Category Archives: Forestburg

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.”

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Forestburg Historical Society

The Forestburg Historical Society will be hosting a pancake breakfast on Saturday, March 10, 2012.  It will be held at the Community Center from 7am – 11am.  The proceeds from this all you can eat breakfast go toward further development of the Forestburg Historical Museum.  Adult tickets are $6, children $3, under 2 years of age are free.

This is for a great cause, come on out and show your support.

Forestburg’s Timid Ghost

In the summer of 1877, a Forestburg farmer related a most unusual sight.  Everyday around noon, he noticed a woman meandering across a nearby pasture.  She took the same route each day, walking diagonally across the field and into a thicket.  If he ignored her, she quietly and leisurely made her daily journey.  If he walked in her direction, she would scurry into the thicket.  After seeing her for several days, he decided perhaps she was a wild woman and called for  reinforcements to investigate.  The next day he rounded up his buddies, they strategically lined up around the perimeter of the pasture.  When the woman made her appearance, they all approached towards her, surrounding her on all sides.  She rushed into the thicket.  The curious searchers continued their advance, circling closer and closer to the thicket.  They  entered the thicket and searched every nook and crannie, but found no sight of the mysterious woman.

The next day, the noonday sun arose, and the woman made her daily stroll.

Forestburg Bank Robbery of 1931

George Wylie, served as the First State Bank of Forestburg president. Photo courtesy of the Forestburg Historical Society

Bank robberies reached an all time high during the 1930s.  Gangsters such as Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly and Al Capone were household names across the nation.  But many lesser known men and women turned to a life a crime during this time as well.  The very difficult times of the economic depression of the 30s probably played a part in these well publicized crime sprees.  Desperate times called for desperate measures for some.  The big cities were not the only targets of the gun packing crews.  Rural areas were at risk as well.

Current picture of the First State Bank of Forestburg. Photo courtesy of the Forestburg Historical Society.

The bank was organized in 1917.  One of the first presidents was a gentleman named George Wylie.  As far as records show it served the community well without any problems until a cold winter day in 1931.

On 20 February 1931 business was being conducted as usual at the small town bank.  Bookkeeper Pryor McGee and Cashier E B Neeley were performing their day-to-day banking duties.  Customers came and went.  Locals A M (Marvin) Dunn and Barney Brogdon were both inside the bank on that Friday afternoon when the criminal element, so prevalent during this time, touched the small, peaceful town of Forestburg.

Siblings Barney and Ova Brogdon. Photo courtesy of the Forestburg Historical Society.

Brogdon’s sister, Ova, opted to wait for her brother in the car parked in front of the bank.  Two armed, unmasked men entered the bank.  The bandits were later described as “being between 25 and 30 of medium build and wearing striped unionalls.”  One gunman lined the occupants up against the wall at gun point while the other loaded their bags with the cash.  Then the robbers forced Neeley, McGee, Brogdon and Dunn into the vault and locked them in as they made their escape with $2952.28 from the bank’s coffers.

When  the crime was discovered, the authorities asked Ova, who was still waiting in the car, if she thought it was unusual that her brother had not come out of the bank in a timely manner.  She responded that she didn’t think much of it at the time, but did state she found it odd when two men ran by with guns and carrying bags.

In May, Frank Britton was arrested in Wichita Falls for the robbery.  Britton implicated his partner and crime, Lee B Lovell.   Both men were brought to Montague County for trial.  Britton received 35 years for the crime, Lovell received 7-10 years.  Britton also received an additional twenty years for the bank robberies in Boyd and Loving.

The bank had been privately insured and all but $700 of the stolen loot was recovered.  This however, was not enough to save the bank when the bank examiner visited after the robbery.  It was appalled to find that there were no paved roads leading in or out of Forestburg, that there was no police presence in town and they it was served by only one phone line.  He was amazed that his firm was insuring such a high risk investment.  The First State Bank of Forestburg was eventually forced to merge with the bank in Saint Jo.

The bank building is still proudly standing in Forestburg today.  It is the meeting place of the Forestburg Historical Society and a museum.  The historical society meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7pm for those who have an interest in Forestburg and Montague county history.   Currently the museum is open during the Watermelon Festival and by appointment.

Frontiersman and Indian Fighter – Levi Perryman

From the day he was born, Levi Perryman’s life was never easy.  On March 29, 1839, Levi entered this world, on the same day his mother, Elizabeth Farmer Perryman,  left her earthly home.  Less than nine months later, his father, Alex G Perryman was called to heaven as well, leaving Levi an orphan before the age of one. 

Levi Perryman. Photo courtesy of Montague County Historical Commission

His father’s brother, Jack Perryman, took Levi into his home and raised him as his own. Uncle Jack taught young Levi all the things a boy needed to know  to become a man on the Texas Frontier.   Levi attended school in Paris, Texas for a few short months, but the call of the wild west was too strong not to answer.  In 1859, he decided to head west where land was plentiful and fertile.   He chose Montague County as his home,  building a modest log cabin near Forestburg.

His Uncle Jack proposed a business venture, a cattle raising 50-50 partnership.  Jack followed Levi to Montague County with a hundred head of cattle. Under an oak tree, on the acreage Levi called home three miles west of Forestburg, his uncle presented him with “fifty head of cattle, a saddle horse equipped and a ten-dollar gold piece and said to him, “Now my son, root hog or die.””  The partnership worked well for both men until the War Between the States encroached on the business venture.

