Collin County History 1841 – 1900

THE HISTORY OF COLLIN COUNTY

FROM 1841 – 1900

REFERENCES:

Haggard Family

The Annuls of Elder Horn

Newspaper Clippings of Roy Hall

Mag McKinney

Mrs. Grady Greer Rutherford

Virginia Saunders Henderson

Compiled by: JANET LARGENT SHERLEY

Property of L.D. HENDRICKS

 

Note: April 2010, September 2018

Brackets { } indicate interpretations or clarifications of the original handwritten document for the purpose of making reading easier. Modifications are not designed used to make the document grammatically correct. The intent is to preserve the authenticity of the original document.

Removal of the editor’s { } and the contents therein will return the document back to it’s original state. Any other style bracket is part of the writer’s script.

 

Up until 1841, as far as we know, Collin County had not been seen

by white men. Its eastern half was covered by timber and some

prairie land, its Western half with grassy prairies. The valley of the

creeks and rivers (which ran the year round) were in woods of

hardwood – oak, elm, ash, pecan, walnut, hackberry, bois d’arc and

other trees. The prairies were covered with blue stem, buffalo, and

gramma grasses. A few buffalo grazed but not the great herd that

roam and {in} the West. Deer were plentiful, bear, panther,

wolves, and an abundant supply of rabbits, squirrels and other small

animals were found in this region. There were five natural lakes

here. Later called grassy {Grassy}, Duck, Clear, Button and Sinider {Snider?}.

Geese, duck, cranes, quail, wild turkey abounded.

 

Indians inhabited the area, the Tonkawas, Delawares, Cherokees. In

1842 there were three Indian villages in what is now Collin County, a

gang of Delawares at the spring where Fitzhugh Mills later stood, a

village of Tonkawas two and half miles north of where McKinney

now stands and another Tonkawa village seven miles northeast of

McKinney.

 

Grants of land had been made in this section by the Republic of

Texas for service in the Texas Revolution but none of the grantees

had seen their land and many of them sold or disposed of it for what

they could get, usually 25cents an acre or less to anyone who would

trade or buy.

 

In 1837 Fannin County, which included most of No. Texas was

created out of the Red River District. Many English pioneers settled

around Bonham and soon took up most of the cultivated land so the

newcomers again looked westward. Reports had come to them of

the fine land along the East Fork of the Trinity. A party including

Dr. Danial Rowlett Jabez Fitzgerald, Edward Todd, Pleasant

Wilson, Dr. William E. Throckmorton William R. Garnett and

Litteton Rattan left Fort English about the first week in November

1841 and explored the country as far as Rowlett Creek. They liked

the location and returned to bring out their families and supplies. In

January 1842, they selected a site seven miles north of McKinney on

Throckmorton Creek. This was the first white settlement in Collin

Co. and must have been directly on some land we {Wayne Sherley

Family} now own or very near it because there is a knoll in the center

of this farm where the oldest cemetery in the county is located, and

where William E. Throckmorton was buried in 1843. At his death

[there must have been sorrow] for he for he didn’t live quite two

years after his arrival here and only 48 years of age. It was for that

[him] that Throckmorton County in Texas was named.

 

There is another stone in this cemetery bearing the name “Sally wife

of Jas. C. Foster born 1779 died 1858.”Another Jeremial Vardaman

1797- 1854.

 

Doubtless there are many stones covered with elarly and coligae

[earth and foliage?] and the little plot is filled with crude wooden

markers were {where} no stones were placed. We find Sarah M.

wife of G.H. Wysong, B. 1815 D. 1850. This was doubtless Scott and

^Dudley’s great grandmother, first wife of Charles Wysong –

grandfather of Dr. Walter Scott Wysong .

 

In the summer of 1842 others joined the Throckmorton settlement

Benjamin White, Archie White, William Pulliam {Pullin?}, “Peg”

Whistler, and John M. Kincaid. In Nov. John McGarrah, Samuel

Young, William Rice, J. E. Blankenship, and Westley Clements, some

with their families, stopped at the Throckmorton settlement from

here the settlers began to spread out to land of their own.

The Clements and Whistler families moved on Honey Creek just

above where Roland is today. While building a log cabin on

Christmas morning Clements and Whistler were killed by

Comanches. Their families escaped to join the Throckmorton

settlement that night.

 

In November Joe Wilcox, David, Helen, and Jo Harlan settled two

miles south of McKinney on Wilson Creek The same band of

Indians that killed Clements and Whistler attacked them about noon

Christmas Day but were fought. It {lasted?} until nightfall where

the three {made?} their way to join John McGarrah who had settled

west of McKinney. In 1843 McGarrah and those now with him

started the erection of a log house to be used as a trading post and

dwelling. A Dr. Palder {Calder?} from Cedar Springs, now Dallas,

rode by going to Ft. English. A few hundred yards north he was

attacked and killed by a band of about 60 Comanches. The Indians

laid seige {siege} to M.garrah {McGarrah?} and his company in the

log house and attacked the place at intervals during the day. At

night the were {they?} escaped to a raisive {ravine?} to Wilson

Creek and made their way to the Throckmorton settlement.

