Tag Archives: Museum

Stonewall Saloon

Stonewall Saloon Museum. Photo Courtesy of the Stonewall Saloon Museum

The Stonewall Saloon was built in 1873 by Saint Jo founder Irby Boggess.  It was the first permanent structure erected in the town.  It stands on the northwest corner of the town square.  It originally functioned as a saloon, and probably a supply house, to meet the needs of the cowboys traveling the Chisholm Trail, with the saloon downstairs and rooms above.

It continued as a saloon until the county voted dry.  In 1902, the building was being used as a restaurant.  In 1906, Mr Wiley purchased the building and converted into the Citizens Bank.  He added a vault and modernized the front facade of the building with a large picture window.

By the end of the depression, the town was no longer able to support two banks and the owner of competing bank, H D Fields, purchased and dissolved the Citizens Bank.  For the next few years the old saloon building was used for various commercial enterprises including a doctor’s office upstairs and a real estate business.  It was the head quarters of the Kenerey Brothers Oil Business until the late 1950s.

In preparation for the county centennial in 1958, under the hand of H D Fields, the building underwent a major restoration and it opened as the Stonewall Saloon Museum.  A large ornate mirrored back bar was purchased and hauled in from Floresville, Texas.  Swinging doors were added that sported area rancher’s and farmer’s brands.  Families donated items to be displayed in the new museum.  It became a major tourist attraction for the small town.  Stucco was applied to the exterior of the building at some point in the mid 1960s.  During its years as a museum Lewis Lauderdale, Leslie Hendricks, Boyd Whitson and Sue Yetter served as the curator.  All but Mrs Yetter, during their tenure, lived in a back room of the saloon.

Times changed and interest waned, and the museum closed for a number of years.  But was brought back to life in 1996 when it was purchased by Johnny and Rita Mueller.  They purchased the building and contents and remodeled the interior of the building to resemble an old timey western saloon and reopened the building  on weekends and special occasions as a museum.  They were forced to close when the northwest exterior wall collapsed.  The wall was repaired, but the family did not reopen the museum.

In 2011, a group of historically minded citizens banded together and purchased the building.  Their goal was to preserve the historic landmark building and to tell its story.  Not only its story as a saloon, but in all of its capacities, the saloon, the bank, and the museum.  Each chapter in the old building’s life touched the residents of Saint Jo and surrounding communities, each chapter has a story to tell.

Photo courtesy of the Stonewall Saloon Museum

While restoring the old building,  surprises were found at every turn.  Including corn cobs chinked in the wall as insulation and a .44 caliber shell under the floor.  But the most amazing discovery was the remnants of a 1870s German folk art mural on the wall behind the bar.  A portion of which is preserved in its original state for visitors to see.  A local artist, Joel Hale, recreated the mural in close proximity to where it was originally painted.

The caretakers of this historic relic are taking great pains to correctly preserve the old building.  They used historically correct mortar on the interior rock wall.  The original ceiling is still intact.  They lovingly removed the old, weathered, branded swinging doors in order to preserve them for a future display.

Saving the building itself was the first concern,  but soon they will begin the process of sorting through the contents that were carefully packed when restoration began, to see what items, donated so long ago, are still available for display.

The museum is currently opened to the public on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm and on Sundays from 1pm to 4pm.  Make plans to come see the old saloon, it is worth the trip.  The Boggess Volunteers are on duty and love to share the history of the Stonewall and Saint Jo.

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Storm in Illinois Bend Scatters Jars of Fruit Over North Part of County “In the News”

I thought it might be interesting to add some old articles from the newspaper pertaining to Montague County.  These are quick and easy and don’t take the research time that the regular posts do, but it will be something to hold us over throughout the week.  They will be designated as “In the News”

28 March 1916 – Dallas Morning News

House Blown Away

Storm in Illinois Bend Scatters Jars of Fruit Over North Part County

Special to The News.  Gainesville, Texas, March 27 – News was received here today that a tornado swept through Illinois Bend, in this county, near the Oklahoma line, Friday night and did several thousand dollars damage.  Several homes and outhouses were blown away and two or three families were left entirely destitute.  The large Vaughn home there was blown away with contents, but the family escaped by taking refuge in a storm cellar.  One house that was destroyed contained 300 jars of fruit and these were scattered all over that section, some being carried into Oklahoma.  No loss of life reported.

