Later this year in November, the town will celebrate Granbury’s sesquicentennial, honoring the founding of the town of Granbury and its 150th anniversary and commemorating the citizens, traditions and culture of 1871.
Due to the year-long effects of COVID-19, residents have the opportunity to celebrate Granbury Founder’s Day this weekend (through Sunday), an event that was formerly called General Granbury’s Birthday Bash.
But who was General Granbury?
Hiram Bronson Granbury was a Brigadier General and Commander of the 7th Texas Infantry and Granbury’s Brigade during the Civil War — where the town of Granbury got its name.
WHY THE ‘GRANBURY’ NAME
Jay Beavers, a Pecan Plantation resident and member of the North Central Texas Civil War Round Table, said he has tried to find the reason why the town of Granbury was named after the brave general, but couldn’t find anything concrete.
He said he believes it’s due in part to how great of a leader Hiram was and how he treated his soldiers.
“His men thought the world of him,” he added. “Granbury was founded at least 10 years after the Civil War. His men really thought a lot of him. They went where he went and in return, he went where they went. Generals now, they’re back of the lines with binoculars watching. These guys were right out in the middle of it. It’s a wonder they lasted as long as they did.”
Local historian Karen Nace agrees with the line of thinking and said she “just gets the feeling that he was as good of a man as we were led to believe.”
“We’ve always been told that it was because a lot of the men who fought from here ended up serving under him and knew him and respected him. He was apparently very well liked,” she said. “Everything that was ever said to us was how highly respected he was, how he was held in high regard by all the men who knew him. They fought for him. All the positive things you hear, I’ve never heard anybody say a comment about him in a disparaging way with him in his leadership skills or him personally. His father was a minister and I think he was raised with a Christian ethic and that seems to be what he followed.”
According to a Dec. 15, 1999 edition of the Hood County News, Major J. A. Formwalt was a member of the regiment led by Gen. Granbury. The article states, “research shows that Formwalt was the one who suggested that the town be named after Granbury.”
Formwalt was also responsible for getting permission from Granbury’s sister, who resided in Stephenville at the time, to move his grave from Tennessee to the Granbury Cemetery, according to the article.
Hiram was born on March 1, 1831 as Hiram Bronson Granberry, not Granbury. There has been speculation surrounding the mystery of the spelling change, but the 2004 book, “Lone Star General: Hiram B. Granbury” finally shed light on the disparities.
On Jan. 22, 1852, Hiram purchased a section of land located at the southeast corner of Austin and West Court streets in Seguin, according to “Lone Star General.” To seal the transaction, instead of spelling his name “Granberry,” Hiram signed the legal documents as Hiram B. Granbury. This optional spelling “marked the beginning of his desire to spell his name differently” and the “new spelling would remain with him for the rest of his life.”
“His original name was Granberry. For some reason, he changed it to the present spelling. He didn’t like ‘berry,’ I guess,” Beavers said, chuckling.
“I knew his brother had come here (to Texas) and his sister had visited but it turned out they basically all moved to Texas, and even his uncle which he was named for, which explains to me a better reason why he changed the spelling of his name — because the uncle he was named for had already moved here,” Nace said. “It sounds like it a conscious change on his part. They never actually said why, but I don’t think it was uncommon in those days to make things a little bit easier.”
Nace found an article from the Dallas Morning News, dated April 25, 1913, about Major Formwalt’s 93rd birthday.
In the article, reads a quote from Formwalt, telling a story about how he lent Gen. Granbury his boots.
“Gen. Granbury died in my boots,” Formwalt said in the article. “They were a new pair of shop-made boots made by an old shoemaker in Georgia, for which I paid $150. The fact that I had these boots became known to Gen. Granbury, who remarked that he was nearly barefoot and offered to break them in for me. I gave them to him and he had them on when he was killed.”
The article states that the remnants of these boots were brought to Granbury in 1893 and were buried with the bones of Gen. Granbury in the Granbury Cemetery.
“In the Battle of Franklin, Granbury’s boots were completely shot and were falling apart and Fornwalt had just ordered a new pair of boots, and he gave them to Granbury to wear that day and that was the day he was killed,” Nace said. “You wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t somebody who you really respected and thought a lot of.”
