JOHN R. HOLBROOK. In the subject of this personal article we have a representative of one of the honored pioneer Texas families and one whose record in Montague county has been one of thrift and of upright citizenship. In the brief period which his identity with the commercial interests of his county covers he has demonstrated a high order of tact and business judgment and its universally regarded as one of the foremost merchants of his town and county.
This family of Holbooks was established in Texas in the early days of the republic and its founder was Richmond Holbook, who left his Illinois home and became a wanderer, so to speak, on the western plains. He sought California during the rush of 1849 and spent some months on the Pacific coast. His wife was Miss Garrison, and bore him two children, viz.: Elizabeth, wife of W. G. Walker, of Cooke county, Texas, and John A. Holbrook, father of the subject of this review. John A. Holbrook was born in Texas, May 1947, and was reared by Arnold Garrison, a brother of his mother. The scenes of his boyhood were strictly rural and his advantages for an education were of the country school sort. Before he came to his majority he became responsible for his own destiny and he hired out to a ranchman and ran cattle for a few years. At twenty-one years old he married and with the patrimony left him he purchased a farm and devoted himself to its cultivation and improvement. Having a liking for the stock business and being cramped for room in Grayson county, he sold his homestead there and sought a location in Montague. Finding an ideal place on Denton creek, he settled down there and after he was forced out of the cattle business by the encroachment of Denton creek’s farmer. A fine body of rich valley land, lying along the creek, comprised a portion of his estate and his purchases from time to time aggregated some seven hundred and eighty acres.
John A. Holbrook was as virtuous and noble a citizen as he was an intelligent and thrifty farmer. In his youth he served a year in Gano’s command in the Confederate army, in Capt. Martin’s company, and this was an interesting and instructive experience in contrast with the humdrum of farm life on a frontier farm. He felt little concern in politics, but he believed in good roads and good schools, and he was officially connected with the acquirement of both. In 1868 he married Miss Frances Walton, a daughter of Thomas Walton, from Pettis county, Missouri, where Mrs. Holbrook was born September, 1847. The issue of this union were: William, of Nashville, Tennessee; Ella, wife of Dr. H. F. Schoolfield, of Sunset, Texas; Dena, who is with the family home; John R., our subject; Fannie, yet with the family circle; Minnie, wife of Samuel Jackson, a prominent young farmer and ginner, of Denver; and Walter and Charley, who manage and cultivate the old home.
John R. Holbrook was born in Grayson county, Texas, March 15, 1875, and was four years of age when his parents moved into Montague county. Until seventeen years of age he was a useful and valuable adjunct to his father’s farm, but at this date he began in earnest to acquire an education. He attended the college at Denton, Texas, for a time and then enrolled as a student in Daughton’s Business College at Nashville, Tennessee, where he completed a course. He then returned to Montague county and was employed, for a time, with M. D. Lowe & Company at Bowie, as clerk and bookkeeper. Leaving the store, he rejoined his parents on the farm for a years or so and then became a student in Eastman’s Business college in Poughkeepsie, New York, finishing in typewriting and shorthand at the branch school in New York City. He held a few positions in the city as stenographer and secretary and concluded his work there with Austin B. Fletcher.
On his return west Mr. Holbrook engaged in the grocery, furniture and drug business in Sunset, having associated for a time with Dr. Schoolfield, his brother-in-law. His acquaintance and his well known business integrity brought him success from the start and nothing occurred to mar his future until 1904, when fire destroyed his store and stock, a blow which threatened to put him out of business. Encouraged by his host of friends to resume, he restocked with dry goods and groceries, and his house is one of the prominent marts of trade in Sunset.
In 1897, in Montague county, Mr. Holbrook married Miss Mazie Jackson, a daughter of Andrew Jackson, one of the pioneers of Denton Creek and mentioned more extensively elsewhere in this work. Alfred, Mildred, John and Vera are the children of Mr. and Mrs. Holbrook.
In Democratic politics Mr. Holbrook takes a voter’s interest and his voice and quiet work aid in working up a sentiment in behalf of local and other candidates for public office. He is thoroughly progressive in business methods and is in a high degree public spirited, and it is the good fortune of Sunset to count him among her citizens.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 710-711.