Grayson County TXGenWeb
William Henry Chisholm

Sherman Public Library
Newspaper Clipping Collections: Obituaries

Friday, October 18, 1929

One of the best farmers in Grayson county, one of the best farmers in Texas, and a man who has done as much perhaps for the farming interests of Texas as any other man in the state, is W. H. Chisholm, who owns one of the best farms in Grayson county, four miles southeast of Sherman.


William Henry Chisholm is a native of Mississippi, but has been in Grayson county since 1857.  His father, Charles E. Chisholm, was a soldier in the Mexican war and helped to give Texas her freedom from Mexican rule and for this service he was given a grant of land of 4900 acres and it was while on his way to Texas to locate his land, that the father died and left the mother and four children among strangers, Henry being the oldest, he being then seven years of age.
The mother came on to Texas and located five miles east of Sherman on Choctaw, and began the problem of caring for her family.  A few years later Mrs. Chisholm married Hezekiah Ladd, whom, to quote Mr. Chisholm's own words, "was one of the best men in the world," and there was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ladd three children, one of whom is J. A. Ladd of Sherman.


All went well enough with the family until the Civil War came on and Mr. Ladd entered the Confederate army and died while in that service, leaving the widow and four Chisholm children and three Ladd children to fight their own battle. 
But this was not all - soon after the death of the husband and father, the little home on Choctaw which sheltered the family, caught fire and burned to the ground and with it everything in the house including the certificate calling for the 4900 acres of land.  But this was not enough, very soon thereafter the mother passed on to join the two companions that had gone before, leaving seven little fellows of which Henry, then thirteen, was the oldest, to make their way in the world as best they could, and the children were thereafter cared for by the good people of the surrounding country, each finding a home where it was possible, and much was required and the best possible service rendered by the oldest in keeping places for the younger children to stay, and by days work on the farms of the neighborhood.  Henry helped out the little ones as best he could.


When about sixten, Henry Chisholm made a trade with William Francis, one of the early settlers of the country, under which agreement Henry was to work for Mr. Francis four years, receiving in return for his labor his board and clothes and three months schooling out of each year and at the end of the time Mr. Francis was to give him a forty dollar horse, bridle and saddle.
Among other work and business conducted by Mr. Francis was freighting between Jefferson, Texas and Sherman with ox wagons, and Henry was given a team of two yoke of oxen and a wagon and put on the road.  The business was profitable and other teams were added and as the business grew Henry was put in charge of the "train" and when it came time for him to enter school the first winter his services were so much needed by Mr. Francis that he told him if he would go ahead and work straight through that at the end of the time he would send him to school for a whole year, and this was agreed to by Henry, but like thousands of boys in Texas have done, when the.....found himself so big in size and knowing so little in books that he felt a sense of shame to start in to school at that late date, and the result was that he did not take the year's schooling, but launched out for himself at the end of his contract with Mr. Francis.



In 1873 Mr. Chisholm was married to Marther Witten, daughter of Floyd Witten who lived out on Choctaw in the community where Henry had come up.  To this marriage was born two children, G. W. Chisholm of Brownsfield, Texas, and Walter Chisholm of Whitesboro.  Martha Witten Chisholm lived only a little overtwo years after her marriage to Mr. Chisholm, but during this two years they had bought forty acres of land from George Dugan four miles southeast of Sherman, which is part of the splendid farm above referred to which Mr. Chisholm now owns.
After the death of his wife Mr. Chisholm set to his task of caring for his little ones and paying out his forty acres for which he had agreed to pay eight dollars per acre, making only a small payment down and giving notes for the balance.  When the first note fell due Mr. Chisholm found himself unable to meet it in full, and while he said he could have borrowed the money to pay the balance that the party offered to lend it to him wanted twenty-four per cent interest per annum for it, that being no uncommon rate of interest to be charged for money at that time.  Mr. Chisholm knew that such a interest would soon eat him up, and instead of borrowing the money to pay the balance and waiting to make another crop, he went into the timber and split rails at one dollar per hundred and got the balance of the money with which to meet his land note.
Another crop was pitched and things went along well enough in their way, but the land was new, the plows small and sorry, and the crop was hard to cultivate with the result that there was not enough left out of the crop the second year to meet the second note, and again Mr. Chisholm "worked out" this time building post fences at one dollar per...the money to pay the balance of the second note.

