Meticulous and frugal are two of the words used by O.B. Groner’s loved ones to describe the man with a local street named after him. O.B. Groner Road has been in the news a lot over the last few years. First, it was announced O.B. Groner Road would be part of an extension to Travis Street on the west side of U.S. Highway 75. Then the Sherman Independent School District purchased land on the northwest corner of the road’s intersection with West Moore Street for a new 450,000-square-foot Sherman High School.
In October, the Sherman City Council passed a resolution changing the name of the portion of O.B. Groner Road that lies within its city limits to West Travis Street. That street will ultimately be a four-lane divided roadway that will go through the Sherman Crossroads development and connect the U.S. Highway 75 service road with FM 1417 and the O.B. Groner Road that’s still on the west side of FM 1417.
Grayson County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Whitmire oversees the portion of the county O.B. Groner Road is in and said, via email, most rural county roads were informally named by residents as they came into existence. Formal names were not assigned until the 1990s with the implementation of 911 addressing.
Oal Burnette Groner was born in 1904 and lived nearly his entire life in Sherman on what became O.B. Groner Road before he died in 1991. He was married in 1925 and raised three sons and a daughter.
Church devotion was important to Groner and he was said to have donated whole pigs to the annual barbecue held by the congregation of Friendship United Methodist Church, of which he was an active member. Groner also donated his time and efforts to the upkeep of the Friendship Cemetery.
Groner’s nephew, Chandler Strawn, described his uncle as very meticulous and recently showed off a barbed wire fence that had more strands and was wound tighter than the norm, suggesting it as an example of how Groner did things right, but also “overdid” them.
Groner owned parcels of land along the road bearing his name. He has one surviving son left in Grayson County, Louis Groner.
“He grew up in the depression,” Louis Groner said of his father. “He learned to be meticulous. He was also very frugal. He didn’t waste anything.”
A portion of O.B. Groner Road was brought into Sherman city limits in the 1990s through annexation.
O.B. Groner ran the barbed wire using a hand cranked drill, as no electric power tools were on the farm when Louis Groner was growing up.
“These fences he built with his hands are over 50 years old in some places,” Strawn said. “They’re still good, usable fences.”
Strawn remembered his uncle’s work ethic fondly, as well as his relationship with his neighbors.
“Back then all the farmers worked together,” Strawn said. “If one needed a building erected, they all pitched in and helped each other out.”
All the buildings were made by the hands of farmers, friends and neighbors of O.B. Groner.
The barn, Strawn said, was the lifeblood of any farm. The old barn on the property had all the hand crafted markings of a building made by the hands of farmers.
O.B. Groner was said to cut down trees on his land and use all the wood for buildings and fences. He had an old garage on the property originally built to house a Model T. The garage was bought in town and transferred to the farm.
Louis Groner said the family didn’t get electricity until the 1950s. Before that, water was pumped by hand out of an old shallow well, which is still on the property.
Louis Groner said his father also liked to garden, growing vegetables for the family.
“He also kept really good records,” Groner said. “He recorded everything from the rainfall to the crops he produced. He was very devoted to his farm. Profits were tight so he could keep track of everything to the penny. Back then, a penny was more valuable. It was a struggle for him to get everything he had.”
Louis Groner also said his father was very stern, but fair, in his discipline.
“He was strict but smiled a lot,” Louis Groner said.
O.B. Groner Road continues to be part of Grayson County’s history as several old farms remain along the path. The man himself is said to have never left Grayson County, but he left behind a farm his family continues to operate today.