Fannin County Museum of History
One Main Street, Bonham, Texas
Where is Bonham, Texas?
Bonham Daily Favorite, August 2, 1992
For the better part of the last century, an aprocryphal story concerning Major Charles R. Grace resurfaces, from time to time, to the amusement of most persons who hear its telling. Grace, a Bonham attorney and civic booster was noted for his efforts to spread the word on Bonham at every opportunity,
The modt often repeated version of this story concerns Grace's election as mayor of Bonham in the late 1880's. Supposedly his election produced the largest landslide in the history of Bonham elections. Grace read in a St. Louis newspaper that the mayor of that city had been elected on the same day by the largest landslide in their history. Reportedly, Grace fired off a telegram to his St. Louis counterpart pointing out that they had much in common because of the similarity in their elections. Bonham sources indicated that on immediate return wire was received by Grace saying, "Who in the hell is Major Charles Grace and where in tho hell is Bonham, Texas?"
This version of the story never detailed Grace's reaction but some of his political opponents expressed the opinions that he had gotten what he deserved. In essence this is the story that is most often told at the expenseof a long-time Bonham city official.
However, the true story has just coma to light. An item in a 1912 Bonham News and most likely written by Ashley Evans, editor of the News and dean of Bonham newsmen, comes a clear account of the actual event; the following is Evans' account: Most of us remember that event concerning Major Grace when the first telegraph line was established, He was mayor of Bonham when that epoch hit the old town. Major Grace was allowed the honor of sending the first telegraph message and he sent greetings to the mayor of St. Louis, These words go down in history as part of the epoch, "The mayor of Bonham sends greetings to the mayor of St. Louis. We are now connected with the outer world."
Several town wags "borrowed" a telegraph blank and went behind the livery stable to frame a bogus reply. It read as follows; "Who in the h__l is Grace and where In the h__l is Bonham?" Major Grace being a gentleman of the old school and also mayor of Bonham sent a challenge to the mayor of St. Louis and invited him to name his weapons.
When the mystery was cleared up, several town wags went on a hunting trip to the Indian Territory, which lasted three weeks, to avoid being hunted at home by an infuriated and outraged public official,
The jokesters were brought back home only after being assured that Major Grace had been seen by a delegation of pastors and pledged to allow the miscreants to get their full desserts in the matter. From the information provided in Evans* article, this event probably took place around 1887 - 89. Charles Ransome Grace was elected mayor of Bonham for several terms starting about 1884.
Other official records indicate that Western Union was stringing telegraph lines in Fannin County in the latter part of that decade. Unfortunately no news accounts of the telegram sending occasion still exist.
Charles Grace undoubtedly was one of Bonham’s biggest boosters in the more than a quarter century that he lived hare. He also was credited with one of the most famous exploits of the Civil War which will be detailed in a later column.