Words by Jan Brand
Photography by Aaron Meeks
The pages of history have turned, and the pioneers are gone, but their memory lingers on in the little depot that helped grow a hamlet into a town.
Whether you’re at a church social, civic group or on the Granbury square, you’ll probably hear someone say, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as soon asI could.” I heard it when I interviewed Karen Nace, President of the Granbury DepotMuseum.
When you talk with Karen, it’s like opening an encyclopedia of everything that made Granbury the town it is today: the history, the people and the charm.
The depot is now the home of theHood County Historical GenealogicalSociety, housing rich and colorful stories of Granbury’s newly arrived settlers in the1800s and beyond. The organization was created to preserve, maintain and educate people about Hood County.
Local history is so important to the citizens of Granbury, you can’t throw a rock in any direction and not hit a business or home with a historical maker on it. The Granbury Square was the first in Texas to have its own historical marker.
The Square was dying in the 1970s when a group, including local residents Randall Rash, Mary Kate Durham, Jeanell Morris and others, as third and fourth generation natives who loved Granbury and its history, formed the local historical society.
Texas isn’t just real estate, it’s an idea. We’re proud.A little arrogant. And very independent. Pulitzer Prizewinning poet and author, Carl Sandburg, said, “Texas is a blend of valor and swagger.” Without the valor there may not have been a Texas, and without the swagger, we might not have attracted the men who had the valor to withstand the mighty Mexican army that could have changed our destiny.
During the Civil War, young men came from farms and villages all over the country to fight for one side or the other. After the war, they were eager to follow their dreams. Texas seemed to be the place that was most remembered—the one many who came from the North wanted to return to after the war to start a new life. They felt the spirit ofTexas that was soaked into the soil from the blood spilled at the Alamo and Goliad by men who fought to the death rather than surrender their freedom.
A hamlet of five hundred people on the Brazos River in Hood County attracted many of them. In 1866 the town was given the name Granbury, after the Civil War general who led the Granbury brigade to war.
From its earliest beginnings a sense of pride fueled the creative engine that gave us the colorful community we enjoy today.
In 1887 the Fort Worth Rio Grande Railroad came to Granbury, which guaranteed its growth. A river and a railroad were two essentials for a community’s survival in the fast-expanding United States. All the railroad brought was a track. The local citizens raised twenty-five thousand dollars to construct a wooden depot. Now Granbury was areal town, with a train depot and ticket agent.
In 1912, the original depot burned, and a little red-brick building was built to replace it. After train service was suspended, in 1982 the depot was acquired to archive the story of the early settlers who were drawn to Granbury.
During the Reconstruction years after the Civil War, saloons dotted the square, making Granbury a town resembling those on the backlot of MGM Motion PictureStudios, with John Wayne pushing through batwing doors to get a cold beer after a long cattle drive. The town had earned a reputation that attracted the attention of the venerable Carrie Nation in the early 1900s, who dedicated her life to closing these dens of the devil. She helped the local ladies form the Christian Women’s TemperanceLeague, who successfully put the saloons out of business.Not all citizens appreciated their efforts.
Archived at the Depot is the history of one of those who moved here from the North. E.A. Hannaford was born in England and migrated to Illinois with his family as a child, where he was a pharmacist before the Civil War.He fought for the Union and spent time in Granbury. After the war he returned to Granbury and put up a tent, which was the first pharmacy in Hood County. He slept in the tent with his supplies. Later, he built a stone structure on the west side of the town square.
Hanneford left his mark on the community. He and four other men pooled their money to build the first bridge across the Brazos River between Granbury andWaco. A strong advocate of education, Hannaford helped fund the building of twenty-nine of the thirty schools in Granbury. He also helped establish several churches.
His wife, Nettie Hannaford, like her husband, contributed to civic and cultural success. She was a founding member of the Women’s Wednesday Club, and the Eastern Star.
Because of his contribution to the building of the town and its culture, even though Hannaford fought for the Union, upon his death in 1915, “… the ConfederateVeterans Camp requested to be honorary pallbearers at his funeral. For four years they had been on opposite sides of the war, but in peace they had worked together for forty-four years. He was now a fallen comrade and deserved honor as a true Texas citizen and a real pioneerTexan” (Vance Maloney, Granbury Newspaper, November1915).
The Depot carries on the tradition of those pioneers who initiated civic and community pride and goes beyond housing pictures and documents that tells Granbury history, the building also facilitates a national program that helps seniors remain active. The museum works withExperience Works, whose motto is, “We help people age with dignity and purpose.”
Judy Parrish is in her seventies and was out of money.Her confidence was shattered from years out of the marketplace, her age and circumstance. Texas WorkforceCommission referred her to the Experience Works program.
Judy was overwhelmed by the warm welcome she received at the Depot. Karen Nace helped her believe she could not just start over, but thrive, as she has. Judy is the docent and conducts the tours, does research and helps others who want to do their own. She keeps the obituaries current and scans records for posterity. She loves her new job. She found a reason to get out of bed every day and do something that would benefit others for generations to come.
The Depot lacked something to attract visitors andJudy came up with an idea for a design to be placed in front of the building. Rananda Poucher, another Experience Works participant, did the computer graphics on the design. John Campbell, owner of Diamond C SandBlasting and Painting, cut the design and mounted it on the frame.
The pages of history have turned, and the pioneers are gone, but their memory lingers on in the little depot that helped grow a hamlet into a town. The spirit of Texas lives on in the lives of those who followed in the footsteps of the great men and women who came and laid good root sin this good Texas soil.