Trinity Co. land owner upset squatters have taken over

TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Virginia Melton was hopeful to build a community in the town her family was well known in, but there's only one problem. Melton said squatters have taken over her family's property that they've owned since the late 1800's.

In 1882, Melton's grandfather Noah Davis bought 800 acres of land in Trinity County. Melton now owns the valued property that has been allegedly taken over by another family over the years.

"Mr. and Mrs. Searcy squatted on it to hunt and camp. That's what it started out to be;to hunt and camp in the fifties," Raymond Keels said.

Raymond Keels has been leasing parts of the Davis Estate since 1980 from Melton and he isn't the only resident that said the Searcy's have been taking over acre by acre.

"They were digging and fencing off land…sitting there four or five years then going to claim a quick deed on it," James Gates said.

For the past few years, James Gates has been the care taker for the land that means so much to Melton.

"A lot of people in those little rural areas really didn't have a lot of money to make. When they were harvesting crops my grandfather would hire all the men to come in to do the work out there so they all had jobs," Melton said. "This is why it's so important to me to hold on to this property. I admire what he did. That's a good person."

Davis' granddaughter and great-granddaughter are hopeful to re-gain all of the property back.

The Trinity County Chief Appraiser told East Texas News  the only person that has been making tax payments on the Davis Estate for the past few decades is Melton.

"Her whole family has passed away and they were neglected because of those people living on her land and reaping the money," Gates said. "They never gave them a quarter while her family was out there paying the taxes on it thinking their land was clear."

Melton said a court ordered eviction will help her get her family property back.

The next step will be a civil case.

"I couldn't go sit on their land and never pay taxes," Melton said.

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.