Garden Valley Land From School Stuff   The completion of the railroad in 1906 spawned growth in the area and farmers flocked to the area seeking warm weather and good soil both of which were plentiful. They cleared the jungle of trees, planted crops and they built houses in the countryside and in what would become Sweeny.


Around 1908, post plantation days and railroad, a road was built from near the Levi Jordan plantation to the Adamston depot. This old road followed the basic path that FM 524 from Sweeny to four forks does today. We also know that in the 1908-1909 time frame T L Smith built a store and moved in a gin south side of the railroad tracks and the name Adamston was changed to Sweeny.


  Several old pictures of Sweeny area houses have been floating around the internet for some time. Most of them were identified as to the owner, but the date built and location was not. Herein we attempt to document the houses in those pictures, some pictures that have since been uncovered and other old houses known to still be standing for which no historic pictures.



 This is a work in progress. If you have pictures of old Sweeny houses or any information about the ones shown here, PLEASE CONTACT US.  



Note: Clicking on links will take you to  family trees and other information.


  In 1909, Emmet and Louise Rimmer from Missouri bought 400 acres of the John Cummings League along the old road. They built a house, cleared the land and started farming. Their house and farm were featured in the 1911 sales brochure that can be seen here and were also featured in “A Trip Over The County By A Times Man”. Our research suggests this is perhaps the first post plantation/railroad house built in the area and also the oldest post plantation house still standing in the area. Note that Emmet Rimmer was one of the early school trustees as were M J Parten and Dr. Eades. Visit our school page for more. 

  In 1910, M J and Sarah Parten and John C and Mollie Brockman bought 200 and 100 acres respectively south of the Rimmer’s 400 acres and both families built houses. Both are also featured in “A Trip Over The County By A Times Man”. We have no old pictures of either house. The Parten house still stands and may just be the second oldest house still standing in the area.

  In 1914, the Rimmers sell 225 acres to T J and Angelina Arrington which included the house. The delivery of the premises was based on Arrington making a second payment in 1915 which he did. For this reason we think the Arrington’s moved into the Rimmer house around 1915. In 1918 T J sells son John Arrington 120 acres including the house and we think around this time (1918-1919) is when T J built the second house which is still standing. In the 1930’s locals called the old road “Arrington Road”

  In 1918, the Rimmers sell 75 acres to Charles and Mabel Ballard and 100 acres to Levi Hankins. The Ballard house is gone, but the Hankins house still stands.


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 Emmet Rimmer House

Image Courtesy of Brazoria County Historical Museum

 John Arrington House

Image Courtesy of Brazoria County Historical Museum

 NewRimmer  CharlesBallard
 Rimmer/Arrington House on Hwy. 524 Today

 Charles Ballard House

Image Courtesy of Brazoria County Historical Museum

 TJArrington  NewTJ

 T J Arrington

Image Courtesy of Brazoria County Historical Museum

 T J Arrington on Hwy 5245 Today
 NewParten  NewHankins
 M J Parten on Hwy 524 Today  Levi Hankins on Hwy 524 Today






Following the platting of the Sweeny town site and surrounding area, Dr. M H Eades bought several lots on Main Street and several in block 42 in 1911. We all know the main street lots are where he built his office which you can read about in our Grab Bag section. The block 42 lots (current location of post office) is where he built his home. It is unclear exactly when he built his home, but it is thought to be around 1912 after living in the hotel owned by Bernard River Land Development Co. on Main Street for a year. Years later the lots and house were bought by Joe Allen Ballard and the house relocated to its current location on Fig Street and remodeled.


Remodeled Eades House on Fig Street Today

Image Google Maps




  In 1912 William D and Ida Ballard moved to Sweeny from Tupelo, Mississippi, future birthplace of Elvis Presley in 1935. He bought 60 acres of land and built a house in Block D of the Hurd Subdivision. The Ballard’s were farmers but also operated the previously mentioned hotel on Main Street until it burned down in 1917. They also were featured in “A Trip Over The County By A Times Man”. After William died in 1924, Mrs. Ballard sold the house and property to John and Clyde McKinney in 1925. The remodeled house still stands today. 


