Country Great


“Traveller” wrote for the Bonham News, September 28, 1917:


Sees Good Crops and Notes Changes in this Famous Locality

“Only a dream of the old home,

Only a vision most fair,

Bringing back mem’ries of childhood,

Mem’ries to me most dear.”

    As you leave the pretty little city of Ravenna, which nestles in the ravines of the Red River country, you approach, on going northwest, a neighborhood known as Mulberry. Here, in days gone by lived several families who helped to make Fannin County. They were the two Smiths, Dr. Smith and his brother, Gideon. Dr. Reid, Capt. Lightfoot, and Mr. Agnew, father of John, E. L. and William Agnew, who now live in Bonham.

    Near the Mulberry store stands the Agnew old homestead, where this splendid family was reared. The house is one of the old-fashioned sort, with a hall running through the middle and chimneys on the outside, at each end of the building. Here the Agnews lived for many years, and when the mother and father passed on to the Great Beyond, Eugene Agnew, who died awhile back, lived at the old home place. He said he had seen gilded halls of fame and had viewed palaces and palatial proportions, but, like John Howard Payne, of old, he declared there was “no place like home.”

    To his mind no cloistered retreat of ancient or modern times could compare to his old homestead, the place where his early life was spent, and of course he was right. There is no spot on earth like that of our earliest recollections.

    The people of this country have changed. Those living there now are just as good as those who once lived in that neighborhood, but they are different, that’s all. Time works wonders in the country as well as in the people. Where once was a wooded country there is now a farm, and the same is relatively true of the people. These things come about by the processes of evolution which are inevitably working. The days to come will reveal changes which would be as astonishing to the present inhabitants of a community as those of these days are to people of many years ago.

    The people of the Mulberry country have a right to be proud

of their locality. They are in the famous Lightfoot Bend of Red River, which winds along in its onward flow to the Mississippi whose waters finally reach the sea. In this bend of the river everything can be grown, almost, and a complete crop failure is something almost unheard of, if not something never realized.

    The little store at Mulberry formerly run by the late Edgar Price, is now managed by his brother, Harry Price. He is in touch with the outside world by phone, and spoke of having just talked to Dallas as if it were merely in the next block. What a wonderful change is this, even, over the days of the Civil War period when the quickest mode of communication was by mail rider, who made about two trips a week!

    This method of communication would be no more astonishing to one of the old regime than for him to suddenly walk into the yard of Rogers Rainey, who lives about three miles northwest of Ravenna, near Mulberry. Mr. Rainey has everything in the way of modern machinery with which to farm. In the lot was a big tractor, when the writer passed the house. Also there was an immense shed and underneath it were all sorts of farm implements, including a thresher, a harvester and all sorts of plows and things incident to up-to-date farming. A big silo of which an old-timer would know nothing, stood near the “machinery hall.” Rogers is also patriotic, as he has a flag pole in the front of his house with the flag of his country, “Old Glory,” waving to the breezes. Speaking of the silo, while it contains feed for stock, it is not so much for work stock, as Mr. Rainey has to have another sort of silo—a gasoline tank, since he owns one or two automobiles. He believes in machinery, does this Rainey fellow.


     A story of this country would not be complete were good roads not mentioned. The Mulberry people got tired of bad roads so they voted bonds for good roads, which are rapidly being made. When they are connected with the Ravenna roads, and they in turn with the Bonham roads, Mulberry, this hitherto place of some distance away will be almost at the door of a Bonham man who hopes to own an automobile. 

    Grace Witherspoon married Elmer Cain and become the mother of Evelyn, Doyle and Dwight. She wrote to me in July 1970:

    My first trip to Fannin County was made by wagon in October 1917. Our first stop was at Ravenna where [we] purchased a few groceries from a Mr. Doggett who owned and operated a Grocery store [pictured below]. We continued on down a dusty, rough road on our way to the Spies Farm, which is now the J. J. Bond Ranch.

     Mr. Spies had reserved an old house for my mother, Mrs. Blanch Witherspoon and four children, where we had plans to live and work and make our own way. It was only one week we lived at this place and Mr. Spies moved us to the large two story house with his family. It was there they shared with us.

     The first Sunday we were in the Mulberry Community we attended Sunday school and church services at the Methodist Church. The Rev. Huffstutter of Bonham was the pastor. Mr. Fred Wisely was Supt. of the Sunday School. It was there I met many friends, namely the Halls, Wiselys, Parks, Bramletts and the Cains. These people have been an inspiration to me. Some are still there and some have gone to their reward.

     The Spies Farm was made up with a number of families. There were twenty-five young people on the farm. For recreation we had parties, singing, basket ball and base ball. We had a wonderful time together.

     I attended a two teacher school at Mulberry, also helped gather the fall crops which mainly
was cotton. One person I recall I went to school with in this little two teacher school is Clayton Hall. We used to stand side by side in a spelling match. Clayton is still a friend in the community and faithful to his church.

     The people in the Mulberry Community will always be in my heart. They have shared the joys and sorrows with me, and it is where I married and reared my family and some of the sweetest memories was spent in the Mulberry Community. I still attend services at the church of my choice, the United Methodist Church of Mulberry of which I have been a member for many years.

    53 years ago transportation was made mostly by horse and buggy. Few people were fortunate enough to own an automobile, even the necessity things of life was rough, but some refer to that as the “good old days.” And as I mention again I have seen the horse & buggy days to the modern way of travel, the kerosene lamp to electricity, the smoothing iron to the electric iron, the rubboard & wash kittle [to] washer & dryer, the wood stove to the gas stove, a paper fan to the air conditioner. The antiques of this day don’t mean anything to me. I prefer the modern way of living, and so I call this day in which we live “the Good Old Days.”