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Sulphur Springs Becomes Piedmont

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Sulphur Springs Becomes Piedmont

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TWO RIVERS

In 1843, William W. Arrington purchased acreage at a sheriff’s sale in the west central part of what became Grimes County. There were three sulphur springs bubbling in a concentrated area of the property. Seizing an opportunity, he built bathhouses and one-room cottages as well as a campground and called it the Sulphur Springs Health Resort.

For whatever reason the name was changed about 1850 from Sulphur Springs to the Piedmont Health Resort.

In 1858, Arrington sold the property to H. Lee and C. S. Taliaferro. In 1861, a Courtney man by the name of Alonzo L. Cannon purchased the property. Some historians say that Taliaferro and Lee built the four story resort structure, but Irene Taylor, in her book ‘Saga of Anderson’ published in 1957, claimed that Cannon built the $100,000 one hundred room hotel that, at the time, was considered the finest hotel in the South.

“Bathhouses and drinking places were located all over the grounds so that patients who flocked in great numbers to Piedmont might progress from one spring to another,” Taylor wrote.

Taylor continued: “Those who came from miles around…took a keen interest in a game of billiards or poker or horse racing as a track was laid out near the resort. One can imagine the balls in the evening in the immense ballroom, 100 by 50 feet, where the minuet, the square dance, and the scottische were danced, lighted by the great chandelier and many candles.”

Soon, the Civil War emptied the Piedmont. The minds of those taking of the ‘healing springs’ were else-where. By 1863, the War broke Cannon.

Taylor related that “Piedmont was in the height of its glory when the crash came and it came with a vengeance. All of a sudden, to those pleasure seekers who had to seek new fields, for Piedmont had fallen, all its glory had departed in the twinkling of an eye because the owner had become bankrupt. The owner and his family left for other scenes and Piedmont was left to some extent, desolate.”

By the end of the War, the Walker Division of the Confederate Army camped at Piedmont. The parlor and ballroom had been converted into a hospital.

Taylor states that “as long as the big house was safe, it was used as a camping ground; and, before the building was declared unsafe a last big dance was held. The big house was then razed so that the lumber might be used to build and repair other homes. The crumbling outlines of the massive foundation and the magic water of the pools remained to remind visitors.”

The Handbook of Texas claims that John K. Spears bought the property in 1871 at a bankruptcy sale for $5,940 with the site then used as a campground. A church and school were constructed at Piedmont in 1886 as well as the Freewill Baptist Church met there until about 1979. An African-American church and school, the Little Flock Missionary Baptist Church, was established in 1906. A branch of the Houston and Texas Central Railway gave Piedmont a brief new life, but the post office closed sometime in the 1920s and Piedmont dwindled.

(Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation; Visit www. tworiversheritagefoundation.org for more information or to become a member.)