History of Agnes, Texas
Settlers were in the area of Agnes as early as the 1850s, but the small community of Agnes had its beginnings in the late 1870s. It started as a country store called Barnard’s. The community began to grow and required a post office. The community was given its present name by an early doctor to honor his daughter Agnes Mull.
Agnes is located on and around a high hill in the northern part of Parker County. It is said to be one of the highest points in the county. Joe and Gloria Elam have lived on that hill in the community since 1985 on forty acres of the J.B. Elam ranch that is 450 acres. It is one of the largest farms and ranches still in existence around Agnes. Joe was born and raised on the ranch that has been a working ranch since the late 1930s. His dad, Barlow Elam grew watermelons up until the 1970s as did many other farmers, selling them on the square in Weatherford, or to folks as far as Fort Worth.
The first school at Agnes was a log cabin built about one mile north of the Barnard’s old store. Later, another larger school was built at the top of the hill, which is now Old Agnes Road. In 1893, James Franklin and Mary Ann Cutbirth Elam sold four acres of land for $10.00 to the Agnes School Community to build the two-story white frame structure.
The school had only two rooms, one downstairs for the older pupils and one upstairs for the younger ones. Double desks and wood burning stoves furnished the rooms. There was no electricity or plumbing, and an outhouse on the property served as the only restroom.
Many children in the Agnes community have shared fond memories of going to school there. One student, Clyde Moose attended school there in the early 1900s. He wrote in his memoirs about his school days in Agnes.
“To go back to that old school is depressing…it gives me a feeling of homesickness and longing for my old friends who attended school there. Very few of them are left.”
Two-Story structure that was the Agnes school until 1925 when it burned.
After the two-story school burned in 1925, a three-room rock school was built. Water was available when carried from a nearby well. Lunches were brought from home, usually in buckets. Playgrounds were just the rough, dirt around the school with no equipment except marbles, balls and bats brought from home. It did have electricity, but an outhouse was still the only restroom.
By 1946, enrollment had increased so much that school there was closed and students were incorporated into the Springtown Independent School District. Up until more recent years the building was used for community gatherings, musicals each third Saturday night and a meeting place for the Agnes School homecoming each year. It was more recently used as the Agnes Community Association Inc. meeting place. It is now in disrepair and has been vandalized to the extent all windows have been broken out.
Agnes School as it looks today.
Some principals and teachers of the Agnes schools were Mr. and Mrs. Dewees, Mr. Wythe, Mr. and Mrs. Everette, Mr. Davis, Frank Sentell, Lloyd Hutchison, John Belew, John Montgomery, Nannie Thomas, T. Addison Wythe and Addie and Gracie McKinnon.
Church services were first held in the old two-story school house. Some of the older citizens remember that a heated debate between the two denominations broke up the one community service, and in the early 1900’s the Methodist and Baptist Churches were built just north of the school. Highway 199 didn’t divide the properties back then and the churches were in walking distance to the school and most of the folks around Agnes. Both churches were white frame structures with tall steeples and faced west. The photo is of the Methodist church, but none of the Baptist church is still in existence.
The Methodist Church at Agnes was torn down in the 1950s. All that remain are the concrete steps.
Sunday school was held in both churches every Sunday morning, and all across the area the people could hear the tolling of the church bells which reminded them to go to the house of the Lord for worship. On one Sunday of each month there was a preacher of each church who came by horse and buggy from other towns to give long sermons. Somehow they arranged their schedules so that there wouldn’t be preaching at both churches on the same day. From the windows of one church, the folks would watch for the other group to walk the short distance down the gravel road to join them for the church service. During the summer, each church held revivals—two services daily for two weeks. Often, during the summer, the only breeze was made by the constant movement of palm leaf fans. Despite the summer work and heat, these dedicated Christian folks gathered together faithfully. A baptism often took place a pond south of the churches near the Agnes school.
Baptism at a pond near the old Agnes school.
