Commentary by John Black
Throughout many years there has been quite a bit of speculation as to the accuracy of the stories of the naming of Honey Grove. All available information indicates that David Crockett and his men camped here on their way to the Alamo where they gave up their lives for Texas freedom. Crockett is said to have written to others of his “camp site.” Although there is no written record of these letters (at least here) there is no reason to doubt the origin of this story. Most of us are familiar with the commonly accepted story of Honey Grove’s naming. Crockett is said to have written that his campsite was filled with bee trees and that the site was a veritable “honey grove.”
David Crockett is also said to have carved his initials on a large tree in this camp site and that it remained for many years, even through the early 1900’s. There is little doubt about the accuracy of the stories about the large tree with the initials because many people saw the tree (or its stump) and reported on it.
Mabel Walcott Black, having been the granddaughter of Honey Grove’s founder, B. S. Walcott, always maintained a keen interest in the early history of the town and wrote notes and explanations of things she heard and learned throughout her lifetime. A recent review of some of her notes revealed comments about Crockett’s campsite and the so-called “bee tree.” Excerpts of these notes are as follows:
“Varied are the stories told of a tree with Davy’s initials and the date of the camp carved on it. This tree was later found in the grove which was just north and west of the square. The grove later belonged to B. S. Walcott and was called (and still is) “THE MILL GROVE” because of a flour mill B. S. Walcott built there.”
“The 2nd wife of B. 0. Walcott, son of B. S. Walcott, recently told me (Mabel Walcott Black) that she remembered hearing my father say that his father found this tree; that a storm had demaged it and that the portion of the tree with Davy’s initials on it was in their yard when he was a child.”
“Cousin Betty Gilmer (Ed. Note: daughter of James Gilmer, the first child born in this area) lived with Grandmother Walcott for a few years and I asked her if she remembered ever seeing the block and she said, no. However, Fred Dailey, now 76 years old (Ed. note: this was written some 30 years ago) heard my question and told me that he had climbed the tree many times. He said that the “Walcott Institute” which stood on the site of the present high School was near the “grove” and that the school boys played there. He said that Prof. Kendall, head of the school, was afraid the boys would damage the tree and he had a wire placed around the tree so they couldn’t climb it any more.”
“Before my day, the flour mill had burned and a cotton gin had been built in its place. (Ed. note: a few of the foundation stones of this mill and gin still remain on the west side of N. Fifth St.) While the mill was in operation the grain at the mill was ground between two large millstones which were turned by a mule hitched to a long pole and he walked ‘round and ‘round the stones. I am under the impression that the tree (or its stump) was still standing when I came in possession of the “Mill Grove” about 1910, but can’t understand why it was not preserved when the land was cleared for cultivation.
“Mrs. B. 0. Walcott, second wife of B. 0. Walcott, taught school at Granbury and boarded with a relative of Davy Crocketts. This lady told Mrs. Walcott that Davy wrote the family about finding the honey trees and said the honey also covered the weeds around the trees. Davy always referred to this post as the “honey grove.”
Mabel W. Black