All Trails Lead to Montague County

Well, perhaps not all trails lead to Montague County, but throughout history several have laid tracks through this area.  Each marking and shaping what Montague County would eventually become.  In 1882, the railroad laid the first tracks in Montague County.  Between 1867 and 1884 several hundred thousand longhorns passed through Montague County as the Chisholm Trail funneled across the Red River.  The Butterfield Overland Mail Route crossed the corner of the county on its short-lived existence between 1848-1869.  Even before that Marcy’s California Trail of 1849 (which Highway 82 follows today in several instances)  and the Texas Santa Fe Exposition in 1841 trekked across Montague County.  The earliest organized trail that traversed our county was the one laid out by the Chihuahua Trade Expedition

In 1839 and 1840, the Chihuahua Trading Expedition wound its way back to Mexico through Montague County.  The expeditions purpose was to open trade between Mexico and the United States via a less circular trail than the established trial through St Louis, Santa Fe and El Paso.  It was organized by Henry Connelly.  Connelly was a physician hailing from Missouri and a prominent merchant in Chihuahua.  The group consisted of Connelly and a party of 150 men.  With a bankroll of between 200,000 and 300,000 specie, the party left Chihuahua on 2 April 1839.  They traveled northeast to the Rio Grande, on to the headwaters of the Colorado and Brazos rivers.  They accidentally followed the Canadian River, thinking it was the Red River, for some distance, but eventually found their bearings and followed the Mighty Red downriver.  They crossed into Indian Territory at the mouth of the Wichita.  With the guidance of a Delaware Indian band, the party arrived at Fort Towson.

Fort Towson was a frontier military outpost for the Frontier Amy Quartermaster.  It was located approximately two miles northeast of the present day community of Fort Towson, OK and about seventy miles east of Fort Washita.  From Fort Towson, the expedition traveled on to Arkansas where Connelly boarded a steamship to Louisiana in order to trade his gold and silver from merchandise.

On the return trip, the caravan  included between sixty and eighty new wagons loaded with goods.  Also joining the group was a troupe of American equestrian circus performers transporting tents and various equipment in order to entertain in Mexico.  The return route passed from Fort Towson into North Texas, through present day Red River, Lamar, Fannin, Grayson, Cooke Montague, Clay and Archer Counties.  The party passed Paris and Bonham, dipped south of Sherman through Whitesboro, north of Gainesville and Muenster and into what is now the town of Saint Jo. The group then headed northward between Montague and Nocona where they encountered muddy prairies that impeded their progress for about five weeks.  Unfavorable weather caused problems throughout the trip.

Eventually they hit their original trail and traveled south to the Rio Grande, where once again they were met by difficulty.  They spent forty-five days negotiating tariffs in order to cross back into Mexico.  Governor Jose Irigoyen who had promised a cut-rate on the tax had died before Connelly and his crew returned.  The new regime requested full payment.

They reached Chihuahua 27 August 1840, some sixteen months after they set out on the voyage.  The route was not repeated due to unfavorable reports of the trail and the excessive tariffs.

Although this particular trail was only blazed once, other adventurous souls were not to far behind in making their way to Montague County.

The Old Jail and Outlaws

On November 26, 1927 Montague County commissioners contracted with Southern Prison Company to build a new jail building, the third such building for the county.  At a cost of $34,000, the building was completed July 11, 1927.  The building stands on the southeast corner of the courthouse square.  For 53 years it served as the county jail.  After the new jailhouse was built in 1980, this old building was seldom used except for storage.  In 1996, the Montague County Historical Commission gained permission to use the building as the group’s meeting place.  It is now opened to the public as a museum.

Old Jail. Photo courtesy of Max Brown.

The outside dimensions of the building are approximately 39 feet long by 28 feet wide.   The layout of the jail consisted of jail cells upstairs and living quarters downstairs.  throughout its use, the Sheriff and family occupied the downstairs portion as their home.  The living area contained two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen.  There was one other room that was used as an additional bedroom or dining room, depending on the size of the family.   Four adult and two juvenile cells made up the jail portion.  The adult cells were nine by eight feet in size, each having four metal bunks bolted to the walls.  The juvenile cells measured eight by eleven feet, each with two bunks.  A total of sixteen adults and four juvenile offenders could be housed at any given time.

