Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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save during the period of the war, until death claimed
him in January, 1873.

Allen Oliver French came into the South ten years
prior to the war, and it pleased him to array himself on
the side of the South on that question that separated
the North and the South at that time. He said but
little of his Yankee antecedents, and even dismissed the
subject of family history, to the decided disadvantage
of his own children. He was a man ever sincere and
earnest in his communications with his new neighbors,
and soon found himself to fit into the civic fabric so
like the original threads that it would be difficult indeed
to distinguish the boundaries of his individual person-
ality. He was such a man as the public needed in those
days for the collection and custody of its taxes during
the chaotic period of the Civil war, and he was made
tax collector and treasurer for Kaufman and Van Zandt
counties while the war was in progress. While per-
forming his duties as collector he did his work on horse-
back, kept his money in an old trunk, and carried it to
Austin at intervals in that "strongbox" placed in a
buggv. He was absent from his home many days at
a finie, and he carried on communication with his fam-
ily through the medium of his son, Wesley Allen, of
this review, who often carried money, as well as mes-
sages, and met his father at great distances from home
and at cross roads where the elder man was expected to
be at certain times. When Mr. French surrendered his
commission and retired to his little store in Kaufman
as a private citizen, no breath of suspicion attached to
any of his transactions during his sei-vice, and no man
before or since has served whose public or private life
more nearly conformed to the principles of right be-
tween man and man.

In the political turmoil just preceding the outbreak
of the war he saw more clearly than did his neighbors
the results that must inevitably accrue from the threat-
ened conflict. He knew full well the resources of the
North and advised and voted against secession, but
when it was accomplished by the convention of Texas,
he acquiesced and loyally supported the government of
the Confederate states. His store in Kaufman con-



tinued business whUe the war was in progress, and the
■ ' war widows ' ' bought goods of him that were never
paid for, and much goods were sold for which Confed-
erate scrip was exchanged, the same yielding nothing
in the end. But, in spite of these and other adversi-
ties, he persevered and came to the end of his life with
comforts for his family, satisfied that he had done what
he could to relieve suffering and toward the construc-
tion of a state.

Allen French married Miss Lucy Jane Ferris, a
daughter of Rev. Philo Ferris, a Methodist minister of
Eaeine, Wisconsin, and a sister of Judge Ferris, who
spent his life in Waxahachie, Texas. The father was
a native of Vermont and went to Wisconsin in early
life. Mr. French and Lucy Ferris were married in 1845,
and they came down the Mississippi river to the mouth
of the Red river, on up to Jefferson, Texas. They
were bound for California, but finding the climate of
Texas beneficial to the health of Mr. French, they set-
tled here, and thus was established in Texas a family
that has been up and doing in the interests of the
state since its location here. Judge Ferris, the brother
of Mrs. French, was easily one of the foremost men of
Ellis county and one who is properly deserving of men-
tion in this connection. He was born on March 26,
1823, in the town of Hudson, on the Hudson river, in
New York state, and received a good education as meas-
ured by the standards of that early period. He was
twenty-four years old when he first nmde his way to
Texas, having by that time become a full-fledged law-
yer. From the beginning his career in law was spec-
tacular. His briefs began to make their appearance in
the Supreme Court reports as early as the Fourth Texas
Report, and success attended him at every step. He was
a Democrat, and during the presidential campaign of
1852 he served as editor of the Jefferson Herald, per-
forming the duties of his task chiefly at night, so as
not to interfere with his regular professional work. In
that year he was elected to the Legislature for the
counties of Titus and Cass, and the authorship of the
common school system then adopted for Texas was di-
rectly credited to him, he having prepared the bill and
followed it to its final passage. In 1854 he moved, for
the sake of his health, to the town of Waxahachie, then
a small village, beautifully located on the waters of the
Waxahachie river, and here he soon found himself
deluged in a practice that included seven counties. His
progress from then u]) to the outbreak of the war was
rapid, and during the war he served in the position of
judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District, a position in
which he felt he could render better service, owing to
the ill state of his health, than he could on the field of
battle. His was a lawless district, but the judge with
a firm hand maintained the supremacy of the law to
the end of the war. At one time, in Parker county, his
life was threatened in the event that he should attempt
to hold court and organize a grand jury, and it is
needless to say that the judge carried out his plans to
the letter, afterward indicting the parties, who were in
due time tried and convicted. Thus was the spirit of
insubordination successfully quelled in his district. At
the close of the war the judge retired to the duties of
a practicing attorney, and in 1868 he associated him-
self in a banking enterprise with a Mr. Getzandaner.
Judge Ferris withdrew from the bank some eight years
later in favor of his son, and formed a partnership
with a Mr. Rainey that endured for several years, and
conducted some of the most important litigation that
was carried on in the county. In 1875 Judge Ferris
was chosen by the people to frame a new constitution
for the state of Texas, and he rendered a most praise-
worthy service in that important work. Later he was
one of the five commissioners appointed by Governor
Coke to amend and revise the statutory laws of the
state, and this laborious task was carried to comple-
tion with great credit to the commission. The articles