Levi joined the Confederate Army at Gainesville, Texas in Captain Gilbert’s company.  He also served in Marshall’s squadron and Company I, 31st Texas Dismounted Cavalry.  He participated in the Battles of Prairie Grove, Pleasant Hill and Mansfield.  According to B B Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co, 1906) Vol 1 pp 701-704, “In the spring of 1865, he was ordered to report at Galveston, but at Houston, he applied for and received a furlough home and before he reached his destination Lee had surrendered and the war was over.  During those three years of army life, no Yankee prison cell knew him and no federal bullet ever bruised his body.  No absence without leave and no hospital record were charged against him.  Mr Perryman was ever subject to duty’s call.”

Upon returning home after the war, he returned to his ranching endeavors with his uncle Jack.  In 1866, he married Mrs Josephine (Milam) Price, widow of Pleasant Price.  The new Mrs Perryman had a son, Pleas Milam, from her first marriage.  Together Levi and Josephine had eight children. These children were Napoleon, William J, Elbert, Kate, Lennie, Charley, Sarah and Bob.  Both Charley and Sarah died as infants and Napoleon died as a young child.  Josephine died in 1884, leaving Levi with a houseful of young mouths to feed.  He employed a gentleman named Pedro Videll to help tend to the children and home.

Levi Perryman seated, behind left to right are daughter Lennie Perryman Stallworth, stepson Pleas Price, son Elbert Perryman and daughter Kate Perryman Caddell. Photo courtesy of Montague County Historical Commission.

His cattle business was very successful.  He managed to acquire about twenty five hundred acres of land in Montague County.  Levi was well-respected in the Forestburg community and when the town was in need of a sheriff, Levi accepted the role.  He was sheriff from 1873-1878.  After his first term, he had no intention of running again.  The townspeople got together a petition urging his re-election.  He accepted, and served a second term in office.  During his tenure as sheriff, he had several run ins with the ever-present outlaws that disrupted the Texas Frontier.  He accompanied many criminals from the Montague County jail cells to their new home at the State Penitentiary in Huntsville.  The Paddock book states, “His heavy and avenging hand was laid on Wild Bill McPherson and it brought Bob Simmons back from Kansas and lodged him in prison and it reached out after Ike Stowe and made him suffer for his crimes.”

While widely known through north central Texas as a soldier, rancher and lawman, his greatest claim to fame was his prowess as an Indian fighter.  He was engaged in dozens of encounters with the raiding tribes that reeked havoc along the mighty Red River.  Later in his life he wrote his first hand recollections of these Indian fights.  In 1987, the Montague County Historical Commission received permission from Levi’s heirs to publish these accounts.  A copy can be obtained from the Montague County Historical Commission or at the Tales N Trails Museum.

First hand accounts of Indian Fighter Levi Perryman.

Levi purchased the cemetery that was used by the families in and around the Forestburg area in 1883.  He deeded the cemetery to the county.  The Perryman Cemetery  is located 1.5 miles from Forestburg on FM 455.  The Texas Historical Commission erected a marker that states, “The first marked grave in this burial ground is that of an infant who died in 1862. Other burials include those of a Mr Jones, a well-digger, killed by Indians in 1863 and Dory Booher and Ben Steadham former Confederate soldiers who had been captured at Lookout Mountain, Tenn. during the Civil War.  In 1883, the cemetery was purchased by Levi Perryman (1839-1921) and deeded to Montague County.  A Forestburg community leader, Perryman had been a Confederate soldier and Indian fighter and sheriff.  Still used, this cemetery serves as a reminder of the area’s pioneers.”  There are twenty-nine Perryman graves in the cemetery, all related in some fashion to Levi.

Perryman Cemetery. Photo courtesy of findagrave.com

Levi was involved in many community affairs.  He was a founding member of the Forestburg Methodist Church.  He was a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge in Saint Jo and later a member of the Masonic Lodge in Forestburg and Gainesville.

Levi Perryman died 22 March 1921, just a few short days before his 82nd birthday.  He is buried in the cemetery that bears his name.  An area newspaper, The Bowie Blade, printed a very fitting obituary.

“Levi Perryman, aged 82, died at this home two miles west of Forestburg March 22, 1921 and was buried at the Old Perryman Cemetery at Forestburg Wednesday afternoon, March 23, the Masonic lodge of Forestburg, assisted by the Methodist pastor, conducting the services.  Mr Perryman was one of the rugged pioneers of the county who came here when the west was young and who blazed the way for civilization.  He was born in Lamar County, March 29, 1839 and was left an orphan when only a few months old, and was raised by an uncle, Jack Perryman.  In 1859, he moved to Montague County and settled on the place where he died.  In 1866, he was married to Mrs Josephine Price and of this union, three children are now living.  E W Perryman, ex-county sherrif, Mrs H Caldwell of Denton, and Mrs Ed Stallworth of Forestburg.  Mr Perryman was elected sheriff of Montague County in 1873 and served one term, in 1878 he was petitioned to run again for sheriff and was elected a second term.  It is stated he made an enviable record as an officer and run to earth many horse thieves, a class of criminals that he hated worse than any other.  He was an old Confederate veteran, and a life long member of the Methodist Church.”