People, Places & Events



Kiwanis hear about Norwegian pioneer
Waerenskjold’s writings helped fuel Norwegian immigration
Monitor Staff Reports

GUN BARREL CITY–Cedar Creek Lake Kiwanis members got a brief look Wednesday at a documentary about one of the area’s pioneers, Elise Waerenskjold.
Almost forgotten in Texas, Waerenskjold is a well-known public figure back in her native Norway, primarily through the numerous letters she wrote about her life in the then-wilderness of East Texas.
Kiwanis member Elian Haan-Bakke learned about Waerenskjold through books written by Houston historian Charles Russell. Those books inspired her to develop a play about the Norwegian pioneer and begin work on a documentary film.
Bakke played some snippets of the documentary for club members, explaining “there are so many things here, and so many stories to tell.”
“There’s a lot of footage that needs to be edited,” Bakke said. Generating the money necessary to fund the editing process has been one of the major projects she has been involved with during the past couple of years, she added.
“We have a very interesting European background here,” Bakke said.
Viewed from 100 years in the future, Waerenskjold was a very “modern” woman, in that she divorced her first husband because she wanted to work outside the home, something almost unheard-of at the time.
She was well-educated, and became involved in writing for and later editing an emigration magazine in Norway, Norge og Amerkia (Norway and America), Bakke related.
Waerenskjold emigrated to Texas in 1847. During the arduous sea journey, she met the leader of the expedition, Wilhelm Waerenskjold, and married him.
Landing in New Orleans, the Norwegian expedition crossed the Sabine River and settled in Four Mile Prairie, now known as the Prairieville community north of Mabank.
The daughter of a noted Lutheran minister, Elise Waerenskjold and her husband were instrumental in forming the first Lutheran church in the area.
After 160 years, Four Mile Lutheran continues to minister to Prairieville area residents, Bakke pointed out.
“Every day, she wrote letters back to Norway to tell them about life in Texas,” Bakke said.
Waerenskjold told potential emigres what to bring, what equipment to buy and where, available modes of travel and other practical how-to advice. Her letters were widely circulated through newspapers and magazines.
Waerenskjold was honored with a statue in Sletta, Norway, in July, 2007, commemorating her role in Norwegian emigration.
The Waerenskjolds were ardent abolitionists, and their stance on slavery, along with the fact they took a young black girl into their home, may have caused some strife with their slaveowning neighbors.
In 1866, Wilhelm Waerenskjold was murdered in front of the Prairieville store, stabbed to death by N.T. Dickerson, who promptly fled the area.
Dickerson was arrested some years later, and his trial in Kaufman caused a sensation, according to handwritten accounts discovered in musty Kaufman County records, Bakke said.
“Mr. Russell is writing a book about his (Wilhelm Waerenskjold) life and the trial now,” she added.
Waerenskjold died at her son’s home in 1895, having spent the last 48 years of her life in her adopted country.
Bakke said she and her husband continue to work on the documentary’s script, which she said was the most difficult part of the process.
“It’s like a puzzle,” she added. “Every time you work on it, you find more information.”

This track is made for walking
Gun Barrel City completes half-mile walking path
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Fine cool weather, mild temperatures (except for the occasional cold front) practically beckon one away from the office for outdoor frivolity and fitness.
Streets supervisor Mike Horton is happy to announce the completion of Gun Barrel City’s expanded walking trail located across from the fire station and running up behind the baseball fields.
A ribbon of blacktop loops around covered picnic tables, including a fork in the path for contemplation of the path less traveled.
The track itself spans eight feet for walking with friends and is just 70 steps short of a half-mile in length.
The three-month project was funded in part by a grant from the Economic Development Corporation of $21,300 to pay for the asphalt paving.
EDC member Courtney Hill worked closely with Horton in planning the project.
Other additions are expected to include benches, a Frisbee golf course and more trees.
“The track is safe from dogs and will be well maintained,” Hill said. “Mr. Horton and his crew have done an excellent job with the project.”
The American Heart Association has conducted much research on the benefits of walking.
Walking can boost your heart health and help you live longer, enhance mental well-being, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
In addition, the AHA reports that walking is the most economical, convenient and safe exercise.
So, get out of the office at lunch time and hit the track, the walking track that is.
“It’s ready, all it needs is you,” Horton said.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
City secretary Christy Eckerman, Tanya Mathews, councilwoman Kathy Cochran
and EDC secretary Rita Evans stretch their legs on the newly expanded walking
track across from the Gun Barrel City fire station.

‘Red Garter’ is finally here
Special to The Monitor
TOOL–The big, bad hurricane named “Ike” only delayed the best party of the season – it didn’t cancel it or dampen the spirits of the organizing committee and all the volunteers who’ll be stepping up at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, to welcome guests to “A Night At The Red Garter Saloon,” the annual fall fund-raiser benefitting the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
For $35 per person, ticket holders will enjoy a steak dinner with all the trimmings, chips to get started on the gaming tables, a ticket on valuable donated prizes and a unique, fun night that had originally been scheduled for Sept. 13, the same night that “Ike” was predicted to pass over East Texas.
Like so many other volunteer groups, the Red Garter Committee made a quick and wise decision to plan the event for another night, so that ticket holders and volunteers alike wouldn’t be put in harm’s way during the predicted storm.
“We hope that our friends that are holding tickets purchased before the cancellation will all be available to come out and enjoy the fabulous party and be a part of the same great night that was already planned.
“The event is basically the same, just a little later in the season,” Cedar Creek Lake area Chamber of Commerce president Jo Ann Hanstrom said.
Chamber volunteers will open the doors of the Red Garter Saloon (Promenade Hall on State Highway 274 in Tool) at 6 p.m., where an evening of country flavored music presented by Dino “Danger” Perelli, auctions, gaming (for fun tickets), saloon girls, and many surprises, all with an “Old West” ambiance, await attendees.
A special steak dinner, cooked on the spot by the Chamber Grill Team, and supervised by Sharon Strickland of Sharon Strickland Catering, will be available to start the evening right before everyone gets down to the serious business of having some real Ol’ West style fun.
The list of live and silent auction items is long and varied. including the famous “Red Garter Money Hat.”
Tickets for “A Night At The Red Garter Saloon” are available at the Chamber office, 604 S. Third St., Ste. E, in the Lawndale Building in Mabank, Southside Bank/Gun Barrel City, First State Bank/Mabank, Citizens State Bank Mabank, Franklin Bank/ Seven Points and at the Athens Visitors Center on the square in Athens.
Tables of six ($210) and eight ($280) are still available, but must be reserved through the Chamber of Commerce office and pay by cash, check or MasterCard/Visa when the reservation is made.
For any questions about the event, call the chamber office at (903) 887-3152 or e-mail
Or, you may visit for a complete calendar of events.

Come Adopt Us At
The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake

My name is Nelson. I am a beautiful male Dachshund. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. So far, I seem pretty laid back and gentle. I am a wonderful boy looking for my new forever home.

My name is Oreo. I am a beautiful female black Lab. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. I seem to get along with other dogs. I need help with leash training. I have been started on my shots and need to be fixed. I am a beautiful girl looking for my new home.

We are a whole litter of Shepherd mix babies. We were brought to the shelter by animal control, so we have no history. We have been started on our first set of shots. We are good kids looking for our new forever homes.

I am a beautiful Border Collie, who is four months old, or so. I was brought to the shelter by animal control, so I have no history. I have not been at the shelter long, so not much is known about me. I am a beautiful kid looking for a new home.

Pictured are just a few animals at the Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake in Seven Points in dire need of a good home. Please call or stop by the Humane Society today and rescue one of these forgotten animals. The Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake is located on 10220 County Road 2403 in
Seven Points. For more information, please call (903) 432-3422 after 11 a.m.
We are closed on Wednesday and Sunday.

For further information visit our website at



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