History of Bolivar, Texas

Compiled by
Frances Simpson Abelson and
Rheba Rippey Marshall

The town of Bolivar was laid out by Dr. Hiram Daily in 1852 and Bolivar Cemetery was established east of Main Street on high ground across a small branch, being the same site the cemetery has now occupied for some 145 years.

Bolivar Cemetery is located on FM 455 northwest of Denton, Texas, via 1-35
north 12 miles to Sanger then via FM 455 west 3.7 miles. It is about 756 feet west of the northeast corner of J. B. Reed Survey A-1086 then 862 feet south; 384 feet west; 862 feet north; 384 feet east to beginning containing some 7.61 acres of land.

There are many unmarked graves; however, the earliest interment identified
by a monument is of Zolly Cofer Waide (January 13, 1863--May 14, 1863). Veterans of the Mexican American War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, and Vietnam War are interred here. Other than the Government -issued markers, momments, range from the very elaborate to simple home-made tombstones and marked rocks.

Dr. Hiram Daily, who was not only a physician but also a Methodist minister and store proprietor, first established Clear Creek Settlement in a bend just south of Bolivar; but it was wiped out by black smallpox. The Cash Settlement where the stagecoach driver rested and changed horses was only a few miles north; nevertheless Dr. Daily obtained land in the southeast comer of the John Yoakum Survey that was accessible to Clear Creek about one-half mile north of his original settlement. He called the town "New Prospect". There was some dispute over the name of the town; and Ben Brown of Bolivar, Tennessee, who settled north of town near the big Chisum ranch, suggested it be named "Bolivar." An election was held to settle the matter and the Tennessean exchanged mugs of rum for votes - "Bolivar" won!

Good water, plentiful timber, a scenic plateau, being closer to the County Seat, and having a local minister-preacher-store owner were all reasons for Bolivar prosper. The original town lots were on the west side of Main Street; and Dr. Hughes purchased land on the east side of Main Street, which was called the Hughes Addition to Bolivar. Today, Main Street is Highway FM 2450 while First is Highway FM 455. When Jesse Sartin moved his stagecoach stop there into a new hotel with a flowing well in the lobby and his saloon nearby, the Cash settlement became part of the Bolivar outlying community.

Ed. F. Bates lists Jake Myers and Chris Luginbyhl among Bolivar pioneers "who never failed to answer the roll call in time of danger." Jacob "Jake" and Mary Lingle Myers, daughters Juretta and Delilah, along with Jake's cousin, Amos Myers, arrived in the new town in 1852-1853 from Indiana. They settled west of Bolivar. Jake died while in the Confederate Army; and his widow married cousin Amos.

Christian "Chris" and Peter "Pete" Luginbyhl were born in Switzerland but grew up in Ohio where their father farmed, owned a saw mill, and had a lumber business. Pete was the more adventurous. He and their brother John were married in Missouri then they and Chris settled near Omaha, Nebraska. All was well until Pete heard about Texas. John had seven children by then so stayed in Nebraska; but Pete, his wife and daughter, and Chris arrived in Bolivar in early 1859. They not only bought farms but helped operate the saw mill. Being master carpenters, they also helped build homes, barns, and businesses in the new town. After Christian Luginbyhl married Juretta Myers on November 20, 1869, the Myers family moved closer to Denton and Pete took his family off to the Arkansas Ozarks. Chris and Juretta settled on a farm just south of Bolivar on what is now Luginbyhl Road. Their nine children were born there as were the children of their son Philo Alexander and Vira Viola (Simpson) Luginbyhl. Some still live in the area; and a number of Luginbyhls are buried in Bolivar Cemetery.

Young frontier scout Andrew Jackson "A. J. " Nance stopped at Cash Settlement in 1859 and never moved from Denton County. He married Henrietta Cash, daughter of C. J. Cash, and became a farmer-rancher. A.J. served with the Confederacy during the Civil War and was Denton County Commissioner for 20 years. He entered the banking business; and, at the time of his death, was President of the Exchange National Bank. There are 20 Nances buried in Bolivar Cemetery, including triplets and William J. Nance, who was appointed Bolivar Postmaster on November 27, 1888.