 

Later McGarrah returned and finished his house and in the same

year his son-in-law Tola Dunn and brother George McGarrah came

out and located just south of him this was the beginning of Old

Buckner, later to become the county seat and the first Post Office in

Collin County.

 

The Peters Colony did much in colonizing this portion of Texas. In

1841 Pres. Lamar contracted with W. S. Peters of Louisville to settle

at least 600 families in North Texas on “vacant lands”. A company

was formed called the Texas Enrorigration {Immigration?} Land

Co. The company distributed circulars describing the new country

and guarateing {guaranteeing?} each family a cabin, a rifle or

musket, with powder and lead. Each married man was allowed one

section of land a single man a half section. The settler was required

to pay a small fee usually around $20.00 for filing and surveying. By

end of 1845 Peters Colony had introduced 341 families, built 484

cabins and furnished 37,250 round of ammunition to the settlers.

 

Wayne’s {Wayne Sherley} great grandfather, John Coffman{,}

arrived in Texas soon after the Throckmortons as we {Wayne

Sherley family} have a paper – a contract to build a fence and work

some land – made at Evergreen, East Fork of the Trinity, Dec. 29th

1844.

 

There is also a deed from Pleasant Wilson to John Coffman for 132

acres of land in 1847. Another from James W. Throckmorton and

George W. Barnett to John Coffman for some land quote 6’the same

being a part of the Peters Colony head right survey of Thomas

Rattan patent, 1855”.

 

Another from Robert M. Throckmorton made April 5th 1848 naming

a tract of land quote “which they said R.M. Throckmorton got as his

distributed share of the Estate of Wm. E. Throckmorton. This

document is witnessed by John W. Wilson and Leroy Clement

{Clements}.

 

A land patent from Gov. Pease. to John Coffman in April 1850.

 

There was little attempt at farming for several years after the first

settlers came here because there was such an abundance of game,

fruit, berries and herbs. Plows were pulled by oxen’ corn’ wheat,

and tobacco planted. Pumpkins were planted for many uses but

especially for making bread. The meat was dried out and then

ground up[with] a mortar and pestle. This account also says the

first land to be cultivated was in the Coffman settlement in 1846.

 

But we have the contract trade in 1844 to show that the effort was

made earlier. The greatest difficulty other than trying to plow the

heavily sodded prairie land was in keeping the wild life out of the

crops. A few deer could mow down a field of corn overnight. A

flock of wild geese could clean up several acres of wheat before a

farmer could get his gun out and scare them off. Later as the

population increased, the amount of livestock increased and this

became a problem with no fences. Rails brush, logs and pickets

were all used for fencing until the first barbed wire was brought in

around 1880.

 

Collin McKinney was born in New Jersey in 1766 and moved with

his parents to Kentucky in 1780. In 1824 several families of

McKinneys including Collin moved to Texas but instead to their

disappointment, they found that they had settled east of where

Texar-kana now stands. In 1831 they moved again to Hickman’s

Prairie now in Bowie Co. George Herndon settled near him.

 

Collin McKinney was quickly recognized as a political leader. He

was elected as a delegate from the Red River District to the

convention at Washington on the Brazos in 1836. There he was

appointed on the committee to draft the Texas Declaration of

Independence and he was one of the signers. For several years

following, he served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas.

 

From 1840 to 1845 he made eleven trips from his home at Hickman

Prairie or “McKinney’s Landing” as it came to be called back to

Tennessee and Kentucky to guide other families to Texas.

 

In January of 1846, due to his wife’s persuasion he moved his

menage to Collin County near a son Ashley who had already settled

here. With him he brought his slaves and his widowed daughter

Mrs. Eliza Milam with her eight children. For two years he and his

family lived in three small log cabins which had been constructed by

the Peter’s Colony. In 1856 with lumber hewn from his own land

and hauled from East Texas, he built the frame house in which he

lived the rest of his days.

 

Collin McKinney authored the law creating the counties of the

northern part of the state into political units with approximately

straight lines uniform boundaries one tier of counties upon the other

clear across the state from east to west. Our own county was given

his name, when it was created by the legislature April 3,1846. The

first election held here after the county was organized took place

July 13, 1846. The first county officers elected were Z. Roberts,

County Judge, Moses G. Wilson, district Clerk, Tola Dunn, County

Clerk, King Custer, Sheriff, John Fitzhugh, Godfrey Baccus and

John C. Wilson as County Commissioners. Old Buckner where

McGarrah built his log trading post was the first county seat.

 

But before we leave Collin McKinney, I want to read a letter

addressed to his nephew and dated 1845 something Feb. 25, the date

had been touched up.

 

{“}Dear Nephew:

Through the kind providence of our heavenly father I write to

you on the present occasion. We are all well at this time and are

hoping that these few lines will find you enjoying the same blessings.