Picture about 1918 based on age of babe in arms

Photo courtesy of Charlene Finley

LR adults: Gladys B. Arrington (1902-1968), Chester Ballard (1893-1961), Bertha Eades (1883-1956), Charles Ballard 1890-1971), Mabel Rimmer Ballard (1887-1972), W.D. Ballard (1859-1924), Hattie Temple (1904?-?), Willie Ballard Temple (1881-1945) holding Mary Catharine Eades (1918-1962), Ida Bowlin Ballard (1864-1943). Front row children: Minnie Eleanor Ballard (1913-2006) , Edwin Ballard (?-?) and friend.



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L-R Chester Ballard, son (1893-1961), W D Ballard (1859-1924), Ida, wife (1864-1943), Willie Ballard Temple, daughter (1881-1945)

Photo courtesy Charlene Finley 

Remodeled Ballard/McKinney House on Ave. "A" Today






After selling their first home, Mrs. Ballard and family members bought a house on Fifth and Main Streets in 1927. This house is thought to have been built by L S Sanford (agent of Garden Valley Land Co.) around 1915-1916. The house was sold by the Ballard family and relocated twice in the mid-1950s. The remodeled house still stands at its current location south of Sweeny.


Remodeled Sanford/Ballard House

South of Sweeny Today






Millard Fillmore and Cornnelia Chenault arrived in Sweeny in 1916 and bought lots 24 and 25 in block B of the Hurd Subdivision where they built a house. Around early to mid-1930, the county built FM 524 which connected four forks to Hwy 58 (later became Hwy 35). This took in part of lot 24 and added the road in front of what is now the Dairy Mart. Following Millard’s death his wife Cornelia lived here for many years. Through the years the Chenault’s sold small partitions of their original land to one of their daughters, Taylor Kemp and O D Miser. They also platted the Chenault Subdivision out of part of lot 25 thus the street names Fillmore and Cornelia. After Cornelia’s death the family sells the remainder of lots 24 and 25 to Frank Early who plats Hillcrest Subdivision in 1957. Early sells Dick Steele lots 16 and 17 which later become the garage and also sells W H Buchanan (local house mover) lot 18. Buchanan moves the Chenault house and sells it to S H and Mildred Holland.



Chenault/Holland House No Longer on 6th. St.

Photo courtesy Facebook

 The house that appears to be in the middle of Main St. in this circa 1917 picture is actually the Chenault/Holland house


 Image Courtesy of Brazoria County Historical Museum




In 1917 Dave and Ella Chenault buy all the property where the high school including the football field is today. It is thought they built the house around the same time. Dave later became cashier for the Sweeny Bank. The family sold the property to Dr. Laughlin in 1951.


 Dave Chenault House

Image Courtesy of Brazoria County Historical Museum





 kinghankslinkKing and Ruthie Hanks buy lots 5, 6, 7 and 9 in block 33 from J A McGowen in 1918. The Hanks and their large family of 15 children were previously farming and living just outside Sweeny on a 38 acre tract which was part of the original Burrell Webb 75 acre tract. Although it is unclear when this house was built, it is known that McGowen was living there when he sold the property to Hanks. There is also some evidence the house might have been started or a smaller house built by a previous to McGowen owner. Best estimate is that the house was built between 1915-1918. (click on thumbnail for picture) Thanks to The Portal to Texas History.

Click here for Leon Hale story about this old house.





  In 1915 J S Purdy buys 6 acres of San Bernard River property in El Bernardo and builds a nice river front home. Some accounts say he brought in the lumber by rail car. Many will remember this as the Issac house.