Jesse Sartin's first wife died and was buried at the Cash Settlement. He married, secondly, Miss S. A. Nance, sister of A. J. Nance. Mrs. Sartin survived her husband by ten years. The First National Bank was closed for her funeral; and she was buried in Bolivar Cemetery beside Mr. Sartin. The Okalla Masonic Lodge formed in 1866 was never chartered due to Indian raids in the area. Captain W. Crow Wright, a Confederate veteran, organized a group in 1866 to protect area citizens from both Indians and outlaws. He had moved to Bolivar in 1858 and raised horses. He married Julia Gober, daughter of John W. Gober. They moved closer to Denton, but left three Wright children buried in Bolivar Cemetery. Crow Wright Road two miles south of Bolivar, which connects FM 2450 eastward one mile to Sam Bass Road, is named in honor of Captain Wright. Outlaw Sam Bass often came through Bolivar and once boldly attended a local dance. He was killed at Round Rock in Williamson County, Texas, July 20, 1877.

Captain Wright and his group were very important during 1867 when the United States Government put in a military telegraph line from Sherman westward to Fort Belknap. They had stations with operators at both Pilot Point and Bolivar. A dirt road went alongside the line and was called "the Wire Road."

Denton County was created in 1846 and named for Captain John B. Denton who was killed in the Spring of 1841 helping recover horses taken in an Indian raid. His friends buried him near Oliver Creek. In 1860, rancher John S. Chisum reburied the body near the Chisum house north of Bolivar. In 1901, he was buried again - this time in the Denton County courthouse yard with full honors. Helping carry the coffin were early-day Bolivar citizens: Mr. John Gober and Captain Crow Wright.

The Old Chisholm Trail passed just west of Bolivar, but it was Mr. Chisum
who supplied beef to the Confederacy during the Civil War. He moved from the area in 1864-1865 with over 100,000 head of cattle and his ranch land is now known as "the Waide place." A Texas Historic Marker was placed at the site in 1936. James M. and Martha (Bridges) Waide came to Bolivar in 1861 and were farmers and horse raisers. His monument is a draped obelisk and one of 28 Waide tombstones in Bolivar Cemetery. J. M. "Jim" Waide, Jr., married Lucy Fortenberry. Her father, A. H. Sevier Fortenberry, was the last white man killed by Indians in the area. He was captured, scalped, and burned to death on October 30, 1868.

Brothers John and Arnold Garrison moved their families to Bolivar from Grayson County in the mid-1860s. Both were veterans of the Mexican American War. John had little luck in the California Gold Rush but did very well in Australia. They purchased over a thousand acres of land in the Bolivar area. The new Farm Road 455 ran through part of that property. They joined H. L. Oberthier in establishing the Rock Mill on Duck Creek, which was the first flour mill in Denton County. In 1868, they sold acreage on Sullivan Road to Church Trustees for the Friendship Baptist Church with its surrounding land to be used as a Public Burying Ground forever - now known as the Duck Creek Cemetery.

John Garrison also provided land for the Bolivar School. Many Garrison family members are buried at Bolivar.
Arnold Garrison's daughter Ada married Lock S. Forester whose father, William S. Forester, established a ranch just west of Bolivar. Lock, who was a Confederate veteran, managed the ranch after the death of his father, increasing it to over 6,000 acres of land. His son, Ed W. Forester, took over ranch operations in 1890. Ed served two terms as Denton County Commissioner; and he and his wife Bess provided funding for a wing of Flow Hospital in Denton. Many Foresters are buried in Bolivar Cemetery. A Texas Historical Marker was placed at the Forester Ranch in 1987. Elisha W. Bentley, wife Malinda, and family moved to Bolivar in late 1869 or early 1870. Elisha was a carpenter and built a number of buildings and homes in Bolivar. One home was for Samuel McAdams who owned the general store. He was the first Bolivar Postmaster, being appointed to that position on May 2, 1872. Robert W. Mitchell was appointed Postmaster on February 7, 1880, to succeed Mr. McAdams. Elisha and Malinda had five sons, but it was second-born Benjamin Robert "Ben"Bentley who remained in the Bolivar area. He married Arista Mae Nance and they had ten children. Their son, B. R. Bentley, Jr., married Margaret Curtsinger who still resides in Bolivar. B. R. was owner/operator of Bolivar Oil Company and he supplied most of the fuel for the Bolivar Cemetery mowers for many years. Elisha and Malinda Bentley have a carved obelisk between their graves with their names on opposite sides. There are more than 20 Bentley family members buried in Bolivar Cemetery.