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2063



in the revised statutes relating to "Public Lands,"
"Statute of Frauds," "Trespass to Try Title,"
' ' Poreible Entry and Detainer, " " Registration, ' ' etc.,
were the work of Judge Ferris, and so well were they
prepared that in a committee appointed in later years
to re-digest and revise the laws, they were required not
to change or alter any word or sentence, or even the
punctuation, in the former revision.

Judge Ferris was oue of the delegates from Texas to
the National Democratic Oonventiou in Chicago in ISS-i,
and that was his last act of participation in the public
life of his district. He withdrew from all activities of
a public nature, and devoted himself thereafter to a
quiet private life, his closing days being passed in his
fine home, surrounded by every comfort and luxury. He
was for many years a consistent member and supporter
of the Methodist Episcopal v.hurch. South, and his
daily works were of the most exemplary order, show-
ing forth many of the gentler Christian virtues and
the straightforwardness and integrity of a genuine man-
hood.

Mrs. French, whose brother Judge Ferris was, died
in 1894, the mother of five children. Ella died un-
married; Ida is the widow of W. C. HoUenquist and
resides in Terrell, Texas; Wesley A. is the subject of
this review ; Mary A. died in Kaufman as the wife of
M. F. Porter, leaving two children; Anna married the
late John C. Graves, one of the leading merchants and
citizens of Kaufman, and has one son, June Graves.

Wesley Allen French was born at Tarrant, Texas, on
December 9, 1853, and during his childhood was ever a
valuable aid to the material welfare of the family. He
was a part of the little store that his father conducted
in Kaufman, and when his father died in 1873 he re-
turned home from W'axahachie, where he had been at-
tending school, and since that time has not strayed
from Kaufman. He saw to it that the little store was
conducted in such manner as to maintain in comfort the
family and educate the younger sisters, and in the years
he has devoted to it he has outgrown two business
houses, and recently erected a third, which will per-
manently mark the spot upon which Allen Oliver French
launched his business life in the county seat.

As success in the mercantile business followed Mr.
French, he concluded to devote himself to activities in
the cattle business, as an experiment, and so well did
his experiment work out that for thirty-five years now
he has been thus occupied. He has displayed a rare
judgment and sagacity in perfecting shipments of beef
for the markets, and his cattle rarely nii«s the top price
for beef, while packers have come tH km.n Mr. Fieuch
through their long acquaintance with tlu' |ii(i'liii-fs of
his ranch. His fine farm of eight hundred a.-res in the
vicinity of Kaufman, as well as his business house in
the city, testify substantially to the character of his
material progress in this community, as well as adding
not a little to the appearance niul wealth of the same.

Mr. French has been twice iii;iri id. In 1889 he mar-
ried Miss Emma Irvine, ;i cl:Ml^llter of Judge John
Irvine, of Terrell, and she di.'d in Mi92, leaving a son
and a daughter. William Allen was graduated from
the A. & M. College of Texas in the class of 1913, and is
now at the head of his father's business interests.
Mattie Lee was born in 1890. In June, 1S9.5, Mr. French
married Miss Araminta Love, a daughter of John K.
Love, a farmer, and one of the early settlers of Texas.
He was a conspicuous character of Kaufman county for
many years, and a Confederate soldier. The children
of Mr. and Mrs. French are eight in numlier and are
named as follows: Jane and Julia, who are twins;
Ferris, named in honor of his maternal grandmother 's
family; Eachael, Thad, Katie, Dick and John Weslev.

Mr. French has never I n a man tu ^levnte liiniself

to fraternal or other seejal life, ennlinin;; liis aiientions
to his family and his l,iisiii,.c« affairs, ife has. In.uever,
been a member of the Methodist cluireh, and served it as



a steward for many years. He is one of the solid and
conservative men of Kaufman who has reached a hi^h
place in material prosperity as a result of his own ac-
tivities, and his place here in the esteem of the people
is one that is undeniably secure and desirable.

Otis T. Bacon. Thirty years of residence and official
activities have given Mr. Bacon a place of honor where
he might properly be called the foremost citizen of
Wichita Falls. He was chosen many years ago to fill
the first term as mayor after the incorporation of the
city and that distinction will be associated with his name
as long as Wichita Falls has a history. Thus in an
official and private capacity he has done much to pro-
mote the general improvement and upbuilding of this
fine commercial center of Texas. For the past six years
he has served as postmaster and his administration of
that office has been productive of many changes and
improvements in the service and he was the organizer
of the first regular, city delivery service in Wichita Falls
and during his term has also been completed the splendid
new postoffice building,

Otis T, Bacon was born at Paris in Bourbon county.
Kentucky, September 13, 1858. His father was Warren
A. Bacon, a native of Massachusetts, born in the town
of Dudley, September 18, 1816, moving to Kentucky in
1840 and becoming a farmer and banker and a Very
successful man in that locality. During his early years
of Kentucky residence he taught school and was com-
paratively a poor man when he began his career in that
state. In early life he was a Whig and afterwards a
Eepublican and in religion was an Universalist. His
death occurred at Paris, Bourbon county, Kentucky,
June 28, 1902, at the advanced age of eighty-six years.
The maiden name of his wife was Belle Talbott, a
daughter of Louis and Sarah Talbott, and she was born
in Bourbon county, April 1, 1836, and died in August,
1898, at the age of sixty-two years. She was the mother
of six children, three sons and three daughters, of whom
Otis was the third. The Bacon family has a long an-
cestral record, going back to the parish of Winston in
Suffolk county, England, to the year 1600. The first
ancestor of record was Michael Bacon, and Michael
Bacon, .Jr., was one of the founders of Dedham, Massa-
chusetts, where he resided from 1635, the vear in which
he came from England. Many of the family in that
and subsequent generations took part in the Indian wars
and also in the Revolutionary struggles. An uncle of
Otis T. Bacon was Edward Davis Bacon, eighth in
descent from the original American settlers, and was
a missionary in the cause of liberal Christianity, while
his .younger brother, William S. Bacon, was a preacher
of the Universalist faith. The Universalist Society in
Oxford was the third society of that faith in America
being organized in 1775, and all the Learned and Davis
families, who were ancestors of Mr. Bacon, were sub-
scribers to the organization of the church. On the ma-
ternal side Mr, Bacon is descended from early Virginians
of English descent who had lived in that commonwealth
from before the Revolutionary war. Grandfather .Tames
Jones was a Revolutionary soldier and was in the Kintrs
Mountain fight. He was also in the figlif at (;i,iM\,r,|
Court House, in which he was taken prison, i. .uel ,1,-1
on a British prison ship. .Tames Jones married Vii.ilielle
Kennedy, whose father, Jesse Kennedy, was an official
surveyor in Kentucky, and lived on 'Kennedy's creek
where he was among the first settlers.

Otis T. Bacon was educated in the private schools of
Kentn.'ky .and at the age of nineteen left home with
limite.l i_eM,nrees and arrived at Taylor. Texas, in Octo-
ber, Is, ,, hi^ (irst employment being as clerk in a store
at that place. He lived there for six years and on
August 10, 1883, arrived and became a citizen of Wich-
ita Falls, which was then a small village. For a number
of years he was successfully identified with the real
estate business in this city and as a result of early and



2064



TEXAS AND TEXANS



continued investments in the city and adjacent country
he bas accumulated a large fortune, his holdings consist-
ing of business and residence property. At the solicita-
tion of Col. Cecil A. Lyon, chairman and national com-
mitteeman of Texas, Mr. Bacon consented to have Ms
name presented to the president for the position of
postmaster of Wichita Palls. On November 1, 1907,
President Boosevelt appointed him postmaster and he
has conducted the office from that time to the present
writing. On January 1, 1913, the postoffice was moved
into the new Federal building, a structure which is an
ornament and credit to Wichita Falls and which was
built at a cost of $67,868.50. This is said to be the
finest oflSee in a city _of its size in the state of Texas.
Fifteen clerks now compose the staff of the local post-
office and there are six city and six rural carriers. Mr.
Bacon, among other things, has the credit for having
established and supervised the new service of the parcel
post at the beginning of 1913, and has inaugurated
many other changes for the benefit of the citizens. The
total business of the local office for the year ending
March 31, 1908, was $18,036.13. Each year from that
time forward showed a large increase and the total
receipts for the year ending March 31, 1913, were
$47,352.90. In 1908 the office had only four clerks, there
were three rural carriers and no city carriers. When he
became postmaster Mr. Bacon found the local office in
a very unsatisfactory state and he accepted the office
under protest. His management, however, soon cleared
up all the disorder and for several j'ears he has had
a record as head of one of the best conducted postoffiees
in Texas.

In February, 1889, Mr. Bacon served as county road
overseer and in that position graded the first road in
Wichita county. He held the office for six months, until
the fall of 1889. At that date Wichita Palls was in-
corporated, and Mr. Bacon was chosen the first mayor.
He was re-elected in the following April and served two
years and nine months. He was also president of the
school board for two years, and for three years was a
member of the city council. A Eepublican in polities,
he has always been one of the leaders in the Texas
party. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Ancient
Order of United Workmen at Wichita Falls, the Benev-
olent and Protective Order of Elks in this city, and is
a member of the local chamber of commerce. He has
membership in the Christian church.

On December 9, 1885, at Muir, in Fayette county,
Kentucky, he married Miss Drusie Smith, a native of
Fayette county and a daughter of John and Augusta
Smith, old residents of that vicinity. The two children
born to their union are Otis T., who died in infancy,
and Benjamin B., born at Muir, Kentuckv, June 20,
1892.

Mr. Bacon is very democratic in his tastes and rela-
tions, has been a friend of the laboring man and of
labor organizations and many of his staunehest admirers
are among what is often called the common people. He
possesses very broad views, is a man of versatile accom-
plishments and has many delightful reminiscences of
old-time days in Texas and Wichita Falls. During his
conduct of the local postoffice he has never made a prac-
tice of keeping his door locked to the public and any
one has ready access to his hearing and counsel.

William John Yates, tax assessor of Kaufman
county, Texas, was born in Dallas county, this state,
March 4, 1871, the son of a Dallas county farmer, Eli
Tates.

Eli Yates was a native of Alabama, but he grew up
and married in Scott county, Mississippi, and from there
enlisted his services in the Confederate army. He par-
ticipated in the battle of luka and other engagements
of the Army of the Tennessee, and at the close of the
war brought his family to Texas. In his youth he had
no opportunities for schooling, and in the battle of life



he was hampered by reason of his lack of an education.
On coming to Texas he settled on the old Caruth farm,
near Dallas, from whence, a few years after the birth of
his son John, he removed to Kaufman county. His life
was that of the quiet, honest farmer, and in his re-
ligious views he harmonized with the teachings of the
Baptist church, of which he was a worthy member.
He passed away in 1909. His widow, Angerona (Wig-
gins) Yates, survived him a few years and her death
occurred in June, 1912. They were the parents of
James A. and Willoughby E., of Forney, Texas; Mrs.
George Deeds, of Arlington, Texas; Mrs. E. J. Ball, of
Forney, and William John, whose name introduces this
sketch.

William John Yates was reared on his father's farm.
He attended the schools near his home and also for a
session or two was a student at Baylor University. His
first work away from the farm was as a clerk for the
Conway-McCord Company, a leading mercantile estab-
lishment of Terrell, Texas, where he won several pro-
motions, until he was made buyer in the shoe depart-
ment, a position he held for fifteen consecutive years.
He was with the firm from the time it opened its first
goods in Terrell in January, 1893, untU he resigned
his place in order to enter upon his duties as a public
officer of the county.

Mr. Yates made the campaign for assessor in 1912
in a field where five candidates were competing for the
office, and he led the nearest competitor six hundred
votes, winning the nomination and subsequent election,
and in November, 1912, being installed as the successor
of Ed Legg.

