Parker Grove

The Cove and Spies Switch


    Parker Grove, where my mother taught “all eight grades in one room,” is beyond Caney Creek bridge. One of her pupils brought the baby squirrel to school, that was “raised on a bottle,” and became “Bushy” in my young life. On rainy mornings, my daddy would walk and lead her horse over the muddy roads, and when conditions were especially bad, she might stay overnight with the Pierce family, where one of the “older girls” was Clara who later “kept me” when my parents needed someone. Then Clara went away to World War 2.

    On the days when it was necessary for me to accompany my mother to school, high-point was “Ten Sticks” at recess: a “line” in the bare dirt under the old oak trees separates the two “sides”. A “circle” deep in home territory of each side holds the guarded sticks, another “prisoners,” the tagged intruders attempting theft. Guards are posted before each circle; others toe the middle line waiting a chance to dash across. Inside a circle is “safe”. A prisoner is “rescued” when one of his or her side manages in and out, leading swiftly home by hand. Winning is “stealing” all the other side’s sticks. For years afterward my mother recounted the excitement of these games.

    For the end-of-school picnic (probably in May 1942), teacher, pupils and I gathered at Caney Creek bridge with Kodak. Then I am seen (third from left) on a projecting tree limb, and again among the “big girls” of the school.

    When J. W. Parker sold twenty acres to Alfred Pierce, “Murphy’s Creek” and “the old river road” were cited. Joseph Murphy started his will in 1840, “Believing that I shall shortly leave time and try the realities of eternity....”

    Bertie Burnett’s father was George Thomas Pierce; his brother William was the father of Alfred. She was born in 1905 and lived in her father’s house in Parker Grove until 1984. I visited that house as a four-year-old in 1940 when my parents were invited to a Sunday noon-time dinner. A “glass menagerie,” small Depression era animals in different colors of clear glass, stood on a low table in Bertie’s living room, all within my grasp if I dared reach out....


    Now I ask Bertie what she knows about the Price brothers who had operated the store in Mulberry. Alonzo “Lonnie” plead guilty in January 1912 to a charge of “simple assault” and was fined $5. The next year he was not mentioned when two children of Daniel and Catharine partitioned 160 acres in Mulberry. Edgar took the “land and premises” at the south end; Harry took the north. Then, on May 31, Harry and wife Fannie sold their land to Edgar and Grace, who were operating the store. After Edgar’s death in 1917, Lonnie married Grace, then Effie Hyatt and moved to Parker Grove.


    At the end of our conversation (in 1993), I asked Bertie if she remembered her glass animals. “After fifty years, I can still see them on your table.” She didn’t seem surprised, and said nothing. As I was about to leave, she motioned me to another room and pointed to a shelf where two of the small figures stood. “These?” she asked.... I came as near as I dared, and she didn’t place one in my hand to hold.

    Bertie married Sammy Burnett and they had no children. Two years after Bertie moved to Ector, her house in Parker Grove burned down. “Its center room was built of logs.... Milton Smith, a son of Gideon Smith, was one of our neighbors.” I was amazed: “A hen survived,” but before another year passed, Bertie was gone.

Family of George Thomas Pierce in Parker Grove

near “Spies Switch” and “The Cove”

with Bertie beside her father (about 1912)

Parker Grove School in 1913

front: Roy Winkler, Roy Marshall, Walt Winkler, Alice Sanford, Tommy Price, Bertie Price, Orpha Price

back: Tommy Dereberry, Ed Winkler, Etta Green, Bertie Pierce, Ollie Price, Lonnie Jackson (teacher), Mae Sanifer, Cory Green, Jennie Dereberry, Willie Dereberry

Martha Winkler at home in Parker Grove

(about 1909)

with children: Pearl, Edward, Walt, baby Les, Roy and Ben (born 1897)

1906 August 3: (Bonham NewsAre Getting Busy. Lumbermen Are Building Boats For Operation On Upper Red River.... Captain Spees [Spies], a lumberman who operates northwest of Ravenna, is preparing to built a steamer and two barges. They will be used to handle lumber and will transport it to the railroad....

    1908 Spies & Company are still shipping car load lots of cottonwood lumber to Kansas, Missouri and Indiana....

photo: Locomotive of the Denison, Bonham & New Orleans Railroad at Spies Switch

below: Icy Winkler (center) on the railroad trestle near Parker Grove (about 1925).

    The Winklers lived in “The Cove” bounded on the west by the Red River, on the north by Caney Creek, and on the east by “Carter Lane,” entering Mulberry at Caney Creek bridge.

  “Where were you born?”  I asked Denny Price.

    “On a farm over there backed up to Caney Creek,” he replied.

    Elizabeth (1865-1948), third daughter of Samuel Johnson, married David Nicholas Price (1858-1936) on May 23, 1880. She was fifteen. Soon after, Nicholas put her in a wagon, with all her personal belongings, and drove back to her father’s house in Ladonia. Samuel heard the explanations, then addressed Nicholas, “You couldn’t wait. I told you all about her. Now she’s yours. Put all that back in the wagon and get on home.”

   James D. “Denny” Price, a grandson, set right the fallen stones and built a new fence around the Johnson cemetery, in 1978. In January 1995 he brought out a book of memories and photographs.

    On the USS Indianapolis they had carried the first atomic bomb toward Japan and unloaded. Their ship was torpedoed on July 30, 1945, and sank in twelve minutes. Of more than 880 men who survived the attack, 563 died in the water before help arrived. Denny lived five days in his life jacket. “Not a day goes by, in some way, I don’t remember.”

        Recalling the death of his best friend: “He told me the ones who went down with the ship were the lucky ones, and then he pulled off his life jacket and started swimming. I went after him and propped him up on his life jacket, then after a while, another sailor swam by and said, ‘Buddy, he’s gone,’ and he was. It was so hard to let go.”