Labor Day, on September 1 this year, is the traditional date for the Hagerman Reunion, held at Hagerman Baptist Church on Refuge Road, Sherman. On that day, former residents and descendants of Hagerman residents will meet to swap stories and enjoy potluck. We tip our hat to those who have kept this tradition going longer that the town was in existence, and in recognition, there will be a continuous showing of some home movie clips of the townspeople of Hagerman Texas, at the Refuge in the Visitor Center from 10 am - 3 pm Labor Day. Below you will find information compiled about the town by Jerry Lincecum; this is also distributed as a flier at the Visitor Center.
A Brief History of
By Jerry Lincecum
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on Big Mineral Creek in Grayson County occupies land with a varied and interesting history. It was once used by the Caddo Indians. As farmland, it became part of the O.H. Willis Survey. In 1899 a section (640 acres) of this land was purchased for farming by three brothers from Fordyce, Arkansas: James Patillo Smith, William Nat Smith, and Maurice Goodwin Smith.
In 1904 the brothers divided the land among themselves, and J.P. Smith set aside 10 acres for a town along the railroad tracks, in the NE corner of his land. After having it surveyed for a township, he platted and named the streets. The name of the town was a foregone conclusion, since the MKT Railroad switch there was already named the Hagerman Switch (after an official of the railroad). It was a favorite stop for the train because of good water from the springs nearby. By 1910 the town had grown to a population of about 250 citizens.
Ten years later it was a thriving community with a railroad depot, cotton gin, brick bank, a restaurant, post office (established in a home), a school, a church, an ice-house and two grocery stores. There was also a large hardware store (shown above) well-stocked with Daisy Mae butter churns, since many people kept a milk-cow in their own backyards. Corn meal was another staple, so Hagerman had an old-fashioned noisy mill where corn was crushed and ground. Local farmers patronized a blacksmith shop, and the increasingly popular automobiles required a filling station and repair shop. Soon a barbershop was added.
Despite the ill effects of the Great Depression, the town prospered until 1940. When the U.S. government announced it was going to buy up the land adjacent to Big Mineral Creek for the reservoir which would become Lake Texoma, some of the Hagerman citizens began moving out. Gradually, this island of activity began to break apart and drift away. The cotton gin was sold and moved to Tioga. The moving of houses from Hagerman to other locations soon gave the town a half-empty look.
In 1939 the clearing of land for this flood control project on Red River started, though the actual construction of the dam did not begin until 1940. The Hagerman Presbyterian Church (below) had its building reinforced in 1942, so it could be moved to the Denison area to become Hyde Park Presbyterian.
The Hagerman Baptist Church was moved eastward about two miles, where today a more modern building houses the congregation.
After the Denison Dam was completed in late December of 1943, the waters of Lake Texoma rose rapidly to cover most of the buildings that remained. The two-story school, (shown below) which stood on higher ground, was soon razed to reclaim the bricks. Thus the town of Hagerman died only about 40 years after it was founded.