In 1878, Mr. Chisholm was married to Mary E. Francis, daughter of William Francis, the man for whom he worked the four years as above related, and one of those brave characters which helped to give Texas her history, he, too, being an Indian fighter and a pioneer who has left an imprint in our history that can never be effaced. To this marriage has been born five children, three of whom are now living, as follows:  Mrs. H. C. Gilmer, Mrs. Clyde King, and Miss Henrietta Chisholm.  Mollie, another daughter, died at age twelve, and William Thomas at age twelve.

The picture on this page showing the Chisholm home, which had its beginning in the manner above stated, represents a continuous effort for Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm for more than forty years, and reflects upon them a credit and comfort to them for the balance of their early life which was guaranteed to them by the founders of our great State and written into our constitution in such a manner that no adverse power or circumstance under the sun can deprive the husband and wife, and in passing the writer hereof disgresses sufficiently to say, "so mote it be," ever in the future. As above stated the first purchase of this splendid home was only forty acres and similar purchases were made from time to time as the years went by at prices all the way from $65 per acre, and paid for five to eight cents the lint, corn at sixten to thirty-five cents per bushel, oats twenty to twenty-five cents, and wheat at an average of about seventy-five cents, and even with these prices the farm has long since been paid for.

Mr. Chisholm says the first money that he ever made, except possibly a few cents, was paid to him by R. A. Chapman of Sherman.  Mr. Chisholm was then possibly about fifteen years of age and Mr. Chapman was in business in Sherman.  Parties came into this country from Kansas wanting bois d'arc seed from which to grow hedge fences, and offered the very tempting price of $16 per bushel for these seeds.  Mr. Chapman took a contract to furnish the seed and a mill to get the seed out of the apples was put up and the apples hauled or carried to the mill, Henry took a contract to furnish apples, under which he was to have half the seed extracted, and he carried the apples from Choctaw botton in a sack on a pony to the mill and succeeded in getting a bushel of seed to is part for which Mr. Chapman gave him thirty-two half dollars, and Mr. Chisholm says that he was, upon receipt of that money, the richest boy in the world.

In addition to his farming, operations, Mr. Chisholm has always done more of less outside business, from splitting rails to building railroads. In 1886 when the Cotton Belt railroad was built into Sherman, Mr. Chisholm made a contract with Lyon and Briton to build five miles of the road commencing on the third mile out of Sherman.  This job was complete on April first, 1887, and that five miles of road represented one-third of the grading of the entire distance from Sherman to Sulphur Springs.  Mr. Chisholm in the years following also did other railroad work and always delivered on every contract, though all of this work was done as a side issue to his farming.

Mr. Chisholm has conducted a cotton gin on Choctaw near his home for forty years, and early in his career he began experimenting with seeds, expecially cotton and corn.  Being in the ginning business he soon saw the great advantage to be derived from planting only the best cotton seed, and this led him into a work that has not only brought gain to him and his neighbors, but to the whole country over.
Mr. Chisholm is the originator of the Chisholm Prolific Big Boll Cotton, also of the Chisholm Corn, which is a big white corn with a red cob, and both his cotton and corn is acknowledged by farmers throughout the South as being two of the best varieties extant.  One of the U.S. Government agents at the Red River Valley Fair last year, upon meeting Mr. Chisholm said: "I am indeed glad to know you and take you by the hand, and I want to assure you that in my opinion you have done as much for the farmers of the South as any other man alive, because everywhere I go I find the very best results from both cotton and corn grown from your seeds."

Mr. Chisholm says he has been over the whole road and remembers every foot of it from the time his mother landed here in 1857 and that there has never been a time in that sixty-two years when a man can buy and pay for his home in Grayson county more easily than he can right now.  He calls attention to the fact that in the years gone by the farming tools were not sufficient to enable a man to really cultivate a crop even on a small scale, also to the low prices for farm products in times gone by.

The crops sold from some of Mr. Chisholm's farm last year brought a return of over $100 per acre, and Mr. Chisholm says this crop was made with less effort and really cost no more to produce than many of the crops he has raised for which he received only eight or ten dollars per acre. 
Mr. Chisholm says that every man who is willing to stick to the job as the men and women of forty years ago had to do to get a living can much more easily acquire homes now than they were acquired in those days.  He says homes have never grown on trees, but have always had to be earned and built through intelligent, persistent effort.


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