By Joyce Whitis
Photos by S. Roskilly Photography
Some say that you can’t miss it! Others say they never saw it! It depends upon how long you have lived around here or maybe whether you are traveling down highway 108 looking for a good place to eat. If you live anywhere close, you know the reputation of this historic building as a friendly place to stop, eat a satisfying meal, enjoy some conversation, and relax.
Meanwhile you are sure to enjoy yourself by looking at the photos displayed on the back counter; new gray photos copied from those in the Thurber Museum thirteen or fourteen miles up the highway north beside Interstate 20. Floyd’s Café is just the most recent occupant of this famous old weathered two-story building. This building is properly known as Hannibal AM & FM Lodge #564. The men belonging to the Lodge still meet upstairs just like they have since the ’20s when they bought the two-story wooden building, used as a grocery store during the time that Thurber was a mining town.
When Thurber closed down and the owners sold all the houses where the miners had lived, the store buildings and everything that was moveable; Lodge members bought this building. It was separated in two pieces and moved in sections down what is today State Highway 108 to a piece of land about 13 miles north of Stephenville. It must have been something to see as the building was moved in sections on log skids pulled by mules and horses.
George W. and Nora Stewart gave up a piece of their land there beside the road for the building now named Hannibal Lodge Hall. The building sits there today, just a couple of miles east of the Hannibal Methodist Church and Cemetery. George was a member of AM & FM Lodge #564 and was proud to locate this outstanding building in Hannibal, a location settled mainly by Confederate veterans in late 1860s and early ’70s. Lodge members reassembled the building, and in 1930 the bottom floor was reopened as a grocery store, like it had been in Thurber, while the Lodge members met upstairs by way of an outside staircase.
Through the years there have been many residents paying lease money to the Lodge in order to run a business downstairs. It has been a general store with gas pumps and the only stop between Stephenville and Interstate 20 (formally Highway 80). It has provided a meeting place for local domino games, community organizations and various times as a café.
During the three days in August 1974 that this area was “treed” by three convicts that terrorized this part of the county, it provided a place for neighbors to gather with their families and unite behind their guns until one of the convicts was shot and the other two caught.
Hannibal Lodge members have rented the bottom floor to several local residents through the years including the Gordons, the Fulfers, the Morings, the Venables, the Gardners, the Careys, the McInroe Sisters, the Stockstills, the Halls, and others.
And now it is the Floyds’! In this space and in this time, Floyd’s Café is very welcome to those looking for a good place to eat and visit with neighbors. It is also a welcome to travelers down busy Highway 108 headed north or south. Floyd’s Café is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 to 9:00 with specials everyday including fish on Friday and steak on Saturday. Homemade desserts are ready every day.
Tyge and Connie Floyd are local folks that happened to graduate Stephenville High School in the same class. That was 1985 and the two had other friends in that class and never got to know each other then. Tyge had many friends at Huckabay High School, which he had attended for three years. It was only after returning in 2015 for Stephenville Homecoming, that a mutual attraction blossomed into marriage.
“Each one of us had done pretty much what we wanted to do for years,” Tyge said as he smiled across the room at his wife as she waited on customers seated at a table of six.
“I remember when I was in school in Huckabay and I decided that I wanted to enter the Ready Writing competition in UIL. My teacher didn’t think that I should try that but I insisted and then I won! I have always been like that. I know what I can do and I will give it everything I have to accomplish success. For several years since I left Erath County I have traveled the world wherever the job I wanted took me. I was always interested in hunting and fishing and I found that I could make a good living by taking others to places where they could hunt and fish and be successful. So that’s what I have done since about 2000. It was interesting and profitable, but times and situations have changed and finally I just realized that I wasn’t having a good time anymore. I spent 250 days out of 365 traveling to other places in the world, far away from home. I met hundreds of interesting people and I was able to help them pursue their goals which was satisfying, but gradually I guess that I got homesick. I wanted to come home. I was looking for something else to add to my life. I went to school at Huckabay, played basketball, enjoyed school, and made some permanent friends. I transferred to Stephenville my senior year and graduated there. So when I came back and saw the planned reunion, well…. I just decided to go. I met Connie there and as they say, ‘the rest is history.’”
Connie, who had been listening to her husband, came over and sat down.
“Well I was tired too of doing what I was doing and that was in the medical field. I wanted to work for myself instead of others,” she said. “I began to see that I needed to be my own boss, plan something the way I thought it ought to go. I’ll work hard, get there early and stay late if I think that is the right thing to do. With this café, I get up at 5:00, five days a week so that I can make deserts for the day. Right now I come to the café and make apple pie, peach cobbler and chocolate cake. I use my own recipes. I also make the meatloaf that we have printed on the menu.”
“She’s the kind of woman that won the West,” Tyge laughed as he looked at his wife with pleasure. “You would think that we leased this café so she would have a place to work! Well…maybe we did.”
The Floyds recently bought a place near Huckabay and Hannibal, and Tyge is spending a lot of time ‘fixin’ it up.’ “I enjoy building things and making improvements. I really want to have a place here where neighbors and those that like our country atmosphere will come and enjoy a good meal and relax awhile with friends.
Connie smiled at her husband. “That’s what we both want and we are willing to work hard to get it. Floyd’s Café…..has a nice sound to it,” she said.