HALLSVILLE — The past made a comeback Saturday as Hallsville celebrated its 150th birthday with hundreds of community members and guests during its Sesquicentennial Celebration.
Community members got a first-hand look of a simpler time as they watched how life was lived 150 years ago by re-enactors at the old town setup across from Hallsville City Hall.
Local historian Rob Key was in charge of the old town setup and re-enactors. He said Saturday’s turnout was great for the community.
“We had an outstanding turnout,” Key said. “It was a beautiful day, and we had corn shelling and grinding demonstrations, as well as syrup making from squeezing sugar cane. We also had a blacksmith and spinning wheels. We had a Native American who did some tribal dances and talked to the children, educating them about his culture.”
The day kicked off with a parade that included the Hallsville ISD Bobcat Marching Band, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
Hallsville resident and owner of Hallsville Florist Sandra Walker made an 8-foot-long birthday cake for guests at the Gold Hall Community Center.
Members of the Hallsville High School Class of 1979 and 1980 built wooden store fronts to make up a small town, resembling what life would have looked like in the town 150 years ago.
Hallsville Mayor Jesse Casey said the city purchased the store fronts that were built for the sesquicentennial and will use them in future Western Days and Light Up the Park events.
“Hallsville was formed when the railroad came through,” Key said. “All of the people living at the nearby Fort Crawford settlement moved near the railroad when it was built, and that’s how the city of Hallsville was formed.”
Fort Crawford was founded in the 1840s, and the city of Hallsville was officially established in 1869.
“We know that the Methodist Church, the post office, and the masonic lodge are the only businesses still in existence today that were around back then,” Key said.
Native American Kenny Garrison spoke to guests about his tribe’s heritage.
“My people are from the Comanche and Houma tribes,” Garrison said. “I think it’s important for me to get out and teach people of my heritage, as well as learn from other cultures. I want to break down those barriers and teach and learn and interact with the children who might not ever get to learn about our culture.”
Garrison said the Hallsville Sesquicentennial Celebration was a great showing of unity and how East Texans have progressed through the decades.
“A 150 years ago, my people might not have been welcomed here, but look at where we are today,” he said. “This is a great showing of unity. We are all God’s children in the end, regardless of our history. We see all different ethnic groups here today. Times have changed.”
Hallsville’s sesquicentennial precedes Longview’s 150th birthday events next year.