Located among the tall pines that constitute the perimeter of the big thicket of southeast Texas, Grangerland is a thriving community today. Developed in the unique area that drew from the natural resources of not only the forest and lumber industries but also from the oil that was pumped from under the very ground on which it stood. The burgeoning sawmill industry and the oil boom of the early 1900's gave rise to numerous communities across Texas which sprang up overnight only to fall into ruins when their days of productivity were past. Grangerland is one of the communities has managed to escape the destiny that saw the demise of so many others.
The State of Texas was selling the land, in the area that would later become Grangerland, for two dollars an acre, in the late 1800s. The purchaser was allowed forty years to pay and a very low interest rate was charged. In 1907 Dr. Edwin Granger and his wife Colistia purchased 555 acres with cash and set in motion a goal to form a colony bearing the Granger name. They settled in an area already populated by the Wiggins, Outlaw, Smith, Pool, Vick, Hayden and other families. Granger built a wooden floor base and erected a 'tent house' which served as their home for two years. He then set about building a fine two story home for his family, in order to comply with the terms of his purchase. His was the first in the county to have screened windows and doors.
There was an abundance or wild life for food. Mr. Don Granger stated "there was even a small species of lion here in the early years." The soil was fertile and early settlers grew most of their vegetables and fruit to feed their families as well as a cash crop of cotton. Due to the proximity to Conroe they had an excellent market for their cotton. Beginning about 1910, there was a cotton gin and grist mill, owned and operated by Dr. Granger. It was located near the current community. He charged a peck of grain to grind a bushel of corn into meal.
The area was densely wooded and sparsely populated. The forest provided wood for heat and to build homes. At that time the forest provided a limited source of income. Unlike the immediate areas around Conroe and the large sawmills in East County such as Fostoria, Splendora, Porter and New Caney, large scale production lumbering had not reached this area. Later there were at least 4 sawmills in the immediate area around Grangerland. During the winter months the settlers cut railroad ties. The ties were then transported to the train depot at Waukegan for inspection, where they were purchased by major railroad companies. In the early years the residents received mail through the post office, also located at Waukegan.
During the boom days there were no paved roads around here. The tram road was blacktopped by the county in 1939. The straight road stopped at Grangerland. D. D. Granger said "I well remember when the road was built from here to Beach. It is right on top of the railroad bed that had been left when the sawmill at Beach went out of business and abandoned the railroad line that ran there. We were proud of that road. It was straight! Before that we had to travel wagon trails that meandered past every house in these woods before it headed out anywhere." The senior Granger chuckled as he said "these engineers go through all this to build a road. You know how we built it? A bunch of us got on this end and started cutting down trees. Judge W. H. Lee got on the other end, down by the Y and started blowing his cow horn. We just cut a right of way straight through to him." When they built the road from the railroad track that is now 3083 it was a concrete road, the only one in the county, at the time.
George W. Strake drilled his first successful oil well on December 13, 1931. This well ushered in the oil boom in the area. The population of this area nearly tripled according to some estimates. Workers infiltrated the area when word spread about the prospects for a new field. Others came for variety of related opportunities. Land speculators quickly purchased the land. Many used practices that were grossly unfair to the uninformed residents. Some of these practices were unethical and bordered on illegality. Major oil companies swooped in and bought most of the land. Those companies later leased the land for people to live on. As the number of rigs going up increased, the flood of oil field workers grew. The original farmers in the area and their sons became rough-necks and rig-builders. Family gardening became work for the women and girls. Land owners usually reaped hansom profits when oil was discovered on their property. Those profits represented a life changing event for those residents lucky enough to have owned their property and wise enough to have retained the mineral rights during the oil boom. Don Granger recalled "I can still hear my father's voice sternly admonishing us kids to never part with your land or your mineral rights. Mr. D.D. Granger said "that was the first in my life time I'd ever had a thousand dollars."
Granger had the foresight to anticipate the needs of the influx of workers. He took the first tangible step to make his father; Dr. E.D. Granger's, vision of a colony that would bear the name of Granger, become a reality. He built thirty two inexpensive "shotgun" houses for the oil field workers. This group of houses became known as "Granger's Camp", and the area around this camp became "Grangerland". He opened a gas station, grocery store and a café. Wyn Granger built a house here in the 1930's. During the war years, D. D. Granger arranged for carnivals to come in. The "Center" served as a gathering point for local politicians. Cars would pack in there so the residents could come and hear them speak at campaign rallies.
The residents were still dependent on outside areas for much of their needs Don Granger recalled the twice monthly trips to Conroe for supplies and the annual trips to Houston for staple goods. Thankfully, the roads were vastly improved. The oil companies blazed new roads as transportation to their rigs became necessary. These rigs were usually located in isolated areas. Occasionally there would be a blow-out at one of the wells. This was caused by excessive pressure underground. One such blow-out occurred in the mid 1930's. It blew with such force that the derrick and all the crew was lost. Granger said "it just went down with all the men." The blow-out created a crater that was still there for many years.
Although many people left after the boom, there were enough of the citizens that remained to keep the community viable. There were still wells that needed to be reworked, creating the necessity for some oil men to remain. Even though it was located on the periphery of the major portion of the forestry industry there was still a good bit of logging done, and a need for wood to build homes still existed.
By 1950 the definite signs of a growing community were evident. Mr. D.D. Granger had built the Grangerland Store and sold the land for a community center next to it. This store became the focal point of the community. He donated one acre of land for the Grangerland Baptist Church. Several other churches were raised in the area. After unsuccessfully trying to get one earlier, D.D. Granger solicited help from Congressman John Dowdy and this time Grangerland was granted a post office in 1968.Don Granger proudly stated "The post office really put us on the map officially."
Today Grangerland has several dynamic churches, an active fire department, a post office, a new community center in the works and several businesses. The population is reported by Don Granger as being 9,000 in a 3 mile radius and 15,000 when the radius is extended to 5 miles.
Grangerland's high school is named Caney Creek. They also have Moorhead Middle School, Grangerland Intermediate School and Ben Milam Elementary School. (Originally known as Union Grove)
2007 marked 100 years since Dr. Edwin Granger Came from Chicago, Illinois in 1907, with his family to pursue a dream and although he didn't live to see it come to fruition...There IS a colony in Texas that bears the name of Granger. There WAS oil in the ground under his land. His legacy is secure, and he would be pleased with the work of his descendants and the mark they have left. The dream that was realized and became........Grangerland