Written by Mary Kate Randle Durham
Reprinted from Hood County Genealogical Society Newsletter dated February 1993
The newly formed county of Hood was the area chosen by Great-grandfather William Greene Randle in 1871. Tennessee had been the family’s home for several generations, but a drier, more healthful climate was his goal. He was plagued by “consumption” and he also feared for the health of his wife, Sarah (Sallie) Kendall, and their four children.
He bought his land near Walnut Creek in the Acton community of Hood County in the spring of 1871. He then returned to Paris, Tennessee in May. In spite of his poor health, he returned with his family and all their possessions in a wagon train in October. He lived less than one month, died on 09 November 1871 and was buried in the Acton Cemetery.
Before he died, he asked Sallie to promise that she would not consider returning to Tennessee until the following spring. Along with sons, George Devereaux, John Peter, James Roper, and Margaret (Baby Maggie) ages 13 years to 5 years, they managed not only the first winter but many, many more. They never returned to Paris. Sallie lived until 29 July 1922. Family members still live in Acton and Hood County and own family land some 122 years later.
Great-grandfather’s trek to Texas is well known by all family members today. He spent the winter of 1870 in Waco “held prisoner by the Texas elements.” To wile away the impatient hours, he wrote a diary of letters to Sallie and the children. She saved the letters; so there are copies to study and to re-live his problems with Texas weather and the BLACK LAND SOIL! of McLennan County. He could not abide the thought of tilling or living on such strange soil; so he went further north to Hood County, seeking a sandy loam more suited to his needs. His description of the Texas Jack-rabbit, the greyhounds that could out-run them, the northers that chilled him to the bone and many other strange points of interest to him in Texas is very amusing.
The Randles emigrated to Tennessee’s counties of Henry and Stewart before and during their organization. Sallie Hogan Randle was the first white woman to settle in Henry County. James Roper Randle was the first Mayor of Paris, Henry County. Some of the cousins accidently dug the “Sulphur Well” — a longtime spa and recreation ground in Henry County. The strong sulphur water was said to have curative powers; so one person who sought sanctuary there fell victim to yellow fever during the terrible epidemic.
Much of the information repeated here has been found included in the obituaries of family members. The Randles are described as Anglo-Saxons whose bravery, directness, honesty and certain independence of thought and purpose set them apart. Few criminals have disgraced the family traditions. Their history has been replete with distinguished ministers, lawyers, physicians, and statesmen. Great-grandfather William Greene was a Methodist minister.
Through marriage the family formed unions with many other prominent families in Henry County, Tennessee. Some of those named include Kendalls, Manleys, and Wynns. It seems that some of these also migrated to Hood County, Texas.
Before coming to Tennessee the Randle family was in North Carolina. Before that time they were first in Virginia. In the obituary of John Manley Randle, it is stated that about the year 1697 or ’98 three brothers named Randolph came to America from England. One went on to Pennsylvania and changed the spelling to Randall. The one going into North Carolina used Randle and the brother remaining in Virginia retained the Randolph name. Peyton Randle in N. Carolina had decendents finding their way to Tennessee and then on to Texas.
Nine years before making his way to Texas, William Greene Randle was serving in the Confederate Army. Once again he was writing letters to Sallie and she was saving them. He was stationed on Island #10 — Mississippi River when he was writing. The first letter is dated January, 1862, and they continue through March 19th. From the dampness and cold as well as injury sustained later in the war, it is believed that was the cause of the “consumption” that brought about his early death.
Looking back to Hood County after William Greene’s death it is recorded that Sallie later married O. P. Hutchinson. Both were strong willed individuals. Sallie continued to acquire land in the Acton area, while Mr. Hutchinson had large holdings in Paluxy, Hood County. When the children reached adult age, their mother assisted them in securing homesteads in the area of their choice.
George Devereaux married Emma D. Thurman and he chose Paluxy as their home. Their children were Blanche, Thurman, Ruby, Raymona, Greta, and LaVelle. They all made their way into the world. Thurman became an expert rifleman and sharpshooter and was known throughout the world. Greta, in 1993, is the only member of her generation still alive and very alert to spin yarns and tell family stories.
John Peter married Helen Alta Hiner and first settled in Paluxy. Some years later, around 1900, he requested a homestead in Scurry County, Texas. Seven of their nine children were born in Hood County before they left for far west Texas. Their many descendents remain in that part of the country today.
James Roper chose to become a horse and mule breeder in the Acton community. He married Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) Keith. Their children were Keith, Grady, Kate, and Guy. He also carried on his father’s love for writing. Under the pen name of “Uncle Joe,” his column on philosophy, current affairs, and personal matters was written with wisdom, a great sense of humor and was oftentimes in rhyme. This was published in the Graphic Democrat and / or the Graphic Truth. The latter is probably some of “Uncle Joe’s” humor. This writing appeared from 1904 — 1914 or later. Many columns have no dates.
James Roper (Jim) Randle’s two older sons carried on their father’s love for livestock. Grady added more acreage to his family land so that it extended toward Cresson. He and his wife, Effie Sears, were ranchers for all of Grady’s life. Family members carry on the work today.
Keith started with the horse and mule business in Waples community. He married Minnie Grissom. In 1927 he bought land in Granbury and expanded his animal holdings to include Jersey cows, dairy goats, and collie dogs. From the Jersey dairy he provided milk delivery twice daily to most of the homes in Granbury. After World War II took all the dairy workers away, he continued milk delivery to the groceries and cafes only. He expanded the dairy and goat production and became well known throughout the United States and Mexico. Both the goats and collies were shipped by rail to most states in the USA. His daughter, JoAnn Randle Massey, continues to live on the family farm. Mary Kate Randle Durham left the farm for the city of Granbury when she married. Peggy Randle Mayes also left the area after marriage and was a teacher. She passed away in July, 1992. These heirs still own Keith’s portion of the family in Acton.
Jim’s daughter, Kate, married Luke Rash. At the time of her mother’s death, she and her husband were deeded the family homestead and continued to live there and rear their five children.
Guy married Neita Cox and joined her father at Thurber, Texas, when the coal mines were still in operation. He did not return to Hood County until retirement years. His grandson lives in Acton on the family property.
William Greene’s “Baby Maggie” married John Franklin Cleveland on 23 December 1888. They, too, chose to live in Acton. They had a large mercantile business and developed the first telephone system in Acton. Courts, Chevis, Fred, Shynie, and Leo were their five children. Leo, the last, was born 03 January 1901. Unfortunately John Franklin died in July, 1901, and their daughter, Shynie, passed away in January, 1902. As evidenced before, the Randle women were very strong. Aunt Mag, as she was known throughout the county, kept her family together. She provided for her four sons and lived until 26 May 1945 — always with a great sense of humor. As the boys were old enough she bought a large home in Granbury within a few blocks of Granbury College. Here she lived with her sons and many of the nephews as well; so they could all have the opportunity to finish their high school studies and to begin college studies. With the closing of the college, Aunt Mag returned to her home in Acton and some of the boys went on to Add-Ran College in Thorp Spring. Near the time that Aunt Mag returned home her brother, George, died. She and George’s wife, Emma, spent many happy hours together — the original “Parents Without Partners” before it was fashionable.
In 1993 there are seventh generation Randles living still in Hood County. Once the Randles find something that suits them, they find no need to change.
Read one of the many letters written by William Greene Randle to his wife, Sallie, from McLennan County, near Waco, during the several months he spent looking for land to purchase. Randle Letter, 1871