Glimpses of Grayson
County from the Early Days
Part 1 ( Part 2 seems
not to have been written)
When the publication of this book was
first contemplated, I had thought to make it merely a souvenir for this
year?s ?Old Settlers? meeting, but I find that one small pamphlet will
not more than make a good beginning for a biographic history of the early
settlers of Grayson County, so I have determined to issue it in portfolios,
giving sketches of biography and history, as frequently as the data can
be collected, together with portraits, views, etc., until the story is
A limited number has been published,
but should the demand for it be greater than the supply, another editing
will be issued.
For kindly help in this work, I am
indebted to many friends, but for this number, especially to Dr. W. H.
Trolinger of Whitesboro, and Tom Randolph of Sherman.
To write the history of the early settlement
of any portion of Texas is a task that would cause even a bolder narrator
than him, who in these pages will attempt to tell the story of the early
days of Grayson, to shrink from the undertaking. But some one must do this
duty, that the memories of the hardy pioneers who have given us this ?goodly
heritage,? may be perpetuated, and that future generations may know the
true history of those days of storm and sunshine, light and shadow: fraught
with dangers, yet brightened by that sublimest of human attributes?hope.
When the pioneer settler crossed the
Red River and looked toward the south, the west, and the east, he saw spread
out before him a country teeming with myriads of richest hued flowers which
wafted on the air such sweet perfumes that even the craftiest handiwork
of the oriental world has never equaled, beautiful undulating prairies,
mighty forests and hundreds of limpid streams. Prairies and forest abounded
with game, deer, bear, antelope, buffalo, wild turkeys; and the rich virgin
soil only needed the work of his hands to make it bring forth great harvests
for his sustenance. But with all this charming and pleasant prospect came
the dangers from the dreaded savages who roamed at will in this lovely
flower and emerald carpeted garden of the western world.
The sun shone on no fairer landscape
than that now within the bounds of Grayson County, and the brave men and
women who periled their lives to possess it for their posterity are deserving
of the most grateful remembrance from the generations who now enjoy the
fruits of their heroism. They were simple and unassuming people, honest
and hospitable, and were, in a large measure, unsuspicious of others. Their
doors were always open to the stranger, and many people living today will
attest of the thousands of good deeds done by those early settlers in assisting
those who came among them seeking for homes. They were, with all their
hardships, a vigilant and watchful people, and divided their time between
the field and the chase, oftentimes leaving the plow in the half-run furrow
to repel the assaults of some raiding band of Indians, or to pursue some
ravenous animal that would make havoc among their flocks and herds.
In those days settlements were often
many miles apart, and social life was far more highly enjoyed than in thickly
settled communities, because of the rarity of gatherings for pleasure and
social intercourse. Families would oftentimes, by an early start, go ten
or fifteen miles to visit friends, such then being considered near neighbors,
and return by moonlight to their homes. On these visits the trusty rifle
together with the shot-bag and powder-horn were considered necessary accompaniments.
The fatigue of such journeys was considered a very small matter. But these
were men and women of iron frames and nerves like tempered steel, who breathed
the purest of heaven?s ozone and drank in the sweet perfumes of a wilderness
of flowers. How unlike the brain- and nerve-weary, overworked men and women
That was the time when the fleet-footed
antelope and deer sped along their narrow paths, where now course the heavy-laden
railway trains. Then the ox-wagon with its long team of cattle wended its
way by dindy [sic] beaten trails across the country, bringing from the
nearest market, sometimes hundreds of miles away, the necessary supplies
for the people of this section, and whose arrival at the little village
was greeted by a full turnout of the people to see and help about unloading
the goods and opening the boxes and barrels. Frequently very amusing scenes
and incidents would occur on such occasions. One such mentioned here will
not be inappropriate.