Jail cell photo courtesy of Max Brown

At least eleven sheriffs and their families made the jail their home during their terms.  These sheriffs were John W Wales, R T Anderson, Lee A Husband, Herman Chandler, Kate Chandler, Dick Lawrence, Bedford Henley, Helen Henley, J L Jameson, J T Lindsey, Howard Middleton and W F Conway.  Both Kate Chandler and Helen Henley finished their husband’s term when they died while still holding office.
The Old Jail is certainly one of those “if these walls could talk” buildings.  Oh, the stories they could tell.  These sturdy cells held criminals that had committed crimes ranging from drunkenness to murder.  Other  offenses included theft, bootlegging, forgery, and insanity. Some notorious outlaws called the Old Jail home, even men associated with the Barrow gang of Bonnie and Clyde fame.

Floyd Hamilton (left) and Ted Walters (right) Photo courtesy of Frank Ballinger

In 1938, known associates of the Barrow gang, Floyd Hamilton and Ted Walters were arrested in Montague County for burglarizing the W W Gilmore drugstore in Ringgold.  The duo had stolen about a hundred dollars in inventory and $15 in cash.  They were incarcerated along with horse thief Ervin Goodspeed.  Together these three plotted a jail break on April 30, 1938.  On that night the only jailer on duty was the twenty-three old son of Sheriff Kate Chandler, Kenneth Chandler.  When Kenneth went upstairs to the jail cells to deliver cheese and crackers to the inmates, he was ambushed.  Goodspeed had managed to cut his cell bars and was waiting for the jailer as he approached.  He stabbed Kenneth in the leg with a pair of scissors.  It is believed that Goodspeed stole the scissors from the barber when he visited to the jail to give the inmates haircuts.  After stabbing the jailer, Goodspeed unlocked the cells of Hamilton and Walters.  Once downstairs, the trio offered to dress the jailer’s wound, but he refused.  They then helped themselves to jail’s arsenal, taking three shotguns and two pistols and disappeared into the night.  Goodspeed was caught in Nocona within a couple of days.  After stealing a car, Hamilton and Walters led law enforcement across a tri-state area on a massive man hunt.  They were both eventually captured in August of 1938.  Hamilton was eventually  sent to Alcatraz.  He survived a botched escape attempt from the famous island prison.  He was released in the late 1950s and live the life of a model citizen in the Dallas area until his death in 1986.  Walters spent the next few years in and out of prison.  He apparently managed to skip by under the radar of the law enforcement until he is shot and killed by a Texas Ranger in 1971.

Ervin Goodspeed (center)

Another jail escape occurred in 1941.  Rex Beard, Jr found himself housed within the confines of the Montague County jail for robbing the  banks in Nocona and in Bowie.  Due to his method of carrying  a paper sack into the bank with which to conceal his weapon as well as to  carry out his stolen loot, he became known as the Paper Sack Bandit.  He escaped from the Old Jail, but was caught in Wichita Falls after another robbery.  Beard was responsible for robberies across the state including theaters, banks, department stores and liquor stores.  One newspaper article described his antics as “the Paper Sack Bandit has so many prison sentences officers are not certain how long it would take him to serve them.”  While waiting sentencing in Abilene he attempted another escape.  In the process, he killed Deputy Sheriff Wade Willis.  During the gunfight, Beard was critically injured.  He survived these injuries, but was given the death sentence for his crime.  He was executed by the State of Texas in  September of 1943.
Today the Old Jail stands a memorial to all of those in law enforcement that served Montague County with pride.  It is now known as the Old Jail Museum.  It is opened Fridays from 12:00 – 5:00 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.
There is more to the stories of Hamilton, Walters, Goodspeed and Beard.  I hope to add more posts this week under the ‘More of the Story’ section.  To learn more about the Barrow gang and Bonnie and Clyde, visit Frank Ballinger’s website.

Red River Station

Long before it was the jumping off point of the Chisholm Trail, the area that became known as Red River Station had been well traveled for thousands of years.  Near the junction of Salt Creek and the Red River, the mighty Red makes a distinct bend to the north.  This natural detour pushes the current to the south bank creating a favorable crossing point.  This crossing was used for centuries by huge herds of buffalos, Native Americans and much later by hundreds of thousands of Texas Longhorns.

Map courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

In 1857, a few families tried to push the envelope of the frontier and settle in the area.  They were pushed back by raiding Indians.  But by 1860 they had managed to fend off the hostile attacks and put down roots and build a few structures.  Some these adventurous souls were the Grayson, Cardwell, Boren and Quillan families.

