Local Man Discovers Pocket Watch With Tons Of Texas History

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

Imagine having an antique for years only to find out it may have played a big part in Texas history. That's exactly what happened to one Magnolia family and thanks to a genuine friend from Plantersville, the family didn't lose what could be worth thousands of dollars.

Jimmy Butler drinks coffee out of a pickle jar and likes to tinker with cars, but his true passion is pocket watches.

"Don't you love pocket watches, especially broken ones? Yes I do," said Butler with enthusiasm.

That's why he visits his friend Rachel Presley at the Magnolia Pawn Shop from time to time. Every pocket watch she gets in, she sells directly to Jimmy.

"It doesn't even go on the shelf, I just call Jimmy and that's that," said Presley.

But one pocket watch owned by Rachel's husband Jason didn't come with a price tag. It was after working on car that Jason gave Jimmy a pocket watch that had been in his toolbox for over 10 years. Jimmy researched that pocket watch and couldn't believe what he found.

"Not to put your own name on the face of your watch was what set it off for me," said Butler.

Jimmy knew right off the bat that the Rockford pocket watch from 1885 was unique. Instead of having the manufacturer's name on the face, all it says is, "H.W. Graber, Brenham Texas." The same name was found on the movement of the watch so Butler asked his daughter to research on the internet if Graber was a member of the Texas Rangers.

"I had a friend who told me he recognized the name as a Texas Ranger. I asked my daughter to look it up on the computer. She did and at first she said, Daddy, it's not a baseball player. And I told her, no honey, not those Rangers," joked Butler.

After a little bit of confusion, Jimmy's research payed off and the 125 year old watch he held in his hand had a history. The pocket watch belonged to Henry W. Graber, a Terry's Texas Ranger. The regiment fought in 275 battles during the Civil War and Graber was also a member of the Texas Rangers. That historic connection flooded Jimmy with calls about the artifact, some of those calls included offers for the watch, which Jimmy couldn't believe.

"When folks offer you thousands of thousands of thousands of dollars without seeing the item," said Butler.

Despite being offered over $20,000 dollars for the watch, Jimmy refused to sell it from under the feet of his friends.

"They didn't know what they gave me. I could have sold that watch any day and no matter how much steak I would have bought, it would have all tasted like cow crap," said Butler.

"Being the person he is, he doesn't want a penny and he wants it all to go to the kids," said Rachel Presley.

So now the watch sits in a safe place as the Presley's try to figure out what to do with their part of Texas History.

"It's not eating anything, we're not feeding it, it's not costing us any money so we're going to hang on to it," said Rachel.

As for Jimmy, he's just ready to start working on another pocket watch.

"I hope the next watch I hold has no attachment to anybody. I just want to take it apart," said Butler.

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