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Anahuac honors early settler

Published December 12, 2005

The dead was brought to life again at the Anahuac Cemetery Sunday afternoon, but no one in the group surrounding the grave of Charles Willcox, batted an eye.

About 20 people attended the second re-enactment of the life of a Chambers County pioneer sponsored by the Chambers County Historical Commission.

Charles Willcox, who lived from Jan. 18, 1785 to Feb. 2, 1876, is believed to be one of the first settlers in Anahuac. He was portrayed in the re-enactment by his descendant George “Pudge” Willcox, who described the pioneer as the “Mr. Anahuac” of his day.

Charles Willcox first moved to Anahuac in 1831. He owned a general merchandise store with Dr. Nicholas Labadie, served as the justice of the peace in 1836 and as postmaster from 1849 to 1855. However, Willcox was most influential in naming the town.

In 1838, he battled Thomas Jefferson Chambers in court over the ownership of the Anahuac townsite, which included control of the post office, named Anahuac, and the name of the town, then known as Chambersea.

Although Willcox won the suit, the town was called Chambersea until Chambers was assassinated in 1865.

He married Phoebe Caroline Smith when he was 53 years old and was the father of eight children. “That’s pretty remarkable, I think,” George said.

Willcox also purchased Chambers’ home and raised his family there. He was at first buried in a small cemetery near his family home, but after 1933 he was removed and placed in the Anahuac Cemetery next to his wife and other members of the Willcox family.

Vice Chairman of the Chambers Historical Commission Bob Scherer, also a direct descendant of Charles Willcox, helped Willcox research the pioneer for the re-enactment. He recommended others trace their own family history. For families who have lived in Chambers County or the surrounding communities for several generations, Scherer recommends going through archives at Wallisville Heritage Park, the Sam Houston Library and the San Jacinto Monument Museum.

“If you haven’t done so, you’ll find it pretty interesting,” Scherer said. “The older we get, the more history means to us.”

The first re-enactment by the Historical Commission was in May about Florence M. Swinney, who lived from 1863 to 1929 and served as county treasurer and justice of the peace.

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