The book, “Lone Star General — Hiram B. Granbury,” written by Rebecca Blackwell Drake and Thomas D. Holder, not only gives a detailed account and biography of Hiram Granbury, but also includes comments from people who actually knew him in real life.
Hiram was described by a friend in the book as, “’A fluent writer and a profound scholar. He was modest and unassuming. He was not a man to go and put himself in the way of business. He was then, as ever, the very soul of honor and unconscious of his own moral and mental worth.’”
Beavers added, “To me, he (Granbury) was a young man who was called to fight for his country and Texas. We still honor him.”
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Hiram B. Granbury timeline of events
BY ASHLEY INGE
The following is a timeline of Hiram B. Granbury’s life, depicting everything you need to know about the humble general.
• Hiram B. Granberry was born on March 1, 1831, near Hazlehurst, Mississippi. His father, Norvell R. Granberry, was a Baptist minister and his mother, Nancy McLaurin, was a South Carolina native.
• Norvell and Nancy had six children: Loammi, Hiram — who was named for his uncle Hiram Granberry — Jemmima, Catherine, Norvell R. K. and Nancy Nautie.
• Loammi and Hiram enrolled in Oakland College, a prestigious Presbyterian school. The book describes Hiram as a “tall and handsome young man” and a “favorite with faculty as well as students.”
• Professor Rev. John Hutchinson described Hiram as “a man of classic tastes, commanding form and trumpet voice.”
• Tragedy struck the Granberry family in April of 1850 and then again in August of that year when Hiram’s parents died of consumption only five months apart.
• Hiram graduated from Oakland College in 1850 and “with diploma in hand, he left for Texas, specifically, Seguin.”
• When Hiram signed a legal document for a land purchase near Seguin, he purposely signed his name Granbury, instead of Granberry.
• On March 21, 1853, Hiram sold his property in Seguin and moved 150 miles north to Waco.
• Later that year, on Sept. 7, he received devastating news that his younger sister Jemmima, age 20, had died. A year later, he received word that another sister, Catherine, age 18, had died. Both were “new brides at the time of their death and their deaths left Hiram with only three siblings: his older brother Loammi, Norwell R. J. and a younger sister, Nancy Nautie.”
• After arriving in Waco, Hiram worked as a part-time journalist for the “Waco Era,” the town’s earliest newspaper.
• Hiram was “elected chief justice of McLennan County, a position he held for two years.”
• At 27, Hiram married Fannie Sims, 20.
• Hiram’s law practice becomes a huge success and he was able to secure a house and property for his new bride. By the outbreak of the war, Hiram and Fannie had amassed a savings of $4,000.
• Upon the secession of Texas from the Union, Hiram recruited the Waco Guards, a volunteer infantry company. He headed east to Kentucky with them, as their first captain.
• In November 1861 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the regiment named Granbury as major of the 7th Texas Infantry Regiment, according to the Texas State Historical Association website.
• Fannie Granbury was determined not to be left behind when her husband left for war, so she made plans to travel as well.
• On Feb. 15, 1862, Hiram was captured with his command at the Battle of Fort Donelson. Fannie refused to leave Hiram and was determined to remain by his side.
• He made a request to make provisions for Fannie before leaving for prison and his request was granted.
• Because of his field-grade status, Hiram was transported to another prison facility, Fort Warren Prison, in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts.
• The Confederate officers imprisoned at Fort Warren were surprised by the humane treatment they received. There were four to five men in a chamber and each chamber was “heated with a coal-burning stove.” Every prisoner also had the luxury of sleeping on an iron cot with a mattress and a blanket instead of on the floor. The quality of each prisoner’s food depended on how rich they were. Col. McGavock, the most affluent of the officers, “ate as well as one would in a first-class hotel in Boston.” The prisoners were allowed access to alcohol, daily newspapers and often received gifts from the residents of Boston like books, clothing and food.
• Hiram was freed in an exchange of prisoners on Aug. 27, 1862, for two lieutenants and was promoted to the rank of colonel. He was also assigned to Texas on recruiting duty.
