EARLY RESIDENTS OF HAMILTON
The Ezekiel Manning family were the first
residents of Hamilton arriving in 1855.
In 1855 Henry C. Standefer and James Monroe
Rice opened the first general store near the location of Hamilton
City Hall--intersection of South Bell and East Main Streets.
James Monroe Rice died while purchasing supplies for their store on a
business trip to Galveston in 1872. Merchandise had to be hauled by
ox-drawn wagons from Galveston to stock their store. Thus the first
Chief Justice of Hamilton County was buried in Galveston,
because there was not anyway to return his body to Hamilton. Rice
was a Methodist preacher.
John Chambers Blansit, born 22
February, 1827, came to Hamilton County in 1858 (or 1855--accounts
vary) from AL. He served with the Texas State Troops which
provided protection against Indian raids. John Chambers Blansit
married Ellen White, daughter of John S. and Elizabeth (Barner)
White. John S. White was a Primitive Baptist preacher who had
come to Hamilton County in 1860. John Blansit was an
original stockholder in the Hamilton National
John Jefferson "Jack" Durham, a
graduate of Trinity University in Lebanon, TN was born 6
December, 1835, in Larkinsville, AL. Mr. Durham came to Coryell
County, TX in 1857 where he met and married Elizabeth Ann
McCutcheon. John Jefferson Durham brought his bride to Hamilton, where
he taught the first school--a private school--in Hamilton in 1859,
before enlisting in the Confederate Army. Returning to Hamilton
after the war, Durham purchased 1500 acres on the Leon River
from the Juan de la Garza Survey for seventy-five cents an acre on
19 May , 1868. His purchase included the land on which the Leon River
School in which Miss Ann Whitney had been murdered by the Indians
in July, 1867. Mr. Durham built a toll bridge across the Leon
River, and in 1873 he build a large two-story limestone house on his
ranch. In 1885 he built a similar limestone house in Hamilton. Mr.
Durham continued to acquire property, so that when he installed a
barbed wire fence around his holdings (after 1885), the fence extended
seven miles from the town of Hamilton to the Leon River. Mr.
Durham built two stone buildings in Hamilton used for stores,
and then a third limestone house for his second wife, Docia May Price
(Frost) Durham, whom he married after the death of Elizabeth Ann
Durham. Mr. Durham was the father of seventeen children and the
step-father of two.
Simpson Loyd was elected
Justice of the Peace and County Commissioner in 1860 and as Tax Assessor
in 1870. Simpson Loyd was one of the most noted Indian fighters and
served as a Justice of the Peace for twenty-five years.
Dr. George Frederick Perry, born
5 December 1846, in Benton County, MO, was a graduate of St.
Louis Medical College, where he earned a Doctor of Medicine degree in
1874. Dr. Perry began practicing medicine in Hamilton on 18
March, 1878. Dr. Perry opened a drug store on the northwest corner
of the square and in 1881 took in a partner, John Thomas James.
Because Dr. Perry had an iron safe in his office, cattlemen and
farmers would leave their money in leather bags and wallets in his safe.
As business grew a corner of the drugstore was separated from the
remainder of the store with a metal wire cage in which the safe and a
standing desk for a bookkeeper were enclosed. In 1890 James and Perry
decided to separate the banking business from the drug store. The first
bank in Hamilton County, Hamilton National Bank was organized 31
October, 1890, with a capital stock of $50,000. Bank officers were: Dr.
George Frederick Perry, President; John Thomas James, Vice-President;
Ed A. Perry, cashier; and directors--John L.
Allen Eidson, and W. W. Seeley, of Waco. Stockholders
included: Henry Jones Carter, John H. Taylor.
G. R. Freeman, William
Maxwell, Thomas Hamilton Deen, John Chambers Blansit, D. H. Williams, John
Potts, A. J. Foster, Isaac Gann, Thomas H. Vaughan, David
Crockett Hendrix, and
J. E. Smith. Interest rates were five percent per month on small loans
and up to sixty percent per year on large loans. On 27 October, 1975, Hamilton
National Bank moved into a new 13,000 square foot building constructed
on the original location--the northwest corner of the square in Hamilton.
Andrew Miller, T. D. Neel, John T. Hull, and
presented a petition signed by 93 people in
January, 1871, to the State Legislature asking that the county seat
of Hamilton County be permanently located at the town of Hamilton.