There was a noted character, George
Stamps, who lived at the old town of Preston, on Red River, who kept a
little all-sorts stock of general merchandise, ?dry goods, groceries, hardware,
drugs, tar, turpentine and testaments,? as his bulletin-board read, and
in addition had a barrel of whiskey always on tap. One Christmas season
Stamps concluded he wanted something extra, and ordered from the Alexander
Brothers, of Bonham, ?a lot of everything good for Christmas.? The goods
came and likewise the crowd to see them opened. Everything went well until
a small brown box marked ?cod-fish? was reached. The odor of the box called
forth strong expletives of disgust from Stamps, who swore the thing was
?spilte,? and after passing it through the crowd for proof of his judgment,
it was returned so marked and credit demanded for it.
While there were many inconveniences
to be encountered in regard to freights and passenger travel, it is a well-known
fact that in the early days of Grayson County, such things as a robbery
or interference of any kind with goods in transit, or persons traveling
through the country alone, was entirely unknown. A case in point, the truth
of which will be vouched for by many people living today, will serve a
good purpose. George W. Newcome, who lived at Kentucky Town, was a man
who dealt largely in lands, and it was often necessary that he should carry
large sums of money with him, which being bulky and heavy, he would place
in his capacious saddlebags. On his arrival at Sherman he would hitch his
horse to the famous old pecan tree that formerly stood on the public square,
throw the saddlebags across a limb, go off and transact a day?s business
and feel that his money was as free from molestation as though locked within
the steel vaults of a bank, and would, to use his own language, often never
think of it unless it was needed for use. Many other incidents of like
character, which will be related in future chapters, in which the names
of such men as Frank Richards, Phillip T. Wells, William C. Coffey, and
many other early merchants and traders will figure, will serve to tell
the story of the sterling honesty of those people of brawny arms and rugged
exterior. Merchants would ride over the country for several days at a time,
collecting their accounts, and when overtaken at night would stop at the
first house they came to, and were never molested, although they would
many times have thousands of dollars with them, and that fact well known
to many persons. When through with collecting and ready to start to market,
their money, chiefly gold and silver, would be placed in a pair of saddlebags
and strapped across a mule, and they would start on their journey. It was
no uncommon thing when these starts were made for half the men in the town
to be present and bid them good-bye. So it will be seen that, while the
pioneers were a rough and uncultivated people, they were honest.
These are a few of the characteristics
of the men and women whose biographies will be told in the pages of this
little book and its followers, and no more pleasing task has ever fallen
to the hands of the writer than this effort to perpetuate their memories
in a form that generations yet unborn may know their lives and, as far
as possible, their features as well.
George C. Dugan.
George C. Dugan was born in Jefferson
County, Missouri, October 7, 1812, eight years before that territory was
submitted as a state of the union. His father was Daniel Dugan, a native
of Virginia, and his mother was Catherine Vaden, a native of Kentucky.
Thus, too, he was born a pioneer. The family in 1816 moved to Illinois,
where George went to school, and acquired such knowledge of books as could
be obtained in the log cabin, puncheon floor[ed] schoolhouse of the western
border. In later years the family removed to Arkansas, from which state
Mr. Dugan removed to Texas in 1835, first into what is now Fannin County,
and in 1837 [he] moved to the well-known Dugan place on Choctaw Creek in
Those days were [ones] of watchfulness
for the pioneers, and all work was done with a sentinel on the watch for
the Indians. In 1844, Daniel Dugan, an uncle of George C., with another
young man, were surprised and killed by Indians. Not long afterward they
attacked his father?s house and killed a young man who was lying in bed
with his brother. His father returned the fire and killed an Indian. The
Indians, while attempting to steal the horses from the stable, were entrapped
by George and his brother William, who killed three of them. These are
but a few of the many tilts of the Dugan family with the redskins, but
they held their ground and never flinched, no matter how hot the conflict.
On the 7th of January, 1849, George
C. Dugan was married to Miss Harriet Walls, a native of Kentucky. She was
a practical woman, and was a great help to her husband?s success in accumulating
property. Mr. Dugan was a thorough and sagacious farmer, and by good management
accumulated quite a fortune previous to the Civil War. When the war closed,
Mr. Dugan removed to Sherman and commenced merchandising. After five years
in the business, he retired, and turned his attention to land and livestock
Mr. Dugan died, January 5th, 1881,
at his home in Sherman. Two sons and four daughters still survive, most
of whom are residents of Grayson County.
William D. Fitch.
William D. Fitch, the first County
Clerk of Grayson County, was born in Alabama, May 20th, 1821. From that
state his father removed to Texas, in 1844, locating first at old Fort
Warren on Red River, where he remained one year, removing from there into
what is now Grayson County, locating near White Mound. About this time
the Mexican War came on, and William and his brother John enlisted and
went to the front as member of Capt. Dan Montague?s company. At the close
of the war they returned home and when Grayson County was organized in
1847, William D. Fitch was elected County Clerk, in which capacity he served
until 1851, in which year he returned to Alabama and married Elizabeth
Cargo. On his return to Texas he engaged in clerical work, and the records
of the court show that he was one of the most careful, painstaking penmen
that has ever handled the books of the county. After the death of his first
wife, he married Miss Maggie Gee of Greenville, July 25th, 1867, who still
survives him. Mr. Fitch died in Sherman, August 10th, 1873. One son, by
his first wife, is still a citizen of Sherman.
James P. Dumas.
James P. Dumas was born September 20th,
1820, in Greenville District, South Carolina. He moved to Texas in 1841,
settling in Milam County, where he lived till 1843, when he moved to the
falls of the Brazos and resided there till June 1844, when he moved to
the present site of Dallas, building the third house at that place and
laying off the original town. Leaving Dallas July 20th, 1845, when he moved
to Sister Grove, Grayson County, where he lived till his death, which took
place on February 1st, 1875. James P. Dumas was married in Fayette County,
Alabama, on April 13th, 1844, to Mary A. E. Thompson, who still survives
him. He enlisted as a volunteer in Montagne?s company and served in the
Mexican War. Mr. Dumas was prominent in the early settlement of Grayson
County, and the records attest of much work on his part in the establishment
of the boundaries of many of the original surveys in the county. He was
a man of thrifty habits, and by careful watchfulness, amassed quite a fortune,
principally in lands.
Besides a wife, he leaves several sons
and daughters who are among the best known and most highly respected citizens
of Grayson County.
Ambrose B. White.
Capt. Ambrose B. White was born in
Ohio, October 24th, 1811; his early days were spent in Illinois near Springfield.
When the Black Hawk War broke out in 1832, he shouldered his gun to defend
the pioneers against the blood-thirsty savages, and fought bravely with
his comrades until the war closed. But in the midst of the carnage was
a young lady who was destined to be his wife. Through a long day?s hard
fighting she moulded bullets for him while he shot Indians. This lady?s
name was A. E. Murdah, and after the close of the war, on the 20th of June
1833, they were married.
Capt. White founded the town
of Whitesboro and at the time of his death held the office of Mayor, an
office which he had filled many times since the incorporation of the town.
When he settled where the town of Whitesboro stands, he found himself in
the midst of a vast wilderness. One or two stores and a blacksmith shop
constituted Sherman. He chose a location for a town and staked the streets
of Whitesboro. He built the first house. He died December 17, 1885, and
had always been regarded by his friends as a true father whose ministering
was kind and whose life was exemplary.
Col. George R. Reeves.
The ancestors of Col. Reeves migrated
from Ireland to the United States about the year 1794, and located in South
Carolina, where his father, William S. Reeves, was born in 1796. After
the death of his parents, William S. Reeves, at the age of three years,
was taken to Nashville, Tennessee, then a frontier village, and brought
up by an uncle, a pioneer settler. He served in the War of 1812 and in
the Creek War, and after living a few years in Arkansas, where he represented
his county (Crawford), in the legislature, in 1846 he removed to Texas,
settling at Preston on Red River, then the chief business point in Grayson
George R. Reeves was born in Tennessee,
January 3d, 1826. When about eighteen years of age, [on] October 31st,
1844, he was married to Miss Jane Moore, the granddaughter of Robert Bear,
a noted pioneer settler of Arkansas, and afterwards of Texas. In 1846 he
[Reeves] removed to Texas, and located in Grayson County, where he at once
became a prominent figure in the public affairs of the county. In 1848
he was elected tax collector, and served two years. In 1850 he was elected
sheriff and served until 1854, when he was elected to the legislature,
where, by his unassuming but clear-headed manner, he won the friendship
of such men as W. R. Ochiltree, John Sayles, James W. Throckmorton, Stephen
H. Darden, M. D. Ector, Ashbel Smith, Cyrus H. Randolph, and other noted
men who have since figured conspicuously on the pages of Texas history.
He was again elected representative in 1857.
When the trumpet blast called the sons
of the South to the fields of carnage, George Reeves was among the first
to respond, and raised a company for Col. William C. Young?s regiment,
afterwards the famous 11th Texas Cavalry, whose hardships and struggles
he followed and shared through many of the fiercest battles of the Civil
War, among which were Murfreesboro, Corinth, Chattanooga, Chickamauga,
Knoxville, and Tunnel Hill.
After the death of Col. Young, George
Reeves was promoted to the colonelcy of his regiment, and remained as its
commander until the last gun had been fired in the strife, when he came
home and found himself ruined by the war; but he was not one to give up,
so with the vim which was his chief characteristic, he went to work to
retrieve his fortunes, and succeeded.
In 1866, in 1873, in 1878, and in 1880
he was elected to the legislature from Grayson County, and at the session
of 1881 was elected speaker of the house, a position which he filled with
In 1885, Col. Reeves was bitten by
a rabid dog and died in great agony from the effects of the poison.
Four sons and three daughters of Col.
Reeves still reside in Grayson County.
E. D. Webster.
Among the earliest settlers of the
western portion of Grayson County, was E. D. Webster, who located on Jordon
Creek, twenty miles west of where Sherman now stands. Mr. Webster was born
in Massachusetts in 1799, from which state he removed to Ohio, which was
then a frontier country, in 1815. After he arrived at man?s estate he went
to Louisiana in 1821, and from there removed to Missouri in 1825, in which
year he married Margaret Furman. In 1845 he removed to Texas, opening a
farm on Jordon Creek, in what is now Grayson County, where he lived until
the 30th of August 1861, at which time he died. His widow died in March
Dr. James Lafayette Leslie.
Dr. J. L. Leslie was perhaps one of
the best known and most highly esteemed physicians who located in northern
Texas in the days of its early settlement. He was a native of Alabama,
being born in Monroe County in that state on the 20th day of January, 1825.
From that state he removed to Mississippi and located at Carthage, where
he commenced the practice of medicine in 1847. In 1848 he married Miss
Ellen Louisa Jack, and removed to Lamar County, Texas, in 1850. Removing
again in 1852, he located in Mantua, Collin County, and upon the establishment
of the town Van Alstyne in 1873, he located in that place, and was one
of the most energetic and liberal workers for the advancement of his town
and that section of Grayson County. Dr. Leslie was never a drone in any
undertaking, being always in the front rank of every good enterprise. He
was a devout Christian, a member of the Methodist Church South, an ardent
Odd Fellow and a zealous Mason, and to his untiring work all those organizations
owe much for their strength in that particular section.
His first wife died in June 1885, leaving
three sons and one daughter, A. T., J. P., and W. T Leslie, all of whom
reside in Sherman, and Mrs. Lacy J. McKinney of Anna, Collin County. In
November 1885, Dr. Leslie married Mrs. Mary Stogsdill of McKinney, who
still survives him.