• Fannie became ill and suffered from stomach pains of an unknown origin, according to www.granbury.org. She was scheduled to undergo surgery at a hospital in Baltimore.
• Hiram was given an early parole on July 29, 1863, in order to meet his wife and attend the surgery. When Hiram managed to visit a doctor in Baltimore, he learned that Fannie was suffering from advanced ovarian cancer that was incurable, meaning nothing could be done for her condition.
• Before leaving Baltimore, Hiram stopped at Bendann’s Gallery, a fashionable photography studio, where he had his portrait made for Fannie. The photograph, taken under the saddest of circumstances, now “represents one of the few pictures taken of Hiram Granbury.”
Fannie passed away at the age of 25, on March 20, just 11 days before what would have been Hiram and Fannie’s fifth wedding anniversary.
• According to the Bridge Street History Center, because of poverty brought about by the war, there was no money for a headstone, so Fannie was buried in an unmarked grave in Magnolia Cemetery, in Mobile, Alabama.
After the loss of Fannie, Hiram’s focus was solely on the war. He left for Port Hudson, Louisiana, then on to Raymond, Mississippi.
Granbury had only been widowed two months when he fought the Battle of Raymond in Mississippi.
After the Confederate loss at the Battle of Raymond, he continued as commander for the 7th Texas and moved on to fight in the Battle of Jackson, which also resulted in a defeat, and the victorious Battle of Chickamauga.
It was during the Battle of Chickamauga that Hiram was struck in the abdomen, an injury that caused severe bruising, but in the end, he recovered rather quickly.
• He then participated in the Siege of Chattanooga and the Battle of Missionary Ridge. When Brigadier General James Argyle Smith was wounded at Chattanooga, Hiram led the brigade in the retreat from Chattanooga.
• On Feb. 29, 1864, one day before his 34th birthday, Hiram was promoted to brigadier general and assigned his own brigade.
• General John B. Hood (Hood County’s namesake) had taken over command of the Army of Tennessee during the Atlanta Campaign.
• Hood made a mistake at Franklin, Tennessee that cost the Confederates an important battle and the lives of six generals — one of which was Hiram.
• Hood’s army cornered Union General John M. Schofield’s corps, and issued orders to block the main road. However, for some unknown reason, Hood’s commanders failed to follow orders and the road was never closed.
• While the Confederates slept, General Schofield’s corps passed by quietly and escaped.
• The next morning, Hood was furious and ordered his army to march for Franklin.
• He called for a brief consultation with his officers “but the meeting was only a formality since Hood had already decided to order a frontal attack against the enemy.”
• Hood ordered 18 brigades to make numerous hopeless front assaults against fortified positions occupied by the Union Army forces under Schofield.
• Granbury’s brigade charged the center of the Federal breastworks and he was killed, along with Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, just outside the Union works on Nov. 30, 1864.
• Lt. Mangum, who was on foot with Granbury’s Brigade, witnessed the death of General Granbury: “The space between the enemy’s first line and the main line was about two hundred yards. The ground was level and I don’t think there was a tree or bush between them. The fire and destruction were beyond description. I went up to the works with Granberry’s brigade. About halfway between the first and main line, General Granberry was killed. I was within ten feet of him and remember well the last words he spoke: ‘Forward men; never let it be said that Texans lag in the fight.’ As he spoke these words, a ball struck him in the cheek and passed through his brain. Throwing both hands to his face he sunk down on his knees and remained in that position until his body was taken off the field after the battle.”
Lt. R. M. Collins wrote, “This advance and charge came nearer measuring up to the pictures of battle we see in the books than anything we saw during the war.”
Hiram Granbury’s body was taken to Columbia, Tennessee on Dec. 1, 1864.
• In 1893, 29 years later, city officials from Granbury — a town that we all know now was named in his honor — took General Granbury’s remains from Tennessee to Granbury.
On Jan. 4, 2002, the site of Fannie’s burial was discovered in Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.
To celebrate Fannie’s memory, a memorial headstone has been placed next to her husband in Granbury, where she will forever be remembered as the beloved wife of Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury. Her burial site remains in Mobile, where a headstone now marks the location of her grave.