The long, bloody Civil War was over. The future began to look brighter for some people. For George L. Booker and his father John Sylvester Booker the future looked brighter in Texas, far away from the scars and memories they both endured. Each had served the Confederacy in Virginia with George being with Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox and the ensuing surrender of the South.
After briefly staying in Lamar County in Texas, George moved on to Hood County in 1871 where he boarded with the Montgomery family in a log cabin on Wheeler Branch. Life must have been exciting for him as this area of Texas was growing and becoming less frontier and more civilized.
Glen Rose was still a small village clustered around Barnard’s Mill. Citizens in southern Hood Co. where present Glen Rose is and in upper Bosque Co. became dissatisfied about having to travel so far to the county seats. George was one of the petitioners to the state legislature in 1875 to form a new county, requesting a portion of each county. What they received was 200 square miles cut off the southern part of Hood Co., resulting in a very small county. The county seat was to be the village at Barnard’s Mill, but the citizens wanted a new name, Rose Glen, a Scottish reference. George Booker’s address became Rose Glen as evidenced by one of his personal papers. Later, though, the citizens changed the name to Glen Rose.
His interest in Nannie Denicia Fuller led to their marriage in 1881. The Fullers, too, came from their bankrupt home in Georgia to Glen Rose. Samuel Fuller, the father, lost his life in the war, and the family lost their home by having invested in Confederate money. They endured pain and sorrow when General Sherman’s army made their march through Georgia to the sea. One can imagine that the banks of the Paluxy River and the tall grasses and pristine forests and clean, flowing springs soothed their weary minds.
Upon coming to Glen Rose, the Fullers helped Bro. R. H. Whitehead establish the First Baptist Church in 1879 and became charter members. Nannie reared her family in the church that was built in 1885 on present-day College St. Nannie also taught at the Paluxy Baptist College at the corner of Van Zandt Rd. and Barnard.
George and Nannie started their home on a farm on White Bluff Creek near the Lanham community. Several of their eleven children were born there: Nora; John Olin; Josephine “Phenie”; Lorena; Nellie; Elizabeth “Lizzie”; Sam; Karl; George, Jr.; Marvn; and Moody.. But in 1896, the Bookers bought the 600-acre McCamant farm and home on the Paluxy from their heirs.
William S. and Alex McCamant, too, settled in this southern part of Hood County around 1861.They established a tannery on the Paluxy River, processing the hides with cedar leaves. This endeavor lasted only a few years, and Alex moved on to Granbury where he surveyed and platted the town. William stayed near Glen Rose, building a stone structure for a home in about 1874. The vestiges of this house can be seen on Hwy. 67 near the south end of the Paluxy River bridge.
While the story and a half house was being built, the McCamant family lived in a log cabin nearby. We can assume the log barn that stood on the place for another 100+ years was that first home. Custom was to live in a cabin and when the more permanent house was finished, the cabin became a barn.
Using readily available limestone quarried close by and making mortar of lime and sand in a kiln, the Georgian style two room building was erected, including two rooms in the upper story. A fireplace stood at each end. A two-room shed built of raw lumber was attached to the back side. The walls are 18 inches thick, plastered inside. The floor joists under the floor are full size 2x6 pine. The joists under the upper story are heavy, full measure 2x6 pine lumber hauled from East Texas. The rafters are of cedar poles; the window and door lentils are of rock on the outside and cedar beams on the inside.
When Mr. Booker acquired the McCamant house, the building wasn’t quite finished, lacking installed windows and having boards placed over some openings. The Bookers set about finishing the work and improving the property. In 1911 the shed rooms on the back were torn off. A bedroom, dining room, and kitchen were added, built of lumber. Another major change was the addition of three dormer windows in the upper story. The front doors were hand-made heavy pine with the original latch-string fasteners. As long as the family lived there, they could truly say, “We’ll leave the latch string out for you.” (If the latch string was pulled inside the house, no one could open the door from the outside.)
Mr. Booker used his schooling in civil engineering in the surveyor’s occupation, serving Somervell County in that official capacity for over 30 years. He served as sheriff once, but said “he wasn’t cut out for killing, so hung up his guns and handed over his badge.” Farming and stock raising remained an important venture for him to provide for his large family. In later years Mr. Booker helped organize the Rufe Wood Camp of United Confederate Veterans and headed many of their annual reunions in Glen Rose. And he presided over the Farmers Mutual Telephone Company in Glen Rose for a number of years.
Three sons, John Olin, George and Moody followed their dad’s profession as surveyors in the county, the most recent one being Moody. They will remain well-documented in local archives as surveyors spanning nearly a hundred years. All four surveyed extensively in Hood, Erath, Bosque and Somervell Counties and were highly skilled in their profession. Some of their surveying tools are in the Somervell County Museum.
As time passed, the unique circumstance evolved that three unmarried children lived out their lives at the home place. Miss Nell, Miss Lorena, and Moody. The two women spent their days in service to their fellow man. Nell taught school in area schools for a time, then she and Lorena helped their brother George run the drug store on the square from 1921 to 1933. Miss Nell and Miss Lorena both were avid workers in the Baptist Church, teaching classes and working with youth and missions. Then in the 1960s they both became charter members of what is now the Somervell County Historical Commission.
Miss Nell loved nature and the growing plants of her beloved Texas. In her later life, she catalogued as many of the wild flowers and plants of Somervell County as she could, sharing her knowledge with the community through periodic articles in the Reporter. The yard around the house bespoke her love of plants, especially native ones. Today she would be considered a master gardener. In the spring, their yard was full of bluebonnets, paintbrushes and other eye-catching flowers blanketed around the house.
This house and home still remain revered by all who have had the privilege to live in Glen Rose and to know the Booker family. Nannie Booker easily grew to be a pillar of the community, known far and wide for her hospitality and kindness. Through the years members of the community could depend on the Bookers to be makers and keepers of local history. This building is a landmark of giving Glen Rose its unique place in history. In 1963, the Booker Home was awarded a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark medallion. The house stayed with the Booker family nearly 100 years.
As long as Nell, Lorena and Moody occupied the house, their home exuded a sense of history, warmth and simple hospitality born in the Deep South, transplanted to Somervell soil. One would come away from their home with a gift of friendship, mellowness, contentment and visions of Southern memorabilia adorning the walls and fireplace mantel. In Miss Nell’s own words, “The old house gives a feeling of home—a sense of fulfillment.”
Dorothy Leach is a Somervell County historian and archivist.