The Flournoy-Granberry House
A detailed history of the Halfway House or Halfway Inn was compiled by John Volz and Associates under contract to the Chireno Historical Society. Ralph Newlan was the primary historian. The history is included in the book, Memories of Chireno. The text below is excerpted from that history.
In a clearing on the north side of State Highway 21, approximately one mile west of
Chireno, Texas stands an uncommon solitary building. Placed at intervals around this building are piles of stones that once formed the foundation and chimneys. The highway and the house are linked together by location and history. The present road, with certain adjustments and improvements, was the primary route into Texas and stopping at this building during the significant period of its history was almost a necessity. For this road was the El Camino Real (King's Highway) and this two-story log dwelling, the Flournoy-Granberry House (its original site was one-quarter mile to the west), also functioned as a post office and stopping point for mail riders and later, coaches that transported both mail and passengers.
The Flournoy-Granberry House is located in Nacogdoches County, Texas.
Substantial land grants were awarded to settlers in the area, including one received by Jose Antonio Chirino in 1792. Chirino's property remained in the family after his death. Large sections of it, exclusive of those reserved for members of his family, were sold in 1837 to Archibold Hotchkiss. It was one of the reserved tracts that was later settled by Samuel
Flournoy, builder of the Flournoy-Granberry House.
One square mile of Jose Antonio Chirino's grant was reserved for his grandson, Beningo de los Santos Coy, prior to the 1837 sale of lands to Hotchkiss. Beningo sold the land on March 1, 1840 to Antonio Gillett. John N. Fall of Chireno bonds $1,000.00 on August 11, 1841, as security in the transfer of a parcel of land (1/2 square mile) from Antonio Gillett to Samuel M.
Flournoy, "and being the place where on the said Flournoy now lives." A warranty deed was filed on January 6, 1845, that finalized the sale of the land.
Samuel Martin Flournoy, the son of Samuel Flournoy and Nancy Ann Martin Flournoy, was born in 1799 (or 1793 if he was 57 in 1850) in Kentucky. Samuel was in Madison County, Mississippi by 1831, where in January of that year he married Minerva Ann
Wadlington. Flournoy's initial immigration to Texas appears to have taken place in 1840. Adolphus
Sterne, one of Nacogdoches County's leading citizens, wrote in his diary on November 4, 1840, "saw Mr. Flournoy from Canton, Mississippi, ...." Sterne continued on November 5 that Mr. Flournoy intended to return to Mississippi the following day. This entry coincides with the 1850 census which records that Flournoy's daughter,
Narcissa, age 11 (born 1839) was born in Mississippi and his next child, Robert, age 9 (born 1841), was born in Texas.
Chireno was an active settlement in Nacogdoches County by the time of Flournoy's arrival. Chireno was listed as one of four post offices in the Nacogdoches District in 1835 with the following names listed under it: Dr.
Jno. Fall, Dr. Thos. Taylor, W. G. Atkinson, G. W. Davis, Thos. J. Curl, J. B. Johnson, M. W. Burk, John
Teuton, Sanford T. Wilson, and George Moten. There are several factors that indicate the two-story log dwelling was built in 1841 by Samuel
Flournoy. First, George Louis Crocket in researching his book, Two Centuries in East Texas, interviewed Burt Tucker, the son of A. J. Tucker who owned the site from 1870 until 1904. In his notes, Crocket relates that Burt was a boy of 10 or 12, when he heard Mitch
Flournoy, the son of Samuel Flournoy, state that Mr. J. B. Johnson built the two big chimneys of the house known as the Half Way House when Mitch was a boy of about Burt's age. Crocket continues that the ages referred to coincide with estimated date of construction of the house. The 1850 census records also collaborate the ages that in 1841-42 Mitch would have been 10 years of age. Secondly, many of the land transactions pertaining to the original site, between 1851 and 1870, refer to it as the
After purchasing the original 300 plus acres in 1841, Sam Flournoy and his wife, Minerva continued to acquire additional land and by 1851 they had accumulated 800 acres. The 1850 census records an extensive household for Sam and Minerva
Flournoy. There were 11 children and three workers residing on the site.
Samuel Martin Flournoy was an active member of his community which included the town of Chireno and the surrounding area. Although the purpose is not clear, he made several trips in 1843 to Washington (Washington-on-the-Brazos), Texas. Perhaps, these trips contributed to the increased level of activity at the Flournoy Place in 1843 when Samuel was appointed as a Republic of Texas postmaster at
Flournoy's. When the postal system became part of the United State Postal Service, Flournoy's was continued as a post office with Sam Flournoy still serving as postmaster. It remained an active post office until March 1, 1852, when the operation was moved to
Chireno. The designation as a post office mandated that there was an almost daily congregation at
Flournoy's. The early mails were carried by mail riders and, as stagecoaches began to contract for the mails, Flournoy's was a stop on the route between Nacogdoches and San Augustine, Texas. S. M. Flournoy also served as an agent for the Washington Texas National Register at
Flournoy's. Newspapers were delivered with the mail and then distributed, which made the post office a primary center of information.
