Written by Mary G. Saltarelli in 1985
From Application Form for Official Texas Historical Marker
for the Smith-Savage House
The Smith-Savage house was built for Sam Smith, a Texas frontiersman and Civil War veteran who served as both Hood County Texas Tax Assessor and Hood County Treasurer and who was also a leading Granbury merchant.
The two-story Victorian Smith-Savage house on North Thorp Spring Road in Granbury appears to have been originally built as a simple saltbox dwelling. The house was later enlarged, and at that time was probably adorned with its Victorian flourishes, including steep Gothic cross-gables, a porch and balcony laden with Eastlake trim, and a projecting bay window.
The Smith-Savage house was built for Samuel Hancock Smith, probably sometime during 1883, shortly after he was elected Hood County Tax Assessor. The section of the Smith-Savage house that faces west, or toward North Thorp Spring Road, appears to be the original structure built for Sam Smith. It looks as if it was a typically simple frame saltbox house, with a single-story lean-to section at the back of a two-story structure. This section of the house is believed to be the oldest because it contained the original kitchen, and remnants of a rock-lined cistern that collected rainwater were found just off its old back porch when the house was renovated during the 1970s. In addition, the wood trim around the exterior of this part of the house and its windows is much simpler than the Victorian trim found on the other wing of the house, and its exterior wood siding boards appear older and more worn. The cedar beam foundation under the original saltbox home sits right on the ground and is lower than the foundation under the rest of the home.
The lumber used to build the Smith-Savage house was hauled to Granbury from the east, probably from East Texas. This oldest section of the house has cypress siding and much of its original beaded board ceiling.
The original saltbox dwelling probably had three rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. The room used as a living room or parlor had one fireplace – the original fireplace was rebuilt with new rock and much of its old rock during the 1970s. The home’s original native limestone chimney is still standing on the north side of the saltbox structure. No evidence remains today of the existence of any other chimneys. This older section of the house originally had a back staircase, which was removed in the 1970s.
It appears that the front door to the original saltbox dwelling opened into the parlor, or fireplace room. This door is now off of the home’s front hallway and it is surrounded by a simple wood architrave with a narrow pointed hood mold above it. No other door in the house has this type of molding, which indicates that it probably was the original front door. This door’s trim matches the hood molding over one of the windows in the old section of the house.
In 1892, Sam Smith enlarged his home, adding a wing that faces south, toward Granbury. The home’s Victorian features were probably also added then, creating a more spacious L-shaped dwelling with both Victorian Gothic and Eastlake embellishments.
In July 1892, the Granbury News reported, “Mr. S.H. Smith is building an addition to his residence.” Two months later, in early September, the News reported, “Mr. S.H. Smith is building a nice addition to his residence.”
Sam Smith’s addition enlarged the Smith-Savage house considerably, adding a front parlor and a front entryway and hall downstairs, plus a large bedroom upstairs.
With the addition of Gothic gables, the Eastlake porch and balcony, pairs of narrow Victorian windows with decorative relief trim, the projecting bay window, and a bracketed cornice around the new wing, Sam Smith’s simple saltbox dwelling became a florid Victorian house with a distinctive Gothic air.
This addition to the Smith-Savage house also has a cedar beam foundation and cypress exterior. The first floor rooms rise to nine and one-half foot ceilings, and the original dog-leg staircase remains in the front entryway, with turned wood balusters and a turned newel post. The old wood baseboards and trim remain throughout this section of the Smith-Savage house, and most of the windows are the original double-hung sash windows with cords and counter-balancing weights.
Smith family photos in the possession of Sam Smith’s granddaughter, Mrs. Dorothy Slocum of Dallas, include a picture of Sam Smith standing on the front porch of his completed Victorian home and a picture of his wife, Martha Luzany Smith, sitting on the home’s Eastlake porch with her two sisters.
The Smith-Savage house was built on Milam County School Land lot 61. Sam Smith purchased two acres of Milam County lot 61 in November 1881 from Reverend J.W. Kizziar, a local Methodist minister, who also owned unimproved property elsewhere in Granbury. Kizziar had purchased the seven-acre lot 61 from Milam County in October 1881 for $87.50. He sold the lot’s remaining five acres to Sam Smith in January 1883. Sam Smith paid a total of $100 for all seven acres. The small difference between the $87.50 that J.W. Kizziar paid for lot 61 and the $100 that he received from Sam Smith indicates that Kizziar made no improvements, such as building a house, to the lot.
