Last weekend I began thinking about this column and brought out a copy of the heavy Grayson County History, Volume II that was published by Frontier Village of Grayson County. When I opened the cover, I saw that it was presented to me by my uncle, Judge R.C. Vaughan in appreciation for my contribution to the preservation of the history of Grayson County and for my research and recording of our family history.
I began thumbing though the more than 500 pages in the book and got several ideas to carry me for a few weeks. The first one is a “Calendar of Historic Events in Grayson County” that my friend Joan Ball of Sherman and I put together when the book was being assembled in 1981. Joan was working for the Sherman Democrat then and we were both active in Press Women of Texas, then known as Texas Press Women. The article is pretty long so it may require two or more columns to include all the historic events listed. I’m sure there is a lot of history not included in the more than 200 years until now.
The list goes back to 1700 when the region that now is known as Grayson County was inhabited by Tonkawa Indians. That item gets us started on a long list of history.
1750 — Francis Harve established a trading post on the Red River at the mouth of the Boggie River. Two years later, the post was moved to a spot near Archer City.
1759 — Spaniards were defeated by Indians in a great battle on the Red River. The Spanish never again attempted to establish themselves in this area of North Texas.
1770 — North Texas was ceded to Spain by France.
1816 — Claiborne Wright of Tennessee established the first Anglo-American settlement in Texas at Jonesboro on the Red River near the mouth of the Kiamichi River.
1822 — Trapper-trader John Hart visited the Preston Bent area. Texas became Mexican territory.
1834 — Judge Gabriel Martin was killed by Indians while on a hunting trip in what now is Grayson County.
1935 — Andrew Thomas and Davy Crockett exchanged guns while sitting beneath a tree near the settlement known as Honey Grove. Thomas took Crockett’s 27 pound long rifle in trade for a shorter gun and Crockett went on to death and fame at the Alamo.
1836 — Abel Warren established a trading post near Ambrose. Holland Coffee arrived at Preston Bend. Shawneetown was a thriving Indian settlement near where Denison now stands. Settlers arrived at Pilot Grove. The Red River became an original county of the Republic of Texas. Daniel Dugan and family of Arkansas settled in what now is Northeast Grayson near Orangeville. This became the nucleus of the first settlement in this section.
1837 — Fannin County was created from part of the Red River County. Holland Coffee established a trading post in what is now Northwest Grayson County on Preston Peninsula.
1838 — First Ranger Company was organized for protection from Indians. Samuel Washburn was scalped by Indians. McIntire place attacked by Indians. Holland Coffee was chosen representative to third Congress of Republic of Texas. Daniel Dugan moved to a spot near the present town of Bells because of the lack of water.
1839 — Holland Coffee married Sophia Suttenfield Aughinbaugh. Col. Holland Coffee led an expedition against the Indians.
1840 — Fort Johnson was established near Pottsboro. Holland Coffee occupied property of John Hart at Preston Bend. Daniel Dugan and Charlie Green were killed by Indians near Bells. Sam Houston established a fort at the great bend of the Red River near the present village of Preston and named Fort Preston in honor of its first commander Col. William Preston. The first steamboats came up the Red River, previously only flat boats had navigated it.
1841 — Preston Road was created, linking North Texas to Waco. Peters Colony was organized. First religious services conducted by the Rev. John Denton, Methodist preacher for whom Denton was named.
1842 — First Cumberland Presbyterian congregation was founded in Micajah Davis Cabin in 1842 by the Rev. Sumner Bacon.
1844 — Settlement of southern precincts of present Grayson County began. Holland Coffee’s partner, Silas Colville, was murdered on road between Preston and Warren.
1845 — Glen Eden built by Holland Coffee. Texas admitted to the Union. On Dec. 4, W.R. Caruthers, who had distinguished himself in several battles against Santa Anna, received a grant of 1,000 acres in prime land near the Red River in the northern part of the new nation and from this soil, the city of Denison was built.
1846 — Grayson County was one of 22 carved off of Fannin County. Sherman was established north and west of present location and named the county seat. Holland Coffee died as a result of a duel. Texana Dumas believed to be the first white child born in the county. First court held in new county at farm of Robert Acheson, south of Denison.
1847 — First courthouse erected at a cost of $232. First camp meeting held. First post office established in Sherman. William T. Lankford, having received 1,400 acres of land for his services in the Texas Revolution, settled on his grant about four miles east of the present city of Denton and to him is credited the first flour mill in the region.
This lays the groundwork to bring Sherman and Denison into the picture and after looking at the length of the calendar of historic events in Grayson County, it looks like it may continue for more than one more column. Keep reading to learn more about the fascinating history of this county and its twin cities.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.