Our vintage home here on Wildscape Acres has a colorful history. According to one local historian, its original owners, Haden & Betty Whitsett, moved into the house (then located in Bonham, Texas) in the early 1900s. In his youth, Haden (later known to many as 'Uncle Hade') had attended a gathering held in Shiloh, Texas, when Quantrill and his band of vigilantes came through recruiting soldiers for the Confederacy in 1861. Although he was only fourteen and considered too young to serve, Haden and two other youths were captivated by Quantrill’s tales of adventure. The next morning, the three rode off to become part of that dark part of history known as the Civil War. Young Whitsett broke away from the renegade troop in Missouri and joined a branch of the Confederacy. He served as part of Shelby’s division of 1200 Confederates until the War ended in 1865. In 1951, 'Uncle Hade' died at the age of 103 and left the house to his niece who had cared for him --- Zora Arledge.
'Miss Zora' lived there and made her living by serving 'homecooked' meals to others. Later, she became Bonham’s culinary artist for baked goods. Upon her death, the house was sold to the Baptist Church to be used for office and printing space. Later, the First Presbyterian Church bought it with the intention of making a parking lot on the property.
During a ride with my mother in 1998, I noticed the house up on beams. As a young girl, I’d often gone eagerly to the house to pick up cakes from Miss Zora — and received a cookie as a treat. Those wonderful aromas and the memory of a dining room filled with delicacies came flooding back. I had already decided to return to my roots, but was still exploring what kind of dwelling to build. When I asked about the fate of this historical home, Mother said she would find out. Fifteen minutes later, she called to tell me I could have the home in return for moving it, but we had to have it off the property by a certain date. I immediately called Scott to come check the house for structural integrity. (He does professional furniture restoration.) So, Scott and I decided to reclaim this historical home and move it onto the family property we now call Wildscape Acres!! The mover Scott found (Cunningham House Movers) met the deadline!!
The land itself also had to be reclaimed. It had been planted in Bermuda grass and used for pastureland for several years. Earlier than that, it was the home place of a sharecropper and his family who worked for my grandfather. We placed the house atop the highest spot, facing east for the morning sun and surrounded by prairie with a panoramic view of native woodlands — like a natural amphitheater!
A new chapter in homesteading began in which we wanted to combine past with present, with simplicity and sustainability as goals — an ongoing process toward Wildscape Acres’ bright future! In our quest to live in harmony with our surroundings, permaculture and bioregionalism principles have become our guideposts.