Interesting Stories and Events in Honey Grove’s Early History

Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, [specific date unknown; likely Spring, 1938] (A)

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

Honey Grove Preservation League

Saving and Documenting the History of Honey Grove, Texas

James C Witcher

James C. Witcher was born and reared in Virginia, where he received a good common school education. He was the son of William Witcher, who came to Texas in 1859 and settled in Grayson county, but J. C., his son, settled in Honey Grove, and about 1859 was employed by B. S. Walcott as bookkeeper at his steam mill. Mr. Witcher was a likeable young man and soon made many friends. He was faithful in his work at the mill and was highly appreciated by his employer. The Civil War came on, and he enlisted in company F (Nicholson Company) 11th Texas Calvary. His immediate friends who enlisted with him were the three Gilmer boys, Mr. Underwood, Willis Murrell, Henry Allen. Mr. Witcher and Mr. Underwood were the only two out of the seven who survived the war. Mr. Witcher made his home at Bells in Grayson county after the war.  He was twice married; left 400 acres of land; one-half interest in a drug store and a residence in Sherman. He died two or three years ago. Was closely related to the Witcher families living near Allen’s Chapel.  He was a member of the Methodist church and an all around good man.

Peyton Wheeler

Peyton Wheeler, farmer and one of the old settlers of Fannin county, was born in Campbell County, Tenn, October 19, 1837. He was the son of Samuel A. and Nancy J. Wheeler. They were descended from a Virginia family who settled in Tennessee about the time  the Indians were removed from that locality. Peyton Wheeler’s father died in Tennessee, and the widow with four sons came to Texas in 1850 and settled near Allens Chapel. The four sons were all volunteer soldiers in the Confederate Army. Peyton Wheeler married Martha J. Hamil, on Feb. 7, 1861, the daughter of John N. Hamil, who also came from Tennessee to Texas in 1842, and settled near Allens Chapel, where he died ten years later. Mr Wheeler’s first army service was east of the Mississippi in the first Texas battalion; was in the hard fought siege of Port Hudson, and was afterward transferred to the Indian department, where he served in Burnett’s battalion until the close of the war; then he returned to Fannin county and went to farming. He was industrious and made a success. He acquired a lot of land, became a stockholder in several enterprises, and took reasonable interest in politics; was often sent as a delegate to state conventions; was director in the Planters Bank of Honey Grove. He reared a large family of sons and daughters, whom he educated quite well. His sons all grew to be understanding, useful men. Mr. Wheeler was a man of rare good judgment and his plans were practically all successful.  He was a good church member, and lived to a ripe old age. He passed away June 15, 1921.

John W. Piner

The Rev. John W. Piner, Methodist minister, came to Honey Grove about 1859; buying a home of ten acres in the west side of town and a farm about two miles northwest of town. Mr. Piner was a man of commanding appearance and of more than average ability, and was a strong pulpiteer. He was born Feb 27, 1820, in Oldham County, Ky. He served in the Memphis, Tenn. Conference, Southern Methodist, from 1851 to 1859, when he was transferred to the East Texas Conference, which was later made the North Texas, and if our dates are correct, he lived in Honey Grove 22 years, and during that 22 years he served as captain in the Southern Army one year and on the super-annuated list one year, and practically all   [part of article missing]

Mr. Piner's family consisted of four sons and one daughter. The writer is not sure he can name them in regular order, but knew personally each one. Walker was the oldest. He was born in Kentucky, but the family came to Honey Grove when he was quite young. He grew to manhood here, secured his education principally in the Honey Grove schools, studied for the ministry, was ordained and started on his career as a Methodist minister. He had been gone from Honey Grove several years,when, as a visitor to relatives in Kentucky, we were being driven through the streets of Bowling Green, when we came to a large building under construction. My relative who was driving stopped and pointed out a man standing on a large stone, and said he was from Honey Grove. We looked and recognized Walker Piner. The street was so congested we could not stop for long. Later we went to his home to see him, but he was out of town, and we only had the pleasure of talking a few minutes with his wife. She was the daughter of David Bolivar, who was then a citizen of Honey Grove. We learned while visiting at Bowling Green that Walker Piner was the most popular preacher in the city. He had so revived the Methodist congregation that the old church building would not hold them, and they were then building a large, fine house of worship for him. The last we ever heard of him, he was pastor of a large congregation somewhere in Florida.

Howell, the second son, was a bright boy, and after going thru the Honey Grove schools was given a term at Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tenn. He then taught school two years, then was agent for the MK&T Railroad at Leonard for two years. He then moved to Whitewright in Grayson county, bought the school property there, then built a fine building, which in 1887 was chartered under the firm name of Piner and Anderson as Grayson College, and grew to be one of the best institutions of learning in Texas. In 1881, he married Miss Bernie Lockhart of Honey Grove. Not many years after this he became an invalid for life. His mind was not affected and he spent the time in writing, and became the author of several books. We have read only one. His subject was Psychology, and we soon was convinced that he had burned much midnight oil. He passed away not long ago, and his body was brought to Honey Grove for burial.

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He fell from a tall building in Texarkana and was killed. Robert has been in the T&P Railroad service for many years. Miss Fannie married a Mr. King, and they live in Denison.

A short time ago Mrs. Piner, the mother, passed away and the body was brought to Honey Grove and tenderly laid beside her husband, with whom she had cooperated so efficiently and faithfully in his religious work.

(To be continued.)                                                                   Typed by: Andrew Calvert