I want you if you please to get me some bark off of a yellow

poplar root on the north side of the tree [,] dry it in the shade and

then pulverize it and then get a tin box with a good lid that will hold

a half pint or a jill {gill} and then sew a cloth around it and paste a

paper on it so that you can direct it to me. By so doing you will

oblige me very much. Direct your letter to the Highland Post Office,

Collin County, Texas.

 

If there is any neighbors coming out to Collin or Grayson

County, you will please send me a pint of red and white clover seed.

If they are mixed together it makes no difference.”

 

He inquires after friends and relatives and asks to hear from them

all and closes his letter but in a postscript he adds:

 

{“}The railroad fever has been very high here. Everybody thinks the

road is coming by their house and certain to go through all the

towns. The engineers have not surveyed the route yet. Almost

everybody is taking stock in the railroad. Our country is improving

very fast. Collin and Grayson poll each about 700 votes.

 

Corn is worth $1.00 per bu. wheat one dollar fifty cents flour $5.00

per hundred lbs., land from $3 to $5 per acres, horses and mules

from 80 to 150 dollars, oxen from $40 to $60 per yoke; cows and

calves from $15 to $20 pork sold for as high as 8 cents and can be

bought for less now, but as there is none selling I do not know

what at.

 

There are other pioneer familys that we must get to Texas. As

Captain Milt Board came in 1846 you know nearly all of them came

by ox wagon leading their stock. Most all arrived at Jefferson in

east Texas. They came on the Miss to the Red river up to Caddo

Lake and up a bayou to Jefferson. I saw the piling of the old docks

about eighteen years ago while visiting there. This past spring I

went to the same spot and even the piling is gone. Nearly all of the

settlers that came to Collin Co. either came by Ft. English or Pin

Hook (Paris) on their way here. Some few disembarked at

Galveston or Houston and came overland from there. Roads were

but mere trails. Wayne’s {Wayne Sherley} grandmother Rebecca

Shirley Sherley rode one of their fine Kentucky race horses in the

wagon train but her father made her ride bare back for fear the

saddle would sear the horses coat on the long trip.

 

The Joseph Brice Wilmeth family came in 1846. Their caravan

consisted of six vehicles, Wilmeth’s wife and ten children, Jordan

Straugher wife and four children Frank Wilmeth wife and six

children and several others. There were 40 head of horses and oxen

100 sheep, a plentiful supply of household goods; J.B. Wilmeth’s

blacksmith tools and a six months supply of provisions. These

families settled north, north east and north west of present

McKinney.

 

After these pioneer men had made provisions for sheltering their

families and setting their homesteads to right they immediately

began to do something about their religion. In 1846 Collin

McKinney began a series of meetings in his home with Bible

readings and prayers. J. B. Wilmeth did the same at his home north

of here. On Sept. 13, 1846 the two families met at the McKinney

{McKinney home?} and organized the first Christian Church in

Texas with nineteen members including five slaves. A little later a

cabin was provided for the church and was named Liberty. In 1853

Scott McKinney laid out the town of Mantua and the church was

moved there. Named for a woman’s dress or mantua. This church

was divided in the center – the men seated on one side and the ladies

on the other. I wonder how many of us would go to church if we

had to travel in a wagon or on a sled drawn by oxen or by horse

back{.} the {The} preacher was as a rule a farmer or a teacher{.} he

{He} had no salary. The worshippers had to set on split log seats

with no backs and listen for an hour and a half. If it were night,

there was only the dim light of candles to see by. In those days the

preacher would announce preaching for early candle light; and that

meant as soon as it was dark. As a rule the preacher had the only

bible and only hymn book in the audience{.} he {He}would

announce the number of the hymn and the meter in which it was

written and then read two lines at a time – the people would fall in

and sing two lines at a time. Once an old preacher announced his

hymn number and the meter and then paused to wipe his “specs”.

He said to his people, “Brethern my eyes are very dim; scarcely can

see to read the hymn.” The leader sailed into it and the others

followed and sang lustily- The old brother said to them, “I did not

mean to read the hymn, only said my eyes are dim.” When they had

sung the 2 lines he explained in prose.

 

A prominent member of the Mantua church was Emily Jane

McKinney who married Josiah Kelly in 1,852. They made their

home at Mantua. She told of having to go forty miles to Ft. Eng.

(Bonham) for dry goods, groceries, to have corn ground to receive

mail and to secure medicine. The first Masonic Lodge in Collin Co.

was organized in Mantua in 1857. The Mantua semeniary

{seminary} came into being in 1859. Capt. Frank Welch and wife

settled in the Mantua community in 1867.

 

  1. B. Wilmeth had found it quite a trip to the McKinney{s} to attend

church so he organized the Christian Church at Forest Grove with

four members in 1847.

