This plot of ground is nestled just south and a little west of Cradle of Sulphur Springs, the Spring Lot. The Spring Lot contained the springs and streams that gave our fair city its name. In 1881 a journalist visiting our city describes this area of town and its potential as a health resort.” The springs from which the town takes its name, naturally form its most interesting feature, both from their beautiful situation and the inexhaustible supply of water they constantly furnish. The largest spring is enclosed making a sort of a park. She continues, “Large forest trees fill the enclosure, there is no attempt at cultivation as yet, but it is picturesque in this state. When the necessities of the people have grown to the need of this delightful resort, it will doubtless become formed into an ideal pleasure ground”. Later on there were bath houses traversing the springs and hotels with visitors seeking the medicinal qualities of the springs. (1) Dr. Owen S. Davis, Father of Sulphur Springs, purchased 400 acres in the early 1850’s which would become the town site of Sulphur Springs. He platted the land and sold lots for businesses on the square and the streets leading from the square. He also sold residential lots. In 1860, he sold a one acre lot just 300 yards southwest of the square to a new citizen of the town, George M. Burr for $25.00. George was a native of New York, but he had moved his family from Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. George died in 1869 but his family continued to live in Sulphur Springs off and on thru the early 1900’s. One of his daughters married William B. Loving, a sheriff of Hopkins County in the early 1900’s. Another daughter married a soldier stationed here during the Union occupation from 1868-1870. His name was Samuel K. Harting and he married Ellen Burr. They had one son, Samuel J. Harting. The father died in 1872 after a gall bladder operation. Little Sam grew up here and later from his various residences including Dallas would write to the Sulphur Springs Paper and was a brilliant historian of Sulphur Springs. In 1884, Mrs. Burr and children sold the back half of the lot to one of heirs, Mrs. Mary Loving. Mrs. Loving in turn sold to F. M. George that had a lumber yard nearby to the north, 1886. Before these transactions the East Line Narrow Gauge Railroad was extended to Sulphur Springs in May 1879. The railroad neighbored this tract and claimed some right of way on the southern end of the tract. This railroad frontage would prove to be very important in future of the tract. The land changed hands a number of times until about 1912. There are no documented structures on the plot of land during this period. In 1912, John N. Ponder had acquired the land and he sold to Abel Pate. After holding the property for over two years, he along with his father and brothers decided the site was idea for a wholesale warehouse for feed, flour and other items, and would have the accessibility of the railroad and also street traffic.
In Apr 1915, The Sulphur Springs Gazette had news item about finishing of a wholesale elegant brick warehouse constructed for O. M. Pate and sons. This would be the front building still standing being 40’ by 80’. The article also stated they were stocking up with grain, flour, feed, brick, lime, sand and cement for the wholesale business. The Individual members of the firm are: O. M. Pate, E. B. Pate, A. M. Pate, and B. C. Pate. Abel would sell the building to his father and finally Mr. O. M Pate would deed the building back to his son Abel, for love and affection in 1928. Sometimes in the 1920’s the Pate ceased the operation of their own wholesale house and would rent the warehouse to various entities during most of the late1920’s and 1930s. They also had build an additional warehouse adjoining and to the west of the original building in the early 1920’s.The various business during the 1920’s thru the early 1940’s, including wholesale grocery firms including Western States Grocery. In 1940, Red Ball Trucking was actually located in the building.In 1938, Pratt Packing Company would begin its long association with the location, for the period of 50 years. R. E.”Sally” Pratt had started his wholesale meat packing business in a different location four years earlier. “By 1938 the growing meat business needed more room and Pratt moved his establishment into its present building on Magnolia Street at the L & A Tracks” He first occupied only the back of the building, the front being occupied by Western States Grocery, they closed in the early 1940’s and Pratt’s occupied the entire building. His business continued to grow. With a new ordinance passed by the city council, the company was allowed to slaughter inside the city limits. In 1954, he added a business office, new dock and cooler room was expanded and remodeled. There meat was packaged under the brand, Hickory Farm. Pratt’s maintained its ownfeed lot on Hwy 11, southeast of Sulphur Springs. He employed over 45 employees at one time, and had accounts all over Northeast Texas and beyond. On their 25 anniversary 1959, they said they were handling over 7 million pounds of finished meat under the name of Hickory Farms. Theyhad over 75 different items that they sold.
Mr. Pratt continued to operate the business during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. In Dec 1998, he called it quits. He had advertised the businesses for sale but there was no one to take over. He died in 1991 and his estate sold the building and the grounds to Texas Royal Ice in 1992.
1 Effnor, Kate, An American Sketchbook, A Sketch of Hopkins County: 1881 pp. 428-434
1. Hopkins County Deed Records, County Clerk’s Office, SulphurSprings,Texas.2. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Hopkins County Genealogical Society,611 N. Davis St., Sulphur Springs TX.3. Sulphur Springs City Directories, Hopkins County Genealogical611 N. Davis St. Sulphur Springs, TX4. The Portal to Texas History, Daily News Telegram, UNT website: