De Leon Free Press
DeLeon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, June 28, 1929
40th Birthday Edition
Ben FURNACE came to De Leon along about oil boom days and engaged in the business of blacksmithing. His shop is next to WALKER’s filling station. Mr. FURNACE does a general line of blacksmithing and woodwork and is a real service to the community in his line.
The Travelers Hotel was built in 1919, being completed and occupied in 1920. It is constructed of red brick and concrete and is fireproof throughout. There are 54 large rooms with bath conveniently located between each two rooms and the furnishings in all rooms are very nice. Guests are always comfortable there with gas stoves in the rooms.
It has been often said that the Travelers has the most attractive lobby of any hotel [---]. The floor is of tile and much marble was used in the fixtures. The dining room is large and attractive also, having large windows and ample ventilation.
H.F. PEGRAM was the first manager of the Travelers when it was opened.
The Travelers Hotel cost approximately $130,000 and was built as a stock company by local citizens, later being sold by them. It is now owned by Mrs. W.C. STREETY.
Mrs. L.C. BILLS has operated Bill Hotel in De Leon for the past 25 years. The original building was erected by H.F. SHORT about twenty-five years ago. During the boom days of 1918-19 Mrs. BILLS erected an annex of 20 rooms and about a year ago had the old original building wrecked and now occupies the annex only. She has done quite a nice business throughout the years, being particularly well known for the excellence of the meals she serves.
The Gulf Production Company recently purchased the E.E. GENTRY Filling Station and employed Mr. GENTRY to conduct the business for them. The location is across the street from the post office. Gulf products only are sold. On this high class of products the concern is building a good business, or rather maintaining the good patronage Mr. GENTRY had built up. The station is modern in every particular.
Earl McCLELLAN is in charge of GENTRY’s Garage, in connection with the filling station. McCLELLAN has been mending cranky automobiles in De Leon as long as the longest of them. He does good work. They have a battery station and wash and polish cars.
Tonk HULSEY has leased two filling stations in De Leon recently, one the Hiway Filling Station, handling Pierce Products and the De Leon Service Station, with the Texas Line. Mr. HULSEY only recently leased these stations, the Hiway from Joe UNDERHILL and the De Leon from John GILDER. His locations are both ideal and with the beginning of the tourist season soon he should do a thriving business. Mr. HULSEY is a son of Uncle Zack HULSEY, one of the oldest settlers in Comanche county. He was reared at Downing.
W.E. Howell, Sr.
W.E. HOWELL, Sr. “The Mans Store” is located next door north from the Garner-Alvis Co. where one of De Leon’s early mercantile establishments was located. Mr. HOWELL, who has lived in De Leon for a quarter of a century, and who is well known to the public, having been in the employ of the larger mercantile establishments, conceived the idea of building a business of his own. He commenced with a small stock five or six years ago, first having his store in the corner of a grocery store. Today he occupies all the building where he began and his stock is full and complete along the lines he carries, including all men’s wearables.
De Leon, as a community, demanded a first class Man’s Store. Mr. HOWELL has filled the need. His son, J.P. is associated with him in the business.
Uncle Luther MORRIS and wife came to De Leon in 1881 from Kentucky. They came on one of the first trains to come into Eastland on the T.P. Railroad and came here in a wagon.
They settled some 15 miles north of De Leon at a time when there were very few houses and not a building in what is now De Leon.
Uncle Luther says one of the greatest improvements is in the farming, the modern way being much easier.
He says in those days people had more pleasure than they have now. Uncle Luther is now 78 years of age and Aunt Em is 73.
Rhodes Richard Brashear Cross Red River Into Texas Dec. 1853; Resided in Comanche County Since ‘61
Richard R. BRASHEAR, one of Comanche county’s oldest settlers, was born in Mexico, Mo. October 25, 1843, and crossed the Red river with a party in - , coming to Texas on Dec. 1, 1853. His father fell in with a party of fifteen wagons from Illinois and came to the village of Dallas. As they came through Dallas, A Christian preacher named Poly was holding a meeting right about where the Dallas county courthouse now stands.
His father accompanied one family named Hudson from the North, to a place some fifteen or twenty miles south of Dallas where the family of culture and refinement had relatives. When they arrived at the place where their Texas relatives lived, they found a hut bare of furniture, with only a few skins of buffalo and deer lying around and a few cooking utensils, the family sleeping on the floor and “enjoying” a state of nature and ignorance appalling to behold. Grown girls were going about with a silly embarrassed giggle, wearing domestic aprons that had the appearance of never having been washed. In the twenty years his settler had lived in the rich black belt of Dallas county, he had succeeded in growing nothing except a clump of Bois ‘d Arc trees. The visitors soon left.
BRASHEAR’s father disliked the ‘plains’ country around Dallas and returned to Cook county, passing by Denton where there was only one house, a log cabin which had been the headquarters for an army post. They took the old soldier’s trail to Ft. Hickory, four miles from where Gainesville is located now. They found friends and settlers here, and resided in Cook county for ten years.
When the family came to Comanche county to live in 1861, BRASHEAR was 17 years of age. His father was opposed to the Civil War and did not go, neither did the son go. At this time BRASHEAR was freighting with an ox team from Northern Texas to Brownsville, driving six yoke of oxen. He would take a load of flour and meat down and bring back salt. Once, while in the southern part of the state he took a trip over into Old Mexico, going as far as Tampico or perhaps Monterey.
It was on one of these freighting trips that BRASHEAR was attacked by three Mexican bandits who shot him in the knee and he carries the scar to this day. He killed all three of the Mexicans in the fight. “I was a dead shot in those days,” he told the Free Press editor.
Mr. BRASHEAR and his father lived on Indian Creek, below Comanche, taking up his residence there in ’61. The town of Comanche then had two stores, a blacksmith shop and a little frame office building where the county business was transacted. There was also a little school house there. His father was named Guy BRASHEAR and his mother, Nancy.
It was in the early 60s when Uncle Charlie McKENZIE, then 76 years of age, was in the woods in Indian Creek peeling walnut bark to dye clothes. Indians came upon him and shot him to death. A boy was with the old man but he got away and ran to a field not far away and brought his uncle who brought a hack and hauled the dead man home. The neighbors all gathered in, made a crude coffin and buried him. Two sons of McKENZIE were also shot by the Indians.
BRASHEAR also told of a party of Indians coming into the edge of the village of Comanche and rounding up and getting away with a drove of horses. The settlers gave chase but the red men got away. While returning, the party saw an Indian pony dragging a piece of rawhide line and supposing the Indians were near, the men scattered and surrounded a clump of liveoak bushes. One of the party named ANDERSON was shot to death by another named COX, the latter mistaking him for an Indian. This was in ’63.
It was in 1863 that BRASHEAR joined the Texas Rangers and was in the service for two years and three months. All the government ever paid him, he said, was two Confederate $20.00 bills. He furnished his own grub and clothing, receiving nothing from the government but his ammunition. The Ranger headquarters at that time was at Gatesville. A force of 120 men was assigned to Coryell and Comanche counties, 60 to each.
It was while serving as a Ranger, the purpose being to protect the settlers from Indians and outlaws, that BRASHEAR tells a story of crawling into a cave out at Copperas, probably twelve miles from De Leon, and went away back some thirty feet and found a bear’s bed where the bears had wintered the year before. He looked up and saw a hole in the rock above him, probably a foot across. He stuck the match in his hand into the pile of straw, probably two wagon loads of it, he said, then got out and watched the thin line of smoke go straight up into the heavens. His object was to fool the Indians and make them think it was a signal fire. No Indians answered, but his Ranger captain sent hurriedly to find out what was wrong.
In 1869 BRASHEAR was married to Miss Josephine OWEN and they reared a family. This coming 17th day of January they will have been married sixty-one years. They live in a little house on the northeast side of town. He is 85 years of age and she 79. Because he served in the Ranger service back in the 60s, the State of Texas pays him $50 per month which they live on very comfortably, raising a few chickens on the side.
Adjoining the Chevrolet Station, on the corner, is the H.E. WHITTLE Filling Station. Mr. WHITTLE purchased the business from Fred NABORS who in turn acquired it from Melvin HOLDRIDGE. Mr. WHITTLE handles the Magnolia line of gasoline and oils, and Brunswick tires. He is building a reputation for prompt and courteous service, giving personal attention to the needs of his customers. Reese UPSHAW is assistant.
L. L. Miller
MILLER Shoe Shop is known far and wide. Mr. MILLER came to De Leon in 1907 and has been here continuously, except for a few years spent in Fort Worth and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. He has the reputation of being the fastest man at the cobbler’s bench in Texas – and can prove it if given a chance. And he does his work good as well as promptly. His shop is on post office street.
Charley CATHEY told Free Press that he had been living in De Leon and within six or seven miles for the past 52 years. He has been in the restaurant business for 22 years, which places him in the catalog of the old timers. Charley CATHEY and wife now operate a nice little café in the old Free Press building, on post office street, where they are doing well. Charley is reputed to be the only restaurant man on earth who locks up and goes home to dinner.
Located in the old Counts building, one of the early brick structures, will be found C.H. LESTER fountain, confectionary and music store. LESTER also keeps an up-to-date news stand, cigars, tobaccos, candies. He features Banner Ice Cream and keeps a big supply on hand for every demand. LESTER’s fountain draws liberal patronage all the year round.
G.H. YORK established a restaurant business in De Leon and conducted same for about twenty-five years. During the early part of the present year his health failed and he sold the business out to Milton and Blake HEATH, who have each had former experience in Café work. They are continuing the business and succeeding nicely. The Café is being kept open day and night in order to accommodate their trade.
A & P Store
In September 1927, the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. opened the first chain store to come to De Leon. H.S. McCRUM, Desdemona man, was the first manager. When McCRUM was transferred, Dick HARRIS, of Moran, Texas, was made local manager, and holds that position at this time. The A. & P. draws a good local trade, and an excellent patronage from the Desdemona district, bringing people to the town to trade who perhaps would not otherwise come here regularly. The store is on the east side of the street and is modern and attractive.
Weaver Drug Store
Weaver Drug Store commenced business in De Leon twenty or twenty-five years ago. Dr. T.P. WEAVER and his eldest son, W.P. WEAVER, established the firm and W.P. WEAVER, a registered pharmacist, has been in active management since the business was founded.
Twelve or fifteen years ago the store was modernized with the latest drug-store fixtures, tile floor, modern sanitary fountain. The management has kept pace with the times, and within recent months the fountain has been changed to the newest refrigerator system. A big stock of drugs and drug store sundries is carried. Weaver Drug is one of the most attractive salesrooms in all this section.
In passing, the Free Press would not forget to mention Cager MOHON, congenial fountain man and clerk, with this establishment for the past twenty-four years.
EDMONDSON, the Tailor, came to De Leon from Hico some 20 years ago and engaged in the motion picture business. He conducted this business until the boom days, the show being located in the present Chevrolet building. When the boom came and an opportunity to sell to good advantage was presented, he sold the show and engaged in the tailor business.
At this time Mr. EDMONDSON has an exceptionally well-equipped dry cleaning, tailoring and hat shop. He has installed the most modern machinery and does a retail clothing business and cleaning, pressing and hat blocking. Charley MORRIS is assistant.
Saw Fort Forth When Only Two Houses in Place
Mrs. Bitha HOGAN is 75 years of age and her husband is 81. They live in the house nearest the southwest corner of the De Leon cemetery. Both are active and well preserved for their advanced years. Both have seen a very different Texas to what young folks of today are seeing.
Mrs. HOGAN has lived in Comanche county for fifty-eight years. She lived in the extreme eastern portion of the county for a greater portion of her life. Mr. HOGAN has not been in the county so long, but he is a pioneer Texan.