 

In 1846 Rev. John CulweII organized a Methodist Church on Honey

Creek. This was called White’s Chapel and was later moved to

Weston. In Feb. 1848 the Wilson Creek Church of the United

Baptist was organized at the home of Jonathan Phillips with seven

members. In 1852 the name was changed to Rowlett Creek Church.

A Presbyterian Church was organized near Murphy in 1846. It was

first called Parker but changed its name to White rock in 1873.

From these pioneer churches sprang most of the present churches in

Collin County.

 

In farming the counties of North Texas, the legislature, of 1846 had

designated that the county seat be as near the center of the county as

possible. In January of 1847 George White of New York, a surveyor

came to Collin County. He was appointed to survey for the location

of the county seat. Much to the chagrin of the residents of Buckner

the center of the county was found to be seven miles southeast of

Buckner in East Fork bottom. As this over flow land was unsuitable

  1. B. Wilmeth selected the present site of McKinney. An election

was held but few voted as Wilson Creek was out of banks. The votes

polled were ten to one in favor of J. B. Wilmeth’s selection. No

change was made from Buckner until 1848 where John L. Lovejoy

moved his small dry goods store from Buckner to the site of

McKinney. The store was set on the edge of a thicket that covered

the whole townsite on the spot now occupied by Smith Jewelry

Store. There was one house near here west of the present Central

Ward – the log cabin of William and Margaret Davis. Davis owned

3,000 acres covering the townsite which had been granted him in

1842 while the area was still Fannin County. In 1849 he donated

120 acres for the site {.} Sam Reynolds built the first house in town a

month after Lovejoy opened his store. Immediately other businesses

opened{.} A.M. Alexander and Co; Joe Bounds, general merchandise;

Henery {Henry?} Wetsel, ox power grist and flour mills, a furniture

and cabinet shop, and an unused log cabin Courthouse where J. B.

Wilmeth held meetings of the Christian Church. And McKinney’s

first saloon where J.P.{J.C.?} Pennys now stands.

 

On May 31, 1848 the Post Office Department named the new county

seat McKinney and in Nov. the Post office was moved from old

Buckner to Lovejoy’s store with Lovejoy as postmaster. McKinney

was now established Population 35 people.

 

There was a disagreement as to who should build the fires in the log

cabin courthouse and it was even used for legal business. The

people came together and tore down the log building and

constructed another two room frame courthouse in its place. At

Christmas time a ball was held here with Lucy Baccus and Alfred

Chandler leading the grand march.

 

In 1850 McKinney was brought into closer contact with the outside

world by a Pony line. Mail was carried from Bonham through

McKinney to Dallas by horseback the rider making one trip a week –

south one week and north the next. In 1851 the post office at Plano

was established in the home of William Foreman thus making Plano

the second oldest town in the county.

 

Weston was started in 1853 by Larkin Adamson who named it for

his hometown of Weston, Missouri. Farmersville was founded in

1854 by George Dollarhide.

 

After McKinney was firmly established many families began to

arrive. Robert L. Waddell {Waddill?} and family came in 1853. A

letter which he wrote to his stepson George Morris in 1856 stated.

“Many very genteel families have settled in this county with a great

many slaves.” Another written in 1857 says “Mr. Rector of this

county is a Kentuckian of fine property – one of the wealthiest men

in this county. A brick mason by trade he informs me that he

intends building him a house of newly invented ‘concrete cement’. If

he succeeds I think I shall build also of the same material. Mr.

Waddell {Waddill?} was a respected lawyer and a district judge

with eleven counties in his district. He had to go from one to

another to hold court always riding horse back and frequently

fording swollen streams. He and his fellow lawyers with their horses

packed with food, clothing, carrying utensils and law book{s} would

Iook like a band of pilgrims.

 

One of Waddell’s {Waddill’s?} younger boys wrote to his brother

George who was at Harvard. On the 31’t of Oct. after Ben and I had

gone to sleep, father took us up and carried us back to the parlor.

We slept there all night and Father brought us back to Ma’s room

before we woke up. When we waked up, Mr. Mills was here. He

came while we were asleep in the parlor; and he brought Ma the

nicest little brother you ever saw. Father paid five dollars for him,

and he is the cheapest property that was ever bought.

 

My {Janet Largent Sherley} grandmother Rosa Wood, her parents,

her sisters Liza and Helen, her brother Jim arrived by way of

Jefferson from Kentucky in 1855. There were other children but

whether they died before they came to Texas or after I don’t know.

Grandfather Wood was later a tax collector. I don’t know where

they first lived but they later lived in a two story house south of the

J.P. Dowell’s. Helen married a MacDonald a tinner and the

peculiar looking house on Chestnut Street which was their home if

over ninety years of age. Liza married Joe Cline and lived in

Melissa, where wonderful weekend parties were held. Mammie

Rosa married W. B. Largent after the Civil War.

 

Clinton Shephard Haggard and his father came to Texas in 1856.