James Allen Eidson, a South
Carolina lawyer, came to Hamilton on 24 December, 1871. He
opened a law practice with J. G. W. Pierson and C. M. Rutherford.
James Eidson married Hamilton County native, Miss Charity
Elizabeth Rice on 11 August, 1874. In 1896 James Eidson formed
a law partnership--Eidson and Eidson--with his son Arthur.
Dallas County, Texas Herald" February 21, 1908, p. 2, column 2
A. EIDSON Dead
an illness that extended over a period of several days past, Judge EIDSON
passed away at his home in this city at 3:30 o'clock Tuesday morning.
Formerly Associate Justice in the Third Court of Appeals, Judge EIDSON was
well known, especially to the legal fraternity of the
State, and was regarded generally as one of the most learned jurists in
Felix Cadmus Williams moved to
Hamilton County in 1873 with his mother and brothers--H. T.,
John Mark, and Hogue. Felix Cadmus Williams was a deputy
sheriff, deputy county clerk, postmaster of Hamilton, and County
Clerk before opening his furniture, undertaking, and insurance
Captain Walter Terry Saxon
(who was one day older than the State of Texas) came to Hamilton
in 1874 and taught school in a double log cabin for four years. Saxon
was the first editor of the Hamilton Herald in 1876.
This newspaper has been published continuously since that time. In 1877 he
became the county surveyor and held that office for forty-seven years. He
laid off the boundary lines of the county in 1878.
Capers E. Horton
arrived in Hamilton County in 1876 and became a deputy sheriff in
Milton Boynton came to Hamilton
in 1875. Boynton became editor of the Hamilton Herald
and organized the first Union Sunday School in Hamilton for
all Protestant churches in Hamilton which had a population
of 200 people. This Sunday School was first held in a small
building on the east edge of Hamilton before moving to the new rock
school on College Hill. In 1886 each denomination had enough
members for each to form its own Sunday School.
Thomas Hamilton Deen, District Clerk of Hamilton County from
1880 to 1896, arrived in Hamilton County in November, 1876. Deen
lived on a farm two miles northwest of Hamilton until 1880 when
he moved into town.
John Thomas James, a
pharmacist from Missouri came to Hamilton in 1876 and opened
the first drug store in Hamilton County with Z. C. Law, a
By 1878 Hamilton had a flour and grist mill with
an attached cotton gin, six lawyers, three physicians, four dry goods and
grocery stores, two drug stores, two blacksmith and wagon shops, one
cabinet shop, two hotels, one butcher shop, one restaurant, a livery
stable, a stone courthouse, and a jail.
Ralph Piper Edgar came to Hamilton County in time
to marry Jane Emily Baker (daughter of William Thatcher Baker)
on 22 August, 1883. Edgar was born 29 April, 1856, probably in
Missouri. In 1885-1886 Edgar was employed to teach school at Blue
Ridge. Professor Edgar’s long career in education included teaching
in many schools in the county, as well as his being Hamilton County
Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1912 through 1916. Edgar
was an elder in Central Christian Church. Ralph P. Edgar
died 3 August, 1933.
The family of George and Elizabeth
in Hamilton from Caddo Mills in 1885. George, born George
Muller in Germany in 1842, purchased property and opened a
blacksmith shop on the northeast corner of the square. Miller, an
aide-de-camp to General Ulysses S. Grant, was in Texas on a
mission to determine the source of the supply of horses for the Confederacy
when the Civil War ended.
He Left Hamilton in 1884, But
Recalls Many Old-Timers Here
Printed in a November, 1951, issue of The
Mrs. Ernest Robert Williams (Simmie Crews Williams)
received a letter with an enclosure from her brother, Floyd C. Crews
of Washington, D.C. this week. He has lived away from Hamilton
since 1884, Mrs. Williams says, but was a newspaper man several
years before leaving Texas in 1889 to accept employment in the U.
S. Government Printing Office in Washington. He retired in 1932.
While in Texas, he was editor and publisher of The
Mr. Crews and Mrs. Williams
are the son and daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Leonidus Crews (Mrs.
Crews was Sarah Helen Coachman before her marriage.), who
came from Georgia to Hamilton in 1875 and lived here until
Many people here will be interested in the following
communication from Mr. Crews:
1514 17th St. N.W.
Washington 6, D.C.,
Nov. 17, 1951
It is said to be a prerogative of the aged to dwell much
in meditation and reminiscence on the past. I am 84 ½ years old, and have
been blind for nearly 8 years. Does this condition qualify me for the
above classification? If so, and you will bear with me, I shall try to
entertain or bore your readers with a few of my childhood memories of Hamilton
and Hamilton County during the period 1875 to 1884 which dates
cover the time of my residence in that town and county.
My parents settled in the then small village of
Hamilton in the month of May, 1875, when I was just 8 years old. I
left Hamilton permanently in May, 1884, at the age of 17 years.
Some of the names that I remember are Isaac Steen and
Thomas Dean, Mrs. Nancy Pierson and her sons, John and Thomas,
and her widowed daughter, Mrs. Williams, the mother of Cad,
Hal, John Mark, and Hogue. Mrs. Williams soon thereafter
married Capt. Watson, a one-armed Confederate veteran from South
Carolina. William Sparkman ran a blacksmith shop. John Penny was
postmaster and kept that office in a nook of his small general store, and
had his brother-in-law, Alec Bottom, as helper. Marion Graves,
George Gentry, Squire Shockley, Simpson Loyd, Eli Terry, Capt. Saxon, the
Doggett family, Rufus Rice and his brother Joe, Thomas
Emmett, W. T. Cropper, Col. Freeman, Mr. Shannon, Ralph Edgar, the Baker
family, N. C. Howard, several Carter families, J. O.
Clark, Mr. Salter, Tom Neel and his family of several sons, Dr. G.
F. Perry and his brother E. A. Perry, four Boynton families
(C. M., J. N., H. R., and A. S.) and C. E. Horton. Lawyers
of the town whose names I remember, were: Mr. Eidson (whose
initials I forget, but who I think came to Texas from South
Carolina, C. K. Bell, G. H. Goodson, C. W. Cotton (perhaps others).
Simon Kuykendall, I think was
the only veteran of the Texas War of Independence who lived in the
Sim Stovall and his brother, Joe,
closed their Hamilton store and moved to Hico, when that
town secured the railroad which was being extended from Waco to Albany.
M. J. Hearne & Co., I think succeeded the Stovalls and John
L. Spurlin took over when Mr. Hearne died.
James & Law, a pair of
young men from Missouri, opened Hamilton’s first drug
store and these young men later married sisters, Misses Bouldin who
with their parents came to Hamilton from Belton. Major and Mrs.
Bouldin were also parents of Mrs. G. W. Wade, who, with her
husband and son, had preceded them in the move from Belton to
Hamilton County had fewer than
a thousand population, although its territory was somewhat larger then
than now, since a slice was taken from the southern end of the county in
the formation of Mills County by the Legislature in the early
Waco was the nearest railroad
point, and it was the terminus of its one and only rail line, a branch of
the H & T. C., which left the main line at Bremond. It
was a week’s trip or more for a wagon to make the round trip to Waco and
return with freight.
A few county names which stick in my memory are S. D.
Felt, Brockman, Capt. Potts and Tom Patterson of Pottsville,
Hawley Geralds (Gerrell) and his widowed daughter, Mrs.
Helen Stoddard, of Indian Gap. Mrs. Stoddard for a number of
years was president of the Texas W. C. T. U. And was a very fine
and highly cultured woman.
Jack Durham lived on the Leon
a few miles from town, and was reputed to be the wealthiest man in the
I should not close these memories without mention of Mr.
Tate, who for years operated the mail and passenger hack between Hamilton
and Hico after the latter town had become a railroad town. And
there was a similar service three times weekly to Gatesville by a Mr.
Floyd C. Crews
The first telephone in the county was installed in
either 1890 or 1892 in Hamilton linking the home of M. S. Brunk
with his grocery store. Sid Ross installed a telephone switchboard
in Hamilton around 1900. In partnership with V. F. Wieser of
Hico, the Hico and Hamilton exchanges were connected
with company offices in Hico. A long distance line connected the
two towns. Will Linton was lineman and Mrs. Carter Walton
was the first telephone operator on the Hamilton exchange. D.
Adkinson was the messenger boy in Hamilton who notified
businessmen when they needed to come to the telephone office to receive
long distance calls. The Hamilton and Hico Telegraph Company
was organized so that messages received in Hico could be relayed to
Hamilton. Mrs. Walton operated both the telephone and the telegraph
service in Hamilton. When the telephone company leased services
from the Bell telephone system so that long distance services could
be extended outside of the county, Bell equipment had to be used on
all exchanges and telephones. Mrs. Walton made the installation on
telephones in Hamilton.
Alice McGarvey Lemmons, who
arrived in Hamilton in September, 1896, was the first woman to hold
public office in Hamilton County. She was the County Treasurer from
1916 to 1923. In 1923 she bought The Gift Shop and operated it
until shortly before her death in 1959.
Organized 3 March, 1906, with a state bank charter, the
second bank in the town of Hamilton was the Hamilton Bank and
Trust Company. Officers were: John L. Spurlin, president; C.
E. Horton, first vice-president; C. W. Cotton, second
vice-president; John Mark Williams, cashier; and J. E. Moore,
assistant cashier. This building constructed for this bank on the
southwest corner of the square is occupied by David
Lengefeld Insurance Agency.
Some of the Hamilton County men who volunteered
in the Spanish American War in 1898 were: Dr. Thomas E.
Boyer, J. T. Dempster, Jack Collier, Lon Dunn, George Shockley, Mark Brunk,
George Holladay, and Robert Cox, most of whom spent time in Miami,
FL, building sidewalks and fighting mosquitos.
The Stephenville North and South Texas Railway
Company was organized and chartered on 4 February, 1907. The first
train from Stephenville arrived in Hamilton on 25 December,
1907. This railroad connected Hamilton and Carlton with Stephenville
so that Hamilton was no longer dependent on transfer of goods via
wagons from Hico and Gatesville. This connected Hamilton
to all of the major markets in the United States. The charter of Stephenville
North and South Texas Railway was amended in 1910 so that the railroad
could be extended from Comanche to Gatesville. Before this
extension could be built, the Cotton Belt Railroad arranged
to build a line from Gatesville to Comanche. The Cotton
Belt Railroad was completed in 1911 connecting Hamilton with Comanche
and Gatesville. The first train from Gatesville arrived on
14 February, 1911, and the first train from Hamilton to Comanche
ran on 3 September, 1911.
Haskell Harelik arrived in Galveston
in 1909 from Minsk, Russia. Leaving Galveston for Dublin
where his cousin lived, Haskell had fifteen cents and understood
not a word of English. Throughout the area Haskell sold bananas
from a cart. Since he could speak German, he chose Hamilton
to rent a market stall from Ed Perry. Saving his money he sent for
his family and his sweetheart, Miss Paley Mattaley. The
banana stall was expanded to a grocery store, then a department store in
the middle of the north side of the square. Haskell’s brother, David
Harelik had a department store on the south side of the square. The
story of Mr. Harelik’s pioneering and persevering spirit has been
immortalized in the drama, "The Immigrant, A Hamilton County Album"
written by his grandson, Mark Harelik, son of Milton Harelik.
Dr. J. B. Winn was the first
citizen of Hamilton to own an automobile a Hayes-Apperson which he
purchased from Mr. Nance in Hico. George Carlton
opened the Buick agency in Hamilton in 1913, while John L.
Spurlin became the Chevrolet dealer and the William Connolly
Company sold Fords.
Many young men from Hamilton County volunteered
for military service during World War I. They were supported at home
by Red Cross Chapters which made bandages, sewed, and knitted for the
service men. Citizens purchased Liberty Loan bonds.
Ed A. Perry (brother of Dr.
George F. Perry) resigned as cashier of the Hamilton National Bank
in 1920 to organize a new bank, the Perry National Bank. Mr.
Perry was president of this bank until his death in 1948. G. M.
Carlton was vice-president and Joe Cleveland was cashier. Joe
Cleveland succeeded Mr. Perry as president. Perry National
Bank built a building on the southeast corner of the square. This
building is now the offices of the City of
In 1971 Tom Joseph purchased controlling interest
in the Perry National Bank, and under his leadership the name was
changed to First National Bank and was relocated to a new building
at 200 South Bell.