When Ft. Worth was not yet large enough to be called a village, having only two houses, Mrs. HOGAN tells us of having ridden a horse over the place where a city was later to be built. No stretch of the imagination could have pictured to her what that immediate spot was to become.
Fifty-eight years ago, she declared, there was no De Leon, and Comanche was a small, struggling town of a few log cabins. The first dress she bought after coming here came from Marlin.
Mrs. HOGAN said she sold butter, eggs and chickens to the men who built the Texas Central Railroad thru here in 1881. She says the greatest change, she thinks, has been in our methods of transportation.
Mrs. HOGAN told many stories of Indian depredations, and narrowly escaped being captured herself by the red men one morning while enroute to school. She out-ran the Indians. Her school mate, another girl, jumped from her horse and ran into the woods and escaped, both going to the homes of settlers.
W.E. LOWE, L.A. DELANEY and J. CARTER are engaged in drilling for oil, the concern being known as Keystone Drilling Company. It was organized about 1919, and in the succeeding 10 years, hundreds of wells have been drilled, some of them on property owned by the company, others being drilled on a commercial basis for other concerns.
The Keystone is one of the few remaining concerns that was organized during the hectic days of oil and war. It has succeeded because its managers from the first differed from those who affirmed that “business principles could not be applied to the oil business.”
Mrs. H.G. GILLOCK is owner and manager of De Leon’s beauty shoppe. Her shoppe is on the mezzanine floor at Higginbotham Bros. & Co., where she has a suite of rooms equipped with the latest machines for permanent waving, facials and general beauty work. Mrs. GILLOCK has had considerable experience and her work is satisfying to her customers and her patronage is increasing rapidly.
De Leon Market
HAFFORD Bros. are owners and managers of De Leon Meat Market. H.H. HAFFORD has been in the business for some ten years, formerly in partnership with Lee HOLLAND. When HOLLAND dropped out of the firm, HAFFORD took his brother, Homer, as a partner. This is the only meat market in the city at this time, there having been numerous others in past years, but none continuing for a great while. HAFFORD Bros. are giving excellent service and doing well.
De Leon Compress
De Leon Compress & Warehouse Co., has one of the largest cotton compresses in this section of the state. Cotton from Albany to De Leon, from Cross Plains to De Leon and much cotton from Throckmorton and Woodson, comes here to be pressed. The average run for the season is 25,000 bales. The best season in recent years was about three years ago when 32,000 bales were handled. Hoyt VIA is local manager. Headquarters of the concern are in Dallas.
Aunt Martha Brumley Tells How Unfortunate it Was for Blonde Girl to be Captured by Indians
When a red-haired girl was captured by the Indians it was just too bad for her, said Aunt Martha BRUMLEY, pioneer woman of this section, who still resides with her brother, Uncle Billie HARRELL, near the BRUMBELOW home, six miles north of De Leon. Aunt Martha told about the capture of the two LEMLEY and two WOODS girls, one day back in the 60s.
The two families lived not far from De Leon, up in the north country, probably near Lowell. Mrs. LEMLEY had gone to spend the day at the WOODS home and the two WOODS girls had gone to spend the day with the LEMLEY girls. While the four were busy quilting, red men came and captured them and took them away. After going a short distance they sent three of the girls on ahead, keeping one with red hair behind. The others looked back and saw the Indians “cutting her up alive.” A few days later they killed a blond girl. The two with black hair were spared. A short time later they escaped and hid in a thicket near the home of settlers. Some women passed and they called to them for clothing, their clothes having been torn off by the savages.
Aunt Martha came to Comanche county in 1864, during the Civil War, later moving to Stephenville. Her name was KIRK. Her husband, Allen KIRK, was county clerk of Erath county for six years, and about 1870 was elected to and served in the Texas State Senate.
Half a mile from the BRUMBELOW home, which is about six miles north of De Leon is a queer rock shaft about thirty feet tall and six or eight feet in diameter. There is a hole near the bottom sufficiently large to admit the body of a man. Up the side of the shaft are other holes, smaller, and placed in such a manner as to command a view of the surrounding terrain. The very old settlers say this was the look-out inside an old log fort, which was surrounded by a
stockade of sharp pickets, ten feet high: Here the early settlers gathered, sometimes as many as a hundred of them, in times when Indians were on the war path. It was called Fort Shirley, it is said.
Others who have seen the silent sentinel of another age standing there insist that it is not part of a fort but a part of an early day saw mill. As a solution to the question, Free Press suggests that both sides to the question may be correct. It may have been a sawmill, enclosed by a stockade, in which settlers took refuge from bands of savages.
Aunt Martha lived in a log house, and once when Indians were known to be in the neighborhood, she led her horse into the kitchen and kept him there overnight. The red men stole about 300 head of horses and killed two settlers named MILLER and WOODS. A neighbor came next morning and went first to the BRUMLEY stable. Finding the horse missing he came and reported the “bad news” to Aunt Martha. She threw the kitchen door open and led her horse into the yard. The settlers gave chase to the Indians and overtook them with the stolen ponies. One of the settlers borrowed Aunt Martha’s horse. The Indians were roasting a beef when the settlers came up. They ran away but before leaving shot all the horses they could. Many of the animals were recovered with arrows sticking in them.
Aunt Martha, aged 85, now owns a good farm just northwest of Abilene. But her brother, Uncle Billie HARRELL, aged 87, found the west did not agree with him. So they came here and are living near the BRUMBELOW home. Uncle Billy was active until last October when he cut down a tree which fell across his leg, breaking his thigh. The wound never healed. He goes about in a wheel chair. Aunt Martha is remarkably well preserved for one of her years.
Mrs. Sarah Wall Relates Some Interesting History
Mrs. Sarah WALL, wife of the late R.L. WALL, was born in Comanche county and relates some very thrilling stories of peril and adventure in the early days. Her father’s name was Charlie MAHAN. She has resided on the place she now occupies, a few hundred yards north of St. Joe, for around forty years.
Mrs. WALL recalls a visit from Indians when she was a child. Her father was away from home and the red men came and stole their horses. The family dog, standing guard over the master’s household, tried to drive off the Indians and his body was filled with arrows where he was found dead the next morning.
Mrs. WALL also gave a detailed story of the last Indian captured in this section, at the BLAIR home, across the Armstrong from Round Grove church. She told the story almost word for word as was told the Free Press by Uncle George ROSS and same is related in his story in this paper.
Another story of Indian depredations was told by Mrs. WALL regarding the husband of Aunt Mel SMITH, who still lives in the Victor section. Mr. SMITH was enroute to Stephenville with a load of when surprised by a band of warriors who suddenly surrounded the wagon. This frightened the oxen and they ran away, throwing SMITH back in his wagon, only his knee sticking up into view. The Indians shot him in the knee with a steel spike which he carried buried in his flesh for 30 or 40 years, finally having it removed by a surgeon. Aunt Mel SMITH has the spike to this day.
Times have greatly changed for the better, Mrs. WALL said. There is much less drunkenness. Many were the times when she blew out the light in her home to keep from attracting the attention of drunk men who were passing by. And she also thinks the standards of living are greatly improved.
Mr. Chester NORTON and Miss Mildred ROBERSON were united in marriage, Sunday at 3 o’clock in the home of the bride’s mother, by Rev. DAVENPORT.
Young NORTON is the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. M.D. NORTON and is a young man who is highly esteemed. Mrs. NORTON is the pretty and accomplished daughter of Mrs. Josie ROBERSON, both of these young people live in the Harmony community and have many friends who wish them a fail measure of happiness.
Uncle Jackie HOLMES whose age is 94 and his wife, Aunt Sarah, 84, came to De Leon in the year of 1882. Uncle Jackie helped to dig grubs out of the first street in De Leon.
The first white man buried in the West cemetery was Rev. CAMPBELL, a Methodist minister and two weeks later his wife passed away, she being the second to be buried there. Uncle Jackie helped to bury these people. Rev. CAMPBELL was the man who placed the handcuffs on Santa Anna, who was a Mexican general and he and his forces were defeated at San Jacinto by Houston and Santa Anna was taken prisoner.
Uncle Jackie says in those days people enjoyed life more than they do now. There were more gold pieces in circulation. He says he thinks the transportation is the greatest improvement.
Uncle Jackie thinks we are living in the last century. He believes that when God created the earth he placed the oil under the ground to destroy the earth with and man has discovered a way to get the oil and he believes in the year 2000 the Angel Gabriel will come and blow his trumpet and declare time is no more.
Gives Interesting Data Concerning Paper’s Birthday
John T. DAY, long time resident of this city, now of Hamlin, says the Free Press editor is “all wet” about this week being the paper’s birthday, or words to that effect. Be that as it may, Mr. DAY has some interesting facts about the early days. Here is his letter:
June 20, 1929
Mr. R.L. SCOTT
De Leon Texas
I am in receipt of your letter of the 17th with reference to the publishing of the first De Leon Free Press. Some time in the fall of 1889 the necessity for a paper was discussed by the business men of De Leon. However, before this time there had been an attempt by two other parties to run a weekly paper, but after a short time each of them suspended publication. I was at that time clerking for Mr. J.W. GORMAN, in his department store. I had commenced with J.W. STEPHENS on the first day of September 1889, about six weeks later Mr. GORMAN bought him out and soon after this the idea of a paper for De Leon was thought of.
The meeting was called, and was held in the Gorman store, B.T. HIGGINBOTHAM, F.L. TERRILL, W.C. STREETY, J.B. HILLIARD, Alex BOOTH and a few more that I can not recall were there. After quite a lengthy discussion of the proposition it was decided to issue this paper. A name for it was the next thing in order, and at last it was decided to call it “The De Leon Free Press” as it was to be sent to everyone free for the first six months.
John J. SWITZER was called in, and a trade was made with him and he took charge. I don’t know how much money he made out of the paper, but I think that times were pretty rough with him for a while, and he complained that he was not making a living out of it. However, at that time it did not require much money to live on. If a fellow got one suit of clothes a year he was in good shape.
The principal stores at that time were Higginbotham Bros, W.C. STREETY, Alex BOOTH Drygoods; J.W. GORMAN, Hardware; Dr. REDDEN Drug Store, Bob GILMORE, Drugs; Brooke HILLIARD had a confectionery where he made us milk shakes and other concoctions; Joe HAMMERS and another party had livery stables, which were largely patronized, as all of the express for Comanche and Sipe Springs and all passengers for both of those places came through De Leon.
There were three saloons in De Leon then. J.S. LACY ran one of them and I think Jim HEATH and one of the CARNES brothers ran the others. There was one school building and it was on the block just about where the present post office is. It was a two-story house and it was finally wrecked at the same time that the Baptist church was torn down. The Methodist church was a small one-room frame house where the present church now stands.
Rev. George ROSS was pastor of the Baptist church, or was soon after this time. There was only one stone building at that time. It was the one occupied by Alex BOOTH, and was a little later occupied by a saloon run by J.M. FAGGARD, and then by BLASINGAME and Jim HEATH.
At this time De Leon was a large shipping point for cotton as all of the cotton from Comanche and Sipe Springs came here. Sam BLACK and George WALKER owned the two gins at De Leon and did a big business. A little later, C.L. RUCKER and J.R. MOBLEY bought these and made considerable improvements in the gins. Mr. WALDRIP and R.B. KEE owned the two hotels and did lots of business. The principal water supply was two wells, one at each end of the street.
Some time prior to this, about 1887, a negro boy that Ben STEPHENS had working for him, killed his wife. The citizens of the community captured the negro after a chase of several hours. The people were notified to gather in as there was going to be a hanging. We were asked to come and see the show but declined. Without any excitement he was hanged near the scene of the murder. After this the negroes were notified to leave. There was only one negro girl in De Leon and she was living at Mr. W.C. STREETY’s and there was one or two families in Comanche.
Bob McADAMS made a sign saying, “Nigger, Don’t Let the Sun go Down on You in This Town,” and it was put up down at the depot, but was later nailed up on the well at the lower end of the street and remained there for quite a while.
We wish you success and hope that the Free Press continues at least for 40 years more.
Jno. T. DAY
Aunt Ann Sharp
Aunt Am SHARP came from Georgia in 1856 and settled in Navarro county and moved to Hill county and just after the Civil war moved to this county, but the Indians had just gone.
Her first home was a log house with a dirt floor and they hauled water three miles. They came to this county in a wagon drawn by oxen. Aunt Am is 80 years old.
During the Civil war her sister had gone to a neighbor’s house on horseback. She fell from her horse and broke both her legs. She crawled 2 ½ miles in that condition when she became exhausted. She was then one-half mile from a government road.
When she heard the wagons coming she put her bonnet on a tall sunflower and screamed as loud as she could. The wagons stopped and picked her up and took her on home. This sister is Grandma LOOKINGBILL of Desdemona, mother of Mrs. Sylvester STOVER.
Aunt Am is jolly and expects to be here many more years.
Joe Chambers Came West in 1872
In the fall of 1872 in company with two other men, he came from Hempstead, Austin county, Texas, on horseback prospecting and spent his first night in Comanche county between the present town of De Leon and Comanche. The next morning his host told him that six men had been hung during the night by a mob. This was not a very inviting situation, however he did not falter, many were the stories of Indians and their raids which were frequent at that time.
“On this trip I contracted for 340 acres of land, 12 miles north of Comanche, and 4 miles south of the present site of De Leon, which was then barren land. I could have bought school land at $1.00 per acre but I bought land along the Sabano for $2 per acre. In January 1873, I loaded my household goods and farm implements in two wagons, one drawn by a mule team and the other by a yoke of oxen and two men drove the wagons. One was Uncle Bruce TERRY and I drove the carriage with my wife and two babies to our new home. Our first few months were spent in a log cabin, about 50 yards from a spring in the bottom land of my present home place. On account of the stories we had heard of Indians, when we went to the well after a bucket of water, we would carry a gun in one hand and a bucket in the other. As soon as our wagons were unloaded and we were made, in a measure, comfortable, I started the wagons back to Waco for lumber to build a house. It took me 13 days to make the trip there and back.
Wild turkey and deer were plentiful. There were no farms between my place and Bob HOLLAND’s which is now a part of the De Leon townsite. Our neighbors were Uncle Bob HOLLAND, H.P. BIFFLE, Joe GARNER and William COONER, all living now near De Leon. Comanche being the closest school, I moved there in 1882. There being no railroad, I drove a freight wagon from Mt. Airy to Comanche. Our loads consisted of groceries and liquor.
“A stage line extended from Dallas to Comanche and this brought our mail weekly. In the 70s and early 80s each farmer had to gather his own crops, or neighbors share each other’s work. One fall I had such a big cotton crop, I rode all over the country one day and told all the men and boys that if they would come and pick cotton one day I would give a dance and pay for the fiddler but those who came to the dance and had not picked any cotton would have to pay $1.00 for the privilege to dance. Camp meetings were common affairs. People come for miles and camped for two or three weeks, friends meeting friends and new friends being made.”
Now when friends visit the home of Uncle Joe and Aunt Carrie, they can enjoy a plunge into the cool water or sit in the soft Bermuda grass under a cool willow shade and fish or lunch or perhaps in the fall, gather pecans. Uncle Joe is 83 years of age and Aunt Carrie is 82. There are 6 children living. They are Mrs. Calvin GREER and Bun CHAMBERS, De Leon; Jodie CHAMBERS of Waco; Bob CHAMBERS at Benjamin; Pick CHAMBERS, Snyder and Walt CHAMBERS at Ennis.
City Barber Shop
Arch HANSFORD is nearing the point when he will be called an old timer along with some of the rest. He came to De Leon from Sipe Springs and engaged in the barber business in the year 1912 and has spent the intervening years giving the De Leon public service “second to none.” His shop is well located and attractive and has the largest capacity, number of chairs considered, in the city.
Claude MILLER has been with the shop since 1915 and Everett, Mr. HANSFORD’s son, has taken up barbering.
Aunt Fannie Brown
Aunt Fannie BROWN came to De Leon in 1876 when Comanche was the closest post office. Her husband, Uncle Tom BROWN, helped to build the first houses here and was also one of the men who built the railroad. They settled two miles southwest of town and built a log house, and Aunt Fannie carried water from a neighbor well which was a distance of three miles. This well was on the farm of H.P. BIFFLE, until she dug a well in her own yard, carrying the dirt out in her apron. She dug to a depth of 25 feet and struck rock, under which water was found.
Indians many times came to her camp as she was moving to Comanche county from Grayson but fortunate for them unfriendly Indians were not encountered. Once an Indian and her husband went a few feet from the camp and killed a deer. The Indian kept the hide and gave him the meat.
Many times Aunt Fannie has gone a distance of 6 or 8 miles on horseback to sit up with a sick neighbor returning home before daybreak to assume the responsibilities that were many in those days.
Mrs. Sarah Kee
Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth HUGHES KEE was born in Franklin county, Ala., and came to Leon county, Texas in 1874 and to McLennan county, to a place about 20 miles west of Waco in 1875. They moved to Bosque county in 1878, coming to Comanche county in 1882. They first lived here in town. Her husband, R.B. KEE was De Leon’s second postmaster, following J.M. LAMBERT. They operated a hotel on the corner where the Farmers & Merchants National Bank now stands. It is Mrs. KEE’s recollection that De Leon’s first hotel was operated by a man named FERGUSON, on the BIBBY Variety corner. Mr. KEE later engaged in the mercantile business about where Weaver Drug store is.
In 1902, the KEE family moved the farm, which still bears their name, on the Leon river, five miles north of town. Mr. KEE died in 1911. Mrs. KEE continued to make her home there for a number of years.
Sons and daughters of this family are John, Charley and Richard KEE, Mrs. John T. DAY of Hamlin, Mrs. Jeff SMITH of De Leon; Mrs. W.T. PATTERSON of Rotan and Mrs. J.C. BILLS, Abilene.
C.R. Carruth Tells of Buffalo Hunt Near Abilene in Early 70s and Talks of Indian Raids
Uncle Charley CARRUTH tells an interesting story of saving the life of the late lamented J.D. HAM. About ten wagons, driven by men of this section, went out into the country beyond Abilene to hunt buffalo. The horses of the party were corralled a short distance from the camp. Orders were that no one was to leave camp without making the fact of his leaving known. J.D. HAM, for some reason, disregarded the rule, going to the corral to get his pony, which he had ridden hard that afternoon to give it water.
Someone saw a man among the horses in the darkness and, not knowing that Mr. HAM was missing, they grabbed their guns and started. A number forgot to get cartridges and went back for them. C.R. CARRUTH and Marcellus BARKER came near. BARKER wanted to fire but CARRUTH kept arguing him to wait until they were nearer, that it might be one of their party. BARKER was hard to restrain, but finally they heard the voice of their comrade talking to his pony. The father of John HAM was in the party and scolded his son for disregarding the rule.
Uncle Charlie tells of killing eight or ten buffalo in an afternoon. The great “cattle of the plains” were skinned and cut up where they fell and the wagons with the salt were driven about, the meat salted and loaded. They killed enough meat to last them all winter in this manner. The great hides were tanned for robes.
It was on this trip that a snow fell on the party immediately after they started west. Ples MILLICAN, a member of the party, borrowed John HAM’s pony to go down below Cottonwood Springs, to see a friend, later rejoining the party up toward Baird. MILLICAN discovered where an Indian trail in the snow had crossed the trail of the hunters. Although the trail was known to be fresh, still they did not see the Indians. Later it was learned that this band of Indians went down in the country toward Sipe Springs and got under a shelf of rock along the creek, until the snow had melted. They were evidently lost from their party, perhaps a dozen of them, and knew they could be too easily tracked in the snow. After the snow had melted, they started out toward the Palo Pinto mountains. It was while on this trip through the sparsely settled country that they came upon Bob LESLIE, between De Leon and Comanche and shot him in the head. Uncle Charlie said LESLIE was only wounded and he lay a day and night, in winter weather, before he was found and carried to his home. He died the following night from his wound and from exposure.
The only buffalo Mr. CARRUTH remembers having been killed in Comanche county was over beyond Highland. John KEITH, an old timer over there found one running with his cattle and killed it. This was in about 1872.
C.R. CARRUTH was born in Georgia in 1848. At two years of age his parents moved to Denton County, Ala., which was later changed to Calhoun, then to Cleburne county. He remained there until twelve years of age. In 1867, the family moved to Hill County, Texas, and after four years he came to Comanche county, settling on land where the NUNNELLEY, POUNDS, and BOWMAN homes were established when these three pioneer families came to this section the following year, in 1873.
Mr. CARRUTH was married to Mary LEWIS, near Desdemona in the early 70s. After her death he was married to Mollie ROSS, and to their union three children were born, two sons and a daughter. He has continued to reside on the land he first settled, having made his home where he now lives since 1878.
Sanitary Barber Shop
John L. GRISHAM is De Leon’s pioneer barber, having commenced work of barbering in the good year 1891 and continued until 1906, when he accepted as a salesman for Wilson-Whaley Company after running a feed store in De Leon for about a year. He was later employed in the Furniture department at Higginbothams, returning to his first occupation in about 1909 and says he will live and die by this calling.
Mr. GRISHAM came to De Leon from Mississippi in the year 1891, and since he likes the town and the people, he says he has about decided to “locate here.”
While Mr. GRISHAM is a barber by calling, he is a gardener by vocation and a fisherman by avocation, all of which makes a nice combination.
Winston GRISHAM, younger son of the family, recently returned from barbering two years in Los Angeles. An improvement program has been put through lately and the Sanitary is made more attractive.
Polnac Welding Co.
A.C. POLNAC is owner and proprietor of POLNAC Welding Co., located in TERRILL Garage building, just west of LESTER Hotel. Mr. POLNAC and his son, Eddie, do acetylene welding, tin work, auto repair, auto wrecking, windmill work, and plumbing. A boiler and welding shop generally is quite necessary to a town the size of DeLeon, and Mr. POLNAC and son are doing quite well. He alternates between this work and that of railroad fireman and engineman, a position he has had for a number of years.
Piggly – Wiggly
Some months ago D.L. TERRILL purchased fixtures and opened a store in the building next door south from Security State Bank. He has enlarged his stock from a mere handful of groceries on opening day until, at the present time, he has quite a nice stock. His fixtures are arranged on the self-serving plan.
Mr. TERRILL has only recently made a deal for Piggly-Wiggly franchise in De Leon and his store will soon be changed to meet the requirements of the big chain concern.
Foust Lumber Co.
C.G. FOUST conducts a lumber business on the lot where the late J.D. HAM opened De Leon’s first lumber yard in 1881. This yard was owned for a time in the early years by a pioneer named CAMPBELL who was prominent in business circles here, but Mr. HAM conducted the business for a long period of years.
C.G. FOUST purchased the yard from Mr. HAM in about 1917 and has conducted the business as one of a chain of yards he owns over central Texas. Mr. FOUST makes his home in Dublin, never having lived in De Leon. F.T. DANIELL is the local manager, having held this position with satisfaction to his employer and the De Leon public for several years. Charley FOUST, son of C.G., at first managed the yard.
A.C. MARTIN conducts a fire insurance business, having office at the DABNEY Hardware Store. Mr. MARTIN began his business about 1914 and by strict attention to details and courteous treatment to his customers he has succeeded in building up quite a creditable business, requiring the services of two people, Miss Lucy Mae MERRITT being his assistant. Mr. MARTIN writes all the regular forms of fire, tornado, hail, crop, and automobile insurance.
