- About Gunter
The history of Gunter sounds a bit like a western novel, but these are the events that made Gunter what it is today. The links below are to the Texas State Historical Society. You can find more history of the area on their website. Gunter is located at the intersection of State Highway 289 and Farm Road 121, twelve miles southwest of Sherman in south central Grayson County.
Up the Shawnee Trail
The first Texas settlers left "Gone to Texas (GTT)" signs at their homes in the eastern and northern U.S. They headed out on the Shawnee Trail, one of the earliest trails drovers took to transport longhorn cattle from Texas to the northern railheads. The trail ran along the path of today's Preston Road and Highway 289.
Some say the Shawnee Trail's name came from a Shawnee village on the Texas side of the Red River or from the Shawnee Hills. Cattle drovers called it "The Cattle Trail," The Texas Road, The Sedalia Trail, The Kansas Trail, or just "The Trail."
In 1869, newlyweds Jot Gunter and his wife Roxanne arrived in Texas and settled in Sherman with $65 to their names. They soon had a daughter and named her Eula.
Jot was a lawyer who practiced law in Sherman until 1878 when he partnered with William Benjamin (Ben) Munson, the founder of the city of Denison. The two young lawyers surveyed land in the Texas Panhandle and earned certificates of land script they could exchange for property anywhere in Texas.
The partners turned their script into 25,000 acres of land in southwest Grayson County, calling it Gunter Ranch. In the early 1880s, the ranch was a staging area for shorthorn cattle on their way to the partners' ranch in the panhandle. Gunter Ranch was sometimes called the “Seven-Mile Ranch" and used the T-Anchor brand. At that time, the ranch had 5-6,000 head of cattle and 5-600 horses.
In 1883, Gunter and Munson dissolved their partnership, and Gunter became the sole owner of the Grayson County property.
A Town Out of Tragedy
In 1896, an F-4 tornado, traveling from southwest Grayson County toward Sherman, blew through Gunter Ranch. To the east of the ranch house, across Little Elm Creek, the twister swept clean a large area of the prairie. Jot would later choose the site to establish a new town. The tornado traveled on, devastating the countryside and killing dozens of people in Sherman.
In January 1901, Jot proposed a new rail line from Sherman to Carrollton, with right-of-way through his ranch. The branch would be called the Red River, Texas, and Southern Railway. Starting in September, the railroad laid two miles of track a day.
The first freight shipped out from the new Gunter Ranch depot in October. In March 1902, the first excursion train ran from Sherman to Fort Worth.
Growing a Town
On October 21, 1901, Jot deeded 328.5 acres of land to the Gunter Townsite Company. The land the tornado cleared in 1896 became the new townsite, and street platting began. Over 3-4 years, several residential lots sold, and the number of residents grew. The town incorporated in 1914 with a reported population of 800 people and 36 businesses.
With the inception of train service and completion of the depot in 1902, businesses slowly opened in the downtown area, and the First National Bank opened its doors. Jot and Roxanne planned to build a large mansion in the area.
A Change of Direction
The Gunters reconsidered their plans when their daughter, Eula, died in 1901, just five days before Jot deeded the land to Gunter Townsite Company,
Instead of building a mansion in Gunter, Jot, and Roxanne moved with their grandchildren to San Antonio, and Jot opened a real estate business in the city. Gunter left his mark on San Antonio. His name distinguished two buildings – the Gunter Hotel, which still exists as a Sheraton property, and the Gunter Office Building. He died in San Antonio on July 19, 1907, and is buried there.