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J S Purdy House

Image Courtesy of Charlene Finley

 Purdy House San Bernard River Today





   William “Billie” and Lydia Chenault moved to Sweeny in 1913 from Tennessee and bought several hundred acres of farm land and built a house. Many will remember this as the Powell House on North Main St. In 1915 the Chenaults gave each of their seven children 20 acre tracts of land.


Image Courtesy of  Wellborn, Woods Kenneth photograph, June 27, 1979; Credit North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History

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                                  Billie Chenault House

                                          Image Courtesy of Charlene Finley

                     Billie and Lydia Chenault

                      Image Courtesy of Charlene Finley











John Edgar Orr buys all of Sweeny block 28 in 1915 and is known to have been living there in 1916. This house is known by most as Lela Bakers house. We previously posted an article about a family picture taken at this house which can be seen here.











This is the home of Lydia (Big Mamma) and Will Calvin (Big Daddy) Hammond located on Ashely Wilson St. Built in 1913 it was later known by many as Susie Hammond Ryan's home. What likely was the first airplane to land in Sweeny landed near this house in 1918 with practically the whole country there to see according to the Minnie Rice Letters. A story about the house submitted by Suzanne Smith follows the map.

Image Courtesy of Suzanne Smith
 Lydia  BigDaddy

Lydia Hammond

Image Courtesy of Charlene Finley 

Will Calvin Hammond

 Image Courtesy of Charlene Finley



This story shared by Suzanne Smith

The Oldest Homeplace in Sweeny Texas.  
Hello, let me introduce myself, I am a house located on Ashley-Wilson Road in Sweeny. A small Texas town of tree-lined streets, sidewalks and maybe four stoplights on mainstreet. I am love by many people and family members. Although now, I am in disrepair and have been bruised and damaged, I am still here. I was built some say around 1907 and others say 1913. So, I’ve been here quite a while and have withstood quite a few storms. But since I’m the highest spot of land in town, no floods. The family who built me came from Tennessee. I was built out of the hardwoods from right here, near where I’m at. I have 14 rooms, that were all utilized. I look sad now, but I was once a beautiful show place. I was a beacon for a lot of citizens and travelers that came to this town. No one was ever turned away from here. Carpet baggers, soldiers returning home from the war, they could spend the night on my back sleeping porch and maybe get a biscuit or two in the morning. Or just sit on the big front porch and rest a spell. The man who built me was called, “ Big Daddy.” And he was an intelligent man and a hard-working man. His wife was called “Big Momma,” she was a beauty queen from Tennessee and had southern grace and high standards, but mostly she was the boss and a God-fearing lady.
Now, back to a little more about me. My front yard was beautiful. A big shade tree was on one side of the yard and Big Momma planted a magnolia tree on the other side, there were many pretty bushes, hedges and flowers, planted. A mix of lilies and daylilies lined the front porch. A bottle brush bush was at the end of the sidewalk along with a baby cedar tree. Big Momma brought two Old English tea rose bushes from Tennessee when they came. She planted one on each side of the front brick walk that lead out to a walkway and a parking space out on Ashley-Wilson where the mailbox also stood. There was also a beautiful four post pergola there in the front yard. From this structure hung a big wooden swing, there she planted two Wisteria vines on each side, which wound their vines to the top and covered it. Big Momma loved the color purple and lilac. There was magic when the wisteria was in bloom. To go sit in the swing, in the spring time and smell the blossoms in all their glory. There were also trees planted out in the front of the house around the 1920s these were all cottonwood trees which were planted to mark this homeplace and reminded Big Daddy and Big Momma of the plantation home in Tennessee, where she grew up. As you drive around the City of Sweeny, you see other lined streets of cottonwood trees. These are were either brothers or sisters or aunts and uncles who had once made their homes, about the same time there in town. All the roads in town back in my heyday were dirt roads just like in the front of this grand homeplace. I may look broken, an ugly to most people now. But I am not weak. My strong bones and character are still here. There are five solid hardwood walls on the outside of my skin and big beams under me and in the walls, the ceilings are all 10 feet high. The original artistic lighting an original rooms are still the same as they were when I was first built. There have been some very important family members (Aunt Sue), who was the first woman that held the position of vice-president of the original bank of New York, back in the 1930s.
Also, there were friends and individuals that most people in this area will know, who often stayed here. One man by the name of James “Jim” Abercrombie. Mr. Abercrombie is the man who built the start of what is now Phillips / Conoco. This was around 1934. Big daddy was the man, Mr. Abercrombie came to and hired to help him build and haul all the machinery equipment, the parts of the facilities, to build this large gas refinery. Mr. Jim Abercrombie said many times that, “without Will Hammond, he doesn’t know how he could’ve ever built the refinery.” Every piece was hauled to the refinery on a huge wooden sled. This sled was pulled by a team of 8 to 10 mules. The land was a swamp. This site or area was called Old Ocean (for a reason). Somewhere, there is an old photo of Big Daddy with the sled and his team of mules. Mr. Abercrombie would often say that Mr. Hammond was not the only reason he loved to stay here at the homeplace. The other reason was the hospitality and most important was Mrs. Hammond’s cooking. This whole place was a big and fully self-contained farm. They grew all their own vegetables and had chickens, hogs, beef cattle, milk cows, which was all turned into delicious meals every day. Fresh milk, eggs and cream were there for every meal. Along with fresh homemade bread pies and desserts. A Grande meal and a big table was always sit. Big Momma always used her finest dinnerware. Mrs. Hammond took great pride in setting her table and making them beautiful and her guest always welcome. She used to say, “ always make your guest feel like family, and your family, always treat them as you would treat your guests.” In the winters my insides of this homeplace was always warm by several fire places and wood-burning stoves. And in the heat of the summer it was always cool. With the dogtrot doors open and all the tall windows open the airflow through the house was nice. The back screened in sleeping porch on the southern side of the house always had a good breeze in the summer and the tall 10 foot ceilings helped.

