It’s amazing what you can do when you learn your history!
League City, Texas is paying homage to a historic influential Black family by renaming a future local road in their honor, ABC13 Houston reports.
Deborah Konrad started researching her family’s history after the passing of her mother, more than two decades ago. What she discovered was a treasure trove of history that would lead her on a deeper discovery of her family’s lineage, not just uncovering who they were but also the ways that they contributed to their hometown.
That’s when she came across Alexander Winfield, her great-grandfather on her mother’s side. After doing some digging, Konrad discovered that Winfield was not only a Buffalo Soldier who fought in the Civil War, but he also played a large role in the group and development of League City, Texas.
“He was born in Sussex County, Virginia in 1847. But he made it to Ohio rather quickly, which makes me think he probably wasn’t enslaved. We believe he was manumitted very early. He was a member of the Ohio Colored Troops and then mustered out to Texas in 1870. He settled in LaGrange in 1873 and met my great-grandmother, Rose Booker. Something brought him to League City and I believe it was the settlement of Black cowboys in Texas City,” Konrad told reporters.
Winfield would go on to purchase land in 1904, the family working as farmers and laborers. Not only did Winfield found the first Methodist church in League City, but he also contributed to a large workforce among his descendants and children.
“League City was made and put together by many hands. In my opinion, they’re all important. My family may not have had the highest-level jobs. But they were necessary,” said Konrad.
Upon discovering the history, Konrad began sharing it with locals. League City Mayor Pat Hallisey learned of Winfield’s story four years ago, immediately searching for ways to honor the family. A street renaming was among the first offerings but the Mayor and the city council went back and forth about which street. Turns out that a part of Hobbs Road that the mayor wanted to be designated in Winfield’s honor is actually named for Obie Hobbs, Winfield’s son-in-law.
Konrad has her own ideas about why Winfield’s story was lost when stories like Hobbs weren’t but a lot of it just has to do with Winfield’s status as a person who was highly trained, highly capable, and never enslaved. The council ultimately voted in favor of the renaming but with the caveat that a brand new road be renamed in Winfield’s honor as opposed to an existing one.
“This is a significant part of League City’s history and we needed to chronicle it. I was pretty convinced that we need to do something of substance so the name stayed alive here in town, because our history is being eroded away by massive growth and if we don’t do something to preserve our history, it’ll be lost forever,” said Mayor Hallisey.
The new Winfield Road will be located near the Gulf Freeway, between Cracker Barrell and the Space Center RV Park in League City. The road is currently under construction and set to be completed in the next few years. Konrad hopes that this will be another added commemoration that keeps her family’s legacy and history alive. She is encouraging other families to do their own ancestry research and share it in hopes of doing the same.
“I appreciate Mayor Pat for learning the story and bringing it forward because he recognized our family. There was a Winfield Day declared a couple of years ago and for Christmas, the Winfields were the grand marshals of the parade. It gives you the sense of history that you belong. Our family was here and they contributed too. Tell your story. Our stories are who we are and nobody can tell them the way we can,” said Konrad.
Thank you for your contributions!
Photo Courtesy of ABC13 Houston