Lonnie D Warren

By: Cameron-Ashley Heath

     Lonnie D. Warren was born Nov. 26, 1881 in Heard County, Georgia, one of eight children born to Uriah G. Duncan and his wife Catherine (Thompson) Warren. In age, he was second to the oldest. A handsome man, tall and slender with dark brown eyes and dark brown hair, Lonnie moved with his father and mother from Heard County, Georgia to Henderson, Texas as a young boy, growing up on the family farm with 7 other brothers and sisters. His grandmother Jackebed (Pace) Warren came to live with them until she died when he was about 14 years old. All the children helped their father Uriah 'Duncan' Warren on the family farm. Lonnie had an interest in photography early in his teens which would later blossom into a career, becoming one of Rusk County's first photographers.
     He married Willie Alston shortly after she completed her education in 1907 with a first and second grade diploma for teaching, and the young couple made their home in an upstairs room with stained glass windows, in a small white house in Henderson located on the north side of the Henderson Memorial Library. Lonnie Warren built a small photography studio on North Main Street where he worked for a number of years while he and Willie began a family. They had four children: Maureen Warren, Robert L. Warren, Kathryn Warren and George 'Langford' Warren. The last was born in 1914. His wife Willie became ill with tuberculosis and died in 1920, and Lonnie's sister Lonie Warren came and lived with the family to help him out, until she herself married. The brother and sister, Lonnie and Lonie, were very close. Lonnie Warren married second Fannie Williamson and they added two more children: Delena Warren and Herman D. Warren, bringing the family to six children. After selling his photography studio to his brother Ernest S. Warren, Lonnie and Fannie traveled the Western part of the United States making a living from taking pictures, but eventually returned to Henderson and bought a farm.
     Later in life Lonnie became quite well known for his love of the outdoors and 'growing things'. He settled back into Henderson and made a living growing nutritious and healthy food, despite the fact that he himself had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. He told a reporter that he 'always marveled at the instinct of animals to make use of natural laws for healing themselves.' His medical textbook he said, was provided by nature's drugstore with her berries, herbs, and edible plants. He was a firm believer in healthy food and felt people should 'get away from processed foods' eating natural products from nature, grown on fertile soil and poison-free. He was an organic farmer before his time. He and Fannie operated a 74 acre organic farm near Tatum, Texas, a community lying less than 20 miles from the discovery well in the great East Texas oil field. Living in a rambling manor house with four bathrooms, surrounded by stately oaks which shaded his wife's well-kept yard, Lonnie was an early riser. Up at 4:30 am he said he started each day off with a 'good breakfast and the one he liked most was a healthy bowl of oats.' But not just any oats. Whole grain oats mixed with pulverized raisins, raw peanuts and bone meal, sweetened with homemade sorghum syrup. He had a fondness for bones, preferring to powder various bones himself. He felt that calcium and other minerals from the bones were beneficial to his health. White flour, along with white sugar, even brown sugar, were not allowed in his home. Honey was the only natural sweetener. He felt strongly that honey bees instinctively knew which flowers had good quality nectar and he trusted the wisdom of bees. He produced apples, peaches, pears, plum, quince, grapes, pecans, peanuts, filberts, baby limas, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, watermelon, beets, cabbage, mustard and sunflower and that's just a partial list. He got his 'vitamin C' from his Siberian rose bush, saying that rose hips, packed more vitamin C than an orange. He preferred goat milk and milked his goat at 6:00 a.m.
     Lonnie Warren died 25 January, 1967 at the age of 85, but not before he passed his love of the outdoors and healthy nutrition on to many of his siblings and descendants.