Dodd City, established in 1839, didn't have a name until the 1870's
By John Frair
Although it was established in 1839 Dodd City didn't have a name until the 1870s.
Located at the geographical center of Fannin County, the community was originally settled by Major Edmund Hall Dodd and his wife Elizabeth Garnett Oodd, both from Kentucky.
The Dodds moved about a mile east of the present town and raised 13 children, one, Francis J. Dodd, who was the 1st person to be buried in the Dodd City Cemetery on November 17, 1842. Here they raised a log cabin in 1840 on a hill above a small ravine. The location of the home was also on the Chihuahua Trail, a route connecting the eastern and western portions of the Republic of Taxes and ran from near Texarkana to Presidio.
Dodd and William Garnett signed a deed and testified at Fort Warren that they had arrived together in the Republic of Texas in 1839 and later, in 1840, records show he borrowed $15 from John Hart Sr. A few months later he started buying land on Bullards Creek, and it was here he established his homestead.
The Dodd family’s 1st 3 children died as youngsters and in 1843 E. H. Dodd's father died in Kentucky. Edmund brought his mother into his home where she lived until her death.
Their home, that was remodeled and expanded several times, became know as the Dodd House and also served as the post office when the settloment was known as Lick. The Dodd house also became the stage coach inn for weary travelers from 1845 to 1866 as they traveled from Clarksville to the western juncture of the Butterfield Stagecoach route. It was also a place for the departure for freight wagons pulled by oxen on the way to Jefferson.
In the 1850s, the settlement was typical of other western frontier communities. It contained only two businesses, a grocery store and a saloon. The grocery store was operated by Jack Nunn and Frank Stewart, an early pioneer from Jackson County, TN. The saloon, which is rumored to have been the scene for several murders, waa operated by John Brown and Bob Glover. The saloon was the first business building and operated for several years.
In 1862 the settlement was called Quency, although the post office remained named Lick, and would continue to be so until the Civil War broke out in 1861. It was in 1860 that Quency had its 1st hotel. The hotel operated by Mrs. John Charters Organ was located at where the First State Bank building was and later rebuilt on the corner of Highway 82 and North Main Street.
The community also had a physician, Dr. I. J. Sadler. Others that had settled in the community included J.M. Brown, along with his wife Eliza and 3 daughters and a son; J.F. Brown, a grocery man that had a son and 3 daughters; the Hayter brothers, John L. and Samuel A. who were farmers with large families, E.. D. Stewart, a settler from Tennessee; Dr. John Nicholson and James H. Kincaid, and A. J. McGee.
When the Civil War started, most of the men of the community went to war. This left the women and slaves to manage the farms and homes. Major Dodd, however, was paid by the Confederacy to stay at home and be an overseer of the slaves. When a slave needed discipline, he was brought to the Major for correction, according to Millard Brent’s: A Brief History of Dodd City, Toxas.
The War was described by Mrs. M.K. Biggs in 1899, "I believe we fought for all that was sacred and dear to the hearts of true patriots. I have never changed my opinion about it. Truth crushed to earth will rise again. The eternal years of God are hers."
After the War, Dodd City was filled with ex-soldiers from Tennessee and other war-torn states causing the city’s population to escaulats.
It wasn't until 1870 though that prosperity began to return to the town. The Texas and Pacific Railroad began laying track through the area in 1873 on land purchased and leased from John Organ. When the railroad put a depot there it was suggested by Luke Smith the name of the town be changed to honor the mayor and founder E.G. Dodd.
By 1890, Dodd waa a thriving city with 500 residents. The business section had 7 grocery stores, 2 large dry good stores, 2 drug stores, 2 saloons, a furniture store, a lumber and grain merchant, a hotel, 2 steam grist mills and gins that could bail 16,000 bales of cotton each season, according to How Hodge.
The Dodd City Spectator was founded in 1883 by I. Taylor Stevens. The Spectator was a democratic paper, published until 1916, and was called the “watch dog" of Fannin County. When the Studebaker company posted a notice on its factory door stating it would dismiss any employee who did not vote in favor of the Republican Ballot, The Spectator published the following letter and sent it to Studebaker.
" since the information that you threatened to disfranchise your employees, who failed to vote as you directed, we have this day made arrangements to purchase one of your wagons, "coal oil" the same and burn it in the pretence of the voters of this precinct...The event will be duly advertised and published with a request that the press of the state may copy the same."
The people did buy a new Studebaker wagon and burned it in front of the stores on main street.
During the next few years the prosperity of the town increased. In 1884 the town had 4 grocery stores, dry good stores, 2 drug stores, a saloon, hotel, blacksmith shop, millinery, and a watch maker among other businesses.
During 1885 there was an average shipment of 4,000 bales of cotton, 200 cars of grain, and about $6,000 worth of dairy products, produce, vegetables, and poultry shipped from Dodd City. Then Dodd City was the center of precinct 8 and was under consideration to be the county seat. Local merchants were doing an annual business of about $400,000 and shipped 110 freight care of cotton seed, 10 cere of hay and a few cars of stock, 8,000 -9,000 pounds of wool and about an equal number of cattle hides. S.D. McGee, the lumber dealer, received and sold about 90 cars of lumber.
By 1686 the town had 2 gins, 2 grist mills, 2 livery stables, 2 hotels, 2 general merchandise stores, 2 blacksmiths, a grain and lumber dealer, 3 grocery stores, a saloon, a furniture store, 2 dry good stores, 2 cotton firms, a boot and shoe shop, a barbershop and a school
The William Marion Rayburn family arrived in Dodd City in 1887 along with their son, Sam, where they spent their 1st few days in Texas at the home of Monroe Waller, a brother of Mrs. Rayburn. The Rayburn family after spending a brief time living in Dodd City before going to Flagg Springs where they raised their family.
During the turn of the century law was maintained by a city marshall and a justice court. The city also erected a jailed called the “caliboose." It served the town well until a frequent resident Levi Martin, while serving time for a Saturday night drunk burnt the jail down. He was uninjured.
Businesses in Dodd have been closing gradually since 1929. Both cotton gins closed in the 1940s, the Texas and Pacific depot closed in the 1960s. Most of the brick buildings have been torn down and Dodd City has become a town where its citizens leave in the morning and return to quite country living in the afternoon. Several of the houses constructed during the towns era of prosperity still stand and are lived in by the residents.
The following article is from the
Bonham Daily Favorite, September 20, 1992