After Dr. Daily retired, Dr. Ervin Howard moved his wife and nine children to Bolivar in 1873. He was a Confederate veteran having served as First Lieutenant in the Arkansas Cavalry. He had moved his family to Waco, Texas, where he studied medicine. Dr. Howard bought land in both the Bolivar area and in Sanger, where he was that town's first physician. His son E. Eugene Howard at various times owned a cotton gin, a grain thresher, a hotel, and a store in Sanger; but most of his children sought their fortunes elsewhere. His son, John S. Howard, was the most adventurous and looked for gold in New Mexico. Shortly after returning to Sanger, he joined the Oklahoma Land Rush and settled in South Oklahoma City. He was killed June 14, 1889, one day after being sworn in as City Marshal of South Oklahoma City. As the first lawman killed in Oklahoma Territory, he is honored with a plaque at the Oklahoma City Police Department and is listed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D. C. Dr. Howard brought John's body to Bolivar Cemetery for burial next to his mother where he, too, was laid to rest in 1897. Other Howard family members are also buried in Bolivar Cemetery. Bolivar Lodge No. 418, AF&AM, and I. 0. 0. F. Lodge 221 bought 11-1/4 acres of land in 1876; and five acres were set aside for the cemetery, being all of the plot known as Bolivar Cemetery. A decorative fence costing more than the land was erected. Mr. G. A. Grissom, who died February 12, 1876, was the first Mason buried in Bolivar Cemetery. Since he was worshipful master when the Bolivar Lodge was chartered, his death may have prompted the land purchase. I.O.O.F. Lodge 221 faded away and Bolivar Lodge 418 no longer claim ownership of the cemetery property.

On February 28, 1881, Ambrose E. Bourn was appointed Bolivar Postmaster and served for six years. Mr. Bourn has a tall Woodman monument as do quite a number of others in the cemetery. Squire Pate Glover succeeded Mr. Bourn, being appointed on January 31, 1887; and George Harper was appointed on November 8, 1887.

On Friday, March 17, 1882, stagecoach driver William I. Garshwiler was found dead in bed; and they buried him in Bolivar Cemetery. No doubt others passing through Bolivar account for some of the unmarked as well as marked graves, such as that of five-year-old "Little Sallie Simpson," whose parents were moving west.

Socrates Hanibal "Crate" Stimson moved to Collin County, Texas, in 1855. He married Elizabeth Cooper and they had two children: Mary Helen and Isaac Milton "Ike." Benjamin Franklin Gambill married Mary Cooper, sister to Crate's wife. After she died, Ben married widow Emillie B. Anith. In 1875, Crate and Ben pooled their resources and bought prime acreage in Bolivar. Crate's son and daughter were his partners in those purchases. Ben bought the general store and his son, William F. Gambill, was appointed Postmaster on November 20, 1889, serving until Benjamin Gambill was appointed on September 21, 1896. Ike Stimson opened a hotel with a barber shop on Main Street. He also had a saloon nearby. Except for Crate, the Stimsons are buried in Bolivar Cemetery even though Ike had joined the land rush and he and his wife were living in Granite, Oklahoma, when they died.

James Young Short moved his family to Bolivar in 1875. Short Street one block west of Main Street was named for him. He not only bought land in Bolivar but also invested his sister-in-law Lou Flannery's inheritance in Bolivar area land. After his wife died in the 1892 influenza epidemic, he moved his family to Elizabethtown; but both are buried in Bolivar Cemetery. The 1892 influenza epidemic took its toll. Although not all died of the flu, 17 persons were buried in Bolivar Cemetery with eight being under two years of age.