When in his fifties, Flournoy enlisted in Company E, first Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen as a private. The unit was activated for federal service in the Mexican War on June 7, 1846, and deactivated on October 2, 1846. Sam somehow achieved a promotion at some point between 1846 and 1851 by means of local or state service. Adolphus Sterne in 1851 refers to him as Major Sam
Flournoy. The last mention of Sam Flournoy in Sterne's diary is on Saturday, October 4, 1851:
"Flournoy gone west ...." Sam and Minerva sold 800 acres on November 1, 1851, to John N. Fall. Samuel Flournoy and most of his family moved to Wood County, Texas. There he served as Wood County Commissioner of Precinct 2 in 1852. It was in Wood County that he died in 1879.
The property changed ownership again on April 3, 1853, when John Fall sold the 800 acres to John D. Windham. In October of that same year Windham sold the acreage to William L. Potts. The area had developed rapidly during the last decade. A Picture of the area around Chireno is created from a contemporary account. Frederick Law Olmstead, the renowned landscape architect, commented on the degree of civilization in the area during his 1853 trip through the County. Leaving San Augustine on December 26, 1853, and riding west, he noted:
We rode, during the day, eighteen miles (approximately the distance from San Augustine to Flournoy's or
Chireno) through a somewhat more pleasing country. The houses were less rude, the negro huts were comfortable, the plantations neater, than those we had passed before.
Potts retained possession of the land until February 17, 1859. On that date, the property, still referred to in the deed as "The Flournoy Place", passed on to J. B. Johnson.
There were several J. B., or James, Johnsons in Nacogdoches County during the early decades of the 19th Century. The J. (James) B. Johnson that purchased the
"Flournoy Place" was an energetic merchant and civic leader in Nacogdoches and San Augustine Counties. Johnson was born in Virginia in 1813 and left Faber Hills, Virginia in 1832, arriving in Texas that same year. There was a J. B. Johnson in Chireno in 1835, but there is no available documentation to indicate if it is the same individual. James B. Johnson was elected the first mayor of the newly incorporated town of San Augustine, Texas in 1837. He was elected District Clerk of San Augustine in 1841 and served until 1845. It was during his tenure as District Clerk that on December 8, 1844, he married Louisa Hollis. The 1860 census listing of Louisa Johnson as the wife of J. B. Johnson, in
Chireno, appears to confirm that it is the same individual. Johnson was involved in several mercantile enterprises in San Augustine during his lifetime. The purchase of the
"Flournoy Place" was in 1859 and, according to later records, he and his family resided there until about the time he sold it in 1866. There are indications that he was actively pursuing enterprises in the Chireno area prior to his purchase of the site. The Nacogdoches Chronicle printed an advertisement on November 10, 1857, and again on March 2, 1858, announcing the sale of $50,000 worth of property at
Chireno, which included a plantation and negores, 29,200 acres of land, and farm equipment. The contact for this sale was J. B. Johnson, who apparently was acting as broker for the sale.
Johnson sold the House and its site on December 8, 1866, to D. Thomas Taylor and W. K. Johnson. Two significant phrases contained in the deed are, "and known as the
"Flournoy Place", and "recently occupied by the parties of the first part as a homestead." Johnson apparently left Chireno for San Augustine where in 1867, when the town was re-incorporated after the Civil War, he again was elected mayor. The 1860 census reveals Johnson to be a man of considerable wealth during his sojourn at the
"Flournoy Place". The census survey records Johnson, his wife, five children ranging from 13 years of age to 6 months old, and an overseer residing at the location. He had also accumulated considerable holdings valued at $18,800 in real estate and his personal estate was valued at $36,315. Upon his return to San Augustine he again engaged in various mercantile business and continued until he was incapacitated by age. James B. Johnson died at age 88 in July, 1901.
The ensuing transactions involving the property was relatively business-like in nature. The first transaction was between Mary L. and D. Thomas Taylor who sold 500 acres on December 6, 1868, to Simeon Manning. Described in the deed is one tract consisting of 300 acres sold to Sam Flournoy by A. Gilbert [sic]. Manning relinquished 400 acres on August 10, 1870, to W. H. Roberts. The last of these transactions was on October 17, 1870, when William H. Roberts sold 308-1/2 acres described as being part of the tract known as the
"Flournoy Place" to A. J. Tucker. The Tuckers occupied the site for approximately 34 years.
Only the most basic information is available on the Tuckers. Adam J. Tucker was living near Chireno as early as 1860. The 1860 census lists an A. J. Tucker as a 25 year old farmer from North Carolina possessing property worth $500. With him was his wife Lucy and a 1 year old daughter, born in Georgia, named
Texana. At the time of his purchase of the "Flournoy Place", the 1870 census shows his family had increased. In addition to his wife there were five children and a domestic servant named Susan
Menofee. The first reference to outbuildings on the property relates to the Tucker period of ownership. During an interview, Allie Mae Daniels, daughter of H. R.
Granberry, stated that a friend attended school in Chireno during the 1890's and remembered a detached kitchen behind the main house. The only other evidence of Tucker's occupation of the dwelling is found in the data sheet for 1945-35 HABS drawings.
The Tuckers owned the property until 1904 when 101 acres were sold to H. W. Birdwell. Apparently, after selling the property, they moved into Nacogdoches, where in 1905 Tucker donated 1/2 acres for what was to become Tucker's Chapel free Methodist Church.
H. W. Birdwell, of whom little is known, owned the property until September 30, 1917, when he sold it to H. R.
Granberry. The deed states that the land out of the Chireno tract was better known as the A. J. Tucker old homestead situated on the north side os the San Augustine and Nacogdoches public road running through
[... And the history of the house is continued in the book, Memories of Chireno].