The Ele Bright Baggett Home is as attractive as his father Silas Baggett's home. He sold his estate in Howard and bought a lot just across the street from his father and built a mirror image of his father's home. It also has three stories and has practically the same architecture as his father's house. The houses differ somewhat in appearance, but have similar structure. We have put a photo of each house facing each other on another page. The Silas and Ele Baggett Homes are valuable and historical monuments in Belton.
Ele Baggett, the second child of Silas Baggett, purchased the one-third parcel, Lot 3 in Block 62 in the Original Town of Belton, from Margie and J. A. Strong on 19 November 1892. The dates 28 February 1893 and 27 March 1893 are both inscribed in the turret of the house, probably indicating completion phases of the house. According to records at Belton City Hall, the house was completed for tax purposes in 1895.
The Ele Baggett House is of Queen Anne architecture with gables and a bell tower. The carved wood ornamentation, commonly known as gingerbread, is not original because a previous owner of the house had taken it off in the early 1930’s and burned it in the fireplace because it was not considered to be in style at that time. The current gingerbread was obtained in 1980 from Ferguson Hall on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus.
The house has three stories, the third being a very large attic with a porch and the tower. Built of pine and cypress, the house sits on cypress piers and beams with a brick skirting. The inside walls, originally of wood, are covered with two layers of sheet rock, but one room upstairs is believed to have the original wall covering. The original floors were built of pine, but they were covered later with oak hardwood.
The outside of the Ele Baggett House was designed to be the mirror image of Ele’s father’s home, which stands across Main Street. Silas Baggett had moved his family to Belton in 1885 from Howard, a community which he is said to have founded in 1853.
Features of the Ele Baggett house include stained glass windows in the front rooms, a spindle-style wooden archway, which separates the main entrance from the central hallway, with the spindle effect continuing by the stairway in the handrail.
We were not able to get any pictures of the inside of the Silas Baggett home, but we do have several taken of the inside of the Ele Baggett home. The Kimballs are not the owners of the home at this time. It belongs to the Lastovica family. The apparently are a young couple with a four month old baby. Mrs. Lastovica took pictures of the inside of the house for us to post on this site. Actually there was a couple that owned the home before the Lastovicas. The Kimballs had sold the home to them in the past few years.
The inside of the Ele Baggett House is very elegant. Apparently there is a winding stairway in the center of the house going to the second and third floor of the house. A picture was taken from the window in the main living room of the Silas Baggett House across the street. We only have pictures of the two living rooms of the Ele Baggett Home. We also have a picture of a portrait of Ele Bright Baggett and his wife Carolyn (Carrie) Butts. It may have been there in the living room since Ele and Carrie lived there.
The pictures of the inside of the Ele Baggett house are of several corners of the two living rooms of the home. This photo seems to be the Main Living Room. On the right side of the room there is a large picture window. This may be the window that the picture of the Silas Baggett home was taken from. There are more window inside the room, other than the window that shows the picture of the Silas Baggett home.
The second living room is beautifully decorated and Mrs. Lastovica took three or four pictures of both rooms. One picture shows the lamp in one corner of the Main Living Room with two chairs on either side of the lamp. there is a window on the left side, and it appears that there are two doors, one on the left side of the window and a door just to the right of the second chair. There are several pieces of furniture in the room and pictures hanging on the wall in several places in the room.
In another part of the Second Living Room beside a door are several pieces of beautiful furniture and a picture hanging on the wall above. This room appears to have wallpaper on at least one wall of the room. The second living room leads to the stairway the goes to the two stories above. Located on the was as you go in the front door hang the Portrait of Ele and Carrie Baggett, which has been hanging there probably since the first buyers of the Ele Baggett house lived there. We have pictures of Ele and Carrie in another section taken when the Kimballs lived there.
VARIOUS OWNERS OF THE HOUSE
After his daughter Mamie’s wedding in 1900, Ele Baggett and his wife, Mary Carolyn (“Carrie”) sold the house to L. F. and M. E. Grimes on 20 November 1900 and she joined him in Crockett County where he had moved in 1898 with his other two sons to manage their forty-five sections of land.
L. F. Grimes and his son owned a hardware and a furniture store in Belton called Grimes and Son. In 1906 he sold his business and numerous lots in Belton, including the Baggett house to R. E. Rankin. His company, Rankin and Lee, did not prosper, so in April of 1908, Rankin sold the house to J. M. Jarrell.
Jarrell owned a general store in Granger prior to his purchase of the Baggett house. He and his wife, Alma, moved to Belton with their eight children and Jarrell retired in 1908. He died on 9 October 1910, but his widow, children and a cousin, Jessie Cook, lived in the house until it was sold in 1925.
Robert Blumer, a farmer traded his land—thirty acres in Hidalgo County—for the Baggett house on 5 May 1925 and two years later, he sold it to F. B. Russell on 10 September 1927.
A member of the Texas Legislature from Polk and Trinity Counties in 1920, Russell had left the Legislature because he could not support his family on the five dollars a day pay and moved to Teague in Freestone County where he bought and edited a newspaper. He sold the newspaper in 1927 and moved to Belton where he bought the Belton Journal.
Russell’s son, James H. Russell, currently a county Court-At-Law judge in Bell County, later took over the operation of the Journal in 1948 and ran the paper until 1973 when he sold it. When Jim Russell graduated from Belton High School in 1931, former Governor Pat Neff gave the graduation address and stayed in the Russell’s home during his trip. Neff later became president of Baylor University.
