Honey Grove Preservation League

Saving and Documenting the History of Honey Grove, Texas

 From the year ’45 settlers became frequent and precedent as to date becomes difficult to establish. In ’56 however, enough were about the place to begin thinking of working for the public good and about that time the four religious denominations, Baptists, Methodists, Cumberland, Presbyterians and Christians, united in building the old Union church, the first public building in the town except a small school house on or near the same site. B. S. Walcott made them jointly a deed to the lot on which the church stands. Also about the same time was built the Smith Hotel by Granville Tucker. In ’58 came the mill in the grove built by B. S. Walcott. This mill stood until the fall of ’82, when it was destroyed by fire. Buildings and settlers followed in such rapid succession from that time that we can only notice the more prominent and conspicuous. In ’74 B. S. Walcott put up the first building of stone from the now famous quarries south of the city. Of this stone, sawed, he erected a business house nearly covering the same site of the present Walcott block. In November of ’77 this building was ruined by fire, and was rebuilt in far better style in ’78 and ’79 being the present Walcott building. T. B. Yarbrough, next, in ’78, seeing that working in this stone was a demonstrated success, built a handsome stone house of this material.

Dawn of a New Era     

In the year 1873 the town was incorporated under a special charter; in ’74 the railroad reached here; the Independent, a weekly newspaper, was established, and the present history of the town may date from these two years. The Independent was established by T. B. Yarbrough, who held it for two years or more and sold it to Bramlette & Seaton; they in turn disposed of the paper and it fell in the hands of Gus Ivey; after him it was held by Dunn & Thompson until May ’78, when Hornbeck Bros., present proprietors, came in possession of the Independent.            

The first board of town officers were: J. H. Smith, mayor; alderman—B. S. Walcott, A. G. Stobaugh, John Blaine, W. A. Ryan, Joshua Fuqua, with J. M. Dunn, marshal.            

The first school ever in the place was taught by Judge Rutherford in a rough building a little north of the Union church, in the year 1853. Judge Rutherford is now a venerable patriarch, 86 years of age, but yet entertaining and vivacious in conversation.            
Next week’s installment of history will deal with “Public Buildings.” 

​Typed by: Emily Ashcraft

Authentic History of City of Honey Grove
Signal-Citizen, September 24, 1937

Co-operating First History of Honey Grove, Commencing in 1836 and Written by James Gilmer,
​Who Settled Here in 1845, and Compiled to 1883.

From This Date H. P. Allen, Honey Grove, Has Taken Up the History

and Is Compiling It Until the Present Date,
Assisted by W. J. Erwin of Honey Grove


Authentic History September 24, 1937

​​Early History

Texas, once a proud republic, contains yet sufficient territory and the natural elements of an empire within itself. Within its broad domain can be found many wide-reaching spots of the fairest and richest lands in the Union, fast becoming densely populated with an intelligent, industrious, energetic, and peaceable people. The wig-wam of the savage Comanche has given place to walls of brick and buildings of hewn stone, while the dismal howl of the coyote has been pushed to the farthest west by the whistle of the swift-winged bearer of commerce. The trail of the hunter is covered by a highway of steel; the buffalo has perished from the range before the steady advance of the Durham and the Jersey, and the once wide plains of waving grass are
changed to fields of snowy cotton and bending grain. The Texas of reckless adventure and of lying romance has een swept from the map of creation forever by the onward rush of Western civilization. Texas, with her domain, her history, her people, her institutions, and her future, is something of which her every loyal citizen is justly and commendably proud.

 From Red River County on the east to Cooke County on the west lie a series of counties bordering on Red River and comprising the best agricultural portion of the state. About midway in this productive region stands the city of Honey Grove, near the eastern border of Fannin County, surrounded and supported by a prosperous and agricultural people. The name of
Honey Grove had its origin in the following well authenticated tradition.

 In the year of 1836, when the western limit of civilization was marked by a small settlement near where the city of Paris now stands, Davy Crockett started with a company of men to reach the Texas army at San Antonio by this western route. This locality was then an unknown wilderness of grass, the home of the Indian and the buffalo. Reaching this place a day or two after leaving the settlements, Crockett and his men pitched their camp in the grove now a little north of the public square of the town. In the grove was a spring of fine water about which the company spread their blankets and built their fires. They remained in this camp for several days in consultation, being divided in opinion whether or not it were best to pursue this route through the wilderness or return and travel by a more easterly course. While in camp here they discovered an unusual number of trees containing swarms of bees with honey. On this honey and the venison with which the camp was easily supplied, the party feasted as long as they remained in this camp. Some of the party, seeing the danger of this route, had already returned to the settlements, and Crockett, with only a few men left, was compelled to abandon the expedition in this direction, but turned south, to the old trail from Nacogdoches to Clarksville, and went on, reaching San Antonio at last in time to offer up his life for the liberty of Texas at the historic Alamo. Crockett always spoke of it as Honey Grove in their conversations at the time and when referring to the memorable camp here. The name was adopted by everyone else and in the course of time was transferred to the town, which now includes the famous grove within its corporate limits. So much for the origin of the name of our thriving city.  

Early Characters  The first settler of Honey Grove was Samuel Erwin, father of S. A. Erwin, one of our prominent citizens at present. Samuel Erwin was born in Tennessee, was united in marriage by Davy Crockett when Crockett was an humble magistrate; moved from Tennessee to Dade County Mo.; lived,there a number of years, and crossed Red River into Texas in 1837. He lived with his family and a few neighbors on the bank of the river for a few years and finally settled at Honey Grove in the year 1842, building in ’43 the home for his family which is still standing some distance west of the public square. This was the beginning of the town. For three years the Erwin family were the only residents of the locality; their only neighbors being Capt. Yeary, whohad settled three miles south of the grove.

The next settler
in the locality was Dr. Nicholson, who, with his brother, A. J. Nicholson, had come to Texas in ’39, the latter a mere boy. In ’45 the Doctor settled a home at Honey Grove and was quickly followed by John McKenzie, who settled what is
now known as the old Provine place. Next came J. T. Allen and James Gilmer in ’45; Allen buying the home of McKenzie, and Gilmer the property of Dr. Nicholson, both Allen and Gilmer becoming from that time on till their deaths permanent citizens of the place. James Gilmer bought most of the land within the present limits of the city, and had for his home a log house then
standing a few yards south of the present Smith hotel. Long afterward his house was bought by J. P. Woodson, who moved it to his residence lot, put weather boarding on it, made other and frequent additions till it is now only one room of the well known Woodson house. James Gilmer died in’46, leaving to his widow and children the lands he had acquired, but which at his death were not entirely paid for. In ’48 came B S. Walcott, who shortly after married the widow Gilmer and who rapidly perfected the title to the lands. In 1849 B. S. Walcott laid off the town of Honey Grove and buildings began to rise here and there—among the first was one put up by Sinclair Stapp, known yet as the Stapp building, built in ’53 or ’54. Among the original settlers of the locality may be mentioned Wilson Allen, A. J. Nicholson, Dr. Gambill, J. Fuqua, David Drennan and Thomas Hobbs—all yet living—besides the ones previously spoken of.