Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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about 1860, locating in Smith county, was one of the
pioneer circuit-riding Methodist preachers, and later
held some of the important charges in the Texas Con-
ference. During the war between the states he served
as chaplain in the Confederate army for four vears. As
a member of the East Texas Conference of the"Methodist
Episcopal Church, South, he filled pulpits at Palestine,
Marshall, Tyler and other places in that district. After
nearly half a century of service to his church and his
fellowmen he died March 4, 1908, at the age of seventy-
five. His wife was born in North Carolina, and her
father, during his residence at Asheville, North Caro-
lina, served as sheriff of the county, and coming to
Texas after the close of the war located in Cooke county,
which he represented in the state legislature and for
many years served as sheriff.

John M. Mathis received a liberal education, graduat-
ing from the Southwestern University at Georgetown
in 1891 with the degree of A. B. Following a brief
period as a teacher at Valley View in Cooke county, in
1892 he was selected by R. T. Milner, then speaker of
the House of Representatives at Austin, as clerk to the
speaker, and this afforded him a valuable opportunity
to pursue the study of law which he had begun while
teaching school. Later he continued his studies at Rusk
under Samuel A. Wilson, formerly judge of the court of
criminal appeals, and his son, S. P. Wilson, now a mem-
ber of the court of civU appeals at Texarkana. Ad-
mitted to the bar in 1894, Mr. Mathis began practice at
Rusk, after about a year moved to Wichita Falls, where
he was in partnership with his brother, L. H. Mathis,
but in 1895 came to Brenham and with B. F. Teague
formed the law partnership of Mathis & Teague. Their
relations were dissolved in 1900, and Mr. Mathis prac-
ticed alone until 1905. Then, with J. P. Buchanan, who
had resigned the oflBce of district attorney, and with
L. E. Rasberry, he entered the partnership of Mathis,
Buchanan & Rasberry. This firm was terminated in
1911. when Mr. Buchanan went to the legislature, and
Mr. Teague having in the meantime returned from Austin
the firm of Mathis & Teague again took its place in
the Washington county bar. In 1913 W. J. Embrey
was admitted, making the firm as it stands at present.

From 1899 to 1911, a period of twelve years, Mr.
Mathis was one of the school trustees of Brenham, but
was eventually obliged to resign the otfice on account
of his increasing pressure of professional business. In
1912 he was one of the Texas state Democratic electors
who early in the following year put their formal official
seal to the election of Woodrow Wilson as president of
the United States. Mr. Mathis is a Past Noble Grand
of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and has
membership in the Knights of Pythias, the Knights of
the Maccabees, the Benevolent and Protective Order of
Elks and the Cardinals.

In 1892 Mr. Mathis married Miss Louise Mayfield,
daughter of Dr. W. N. Mayfield of Georgetown, Texas.
Their two children are John M. Mathis, Jr., and Louise
Ozelle Mathis. It should be noted that the practice of
Mr. Mathis as a lawyer is by no means confined to Wash-
ington county, and he has for some years represented
large and important cases of litigation in the higher
state courts and in a number of counties outside of

Robert Boudre Savage Foster, Jr. It is doubtful
if many men of Texas have achieved such a full measure
of success in so limited a period of time as that which re-
warded the efforts of the late Robert Boudre Savage Fos-
ter, Jr., of Navasota. Starting his career with his bare
hands, as it were, when he passed awny August 30,
1899, when not yet forty-eight years of age, he was
credited with achievements that would have satisfied the
ordinary man after a full lifetime of endeavor. He was



a native son of Texas, born in Washington county, Sep-
tember 11, 1851. His name " Boudre Savage" came
from the French, his grandmother Foster being of French

Mr. Foster was educated in the common schools and
passed a term in Tehuacaua College, beginning life as a
farmer. He worked a yoke of cattle as early as the
age of fourteen years, within three miles of Navasota,
the beginning efforts in his successful career, and his
labors, prosecuted assiduously, were effective. Although
he had no business equipment, he was a natural money-
maker and a fine judge of values. As the years passed
IVIr. Foster added to his holdings from time to time,
nntil he was considered one of the most potent and suc-
cessful men of his day in his county. As many as fifty
families secured their substance from his farms and
agriculture proved his sole interest. He steered clear of
stock enterprises, even shunning the opportunity of aid-
ing in organizing one of the leading banks of Navasota.
He had the best judgment in a trade of anyone, and it
was said of him that he could do the planning of eight
men and finish by executing the plans. In his political
life Mr. Foster was quiet and unobtrusive, even declin-
ing service in any capacity not required by law. He
was not identified with the church in the vigor of life
but he believed in its efficacy and was brought up under
the influence of Methodist parents. He belonged to no
order. In social matters Mr. Foster was very reticent.
He talked little upon topics outside of purely business,
and when making a deal let the other person do the
talking, although he did the active trading himself.

Mr. Foster was married June 20, 1883, at Anderson,
Texas, to Miss Mattie Brigance, a daughter of Franklin
and Susan E. (Eogers) Brigance. Three children have
been born to this union: Mrs. Georgie Sogers, of
Brookshire, Texas; Eobert Franklin, of Navasota; and
Nettie Rose, the wife of William S. Baker, of this city.
Franklin Brigance was born in Sumner county, Ten-
nessee, August 12, 1818, and died in Anderson, Texas,
in June, 1900. He was for sixty years recording steward
of the Methodist church, missing two meetings only dur-
ing this time, and when he came to Anderson he or-
ganized a small class-meeting of Methodists in his log
cabin home. He was a charter member of the A. F. &
A. M., at Anderson, Texas, and Past High Priest. Mr.
Brigance was a son of Charles Newton and Frances
Brigance, who lived on the west fork of Station Camp
Creek, Sumner county, Tennessee, eight miles west of
Gallatin. When fifteen years old he went to two mer-
chant tailor uncles, at Huntington, Tennessee, learned
the tailor's trade with them, and remained with them
four years. He was a resident of Huntington when the
news "came that Sam Houston had gained a victory over
the Mexican army in Texas. This result decided many
of the people of Tennessee to come to Texas, and in 1838
Mr. Brigance came out with his parents and settled at
Anderson, Grimes county. The old home they left was
the one his grandfather established in the early settle-
ment, and they arrived in Texas in December. 1838,
coming by the boat ' ' Eocky Mountain ' ' from Clarks-
ville, Tennessee, to New Orleans, Louisiana, and by
schooner to Galveston, Texas, five days out. and steamed
across Galveston Bay and up Buffalo Bayou to Houston,
arriving there in February, 1839. There they engaged
a wagon and team to convey them to Black 's Prairie,
Montgomery (now Grimes) county, Ee]nil>lic of Toxii-^,
and March 4, 1839, they arrived there ;iii.l -to]i|i.M ;it ;i
house owned by John F. Martin. Thcr,' tli.-v i. 111,1 in.,!
until summer, when the father of Mr. Briiiamc iinirhiisi'd
a tract of land on the prairie, began its improvement,
and there lost his wife, the mother of Franklin Brigance.
In the fall of 1839 Franklin Brigance responded to the
call made for men to defend the settlement against the
Indians, joined other neighbors, and rendezvoused at old
Timmanville, at the crossing of the old San Antonio and
Nacogdoches road and the Navasota river. Their equip-

ment consisted of a mustang pony, saddle and lariat,
rope, rifle, shot-pouch, powder-horn, etc., and the com-
missary outfit comprised a wallet thrown across the sad-
dle, with each end filled with cornbread made from meal
ground on a steel bandmill, and the sack also contained
jerked beef. The campaign comprised a trip over to
the Brazos river and up that stream to Comanche Peak
and back again tliruugh to Wheeloek, Texas, to their
homes, after killing two Indians, and losing two men.
Another expedition, in 1841, was without results, save
that the Indians were scared away, and Mr. Brigance
returned with his comrades with neither scalps nor stolen
horses. He joined Captain Bowen's company, in 1842,
to repel the army of the Mexican General Woll, and to
avenge the recent slaughter of the Texans under Captain
Dawson, near San Antonio, Mr. Brigance being made
orderly sergeant. They camped at San Antonio several
weeks on scant rations, being even forced to appropriate
the hogs and corn of the Mexicans to appease their
Hunger. After a move or two of the camp the com-
pany was discharged, as the Mexican troops had moved
back across the Eio Grande. They were discharged with-
out provisions and had to provide themselves with sul>
sistence to get home. Mr. Brigance was detailed as one
to forage for food, invested his only nickel in corn
meal, and started back to camp with his companion.
They were lost on the prairie in the darkness and wan-
dered about until past midnight, when they found them-
selves back at the mill where Mr. Brigance had bought
the meal. There they found other comrades with a fat
hog secured from the Mexicans, and right there the fat
hog and the meal mixed and a good meal was enjoyed.
The meal was baked in the ashes of the campfire. all
slept under the canopy of heaven that night, the ordeal
was finally repeated in the morning, and after some
days of anxiety all hands reached home after passing
through a hostile country.

