J.R. (Sonny) Sessions
Coffield TDC Unit Dedication l972
This Unit the largest in the Texas Penitentiary System on several thousand
acres of rich Trinity River bottom and unimproved hill land in Anderson Co.
and about 600 acres of unimproved land west of the River in Freestone Co.
All bought I think from the Leonard Bros. rich Fort Worth merchants who
still own large acreage in Freestone Co. that beautifully improved.
Today there about 6 new prisons on this land. Beto I &2, Michaels and
others. About the time I went in as Sheriff in l965 Warden Bounds (who has
family ties here moved in with a few TDC employees and small prison labor
work force that worked miracles at little expense to the State. The Unit
named for a dedicated man Mr. H.H. Coffield who not only at the time
Chairman of the Texas Board of Corrections with lots of local, State and
Federal connections and far sighted in the need for prisons.
I never knew Mr. Coffield but heard lots about him. Friend Roger Steward
knew him well and had dealt with him in the oil production business. Roger
said after WWII and all the surplus property many times the only thing many
available or financially feasible, Mr. Coffield bought, sold and traded in this
or knew if it available and where. This knowledge and assistance was used
much in building this Unit. I am told that shortly after the Labor Unions thru
the Legislature stopped prison labor doing this, too much competition
In the May l972 Sheriffs Report I wrote after attending the Dedication the
following: “TDC Commissioner Pete Coffield for whom this Prison Farm
named honored at official dedication of this Unit Friday. All kinds of wheels
There to pay homage dedicated man. Gov. Preston Smith and Ben Barnes
Speaker of the House even came on the same plane and on speaking terms.
Introduction of guests and speaker made by Dr. Beto, Executive Director of
TDC. Former Gov. Allan Shivers was the principal speaker.
A real great turn out from all over the State present. Many changes and
improvements made since Warden Bounds first came with a small force,
have to see it to believe it”.
Never worked with or known man than Warden Bounds, always
cooperative and involved with others. Attended many social and
professional functions, I considered him a friend in many ways.
Today TDC I am sure by far the largest employer in Anderson Co.
Not sure Anderson Co. would have survived the oil business bust 8in the
mid 70’s with about l8% unemployment. Virtually all the oil field service
business on US84 shut down or went out of business, not sure they not ready
for another bust.
The Coffield Land in Freestone County purchased primarily for its deposits
of iron ore that used to build roads and such across the River. That’s another
story that will come later...
Truck driver’s wife from Houston called wanting him checked out when
came thru here and see if had another woman with him, if located and asked
about it he would start stuttering.
One time visiting in old Leon Co. Courthouse with Former District Judge
Mac Leon Bennett who probably knew more law than any other known
he told about an incident with father who was a practicing attorney also.
Mac Leon told about a case many years before when he was the prosecuting
attorney and his father the defense attorney in a case in the old Courtroom, a
rape case. The case lasted most of a week with both living in Normangee
and riding together to Centerville with Mac’s father mad and not speaking
after first day. Defendant found guilty and given 2 year suspended sentence.
On the way home the elder Mr. Bennett told him to stop which he did and
told Mac Leon he wouldn’t ride another step with him and got out.
Suspended Sentences were common in those days and hard to send anyone
to the pen.
From Original Sheriffs Report l974
Representative race will climax Saturday most important in State.
Speaker of the House could easily be determined by voters in this County.
(It was a disaster politically with Fred Head elected and Speaker if House
defeated. I had bad feelings concerning Head which time proved correct.
Man brought in to talk to about woman’s complaint he coming to her
bedroom window late at night, fessed up but said he bet she didn’t say
anything about $20 he let her have and hadn’t got back, sure enough she
forgot to mention it.
Girl friends complaint about boy friend striking her
to which he advised while barbecuing he gave her little love pinch then she
tried to work in him with chain, after short discussion left happy, ain’t love
Night deputy found mattress and sandals abandoned outside building
when had to leave in hurry.
Big thing in news this week was fad of “streaking” going around the
country. Found out Teddy Bear going from Sheriffs Office to Courthouse
with THP hollering for him to streak, so got into little trot acting silly and
his pants slipped down with girls in offices around square hollering, made
fast exit into bushes next to Courthouse.
Called to assist in search for missing 5 year old boy. Turned into one of
those you don’t mind working, found with nothing wrong just hiding under
In old records found call received from Mexican in New York looking for
his missing pappy he hadn’t seen since l930’s.
New Highway Patrolman moved into County, first wreck he worked
involved his wife.
Happy and I to dinner at Grille in Teague, visit with former Deputy Billy
Madding who working for County in several capacities.
Heavy rains flooded some areas, coming fro Wortham road blocked, went
to Cotton Gin then Simsboro to Kirvin where had to take County Road
This weather reminding me of when the bad drought in the l950’s broke,
thought it would never start raining then thought it would never stop.
Ken and Tina to Streetman VFD annual Homecoming brought home lots of
goodies especially a fresh baked caramel pie which I shared with them.
Grandma and I missed due to conflicts but always enjoy.
Annual Woodland Cemetery Memorial scheduled for Sunday June 7, 2009
beginning at 11:00 a.m., usual dinner under the pavilion after. Many of our
mail out reminders are returned each year as not deliverable. If you have
moved please notify us with change of address. A short history on the
Sessions family is planned to be presented. Everyone invited.
The Annual Kirvin Homecoming I believe will be the next Saturday June
13, 2009 at the Church Fellowship Hall with a catered dinner at noon. The
numbers are getting smaller each year so not sure how much longer it will