Images in America - Waxahachie celebrates the unique history of Waxahachie, Texas. Local authors tread an insightful path down memory lane with an ambitious new photo book on Waxahachie history. Written by Kathryn Eriksen and Laurie Wilson (Arcadia, $21.99), the book features over 200 vintage photos that captures the charm of the 159-year-old Ellis County seat, famous for its Victorian homes and crepe myrtle trees.
Eriksen stresses the personal touch she and Wilson have taken in their research. "The book provides detailed accounts of the growth and development of Waxahachie, with an emphasis on the human side," she said. "Many of the photographs show people going about their daily activities or just having fun. It’s almost like a keyhole, allowing us to peer into Waxahachie's past and see how people interacted."
Wilson agrees, adding that Images of America: Waxahachie underscores the "perseverance of the people" of the city even as they faced tragic times. Referring to a photo included of the aftermath of a devastating downtown fire, she said the citizens surveying the damage didn’t let it overwhelm them.
"They went forward," she said. "When nothing at all was certain they went forward. The fire department was upgraded, homes rebuilt, businesses continued."
In a concise but thorough format of 128 pages, the book chronicles the captivating story of a community’s progress from country town to prosperous city. The authors focus on Waxahachie’s early days, from its founding in the middle of the 19th century to the cotton production boom of the early 1900s to the years of sacrifice and hardship brought by the Great Depression and World War II.
The book’s beautifully preserved archive photos –– the majority courtesy of the Ellis County Museum and some never before published –– are well chosen and featured, divided into eight sections covering all aspects of Waxahachie’s commercial and cultural life since 1850. These pictures whisper their own nostalgic tales –– pedestrians catching the Interurban train near the city’s famed courthouse, maypole dancing on the grounds of Trinity University, parades, bands, fans outside a silent movie theatre, an early beauty parlor, schools, churches and homes as they were and as they are today.
Eriksen said her favorite images in the book are the cover photograph, showing a group of little girls enjoying a doll’s garden party, and another picture of girls with their dolls sitting on the front porch of a house she said still exists and belongs to the same family. "And they still have the dolls in the photo!" Eriksen said.
Wilson pointed out that she and Eriksen owe a debt of gratitude to the Waxahachians and other Ellis County citizens who assisted them in their quest for rare photos and interesting stories. "This would not be the book it is without Shannon Simpson of the Ellis County Museum," she said. "He was generous with his time and knowledge."
Eriksen singled out Ann Allen and Peggy Spalding, who shared their memories and family photo albums, and members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church who helped the authors with information and photos.
"It is my hope that Images of America: Waxahachie illuminates and honors the people who settled Waxahachie and Ellis County, and that it highlights the stories that make this city such a great place to live," Eriksen said.
Images of America: Waxahachie by Kathryn Eriksen and Laurie Wilson is available at local bookstores as well as online at Amazon.com. Orders may also be placed via Arcadia Publishing at (888) 313-2665 or at www.arcadiapublishing.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Kathryn E. Eriksen is an attorney, author and the owner/editor of WaxahachieJournal.com. Born in Dallas, Eriksen relocated to Waxahachie
in 1994. She is a member of Historic Waxahachie, Secretary for the Ellis County Children’s Theatre, and has appeared in various productions of the Ennis Public Theatre. Her children’s book Walk with the Master is available at www.WalkWithTheMaster.com.
Laurie J. Wilson, an Ennis-based writer, is a member of the Ennis Heritage Society and the Ellis County Czech Heritage Society. Wilson’s current project is another local history title for Arcadia Publishing, called Railroading in Ellis County.