h. DATELINE TEXAS Sweet Union 25 Miles to Lufkin, 70 Years Behind the Times BY JAKE BERNSTEIN PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALAN POGUE The community of Sweet Union in Deep East Texas is not on highway maps. It’s easy to drive past it and see only the soft undulation of the land and the cattle grazing in the meadows, missing the dilapidated shacks set back from the road. The only way a visitor knows they have arrived is a sign on Farm Road 1247 that identifies the Sweet Union Cemetery. Its an apt marker for a place where death and decay seem to have gained the upper hand. Across the farm road from the cemetery is the Sweet Union Baptist Church founded in the 1800s. Next door is an old woodframe school house that served its last child almost 40 years ago. Locals say the school was one of the more than 500 Julius Rosenwald built in Texas. The son of a German-Jewish immigrant, Rosenwald made his fortune in the early 1900s as president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. He then used his wealth between 1913 and 1932 to help rural black communities in the South construct more than 5,000 schools for themselves. It’s the type of philanthropy that might hold the key to Sweet Union’s resurrection, even though 8 TIE TEXAS OBSERVER 611102 r .
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