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A Lone Star Road Trip: Highland Springs Couple Captures Courthouse History

January 7, 2011

DALLAS, TX---Since April of 2011, it only seems that Jerry and Susan Smith have driven through all 268,581 square miles of Texas.
In reality, it's because they still have miles and miles to go to achieve their goal: to take a photograph of each and every one of the 254 courthouses in Texas.
Their journey actually began thirty years ago when the Kodak Company transferred Mr. Smith to Dallas, uplifting his family from Joplin, Missouri.  Although he worked in the micro-graphic department, Mr. Smith was not an avid photographer throughout his career.
But in retirement, that changed.  The couple eventually moved to Highland Springs, the Erickson Living retirement community in North Dallas, and they married their favorite pastimes: day trips, history and photography.
"My wife and I love the adventure of travel," described Mr. Smith.  "There's nothing like taking a county road and just seeing where it goes.
The Smiths started their excursion at the Henrietta courthouse in Clay County, working their way west.  In ten months, they have seen and photographed 130 courthouses.
"Typically, the courthouses are in the town square, and we'll stop and read the historic marker. Then I'll use my trusty Sony camera to take photos of the front of the courthouse and other angles that might be of interest," said Mr. Smith.
And what does he make of the courthouses?
"Many of them are simply gorgeous with the Gothic Italian architecture.  The stone masonry is phenomenal.  And we really learn about the heritage of Texas at each stop, like Cass County's Linden courthouse, the oldest in continuous operation since 1861," noted Mr. Smith. "In comparison, some of the newer courthouses are just 'plain Jane.'"
Technology plays a key part in their project.  Mr. Smith saves and categorizes his photos on his computer, using the camera's flash drive.  This came in handy for the recent presentation he and his wife gave to fellow residents at Highland Springs about their adventures.
He also conducts Internet research, utilizing sites like to chart travel plans.  And the built-in GPS in his vehicle has come in very handy as some of the courthouses are off the beaten path, as Mr. Smith describes it.
Their treks are day trips, or even two-to-three day stops up to 600 miles.
"This has been a shared experience with my wife, Susan, and that's been the best part," said Mr. Smith.  "We've visited quaint towns, seen wildlife and enjoyed great food along the way.  It's a mini-adventure of all the best that Texas has to offer."

About Highland Springs: Highland Springs, managed and developed by Erickson Living, is a retirement community that provides worry-free living for America's seniors-the country's fastest growing population segment.  Erickson Living's financial value and predictable monthly service fees provide residents across the country financial peace of mind.  Comprehensive health and wellness services, integrated into our continuum of care, lead to demonstrated resident benefits.  A robust complement of resident programs and facilities promote an engaged, fulfilling lifestyle that is reflected in resident satisfaction levels that exceed the industry average.  For more information, please visit