Pecan Grove and Davidson School
Friday, March 21, 2014
Pecan Grove, Texas is seven miles southeast of Gatesville on Farm Road 107 in eastern Coryell County. In the 1850’s there were quite a few families in the area and they needed a school, so the Davidson family donated 6 acres for a school and a cemetery. It was sometimes called Blackfoot or Davidson School. Beautiful Coryell Creek runs thru the valley below this area and I have to admit that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world to me.
According to the Texas State History (online), by the 1880’s the community had grown to have Pecan Grove Post Office, a steam gristmill, a water-powered flour mill and three cotton gins as well as Pecan Grove Baptist Church that stands today. The population grew from an estimated 100 residents in 1884 to 200 in 1890. The post office was discontinued in 1905, and mail for the community was sent to Gatesville. Many local families sent their children to the Davidson school. The Davidson, Martin, Spence, Moore, Ivy, King, Melton, Long, Jones, Jackson, Harris, and Vandiver families all had children at this school, as well as many other families.
The Coryell County Genealogical Society has placed a historical marker at the Davidson Cemetery telling the history of the family that donated the land. This is some of the information on the marker.
James Madison (Matt) Davidson (1826-1925) came to Texas from Tennessee in 1852 and settled in Milam territory. In 1854 Matt Davidson and Vianna Moore (1832-1912) were the second couple issued a marriage license in Coryell County, formerly a part of the huge Milam territory. After serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Davidson bought land on Coryell Creek and built a log cabin there for his family. The six acres of land overlooking the Davidson homestead became the Davidson Cemetery. The earliest marked grave is that of S.R. Bailey in 1862. Many burials, including several for small children, took place before the graveyard location was described in a land survey in the 1890’s.
During World War I Pecan Grove was the site of Camp Martin, owned by Frank Martin, where local soldiers began training before they were transferred to Camp Bowie in Fort Worth.
By the 1940’s Pecan Grove had only one business and a population of twenty. Pecan Grove Baptist Church and the Davidson Cemetery each have historical markers in the community today.
Recently a member of that community, Charlotte Davidson Cheatham, was kind enough to give me an interview. She is proud to be 97 years young and is now the oldest living Davidson. Her great-grandfather was James Madison Davidson and her grandfather was Alec Davidson. Her father was Owen Davidson. Miss Charlotte attended the Davidson School beginning about 1924. The school was located behind Davidson Cemetery on County Road 1829 just up the hill from J.T. Davidson’s rock house. She recalls that it was a good sized school with about 40 students and 2 or 3 teachers.
The Davidson school house was a traditional white wooden schoolhouse.
Even though the school originated much earlier, the first teacher Charlotte remembers at the Davidson School was her mother Waldean Davidson and the second teacher was Mabel Davidson. Mrs. Hollis (Ann) Davidson was her third teacher.
Everyone carried their lunch to school and water was provided by a large metal cistern that caught water from the roof of the schoolhouse. It had two outhouses behind the school and back in the trees. The outhouse on one side was the girls and a good distance away was the boy’s outhouse.
Charlotte Davidson, Lawrence Harris, Mildred Melton, Gus Davidson Jr., and Robert Davidson were all the same age and classmates when the Davidson School closed in the late 1930’s. They continued their education by driving an old Model T to the Gatesville High School. What fun they must have had driving those 7 miles each day!
Pulltight, Texas also has a name marker where the Davidson grocery store was located near the intersection of FM 107 and CR 1829. It was called “pulltight” because the horses pulling a load had to pull steadily to get their load up the steep hill. In the grocery store they sold many items such as meat, bananas, candy, and gasoline, but not milk as everyone had their own cow. Many of the Davidson’s ran this store at one time or another.
After she was grown Charlotte Davidson (Cheatham) and her mother were running the store one day when two boys got some gas. They were not going to pay her mother, and Charlotte had been out of sight behind a counter. She stood up and the boys saw there were two adults so they decided to pay and leave as quickly as possible!
Coryell Museum has a room dedicated to remembering the small communities and schools of Coryell County. Dozens of photographs of these schools and their students have been donated and are on display at the museum. There are also annuals and trophies for many years. Coryell Museum and Historical Center is open Tuesday thru Saturday as is our gift shop. Yearly Coryell Museum memberships are $20 for singles, $30 for families, and $40 for businesses and include free admission to the museum plus 4 newsletters. Of course, large and small donations are welcome at all times.
One of our newest donations is the delightful, 35 foot mural painted by Jon Brown of the Coryell County Court House and surrounding square. It was on the wall in Andy’s Restaurant for many years.
Coryell Museum offers area schools and tour groups a delightful guided tour thru the museum with docents at many exhibits. Call the museum at 865-5007 to plan a visit.