Cleveland, John Fred & Margaret Randle


Written by Mary G. Saltarelli in 1985
From Application Form for Official Texas Historical Marker
for the Smith-Savage House

The Clevelands, the second family to own the Smith-Savage house, were prominent and influential citizens of the Hood County community of Acton.

Margaret Randle Cleveland was born on December 24, 1866, in Paris, Tennessee. Her parents, William Greene Randle and Sarah Kendall Randle, owned a plantation in Tennessee. William Greene Randle was a Methodist preacher and he fought in the Civil War as a Confederate soldier. After the war ended, he came to Texas for his health, because he had contracted tuberculosis. In 1871, William Greene Randle and his family arrived in Acton in ten wagons.

Mag Randle was raised in Acton. She attended Granbury College and became a talented musician. She married John Fred Cleveland, a leading merchant of Acton. He owned a general merchandise store, where he sold most groceries. T.T. Ewell called him “…one of Acton’s most substantial merchants.”

John Fred Cleveland was born on September 12, 1861. He was the son of Frederick Moss Cleveland and Nancy Isbell Cleveland. His parents came to Hood County from South Carolina in 1870 and settled on a farm near Acton. His father also fought for the Confederate army in the Civil War. John Fred’s first marriage was in 1884 to Lizzie S. Terrell. They had two children: Ora M., and Bennie. Both Lizzie and their son Bennie died within a year of his birth in 1886.

In 1888, John Fred Cleveland and Mag Randle were married. They had four sons: Courts, Chevis, J. Fred, and Leo. They also had one daughter who died when she was a young child.

John Fred and Mag Cleveland owned their home and a farm in Acton. They contributed much to the progress of their small community–they granted the use of their land for a school, for local churches, and for the local cemetery. The first telephone system of Hood County connected their store and residence in Acton.

John Fred Cleveland died on July 27, 1901. After his death, his young wife raised their four sons and her stepdaughter. She continued to operate her husband’s store and she was listed, along with three of her young sons, as a farmer in the 1910 U.S. Census.

In 1911, Mag Cleveland and her children moved from Acton to the Smith-Savage house in Granbury. She moved her family to Granbury so that her children would be closer to the local high school and the two nearby colleges: Thorp Spring Christian College and Granbury College. Her son Courts attended Granbury College and Chevis graduated from Thorp Spring Christian College. Chevis later served as Postmaster of Granbury from 1935 – 1963.

Mag Cleveland and her children lived in the Smith-Savage house for eight years. A black man named Jim Cleveland lived in the house with the Clevelands. He was the son of one of the Cleveland family’s former slaves. Mag Cleveland added a bedroom on the home’s back porch for him.

In 1919, Mag Cleveland sold the Smith-Savage house to R.E. Hamilton, a Hood County farmer who was a real estate investor in Granbury. In 1920, R.E. Hamilton sold the house to William P. and Emma G. Savage.

Mag Cleveland moved back to her home in Acton to care for her mother, who was ill, and she remained in Acton until her death on May 26, 1945. Mag Cleveland was a prominent member of the Acton community and she is fondly remembered throughout the county as “Aunt Mag,” because of her generous hospitality. Her home was always a happy gathering place for friends and family.

The Cleveland, Randle, and Terrell families were buried in Acton Cemetery in Hood County, Texas.