Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

. (page 173 of 177)
Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 173 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


grist mills in the vicinity of Charlotte, North Carolina,
and in his day was reckoned a big man. The family
was especially active in Civil war times, and eight mem-
bers of the Neal-Watt-Grier family who met death on
battlefields of the Civil war in the service of the Con-
federacy, lie buried in Steele Creek cemetery. Larkin
Neal, another of the family lies in an unknown grave on
the field of Antietam. Captain Mathew Peeples, an
uncle of Dr. Watt by marriage, was killed in the seven
days battle at Eichmond. After being wounded and
carried off the field, he was killed by the explosion of a
shell. A half brother of Dr. Watt, Frank Watt, and
another named Charles, were very active in the service
of the Confederacy. Frank Watt was a gallant lieuten-
ant in the First South Carolina Cavalry, attached to
General J. E. B. Stuart 's command. Just before the
battle of Antietam he was shot above the right ear, the
bullet passing directly through his head, and carrying
with it particles of the brain. He fell from his horse
and was reported dead. When Stuart was beaten back
liy a division of Federal infantry, the body of Frank
Watt was captured. ^Vhen it was discovered that he
was still alive he was lodged in prison, and after six
months there he was exchanged and returned home,
sound and well. He returned to the service in a short
while and took an active part in the second battle of
Manassas. A few weeks after that battle he fell ill of
typhoid fever, and died in a Confederate hospital.
Charles Watt passed through the entire war period with-
out being wounded, and he is still living. It is a notable
fact that the First North Carolina Eegiment, of which
he was a member, was in thirty-two pitched battles, be-
sides numerous skirmishes, Mr. Watt participating in



TEXAS AND TEXANS



2127



them all. He was eaptured at Petersburg in D. H.
Hill's division, and for several months after the close
of the war he was a captive in a northern prison. The
mother of Dr. Watt was Louisa Angeline Keal, a daugh-
ter of Gen. William H. Neal, of the Confederate army.

Dr. Watt had his early education in the schools of
Charlotte and Shelby, North Carolina, attending the D.
McNeill Turner high school of the latter place, after
which he entered the medical department of the Univer-
sity of New York, and on March 10, 1S77, was gradu-
ated. Soon after that event the young doctor began
practice with Dr. Thomas Kell at Pineville, North Caro-
olina, and for a year he remained there. He came to
Burton, Texas, in February, 1882, and he continued there
in practice until 1894, when he came to Austin. Since
that time he has been definitely and worthily engaged in
medical practice in this city.

Dr. Watt has kept up his professional studies during
the year and in 1907 he took post graduate courses in
medicine and surgery in the Chicago Post Graduate
Medical School and Hospital. In addition to his private
practice, he was engaged as Division Surgeon of the
Austin & Northwestern Railroad from 1894 to 1902, and
prior to his coming to Te.xas he was surgeon of the North
Carolina State Militia for one year. At the present time
he is Chief Medical Examiner & Nominator of the Equi-
table Life Assurance Company of the United States,
medical examiner of the Provident Life Assurance So-
ciety of New York, medical examiner of the Brotherhood
of Locomotive Firemen and of the Order of Eailroad
Trainmen and also medical examiner for the Brotherhood
of Locomotive Engineers, and of the Woodmen of the
World. He is the medical representative of the Aus-
tin Aerie of the Fraternal Order of Eagles; Surgeon of
the Union Casualty and Insurance Company of St. Louis,
Missouri; of the Michigan Commercial Travelers' As-
sociation; of the Mutual Accident Association of Utica,
New Y'ork, and of Maryland Casualty Company of Bal-
timore, Maryland. He is a member of Travis County,
Austin District and the State and American Medical
Associations, and is an active member and worker in each
of them.

His private practice in the city is an extensive one,
which, coupled with his many professional activities,
combine to make him one of the busiest men of the city.

On September 27, 1882, in Burton, Texas, Dr. Watt
was married to Olivia Jordan Elliott, a daughter of B.
F. Elliott, of that place, and five children were born to
them. William Elliott Watt is now twenty-two years
of age and is a student in the medical department of the
University of Tennessee in his third year. Maude Wini-
fred, aged nineteen, a graduate of the Austin high
school, will attend a girl's college, where she will fit
herself for the teaching profession. Stuart, aged seven-
teen, is an apprentice in an automobile shop. Terence
Neal Watt, eight years old, is a pupil in Bickler 's school,
in East Austin. Walter Slade Watt, the youngest, is
now three and a half years old.

The family residence is maintained at No. 309 East
Eighth street, while the offices of the doctor are in the
Littlefield Building.

James J. Padgett. The ups and downs of life have
about equally alternated in the business career of James
J. Padgett, who has been identified with business in one
form or another in Texas since his earliest advent into the
state in the year 1872. Since then he has been active in
agriculture, mercantile ventures and in public service.
Success has attended some of his enterprises and on numer-
ous occasions he has been unfortunate, but he is, in the
main, a fairly successful man, and takes his place among
the foremost men of Waco, where he has been a resident
since 1897.

James J. Padgett was born in Calhoun county, Geor-
gia, on September 27, 1850, and is a son of Eli.iah
Padgett and Lydia (Davis) Padgett. The father was



born m Fayette county, Georgia, in 1821, and was a
prominent man m Calhoun county for a good many years
He was sheriff of the county for thirteen years and
judge of the superior court of the county for six years,
as well as being otherwise prominent in that district.
He died in 18S5. The mother, who was born in 1831.
died in 1865, leaving one son,— James J. Padgett, of
this review.