In 1842 Mr. Brigance and J. J. King, a neighbor, de-
cided to visit their old home in Tennessee. They crossed
the Mississippi river at the mouth of the Eed river and
by horseback made the trip to the home of Mr. King 's
brother, below Natchez, and by boat to Natchez and
Yicksburg, where Mr. Brigance continued by boat to
Nashville and then to his old home. There he went to
school for several months, and also taught school until the
fall of 1844, at which time he returned to Texas, via New
Orleans by boat, by ship to Galveston and boat up to
Houston, and by mail wagon to Cypress, from where
he walked to Fantharp, now Anderson, in Grimes county.
He soon found a little school in the PlantersvUle neigh-
borhood and after teaching a session he abandoned it
because the work did not prove congenial, and took up
tailoring instead. In June, 1846, he was elected the
first assessor and collector of taxes of Grimes county,
was again elected in 1848 for two years more, and trav-
eled over the country twice a year, the county then
extending from the San Antonio road on the north to
Spring Creek on the south, a distance of seventy-five
miles, and it was twenty miles wide. In 18.50 he failed
of reelection because he had held office two terms.
He was then appointed deputy clerk of the district
court by H. W. Eaglin and held the position until the
next election when he was himself elevated to the office.
In 1860 he was defeated for this office and then turned

his attention to farming

with his force of slaves. In

he was selected by his community to
Mi|i.iiiiti ml the construction of breastworks at Galveston,
it IhMiiil; til the lot of Texas citizens to fortify the city,
iin.l thcK' he remained until August, 1863, when he was
appointed Confederate tax assessor of Grimes county,
and held that position until the close of hostilities be-
tween the South and the North. As a result of the war
he was stripped of all save his wife and children, and
without anything better to do resorted to his old busi-
ness, a clerkship.

At the first election after the war he was chosen clerk



of the county and was made deputy assessor, keeping
the books of that office also. With the defalcation of
the assessor, the responsibility of assessing and collect-
ing the taxes for 1868 and 1869 fell to him and he dis-
charged their duties and made his returns to Austin
without bond, having as much as $23,000 of public funds
pass through his hands without bonds. In 1869 his
disfranchisement prevented his election to ofiice, under
the reconstruction plan of the Republican partj', but he
was appointed deputy district clerk later, under J.
Lawrence Dickson. He continued there until his dis-
abilities were removed and in 1876 was elected district
clerk of the county, and was reelcctril in.m time to
time until politics became so mixed ii|i iliat h.' w:i< Ho
feated and never again became a caiiilnliti'. Later un
he was appointed to the oflBce of postmaster of Ander-
son, in which capacity he served seven years, but in
1896 retired from public office entirely.

The children of Mr. Brigance were as follows: A.
Prank, a resident of Navasota; Mattie B., now Mrs.
Foster, Jr., of this review ; Thomas Alfred, a resident
at, Texas; Mrs. Burton Routt, of Chappell

at Waco,

Hill, Texas; John H., wb
Texas, in February, 1914;
resident of Xavasota.

Robert A. JoHxWsox, D. D. S. The Johnson family
through three successive generations has been identified
with either the medical or dental jirofession, and Robert
A. Johnson is successor of bis father in the same line
at Xavasota, where the family has been well known for
the past twenty-five years.

Dr. Robert A. Johnson was born in Troy, Alabama,
February 6, 1885. His grandfather was a physician
who belonged to an old and loyal Southern family, all
the male members of which participated in the war as
Confederate soldiers except the doctor, who remained at
home on account of his profession, since in that way
he could do more for the community than as a soldier.
Of his five children one was the late Osborn S. Johnson,
who was born in Alabama January 8, 1857, and practiced
dentistry at Navasota, Texas, from 1888 until his death
in January, 1907, He was educated professionally in
Vanderbilt University at Nashville, and after a brief
practice at Troy, Alabama, moved to Texas, locating first
at Bryan and finally at Navasota, He was one of the
early members of the State Dental Association of Texas,
and as a Democrat with only incidental interest in
practical politics served as tax assessor and collector of
Navasota. His church was the Methodist. Dr. Osborn
S. Johnson was married in Troy, Alabama, to Miss Fan-
nie McKinzie, Her father was a cattleman who settled
near Corsicana, Texas, and died there, Dr, Johnson
and wife have the following children.: Dr. Robert A.;
Hayne, of Bryan, Texas ; Jliss Leona, a teacher in the
Navasota schools; Bess, a student of the Sam Houston
Normal at Hiintsville ;, and Allister, who is attending
school at Xavasota,

Dr. Robert A. Johnson grew up and was educated in
the public schools of Navasota, and after finishing the
public school course in 1903 earned his livelihood by
clerking in a local store, and finally entered his father 's
office to learn dentistry. After some exjierienee under
his father, he entered the dental department of the Van-
derbilt University at Nashville, his father 's old school,
and was graduated DD, S, from Vanderbilt in 1909 and
took up practice at Navasota and has served a good many
of his father's old patrons. Dr. Johnson was married
.January 14. 1914, to Miss Lula Roan, a daughter of
J. H. Roan.

Alvix p. Clark. Among the men who have contrib-
uted their full quota to the industrial and commercial
development of Kaufman and Kaufman county and who
have made independent fortunes for themselves out of
their continued activities in business circles, may well

be mentioned AJvin P. Clark, a leading furniture dealer
and undertaker of Kaufman and one of the finest citi-
zens of the community where he enjoys a most enviable

Born on December 1, 1869, at Lancaster, Texas, Alvin
P. Clark is the son of Alonzo S, and Nancy Clarinda
(Taylor) Clark, The father was born in New York
state in 1837, and in his native state gained an excellent
education, which included voice culture, in which he was
especially talented. He came to Texas just prior to the
inception of the Civil war, and, settling first at Lan-
caster, he was for some years occupied as a millwright.
II.' erected a sawmill on the Trinity river east of Lan-
ci^tci. among other mills, and a flouring mill at Hutch-
ins, where he himself finally settled. During a part of
the war ]ieriod lie was engaged in the manufacture of
pistols for till' I oiiti'deracy at Lancaster, and he allied
himself staiidily with the institutions and customs of
the south, tis a resident of that section of the country.
He entered the political arena in a local way during the
somewhat chaotic days following the war, and in one of
his races for the legislature he was a victim of the well
known "counting out" process which obtained about that
time and was employed on many occasions. He was an
able speaker and his charming voice gave him an ever
prominent place as a singer and leader ot music at re-
ligious meetings, and in a number of singing schools
which he conducted. He was a member of the Mssionary
Baptist church and fraternally was identified with the
Masonic lodge. He had two sisters, Mrs. Mary Whitaker,
who died at Waterloo, Iowa, and Mrs. Esther Hall, a resi-
dent of Hofjuiam, Washington. Mr. Clark was married at
Lancaster to Nancy Clarinda Taylor, whose father came
to Texas from Whitehall, Illinois, before the war. Mrs.
Clark passed away in May, 1909, and her husband fol-
lowed her in July of the same year. Of the three
children born to them, Mary A. aiid Alvin P. reached
mature life. The daughter married T. S. Cartright and
resides in Van Alstyne, Texas.

Alvin P. Clark grew up in Hutehins, Texas, whither
his parents moved in his young childhood. The schools
there provided him wdth a solid basis for future train-
ing, and he devoted himself to the farm until he was
well into his youth, when he turned his back upon the
fields and engaged in railroad work. He learned teleg-
raphy at Hutehins and the H. &- T. C. R. R. Company
gave him his first position at Van Alstyne as operator
and cashier at that station. He subsequently became
relief agent of the company and remained with "it in that
capacity for two years, after which he was in the service
of the Santa Fe for five years as relief agent and then
was with the Texas ilidland at Terrell, where he was
assistant manager and dispatcher of that budding sys-
tem for two years. Here he met and learned to admire
the many excellent qualities of Colonel Greene, who was
then dividing his attention between the building of a
railroad and managing the local baseball team. Being
a pitcher of some renown, Mr. Clark fitted admirably
into the dual business system and he added much of
genuine pleasure to his employer 's life there as well as
to his own by vanquishing all the teams who manifested
designs on Terrell 's pennant. So exciting did the base-
ball situation become during his residence there that in
a game with Tvler, Colonel Greene sent an engine to
Kaufman after' Mr. Clark, and his favorite pitcher
gratified the genial Colonel by giving Tyler fans and
players the severest drubbing of their careers, after
which Mr. Clark was returned by engine to his post at
Kaufman. Thus did the little pleasures of life mingle
with its many duties, and it is entirely probable that
the railroad system did not suffer too great loss from the
trifling neglects it was subjected to on such occasions.
In 1894 Mr. Clark was transferred to Kaufman and
continued as agent of that station until 1898, when he
resigned and engaged in business here. His father-in-
law was engaged in the furniture business and Mr. Clark



