Crisp

Crisp is about 5 miles northeast of Ennis on FM 660 in the midst of a rich blackland cotton belt and on the Texas Midland Railroad.   When the postoffice was established Jan. 6, 1892, it was named for Charles F. Crisp, a speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives.  John H. Anderson was the first postmaster, followed by Edwin H. Buie, May 3, 1893; James P. Sims, Nov. 15, 1901; Walter J. Jims July 29, 1921, Edwin F. Littleton Feb. 2, 1922; and Wales K. Mullican Oct. 2, 1930.  The postoffice was first located in Mr. Buie's general merchandise store.  Prior to that, Ed Ezell operated a gin and grist mill located on the railroad switch one mile northwest of the Buie store.

Doctors who practiced in Crisp in 1894 were Drs. Johnson and Ezell.  Later Drs. H. M. Johns, P. H. Mitchell and Phipps practiced there and in the surrounding countryside.

In 1895, a town site was laid out on the north and south sides of the railroad tract -  some lots being sold to people who never lived there.  Buie bought 18 lots in January 1896.   Mr. Burt opened a second general store and  Jesse Smith had a blacksmith shop.  In 1900, Tom P. Thornton & Co. purchased a plot of ground fifty feet by one hundred feet from Jesse White and Company. The transaction included a storehouse, stock of merchandise and store fixtures.  Sparkman became the sole owner of the company in 1903 and sold it to J. P. Sims the next year for seven hundred dollars.

J.P. Sims StoreIn 1903 the Ennis-Crisp Pressed Brick Company was organized, with J. P. Sims president.  The office was in the Sims store and W. K. Mullican was the bookkeeper.  This event was a time for celebration in Crisp.  People gathered in neighbors' homes and men congregated around the stores.  Frank Honza, "Old Frank" at the blacksmith shop, entertained the children by placing a charge of gun powder in the slot of his anvil and setting it off with a big noise.  Emmett Hale and Paton McGowan each had a barber shop.  The Will Barnes restaurant operated  from 1907 to 1912 and was known as a place to "meet friends and eat good food."   In 1907 there was so much cotton in the Crisp cotton yard that the railroad sent in extra trains and special crews to load it.t.  All available men and teams  worked to get the cotton loaded.

J. P. Sims and A. J. Mullican installed a telephone exchange in 1910 which was operated by A. M. Littleton.  Sims bought Mullican's interest and moved it to his store but later sold it to D. B. Walter.  In 1915 it was combined with the Bristol exchange.

The old Buie building was destroyed by fire in 1911.  Sims then built a two story brick ( using Crisp brick) which had an elevator to the second floor.  W. K. Mullican bought the store in 1921 and operated it until his death.  Mrs. Mullican later had the store demolished and used the brick to build a home.  In 1916, the Texas Power and Light Company ran a line from Ennis to Crisp, furnishing electricity to the citizens.

The religious life of Village Creek and Four Mile extended to Crisp. Hines Chapel Church had been moved to land belonging to John Dozier and was the only house of worship for several  years.  The membership roll was changed from Hines Chapel to Crisp 1893/94.  In 1903 the Baptist and Church of Christ members collaborated in building a church.  The Church of Christ bought the Baptist interest, so in 1925, The Baptists, in turn, built their own church under the leadership of Rev. Faye Hinton.  This church was active until 1949 when the building was given to Tabernacle Baptist church in Ennis.  It was later moved to the fairview addition in ennis as a mission.  The Church of  Christ gradually lost members and it was finally sold and dismantled. The bell was bought by W. J. Mullican for use at his home.

Educational and cultural life in Crisp went hand in hand with the business and spiritual life.  The school house moved from Four Mile served its purpose until 1902 when a two-story frame building replaced it.  J. W. Tolleson and Miss sudie Burt were among the first teachers.   Later a two-story brick building was constructed and seven teachers were employed to instruct the two hundred pupils.  In 1944 progress compelled the school to be incorporated with the Ellis school district.

Cultural advantages were offered in the field of music by well qualified teachers such as Misses Mae Deitrich, Delta Colvin and Fannie Lee Boyce.  W. K. Mullican organized a bank in 1912 with twenty-five members.  Ernest tubb of "Grand Ole Opry" fame received his inspiration here.  Emma Jean Sims was a charger member of this organization which added much to the entertainment at picnics and concerts.  Mrs. Volumbia Youngblood, a widow, with her three children came from St. Louis to this area at an early date.  Guy Youngblood, her son, was a gifted fiddler and entertained at many gatherings.  He was called upon to play at the square dances at all the nearby communities.  In his later years, he gained fame as one of the "Old Fiddlers."

Crisp never had a population of more than one hundred until the 1920s when it increased to 120.  the population remained about the same until late 1960 when it began to decline and by 1968, was reported as being ninety - that number being the same until 1990.

Sources:

Hawkins, et al. History Workshop, Ellis County History, Texian Press, Waco, 1972
Texas Handbook, V. 1, p. 435
U. S. Postal Service, Washington, D. C.
County Deed Records, V. 8, p. 572
Files of Miss Emma Jean Sims, Ennis, Tex.
Interviews with Walter sims, W. R. Mullican, Mrs. Ruth Sims Mims, Mrs. A. M. Littleton, Rev. Hinton, Mrs. W. R. Mullican, Mr. & Mrs. W. E. Colvin, James Youngblood'
Hines Chapel Register
The Handbook of Texas Online
Picture Sims Store, courtesy Ellis County Historical Museum & Art Gallery, Inc.

[From Waxahachie Daily Light  April 6, 1906]

Ellis County Contains Big Supply of Brick Shale

Some weeks ago a number of Ennis and Crisp gentlemen organized a company to put in a brick plant near Crisp. Samples of yellow and blue shale, found in great quantities in the neighborhood of Crisp, were sent to Thornton to be tested and they have been returned and made into a fine quality of brick, the yellow making a fine sample of cherry red brick and the blue, a gray brick suitable for finishing. There is an inexhaustible supply of shale both at Crisp and in the neighborhood of Ennis, and in all probability the company will put in a plant both at Ennis and at Crisp.


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