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Wolf Path, The City of the Divide: Today's Whitesboro Texas

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We called a strip of land on the western edge of Grayson County Wolf Path in the 19th century because wolves roamed the headwaters of the Red River Valley. Captain Ambrose B. White, born in Illinois in 1811, arrived there with his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Murdah White, with a Peter’s Colony party in 1848. Ambrose enlisted to fight in the Blackhawk War which occurred from April to August in 1832. Among Ambrose's contemporaries fighting this war were Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Zachary Taylor. The story goes that Ambrose met Sarah at Apple River Fort in Illinois while she molded bullets for the soldiers. (1)

Sauk Tribal elders turned over their land in Illinois to the U.S. in 1804. Blackhawk, 65 years old in 1832, took 1,000 Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo Indians, including women and children, east across the Mississippi River into Illinois to reclaim their tribal lands. Seven thousand members of the U.S. Army, state militias, and other Indian tribes rose up against Blackhawk and his warriors. An estimated 450 to 600 Indians and 70 soldiers and settlers lost their lives in that gory war. (2)

Sarah and Ambrose married at the end of the Blackhawk War in 1833. Fifteen years later, Ambrose and Sarah embarked on a slow, three-month journey through forests and plains with eight children to Grayson County.* Sherman, Texas, the Grayson County seat, touted only a blacksmith and two or three stores in 1848. They set up camp in Wolf Path. The next morning Ambrose said, “This is an ideal spot to call home”. They built log cabins but had to remain vigilant against nature and Indians. (3)

The area’s groves of mesquite trees and sandy loam soil produced lush grazing fodder for buffalo which attracted Indian hunters and wolves. The isolated territory of Wolf Path became known as White’s Colony and made for the perfect stage stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. The stage made its first stop in Texas at Sherman on September 20, 1858 and continued onto Whitesboro to change mules and let the drivers eat. The relationship with the Butterfield Company supplied White’s Colony with a small but steady income which led to more stability and encouraged more settlement. Ambrose built a hotel called the Westview Inn to provide a proper stage stop that benefitted both entities.

White’s Colony held an important secession rally for Grayson and Cooke Counties in 1860 when news reached the area that Lincoln had won the presidential election, and a selected committee drew up the following resolutions:

The committee reported a resolution setting forth the belief of the gathering that the election of the black Republican candidate for president as "an emphatic endorsement of a platform of principals in violent opposition to Southern interests and Southern institutions” offered abundant proof that the several states of the Union cannot long live together in peace and the self-protection and absolute duty we owe to our homes and firesides, demand that we shall look to our constitutional privileges of security and safety instead of the will of the majority of the people of the United States which has been expressed under false teachings and in face of the Constitution of the same. (4)**

Captain Ambrose White volunteered for service in the Confederate Army at the beginning of the Civil War. The small but growing White’s Colony suffered from numerous Indian raids. Company D of Border Regiment of the Texas Calvary called to muster with Captain White in command. Company D, headquartered in Gainesville with 77 men, operated for two months in January and February of 1865 on the heel of the Civil War when only fourteen families lived in White’s Colony. After this episode in its history, citizens of White’s Colony began to build schools and churches. Ambrose helped survey the first ten blocks of the new town.

The community’s first post office opened in 1860. In 1861, Dr. Robert Lively founded the Whitesboro Lodge, no. 263, A.F.&A.M. By the end of the 1860s, Main Street measured at 50 feet wide and was congested with traffic. White’s Colony supported criminal elements of Americans and Native Americans with several saloons. Shootings in the street were commonplace, and menfolk forbade their wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters to go out on Saturday nights. Eventually, White’s Colony tamed down.

The people charted the town of Whitesboro on June 2, 1873. Ambrose served as its first mayor until his death in 1885. G. O. and Luke Hunter along with their mother, Mrs. L. F. McPhearson, arrived in a covered wagon from Caddo, Indian Territory, and founded the Whitesboro Democrat newspaper in 1877. Their newspaper became today’s Whitesboro News-Record. The T. & P. and the M. K. & T. railroads served Whitesboro and provided a boon to the surrounding farming community. Dr. R.N. Younger owned the first telephone in Whitesboro, and a nail tapped the phone to make a faint sound to signal an incoming call. Whitesboro is also know as “The City of the Divide”. Rain that falls on the south side of Main Street drains into the Trinity River, and rain that falls on the north side of Main Street drains into the Red River. (5) By the 1920s, 75 businesses, including three banks, operated in Whitesboro. Its location on Hwy 82 has kept the town running strong.***

*The following website lists 12 children born of Ambrose and Sarah White. I could not find much documentation or history on them. Ambrose, Sarah, and one son, Alonzo, are buried in the Oak Wood Cemetary in Whitesboro.

** I found it interesting that the secession committee called Lincoln a "black" Republican.

***I could not find any pictures for this story. It seems that the Whitesboro Library's genealogy collection must be the place to find out more information on Whitesboro's history. I dug through newspapers and the Portal to Texas History.

1. Page 31
Landrum, Graham. Grayson County; an illustrated history of Grayson County, Texas.,book, 1960; Fort Worth, Texas. ( accessed July 10, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,;






1. Butterfield Stage Depot in Whitesboro-1858

2. Whitesboro’s Bass Department Store Adverstisement-No date

3. Whitesboro’s Burba Cafe-Ralph Burba, Bryan Sheegog, Charles Anderson

4. Butterfield Stage Depot Marker

5. J. J. Collins article published by the Denison Daily News, July 30, 1879

6. Musical composition by Whitesboro resident Mary Maude Cummins Buster article

7. An article on the Doodlebug device which found oil reserves



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