Honey Grove Preservation League

Saving and Documenting the History of Honey Grove, Texas

Interesting Stories and Events In Honey Grove’s Early History

Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, December 10, 1937

Written by H. P. Allen, assisted by W. J. Erwin


            Just north of the city hall, the six inch casing sticks up which was used to start the well, which was a job and had to be carefully done.  At first it was not known just where a skilled man could be found to set up and operate the tools to be used in drilling the well, but soon found the very man living right in town - Mr. Mart Wilson, who was quite a genius in mechanics, and knew something about geology and consequently he was employed to drill the well.

            The machinery for making the well was a drop drill and was necessarily a slow job.  The power used was a mule. Solid rock was encountered only a few feet below the surface. Mr.Wilson made a log of the well, and if our memory is not at fault it was 686 feet deep and about 600 feet of it through solid rock, apparently without a seam or crevice in it.

            After getting started, the winter of 1859 was one of the coldest on record, and not much could be done at the well, and by the latter part of 1860, when additional parts of machinery were needed, the Civil War was so imminent that it was not thought advisable to send an order to Pittsburgh for it, and work on the well was discontinued, and it was never taken up again.

            So Honey Grove lost two essential enterprises for building up a town - the railroad that was under construction and the deep water well which was being put down at the time the Civil War came on. Otherwise, both the town and country were building up reasonably fast.

            The time for building log cabins had passed, as saw mills in Red River county were now cutting a good grade of lumber, which was being hauled with ox teams. Ox teams were in general use for long distance hauling. They were more economical, as grass was most everywhere, and oxen were stronger than horses, and most of the settlers who were improving farms needed from three to four yoke of them to break the prairie land. And four yoke of well trained oxen would haul from 1600 to 2000 feet of lumber at a load. When preparing to build, a man hauled the lumber and racked it up to season, and it was all rough and had to be dressed by hand. The doors and window sash had to be made by hand, and it would usually take two carpenters from three to six months to build a reasonably good farm house.

            In the early settlement of Honey Grove, there were two men with the Allen and Gilmer families whose names were over looked - Ben Parrish, who was a brother to Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Gilmer, and Miss Catherine Parrish, who later became the wife of A. J. Nicholson. The other name over looked was William Mann who remained two years, then invested his savings in bois d’arc seed and took them to Illinois and made a fortune growing hedge fences for settlers, but afterward lost in the great Chicago fire an hundred thousand dollars.

            After 1845 settlers came in rather slowly until about 1854, but from that date until the close of 1859 they came faster. We can not name them in order as they came, but will give the names of as many as we can and will begin with.

            Angus Galbraith, who married Elizabeth Blue at Fayetteville N. C. , Jan. 9, 1817, and started for Christian County, Ky., Feb. 26, 1817.  Angus’ father was from Scotland, and fought through the American Revolutionary war, and was killed by lightning, leaving two small children, Angus and Gravilla, his sister, who, after coming to Texas, married a man named Galbraith at Bonham, but not related to her.  Angus Galbraith, with his two sons, Marshall and William, and ten daughters, came to Texas in 1847, and on Nov. 28, 1847, bought the Eliza Edmonson survey of 640 acres, situated about two and one-half miles southwest of Honey Grove. William, the eldest son of Angus Galbraith, made is home in Missouri, and died there. The daughters: Mrs. Ben Wood, mother of the late Mrs. McCleary and other children, died at Honey Grove; Mrs. Mary Jane McClellan, mother of the late Judge McClellan, died at Bonham; Mrs. Fannie Thompson died at Files Valley, Hill county; Mrs. Dale Gardner, mother of our magistrate, Sam H. Gardner, died at Lone Oak, Hunt county; Mrs. Charles Wood, mother of our Jack M. Wood and other children, Windom; Mrs. James Lyday, at Honey Grove; Mrs. George Fulcher, Mrs. Laura Bone, Miss Charity Galbraith, Miss Ellen Galbraith, all at Honey Grove. The other son, Marshall, lived to a ripe old age, and his excellent judgment and […] surpass most other men in money making. He stood for sobriety, honesty and good morals. A part of the original 640 acres of land his father bought when he came to Texas in 1847 is yet in the hands of some of the family after ninety years.

            The early settlers suffered many inconveniences. There had been no postoffice at Honey Grove, but a carrier came through horseback at intervals, distributing letters to the settlers. Envelopes were not in use, nor were stamps, but a letter would be written in such manner that a blank space would be left after being folded that allowed room for the address on the letter; then from one to three red seals would stick the edges together. The amount of postage due the carrier would be according to the distance he had carried it, usually from five cents to fifteen cents. Somewhere about 1854 a post office was obtained.

            Another serious inconvenience was a lack of furniture stores and factories.

(To be continued)

Typed by Natalie Ferguson