In enumerating the pioneers of Montague county the subject of this review holds rank among the earliest, for his father, Wiley B. Savage, founded the family on the head of Denton creek, or in that vicinity, in 1856, and is, therefore, entitled to rank among the very first white men to hide himself away among the Indians and wild animals of the then wilderness of Montague. He came hither blazing the way for settlers of the future and to plant a Savage seed which should grow and flourish when the generations of industry and peace should reign upon the land and conquered nature should yield up her fruits to the hand of man.
It was in March of 1856 that this band of Savages brought the first ray of civilized hope into the Denton creek neighborhood and its leader established himself on this pre-emption on what is now the McCaleb place, where the Englands were afterward murdered by Cribbs and Preston. Wiley B. Savage introduced farming into the community and he was accompanied hither by settlers, Hamilton, Afred Campbell, David Avis, John Campbell and wife. Of this number, or their descendants, the subject of this sketch is the only one remaining. They organized their little colony in Grayson county, whither Wiley Savage had gone from Rusk county, Texas, a few years before. The latter came to the Lone Star state in 1849 from Robinson county, Tennessee, where he was born and married. His birth occurred in 1812 and he married Mary A. Carney, who died almost upon their arrival in Texas and lies buried at Henderson. His second wife was Rhoda A. Taylor, yet surviving and a resident of Indian Territory. In his early years in Texas Wiley B. Savage seems to have been restless and unsettled, for he moved about much and lived in Rusk, Grayson, Cooke and then Grayson counties, before his advent to his final residence in Montague. He came to this place with ox teams and had little more than firmly established himself when, in 1864, he died. By his first wife he left children: Thomas N., Louisa; Elizabeth; William, and Robert of this review. By his second wife were born Mary J. and John W.
Robert Savage was born in Robinson county, Tennessee, June 11, 1849. The family made their western trip the same year, by boat, to Jefferson, Texas, and, in the several counties above named, he grew up. “Among the Indians and wolves,” as he states, he came to his majority in Montague county, having access to little more than the sight of a public school. Having sentiments in opposition the purposes of the Confederacy, the family went north during a portion of the war period and passed several months within the Federal lines. Following his return home he spent several years in the saddle as a cowboy, being on the old drives to Baxter Springs and duplicating, in many ways, the tracks of old-time cowmen. When he finally settled down to the farm and began his domestic career it was near his present home. His modest residence of today is erected upon a tract of the Wingate survey which was purchased years ago and his stock-farming has so prospered him as to enable him to add one hundred and sixty acres to his original domain. He was married at just past twenty-four and he and his wife started in the world about even. With the start they had they have played a strong hand in the game of “give and take” for a third of a century and no family within this rural community stands higher than that of “Bob” and Annie Savage.
August 12, 1873, Mr. Savage married Miss Annie Wainscott, a daughter of John Wainscott, mention of whom occurs elsewhere in this work. Mrs. Savage was born in Arkansas, July 24, 1843, and came in 1857 to Texas. She and her husband are the parents of: John Wiley, a young farmer of Montague county; Sarah L.; Annie and Obedience.
Robert Savage is a living witness to the whole realm of progress which has occurred in his county. He stands as a mile-post marking the beginning of things here and he has watched its events and wielded a quite influence in the fashioning of things according to the notions of civilized life. He is the oldest settler in Montague county, was here when the first wave of civilization rippled on this frontier district, participated in the movement of retrogression from the county during Indian and Civil war, and has been identified with the lasting progress from the ’70s onward.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 152-153.