Friday, November 7, 2014

Getting’ Grub in Granbury

Bluestem Grass and Purple Thistle
We’ve actually had rain in Texas this year so the roadsides and meadows were green rather than burnt brown as we trekked to Granbury for lunch on this mild fall day. The rain has also encouraged the profuse growth and blooming of purple thistle. While not a rancher’s dream, the fields of purple are a bright counterpoint to the lacy mesquite and dark green pecan trees that live in the area.

Acton, Texas is just inside the city limits of Granbury; a town within a town. This tiny town lays claim to the smallest state park in Texas. This park is within the Acton Cemetery
which has graves dating back to 1855, including that of Elizabeth Crockett, wife of Davy Crockett. There is lots of history associated with Hood County.

Sitting nearly on Lake Granbury, Granbury has become a tourist destination with its cute
Hood County Courthouse
shops, antique stores, variety of restaurants, and bread and breakfast inns that ring the square. As the seat of Hood County, it was built on land donated by Thomas Lambert and the Nutt family. Texas law requires that a county seat has to be in the center of the county, so irate residents in the southern portion of Hood County asked the legislature to create a new county. This resulted in the establishment of Somervell County. The county courthouse was designed by architect Wesley Clark Dodson and construction was completed in 1891. The architectural style is French Second Empire including a clock tower with tin trim and is similar to courthouses in Lampasas, Parker, and Hill counties. There are three entrances to the courthouse, but none on the north side where most of the other important buildings are located. In 2000 the courthouse got a face lift, adding to the beauty of the town square which is designated in the National Register of Historic Places as the Hood County Courthouse Historic District. It is also the model for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Program, being termed ‘one of the most complete examples of a late 19th century courthouse square in Texas.’

Hood County Jail Museum
There is a lot of historical information can be found in the Hood County Jail Museum. This old western jail was built in 1885; the museum still has the original cell block and hanging tower. The restored 1886 Opera House still hosts live theatrical performances as it did when some notables lived in the Granbury area. Probably the most notorious was Jesse James. According to local legend, James was not killed in 1882, but came back to Granbury at the ripe old age of 107 to live with his grandson. There is a headstone dedicated to him and many folks visit his grave in the Granbury Cemetery each year.

Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury, a major figure in Texas and the Civil War history, was commander for the 7th Texas and fought in the Battle of Chickamauga and the Battle of Franklin. Granbury was named in his honor and he is buried in the cemetery but without his wife, Frannie. Because they were childless all memories of Fannie died with Granbury. Fannie Sims Granbury died at 25 of ovarian cancer in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in an unmarked grave in Magnolia Cemetery. There is no headstone for Frannie because no one has been able to trace the owners or descendants of the plot owners; a headstone cannot be erected without their permission, nor can her remains be transferred to the Granbury Cemetery.

Horse Ranch
It was risky to live in Indian Territory and Granbury was within that realm. Elizabeth and Robert Crockett, wife and son of Davy Crockett, lived in a small cabin in Acton. The cabin had a tunnel that led from it to a creek bed, allowing them to escape Indian attacks. This cabin site boasts a Texas Centennial Marker, the first one erected in Texas. Robert grew up to become a Hood County Commissioner; his son, Ashley worked on Granbury's first newspaper in the early 1870s.

Nutshell, St Helen's, Opera House
If you like conspiracy theory, you’ll like the legend about John St Helen (a.k.a. John Wilks Booth). Some historians think that some members of Lincoln's cabinet conspired to murder the president. Rather than being shot and killed at Garrett’s farm, these same high-ranking officials helped Booth escape. He surfaced in Texas under the name of St Helen and tended bar in two taverns in Granbury. There is no grave for either St Helen or Booth in the Granbury Cemetery. Evidently he moved on and no more information about him has been found.

Linda's Southern Kitchen
Eventually, we ate lunch at Linda's Southern Kitchen on Crockett Street. The prices were a bit higher than I expected, but the food was worth the expense. Although there was a tour group in the restaurant, it appeared that most of the patrons were locals, always a good sign for the consistent quality of the food. On this 80oF day, the haze of little blue stem grasses barely touched the bellies of the longhorns grazing near the blooming sage; it was a great day for a drive to Granbury.

Lake Granbury

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