Terrill Grocery Co.
One of the old established institutions is TERRILL Grocery Co. The store was established by F.L. TERRILL about the year 1886, he having come to De Leon from Kentucky in 1882. He once handled a varied line of merchandise, but in later years the store has been an exclusive grocery establishment. F.L. TERRILL was one of the most substantial of the long list of pioneer merchants in De Leon. He died in 1912.
The business was once operated under the name of TERRILL Bros. & SHARP, with C.H. SHARP, brother-in-law of TERRRILL Bros., a member of that firm. Later Mr. SHARP withdrew from the firm and it became TERRILL Bros. At about the time of the oil boom, Felts TERRILL, youngest of the four brothers became owner of the business and since that time it has been operated exclusively as a grocery establishment, being one of the largest and most liberally patronized in the city.
The Western Union
De Leon has had an uptown Western Union Telegraph office since about 1919, when the oil boom was on. The office for a number of years has been located on the north side of the Ayers Block, immediately across the street from the office of Higginbotham Bros. & Co. It is the policy of the company to employ girls for operator-managers, for the most part, and at the present time, Miss Willie O’SHIELD is in charge, having held this position for about a year.
Beck-Scott Co. Inc.
On the first day of April 1929, the Beck-Scott Co., Inc., was organized with Bart D. BECK, late of Brownwood, and R.L. SCOTT, owners and managers. The business was organized for the purpose of manufacturing peanut butter and other kindred products, and canning certain lines of fruits, meats and vegetables.
The concern sells to wholesale only. B.D. BECK is general manager and salesman, having had a long experience in the line with another Texas wholesale concern in Brownwood where he lived for more than a quarter of a century.
Beck-Scott Co., Inc. owns a well-equipped peanut butter plant in De Leon capable of producing from 50,000 to 75,000 pounds of peanut butter a month. Actual operation was begun early in May 1929.
Plemmons Drug Co.
Guy HARMON, now of Waxahachie, was the first owner and D. TOMLIN, now of Ft. Worth, the second of what is now Plemmons Drug Co., so far as the writer has information. Or, it may be that this is the store established about a quarter of a century ago by RUSH & RUSH.
At any rate, O.E. PLEMMONS and his father, Dr. J.T. PLEMMONS, are the present owners of a thriving drug business, in a very attractive location in this city. O.E. PLEMMONS, who is a registered pharmacist, is active manager and Mr. PLEMMONS carries a stock that is a credit to a town the size of De Leon. His fixtures and store interior is as modern as the best of them, the fountain service is excellent, and the varied line of drug store merchandise full and complete.
The Plemmons Store is the Nyal Store, having exclusive agency of this popular line.
R.C. (Dick) CARTER is engaged in the general produce business on the HAM lot, across the street from FOUST Lumber Yard, having been in this business for some six or eight years. By square dealing and strict attention to business detail, he has won the patronage of a very large circle of producers who regularly bring him their offerings.
E.A. TERRILL, second son of F.L. TERRILL, after an absence of several years from De Leon, returned some five years ago and opened up a dairy. He began with a small herd and meager equipment. The necessity for a dairy has caused his business to grow until at the present time he has a large heard of excellent dairy cattle, and a modern dairy barn and sanitary equipment, steam boiler in a very modernly equipped milk house, etc. Mr. Terrill delivers twice daily, and has a good patronage.
Comanche Postmaster Dead
Death came Thursday morning to Murt SULLIVAN, Comanche postmaster. He had been ill a month. SULLIVAN was perhaps forty-five years of age. Free Press knows no further details.
T.P. BARNARD is the proprietor of the lunch counter on the corner of the Lambert Hotel lot known as Ikey’s Place. Mr. BARNARD is a railroad trainman and makes regular runs, his wife managing the business meanwhile. The railroad men named Mr. BARNARD “Ikey” and the name stuck.
Elizabeth, the young daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley MORELAND, had her tonsils removed at Gorman Wednesday and is at home doing nicely.
Anderson RUFF was born in Searcy county, Ark., December 9, 1860 and grew to young manhood there. He came to Texas in 1879 in a mule-drawn wagon, along with his mother, brothers and sisters, his father being dead. Ross, Wess and Anderson were the boys and Miss Lou RUFF, now of Breckenridge, and Mrs. John FADE, deceased, were his sisters. The family was four weeks on the road. They came hunting a better country, being enroute to Brown county were they had friends.
However, when they reached Comanche county, they stopped to make a crop and, liking the country, remained here through the years.
Mr. RUFF said the greatest change in the country, besides the mere fact of its settling up, is the sand. There was little sand noticeable when he came. The country was covered with sage grass. The settlers burned the grass off each spring and the fire kept the underbrush killed. There were only big trees scattered about then, he said.
Mr. RUFF said he was one of a party of eight boys who went to Fowler in 1879 and assisted in building the railroad westward.
Mr. RUFF remembers a Methodist camp meeting, which was held in a turn in the branch on the north side, where the old baseball park was in 1879. Others here also recall the meeting.
A man named R.N. ELGIN conducted the town lot sale in De Leon on July 7, 1881. He put out a big circular advertising the sale, which was distributed to the early settlers.
Mr. RUFF recalled many incidents of early history almost identical with the many stories published in this issue. He is one of the real old-timers.
First Five Families
The first five families coming to Comanche county arrived in the year 1852 and 1853. One of the old pioneers of De Leon was among the five. He was Uncle Bill CARNES, who died in 1917. The other families were MERCER, CUNNINGHAM, HOLMSLEY, and one who Pat CARNES, our informant, had forgotten.
Mr. CARNES said his grandfather, Dr. TUGGLE, was the first physician in the county, and his other grandfather, Uncle Dickie CARNES, was an early merchant at “Old Cora,” first town in the County, which later became Comanche.
Rotan Roundhouse Foreman was Old-Timer This Section
When G.W. NOLEN, roundhouse foreman for the Katy at Rotan, came to De Leon last Friday to attend a Firemen’s meeting, E. POLNAC brought him around to the Free Press office to “spin us a yarn” about De Leon fifty-two years ago. He was born at Jefferson, Harris County, near Houston in 1869 and came to this county when he was seven years of age, living with his father, S. NOLEN, near Houston Springs. His family got the water supply from the Springs, and he reviewed the scene of his childhood by driving out with Mr. POLNAC and getting “the first drink of water he has had since he went west.” (They have ‘gyp’ out at Rotan, they say).
Mr. NOLEN remembers the old fort on Flat Creek and referred to it as the old “smoke stack.” Mr. POLNAC drove him out to see it and had no trouble locating it near the BRUMBELOW home. He also told of an interesting incident of being one of three pupils in a school near Dockum. The teacher “sparked a grass widow” and let his three boy pupils run up and down Flat Creek all day. When they were ready to recite, he arranged a signal. They were to go to the schoolhouse and rap on a bench with a rock.
There was a sawmill and a post office up on Flat Creek, a few miles north of De Leon fifty-two years ago, Mr. NOLEN said. What was known as the Belle Plains road ran through that section. Mr. NOLEN has held the same job, roundhouse foreman with the Katy at Rotan for twenty-three years.
$50,000 Fire Loss Last Saturday
Reid Auto Supply Co. Lose Business Building Saturday in Most Disastrous Fire in Many Years.
The plant of Reid Auto Supply Co. was destroyed by fire late Saturday afternoon. The blaze was the most disastrous in many years, the loss being placed at from $40,000 to $50,000. Insurance was carried, however not in sufficient amount to fully cover the loss. The flames completely gutted the building, everything within the four walls, practically, being a total loss.
The building was of brick with concrete floors throughout. The north wall collapsed during the fire. All walls are ruined or badly damaged.
Thirty-five automobiles were lost in the flames, six of them being new Fords. One brand new truck had just been driven and was lost in the flames.
The men who work in the shop were in the washroom when the fire started, some in the showers. The fire started in a car immediately alongside the washroom, supposedly from a short. Probably a leaky carburetor and an oily engine gave it opportunity to spread rapidly. No one knows exactly how it did start, but a car that had had a habit of back-firing stood there.
All the men rushed from the room and escaped, some partly clad, one wholly without clothes, who rushed over near the office, grabbing one of the long ulsters the demonstrators wear, put it on and drove Ed SHORT’s car out of the north door and went home for clothes. SHORT supposed his car had been burned until after the fire. Another shop man sprang into a practically new Chrysler coupe of Riley WORTHY and drove it to safety. The dense smoke prevented other cars being gotten out.
De Leon firemen responded to the call quickly but the rapid spread of the flames rendered them almost helpless. Calls were sent to Dublin and Gorman, and trucks from those two towns were soon on the scene. Five streams of water played on the flames toward the last, but not until the building had been practically reduced to ruins.
Free Press understands that the Reid Auto Supply Co. will be rebuilt immediately. For the present they are open for business in the Holden Garage building.
De Leon’s dental practitioner is Dr. A.M. ALLEN. Dr. ALLEN has been in De Leon for many years, in fact, being in De Leon and Gorman at a time when both towns were young. He has a good practice, his office being upstairs over Weaver Drug.
T.H. NANCE and H.E. NEWTON are the men who handle the drayage and transfer business in De Leon. Mr. NANCE has been at this job for perhaps fifteen years. Mr. NEWTON, a Katy man, is newer at the work. He represents the motor freight lines.
Rev. G.R. Ross Tells Story of Organization of De Leon Baptist Church in ’76, First Named Liberty
De Leon’s first Baptist church was first called Liberty. It was founded by Eld. J.R. NORTHCUTT, grandfather of R.L. NORTHCUTT and Eld. Wm. BARKER, father of Marcelaus BARKER, in the year 1876. The location was about four miles east of town, a short distance west of where the Chas. DRY home now stands.
Early members were the NORTHCUTTS, the BARKERS, MORRISON, FAGLEE and BRUMBELOW families. These all came out of the Round Grove church that had been founded by Rev. R.D. ROSS, father of Rev. G.R. ROSS, in 1872.
In 1882 the Liberty church moved to De Leon and the name Liberty was dropped. At that time some of the members who found it inconvenient to come to De Leon organized the Live Oak church over in the edge of Erath County. J.H. HUMPHREYS, father of Miss Viola HUMPHREYS, formed the church at Live Oak.
The first church building in De Leon was a combination church, school and Masonic lodge. It was located near where Dr. INZER’s home now stands. A windstorm blew the building down in the early 8-s. Then the Baptists moved up to the corner of the block opposite Higginbotham’s dry goods store and built a “city church,” as Uncle George ROSS described it. It was too tall and of too light timbers to withstand the high winds. This church, also, was wrecked by a storm. Then the congregation built a sturdy wood structure on that corner which remained there for many years.
The Baptist congregation later built a commodious frame church building on the lot now occupied which served their need until about three years ago when they completed a splendid new brick structure, constructed along the most approved lines of the denomination at a cost of $25,000. All the money was subscribed and paid in before the church was built.
Pastors who have served the De Leon church and approximate duration of pastorate are as follows: Wm. BARKER, probably one year; Rev. HALL, probably 18 months; Rev. R.D. ROSS, one year; Rev. R.M. ROSS, cousin of G.R. ROSS, 18 months; Rev. G. R. ROSS, 10 years; Rev. J.H. VINSON, two years; Rev. G.R. ROSS again, 2 years; Rev. George W. SMITH, probably eight years; Rev. W.T. SHERROD, probably two years; Rev. Ben GRIFFITH, a few months; Rev. R.E. SMITH, five years, Rev. W.D. BOSWELL, three years; Rev. W.T. HAMOR, four years; Rev. J.N. CAMPBELL, four years.
