History of Delba by Billy Grimes
Fannin County TXGenWeb
History of Delba, Texas and the People who lived there.
By Billy Ray Grimes, Feb.5,2001

     The community of Delba is located five miles west of Leonard in Fannin County. The old store was located south of highway 78 about one mile on CR 5095.On the north line of the A.B. Barrett survey and south line of the W.J. Blevins survey.
     It had a store, a post office, a gin and gristmill and a harness shop. Edward Bailey owned the gin,Jeff Lorance owned the gristmill and blacksmith shop, Mr. Jim Darst owned the harness shop and later the store. The postmasters appointments of Delba were John H. Crews February 5, 1879, Stephen Marshall April 3,1880, William H. Weaver December 19,1881, T.W. Moore December 2,1885, Thomas Watson Moore June 23,1887, Houston Withrow February 8,1889, William J. Blevins November 18,1889, Edward N. Bailey February 12,1892, James Darst September 28,1893,Charles M. Steadman April 4,1904. The office was discontinued on October 26, 1906 and the mail ordered out of Blue Ridge, Texas and a few years later it came from Leonard, Texas. Dr. Lewis Watkins practiced medicine at Delba for several years and then moved his practice to Leonard. Delba had a Woodman of the World Lodge. It also had a church which was located just north of the store of James Darst daughters, Fannie, who married George Weathers lived in it. It was a Baptist Church which Mr. J. A. Carpenter was the pastor. He was a farmer and a minister and took no pay for his ministry. He married a lot of the people of the area at his home. After the death of her husband they tore it down and built her a small house with the material. The gin was owned by Thomas Fuller and later Edward Bailey and it burned before his death in 1893. The gin was located in the south line of W. J. Blevins survey just across the road from the old store. A picture of the old gin is in the files of the Leonard Historical Society.
     A tornado came through Delba in 1919 and killed eleven people but the church building was not hit. Grady Teagues mother was nine years old at the time and she said that they laid all eleven bodies out in the church building before their burial and may have had a mass funeral.
     The store was located one mile south of highway 78 on what is now CR 5095 and where CR 5040 intersected on the A. B. Barret survey. It was owned by several different owners. Edward Bailey a few years, he died in 1893. Houston Withrow I believe in 1889.The Farmers Union bought it and they went broke and James Robert Darst bought it and ran it until his death in 1937 so he would have bought it in 1893 and was appointed Postmaster September 28, 1893. It is said he ran the store for over forty years. Mr. Darst is buried in the Indian Creek cemetery. His son Worth Darst ran a peddling wagon out of the store and after the death of his father he moved the merchandise to his home which was just across the road south of the school building and continued to run his peddling wagon and sold ice. In 1940 L.T.McGuffee bought one acre of land in the northeast comer of the Mary Sowels land on highway 78 and CR 5040 and erected a building and opened a store there. He ran it until 1945 and sold it to his brother Tullis McGuffe. Tullis McGuffee later moved the building to Trenton, Texas and made a home in it. After the gin burned at Nobilty Leon Sowels bought the scale house and moved it to the location and made a store of it. He ran it until 1947 and sold it to Worth Darst who enlarged it and his wife Fannie ran it during the most of the day and he continued to run his peddling wagon and ice route. Fannie Briggs Darst the wife of Worth died in 1976. They are both buried in the Bums cemetery at Trenton, Texas. There was a blacksmith shop beside the store on the west side and Dillard Whitworth was the blacksmith for several years. His wife Cynthia was sister to Worth Darst and the Daughter of James Robert Darst.
     The School originally located one mile east of the store one mile at the intersection of CR 5040 and CR 5080 on the northeast corner of the Watkins Survey. The Methodist Church and maybe other denominations met there. In 1883 the Methodist church moved to Leonard and was organized there as pan of the Sulphur Springs conference. On December 30, 1890 T.H. Stovall deeded F.M. Butler, N.C. Carter and J.B. Billingsby Trustees of the Christian Church one acre out of the southwest Comer of the T.H. Stovall survey it being across the road from the school and other church. The cemetery was already established. The first burial was in 1884 it was just east of the Christian church lot. When the railroad came through in 1880 and Leonard was founded the Methodist Church was moved to Leonard and sometime later a school house was built west of the Delba store on the southeast corner of the M. E. McLarry survey on about two acres of land and the school also had two acres on the east side of the road out of the M. J. Belgians survey in the 1940's the land where the school sat was owned by A.L."Ott" Smith and the land on east of the road was owned by Joe Combs. It was closed at the end of the 1942 school year. I think the last school was built about 1918 as the type siding on it wasn't produced until 1918.
     Tommie Dement was the last teacher to teacher there. She made her home with Mrs. Noel about three quarters of a mile north of the school house. I was born about one mile north/northeast of the old store and gin at Delba, Texas to the parents of William Wren Grimes and Nonuse Iran Golden on May 27, 1934. I had one brother,  James Mac Grimes and one sister Peggy Joyce Grimes. We lived on the north side of now highway 78 on the old K.P.Bates homestead and which was a part of the Alfred Connally survey. My Grandmother Laura Grimes bought the 35 acres from the K. P. Bates estate on October 26, 1932.
     The old Bates house was situated about fifty yards off the road and had a well out front next to the wad. The house was long with a kitchen on the north end and a door that opened to the west and one to the east. The door on the east opened into a large garden and the west door went out to the yard with the smokehouse on the walk about twenty steps from the back door. There were two rooms across the front of the house with a hall between them. The room on the west was used as a bedroom and the one on the east was the living room and had a fireplace in it. The barn was about fifty yards west of the house and a milk shed was south of it close to the road. The chicken houses were to the north and east of the barn. My Grandmother always milked seven or eight cows and sold cream and fed the skimmed milk to the hogs. We usually fattened out four hogs to kill in the fall. Sometimes my father would feed more hogs and sell the ones that he didn't butcher for our winter meat supply. We always had about one hundred hens for eggs and meat. My grandmother would buy one hundred white Leghorns and my mother would buy one hundred Rhode Island Reds. We would eat all the roosters and keep the hens for egg production and would sell what eggs we didn't eat. At Thanksgiving and Christmas my grandmother would tell us the catch a fat hen that wasn't laying and she would prepare it for our noon meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was usually one of mothers Rhode Island Red as they didn't lay as well in the fall and winter as the Leghorns. They did make a fine meal on certain occasions. The best fried chicken that I have ever eaten was when the fryers were so small that you had to kill three to make a meal for the family. Hot biscuits and cream gravy was usually the meal that she fixed for us and boy was it delicious. When we killed hogs the next morning the meal was scrambled eggs mixed with the brains of the hog and fried melt from the hog. The meat was cured in file smokehouse by rubbing sugar cure on the hams and the bacon and shoulders and some of the sausage was sacked in about two pound sacks, if we had more sausage that she wanted to sack she would fry it and put it in jars and pour the grease over it and it would be good for the next summer after the other meat had gotten to strong to eat.
     The only beef we ever had was either bought at the store on Saturday or if someone killed a beef and came around selling it. My grand mother would usually fry round steak for breakfast to have with eggs and biscuits.
      My father bought sixty three acres of land that joined my grandmothers land on the north from Etna Life Insurance Company that had foreclosed on it. When I was very small he farmed both place with a team of mules. He raised cotton and corn. He would feed most of the corn to our livestock. He had a pair of mules one mare mule named Mandy and a horse mule named Pete. Mandy was a sorrel mule and Pete was a brown mule and he would let me ride them after the days work and when he was taking them to the pasture for the night. I always tried to get off before we got to the pasture gate as the first thing they would when he took the bridle off was to lay down and roll on the ground. He traded them to Ray Manning for and F-14 Farmall about 1940. We raised all kinds of vegetables in the garden and we had a large berry patch on the east side that always produced enough berries to supply our need for the winter. We had a large orchard north of the garden. My grandmother and mother would can all the vetagibles and fruit as that was the only way to preserve them at that time they were stored in the storm cellar which was in the front yard just east of the front of the house. It was made of concrete and was round and about eight feet deep and had shelves built around the inside of it. It had a log top of bois d arc log covered with dirt. I can remember going to it during the stormy weather and if it had rained much water would he standing on the floor sometimes six inches deep. The snakes made their den on top of the concrete wall and under the logs and when the light would shine for awhile you could see them come out to see what was going on. They never bothered anyone as long as you didn't bother them. Our neighbors to the west and south of the road was Mrs. Etta Mae Bates the widow of John Bates and she had a son and a daughter who lived with her. Lewis Bates the son was just older than my brother and I and we always played with him. His sister was some older and her name was Jamie and she married Arthur Lee Ayers who lived at Nobility a few miles to the west. She worked as a waitress at the cafe in the old rock hotel in Leonard to the east five miles. The Bates family didn't have a storm cellar and would usually come to our house and go to the storm cellar with us. It had only been a few years since the tornado came through Delba and killed some people and the people were still alarmed by the storms. I was only in one tornado and that was in 1946 and it missed our house but got the car shed, tractor shed and chicken house but spared the house. We had been hoeing cotton that morning and it had come a shower and wet the ground so we couldn't work and we went to the house. I was standing at the north end of the house looking out the window when it hit and the force of the winds were terrific and it laid trees a foot in diameter on the ground and pulled some of the out by the roots. We started to the front of the house to go to the storm cellar and by the time we got to the front door it was real still and quite. My grandmother Grimes said that there was no reason to go now and we should go see what the damage was and as we walked around the west edge of the house we saw that all the sheds were gone. It came between the house and barn and didn't damage either one of them.
