First Post Office Building
This old building has a very colorful history. It was, at one time, located behind the J. E. Hollingsworth General Store. When the store burned, the Post Office and the Messenger Office were saved. These two buildings were moved to the lots where the old Darsey warehouse is now located. When the town burned in 1913, the building survived again due to the valiant efforts of the men who stayed on the roof for long hours with buckets of water. After this fire these buildings were again moved. They were relocated on lots behind the First State Bank. The old Messenger office building was torn down in the 1960s and the Post Office building was sold to Floyd Salmon when the First State Bank constructed the parking lot behind the bank.
Mr. Lee Clewis was operating a tailor shop on Front Street before the 1913 fire and was 'burned out'. The post office was moved to Sam Howard's brick building on Front Street next door to the Farmers & Merchants State Bank and Lee Clewis moved his tailor shop into the old post office building. Later the post office moved into a new brick build on block 3 next to the drug store (next to present day Walling's Drug Store). Mr. Ike Whitaker occupied a building known as the Burson building behind the tailor shop. Mr. Whitaker was in the photography business and also had a jewelry store and watch repair shop.
Bill Howard worked for Mr. Lee Clewis. He fired the boiler with stove wood each morning for steam cleaning the clothes which where mostly made from wool cloth. He washed the clothes in gasoline in a tub and used a rub board to clean them. He worked on an open back porch because of the gasoline fumes. This was a very cold job in the winter. Mr. Clewis moved his cleaning business back to Front Street in the 1930s.
In 1945 Dillion's Cleaning and Pressing Shop moved out of the Woodman Hall building into the old post office building. All of the fixtures were from his wife's father's store in Crockett (Jones General Store) except the cleaning and pressing equipment. The business was sold to Will Ike Kennedy in the summer of 1946. Will Ike remain in the cleaning and pressing business in this location for the next twenty-nine years? He closed and sold the equipment, but retained a few pieces of the old furniture from the Jones store selling the rest to antique collectors.
The next occupants of the post office building were Mrs. Luna Frank Darsey and Mrs. Jake Taylor Lyles. They put in a small museum and second hand shop when Kennedy's Cleaners closed. The shop was filled with glass counters, a cash register, and other relics from Geo. E. Darsey's store. This new business was called 'The Alley Cats'. These two ladies made a lot of lovely things to sell for charity and gave lots of clothes to the needy.
Most old buildings are destroyed and forgotten, but this one survived two fire and the ravages of time and still lived on when the lot where it was located was sold to the First State Bank for a parking lot. The building was moved by Floyd Salmon to his beautiful lake. It was another addition to his frontier town where thousands of people meet each year for family reunion, picnics, and the 'Blue Grass Festival'.
United States Post Office
The earliest postal records show only three official post offices for this area: Crockett, San Pedro, and Fort Houston (Palestine). 'Old timers' will state that they picked their mail up at a store or home in the area close to their homes. Before the coming of the railroad and the designation of Grapeland as a town site, mail in this area was picked up at the Yarborough home (the Yarborough family lived nearest to the crossing of the two roads in this area). In 1854 anyone wanting to become postmaster could buy a contract from the postal department for 1200.00. The postmaster would then let a subcontract of his area mail to other locations. Because of this, many places that served as post offices were not officially listed in the postal records. People sometimes had to travel many miles to get their mail.
According to postal records T. T. Beazley was made postmaster of Grapeland on May 26, 1873. He was followed by Napoleon G. Bontaparte Frazier on February 21, 1881 and then R. M. Garrett on November, 1885. For some reason, R. M. Garrett petitioned the U. S. Post Office Department for his postal position in the name of Grapevine. He was told that there was already a post office in the state by that name and was awarded the postmaster position as the Grapeland postmaster. The dedication deed filed on February 18, 1873 by the Houston and Great Northern Railroad names the area set aside for the town site as Grapeland.
The postmasters who have served Grapeland from this time are B. F. Hill, April, 1888; S. E. Howard Jr., October, 1913; Frank Leaverton, March, 1914; W. T. Pridgen, March, 1924; T, S. Kent Jr., Dec., 1932; G. A. Walton, February, 1941; A. S. Clewis, January, 1942; W. M. Watson, December, 1964; Ralph Walton, October, 1968; and James Stock well, March, 1985. Mrs. Louise Thomas served as an interim postmistress for about six months before W. M. Watson was appointed postmaster and James Crawford served until James Sockwell was appointed postmaster.
The early day post office was located in the business building of whoever was postmaster. In the early 1900s, a small frame building was built to house the post office. It was originally located behind the J. E. Hollingsworth General Store in block 2. It survived when the Hollingsworth building burned and was moved to a lot behind Darsey's store. In the big fire of 1913 which destroyed fifteen business concerns in the immediate area, it again did not burn. Because of this, the Grapeland Messenger called it a 'fireproof' structure. Actually it survived because of its tin roof and the efforts of many men who formed a bucket brigade and poured water over the roof and walls to keep it from burning.
It was moved again when Geo. E. Darsey built his warehouse to store his goods in until his store could be rebuilt. It was located across the street behind the Farmers and Merchants State Bank. This building stood on this lot until 1986 when the First State Bank sold it to Floyd Salmon so that a bank parking lot could be built there. It is now in the Salmon Lake Park and can be identified by the mail-drop slot in the front door. (See the picture of the building for additional history).
Sometime after the 1913 fire the post office was relocated in a brick building on Front Street, lot 3, block 3. It remained there until the early 1950s when a new building was built and leased to the post office department by the Kennedy family on lot 11 and 12, block 2.
The present location of the post office is on lots 1, 2 and 3 of block 7 at the corner of Oak and Chestnut. The new building was built in August of 1983.
The early day postmaster made his income by renting post office boxes and from commissions on stamps canceled at his post office. In 1893 the postmaster was allowed to keep all the box rental collections and all of the revenue on the first 50.00 dollars worth of stamps canceled. He received 60 percent of the next 100.00 in stamps, 50 percent of the next 200.00,and 40 percent of any other stamps sold up to an income of 250.00 per quarter maximum compensation. The importance of the box number is a recent day thing. Originally the box numbers were assigned according to when they were rented. Old postal records show the box numbers of the postal patrons changing from year to year. 1901 records show only twenty-four boxes rented in the Grapeland Post office. 1900-1901 boxes were rented to the following patrons: F. D. Slagle, J. E. Hollingsworth, J. B. Luker, J. Owens & Co., H. S. Robertson, Dr. L. Meriwether, Jas. O'Keefe, S. T. Anthony, Boykin & Murchison, B. H. Logan & Co., J. F. Brill, Dr. F. C. Woodard, E. E. Hollingsworth, G. L. Tyer, L. C. H. Maxey, John Dotson, J. A. Shaw, F. W. Caldwell, G. E. Darsey, Faris & Spence, B. E. Blount, B. R. & A. B. Guice, J. M. Selkirk, H.C. Leaverton, A. A. Kidd, Parker & Owens, M. P. Herod, Mrs. B. Tony, The present day post office now has 826 post office boxes rented, 450 Rural Route 1 boxes, 396 Rural Route 2 boxes and 432 Rural Route 3 boxes.
Just as the coming of the railroad was welcomed as a new fast means of travel and transportation of goods, the establishment of the rural free delivery was far ahead of the post office system in the way of convenience. Getting daily mail was something that the people had not enjoyed before. It brought the farmer in touch with the outside world and helped him in many ways. The first rural route out of Grapeland was started in 1905. On June 15, 1905, Claude C. Leaverton was appointed carrier for Rural Route 1 and Hugh Richards was carrier for Rural Route 2. On June 1, 1908 Algie L. Brown was appointed carrier for Rural Route 3 (he served until 1937) and on December 1, 1907, Artie B. Spence was appointed carrier for Rural Route 4. Down through the years the number of routes serving the Grapeland area has varied from four to two.
Some carriers have served first one route then another. At the present time, we have three rural routes. Other carriers who have served the rural routes are Dr. C. C. Officer, S. E. Howard Jr. (1915-1935, Route 3), J. A. Bean (1910-1936), Neal Sheridan (1941-1963-postmaster of Augusta and Route 1 carrier from 1963-1974), I. I. Bradshaw (1920-1960-served in Augusta and on Route 2), C. D. Cheatham (1935-1963),Clyde Bedford (1963-1975), Harry Pridgen (1974-1983), and Jack E. Spence (1910-1918, 1938-1955).
Our present carriers are Loyd Dickey (1963-1987, Route 2), Tommy Chapman (1983-1985, Route 3), and Dan Huff (1985-1987), Route 1).
As times changed, populations shifted, roads improved, rail lines built, etc., the small post offices that had been established in the late 1800s were discontinued, moved or absorbed by the larger and more centrally located ones. The following post offices were absorbed by Grapeland: Kent, 1890; Edmond, 1896; Reynard, 1901; Sheridan, 1905; Dalys, 1907; Waneta, 1909; Weches, 1939;Augusta, 1963; and Percilla, 1963.
Whether being delivered by horse, wagon, train, airplane or truck, the mail service has always worked toward better and more efficient service.
Vacant Lots- June 8, 1916
The vacant lots in Grapeland are getting more beautiful every day and it is to be hoped that no rude boys will be found guilty of cutting down the weeds that have been allowed to grow and multiply for low, these many years.
First State Bank
In the early 1900's before Grapeland ad a bank, some of the general merchants took care of the monies of their friends and customers. They carried a deposit ledger and allowed these people to put money in and draw it out at their will. I
In 1907, on January 22, seeing the need for a bank, charter was applied for in the name of The Farmers and Merchants State Bank,Grapeland, Texas. This charter was signed and sealed on January 31, 1907, by L.T. Dashiell, Secretary of State and the number given to the bank was 183.
The original stockholders who joined together to form this bank were: George E. Darsey, Sr., W.G. Darsey, Sr., J.J. Brooks, Mrs. H.J. Cunyns, Joe Adams, Starley Boykin, R.E. Galson, P.N. Blalock, S.E. Miller, George Shipper, T.S. Kent, W.F. Murchison, M.P. Herod, A.W. Cain, Miss Freddie and Luke Garrison, H.J.Ivey, Dr. F.C. Woodard, J.H. Beazley and Arck Baker. The capital stock of the bank in 1907 consisted of $15,000.00, no surplus and no undivided profit accounts. The present capital structures is $75,000.00 capital stock, $100,000.00 surplus, $50,000.00 reserve, $12,252.71 undivided profits, $2,383,864.71 deposits, $12,000.00 unearned interest and other reserves $7,719.40.
The original officers of the bank were George E. Darsey, President, J.J. Brooks, Vice President, Sam E. Miller, Cashier; W.D. Granberry succeeded Miller as cashier in 1910.
George E. Darsey, Sr. served as president of the bank until his death in 1930, at which time T.S. Kent, then Vice President was elected honorary president and W.D. Granberry was elected active vice president. Leon Anderson was elected cashier. T.S. Kent serves as president until his death in 1938. M.E. Darsey, Sr. was elected president and succeeded by Mary Lou Anderson. George E. Darsey, Jr. became president in 1957 and was followed by Frank Granberry in July 1962. In July, 1966 M.E. Darsey, Jr. became president in 1957 and Jeff Austin, Jr. was elected Chairman of the board of directors. The name of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank was changed to First State Bank in 1967.
Leon Anderson served the bank as active vice president for 28 years.
A new drive-in bank building was constructed four years later. Walter Cook has served as president since 1970.
In 1973, Jeff Austin sold his interest in the bank to Mike Vaughn and Assoc. of Waco. Mr. Vaughn served as chairman of the board for the following year. At this time, a group of local businessmen purchased the interest of Vaughn and Associates in order to bring the controlling interest in the bank back into local hands.
The building was expanded in 1986 to include a community and director’s room, a kitchen, and storage areas. A parking lot was also built behind the bank.
The First State Bank has steadily grown through the years until the total assets now stand at $16,525,000.00 with a total capital of $1,600,000.00. The present board of directors is made up of Walter Cook (chairman), George Bartee, Harvey Huff, J.A. Wilkins, Dan Walling, Charley Darsey, and Chester Cunningham.
Farmers & Merchants Bank Robbed
November 3, 1910-BANK DYNAMITERS MAKE A RICH HAUL. FARMERS & MERCHANTS STATE BANK VISITED BY ROBBERS AND RELIEVED OF ABOUT $10,000. S. E. HOWARD SHOT. POSSE IN PURSUIT.
Monday morning between the hours of one and two o’clock, when all honest people were wrapped in peaceful slumber, sneak thieves and murderers swooped down upon the quiet little town of Grapeland and relieved the Farmers and Merchants State Bank of their ready cash, which was approximately $10,000. The first explosion awakened many of our citizens, and the continued explosions aroused their suspicion that something unusual was going on.
Mr. S. E. Howard dressed and came to investigate, and when approaching near the Messenger office realized it was bank robbers. He concealed himself, armed with a small six shooter, and slipped in between the blacksmith shop and the printing office. He soon saw he could do no good here so decided to quietly slip away and get the aid of other citizens. In emerging from his hiding place his foot caught in an iron hoop which gave him away to the robber sentinel on guard stationed at the corner of the Messenger Office. He shot at Mr. Howard with no. 4 shot, some of which stuck him in the back of the head and neck and caused the blood to flow pretty freely, though not seriously hurting him. In the meantime, Mr. Geo. Calhoun came down to see what was going on. He stopped in front of J. N. Parker's store on back street and cleared up his throat and no sooner had he done so they cracked down at him with a six shooter. Mr. Calhoun did not realize what he was into and asked them what they meant by shooting at him. This question was answered by another volley and George then decided to hike for safer quarters. One of the bullets struck Mrs. Goodson's kitchen, went through the wall and lodged in a meal barrel, where it was fished out next morning. The robbers were now desperate and were shooting to kill. Many other citizens were up this time, but none of them had any inclination to come down.
The robbery was a premeditated affair and their plans were nicely laid. They cut the local telephone wires, but failed to cut the long distance wire, as it entered the office on a separate cable. They went into Guice's blacksmith shop and procured their working tools. Sentinels were stationed at the front and back of the bank building, barracks being thrown up out of bundles of shingles. In these places it was possible for them to stand off a small army. The bank was entered from the back and in the building they took no chances. A desk and a door were placed against the glass front to protect these who did the work inside. Whoever did the work were on to their job, and they were experts in safe blowing. Nitroglycerine was the explosive used. It did the work as completely as anything you ever saw. The big iron safe was literally blown to pieces; the fixtures in the bank were damaged considerably and the top glass front of the building was shattered by the explosions. At least nine attempts were made before the safe was opened.
Sheriff Lacy was notified. Searching parties were organized to scout the country. Several posses were sent in different directions but returned during the day and reported no clue.
The loss to the bank is pretty heavy but we understand they had insurance to the amount of $10,000. The officials of the bank are to be congratulated on the fact they only suspended business one day.
When the suffrage sentinels who are picketing the White House and pestering the President have to wear three extra U. S. in order to stand the cold weather, it is safe to bet they are in dead earnest about votes for women. It might be added that if the U. S.manufacturers of the U. S. announce a raise in the price of U. S., the scuffs will raise the first howl and appeal to the U. S. to force the U. S. manufacturers to lower the price.
Grapeland State Bank
Guaranty (Grapeland) State Bank In the summer of 1911, a group of local citizens, having seen the need for a second bank in the northern part of the county, raised the sum of $15,000.00 and incorporated the Guaranty State Bank of Grapeland, Texas, on June 14, of that year. The following officers and directors were elected: Dave Walling, president; M. P. Herod, 1st vice-president; J. B. Thomas, 2nd vice-president; Charlie Kennedy, Jim McLean, J. L. Jordan and C. 0. Glenn, directors. Arrangements were made for the construction of a new brick building on the west side of the railroad, the site to be where E. 0. Buckalew formerly occupied a building. Mr. U. M. Brock was elected cashier.
Stockholders were C. W. Kennedy, E. G. Walling, J. R. Pennington, Jim McLean, J. E. Bean, C. P. Smith, J. B. Thomas, Julian Walling, W. E. Kerr, Blanche Kennedy, J. C. Cunningham, R. T. Bobbitt, T. E. Edge, U. M. Brock, W. H. Holcomb, W. H. Holcomb, Jr., Frank Harris, J. W. Young, P. H. Blalock, F. J. Price, J. L. Jordan, and T. M. Campbell.
Following the death of Mr. Walling on June 27, 1911, new officers were elected. They were Jim McLean, president and Ex-Governor T. M. Campbell of Palestine was a new vice-president.
The bank opened for business on September 9, 1911 in the rear of Mr. A. S. Porter's drug store, and occupied the new building in November, 1911.
In February, 1912, J. R. Pennington was elected president of the bank and C. W. Kennedy, J. E. Bean and J. B. Thomas were directors. After a year E. G. Walling was elected president and served as such thru 1913 when C. W. Kennedy was elected president and he served until his death in 1952. He was succeeded by J. E. Long who served until his death in 1958. C. W. Kennedy Jr. served as president from that time until April, 1980. U. M. Brock left the bank in January, 1927 and A. 0. Dannelley became the cashier; he was succeeded by H. A. Layne in 1929; and he served as cashier until he was succeeded as such by J. E. Long who served as cashier until he was elevated to the presidency as above stated, at which time Lucille K. Leeds became cashier and served as such until her retirement in December, 1973. In January, 1974 Beatrice Franks was elected cashier, and in April, 1984 she was elected vice-president. She has been an employee of this bank since March, 1957.
Sam Kennedy was elected president in January, 1975 to replace C. W. Kennedy, Jr., who retired in December, 1974; however, he remained chairman of the board until his death on April 13, elected chairman of the board.
After Dan Hill's death in March, 1978 Harry Pridgen was elected to replace him as a director.
No one was elected to replace Ira Rials after his death January 30, 1980.
After C. W. Kennedy Jr.’s death April 13, 1980 Troy Jones was elected as a director.
On February 8, 1983 C. W. Kennedy, Ill (Chuck) was elected as a member of the board of directors.
At the regular meeting of the stockholders of the Grapeland State Bank in January, 1983, the following directors were elected: Sam Kennedy, Harry Pridgen, Troy Jones, Frank Dailey, John Kennedy, Sr. (until his death in March, 1984), and C. W. Kennedy HI (elected Feb. 8, 1983). On February 10, 1987, C. W. Kennedy III Was elected vice-president. There have been no further changes in the directors since that date. Each year in January these five directors have been unanimously re-elected. Present officers and employees are: Sam Kennedy, president; Beatrice Franks, vice-president and cashier; C. W. Kennedy III, vice-president; Aileen Huff, assistant cashier; Tanya Musick, assistant cashier; Sue Moffett, employee; and Maye Garrison, part-time employee.
In 1925 the name of the bank was changed from Guaranty State Bank to Grapeland State Bank. During the years the total capitalization of the bank has increased, and in 1987 has reached $453,000 as compared to $15000 in 1911, and $280000 in 1972 when the Crossroads to Progress book I was published.
Jack Long Insurance Company
The present owner of Jack Long Insurance Company is Bill Gilbert. He bought the business from Joe Long on April 1, 1985. Bill and his wife, Nancy has two daughters, Lynne and Cheryl, and one son, Scott. Bill was born and raised in Madisonville and his wife, Nancy Spinks Gilbert is from Crockett. They lived in Houston 30 years. Lynne is married to Charles Campbell of Houston and has a son, Andrew. Cheryl is married to Mike Kiger and has two children, Shedre and Michael Jr.
Prior owners of this insurance business have been Joe D. Long, Jack B. Long, and Arwine Skidmore. Mary Watson and Darlene Hoch are employees of the Jack Long Insurance Company.
The Grapeland Messenger
The first newspaper in Grapeland was printed in March of 1897. Phil H. Blalock was the editor.
In August of that same year, it was sold to D. McNaughton of Palestine. The paper was edited by Riley T. Runyan and was called the `Grapeland Times and Farmers Journal.'
The name was changed to 'The Grapeland Messenger' in 1899 when purchased by W.B. Johnson, Mose Spence, Geo. E. Darsey Sr., and Dr. H.S. Robertson. These men bought the business with plans to use the profits of the paper for the building of the Methodist Farsonar. Dr. H.S. Robert-son was the editor.
In 1904-05, Lee Satterwhite operated the paper and then sold to Geo. E. Darsey Sr. And A.H. Luker became the editor.
Mr. Luker leased the business for five years then 1910, he became sole owner, For 45 ears, until his retirement in 1953, Mr. Luker publisher “The Grapeland Messenger”
Publication was continued by his sons, Merle and Ed. Merle served as business manager; Ed as editor. In 1959, Merle Luker left the business here to begin a newspaper operation in Vidor, Texas.
Ed Luker operated the paper from 1959 until 1968 when it was purchased by Weldon Kerby, present owner and operator.
The original newspaper office was located next door to the post office on the block behind Darsey's Store where the warehouse now stands. It was housed in a frame building with a corrugated iron roof and it and the post office building survived the fire of 1913. After the fire, Mr. Darsey moved both buildings across the street on to the lots now occupied by the First State Bank parking area so that he could build a warehouse where they had been located. A new Masonic building was also needed after the fire and when it was completed, the Grapeland Messenger moved into the downstairs portion of that building on block 6, lots 8 & 9. On August 29, 1929, the Messenger Office and plant was moved to Front St. on block 2, lot 1. It occupied this location until 1986 when Weldon Kerby, the present owner, constructed a new building across the street on the property that was once the residence of Charlie Kennedy.
Henpecked Husbands August 3, 1916
Grapeland might be somewhat embarrassed if called upon for leaders in going to battle, but she would be 'right there' if called on for henpecked husbands to lead a 'peace at any price' army.
George E. Darsey & Co.
George E. Darsey Sr. came to Texas from Sunnyside, Georgia in the fall of 1873 with his aunt, Mrs. Hariet Cash, and worked on the Shivers farm on the Trinity River. When Mr. and Mrs. Cash returned to Georgia, George E. Darsey moved to Crockett where he clerked in a general store. He also carried the mail horseback from Crockett to Centerville during this time. He was then a traveling salesman for a year or so, and after quitting the road in 1882 returned to his old home in Georgia for a visit. After returning to Texas, he went into business in Grapeland with John R. Foster. The business was originally a partnership between Downes and Foster before becoming John R. Foster & Co.
An important element in the career of Geo. Darsey was the habit and rule he had always adhered to- that he save a part of his earnings regardless of the amount he was making. In this way, he saved the small capital necessary to go into business with Mr. John R. Foster. According to Mr. Foster "George had $465 and I had $765... We had a pretty hard time getting started off, but we soon began to make money." Mr. Darsey bought out Mr. Foster's share in 1886 and continued the business under his own name, George E. Darsey.
The original store was a frame building and housed a wide variety of merchandise. Mr. Darsey sold dry goods, furniture, groceries, and all types of farm equipment. As the business grew, he replaced the original building with a large brick building, 27' by 125' in 1898. According to the Crockett Courier, it was the first brick building in Grapeland.
While visiting in Georgia, George encouraged his first cousin, William Grey Darsey, to move to Texas to help him in his business. William Grey Darsey moved to Grapeland in 1900. On his arrival in Grapeland, he went to work for George and slept in Darsey's Store at night. In the early days, the town was wild and wooly and it was a common occurrence for the bullies to go up and down the street at night and shoot the lights out in the stores.
Mr. W. G. Darsey was a skilled bookkeeper. He set up a double entry system of books similar to those commonly used in banks. This system of bookkeeping is still being by Darsey's Store now.
The business grew from 1900 until by 1907 another brick building had been added on the adjoining lot north of the original building. At this time, the store was departmentalized with the dry goods department moved across the street into a building next door to the new Farmers and Merchants State Bank. The other two buildings housed the stocks of groceries, hardware, farm supplies and furniture.
The Darsey buildings were destroyed by the town fire of 1913. Mr. Darsey lost six buildings in the fire, but some of the merchandise from his store was saved and he was in business the next morning on the railroad siding in box cars rented from the railroad. Immediately. After the fire, a corrugated iron warehouse building was erected on the block directly behind the store block. This structure then housed the business until the new store building was ready for occupancy.
The new store building built in 1913 was 75' by 125' and occupied the two lots his main store building had occupied plus the adjoining lot. It had no interior walls, but was divided into three main sections- hardware and grocery, furniture and house wares, and dry goods. This building opened onto Front Street and the alley behind the store through two doors and also onto the side street through one door. The office was at the rear of the store on a platform surrounded by a railing. There were four sets of stairs leading up to the platform. The backstairs led into the office and the front stairs joined a walkway for the customers to use in front of the railing to come up to pay accounts or borrow money to lay in their crops. The office contained a large brick vault to keep records and deeds safe in case of fire. They also had a large safe for money. Many of the customers left their deeds and other valuable papers at Darsey's for safekeeping. They also had used Darsey's Store as a depository for their money before the bank was established. This large vault had been a part of the original brick building before the town burned and had many valuable papers of the people of the community in it. George Darsey did not allow the vault to be opened for a week after the town fire. He was afraid that the heat from the bricks of the vault might cause the papers inside to ignite when it was opened. After it cooled, the vault was opened and everything inside was found to be intact.
The business was operated as a proprietorship until 1917 when a family partnership was formed, including W. G. Darsey Sr. and S. N. Boykin Sr. as members of the firm. This partnership continued until 1930, when the death of George E. Darsey Sr. brought his wife, Mrs. Lorena Murchison Darsey, and their children, George E. Darsey Jr., Mrs. Leon Anderson, M. E. Darsey Sr., and Mrs. Frank Granberry into the partnership. In 1953, George E. Darsey Jr. and his son, Charley C. Darsey, bought out the interest of the other members of the family. An interior wall had been built to separate the dry goods section of the store from the rest and was rented to Wallace Pate. George E. and Charley continued to operate the grocery, appliance, and hardware sections.
The partnership between George E. Jr. and Charley continued until the death of George E. Darsey Jr. Charley Darsey now owns and operates the business.
This business was operated as a country store and was a family type business. Various members of the family worked in the many varied departments of the store. Joe Darsey and J. S. Darsey worked hardware, W. G. Darsey and George E. Darsey Jr. were office managers and cotton and produce buyers. M. E. Darsey Sr. managed the dry goods section aided by Miss Loye Darsey, Miss Mable Boykin, Starley Boykin Sr., and Mrs. Maggie Darsey. As the children and grandchildren grew they were taken into the business as egg counters, sackers, and delivery boys until they were trained to handle more responsible positions. Darsey's Store employed not only family members, but offered many young people their first job and furnished jobs for many families down through the years. During the depression years of the 1930s as the young men who were sons of the employees and owners graduated from college jobs were very short. They were given jobs by Darsey's Store to drive cotton trucks to Galveston. Mr. Will Darsey jokingly stated that only boys with college degrees could drive trucks for Darseys.
The early day business of Darsey's Store included everything from selling mules to buying cotton; from selling whiskey by the barrel to yarn for knitting. They sold feed, crocks, churns, well dippers, horse collars, nails, furniture, vegetables, high button shoes, clothes, Madam Alexander dolls, sporting goods, lumber, steamer trunks, coffins, and Huff mobiles. They bought many products from the local farmer and paid him with Darsey tokens ranging from a 5.00 dollar to a 5 cent piece. In the Augusta news section of the Grapeland Messenger of 1907, their local reporter stated that 'If you cannot find what you need in the Augusta stores then you should go to Grapeland because George Darsey sells everything from toothpicks to ocean liners.'
Darsey's Store also served the function of an early day bank. Farmers would borrow money by the year to make a crop and pay in the fall when the crop was gathered. Some people simply deposited their receipts with Mr. Darsey and wrote orders against the money. In 1907, George E. Darsey Sr. was one of the organizers of the first bank in Grapeland, the Farmers and Merchants State Bank.
Up until 1999 Darsey's Store was operated as a grocery, hardware, and appliance store and is still operating under the original purpose of trying to meet community needs.
Today, George E. Darsey & Co. is now owned by Charley H. Darsey and the store is now known as Darsey's Furniture. 2011 Mark's the 125th anniversary of George E. Darsey & Co. making it the 2nd oldest business in Texas owned by one family.
Wills Selkirk- August 13, 1916
Will Selkirk happened to have an unfortunate accident Tuesday night, when he jumped out of an upstairs window, while dreaming he was in a storm. He was bruised up pretty badly, but not seriously hurt from the fall.
Among the businesses that were destroyed by the fire in March, 1913, was the drug store of Mr. A.S. Porter. In the following years, Eugene and Julian Walling constructed several buildings in the burned out block, one of which was leased to Mr. Porter, In this new building, Mr. Porter had installed modern (for that time) drug store fixtures, including a marble front soda fountain with a large mirrored back bar and four "tuck-away" seat soda fountain tables.
Later, Mr. Porter sold his drug store to Wade L. Smith who operated it as "Peoples Drug Store". Mr. Smith employed high school boys as "soda skeet’s" and one of them was Otto Walling, who became interested in Pharmacy. After graduating from GrapelandHigh School, Otto attended the University Of Texas School Of Pharmacy in Galveston, and was licensed to practice Pharmacy in 1923, at which time he returned to Grapeland to work for Mr. Smith. In 1927, Otto bought the business from Mr. Smith and renamed the business Walling Drug Store.
Soon after becoming the owner of his own business, Otto married his sweetheart, Sarah Thomas (Tommie) Holcomb, who was a teacher in the Grapeland schools. With the business doing well, Otto and Tommie started a family, son Daniel David, born October 29, 1928 and William Eugene, born November 19, 1920. However, the depression which started in 1929, struck Grapeland as hard as any other area and for the next several years, Walling Drug Store struggled to make ends meet. With hard work and long hours, Otto hung on to the store and when oil was discovered near Grapeland in the late 1930s, business got better. On February 20, 1939, the third son, Thomas Otto, was born to Otto and Tommie.
In 1941, Dan began working as” soda skeet" and he also became interested in Pharmacy as a profession. He attended theUniversity Of Texas College Of Pharmacy in Austin and received his degree and license in 1951. He then spent the next four years in the United States Air Force.
In 1953, Otto bought out Ryan Drug Store from Mr. J.H. Ryan and since Dr. Sam Kennedy's offices were in the back of that building, Otto moved his business to that building.
In 1955, Dan finished his enlistment in the Air Force and returned home with his bride, Elaine, who is the daughter of the late Paul Everette and Eddie May Tate of Greenville, Alabama. Dan then worked for Otto and did "relief work" in the area stores for the next several years.
In 1963, Otto purchased the building at 106 Main Street, which had formerly housed the City Cafe and Luce's Shoe Repair Shop and in 1965, his brother Curtis Walling, constructed the building in which the business is now located. The store then became a partnership business and when Otto died in October, 1973, Dan became sole owner of the drug store and changed the name to "Walling's Pharmacy" in 1974. In June, 1986, Dan had extensive remodeling done in the store to make it as modern as any pharmacy in the state of Texas.
During their years as owners of Walling Drug Store, Otto and Tommie were very active in the community. Otto served on the school board and, during World War II, on the Rationing Board, was a charter member of the Grapeland Lion's Club; a member of the Masonic Lodge, Grapeland State Bank Board of Directors, Tommie was active in P.T.A., Community Council and did much work to help the Grapeland Memorial Hospital built.
Similarly, Dan and Elaine are active in the community. Dan has been a volunteer fireman since 1960, volunteer EMT with Grapeland Ambulance Service, has served as a member of city council since 1970, on the Grapeland School Board, is on the First State Bank Board of Directors and Grapeland Nursing Home Board of Directors; and with Charley Darsey, has filmed the Grapeland Sandie Football game for over 20 years.
Elaine served two terms as president of Grapeland PTA, held offices in Band Booster Club, is in her third three year term on Community Council, was secretary of Grapeland Memorial Hospital Board of Directors for three years, has directed the Peanut Festival Queen's Coronation for 14 years, was president of Grapeland Hospital Auxiliary for one year, taught kindergarten Sunday school class for over 20 years, and is a member of UMC choir.
Dan and Elaine have two daughters: Laura, who is Director of Intramural Sports at Mississippi State University; Teresa Walling Bennett, who is a pharmacist's assistant at Walling's Pharmacy.
For the last 63 years, there has been a Walling filling prescriptions in Grapeland.
Luke McLuke says: They are talking about restoring the old time slate in the schools because of the scarcity of paper. The slate was abolished because it was unsanitary. Can you remember how you used to spit on your slate and rub it off with the sleeve of your coat? And, at that, you were healthier than the average modern school boy.'
Grapeland and its surrounding area are blessed with the type of soil and climate that are ideal for growing agricultural products such as peanuts and watermelon. In the mid 1960s, little did they know that the area would also be conducive to "growing" open web steel joist and eventually steel decking and standing seam roof panels? Nucor Corp. (formerly called Nuclear Corporation ofAmerica) planted a seed here in the fall of 1967 that took root and grew into one of the largest manufacturing plants of steel joist and steel decking in the world.
Nucor had two Vulcraft divisions at the time, one in Florence, South Carolina and one in Norfolk, Nebraska. They acquired M&S Steel Company located in Ft. Payne, Alabama in March of 1967. With that purchase, they not only created a third Vulcraft division but also acquired a Joist Market and Potential Plant site Survey conducted by M&S previously. That survey led the then Nucor President F. Kenneth Iverson (now chairman of the Board) and Vice President Hugh D. (Dave) Aycock (now President) to the Houston County Development Foundation in search of a new joist plant site.
The Crockett, Latexo and Grapeland communities of Houston County were all interested in providing a location ideal for a manufacturing concern. Some characteristics the area had that attracted Nucor were 1.) An abundance of cheap electricity, 2.) A central location to serve the southwest U.S. areas (in particular Houston and Dallas), 3.) Access to a major highway and railway, 4.) A rural labor force with a strong work ethic, 5.) A non union environment.
Eventually the persistence of Grapeland Mayor George Bartee, the Grapeland City Council and the citizens of Grapeland along with their hospitality convinced Ken Iverson and Dave Aycock that Grapeland would be best suited for the plant. Approximately 75 acres of land on a hill located north of the city was purchased from Mr. John Lively. The land was bordered by a Mo- Pac railroad line to the east and also had an easy access to US Hwy 287. The City of Grapeland provided an eight inch water line to the plant, a sewage line away from the plant, and an agreement to allow the plant to remain outside the city limits.
During the winter of 1967, construction was started. Dan Pennington General Construction was very instrumental in providing the dirt work and roads necessary to enable construction to be completed by the spring of 1968. The first joists were produced in the T-shaped 134,000 square foot structure in mid March of that year. Davy Aycock had a dual role of General Manager at Vulcraft-Nebraska and the first General Manager at Vulcraft-Texas. His Plant Operations Manager in Grapeland was Ken Koehler.
The plant originally employed around 110 people. It was hard, demanding work but the pay and benefits were the best in the area. The work force was highly motivated under an incentive pay system that enabled employees to earn more than twice their base pay with hard work. Over the years the plant continued to grow and add more employees. The production area grew from two production bays and one shift to four production bays and three shifts. In 1977, William J. (Bill) Kontor became Vulcraft-Texas's second General Manager.
A steel decking manufacturing plant was constructed in 1978. The steel deck product seemed to be a logical addition to Vulcraft's product line since it is used with joist extensively in floor and roof systems. In 1982 Bill Kontor was transferred as a new General Manager to one of Nucor's four mini-mill divisions in Jewett, Texas, (the others are located in Darlington, South Carolina; Norfolk, Nebraska; and Plymouth, Utah). Larry A. Roos became the new general manager in Grapeland; He came from the Vulcraft Division in Norfolk, Nebraska. That same year, Vulcraft-Texas added a third product line in the form of Standing Seam Roof Panels. (It is a moisture-proof, durable and economical roof system with extensive applications in conventional and pre-engineered buildings.) The most recent expansion was completed during the summer of 1986. Two more production bays were added to the south of the existing plant.
Currently Vulcraft-Texas employs approximately 470 people. Annual payroll exceeds $12 million, of which most goes back into Grapeland and the surrounding communities. Over 1.4 million tons of joist and 320,000 tons of decking have been produced since the plant began operations.
Sportsman Memory Shop
The Sportsman's Memory Shop began doing business in 1980 and only eight years later has become one of the best known taxidermy shops in Texas. The owners, Bobby Shaw and Robin `Trap' Coppedge have become two of the highest award winning taxidermists ever in Texas with over 30 awards in state, national and world taxidermy competitions. All these awards were won in 1983-1985. The Sportsman's Memory Shop retired from competition at the end of 1985 because they had so much business that going to competitions just seemed to take away from productive work time. Some notable awards include 1st place Bass in Texas, 1983; 2nd place Bass in the World, 1983; 1st place Bass, Deer, Duck & Small Mammal in Texas, 1984; 1985 Best of Show in Texas; 1985 Best of Category (1st place) Bass in Texas; 1985 Best of Category (1st place) pair Ducks in Texas.
After only two in business the Sportsman's Memory Shop expanded to include deer processing and storage into their operation, and now employ four additional people to help with this operation during the annual white tail deer hunting season.
In 1984 the Sportsman's Memory Shop began buying furs on the retail level during the annual fur beaver trapping season and have continued with this endeavor ever since. These two additional services, deer processing and fur buying have allowed the Sportsman's Memory Shop to become a place where locals and out of town hunters can trade without long trips to the different parts of the state.
Success for the Sportsman's Memory Shop has not come easy, because taxidermy today is such a competitive and fast growing industry. Many innovations have occurred in recent years and even months. To stay on top of these changes these taxidermists have read every major taxidermy publication available and have 'hustled' to stay on top of changes.
Because of their quickly growing reputation the Sportsman's Memory Shop has become a trainer of taxidermists wishing to set up their own shops in other parts of Texas.
Many people wonder how a taxidermy studio way out in the country could stay in business especially during the recent years of economic depression. The simple fact of the matter is that local business could not support this full time studio. Rather the opposite has occurred over the years as most of the studio's business comes from Houston and Dallas and from hunters there who are willing to drive three hours and past many other studios to get the type of work they desire and deserve.
The Sportsman's Memory Shop's clientele are certainly not restricted to Texas either as they have done work for hunters from as far away as Switzerland, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Utah, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and many other states across the nation. They have also done work for several museums and are making plans to do more museum work. A particularly notable piece in a PagosaSprings Museum is the New Mexico State Record Black Bear which the Sportsman's Memory Shop remounted after being almost ruined by an earlier attempt by another taxidermist.
After five years in the business and never having mounted a mountain lion, the Sportsman's Memory Shop felt like they were never going to see a mountain lion. Today they work closely with one of the finest mountain lion guides in the world and now mount many lions each year. The Sportsman's Memory Shop has mounted animals from all over the world including Africa, Alaska, Canada, Spain, Hawaii, Cuba, Mexico, South America and many states in the Continental U. S.
The Sportsman's Memory Shop sponsors a yearly 'Big Buck Contest' and the winner is mounted at no charge for the lucky hunter. The 1986-87 winners were the second largest buck ever taken in Texas with a bow and arrow. Several of the other winners have been from Houston County even though deer from all over the state, even from the famous south Texas brush country were entered.
Also, the Sportsman's Memory Shop has mounted five of the last six Houston County Lake record bass including the existing record of 14 lbs 6 1/2 ozs. This was caught by Don Bush of Channelview.
To help promote their business over the years the Sportsman's Memory Shop has had numerous articles in newspapers acrossTexas. Stories in magazines such as North American Whitetail, Texas Sportsman magazine and the Sporting World magazine. They have also done numerous radio ads and even T. V. commercials in their local area. The Sportsman's Memory Shop also has done numerous talks to civic organizations and hosted several field trips for grade schools, scout troops and even retirement homes at their shop. They have found over the years that only one type advertisement really pays and that is the word of mouth advertisement from satisfied customers. They owe a great deal to these people for their continued support of their taxidermy work.
Many of our friends and clients have said over the years that the Sportsman's Memory Shop has helped put Grapeland on the map and if we really have then, we are very proud to have been a part of this.
Grapeland Nursing Home
The idea to build a nursing home in Grapeland began in 1973. It was the brain child of Dr. E. G. Cutshaw and Mr. B. A. Maxwell. Plans for the home did not go as smoothly as they would have hoped.
Before construction could begin a survey of need had to be made by the State Health Department to determine if the area had a need for additional nursing home facilities. Necessary procedures were followed and the State Department granted the certification of need to Grapeland.
Delays in construction and financial matters caused the state certification to expire. The usual procedure for recertification was necessary. This marks the point when major set-backs began for the nursing home.
Between the time of the first certification and the second application for certification, the departments which issued the certificates had changed from the State Health Department to the Deep East Texas Council of Government (DE TCOG). When application was made for re-certification, it was apparent that the DETCOG chose to ignore the previous certification made by the state in favor of an addition to an existing facility in Crockett.
The future of Grapeland Nursing Home rested not only with the decision of the DETCOG but also with the citizens of Grapeland who would have to take action if the Nursing Home Project was ever to get off the ground. Interested Grapeland residents were busily at work gaining data to justify the request for a certificate of need, Petitions were prepared and a list was compiled of people who would be willing to enter the home upon its opening. Because of the citizens of Grapeland, the facility was awarded a certificate of need.
Grapeland Nursing Home formally opened its doors to the public Sunday, August 7, 1977. A government official who had been involved in the certification of the home commented that he had never received such total community response on a single issue since he had been in office.
The nursing home opened with 66 beds, 17,000 square feet, and the latest in up-to-date equipment and furnishings. The original stock holders were the E. G. Cutshaw family, the B. A. Maxwell family, the Alfred Grayson family, and the Dan Walling family.
Today, the nursing home is a 68 bed facility which usually remains full. Grapeland Nursing Home has a superior rating and gives each resident special attention and quality care. Currently, the stock holders are the E. G. Cutshaws and the Dan Wallings.
Salmon Lake Home of the Annual Bluegrass Festival
Floyd and Fannie Salmon of Grapeland could well fit the term 'Jack-of- all-Trades'. It all began as part of their dream of owning land with lots of trees and water.
In 1960, they acquired fifty acres of completely desolate land which Floyd cleared and built a lake on for watering cattle. A few years later, with the help of Floyd's dad, Jake, the idea came to them to open their lake to the public. They began transforming the land into a lovely, nostalgic park. The lake was cleaned and made into a beautiful swimming lake with water sand bottom, plenty of sand beaches, piers and diving boards. Almost three hundred camper hookups were installed. Floyd was able to move old buildings and mule-drawn equipment onto the land. Some of these buildings date back to the early 1900's. He and Fannie began renovating the buildings, being careful to keep the old style and character of each building intact. The buildings are now being used for cabins, reunion halls, old store and other places of business. Floyd then built a ten-foot water wheel which would power a grist mill.Salmon Lake Park is truly a beautiful pack to all to enjoy.
The seed was planted for the future of bluegrass music at Salmon Lake Park when Earl Garner of Elkhart, Texas, dropped by and suggested that the park would be a great place for a bluegrass festival. Earl is a well-known personality in bluegrass music throughout the country.
Bluegrass music originated in the hills of Kentucky and Virginia and spread southwest to become one of the most popular forms of family entertainment. The instruments used are flat-top guitar, fiddle, mandolin, upright bass, and Dobro and five-string banjo. There are no electrical instruments.
Promoted by Joe Featherston and Floyd Salmon, the first bluegrass festival became a reality in 1976. Labor Day weekend was chosen for the annual event. Friday evening marked the opening of the festival and Sunday morning was enhanced with worship services and bluegrass gospel music. These Labor Day weekend traditions are still in existence. Gradually, arts and crafts were added to accommodate the rapidly growing crowds.
A magician entertains kids of all ages, and a variety of home-cooked foods and cold drinks are readily available.
Come by and see us on Labor Day weekend and join in the fun. Be prepared to listen to lots of good bluegrass music.
Leon Leamon’s and his wife, Bernice, bought the Mobil Station located on Market Street in 1966 and moved to the Exxon Station in July, 1975. The service station building and property are owned by William McClain, Jr. Services. Offered by Leamon’s' Exxon are selling gas, oil, tires, wash and grease jobs, and fixing flats.
Watson's Discount Muffler
Charles R. Watson went into business in Grapeland in 1980 and built a new building at his present location, Services offered are mufflers, brake repair, and radiator repair.
Childress Furniture Barn
In 1972 Ben Childress returned to Grapeland with his family and became Bob Scoggins' partner in the furniture business. One year later (1973) Ben bought Mr. Scoggins' share in the business and it became the Childress Furniture Barn or 'The Furniture Barn'. Ben, with his wife Martha as vice-president, formed the Childress Corporation in 1983. Since then Mr. Childress has become something of an entrepreneur. The Surplus Store located on Hwy 287 north was opened next. It sells military and civilian surplus merchandise. Later the Childress Warehouses were added. These are individualized rental storage buildings. In 1985 The Parts House was opened and it specializes in automotive parts. The building it occupies dates back to 1910 and was one of the four original buildings built by J. J. Brooks. Mr. Childress has modernized the exterior and remodeled the interior.
Virginia Johnson & Assoc.
Virginia Johnson and Associates moved to Grapeland from Elkhart in 1984. Services provided by this business are income tax, bookkeeping and accounting. The business was previously owned by C. J. Butcher.
Before this building was built, Totty Hotel occupied this lot and the adjoining lot to the north from 1894-1926. Hill & Herod Grocery opened in this location. Ted Fox was later a partner with M. P. Herod. The business was Herod Grocery, and then Porter Herod, son of Marvin, took over the business. The building was later purchased by C. J. Butcher who redecorated the building and added offices in the back for his Income Tax & Accounting Service and the front of the store was Grapeland Flower Shop.
Grapeland 5 & 10
This business is owned by Baxter and Pat Oakes. They bought the business In October, 1983 from H. L. and Era Shaw. The Shaws had operated this store for fourteen years. This location has housed a variety store for many years. The building was originally built by J. J. Brooks. He operated a general merchandise store. Since that time some of the businesses that have been at this location were Wherry's, Sewell's 5 & 10, Kay's 5 & 10, Jones 5 & 10, Donaldson's 5 & 10 and Shaw's 5 & 10. These variety stores have handled everything from dry goods to school supplies to hardware to sewing notions to gardening supplies to school supplies.
Bruce, Dean & Shaver Ins. Center
Bruce, Dean and Shaver Insurance Center was formed by three former members of another larger local insurance agency in March, 1986 in order to give more personalized, better and broader coverage and service to their clientel. The Grapeland office occupying the former location of the Grapeland Messenger was opened for the convenience of their insured. The owners of this business are Sam Bruce, W. S. (Smitty) Dean and Quention Shaver. Quention Shaver operates the Grapeland office of this company.
Videos & More
Videos & More was opened for business on June 6, 1986 by Neva and Chuck Kincaid in the Grapeland Messenger building. They rent and sell video cassette tapes. They also rent video tape players and sell VCR accessories. They are now located on Hwy 287 north.
Huff Chevron Gulf Service Station
Huff's Gulf Station is owned and operated by Rajah Huff who opened for business May 1, 1986. Huff moved back to Grapeland from Houston where he had a service station for eight years. Former owners of the gas station have been Jack Weaver, Willie Cheatham, and W. D. Waddell. This was also the site of the Kraft Cheese Plant in 1937 and in the early part of the 1900's, T. H. Leaverton Lumber Co.
Leona Stutts & Associates
Leona Stutts moved to Grapeland in 1972 with her husband, Sonny. She was associated with C. J. Butcher Income Tax and Bookkeeping Services and later established her own business on Market Street. She has five children, one of whom, Patti Stutts Smoot, lives in Grapeland.
Myra Musick (Mrs. Barry) established this gift shop in November 1985. The store, located on Market Street at the intersection of Highway 287 and the Lockout Road, is in the building owned by Joe Long who remodeled the structure which was formerly Blackwell's Bar-b-que Cafe. Myra's store is a bridal registry and gift shop dealing mainly in country decor.
Bennett's Auto Parts
The first owner of an auto business on this location was G. L. Streetman. He operated a filling station and garage and also had the Dodge-Plymouth dealership. Mr. Streetman built the present day garage building except for the section which houses the auto parts store. It was built by the Bennetts. The area occupied by the auto parts store was originally used to house the Grapeland fire trucks.
R. L. Bennett bought this business from G. L. Streetman. He had previously worked for Mr. Streetman in the early 1940s and when he moved back to Grapeland to retire in 1964 bought the business. The present day owners of Bennett's Auto are H. L. and M.R. Bennett. They have a well stocked auto supply store as well as operate a garage for the maintenance of trucks and automobiles.
Colley Private School
Mrs. Virginia Colley started a preschool and day-care center in Grapeland in 1980, after having moved from Baytown where she had operated a private school since 1947. She located in the building on Market Street owned by Joe Long who redecorated the building which had previously been a bar-b-que cafe.
Pollie's Beauty Shop
In 1959, Pollie Jones went to Cox Beauty College in Huntsville, Texas. She finished college in 1960 and went to work at Mary Kate's Beauty Shop on Main Street. Permanent waves were priced from $6.50 up to $15; shampoo and sets were $1; and haircuts were 75 cents. She received 60% of what she made. The hair style was the Poodle and Bubble. Bobbie pins, hairpins, set waves and wave clamps were used and but very little hairspray.
After she had been working about six months, Pollie's husband, Johnnie rented and remodeled the front of Salmon's Grocery Store building, owned by Odell Shaver and she opened her own shop. Pollie charged $7.50 to $20 for permanent waves, $1 for haircuts and $1.25 for shampoo and sets. By then, hairstyles had changed and rollers and picks had been added to her supplies. She only had two electric dryers and one shampoo bowl.
In 1961, Pollie and her husband, Johnnie bought the Homer Jones home on South College Street, which had formerly been The Grapeland Flower Shop owned by Mrs. Carrie Jones. This home had been two stories but the top story had been burned, so they hired someone to tear the house down. Johnnie sanded the lumber and doors which were still good and contracted Mr. Harry Newman and a helper, George Thomas to do the building for him. Boerner Hill did the electrical work in their new home and in Pollie's shop.
In 1962, Pollie's Beauty Shop was opened on South College Street and with new fixtures; new hair dryers and a new look to the location. She worked until 1973 when she closed due to her husband's illness and death in 1980.
In 1981, Pollie's son, Bill remodeled the shop and she reopened the shop, updated the prices and is still working on some of the same customers as she did in 1960.
Watson's Arcade & Pool Room
Jack Watson moved to Grapeland in August of 1977 and opened a business known as Watson's Handy Hardware. He soon changed his business from a hardware business to a game room for pleasure. Prior businesses that have occupied this building were Wade L. Smith's Grocery and Doyle Horton.
Nichols Building Supply
This business is owned by Marian Nichols. Mr. Nichols bought the business from Earl Murdock in 1972. Mr. Murdock remodeled this building in the 1960's. It was originally built to house the Masonic Lodge in the upstairs portion and The Grapeland Messenger occupied the ground floor. The Masonic Lodge met in this building from 1914 until the new building was completed.
Vernon and Bobbye Smith moved to Grapeland in 1978 after having been in the grocery business in Conroe. They purchased the Texsun Gas & Oil in January 1987 and changed the name to Smith's Smal-Mart. Groceries and gas can be purchased here as well as deli items. Present employees are: Sharon Walker, Ronda Wilkinson, Vicki Harmon, Peggy Cummins, Missy Flanagan and James Ingle.
W. A. Brown Realtors
W. A Brown Realtors: a general agency offering professional real estate service on farms, ranches, residential and commercial land, including appraisals. The company was established in January, 1960, by William Arland Brown, a 1943 graduate of GrapelandHigh School. Brown also attended Texas A & M College (now Texas A & M University), before and after a tour of military service, worked for a few years as a sales representative in the oilfield service business and then returned to settle down in Grapeland in 1954.
Brown operated Brown Equipment Co., dealing in farm equipment and sprinkler irrigation equipment and service, for about ten years starting in 1954. Full time operation of this business was discontinued after heavy fire damage in 1964. The real estate business was continued and is still in operation today.
W. Arland Brown is a graduate of the SOARS Program (Studies of Advanced Real Estate Subjects) at Texas A & M, and recognized as an Accredited Land Consultant by the Realtors Land Institute. He is a charter member and two time past president of the Houston County Board of Realtors, and is an active member of the Texas Association of Realtors and the National Associatiion of Realtors.
Sons Gregory A. Brown and Jeffrey C. Brown joined the firm as broker associates about 1980 after they both graduated from Texas A. & M. Jeffrey has since gone into full time real estate appraisal work with another company, and Gregory is still a full time broker associate with W. A. Brown Realtors.
The company moved in mid-1979 into their present office building located on U. S. Hwy. 287 (Texas Hwy. 19) at the intersection of FM 227 East (Augusta Road) in Grapeland.
Grapeland Flower Shop
This flower shop was established in the late 1940's and was owned and ran by Mrs. Carrie Spence Jones in her home on College Street and later on, in her home on Pear Street and then moved the shop again to Market Street next to the hospital. In 1958, the business was purchased by Mrs. Olga Salmon and Mrs. Lela Smith. Ouita Jean Elliott Spence purchased the flower shop in 1968 and opened her flower business at her home on Cotton Street. She was in business until 1978 when Nelda Owens Johnson bought the shop and expanded the business to include gifts and changed the name to Grapeland Flower & Gift Shop. The business is presently located on West Chestnut in the old post office building.
Mrs. Nelda Johnson opened a ladies apparel shop next to her flower shop in September, 1985. The business carries a full line of clothing and accessories as well as baby clothes and gifts. Fashions are operated by Mrs. Johnson and her mother, Mrs. Mary Baker.
Grapeland Cable T V
Gary and Marilynn Raines moved to Grapeland in the latter part of 1978 from Beaver, Oklahoma, and a small town in the panhandle. They have three daughters: Heather (16), Morrell (8), and Crystal (5).
Mr. and Mrs. Raines purchased Gra- Tex Colorvision from V.E. "Bubba" Murray and Johnny Johnson and changed the name to Grapeland Cable TV Co.
The cable system was installed in 1972 and turned on in 1974. The original system offered channels 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13.
In August of 1979, a new tower and headed equipment were installed. They now offer 15 channels and have upgraded the system by adding microwave and two satellite receivers.
Mr. and Mrs. Raines purchased the office building at 122 S. Oak from the Pat Taylor estate and have completed extensive remodeling.
The Family Tree Christian Book Store
Unlike other businesses, The Family Tree Christian Book Store and Antiques was not originated with the thought of creating a livelihood or large income producing business, but rather to help a family member to have an outlet for her silk flower arrangements. Later on daughter, Linda Smith and husband, Randy was also part of The Family Tree.
In 1981, after much prayer about the name, The Family Tree opened on Loop 287 in Grapeland. Maria and Eddie Grounds thought the name would refer to their family of relative, but the Lord revealed the name to mean "His family, the family of God" and the silk flower portion of the business soon gave way to more. New Testaments and Christian Books were displaced around the shop. The birth of a ministry to the Grapeland community had begun. The Family Tree moved to its current location on Business 287 in Grapeland.
Maria Grounds, a native Cuban, attended Christian’s schools in Cuba and was raised in a Christian home. She came to the United States to finish her education. Maria met Eddie Grounds of Grapeland in 1948; he is the son of W. A. Grounds and Louella Grounds of Grapeland. Eddie and Maria lived in Houston until 1983. They retired from the building business and moved to their home in Grapeland.
Eddie does the bookkeeping and Maria does all the purchasing. Their neighbors Bob and Betty Brown come to their aid to keep The Family Tree open when the Grounds are away. The Grounds have two children. Their daughter, Linda and husband, Randy Smith lives in Grapeland and have two girls, Maria Danielle and Christine Smith. Linda is a secretary at Grapeland High School. Randy works for U.S.I. in Latexo as a traffic supervisor. Their son Ed Grounds, Jr. Lives in Austin with his wife, Brenda, daughter, Jamie and son, T. J. Brenda is part-time secretary for Lake Travis school district in Austin. Ed Grounds has his own business, Grounds Construction Company.
The Family Tree Christian Bookstore is a member of the Christian Booksellers Association.
The Family Tree Christian Bookstore offers a new excellence and a new enthusiasm, as a business and as a personal ministry with the best in Christian literature, Bibles, Bible stories, concordances, dictionaries, music, games, Christian greeting cards with a message from God's Word, and a children's department which has a large selection of books reflecting Christ and the Christian life. They also provide church supplies, Spanish books and much more.
The Telephone Girl
The telephone girl sits still in her chair.
And listens to voices from everywhere
She hears all the gossip, she hears all the news,
She knows who is happy and who has the blues,
She knows all our sorrow, she knows all our joys,
She knows all of our trouble, she knows of our strife;
She knows every man who talks mean to his wife.
She knows every time we are out with the boys,
She hears the excuse each fellow employs.
She knows every woman who has a dark past.
She knows every man who is inclined to be 'fast'.
In fact there's a secret 'Neath each saucy curl...
Of that quiet, demure looking telephone girl.
If the telephone girl told all that she knows,
it would turn half our friends into bitterest foes.
She could let loose a story, which gaining in force
would cause half the wives to sue for divorce.
She could get all our churches mixed up in a fight,
In fact, she could keep the whole town in a stew--
If she'd tell a tenth part of the things she knew,
Oh brother, now doesn't it make your head whirl,
When you think what you owe to the telephone girl?
The sycamore shade trees along Main Street were set out by our citizens to beautify the town and furnish shade during the hot summer months. They are yet young and should receive the greatest care and attention, and it should be the duty of everyone, children and all, to jealously guard their growth. However, we are sorry to say the Tuesday night, some mischievous boys stripped one of these beautiful shade trees of its foliage and today it stands out as an ugly monument to their deviltry. Boys, don't ever be guilty of such an ungentlemanly act again. Parents, do you know where your boy is after the shades of night have fallen? Boys who make a habit of lying around town at night with associates of questionable character will sooner have later come to grief.
Grapeland Peanut Growers Association
The Grapeland Peanut Growers Association was organized in 1947 and first occupied the building that is now the present Grapeland City Office. Later it moved to the building occupied by Ross Electrical Company and purchased the Darsey warehouse for peanut storage. It is now located on Hwy 287 south.
Glendon P. Jones helped to organize the Co-op and the first stock was issued in 1948. The managers have been Merle Bobbitt (1947-1950), L. W. Bush and Clyde Bedford (1951), Horace Jones (1952-1966), Leon Brimberry (1966-1970), Coy L. Bartee (1970-1978), and Herbert Franks (1978 -1987).
The present employees are Lou Jean Yates, Carrie Luce, Wanda Grayson, Mildred Platt, Charlotte Abraham, Lloyd Peterson (assistant manager), Jimmy Ray Turner, Jimmy Ray Davis, Jimmy Lee Davis, Henry Wagner, Ernst Davis and Earl Lee Tarrance.
Nucor Federal Credit Union
This business was organized by the workers at Nucor for the purpose of establishing a credit office to borrow money based on time an employee had worked at Nucor. It also offers a place to deposit money to draw interest. In 1986, this credit union merged with Industry Federal Credit Union with its main offices in Houston. Cely Musick is manager of this business. The first building on this site was built by J. J. Brooks in 1910 and was occupied by Traylor's Bros. later.