He Iater wrote a letter telling of stopping at Clarksville at a cousin’s

“We went down to Red River hunting killed two bear. That winter

was cold, sleet on the ground for over a week{;} trees broke down

covered with ice. We went to Clarksville five miles on the ice,

skating and sliding on foot. Was in Collin Co. the night in 1857 when

the frost killed the wheat. In 1858 Clinton’s father John Haggard

died. Then in Sept. 1859 Clinton and Miss Nannie Kate Lunsford

were married in her mother’s home{.} the {The} ceremony was read

by Elder James Muse of the McKinney Christian Church. An

interesting description is given of Nannie Kates’ mother Mrs.

Catherine Lunsford “A remarkably beautiful woman, beautiful and

attractive as well as a witty woman. A member of the Christian

Church and faithful in church observance and attendance. Her

slaves too were allowed to attend services and always sat in the back

of the church. She wore{,} as was then the fashion {,} becoming caps

of lace and ribbon which so formed a sweet and design countenance

as to add both grace {and} dignity.”

 

Elizabeth Robert’s great grandfather, William Nelson Bush came to

Texas in 1856.

 

The reference I {Janet Largent Sherley} had did not give the exact

year the Harringtons arrived but it was in the 1850’s I think.

 

The Scotts, {the Hills} the Stiffs, the Van Winkles, the Adamsons, the

Busses all made early arrivals. The house in which L. A. Scott lived

before moving to Melissa was south east of Anna and burned only a

few years ago. Wayne {Sherley} had a tenant living there was found

two dueling pistols in the rafters of the attic of this house but who

had already sold them before telling Wayne.

 

Bro. R. C. Horn his parents and brothers and sisters came to Collin

Co. in 1858. Bro. Horn was 14 years old at the time. In 1858

McKinney was still a small village with an old wooden court house.

Much of the county is still in its natural state. Settlements are

scattered and near neighbors are few. The wolves are numerous

and often at night, when the weather is cold and the wolves are very

hungry, they come up to the door. While mother is frying meat for

supper, they gnarl and snap and gnaw on the corner of the kitchen.

As hungry wolves are dangerous, father does not dare go out into

the yard to chase them off.

 

Water was an absolute necessity. The pioneer always dug his well in

front of his house, so that other persons passing through the county

might have ready access to it for their families and teams.

 

Bread was made from corn crushed between two millstones. Wheat

was ground into flour in ox-mills. Milk and butter was plentiful for

those who would and could milk the long horned cows and churn.

 

Clothing was plain, much of it being made from wool, freshly

sheared. To bright up their dark houses the early settlers used

grease lamps. Fires were kept burning the year round in the

fireplace. Should the fire go out the settler might have to walk

several miles to get a chunk of burning wood to start another.

Grease lamps were succeeded by molded tallow candles which were

in turn replaced by oil lamps.

 

Still another courthouse was built in 1858 this time a two story

wooden structure with an outside wooden staircase. This building

was placed in the middle of the square. Court was held downstairs

and the offices were upstairs.

 

Sanger Bros. first store was opened in McKinney in 1858 by

Lehman Sanger where Bone’s Shoe Store is. The old Tucker hotel

was located where Safeway is.

 

The first real school was organized by Anson Mills in 1857. He was

encouraged by Robert Waddill to open the school but after a year

Mills left and was succeeded by A.L. Barwell who taught until he left

for the Civil War in 1862. Other early teachers were J.H. Henery

[Henry?]. W. M. Barton, William Rhea taught at Mantua.

 

The first church building in McKinney was the First Christian

Church completed in 1858 with the first service held in July – J .S.

Muse and J.R. Wilmeth preaching.

 

The arrival of the Isaac and Albert Groves families and the Muses

and the Waddills had greatly increased the membership of the

church and made building more possible and more imperative. This

church too had a dividing wall between the males and females.

 

In 1859 a truly great event took place. McKinney was connected

with the outside world by stage line. The Sawyers brothered

{brothers?} started a line between Clarksville through McKinney to

Austin with stations for change of teams about fifteen miles apart.

The stage used to pass the old Sherley home east of Anna and stop at

the Foster place now on Highway 75 {now, in 2010, Highway 5} for

fresh horses and repairs, etc. The stop at McKinney was back of the

Pope Theater.

 

Also, in 1859 a small newspaper was established in McKinney –

Republicans incidentally – by James W. Tomas and John T. Darnell

and called the McKinney Messenger.

 

In 1860 some of the business houses were Abe Rhine, White and

Harris, and William Benge, Davis and Burrell Stiff, J.D. Newsome,

Wetsel, Isaac Crouch and others. In the fall of 1860 Abe Rhine

constructed a brick store where McKinney Dry Goods is now.

 

Now it is about time for another courthouse – the two story frame

was placed on wooden skids and 18 yoke of oxen pulled it down to

the present jail site. Rock for a big new courthouse was hauled from

every part of the state and dumped on the ground in the square and

down S. Tenn. {Tennessee} Street where it stayed for fifteen years.

Why – because of the Civil War.

