If you were watching CBS This Morning on March 12th, you may have seen a short interview with Rhonda Page Jordan from Waller County. We caught up with Rhonda so we could bring you more about her family legacy and the land that’s been in her family for over 130 years and is being threatened by this high-speed rail project.
When asked about the family legacy of her land, Rhonda said:
John William Page, Sr. and Mary McNeil Morris Windham, my great, great grandparents, married in 1864. Mary’s uncle, Joel Robison was a Colonel in the Texas revolution. April 22, 1836 was the day after the battle of San Jacinto and also the day he saved a Mexican soldier’s life. Upon the threat of being shot after refusing to walk further after capture, Colonel Robison reached out and pulled the soldier horseback behind him, noticing white satin cuffs under a common soldier’s suit. Once delivered to General Sam Houston, the Mexican soldier revealed he was, in fact, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. In gratitude, the General later gave his gold brocade vest complete with gold buttons to Uncle Joel, which was then shared with bridegrooms from surrounding counties.
John and Mary Page went on to have a son, John William, Jr., who married Helen Hegar, daughter of Alfred and Helen Hegar, in April 1864. They began their lives farming 48 acres in Hegar, Waller County, Texas, in 1881, growing his spread to 350 acres and, later choosing ranching as a way of life. The Great Depression forced my grandparents to move to Houston to make their living, but Grandpop held the land even during those hard times. My father, the eighth child of eleven born to Alfred and Helen, and his brother, James August (second son) went on to continue their father’s legacy of raising Registered Red Brahman cattle. Both lived here until they passed.
It is on Page Ranch that my family also lives. My sister makes her home here. My mother, at age 96, resides here raising a small herd of commercial cattle with my brother and his family. My husband, Doug, and I partner a commercial cattle herd here with our daughter, her husband and family, who also built their only home here. Together our lives center around the children, grandchildren, horses, chickens, cattle and hay raised on Page Ranch. Living here forty years, this is the only home Doug and I have owned. We are fortunate God has given us the ability to live and to enjoy the abundant wildlife here. We are blessed to have children who watched animals being born and dying; who bottle-fed calves and pigs, who returned baby birds to their nests. There are no words to explain what the loss of our ranch means to us.
This is our home Texas Central Railway threatens to take. Loss of income due to loss of acreage for pasture and hay, with no way to recover loss of property value or use, are unnecessary losses. Disruption of human lives, domestic livestock and wildlife, change in water flow and retention, and decimation of grazing pastures doesn’t begin to explain the changes one could expect, and that is only during construction of a high-speed rail. Constant noise and movement, near constant trains blasting through the quiet peacefulness is not an adjustment, it is an alteration. Terrorism threats, derailments and loss of wild and domestic life is not taken lightly. These can be prevented. Texas is a land of ranchers, farmers, property owners. It is a heritage, a way of life. Are Texans willing to trade private property ownership for eminent domain and a Japanese train? Rural Texans aren’t and we pray for the support of those who live in cities, but enjoy a quiet country drive or bicycle ride.