Dr. Leslie was not only a pioneer settler
of Texas, but was a pioneer Odd Fellow, having joined that order in 1847,
when it was in its infancy. In the ?50s, his medical practice extended
over a territory of fifty miles around.
Dr. Leslie died at his home in Van
Alstyne September 8th, 1894.
Thomas C. Roberts.
Thomas C. Roberts was born in McMinn
County, Tennessee, August 3d, 1823. Was married to Nancy P. Miller in 1844.
Moved to Grayson County, Texas, in
June 1852. Has been living in the vicinity of Whitesboro for thirty-four
years. He has been a member of the Christian Church for half a century.
He has always been a Democrat. He has always been a farmer by profession;
but for many years after settling near Whitesboro, [he] ran an old-fashioned
tread-wheel ox mill?the only mill in western Grayson, which was an improvement
on the old steel mill he first used.
His wife died July 28th, 1892. Has
three living children, seventeen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
M. L. Webster.
M. L. Webster, who has for many years
been conspicuous in the upbuilding of the town of Whitesboro, was born
in Ralls County, Missouri, July 1st, 1826. He came with his father to Texas
in 1845, locating on Jordon Creek in what is now Grayson County. In 1846
he was ordered by the governor to raise a company of militia, of which
he was elected captain, but the war with Mexico coming on, he was never
commissioned, and a call being made for volunteers by the United States
government, on February 2nd, 1847, he joined Capt. William Fitzhugh?s company,
P. H. Bell?s regiment, of volunteers for twelve months, reenlisting at
the end of that time for another year. His company was kept on the frontier
of Texas to protect settlers against the Indians, even after the war closed
in 1848, until February 2nd, 1849, having served just two years, for which
service he now receives a pension of eight dollars per month.
In 1848, when Cooke County was organized,
he was elected sheriff, although still in the United States service. He
resigned his office as sheriff in 1849, and following the great host then
moving toward the Pacific in search [of] gold, he went to California. In
1860, just as grim war was beginning to send its mutterings over the land,
he returned to Texas and entered the Confederate army, serving most of
the four years on the borders of Texas, against the Indians. Mr. Webster
was married in 1863, and in 1868 located in Whitesboro, of which town he
has several terms filled the office of mayor, and enjoys in a high degree
the confidence and esteem of his neighbors.
When Grayson County was organized,
it appears that in the selection of officers the people looked for honest
and capable men, and the men thus chosen show in their characters that
but little thought was had that there would be any need for that heroic
courage now deemed so necessary, especially in executive officers. Particularly
does this seem apparent in the selection of their first sheriff?a man as
modest and reserved in his manners as a girl. This man was Joshua West.
Mr. West was born in Jersey County,
Illinois, February 2, 1818, where he remained until 1845, when he came
to Texas, and located in Grayson County, where he worked at farm work and
taught a country school until the organization of the county in 1847, when
he was elected sheriff, the duties of which office he faithfully discharged
for two years. He was married in 1847 to Miss Harriet Bradley.
Mr. West often told of his arrival
at Red River after nightfall, at the end of a tiresome day?s travel in
the Indian country, and finding that the ferryman lived some distance from
the river on the Texas side and could not be raised, how he laid down on
the warm sand, with his bundle of clothes for a pillow and the hoot of
the owl and howl of the wolf for a lullaby, he slept as sweet a night?s
rest as he ever enjoyed.
At the close of his official career,
he retired to his farm near where Denison now stands, where he remained
until 1858, in which year he removed to Sherman where he followed saddle
and harness making, until his death in 1872. He was a faithful Odd Fellow,
and was buried by that honorable order.
Of a family of eight, children four
still survive him. His good wife also is still living.
Thomas W. Randolph.
When the biographer attempts to write
of the lives of those he knew best and moved most, the task is one of the
hardest, as his natural impulses are all to look upon the sunny side and
become blind to the sorrows, the sadness, the shadows and the grief that
may have at times darkened the pathway of that one who has played his part
upon life?s stage and gone to his reward.
