Fannin County, Texas

This article on the history of Windom was published in the Bonham Daily Favorite, January 30, 1983.  The article was compiled by Tom Hymer of the Fannin County Historical Commission whose sources were A History of Fannin County by Floy Crandall Hodge and Fannin County Folks and Facts.   See also the book Our Town, Windom, Texas.  Windom school yearbooks are available from the Honey Grove Preservation League website.

Windom got its start in unchartered realm.

“Into this unchartered realm came Nancy Fitzgerald and her children, the Abraham McClellans, Jacob Baldwin, Major James Donaldson, the Billy Longmires and others,” so wrote Mrs. E.A. Pulliam in her history of Windom “Our Town.” The land on which these families settled were the surveys of Nancy Fitzgerald, John Bolser, William Perry and Jemiah Pennington.”    «

In 1838, Jeremiah Ward and his wife,- Nancy, both natives of Tennessee, settled in the area just north of the present town of Windom. Also, in 1838, Gersham Cravens and his wife, Zerilda, from Kentucky, settled in the area. The old two story log house of this family was still standing in 1966t north of Windom, and still owned by a descendant, Averton Cravens of Honey Grove.

Neighbors to the Cravens family were Joshua Morgan and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, also from Tennessee. In 1842, the John N. Hamil family settled in the area.

Pioneer Isaac Banta and his wife, Elizabeth, settled north of the future town of Windom in 1840. The community of Bantam was named for him. The community no longer exists. William, a son, in 1893, published a book entitled Texas Frontier.

Jacob Ramsey and his wife, Barbara, natives of Virginia, settled in the area in 1842. They were Baptists and attended the Vineyard Grove Baptist Church. In 1848, Jacob signed a bond for the first census taken of the county. T.C. Bean joined him and they insured the county of a census, which Jesse Thomas began in 1848.

A farmer from Kentucky, Jason N. Pettigrew and his wife, Prudence, settled north of the present town of Windom in 1843. Thomas B. McCraw, a native of Virginia, and his wife, Nancy Bain, moved to a farm south of present day Windom in 1845. In 1877, a Methodist church, known as McCraws Chapel, was named for him.

In 1854, William H. Dowlen came as a ten-year-old to the vicinity of the future town of Windom with his father, Archibald Dowlen. William married Mary Parham. Joseph Wigley, a farmer from Georgia, settled in the area in 1854. He married Sarah Woods Rattan, widow of Thomas Rattan.

Pioneers James F. Cappelman and his wife, Isabelle Kerr, with their ten children, settled in the community in 1856. All the children grew up in the area and today is the Cappelman name is well known in Windom and Honey Grove.

A widow of a Kentucky farmer traveled to Fannin County in a carriage in 1860. Mrs. Sophia Jordon Moss Word settled near the present town of Windom where her-son, Madison C., lived. Young Madison married Catherine McCraw, a descendant of Thomas B. McCraw. Daniel Waggoner, a pioneer from Illinois, settled in the same area in 1850.

Thomas Hodge, a Civil War veteran, and his wife, the former Agnes P. Reynolds, and their sons, George and John Thomas, came to the Windom area in 1881. Thomas died in 1885 but his widow and sons remained in the Windom-Dodd City area.

In the early 1880s, William A. Cooper and his wife, Lotty Pace, with their seven children, came to Fannin County from Mississippi, stopping first at Honey Grove, later moving on west to the new town of Windom.

“Jacob’s Well,” a landmark in the Windom area, was discovered by Jacob Baldwin when he settled near an “ever-lasting” spring in 1842. Baldwin, a native of Alabama, married Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of Nancy Fitzgerald who was one of the first settlers of the area, in 1850. The couple reared a family of ten children.

In 1872, the Texas and Pacific Railroad built a line from Texarkana to Fort Worth, through Fannin County. A railroad construction camp was established about ten miles east of Bonham where the settlers brought their produce to sell to the workmen. The place soon became a flag stop. Tradition has it that this place was the highest point between Texarkana and Fort Worth. It was so windy from the rolling prairie breezes that it took the name of Windom.

The town of Windom was platted in the middle 1870s out of the Bolser survey. The town was established in 1880 when a hardware store and a drug store were opened. By 1890, Windom was a prosperous town of 100 people. J.F. Steelman was postmaster and agent for the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Windom received mail daily. Other early business men of the town were Peyton and Wheeler and W.H. Dowlen

In 1890, B.J. Cagle had a lumber yard; the Hooper Bros, had a gin and a grist mill; Smith and Settle sold groceries; William Self was the blacksmith and wagonmaker.

The railroad right of way has had many gins located on it. The Castleberry Gin, the Windom Gin and the Farmers Gin were needed to gin the cotton produced by the thrifty farmers of the community.

The Baptist Church was organized in 1886 and the first pastor was Reverend E. Owens. Mr. & Mrs. James Word, Hugh Word, Mr. & Mrs. William Cappleman, Mr. & Mrs. Henry were among the charter members. The first wedding was that of Annie Wright and George W. Whitley on November 20,1895.

The Methodist Church was built in 1891. The first pastor of the church was Reverend Thomas W. Lowell and the "fest wedding was held in the church was that of Betty Robertson and Wiley Hulsey. Charter members included Mr. & Mrs. J.F. Longmire, Mrs. Albert Holman, and Mr. &Mrs. McMackin.

The Christian Church was built in the late 1890s and the first wedding was that of Elizabeth Baldwin, granddaughter of Nancy Fitzgerald, and Fred Williamson. The Presbyterian Church was organized in the 1890s and moved away in 1930. The Church of Christ was started by Silas Wright, Charles Woods and Toby Blair.

Windom’s first school was established in 1884 in a one room building. On June 12, 1897, the school ground was sold to the Christian Church and the present property was purchased. The second school building for Windom was built on this property in the shape of a “T”. About 1906, adjoining land was purchased from M. Word. The old building was torn down and a two story frame building was built. This building was replaced in 1924.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows organized a lodge in Windom in 1894 and built a two story building. The lodge demised in 1929.

Windom has had four banks; The Bank of Windom, established in 1900; the Guaranty State Bank; the First National Bank and the present bank, the Fannin National.

The town of Windom was incorporated about 1918. Emmitt Smith was the first mayor. Other mayors included John Riddles, H. C. King and Mrs. Ruby Pulliam. Carl Wright was the first city clerk. Among those who have served as aldermen are Charles Woods, Lennie Morris and Chris Runkle.

One of the earliest settlers in and around the Windom area was Samuel Wall. His son, Jacob, was the father of Mrs. Modie Moore, mother of former Fannin County Judge Choice Moore, The judge and his wife, Ruby Thomas Moore, live in the old Moore place across the Texas and Pacific Railroad tracks facing Highway 82. The beautiful mid-victorian house was built in 1891 by John H. Baldwin, son of area pioneer Jacob Baldwin.

Thanks to B. J. Stallings and family for the photographs below.  

The first photo is from the water town to the south, with the Christian Church (which no longer exists) on the left and the Methodist church on the right.