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The House that Moved: A Bi-County Adventure


The Longstreet community center is the only building presently on the site of the old town.

The Longstreet community center is the only building presently on the site of the old town.

The once thriving town of Longstreet in western Montgomery County was generally a safe haven for law-abiding citizens; however, drama was common place. For example, a man heisted gold from two slave traders in a scenario costing all three their lives. Then there was a “high noon” shootout between two brothers-in-law and gunplay between two other citizens sparked by a $5 fine. So went life in Longstreet.

In the midst of vivacious and sometimes vicious neighbors, a gentleman from Germany named Jim Lieb kept a beautiful home, open to all. He and his wife Mary were pillars of the community with their five children and a 500-acre ranch. On the side he practiced law and veterinary medicine. While it is unclear whether he had formal training in these professions, it is known that he had pursued university studies in Germany.

So attached was the multi-talented Mr. Lieb to his home that in 1907 he moved it four rugged miles west across a bridgeless Lake Creek into Grimes County. He moved to a community that was born on July 1 of that year with a barbeque celebrating the maiden voyage of a passenger train on the just completed Trinity and Brazos Valley Railroad. Sensing immediately that the consequent birth of the new town of Richards would soon render Longstreet a ghost town, Mr. Lieb prepared his house to vacate the premises.

In moving his house, he took particular care crossing Lake Creek. While there was some semblance of a rock-studded bridge over a shallow area of the creek, to engage those rocks one had to walk down a steep bank then climb up another bank equally steep on the other side. As to exactly how Jim Lieb negotiated this obstacle with a six-room house featuring two long porches with the use of only mules and logs remains unknown.

It is known that the task consumed several weeks. The enterprising German made arrangements with the railroad officials to suspend the train schedule to allow him time to negotiate the railroad tracks. Patience characterized the workers as they labored to control mules harnessed to the “singletree” and “gin pole” used to control the logs upon which the house glided ever so gingerly along. During overnight stopovers, the family and workers would have their meals and sleep in the house.

In spite of the obstacles, the house survived intact, proving its durability. Reflecting his days in Germany, Jim Lieb had built the house with double walls, German style. Once in Richards, the movers placed the house on a hill overlooking the railroad. As an integral part of the new community, among other noble gestures, Mr. Lieb donated land below the house to build the first Richards school.

Though in deteriorating condition, the house yet stands, a monument to the spirit of enterprise and ingenuity springing from old Longstreet.

 

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Author Robin Navarro Montgomery, Ph.D., is a member of the Montgomery and Walker County Historical Commissions, chair of the latter and author of numerous books and articles.

Contact him at zippoboo@aol.com.


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