What with all the focus sometimes on the more notorious characters associated with Granbury history- John St. Helen, Jesse James, the Mitchell-Truett Feud, saloons on the square, etc- it is easy sometimes to forget that the city of Granbury, and indeed the whole of Hood County were settled from the earliest days by Families. Those families – men, women and children alike- came here in those hard years following the bloodiest conflict on American soil to make a new life, to grow a new community, and to put down roots in this place.
They dreamed of building something good and lasting here on the wild Texas banks of the Brazos. They built homes, and churches, and schools, following a pattern being repeated all across this vast continent. They were rich, poor, educated, not so educated, ranchers, farmers, townspeople, country folk- all living what came to be called the American Dream. And – for the most part- for many of them – that dream came true.
But what is also evident, if you take the time to look beyond the legends, and the tales, and the romanticized imaginings, is that none of them did it ALONE. They did it TOGETHER. They formed a community. It wasn't perfect- it was human and flawed just like all its members. What strikes me over and over, as I look through the archives of newspaper stories and family tales from the past 100 plus years is how much of it is about people taking care of each other, doing for each other, and for the community as a whole. And for some of them- the community extended far beyond borders of Granbury or even Hood County.
As we approach the Holiday season, a time of year when giving and community and looking beyond ourselves is hopefully in our thoughts, we here at the Historic Nutt House Hotel want to share and recall some new old tales- tales about how some of our Granbuy founders gave back the blessings they had been given and looked beyond themselves to help others. May we be inspired by their stories to say, "What can I do? How can I help? How can I make a difference?"
Two of the most beloved members of the early Granbury community were Edwin A. Hannaford and his wife Nettie. The tale of "Doc" Hannaford swimming the Brazos to get here in time to buy his lot on the square is a favorite Granbury tale. But the story of his and Nettie's lifetimes of acceptance and service in the Granbury community is the truly remarkable part of their story. The reason – they should have been, by conventional wisdom and feelings of the time, two of the most despised people in Granbury. In fact- just by deciding to come here and settle, they were taking a huge gamble. Why? – Because they were Yankees. And even worse- Edwin Hannaford was a Union veteran, having fought in an Ohio regiment during "The War of the Northern Aggression" – as it was known by most of their new neighbors.
"Doc" Hannaford arrived first, in 1871, having traveled on foot from Cleburne. At age 30, a veteran, and an educated man with an entrepenuerial spirit, he was traveling the Texas frontier, looking for the right spot to establish himself in the pharmacy and book business. For whatever reasons, Granbury, with its newly established county seat status, and available town lots seemed to fit the bill. He set up shop in a tent on the north side of the square near where the First National Bank stands today. Nettie and her family arrived in the Thorp Spring area, where Nettie attended and graduated from Ad Ran College. She was also from the Midwest , and she and Edwin must have found in each other a kindred spirit. They were married in July of 1878. She was only half his age, 19 to his 37, but together they formed an alliance that made a true difference in the lives of those around them, and lasted until his death 37 years later – in 1915.
The drug and bookstore established by "Doc" Hannaford was a big success, and his business acumen, charitable Christian character, and quiet intellect earned him the respect of the other merchants and families with whom he did business. He was early on active in community discussions and affairs, and after their marriage Nettie joined him in support of many local endeavors. They were active in the Christian church but also supportive of the efforts of several other community churches through the years, with Doc Hannaford being asked to serve as treasurer even of congregations he was not a member of. Nettie and Doc, both college graduates, were passionate about education, and firm believers in the forward thinking notion of a quality education for ALL children- boys and girls, rich and poor alike. Doc Hannaford was on the founding boards of 29 of the 30 schools established in Hood County in his lifetime here. He was among the group of local business men who raised funds to build the first bridge across the Brazos here in Granbury, and also the group that put together the first $50,000.00 for the establishment of the First National Bank of Granbury. Along with all this, he cared enough about the well being of his pharmacy customers, that as early as 1904, he had someone one the premises 24 hours a day, making sure that no doctor or citizen would ever be unable to get needed medical supplies.
Nettie Hannaford was one of the founding members of the Woman's Wednesday Club, a group established in Granbury in 1899 to provide Granbury women the opportunity to work together on projects that improved the quality of life in the community. The Woman's Wednesday Club – under the leadership of Nettie and several other like-minded ladies, supported fund – raising and lent hands to support many community projects and charities- The Red Cross, The March of Dimes, Educational Scholarships, Town Beautification, and Cemetery upkeep. They lead the planning for some of Granbury's early Reunion celebrations, and much more. They also supported statewide charitable efforts for a variety of causes. A strong churchwoman, Nettie was also active in and an officer of the local chapter of the WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union), and was a Worthy Matron in the Order of the Eastern Star.
All this, and Nettie and Doc ran a prosperous business, built one of the first limestone buildings on the square, and raised four surviving children – two boys and two girls – all of whom became civic-minded, successful adults. Doc Hannaford continued to run his business and be active in the community right up until his death in 1915. For 42 years he offered treatment for ailments, words of wisdom and encouragement, and books to enlighten the minds of Hood county adults and students alike. He quietly provided school supplies and books to all, even those who couldn't pay thus setting a tradition of learning for all in Hood county back in the days when that was not the norm. Such was the respect and reverence that he was thought of in the community, that when he died a most remarkable episode occurred. The following is a quote from an article by Vance J. Maloney:
"The Confederate Veterans Camp of Granbury requested to be named honorary pall bearers at his funeral. For four years they had been on opposite sides in the war, but in peace they had worked together for 44 years. He was now a fallen comrade and they desired to do him honor as a true Texas citizen and a real Texan."
Because of their age difference, Nettie was a widow for over 22 years. Despite the growing infirmities of age, she continued to be active in community projects and in her church. Her home south of the square was known for its hospitality and as her health failed, affection in the community was such that periodic updates were published in the local newspaper. Nettie died in March of 1938. At her funeral service, the minister spoke of three words that could be used to describe her life: virtue, tolerance, and service.
We should all be lucky to be remembered so well.