In the early days of Grayson, one of
the most popular and genial young men who cast his fortunes with the little
village of Sherman, was Thomas W. Randolph, who was born in Wilson County,
Tennessee, March 2nd, 1834. His father was Grief Randolph, who was born
near Wytheville, Virginia. In the year 185?, he was married to Miss Sallie
Young, daughter of Col. William C. Young, who died a few years afterward.
His second wife was Miss Bettie Thompson, daughter of Judge J. G. Thompson,
and who still survives him.
In 1861 he was appointed by the governor
of Texas as a commissioner to hold a council with the seven tribes of Indians
on the reservation. He was the third man who volunteered from Grayson County
in the late civil war, and joined the famous 11th Texas Cavalry, of which
regiment he was quartermaster, and was in the Indian battle of Chustenalla,
in the movements around Cross Hollows and Elk Horn. In 1862 his regiment
was transferred to the Mississippi, where it was commanded by Gen. John
A. Wharton, and was engaged in the battles of Farmington, Chickamauga,
and down the valley of Mossy Creek.
At the close of the war he returned
home broken in fortune but not in energy. He served as District Clerk,
Notary Public, and Democratic executive committeeman. He was an exemplary
Mason, and had taken many of the highest degrees of the order. He was for
many years engaged with his brother, J. L. Randolph, in the dry goods business
in Sherman, and was so engaged at the time of his death, July 9th, 1883.
In his death Grayson County lost one
of her most upright and honorable citizens.
Benjamin F. Christian.
When a man dies and those who knew
him all say he was a good man, and his life has been worthy to be an example
for every young man, then those who knew him not will appreciate anything
that will perpetuate the memory of such a noble character. Such a man was
Benjamin F. Christian, who first saw the light in Tennessee about the year
1814. He came to Texas in 1844 and settled in Upshur County. He removed
from there to Bonham shortly afterward, and married a daughter of Capt.
Mabel Gilbert. In 1858, he located in Sherman and engaged in the hotel
business. His wife died in 1863, and in 1864 he was married to Miss Lou
Davis, daughter of Micajah Davis, one of the earliest settlers of Grayson
County. About the lose of the late war he removed to Whitesboro and engaged
in the mercantile business with Capt. Sam B. Savage. He died October 16th,
1886. His last wife survives him.
?Uncle Ben,? as he was familiarly called,
was a devoted Odd Fellow. It may be justly said of him that he was the
father of Odd Fellowship in North Texas. For years he traveled from the
Sabine to the extreme western frontier, even when the Indians depredated
the western counties, organizing Lodges and lecturing. Under dispensation
of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Grand Lodge, he instituted the first
Lodge in the Indian Territory, at Caddo. He was a charter member and organized
the Lodge at Whitesboro, which was named for him, in the year 1868. In
1872 he was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas.
He was a consistent member of the Cumberland
Presbyterian church, and one of the most active workers in the Old Settlers?
Association, having delivered a most touching valedictory at the reunion
in Sherman in August 1886, about two months before his death.
John R. Diamond.
John R. Diamond was born in DeKalb
County, Georgia, May 14th, 1820, and died in the city of Whitesboro, Grayson
County, Texas, October 5th, 1880. John R. Diamond became a pioneer late
in the ?40s after the Mexican War, and with his young family removed to
Pontotoc County, Mississippi. From thence he removed to Rusk County, Texas,
and continuing westward he next settled in Collin County. But in 1852,
preempted and settled on what is now known as the J. R. Diamond Peters?
Colony Headright, one mile west of Whitesboro. Here he announced to his
family that he had found the country for which he had been looking, and
that they would be called on to move no more.
His trials and toils as a pioneer at
that time, were patiently [and] cheerfully borne, and he soon surrounded
himself with a good farm, stock and many of the comforts of life. Thus
he was situated, when the war came on, and entering the army, he was made
commissary of Young?s 11th Texas Cavalry, which position, on account of
failing health he resigned at Shiloh. Returning home he was soon chosen
Lieut.-Col. of Bourland?s Frontier Regiment, which position he held until
John R. Diamond was called by those
who knew him, an honest man. He was a good and useful citizen, ever ready
to bear his part, to the extent of his means. He never betrayed a trust.
Whether as a Notary Public, Justice of the Peace, or Mayor of the city
in which he lived, he discharged his duty to those who elected him, the
best he knew how, and in good faith. He loved his neighbors as he did himself,
his practical religion being truly expressed on the marble shaft, erected
by his brother Masons over whose lodge he had so often presided: ?To visit
the widow and the fatherless in their afflictions.? Whether soldier or
citizen, in the public or private walks of life?as husband and father,
neighbor and friend, he was ever ready to obey every command, and discharge
every duty devolved upon him. His beloved partner in all his early struggles
and mother of his thirteen children, has long since joined him, over the
Henry C. Ritchey.
Biographical sketches of the old pioneers
who settled on the ?divide,? where Whitesboro has since been built, would
be incomplete without recording the name of Henry C. Ritchey. In looking
over the Whitesboro News, of the second day of September, 1882, we find
?that Henry C. Ritchey was born in the state of Kentucky in the year 1821.
He came to Texas in the year 1834, with the families of the Ritcheys, the
Latimers, the Dixons, and the Foremans, who have all done so much for the
Republic, and state of Texas, since those early days of pioneer toil and
hardships; all of whom first made their homes in Red River county. He was
married in the month of October, 1845, to Miss M. S. Gilliam, who with
their two sons Charles E. and Joseph C. still survive him.?
He removed to Grayson County in 1859,
and settled near Whitesboro, and later on erected a comfortable and elegant
residence within the town where he died the last of August, 1892. He was
indeed a true many?to himself, true to his family, true to his state, to
his faith and his God. He was a true and consistent member of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, and practiced the religion he professed.
He, together with his companions, who
now ?tread their joint pathway alone,? were ever foremost and active in
every enterprise for the building up of the new country, making comfortable
and happy the newcomer, and fixing him in his new home.
He loved the old settler, and took
great delight in attending the Old Settlers meetings; and although he will
join them no more in their annual greetings, the name of Uncle Henry Ritchey
will ever remain on the records.
Among the prominent characters who
figured in the early settlement of Grayson County was Overton (Sobe) Love,
now a resident of the Indian Territory, where he stands in the front rank
of progressive and substantial citizens. Judge Love has always felt and
manifested the greatest interest in the prosperity and advancement of the
Territory and of Texas, and the many trusts he has had confided to him
show that the people of both countries have confidence in his sound judgment
and business integrity. He has for many years held the position of Judge
of the Supreme Court of the Chickasaw Nation. The recent large amount of
money paid out in the Territory by the general government, was due in a
great measure to his untiring efforts.
Looking ahead and seeing the prosperity
that is in store on this side of the Red River, Judge Love has recently
invested a large amount of capital in one of Sherman?s most substantial
Judge Love?s wife is a sister of Governor
Byrd, of the Chickasaw Nation, and is a woman of high intellectual attainments,
and is well known and highly respected in many of the social centers of
Col. Matthew Leeper.
Col. Matthew Leeper was born at Lincolnton,
North Carolina, in 1804, and was the son of a soldier of the Revolutionary
War. From his native state he removed to Tennessee, and from thence to
Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1829, at which place he held the responsible
position of [federal] receiver of public monies through every administration
from Andrew Jackson to Zachary Taylor. He was married at Fayetteville,
Arkansas, to Miss Lucy Washington, a descendant of the family from which
sprang the immortal George Washington.
Under the administration of James Buchanan,
in 1857, Col. Leeper was appointed Indian agent, in which position he continued
under the Confederate government.