Samuel Hancock Smith was elected Hood County Tax Assessor in the fall of 1892. In his 1895 Hood County History, T.T. Ewell wrote that Sam Smith moved from Acton, a small community east of the Brazos River in Hood County, to Granbury after he was elected to office.
According to his granddaughter, Mrs. Dorothy Slocum, Sam Smith built the Smith-Savage house in Granbury within a year of his election as Hood County Tax Assessor in 1882. Based on her information, it appears that Sam Smith built the Smith-Savage house soon after he purchased the remaining five acres of Milam County lot 61 in 1883. The exact date that the Smith-Savage house was constructed cannot be documented–old local newspapers are unavailable before 1886 and the earliest local tax assessment records for this lot are dated 1904. In addition, no records are available that show who designed and constructed the Smith-Savage house for Sam Smith.
Samuel Hancock Smith was born on August 17, 1842, in Cherokee County, Alabama. He moved to the Texas frontier with his parents when he was a young boy and they settled on the Brazos River in Parker County in 1853. Sam Smith’s father, Silas Smith, was the postmaster of the small community of Balch in Parker County in 1859. According to T.T. Ewell, in his Hood County History, Sam Smith’s father was an early pioneer in neighboring Parker County, where Sam was “…reared from his boyhood amid scenes of danger and wild adventure.” Silas Smith and his wife, Epsilla Perry Smith, are both buried near the Tintop community in Parker County.
At the age of 16, Sam Smith joined the Texas Rangers. He served in Captain A.B. Mason’s Ranger company from about 1859-1860, guarding frontier settlements. According to family lore, Sam Smith fought in the Pease River battle on December 18, 1860, in Foard County, when Cynthia Ann Parker was recaptured from the Comanche Indians. During this battle, Sam Smith obtained an Indian chief’s war bonnet made of feathers and beads.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Sam Smith joined the Confederate army. He served in Company K, 5th Texas Volunteer Cavalry, Tom Green’s Brigade, from Weatherford, Texas. He was severely wounded during an unsuccessful attempt to capture Fort Butler, near the small village of Donaldsville, Louisiana, in June 1863. He nearly died from his wounds and he was captured by Union soldiers and transported to a Federal prison in New Orleans. He recovered from his wounds while in the prison hospital, cared for by New Orleans’ ladies who were Confederate sympathizers. During a planned but aborted prisoner exchange, Sam Smith and a fellow prisoner jumped off of a Union steamer into the Mississippi River and escaped. Throughout the rest of his life, Sam Smith suffered from the wounds he received during the Civil War. By the end of the war, Sam Smith was a lieutenant in the Confederate army.
After the Civil War ended, Sam Smith took up the rugged, wandering life of a Texas cowboy. According to T.T. Ewell, Sam Smith was “…for several years engaged in the stock business on the upper Brazos and had many adventures with the Indians, who were constantly preying on and driving off his stock.”
T.T. Ewell also wrote of an encounter Sam Smith had with Indians while herding horses in Hood County:
And Mr. Sam H. Smith tells of one occasion, while he and other stockmen were herding a drove of horses farther west. They went in camp for the night, keeping two of the men on guard all the time to watch out for the Indians, protect the horses and give prompt alarm in case of their approach, but all to no purpose, as the Indians came so stealthily that no sign of them was discovered until they were right upon the horses and guards, stampeding both and almost running the guards off with the horses, and before any defense could be made they were off with almost the entire herd.
Sam Smith married Martha Luzany Dillahunty Hutcheson on October 11, 1870, and settled in the small community of Acton in Hood County. Martha Luzany Dillahunty was born on December 6, 1841, in Tennessee. She was the daughter of Greenberry Dillahunty and Susan Carolyn Wall Dillahunty, who were early Hood County settlers. In 1854, they arrived in Acton, which was then known as Comanche Peak post office, in a covered wagon. Martha Luzany Dillahunty first married G.W. Hutcheson, another early Acton pioneer. They had two children: Laura, born October 4, 1862, and Charles H., born December 24, 1864. Hutcheson died in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1867, leaving his young wife and two small children with over 700 acres of farmland near Acton.
The U.S. Census of 1880 lists Sam Smith as a farmer. By 1880, he and his wife had three children of their own and Martha Luzany Smith’s two children by her first marriage living with them.
In 1883, after he was elected Hood County Tax Assessor, Sam Smith had the Smith-Savage house built for his family, and they moved from Acton to Granbury, the Hood County seat, since he had become a new county official.
