Highbank, Texas and
Immigrants from Poggioreale, Sicily
Highbank is a small farming community established near the banks of the Brazos River approximately 5 miles west of Reagan, Texas by a few hearty pioneers in the 1850's. The earliest documented settlers included the Lynn family and John and Martha Dupree.
The Lynn family settled in the Highbank Community prior to 1855, and purchased land after the Civil War. This land is now worked and owned by fourth generation descendants of the Lynn family. Jesse G. Dupree (born November 29, 1860 and died January 16, 1937) was the son of John and Martha Dupree, slaves from South Carolina, who came to Highbank after 1870. Jesse purchased one hundred acres of land, and operated the grist mill on Highbank creek at Highbank.
Jim Falsone was a former Postmaster and store owner at Highbank. James Falsone, Jim Falsone's son, and some of his cousins reported finding a large round stone in Highbank Creek behind his grandmother's house back in the late 1950's. They brought the stone to his dad's store where a man there told the boys that it was the grind stone from a grist mill.
Immigrants from Poggioreale, Sicily:
Many of the early-day Highbank settlers could trace their roots back to Poggioreale, Sicily, a town heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1968 and completely abandoned. A new town was built a couple of miles away from the original settlement. The original village was founded in the 17th century and named "Poggioreale" which translates to "royal hill."
Many of the Highbank settlers came from Poggioreale and other surrounding villages and towns in Sicily, Italy. Poggioreale was the former home of many of Highbank's earlier settlers including the Falsone, Guida (Weido), & the Falco families. Other settlers came from small towns in and around Poggioreale like Alcomo, and Palermo. In the 1870's and 1880's, a wave of immigrants from Sicily (large island near the tip of Italy) boosted the population of the Highbank settlement to over 300. These early settlers travelled by wagons, stage coach, by horseback, and Model T Ford from the Ports of New Orleans and Galveston to the banks of the Brazos River near Highbank.
According to Mary Lena (Salvato) Hall, "My grandfather,Carlo Salvato passed away on November 22, 1949 at the age of 82. He was born in Italy on November 2, 1867. He came to the United States with his brother Frank Salvato. The two families purchased the Rogers farm that set up the beginning of the Italian farming community in High Bank. He is buried in Marlin, TX. He had five sons, Tony Salvato, Frank Salvato, Ross Salvato, Nick Salvato and Carlo Salvato all are buried in Marlin except Tony Salvato who buried in Houston. Four daughters Lula Lewis, Pauline Vetrano, Fena Rao and Mary LaPagelia all deceased and buried in Houston. They came through Louisiana and Tony Salvato was born in Luling Louisiana."
The Italian influence can still be seen with Italian surnames appearing on most of the area mailboxes!.
Prominent Italian families in the Highbank area once included the Salvato family, Alfano family, the Barbera, and LaBarbera families, the Burresha family, the Cangelosi family, the Catalano family, the Corpora family, the Falco family, the Falsone family, the the Margoitta family, the Martino family, the Parrino family, the Salvaggio family, and others.
The town of Highbank prospered until a major fire destroyed most of the business district in 1936. That same year, Highbank experienced a devastating flood as the nearby Brazos River went on a rampage. These two catostrophic events pretty much put the once mighty town of Highbank into a major decline that eventually transformed Highbank into a ghost town. The Highbank post office was discontinued in 1973, and the general store that had housed the post office closed soon thereafter. The St. Joseph's Catholic Church closed it's doors and in 1957, the Bethany common school district of Highbank was consolidated with the Marlin Independent School District. Highbank's population was reported at just over a hundred folks from 1970 through present.
Source: Adapted with approval, and with thanks, from the "HIGHBANK TEXAS WEBPAGE" by Texas Historian, Leonard Kubiak of Rockdale. Please use link for full text and posts.
Highbank Catholic Cemetary,
According to findagrave.com, Highbank Catholic Cemetery is located in rural Falls county South West of Reagan. This small cemetery has a wooden sign with instructions on accessing the property, PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE SIGN. Most of the headstones are located on the right side of the property along the fence row. There are two picnic tables so you can take time to enjoy the peaceful surrounding. This cemetery experienced a drastic cleanup in 2017.
In 2019 there were 5 documented burials in this cemetery.
From Reagan Texas turn west on Hwy 413, travel until you reach CR 211 where you will turn left. Continue until you reach CR 214 where you will turn right and proceed to the cemetery on the left side of the road.