Scribbles Worth Saving

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in Journal, Material Conservation

Often in the restoration and renovation process, little gems of history hidden within buildings are overlooked and lost forever. When measuring the Judge’s bench at the Colorado County Courthouse, I noticed a very faint penciled inscription written upside-down on the interior of a desk drawer. After some photography and digital manipulation the inscription became clear:

“T.H. Spooner held the first court @ Colorado County March (?) 1893.”

Research provided by Susan Rogers in the Colorado County Judge’s office indicates this was Judge Thomas H. Spooner, a traveling District Judge in District 25, which covered Colorado, Fayette, Guadalupe, Lavaca and Wilson counties.

Spooner was born 1849 in Macon Mississippi and traveled to Galveston shortly after the Civil War at the age of 16. He attended the Methodist founded Soule University in Chapel Hill for a year. A yellow fever epidemic in the region beginning in 1867 caused the university’s enrollment to plummet and may have been the reason for his departure. Spooner finished his education in Gonzales and was admitted to the bar in 1871 at the age of 21. In that same year he became District Clerk for Gonzales County. In 1884 he was elected District Attorney for the 25th Judicial District. In 1892 he was elected District Judge where he served until 1896. Spooner lived with his wife Mollie (Allen) in a house he built in Gonzales around 1875, and later¬†modified their original one story home in about 1905. The Spooners had eight children, of which seven lived to adulthood. Spooner died on August 3, 1921 and is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Gonzales. The historic T.H. & Mollie Spooner Residence still stands on St. Francis Street in Gonzales and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

The historic inscription in the drawer of the judge’s bench is a small, but important piece of the building’s history. It provides a link between one of the earliest District Judges and the people of Colorado County. Although the judge’s bench has been repaired and re-finished, the inscription within the small drawer was left untouched.