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by Maurine Chinski

In 2015, I drove to Navasota, Texas to research my family's history. I found my Great Great Grandparent's grave - Isaac Yaro Chinski (b. 4 January 1840 - d. 8 October 1919) and Harriet Boggs Chinski (b. 6 August 1845 - 12 November 1926).

"Once Navasota was linked by the railroad, it attracted enterprising merchants hoping to capitalize on its new economic position, including a number of Jews. Just a few Jewish immigrants settled in Navasota before the Civil War, including M. Dangigar, a young Polish-born merchant. He had left Navasota by 1870. Other early Jewish settlers included Isidore Bock, who came in 1865, and Arnold Fox and I.Y. Chinski, who moved to Navasota in 1866. Chinski came from Prussia and quickly established himself once he settled in Navasota. By 1870, the dry goods merchant owned $10,000 in personal estate and $4000 in real estate, quite a sum for the time. Chinski later opened a successful banking business in Navasota. These early settlers were soon joined by a growing number of Jews. According to one estimate, over 80 Jews lived in Navasota by 1876."


From the Chinski Scrapbook:

"After the War, in 1865, Mr. Chinski moved to Navasota, TX, then the terminal point of the railroad, and a small village. He purchased his home, and with his family, resided on the same spot for more than 50 years. During this time he engaged in banking, planting, and mercantile business."

"They were among the pioneer settlers of Navasota, having come to the city when the H.&T.C. Railroad had its terminus at Millican."

"It was a custom of Mrs. Chinski's each year at Christmas to prepare stockings for small negro children, for the children of white persons who had been unfortunate, and to remember the aged and infirm. At an early age she united with the Baptist church."


"In 1908, Navasota was a lawless boom town, wracked by violence: "shootouts on the main street were so frequent that in two years at least a hundred men died." 24-year-old Frank Hamer resigned from the Texas Rangers to become the City Marshal and moved in and created law and order. Hamer faced down, chased down, and beat down the Navasota toughs until the streets were quiet, and children could once again go downtown. He relentlessly fought the various power factions, and one day fought one perceived local warlord in the mud on Main Street, throwing him in jail and defying all comers, as the rest of the troublemakers began to search for cover. He served as marshal until 1911. Hamer became more widely known in 1934 as one of the men who shot Bonnie and Clyde. In 2012, the Navasota city council voted to commission a local sculptor to erect a statue of Frank Hamer in front of the new city hall building."

Isaac Yaro Chinski and Harriet Boogs Chinski had 10 children.  Clarence Chinski (Beaumont, TX), Mrs. J.M. Culbert (Little Rock, AR), Alva Adolph Chinski (Houston, TX), Mrs. Margaret C. Callaway (Dallas, TX), Louis Chinski (Dallas, TX), Mrs. H. Lee Roan (Navasota, Tx), Mrs. Robert Campbell (Navasota, TX), Mrs. Irma C. Hogue (Hot Springs, AR), Miss Maurine Chinski (Navasota, TX) and Earle Chinski (Navasota, TX).

Margaret Chinski (b. 21 September 1870 - 14 November 1951), was my mother's father's mother, my maternal Great Grandmother. She married James Milton Callaway. They had four boys, Baldridge, Hulen, Milton and Clarence. 

Clarence Leon Callaway (b. 27 June 1905 - 13 June 1992) was my maternal grandfather. He married (26 March 1935) Mattie White (b. 20 January 1905 - d. 12 April 1986). 

They had two children: Clarence Leon Callaway, Jr. (b. 6 August 1937 - d. 2015?) and, my mother, Nancy Lee Callaway (b. 13 July 1939 - d. 19 August 2014). 

Nancy, married (29 July 1961) Kelly Maurice Casey (b. 6 March 1940 - d. 17 January 2016). The had two children, Scot Keith Casey (b. 19 March 1962) and Shanon Lee Casey (b. 29 April 1965). 

While I was at the Navasota Public Library, I found a copy of The Navasota Bluebonnet 1854 - 1954, which was co-authored by my Great Aunt, Maurine Chinski. 

From the Navasota Bluebonnet:

"Miss Maurine Chinski, a retired public schoolteacher, worked untiringly in the preparation of the manuscript for this publication. Her fatal stroke - a heart attach - came while reading an early draft of her manuscript before a group of friends in the Gulf States Utility Co. Auditorium."

I photographed the entire book and created a pdf which can be viewed here: The Navasota Bluebonnet 1854 - 1954
It is a fascinating book filled with anecdotal history and colorful profiles of many of the town past inhabitants. I was particularly intrigued with the striking William Arthur Boney and Susan Lena Stewart, who operated the Boney Supermarket and were one of the first to feature "self-serve" meat.