 

Bro. Horn describes his {enlistment?} in the army.

 

{“}On the fifth of July 1862I was sworn into the service of the

Government of the Confederate States of America and soon after

went into camp at Shirley Springs ten miles north of Mck. Martin’s

regiment to which I belonged, was the Fifth Texas Aorters {Mortars?} and

Rangers. Thomas B. Estes was chosen as Adjutant.

 

The greatest enemies we had to contend with at Shirley Springs

were ticks and copperhead snakes. We remained here until fall and

then were ordered to Indian Territory.”

 

A letter from Mr. Waddill to Geo. Morris who was in the same

regiment stated, “Please make every effort to come home that you

may have your clothes cut to fit you. Your Ma bought the gray cloth

costing $.25 per yd. Whatever clothing you do not want send home

by the wagon for the servants.”

 

{“} May 1863

The school is flourishing. They have 68 students and more arrive

every week I think next session they will have around 100. It is

said that three young ladies will come up from Lancaster in Dallas

County.

 

You and Darnall will have a chance for educated wives.

 

I am engaged mostly with divorce cases. Matrimonial Speculation is

one of the leading lotteries of the day.—

 

I suppose curing {during?} this month the fate of Vicksburg will be

known.

I am satisfied that neither Richmond nor Vicksburg will be taken.—

 

The war will be protracted until Lincoln’s time is out, and after that

I looked for peace. We have suffered so much from the Yankees

that I never wish to live in the same gov. {government?}with them.

Aug. 1864

 

Your Ma sends you a shoulder of bacon-, your shoes and a pair of

jeans pants for you both. I send you $15. each in five dollar bills – I

will try to get a saddle and a pair of boots made for you. The

bootmaker has gone to San Antonio.

 

March, 1865

I hope you are not despondent in the army. Many Croakers report

defeat to our army but are satisfied that the Confederacy will never

be conquered.

 

In the fifteenth day of May 1868 the Texas regiments were

disbanded and many of the boys had to walk home from wherever

they were located.

 

During this Civil War period there existed a gang of desperados

called the Quantril Gang. Mamie {grandmother of Janet Largent

Sherley) has told me that the girls in McKinney considered it very

daring to flirt with these men and her ninety-one year old eyes

sparkled when she told me that one of them tried to kiss her when

she was sixteen years old.

 

She also told me of going to dances at Wetsel and she and her

partner would rise{ride?} horseback to get there. Not a Quantril man of

course.

 

Conditions were very uncertian {uncertain?} following the war.

Judge Wadill suggests the difficulties in his letters to George Morris.

 

 

 

{“} June 1, 1866

 

My farm negroes have abandoned the place as I anticipated, yet

your Ma has enough to do the work My boys are cultivating the

crop, but I dislike for them to lose the time from school.

 

Aug. 1866

Mr. Muse’s school starts next Tuesday. I shall send Fanny and

Gaston,{.?} Joe, Ben, and Lawrence will have to sow wheat before they

can go. I have sent for the gang riding plows and hope they will

arrive. The boys start to Jefferson for three {of them?] next weeks.

Mine cost me four hundred dollars including transportation, for

plows, corn planter, washing and ironing machine, pump cistern

and fodder cutter. The boys do not like the labor of walking so

much after the old fashioned plow.

 

The negroes have nearly all left this region. We have a cook yet.

The Buchanan negroes and Susan Kinkhead have gone to

Missouri.{“}

 

A wedding was always a momentous occasion even as it is now. The

formed {formal?} marriage always took place in the girls home

never in the church. The bride usually had several of her girl

friends in attendance and the groom would have the same number of

young men as waiters. There was a long ceromony {ceremony?} and

then came the supper. – – – consisting of everything the whole

community could muster – – cake covered with candy and pies in

stacks of from four to six and these stacks cut into quarters.

 

That night came the “charivari” {shivaree?} a large number of young men

would go to the home of the newly married couple about two in the

morning and beat on the tin pans, kettles tubs, blow horns, and

arouse the countryside{;} sometimes they would take the

bridegroom out and ride him on a rail. The noise was kept going

until the bride brought out food and drink and as Bro. Horn put it,

the drink was not always mere water. After the feast, the party

would break up.

 

The next day was the infare{?} when all of the guests reassembled at

the home of the groom’s parents for a specially prepared dinner.

On this occasion the bride would wear her “second day dress”.

 

Another thing that interested me greatly was the interest shown in

Iiterary societies and debates. If had never occur{r}ed to me that

heated debates were held between Ministers of Methodist faith and

Ministers of the Christian faith or the Baptist and I mean heated

debates.

 

Some subjects debated by literary societies which everyone attended

were resolved that fire is more dangerous than water. Resolved

that the Agricultural Fairs of North Texas are Necessarily EviI in

Their Tendency. Or the subj.{ect} total Depravity”.

