Bowman ("All Things Historical" Column)
Granny's Neck is one of the oddest names ever given to a piece of
East Texas real estate. Also known as Old Granny's Neck and
Harper's Crossing, the small community was six miles southeast
of Cooper, where the Old Bonham-Jefferson
Road crossed the Suphur River in Delta
The land was settled in 1846 when Brig DeSpain, his wife Narcissa
and their three daughters arrived from Tennessee to claim land awarded
to a relative, Randolph DeSpain, a Texas Revolutionary soldier who
was killed with James W. Fannin, Jr., at the Goliad
Massacre in 1836.
The DeSpain survey was situated on both sides of the Bonham-Jefferson
Road, which was used in those days as a route for transporting cotton.
Soon after they put down their roots, the DeSpains built a bridge
across the South Sulphur River on the highest ridge in the area.
The bridge was built of native oak and bois d'arc wood to withstand
the heavy traffic of ox wagons and horse-drawn vehicles. Built high
enough to escape flooding, the bridge made the road a popular trade
More settlers joined the DeSpains, including Mary (Granny) Sinclair,
the matriarch of her family, who raised goats on a neck of land that
jutted into the river.
The community was named for Granny Sinclair and, after the Civil War,
it had a school, Granny's Neck School, with one teacher and thirty-two
students. The school later moved to Pecan Grove.
Until cotton and corn became important
crops, the South Sulphur ran clear. Afterward, eroded dirt from plowed
fields muddied the river's waters and shortly after 1870, when Delta
County was organized, the bridge was washed out by heavy rains
and another bridge was built at a new crossing named for G.W. Harper,
a toll keeper.
After the bridge was paid for and the toll booth was closed. Delta
and Hopkins counties
shared the maintenance costs of the bridge.
The bridge remained important to freight haulers during the 1920s
and 1930s, but as agriculture became less important to Delta
County, so did the road and residents began moving out of the
Granny's Neck community.
Some maps still identified the community and crossing in the l960s,
but by 1984 the road was no longer in use.
In 1970, the Delta County Historical Commission placed a Texas historical
marker at the intersection of State Highways 154 and 19 to mark the
site of Granny's Neck.
September 18, 2006 Column
| Historical Marker:
Located where the
Bonham-Jefferson Road crossed the South Sulphur River, this pioneer
bridge served the area's rich cotton trade for some 20 years. It was
constructed before 1850 by landowner Brig DeSpain and his neighbors
to provide access to the county seat -- Tarrant
-- in Hopkins County.
The land was originally awarded to the family of Randolph DeSpain,
a Texas Revolutionary soldier who was killed in the massacre
at Goliad in 1836. Strongly built of native oak and bois d'arc
wood, the bridge withstood heavy traffic of ox-wagons and horse-drawn
vehicles. The narrow ridge of land where it was situated was known
as "Granny's Neck," for Mrs. Mary
Sinclair, who lived in the vicinity. Until cotton
became important crops, the South Sulphur River ran clear. Afterward,
eroded dirt from plowed fields muddied its waters. Shortly after 1870
-- the year Delta County
was organized -- heavy rains washed out the bridge. The State of Texas
built a new one, which took the name of G. W. Harper, Toll Keeper.
Later Hopkins and
Delta counties assumed
maintenance of this new bridge, which continued to channel cotton
wagons between the two regions for several decades.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and recent or vintage photos, please contact