The Nutt Family

From History of Texas Published in 1896

The Nutt family of Granbury and Hood county, so ably represented in mercantile and social circles by the brothers, J.F. and D.L. Nutt, are descended on the paternal side from David Nutt, grandfather of these gentlemen, who, according to the best information obtainable, was a native of England. When but a boy, in company with a brother also in his minority, he left their native land to seek a home and fortune in the western world. The accumulating mist of years has obscured the data of their arrival upon American shores, yet data exist to justify the placing of that event previous to the breaking out of the Revolutionary war in 1775. These brothers settled in North Carolina where, so far as known, they made permanent homes and became useful and respected citizens. Tradition asserts that the grandfather, David Nutt, was a man of local prominence and efficiently served the people of his county in the capacity of sheriff. From the best evidence now extant it appears that the name was originally McNutt and that the orthographic change occurred in this branch of the American family when David Nutt was sheriff. He was married in North Carolina to Rachael Cates, by whom he had a large family of children. Four of his sons located in Tennessee, probably all in Bedford county, and one of the number, David, Jr., was the father of the Nutt brothers of Granbury.

David Nutt, Jr., was married in Tennessee to Miss Sarah Ann Landers and continued his residence in that state until 1844, when with his family he removed to Newton county, Missouri, where he purchased land which was cultivated by his sons while he applied himself to his trade of blacksmithing. There the family resided until 1859, when the parents and four of their children–Jacob, Abel, Susan A. and D.L.–moved to Texas to join their son and brother, Jesse F., who had preceded them to the Lone Star state, locating in what is now Hood county in 1858. Mr. Nutt purchased a small tract of land near the present site of Granbury–the property now owned by James H. Henderson. Subsequently he settled in Granbury, where he lived until his death, which occurred in 1872, when he attained the age of 75 years. He was well advanced in life when he reached Texas and until the end of his days he lived in retirement, cared for by his sons, who quickly became important business factors in the locality and highly prosperous men. Mrs. Nutt departed this life in 1890, aged 83 years. She was a lady of sterling Christian qualities and was an acceptable member of the Baptist church. She was a daughter of Christopher and Phoeba (Lee) Landers, who removed from Kentucky to Tennessee in the early settlement of that state. The Lee family was originally from Virginia and tradition states was connected with the family of that name so distinguished in the affairs of the Old Dominion.

Of the 12 children born to Mr. and Mrs. Nutt, eleven grew to maturity and at present four survive, namely:

Jesse F.


Henry, who resides in Neosho, Missouri and


The deceased are:

Robert L.

Elizabeth P., wife of A.J. Wright

Mary, who died unmarried

Phoeba, who was the wife of M.F. Landers


Susan Ann, whose first husband, H.A. Landers, was killed at the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, in 1863, after which she became the wife of Ray Hopping

John M. and

An infant daughter, a twin sister of Susan Ann.

Of the Nutt brothers it may be stated that since 1869 they have been associated in mercantile pursuits and in business affairs, and their history, considered from this standpoint, is as one. Jesse F. was born in Bedford county, Tennessee, January 19, 1833, while Jacob’s birth occurred in the same county, on the 1st of January, 1835; and D.L. was born in Newton county, Missouri, January 6, 1848. Their early boyhood days were passed in a frontier home with practically no advantages for obtaining an education. In 1844 the parents removed with their family to Newton county, Missouri, then a western frontier settlement, in which the elder children grew to man’s estate and assisted in the development and cultivation of the father’s farm.

On the 10th of April, 1853, Jesse F. Nutt was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth, daughter of Hon. Abel and Sarah (Shipman) Landers. In 1858, in company with her parents and their children, Jesse Nutt and his wife came to Texas, and the following year he was joined by his parents and a part of the family as stated above. The terrible misfortune of blindness befell the two brothers in early life, Jesse F. losing his sight in 1854 and Jacob the following year, both from disease of the eyes. Their active business career opened in 1867, at Stockton on the Brazos, a small hamlet which first bore the name of Landers’ Crossing and was located about three miles up the river from the present city of Granbury. Their joint capital at the time amounted to $30. Both were persevering by nature, and affliction had made them doubly patient. They economized at every point, bought goods in small quantities, always using up the accumulating surplus, however small, in this way. In 1868 Granbury was settled and they moved at once to the town and built the second house–a log one–in which they opened up business. They gradually prospered, and when their business outgrew their store they erected another, 16 by 20 feet, a part of the lumber used in the construction being hauled from east Texas with ox teams. For this they paid $500, at the rate of $90 for a thousand feet. In course of time this structure was outgrown by their constantly increasing business, which necessitated the erection of their present commodious stone building, at a cost of $10,000, and their stock is one of the largest in the county, while the volume of their trade aggregated $35,000 annually. The brothers together gave their attention to their mercantile business until 1883, when a tract of 640 acres was purchased by them on the Paluxy creek, at which time Uncle Jake, as he is familiarly called, went to the farm to give it his personal supervision, and Uncle Jesse and D.L. remained in charge of the store. This widened interest proved a source of profit, under Uncle Jake’s able management, and since then by purchase they have added to the original tract until at the present they own 2,500 acres of good land.

