Grayson County has a strong history that began long before most of the cities in the county were founded.
Just over a year after Texas was annexed into the United States, Grayson County was created from a part of the area just to the east, Fannin County. It was named after Peter W. Grayson, an attorney and Republic of Texas presidential candidate in 1838.
After losing his race, Grayson shot himself that same year.
“Sherman was founded in 1846 by the Grayson County commissioners,” the Texas Historical Commission’s site reads. “It was located in the center of the county, four miles west of its present site, near highways 56 and 289. Because of a lack of wood and water, the town was moved in 1848 to its present site.”
The city of Sherman’s namesake was a colonel during the Texas Revolution. General Sidney Sherman is also the namesake of Sherman County, also in Texas.
It was in 1846 that Sherman was founded very near where the city sits today. Just four miles to the west, closer to present-day Whitesboro.
“In 1848, the City of Sherman was transplanted to its present location, determined by the spreading branches of the mammoth pecan tree that stood on the southeast section of what is now the public square,” the commission site says. “Even from the beginning, the ‘pecan tree’ played a big part in the development of Sherman.”
The street names are the same as they were back when T.J. Shannon allowed his 12-year-old daughter to name them after Texas heroes and trees. Houston, Lamar, Elm, Mulberry, Crockett, Rusk and Pecan are just a few of the names she picked out.
As Sherman grew, so did the area around it. Just 26 years later, the land gained to the north was founded as an official township and got a visit from its future namesake.
The city of Denison has been alive and bouncing with life since 1872. Named after the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Vice President George Denison, the city that was founded around the time of the Christmas holiday in 1872 has grown rapidly in its 146 years of life, and while it was established around the railroad, it is now far from a railroad town.
The Texas State Historical Association says that it all began when William Bejamin Munson, Sr. and R.S. Stevens bought land in the area south of the Red River in preparation of the MKT railroad’s arrival.
The first train arrived on Christmas Eve of 1872, and by February, the town had its first public school. By the summertime, the town had more than 3,000 residents and saw trains coming from out of state.
“Although Main Street appeared to be an orderly collection of businesses, the surrounding area consisted of a tent city, inhabited by bars, gambling halls, and houses of prostitution,” the site says.
Along with the many firsts that came in 1873, the sense of community was something that was on the forefront of the early settlers’ minds.
“The first Denison Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized on February 19, 1873,” The Texas State Historical Association site continues. “Denison had the first women’s club in Texas; the XXI club began in 1876.”
About 10 years later, the city’s post office was opened, and by 1889, the city had 5,000 residents.
Booming with prospects, MKT was not the only railroad that saw the value in the growing town. Soon, the city had stations for the St. Louis, San Francisco and Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf railroads. Between the 1872-1900, five lines had come into the area.
The first electric line between Denison and Sherman came in 1896.
“By the end of the 1870s local businesses included two cotton compresses, a large flour mill, and a slaughterhouse capable of handling 700 cattle a day,” the commission site says. “In 1884 the town had an opera house that seated 1,200.”
In 1889, the city got its first newspaper, the Denison Herald.