Hood County Texas Genealogical Society

Biographical Note:

The Gardner Family
First White Baby Also First County Agent

By: Phillis DeRoos

The following family biographical note was scanned from the
Hood County Genealogical Society Newsletter No. 15; August 1987
Editor: Merle McNeese

Gardner Family


One source of Hood County history states that "Tobe Johnson set-
tied at Stockton Bend in the late 1850's. His son Americus was
the second white child born in Hood County. Ralph Gardner being
the first." Research stimulated by this statement has proven
however, that Ralph Gardner was the first white child born in

Through a series of interviews with Margaret Donathon, a 33-year-
old resident of Valley View Home and sister of Ralph Gardener, the
News has been able to Find out a great deal about the man who holds
the distinction of being the first white born in Granbury.

Ralph's parents, Graham (Gray) Gardner. and Oiivia Smith Gardner were
married on May 22, 1866 and after living for a short time in Glen
Rose they moved to the new settlement of Granbury in 1867.

In 1868 Ralph was:; born in a log cabin on the Lambert Branch of the
Brazos which today would be located off East Bridge Street behind
the historic Nutt home.

At the time of Ralph's birth Granbury consisted of 40 acres which
had been surveyed in 1866 by Ralph's uncle and duly appointed county
clerk, Alex S. McCamant.  It was divided into 20 blocks including
the court house square.

It is believed that Ralph's early education was at the Acton school
because by this time the family had relocated about eight miles north
of the school: on what is now FM Road 208. Following this he attended
a college at Glen Rose for two years that was supported by the Pres-
byterian Church of the U.S.A. and then went on to obtain his teaching
certificate at Sam Houston Normal (Sam Houston State University,
Huntsville) which is one of the first state supported schools erected
in Texas.

Gardner returned to the Granbury area to teach, serving four schools
during his career: New Harmony, located in the Stewart Settlement
on the prairie east of Acton; Shady Grove on "Dogtown" road and Acton,
the building which now serves as an Episcopalian Church and Live
Oak in the Waples community.

In 1889, during the time Ralph was teaching at Acton, he was mar-
ried to Lillian Holmes. Ralph and Lillian had two children, Mary
Ebba and R. J.

After retiring from the teaching profession in 1904, Ralph moved
with his wife and family to "horp Spring. He bought a farm on
the Brazos River and turned to farming for a time.

Gardner added another distinctive first to Granbury because around
1910, he became the first County Agent. He was in charge of Hood
and Somervelle counties and made long rounds with horses and buggy
consulting with people about their crops.

In 1917, the Gardners moved to Everman where Ralph went into the
grocery business and also served as a ticket agent on the Inter-
Urban Railroad, a commuter train which resembled a street car but
ran on a track.

Later, he worked for the HUB Furniture Store in Fort Worth and
bought his final residence which was on East First Street. In his
last years he resided with his daughter until his death in 1949.

It has been said of Ralph Gardner that he was quiet and reserved
by "Meg" Donathon who fondly remembers an instance when Ralph was
her teacher at the Acton School. She says that his motto was "Do
Right" and he wanted to make good boys and girls out of everybody.

(The above story was in the June 2 1977 issue of Hood County News
and was written by Phyllis DeRoos.)
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