In July and August of 1861 the Texas authorities sent a company of State Troopers or Rangers under the command of Captain Brunson to help defend against the continuing advances of the disgruntled Indians.  The camp or station was first known as Camp Brunson.  By December of 1862, the company had undergone a reorganization placing Captain John Rowland in charge.  It is estimated that approximately fifty families sought refuge within the confines of the stockade.

Shortly before being reassigned to south Texas in 1864, Rowland compiled a roster of his company.  The following men were listed:

Captain John T Rowland; 1st Lt S J Chapman; 2nd Lts WD Hevard and JR Giddens; 1st Sgt TD Pollard; Sgts GW Campbell, JH Christal, TJ Gregory; 1st Corp Freeland Collins; Corps WH Burns and JB Heyner; Buglers WR Campbell and Solomon Collins; Farrier CA Wolldridge; Privates JO Alexander, David Argo, JF Barlow, AL Brunson, JN Branham, Miles Bond, JWH Bailey, BA Brown, Thomas Crawford, Josheph Campbell, Rolin Christal, JT Cates, WC Crow, William Colvin, Isaiah Cook, WR Chapman, TB Christal, John Campbell, R Davidson, JW Emerson, JA Edward, TB Emerson, William Fanning, EP Freeman, JM Gibson, L Grayson, Joseph Gregory, Wm Grundy, HW Houston, JM Hamilton, RP Hutson, JR Hudson, John Higgin, Wm Harper, Wm S Hutson, JM Hoard, Hugh Ivey, JJ Jones, EM Kelly, Wm Lackey, Henry Lackey, Wm Lewis, GW Lemons, Mr Marquis, SGS McGarroh, EW  McCampbell, TA Morgan, WB Martin, WT Martin, WH Merents, Jese Porter, RC Porter, Geo Westly Pearce, Geo Washington Pearce, JH Patterson, JT Peak, WM Priest, Wm Pearce, JW Redman, CT Riley, WR Strong, BN Strohan, Daniel Stennett, R Sullivant, Cyrus Strong, LI Varden, AH Wheeler, JM White, Felix Walker, David White, Johnson Wadil, ML Webster, AJ White, JM Witten, Wm Wilbern; Discharged JM Redman, HF Myers and William Harvey; Died GW Eakin

Not too long after Rowland’s exodus, the Chisholm Trail was in full swing.  The trail lead to Kansas from all points in Texas, herding longhorn cattle to market.  The feeder trails in Texas converged along the way creating a funnel effect by the time it reached the Red River in Montague County.  The first herds crossed at Red River Station in 1867.  By 1870, it was the prominent crossing.

It is difficult to imagine what the area must have been like during the heyday of the Chisholm Trails.  The dust, not to mention the odor, caused by thousands of milling cattle must have been intense at times.  The Red River has always been a temperamental beast, sometimes smooth as silk and a furious raging swell at others.

Mark Withers was a cowboy that traveled the Trail on more than one occasion.  In his later years, he wrote down some of his memories of the time.  He described one exceptional incident that occurred at Red River Station in 1871.

It had been raining for days  when “We came up west of Gainesville and had just  crossed into Montague County when we began to hear cattle bellering.  It was far off, but it never stopped.  It was like a wall of sound, two or three miles wide.  It continued through the night and grew louder as we drove on north the next day.  By landmarks I recognized, I knew that with conditions normal we were still two days from Red River Station.  In the afternoon, we saw cattle ahead of us, two or three big herds, and by the way they were spread out we knew they were being held.  We stopped where we were and I rode on alone to find out how bad the situation was. I knew it must be the river that was holding things up, but wasn’t prepared for what i saw and was told.  Some wild estimates put the number of cattle concentrated there at 75,000.  I believe 60,000 would be more accurate.”

He goes on to describe the scene when he reached the Red River.”The litter of heavy brush and broken trees sweeping by gave you the feeling that, for hundreds of miles, everything that grew or lay along both the North Fork and the Prairie Dog Town Fork had been plucked out by the roots and sent swirling and bobbing down river, leaving both branches of the Upper Red scoured clean.”

The next day the rain stopped.  Several anxious cattlemen attempted to cross the swollen river.  At least two human lives were lost as were several dozen head of cattle.   So, the wait continued.

