Postcard From A Texas Bottle Tree Farm

Many folks know about Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch on Route 66 in California, but there's an artist in Llano, Texas that makes unique bottle trees and other art which certainly rivals and perhaps surpasses Mr. Long's place. 

On a recent road trip through central Texas, I was cruising through Llano when I passed by a most interesting and colorful yard - one of those totally unexpected serendipitous road trip happenings. You have to take advantage of these; be open to seeing something cool, meeting someone new, doing something exciting. I made a quick u-turn.

After pulling into the little drive-way, Kathleen, one of the friendliest, most interesting people I've had the pleasure to encounter strolled over to meet me and we began to talk. I felt comfortable right away. She told me the story of how she came to own the nice, well maintained little house in the middle of all the art. Walkways of crushed glass meandered around and through the art pieces. She showed me the lizards at the front of the yard and how she made them using colored glass from the plates her children had broken when they were little. There were numerous bottle trees, each with a story to tell and every one of them an interesting piece in and of itself. Some of the art, like the life-size warrior princess (that's my interpretation anyway) made of tin foil, can be taken as not quite in the mainstream of art, but it is definitely art and definitely interesting.

Lizard animal things Kathleen made with pieces of glass
her children broke when they were little.
If you've ever wanted to build a bottle tree of your own, she'll be happy to sell you the metal tree, which she will make with her own hands. Or for a right fair price, you can take home a unique piece of art sure to be a conversation piece. Call 325.248.1704 before dropping by her place at 401 E. Young in Llano and I'm sure she'll be happy to visit with you, show you her art pieces, and answer any questions you might have. You can also check out her web site

I had a great time looking at all the really interesting art work and talking with Kathleen. I'm sure you would too. I give this place 2 thumbs up!

Tin foil warrior princess?

Bunny-dude & peacock bottle tree
There's a lot of interesting glass art work here!

Crushed glass walkway with lizard design

Found Elvis!
For the pink flamingo crowd

For the golfing crowd
I haven't a clue, but it's pretty and I liked it!

General Scurry

Entrance to the Texas State Cemetery
The Texas State Cemetery in Austin was established in 1851 and is the final resting place of Governors, Senators, Legislators, Congressmen, Judges, Medal of Honor war heroes, legendary frontiersmen, famous authors and other noted Texans who have made the state what it is today. One of these resting in eternal peace is General William Read Scurry.

Scurry was born in Gallatin, Tennessee, on February 10, 1821, and arrived in Texas on June 20, 1839. He was licensed to practice law before he was twenty-one and appointed district attorney of the fifth judicial district in 1841. Scurry became aide-de-camp to Thomas Jefferson Rusk in 1842 and represented Red River County in the Ninth Congress of the Republic of Texas in 1844 and 1845. During the Mexican War he enlisted as a private in Col. George T. Wood' Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, and was promoted to major on July 4, 1846. After the war he practiced law in Clinton and for a time was the owner and editor of the Austin State Gazette.
General Skurry (historical photo)

After representing the counties of Victoria, DeWitt, Jackson, and Calhoun in the Secession Convention, he volunteered for service in the Confederate army in July, 1861 even though he was 40 years old. He was assigned the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Fourth Texas Cavalry and distinguished himself as a man of leadership and great bravery during the Confederate invasion of New Mexico while commanding the Southern forces at the battle of Glorieta.

After his participation in several more battles, he was promoted to brigadier general and played a vital role in the Confederate recapture of Galveston in January, 1863. In late 1863, General Scurry was assigned to command the Third Brigade of Walker's Texas Division. He valiantly  led his men in the bloody battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill and then was transferred with his command to Arkansas to repel the Union army which was marching toward Northeast Texas. 

On April 30, 1864, Scurry again went into battle at Jenkins Ferry. At age 42, after almost three years of war, leading men in ferocious, deadly battles, his luck ran out. As the battle raged, he was on his horse,rallying his men in their attack when a cannon shell exploded close by. His horse was killed, but miraculously, Scurry received only minor wounds. He continued to lead on foot when, as he crested a hill in front of his troops, he was shot in the upper leg, the mini ball shattering the bone. His men wanted to take him to the rear where he could be given medical attention and possibly saved, but fearing to do so would cause his troops to lose the morale needed to turn the enemy, he refused. 