Our neighbors to the west was Joe and Thelma Bailey. They lived about about five hundred yard to the west with Joe's mother Mrs. Walter Bailey. She was called Pansy. The place that they lived in and still stands today was built by John Wesley Blevins who was married to Mary Ready a sister to my grandmother Golden and was the daughter of James Monroe Ready and Martha Caroline May. John Wesley Blevins died young and Mary married Edgar Sowels and they lived on west of us about one mile. The Bailey's had ten acres of land where the house sat and they had a large barn for the mules and horses that they worked. They had a windmill on a good well that never ran dry. They were the first folks to have runninging water in the house. The water was pumped by the windmill to a large overhead tank that was set up on bois d'arc logs and was enclosed around the bottom for a shower stall and the men in the community would come there and shower after a hard days work. If the water had been in the tank all day and the weather was hot it would be nice and warm but if the wind was blowing and the windmill was working hard it would be cold and you could hardly stand to take a shower but it beat a tub that you had to draw water from the well and carry fifty yards and it was cold. The Bailey's were always good to share their water and facilities with the neigbors. They had a farm to the east of us on the south side of the road that they farmed and would go in front of our house every day to work it. At lunch they would leave the teams tied at the field and Joe would run back and forth the the house. He was a ball player and he did that to keep in shape. Uncle Sam and Aunt Julie Arnwine lived actress the road and just east of our place. I don't know why they were called Uncle Sam and Aunt Julie as I can't find any relation to them. They were the parents of Joe Bailey's wife Thelma. They lived there several years that I can remember. They sold the place and moved to Desert about eight miles west and north of Delba. They lived to be very old. They were always pleasant to the children that went to visit them and Aunt Julie usually had a treat for us either a piece of pie or something sweet You never forget a kind face and especially when they feed you. They were both old people to me.The Rueben Evans place was just east of the store and that house stood for several years after I moved away from Delba. He had a large family and one of his sons was Perry R. Evans. He lived on the road that the school was on about one farther south. He had a large farm and ran a hatchery which was a big operation at that time and when it was hatching season people came from everywhere to buy baby chickins from him. He was a fine man and he was married to the former Tennie Fuller who was a descendant of one of the founding families of the Delba comunity. The Fuller cemetary was located on the east side of his farm. He had a large two story house and a big barn. On his land he had several houses that he rented to the people to farm bis land. One of the families was the O.H. Nolen family. Just north of Mr. Evans house he gave his daughter some land. She was married to J.T. Flanagan and they had a large family often children. Lloyd was our age and was and still is one of my closest friends. They were farmers as were most of the people in the community. We would visit one another several times a week. Mr. Evans would set the eggs for people or he would sell them chicks. He would set the boys of the community eggs for one cent each and if your eggs didn't hatch good he wouldn't charge you the penny. You never forget a kind act like that when pennies are very scarce. A family that lived just west of us was the Red Glenn family. They had several children that would come to visit and sometimes we would get to visit them. Their place sold and Pat Ready a brother to my grandmother Golden bought it and tore the house down and made a sheep farm out of it. When Pat sold the land he sold it to Chester Butts who raised cows and horses on it. He had a paint stud that I thought was the best horse in the country. He married Nora Elizabeth Wheat and they had two sons, Norman and Bobby. Norman was about our age and we spent a lot of time with them. When they sold the place and moved to town they sold it to Coy Lucas and he ran cattle on it. It now belongs to George Grimes' widow. Chester moved to Leonard when he sold the land and lived in the Scott house at the north edge of Leonard and ran a diary. We would visit Norman and spent the night with them pretty often. Norman could get his dads car and we really enjoyed being able to get out at night and have a car to use.
