Spanish Fort 1892 – In the News

From the Dallas Morning News 9 February 1892

“The mayor’s court has been quite busy.  Several street fights have taken place in the last few days, causing the city treasury to grow accordingly.  Farmers say the ground is plowing finely on account of the recent freeze.  Candidates have commenced to circulate around among the people.  Several were here yesterday.”

Red River Bridge at Illinois Bend Opens 1927 – In the News

“Red River Bridge at Illinois Bend Opens

The airline bridge across  Red River at Illinois Bend, seventeen miles north of Saint Jo, construction of which was begun April 1, is now open for traffic, the official opening taking place Tuesday at a picnic sponsored by Saint Jo and Wilson, Ok.  The celebration was held at Mud Creek, on the Oklahoma side.

The first car driven across the new structure on Friday, Aug 19, by Mrs C V Royal.  The bridge is a toll bridge, owned by the Airline Bridge Company, and is one of the best touching Texas Soil.”

14 September 1927 Dallas Morning News

Nocona 1892 – In The News

From the Dallas Morning News, 14 March 1892

“Farmers are busy planting corn.  A good rain is badly needed.  Water is getting scarce.  The Baptist church gave a banquet last Friday night.  The proceeds were $56.50 for the benefit of their church building.

The new depot is nearly complete.  It is one of the finest on the Katy.  A grand railroad ball will be given Friday, March 18, in honor of its completion.”

Knowledge Knob


Perched on the highest point in Saint Jo was the school that was used during the years of 1893-1922. Due to its position it quickly garnered the nickname of Knowledge Knob.

The building cost approximately $10,000 to construct. It was a sixty foot square structure with three stories. Classrooms were located on the lower two floors, the auditorium was situated on the top floor. At its peak, the attendance ranged between 300-400 students.

On the 14 Aug 1893 the city council passed an ordinance making it a misdemeanor for “anyone other than a mechanic performing repairs, to climb, stand or walk around the iron roof or the ten gutters at the foot of the mansford roof of the school building.” I have a feeling this ordinance was considered a challenge by a few students over the years.

What Became of Harrisonia – In the News

The 13 Oct 1892 edition of the Dallas Morning News gives rave reviews of newly established town in Montague, County.  The purpose of the article was to entice settlers to the town.

Harrisonia – At the junction of the Rock Island and Missouri, Kansas and Texas.

Four miles from the Red River in Montague County, and one mile from the Clay county line is a new town of Harrisonia.

A month ago a few tents were the only indication of habitancy.  Now it has a comely two-story hotel, a well stocked hardware store, another mercantile house ready for the stock on the way, several dwellings occupied, a big lumber yard and a brick yard in operation.  Harrisonia is the junction of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas and the Rock Island railways.  The latter road is completed to the Red River, the bridge over which will be completed in three weeks.  The ground is laid out and graded for the two depots which will be built right away.

Water is supplied in plenty from a 15 foot well on the main street.  Other wells are but a few feet deeper, and strange to say, those on the highest eminence are the most prolific and with least depth.  Down by the Y connecting the two roads, water appeared without asking, and the greatest of blessings is a permanent surety.

Joe Anderson began the foundation for a store this morning and R B Kuteman is filling lumber orders for four others.  E W Sandison gave a contract and Dr S G Bittick of Henrietta is on the ground and has ordered the erection of two handsome buildings.  R B Kuteman, a prominent mill and lumberman from Mineola, has invested and will put up several two and one story structures of brick.

A Thorp’s Springs committee had bought ten acres near Harrisonia for a commercial college.  Free lots are ready for a church of any denomination and lots for a public school are also as free as water.  The best of sandstone is right here, which by the way entered into the Rock Island railway bridge.

The clay is being tested at the brickyards, and lumber is coming in with nearly every train.  At the railway Y is a splendid location for a four mill and ground and stock have only to be asked for.

One great beauty about the Harrisonia land and the lands for miles around, is that there is not a flaw in any title and the abstracts are in the hands of the Harrisonians.  The village occupies a beautiful eminence gently sloping to the great rolling pastures.  The woods of the Chickasaw nation look like a neighboring orchard just beyond the river, and still beyond are the famous lands of the Comanches which will soon be opened up for white settlement.  From the village streets one can see about twenty miles of Texas and Indian Territory.

Villages are moving into Harrisonia, and in less than two months it will have a population of several hundred, yet a month ago there was neither a board or a shingle there.  A big wagon yard has jus been boarded in and is the present use for a livery and exchange stable, which will be commenced this week.  there is no question as to this new town being happily placed to become an important point.  It is about twenty miles from  Bowie, the county seat, and fifteen miles from Henrietta, the county seat of Clay.  It will command a great trade from the nations and territory, and its proximity to the Red River, only four miles, is also in its favor.  Ninety-eight village lots have been sold up to date and 2000 acres in tracts of from five acres up to over 100.  There is the best evidence to prove it healthy and the climate is all that can be desired with gentle breezes blowing summer heat away and causing mists to disperse.

