David P. McCracken biography

In pioneer days the McCracken family was found in Montague county, where the subject of this review h as now lived for many years. He has devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits, and is also classed with the enterprising merchants of Hardy. His birth occurred in North Carolina, November 17, 1845, his parents being Enos and Charlotte (Rogers) McCracken, both of whom were natives of North Carolina. The paternal grandfather was of Irish descent and was an early settler of North Carolina, where he became a large land owner and prosperous farmer. He possessed good business ability and secured land that enabled him to give good farms and homes to each of his fourteen children. He remained upon the old homestead in North Carolina up to the time of his death. Among his children were: Ack, David, John, Russell, Enos, Harmon, James, Joseph and six daughters. Of this family Enos and Joseph came to Texas and the latter died in Cooke county.

Mr. Rogers, of North Carolina, was a well-to-do farmer of Scotch descent, and was a devoted Methodist, dying in that faith at a ripe old age. His children were: Thornton; Newton, of Gainesville; William; Mathew; Taylor; Doc; and Mrs. Charlotte McCracken. To Mr. and Mrs. McCracken were born twelve children: James, deceased; M. J. C., of Oklahoma; Mrs. Sally Masoner; David P.; Joseph, a farmer of this neighborhood; F. Reed, of Donley county, Texas; Mrs. Molly Berry; Mrs. Rachel Piland; C. Tip, of Kansas; Mrs. Dorthula Jackson; Mrs. Victoria Egleson of the Indian Territory; and Enos, of Kansas. The last two were born after the removal of the family to Texas and the first two were soldiers of the Confederate army throughout the Civil war.

David P. McCracken was born in North Carolina, and with his parents came to Texas when about fourteen years of age. He assisted in the arduous task of developing and improving a new farm and then started out in life on his own account. Following the death of his father he lived with his widowed mother and assisted her in the struggle to provide for her family and keep her children together, but the hostility and depredations of the red men proved a great hindrance. They stole all the horses the family owned and spread a feeling of alarm through the locality. The settlers were constantly on the alert and it was necessary to make many raids after the Indians. D. P. McCracken was on a number of these runs, trying to recover stock. The Indians always made their raids on moonlight nights, stealing and running off stock and killing the settlers. The frontiersmen placed all their horses together and took turns in guarding them. Mr. McCracken was acting as guard one night when he saw an Indian approaching and shot him, but according to the custom of the red men several of his companions carried off the body. The Indian, however, who was shot, died. It was through the vigilance of Mr. McCracken that the entire herd of horses was saved. He saw the bodies of many men and women on the plains who had been killed by the Indians and he was the first to discover the dead body of John Leatherwood, and of Fitzpatrick and his wife, and A. Parkhill, all of whom were carried to the McCracken home. The total killed on that raid were sixteen men, women and children. The settlers continued to be constantly annoyed by the Indians until 1872, and after the big raid in 1868 the McCracken family removed to Whitesboro, from which point different members of the household made trips back and forth to the ranch for two years. They then returned to settle permanently upon the farm. Great changes have occurred in the country since then, as the district has become thickly settled, towns and villages have sprung up and the land has been reclaimed for the purposes of cultivation and stock raising.

Mr. McCracken remained under the parental roof until December 24, 1871, when he married Miss Winnie L. Thompson, who was born in Georgia in 1853, a daughter of William and Polly (Gan) Thompson, the former a native of Georgia and the latter of Tennessee. In 1870 they came to Montague county, Texas, where the father conducted farming, purchasing and selling four or five tracts of land. Later he bought a good farm in Wichita county, where he remained until his death in 1881. While in Georgia he served as sheriff of his county, and he was also influential in political circles in Texas. In his family were seven children: Barry, Joseph, Nathan, Harm, Mrs. Susan Tidwell, Winnie L. and Mrs. Lizzie Masoner.

A year after his marriage Mr. McCracken pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land, which he yet owns, and to this he added two other surveys, and also bought the interest of the other heirs in the homestead. He owns a total of four hundred and sixty acres and three well improved farms, all of which he now rents. He placed the first farm under cultivation and made substantial improvements there, continuing upon that place until 1882. In the three farms he has two hundred acres under cultivation, and his labors have been attended with a gratifying measure of success, as he has carried on the work of tilling the soil and raising stock. Much land was yet open for pre-emption when he came to the county, and milling was done at Farmington, while it was necessary to go to Sherman for supplies, and the cottom [cotton] market was a Jefferson. Game of all kinds was plentiful and there were a number of all kinds of wild beasts in the country, including the Mexican cougar and bear.

Mr. McCracken continued in active farming until 1882, when he and his brother, F. R. McCracken, built the second business house of Hardy and engaged in merchandising. After two years he purchased his brother’s interest and carried on business alone for three years, when on account of failing health he closed out his stock and remained out of business for a few years. He still retained possession of his property, however, and resided in the village, where he erected a commodious residence that he now occupies. In 1894 he resumed operations as a merchant and is till an active factor in trade circles. Hardy was established in 1880, the first store house being erected in that year and business commenced there. The post office was established in 1882 and Rube Hardy was the first postmaster. The village has a population of two hundred and has two stores and a post office, also a large school, a blacksmith shop and cotton gin.

Mr. and Mrs. McCracken have a family of three children: Nora, the wife of J. G. Griffin, a farmer; W. Pearl, the wife of C. F. Phillips, a farmer and stock raiser; and L. Mabel, the wife of W. S. Denton, also an agriculturist. Mrs. McCracken is a member of the Missionary Baptist church. Mr. McCracken exercises his right of franchise in support of the Democracy, and served two years as deputy sheriff, but has never been active as a politician, preferring to concentrate his energies upon his business affairs, which have been capably conducted and have brought to him a gratifying measure of success.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 566-568.