     To the land west of that land was a farm that belonged to the Connett heirs of the Leonard estate. The Roy Dodson family farmed it for several years and after they moved, Allen Marks farmed it and his son Buddy was some older than we were. After they moved to Leonard, Allen's son Novis Marks moved on the land and he had two sons, Leon and Billy Wayne and we spent alot of time at their house. Novis built a baseball field on the north edge of his land and that was where everyone gathered on Sunday afternoon. We would either play our dads are sometimes a team from Hickory Creek would come over for a game.
Some of the early families that lived in the area were Barrett, Blassingame, Darst, Nolen, Jameson, Adcock, Dodson, Whitworth, Thacker, Taylor, Sneed, Sowels, Mathews, Partridge, Blankenship, Hodgekiss,Overman, Mangram, Lee, Bates, Bailey, Ready, Fuller, Smith, Blevins, Evans, Golden, May, Carpenter, Arnwine, Gibson and in the thirties and forties Brookins, Worsham, Miller, Backus, Edwards, Thornton, Sarten, Smith, Martin, Flanagan, Thompson.
Edward H. Nolen and his wife lived one mile north of the school house at highway 78. Mr. Nolen was born in 1870 and died in 1937 his wife Josephine was born in 1874 and died in 1959. They had four boys and two girls, Roy V. born 1896 and died 1982, he married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Darst born 1904 and died 1982, Willie H. born 1899 and died 1969, Mamie Mae born 1902 and died 1989 married James A. Fowler born 1888 and died 1929, Oral H. born 1905 and died 1990, Pete born 1908 and died 1987 and Dorthy Olene born 1912 and died 1932 she married George Harold Martin and they had one son, Billy Harold Martin, who was always a playmate of ours. His mother died fifteen days after his birth and he was reared by his grandmother, Josephine. His grandmother usually boarded the school teacher and they had to walk about three forths of a mile down to the school. When I went to school there Miss Tommie Dement was the teacher and she stayed with Mrs. Nolen. In about 1950 Mrs. Nolen sold her land to A.L. (Ott) Smith and she moved her house to Leonard where she lived the remainder of her life. Two of her grandsons live in Leonard now, Billy H. Martin and Edward (Buster) Fowler and two granddaughters Sissy Fowler Garrett and Helen Nolen. Mr. Nolen was a farmer and one morning he went to work for Joe Bailey and they were cleaning out a fence row. He had a stroke and died that night. Mrs. Nolens son Roy worked the land for his mother until she sold it.
William Ruben Evans lived on the W. J. Barret survey and it joined the A. B. Barrett survey on the east. His home was about one fourth mile east of the Delba store. He raised a large family and several of them lived in and around Leonard, Perry Rado Evans and Mishi Taylor being the two that I was acquainted with. Mrs. Taylor lived just east of the store about fifty yards and her land was the A. B.Barrett survey it was known as the Scroggins farm and it joined her fathers land on the west. She married Cyrus Taylor and they had six children, Eclet Wayne, Timmie Gertrude, Clemuth S., Lester Marlone, Mary Arletus. After the death of his mother end father Eclet bought the land and lived on it for several years. He sold the land to Lloyd and Letha Flanagen and moved to Leonard and purchased the Frank Shields home and worked for the Abernathy and Tucker Gin as a bookkeeper and the City of Leonard as city clerk. He married Marie Wheat and they had one daughter, Nona Sue.
Perry R. Evans lived one mile south of the school on a large farm. He had a big orchard and always fed a bunch of hogs and milked several cows in addition to running the chicken hatchery. He married Tennie Fuller one of the old families of he Delba community. They had one daughter who married J. T. Flanagan they had ten children, Derthy Mae, William Royce, Eva Nell, Floyd Spencer, Lloyd Arthur,Oneta Faye, Kenneth Carl (Pete), Mary Ruth, Coy B.,Dois Marie, Wanda Lou and Delores Ann, They lived just north of Mr. Evans homeplace and Mr. Flanagan was a farmer. We spent slot of time at their house as Lloyd was our age. They had a spotted mare that we all rode and had a big time playing and hunting on all of Mr. Evans land. Mr. Evans later sold the land to his grandson, Royce, and moved to Leonard and lived the remainder of his life. Mr. Evans was also a carpenter and he built several house in the Delba area. I know that when they built Mr. Flanagans house he also built most of the furniture that went into the new house. Mr. Evans also raised a nephew of his wife, Ollie Fuller and treated him as his own son and he lived on a place just north of the Flanagan place. The land all was owned by Mr. Evans at one time. Ollie had two boys and a girl, Billy Gene, Wayne and Didsy. They moved to Olney, Texas in the late 1940's. They sold their place to Mrs. Lucy McCartney, her husband had just died and they moved from McKinney, Texas to Deiba, she had two daughters, Betty, Melba Jean, and one son Eddie Dean.
