well was dug with a pick and crowbar by Jim Whitmore in 1872... the
first 12 feet consisted of almost solid rock, but at 28 feet Whitmore
hit a source of water that has never run dry, not even during the
most severe droughts." - Clay
Coppedge. Photo courtesy David E. Spenser, 2007
The Next Luckenbach?
David E. Spencer
Museum Town for Sale
Text from Letters from David E. Spenser
Due to the number of towns in Texas, we only use two categories for
places. These are Towns (including
cities) and Ghost Towns.
While The Grove has been designated a Ghost Town by T. Lindsay Baker
and qualifies as a ghost by government acquisition and highway bypass,
we were pleased to learn that it has been designated a “Historical
Although it will be listed under our Ghost
Town section, we wish to acknowledgs the Herculean effort that
made the distinction necessary. We learned of The Grove coming on
the market by David E. Spencer of Goodwin Partners, Inc. in Austin.
Mr. Spencer has the exclusive sale listing for the town. Excerpts
from his letters serve as the text on this page:
of The Grove
[The property for
sale] consists of five buildings, the Bank, the General Store, and
the Post Office (decommissioned in 1996 ) are in one building. The
Cocklebur Saloon and the Blacksmith Shop adjoin but are actually two
separate buildings. The Sheriff’s Office is a separate building and
there is another building full of historical clippings, pictures and
more. The front porch where the bands play every weekend is 12’x32’.
Visitors can dance on a paved 30’x60’ dance floor and cool their heels
in the Cocklebur Saloon where they are invited to BYOB. All is free
but donations are accepted.
This is a very well preserved 1860’s museum town full of authentic,
articles and artifacts from that era. There is also written documentation
of The Grove’s birth to its desertion in the 40’s when TxDOT re-routed
HWY 36 around the town by .02 of a mile - diverting the much needed
traffic. In addition, 250,000 acres was acquired by the government
for building Ft. Hood and later 50,000 acres were impounded to form
Belton Lake. Then WWII took all the young men away to fight for God
and Country. Not much was left after that.
The town well that was dug in the mid 1860's is still wet and has
never been dry.
every weekend depending on the weather and there are still residents
that live here, though only a handful.
My client bought The Grove, Texas downtown, historical, business
district in 1972 and has collected more historic artifacts than
you can imagine (including a 40,000 year old mammoth tusk and tooth).
Everything with the exception of about ten heirloom items convey
with the sale.
40,000 year old mammoth tooth
and Described Events in The Grove:
The Grove is not
a ghost town. It is a Historical Museum Town [and is] listed with
the Smithsonian Institution as such.
There have been several pieces of The Grove used in movies. The horse-drawn
hearse and wicker casket were used in Lonesome Dove. The bathtub Farrah
Fawcett used in The Substitute Wife is in the feed room. Several buggies
and even bar fixtures were used in Lonesome Dove.
drawn hearse with a wicker casket
and other parties are held at The Grove and the Cocklebur Saloon can
be rented for private parties. A lot of people come to have family
portraits done with the town as a backdrop.
If a person were to open a souvenir shop and a hamburger stand they
would do quite well for there will always be tourists that travel
here. There are also decent public facilities, not just an outhouse.
I would compare The Grove’s potential to the popular Hill Country
destination of Luckenbach.
Anywhere from 100-400 people show every weekend to listen to live
music, dance and visit the museum, which of course is the downtown
business district -featuring the five antique filled buildings mentioned
Please contact me if I can answer any questions.
David E. Spencer, Realtor, Goodwin Partners, Inc.
11149 Research Blvd. Ste. #100, Austin, Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2004
who drop by Dube's General Store here expecting to see a ghost town
might leave disappointed. But if proprietor Moody Anderson is there,
the visitor won't leave uninformed.
Anderson is the owner of the store, which he bought lock, stock and
cracker barrel in 1972. Then he stocked it with everything from candles
to coffins. The only place you are likely to find more one-of-a-kind
antiques is at his private warehouse west of Austin.