Harrisonia is named after Joe Harris, who is known “from Dan to Beersheba.”  He has been a cattle king and is not far from it yet.  Last week he sold a herd of 3 year olds and they averaged $25 a piece.  Joe Harris owns 14000 acres, including 9000 acres in one tract, and says that when he built his first house in Texas he hauled lumber 150 miles and paid $50 a thousand, besides 2 bits a pound for the nails.

Harrisonia will be greatly increased in the next two weeks, as the village of Doss, two miles from here, is moving in, postoffice and all.  It is worthy of note that Charles Verne built the first house in Harrisonia.”

Just a few months later another article appeared in the Dallas Morning News (27 Nov 1892) with a slightly different take on the new town of Harrisonia:

Throw Up Your Hands – Highwaymen Put to Flight by a Nervy Traveler

About 11 o’clock Thursday night, while returning to this city (Gainesville), C N Stevens of Gainesville,  R D Gillenwaters of Sherman and a Mr Franks of Rush Springs, IT, were attacked by two men at the new town of Harrisonia, the junction of th Rock Island and Missouri, Kansas and Texas railways.  One of the men with a drawn revolver ordered the trio, who were traveling in a hack, to throw up their hands, but Mr Gillenwaters instead threw a colt’s revolver down on the would be robbers and demanded them to hold up.  The two men were so taken by surprise that their courage failed them and turning round they disappeared in the darkness.  On the night before two men were held up and robbed of $110 and two gold watches at the same place.”

Harrisonia?  Do you remember a town in Montague County named Harrisonia?  Well, when the town applied for a post office by that name it was rejected.  So Mr Harris renamed the community after his wife’s family….Ringgold.

Montague County Today Photo – Stoneburg


The remains of this cool old building stand on the edge of Stoneburg.  Anyone know the story behind this building?

Captain J T Rowland, Indian Fighter, Dead at 79 – In the News

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran the obituary of J T Rowland on 26 July 1914.  Captain Rowland was a Montague County legend.

Indian Fighter, 79, Dies at Nocona; 56 Years in Texas”

“Capt J T Rowland Once Mayor of Gainesville and Nocona.”

“Capt J T Rowland, venerable pioneer, soldier, statesman, patriot and citizen of this county, who died Saturday, was buried in Gainesville.

Captain Rowland was 79 years old, had lived in Texas for fifty six years and for more than fifty years actively identified with Montague and Cooke counties.  During the Civil War he commanded a company of Texas rangers in his county, stationed at Old Red River Station.  He fought many hard fights with Indians.

After the war was over he settled in Gainesville, served as mayor of that place many years, later again moved to Montague county ad was sent to the state legislature for three terms.

Retiring from the legislature, he made his home in Nocona and was mayor for six years.  He has lived in quiet retirement th past three years and was ill several weeks before death claimed him.

His first wife died about four years ago; he married the second time two years ago.  He is survived by his widow and four sons:  W D Rowland of Gainesville, R L Rowland of Denton, J M Rowland of SPur and J W Rowland of Pomona, Cal.”

Forestburg’s Newspaper 1950 – In the News

Sam Acheson wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News on 29 Aug 1950 giving a glowing description of the Forestburer, Forestburg’s own newspaper.  The article is filled with some great nuggets:

Forestburg Paper Proves Old Axiom

“Few Texas towns of only a little more than 100 people can boast of having their own weekly newspaper.

Forestburg, in the southeastern part of Montague County, is one of them.  Harlan Bridwell’s Forestburg Forestburger, now in its twelfth volume, is as lively and well-known a paper as might be the envy of a town ten times as big.

Although only half the size of the standard sized newspaper and rarely more than six pages, the Forestburger packs a reader interest wallop that makes it eagerly awaited each Thursday in homes scattered over a wide territory.  Editor Bridwell’s secret is an old one, perhaps the oldest in the newspaper game: ‘Names make news’.  He loads the five columns on his front page and every other column of reading matter in his paper with the goings and comings and the doings of his neighbors, not only in Forestburg but in eight to ten neighboring communities as well.

The Forestburger shares the distinction with the New York Times of never having run a comic strip.  It is as devoid of photographs and other art work as the Merchants Red Book.  It leaves to others to chronicle eruptions in far away places, whether these earth shaking events are found in the United States Senate, a volcano in Hawaii or even a war in Korea.  But if you want to know about the folks in Forestburg and the surrounding communities of New Harp, Rip, Mallard, Scrougey, and Uz, turn to Brother Bridwell’s pages.

The editor would be among the first to admit that his paper owes much of its success to the unusually able and energetic corps of country correspondents that serve it.  They are on the ball, to judge by their constant flow of good, clean, readable copy.  Each correspondent enjoys a by-line, whether it be Lorena True writing from Rip, Callie Sutton from Prairie Point, Myrtle McMillion from Scrougey, and so on.

On the strictly home front, Editor Bridwell studs names as thick as raisins in his news accounts of happenings in Forestburg.  Thus the treasurer’s report on the Hardy Cemetery manages to work in those of seventeen contributors to the upkeep, together with the sums they contributed.