bought a half interest in the firm, rrhich was Ayers &
Clark, and after one year he bought Mr. Ayers ' interest.
Mr. Clark started in a small way, it is true, but he pre-
pared himself for further branching out as he went
along and soon was fitted with a license as a profes-
sional embalmer. He is a member of the undertakers'
organization of the state and of the State Board of
Embalmers as well. Some few years ago he purchased
the brick block of the Kaufman Improvement Company
and enlarged it to meet the demands of his undertaking
department, which is one of the important phases of his
business, and his establishment today is one of the con-
spicuous concerns of Kaufman and the most up-to-date
mortuary in the county.

In his civic connection with Kaufman, Mr. Clark is
an active member of the Commercial Club and it may
also be stated that he served as chief of the local fire
department for five years, giving an excellent service to
the community in his ofScial capacity. Fraternally he
is Past Chancellor of Lodge No. 110 of Kaufman
Knights of Pythias and he is also Deputy Grand Chan-
cellor of the state. He helped to institute the Order of
Bed Men at this point and was chosen Grand Sac-hem
of the order at that time. His churchly relations are
with the Presbyterian church.

In April, 1899, Mr. Clark was married in Kaufman
to Miss Delia Ayers, a daughter of W. B. Ayers, who
was a merchant here and an early Texan. Mrs. Clark
is one of the three daughters of her parents, the others
being Mrs. Mollie McDowell and Mrs. Lula Petty, both
of Dallas. Mr. and Mrs. ■ Clark have two daughters,
Euth and Lorilie. The family home is situated on
Houston street, where the handsomest residences of the
city are to be found, and the various members are pop-
ular and prominent in the best circles of the city. Mr.
Clark is one of those genial and wholesouled men who
are always found to be most popular and he still retains
a lingering fondness for the great American game of
baseball, in which he would undoubtedly have won many
honors had he continued in it.

Langston James Goree, D. D. S. The period im-
mediately following the close of the war between the
South and the North, in Grimes county, was prolific
in pioneers. There were first pioneers in settlement,
all of whom but the most sturdy have passed away.
Next came pioneers in trade, and then those who had
established reputations in the professional field. The
minister and lawyer came first, and close behind them
followed the doctor; then came the practitioners in spe-
cial lines, seeking for patronage and a livelihood. The
late Dr. Langston James Choree II was a pioneer in
dentistry in Grimes county, coming to this section in
1867 and being located -here until his death in Novem-
ber, 1888.

The Goree family is of French-Huguenot extraction,
and for some years was well known in Alabama, Lang-
ston J. Goree I, the father of Doctor Goree II, being a
farmer of Marion, that state, and where the mother was
a teacher in Judson College. She was the second wife of
Dr. Langston, and they were the parents of the following
children: Maj. Thomas, who died at Galveston, Texas,
leaving a son and a daughter, and who served sixteen
years as warden of the Texas Penitentiary and made
an excellent record as such; Robert, who resides at
Knox City, Texas; Ed. K., of Huntsville, Texas; Pleas-
ant K., of Midway, Texas; Mrs. Hugh Hayes, of Mid-
way; and Langston James.

Dr. Langston James Goree II was born at Marion,
Alabama, and was but a child when he accompanied his
parents to near Midway, Madison county, Texas, where
his father spent his remaining years as an agriculturist.
From Midway he went to Walker county, and thence to
Waco, Texas" where he enlisted in Company H, Fifth
Eegiment, Texas Volunteer Infantry, Colonel Hood's
regiment, and served in that officer's brigade in the

Army of Northern Virginia. He took part in the battles
of Manassas, Gaines Mill, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg,
Wilderness and Appomattox, and was wounded at second
Manassas, losing two fingers of his left hand. He was
an active man at heart in Confederate veterans ' meet-
ings as long as he lived, and was a member of Hood's
Texas Brigade Association, a social organization of the
old veterans who wore the gray.

Immediately after the close of the Civil War, Doctor
Goree started to prepare himself for his chosen calling.
He had formerly secured a common school education,
and he now went to Baltimore, Maryland, where he
graduated from coUege and received his degree. At that

Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 131 of 177)