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, [specific date unknown; likely Spring, 1938] (D)

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

The Wood Family

The Ben F. Wood family came from Christian County, Ky., to Honey Grove in 1847, and bought several hundred acres of land lying about one mile southeast of the town site where Honey Grove was built. The land he bought had no improvements on it, and he rented land from J. T. Allen and made a feed crop the first year, then began making improvements on his own land, where he spent the balance of his life. Mr. Wood was a conservative, good man, thoroughly upright and dependable. He provided a home for each of his children. Mrs. Wood was a daughter of Angus Galbraith. Their children were Elizabeth, who became the wife of John T. McCleary; Wallace, whose wife was Joanna Pierce; M. H. (Polk), whose wife was Wilsie Shelton; Emma, who married Henry Holmes; A. L. (Gus), who married Judge Piner's youngest daughter; Ben, whose wife's name we have forgotten; Charles' wife was the only daughter of Captain Rutherford. All the children of Mr. and Mrs. Wood have passed away except Gus and Charlie.

Thomas Craddock

Thomas Craddock was another early settler. It is known that he was from Missouri, but we have made diligent inquiry but found no one who knew when he came to this section. There was in incident in connection with my first birthday that enables me to know that he was here prior to 1849. My father was living in a house that he had either bought or sold to Mr. Craddock when we were born that year. Mr. Craddock was a man who lived leisurely and allowed the other fellow to do all the hard work. He was a good financier and traded considerably in land. He was one of the few men who came through the civil war with a few thousand dollars in gold, which he would lend to dependable men. Uncle Isaac Pritle saw an opportunity to make a food trade if he could borrow $300 so he wrote to Mr. Craddock, telling him if he could get the money he would come after it and make a satisfactory note. He sent by a small boy his inquiry. Mr. Craddock read it, when into the house, counted out the money and wrapped it up carefully, then handed it to the little boy, telling him not to lose it.

Another incident somewhat like it: Uncle Billie Moss, who lived south of town, had a lot he wished to sell. Will Erwin met him and asked him his price. He told Will $100. "Well, Mr. Moss, I will take it, and in a short time will get up the money and bring to you and you may deed it to me." Soon a younger man heard of it, and he was in the real estate business. He went to Mr. Moss and told him he had priced the lot too low. "Put it in my hands and I will get two or three hundred for it." Uncle Billy let him know that was not his way of doing, and said: "I told Will I would take $100 for it and if he comes I will take it."

​Other Early Settlers

The year or 1859 was the last of the era of good times in and around Honey Grove. It brought a number of families possessed of considerable wealth in good horses and mules, negroes, and cash to buy farms with. From Kentucky there was the Ballinger family, the Caldwells, the LaMaster family and John B. Anderson. They all bought farms in from one to four miles to town. The winter of 1859 and the early months of 1860 was very cold. Mr. Ballinger rented the Rutherford home and remained in town until early spring when he bought a farm about three or four miles east of Honey Grove and moved to it. All that winter John came with a wagon and two negro men to my father every week to buy feed, and the writer was the one to be about home in the late afternoon to sell feed to emigrants and others. I soon found that John Ballinger was a high class gentleman. He was then 18 years old if my memory is not at fault. We had dealings with him all along through his after life, and always found pleasure in social and business transaction with him. He served through the Civil War as a Confederate soldier.

The Ballinger family consisted of five sons and three daughters. The eldest son, William, some years after the war was over, married the widow of Will Gilmer, who was a daughter of Dr. W. E. Dailey. To this union a daughter was born, who after mature years became the wife of John Underwood and now resides in Honey Grove. The eldest daughter of the Ballinger family married Dr. Ed Dailey. Henry, the second son, died in the Confederate Army. John married Miss Lizzie Smith, and of this marriage three daughters and two sons were born and reared in and around Honey Grove. The eldest daughter married Charles Bryan, and resides at San Angelo. The next daughter married Calvin Trout, and the youngest daughter is the wife of Mr. Spurlock and resides at Greenville. Of the two sons, Richard died leaving a small family. The other son lives in San Antonio, if we are not mistaken. The fourth son married Miss Bennett of Paris and established a home there. James, the youngest son of the Ballingers, married a daughter of Dr. Scott of Shreveport, La. One daughter was born to them. James died at Paris some years ago. His widow and daughter were living in Oklahoma the last we ever knew of them.

There came with the Ballinger family from Kentucky a young man whose name was Daniel Upthegrove. He taught the Honey Grove school two terms, then went to Greenville, and began to practice law. He married and established a home there, and reared a son whom they named David. He resides in St. Louis and is and has been president of the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad for many years, and is said to be quite wealthy.

In writing of the Ballinger family we unintentionally omitted the two youngest girls. Nannie married Mr. Neville of Paris and Lucy married McDunn, if our memory is correct.

The Caldwell family consisted of three sons and one daughter, who became the wife of James Long of Paris. George married Mary Moore, a Honey Grove girl.

Misfortunes and incidents came into the lives of the Caldwell family, and they left the state and resided in Colorado. The youngest son, Tol, was killed there. George went to California and is living there now. He is 90 or more years of age. We heard about three years ago that he was still living. If he is yet living he is the only one of the family left, as Bob and the old folks died some years ago and the daughter some time ago.

The LaMaster family have all passed away but one daughter. There are some of the grandchildren yet living.

John B. Anderson, who also came from Kentucky about 1859 bought a farm about two and one-half miles east of Honey Grove. He had valuable property, but the Civil War broke him. When his negroes were set free he abandoned the farm. He commanded a company in the Confederate army. After leaving the farm, he was elected sheriff of Fannin county two terms. In the meantime his farm was sold for debt, which about finished him financially. He and his wife and all the older children have passed away. There is a grandson, Al Brosius, yet living in Paris and one of their younger daughters also.

From Tennessee, Alfred P. Grizzard came in 1859. He bought a farm about three and one-half miles east of Honey Grove, on which he spent the balance of his life, dying only a few years ago at the age of 91. Three of his sons have the old home divided into three comfortable homes, and good citizens.

George Fulcher came from Christian County, Ky., about 1847 and bought several hundred acres about three and one-half miles southeast of Honey Grove, and established his home. He combined farming with stock raising. His wife was a daughter of August Galbraith. Two sons were reared by them. John, the oldest, was well educated. After finishing the Honey Grove schools he went to Washington and Lee University and took a course in civil engineering. He died while comparatively a young man. Minor married a girl in Tennessee, and two or three children wre born to them. He died several years ago, and not many months ago the wife passed away.

F. M. Coulter came early from Kentucky and built a home on the east side of Honey Grove on what is now 14th street. He was a fine stonemason and made most of the tombstones to be seen at the cemetery that are of native stone. He reared quite a family of sons and daughters, but most of the family have passed away. Mrs. Allen Diedrick is a granddaughter and Mrs. Lawrence Hill of Paris is a daughter and James Coulter of Uvalde is a son.

E. G. B. Shelton, born in Lincoln County, Tenn., Dec. 8, 1837, came to Texas in 1873. First he rented land northwest of Honey Grove a few years, then east of Honey Grove and farmed a few years, then bought a farm a few miles south of town and settled permanently. He was an excellent farmer and a man of good judgment and good habits. He specialized in growing cotton, and was quite successful at it. He reared rather a large family. His sons, grandsons and great grandchildren compose the large connection of Sheltons living a few miles south of town, and they are all good citizens and good farmers. Mr. Shelton once lived a neighbor to me and I had dealings with him and I believe he was one of the best men I ever knew. He was a consistent member of the Presbyterian church. He lived to a ripe old age.

Capt. H. R. Johnson came from Cumberland County, Va., to Honey Grove in 1870. He commanded a company of cavalry through the Civil War, was wounded at Chancelorsville, Va. His family consisted of seven sons and three daughters. P. B. Johnson was the oldest son. Capt. Johnson died Nov. 11, 1878. At the time of his death he was a teacher in Spencer Academy in the Choctaw Nation.