Georgia natives Thomas Noel Binion (1827-1900) and Pauline
Walker Binion (1829-1915) migrated to Texas after the Civil War. They moved
to the Oxford community in Grayson County where they purchased this 107-acre
farm in 1871. Thomas and Pauline reared four children here: Zeph (1856-1928),
Homer (1865-1926), Robert E. Lee "Eddie" (1869-1945), and Sarah (1872-1955).
After Thomas and Pauline died, they were buried in the family cemetery
northwest of their homestead. The farm was inherited by their children.
Eddie Binion became a merchant in nearby Pilot Grove, but moved back to
the family homestead with his sister Sarah after the death of his wife.
Eddie raised sugar cane and operated a syrup mill here from the turn of
the century until the 1940s. The mill first used mules to operate the crusher,
and wood fires to cook the molasses. When fuel oil and coal were readily
available in the 1920s, a piston engine replaced the mule, and coal replaced
the wood fires. During the Depression years, cane continued to arrive but
money to purchase coal and fuel oil diminished. The mule was reinstated,
but the Binion Syrup Mill foundered in the 1940s. The mill was dismantled
and the iron and steel sold for use in World War II.
Van Alstyne Public Library
Van Alstyne Leader
30 May 1996
Binion Home Place approved for Texas Historical Marker
Steve and Leslie Coker of Pilot Grove received word from the Texas
Historical Commission that their Historical Marker application has been
approved. The application submitted reads as follows:
The 107-acre farm is the southeast corner of the James Wheat survey
in what is known locally as the "Oxford Community," one mile southwest
of the Village of Pilot Grove. Early owners were the Mannon and Mehalley
Clement family who came with the Throckmortons, to the Republic of Texas
in 1841. Civil war owners were Solomon and Artemiss Adams Mrs. Adam's
mother was Frances Lee of the Lee family associated with the infamous "Lee-Peacock
Feud" of 1865 to 1869, all pioneer Pilot Grove families.
Thomas Noel (1827 - 1900) and Pauline Walker (1829 - 1915) Binion
were natives of Georgia. In the aftermath of destruction in Georgia
in the final days of the Civil War, they fled their native state for Texas.
They first settled in Farmington, in central Grayson County, afterwards
"moving to Orangeville, in western Fannin County. For $800 they purchased
this farm in 1871 and built their homeplace on the site of the present
day farmhouse. Pilot Grove creek was the eastern boundary.
All traffic westbound from Pilot Grove passed here, over the well known
Pilot Grove - McKinney road. Binion Road and the bridge over Pilot
Grove Creek bisected the farm.
Thomas Noel Binion was a "wagonmaker" by trade. Here he and
his wife raised four children" Zeph (1856 - 1928), Homer (1865 - 1926),
Robert E. Lee "Eddie" (1869 - 1945), and Sarah (1872 - 1955). Following
their parents' deaths, the land was passed to these children. Eddie
Binion, who became a merchant in Pilot Grove, lost his wife in childbirth.
He moved back to the homeplace and with his sister, "Aunt Sarah", who never
married, raised his three children. Eddie raised sugar cane and operated
a well remembered "Syrup Mill" from the early 1900s until about 1940.
The mill, located here on the homeplace, first employed "mule power" for
the crusher and was "wood fired" to cook molasses. During the boom
years of the 1920s, when fuel oil and coal were readily available, a piston
engine replaced the mule and coal replaced wood for firing. The mill
had grown from a small wooden building to a two story, tin-covered structure,
approximating the size of a cotton gin, a fine example of the industrial
revolution. Farmers from miles around would bring wagons loaded with
their sugar cane to be processed into molasses. One could sell his
cane for cash, have his can processed for personal use, or, most likely,
"trade on shares," where some molasses were retained for personal use and
the remainder went to the Binions for resale at local stores. The
mill employed several local hands during the processing season. Two
mule teams and wagons operated continuously during production, hauling
coal between Trenton and the syrup mil. Hopper cars on tracks moved
the cane and its by-products through the mill as it was processed.
One could smell molasses cooking for miles.
The mill was not spared from the great depression of the 1930s.
As farmers relied more heavily on their land for survival, cane continued
to arrive but the dollars, generated from sales, to purchase fuel oil and
coal trickled. The mule was reinstated, but the business foundered.
The Binion Syrup Mill, a once proud example of American ingenuity and entrepreneurship,
ground to a halt about 1940, another victim of a changing economy.
The ruins stood idle until dismantled for their iron and steel as part
of the nation's war effort during World War II.
The Binion cemetery, located here, is the final resting place of
Thomas Noel and Pauline Binion, their children and spouses, several grandchildren,
and other family members.
The Cokers would like to thank Julie Morris of Pilot Grove and Dr.
Clyde Hall of Grayson County Historical Commission for their assistance.
And the following for their "syrup memories":
Jack Clifford Binions of Howe, Jack Farley and the late L. Alexander
of Whitewright; Homer Evans and Watt Ownly of Leonard, Lloyd Cato of Gainesville,
Nova Hardin of Tom Bean, and the late Brodie H? of Westminster. Steve
descends from the Clement and Binion families. Leslie descends from
the Adams and Lee families of Pilot Grove.