As a lodge man, Mr. Yates affiliates with the Modern
Woodmen of the World, the Ancient Order of United
Workmen, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks,
the Knights of Pythias, and the Yeomen. He is past
chancellor of the Knights of Pythias and a member of
the Grand Lodge. He holds to the religious Creed in
which he was reared, that of the Baptist church,
and he is noted for his genial good nature, his popularity
being bounded only by his acquaintance.

October 23, 1896, at Terrell, Texas, Mr. Yates and
Miss Eddie Clary were united in marriage, and they
are the parents of two children, Fred and Gordon. Mrs.
Yates' father, John Clary, died at Corsicana, Texas,
when she was a child. Her mother, Mary (Eedden)
Hanson, is still living. There were two children in the
Clary family — Mrs. Yates and John Clary, a resident
of Crandall, Texas.

Henry Sparks, clerk of Kaufman county and a na-
tive son thereof, is one of the prominent public officials
of these parts. He has been in the public service for a
number of years, beginning his official career as a par-
ticularly young man, and has gained a wide prominence
in these parts because of his many excellent traits of
character and the high order of the service he has given
to the public.

Born at Abies Springs, Texas, on November 18, 1874,
Henry Sparks is the son of George W. and Sophia
Adams Sparks, the latter a daughter of Ezekiel Abies.
The father came to Texas as a child of three years, in
company with his widowed mother and several children.
They were from Tennessee, and there the father was
born in 1849, a son of William Sparks, who passed
away in the full vigor of manhood, leaving a widow and
seven young children to battle with the world without
a father's care. The widowed mother guided her little
family to Texas, making the journey by wagon to
Cherokee county, where she made her first stop, in 1852.
She remained there until 1858, when she came to Kauf-
man county, and here spent her final years. She settled
in the timber regions in the vicinity of Terrell and
slowly accomplished the task of making a productive
and self-supporting farm, which clothed and educated
her children and maintained her in comparative com-



TEXAS AND TEXANS



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fort while she lived. She was denied an education, but
she could read and write, and was a devoted student of
her bible, and few of the laymen of the Free Will Bap-
tists could cope with her in quoting from Holy Writ.
She dwelt much in later life upon the things of the
spirit, and her life was a blessing to all who came within
the circle of her acquaintance. When she died in 1907
she was seventy-three years old. Those of her children
who reached mature years were as follows: Martha,
who became the wife of Carey A. MeCraeken, and re-
sides on White's Prairie, Kaufman county; George W.,
of Abies Springs, the father of the subject; James M.,
of Terrell, Texas; Lucinda, the wife of T. B. Enochs,
of Sulphur Springs, and Samuel, who died unmarried.

George W. Sjparks reached manhood without gaining
more than the rudiments of an education, and the
mother 's frugal home in the sandy land of the Terrell vi-
cinity was his home until he married in 1872. His wife
was Mrs. Sophia Adams, the daughter of Ezekiel Abies,
who came to Kaufman county from Nacogdoches county,
but was originally of Mississippi origin. He was a
large land owner in the vicinity of Abies Springs, and
the place was named in his honor. Mrs. Sparks was
born in Nacogdoches county in 1838. When her first
husband died he left her with six children, named as
follows: Young, who died at the age of thirty-seven
in Kaufman county; James, of Sulphur Springs, Okla-
homa; John K., of Childress, Texas; Wade Hampton,
of Eoyce, Texas; William, who died at the age of eight-
een years, and Jasper, of Abies Springs. The issue
of the marriage of George W. and Sophia Sparks were
Henry, of this review, and Maggie, the widow of James
Russell, of Kaufman county. Mrs. Sparks died in 1902.

Henry Sparks gained his early educational training in
Abies Springs, and finished his studies in Hills Business
College, Dallas, after which he spent a few seasons on
the home farm, coming in 1902 to the office of the county
clerk as his deputy, the incumbent of the office being
J. E. Boykin. He served in that capacity for four
years, and was then selected by the directors of the
Citizens' National Bank of Kaufman as assistant cash-
ier, where he passed the succeeding four years. Thence
he went into the race for the office of county clerk and
defeated all comers for nomination, succeeding Clerk
Hindman in the office in Xovember of that year. He
was renominated without opposition in 1912, and he is



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 152 of 177)