Liberty County History

An occasional gathering place for articles, documents, photographs, records and other ephemera dealing with the history of Liberty County, Texas.

Name:

Kevin Ladd is director of the Wallisville Heritage Park at Wallisville, Chambers County, TX and lives in Hardin, TX. He is chairman of the Liberty County Historical Commission and writes for "Texas Illustrated," a monthly publication of the Liberty Gazette newspaper, which is devoted to local history and folklore.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Judge William Watson Perryman

The Liberty Vindicator
Friday, May 22, 1891

Death of Col. Perryman.

Colonel Wm. W. Perryman, after an illness of seven months, died at his home last Thursday (14th) and was buried Friday morning. Col. Perryman was a South Carolinian and was a true type of old-time Southern gentleman; kind, gentle and hospitable to all and was much esteemed by his fellow citizens. He was a man of fine intelligence, social manners, exemplary habits and probity of character. He came to Texas soon after the war and settled on a farm 12 miles north of Liberty. For five terms he was elected by the people to the office of county judge, which position he filled with satisfaction to the people and honor to himself. At the late election he was again a candidate for county judge, and while he was in feeble health and could not make a canvass of the county, was defeated by only a few votes. Judge Perryman was 60 years of age. He leaves a wife and one daughter, Mrs. W. C. Moore. The writer had the pleasure of knowing the deceased well, having been intimately associated with him for several yeas as a member of the board of school examiners, and he knew him to be an honest man – the “noblest work of God.”

John Marshall Partlow (1833-1905)

The Liberty Vindicator
Friday, March 17, 1905

MAJ. JOHN M. PARTLOW DEAD.
Was Confederate Veteran and Well Known Citizen


Major John Marshall Partlow died Friday at his late home at 312 Laurel street. He was a native of Abbeville, S. C. where he was born on Aug. 23, 1833, and came to Liberty county, Texas, 1867. In 1868 he was married to Miss Leana Johnston, daughter of Capt. Hugh Blair Johnson, an officer who fought in the Texas-Mexico war. The children born to them were Mrs. Nellie Peterson, of Clifton; Mrs. Mary Kell, Albert Sydney Partlow, Samuel E. Partlow and Miss Eva Partlow. The brothers and sisters of Major Partlow are Mrs. W. W. Perryman, Mrs. Joseph Richardson, Mrs. R. M. Perryman, Mrs. J. H. Finley, W. S. Partlow of Liberty, Texas; Jas. Partlow and Mrs. Whitlock of Greenwood, S. C.
Deceased was a Confederate soldier. A member of Longstreet's brigade, the captain of a company, from Anderson, S. C. He was promoted to the rank of major for gallant and meritorious conduct. He was severely wounded in battle. The funeral takes place this afternoon at 5 o'clock. The services will be conducted by the Rev. Mr. Mouson of Travis Park Methodist church. --San Antonio Express.
Major Partlow was for a number of years a prominent citizen of Liberty county, and his many friends yet living here will regret to learn of his death.

Note from Kevin Ladd: This newspaper article is typical of the late 1800s and early 1900s. As Mr. Partlow passed away in San Antonio, his obituary was originally published in the "San Antonio Express." All editors at that time routinely traded copies of their papers with all of the other editors in the state. T. Jeff Chambers, the devoted editor of the Vindicator, found the item while reading his copy of the San Antonio newspaper and shared it with his readers.

Friday, July 28, 2006

25th Texas Cavalry Regiment, Company H

As we noted in the earlier post dealing with Company B of the 25th Texas Cavalry Regiment, many of our Liberty County Confederate soldiers can be found listed in the appendices of Miriam Partlow's 1974 history, Liberty, Liberty County & The Atascosito District. But these two companies were left out of the book. This particular fighting force -- Company H of the 25th Texas Cavalry Regiment, includes a large number of Liberty County men. What makes this such an interesting military company is the fact that so many of the local men who are listed here came from old Acadian families in Louisiana.

Here is the roster. Again, all of the officers are listed in itallics with their rank being duly noted. All Liberty County men, or at least those who appear to have hailed from this county, are highlighted in bold type. We would deary love to make contact with descendants of these soldiers. This company roster shows two different men who commanded this group Both Gilbert Lacour Jr. and John R. Proudfoot served as captains at various times. Although Captain Gilbert Lacour Jr. was no stranger to Liberty County. but it is hard to get a very good bead on Captain John Proudfoot.

Alleans, John G.
Anderson, Thomas S., Cpl.
Antonio, Christoff
Arnaud, Adolph
Arnett, John T.
Amnett, Z. [Arnett
Ayres, George
Bachen, H.
Baillio, Silvear P., 2nd Lt.
Bailey, J.
Barrett, John F ., Cpl.
Baudreaux, J.
Beachan, K.
Bellard, Mecjna
Beothy, W.
Bitteman, Lucien A.
Block, H.
Bondreau, Joseph
Brown, Albert L., Sgt.
Carter, B.F.
Carter, W.
Cary, John W., Sgt.
Cashett, J .
Davidson, George, Cpl.
Davidson, J.
Dawson, John
De Blanc, Alcide
De Blanc, Caesar, Sgt.
De Blanc, Jerome E.
De Blanc, Joe
De Blanc, Oscar, Sgt.
Dugat, Arvellian
Dugat, John
Dugat, Lefrois
Duset, Joseph

Elliott, William B.
Fortier, Sulimbe
Francen, H. ( Hugo Franssen)
Francis, W.
Freman, W.
Fruge, L.
Frugier, Antoine, Sr.
Frugier, Antonio, Jr.
Frugier, David
Frugier, F.
Frugier, John P., Jr.
Frugier, John P., Sr.
Frugier, Joseph
Frugier, Julian
Frugier, Lazime
Fruzier, R.
Fruzier, Va1cine
Fulkerson, A.H.
Garvin, James T.
Gilchrist, Ursen
Gillard, Appolinair, Cpl.
Gillard, Ludolph
Gillard, N.
Goshen, -
Graves, Joseph N.
Grice, Robert L.
Hardin, S.
Harper, W.
Hartman, Levi
Hatton, A.E.
Hicks, John H.
Hoards, John R.
Holland, Jeremiah
Houghstuttler, C.
House, M.
Howard, Pryor
Hughes, Jefferson C., Cpl.
Hughes, W.M.
Hyde, R.E.
Jackson, A.
Jackson, William
Johnson, Joseph B.
Johnson, William B.
Jones, J. Churchill
Joy, A.J.
Kinsey, Allen T.
Lacour, Cyprian
Lacour, Edward N.
Lacour, Gilbert, Jr., Capt.
Lacour, Gus, Cpl.
Lacour, J.M.C., Ist Lt.
Lacour, John W., 2nd Lt.
Lacour, Jule J., Sgt.
Lacour, L. Ernest
Lacour, Zenon
Lacy, Francis M.
Lacy, John D.
Lofton, William H.
Longtoff, Louis R.
McAllister, John W.
McCorkle, Robert
McLaughlin, Charles
McNamer, James
Morris, Osceola, 1st Lt.
Myers, T.H., Ist Sgt.

Nead, Eugene
Noe, James W.
O'Brien, John
Owens, Alfred
Pentecost, J.
Perito, J. R.
Peveto, Jim
Peveto, John
Peveto, Joseph
Pevotot, Joseph
Pice, John H.
Pile, Henry R., Sgt.
Proudfoot, John R., Capt.
Rachal, Frank S., Ist Sgt.
Reese, John H.
Richard, Alfred
Ripka, D.
Roberts, Benjamin
Rodgers, H.
Rodgers, M.
Rodgers, W.G.B.
Sargent, I. Henry
Schwamer, James
Sells, Thomas W ., Sgt.
Simpson, Andrew I.
Simpson, Henry
Simpson, W.H., Sgt.
Sisk, Jacob I.
Smith, E.I.
Smith, I.C.
Smith, James T.
Smith, W.C.
Stanley, William G.
Swaner, James
Tanney, H. [Tanner?]
Tanney, W. {Tanner?}

Tapin, I.
Tenney, L.M.
Thibodeaux, Charles
Thibodeaux, Joseph
Tompkins, Augustus
Vanhuten, R.
Vinier, John (Vanya)
Wallen, Charles
Watts, I.W., Sgt.
Weaver, John
Wilson, Theodore 0., Jr.2nd Lt.
Wilson, William H.
Wright, David C.
Wright, William M.
Zaran, F .M.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The 25th Texas Cavalry Regiment, Company B

In the back of Miriam Partlow's wonderful book, Liberty, Liberty County & The Atascosito District, which was published in 1974, there are a set of appendices which provide some raw data on Liberty County people. Included in this section are some rosters of five Confederate companies from Liberty County, which were, of course, organized during the War Between the States or the Civil War. The natural assumption is that these lists are comprehensive and that no other companies were formed from here, or that no men from Liberty County served in other companies. If that is one's assumption, however, it is quite incorrect. The following muster roll covers Company B of the 25th Texas Cavalry Regiment, which included a number of our men. In our next post, we will cover Company H of the 25th Texas Cavalry Regiment, which included a large and interesting collection of Liberty County men.

Although I have not attempted to write anything close to a history of this company, a thorough study of the names of these soldiers and officers suggests most of these men came from Hardin County, along with a number of men from eastern Liberty County. Some of these soldiers came from Liberty, particularly Jeremiah VanDeventer, who was married to Cornelia Hardin.

Major Joseph Neal Dark, who died in 1905 at his home at Tanner's Bluff on the Trinity [west of Moss Hill], appears to have taken a leadership role in organizing this company. At the time the company was organized [around 1861 or 1862], the Major was living over near Batson's Prairie. Soon after the company was organized or substantially organized, Dark was promoted to the rank of major and placed on the regimental staff. This was a rank he shared with Edward Bradford Pickett of Liberty. At some point in time, command of this company was placed in the hands of Captain Thomas R. McMaster, who seems to have kept the command through the duration of the conflict.

Officers are printed in itallics. Men from Liberty County, or at least the ones we can clearly identify as being from Liberty County, are highlighted. I will be tinkering with this list for some time, but I would certainly like to contact anyone who can help identify one or more of these soldiers or officers. I am interested in any and all of these men. You may contact me by email at wallis01@yahoo.com if you have information on them.

