First Tract Bought in June, 1855
Minter Family Has Its Own Centennial
By Gerald Post*
The Minter family of Pine Forest is celebrating its own centennial this year along with the community. It was on June 18, 1855, that John M. Minter bought his first land in the community, a tract consisting of more than one-half of the William B. Stout survey on its east side. On August 15, 1856, John’s son Joseph T. Minter bought 752 acres from the southwest corner of the Daniel Waggoner survey. Each bought his tract from the original grantee thus becoming the first owner by purchase. John M. Minter was the head of this family in Texas although Joseph T. married Sara Ann Carter in Georgia and brought his own family with him.
Wife Died in Georgia
John’s wife Dorothy Mathis Minter died before the family left Georgia. The oldest son John Robert (Bob) remained in Georgia; the others Joseph T. (Joe, later known as Pappy), Oliver H. (known as “H”), and Sylvanus Abner (Ab) came to Pine Forest as did the daughter Katherine. Joe and Ab raised their families at Pine Forest; “H” Minter moved to Louisiana after a few years. The Minters had important parts in development of the community. Theirs was among the first families that brought a substantial number of slaves to the area. They influenced the change from the subsistence type of life common to frontier settlements to a more stable form involving the production of surplus products for sale. They were active in development of cotton gins and grist mills and, especially after the reconstruction period following the Civil War, in the development of retail commerce.
Town Site Develops
Thomas Willison, a native of England [Illinois] and a lawyer, had been in Pine Forest five years when the Minters came. He was considering the idea of developing a town on his farm. The Minters fell in with the plan. John M. and Joe bought a half interest in the townsite and helped lay off the streets and divide the town into lots in 1855. The town was named Saratoga [later called Pine Forest]. The Minters bought Willison’s interest in the townsite the following year when Willison moved away, and John M. bought the farm that included the town. Minter descendants have lived on this land continuously since that purchase. John M. Minter held the purse strings for the family. Joe was married and conducted his affairs independently, but his wealth was nothing compared to that of his father.
The Saratoga development gave him his first big chance. Although it was to be short-lived, a little boom developed after the town was laid off. Town property was of little importance, but the effect on nearby farm land helped those who bought and sold at the right time. Joe Minter was one of those. He gave $752 for 752 acres on the Waggoner survey in August 1855; he sold the tract nine months later for $5, 256–an unheard of price for land in this vicinity before that sale and a price that would not again be paid for land until the reconstruction was past. Two years later part of this same tract sold for $3.50 per acre and, in 1869, part of it sold for $2.50.
Three months after Joe made this sale his father died on August 27, 1856, and Joe inherited his share of the estate, consisting of three slaves: Wesley, George, and Mary valued at $2, 400, the farm adjoining Saratoga, his father’s interest in the townsite, and several hundred dollars in cash. This brought Joe’s total worth to some $10,000. This is no great sum today, but it would then buy, for example, 3,000 hogs. Figure the value of 3,000 hogs today and get a better picture of his real worth. Joe Minter built a gin and mill on his farm, both of which served the community many years. His sons and grandsons built three more cotton gins in the community and several of them have run retail stores in the village as well as at Pickton, Como, and Sulphur Springs. Joe Minter added to the original gift by Thomas Willison of one half acre to the Methodist church, bringing the church grounds and cemetery to a total of two and one-half acres.
Company K Raised
Captain Sylvanus Abner (Ab) Minter raised and commanded Company K, 19th Texas Infantry, at Pine Forest for service with the Confederacy. His family produced a number of teachers and one physician who served the community. Lieutenant John Thomas Minter, son of Joe, served with Company K as Captain Minter’s 2nd Lieutenant. Morgan and William H. Minter, sons of Joe, also served with the Confederacy. In more recent times Emmett B. Minter worked hard to provide the use of electricity at Pine Forest. Emmett was a grandson of Joe. Edna Minter Greenwood, granddaughter of Joe, contributes to worthy community projects, the latest being a substantial gift of the building fund of the Methodist church. She has also made two substantial donations to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.
Although nothing the Minters have done dims the luster of the earlier pioneers represented by Selen Stout and the band that came with him from Daingerfield, who made the country safe for themselves and later settlers, they are a family that Pine Forest is lucky to have had as residents. They added color to the history of the community and substantial worth to its development. They are family whose accomplishments should not be forgotten as Pine Forest and the Minters celebrate their common centennial.
*Gerald Post, whose family were longtime residents of Pine Forest, was a farmer and historian who chronicled the lives of Pine Forest residents. His book Alive and Good to Know is a wealth of information about the Pine Forest area and people. Mister Post was born in 1904 and died in 1977. This article first appeared in a newspaper, probably the Hopkins County Echo.
EARLY SETTLER—Judge William B. Stout never lived in Pine Forest, but had several connections with the community. He settled in Red River county in 1833 and was awarded the certificate on which the William B. Stout survey was based in 1838. He sold the certificate to his nephew, James Selen Stout, who selected the site of Pine Forest and had it surveyed.