The following have served the church as Sunday School Superintendents: J.L. KIRK, B.T. HIGGINBOTHAM, Rev. DILLARD, P.H. MILLER, Rev. L.B. OWEN, Dr. Sterling PRICE, Eugene WELCH, R.R. HARVEY and B.C. CHAMBERS. Of these, R.R. HARVEY served the longest, a period of twenty-four years.
George R. ROSS, who furnished the above data, was born Feb. 11, 1850 in Alabama. When but two years of age he was brought by his parents to Arkansas, coming thence to Jefferson, Texas in 1862 and to Armstrong creek near Round Grove in 1865. His father, Reuben D. ROSS was born in Alabama back in the 20s. Reuben ROSS died at the home he settled, at the age of 83, his death occurring some years ago.
A volume could be written of the life and works of Rev. Reuben ROSS, the old pioneer preacher, who received calls to pastor the churches at Stephenville, Dublin, and Comanche soon after coming to this section. There was not a house between his home and Comanche, none between his home and Dublin, and none to Stephenville until one came to the edge of the village. His trips to these appointments were fraught with danger of savages, and he wore a gun buckled by his side when he went out to preach. There was a settlement road to Dublin and thence to Stephenville, but G.R. ROSS says his father often struck across the open country because of fear of the Indians. And he often made his trips in the night to avoid the same danger.
During these years of pioneer life, George ROSS, then about 15 years of age, was left at home to guard the family. And it was no idle matter, for Indians might at any time appear and threaten the lives of the little family in the cabin, far away from neighbors or other human aid. He said he never saw an Indian but he knew on two different occasions that they were near the home for he heard them and later saw the tracks made by their moccasins in the sand.
George ROSS tells of a thrilling incident in which his father and a man named J.T. BELL, captured an Indian in the late ‘60s. The Indian had entered the home of one C.C. BLAIR not a great distance northeast of De Leon, on Armstrong. He sat down by the fire and was sitting there when a little boy came and pushed one of the doors of the cabin open and seeing the intruder, ran away and told the neighbors that “a negro was sitting by the fire.” The elder ROSS and BELL knew that it was no negro. They approached the BLAIR cabin, Mrs. BLAIR accompanying them, and the woman and BELL approached one door and ROSS the other. They pushed the doors open at about the same time with guns leveled at the savage. The Indian got up from the chair and extended his hand as if to shake hands. ROSS motioned him back and pointed to his belt to which was attached a revolver. The Indian removed the belt and laid it across his and handed it to Reuben ROSS.
Not being able to speak English, the Indian could not tell why he was there. But after he was disarmed and the voice of their friends was heard in the cabin, two young girls, daughters of the BLAIRs, crawled out, one from between the mattresses and another from under the bed, their hair standing on end with fright.
Just in this connection the Free Press pauses to say that both these girls, now elderly women, are expected to attend the Anniversary meeting at Round Grove church, the second Sunday in July. They are Mesdames UPSHAW and REEVES.
The settlers kept the Indian captive for a time, then took him to Fort Griffin near Albany, and there through an interpreter they learned why he had entered the settler’s home. He said he had been watching the cabin for two days and nights in order to catch the men-folks away from home. He had heard that if an Indian entered a settler’s home while only women were present, and did not harm them, the settlers would not kill him. He was turned over to the government and was never heard of again.
While savage red men were dreaded by the early white settlers, there was a day when a class of low-bred thieving whites were a greater danger than the Indians. The cutthroats stole cattle and horses and robbed travelers and settlers until in 1872 the citizens tempers had reached white heat.
It was about this time that a wave of mob law swept over the state. The courts had been resorted to. But the cattle rustlers were organized. They banded together, proving alibi for accused members of their bands and made the courts a laughing stock. The mobs appeared out of the wilderness, caught up the offenders red-handed and hung them up to trees. In a very short time cattle and horse thieves in Texas were remarkable scarce.
Shortly after the hanging of Joe Brady McDOWELL, Noble HARDIN and Jim LATHAM in Coryell county, when the feeling over developments was running high, and the lines of mob and anti-mob were tightly drawn, two men, TURNBOW and KEITH, had a falling out over some matter not connected with the action of the mob. But with that feeling of tenseness in the background, each threatened the other with “his side.” One thing led to another and finally the men had enlisted quite a small army of sympathizers. They met at Alarm Creek, down east of Dublin, to fight it out. There were perhaps 150 men drawn up on each side of the creek in battle line, waiting for the first shot to be fired.
Finally the TURNBOW sympathizers sent Buck BARRY and another man under a flag of truce out between the lines. The KEITH sympathizers sent Rev. Reuben ROSS and Little Bill KEITH and possibly Calvin MARRTIN, to talk with them. The men succeeded in reaching an agreement and settled the difficulty without bloodshed. The lines were drawn up in a day and a half and a single shot from either side would have precipitated a bloody spot in Texas history.
Mention is made also of the hanging of McDOWELL, HARDIN, and LATHAM. The first two were hanged. But LATHAM “cheated the mob.” He turned his head sufficiently to catch the rope in his teeth, in the meantime working his hands loose. When they drove from under him, he hung by his teeth, feigning death, until the mob went away. Then, with his hand freed, he untied the rope and got away. He reported the men who attempted to hang him. Gov. E.J. DAVIS sent about twenty state troops out to quell the mob. They were negroes and whites. The negroes went to Stephenville and arrested many white men. But nothing came of it. None of them were ever brought to trial.
C.M. WALTRIP owns and operates a mattress factory and second hand furniture business in De Leon. The business was established by G.F. WARD, now of Freeport, and when Mr. WARD left for the gulf coast town, Mr. WALTRIP succeeded him. Mr. WALTRIP is quite expert at making over old mattresses and manufacturing new ones. And a second hand store, also, is a community necessity. His store is in the old Masonic building.
Sid FARROW and Burl TERRY some time ago purchased the Café business of Mrs. Sarah PARKMAN, who had a year before purchased the same from Milton HEATH, Edgar SHORT also having formerly been part owner. The location is next door north of the De Leon Meat Market.
Sid FARROW has been in Café business here off and on for a good many years, and TERRY also is an old-timer hereabout.
Another new-comer in the city is Carl SIMPSON, who some two or three months ago opened a barber shop adjoining HOWARD’s store, a little later moving same around the corner of the same block, to a portion of the new NARRY building, where he is now doing a nice business. There are two chairs in the shop, Johnnie ESTES being associated with Mr. SIMPSON.
Late J.D. Ham Regard to Church
A bit of history of the first Methodist church to be established in De Leon is furnished by a paper left by J.D. HAM. Mrs. HAM wrote down the record as he told it, and she also remembered many of the incidents.
The notes are, in parts, as follows:
“The first Methodist church was organized with thirteen members in the year 1876, by Rev. E.A. BAILEY, about five or six years before the town was located. A rather singular coincidence of the organization was that out of the thirteen charter members, eight were women and seven were named “Mary.” The church building was of logs, about 14 by 14 feet square and was covered with boards. It was located on the north side of the branch, something near of below where Mrs. J.H. BUCHAN now lives.
“The first Baptist church building was near where the Whippet Garage (now HOLDRIDGE Bros.) now is located. The first school building was located near Dr. INZER’s present home. It was a small frame building and was finally blown down in a storm and was afterward rebuilt on the north side, about a block north of where Walkers Filling Station now stands.
“The first frame building built by the Methodists on the lot the church now occupies, was built in 1882.”
The thirteen members mentioned above were as follows: H.P. BIFFLE and wife, Mary BIFFLE; Wm. COONER, and wife Mary COONER; David WINDSOR and wife, Mary WINDSOR; Mrs. Mary (Grandma) WINDSOR; Mrs. Mary EDWARDS; Mrs. Mary EDMONDSON; Mrs. Mary GARNER; Miss Ellen BIFFLE; John BIFFLE; Mrs. R.S. BUCHAN.
The following pastors have served the De Leon church since it was founded: Revs. James COLLARD; WYATT; John T. OWENS; Wm. WHITTENBURG; George F. FAIR; John W. WOMACK; I. N. REEVES; O.M. ADDISON; W.K. SIMPSON; A.P. SMITH; S.J. FRANKS; C.V. OSWALDT; T.B. HILBURN; A. ROBERTS; A.E. CARAWAY; J.E. WALKER;
Samuel GAY; N.M. McLAUGHLIN; Jerome HAROLSON; W.M. LANE; M.H. ROGERS; C.S. CAMERON; C.A. EVANS; C.A. BICKLEY; W.C. HILBURN; W.H. DOSS; W.B. VAUGHN; J.W. COWAN; Seba KIRKPATRICK; W.W. RICHESON and the present pastor, Samuel J. RUCKER.
The following presiding elders have served the district in which De Leon is located: Revs. A.K. MILLER, J.T.L. ANNIS; W.T. MALUGEN; J.J. DAVIS; E.A. SMITH; E.F. BONE; E.A. BAILEY; J.G. PUTNAM; Jerome DUNCAN; M.K. LITTLE; S.J. VAUGHN; Sam J. THOMPSON; O.F. SENSABAUGH; L.A. WEBB and C.O. SHUGART.
The young men who have received license to preach from the church are as follows: G.A. GREENE; J.A. BURKS; W.T. GRAY; LEONARD RAY; JEFF RAY; Louis RUCKER; B.L. NANCE; Joseph I. PATTERSON and Roy GREENWALDT.
The first house of worship on the present lot was erected, according to church records in 1883, while John WOMACK was pastor. The second building was erected in 1895 when E.A. CARRAWAY was pastor. The present brick structure was erected in 1917, when W.H. DOSS was pastor.
Sunday School superintendents, according to best records obtainable, are as follows: Jas. TERRY, serving possibly one year; J.M. NEAL, serving part of 1884. W.C. STREETY was elected Sunday School Superintendent in 1885 and served continuously for thirty-five years, retiring from the position in 1920. Ed GRIFFITH was next in this position, followed by L.B. MORTON. H.S. McCRUM was superintendent for about a year. Paul MORGAN is the present superintendent. It is interesting to note that Paul MORGAN is a grandson of Jas. TERRY, the first superintendent.
Cyrus W. CAMPBELL, a local preacher who lived in De Leon in the early days, furnished the irons with which Santa Anna was bound when he was captured, and his life was filled with good works. He was much beloved by the early Methodist congregation and when he died a stained glass memorial window was placed in the church in 1895 to his memory. When the new church was erected the window was transferred and remains today in De Leon Methodist church. Rev. CAMPBELL was the first person buried in the present De Leon cemetery.
De Leon Methodist Church at this date, June 28, 1929, has approximately 370 members. The Sunday School has an enrollment of about 200. There are about thirty-five officers and teachers. The church, costing approximately $20,000 completed, is paid for in full. The Sunday School is organized as a Class B. school, after the most approved plans of the denomination, being fully departmentized. Departments assemble separately. Two departments of church organization deserve special mention, an organized choir, and the Epworth Leagues, especially the Senior League, which is drawing the young people into the church under the leadership of Miss Jamie GREENWALDT.
One of the newest business enterprises in town is Paul HOLLAND, who recently opened a filling station and battery shop. His place is on Market Street. Paul handles Texaco Products.
J. Doss Miller Sr. One of Business Men Who Helped to Start Free Press
J. Doss MILLER, Sr. told the Free Press when asked about his part in the early development of the community that “he didn’t do very much, but always tried not to get in anybody’s way.” He said in earlier years back in a Mississippi bottom, he drove a yoke of steers named Bright and Bully, and we imagine if Uncle Doss attempted to drive the same “team” up the street or along the highway, he actually would get in somebody’s way.
But Uncle Doss was speaking in a jocular vein. He not only got in nobody’s way, but he got behind things and made them move. He used to be a “dirt farmer.” Now they call his kind of farmer a “ranchman.” He clips coupons instead of pruning trees, plows through long columns of figures instead of plowing land.
He had a good deal to do with the building of De Leon. He settled out where he now lives, or near the spot, in 1885, and he has helped more farmers to buy farms than many banks have done. He came from Mississippi as most folks around here did. Many of them knew him back in the old state and did not hesitate to call on him for assistance. He gave it in a hundred different ways.
Uncle Doss first bought 320 acres of land out there. Gradually he added to his land holdings until he had acquired 1,500 acres. He has a beautiful, well furnished, modern country home encircled by oaks. He has a graded and graveled road meandering through the grove up to his house. In late years, since he hasn’t as much to do as he used to have, he tries to see how many pumpkins he can grow on a quarter of an acre. You’d be surprised!
So far as the Free Press is informed, Uncle Doss brought the first $1000 bull to Comanche County, He also brought the first registered Shorthorn cattle of any kind here, about twenty years ago. The first bull cost $150.00 and came from Smithfield, north of Dallas. The thousand dollar bull came from the Dr. RABY herd of Waco. After a few years Uncle Doss turned the cattle over to his son, J. Doss, Jr. who has built a great herd the value of which runs into many thousands of dollars.
J. Doss MILLER, Sr. was born in Greenville, S.C. Sept. 27, 1849. On next Sept. 27, he will be 80 years old. He came in a wagon train from South Carolina to Desota county, Miss. in 1857 and was married there to Miss Everett STEWARD of old Tennessee stock, after the Civil war. Five children were born to them. On February 13th, 1929 they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.
C.R. Redden Tells of Papers Published Here Before Free Press, Most Soon ‘Went Broke’
The “De Leon Messenger” was one of the first newspapers to be published in De Leon according to the recollection of C.R. REDDEN. This was perhaps in 1882. A Baptist preacher named HALL got out the sheet, as Mr. REDDEN remembers, the shop being located in a little building close to where the Free Press office is now located.
“The Right Way,” was another publication, born on the wave of the Populist’s popularity about 1885. Bill CARNES, a prominent pioneer character, owned and edited the “Right Way” which didn’t last longer than the populist cause flourished. Rev. R.M. ROSS edited the Monitor. M. BARKER once owned it.
Editor LEECH, a brother of Dr. LEECH started a paper, which ran just before the Free Press was founded. It was called the Monitor. When LEECH made a financial failure of the paper, Dr. REDDEN, father of C.R., purchased the plant and C.R. and his sister, Miss Mattie, “stuck type” on the sheet for a time. It was sold and the plant moved to Sipe Springs where the same equipment was used to publish the “Sipe Springs Cyclone.”
Mr. REDDEN said he attended the organization meeting of the present paper called in the hardware store of John GORMAN, in the year 1889, and it is his recollection that A.I. STEPHENS suggested the name “Free Press.” The reason for the name was that the paper was to be circulated free for the first six months. This meeting is described in a letter written by John T. DAY in this issue.
Mr. REDDEN got the first paper that the Free Press ever printed, the very first one coming from the press. He kept it until a few years ago when fire destroyed a garage and outbuilding at his place where he had old trunks and other material stored. The paper was burned up in the fire.
When the promoters had chipped in and bought the plant with which the Free Press was started, all the material being brand new, John J. SWITZER was brought here from Comanche to run the sheet. It was a hard go financially, and Mr. SWITZER was about to give it up when the stockholders virtually gave it to Mr. SWITZER, as the present editor has understood. At least they “made it easy for him to own it.” He continued to publish the paper until about 1901 and in the later years was successful financially.
Clarence REDDEN is one of the first settlers here, he told the Free Press. His father, Dr. REDDEN, was De Leon’s first physician. They came in 1882 when there were only one or two little buildings here, one of these the WALDROP store on the Lambert Hotel lot, and Old Man STINNETT had a little log store on the west side of the same lot.
The first nice residence in De Leon was built on the lot now occupied by R.R. HARVEY, by the Texas Central station agent, a Mr. DANIELS. It was a good house and the present building there was built on to the first original building, which still stands, Mr. REDDEN said.
During the years since the town was established the following have served as postmaster: J.M. LAMBERT, William CARNES, R.B. KEE, E.B. WALKER, Miss Alice FARMER, C.R. REDDEN, S.R. HAYNES and C.R. REDDEN, second term.
The following men have practiced medicine here during the years since 1882: Dr. REDDEN, Dr. LEE, Dr. LEECH, Dr. DAVIS, Dr. WALKER, Dr. EAST, Dr. BURR, Dr. TAYLOR, Dr. RUSH, Dr. WEAVER, Dr. NEAL, Dr. INZER, Dr. MAHON, Dr. SELF, and Dr. PLEMMONS.
Several of the buildings now standing in De Leon were constructed of brick burned in kilns inside the city limits and of lime burned in local lime kilns. The kiln first used was near where the compress is now located. There was a small ravine where the clay was exposed. This was dug up and moulded into brick and a kiln erected on the spot. It required two weeks constant burning to get the brick in condition. Sometimes where too much sand was in the dirt, the sand turned to glass and the brick stuck together. But much good brick was made there. The old REDDEN building, the Chevrolet garage building and probably BIBBY’s Variety Store and the COUNTS building were built of this home burned brick.
Lime rock for lime was obtained in the bed of a branch a few yards from the old east side cemetery on land now owned by M.Z. STOVALL. This is excellent lime rock, and with two weeks steady burning it may still be reduced to an excellent grade of unslaked lime.
W.H. Smith Stores
W.H. SMITH is successor to STEAKLEY & SMITH, two boys who once clerked for one of the big stores, then decided that if they could make money for the other fellow they could make it for themselves, and they did. Bob STEAKLEY withdrew from the business a little more than a year ago and moved to Denison to engage in the Chevrolet business. Since then, Hiram SMITH has been sole owner and manager, operating a drygoods store in the old Gorman building, and a grocery store next door to the F. & M. Natl. Bank. The SMITH Stores are among the largest and most liberally patronized in town.
The personnel is: W.H. SMITH, manager; Dee BELL and Mesdames J.O. STONE and W.W. BELL in the drygoods department, and L.B. MORTON, Whaley SMITH and Bill STACY in the grocery store.
Out at the turn of the highway on the Dublin road will be found Dean GARDNER with a nice little filling station and stock of groceries. His suburban store does quite a nice business, and his gas station is well located to catch the tourist trade, as well as the local. Mr. CHERRY was with Mr. GARDNER for a number of years but GARDNER bought him out. GARDNER also handles the usual line of tires and tubes.
Going away back about the year 1908 for its date of beginning, J.W. HOWARD operates a mercantile business that is among the major concerns in town. Mr. HOWARD handles groceries principally, but has a nice line of dry goods and work clothes also. This year he added the Purina line of feeds. Mr. HOWARD has a nice brick building, which he owns, fronting on the principal street of the city where he does a large business.
J.M. WHALEY represents the Southwestern Life Insurance Co. of Dallas in the De Leon territory. Mr. WHALEY formerly wrote for another major company, but found the connection with Texas’ fastest growing Life Insurance company desirable. Mr. WHALEY has a vast store of information regarding different forms of policies.
J.D. GRAY is local manager for another chain grocery store doing business in De Leon. It is the W.L. BLAIR Store. Mr. BLAIR maintains headquarters at Duster and operates five stores, at Duster, Beattie, Sipe Springs, Gorman and De Leon. The store here is on Market Street. It was established a year ago and is doing a nice business.
Narry & Northcutt
When the REDDEN building burned down something like a year ago, the owner, J.D. NARRY, planned a new building which he finished about two months ago on the corner of the same lot. It is a neat metal structure, and is occupied by Mr. NARRY and R.L. NORTHCUTT as a lunch counter and confectionery. The location is excellent and these two partners seem to be doing a nice business.
Morton & Sikes
G.E. MORTON established a grocery store on the corner of BUTLER Cotton Yard several years ago and succeeded in building up quite a nice business there, handling many carloads of groceries annually. When Mr. MORTON and Mr. BUTLER purchased the Chevrolet station, Mr. MORTON’s son, Glen, took over the grocery business and in partnership with Mr. SIKES, he conducted the business successfully.
Editors the Free Press Has Had in the Past Forty Years
John J. SWITZER edited the Free Press from the date of its founding, in 1889, to 1901. Mr. SWITZER now lives at Royston, Texas.
B.L. NANCE was the second editor and publisher, his association with the paper lasting not more than one or two years. Mr. NANCE now lives at Abilene.
John C. ADAMS was the third editor-owner of the Free Press. Mr. ADAMS is now operating the government printing office in Houston.
W.C. LIGHTFOOT next published the paper and he was owner and publisher when the present editor began “sticking type” on the sheet in 1910. Mr. LIGHTFOOT lives in De Leon.
S.N. STEPHENS owned the paper in about 1911 and 1912, and his sons, Jack and Jim STEPHENS were associate editors. Elder STEPHENS is dead. The present editor has no knowledge of the whereabouts of Jack and Jim STEPHENS, the sons.
H.T. TIMMONS and a man named CALLAHAN owned and edited the Free Press in 1912 or 1913. Mr. TIMMONS was killed in an automobile accident near Ranger about a year ago while traveling for an Austin stationery house. Mr. CALLAHAN’s present address is unknown to the present editor.
Early in 1914, R.L. SCOTT, together with Cyrus TUNNELL, purchased the Free Press. Mr. TUNNELL remained with the paper for perhaps half a year. R.L. SCOTT remained as editor and owner until the outbreak of the World War, and was absent from the editorial duties for nineteen months.
Walter POWER purchased the paper in September of 1918 and ran it for a few months.
B.J. PITTMAN and associates purchased the paper during that period, holding ownership for a short time during the oil boom.
Thos. DURHAM ran the paper through the latter portion of 1919.
R.L. SCOTT purchased the paper from Mr. DURHAM and resumed management Dec. 1, 1919 and has published the paper ever since.
The plant of the Free Press was partially destroyed by fire on June 19, 1923. At that time new and modern machinery was installed. The Free Press is now among the best equipped country weeklies in this section of the state.
The Southwestern Bell serve De Leon with telephone service, and the established reputation of the concern is well known everywhere, being of the largest organizations of its kind in the world. Miss Edras THOMSON succeeded her sister, Miss Maurine THOMSON as manager, who married C.H. HINTON early this year and later died in San Antonio. Miss Maurine was local manager for perhaps five years. The office of the company will soon be moved to the first residence south of the Travelers Hotel where Miss Edras THOMPSON will continue as local manager.
Down by the depot, occupying one of the best locations in the city is the Lambert Hotel, mentioned often in this special edition as being the site of De Leon’s first hotel, in fact, almost on the site of the first building ever erected in the city.
J.C. LAMBERT has been in charge of the hotel for about twenty years and because of the good location and good service rendered there, his patronage has continued good. Mr. LAMBERT is one of the early settlers, having been in this section since before the town was founded.
Few Men Can Tell a Story of Early Hardships to Equal the Life Story of J.M. Strickland
Rev. J.M. STRICKLAND was one of a family of ten children who were orphaned during the Civil War. He was the fifth of a family of ten. He was born at Cane Hill, Washington County, Ark. on May 2, 1853.
The father went away to the war and was killed in the battle at Fort Smith. Then, late in the year 1861, the mother succumbed to lung trouble leaving eight orphans. The eldest son, aged 17, died a few weeks before the mother passed away. Another of the children had also died. The youngest was a baby girl of eighteen months.
When he was just eight years of age, the children, driven by privation, went as refugees to Ft. Smith. Here the eldest remaining brother, 16, joined the army and the remaining children went to Scott Co., Ark. to their mother’s brother. A little later he met his death in the war, and his widow and her two children, and the STRICKLAND orphans, dragged over the weary, hungry miles back to Fort Smith where they entered an orphanage, Springers Orphanage, operated by a Northern Methodist minister. They remained in this refuge until the war closed, and when the minister wished to transfer them to a northern orphanage, they declined to go. Four of the children had died at the Home in the meantime.