 

The seventies brought many things to Collin County. The Houston,

Texas Central Railroad was established. Tom Sherley surveyed the

right away [right-of-way] for this railroad and it has been told to me

the line was called “The Old Tom Sherley”. Andrew Sherley cut

and hauled bois d’arc for railroad ties and was the first depot agent

in Anna. Bro. Horn speaks of a trip to Dallas in 1872 – – “Dallas is a

dusty place”. Collin McKinney would have had quite a wait for the

railroad he spoke of with such certainty in 1845.

 

A sensational trial was held in 1871 – – That of Stephen A. Bellew

who was accused of murdering and robbing James P. Golden in

  1. After Golden was killed Bellew returned to his father’s and

married the sister of the murdered man. The case attracted such a

crowd that the trial was moved from the small courthouse to the

building {of the First Christian Church}. Here BeIIew was convicted

of murder in the first degree and given the punishment of “hanging

til dead”. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court. But on the

20th of May 1872 the hanging took place down near the east entrance

of the Park. Bellew carried his guilt to the last. He rode to the

scaffold on his coffin, smoking a cigar which he continued to smoke

until they were ready for the execution. Then he walked up the

steps to the gallows in a very dignified manner and stood erect. He

politely handed his coat and hat to his attendants and even turned

his head for them to fit the rope. He was dressed in a fine cloth suit

with white kid gloves on his hands. A tremendous crowd was

assembled to witness the execution and it is said that Captain Bush

was the one to spring the trap.

 

We can easily see why this created such a sensation in Collin Co.

The chief crimes in those days were gambling and drinking. Then’

was a great deal of disturbance in the churches on account of

drunken men. They would laugh out loud stamp their feet get up

and go out, sometimes throw mud balls at the preacher. This kind of

disturbance usually went unpunished because everybody knew

everybody else and did not want stir up trouble between neighbors

and kinfolks.

 

Writing schools were popular at this time for many of the people

could not write at all. To go back several years – McGarrah who

had the store at Buckner could not write. He did a big business and

kept books by drawing pictures. He charged a man with a hoop of

cheese and when the man came to settle his account there was much

agrement {argument?} because the man had not bought cheese.

They finally agreed that it was a grindstone the man had purchased

and McGarrah had forgotten to draw a hole in the center of the

picture.

Old Lady McGarrah did the banking for the community. She would

keep people’s gold for them until it was needed. The first National

Bank was established in 1869.

 

A stranger came to McKinney in the seventies to organize a

whistling school. He claimed that he could for three dollars a

person, teach anyone to whistle in a way to furnish wonderful

entertainment at the exhibition. He got thirty pupils who paid in

advance. When the class assembled, he lined them against the wall

and said “Now boys and girls, this is a serious matter. It is no

laughing affair, and the first one that laughs or even grins, forfeits

his money. Now all ready! Prepare for the pucker!” Of course

everyone laughed. The teacher declared the school dismissed

because of the frivolity of the pupils and departed sadly – with ninety

dollars tucked safely in his pocket.

 

Another occurance {occurrence?} at this time was that nearly all of

the horses in the county had the Epizootic! In 1873 the county was

alarmed by an epidemic of small pox. George O’Brien was one of

the deaths from the disease. The excitement was so great that

persons could not be found to bury the dead without hire. Some

even lost their lives from improper vaccination.

 

McKinney now had another newspaper. The McKinney Enquirer,

established by Col. Thomas Murray, W. A. West and Capt.W. L.

Boyd. Murray’s home stood where the Christian Church now

stands and it was one of the finest homes in McKinney. No doubt

the Boyd home was build some time in the seventies. Jesse Shain

had a lovely home across the street south of the Murray’s.

 

The stone court house was completed in 1875 and personally I wish

it had been the last in Collin County’s succession of court houses. A

big ball was held here New Year’s Eve with over two hundred

attending in spite of a torrential rain and black sticky mud in the

square. Formal notes of invitation were sent to the girls by the

young men who dispatched them by Negro boys. They would read

thus: “Compliments of Mr. J. H. Blank: He would be pleased to

accompany Miss {?} to the ball such and such an evening at eight

o’clock.”

 

On the occasion of this ball nearly all of the girls were dressed in

gowns of Tarleton Cloth. “My dress was black tarleton, spangled

with silver, with a large bustle and long train. I wore cotton hose

and black slippers ornamented with silver. Tarleton was wide and

stiff and when it got wet it simply collapsed. We tried hard to stay

out of the rain. AII the different colors were there that night’ reds,

pinks, yellows, light and dark greens, and white all spangled and

beautiful. The gentlemen wore evening dress. We went to the ball

on Plemmon’s old bus. Plemmond was an old timer who met every

train and who took us to our dances and parties. We rode on seats

that extended lengthwise in the bus so that the two rows of boys and

girts were facing each other. A wag called it a bussing party. The

driver charged 50 cents a couple. He made a neat sum that night

and the next morning.” {Mrs. Maude Powell?}

 

The dance was held upstairs on the new floor. At midnight supper

was served downstairs on a long pine table with pickles, bread, ham,

and coffee on the menu. After supper the dancing continued until

morning. They danced the square, the polka, the waltz and the

Schottische. It is said that Miss Fanny Waddill was the most

beautiful girl at the ball.