He has been identified with Sherman
from its earliest days and has held many positions of trust within the
gift of his people.
His life was full of thrilling events.
Speaking of him[,] one closely associated with him for years said to a
reporter recently: ?The death of Col. Matthew Leeper calls to mind an event
in his career remembered now by only a few. He was Indian agent under the
Confederate government and stationed at old Fort Cobb, where the Tonkoways
and a few other peaceable tribes were located. There was a feud between
the Caddos and the Tonkoways, and sometime during the winter of 1862-63
the Caddos made a night attack on their enemies and literally cleaned out
the reservation. Several hundred Tonkoways were killed and the remnant
of the tribe scattered. The first news the people of Sherman (where Col.
Leeper?s family lived) heard of the fight was brought in by fugitive Indians,
who reported that every white man in the fort had been killed. For several
days other bands of Indians continued to arrive here and all of them confirmed
the first report. The family went into mourning, and the Sherman Journal
published a lengthy obituary of Col. Leeper. Two weeks later a worn and
haggard traveler, clothed in an old army blanket, and wearing an old brimless
hat, appeared in our midst and was soon recognized as the reported dead
man. He had a narrow escape. He was in bed at the time of the attack, [and]
escaped in his night clothes through a window after the hostiles had possession
of the fort. After several days of wanderings in the woods he met a friendly
Indian who gave him a blanket and a hat and piloted him to Red River[,]
from where it was easy to reach Sherman.?
Col. Leeper died at his home in Sherman
July 22nd, 1894, at the advanced age of 91 years. His aged wife, three
daughters, and one son survive him.
Benjamin F. Savage.
Benjamin F. Savage was born in Cooper
County, Mississippi, April 5th, 1827. Moved from Dade County, Missouri,
to Grayson County, Texas, in the autumn of 1846, where he has resided ever
since. He was married to Miss Martha D. Pitman, July 26th, 1849. They have
nine living children, thirty-four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
He has followed farming and stock raising for a living. He is now Justice
of the Peace, and living in Whitesboro. For the past thirty-five years
he has been a member of the Masonic Fraternity. Has been a life-long Democrat.
He is now vice-president of the Old Settlers Association.
Charles Wheelock, one of the first
settlers of what is now Grayson County, moved to Texas in 1844 and located
on Jordon Creek about twenty miles west of the present site of Sherman.
At that time all this country was a portion of Fannin County, and Bonham
was the county site [seat]. He died on the same place in 1848. His widow
removed to Cooke County and died shortly thereafter.
Note?A sketch of the life of Judge
J. G. Thompson will appear in part II.
Index of Biographical Sketches
Christian, Benjamin F. (ca. 1814?1886)
Diamond, John R. (1820?1880)
Dugan, George C. (18121881)
Dumas, James P. (1820?1875)
Fitch, William D. (1821?1873)
Leeper, Col. Matthew (1804?1894)
Leslie, Dr. James Lafayette (1825?1894)
Love, Overton (Dates unknown)
Randolph, Thomas W. (1834?1883)
Reeves, Col. George R. (1826?1885)
Ritchey, Henry C. (1821?1892)
Roberts, Thomas C. (b. 1823)
Savage, Benjamin F. (b. 1827)
Webster, E. D. (1799?1861)
Webster, M. L. (b. 1826)
West, Joshua (1818?1872)
Wheelock, Charles (d. 1848)
White, Ambrose B. (1811?1885)
List of Illustrations
1. George C. Dugan
2. William D. Fitch
3. James P. Dumas
4. Ambrose B. White
5. George R. Reeves
6. John R. Diamond
7. M. L. Webster
8. Dr. Jas. Laf. Leslie
9. Thomas C. Roberts
10. Benjamin F. Savage
11. Benjamin F. Christian
12. Joshua West
13. Col. Matthew Leeper
14. Thomas W. Randolph
15. Overton Love
16. Judge J. G. Thompson