Writer T. Lindsay Baker included The Grove in a book he wrote on "Ghost
Towns of Texas." Anderson tried to dissuade him of the notion. "I
told him that his idea of a ghost town and my idea of a ghost town
must be about 180 degrees different," Anderson says. "A ghost town
is abandoned. Nobody ever goes there. That's not the case here."
Indeed, the Grove is the scene of a lot of pickin' and grinnin' especially
on Jamboree night the third Saturday of each month. Once a year, when
The Grove celebrates itself with The Grove Homecoming the town swells
to many times its normal size. This year's celebration begins October
8 and continues the next two days; Saturday the ninth is the big day,
when a parade kicks off the celebration.
Residents - real ghost towns don't have residents - marvel that the
76-year old Anderson conducts all the business on Jamboree night himself,
including the lifting and toting. He stays until people are ready
to go home, then puts up the chairs and closes up. More often than
not, he sleeps upstairs in a restored turn-of-the-century doctor's
Anderson started his extensive and unique antique collection about
fifty years ago with some antique blacksmith tools.
Today a partial inventory reveals cigars, Arbuckle's coffee, cholera
tablets, chill tonics, cough syrups, collars and hairnets, pots, pans,
singletrees, tethers, tobacco powder and grits and groceries of every
description, all of it dating back to 19th or very early 20th century.
Anderson's collection has provided movie companies with an almost
endless supply of props, especially for projects with a historical
setting like "Lonesome Dove" and "The Newton Boys."
Cary White, a production designer for the movie "American Outlaws,"
said in a 2000 Austin Chronicle interview that he has been working
with Anderson since 1988, when Anderson opened a little shop on South
Congress called The Texas Trader. "Moody's a wonderful guy, and because
of him it's been possible to make movies in this town," White said.
"I credit Moody with a lot of the success the film business has had
in this town."
Anderson likes working with the movie companies but said he much prefers
the laid-back and down home atmosphere of The Grove to Hollywood.
Grove, named for its large stand of live oak trees, sits just off
Highway 36 on the fertile, flinty edge of the Leon River Valley.
Anderson notes that the town's first well was dug with a pick and
crowbar by Jim Whitmore in 1872. Anderson says the first 12 feet consisted
of almost solid rock, but at 28 feet Whitmore hit a source of water
that has never run dry, not even during the most severe droughts.
The town soon grew to more than 400 people and had three cotton gins
and a slew of stores.
"I've got pictures of the cotton wagons lined up from Wolfe's gin
all the way down this road," Anderson says.
In 1936, the Texas Highway Department (now the Texas Department of
Transportation) told the people in The Grove that they would have
to cover the well if they wanted Highway 36 to run through town.
People in the Grove refused to cap the well, which still provides
water today. That's why The Grove sits a little way off the main highway.
The town held on, but was hit with a double whammy. First, Fort Hood
took about 250,000 acres from area farmers and ranchers. Then 50,000
more acres disappeared under the waters of Lake Belton. Still, the
town has survived. In addition to about forty residents, the community
has a post office, bank, ice house and meat locker, all circa 1900.
The upstairs doctor's office is dedicated to J.J. Mitchell, the town's
first doctor. Other buildings include Holcomb's blacksmith shop and
the Cocklebur Saloon.
For a few years now, Anderson has talked about hanging it up. But
so far all he has done is talk.
"I can see selling it in a few years, but I want to sell it to somebody
who will keep it going," he said. "I'd hate to see all this auctioned
off a piece at a time."
Pauls Lutheran in The Grove
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2004
Bass: The Not So Merry Bandit
by Clay Coppedge
"...For years - a hundred or more - people have talked about
when Sam Bass dropped by The Grove in Coryell County en route to
Round Rock. W.J. Graham, who ran a store in The Grove during Bass'
heyday, recounted a day when Bass dropped by the store and asked...