HOOD COUNTY PIONEERS
by Barbara Thorp Wilkins
Hood County Genealogical Society Newsletter No. 12 – November 1986
Over 140 years ago Pleasant and Nancy Thorp settled their family about three miles northwest of what would become Granbury, near where Stroud’s Creek enters the Brazos River. Along with a few other determined settlers on this leading edge of the Texas frontier, Thorp began carving a settlement out of the wilderness; and, despite years of brutal Indian raids, floods, drought and Civil War miseries, by the late 1880’s the town of Thorp Spring boasted over 1,000 residents.
Named for Thorp and cold sulphur springs that bubbled from a branch of Stroud’s Creek, the frontier settlement became a stagecoach relay point, favorite tourist resort and prestigious college town. AddRan Christian University, originally established as AddRan Male & Female College at Thorp Spring in 1873, was moved to Waco in 1895, renamed Texas Christian University and moved once again, to Fort Worth. After AddRan was relocated, the once vibrant Thorp Spring began a slow decline, having already seen the county seat and railroad bypass the town in favor of Lambert Branch/Granbury.
Col. Pleasant Earl Thorp (b: 12 Aug. 1809, VA; d: 11 Sept. 1890, Thorp Spring, Hood Co., TX) was a blacksmith who migrated through Tennessee to the place called Tejas while it was still under Mexico’s rule in the 1830’s, claiming surveys of a league-and-a-labor of land in Nacogdoches County and later 320 acres in Milam Land District. He rode with the Army of the Republic of Texas in 1841 with the Morehouse Expedition to the Hood County area of the Upper-Middle Brazos Valley in an attempt to wipe out hostile Indian camps. On September 8, 1842, in the portion of Milam Land District in the lower Brazos Valley that would become Burleson County, he married a young widow, Mrs. Nancy Hicks Oldham McEwen (b: 28 Jan. 1821, TN; d: 25 March 1902, Thorp Spring, Hood Co., TX). Nancy was the daughter of Moses and Christine (Tarpley) Oldham. Three days after the wedding, Mexican forces captured San Antonio in one of the many “mini-wars” between the Texans and Mexicans following the Revolution. Pleasant Thorp was one of the Burleson County men who answered President San Houston’s call to arms to drive the invaders back to Mexico and patrol the border. But records show that Thorp went only as far west as the Colorado River and returned home with two others. Many others later made the same decision, and those who didn’t in defiance of orders to disband, went on to become the ill-fated Mier Expedition, most of whom were killed or captured. Fortunately, Thorp had chosen to return to his bride, since his and Nancy’s first child was my great grandfather, James Goodhope Thorp.
Pleasant Thorp must have been impressed with the countryside along the Brazos in this section of Texas that he encountered on the Morehouse Expedition. Before and after the family’s move to the northwest in the early 1850’s, he managed to accumulate a massive amount of land in Hood County on the banks of the Brazos and stretching west for miles along Stroud’s Creek and Robinson’s Creek. South of Stroud’s Creek, Nancy’s father, Moses Oldham, owned two 640-acre sections, one of which Thorp bought and the other which Oldham bequeathed to Nancy. Through the years before his death in 1890, the Thorps sold, donated and passed on to children and grandchildren the greatest portion of their acreage. Today, very little remains owned by descendants. In 1885, Pleasant deeded over eleven acres to AddRan Christian University at Thorp Spring, comprising the core of the campus, and also donated several acres to the county for a park near the old spring site.
Pleasant and Nancy’s “showplace” home in Thorp Spring was torn down some years ago and few signs of it remain on the property that stretches to the banks of the Brazos where it is now a part of Lake Granbury. Along with many descendants, they are both buried in the old Thorp Spring Cemetery above Blue Branch of Stroud’s Creek.
CHILDREN OF PLEASANT AND NANCY THORP
1. James Goodhope B: 30 Mar. 1845. Burleson Co., TX "Jim" D: 17 Oct, 1915, Hood Co., TX M: Melissa Virginia Garland. 3 Apr. 1867, Hood Co., TX 2. Henry P. B: 26 Jan. 1848, Burleson Co., TX D: M: Rebecca Bateman 3. Mary Jane B: 6 Jan. 1850, Burleson Co., TX D: M: Add H. Hall, 1 Apr. 1867, Hood Co., TX 4. Catherine Ann B: 16 Jan. 1859, Burleson Co., TX "Kitty" D: 17 Dec. 1908, Parker Co., M: Louis J. "Luke" Caraway, 8 July 1869, Hood Co., TX 5. Nancy Elizabeth B: 16 Oct. 1856, Hood Co., TX "Lizzie" D: 1933 M: Rev. Hubbard M. "Mitt" Bandy, 14 May 1876, Hood Co., TX 6. Lucy Davis B: 19 Feb. 1864, Hood Co., TX D: (young-pneumonia)