F. B. Russell died in the center south room of the Baggett house on 4 June 1943, but his widow Helen kept the house and rented rooms in it until 1 March 1952 when she sold it to Sam Street.
Street kept the house for eight months and sold it with part of Lot 3 to Myrtle H. Ballard, widow of Dr. A. C. Ballard, a long-time medical doctor in Belton. She kept the house until her death on 21 August 1965 when her stepdaughter, Jessie Mae Eads, and her husband, George, purchased the two-thirds interest of her two half-brothers and took full ownership in June of 1966.
George Eads was the owner of a funeral home in Belton where he and his wife had been longtime residents. Their son, A. C. (“Cappy”) Eads is currently Bell County District Attorney.
Eads sold the house to Warren T. and Elizabeth Townsend on 16 May 1975. Townsend owned and operated a counseling service in Killeen. On 15 June 1979, W. T. Townsend sold the house to Michael and Linda Lanning and moved to Killeen. Lanning was a United States Army Major stationed at Fort Hood, and the Lannings restored the gingerbread and did major renovations to restore the house.
The owners at the time of the dedication of the Historical Marker for the Ele Baggett home was Robert H. and Vyone P. Kimball, who bought the house on 18 June 1982 before they moved from Tacoma, Washington. Kimball was a United States Army Major and was stationed at Fort Hood, but had been a Belton resident from 1972 to 1974. The Kimballs installed wall-to-wall carpeting and made some changes to the north side upstairs bedroom. They later sold the house to another family who live there for several years, and now the house belongs to the Lastovica family.
ELE BAGGETT, ORIGINAL OWNER
Rebekah Simmons Farrar, great-granddaughter of Ele Baggett, gave a history of her great-grandfather’s house at the dedication of a Texas Historical Marker at 2 p.m. on Sunday, 18 December 1983 at the house at 1019 North Main Street in Belton. Mrs. Farrar, who has researched the Baggett family history and the history of the house, is from Dublin, Texas. Below are portions of her speech at the ceremony.
Ele and Carrie Baggett had six children, three girls and three boys with interesting names: the girls were Mamie, Winnie, and Rebe; the boys were Eloe, Bright, and Early. The old story goes that Ele Baggett would call to his three sons in the mornings, "Eloe, wake up Bright and Early!"
Ele Baggett, the first owner of the house was born 9 September 1847 in Rusk County, near the present town of Kilgore. In 1852 his father, Silas Baggett, moved his family to Bell County where he bought land at Howard, five miles northwest of Temple. Silas Baggett has been credited by some historians as the founder of Howard. His ranch became the stage stop and his home doubled as a hotel for travelers on the Chisholm Trail.
Ele Bright Baggett served as Postmaster at Howard. In January of 1864, Silas Baggett joined George W. Graves’ Company in the 4th Texas Cavalry as Lieutenant and his two older sons, James Monroe and Ele Bright, joined the same company as Privates. Ele was sixteen years old at that time. The company was assigned to the Rio Grande frontier for the remainder of the war.
After the Civil War, the Baggetts organized cattle drives for their own cattle and those of neighbors to Kansas and Montana. Before they quit the trial in 1875, the Baggetts had government contracts to furnish cattle to the Red Bloud Indians of Wyoming.
On 7 April 1875 Ele Bright Baggett married Mary Carolyn Butts, a native of Georgia. (“Carrie”) taught school at Howard and met Ele Bright there. They lived on a farm only a short distance from his father’s land and had seven children. Ele Bright Baggett raised cattle, farmed, traded in land and owned a "string of cotton gins." He was a partner in the firm of Baggett and Greathouse and was director of the First National Bank of Temple, Texas.
Ele Bright and his brother, James Monroe Baggett, were partners in business and bought an interest in the Otinappi Ranch in Durango, Mexico. They moved to Mexico in 1887 and the Baggett brothers invested in a cottonseed oil mill and soap factory. James Monroe's first wife Rebecca Jones died, and in 1878 Monroe married Kate Goode. Several years later, Monroe and Kate and their two sons, Monroe and Will (it is not known if James Monroe's son Silas Baggett went at that time), moved down to Mexico to manage the 240-section Otinappi Ranch.
When James Monroe Baggett was murdered by his ranch foreman and robbed of the payroll, his family left Mexico, hiding in the daytime and traveling at night. Ele Bright Baggett and his family stayed in Mexico until the next year and moved back to their farm north of Belton. When the children became school aged, they decided to move to Belton to provide them with a better education than was available in Howard. Ele then sold his real estate and gin properties in Temple and bought a town lot directly across the street from his father. He built the house at 1019 North Main Street in Belton in 1893.
Ele Bright Baggett sold his land in Bell County to L. F. and M. E. Grimes on 20 November 1900 and bought forty-five sections in Crockett County. The family lived in Ozona for a short while and moved to Quanah in 1908. His daughter, Rebekah Baggett, married J. W. Simmons in 1910 in Quanah. Rebekah was the grandmother of Mrs. Rebekah Farrar.
Carolyn Baggett died in San Angelo on 17 May 1918 at the age of 72. Ele Baggett died in December of 1934 and both are buried in Tom Green County. (The Ele Baggett House receives marker.)
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