Grayson County; an illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas. Page: 31
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time and offered hospitality to trite melodramas, musical
reviews, trained animal shows, Shakespeare, temperance
lectures, revivals, and acrobatic performances. The
Masonic orders also met in this building, and Mahan's
Business College maintained its classes there for many
SHERMAN OPERA HOUSE
By the 1880's Sherman had become a thoroughly
stable community and had pretty well lost all traces of
the rawness of the frontier. To be sure there were still
enough saloons and shootings and enough painted women
to provide some features of the picturesque West;
but they were superficial, and their disappearance but
little changed the character of the town.
Thus with Sherman a sophisticated metropolis, we
return to frontier conditions and consider the next settlement
which was made after the founding of the
The next community in order of settlement had as
its center the town of Whitesboro.
The strip of territory on the western edge of Grayson
County that skirted the Cross Timbers provided
excellent cover for the wolves that ranged the headwaters
of the Trinity and the Red River valley in the
early days. For this reason the settlers called it the wolf
path, a name that suggests the character of the wilderness
that awaited Ambrose B. White and his wife, the
former Sarah Elizabeth Murdah, when as Peters Colony
settlers they brought their family to the region in 1848.
Born in Ohio on October 25, 1811, like most of his
neighbors White came of stock that thrived on the uncivilized
frontier. When the wave of migration passed
Ohio and society became too settled for him, White's
father moved his family to the neighborhood of Springfield,
Illinois, where Ambrose White grew up and along
with Abraham Lincoln and other settlers of the then
new state enlisted to fight the Blackhawk War. Tradition
has it that Ambrose White first came to know
Sarah Murdah during this war as she molded bullets
for the soldiers.
When White's family settled on land where Whitesboro
now stands, only one log house was passed on the
journey from the White homestead to the county seat.
Thus conditions on the western border of the county
resembled those of the eastern border ten years earlier.
Because of these isolated conditions, settlers who followed
White to the area preferred to live in a neighborhood,
and what was sometimes called White's colony came
A loosely associated settlement was already established
by the time the Butterfield company laid out the
route of the Overland Mail. The White settlement was
ideally situated as a stop for the stage. White himself
built Westview Inn, one of the landmarks of the time.
The care and supply of teams for the mail brought a
small but regular supply of cash to the community,
which together with the transportation facilities attracted
settlement still further.
The horses for the mail were changed on property
belonging to the Diamond family just west of the inn.
Ambrose White later acquired this property, and it is
now owned by the public schools of Whitesboro.
Mrs. Callie Baum, a descendant of A. B. White,
records that at the beginning of the War Between the
States, White's colony contained no more than fourteen
families. Nevertheless the town had been the site of one
of the most important secession rallies in North Texas;
and although many of the settlers had come like White
himself from the old northwest, Whitesboro furnished
its full share of soldiers for the Confederacy. Surprisingly,
fifty-year-old A. B. White himself volunteered
at the beginning of the war and later, with commission
of captain, organized a company of his neighbors for
Bourland's Frontier Regiment.
After the war Whitesboro received its part of the
migration that provided so much of the county's population.
There were many advantages to the location.
The community is high: it is said to occupy the exact
ridge of the so-called "great divide," and we are told
that rainwater that falls on the south side of Main
Street reaches the Gulf by way of the Trinity, while rain
that falls on the north side of Main Street reaches the
Gulf by way of the Red and Mississippi. Early settlers
were quick to point out that transportation was little
problem in the firm, sandy soil of the western part
of the county. Wild plum trees grew everywhere, and
grapes and blackberries abounded. Obviously the land
was rich, healthful, and easily reached. It was little
wonder that the town was soon large enough to ask
for and get a post office. The name which it officially
took was that which had been attached to it for almost
for its favorite and first
citizen, Ambrose B. White.
Schools and churches had already got their start in
Whitesboro. During the war, for example, to put his
Westview Inn to profitable use, White had employed
Taylor, a brother-in-law of George Dugan, who was
exempt from service because of a limp, and the building
was used for a school. The first congregation organized
in the town was that of the Baptists, which
came into existence under the ministrations of the Rev.
S. D. H. Steed and the Rev. Asa Davis in 1856. Early
meetings were held in a log building on North Union,
although at a later date a common building was shared
by all denominations. Dr. W. H. Trollinger was among
the charter members, and Ambrose White was himself
an enthusiastic member of this congregation. In 1862
the Whitesboro Baptists were a party to the founding of
the Shiloh Association.
On the eve of war, in February of 1861, Dr. Robert
Lively as District Deputy organized Whitesboro Lodge,
No. 263, A.F. B. F. Savage, S. M.; C. C Quil-
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An illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas with numerous photographs and a pioneer name index (p. 120).
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Landrum, Graham. Grayson County; an illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas., book, 1960; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24647/m1/35/: accessed September 21, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .