((The below article was first published in "The Newton County Nuggets",
date: unknown, contributed by Florence COLLINS-BUMGARDNER.
I received a draft of the article in some papers obtained from my Aunt Chipley COLLINS-ENZOR-JACKSON))
THE COLLINS - ENZOR TREK TO TEXAS
In Burkeville Cemetery, three graves
stand as markers to the immigration of the Enzor and the Collins families,
the intertwining of their lives, and the lasting marks they made on the history
of Newton County. One is the grave of Allen Austin Enzor, another is that
of his daughter Evelyn Enzor. Pearl Collins Davis, who died from an infection
in 1937 shortly before the event of wonder drugs that could have saved her
life, lies in the third grave. In the Newton Cemetery is the marker of Sam
Cody Collins. The other members of these families returned to live out their
lives in Florida, from where they first migrated, led by the decision of
a personable doctor with a sense of adventure. Eventually five brothers from
the Enzor family and two brothers and three sisters from the Collins family
lived some part of their lives in Newton County and contributed to its
During the year 1917, Dr. Olin Oliver Enzor arrived in Burkeville on his way to the oil field country of Burkburnett, Texas, where he planned to set up practice. He had heard that this part of the country was a lucrative place from a family friend, William Lewis Collins, whom he had known earlier in Munson, Florida. For several years, Dr. Olin had been the company doctor for Bagdad Lumber Company located in Santa Rosa County in Northwest Florida, where the Collins family had lived since the mid-nineteenth century. His brother, Allen Austin, was a foreman for the turpentine crew, and both men had become close friends to members of the Collins family. The lumber company was phasing out its operations and Dr. Enzor was looking for another area to locate. His brother, Dr. Justus Orlando Enzor, had been urging him to join him in Baker, Florida, but Dr. Olin was interested in a change of location and perhaps adventure.
After talking to several prominent citizens in Burkeville, who surely included E.F. Montgomery, "Mr. Mon," he was swayed to make the decision to stay and to accept their invitations and urging to open a hospital in the abandoned county courthouse, vacant since the county seat had been moved to Newton in 1853. Burkeville seemed a much quieter and more ideal environment for his family to live than the bustling, hectic oil field country. Dr. Olin moved his family wife Lois, daughter Consuelo (Connie), and son Olin Jr. (Buddy) to Burkeville into an apartment rented from Mrs. Priscilla Smilth, "Grandma Pie" to all the children of her sons, Rube and Fred Hines. Later they moved into the Westbrook house across the street from Rube and Nettie Hines and later into the house they built on the hill. That house was purchased by Pete and Octa Mattox, and today it is owned by another doctor and his family, Dr. Charles Bruton Cade.
Dr. Olin first opened an office in the Jesse McMahon store building. According to his daughter, Connie, he performed his first surgery in Burkeville in the old picture show building when a black man was brought in from Lowery's Camp. The man had thirteen gunshot wounds and probably could not survive without medical attention. Everyone around began to help. They brought in a long table where they put the man and watched as Dr. Olin anesthetized the man, removed the bullets, and sutured the wounds. The man recovered and lived as proof of Dr. Olin's skill in surgery and his knowledge of antiseptic practices.
Dr. Olin equipped the old courthouse building and opened the first hospital for Newton County where he saw patients, treated illnesses, and performed surgery luxuries that the community had not before had available.\
As immigrating families often did, other members of the Enzor family joined Dr. Olin's family in Newton County. The first to come was Rhett Ewing Enzor, eleven years old. The father and mother of the Enzor clan were deceased, and Rhett came to live with his brother Olin and family in 1918. He attended school in Burkeville, playing on the basketball team with Oscar Ashe, Mainer Hines, John Sutton, Carl Nations, Eddie McWhorter, and Knox Montgomery. He and Howard Montgomery won acclaim and recognitions as an outstanding debating team. Rhett finished high school in Huntsville, attended Sam Houston Normal during the regular term, and the University of Texas in the summer. He decided that Baylor University School of Medicine was the place he would pursue his medical career.
While he lived across the street from Rube and Nettie Hines, he and Mainer played together. Today he fondly recalls many meals he was invited to share with them and declares that Miss Nettie was one of the world's best cooks. In her later years, Mrs. Hines would tell how the boys amused her as she listened to them at play in the back yard. One day, they were putting on a minstral show along with all the other neighborhood kids. Mainer and Rhett were kneeling at the wash pot putting smut on their faces. Rhett, always known for his meticulous and immaculate habits, paused and said aloud to himself, "This damn stuff stinks." Mrs. Hines also marveled that as she observed the children at play there was no way that she could have known that the little red-headed boy in her back yard would grow up to be the affable, generous doctor who treated her asthma when she visited in Florida.
By the time Dr. Rhett finished medical school at Baylor in 1932, he had married a Florida girl, Opal Hogg, whose father's family was distantly related to the Governor Hogg of Texas. He began practice in Crestview, Florida, where Dr. Olin had returned in 1925. Dr. Olin and his brother, Dr. Jut, built a two-story brick hospital there in 1926, the first hospital in Okaloosa County, Florida, and the only hospital between Marianna and Pensacola at that time. Dr. Rhett and his wife Opal have one son, Rhett, Jr., and they live today in Crestview. Dr. Rhett Ewing Enzor has enjoyed a prominent and influential life working among people who respect and admire him. When he was asked why so many members of the Enzor family chose the medical profession, he answered with the usual sense of humor, "We were too damn sorry to farm."
At the end of World War I, several members of the Collins and Enzor families came to Burkeville. Bonnie Beryl Enzor arrived during that time, and he and Rhett shared a room in the back of the hospital on the second story. There were bluffs on all sides of the building except one, and Dr. Rhett recalls having a nightmare, running down the hall, and jumping out a window that was luckily on the side without the bluff so he was uninjured in the fall. Both Bon and Rhett taught school at Shephard School near Buna. Bon claimed that he took a pistol to school every day because "all my pupils were bigger and meaner" than he was.
In 1921, Ester Oxford was elected by the Burkeville School Board on the recommendation of Ruth Dickerson to teach private lessons in music. She lived with Mollie Stewart that first year and recalls teaching on the stage in the second story of the high school. During that year she met Bon Enzor and they began a courtship. Although she returned to Eustace and taught the next school year, Bon proposed marriage in a letter saying that he had bought a drug store and wanted her to return to Burkeville. They were married in Dallas during the Christmas holidays in 1922, but she continued to teach at Eustace until the end of that school year. After she came back to Burkeville, she recalls those years as being the "happiest of my life." These were the words of praise from a music teacher for a little town with a hospital, a drug store, a winning basketball team, a debating team, students who sang "The Messiah," quoted Shakespeare, and acted on a stage with a curtain painted with a scene like a Grecian seashore.
Bon operated the drug store with "the best soda fountain in the country." It was a gathering place for the townfolk and a place that Bon could spin many of the tales for which he was famous. One of his stories was about his good friend, Hog Newby. One day when Hog was in the drugstore, Bon told him that he had a new drink he wanted Hog to try. Bon gave Hog a bottle of Pluto Water to drink. When he finished it, Bon asked him how he liked it. Hog told him, "It was okay not too bad." Bon urged him to drink another. In a few minutes, Hog excused himself and according to Bon, they didn't see Hog again in town for several days.
After he recuperated from a serious car wreck in 1926, Bon and Miss Esther, as her pupils called her, moved to Newton and then settled in Florida in the early thirties. Her pupils fondly remember her recitals as lavish, creative, well-organized productions. Now at age eighty-seven, she and a daughter, Sue, live in Crestview where she has retired after many years of teaching music. Bon, who died in 1958, is buried in the cemetery there.
Another member of the Enzor family who came after serving during the war in Europe was Herman Isle Enzor. His brother, Culver Rush Enzor and wife, Mamie Crain Enzor, a first cousin of the Collinses, lived for a short time in Burkeville while Isle and Rush managed a garage. Both of them returned to Florida, where Rush began working for the railroad and Isle stayed for a while on the family farm at Lapine, Alabama.
In 1922, Allen Austin Enzor and his wife, Chipley Collins Enzor, daughter Evelyn and son Allen Austin, Jr., moved to Newton County to a farm in the Gunter settlement on the Sabine River. Allen, who had been a foreman with the Bagdad Lumber Company until the operation stopped in Munson, lived for some years in South Florida working with the naval stores. While he was there, he contracted throat cancer. He came to Burkeville to be closer to his brother Olin for advice on the treatment of his illness. He died in 1923, and Chipley's sister Florence Collins returned to be with her sister after Allen's death. Earlier Florence had visited in Burkeville with her brother Rob and his wife Leonora Hines after the birth of their daughter, Florence Leonora, who is her namesake. Herman Isle returned, too, after the death of his brother, and he and Florence met again, renewed their acquaintance, and were married in 1924. During that year, Evelyn Enzor, eleven years old, visited her Uncle Lewis Collins and his wife Alice in Eldorado, Arkansas after her father's death. She was struck by an automobile as she ran across a street to buy some candy. She is buried beside her father in the cemetery in Burkeville. Later that year, Isle and Florence Enzor returned to make their permanent home in Okaloosa County. Chipley remained in Texas and later was married to Joe Jackson for many years. She returned to Florida as a widow in the late sixties and at her death in 1981, she was buried in the family cemetery in Munson.
Allen Jr. Went with Isle and Florence when they returned to Florida, and he grew up in their home along with their two daughters, Ila Collins Enzor and Patricia Ann Enzor. Their mothers were sisters and their fathers were brothers, making the relationship a special kind for first cousins. Allen Jr. Attended the University of Florida and received his medical degree from Tulane University. He spent his professional years in practice with his Uncle, Dr. Rhett Enzor. He died in the spring of 1985 at his home in Crestview. One of his daughters, Dr. Mary Chipley Enzor-Fosque, practices in Pensacola today.
Robert Oswald Collins stepped off the train in Wiergate sometime during the year 1919. Rob had known Dr. Olin back in Munson. While working there with some machinery, Rob mangled the end joint of his forefinger. His mother did not want him to have anesthesia. As Dr. Olin considered carefully how he could ease the painful removal of the joint, Rob told him, "Doc, if you can stand it, I can." Dr Olin was forever impressed by the daring and intrepid spirit of young Rob Collins, and Rob was impressed by the jovial, colorful, and skillful doctor. It is no wonder that their cordial and friendly relationship attracted Rob to venture to Burkeville. He eventually met Leonora Priscilla Hines who lived across the street from his friends, Dr. Olin's family. She saw him step from the train in Wiergate and later charmed him with her talent as a pianist as he charmed her with his optimistic, genial, personality. They were married in 1920 and lived for a while with her parents, Rube and Nettie Hines, and brothers Earl and Mainer.
The automobile was beginning to be a household necessity and the skill of an automotive mechanic was invaluable. For some time, Rob operated a garage in Burkeville. Mainer Hines, his brother-in-law, stated in his later years that Rob had taught him the mechanical skills that he used all of his life in his profession. Rob and Leonora settled in Crestview, Florida in 1941, and both are buried in the cemetery there. Their only child, Florence and her husband Robert Bumgartner, both originally from Texas, have a home in Florida and are retired teachers.
In 1919, Sam Cody Collins came from Florida to join his brother Rob. Sam was a young teenager, and he lived for a short while with his brother in the Hines household. He was a diligent, industrious young man who managed before long to be independent. He married a young school teacher, Onie Lelee Forse, and he operated a garage and automobile agency in Newton for over thirty years. He and his children, Sam Forse Collins, John Edward Collins, and Elizabeth Collins Lasenby have lived their lives in Texas with successful political and professional careers, the only members of all of the family migrations to remain Texans in Texas.
In the late thirties, the last Collins to come to Texas was Pearl Collins Davis. She brought two daughters, Johnnie Pearl and Kathleen, and they lived for a while near Hemphill. While picking blackberries near their home, she pricked her finger with a briar and developed blood poison too severe to be cured with the medicines of the day. She died in the Jasper County Hospital in 1937 and is buried in the Burkeville cemetery. After their mother's death, Pearl's daughters lived with her sister Chipley until they were old enough to be on their own. Today they live in Pensacola, choosing to settle in the area where their mother had been born.
Perhaps a summary of the unique contributions of Dr. Olin Enzor, the first of those pioneering families to come to Texas may serve as a tribute to the accomplishments of all of them. Many of his outstanding attributes were shared by individual members of both households.
Dr. Olin established the first hospital for Newton County. He established along with his brother Justus Orlando the first hospital in Okaloosa County, Florida, the only hospital within one hundred and fifty miles along the panhandle of Florida. He combined surgery, house calls, baby deliveries, and general office practice during his career. He helped to educate four other doctors: his brother Rhett, his nephews Allen Austin Jr. And Thomas Booth, his sister's son, and a friend, Dr. Major Henderson, a young man from Baker, Florida. He was known for his joie de vivre, his colorful vocabulary, his defiance of cultural restrictions, and his sense of humor. All these qualities reflected a unique, jovial person who led the way for the rest of them.
Carlyle wrote that history is the biography of great men. The greatness in the lives of these families lies in the dreams, the plans, the events that were intertwined by their experiences, their friendships, and their loyalties. Their part of the history of Newton County rests in the biographies of each of them that took part in the migration they made to Texas.