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Guided by prompts from WDC blogging challenges... and of course, life
#1030268 added April 7, 2022 at 3:15pm
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BCOF Day 3337 - A History
         Here's the actual history of Athens, Texas - The earliest settlers, E. J. Thompson and Joab McManus, arrived early in 1850. Matthew Cartwright donated 160 acres of his land for a county seat, and the commissioners had Samuel Huffer survey the streets, the city square, and 112 lots. The district court first met in October 1850 under an oak in the square, with Oran Milo Roberts presiding. The first courthouse was a sixty-five-dollar log building that took all of a month to build. A jail of hewn logs was built in 1856 on the same site and cost $500. Ms. Dulcina A. Holland suggested the name Athens, hoping that the town would become a cultural center. By 1855 Athens had a store, a Masonic lodge, and a Presbyterian church. Shortly after followed a pottery plant, a brick plant, a cotton gin, a cottonseed oil mill, a compress, a newspaper, the arrival of the railroads, a bank, and a telephone company. By 1901, the town was hopping. By the 1980's, the town businesses included three banks, two savings and loans, oil, gas, and clay production, and manufacturers of televisions, clothing, bricks, steel buildings, mobile homes, medical supplies, boats, and bridge bearing pads. Where corn, cotton, tomatoes, and black-eyed peas were once raised in the area, agricultural revenue in the 1980s came principally from livestock, hay, and nurseries. The town had forty-two churches, a radio station, a newspaper, and a library.

         The city of Athens has many stories about its history. We are purportedly the home of the hamburger, for one. A man called Uncle Fletch Davis claims to have "invented" the hamburger back in the 1880's and took it to the World's Fair in 1904. A few other cities have claimed the title of "Birthplace of the Hamburger" however, the Athens claim has appeared more legit, in part because McDonald’s Hamburger University concluded that the true inventor of their main fare was a food vendor at the 1904 World’s Fair, and partly because it was based on years of detective work by the late Dallas Morning News columnist Frank X. Tolbert. Whether this story is true or not, well, that's for history to know for sure. But does it matter anyway?! We have a great hamburger festival every year.

         Athens is also called "The Black-eyed Pea Capitol of the World". Lofty name, if you ask me. However, we Athens residents like to have a good time, and we have a festival each year for the black-eyed pea too.

We also have a darker supposed history. One of our "Urban Legends" is that there is an underground tunnel system directly under the city. The legend is that the tunnels are in the shape of a pentagram and each of the five entrances into the tunnel system are marked by the points of the pentagram, with the courthouse being at the center of the star. Supposedly, a coven of witches created this system and imbued it with spells that keep evil and negative spirits out of the town, and others within. The tunnels are rumored to have hosted a variety of ritualistic ceremonies including the sacrifice of small animals and in some cases humans. Fuller park as been shrouded with mystery ever since Mr. Fuller erected the park in 1938 after the death of his wife. Fuller Park is said to house one of the five entrances to the tunnels. There are many rumors of this park from the Monkey Cages (yes these are real) to the grave plot in the center of the park. At one point, the city was in a state of hysteria due to the numerous animal mutilations on Hwy 19 and reports of occult activity in the city. Then there's Monkey Bridge, under which a young man was found murdered, the killer never found. Crazy things are said to happen on that bridge. In my opinion, maybe just the looks of the place gave rise to all the stories. Same with Fuller Park.

But, that's the history of Athens, Texas as everyone around like to tell it.

As for the present, we have the author SA Bailey here. And we still hold festivals for the hamburger, the black-eyed pea, and a fiddler's festival. This is my home. Thanks for reading!

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