In 1875, Arnold Simpson of Illinois visited his brother Joe and Garrison relatives in Bolivar. He sold his Illinois properties, returned to Bolivar, married Lou Flannery, and purchased land near Bolivar. Their son Robert Simpson married Ina Coggin and had nine children. Daughter, Estelle Voss, was secretary-treasurer of Bolivar Cemetery Committee for more than a quarter of a century; and daughter, Frances Abelson, is a Trustee of Bolivar Cemetery Association.

John C. Wilson bought land around Bolivar between 1868 and 1879. He had four daughters by wife Mary Ann Miller. Nancy Wilson married Bolivar cattleman Alonzo D. Turner and was a charter member of the First Christian Church of Denton. Cordelia Wilson married, firstly, Pleasant Gibbs and, secondly, J. Floyd Curtsinger. Philona "Lona" Wilson married Eugene Howard; and their daughter Vona married Sam Will Voss. Their son Connor Voss married Estelle Simpson and had four children: Turner farms west of Bolivar, Connie Charles lives in her parents' home in "downtown" Bolivar, Sam Voss is Deputy Sheriff of Denton County, and Kaywin Kline is a former Sanger Municipal Judge. Mary Wilson married Phillip F. Saltsman and had four children. Many Wilson descendants are buried in Bolivar Cemetery.

Dr. James P. Knox arrived in Bolivar in 1873; and in 1879 he married Alice L.Herod. He invested heavily in real estate near Bolivar as well as in the Cash Settlement area, which included the Cash burial plot known later as "Knox Cemetery".. As an original stockholder of Denton County National Bank, Dr. Knox was one of the "31 Men With Vision" cited by the bank on its 75th anniversary. His simple monument speaks eloquently of his lifestyle as a modest healer serving all umanity. He was survived by two daughters and four sons. Son Ray Knox was a reliable and entertaining source of information about Bolivar until his death in 1970 at age 86. Five of the six children of Dr. Knox are buried in Bolivar Cemetery.

By May 30, 1919, oil prospectors leased land around Bolivar; but most leases expired without reward. The mid-1940s and early 1950s tell a different story - one of a booming Bolivar Oil Field. Not every prospect was an oil producer; but the family of Dr. James P. Knox was one of the lucky ones since it was on some of his land, which the family still owned, that "black gold" was discovered.

Bolivar Baptist Church, which is adjacent to but not a part of Bolivar Cemetery, was organized by Elders J. M. and A. J. Harris on September 23, 1883, with charter members being Pamlee Langston, Sallie E. Tolbart, B. F. Gambill, E. B. Gambill, W. F. Barnett, R. A. Jarvis, M. L. Jarvis, Ida Jarvis, J. M. Herrod, Malissa Simpson, and M. C. Thorn. Before the organization of the church, a small group met in a schoolhouse on Duck Creek, known as Friendship Church. They decided to divide the time of worship at the Duck Creek schoolhouse and the Bolivar schoolhouse. The Friendship Church soon disbanded.

The Amyx families have been a mainstay in both Bolivar and Sanger areas for almost a century. Their continued efforts on behalf of the Bolivar Community is evidenced by the fact that their descendant Dickie Amyx is Pastor of Bolivar Baptist Church. He and his congregation, many of whom have relatives buried in the adjacent Bolivar Cemetery, maintain an on-going interest in the welfare of that cemetery. The Rev. Dickie Amyx is also a Trustee of Bolivar Cemetery Association.

Sanford and Mary Arm (White) Curtsinger moved their family to Collin County in 1877, where sons John and Floyd became engaged in the grocery business. John bought land in the western edge of Bolivar in 1884 and sold his brother Floyd a one-half interest. Both moved to Bolivar later that year.