Allison, John V.
Alston, W.J.
Arnett, F.F.
Batson, J.
Bell, E.
Bilow, J.
Bishop, B .F .
Blackrnan, A.
Boon, R.
Bracken, G. B.
Bracken, W .G.
Brantley, T. W.
Bridges, L. M.
Bryant, J. M.
Burt, W. L.
Callier, R.P.
Calloway, John
Chapel, C.
Cherry, J. W.
Chesson,Joshua
Combs, James R.
Cook, J. O.
Cooper, James A.
Cotton, M. F. [possibly W. F. Cotton]
Cotton, W .H.
Crawford, W.
Dark, J .N., (Maj.)
Davaid, S. J.
Davis, John, (Cpl.)
Davis, L. R.
Davis, Larkin
Davis, S. W., (Sgt.)
Dean, Robert
Deets, F.W.
Dollard, J.J.
Dudley, A.H., Sgt.
Duset, Joseph (Doucette)
Ellis, J.J.
Evans, James J.
Farling, M.
Forlond, M.
Fountain, J.B.
Franklin, J.
Franklin, T .P .
Franklin, Wine
Frazier, J.J.
Frazier, James M.
Gilbert, L.F.
Gilbert, Samuel
Gillard, J. W.
Gillard. S.
Gilley.A.
Gilley. I.
Goff, P.V.
Goff, Thomas B.
Goodman, John M.
Graharn, A.J .
Graharn, R.G.
Green, Ezra
Green, J.L.
Green, Philip
Gudny, N. [possibly Guedry or Guidry]
Guines. Z.M.. (Sgt.)
Hall. W .H.
Harnptin. G.
Haralson. J .H.
Harlson. W .P .
Harper. J.
Harrell, W.L., (Cpl.)
Hart, R.J .
Harvill. J .C.
Haverea, W .F . [Havard?]
Havered, S.J. . [Havard?]
Havord. W .F . [Havard?]
Hebert, Jada
Hempling. J.
Hillyer. F. R., lst Sgt.
Holland, E.B.
Hooks, J.D.
Hughes, James F.
Huling, Thomas B.
Jackson, Ambrose (Corporal)
Jackson, James
Jackson, William
Jarrell, John
Jones, J .H.
Jones, J. K.
Jones, John R.
Jones, R. D., Sgt.
Jones, R. J.
Jordan, M.W.
Jourdan, W .H.
Kaim,V.
Kea, J. W.
Kennedy, J. D.
Kerr, C. D.
Kerr, J. M.
Kingcade, J. B .L.
Langthrop, W.
Lee, B. J.
Levy, H.
Lewis, Simeon
Lewis, Willis, Cpl.
Long, James M., Sgt.
Lum, Jesse D., 1st Lt.
Marble, Jacob A.
Marks, Barney
Matthews, W. J.
McAllister, John H.
McCartney, R.L.K.
McMaster, Thomas R., Capt.
McNealy, D.S.D.
McNealy, Hugh
McShan, G.W.
McWilliams, James
Merchant, James A., (lst Lt.)
Meyer, Peter .
Middleton, W.
Mixon, Henry
Montgomery, H.
Montgomery, John
Mott, Daniel
Mott, H.P.
Mott, Isaac
Mott, J .L.
Mott, Loveless
Mott, Thomas
Nichols, A.
O'Neal, Paul
Odam, J.W., Cpl.
Overstreet, Coleman
Parker, Isaac
Parker, James
Parker, John
Parr, W.H.
Perryman, W .A.
Petty, J.
Philips, C. T.
Pool, J. J.
Porter, M. P .
Pugh, W .H.
Randolph, J.G.
Richey, S.
Riley, A.
Riley, A.
Ripka, D.
Ross, R.L.
Runnels, A.J .
Runnels, Alexander
Runnels, P.M.
Runnels, G.B.
Runnels, Jesse
Sellman, George W., (Sgt.)
Shaw, Quincy
Shell, R.H., (Sgt.)
Shepherd, J.M.
Simans, B.J.
Simmons, J.
Simms, John T., (2nd Lt.)
Sims, E.G.
Sims, J.T.
Sims, T. R., (2nd Lt.)
Smith, Robert
Smith, W .H., (Sgt.)
Snellgroves, J.A.C., Cpl.
Snider, William
Spell, R.H., Sgt.
Spier, A.J.
Spier, J.P., Capt.
Stanley, F.P.
Stanly, P .S.
Street, C.O.
Sutton, S.H., Jr, 2nd Lt.
Swinney, M.
Tarling, M. C.
Taylor, J. G .L.
Taylor, Joseph
Teel, Richard
Terry, William
Thibodeaux, Charles
Thibodeaux, Charles
Thibodeaux,Joseph
Thompson, J.E.
Thompson, James
Thompson,Joseph
Thompson, S.K.
Thompson; S. W.
Thomson, J.W.
Underwood, A.J.
Vandeventer, J. [Jeremiah]
Whittington, W .H.
Williams, E.H.
Williams, J.P.
Williams, J.R. ,
Williford, G.W.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

John V. Clay (1912-1986)

I first encountered John V. Clay in the late 1970s during a Liberty County Historical Commission field trip to the Big Thicket Museum at Saratoga, Texas. Sandy Pickett, our chairperson at the time, encouraged everyone to bring a brown bag lunch. At some appropriate time, she said, we would pause in our journey to break bread for the noonday meal. Mr. Clay arrived on the scene in what I would later learn was his customary attire: comfortable khaki pants and a large shirt of like material. The shirt was worn outside of his pants, as opposed to being tucked in, partially obscuring a sizable belly. He finished off his outfit with comfortable shoes and a large brimmed hat of the style made popular by Frank “Bring ‘em Back Alive" Buck, the noted big game hunter of yesteryear. His appearance was made all the more remarkable by the presence of an attractive, younger woman, clearly half his age, who could only be described as buxom. As a young boy once said to Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” she possessed a great deal of raw animal magnetism. Mr. Clay escorted her around in a courtly, chivalrous manner. When it came time for lunch, they produced an entire smoked turkey and a huge bowl of potato salad. He proceeded to share his bounty with everyone in our group. Our meager sandwiches and potato chips paled in comparison. I liked him right off the bat. Over the years, I learned lots of things about him, but that episode was John V. Clay in a nutshell.

The young woman was named Phylis Harris. She was fair of skin and wore her auburn hair long and elaborately arranged. Like everyone else, I eventually asked Sandy, “Is that his girlfriend?” Sandy politely answered that, no, they were just friends. Whenever the occasion demanded it, Phylis would be at his side again and again over the next few years. None of us would ever come close to knowing the real story behind their relationship until after his death.

He came into the world at Houston in 1912, one of five sons (and one daughter) born into a good Catholic family. His father, William Conrad Clay, came from old German stock and his surname had long since been reduced to those four letters. He operated a store of the general merchandise variety. His mother, Mary Theresa (Culliton) Clay, was devoted to the Catholic faith and aspired for many years to see one of her sons enter the priesthood, particularly the Franciscan Order. None of the boys ever made that leap of faith, and even late in life he would become angry all over again at the mere thought of the pressure they endured. Someone in his family tree bore the name Vollmer, which became his middle name, although he didn't like this information to get out to the public.

John graduated from St. Thomas and briefly attended Texas A&M, but the rigors of scholarship did not appeal to him then – although it would later on in a grand way. He went to work, instead, in 1936 for Shell Oil Company, a career interrupted only by his service during World War II with the Seabees. The name, he said, stood for “confused bastards.” He was nevertheless assigned to Guadalcanal and other places in the Pacific Theatre of Operations, serving out his final months in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. When it was all over, he came back to Shell and married a young widow by the name of Juanita, who had a young daughter named Mary. John V. built them a quant log house in the Cloverleaf area of Channelview. He raised wonderful camellia bushes, which grew into enormous treelike dimensions and ranged from white and red, to pink and lavender. He eventually retired from Shell in early 1963.

By that time, of course, his aged mother had long since abandoned all hopes of having a Father Clay within her family and instead turned her attention to a lifelong fascination: The Franciscan Missionary Order. She was principally interested in Mission Nuestra Senora de la Luz (Our Lady of Light), which had been established somewhere near Wallisville in 1756 and abandoned fifteen years later. She had spent much of her life studying about the mission and the followers of gentle St. Francis of Assisi who were once stationed there. Built of saplings and a crude stucco made of mud and moss, the buildings that made up the mission had long ago fallen victim to the elements.

Sometime around 1949, Mrs. Clay talked one of her other sons, W. C. “Bill” Clay, into joining her in the search for the mission site. On Sunday afternoons they would take long drives through the hamlets and haunts of Chambers County, searching for any place that might remind them of the written records. Their efforts, however, resulted in no great discoveries. John took up the search in 1959 when his mother’s health began to fail.

He haunted libraries across the state, began a lively correspondence with historians and scholars of various disciplines, and taught himself to read the Castillian Spanish common to official correspondence of the 18th Century. His letters were much like him, filled with grandiose words and colorful phrases, courteous to men and gracious to women.

One day at the Fondren Library at Rice University he stumbled onto a reference to a map of the complex that had been prepared by a Spanish engineer. The map, at one time filed away in a London museum, had been relocated and then misfiled during the Blitzkrieg. The discovery of the 1767 Nicolas de la Fora map gave Clay something to work with. He would study the modern maps of the Trinity River, comparing each bend with the Spanish engineer's map, and eventually deciding the place was located just north of Wallisville. He went out one day with a tractor and an auger, backed up to a few spots, and eventually pulled up artifacts left by the Spanish. This method, an archeologist's nightmare to be sure, led to a state-sponsored dig at the site in 1966 and verification that this was, indeed, the actual location. In the waning days of his mother's life, John brought her out to the site and showed her around. Here is where the chapel stood. The kitchen was over here. The missionaries slept in a building that stood right here. It was a remarkable feat, seeking that which was once lost and restoring oneself in the eyes of one’s mother. The late Jim Kyle, longtime feature editor for the Baytown Sun newspaper, one time asked him, "John, why did you do this? What was your motivation?" Without batting an eye, John Clay said, "Jim, my Mother asked me to."

