More about life in Hopkins County, Texas

 

J. P. (Uncle Perry) Hargrave, who has linked his name permanently with the history of Hopkins County, was born in the state of Indiana in the year of 182 I. He moved to Texas in the section in which he now lives in the year of 1842 with his father William Hargrave and his brother Harvey. J. P. Hargrave married Casanda Clark, a lady who had lived in Texas since the year of 1834 in Red River County, in 1848. They have raised only two children, John C. and Charles J. They are both good and useful citizens, and live near their aged parents. When Mr. Hargrave came into the territory there was only one family living in what is now Hopkins County, a Mr. Bivens, who soon disappeared and nothing was ever heard of him or his family. It was supposed that they were all massacred by the wild tribes of Indians. The territory soon began to be settled by good but adventurous citizens. The last election of the Republic of Texas was held at old Sulphur Bluff. Ned Burleson and Ausen Jones were the candidates. Ausen Jones was the successful candidate. During this time other settlers came into the territory. Billy Barker, Robert E. Mansell and Billy Mathis. Johnson Wren located in the northwestern part of the county and was the first representative in the State Legislature. Capt. M. Brannon came into the district about this time.

Nash Cole was the first to locate at Black Jack Grove. The Jordan family moved in about the same time. The county was created in the year 1a45. ,an organized in 1846. Unfortunately there appears to be some misunderstanding in reference to the name given the county. Some of the old timers claim that the county was named in honor of Eldridge Hopkins, while J. P. Hargrave declares that the county was named in honor of the Hopkins family. When the county had been surveyed, which was done by Robert Hargraves, the Legislature of Texas appointed a committee, consisting of Robert Hargrave, Capt. Eli Hopkins, Billy Barker, James Ward and Billy Wilkins, to locate the center of the county for a county site. They began on the southwest corner of Lamar County and ran a line by mathematical calculation, with their surveying equipage to within a few hundred yards of where the old town of Tarrant once stood, and drove in a post. It was therefore finally decided to locate the county site at Tarrant. The day the county site was located which was accomplished by vote, the county officials were chosen. In the year 1843 the wild Indians made a raid on the Birdwell neighborhood, on the south side of North Sulphur creek. Upon information of the Indians being in the county, the male portion of every family in the county left their homes and went in search of the enemy. They simply passed through without doing any serious damage save stealing a horse now and then. On the return from the Indian hunt the men came upon a large black bear near where the ladies, wives and daughters of the gentlemen, were corralled in one small log cabin. When they fired upon the bear, the ladies stampeded and were frightened almost out of their wits.

The first hewed log house was built by Glen Hargrave, all the neighbors were invited to aid in erecting this building. On this occasion Eldridge Hopkins came in too late to put in a day's work. They all combined to court martial Mr. Hopkins, he replied, "I have a good excuse." He was asked to give it at once; he went to his horse and brought up three panther skins; he had shot and killed three panthers on his trip that morning. He was excused of course. In the winter of 1845, in riding from Joe Leright's place on Clarksville road to where J. C. Brewer now lives, a distance of eight miles, Uncle Perry Hargrave counted one hundred and sixty deer. The same year he stood upon the spot where Harmon Gregg now lives, and counted fifty deer at a sight. Wild horses were to be seen often in droves. They were called mustangs, and were worthless and troublesome. The bear, which were black, lay in the brush, never coming out, except to pass from one point to another. They were the hog's greatest enemy. Wolves were very numerous and annoyed the settlers by howling in large groups and in many other ways. The panther was dreaded perhaps more than any other animal of the forest. They were viscious and very destructive to everything within their power. They would, with the silent tread of a cat, steal upon their prey and destroy it with great ferociousness.

The first marriage that took place in Hopkins County was consummated in October, 1843. The contracting parties were Thos: C. Clark and Elizabeth B. Hargrave. The marriage ceremony was performed by Abner McKinzie, justice of the peace of Clarksville.

The first death in the territory was W. W. Hargrave, he was buried at the McFall burying ground. He was the first person buried in this now famous grave yard. Uncle Perry was the first person in the county to arrive at his majority. He attended the first camp meeting, which was held in the brush, and was a great success.

Rev. Joe Bishop was the first man to preach in the county. He was a primitive Baptist and could not read print, but his text could always be found "twixt" lids of the Bible, somewhere "twixt" Generations and Revolutions. He was honest and sincere and faithful in the discharge of his duty.

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