This being an election year, the announcements of candidates threatened to poach on space that would otherwise go to personals.  But the editor has a knack of boiling even these down. Kent Wagonseller, for example, recently came out for county attorney.  All the pertinent facts of this young man’s career to date are kept within a fourth of a column, ending up with a single direct quote, ‘I will work hard and perform the duties of the office in an efficient and diligent manner.’  Who could ask for more?

Prize among Editor Bridwell’s band of willing helpers is his correspondent from Stony Point.  This is a gentleman by the name of Steven Denham.  Steve’s fame by now is more than parochial.  Readers from as far off as Fort Worth and Dallas raise sand if Steve’s column misses an issue.  The Stony Point philosopher must be aware, in part, of his wider public, as this paragraph in a recent issue somewhat hints,

‘Everybody who lives far off will want to know where Jim and Ernest built Red Bird’s new house.  Well, it’s not too close to Aunt Carrie’s house and it’s just ‘twixt Newby Mound and Sugar Loaf.  Kinder west, out on that little glade, toward the big gate that goes to the Charles Cook place.  Edward has four rooms and two porches.’

Steve’s weekly budget rates, rightly enough, prime place in the Forestburger.  It often gets top front-page position.  It always appears, though, under the simple, one-line head: ‘Stony Point News.’  For Steve is an artist whereas the others, as good as they are, are merely artisans by comparison.  That is doubtless why the editor gives Steve more rein; he can write much as he pleases and play hide and seek with both grammar and spelling — sorta with a poet’s license, we reckon.

‘Darwin White has his corn crop under fairly good control,’ Steve reported in the same issue, adding: ‘Wilb Reynolds took his wife to see the Carlsbad Caverns last Sunday.  Mr and Mrs Ernest Fanning have been regular attendants at the Church of Christ meeting, which closed Saturday night.  Ross Little is obliged to buy two loaves of bread since his Ma and them from San San Toni have been visiting him.  Margaret Lander was at home over the weekend.

There is more grass and less cattle in Stony than there ever has been since Willie Mobley left the country.  Stony has had two serious accidents of late, Edward Bailey got tangled up in some ceiling wallpaper and had to be cut free.  And a cow Mark Landers tried to doctor knocked Mark down and trampled to of his ribs loose.  The community otherwise seems reasonably quiet.’

The Forestburger, with its Steve Denham, its Sybil Balthrop, its Lorena True and all the rest, including Editor Bridwell is an ever-new reminder of the strength of journalism’s age-old axiom.  There is a tinge of commercialism in its columns, as the healthy wad of ads from merchants testifies.  But the people of Forestburg and all the folks from Willowalla Creek on the orth to Denton Creek on the south seem to know they have a good thing in their sturdy, newsy paper.  And it must be tops in Stony, otherwise Steve Denham might have left the country long ago.”

Baptistery Artist Mary Cree Cosby

Mary Cree Cosby moved to Bowie with her husband in 1909.  In 1935, at the age of 56, she created her first baptistery painting.  The painting was for the First Baptist Church of Bowie.  The news of her special talent spread by word of mouth, and she was soon commissioned to do baptistery paintings in several churches throughout Montague County.

Mary Cree Cosby working on one of her baptistery paintings.  Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

Mary Cree Cosby working on one of her baptistery paintings. Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

Cosby also painted the one located in the Buckner Orphans Home in Dallas, Texas.  Her work, which can be found in churches in Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas, became so well-known that people traveled to Bowie to watch her at work in her studio.

She completed 411 such works during her career, and the vast majority of her paintings depicted the Jordan River flowing directly into the baptistery.

Fatal Train Wreck at Bonita

The May 12, 1909 Fort Worth Star-Telegram details a fatal train wreck at Bonita, Montague County.

“3 Killed; 20 Hurt; Katy Passenger Ditched at Bonita — Wreck Occurs on Temporary Track Built Around Wreck — Engineer Loses Life — Fireman so Badly Scaled There is Little Chance of Recovery — Passengers Shaken Up — Express Messenger Blames the Trains Crew and Says Fast Time Was Being Made.

Three men were killed and a third so badly injured that he ill die as the result of the wreck of westbound Katy passenger train No. 271 last night at 8 o’clock near Bonita, a small town in Montague county, about thirty miles from Gainesville.

The dead: Engineer Frazier, Two section hands unidentified.

The injured:  Fireman Law, scaled; will probably die.  Bob Littlefield conductor:  hurt about the head.  Post Clerk Palmer, slightly.  Express Messenger Wilder, seriously.  About twenty passengers, injuries mostly of a slight nature.

The wreck occurred on a piece of temporary track, built around some box cars wrecked at the same place last Monday.

Express Messenger Wilder states that the train was going a fast rate at the time of the wreck.  He also says that the train crew had positive orders to slow up at that point, where a freight wreck had occurred and that had the order been followed the wreck would not have occurred.

The names of the injured have not been received here.  They were taken through to Denison this morning to receive treatment in the Katy emergency hospital at that place.”