Thus we have presented a career which for the success attained under the disadvantage of blindness, the lack of useful business training and an insignificant capital, is, we believe, unparalleled in business annals. As their financial resources increased, their naturally generous natures adopted a liberal policy in encouraging public improvement. They donated to the Granbury College the splendid and beautiful campus of that institution, and to encourage the location of the county seat at Granbury they and Thomas Lambert offered to donate 40 acres of land for a town site. This was eventually accepted by the commissioners appointed to the court to decide upon the location. To churches and schools they have given freely, besides aiding every enterprise whether public or private that is calculated to add to the well-being of the community. For many years the Brazos river remained unbridged at Granbury–a serious detriment to the city’s interests; and to do away with this the Nutt Brothers, Captain Thrash, Dr. Hannaford and a few others erected the magnificent iron bridge that now spans the Brazos at this point. The cost of this structure was $25,000. Subsequently the bridge was sold to the county at one-half its original cost.

These brothers all have intense religious natures. J.F. and J. being exemplary members of the Baptist church, while D.L. is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, south. These three brothers are similar in nature, quiet and unostentatious in manner, of kindly temperament and of even dispositions, rarely disturbed by the turmoils and commotions incident to life.

John M. Nutt married one of the daughters of John Cline about 1860, and in 1865 was accidentally killed, leaving three children; his wife died a few years later. Robert L. Nutt married Miss Elizabeth Lattimore, and died about 1848; three children survived him. Abel married Miss Indiana Rylie, daughter of Y.J. Rylie, of Hood county.

To Jesse F. Nutt and wife have been born four children, two of whom died in infancy. Abbie became the wife of Henry J. Kerr, and Josie married A.V. Harlson. These two gentlemen comprise the well-known firm of Kerr & Harlson, of Granbury. While “Uncle Jake” has always been an admirer of ladies and by ladies admired in turn for his manliness of character, his life has been one of “single existence,” yet he took upon himself the responsibility of rearing and educating a number of children, nieces and nephews. Of two, Ora and Mattie, daughters of his brother Abel, he assumed paternal care when they were ten and twelve years of age, respectively. Ora became the wife of A.F. Warren, of Hood county; Mattie died February 27, 1895, at the age of 20 years. When Henry A. Landers, his brother-in-law, fell in the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, Uncle Jake opened his home for the reception of his two fatherless children, George W. and Belinda, both of whom he reared and educated. The latter became the wife of John L. Glenn, of Hood county, and the former now resides in Granbury. Susan, his sister, and the widow of Mr. Landers, married for her second husband Ray Hopping, by whom she had three children, all of whom Uncle Jake reared and educated. They are named as follows:

Jesse S.

Flora, who married Jesse Nutt, Jr., of Hood county and

R.C., who married Lela Jones.

David L. Nutt, the youngest brother of the trio, was united in marriage February 28, 1872, with Miss Sudie A., daughter of Captain Peter Garland, by whom he has four children, namely:

Mattie, now a talented and popular young lady and

Henry Lee, a young gentleman of most promising talents.

The deceased children were:

Sallie L., who died January 1, 1891 and

Joseph, whose death occurred February 1, 1894.

About 1880 D.L. Nutt erected his present handsome home as a private residence; but as there was a dearth of hotel accommodations in Granbury, he subsequently built additions to the original structure and converted his home into a public hostelry, which has since been maintained greatly to the comfort and satisfaction of commercial travelers and all others requiring transient homes. As host and hostess Mr. Nutt and his amiable wife are without peers as entertainers, and all who stop beneath their roof are made to feel at home. He is genial yet undemonstrative in manner, and there is a warmth of sincerity in his language and ways that denotes the true friend. He has business qualities of the highest order, and the phenomenal success that has attended the Nutt Brothers’ business is in no small degree attributable to his able and conservative management. In 1864 D.L. Nutt regularly enlisted in the home guards, a military organization to suppress the depredations of hostile Indians, and was active in the service until the close of the civil war. He is a Mason of the Royal Arch degree, having been admitted to the Granbury Lodge in 1871.


History of Texas, 1896, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co.