Compiled by Jean Ann Marshall, Mary Lou Mowery, Robert Sterling Long and Lillie Bush Reves
Our driving tour highlights public buildings, historical sites and homes. Signs list name of builder or early owners, name of current owners and year of construction. There are over 20 official state historic markers in Franklin County and over 70 signs maintained by the historical association designating historic structures.
Just for fun we have included some stories of Mt. Vernon's haunted houses, shown in italics.
Start your tour 1/4th mile W of the intersection ofW. Main and Hwy 37, on County Road NW 1010, at the Thruston House.
The Bankhead Highway opened in 1919 and was the second transcontinental highway across the U.S. from Washington, D.C. to San Diego, California.
Henry Clay Thruston' s home is a 2-story "dogtrot" house; common in the 19th century. Thruston, at 7 feet 7 ½ inches tall, tallest soldier of the Confederate Army. Schedule a tour (903-537-4760).
If time permits, park and visit Dupree Park, 57-acre nature preserve with hiking trails adjacent to the Thruston House. The trail offers a shortcut or full 1-1/2 mile trail. Free trail guides at entry kiosk. Open dawn to dusk year-round.
Travel E on CR NW 1010, cross Hwy 3 7 and follow Main Street. On the N side of the street:
First brick house in town; built by John and Birdie Rutherford. Continue E; the next house is
Built by one of several Tittle Brothers; prairie style home of David and Deborah Tom Norman.
Keep E; pass Hill Street named for John Payne Hill; organized volunteer infantry on Mt. Vernon Square in 1861. Note Church of Christ; third structure for this congregation dating from 1850's.
Immediately past the church building is the:
Still owned and occupied by members of the Huckeba family.
Keep E, on the N side of the street are:
Built by another Tittle brother; then long-time owner T. Ashley Knox. Continue E, and on the N is:
Built by Dupree family; title later passed to Ron and Sue Barker.
Keep E and at the intersection of Main and English on the N is:
Wilbur Jabez Galt married Letitia English.
Turn N on English Street and pause.
Travel N along English and note cottages dating from early decades of the 20th Century; note signs marking these homes. This was all in the Campbell English Farm, dating from 1854 and later developed for housing.
Keep N. At the corner with Lake Street, look to the house at the corner:
G.E. Cowan was the strong-willed attorney who came up with a plan to build our present courthouse even though the one in the middle of the square was only 32 years old He got the commissioners court to approve funding through a specific tax. Disgruntled citizens filed suit and took the case to the Texas Supreme Court. Cowan won, and the Supreme Court approved a new type of funding for the courthouse construction. Judge Cowan died in the house on April 7, 1935, at the age of 79. Judge Cowan still slams doors, makes dishes fall and causes all the normal haunts these many years after his death.
On the S side of Lake Street is the Sid and Elizabeth Ivey Galt Home.
Keep N on English Street. At the intersection, beyond the hedges on the W is the site of the ORIGINAL MT. VERNON BASEBALL FIELD From 1900 through the 1930's, Mt. Vernon hosted baseball games. Farm league teams played on Saturdays. There were bleachers, admission was a dime, and the town turned out.
Turn to the E on Virginia and drive to Kaufman. Turn S on Kaufman. To the Wis Little Creek Park with walking trails and a children's playground. Stretch your legs. Then, keep N - to the E is:
The former jail houses Agricultural Service offices in the first floor and a couple of escape rooms (upstairs); contact the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce to schedule sessions. This is the third jail in town. It has cage cells from the 1878 jail into the present building to save expenses. Next to the Franklin County Jail is:
If you stop during business hours, park and walk inside. The district courtroom on the second floor looks like a movie set. Look W on Dallas Street to an old garage transformed to a cultural arts center with courtyard and art gallery. And you see the town square, and a rail to tie up horses, installed in 1913. The entire downtown is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Check out the public library (former bank building erected in 1912 with beautiful interior furnishings) and the M.L. Edwards Store built in 1915.
Continue Son Kaufman; cross Main Street and continue S for a block. On the W side of Kaufman you see:
Closed for commercial use in 1970; now a museum with a model train exhibit; working telegraphy exhibit; and a covered wagon. On the grounds are an 1880 log cabin, syrup press and mill, and a blacksmith shop. Open by appointment; 903-537-4760. Admission is free.
Directly across the street is:
Early city hall and fire station. The lower floor features memorabilia of NFL Cowboy quarterback Don Meredith, native son of Mt. Vernon. Rotating exhibits feature bird eggs, art work, butterflies, wood carvings, Indian artifacts, and hand-carved violins.
Keep Non Kaufman, cross the railroad tracks. On the E is:
Established in 1849; present building was completed in 1998.
Continue N on Kaufman; on the E:
Now occupied as a private home; third Methodist church on this site.
Keep Son Kaufman and note houses on the W side of the Street, including the Goswick-Majors Home, and
Jeff and Hazel Meredith's home; boyhood home of Don Meredith.
And on the E side of Kaufman:
Original barn with stalls for a cow to provide milk and for a horse to allow travel; a smoke house for preserving meats; an outhouse and a chicken house. Operated as a house museum with a large collection of artwork from late 1800's to early 1900's. Call 903-53 7-4 760 to schedule a free tour.
Keep Son Kaufman. On the Eis home of Mt. Vernon merchant, L.D. Lowry. Keep S to Rutherford Street; tum W and go one block to Leftwich Street. On the N is:
This was the home of J. D. Templeton, first sheriff of Franklin County. Later occupied by John and Cora Campbell.
Proceed Non Leftwich; on the Eis:
This small Greek Revival House was built by the Wilkins family about 1870 and then passed to Miss Belle Mitchell, long time teacher.
Keep N on Leftwich to Yates. At the comer is:
Church building erected in 1907. Congregation disbanded in 1991 and the building passed to a nonprofit group - Mount Vernon Music. Now a performing arts hall.
Keep N on Leftwich to Turner Street. Tum W on Turner; to the N is:
The Haynes family built this house. Ada Solomon Rodkey added the brick exterior about 1970.
Proceed W on Turner; to the N is:
Built by attorney Lloyd Davidson. Davidson became a prominent Texas judge and is buried in the State Cemetery in Austin, Texas
Keep W on Turner and take the first right to the:
Romulus Talbott built his first home in 1883. When his family grew larger, the home was rolled on logs a few feet north, and this more imposing structure was built.
Next door to the N is:
Romulus Talbott sold the house and a tiny lot to the Davenport family about 1895. C. K. Davenport served as county judge before 1900.
Three houses down on the Wis:
This is a Sears Roebuck mail-order home shipped by rail in a "do it yourself' kit and erected in 1912. Home of Tom and Byrd Holley McDonough.
At the next street, W, cross the railroad tracks to Oak Street. On the Wis:
One of the earlier homes standing in the town; typical frame house from the turn of the century.
Across Oak Street is:
One of the numerous Tittle Houses; passed to Unita Tittle Banks, beloved shopkeeper.
Turn W on Oak and the large house on the N is a house with two resident ghosts; one on each floor:
A true Victorian with a third floor widow's walk. In 19 20 the house was thoroughly modernized so that today you see the classic 1920 home with Victorian interior details. Sheriff Henry Dutton purchased the house in 1902. He moved in with his wife, baby and mother; the baby had the colic, and Granny volunteered to stay up and rock the baby. The sheriff and his wife awoke the next morning to find the grandmother in the rocking chair in front of the fireplace holding the baby- both dead. By 1920, the story had taken on local significance, and the house was deemed haunted. Granny Dutton was "seen" rocking the baby through the 1930's.
The ghost on the second floor caused more problems. In 1926, Maurice Wilkinson and his new bride (Eula Carter) rented the upstairs of the house. Their bedroom was in the northeast corner room. He took pneumonia and died. From that time forward, although the room was beautifully furnished, no one ever had a good night's sleep in that room. In 1992 the house was operated as Miss Ikie 's Bed & Breakfast. A visiting evangelist was holding services at the First Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon. He checked out in the middle of the night and went to a local motel. He refused the free accommodations.
Keep on Oak, curving back to Main, and turn W. Drive to Hwy. 37.
You can end your tour now and drive back across 37 to our beginning point. Or, see the content for "full tour" on our website. Thanks for touring.