suggests. I was here in June of 2000, and when I returned 21 years later in December of 2021 I looked for the old park bench. I found it. It looks the same as does the whole town. So I sat down and wrote my notes just as I did back in 2000, except this time I spoke into an i-phone instead of scribbling them into a notebook with a ballpoint pen.
Coldspring is a little crossroads town near a lake on the Trinity River in southeast Texas. Storefronts are built in an old-west style behind wooden sidewalks and have flags draped from their awnings.
Many of the buildings are bedecked in festive Christmas decorations.
Coldspring is the seat of San Jacinto County, Texas, and was named for the Battle of San Jacinto which won Texas independence. The battle actually took place well south of this area, near Houston, so there are no battle sites nearby.
The three-story yellow-brick San Jacinto County courthouse was built in 1917 at Coldspring’s main intersection. The four pillars guarding each entrance remind me of a typical American courthouse, as might be seen on a Hollywood movie set.
Inside the courthouse, a central atrium has been decorated for Christmas with the courthouse Christmas tree peeking into the second floor. The floor tiles underneath the tree illustrate San Jacinto County’s location within the state.
Local girl made famous:
In my journeys visiting courthouses throughout the country, no state’s courthouses more commonly feature a Christmas manger scene than those in the state of Texas. The threat of lawsuits doesn’t seem to bother the local residents.
Going beyond the common Manger scene for Christmas decorations, the residents of San Jacinto County have placed lighted crosses above each of the four entrances to the courthouse. The crosses are adorned in red and white lights for the holiday season.
In American, placing religious symbols on government property invites controversy and sometimes leads to lawsuits. The basis of the controversy is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which begins with a prohibition against an “Establishment” of any religion:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …
Allow me to stand on my soapbox, briefly. Seasonal religious decorations, such as Christmas Manger scenes on county courthouses, in no way “establish” Christianity as the county religion. Such things “establish” nothing. They force no one to accept any religion or belief whatsoever. I see nothing unconstitutional about such decorations and festivities so long as their costs do not derive from the public treasury, which in San Jacinto County they do not — the plywood manger figures are marked as “property of the Victory Gospel Church,” of Coldspring.
A good meal deservedly follows a good reflection, and the Mason Jar Cafe Bar & Grill, across from the courthouse, can provide such a meal.
Lunchtime — an excellent turkey, avocado, and swiss sandwich with curly fries and sweet tea:
Time well spent indeed!
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All from Coldspring, Texas!
A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.
All photos were taken by the author on December 15, 2021.
I’m trying to travel to all of America’s county courthouses, and each month a post about my visit to the most interesting county seats. It’s only a hobby — but donations are greatly appreciated to help defer my costs.
Donations are NOT tax-deductible under U.S. law…but you knew that.
Make a one-time donation
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly