Hopkins County TXGenWeb | History of Sulphur Bluff

Hopkins County, TX | History of Sulphur Bluff

Last modified: 8 MAY 2010

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From the files of June E. Tuck, who does not validate or dispute any historical facts in the article. Written by T. P. Griffith and dictated by J. T. Arthur, assisted by J. H. Clifton - 1938

About the year 1844 Robert Hargrave built a store building on the big bluff on Sulphur River about three miles north of the present site of the town. Joe Sanders was the first one to sell goods in the store, operating a general merchandise business about ten years. Mr. Hargrave operated a water mill near the site of this store building, grinding both corn and wheat. This mill was driven by water power produced by lake being made in the river, stone dam was built across the river and the driving wheel was placed just below this dam and water falling through a chute dam would fall on the wheel and cause it to revolve, this setting in motion all the mill machinery. This mill was operated about ten years. Mr. Hargrave also operated a blacksmith shop and a carding mill. This carding mill was propelled by an old-fashioned tread wheel about 40 feet in diameter. An ox was placed on the wheel and as the beast would walk, the wheel would revolve, this setting in motion the carding mill machinery. Mr. Hargrave was also postmaster there. The mail was brought from Paris, which at that time was called "Pen Hook," located about 30 miles north of Sulphur Bluff. Mail was received about one a week. At times it would be ten days or two weeks before the mail was received due to the fact that the river would over-flow and stay up several days. Sulphur Bluff was the first post office in Hopkins County.

About 1854 the town site was moved to the present site. The first store there was also built by Mr. Hargrave. This store was later moved about a block east from where it was first built and later burned. This building was a two-story structure constructed of oak lumber and covered with old-fashioned boards. The building had no glass windows as glass was then unknown. The doors of this building were swung on home made iron hinges. There is now a modern service station situated where this building burned. Mr. Hargrave continued in business at New Sulphur Bluff about two years and sold out to Major Birthright, who continued in business, selling general merchandise two or three years. All of this stock and supplies were freighted from Jefferson, Texas, in tar-pole wagons, principally ox-drawn. Mr. Birthright sold out to Turner Brothers of Mt. Vernon, Texas, who ran the business for two or three years then sold to G. A. Hinnant, who ran the store some 12 or 15 years and sold to Dr. W. S. Posey, who was at that time a practicing physician. Dr. Posey and his son operated the store some 15 or 20 years and retired, renting the building to F. W. Patterson, who ran a general merchandise business for a about two years and his stock was destroyed by fire. He then entered the drug business in a building opposite the place destroyed by fire. This building belonged to the Harris heirs. Mr. Patterson operated the drug store about three years and again burned out. Soon after this Mr. Patterson was elected justice of the peace which office he held for about two years and then elected county judge of Hopkins County which office he held about four years and now lives in Dallas.

Mr. Hinnant, after selling out to Dr. Posey, built a new store building and put in a new and complete stock of general merchandise and operated this store for a few years and died. His son, Walter Hinnant, continued this store for about a year and sold out to J. W. St. Clair who did business some 15 years or more and sold out to Horne and Hare, who are still in business in the same building built by Mr. Hinnant. The third business was put in by Mr. Huskey. This store was located where H. W. Wilson is now located, just across the street from the Hedrick building. Mr. Huskey built the building, a two-story structure of oak and pine lumber, about 1870. He conducted a general merchandise business some eight or ten years. He sold this building and stock to Dawson Bros. and retired. Mr. Huskey ran a hotel, located where the W.O.W. Bldg., now stands, for about 20 years, this being Sulphur Bluff’s only hotel.

About 1883 Mr. Huskey died. His widow sold the hotel and property to Mrs. Brinton, a widow, who razed the old hotel building and built a new one. Mrs. Brinton operated this hotel for 18 or 20 years. This building was a large two-story frame house and still stands, owned by Jack Dawson and is now an apartment house.

Dawson Bros. continued in business about ten years and sold to Ed Hargrave, J. W. St Clair, and Lee Staton. These gentlemen ran this store for about two years and the store burned. J. W. St. Clair built back and operated the store about two years and sold to Jack Dawson who ran the business several years and sold to H.W. Wilson, who now operates the present store.

About 1880 D. T. Lake put in a drug store, located north of where the Masonic Hall now stands. Mr. Lake operated the store several years and retired because of feeble health and died soon thereafter. Mr. Lake’s heirs sold the property to Henry Smith, who still owns it.

About 1910 Mr. Stanley put in a stock of general merchandise in the Hedrick building. Mr. Stanley was in business only a short while when he moved to Sulphur Springs. About 1890 William Kile put in a grocery store in a small building owned by Mr. Hinnant. Mr. Kile was in business only a shot time, then retired. About 1885, Tom Cannon and J. K. Pierce built a frame building northeast of the Huskey Hotel and put in a line of groceries, operating the store about a year, then moved their stock to Sulphur Springs. About 1895 J. H. Hargrave put in a grocery store in a building owned by Mr. Hinnant. He continued in this business for about 15 years and retired.

About 1918 W.H. Barker and son put in a grocery store, carrying shoes and mens clothing. They retired from this business a few years ago. Mr. Gordon Barker is now postmaster and has been for several years. About 1925 Claude Day opened a grocery store and operated this store for about a year and retired. About 1914 (sic) W. H. Howorth put in a drug store and ran it about nine years and sold to S.A. Alexander, who continued the business about three years and retired. About 1931-32 Earl Mead opened a first-class drug store in the Masonic Hall building and now operates the store. About 1937 Hubert Hard put in a store about half a mile south of Sulphur Bluff.

