Doctor Sidney Joseph Francis settled in Luling in 1889. He purchased this site, which included four town lots, in October 1895. One month later he married Annie Davis Gregg, granddaughter of Bishop Alexander Gregg, the first Episcopal Bishop in Texas. A modest frame house was constructed and then enlarged in 1916 into a two-story home featuring a full-length two-story porch, a porte cochere, and a central projecting bay with an offset entry. This vernacular house was typical of those in railroad towns.
Dr. Francis was a World War I veteran, a prominent local businessman and a banker. Prior to his death in 1935, his youngest daughter, Annie Gregg Francis, and her husband, H. Miller Ainsworth moved into the house. H. Miller Ainsworth served in World Wars I and II, rising to the rank of Major General in the National Guard. He was active in the oil, gas and banking industries in Luling. After his death in 1969, his widow lived in the house until her death in 1986.
The house remained in the Ainsworth family until 1989 when it was deeded to the city of Luling. They in turn leased it to the Cornelius Smith Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic in 1993. In 1996 the house became a recorded Texas Historic Landmark. In 2003, the city sold the property to an individual who undertook a thorough renovation of the home.
The landmark Francis-Ainsworth House is lovingly known by Luling locals as just “The Ainsworth House”, so we have sought to revive the many fond memories of the General and his wife, Miss Annie, by renaming the property and two of our suites in the home in their honor. During World War II, the General served in the 36th Infantry Division, better known as the “T patchers”, which was the first American division to land on European soil at Salerno, Italy to begin the liberation of Europe from the Nazi’s. The General served under the command of the 36th at the time as a lieutenant colonel and was decorated for his actions in Italy.
We have also renamed one of the suites in honor of Audie Murphy, the most decorated American serviceman during World War II and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Audie Murphy became a Hollywood film star and stayed in the home as the General’s guest when he was promoted to captain in the Texas National Guard in 1950 and regularly returned to the home as a guest of the General’s in ensuing years. The Murphy Suite is decorated with movie studio photos of Audie, a first edition of his auto-biography To Hell and Back, and other WWII era mementoes and antiques.
In August 2013, the home was purchased by Terry and Liz Hester, who live and work on a small farm on the San Marcos River just south of Luling. Each summer, we make homemade jelly, salsa, and other canned goods fresh from the Hester Farm. Our specialties include watermelon jelly, watermelon pepper jelly, and watermelon salsa! As a historian and business traveler to 5 continents, Terry’s goal is to create the finest housing option available to business travelers in the Eagle Ford Shale geology or recreational travelers to the Texas Hill Country while restoring the Ainsworth House to its post WWII glory years.
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