SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES
It has been made clear that the earliest school was taught at Allens Chapel, about six miles north-west of Honey Grove. Vineyard Grove, it is said by some of the early settlers, also had a school. We know of our own knowledge that a church house was built there. The Baptist church at Honey Grove was organized there, and afterwards moved to Honey Grove. One other early settlement was Lane’s Academy, about eight miles south of Honey Grove. It is now called Dial, named for a most excellent pioneer citizen, who passed away only a few years ago. The name Lane’s Academy was first given in honoring David Lane, one of the earliest settlers there. One of his sons was John Lane, who was the father of Sam and Robert Lane, who are now merchants in Honey Grove. In our round-up we will have more to say of both the Lane and Dial families.
The next school we have knowledge of was taught about three miles southeast of Honey Grove by the late Capt. W. Underwood. He came to Texas in an early day, and the first offer of employment was to teach this little country school. Some of the boys in Honey Grove attended.
About this time B.S. Walcott, who was interested in building up the town, had a school house built at his own expense and tendered it to the town free, as long as needed for school purposes. The carpenter who built the house was David Brown, an honest workman, who was the father of the late Jasper Brown and the grandfather of the present Mrs. Will Hales. The school house stood a short distance northeast of the John Pierce home place, now owned by the Dr. Daniel estate. It was for a while the only public building in town, and was used for school, preaching services, Sunday schools, and other public gatherings, as previously stated in the early history by Mr. Gilmer. Judge Rutherford taught the first school in it. By the next year there came up some slight misunderstanding between the applicants for the school and the trustees, which resulted in two schools. The Judge taught in a large east room in his private residence, which stood on the lot now occupied by the Albert Richardson home, and someone else - but we do not remember who it was - taught in the school house. By this time both the town and the country were being built up by a most excellent type of citizenship.
The Union Church had been built about 1856. Soon the citizens decided that it was necessary to have a large church bell, so the plan for raising the money to buy it with was to hold a church fair. Meetings were held and committees appointed to conduct every phase of the fair. The appointed night came on and a large crowd was in attendance. Booths had been set up and if one was hungry he could buy the best of coffee, cakes, pies and delicacies of many kinds, fine needlework and knitting, neck ware and dolls. The booth that netted the largest profit was a fishing booth. Its construction was of a wooden frame set up around six or eight feet of floor space with cloth tacked all around it so no one could see over the top. The articles to be fished out were scattered on the floor. A bevy of young ladies handled the affair. One sat at a table and sold the tickets. As well as we can remember the tickets sold for 10c apiece. A real fishing pole with hook and line was used, and a ticket entitled the holder to try until a catch was made. The articles fished out furnished positive evidence that there were ladies in the country and town who were possessed of a high degree of artistic ideas and knew much of culture and refinement. About enough money was raised to pay for the bell. We are indebted to Mrs. Annie Brewer for the information received from her mother, who was at the time Miss Ann Murrell of Adair County, Ky., on her way to Honey Grove to visit relatives, and traveled by boat from New Orleans in company with Mr. and Mrs. B. S. Walcott, who informed her of the purchase of the bell. This was in 1857, and the bell has therefore been in Honey Grove 80 years.
A custom grew into use which was to toll the bell slowly on funeral occasions. When there was a death in the community most everybody would attend. A man would be stationed up on the frame on which the bell was mounted, out in the open air, and as the funeral procession neared the town, he would, with a wooden mallet, slowly pound on the bell and keep it up until the grave was filled. The solemnity produced was almost more than some could bear.
The period from about 1856 until 1860 was, in the writer’s estimation, the happiest and most prosperous period the country has ever experienced. It seemed like that when a man came and secured a home for himself and family that his dominant outstanding purpose was to be a good neighbor. Social life was ideal, and we could fill pages with incidents in the lives of the men and good women who first settled in and around Honey Grove.
Typed by Raeli Motley
Interesting Stories and Events In Honey Grove’s Early History
Honey Grove Signal Citizen, November 19, 1937
Written by H.P. Allen