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By R. W. SMITH of Carlton

Son of a Pioneer

In 1876 Carlton had not had its beginning, for it was in this year that two large families moved from Coryell County and located near where the village of Carlton now stands. The families of Lewis C. Smith and Dr. F. M. Carlton had known each other in Arkansas, and after stopping awhile in Coryell County immigrated to this section, which was then very sparsely settled. J. M. Evans, A. G. Britton, J. H. Everett, E. L. Deaton, and L. E. Sheridan were among those found here at that time.

In 1877 H. R. Armstrong moved a small frame building on ox wagons from Honey Creek and put it down where the little town now stands. The post office was then kept in a private residence and went by the name of Honey Creek, but just at this time it took the name of Carlton in honor of D. Carlton.

The pioneers of those days underwent many privations and hardships. Waco was our principal market, where we went to sell our farm products and buy our family supplies. There were no established roads then, and the streams were not bridged, and for these seasons the people went to market in companies so that they could double team to get through the bog holes. Under these adverse circumstances, my father, L. C. Smith, hauled lumber on ox wagons from Waco to build the first pine lumber house erected in this section of the country.

I shall now name a few settlers who came soon after the town was started: J. F. Pinkerton, F. M. Richbourg, W. D. Thornton, J. W. McKinzie, J. D. Clark, the Gibsons, J. C. Finley, J. W. Porter, Dr. N. B. Bowie, J. T. Curbo, J. W. Hill, Dr. J. H. Tull, J. A. Rowland, Capt. C. E. Walker, J. B. Curry, and many other substantial citizens who did much to develop this corner of the county and secure for the people the high type of citizenship for which we are noted.

Allow me now to name a few things that helped to develop these lofty ideals among our people. From the beginning our people took an interest in the cause of education. The school was first taught by Prof. L. E. Sheridan in a small log house with dirt floor and split log benches. Later Prof. J. E. Corrigan, followed by Prof. J. O. Morrison, both from the state of Wisconsin, taught there. The introduced new methods, giving strong emphasis to discipline and thoroughness, and had remarkable success. In 1892 R. A. Smith, a former pupil of theirs, was called to head the school, where he remained for nine years.

Back in those days school funds were so limited the school terms ranged from four to five and a half months. In 1876 the per capita was only $1.47. It varied from this startling low figure to $5, with no special tax and no state aid, and very poor equipment so far as buildings were concerned, but in spite of these adverse conditions, boys and girls went out from the schools fired with zeal and determination to make go, and they have succeeded.

Our first newspaper came out early but was never put into print. The people contributed the articles, which were handed to the editor, R. F. McKeage. They arranged them, and on Friday night would come before large audiences at the school house and read the paper from manuscript.

At an early date in our territory our young people, directed by some older heads, we reorganized into a temperance order, known as the United Friends of Temperance. Here all members took a binding obligation never to take any intoxicants as a beverage. Their motto was, " Touch not, taste not, handle not." The influence is felt in our community today, and this accounts for the "dry" sentiment found here.

Next we will speak of a farmersí organization, known as the Grange, in which many of our people took part. They came together the third Saturday of each month and spent the day together. It did much to develop the people. Through the influences of this order, E. L. Deaton became a thinker, a writer, and a lecturer.

About 60 years ago the Methodist and Baptist churches were organized with Rev. Graham as pastor of the former and R. M. Comb, we think, as pastor of the latter. Besides these we think of other pioneer preachers, W. J. Hicks, J. H. Vinson, R. H. Gibson, J. C. Carter, J. R. Elder, and others.

Our citizens since have been largely Christian, and young preachers have gone out as gospel messengers, some of whom are outstanding today. Many of those whose names are given have already Crossed the Bar. Yes, they have crossed the Great Divide, but they have left behind them an influence for good--an influence as enduring as the hills.







Friday, June 24, 1938

W. F. Billingslea, Publisher, Hamilton County, TX


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People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
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Copyright © March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress