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Dogtrot House, Alvarado, Texas

December 20, 2011

Dogtrot House, 8x10, Gouache

Alvarado, Texas – Alvarado, the oldest town in Johnson County, was founded by William Balch, who staked the first land claim near an old Indian trail in 1849.  It’s located just off Interstate 35 between Fort Worth and Waco.  When we passed by this thriving little town last weekend, I noticed a grouping of old buildings up on a hill by the highway, nestled under some trees.  I took a quick photograph as we went by.  Later, while going through the photos, I discovered that one of the structures appeared to be an old “dogtrot” house.

A dogtrot house consisted of two separate areas under one roof, separated by a wide gallery.  Generally, one side contained the kitchen, dining and living room, and the other side was for sleeping accomodations.   The dogs slept on the open gallery, and trotted from the front of the house to the back through the gallery.

From what I can see, the building in Alvarado, and the adjoining ones, are constructed of large, rough-sawn logs.

I tried to find out more about these old structures, but didn’t find any mention of them online.  It’s hard to tell, just in passing, whether they were built there or were moved onto the property from somewhere else.  Alvarado does have an annual event called the “Pioneers and Old Settlers Reunion”, held the second week in August, but that appears to be held downtown.

I was in the mood to paint old wood, I guess, and decided to record this old house.  If anyone knows or finds any information about these particular structures in Alvarado, please feel free to post comments.  I’m sure everyone would enjoy reading about it.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2011 3:04 pm

    Ralph. love the story on the Dogtrot house, fascinating.
    Lovely painting, great color and texture.

  2. Yorky permalink
    December 21, 2011 5:12 pm

    An interesting structure Ralph.


  3. Jean Cox permalink
    April 5, 2014 8:53 pm

    I grew up in Alvarado until I was 12. My grandfather had a 100 acre farm where the new high school sits. We had land on both sides of I35. The state came through and took the land for the road. Guess that’s how they always do it. We had a small gas station on the south end of town. I loved that little town when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing your story!!

  4. Angela permalink
    April 7, 2014 3:54 am

    They were moved there. I do not know from where in Alvarado. Contact Michael Percifield he would be able to give you information.

  5. DeAnna Bairefoot Richardson permalink
    April 7, 2014 9:56 am

    I’ve lived in Alvarado most of my life. I was 9 when we moved there in ’85. From what I remember a couple of the cabins were relocated to that area when I was a kid but they’re all originally from Alvarado. I can try to find more out about them. I know it’s a popular place for photography.

  6. B Watson permalink
    April 7, 2014 12:02 pm

    The Old Settler’s Reunion is held just up the hill from this dogtrot house. I can also fondly recall as a young man having my first kiss in this very dog trot house.

  7. Kellie permalink
    April 7, 2014 1:32 pm

    Did you ever get information regarding this? I know a couple of people who know about these buildings if you still need to know.

  8. Tommy permalink
    April 7, 2014 1:35 pm

    Those cabins sit at the back of the Reunion Grounds, the Reunion is not held at the square (downtown). The historical marker at th cabins will give you the story of them, its been too long for me to remember what we learned about them in elementary school. I’m sure that you can look up the history of them on the State’s historical site. You can also visit the Layland Museum in Cleburne if you want to know all the history of Johnson County.

  9. Julie Holland permalink
    April 8, 2016 12:26 am

    Thank you for featuring Alvarado. Your painting is beautiful! The cabins you saw sit on the Johnson County Pioneer & Old Settlers Reunion grounds – “The Reunion” is held there annually (not downtown). I don’t know much more about the cabins, but I will share your post with others who will. Come back to visit some time – you’ll find Alvarado a very friendly little town!

  10. Julie Holland permalink
    April 8, 2016 2:57 am

    Mr Michael Percifield, who has dedicated countless hours and boundless energy to preserving the history of Alvarado, shared the following information:
    “This story and a half dog trot log cabin was built in 1851 by Samuel Myers and his family, 3 miles north of Alvarado, off CR 600 (N. Cummings Dr.), due east of the Myers Cemetery. His full name was Sam Houston Myers, named for the 1st President of Texas, before he even knew Texas existed… Back in Tennessee, the Myers and Houston families were rather close. In fact, Joseph McClure, grandson of Alvarado’s founder, Wm. Balch, reported to the Alvarado Bulletin, that Houston had visited and stayed in this cabin with Samuel Myers and his family while traveling in North Texas in the latter part of the mid 1800s.

    This cabin is slated to be relocated in the near future to Heritage Park, adjacent to the Park Hardware Wagon Barn and restored by a partnership of the City of Alvarado and the Alvarado Heritage & Preservation Foundation.”

    Mr. Percifield is responsible for the restoration of the Park Hardware Wagon Barn, on the square in Alvarado.

    • April 10, 2016 1:21 pm

      Julie, thank you for the information! I’ve heard from a number of people about this house again recently. I’ve been doing some serious ink & watercolor sketching lately. I’m hopeful now that we can get up there and spent a day or two so I can do some sketching both at the Reunion grounds and around the square in Alvarado. I’ll be searching for an RV park or state park nearby where we can stay.

  11. Rick Webb permalink
    April 8, 2016 10:15 am

    The houses were moved in, and I think The Old Settlers Reunion is on this location just beyond the houses in a pavilion.

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