Jesse Floyd Curtsinger married Cordelia (Wilson) Gibbs. There are 20 Curtsingers buried in Bolivar Cemetery; and one of the rarest seen monuments is the round one for Arthur Bailey, the 10-year-old son of J. F. and Cordelia Curtsinger. John Levin Curtsinger married Mary Helen Stimson, daughter of Crate Stimson and a land owner in her own right. Floyd bought John's part ownership of their property and John continued his interest in merchandising as well as farming and ranching. Crate Stimson sold most of his holdings to his son-in-law for a nominal fee and retired to Gainesville. The Curtsingers and their descendants in the Bolivar area have been farmers, ranchers, merchants, a County Sheriff, and owners of a cotton gin, a general merchandise store, and much land. J. David Curtsinger, great-great- grandson of John Levin Curtsinger, Is Vice President-Maintenance of the Board of Trustees of Bolivar Cemetery Association while his wife, Elyse (Walding) Curtsinger, is Vice President-Operations.

The town of Bolivar was surveyed on May 2, 1884, by William Chadwell, Denton County Surveyor. People living in and around Bolivar wanted to keep it a peaceful place in which to raise a family and discouraged the surveyors who came to lay out a railroad line through the area. Believing there was a viable alternative to "lead poisoning," the surveyors moved about five miles eastward and the railroad was laid there. The town of Sanger was laid out in the Spring of 1886 at the Santa Fe station site. Many Bolivar businesses relocated to Sanger.

On February 1, 1894, Bolivar Masons agreed to move their lodge to Sanger but to retain the Bolivar name. Local citizens took over complete responsibility for upkeep of Bolivar Cemetery. Even though no longer claiming any ownership of the cemetery property, the Lodges were still the owners of record on January 25, 1947, when 0.23 acres in a long strip were sold to the State of Texas for the highway.

Bolivar eventually dwindled to a general store, a gin, doctor's office and pharmacy, churches, and school. The last Bolivar postmaster was Fannie Burke who was appointed on February 27, 1904.

In 1917, Dr. Wallace Kimbrough of Denton told his nephew, Hazen Armstrong, it was time for him to live on the doctor's 800-acre farm and ranch west of Bolivar. Hazen, who was raised by his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Kimbrough, in Denton was just finishing at a military academy in Tennessee. It turned out to be a good thing since he met Sue Waite and they were wed in 1919. They had three children: Mary Emma, who died at age 18; Jack; and an infant daughter bom and died one day before her mother did. Hazen also raised a boy from one of the "Orphan Trains" that came through. Hazen acquired several hundred acres of land in his own right. A few years after his wife Sue died, Hazen married Viola Newton, a Bolivar school teacher. He served Bolivar school as a trustee at the same time Clisto Smith, Ray Curtsinger, and Alex McClendon did. Jack Armstrong is a Trustee of Bolivar Cemetery Association and his wife, Nel (Haynie) Armstrong, who is a former Mayor of Sanger, is a member of the Denton County Historical Commission. They, too, have an infant daughter buried in Bolivar Cemetery.

Just as in 1892, the 1918 influenza epidemic was felt in the Bolivar area. It is not known how many of 15 persons interred that year died of the flu; but, of that number, seven were small children.

As with the majority of Americans, most Bolivar settlers sought neither fame nor great riches but merely a place to earn a living that would be safe for their families. They are the unsung heroes who provide the stability of any community and did so for Bolivar. Of course, not all have roads named for them; but the Dyer family does. Among their descendants still residing in the Bolivar area is Jo Ann (Dyer) Odom who is a Trustee and Secretary of Bolivar Cemetery Association.

She is descended from the Nance pioneers through her maternal ancestry. Many southerners moved to Ellis County, Texas, in the late 1870s through the 1890s where cotton was king; and so did the family of William Jonas Marshall whose son, Robert William "Rob" Marshall, was only a child at the time. By 1911, however, the Marshalls had resettled in Denton County. Although some family members moved on to Oklahoma, Rob Marshall chose to remain just south of Bolivar as did his son, John William Marshall. Lester Marshall, son of John and great-grandson of pioneer William Jonas Marshall, selected the central hub of Bolivar for his home and even owns the property where the Church of Christ held services for many years.

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