It was a tragic and thrilling story of how the children went into houses wherever they could get work and were gradually separated, how the elder sister was married and moved to a northern state and was separated from her brother, without knowing his whereabouts for sixty years. By a happy coincidence he located his sister in San Diego, Calif. Last year and they were re-united there after sixty years separation.
J.M. STRICKLAND, now a man, came to Texas in 1875. He was married in Sebastian County, Ark. in December, 1873, before he came to Texas. He drove a team of horses to a wagon, and was 18 days on the road, coming to his mother’s brother, a man named LAND, who then resided where Sand Hill community now is. His grandfather, J.A. LAND, was also living out there on Copperas creek, some ten miles southwest of where De Leon now is. He has lived in that community and here in De Leon during the long span of years from 1875 to 1929.
Rev. STRICKLAND was ordained to preach in 1877 in Jim CULBERSON’s residence, near Beattie, the ordaining elders being R.D. ROSS, J.R. NORTHCUTT, F.M. HERRING and W.M. BARKER. As a pioneer preacher he has served long and faithfully and many hundreds have been led to a higher life through his consecrated life’s work.
One of the oldest firms doing business in De Leon is Dabney Hardware. Mr. DABNEY has been selling hardware to De Leon folks for almost thirty-five years, having started with a saddle and harness shop in the year 1895. He also sold buggies in the early days, having a large trade in harness and buggies. He started dealing in hardware back in the early days. Mr. DABNEY has been sole owner of the business bearing his name continuously since the business was founded with the exception of a period during the oil boom when he took two partners, Ed GRIFFITH and J.D. SPENCER, later buying back their interests. In 1927 he sold the business to H.G. TERRILL, J.W. SHOOK and R.L. SCOTT, who conducted it under the name of De Leon Hardware & Furniture Co. for about two years, selling it back to Mr. DABNEY.
About 1920 Mr. DABNEY erected a splendid two-story brick building on the lot where his original store had been, his store during the oil boom days having been in the old John GORMAN building, where W.H. SMITH dry goods were located.
Holdridge & Sons
Some ten years ago, H.B. HOLDRIDGE opened a little store and blacksmith shop on the corner opposite the house of Arch HUMPHREY, in what is known as the Humphrey. Mr. HOLDRIDGE operated the business in a single-hand way for a time, then as the patronage grew, he “broke in” clerks of his sons, until at the present time it requires the full time of Mr. HOLDRIDGE and five of his six sons, besides Sam SHORT, the blacksmith, who is one of the “best workmen who ever drove a nail in a horse’s hoof.”
The business has been expanded from time to time until today HOLDRIDGE & Sons have two splendid stores handling groceries, work clothes, feed, flour, gas and oil, tires, tubes, and automobile accessories. The downtown store, which is being operated by Melvin and Lee HOLDRIDGE, located across the street south from Higginbothams, is a grocery and food store exclusively. Their modern filling station is at the suburban store.
One of the most modernly equipped feed mills in all this section is operated by Marvin HOLDRIDGE in a building adjoining the suburban store. Custom grinding is done, besides commercial grinding and mixing of feeds for sale.
D.A. RICE conducts a monumental business in De Leon, having been here for some ten years. His location is the first lot west of the Reid Auto Supply Co. and here he has a very nice stock of Texas and Georgia marble and granite.
Russell RICE, son of D.A. RICE, has been constantly with his father as stone cutter since the business opened here. Young RICE has built for himself a good reputation as a workman in his line, his lettering and designs being exceptionally good.
One of the major insurance companies in the city is presided over by John WEAVER. His set of offices are on the second floor of the Hampton building. WEAVER purchased the business from Lloyd HAMPTON in turn, acquiring the business from his brother, the late A.E. HAMPTON, the founder. WEAVER writes fire, tornado, hail and automobile insurance in the various forms. He has quite a thriving business requiring the services of two people.
F.M. Williford Tells of Coming Here in Year ‘75
F.M. WILLIFORD, father of Mrs. W.P. WHITLOW of this city, has been visiting here for some days. Mr. WILLIFORD, hearing of the Free Press Birthday edition, dropped ‘round to add his bit to the lore of years gone by.
He was born in northern Arkansas in 1846 and left there to come to Comanche county, Texas in 1875, driving two teams overland, the trip requiring a month. He settled on Rush creek, between De Leon and Comanche on 113 acres and started farming. He knew of the Leslie Indian incident which occurred a year or two before he came. He said he rented land for the first year he was here from John McGUIRE. Later he built the old log house, the first on the left after one crosses Rush Creek going toward Comanche. The house has been standing there for more than fifty years. This farm was once “traded for a pony,” he stated.
Mr. WILLIFORD tells of freighting from Mt. Airy to De Leon and Comanche in an ox-wagon in the 70’s. He also freighted from Ft. Worth, however, driving horses. He tells of loading at an old shipping house that stood on the lot where the Union depot now stands in Ft. Worth.
Mr. and Mrs. WILLIFORD were married in Arkansas, at Fayetteville, in 1867. They had three or four children when they came to this county he said.
The GARNER-ALVIS Co., otherwise known as “The Dependable Store” is one of De Leon’s major business concerns. It is located on a prominent corner on the principal street of the city, where the late W.C. STREETY was formerly in business. Mr. STREETY sold his business to the Garner-Alvis chain in about 1915. The business is housed in an excellent brick structure, having modern show windows and fixtures.
It has been often remarked that the Garner-Alvis Co. salesroom is one of the most attractive of its kind in this section of Texas. Men’s and women’s wearables and general dry goods are sold. The store is the property of John GARNER of Dallas and C.E. ALVIS of Gatesville. These people also have stores at Comanche, Cisco, Gatesville, Brownwood, Hamilton, San Saba, Georgetown, Rising Star, and Celeste.
The local personnel is John A. MOHON, manager, Mrs. E.E. GENTRY, accountant, Mrs. J.M. WHALE, Mrs. W. CRAWFORD and Mr. McLAUGHLIN.
A.H.BIBBY is De Leon’s modern Variety Store man, and he has a store that would be a credit to a town much larger than De Leon. His location is where the first Higginbotham store in De Leon was begun, an attractive corner location.
A few months ago Mr. BIBBY, seeing the trend of merchandising, joined the Ben Franklin chain of stores, and with this connection is enabled to buy advantageously in the large markets. He handles a wide variety of merchandise at 5, 10, and 15 cents up to $1.00. Four to six clerks work at his place regularly.
Wife of Former Texas Ranger Tells of Coming to Texas in an Ox Wagon in 1875 and Ran Railroad Commission
Mrs. J.J. HEATH arrived in Comanche county in 1875, a girl of fifteen years, with her parents, Wm. LOGSDON and wife. They drove one horse team and one yoke of oxen to wagons. There were three boys and four girls and the family settled at the mouth of Sabana in Onion Valley, making their home on the south side of the river.
She attended school at old Buffalo Springs, taught by Mrs. TILLIE, a widow, there being a dozen or fifteen pupils in the subscription school.
The HEATH family lived just across the river on the north side of Onion Valley from the LOGSDONS. Young Jim HEATH had been away in the Texas Ranger service, serving six months, and he was away doing special work along this line for some three years. When he returned he was not long in getting acquainted with the girl that lived across the river from his father’s home. He was 27 years of age, she 19. They were married in 1880. They lived on the home place the first year after being married. The next year, in 1881, as the steel for the railroad was being laid up from Whitney, they opened and ran a commissary for the railroad, at the old water tank, a mile east of the town site, before town lots were sold and before there was a sign of a town here. When the lot sale was held in July ’81, they moved up and pitched their tent just across the track from the depot. Later they built a little plank store alongside the WALDROP store, on the south side of the depot and engaged in business there. After a year, they returned to De Leon and were here for the remaining years, except 16 years spent in Oklahoma.
Mrs. HEATH remembers the LESLIE murder incident in which Indians killed him. She also related the story of how Indians killed a little boy just before 1875, at McDonald Crossing on the Leon, just south of Jones Crossing.
“I never go to Comanche,” Mrs. [HEATH] declared, “but what I contrast the present day conditions with the old days when I went there on horseback and in wagons, traveling over much of the same road that is traveled today by many automobiles.”
Mrs. HEATH said the courthouse in the 70s was an old dilapidated plank building and the then village of Comanche was beginning to build up around the square. She said there is no comparison in the amount of drunkenness today and in those days, there being much less than was the case then.
Wm. LOGSDON, father of Mrs. HEATH, died in 1896 and her mother in 1898.
One of the largest and best equipped Filling stations in all this section of the state, is WALKER’s, formerly STEAKLEY’s Filling Station. This business was established by a man named REID who came to De Leon with the oil boom. His first building was a “hole in the wall” but he built a wonderful business on one work – service. William STEAKLEY then purchased the business some ten years ago, and improved on REID’s service and built the present excellent brick property with its 8 gasoline pumps and accommodation for no less than 12 cars for servicing at one and the same time, on its concrete drives.
A year ago W.W. (Bill) WALKER took over the business from Wm. STEAKLEY. By strict attention to business, Mr. WALKER has continued to [?] the success the place is noted for.
“Good Morning, Neighbor”
Dave FINKELSTINE and wife and their two children, Kenneth and Lenora, have lived in De Leon for the past ten years. At first he worked for Joe STERN in the Economy store, where Chevrolet Garage is now located. Later he operated a confectionery and café where the Free Press now is but for the past five years Mr. FINKELSTINE has operated a wholesale salted peanut and candy manufacturing and jobbing business, covering a territory hereabout comprising several counties, his large road wagon on which is the sign, “Good Morning Neighbor,” being known over a very wide territory. FINKLESTINE came from Robinson, Ill. And was reared in St. Louis.
De Leon bakery was established in the oil boom days and had two or three owners in the ten years of its history, among them E.B. WALTON for several years, P.B. SHIRO, and for the past year, W. EGBERT. Mr. EGBERT came to De Leon from Brownwood. He is a native of Comanche county, however. He has had many years experience as a baker and is building up an excellent business here. Mr. EGBERT has baked a greater variety of bakery products than anyone who operated the plant, which perhaps accounts for his larger success.
C.L. HUDDLESTON is getting quite a number of years to his credit as De Leon’s photographer. He commenced business here in 1904 and has been so engaged continuously since that time. Mr. HUDDLESTON had his studio in the west end of Bibby Variety until about a year ago when he moved to the second floor of the Hampton building. He makes excellent photographs and is building up a nice business as a result of the quality of his work.
De Leon’s only wholesale grocery concern is Radford Grocery Co., a branch of the big Abilene chain of 32 houses. The need for such an institution was felt some eight or ten years ago. W.E. LOWE and associates put in the first wholesale grocery in the town, which was sold to other interests, finally being purchased and added to the Radford chain. Curt MORRIS is local manager.
Bell Barber Shop
V.V. BELL was “crowded out of house and home’ by having a building leased from under him a year ago and so he settled the matter for all time by erecting his own building on what is known as Market Street. Mr. BELL has a neat little building, a three chair shop, and a growing business.
It has been about nine years since W.C. MIXON commenced selling Life insurance to De Leon folks. About a year after commencing he made a connection with the Franklin, one of the old and strong companies doing business in America, and he has written many thousands of dollars worth of insurance in the meantime. Mr. MIXON has made insurance a study, and has valuable information along that line.
Mrs. J.B. Jeffrey
When tourists stop for service at any of the group of filling stations a block north of the depot, Mrs. J.B. JEFFREY’s lunch counter and grocery is quite handy there and in the tourist season her trade is quite satisfactory. She also enjoys a nice trade of the home people, steady throughout the year. She has operated the business for a number of years.
