During the era of Jack county’s rapid settlement Marshall F. Gragg located upon a tract of Wood county school land, near Post Oak, and for six years was occupied with its reduction and improvement. Disposing of his school claim in 1883, he located in Howard valley, purchased fifty acres, with a small box house and other primitive improvements, and resumed his efforts as a farmer. After twenty-eight years of industry, enduring adversities and overcoming difficulties, we find him one of the independent and substantial farmers of the valley.
A small team of mules, a wagon and a few swine constituted Mr. Gragg’s visible assets when he drove into Jack county, and today he is listed exclusive of his personal property. To win this he has provided the management and the labor and nature has done the rest. He was endowed with industry at birth and has passed the characteristic on to his posterity unimpeded and unimpaired. He trained this industrial trait in Coffey county, Tennessee, and has practiced it in Parker county, Texas, as well as in Jack. He came to the Lone Star state in the fall of 1871 and lived near Springtown, in Parker county, until his departure, humbly, yet determinedly, to build him a home in Jack.
Mr. Gragg was born in Polk county, Tennessee, July 8, 1852, a son of Thomas Gragg, who was reared in that state, lived in Greene and Coffey [Coffee] counties, came to Texas in 1881 and died at his son’s in 1892 at seventy-two years of age. The father spent his life farming, was a Primitive Baptist and an ardent Democrat, his final act being to vote for Mr. Cleveland and dying soon after hearing the result of the election. His first wife was Patsy Cunningham, who passed away in Tennessee while a young woman, the mother of A. R., of Comanche county, Oklahoma; Catherine, who died in the Indian Territory; and Marshall F., of this notice. For his second wife Mr. Gragg, Sr., married Rebecca Williamson, who bore him Napoleon, yet in Tennessee; Nancy, who married Mike Dunman and resides in Ellis county, Texas; Samuel, of Montague county; William, of Denton county; and Mary, of Ellis county.
Circumstances and conditions prevented Marshall F. Gragg getting more than the most meager knowledge of the common branches while yet at home but he attended school and “made up for lost time,” in a measure, when he had earned the money to pay the expense of it himself. At eighteen years old he hired out to a farmer and continued to so apply himself, in the main, until he became a married man. October 13, 1874, he married Miss Emma M. Dees, of Parker county, and the twain set to farming and laying the foundation for their ultimate independence and prosperity.
Mrs. Gragg was a daughter of John W. Dees and Emma J. Lancaster, who came to Navarro county, Texas, in 1866, from Neshobe [Neshoba] county, Mississippi, removed to Parker county, and there Mrs. Dees died in 1873. Mr. Dees passed away in Jack county, leaving children: Nancy T., wife of Harvey Lawrence, of Cooke county; Mrs. Gragg, born in Neshobe [Neshoba] county, October 19, 1857; Elizabeth, wife of J. W. Patterson, of Knox county; Lydia, wife of J. A. Dodson, of Cooke county; and Margaret M., who married James Johnson and died near Cundiff.
Mr. and Mrs. Gragg’s children are: William T., a farmer and stockman of the Chickasaw Nation, married Sallie McClure and has issue, Eva Naomi and Cora Vealer; Joseph Lee, a graduate of the Denton Normal School and a teacher at Honey Grove, Texas; Dr. Luther F., of Clay county, educated in the medical department of Baylor University; Junius, of Newport, Texas; and Cora Emma, Fred and Homer.
Mr. Gragg’s career as a farmer was interrupted from 1895 to 1899 with an experience as a merchant in Cundiff. For two years he was a partner in the firm of Pruitt and Gragg and for a like term conducted the business alone.
While he is a man of good business sense it is as a farmer that he has demonstrated his chief success and it is such that posterity should know him. He and Mrs. Gragg hold membership in the Missionary Baptist church and as citizens of a progressive community stand ready to aid any effort tending toward its ultimate welfare.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 317-318.