He did not stop there. He became enthralled with the old houses of Chambers and Liberty counties, capturing them in photographs with his trusty Graflex camera. It was officially known as the Pacemaker Crown and Speed Graphic, a fine old device that required a tripod, hood, light meter and a lion's share of patience. It produced remarkable photographs, and he eventually captured every old home in Chambers County and most in Liberty.

He became fascinated also with Colonel Juan Davis Bradburn, the controversial commander of Fort Anahuac, an American in the employ of the Mexican military. No one has every accurately determined the last resting place of Bradburn. John V. Clay tried his best, ordering maps and probing through old records, but never hit paydirt. In the process, however, he produced a remarkable collection of papers on Bradburn's life and times.

When I went to work for the Wallisville Heritage Park in the fall of 1981, Mr. Clay had already been there for a year and worked almost full time as a volunteer staff member. His chief mission was copying the photographs brought in by Chambers County residents. This project led to an extensive collection of copy negatives documenting early families, homes, businesses and events.

He made his journeys from Channelview to Wallisville in a well-beaten AMC Spirit vehicle, which was painted a rustic brown and bore many battle scars and war wounds from encounters with inanimate objects. A plastic pith helmet usually rested upside down on the passenger's seat in the front or sometimes perched on top of the floor-mounted gearshift. It sat there patiently waiting for any unexpected trips into the woods or onto the grounds of some abandoned homeplace. On one extremely hot and humid day, the pith helmet simply melted and flattened itself out. He spent the rest of his life searching for another one, often trying other hats, but never finding one that was its equal.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer in early 1986, and we hastily arranged a "John V. Clay Day" in Chambers County that April. Judge Price Daniel of Liberty, the former governor of Texas. delivered a wonderful speech. The Texas Historical Commission presented him with an award for his discovery of the mission site and "El Orcoquisac." Phylis Harris, as beautiful as ever, arrived dramatically a few moments late and took a seat on the stage next to him. He was in his glory. On the way home that evening, I tried hard to convince myself that he wasn't really about to leave us. I started crying every time I contemplated his death. Over the previous five years, he had become an important part of my life. I enjoyed his jokes, and he enjoyed mine. I enjoyed his stories about the Spaniards and the missionaries. Through his words and colorful tales, these people almost leaped from the page and shook my hand!

John V. Clay died on September 26, 1986. We buried him in his khakis, as he would have preferred, in the family plot at Forest Park Lawndale in Houston. Sometime later, Phylis Harris admitted that she was not really his girlfriend. She had just been playing an elaborate charade, at his request. In a technical sense, she might have been classified as his step-granddaughter. His wife, Juanita, who had died in 1977, was her grandmother. Phylis wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and told of all the things she and the other grandchildren used to do with John. He would load them onto a rug, lay down on the floor and then launch them across the floor of his log house. They would load up into his car for one great adventure after another. “He made every day special,” she admitted. All alone after her grandmother’s death, he would ask her to accompany him to one event after another and laugh uproariously at what everyone would say about this old bald-head man and this young woman. “I just played along,” she said. “It was the least I could do.”

Monday, July 24, 2006

Texas Hurricanes of the Spanish Era

Now that we are officially in the hurricane season along the Texas Gulf Coast, it might be instructive to take a look at historical hurricanes, particularly those that impacted Galveston Bay, Trinity Bay and what is today Liberty and Chambers counties. Over fifty hurricanes have hit this part of the coast during the past four centuries.
The historical record for great storms in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries is limited primarily to those occasions when the fury of nature made contact with agents of the far-flung Spanish colonial empire. A ship or perhaps a fleet of ships went down. A mission or presidio was wrecked. These are the principals means in which we have learned details about the hurricanes of the Spanish Era. The most interesting of those are recounted herein.

The Spanish Era


The earliest documented hurricane along the Texas coastline arrived in late November 1527, destroying a merchant fleet on Galveston Island. Contemporary accounts suggest some 200 lives were lost. A fleet of twenty Spanish ships bearing silver and gold ran into a fierce storm near Padre Island in 1555, leaving only four ships out of the original number. Out of the combined crew of two thousand sailors, only 300 made it ashore. Their original goal was to take a land route to Mexico, but Karankawa Indians set upon the men as they landed. A fierce battle ensued, and their numbers were significantly reduced. Others died under a variety of different circumstances, but only two survivors managed to reach Mexico.

Another hurricane in early November 1590 claimed another Spanish fleet and over a thousand individuals were likewise lost. Sixty Spaniards perished off the coast of Mexico during a September 12, 1600 storm. The ship San Miguel went down on August 30, 1615 near Mexico. Some three hundred Spaniards were lost in October 1631 during a hurricane that moved through the Gulf of Mexico.

Presidio San Agustin de Ahumada and Mission Nuestra Señora de la Luz, located immediately north of the present-day town of Wallisville, was ten years old when a fierce hurricane struck this area on September 4, 1766. The storm came in at Galveston and devastated the small Spanish outpost here. Records from that time indicate the area was flooded by a seven-foot storm surge. The mission and presidio complex was relocated to higher ground. No casualties were recorded.

Another hurricane hit the Gulf in 1791, primarily coming ashore in he vicinity of Padre Island. A huge herd of Spanish cattle, probably as many as 50,000 head, were drowned in the storm surge. The next post will deal with some storms of the early Nineteenth Century.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dr. Henry Wise Farley (1795-1839)

My first encounter with the name of Dr. Henry Wise Farley was one day along about 1977 when I was doing some research at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center at Liberty. The late Joyce Calhoon, the first director of the center, had one of those encyclopedic minds about the early pioneers and settlers, not only those from Liberty County, but also from the other nine counties that are served by the Sam Houston Center. I asked her about Dr. Farley, and she said he would have been one of the greatest and most important figures in local history -- if he had lived longer. Few people today would recognize his name, but during the 1830s and long after his death in 1839, he was without doubt the most learned man ever to call Liberty home. The 1837 public notice regarding the sale of town lots in Liberty, found posted elsewhere on this blog, suggests he may have actually been the first mayor of Liberty. Research done by Joyce Calhoon showed he had served as our first county judge during the 1835-1836 period of the Texas Revolution.

The facts of his life are interesting enough. He was born on December 5, 1795 in Ipswich, Massachusetts, one of several children born to Jabez Farley and his second wife Susanna (Swazey) Farley. His middle name is an old and distinguished one in Essex County, dating back to a prominent clergyman named the Rev. John Wise. His father, Jabez, was distinguished in the American Revolution. One of his kinsmen, General Michael Farley, was a major figure in the histories of the American Revolution in New England.

When he was in his late teens, Henry, went off to the Harvard Medical College. The late Camilla Davis Trammell wrote of him: "When Henry Wise Farley finished at Harvard Medical College in 1814, he practiced in his home town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. The came 'the year without sun' followed by two crop failures, and Henry decided to leave that land of hunger. Farley's two brothers had previously gone to the West Indies, but they both lost their lives there. He decided to go to New Orleans instead. However, behind New Orleans' outward glitter and joie de vivre, he discovered shocking slavery and sanitation problems. As one observor wrote, 'New Orleans is a dreadful place in the eyes of the New England man. They keep Sunday as we in Boston keep the Fourth of July.' Yellow fever was often followed by cholera. Debauchery and bribery were as rampant as he had heard they were in the West Indies.

"Dr. Farley decided to move westward. He found employment on the Berwick plantation, where he treated slaves and owners alike. There were also French refugees in the area from the destruction of Champ d'Asile, across the Sabine River in Texas, and he treated them. They spoke highly of that land to the west in Texas. In 1824, the gentle young doctor courted and married Catherine, the eldest daughter of Ann [Berwick] and Christopher O'Brien, Jr."

A few years later, with their two young sons -- Henry and Brien -- in tow, the Farleys moved to the village called Atascosito, the forerunner to the Town of Liberty. Two more sons, Swazey and Frank, were born here. As we mentioned previously, Dr. Farley became active in the Revolution, serving with the Texian Army in the capacity of a surgeon. Soon thereafter, he appears in 1837 records as both the mayor of the Town of Liberty and as Justice of the Peace for the same area.

In late 1839, as he juggled numerous business responsibilities, Dr. Farley was compelled by necessity to travel back to New Orleans to purchase medical instruments and supplies. He postponed his visit as long as possible, trying to wait out a yellow fever raging through the Crescent City, but finally booked passage on the schooner Columbia at Liberty and headed that way. We will turn again to Mrs. Trammell's well-chosen words: "The day he arrived, as he walked through the German section of New Orleans, some ruffians beset him and stole his purse [what we might call a wallet]. Bruised and disheveled, he was still able to buy most of his supplies on credit, and he returned to the dock. A captain told him that his schooner, the Alexander of Macedon, wa about to sail, and he booked passage." While waiting a couple of days for the schooner to depart, Dr. Farley wrote his wife Catherine on November 19, 1839: "I am tired, dirty, ragged, lonely and low-spirited but not sick. Kiss our sweet treasures a thousand times each for me. You will see me shortly after you receive this."

He never made it home again. Dr. Farley fell ill with the yellow fever the second day out of New Orleans. He died on the schooner named for Alexander of Macedon. The crew quickly buried him in the Gulf waters. So ends the story of Dr. Henry Wise Farley. No marker here bears his name. Once an indispensable and brilliant man in life, he is sadly forgotten 170 years later. But you and I now know his story.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sale of Lots in the Town of Liberty (1837)

The Telegraph & Texas Register
Thursday, October 4, 1837



Sale of Lots in the
TOWN OF LI BERTY .

NOTICE IS HEREBY given that a sale of the lots in the town of Liberty will take place in said town, on the 25th day of October next, and continue from day to day, until a sufficient number of lots are sold. This town is the county seat and is situated in an elevated and beautiful prairie, near the east bank of the Trinity river, about thirty miles above its mouth. The country adjacent embraces some of the richest cotton lands of Texas. The climate is remarkably healthy, and the water pure and wholesome. A channel has recently been discovered at the mouth of the Trinity, admitting vessels drawing five feet water; this will permit a direct communication to be opened between this place and Galveston, making this the depot of a very extensive and fertile section of the country. It is only forty miles from Houston, and eighty from Ballou's ferry, on the Sabine.

TERMS: -- One-third of the purchase money to be paid in hand, one-third in three months, and the other in six months. For the security of the corportion, the title will not be issued until the last payment is made; and any person failing to make the second or last payment, will forfeit the lot or lots, together with the money already paid.

October 1, 1837. 91-t

D. P. COIT, Secretary
H. W. FARLEY, Mayor.


Note from Kevin Ladd: This advertisement in the Telegraph & Texas Register tells us several things. If one scrolls down this blog, there can be found the Joint Resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives for the Republic of Texas formally incorporating the "Town of Liberty" and instructing the voters of that town to select seven trustees for the "Corporation." That was approved in June 1837 and promptly signed by President Sam Houston. The Chief Justice [what we now call the County Judge] for Liberty County and the four county commissioners then in office were further instructed to call the election and oversee the same. By the time this notice was signed on October 1, 1837, it would appear that the seven trustees [what we now call council members] had been duly elected. The Joint Resolution also compels the seven trustees, once duly elected, to select from their number one individual to be the mayor of the town and another to be the secretary. All of these things would appear to have been accomplished by this same date. Dr. Henry Wise Farley appears here as the mayor of the Town of Liberty. Daniel P. Coit is listed as the secretary. The Corporation apparently has decided to generate some revenue by the sale of town lots. The terms are not overly generous, although the selling price for the lots is not given here. What makes this notice especially interesting to me is that this is the earliest document I've run across showing an individual as the mayor of Liberty. Miss Miriam Partlow's book, Liberty, Liberty County and the Atascosito District, which was published in 1974 by Pemberton Press, gives a list of all mayors and council members. But that list begins with George Loving as the first mayor in 1838, and this document would suggest that Dr. Farley would probably trump Loving with this October 1, 1837 date. As always, more research is needed here, and I will share it here as we continue to work through newspaper accounts and records of 1837 and 1838.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The First Sermon Preached in Liberty (1840)

THE VISIT OF THE REV. HUGH FIELDS

The first sermon ever preached in Liberty came about largely by accident, although I would prefer to think it was the hand of Divine Providence at work. In the late summer of 1840 Liberty was nothing more than a sparsely occupied frontier settlement, composed mostly of log cabins and lesser structures. There was a good east and west road that roughly followed the modern meanderings of US Highway 90, and there was a fairly decent dirt road that began at Liberty and ran up to Livingston and was known as the Liberty-Livingston Road. Another trail, an ancient footpath once favored by Native Americans, meandered south to what would later be Wallisville. There was no air conditioning. No electricity. No cable TV or Internet. No radio or television. No planes, trains or automobiles.

If one traveled north of town about one mile, the road would have passed the home of Benjamin Franklin – no apparent relation to the Founding Father of the same name – and his wife Zilphey. Also living in that house was a young man, who boarded there for $8.00 a month, by the name of David Carlton Hardee, who many years later wrote ten articles that described his life in Liberty County during the late 1830s and early 1840s. Hardee described this house “as sort of a gemble with a good many rooms to it. Like most of the houses [at that time] it was built of cypress slabs and covered with cypress boards, and the floors were made of cypress puncheons. With a long broad front gallery it was a comfortable place to stay at.”

Hardee described Mrs. Franklin as “tall and slender and swarthy in complexion.” She had been the Widow Orr [George Orr being her first husband] when Franklin first came there to work along about 1836, soon after the battle of San Jacinto. But after a couple of years, Franklin and the Widow married. Hardee said he spent many happy hours there talking with Franklin about history and politics, and Franklin was a great admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte. Hardee wrote: “In the freedom of our intercourse, I asked him on one occasion how a man of his age and good looks could marry a woman so homely as his wife was and besides several years older than himself. Well, he said, good coffee and biscuit and waffles for breakfast, and chicken for dinner was sentimentality enough for him.”

One day in the latter part of 1840, Franklin and Hardee were sitting out on the gallery near sunset talking about whatever was the hot topic of the day, when a middle aged gentleman riding a stylish looking horse stopped in the road in front of the house and asked if he and his horse could be accommodated for the evening. “Of course, he was accommodated,” Hardee wrote. “He was on his way to the western part of the Republic to visit some friends and relations on business. We soon learned that he was a Methodist preacher from Columbus, Mississippi, and his name was Hugh Fields. At bed time he requested the family to join with him in song and prayer. The same request was made before going to breakfast in the morning. There were present two or three persons beside the family. Everyone enjoyed the entertainment. He was full of love and his words seemed to burn into the hearts of everyone present.”

To make a long story short, Franklin and Hardee asked Rev. Fields if he could stay over another day or two – this was a Friday night – so that he could preach at the courthouse on Sunday morning and they told him that no one had ever preached a sermon in Liberty, not ever. The preacher agreed to this, and so they sent word out to all of the settlers in this area, and the sermon was preached at 11 o’clock that Sunday morning. And a large crowd gathered, and more than half of them had never heard a sermon before in their lives. Every chair in the modest courthouse was filled. Others sat outside on stools or chairs or benches. Some may have simply lounged on the ground.

Although the history of Liberty's Methodist church probably bears no mention of Rev. Hugh Fields or this sermon, I cannot help but to think that his sermon that day was a seed that landed in fertile ground and it is no surprise to me that this Methodist church, this great congregation, sprang forth later that same year and still meets the needs of the spiritual needs of this town one hundred and sixty-six years later.

That sermon stuck with Hardee, and he remembered this particular passage: “Surely this world is not our final rest. Not only the word of God as found in the Bible, but all of the works of nature teach us the immortality of the soul. In the evening the sun dies and is buried in the west. In the morning it rises in beauty and glory in the east. The moon disappears to shine again with her silver light. The stars that hide themselves in heaven each night soon shine again. The lilies of the field die and are buried by the night of winter, but in spring they bloom again with a beauty which Solomon in all his glory cannot equal. The grass withers, and flowers fade and die. The falling leaf teaches us that we too must fall and perish and die. But the budding tree teaches us that the doctrine of the resurrection. For it is not all of life to live nor all of death to die. Every dying flower teaches the doctrine that if we die we shall live again.”

There is a freshness and vitality to these words, even as they come back to us across the span of a century and a half. As we go about our daily business of life – let us, like Rev. Hugh Fields, be ever mindful of the opportunities that God brings to us to touch the lives of others, not only those who are part of the Kingdom of God but more importantly those who do not know God. Let us leave a mark upon this place, so that the things we do today will count for something long after we ourselves have hopefully gone to that place where Rev. Hugh Fields surely resides.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Incorporation of the Town of Liberty (1837)

The Telegraph & Texas Register
Saturday, July 29, 1837
Published at Houston, Texas

JOINT RESOLUTION
For the Incorporation of the town of Liberty.

SEC. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, in Congress assembled, That the citizens of the town of Liberty be and they are hereby declared a body corporate and public, under the name and style of the "Corporation of the Town of Liberty," who shall have the power of suing and being sued, of pleading and being impleaded, and to sell and dispose of real and personal property within the limits of said corporation.

SEC. 2. Be it further resolved, That it shall be the duty of the citizens of said corporation to elect seven trustees, who shall select from their own body a presiding officer or mayor, a treasurer, and a secretary; they shall also appoint a collector and constable; the treasurer and collector being required to give bonds as approved by said trustees, in such amount as they deem necessary, and to make reports when required by the mayor, who shall have the power when necessary to supress riots and disturbances, to call out the citizens of said corporation, for the purpose of restoring order.

SEC. 3. Be it further enacted, That the first election shall be held under the direction of the Chief Justice of the county, after having given ten days notice thereof, and annually afterwards by the presiding officer, at least ten days prior to the expiration of his term of office, and that in the case of death or resigation the vacancy or vacancies shall be filled by new elections to be ordered by the mayor.

SEC. 4. Be it further enacted, That no persons shall be eligible to hold an office in said corporation, or to vote for the members of the said body, unless he shall have resided within said corporation during the period of six months immediately preceding such election and have acquired the rights of citizenship, in conformity with the laws of the republic.

SEC. 5. Be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the trustees, from time to time to pass such rules and ordinances for the regulation of the police and preservation of order within the corporation limits as may be necessary, to levy taxes for the removal of nuisances and keeping the streets and to prescribe penalties. Provided further, that no tax shall be levied unless by consent of two-thirds of the citizens present; said tax to be assessed according to the valuation of property; and when a meeting is called for this purpose, the subject must be stated in the notice, and for the collection of which personal property alone shall be seized.

SEC. 6. Be it further enacted, That whereas there are four leagues of land belonging to the said town which are now useless, the trustees shall and are hereby authorized and empowered in connection with the county court of the county of Liberty, to alienate said lands, or such portion thereof as they may deem advisable; the proceeds of such sale or sales to be by them jointly appropriated to the construction of a Court House, Jail, and such other public buildings and for such other purposes as they may think proper; Provided always, that those persons who have taken lots in said Town shall have the right of keeping the same, and it shall be the duty of said commissioners and of the county court, to issue titles to such individuals upon their paying to the trustees the amount of the valuation of the lots so taken.

SEC. 7. Be it further enacted, That the said trustees shall have the privilege of establishing schools within said corporation.

SEC. 8. Be it further enacted, That the rules and ordinances of said corporation shall not be contrary to the constitution and rules of this republic.

B. T. ARCHER,
Speaker of the House of Representatives
JESSE GRIMES,
President pro. tem. of the Senate
Approved, June 10th, 1837.
Signed: SAM HOUSTON,
President of the Republic of Texas

An Act to Define the Boundary of the County of Liberty (1837)

The Telegraph & Texas Register
Saturday, January 13, 1838
Published at Houston, Texas

AN ACT
To Define the Boundary of the County of Liberty.

SEC. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, in Congress assembled, That the Territory included in the following limits shall constitute and compose the County of Liberty: Beginning on the Gulf of Mexico at the south western corner of the County of Jefferson, thence north along the western boundary line of said county to the Big Sandy creek, (thence down said creek with said county line, to its entrance into the Neches River,) thence up said river to the south eastern corner of the County of Houston, thence south west along the southern boundary line of said county to the Trinity River, thence across the river in same direction to a point nine miles distant, thence in a direct line to the head of Cedar Bayou, thence down said Bayou to its entrance into the Gulf of Mexico, thence along said Gulf with all of its meanderings including the Trinity Bay to its place of beginning.

JOSEPH ROWE,
Speaker of the Houe of Representatives
S. H. EVERITT,
President pro. tem. of the Senate
Approved, Dec. 18, 1837
Signed: SAM HOUSTON
President of the Republic of Texas

Drew's Landing & the Trinity River

The more observant readers will immediately pick up on the fact that Drew's Landing was not located in Liberty County, but it was significant to anyone who has ever taken an interest in the history of the various and sundry landings along the Trinity River. Some day when I have a lot of spare time on my hands I am going to list all of the river landings along the Trinity that happened to fall within the boundaries of Liberty County. It is an interesting list and was often published in such newspapers as "The Galveston News" and "Flake's Bulletin," another Galveston newspaper published by German-born Ferdinand Flake. These lists would usually start at the mouth of the Trinity and move up river, catching almost every town and two-bit landing on either side. The distance in river miles from one landing to the next would generally be found there as well, thereby ostensibly giving anyone with a newspaper and a boat a fair chance of knowing where they were going and what they were getting into as they hit one of these landings.

Within that rarefied world of Trinity River landings, hamlets and towns, Drew's Landing was a significant place. There were larger places to land one's boat, but there is even now a hint of romance and folklore attached to this place. Here is a fairly extensive article on this landing that I put together several months back. It is offered here for the handful of folks who have been reading this blog. Here it goes:

Drew’s Landing
Polk County, Texas

The first settler at this place was Monroe Drew, a native of New York, who landed or otherwise settled there shortly after the Republic of Texas came into being. Some accounts place him there as early as 1838, while others purposely avoid giving a year. One of his descendants, Dr. Ernest Drew, was comfortable enough with the 1838 date to write it down in his account of the place. Drew settled on the eastern banks of the Trinity River n southern Polk County. The site was some sixty-five miles north of Houston as the proverbial crow flies, and it was 204 miles from Galveston, if the river mile readings of those days can be trusted. Dr. Ernest Drew described the landing as a bustling place in the mid-1800s. Monroe Drew, he wrote,“established trade on the river and with the Coushatta Indians who lived on the opposite side of the riverfrom Drew’s Store.” Drew and the Coushatta had a lively trade. The Coushatta men brought in deer skins, bears skins, jerked or dried venison, saddle pads fashioned from Spanish moss, beaded work and baskets. He sold them coffee, colored cloth, beads and trinkets. It was a good and profitable relationship for both. Three different bands of the Indians, including the village of the legendary Chief Colita, all lived within close proximity to the store. Trade with the Coushatta tribes alone, however, would not have made Drew’s Landing into a thriving place.

Once the steamboats entered into the Trinity trade,the small settlement became a busy port. In addition to operating a store and a boat landing, Monroe Drew maintained a small sawmill and ran a ferry across the river. A store and hotel were built on the east bank of the Trinity, which provided a shipping route for the major enterprises of the cotton and sugar plantations in the area. In addition to operating a store, Drew opened a boat landing, ran a ferry, and established a small sawmill with his partner Joseph Baird. By the time the War Between the States got underway in 1861, the population of the little place had reached fifty and it had become a bustling center for the Trinity cotton trade. A post office was approved in 1860, with Drew, naturally enough, as postmaster. During the early days of the Civil War, the Confederate navy sent an officer up the Trinity. His job was to give the river a thorough once-over to see if it could be defended against a Union attack, if such a force should ever come that way. The Navy man decided that the Lower Trinity, namely Chambers and Liberty counties, were largely indefensible from a river-borne invasion force. He urged that the first line of defense should be made at Drew's Landing, which prompted the construction of some wooden breastworks and simple barricades along the river. This kept things hopping in Drew’s Landing throughout the war years. The post office closed in 1867, but it reopened in1871. This time, however, Charles Fitze was named postmaster. He renamed it Marianna, in honor of Mary and Annie Goodrich, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. William Goodrich. The Houston, East and West Texas Railway expanded into Polk County over the next few years, and the river boattrade died there just as it did everywhere else. Most of the remaining residents of Marianna moved to Livingston or Goodrich. The post office closed in 1896 for the last time.

Drew's Landing lives on in the fertile fields of memory.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An Exciting Wolf Chase at Lakeland (1913)

In the early decades of the Twentieth Century, and most likely for some time before that, lots of men in the rural environs of Liberty County kept a collection of hound dogs around their house. These hounds were used in the woods for the purpose of hunting either fox or wolf, and those that developed some sort of hankering for running only the fox would be judiciously referred to as fox hounds. Sometimes they would run wolves, but the hunters back then would pursue them on horseback. This was great sport for some of the men and no doubt hearkened back to ancient times.

After stock laws were adopted and folks began fencing in their livestock, it became almost impossible to ride through the woods. Most of these hunters simply gathered around a roaring camp fire and listened to the hounds as they tore through the woods. After a time, the hounds would roust something out of some corner of the woods and the chase would be on. A good hunter would supposedly recognize the barking or baying of their own hounds, and while gathered around the fire he would identify his own dogs. "There goes ol' Belle," one might say. "There goes Bob." I actually sat in on some of these campfire hunts in the early 1970s and could never figure out where the chase was going or what was happening. Identifying a given hound and his or her place in the chase was more than I could accomplish.

Cotton Strahan, the longtime barber at Hardin, used to tell about one night when all the fox hunters were gathered around the camp fire, listening ever so intently to some great chase. There goes Belle. There's Old Bob. Man, they are running that old fox tonight, they said. They had been listening intently for an hour or two. Just as they realized the dogs were going to run the fox right up close to their campfire, everyone looked up to see a milk cow race through their huddled camp site, followed closely be Belle and Bob and the rest of the dogs.

Among the most legendary fox and wolf hunters was one, Amos Irvin Moore, who used to live in the old Lakeland community down in the river bottom area northwest of what is now Hardin. Mr. A. I. Moore, sometimes known as "Wildcat Moore," was married to Viola Tullos, the daughter of Mounty Franklin and Ella Catherine (Pearce) Tullos. Mr. A. I. Moore ran for and was elected as Precinct 2 Commissioner and also as Liberty County Treasurer. He later located in the Kenefick area, but where ever he happened to live, he loved to hunt. During the years prior to World War I, he would sometimes come home from a good wolf, fox or wildcat chase, take pen in hand, and write a gripping account for the Liberty Vindicator. I don't have the actual issue and date but I do have the following story in his own words.


AN EXCITING WOLF CHASE

By A. I. Moore, Lakeland, Texas
September 1913

“Well, as I have just arrived off my first hunt for the season, I will give you an account of the race.
“I awoke this morning at 3 o’clock, the air was cool and everything still and clear so the first thing in my mind was the morning was ideal for a cat chase. About this time I heard Old Red get up, shake himself and whine. I spoke and all four dogs seemed to know what was in my mind. I was not long in saddling my pony and we were off for the favorite haunts of Messrs. Fox and Cat. I had hardly gone two miles when Old Red cried a fox trail. All the dogs jumped at once, and the race was on. I never saw such hard running in all my life. We were in open prairie and I never saw better conditions for a race and my dogs simply flew. They ran 40 minutes and the Foxship had to take a tree to save himself. I left him in the trees and called the dogs away.

“From there I went to the home of my friend, Lauren Palmer, and found him anxious to try for a wolf race. My dogs know nothing about running a wolf, but I thought I could make them do so. We did not got far until Old Red cried a trail. He had his bristles raised and I was sure it was a wolf and he did not want to do much with it. I got down and hissed my favorite dog, Beulah, who had never failed to run and she soon began to trail; Old Rock fell in. They had not run far before two old bucks got ahead of the pack, so Old Red led them a merry chase. The other dogs paid no attention to the deer, but I am here to tell you they gave the Wolf all he could stand. I never saw dogs crowd an animal so; they for five hours like demons. The first time I saw him he was not over thirty steps ahead of the pack. The dogs were well bunched with Beulah in the lead. The palmetto was almost as high as a man, but I knew the wolf was named Dennis. He did all he could to confuse the dogs but to no avail. I would shout and whoop every time I got a glimpse of the wolf and after so long a long time I saw Beulah going down a trail. She was about 50 yards ahead of the pack, not barking but simply flying, and I knew Mr. Wolf was soon to feel the tusks of that little demon. Sure enough, in less time than it takes to tell it, the fight took place and by the time I reached the scene the dogs had the wolf stetched, although he had badly lacerated the dogs and had them bleeding freely. I tell you he was a big wolf.

“I wish some of my brother hunters could have been with me. I have been on a lot of hunts but this beats them all. I do not claim to have the best dogs in the country but they are as good as the best. Sometime, Mr. Editor, when you are seized with a longing for an outing and let me know we will try our hand, and I am sure you will go home glad that you have had the chance once in life to see the famous Moore pack of dogs do some running.

“I am yours for another race.”

Monday, July 17, 2006

The People's Airdome (1915)

Liberty's new mayor, Carl Pickett, held an informal event on Sam Houston Plaza on Sunday, July 2, 2006. It was a movie night in downtown and was open to anyone. In addition to watching a movie, the crowd was treated to hot dogs and all the traditional trimmings or condiments (whatever you prefer calling them). There was a popcorn machine. The trees provided the children with some shade as the sun sank slowly in the west. It was a good event and will be repeated every month now for some time to come, but it was not -- if the truth be known -- the first time people from Liberty and the surrounding area gathered out in the great wide open spaces of downtown to watch a movie. The following articles from "The Liberty Vindicator" will tell the unique story of "The People's Airdome."

Liberty Vindicator
Friday, April 16, 1915

Picture Show for Liberty
Last week A. M. Thomas and associates of Sour Lake came over to Liberty for the purpose of establishing a permanent up-to-date moving picture show here. There being no vacant building up town and an objection being raised by the insurance agents to the show being established at city hall, a lease was secured on the vacant lot just east of Steusoff’s Pharmacy a suitable building will be erected thereon immediately.
In order to afford immediate amusement an air-dome is being erected and same will probably be ready for the first show Saturday night. The show will be first class in every respect – comfortable chairs, electric piano and a machine that can’t be beaten.

Liberty Vindicator
Friday, April 23, 1915

The People’s Theatre gave its first attraction Saturday night. The show was complimentary – absolutely free – and the place was filled. Monday night the show was formerly [formally?] opened and although the weather was unfavorable, the attendance was good.
The show will be open every night, except Sunday, at 8 o’clock, and the management promises to afford the best line of attractions the market can give.

Liberty Vindicator
Friday, April 30, 1915

Million Dollar Mystery – People’s Airdome every Saturday night.
Trey of Hearts – People’s Airdome every Wednesday night.
4 Reels Quality Motion Pictures – People’s Airdome every night.



Liberty Vindicator
Friday, June 4, 1915

The Airdome.
To-night the Airdome offers the greatest comedy ever produced in that rip-roaring reel feature, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” festering the world’s famous comedy stars, Marie Dresser, Mabel Normand,, Charles Chaplain [sic], Fatty Arbuckle and Chester Conklin. On account of the length of this picture, the show will start promptly at 8:15. Be sure and bring a towel with you as you will laugh till you cry.

Note from Kevin Ladd: There's obviously many more chapters to be written in the movie house history of Liberty County, but this is the proper starting place.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

News items from Hardin and Walter

THE LIBERTY VINDICATOR

Friday. June 21, 1889

Death of Mrs. Green. Mrs. Josie Green. wife of W. B. Green, after a long illness, died at the home of S. Green, on Thursday last. The deceased was a native of Liberty County, a daughter of Mr. Asa Abshier. She was 28 years old and had been afflicted for a year or more, had been under the treatment of skillful physicians in Houston and this place, but God so willed that he alone could relieve of her sufferings and only by death.
She was a most estimable woman, kind and affectionate to all. She leaves a husband, three children, and many relatives and friends to mourn for her. [Note: Josie (Abshier) Green was the wife of William Backburn "Billy" Green and appears to have been buried in the old Green Family Cemetery in the old Lakeland community.]

Friday, April 15, 1892

Mr. Frank Abshier shipped from Devers last Tuesday 573 large, fine beeves to parties in the Indian Territory, who will pasture them during the summer.
Sudden Death – James Hardy, a respectable negro man, living about 10 miles north of Liberty, died very suddenly Tuesday night. He was in town in the evening and starting home he became sick and stopped to stay all night with Allen Barrett, who lives at the Perryman place, and getting worse he soon died of heart disease it is supposed.

Friday, July 5, 1907

J. P. Vickers opened the post office at "Walter" Monday, the first inst. As soon as Mr. Vickers can erect a house he will move his family to that place.

Friday, May 15, 1908

At the home of Mr. and Mrs. John P. Vickers at Walter, Sunday afternoon, Capt. Frank Abshier and Miss Idora Kinney were united in the bonds of holy wedlock. Judge I. B. Simmons officiated. Capt. and Mrs. Abshier left immediately for Houston and thence to San Antonio where they will spend their honeymoon.
Like in nearly all marriages, this happy event, too, is connected with a little romance. Last fall Miss Kinney, who is from Aransas Pass, came to Liberty county as a public school teacher and was employed by the people of the Walter neighborhood and in her Capt. Abshier recognized a sweet disposition, a most loveable character, and the one who could preside over his home. with a determination, he wooed the young woman and the event Sunday was the result. To Capt. Abshier, the VINDICATOR extends its heartiest congratulations and hopes that their journey through life will be one of perpetual blessings. [Note: Capt. Frank Abshier was a widower, having lost his wife Sophia Susan (Garrard) Abshier some time previous. He lies buried today in the Abshier family plot at the Liberty City Cemetery, with one wife resting on either side of him. Capt. Frank and Idora had only one son, the late John Vickers Abshier, who lived in Beaumont most of his life and was married to Mamie Cain of Liberty.]

Friday, June 12, 1908

Jeff Green returned home Monday morning from Brazoria county where he has been to deliver a bunch of 370 beeves sold from the Abshier ranch.

Friday, July 10, 1908

Takes Unto Himself a Bride. - At the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Abshier, seven miles north of Liberty, last Friday evening, Mr. Jeff Green and Miss Hallie Mae Conley, were united in the bonds of holy matrimony. Rev. Mr. Wilson of Wallisville officiated. Mr. Green is one of Liberty county's best young men. His habits are correct and he richly deserves the prize he has won. The bride's home is at Floresville, Wilson county. She is a cultured young woman, admired for her beauty and amiable disposition. May fortune be good to them.

Friday, December 3, 1908

Ed Cessna came into town Tuesday from Walter, seeking medical attention for a painful abscessed tooth which had been troubling him for the past three weeks.

Friday, December 18, 1908

Sid Williamson, who had the misfortune to lose his stock of general merchandise by fire, at Hardin last week, was in town Saturday buying goods and arranging to reopen and resume business.

Friday, January 1, 1909

Franklin Abshier, who has been at Tyler taking a course in telegraphy, is spending the week with the home folks.

Friday, June 16, 1911 – Walter Locals

We would like for the readers of the Vindicator to know that Walter and vicinity is still on the map.
Crops in this section are suffering very much for want of rain. Stock water is also getting scarce. Our burg is still improving. Mr. Eaton has the derrick up to put down an artesian well. Frank Hanchie [Hanchey] has about completed his new residence on Liberty street. The cattlemen are as busy as bees working their cattle. Our community is no longer isolated from the outside world. We have telephones in our homes and Sunday morning a party, in Liberty rang a party here and got a receipt [recipe] for a certain kind of cake. That's convenience isn't it? Bro. Payne preaches here twice a month -- Bro. Dobbs once a month. We also have model Sunday schools. And last but not least, is our Epworth League. In our League we lead; others must follow. There is nothing better to build up Christian character and sociability in a community than the Epworth League. Mrs. W.T. Finley entertained the business session of the League last Friday night. We had a splendid meeting and everyone seemed to enjoy the occasion. M. D. Conley and R. T. Cocke. were elected delegates to the district league at Beaumont. Services --Walter school house Saturday at 8 p.m., at Hardin chapel Sunday at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. E. Payne, Pastor.

The Crowder Cattle Theft Case (1918)

Nothing set rural folks into a state of alarm quite like cattle theft, which might strike some modern folks as unusual. However, during the summer of 1918, cattle raising translated into the chief or a major livelihood for many families. This series of stories gleaned from old issues of The Liberty Vindicator tells the story of one such incident, which was stopped through the efforts of Franklin Abshier, son of Capt. Frank Abshier and his first Sophia Susan Garrard. These articles tell the whole story.

LIBERTY VINDICATOR
Friday, July 26, 1918

Tuesday, Franklin Abshier reported to authorities that a drove of cattle were being loaded on the cars at Hardin, consigned to New Orleans, and that an investigation of the same should be made. Sheriff [Charlie] Carlisle, deputy [Allen] Wheat, and D. R. Davis of the Cattleman's Association, accompanied by the sheriff of Waller county, who was here investigating other matters, responded, stopped the shipment, and discovered that the brands on the cattle had been defaced and that they belonged to people in Waller county. In this drove there were 43 head. The arrest of Jim Crowder, John Crowder, Dick Crowder, J. D. Crowder, [Corbet] Kuykendall followed.

Friday, August 9, 1918

The examining trials of the Crowders, charged with cattle theft, were heard before Judge Perryman Monday and the result was that the bonds of H. B. , H. B. jr. and Jim Crowder be fixed at $500 in each case. Dick and John Crowder, and Corbet Kerkendell were discharged here but taken in custody by the Harris county officials.

Friday, August 23, 1918

Indict Men for Cattle Theft -- The Harris county grand jury last Friday indicted H. B. Crowder jr. and John Crowder, and Travis Butzka on five charges of cattle theft. The two Crowders were in custody in Liberty county. In order to gain custody of the men, the grand jury indicted them without waiting for examining trials. Butzka is in the county jail here but has never been given an examining trail. The three men are alleged to have stolen cattle in a large scale from Fort Bend, Waller, Liberty and Harris counties, all of which they are said to have sent to Fort Worth, Kansas City and other markets. In Harris county, it is alleged they, they stole 81 head of cattle belonging to persons who reside near the Fort Bend county line---Houston Post.
The Liberty county grand jury has also indicted the Crowders for theft of cattle---H. B. Crowder in seven cases and Jim Crowder in one case.
.
Friday. October 11, 1918

Crowder Admits Guilt. Gets Two Prison Terms -- H. B. Crowder jr., a well-to-do stockman who lives near Katy, pleaded guilty to two charges of cattle stealing in criminal district court Saturday morning and was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary in each case. Crowder was convicted on one charge last Monday and received two years, making six years in all. The other two charges against him were dismissed.


Crowder, officers say, stole more than 80 head of cattle from stockmen living in Harris, Waller and Liberty counties and placed his brand on them. He has yet to answer to a number of other indictments pending against him in Waller and Liberty counties. Similar charges here against Travis Butzka, a hired hand of Crowder, and John Crowder, a younger, have all been dismissed. – Houston Chronicle.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Caring for Ailing Confederate Soldiers (1862)

The trouble with doing research into local history, especially here in Liberty County, Texas, is the plain and simple fact that any tidbit of information one might stumble across rarely answers any previously held questions. It just brings up many more questions, the answers to which are just as shrouded in fog as the ones we already face. Rather than finding answers, we simply uncover more questions. This fact is endlessly compounded by the fact that our courthouse records have been consumed in two or three fiery disasters, the most recent of which being in 1874. There are no early records at the courthouse that might shed some dim light upon the questions.

A good case in point is this brief but interesting item gleaned from the old but not forgotten newspaper called “The Tri-Weekly Telegraph” of Houston, Texas. Here is the item:

TRI-WEEKLY TELEGRAPH
Published at Houston, Texas
July 25, 1862, page 1, column 2

Editor Telegraph: It is but due to the citizens of Liberty, to acknowledge their kind attentions to the sick of Company D, Col. Griffin's Battalion, and to thank them for the same, during the short sojourn of that company at this place. We had as high as twenty odd sick in the hospital at one time, and but for the prompt and kind attention of the citizens, but more especially the ladies, our sick would have languished for want of the many delicacies which can only be prepared by woman, and by no one else so soothingly administered. To designate persons by name would be invidious; but suffice it to say, that all were in the good work; and for the company, as well as for myself, I return them our most unfeigned thanks. Thos. A. Stanwood, Medical Officer.

Liberty, July 22, 1862.


What in the Wide World of Sports is going on here? Let’s take something we know. Dr. Thomas A. Stanwood was the second husband of Margaretta Jane Dugat, who had been previously married to John A. Williams, sort of a notorious Tory during the time of the Texas Revolution. That’s another story for another day. But Dr. Stanwood was not just any old physician. He was a man of some polish and what we might call a learned man of medical science. The old town of Liberty wasn’t exactly overrun with physicians at this time, but Stanwood was a respectable doctor and appears here in some official capacity as either the county health officer or something of a similar nature assigned to the City of Liberty, which at that time also embraced what is now Dayton. He might also have been serving as the medical officer for Griffin’s Battalion. A little more research will be required before this is fully known.

Col. Griffin’s Battalion should be fairly easy to nail down. One of the foremost historians of Southeast Texas is a gentleman by the name of W. T. “Bill” Block of Nederland, a prolific writer and researcher. Articles published by W.T. indicate that Col. William H. Griffin (1816-1872), was born in Edgefield, South Carolina and eventually received a West Point education and graduated in 1835 with a degree in civil engineering. Lots of things happened to Col. Griffin, none of which add much to the plot of this tale, but he moved to Tarrant County, Texas in 1858 and got caught up in the excitement of secession and war-making in 1861. W. T. Block says Griffin appealed to Confederate General Paul O. Hebert at Galveston in 1861, asking permission to raise a regiment for the Southern army. The number of recruits didn’t quite reach regimental levels, and Hebert considerately enough made him a lieutenant colonel commanding the 21st Texas Infantry Battalion on June 28, 1862. Fort Griffin at Sabine Pass, a key outpost on the coast, was named in honor of Col. Griffin.

On July 1, 1862, or thereabouts, the British steamer “Victoria,” coming in from Havana, ran the Union blockade and docked at Sabine Pass. The ship was bringing in munitions and supplies, along with some sick crewmen, who unbeknownst to everyone were suffering from Yellow Jack or Yellow Fever. Within a matter of days, Block says sixteen men in Company A of Spaight’s (11th) Battalion, Texas Volunteers, were sick with the dread disease. Fourteen men from Company B were likewise afflicted. I can tell you from my own family history that my great-great-grandfather, Private William John Ladd of Company B, Spaight’s Battalion, was one of the victims of the Yellow Fever outbreak at Sabine Pass. He passed away in September 1862. Paranoia and fear ran wild. The entire area at Sabine Pass was briefly evacuated.

This brief newspaper clipping gives us only a tiny paragraph in a much bigger story. A number of men in Griffin’s Battalion, possibly all of Company D, would appear to have been temporarily located at Liberty in a hospital commodious enough to house twenty ailing soldiers. Where was this hospital? How did it come to be? Questions, questions, and more questions.

Organizing "The Valley Players" (1953)

The Liberty Vindicator
Thursday, October 1, 1953

Theater Group to Organize

Thirteen is expected to be a lucky number by persons interested in organizing a Little Theater in Liberty County, and it's hoped by instigators of the movement that twice that many persons will attend official organizational meeting next Tuesday night.

John Gordon, the man from Carthage who would like to see a Little Theater in Liberty, and who knows how to go about getting one here, received encouragement last Monday night when 13 county residents came to discuss the possibilities.

Outcome: They were interested, and they’re going to organize officially next Tuesday. Attending the meeting were Miss Loas Holt, Bill Clark, Miss Martha Jane Buchanan, Miss Pat Mullins, Mrs. J. V. Cessna, Mrs. Ben Pickett, Miss Joyce Calhoon, Miss Lila Sessions, Mrs. Eolin Bowles, Miss Marian Gibbs and Mr. Gordon, all of Liberty, and Mrs. C. W. Spence and Mrs. Gladys Caruthers of Dayton.

The benefits of a little theater to the community and the individuals taking part was discussed by Mr. Gordon at the Tuesday meeting. The enterprise will be put in the hands of a set of officers, and plans for a production will be discussed. Rev. Chester Steele of the First Methodist Church, again offered a room in the building for the group to meet. Meeting time has been set for 7:30 p.m.

Notes from Kevin Ladd: The very next issue of The Liberty Vindicator, dated Thursday, October 8, 1953, chronicles the organizational meeting on Tuesday, October 6 of what would soon be known as “The Valley Players.” Bill Clark, who was then the manager of the Liberty Chamber of Commerce, was elected as first president of the group. Other officers were: Miss Lila Sessions, vice president; Mrs. Eolin Bowles, secretary-reporter; and Joe Burson, the husband of Kalita Humphreys, treasurer. Mrs. Ellen Pickett was named chairman of the telephoning committee. The original turnout of thirteen prospective members was happily joined by 23 additional new members. Membership dues were set at $2.00 per year with an initiation fee of $3.00. Kalita and Joe Burson were killed in a plane crash the next year while en route to New York City. Located within Liberty's Geraldine D. Humphreys Cultural Center, the Humphreys-Burson Theatre, the home of the Valley Players since 1970, is named in their memory. Bill Clark was killed in a tragic auto accident in 1966.


The Liberty Vindicator
Thursday, November 5, 1953

Valley Players to Present First Play Tuesday

Next Tuesday night is the first big date for Liberty County and the Valley Players, as the new little theater group will stage its premier performance at the Liberty High School Auditorium, with curtain time at 8:15 p.m.
The well known three-act comedy by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, “You Can’t Take it With You,” will be the Players’ first production., and will star Mary Gable, Joe Burson, Joe Jones and Eolin Bowles. John Gordon is directing.

Mrs. Gable will take the stage as Penelope, zany mother of a family of unbalanced but happy creatures. Mr. Burson’s role is Marvin Vanderhof, the grandfather who is the guiding force of the family, with his “do as you like” philosophy. Love interest will be supplied by Mrs. Bowles as Alice, who finds her family embarrassing to explain to her heart interest, Tony Kirby, played by Joe Jones.

Also members of the cast of 19 persons are Martha Jane Buchanan, Yvonne Lewis, Carl Shannon, Dale Alford, C. A. Umberfield Jr., Ray DeBoard, A.P. Oakley, Murl Carlton, Lena Halfin, B.M. LaFour, Julia Langford, Milton Giles, George Spellvine and Kalita Burson.

Serving as stage manager is Miss Lila Sessions, with Milton Giles as assistant director. Tickets for the play are on sale at Liberty Man’s Shop, Liberty Jewelry Store or Townsend’s Jewelry Store.




Friday, July 14, 2006

Rev. Sip Baldwin and Frederick Antwine

My friends, John O. Wright and Cleveland Walters Jr., along with many other good folks have been working off and on to restore the old Odd Fellows Cemetery in the West Liberty section of Liberty, Texas. Up until the time the family of Luther T. Wells, Sr. opened up their Wells Memorial Cemetery on the other side of town, this served for several decades as the principal burial place for many of the black residents of the city.

Among those who lie buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery are two men who deserve to be remembered and celebrated for their accomplishments and for the leadership roles they provided not only to the black residents of Liberty, but also the whole community of their day and time. These were Rev. Sip Baldwin, the founding pastor of Trinity Valley Baptist Church, a true institution in West Liberty, and Frederick Antwine, the longtime chairman of the Liberty County Republican Executive Committee during the late 1800s. Mr. Antwine, along with some black school professors like B. H. Hayden and Elisha Green, plus Postmaster Thomas F. Calhoon Sr., held the Grand Old Party together through a period of several decades. Col. Robert W. Humphreys moved to Liberty around 1913 and helped carry on the local Republican organization for a few more decades. There will be more to say about all these gentlemen in the future. Right now I would simply like to offer the brief obituaries for Rev. Baldwin and Mr. Antwine that I located sometime last year.

The Liberty Vindicator
Friday, February 22, 1918

Sip Baldwin, another one of those honorable old Southern Negroes, died in this township Tuesday morning [Feb. 19]. "Elder Sip," as he was respectfully referred to, was 86 years of age and all his life was spent as a good example to his race to emulate.

The Liberty Vindicator
Friday, April 23, 1920

Frederick Antwine died at his home near here Sunday [April 18]. Frederick Antwine was one of the best of the county's Negro citizens. For 40 years he was a leader among his race. His conduct and advice was always worthy.

In conclusion, I might point out the Rev. Baldwin's birth year, according to the above account, would have been approximately 1832. Cleveland's wife, Cheryl Baldwin Walters, is a descendant. Although his grave is not marked, Cleveland and John feel they have located the site of this grave. Some day soon we will erect a marker for this good man of the Lord. There is a handsome marker on Frederick Antwine's grave. When I visited the Odd Fellows Cemetery last year, they led me to his monument. It is difficult to describe the emotions that washed over me as I stood at his grave. I have known both of these men only through the imprint they have left upon our history, but I would like to think I know them all the same.

A Bolt of Lightning Claims Rev. T. H. Feagin (1908)

Rev. Thomas Harold Feagin, the organizing pastor of Liberty’s First Baptist Church, met his Maker in the most unusual of circumstances. It was the sort of death that just seemed to make news all across the country. Even a newspaper in Brownsville, Tennessee reported his unexpected demise this way on July 10, 1908:

NEWS OF THE WEEK--The Rev. T.H. Feagin, a leading Baptist preacher, of Texas, was killed by lightening while conducting a revival meeting at China, Texas. He had just called upon sinners to repent.

Brother Feagin, as Baptists tend to call their pastors, was born in Ellistown, Tishomingo County, Mississippi in October 1857, a son of Thomas and Martha Feagin. He was licensed to preach by the Cross Roads Church in Texas in April 1888 and then was ordained into the ministry at the Friendship Baptist Church the next year. Over the next few years, the minister served as pastor at several different churches, including Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Zion and Spring Branch. In 1892, he went to work for the Southeast Texas Baptist Association out of Beaumont as a missionary, but not just any kind of missionary. The Baptists of that day referred to him and other like-minded men as a “Missionary Colporteur,” the latter term meaning “an itinerant seller or giver of books, particularly religious literature.” No matter how archaic or provincial this title may have sounded, he was actually charged with planting and nurturing new churches in Southeast Texas.

In the 1890s and the first decade of the 1900s, men like Rev. Feagin started houses of worship of the Baptist persuasion and most of these operated on a “quarter-time” basis. The minister would hold services once a month at one church and could likewise take on three other churches on those three other weekends. One minister or Missionary Colporteur could, therefore, offer pastoral services to four churches. Each church, conversely, could gradually build up a congregation and eventually move on to “half-time” or “full-time.” It was a win-win situation for the small church, the Baptist General Convention, and the Lord.

After doing this missionary work for a little while, Brother Feagin served a couple of years as pastor at the Third Baptist Church in Houston, but the idea of planting and nurturing churches must have beckoned to him again. Feagin took to it again. Among the churches he founded was the First Baptist Church of Liberty, which dates back to 1898. Like all of the churches in this area, it started out as Missionary Baptist Church, a subtle distinction in the Baptist sphere, but later became Southern Baptist.

The 1900 census found the Feagin family living in Liberty. A census is a lot like a snapshot, only without the picture, but it shows you what the household was like on a given day. The census shows Brother Feagin was 42. His wife, Susan Frances (Dennard) Feagin, was 46. She was better known as Fannie. The Death Angel had struck their household three times over the course of their married life. Among the six surviving children, five were still at home: Fannie, 17; Thomas, 14; William Noah, 13; George, 11; and Olive, a son, who was only four.

Rev. T. H. Feagin later moved to Beaumont in Jefferson County, Texas, where he continued to plant and nurture churches, preached the love of God, and inspired folks to become followers of the Risen Christ. The following newspaper account describes the fateful night of July 3, 1908.

The Liberty Vindicator
Friday, July 10, 1908

Death By Lightning.
Rev. T. H. Feagin Killed While Dismissing
Congregation at China, Was Once Pastor at Liberty
.

Just as he had finished preaching a sermon in the Baptist church at China last Friday night along about 9 o’clock, and had called upon members of the audience to come forward and shake hands, Rev. T. H. Feagin, the well-known and beloved Baptist minister and evangelist, was struck by a bolt of lightning, and instantly killed. At the time the fatal bolt of lightning entered the church and struck him, Rev. Mr. Feagin had just finished shaking hands with a young man and was about to dismiss the congregation. Deceased is survived by a wife and six children, the latter ranging in age from 12 to 27 years. Three boys and a daughter live in Beaumont while two sons live in Orange.
The news of the sudden and tragic death of Mr. Feagin came as a fearful shock to the people of Liberty. He had lived here and was pastor of the Liberty Baptist church, and being a good, earnest Christian gentleman, he won the love and respect of the entire citizenship.
Rev. J. F. Dobbs of this city preached the funeral sermon.

Captain William Mitchell Logan (1802-1839)

First Sheriff of Liberty County, Texas

There is one of those 1936 Texas Centennial Markers that stands on the southeast corner of the Liberty County Courthouse lawn. When I was a kid, I used to think it was the last resting place of someone important, but I never felt free to venture up there and read the inscription. I later learned that this was simply an impressive granite marker honoring the life and legacy of Captain William M. Logan, the first sheriff of Liberty County. The monument was erected in 1943, seven years after the Texas Centennial.

The inscription tells the bare outlines of his life:

Captain William M. Logan
Born in North Carolina
September 17, 1802
Moved to Liberty 1832
Died in Houston, November 22, 1839

Organized and Commanded 3rd Co.
2nd Regiment Texas Volunteers
Battle of San Jacinto

First Sheriff of Liberty County

That’s the basic outlines, but there’s a better story waiting to be told. He was born William Mitchell Logan in North Carolina, just as the monument says, one of several children to grace the household of William and Catherine (Henderson) Logan. He was only about a year old when his parents made the move to Williamson County, Tennessee. He lived with a family friend in Nashville when he was just a young fellow, which allowed him to attend school there. William and three of his brothers – John, Newton Wilson and James Henderson Logan – set out for Texas in 1829. Everyone stayed in Jackson, Mississippi for a while, but William continued on to Texas alone in 1830. He was, by the way, a first cousin to Texas Governor James Pinckney Henderson.

He bought and sold a great deal of land. After organizing the aforementioned Third Company of the Second Texas Volunteers Regiment, Captain Logan came back to Liberty and became the first sheriff of the county in 1837. He served only a two year term, but it was a big county that embraced what is now Liberty and Chambers counties, along with part of Hardin and Polk counties. Being a surveyor, Logan helped many of the soldiers get their land grants located on the ground and surveyed. He was usually paid in land since that was more plentiful than ready cash. One researcher contends that Logan eventually had contracts to survey and locate over two hundred thousand acres of land. He may have owned as many as a half a million acres when he died.

William Mitchell Logan was in Houston on business when he contracted yellow fever and died. He is believed to be buried in Founders Memorial Park in Houston, but his real monument is right here on the lawn of the Courthouse.

HOUSTON MORNING STAR
November 23, 1839, Page 2

The friends and acquaintances of Capt. William M. Logan, deceased, are requested to attend his funeral, this morning at 11 o'clock, to proceed from the city Hotel. Nov. 23.
Died in this city, yesterday morning, [Nov. 22d] in the 30th year of his age, Captain William LOGAN, of the county of Liberty.
If unaffected modesty, joined to sterling worth, forms any right to a passing notice of tribute, then merit added to virtue, the subject of this communication, richly deserves an eulogy from a more competent source.
Capt. Logan was a lieutenant at the siege of Bexar, and was in various engagements which occurred during that period--and he also commanded a volunteer company at the battle of San Jacinto. His merit as a soldier was known and felt both by the commander-in-chief and his fellow-citizens. When order was restored to our Republic, he was elected by the citizens of his county to the office of sheriff, which post he held at the time of his death. But in our devoted city, "The angel of death spread his wings on the blast," and has spared none. The best of our citizens have been taken from us; and we have but to bow with submission to the Almighty's power, who has seen fit to deprive us of their society, and to live in the belief that "Whatever is, is right."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cyrus W. Thompson (1802-1876)

There have been a lot of interesting people who have called Liberty County, Texas home since the first settlers began arriving here in the early 1820s. One of the more interesting of these, one who is rarely mentioned in any of our history books or articles is Cyrus W. Thompson. He was born in Utica, New York in 1802, started out life as a fur trapper, and was a veteran of two wars. He lived variously in Liberty, Chambers and Galveston counties. Although these articles posted below do not mention it, he also served as Chambers County Sheriff from 1868 to 1869. In another portion of the April 10, 1876 Galveston newspaper, Thompson appears in the Mortuary Report, the weekly listing of deaths for Galveston Island. It listed him as being 74 years of age when he died. The cause of death was listed as "general debility" by Dr. W. F. Blount, a local health physician. Mr. Thompson was the second husband of Melina (Dalton) Whittington, who received an early headright in the Devers vicinity of Liberty County. Melina and her first husband, Elijah Whittington, were the progenitors of the modern-day Whittington family still living in Liberty County today. She was married to Thompson in Jefferson County, Texas on June 22, 1840. It is interesting to note that the two different articles give two different death dates for Mr. Thompson. Cyrus and Melina are listed as residents of Wallisville in the 1860 and 1870 Censuses of Chambers County. Melina Dalton Whittington Thompson appears to have died in Galveston in 1874. I think Melina was one of the more interesting women ever to live in Liberty County, and I would like to reflect on her more at some later point in time. Look at any map of the Original Grantees in any county of Texas and count the [small] number under a woman's name. Melina was a pioneer.

Here follows two different articles from the Galveston paper describing the life, times, and death of Cyrus W. Thompson:

Galveston Weekly News
Monday, April 10, 1876

Cyrus W. Thompson, the Texas veteran, who died in Galveston on the third instant, was a member of Capt. [William M.] Logan’s company of Liberty volunteers, who were attached to Colonel McNutt, afterward General Sidney Sherman’s command. The company joined General Houston’s command on the Colorado previous to the battle of San Jacinto, in which it was engaged. It was eighty strong. Captain Franklin Hardin, who was First Lieutenant, and R.O.W. McManus, Cornelius Devour [DeVore] and Robert Whitlock were surviving members at last account.

Galveston Weekly News
Issue of Apri1 28, 1876

A Chambers County correspondent of the NEWS gives the following incidents from the life of Mr. Cyrus W. Thompson, an old Texas veteran whose death in Galveston on the 6th instant has already been announced.


He was born in the City of Utica in the State of New York on the 1st day of May 1802. At the age of sixteen he was employed by the Northwest Fur Company, the head of which was John Jacob Astor of New York. His travels along the great lakes and rivers of the great northwest collecting furs from the trading posts located in the extreme portions of the then almost unknown wilderness and conveying them to points to be forwarded to the head of the company at New York, would make a volume. When the Black Hawk war broke out Thomson (sic) volunteered with others, and being familiar with the Indians and their mode of warfare, rendered valuable services in the army under General [Henry] Dodge.In 1835 Thomson came to Texas. When General Cos invaded and took San Antonio and the Texans were called upon by committees of public safety, Thomson volunteered in the Company of Capt. [Andrew] Briscoe and was at the fall of San Antonio from the Mexicans. After the fall of that post, and [General Martin Perfecto de] Cos and his garrison had been paroled, he returned to Liberty, where he concluded to reside. When the letters of Travis called for assistance were sent through the country in March 1836, Thomson was again ready, and, as a private in Wm. M. Logan's Company marched for the relief of the Alamo. When the Company had nearly reached San Felipe, it met the news of the massacre. The Company then decided to push on and join the army under Houston in which Mr. Thomson remained until after the battle of San Jacinto and the Mexicans had been driven beyond the Rio Grande.