Thank you for stopping in, we hope you will browse around and learn a little bit about this small East Texas community. We wish to thank everyone who furnished information especially the Van Zandt County Historical Commission who gave permission for the use of their publication Van Zandt County, Texas, Pictorial History 1848-1994. We wish to further thank all of the wonderful people who gave of their time and shared their photos with the Historical Commission so that this publication could be made available to those who are interested in our history. There were so many photos to choose from, that I hardly knew where to begin and had a very difficult time deciding where to stop. A special thanks to Inez Dale for the historical information, Elvis Allen, O. D. Hazel and Marguerite Crawford for the photos. Additions, corrections, comments, complaints and compliments concerning this page should be submitted to Betty Miller and Betty Phillips.
by Inez Dale
transcribed by B. Miller, 1999
from Pictorial History of Van Zandt County, 1848-1994
with permission of Van Zandt County Historical Commission
When the Texas and Pacific Railway built across Northern Van Zandt County in 1873, a switch was installed on a rise between Mill Creek to the west and Caney Creek to the east. This switch was named Bolton in honor of one of the railroad officials. Bolton eventually became a town and changed names several times but was most recognized by the name of Bolton Switch until 1903 when the name was changed to Fruitvale.
One of the first cabins built in this area was built using rejected cross ties by Stephen "Stoop" Simpson. Families soon began to relocate all along the new railroad. They moved to Fruitvale from Creagleville, Small, and from the Barren Ridge area. Around 1900 people began to realize that the soil around Fruitvale was ideally suited for growing fruits and vegetables. Orchards and truck crops were put in thus drawing more families from a larger geographis area.
The first major industry of Fruitvale was cross tie and cord wood marketing. The fruit and vegetable industry, along with cord wood became so important that a siding was added alongside the switch and during growing season, carloads of produce and wood products were shipped out ot Fruitvale daily.
The first United States Post Office was established June of 1886. Even though Fruitvale is a small community, except for the years between 1891 and 1899, it has had a Post Office in continuous operation.
When the Gilmor-Akin Bill was passed by the Texas Legislature in the late 1940s, the Fruitvale School District was consolidated with the small districts of Lawrence Springs and Round Flat creating the present Fruitvale Independent School District.
From its beginnings, Fruitvale has had and maintains a reputation as a community of industrious people, proud of their heritage, who pull together for the common good.
Photographs of interest pertaining to this page. Mr & Mrs. Jack Creagle in 1931 courtesy of O. D. Hazel George Smith Family Mr & Mrs. George Smith, Jeff & Rissie ca 1897. Jeff Smith was one of the first mail carriers in Fruitvale. Courtesy O. D. Hazel Dr. Wm J. Hazel his son, Henry, 2nd wife Lena Brown, ca 1903. Courtesy Pauline Taylor.
W. L. Randall on the left and Tom White on the right ca 1920. Mr. Randall and his wife "Miss Hallie" owned and operated the W. L. Randall General Merchandise until her death. After the death of "Miss Hallie;" "Miss Jane Randall" owned and operated the old store until about 2002 when she retired and the store has been closed.
Nathaniel Monroe "Nat" Crawford Born in Alabama 16 July 1867, came to Fruitvale in 1876. His first job was a teacher at Round Flatt School. He was a lawyer in Grand Saline for 45 years, City Attorney 17 years. He served as President of the Van Zandt Bar Association, Crawford's Addition in Fruitvale, 1913. He was a cattleman and land apeculator. He died 31 Jan 1946, buried in Woodside Cemetery, Grand Saline.
Henry T. McCollum and Willie Crawford McCollum in late 1800's. Mrs. McCollum was Nat and Bud Crawford's sister.
"Bud" Crawford with his jack "Crow". John Robert Crawford's family settled in Fruitvale in 1853. This photo was made in 1916. "Bud" was "Nat" Crawford's brother and the father of L. F. Crawford who, with his wife Marguerite, lived on some of the original "Crawford" property. Photo courtesy Marguerite Crawford.
John Robert Crawford "Bud" and his stud horse, "Celum". Celum was a beautiful bay saddle horse who was well known throughout the country for his smooth ride. "Bud" and his wife, along with his parents are buried at Creagleville Cemetery. Photo courtesy Marguerite Crawford.