The two churches began to need constant repairs and by the 1940s and 1950s were torn down. Wood from one of the churches was used by Barlow Elam to build a new barn on his property, which is still standing today. The other church was moved to a location west on Highway 199. Mr. Elam donated a portion of his land for a new church to be built in 1950. The Agnes Independent Baptist Church still stands on that location today. The church has grown in membership and is now being torn down to build a larger structure.
Agnes Baptist Church on Agnes North as it looked for over 50 years, but there will soon be a new building in this exact location.
Some Agnes Folks
James Franklin and Mary Ann Elam built their home not far from the old two-story school. Highway 199 didn’t separate their house from the school and it was a short walk to the school. Their children, no doubt attended the school and some of them may be in the photo of the white frame school.
On the balcony is George Franklin Elam and Mary Elam; standing on the porch are James Franklin and Mary Ann Cutbirth Elam with their children Grady, Clell and Velma. To the left in this photo, barely visible is the Dr. John Moose home and barn. The Elam house later burned about the same time the two-story school burned. Bud Frazier purchased that land and built the existing house that is there today.
By the early 1900’s the Agnes Community consisted in addition to the two churches and the school of three stores, a blacksmith shop, a shoe shop and a gin. Barnard’s Store had sold to Webb and Allen (photo) and then to R.L. Hobbs. Later Dr. John Moose purchased the store and lastly James Franklin Elam. Jake Culwell built a store just south of the old store and later sold to Reagan Frazier. R.L. Hobbs Cotton Gin was located north of the old store. Wellington Elam built a store across the road from the others. It was a thriving community.
South of these stores was a blacksmith shop operated first by the Blackmons and later by George Tackett. The last to own the blacksmith shop was John Gilliland. Bill Martin had a shoe shop between the blacksmith shop.
In one of the stores in Agnes, Dr. Moose kept medicines in a back room and it was there he mixed compounds and sold prescriptions. At one end of the store was the Agnes post office to which there was a daily mail service to and from Weatherford. The mail service was provided by a privately owned lightweight, two-horse buggy which, for a fee, carried passengers between the two towns. For a few years, a post office was combined with the Culwell Store. After it was closed the mailing address was Poolville.
Doctors in Agnes received the sick in their homes for treatment or traveled to any home where they were needed. In 1907, Dr. Moose hired carpenters from Springtown to construct an eighteen room two-story house intending it to be a sanitarium. In 1908, he had a large barn and buggy shed constructed. He moved his medicines from the store to this new office. That barn is still standing today.
Dr. Moose traveled by horse and buggy at all hours, in all kinds of weather to treat all kinds of illness and accidents. When traveling by horse his medicines and instruments were carried in saddle pockets. In 1909, he purchased the first car in Agnes, a Model T Ford touring car.
The photo is of the car with unknown driver in front of the Moose home.
The surnames of the many families that lived in Agnes in the mid to late 1800s and on into the 20th Century were Allen, Barnard, Blackmon, Burrows, Culwell, Davis, Elam, Frazier, Gilliland, Hinkle, Hobbs, Hoyl, McAlister, McKinnon, McWilliams, Martin, Matlock, Moose, Stone, Tyson, Webb, Wharton, and many others.
An early store in Agnes was the Webb Allen store.
The Culwell family was one of the early families in the area. This is Henry Culwell on a bicycle of that period.
The residents of the Agnes community like so many of the early settlers expected the railroad to come through and bring prosperity and growth. The railroad was not to be and the hopes of ever having one there caused some to move into the larger cities for work. Those that stayed lived modestly and invested their time into agricultural. As roads and vehicles made travel more accessible the younger folks got jobs in the larger cities. The farmers and ranchers stayed on, but ultimately the land began to be sold. Today, one of the largest farm and ranch land in the Agnes community is the Elam Ranch owned by Stella Elam and her sons, Joe and Ed. A larger tract of land for grazing cattle was once owned by Walter Bennett, Jr. having purchased it from Clyde Moose, son of the doctor. Before Mr. Bennett died he sold the property to Steve Harris. Gas wells are prevalent on both properties.