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Navasota, Land of Milk and Honey

September 07, 2022 - 00:00
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Once there was a sign at Navasota along Highway 6 that stated, “Navasota, The Land Flowing with Milk and Honey!” It stopped travelers to take photos. But according to a family history in the Grimes County Heritage and Society book, it is the story of a 16-year old girl who came to Grimes County with her parents, Henry Washington and Emma Etta (Drew) Somerford. A grandson wrote, that this 16-year-old girl, “Florence Ida Somerford, wore a light gray full-length wool dress trimmed in velvet, married the only man in her life, bearded, mustached, nearly six-foot Zachariah Weaver two days before Christmas, 1888, in the parlor of her family home 2 miles south of Navasota, that was followed by a gala wedding supper.” “Florence’s brother, Walter, gave her 10 colonies of bees as a wedding present. Those bees were the harbingers of Weaver Apiary, now an internationally- known honeybee operation that annually ships more than 125 million bees, including thousands of valuable, much in demand queens, all over the U. S. and 21 foreign countries.”

Written for the Grimes County History book in the mid-1980’s by her grandson, Binford Weaver, he called her by one word: “Indomitable.”

Today, the Weaver Apiary, continues to be operated by Weaver descendants. Over the last couple years, they have commercialized their apiary into a tourist stop on County Road 318, just off Highway 6 and FM Highway 2.

Located in the Lynn Grove neighborhood, Florence and Zach’s son, Roy Stanley (1892-1978), was the first to commercialize his parent’s small honey- producing side business into a queen-breeding operation in 1926. His brother, Howard, joined him and the two ran a flourishing business until their sons were grown and the brothers divided the business.

The Roy Weaver branch, with sons Roy Jr., and Binford, and a grandson, Richard, continued to operate the Lynn Grove apiary. Howard and his sons, Billy Howard and Morris, relocated to a couple miles directly south of Navasota.

A third brother, Dr. Nevin Weaver, who had located at Boston, Mass., became the “academic world’s foremost authority on the honeybee.” A Nevin Weaver Honey Bee Excellence Endowment exists in his honor to support the Texas A & M Honey Bee Lab. The fund provides financial resources to the A & M Bee Lab to complete vital research that benefits honey bees, the beekeeping industry, and beekeepers throughout the nation.

The Somerfords came into Texas in 1872, first settling at Old Washington. Ten years later, in 1882, they purchased over 220 acres on Grassy Creek just south of Navasota.

Zachariah Weaver had come into Texas from Georgia, also in 1872, settling in Grimes County. He married Izetta Bunting, who died in childbirth in 1886. When he married Florence, they lived in his already built two-story home. It featured galleries upstairs and downstairs with fireplaces on both floors. They would have 10 children with eight surviving into adulthood.

Another historical part of the Weaver-Somerford heritage is the Lynn Grove Methodist Church built by Zachariah and his neighbors in 1890. Zachariah, an accomplished carpenter, chose selected heart of pine to build a pulpit and pews enough to hold 250 worshippers. Even though the original church has been rebuilt, the original pulpit and pews are still in use today. The Church has been recognized with a Texas Historical Commission historical marker that stands near its entrance.

Matriarch Florence lived to the age of 101, with her wedding dowry of bees becoming an historical legend. She is buried in the Courtney Cemetery.

(Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation. See www.tworiversheritagefoundation. org for more information and membership).