Now let’s go back to my yard and trees. Big daddy planted some trees of his own. These were called Bodark trees. These trees grew fast and yielded hardwood from which Big Daddy could make wagon parts, hames, plow handles, mule eveners, yokes for oxen and many pieces of farm equipment. Now as fast growing trees they are more like a nuisance now, since they are no longer needed. But like this homeplace the person that loves us, cannot bring theirselves to get rid of them.
Onto the fruit trees, which were planted on the southside of the house and a grapevine that was on a trellis. There were lemon trees, lime trees and then in the backyard near Carrie‘s house, there were peach, pear trees and a nice fig tree. The vegetable garden was large and there nearby. It contains sweet corn, okra, green beans, peas, peppers, onions and so on. There was also a spice garden in the backyard for garlic, dill and much more.The father, Big Daddy and mother, Big Momma that built this homeplace, came to this spot to help build a community and help make a community. Big daddy was the local vet, doctor, lawman, business man, farmer, rancher, charitable man and a Christian man, with Big Momma always there by his side.

Inside this homeplace the Hammonds raised 14 children. Two children were born in the covered wagon, on the way down from Tennessee. And then ten of the children were born here in this homeplace. All the children survived except for one. Little Jimmy, he passed away at the young age of 13 months from a ruptured appendix. All the other brothers and sisters grew up here and most still live in this area. They were all a God-fearing, hard-working, honest and a decent group of family members. In this town of Sweeny the Hammond homeplace is an Historic site. The first television in Sweeny was put in this home, the first telephone was placed by the front door of this home, so all friends and neighbors could come by and share.

This does not end my story. More stories about the amazing lives an times of this family will soon be coming. One day my wish is to be restored to my glory days. So my family and community could all enjoy me and what once was a beautiful home place.

There was magic when the wisteria was in bloom