For many years Jack HAYNES has operated a blacksmith and woodwork business on the corner of the block on which De Leon Peanut Co. is located. Mr. HAYNES has added acetylene welding in later years, and he was for a long time operator of De Leon’s only grist mill. His mill has continued to draw good patronage.
Frank HOLLAND has of late years been associated with Mr. HAYNES as welder and general workman. The public get good service promptly at this shop.
Ebenezer Man Has Log Barn on Farm Having Port Holes
J.W. EASLEY owns the old Rafe JONES farm, lying northeast from Ebenezer, formerly owned by H.E. SIDES. This tract of land, Mr. EASLEY said, was patented to Andrew Suttle JONES, father of Rafe JONES in 1843 by the Republic of Texas. The JONES family occupied the place for many years, Jones Crossing over the Leon river, having been named for the elder JONES.
Mr. EASLEY called attention to an old log crib, about 14 by 14 feet, still standing on his place, in which are holes cut in the walls which he understands were cut there to shoot through when the family took refuge there from the Indians.
Rafe JONES, now 80 years of age, still lives, making his home near Munday.
H. HAMPTON came to De Leon about five years ago and “hung out his shingle” as a watchmaker and jeweler. He had had some experience before coming, and has been away for numerous courses and applied himself since coming here, until at the present time he is doing quite well in the lines mentioned, to which he has added optometry.
Mr. HAMPTON has made his headquarters at Weaver Drug Store for a number of years.
Marvin LIVINGSTON is not a new-comer in De Leon. He came here from Miami, Ariz. About ten years ago and engaged in the shoe repair and harness business. His place is on Market Street, and his reputation as a leather workman is well established. He also does auto top work.
J.A. ESTES has operated a suburban grocery, across the street from the north side ball park for a number of years. He has a location on the highway, and his place is convenient for the people who live in that neighborhood. By courteous treatment of his customers he has established a nice trade.
Charlie BLASSINGAME recently opened a barber shop next door south from J.W. HOWARD, fronting on main street and his old friends welcome him back. Charlie has barbered in De Leon off and on for 20 years. He is an old-timer in these parts.
Used to Hunt Deer on Flat Creek…and Killed Many of them. Drove Oxen to Fort Griffin
Along about 1875, C.C. MORRIS, better known to his many friends as Uncle Charlie, settled the KEE place, five miles north of De Leon, and he tells of killing many deer and turkeys on Flat Creek in those early days where one does well now to scare up a jack rabbit or a snow-bird. Uncle Charlie said he drove an ox-wagon about his farm, and great freight wagons came along the Bell Plains road, enroute to Fort Phantom Hill and Buffalo Gap, then the county site of Taylor County. Some of the wagons were drawn by as many as nine yoke of oxen.
Leaving Kentucky, Uncle Charlie drove overland in a wagon with a four-mule team, bringing his bride with him, having been married in that year. When they came to De Leon there was not only no railroad here, but there was none in Ft. Worth in ’75. The Texas & Pacific built from Dallas to Fort Worth in 1876. He recalls the railroad building race in 1879 and ’80 when the Central Texas and T. & P. were seeing who could reach Cisco first.
Uncle Charlie and his good wife did not long remain here on their first trip. They returned to Kentucky in 1881 and remained there a year. When they returned here in 1882, several little stores were in De Leon. They lived for a time four miles north of Desdemona, then went back to Kentucky for two more years. Returning here in 1888, Mr. MORRIS engaged in the mercantile business in a building on the location now occupied by W.E. HOWELL. In about 1890, Alex BOOTH and F.L. TERRILL had a rock building erected where Kemp Auto Sales is located, this building being erected of native stone, taken from a quarry a mile east of town.
Wm. CARNES was county Clerk of Comanche county in about 1870, Mr. MORRIS recalled. Joe HAMMERS opened De Leon’s first livery stable in 1882 and continued until 1888. The first saloon was on the Lambert Hotel corner there being a hotel there also. W.G. MORRIS, a brother of Uncle Charlie, now 84 years of age, was here in the 60s and drove cattle from this section to Arizona and California to market. W.G. MORRIS lives at Thorp Springs at present and was here on a visit recently.
... [col]onization of this section by the Texas Railroad.[sic] Train loads of immigrants from the old States were brought to this section about 1890, many of these becoming the most substantial citizens of later years.
Going back to the early days, Mr. MORRIS recalled the names of the following families who date back to the years between 1870 and 1880. Such names as ROSS, CARRUTH, NUNNELLEY, POUNDS, BOWMAN, BARKER, HEATH, HOLLAND, MORRIS, RUFF, MUNN, WILSON, HUCKABEE, LEWIS, HOUSTON, COGBURN, NORRIS, DAVENPORT, CARNES, HAMMERS, DOCKUM, Mace JONES, KEITH, BOWEN, LOGSDON, McGUIRE, COTTREL, HAM, FRITZ, and many others.
Mr. MORRIS was born at Greensburg, Green County, Ky. On August 21, 1852. His wife was born in the same county on June 9, 1854. They have walked together these many years, and are both still hale and well kept for people who have gone together down the road of life so great a distance.
Planter Gin Co.
B.F. COX is the manager of the Planters Gin Co., a chain concern of Fort Worth capital. Mr. COX was owner of the gin property here many years ago, but sold out and has since managed the gin for others. The company lost their gin by fire two or three years ago and rebuilt with a modern plant, amply large to take care of the needs of the community.
The plant has handled as much as 3200 bales in a single year recently, but the average crop the past two or more years has been around 1000 bales annually.
Security State Bank
This bank was organized in 1921 by B.J. PITTMAN, among the pioneer bankers of this section of the state. Mr. PITTMAN came to De Leon 36 years ago during the great drouth of 1893, and just after the Cisco cyclone. From 1897 to 1901 he served in the county clerk’s office of this county. Wm. DALE organized De Leon’s first bank, “The Bank of De Leon,” in 1891. It was a private bank.
When the First National Bank was organized in 1901 by Wm. DALE, Mr. PITTMAN went in the bank as the cashier, taking over the management of the bank three years later. During the Oil boom here the First National Bank was sold and changed into the First State Bank. One year later Mr. PITTMAN organized the Guaranty State Bank, during the peak of inflation and when so many banks over the country failed. The name of the bank was changed four years ago to the Security State Bank and is now recognized as one of the best banks in this section. Mrs. Thelma DANIELL has been with the bank since its organization, going in as bookkeeper and is now Cashier, taking the place of Evan BARKER, former cashier. Miss Nina E. BUTLER has been with the bank for some time as assistant Cashier.
Mrs. C.H. Sharp Honors Daughter
On last Friday afternoon, Mrs. C.H. SHARP entertained the regular meeting of the Rook Club in honor of her daughter, Mrs. W.A. PRICE of Lawton, Oklahoma, who is visiting here.
As the guests passed into the beautifully decorated rooms, little Miss Margaret SHARP presented each with a tally.
Fruit punch was served at the several tables as play progressed. At the culmination of play, it was found that Mrs. B.J. PITTMAN had won high score. Refreshments of delicious angel food cake and ice cream were served to the guests.
Among those enjoying this beautiful function were Mmes. Grady TERRILL, H.G. CARLILE, T.C. SMITH, S.G. PARKS, C.V. SINGLETON, W.P. WEAVER, B.E. HOWE, Wayne MULOY, B.J. PITTMAN, Dave TERRILL, Autry SELF, C.L. KINCHEN, Frank SNEAD, A.M. ALLEN, O.M. BUCHAN, H. HAMPTON, Riley WORTHY, Joe ASHBY, Pete SHAVER, W.T. JETTON, J.R. GRISHAM, and Misses Evelyn COX and Margaret SHARP and Miss PATTON of Rotan.
Mrs. Marshall STERLING from Dallas was a Sunday guest of her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. J. Doss MILLER.
Mr. and Mrs. Jim NOEL and daughter, Mattie Belle, from Plainview were here last week visiting his brother, Sam NOEL and family.
Miss Louise LESTER, who is attending school at TCU, Fort Worth, was a Sunday guest of her mother, Mrs. Lettie LESTER.
Miss Mary Louise GRIZZELLE is in Waco visiting her aunt, Mrs. T. TRENT.
Rev. John NOEL from Gunsite was here the past week visiting his son, Sam NOEL and family.
Mrs. H.B. FUNKHOUSER from Fort Worth is here visiting her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry NANCE.
Mrs. Robert FRIERSON from Cross Plains returned home Thursday after a week’s visit with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. S.K. NOEL.
Born to Mr. and Mrs. Mack LOGAN, June 21st, a fine boy.
Aunt Fannie BROWN is visiting her son, Bill BROWN and family, in Cisco this week.
Miss Julia HAVIS, who is attending summer school in Stephenville, was a Sunday visitor with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. HAVIS.
Mrs. McCLELLAN and daughter, Miss Irene IRL, of San Antonio, are here for a visit in the home of Mrs. J.D. HAM. Mrs. McCLELLAN was formerly Miss Alma SHANNON and is a sister of Mrs. HAM.
Mr. and Mrs. Dave SWITZER of Mangum were among those attending the HAM funeral last week.
Mr. and Mrs. F.A. SCHMIDT of New York City are here for a visit in the home of his brother, A.P. SCHMIDT and family, having been here for a week or ten days.
Mesdames J.B. SMITH and A. BEAVERS of Yuma, Ariz., are here for an extended visit with their sister, Mrs. Bob WOFFORD.
Mr. and Mrs. M.D. STEWART from Kaufman were Sunday visitors with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.R. REDDEN.
A baby girl was born into the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.L. FUNDERBURG at Eastland last Friday, June 21. The mother and little one are doing well. There are four boys and three girls in the FUNDERBURG home, J.L. told the Free Press.
Mr. and Mrs. Otho BELL have gone to Fabens, where he will teach agriculture. He recently received his degree from A. & M. where he attended school the past year.
Mrs. T. THOMPSON of Brownwood was a visitor with her mother, Mrs. J.C. NICHOLS, Tuesday.
Mr. and Mrs. T.J. WILSON of Ranger were visiting Mr. and Mrs. Abb WILSON last week.
Several from here attended the funeral of Mr. Shug BLAIR Monday at Round Grove.
Mrs. Emily BRUMBELOW of Victor visited her father, A.J. CUMMINS, on Sunday.
New Hope News
Mr. O.C. WILKERSON of Buffalo spent Saturday night with J.T. WILKERSON.
Mr. Oscar NABORS and children spent Sunday with his parents, Rev. and Mrs. A.F. NABORS at De Leon.
We have not before mentioned that Mr. Orville BOYD is now working in Abilene. He has been working there for two or three weeks.
Leroy THOMPSON is suffering from a very painful accident which happened to him last Friday. While he was working with the hay baler it turned over on his leg and possibly splintered the bone in his foot and leg. He is forced to walk with a crutch.
The working which was given Mr. BURLESON last Wednesday was a very successful one. There were people present from seven different communities. There were 36 hoe hands and 15 men carried their teams and plows. All of the crop was hoed and plowed over at once. Everyone was proud of the opportunity to help Mr. BURLESON with his crop as nothing else that could have been done more beneficial to them than this.
Mozelle CLARK from John TARLETON spent the week with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. G.B. CLARK.
Jim KOONCE has just finished painting the stage for the school building.
The singing school to be taught by Prof. Earnest RIPPETOE will begin in July for two weeks. A large number have signified their intention to attend. It is thought that it will probably be necessary to employ additional help for Mr. RIPPETOE.
Charlie BROWNING, who lives at the E.S. MERRICK farm, has recently had the house painted and some other improvements made.
©2004,2005 Judith Michaels. This transcription is the generous work of Judy Michaels taken from microfilm held by the Newspaper Collection of the University of Texas at Austin with a microfilm copy at Comanche Public Library. The information may be used for personal research only and not for commercial purposes without specific permission.