The real upbuilders of a town or community are the men of business activity, who, recognizing the possibilities for advancement and accomplishment, carry on successfully commercial or industrial enterprises and promote progress along substantial and permanent lines. Of this class Mr. Bybee is a representative and is well known as a merchant of Dye, who has contributed largely to the improvement and upbuilding of the town.
He was born in Monroe County, Missouri, August 22, 1855, and was reared to farm life, acquiring a liberal elementary education in the common schools. His youth was passed in the home of his parents, Garland G. and Helen (Tuggle) Bybee, the former a native of Kentucky, and the latter of Virginia. The paternal grandfather, William Bybee, was likewise a resident of Kentucky for many years but removed to Missouri and spent his remaining days in Monroe County, that state. He was a member of the Baptist church. In his family were five children: Joseph, Garland G., James, Elizabeth, who became Mrs. Higgins, and William.
Garland G. Bybee was reared and married in Missouri and concentrated his energies upon farm work there until after the outbreak of the Civil War, when he joined the Confederate army and served throughout the period of hostilities. At the close of the war he was in General Johnston's command and under General Price was taken prisoner, spending four months in the prison at Alton, Illinois, after which he was exchanged. He was never wounded but underwent usual hardships and experiences of military life. Returning to Missouri, he resumed farming and remained a resident of that state until 1884, when he came to Montague County, Texas, were he engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death in 1888, his remains being interred at Dye.
He voted with the Democracy and was a member of the Missionary Baptist church. He was a hospitable, genial nature, and he greatly enjoyed the companionship of his friends. Unto the poor and needy he was charitable and helpful. His first wife died in Missouri in 1859. He had one brother, George, and others whose name are forgotten. To Mr. and Mrs. Bybee were born six children: John, who was a Confederate soldier and died while being held as a prisoner of war; Robert, deceased; William, of the Indian Territory; Martha E., the wife of L. Glascock; Joseph, of this review; and George, who is living in Harvey, Texas. After losing his first wife, Mr. Bybee married Miss Lydia Riggs, of Missouri. They had three daughters: Nannie, the wife of James Barnes; Mrs. Mollie Deems; and Sallie. The mother of these daughters passed away in Texas.
Joseph Bybee remained in his father's home until 1877, when, hoping that he would have better business opportunities in Texas, he made his way to Montague County, where he has since resided. He began teaching school here and followed that pursuit for five years, having charge of the second school ever held in Dye. Later he bought land and began the development of a farm, a part of which he yet owns. He was thus connected with agricultural pursuits for three years. He bought land from the State of Texas and gave a lot to Hugh Schoolfield, who built a store and established the first mercantile enterprise. Later Mr. Bybee plotted and sold the lots that formed the town of Dye, and not long afterward he sent a petition to the postmaster general and secured the establishment of the post office. He was appointed postmaster, acting in that capacity for eight years on one occasion, and then after the lapse of another presidential term he was again made postmaster, serving for four years longer.
He had also built a store building and began merchandising in August 1882. He has thus been identified with business interests in the town with the exception of a period of four years, and conducts a general store and also deals in farm implements, buggies and wagons.
The town has grown up around him, and there is now a good school here, a Methodist church, a cotton gin, and other business enterprises, and the population numbers one hundred. When he came here, it was an open country and free range, and only a small amount of farming was done. This was considered rather as an experience than as an established industry, for the cattle business was the real source of livelihood to the settlers at that time. The county seat was at Montague, and a log structure was used for a jail. There was only one cabin between Dye and Montague, and no roads had been laid out. One could ride over the prairies or through the timber, following blazed trails. Mr. Bybee has seen the country develop and is familiar with all of the changes that have occurred. At one time he knew all the prominent men in the county, and he yet has a very extensive and favorable acquaintance. In connection with merchandising, he is handling cattle to a greater or less extent and has also bought and sold land, yet holding about six hundred acres. He has good pasture lands and does some farming but largely rents his cultivable land.
Mr. Bybee was married in 1880 to Miss Luella A. Hutton, who was born in Missouri in 1859, a daughter of James E. and Fannie G. (Logan) Hutton, both natives of Missouri, the former a farmer by occupation. Mr. Hutton arrived in Texas in 1872, first settling in Grayson County, and for three years was a resident of Denison. He then bought the land near the present site of Dye and located thereon, improving a farm which he made his home until his death in 1891. He voted with the Democracy and belonged to the old-school Presbyterian church. He possessed a social nature and progressive spirit and was prominently identified with the development of the country in the vicinity of Dye. His wife still survives him and yet resides on the old homestead at the age of sixty-three years, and she, too, is a member of the Presbyterian church. In their family were six children: Luella A.; Kate, the wife of R. T. Weatherbee; Mary, the wife of F. M. Savege; Effa, the wife of J. C. Kimball; Pearl, the wife of G. W. Bybee; and Gertie, the wife of William Yarbro.
Mr. and Mrs. Bybee have a daughter, Ruby C., now the wife of A. R. Stout, of the Indian Territory. They have also adopted an orphan, to whom they gave their name, Bessie C. Bybee. She has lived with them since two years of age and has now reached the age of nine years, and she receives from them tender care and consideration.
Mr. Bybee has always been an earnest advocate of Democratic principles and on one occasion was nominated for county treasurer. His attention, however, has largely been given to his business interests. He is, however, a member of the Woodmen of the World and possesses a social nature that has gained him many friends. During his residence in this county he has contributed in very large and substantial measure to the work of development and may well be termed the founder of Dye. He belongs to that class of representative American men, who, while promoting individual success, also contribute to the general welfare.
[Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, vol. 1 (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 557-559.]
Elaine Nall Bay