Interesting Stories and Events in Honey Grove’s Early History

Honey Grove Signal Citizen, December 31, 1937

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

Honey Grove Preservation League

Saving and Documenting the History of Honey Grove, Texas

In the last letter we said we would have something to say about the big Fourth of July celebrations that Honey Grove would have.  We do not remember when they were first adopted, but evidently in the early fifties; before that period there were scarcely enough settlers to get together and make a very large gathering for celebrating this national day.

            Those large gatherings and matchless dinners were more social than political demonstrations.  One or two speakers would be engaged before the Fourth and a speaker’s stand erected and decorated with the national flag, and while there was no brass band to be had, there would be three or four as good old-time fiddlers as could be found to furnish music for the occasion.

            It was no trouble to get donations for the dinner.  Some men would offer a whole beef steer; others a quarter or half, and others would give a mutton or two, others a pig or two, and others baked and fried chickens.  A Mr. Tate, a Kentuckian, who lived a few miles from town, was an expert in barbecuing meat, and could be had on most occasions.  The grounds for holding the celebration would be where there was a well of good water and plenty of shade trees, and the necessary preparation was cleaning up the grounds and digging two pits about 20 or 25 feet long, 3 or 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep; then have hauled a good supply of dry wood – not crooked limbs and brush, but practically straight poles, with some good sized logs.  Most all of the preparation was contributed free of cost.

            Mr. Tate would come on the grounds the day preceding the dinner and take charge of everything.  By noon he would start the fires in the pits, so as to have huge beds of coals and practically no smoke, by sundown.  After laying green sticks, preferably split hickory, across the pits, he would lay the meat to be cooked on them and he, with one or two assistants, would be attending to the cooking by turning the pieces and changing them over.  He would have a bucket of liquid seasoning in one hand and a long handled mop in the other, and would frequently go over all the meat, applying the seasoning, doing this all through the night and until 11 o’clock the next day, when it was cured, ready for the tables.  Practically every family brought a box or basket well filled and turned it over to the table committee.  By 12 o’clock the speakers were notified that dinner was ready, and in an orderly manner the several hundred persons present found room at the tables and found far more than they could eat.  Every family who possibly could came, for they knew that everybody else would be there.

            The dinners were kept up till about 1862, when so many men were in the army the fashion was discontinued and never taken up after the war was over, for valid reasons.

            The time we have been writing about was, as well as we can remember, 1858.  Many families had come to Honey Grove, and many had also settled in the surrounding country.  Several new stores were put in.  Mr. Orville Smith had taken over the hotel and was running it.  His family consisted of Mary, who I think married Mr. Jim Lane about 1858; Will, who married Miss Mattie Hale; Margurite, who married Melvin Smith; Elizabeth married John Ballinger, Hint married Miss Mamie Meyer of Kentucky; Orville, Hint’s twin brother, died when about 14 years of age.  All are now deceased.

            Somewhat earlier than ‘58, J. P. Woodson and family came from Kentucky.  He was a blacksmith, and soon had a shop going, and continued it until he felt it time to retire from work, but spent the remainder of his days in Honey Grove.  His children were Bettie, who married Charlie Bridge; Mattie, who married Thomas Ligon; Jennie died when about grown; Emma married James Boone; Luna married J. S. Kendall; Ben married a lady from Missouri, whose name we have forgotten; Jim married a Miss Park; we do not know who John or Bob married, as they left Honey Grove before marriage.  All are now deceased except Mrs. Kendall and perhaps John and Bob.

            The children of Dr. Baird, son of David Baird, who settled about four miles east of Honey Grove, just in the edge of Lamar county, were Miss Prudence, Tom and Angie, all deceased.  Dr. Peter Pulliam, a druggist, came early; he married while here, and built a hotel, but moved to Collin county about 1861.  Rev. R. M. Rudolph came about 1856 from Sumner County, Tenn., was an ordained minister, and organized the Cumberland Presbyterian church of Honey Grove. His family consisted of his wife and five children – Sam, Elijah, Robert, James, and a young daughter.  His home stood on the lot where Ed Allen’s house now stands, and was built in the shape of a letter T.  The east portion was one story and the west part two stories, with a stone chimney at the north end.

            In the late evening of May 7, in either 1866 or ’67, Mr. Rudolph and his entire family were seated at the supper table in the one-story part of the house, used for a kitchen and dining room, when the cyclone that struck Honey Grove came.  The two-story part of the house was swept away, but the kitchen and dining room was just lifted from the floor, leaving the family and table with dishes and everything in that room intact.  There was a negro woman also in the room waiting on the table, not hurt; but Elijah, the second son, became alarmed at the noise, jumped up from the table and ran around the house, passing the chimney just as it began falling, and a stone struck him on the shoulder, breaking his collarbone.  Had he remained seated at the table he, like the balance of the family, would not have received a scratch.  We visited the home next morning and viewed the wreck.  There was not a broken dish or anything in that room injured except by rainwater.

(To be continued)