 

Dancing was a common occurance {occurrence} in those days. Bro.

Horn complained that people would go to the dances regardless of

the weather but a shower would keep them from church. People

have not changed to{o} much. An all night dance in the country was

called a Ju-Tang. Many people of means had rooms for dancing in

their homes. Erection of a new barn called for a dance. After the

county roads were constructed dances were even held on the

bridges. At least there wasn’t much traffic problem. I have been

told of wonderful parties in Anna Sherley Graves home. Another

thing I had never heard of was a pound party. Boys and girls would

assemble at someone’s home and each would bring a pound of

something. They would have their dancing and games and then

their refreshments out of the food that was brought.

 

ft was also in the seventies, 1878, that Sam Bass’ gang robbed the

train at Allen. They got $1280.00 from the express car, but did not

rob the passengers.

 

In the 1880’s the old Bingham house on S. Chestnut was built. One

man is supposed to have built the whole house He got on sprees and

took his time with the building. After the family had moved in he

came to finish the banisters on the back porch with a glorious hang

over – he fell from the porch and never regained his health.

 

In 1884 Clint Haggard built a colonial home northwest of Plano. In

this home all special occasions were celebrated by holding family

dinners. The dinner table seated 16 or 18 and if one were a great

grandchild one was fortunate to find a place as early as the 5th table.

This family contains such wonderful names Charity, Maurning,

Pleasant, Sopheia.

 

A private school was organized for the children of the pioneer

families of Plano. It was called the Three H Academy – the

Haggards, Huffmans, and Houstons.

 

The town of Anna was founded in 1883 and named for Miss Anna

Quinland a daughter of one of the railroad officials. The first house

was built by J.F. Greer and the first girl baby born in town was

named Anna Greer. The second house was built by Mr. Guinn, the

third by Mr. Milligan and the fourth by Mrs. Rebecca Sherley.

 

The first business house was built by Greer and Barnett, the second

by Guinn and David. In 1885 the H & TC built a depot and Andrew

Sherley was the first agent. The post office was built about the same

time as the depot. Some postmasters were Mr. Greer, Mr. Horner,

and Mr. Strother. The first school was the house where Mr. Ogilvie

now lives. The second school Mr. Carter. The third the old building

that was torn down before the 3 story building was erected.

 

The principals were Mr. Moore, Mr. Newman, Mr. Robinson, Mr.

Wilson, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Jones, Mr. Creswell, Mr. Tucker, Mr.

Echols, Mr. Smith, Mr. Wolford and Mr. Roper. some of the

teachers were Miss Frisby, Miss Lisenby, Miss Slaughter, Miss

Greer, Miss W{y}song, Miss Sherley, Mrs. Buck, Miss Allen, Miss

Hayes, Miss Clark, Miss Evans, Miss Brown, Miss Mallow, Miss

Burk, Miss Blassinggame, Mr. Cundiff Mr. Massey, Miss Pierce,

Miss Webb, Miss Copeland, and Miss Allen.

 

The bank was built in 1906 and the cashiers were Mr. Murphy and

Mr. Marcom. In 1888 Mr. Lyon and son built a lumber yard here,

but it was later bought by Mr. Sherley. The Christian Church was

built in 1886; the Methodist in 1890-91; the Presbyterian in 1890

and the Baptist was moved from Highland in 1892.

 

Some of the early doctors of Anna were Drs Lair, Strange, Russellle{Russelle?}, McKinney, Evans and Bates. The first gin was built by Mr. Dysart;

the second by Mr. Wysong.

 

Melissa was established at about the same time and also was named

for Mr. Quinland’s daughter, Melissa.

This takes care of all of the major towns in the county except Frisco,

Prosper, Josephine, and Nevada and Princeton, Celina. Confinement

to the Sherley Bros. since 1881 would not permit me to find out

more.

 

There are so many things left unmentioned. The fairs and picnics

when families drove for miles and stayed all day with dinner on the

grounds and dozens of squalling tired children hanging to mama.

The camp meetings where families literally camped out for days

near the thatched covered tabernacles for protracted meetings. The

girls courting on horseback with their side saddles and divided

skirts!

 

The two families the Basses and the Schraders out in West Collin –

with 12 children each – 24 children all over the place and none of

whom intermarried.

 

The old Foote Hotel – a sort of which some of you surely remember.

The McKinney house where one could put up and get a square meal;

catching wonderful quail in a net; the persimmon beer stand on the

square.

 

The gay nineties with handsome matched horses and fine carriages,

pretty ladies, iron fences around spacious lawns, gabled houses with

hitching posts at the gate; Mrs. J. F. Gibson’s recitals and plays and

Mother Hubbard picnics. And that brings us almost to “our day”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *