My name is Ann Mosher. My parents, L.D. and Mary Ann Wilson, Mexia, Texas, own land which foreign investors threaten to condemn and take away from us through eminent domain in order to build a High Speed Rail. Most economists have said the project cannot be built nor operate without taxpayer subsidy. The purpose I’ve written this however, is to give the reader my perspective on this situation and how it will affect my family.
My parents own approximately 55 acres near Personville in Limestone County. Their land is part of a larger parcel of land that has, over the years, been divided amongst our extended family. This land was settled by our ancestors back in the mid-1850s. They lived there and worked the land; tending crops and cattle to support their family. My grandmother and her sister and brother were later born on this property. Although no one lives there anymore, my father and brother still tend the land, continuously making improvements. It is now a place where our family, many generations later and scattered all over Texas, meet to camp and spend quality time together.
The site of the original homestead is where my daughter and I pitch our tent, sleeping just a few feet away from where our ancestors slept over 160 years ago. We find pieces of brick, bits of glass and pottery, rusted horseshoes and pieces of old farm equipment that they left behind every time we are out there. We feel connected to our past. There is a feeling of continuity that is hard to explain.
Campouts have always been a tradition in our family. They are our version of a family reunion, and are some of my favorite childhood memories. Today, we are making these same memories with our own children. On a typical campout, we see family that we may not have seen in a long time. Everyone gets a hug. We bring lots of food to share. The kids have room to run and are free to get dirty. The dogs chase butterflies and the shadows of buzzards. Lately, my kids and I have been metal detecting to find old family “treasure” and my nephews have been showing me the best spots to find petrified wood. At night, we all sit around the campfire. We laugh and tell stories, new ones and those that are well-worn and loved. Sometimes we sing songs. Sometimes we just look up at the stars, which are always brighter in the country.
This land is irreplaceable to us. We cannot just go buy another piece of property. Furthermore, Texas High Speed Rail (THSR) does not just propose to cut through, they want the entire property. We don’t want to sell and I believe we have the right to keep what is ours. Confiscation through eminent domain by a private company is, in my opinion, stealing. We should be able to work hard and share the fruits of our labor with future generations, without the fear of having it all taken away. This issue is about landowner rights. But it is also about family -working together, playing together, remembering our past, and looking forward to our future.
Thank you for your time in reading this.