Some three years ago oil was discovered and the town was very promising, and several cafes were put in, but now are most all gone. Sulphur Bluff has a pump station and pipe line, pumping oil to Talco and Saltillo, and has 70 producing oil wells, and telephone connection with both Talco and Saltillo.

Mr. Hare operates a modern and up to date grocery and market.

Barbers at Sulphur Bluff have been L. L. Shoffit, Frank Boatman, Hargus Lewis, with several who we do not know. Hague Lewis now operates the town's only shop.

About 1910 the First State Bank was organized. The presidents of this bank have been Dr. J. M. Fleming, W. W. Mahaffey, and Charlie Mahaffey. Cashiers have been Ed Hargrave, Owen Mahaffey. The bank closed about 1933. The Mahaffeys were splendid gentlemen and successful, straining every effort to help those in need. A small loss suffered by a bank robbery.

About 1855 Bob Hargrave put up a horse-power gin, which was converted into a steam gin about ten years later. Jim Hargrave bought the gin. He sold to Josh Hopkins, who ran it several years and sold to J. P. Staton. Mr. Staton sold to Turner Clifton, who after about two years sold back to Mr. Staton, who then sold to Ike Horn. Ike Horn burned out and the oil mill bought the land and built a gin and now operate it.

Blacksmiths here have been Joe Wooten, Bob Hargrave, P. W. Gibson, Rube Mills, Joe Tolson, Frank Long, Wilbur Waller, who is now the present smith. A Dutchman by the name of Smith or Johnson was once there. John Irons was an early smith there also and a Mr. Henry. John Day was also an early smith.

Carpenters have been Joe Tolson, Mr. Ridley, Mr. Spicer, in the early days, and Mall Dillard.

Doctors have been Drs. Smith, Reeves, Lyons, Johnson, Posey, Caldwell, Taylor, Music, Durham, Stephens, Gardner, White, Hyde, Parker, Goodwin, Thomas, Mead, Holbrook, Harrington, present doctor and one we can not recall.

Justices of the Peace have been Robert Hargrave, O. C. McCoy, George Hinnant, John Tucker, W. B. Ellison, Walter Stevenson, Mr. McDowell, J. A. Bearden, F. W. Patterson, Bill Kile, Nick Wells, present Justice. Constables have been Howard Brame, Jake Black, Frank Hopkins, Ed Banister, Dee Pierce, Walter Leewright, Homer Herron, present constable, and Jim White, Gus Hopkins, H. A. White.

Commissioners have been Howard Hargrave, Cal Smith, Gus Connor, Frank Gregg, Callie McCauley, Gid smith, Geo. Chapman.

The old settlers: Bob Hargrave, Joe Sanders, Dave Sanders, Mr. South, Mr. Bishop. These were on the first site at the bluff. Those at the present site of the town are Bob Hargrave, Josiah Gregg, Jake Gregg, Sam Gregg, Dave Hopkins, J. D. Clifton, Dave Clifton, John Collins, William Dawson, Hugh Mahaffey, Rev. Jack Lowe, Dr. Taylor, Mr. Maxwell, Joe Toleson (sic,) Mr. Shoffit, O. T. Stone, John Day, J. F. Bryant, Jim Smith, J. P. Staton, Abb St.Clair, Luther St.Clair, none of whom are now living.

There is an old fashioned hewn log house standing northeast of Sulphur Bluff about one fourth mile from town that was built in 1855 by J. D. Clifton, father of J. H. Clifton. This old landmark is still in fine state of preservation and is now owned by Lewis France and occupied by Mr. France's son-in-law.

Sulphur Bluff once had a weekly newspaper, about 1875. This paper was published by Rev. R. W. Billips, a pioneer Baptist preacher. During the oil boom Sulphur Bluff had four lumber yards but only one remains, being operated by Jack Dawson.

Postmasters have been Robt. Hargrave, Major Birthright, Mr. Turner, Geo. Hinnant, J. W. St. Clair, Rasbery Shrode, and Gordon Barker, the present postmaster. Their mail is brought from Sulphur Springs. Ward Barker serves the only rural route out of Sulphur Bluff. The first Star Route serving Sulphur Bluff office ran from Sulphur Springs to Clarksville.


The telephone enterprise was first put in the early 1890's, being a line from Mt. Vernon and one from Sulphur Springs, there being no switchboard here at that time. In the later part of 1890's, Jim Ross installed Sulphur Bluff’s first telephone exchange, the lines leading to Sulphur Springs, Mt. Vernon were then put into the switchboard. Mr. Ross extended the lines out into the country and some rural people built lines into the board. Mr. Ross sold the exchange to the widow Moore, and about 1920 Mrs. Moore sold the system to J. T. Arthur of Saltillo, and G. W. Clanton of Rogers School, Texas. This concern ran until 1937 at which time heavy sleet and ice tore all the lines down and before Mr. Arthur could rebuild, the Southwestern States Telephone Co. put in a telephone system in the town with connections at Mt. Vernon and Talco. There are at present a very few telephones here now, with no connections with any rural systems except Mt. Vernon and Talco via long distance, from best information available, this company never had more than 15 telephones in the town. However, they still maintain a telephone operator. There are now only three or four telephones in the town. The public has to come to the telephone office to place calls. The Southwestern States Co. has spent quite a bit of money in equipment and so far as they reach they have good lines running approximately a half mile from the board. By request of some of the citizens, J. T. Arthur reconstructed his telephone lines, some extending eight miles out into the country, while some extend a short distance from his board. He then made application to the Southwestern States Telephone Co. for connection to each other’s subscribers and to long distance.