Mr Withers described the chaos that ensued, “Two nights later, with the weather continuing fine, a herd got up and started to run.  It carried another herd with it.  It was only the beginning.  In no time at all they were all running and milling.  It was after daylight before we got them held, and we had a tangle of cattle and brands on our hands that would be hard to describe. In my person experience, I never knew a man on the ground being ran over by a longhorn, but when a steer went down in a jam like that he seldom got up.  We all had losses that night, some of them pretty heavy.  The only way we could unsnarl that mass of cattle was to go to work as though we were on a roundup, everyone cutting out his own stuff and holding his cut at a safe distance.  It took us ten days to get them straightened out.  When it was our turn to cross the river, it was mill pond.”

1870 townsite map courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

As with any new enterprize, the law of supply and demand soon became apparent.  Several business were established to aid the influx of cattle men that traveled up the Chisholm Trail. Between 1870 and 1871 at least twelve blocks containing over 100 lots were sold.  A post office was established under the name of Salt Creek.  The first post master was LN Perkins.  Among the first registered voters were Montague county pioneers, Henry Heaton, Alexander Boren, Isaac Boren, J M Grayson, and Tom Cardwell.  The name was changed to Red River Station in 1884.About a half a mile west of town, Henry Heaton ran a chain ferry.  Heaton was described as “a veteran freighter without any previous knowledge of the river.  He was further handicapped by a wooden leg.  He was a cantankerous individual who ran his ferry to suit himself, the tolls he charged rising and falling with the various stages of the river.”  Others who were said to run the ferry after Heaton included Miles Yates, Rev WP Fitts and John Gilbreath.JS Love and his wife Mollie purchased lots 10 and 11 in block one of the new town.  They built a two-story hotel.  It is said that Mollie was known my every cowboy on the trail.  Her kindness was documented in several letters home.  She was known to feed the hungry regardless of their ability to pay.  She often nursed the sick back to health as well.Other businesses that were established included Tom Pollard’s Saloon and Trading Post, WS Thurston’s General Mercantile, several blacksmiths and leather repair shops.A school was formed in the basement of JM Grayson’s home.   Even after a building for the school was erected, it was always known as the Grayson School.  Circuit preachers traveled to Red River Station to spread the gospel, meeting in different homes in town.Red River Station’s demise can be attributed to three different, but equally devastating events.  First, the end of the Chisholm Trail.  As the railroads made further advances across the frontier, the need to drive them to market became obsolete.  The seasonal influx of cattlemen through Red River Station dwindled.  The second event was Mother Nature in full force.  In the early 1880’s the small town was severely damaged by a tornado.  It destroyed several of the businesses in town.  With the decline of patrons already in effect, several businesses chose not to rebuild.  The final event, that lead Red River Station to the ghost town category, was the decision by the rail road to bypass it as a stop, chosing Nocona instead.

Historical Marker placed by State of Texas in 1963. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

Today there isn’t much left of old Red River Station.  The cemetery, which had been neglected for decades, has been reclaimed and cleaned up.  Over the years, two historical markers have been placed in vicinity Red River Station. One by the state of Texas the other by the Boy Scouts.  In 2010, a Chisholm  Trail marker was also placed, with the hope that the importance of Red River Station to Texas history will always be remembered.

Christmas Bananas

I recently had the opportunity to partake in the madness known as Black Friday at Walmart.  My pregnant daughter really wanted to go and I couldn’t send her into the abyss alone.  While I did score a vacuum cleaner for $8.88 and really enjoyed watching the mayhem, I could help but wonder how this became Christmas.

My father, Charles Don Castle, was born in Illinois Bend in 1932.  To say times were tough would be a gross understatement.  But when you ask him about his childhood, his memories are nothing but fond.

He was raised on the old home place that had been in his mother’s family since about 1897.  Arrowhead and squirrel hunting were his favorite past times.  His home was a typical  shotgun house, meaning you could stand at the front door and shoot out the back door without hitting any walls.  Three rooms in total.  The living room, that doubled as his parents bedroom, the kitchen, and the kids’ room. The remnants of which still lay in the pasture.  There was no outdoor plumbing, but the well and the outhouse were just a few yards from the house, so he never thought this was an inconvenience.

I recently asked him about what Christmas was like when he was a little boy.  I asked if they had a Christmas tree, he said no.  I asked if he hung a stocking, he said no.  I asked if Santa came to visit, again he said no.  It made me sad to think of my Daddy, who always made my Christmas’ very special events, as a little boy with nothing for Christmas.

“So, ya’ll just didn’t celebrate Christmas at all?”, I asked.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind.  “I didn’t say that”, he replied.  He told me that Christmas was one of his favorite childhood memories.   I reiterated his list:  no Santa, no tree, no presents.  He smiled, his blue eyes twinkled.  “Ah, but there were bananas!”, he said.

“Pap would ride into town (St Jo) and take the train to Gainesville every year right before Christmas.  He would bring back the biggest bunch of bananas you have ever seen.”, he explained.  He held his arms wide, indicating the bunch of bananas was at least three feet long.  He went on to describe how my grandfather would hand this large, yellow, bunch of bananas from the rafters in the kitchen of their home.  “You know what the best part was kid?”, he asked,  “I could get a banana anytime I wanted it.”

It was a very important lesson my Daddy taught me that day.  Christmas isn’t about the hustle and bustle, or the decorations, or the gifts.  It is a time to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, to spend it with true friends and family.  It is a time to really appreciate what is important in your life.

Merry Christmas!

Hardware Stores and Undertakers: The Scott Brothers

Riley Wiltshire Scott was a lawyer, a judge and an entrepreneur.  With a tent as a store front, he established a thriving business at Red River Station, TX.  He supplied the cowboys traveling the long, hot, dusty Chisholm Trail with gear and supplies.  In 1873, he moved his business to Saint Jo, where he erected a building and continued to prosper.  R W Scott had four children. One daughter and three sons.  His daughter, Ida Evangeline married well-known Saint Jo business man, John Davidson Bellah.  His son Austin, followed in his father’s footsteps and served as a Montague County judge for several years.  But it was his other two sons, Wiltshire Leander and Walter Eldridge that together established a business that continued in the family for almost a century.

W L Scott. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

R W Scott sold his business to his son-in-law in 1875 and moved to Denison, Texas were he remained until his death in 1890.  His sons Wiltshire and Walter quickly filled the void left by his father and established the Scott Brothers Hardware Store in Saint Jo.

Walter E Scott. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trailstext goes here W L Scott. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

The original building was built on the square in Saint Jo where the bank is currently located.  A fire destroyed the building in November of 1911.  They rebuilt a two-story structure across the street and were opened for business again by September of 1912.
Wiltshire and his wife, Victoria Smith Scott,never had children.  Walter and his wife, Eula Hoover Scott, had seven children.  Two of their sons, W L and W E, continued the legacy begun by their grandfather, so many years before.

W L Scott. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

W E Scott. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails

After attending Austin College and working for Humble Oil, W E returned to Saint Jo in 1926 to join the family business.    His brother, W L returned in 1927.  W L had also attend Austin College and Mortuary school.  Both took an active role in the hardware business.  After the death of Wiltshire in 1936 and Walter in 1944, they took full control of Scott Brothers.

Scott Brothers Hardware Store in Saint Jo, Texas built in 1912. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

In 1941, they expanded their business by purchasing J H Cone’s hardware and funeral home business in Nocona, Texas.  W L moved his family to Nocona in order to run that sector of their enterprise.  In 1944, they purchased the A A Croxton estate and remodeled the two-story home into a funeral parlor, which is still in use today.  In the late 1940s they opened a funeral parlor in Saint Jo as well.
Scott Brothers Hardware store in Nocona, Texas. Built in 1965. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

In 1965, they built a modern brick building to house the hardware operation in Nocona.  In 1950 J Howard Morris joined the business in Nocona.  Morris took full control of the Nocona firm after W L’s death in 1985.  The name was changed to Scott Morris, and is still run by the Morris family today.

Scott Brothers Funeral Home in Nocona, Texas. Photo courtesy of Tales N Trails Museum

In 1979, W E Scott sold his funeral business in Saint Jo to J M “Mac” McCoy.  McCoy still runs the funeral home today.  W E continued to run his hardware business until 1983 when he sold it to Sue Yetter.  W E passed away in 1984.

The Scott family members were pillars of the community for close to one hundred years, their  graciousness in a family’s greatest time of need was appreciated by several generations in Montague County.  The tradition is continued by the kind folks the Scott Brothers handpicked to carry on their legacy.

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.”