Sam Smith and Martha Luzany Smith had five children, one son and four daughters: Wayne J., Annie, Susan E., Flake, and Luzane. A sixth child, Ollie E., died in infancy. Flake was born in Acton in 1880, and their youngest daughter, Luzane, was born in February 1883.
Sam Smith served two terms as Hood County Tax Assessor. T.T. Ewell wrote of him:
In 1882 he was elected assessor of Hood County and re-elected for the second term, at the conclusion of which, though the desire for him to continue seemed almost universal, yet he modestly and voluntarily retired from official life. He removed to Granbury after his election to office, and since retirement has devoted himself to mercantile pursuits…
After his second term as Tax Assessor, Sam Smith became a Granbury merchant. He joined Jess Baker, one of Granbury’s leading financiers and businessmen, in a hardware business on the Granbury town square. Their joint business was known as Baker and Smith Hardware. Baker and Smith Hardware ads were frequently found in the Granbury newspapers. The following ad appeared in the Granbury Graphics on April 3, 1886:
|Jess Baker||Sam H. Smith|
|Baker & Smith- Dealers in –|
|Buck’s Brilliant Stoves, Thos. Meilke & Co.’s full line of Plows, Smith wagons, Garden City Sulky and Chilled Plows and Cultivators, Corbin Disk harrows and Seeders, Scotch Harrows, Champion cotton planters, Barbed & Smooth wire and staples, Pumps, gas pipe, steam fittings, Enterprise Wind Mills, Country Hollow Ware and Stone Ware. We also make a specialty of every kind of TIN and SHEET IRON Work. Liberal prices and terms will be given our customers, and we promise that the people of Hood and adjoining counties shall not be compelled to go to railroad towns, as in the past, to get anything in our line.|
|Respectfully,Baker and Smith|
Eventually Sam Smith and Jess Baker expanded their business, opening a separate Baker and Smith Implement Company on the Granbury square, where they sold buggies, carriages, harnesses, and agricultural implements. Sam Smith and Jess Baker were partners for several years. When Sam Smith enlarged his home into an elegant Victorian house in 1892, he was an active Granbury merchant, with two flourishing businesses on the town square.
By 1894, the Baker and Smith partnership had dissolved and Sam Smith opened a grocery business on the west side of the Granbury square. His grocery business was also frequently advertised in the local newspapers. The following ad appeared in the Granbury News on November 11, 1897:
|I try always to keep a complete line of staple and fancy groceries, which I sell at lowest prices for cash. Give me a trial.|
|Sam H. Smith|
In addition to being a county official and an enterprising merchant, Sam Smith was also very active in the local Ex-Confederate organization, known as “Camp Granbury,” and in the Granbury Methodist Church. In 1889, he was a member of a group of Granbury businessmen who contributed $5300 to pay off the debt against the new Granbury College building that was erected in 1887. (Granbury College was a Methodist high school and college established in Granbury in 1875.) T.T. Ewell also wrote of Sam Smith’s “…efforts of bestowing upon his children such educational advantages as fit them for useful citizenship.” Three of Sam Smith’s daughters attended Granbury College, which was located near the Smith-Savage house.
Sam Smith and Martha Luzany Smith kept their farm in Acton while they were living in Granbury, and apparently continued to farm their land. On June 22, 1893, the Granbury News reported, “Mr. S.H. Smith spent a few days of last week resticating on his farm in the Acton neighborhood, and reports good crops all around…” Sam Smith was also busy buying and selling land in Hood County; many of his purchases were with his business partner, Jess Baker.
In 1900, Sam Smith retired from his grocery business and was elected Hood County Treasurer. His wife, Martha Luzany Smith, died on November 21, 1904. Sam Smith continued to serve as Hood County Treasurer until a few weeks before his death on December 9, 1906. Martha Luzany Smith and Sam Smith are both buried in Acton Cemetery. His casket was draped with a Confederate flag and he was eulogized by his pastor as “…honest and diligent in business, faithful and painstaking as a public official, a model husband and father…”
After Sam Smith’s death, his youngest daughter, Luzane, continued to live in her parents’ house. She took in roomers and boarders and she taught piano lessons. In 1911, the Smith’s five children, their spouses, and Laura Hutcheson Hightower (Martha Luzany Smith’s daughter from her first marriage) sold the Smith-Savage house to Mrs. Mag Cleveland.