For almost 2 hours the battle raged around him as he laid in the open field shouting encouragement to his men and giving orders. In spite of his bravery and encouragement though, he enemy held off the Rebels long enough to receive reinforcements and pushed the southerners back. Scurry laid in the field with the other dead and wounded as the Yankees rushed by. In the heat of battle, there was no time to care for the  wounded of either side so Scurry went without aid for over 2 hours.

W. R. Scurry grave
Soon, the Confederate's halted their retreat and made a stand. After several Union attacks were turned back, the Southerners rallied and made their own attack. The Yankee lines broke and the pitched battle turned into a route as the Union soldiers were forced into a running retreat. Scurry's men regained the field where he lay and rushed to see if by some miracle their leader was still alive. He was.

When a handful of his men found him, he asked, "Have we whipped them?" On being told the battle had been won, he whispered, "Now take me to a house where I can be made comfortable and die easy." After over 2 hours of laying in the hot sun in severe pain, bleeding with a shattered leg and receiving no treatment, General Scurry finally, mercifully, passed out. His men carried him to a nearby house which had been turned into a field hospital, but it was too late. He died without regaining consciousness.

William Read Scurry's body was brought back home and buried in the Texas State Cemetery in May, 1864. Scurry county Texas is named in his honor.

Postcard from Rohwer Relocation Center

 In 1942 following the attack on Pearl Harbor, war hysteria led to the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes, businesses and communities. The U.S. government imprisoned them in camps such as the Rohwer Relocation Center in southeast Arkansas. Consisting of 500 acres, the Rohwer camp was chosen as one of the sites as the land was owned by the federal government and it was situated away from populated areas and near a railway. The 8,475 inhabitants were watched by armed guards from towers linked together by a barbed wire fence.

The site of the camp is now mostly farmed land

The land on which the Rohwer camp was located was in a severe poverty area and originally intended to be subsistence homesteading under the Farm Security Administration. When war broke out however and it was determined people of Japanese ancestry should be isolated, in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, a number of the camps were placed in poverty-stricken areas in hope they would boost the local economy. Not only did this not happen, even more resentment was felt by the local population who became resentful of the camp's residents for their access to 3 meals every day and free medical care.  There were no jobs available in the area for the locals, yet many of the Japanese men were employed to cut down trees to make room for more housing and buildings and were paid $12 per month by the government.

When the camp was newly opened, the first batch of male internees were dispatched outside the fence to start cutting trees to enable the camp to grow. A group of armed locals, thinking they were Japanese paratroopers invading Arkansas, "captured" them and marched them at gunpoint to the local jail where they were held until the camp's American director came for them.

Historical photo of Japanese children playing marbles in
the dirt of Camp Rohwer
By late 1942, the camp consisted of 620 buildings and included a hospital, post office, various shops, schools, churches, recreation halls, a movie theater, sawmill and a cannery. There were also baseball and other athletic fields and communal pick-nick areas. Most of the individual families planted their own gardens in addition to the 610 acres that were farmed for the whole camp. Many had flocks of chickens and pigs and a lively food barter system was established. It's easy to see why the impoverished locals felt the "prisoners" had it a lot better than they themselves did.

Some of the young men, those who had been born in America, were allowed to join the army and were sent to fight German forces in Europe. Of the approximately 200 who volunteered from the Rohwer camp, 31 paid the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields. During the 3 years the camp was operational, 24 internees died and were buried in the camp cemetery.
George Takei as Lt. Sulu

One little boy of 4 was brought in with his family from California, but spent only 8 months in Camp Rohwer. His parents refused to take the required oath of loyalty to America so they were sent back to California to the maximum security camp at Tule Lake.  The little boy who had his 5th birthday in the camp, remembers Camp Rohwer because it was the first time he had ever seen a hog. George Takei grew up to become an actor of note with his most famous roll being Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series and 6 Star Trek movies.

All that is on the site today is a replica guard house with informational posters, a brick smokestack, several monuments to those who died in Italy and France while serving in the military, the cemetery with its 24 headstones and a monument next to the cemetery in memory of those 24. That monument states in English, "Erected by the inhabitants of Rohwer Relocation Center October 1944." And in Japanese, it reads: "May the people of Arkansas keep in beauty and reverence forever this ground where our bodies sleep."

Rohwer Center Cemetery marker
A few of the 24 concrete headstones in the Rohwer Cemetery