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PAGE 4 TEXAS COUNTY NEWS NOV. 18, 1997
 

The Galloping Pen

By Joyce Byrd
 

OUR GUEST.....

BYRDS STORE HISTORY

WRITTEN BY JAMES FURRY


    James Byrd moved his family from Tennessee to Missouri. From Missouri, some of the children wound up in Texas, and finally in Brown County, in 1866.

    There were four boys: Charles, William, Jessie and Martin, and one daughter, Harriet. Harriet married John McPeters, came to Brown County with the same wagon train which brought some of the Byrd brothers. Some other members of the wagon train included families of more McPeters, Routh, and Lewis.

    Byrds Store was located near the Bayou, it was a very lovely place. The grass was green, thick~and luscious, and the pecan trees are big and beautiful. These trees made a perfect shade for the camp meeting which were to come later. The citizens of Brownwood considered moving Brownwood, the county seat, to this location. But the election was lost by only one vote. The following history about Byrds Store researched and written by James Furry. James Furry is a descendant of Charles Byrd. My son, Larry James Byrd is a descendant of Martin Byrd. They were two of the Byrd brothers.

BYRDS STORE

Brown County, Texas


    How come there to be a place called Byrds Store, Texas? In the beginning, David Anderson and his father blazed the trail from Stone County, Missouri to the area around the present site of Byrds, Texas in 1859. David Anderson was married to Agnes McPeters, daughter of Harvey McPeters. Harvey McPeters was on the road, but he and his two sons, John and Harvey Taylor were still in Johnson County, Texas when they took the 1860 census. He got here in time to pay taxes in 1861. Another of Harvey McPeters daughters, Letha, was married to Martin Byrd. They were still in Stone County, Missouri in 1860 when the census was taken there. All the Byrd families were still there at that time. Martin and Letha had got here in time to he on the 1863 Tax roll. The other Byrd brothers took their time getting here. Jessie had a son horn in Arkansas in about 1863. James Jackson stayed in Collin County, Charles went over in Limestone County for awhile and William, I don't know when he got here. Martin must have got to Brown County in 1862. He was on the 1863 tax roll and paid taxes on 2 horses, 20 cows, no land and fifty dollars cash on hand. By 1873 he had 487 cows.

    After Martin got here he settled on a section of land that was later patented to him October 3, 1874, this land is The Martin Byrd Survey No.142. This land is on the south side of the Pecan Bayou and about one-half mile west of the present site of the store at Byrds, Texas. A road entered this survey on it's west line, about a quarter of a mile from it's north line and up out of the river basin. Just a few yards after entering this property on the west line, Martin startedbuilding his trading post, his house, and corrals. He opened his trading post here and started trading with the other settlers and the Indians that were still In the area. It seems that he done quite well. From here until his death in 1879, he amassed a fortune in land and cattle. He also owned city property in Brownwood. The road that entered this property on the west run along south of and in front of Martin's trading post, house and corrals. A short way past here the road turned down into the Pecan Bayou, to what we called the Letha Byrd crossing and out the other side into a field owned by Top Wlndham. We went northeast across this field and up out of the basin to the road (now paved) coming from Holder, Texas and turning south for about one-half mile to the store at the present site of Byrds, Texas.

    In 1876, Martin Byrd bought land across the river and a few miles north of his home and trading post and in the Edmund Pruitt Survey. He paid for this land with gold coins. At some point after that, he moved his trading post to a Spot on the south end of this property. The south end of this property runs along the north bank of the Pecan Bayou and the east bank of Paint Creek (now Red River). There was a road running west across the south end of this property leading to Burkett and Coleman, Texas. An area on the south end of this property and on each side of that road is what later became know as Byrds Store, Texas. In 1877, the Postal Services needed to establish a post office in the area and on November 6, 1877, they established the post office in Martin's Store and made him postmaster. They named it Byrds Store, Texas, and rightfully so because it was in Mr. Byrd's Store. Now the people had a address to which they could have their mall sent. They could now pick up their mail at Byrds Store. At some point in time there was a mill, a cotton gin, and probably other businesses there. There was a school up the road north a short way. I believe It was first called Paint Creek School, but later changed to Byrds School.

    Martin Byrd died December 12, 1879 and his son, James H. Byrd was appointed postmaster January 12, 1880. There was several other postmasters that followed before the name was changed to Byrd., Texas on March 18, 1896. On that date Uncle Alfred Mills was appointed the first postmaster of the new named, Byrds, Texas. I will list the postmaster appointments on a separate sheet.

    Someone had this Byrd Store, Texas site surveyed and mapped as a city or village of Byrd. Store, Texas. Some say that it was my Uncle Jim Byrd (James H.), that had it surveyed. It could have been, but his brother, Charles Robert Lee Byrd was the last Byrd family member to own the store. The actual surveying and mapping was done by E. B. Durham. He was an engineer for the city of Brownwood. In the mapped city, the store and post office was located in block number eight. Block number eight is described as beginning at the intersection of Jenkins street and Leand street for it's northwest corner. Thence east 300 feet on Leand street to Oak street for it's northeast comer. Thence 300 feet south along Oak street to Leon street for it's southeast corner. Thence 300 feet west along Leon street to Jenkins street for its southwest comer. Thence 300 feet north along Jenkins street to the point of beginning. This area contains two and one-twentieth (2 1/20) acres.

    Martin Byrd's widow, Aunt Letha Byrd retained control of the ranch and other property and ruled with an iron hand until her death in 1913. She began to settle with her children in 1896 and 1897. I don't know if her son, Charles Robert Lee got the store by a settlement of the estate, but he is the one that sold the store to Uncle Alfred Mills in 1897. In 1899, Uncle Alfred Mills sold the store to W.A. Thompson. The post office stayed In the store. W.A. Thompson later sold the store to Mr. Tarpley. Sometime later Mr. Tarpley closed the store and sold some of the land to W.D. Long and three acres to G. W Naron. This three acres had the mill and a house on It. I don't believe there was anything else on this three acres.

    In 1909, Uncle Alfred Mills bought the tract of land from S. R. Wlndham and built the original store at the present site of Byrds, Texas. He then moved the post office to this store. The post office kept it's same name therefore the address for the site was Byrds, Texas.

    Some of the reasons that he probably chose this site was that there was a road coming from the east from Holder and the road coming from the south from Brownwood met at this point. It was also on the river and there was a school already here and possibly the store across the river was already there. The bridge that crossed Hog Creek was there. The bridge that crossed the Bayou was there making this kind of a high traffic spot. There was a school there and the cemetery was there. A fine spot for a store and home and, a post office where everyone could meet.

    The school was WIndham School. My mother attended school there. The cemetery was and is Windham Cemetery. My mother is buried there. She is buried on her school playground. My father is buried there. He was born in Aunt Aggie Andersons house, which was a hundred or so yards from the south end of the old bridge. My wife is buried there. My grandparents, my aunts, uncles, cousins and even a sister is buried there. I will be too.

    The cemetery is an historic site. It received its Historical recognition on its own reputation not because of Byrds, Texas. It was there first.

    It might surprise some people to know that no Byrd family member ever owned a store or land at the present site of Byrds, Texas.

    As a member of the Byrd family on my maternal side, born on Rough Branch, grew up in the area, roamed these old sites and know lots of the family stories, I offer this as my opinion of where, when, why and how Byrds Store, Texas with no Zip Code came to be. It is no longer an address for anyone.

    The Story of Byrds is not complete unless you have some of the stories that went with it. I will add the postmaster list next, then write some of the stories, beginning with one that happened at the present site of Byrds, Texas. On some I will not quote the name of the persons as there is some grandkids still around that might be offended or embarrassed by the store.

POSTMASTER LIST

for Byrds Store, Brown County, Texas

    This will correct a statement or two that I made in prior writings concerning postmasters of Byrds Store, Texas. The statements in the past were not made from good source records. The source for this writing is the USPS Historical Records. I have stated in the past that Uncle Alfred Mills was the second postmaster of Byrds Store, Texas. That was wrong. He was the first postmaster of Byrds, Texas as you will see below. The original Post Office was established as Byrds Store, Texas, November 6, 1877. On that day, Martin Byrd was appointed Postmaster. The Post Office was so named because it was in Martin Byrds store. Martin died December 12, 1879. His oldest son was appointed as the next postmaster. His oldest son was appointed as the next postmaster of Byrds Store, Texas as will be shown in the list that follows.
 

POSTMASTER: Martin Byrd, appointed November 6, 1877.

POSTMASTER: James H. Byrd, appointed January 12, 1880

POSTMASTER: William J. Montgomery appointed September 17, 1882

POSTMASTER: Jasper M. Thompson appointed June 7, 1883.

POSTMASTER: John V. Tennent appointed December 6, 1883

POSTMASTER: James M. Dupree appointed April 2, 1890

POSTMASTER: Edward M. Wilson, appointed April 28, 1891.

POSTMASTER: Runcie M. Woods, appointed September 4, 1895
 


Name changed to Byrds, Texas, March 18, 1896


 


POSTMASTER: Alfred Mills, appointed March 18, 1896.

POSTMASTER: Amazon E. Phillips, appointed May 27, 1920.

POSTMASTER: Mrs. Lillian A. Ferguson, appointed March 16, 1920

POSTMASTER: Mrs. Carrie Mae Reneau, appointed February 4, 1944.

ACTING POSTMASTER: Mrs. Olene L. Roberts, appointed January 5, 1953.
 

    The Post Office discontinued service, February 28, 1955. The mail service was moved to Brownwood, Texas.
 

THE STORIES

    I will begin with one that happened at the present site of Byrds, Texas.

    This wasn't a hundred years ago, but it was long enough ago that the men and big boys rode horses about everywhere they went. It was still in the old rough and rowdy cowboy days.

    One of my older cousins and a few of his buddies come riding fast into Byrds, Texas across the old bridge. They were just going to shoot up the town. (Just kicking up their heels). They were whooping and yelling and shooting the ground on first one side of their horse and then the other. Just after crossing the bridge, this cousin didn't quite shoot the other side of his horse, he shot him right between the ears.

    I don't know the rest of the story. That was probably the end of it.

    The story took place across the river about two hundred yards south of the old bridge where Mrs. Bolton run a little general store. Grandpa, Mike Furry went there to buy some shot for his muzzle loading shotgun. He told Mrs. Bolton that he wanted a pound of shot. She goes back in the store and comes back with a pint of shot. Grandpa told her, "No, I just wanted a pound". She said, "Well Mike, don't you know that a pint is a pound the world around". He had to except the deal, she wouldn't have any other way.

    It was probably some of the same shot and I know that it was the same gun that grandpa used one day when he went down on a little creek near the house and killed thirteen ducks with one shot.

    He had twelve kids, so I guess him and grandma had to divide one. It was ducks or no dinner.

    I still have the old shotgun.

    This story happened just a little way east of the Byrds Store, Texas site, where the road was running along the north bank of the Pecan Bayou, just before crossing Red River. This was back in the Model T Ford days. Anyway, that's the kind of car we had.

    In those days there was lots of tramps going around the country. Some even had their stick over their shoulder with their little bundle on the end. I often wondered what was in that bundle.

    On this day, mother put us kids in the Model T and headed from Cross Cut to granddad Buck Mallone's place on Rough Branch, (2 or 3 miles east of the present site of Byrds, Texas). As we were coming along the Bayou before getting to the crossing on Red River, a tramp was walking along the road and as we passed he jumped on the running board of the car, (you mean you don't know what the running board is). Mother eared the old car down and started weaving back and forth across the road and pushing that tramp with one hand and finally slung him off and he went tumbling down the road and we went a little faster on to see granddad and granny.

    Yeh, I know, most of you don't know what it means to ear those T models down. That's OK. You didn't miss much.

    Just, one more. I gotta tell you about my Uncle John Waddy, that's what we called him. His name was John William Waddy Thompson. Yes, he was a Byrd descendant too. He was a good man, everyone loved Uncle John Waddy. He always said that he was a farmer. Well, he had cows, chickens, turkeys, hogs, horses, mules and plows and wagons and done pretty well, but he had a hard time with the weather. He couldn't get much plowing done. It was either too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or too dry. So, when the weather wasn't right to plow he had a hobby to turn to. He was a hound man. He always had about four wolf hounds. There was old Mollie, old Lead, old Rowdy and old Ring. Now old Lead was the leader and old Rowdy was the fighter. He always kept his saddle horse, (old Shorty), in the corral just in case an old wolf should howl or the dogs would think there was one around, he would be ready. Of course these hounds would run a bobcat too. I'd go over and spend the night with them and hear a wolf howl in the night, then I'd hear Uncle John Waddy get up, get dressed and go saddle old Shorty and the chase would be on. You could hear them old dogs bawling and maybe hear Uncle John Waddy yell at them way up near daylight. He didn't care whether they caught that wolf or not. That gave him a smart old wolf to chase again.

    One night I was there and Uncle John Waddy was telling me about this chase back over there on the hill. He said that the dogs were running hard and fast and all at once he heard them catch something. He put the spurs to old Shorty and got up there on the hill and those dogs had a big bobcat caught and old Rowdy and that cat got to fighting and climbing one an other, just going on up, up until they went out of sight. He waited a long time and they still hadn't come down, so he went home. The next morning he went back up there to see about his dog. His dog or that cat was nowhere around. He looked up and low and behold hair was still falling.

    Yeh, my Uncle John Waddy said that's what happened.

THE END

Aren't you glad.

James Furry

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