Fannin County, Texas

The photo to the left of the Randolph Presbyterian Church is from a notebook at the Fannin County Museum of History which states it was probably built sometime after 1860, and was used for several years after 1898.  "Eventually. it was moved to the community of Belmont, between Randolph and Ector, where it stood until it burned in about 1925.

The following article is from the Bonham Daily Favorite, October 11, 1992.

Randolph - A Railroad Community

By John Frair

Like several communities in Fannin County, Randolph is a town that came into existence because of the railroad. The town was established in tho late 1880s and was one of the stations on the Arkansas and Texas Railroad.

Early settlers around the area before the town was established were Thomas Lindsey and family and the reverent Burwell Cox. Cox was married to Lindsey daughter.

Other settlers were the Buchanan family who settled in the area around 1844. John H. Biggerstaff and his wife Amanda began their life near Randolph and their descendants still live in the county and as late as 1960 were in business in Randolph.

The town sprang up when the railroad started crossing Fannin County and the town was described in a Bonham News account in 1888 as having a single store, a saloon, a good school house but with new businesses going up. “The country around it is rich black soil, very productive and excellent for raising many crops. There are many fine farms and handsome homes around his village and peace and comfort abound."

The area around Randolph was not always peaceful as the area was the hunting grounds of Indian tribes and the feeding grounds of many
buffalo and other animals. The history of the area contains several instances of Indian raids, especially to the west of the area around Orangeville.

By 1890 the population of the community had risen to 100 and by 1895 the community contained 4 churches, a post office, a grist and cotton gin, a sawmill and  had a population of 250.

According to Hodge’s “History of Fannin County" the Burr Wright family was one of the most prominent early families in the community. Wright became a farmer, bank director and civic leader.

"Dr. Thomas B. Stephens was an early doctor in Randolph," according to Hodges. " He made his lst house calls on horseback and later rode in a horse buggy.  After the advent of the automobile, he wore out many cars visiting patients and was one of the 1st doctors in the county to use ether in an operation. An account of the operation was placed in the Congressional Rocord in Washington, D.C.

Some of the early businesses in Randolph included Mr. and Mrs. Thpmas Finley who ran a boarding house, a lumber yard run by Burr Wright, W. C. Cleghorn. The brothers Les and Clem Abernathy were ginners.  John Dyer operated a brick factory in the late 19th century on Bois d'Arc creek. Brick from this factory was used to build the 1st brick building in the community, the Reynolds store.

In Randolph, like all communities in the county, the churches played an important role in the town's history. Fount Jones organized the Baptist church in the 1800s. The church was the scene for a mock preacher one night. A young boy walked into a prayer meeting with a pistol on each hip and announced he was the new preacher.    "No one contradicted him and remained frozen in the pews until he grew tired of preaching and staggered out."

One of the 1st stories the author covered so a professional newsperson was the sale of the gin lake in Randolph. An ad appearing in 1960 described it "There is a perfectly good lake for sale down at Randolph. The water is good as new but a little muddy because of catfish. The buyer will get full title to all the fish, turtles, snakes and beer cans.  The 14.25 acre lake is offered for sale by the Fannin County Commissioners Court."  The lake was acquired by the county when the old Cotton Belt Railroad was purchased for highway purposes.