     A. L. (Ott) Smith second child of Daniel Webster Smith was born at Pike, Texas owned the land that adjoined the school land on the west his wife was Hazel Jewel Golden, she was the daughter of Joseph Tyler Golden and Rebecca Jo Ellen Sutton Martin. They raised their family south of Nobility. In the early 1940's he moved to his land by the school, he had only one son at home at the time, Carl Whitt. About 1950 he bought the Josephine Nolen farm and moved his house onto it on highway 78.
     Ott was a farmer and cattle trader. He sold his farm to H. L. Grimes and moved to Leonard and resided there the rest of his life. In addition to Carl Whitt he had several other children, Helen May, D. W., Pervis, Modene, Rozello,Jim Gibbs, Vonda Lee.
     Charlie Carpenter lived just north of the school house about three hundred yards. He made fiddles and all kind of trinkets that he took to Greenville on trades day and sold them. His wife was named Myrtle and they had one daughter Louana. Mr. Carpenter made a little toy that was very fascinating to me. He put a propeller on a short stick with notches in it. He would mb the stick with another stick and the propeller would turn and he could change direction the propeller was turning by changing the way he was rubbing the stick. It looked like something magic. He made fiddles out of bois d'arc wood and he also played the fiddle. I suppose that some his fiddles are still in use. He had made a saw out of the frame of a bicycle using the peddle mechanism for the power to turn the saw blade. This was before electricity was available to the folks that lived in the country.
    Charlie's brother, Edgar Carpenter lived just north of Charlie about five hundred yards, be married Jim Trusty daughter from Nobility. They had one son who died before adulthood.
     Jim Sarten lived just west of the schoolhouse on the Fagg land, he was a farmer and he had four children that attended school at Delba at the same time that I did, two boys and two girls.
    Just west of the schoolhouse on the north side of the road was a small house that the daughter of Mrs. Nick Satterwhite lived in. Mrs. Satterwhite had been married before marrying Nick and had two boys and a girl. The girl was married to a Starnes and the boys were Ray and Bob Hyde.
     The Gibson family lived just north of the Fuller Cemetery. Mrs. Gibson was a widow and her son and daughter lived with her. Herman was the sons name and he worked for the farmers in the area as a day laborer. His sister was named Oller and she married a Womack a few years later. After the death of their mother they sold the land and moved to a house on highway 78 about one and one half miles northeast of the Delba Store. It was the home that J. A. Carpenter had built.
     J. A. Carpenter was a Baptist minister and he married a lot of couples. They say that he would stand on the front porch of his home and the couple would drive up next to the porch and he would marry them while sitting in the buggy. His name appears on a lot of marriage license in Fannin County. He was the father of Charlie, Edgar and Marion Carpenter and had one son that was a Baptist minister. Marion married Cordie Henry and they lived north of his father on a farm. They both good singers and always sang at the Blanton's Chapel Church and were members there.
     One mile north of the new Delba store Dick Price and his wife Cleo lived on a farm. They farmed the land that joined our land on the north. He was always a very nice neighbors. He kept horses longer than most folks and would allow us boys to ride them on the weekend. He always had a large water melon and cantaloupe patch in the bottom just east of his house and he would tell us when a water melon was ripe and we could go get it and have a feast He and his wife visited my mother and father on many occasions and were the most pleasant people you were ever around. They are both dead now but not many days pass that I don't think of them. Dick had a black horse with a white stripe down his face and white feet. He sold him to Billy Gene Fuller and he used him as a saddle horse for several years and then sold him to James Fuller who
used him as a buggy horse. James actually had a cart that was home made and iron wheels that he had taken from a cultivator on it and he could really travel in that cart. It looked like they were flying when he would come by our house. The horse was a trotter and he could trot as fast as most horses could run. James used him until he was too old to pull the cart anymore. The horses name was Snip.
     Clifford Brookins moved to the Delba area in the early 1940's and lived on the farm that joined our on the east. It had belonged to the Alvin Worsham family before Clifford purchased it. He had a team of good mares and a tractor that he worked the land with. He would do most of his work with the tractor but occasionally he would get the team out and work with them He would raise a pair of colts each year from the mares as long as he kept them. He and my father worked together on their farms and helped each other during the harvest time. His wife was Beulah and they had one daughter, Norma Helen and she was the age of my sister and they spent a lot of time together.
     There have been lots of changes in my life time. We have gone from horses and mule and dirt roads to highways and gravel roads and automobiles.


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