Shelby County Rootsweb Facts
Week Ending January 2, 2004

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        Vara is a Spanish word, and in the beginning it meant stick or twig or any long lean branch of a plant.  One day a Spaniard used a straight limb to kill a snake and in time the Vara meant lance.  The lance in the hands of a judge indicated a symbol of authority.  He was often called upon to settle matters involving distance.   The only thing he had to measure with was his Vara.  It was something less than a yard long, since that was a handy length to carry.  And after a lot of measuring with the judges Vara the term Vera began to mean the distance and not just the lance itself.
        The distance the Vara ended up as "33 and 1/3 inches.  This was, in time officially adopted as a linear measurement, and when Texas was a Spanish Colony, Spain often handed out land grants described in terms of "Square Varas."
                                                           It takes 5, 645.4 Square Varas to make an Acre.
                                                           It takes 4,528.4 Acres to make a League.
        When Texas became a Republic it accepted, in its Constitution the Vara as an official land measure.  Prior to that, Spanish and Mexican Land Grants were often in terms of Leagues and Labors.  A man received a grant of a "League or Labor."
        A Labor (the accent is on the last syllable) amounted to 1 million square Varas of 177.14 Acres.
        The Spanish decided from their surveying that for every League of Lane (4,328.4 Acres) suitable for livestock grazing, there was a Labor (177.14 Acres) suitable for plowing up and raising crops.
        The word Labor means pretty much the same thing in Spanish as it does in English.  The Spanish "Laborable" means workable or tillable.
        When Stephen F. Austin came to Texas to settle, the head of every family in his colony who wanted to farm was to receive one Labor of land.  And the Head of every family who wanted to ranch was to receive one League of land.
        Most of the Colonist, being pretty bright, said they wanted to farm and ranch both and so received that "League an Labor" of real estate.
        The word "Sitio" means a lot of things.  It can mean a place or a site or a location and it was used in land measure to mean the same as a League.  In Mexico it mostly means a "Taxi Stand."

Shelby County has a total of about 833 Square Miles---- can you convert that to Vara, Leagues or Labors?
  You may require help from your children or grandchildren.


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I have looked, before, for the burial site of Thomas "Little Brit" Britain.  Originally, the Shelby County site told me that he was buried in Europe.   (He was in the 101st Airbourne, and was killed in the Battle of the Bulge)   That turned out to be incorrect.  The federal burial entity said that his body was returned to the U.S. and buried here.  Surely he would have been buried in Shelby County.  How can I find out where??  Thanks.    Louis Muldrow 1


I would very much like to touch base with anyone who might be of the Worsham family in Shelby or surrounding Counties.  I know the Worshams in Shelby Co are related to mine and that they should also be related to those in Wood, Upshur, Lamar Counties as well, probably others, too.. Would love to hear from anyone out there. Vila Worsham Beam 1


   Ola Lane Gunter, 91, of Joaquin died December 26, 2003 in Center.   Burial was in Willow Grove Cemetery.   Born September 17, 1912, in Shelby County, she was the daughter of James Archibald Lane and Nannie Permenter Lane.  Mrs. Gunter was married to Roger Gunter, and he preceded her in death.  Survivors include, sons, Robert Lane Gunter of Marshall, James Gunter of Shreveport, Louisiana.  Watson & Sons Funeral Home.
   C. E. Fallin, Jr., 77, of Tenaha died December 27, 2003 in Carthage.   Burial was in Restland Cemetery.   Born January 4, 1926, in Tenaha, he was the son of Claude Edwin and Lurline Parker Fallin.    Survivors include his wife Frances Fallin of Tenaha; sons, Don Fallin of Gladewater, David Fallin of Tenaha; daughters, March chance of Carthage and Molly Lemoine of Carthage; brothers, Norman Williams and Charles Ray Williams, both of San Augustine.   Watson & Sons Funeral Home.
   James David Spells, 85, of Center died December 29, 2003 in Nacogdoches.   Burial was in Oaklawn Memorial Park.   Born January 22, 1918, in Shelby County, he was the son of Henry and Minnie Ola Fletcher Spells.  Mr. Spells is survived by wife Lerlene Spells of Center; sons, Bobby Spells of Diboll, Joe Lynn spells of Shreveport, Louisiana, James Paul Spells of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Michael Spells of Lufkin; daughter, Patsy Johnson of Lufkin; sisters, Cora Mae McSwain, Leola Eaves, Noravell Holt and Zettie Barnett, all of Center. Mangum Funeral Home.
   Jack Crippen 74, of Center died December 29, 2003, in Center. Burial was in Powdrill Cemetery.  Mr. Crippen was born August 29, 1929 in Colmesneil.  Survivors include wife Martha Crippen of Center; son Jack Ramsey Crippen of Dallas.  Watson & Sons Funeral Home
   Claude "Buddy" Bourque, Jr., 58, of Orangefield died December 27, 2003 in Orange.  Burial was in Newburn Cemetery, Center.  Mr. Bourque was born in Crockett.  He was preceded in death by his mother Jennette Bourque and brother, William B. Tunstall.  Survivors include wife, Carolyn Bourque of Orangefield; father, Claude Bourque, Sr. of Orangefield; son, Claude Bourque, III of Illinois.   Claybor Funeral Home, Orange.
   Nelma Rene McCreary, 76, of Lufkin, died December 25, 2003.  Burial was in Mt. Herman Cemetery.  Born June 7, 1927, in Shelby County, she was the daughter of Mary Holland Wilson and Robert Johnson.  Mrs. McCreary was preceded in death by parents Mary Holland Wilson and Robert Johnson.   Survivors include sister, Zelma Hughes of Lufkin and LaVida Jernigan of Tyler.   Gipson-Metcalf Funeral Directors, Lufkin.
   Oleta Newton, 79, of Center died December 29, 2003 in Tyler.  Cremation was requested.  Born September 11, 1924, in Shelby County, she was the daughter of Henry and Ruby Oshner Hutto.  Ms. Newton is survived by husband, P.A. Newton of Center; daughter, Dianna Patterson of Los Angeles, California; brother, Clint Burke Hutto of Carrier, Mississippi; sisters, Eva Thompson of Tenaha, Grace Rushing of Houston and Azalee Connell of Holden, Louisiana.  Mangum Funeral Home.
   Vessie Green, 91, of San Augustine died December 30, 2003 in San Augustine.   Burial was in Oaklawn Memorial Park, Center. Born May 3, 1912, in Shelby County, he was the son of Will and Annie Laura Gilliam Green.  Mr. Green is survived by his wife Mary Green of San Augustine and brother, Quinton Green of Crowley, Louisiana
  John R. Hooper, 82 of New Braunfels, died December 29, 2003. Burial was in Guadalupe Valley Memorial Park, New Braunfels.  Born April 12, 1921, in Shelby County, he was the son of John Jefferson and Nora Russell Hooper.  Mr. Hooper is survived by his wife Hazel Hooper of New Braunfels; daughter, Carolyn Shoemake of New Braunfels; sisters, Ruth Grayson of Joaquin and Cleo Coe of Shreveport, Louisiana; brothers, Leo Hooper and Glynn Hooper, both of Shreveport, Louisiana. 

****from the files of Matte Dellinger

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