James J. Padgett attended the common schools of Cal-
houn county to the age of nineteen years, after which
he was employed in the farming communities near his
home until he was twenty-two, when he left the work
and with his father opened a general store in Whitney.
They continued until 1S72 .■iii,l snl.l out the business and
came to McLennan cuunly, T, \;,s, «here they took up a
homestead of one huinliv,! :iih| sixly acres. They lived
on the place for six ycuis, tliua suhi it and invested the
proceeds in a farm implement business at Perry, asso-
ciating themselves with a Mr. Henchman in the enter-
prise. After two .years they withdrew and, going south
to Bosque, McLennan county, bought another farm of
one hundred and sixty acres, for which they paid $3.50
the acre. After three years James J. Padgett, attracted
by the opening of the town of McGregor, moved to that
place and built the third house that was erected there.
He put in a line of furniture and stoves, also a full line
of farm implements, and continued successfully in busi-
ness until 1885, when he burned out, and the business
was a total loss. While in business there Mr. Padgett
haci been appointed postmaster under the first Cleveland
administration, and he served for three and a half years,
when he resigned. After the disastrous fire, crippled in
his resources and almost ruined, Mr. Padgett again en-
gaged in the implement business and continued for two
.years, when he sold out, and again bought land at South
Bosque, where he lived for two years. In 1897 he came
to Waco and for a year was occujiicd in the feed business,
but his next venture was in carpentering and contract-
ing, in which he continued for three years. For the
next years he was in the employ of the city in various
capacities, and in 1912 he was elected justice of the
peace from the First Precinct, which oiEce he still re-
tains.

It will be seen that Mr. Padgett has known ill fortune,
as well as good, but he has always taken his losses philo-
sophically, and after each misfortune has come up smil-
ing, ready to begin over again, and today, after forty-
two years of residence in Texas, he may be said to be one
of the reasonably successful men of the place.

Mr. Padgett, in addition to his service as justice of
the peace, served as deputy sheriff of McLennan county
for ten years, and he was constable of Moody precinct
for one term. He is a member of the Young Men 's
Business League of Waco, and attends the Baptist
church.

On February 7, 1887, Mr. Padgett was married to Mar-
tha L. Davis, daughter of John Davis, a real estate man
of Calhoun county, Georgia, and to them have been born
nine children. Lydia, the eldest, is a widow; Lenora
is the wife of J. C. McKathan ; John married Lula Mil-
ler, and is a farmer ; James, Jr., an expressman at Waco,
married Jennie Eaysdale; Alice M. is the wife of
William Elliott, of Oklahoma; LoUie married D. T.
Pierce, a minister and teacher of Kingsville, Texas.
Tommie, Roger and an infant are deceased.

Dr. James Edward Sneed has been a resident of
Teague and a practicing physician here since the town
started on its way to the dignity of the name of city,
coming here as a young physician fresh from his alma
mater at New Orleans. He is a Texas product, born in
Fairfield, on December 17, 1881, and he was reared for
the most part in the community of his birth. He is a
son of Dr. Wm. N. Sneed, who still practices medicine
in Fairfield, and concerning whom it is eminently fit-



2128



TEXAS AND TEXANS



ting and projier that some mention be made at this
point.

Dr. William N_ Sneed came to Texas from Thomas-
ville, Georgia, where he was born in 1844. He had his
education in Tulane tniversity, in New Orleans, and
from Texas, where he came as a youth, he entered the
Confederate army from Freestone county, in the regi-
ment of Colonel Bradley. He served in General Pem-
berton's arniv in Mississippi and was captured and
paroled at ^'i'cksburg. He then returned to the service
in Texas and served in and about Galveston during the
remainder of the war. He was never wounded, and
when the long struggle was ended he turned at once to
his professional studies, and was a graduate from the
medical department of Tulane Univeisit.v. His srrvi.e
in a public capacity has been confined in iii.iiilHi^lnp
on examining boards and other work pertainmy to the
making of fledgling doctors. He has attended the tliuics
and done post graduate work from time to time, keeping
himself as fresh and up-to-date in the knowledge of his
profession as he felt himself on the day he left college.
Dr. Sneed has taken no active part in politics. He is
a Democrat, and though prominent and popular with
his fellow men, he has never shown any desire to hold
office. He is a man of striking appearance, weighing
about 190 pounds, and with a figure as erect as that
of an early North American Indian. He is a man of
pleasing personality, and is a natural leader, so that had
he permitted himself to deviate from his chosen career,
he would have undoubtedly won high honors in the po-
litical field. Dr. Sneed has given some time to agricul-
ture, and he is the owner of a vast tract of land in
Freestone county. He has brought much of his land
under cultivation and has introduced blooded horses
and cattle into the section where he carries on farm-
ing activities. He is also interested in banks in both
Fairfield and Teague, and his investments have extended
to other fields as well. He never makes public speeches,
but among a company of friends. Dr. Sneed is an in-
teresting and instructive conversationalist.

Dr. Sneed came to Texas with his father. Kit W.
Sneed, who died in Fairfield, as a farmer. He became
a large planter there and owned many slaves, and the
colored Sneeds of the present day are, for the most
part, descendants of his former holdings of blacks. He
was a strong Secessionist, and a Yankee in his vicinity
was shown no quarter. Kit W. Sneed married a Miss
Davis, and their children were se%-en in number. They
were Dr. W. N., Dr. J. A., Walter E. and Dr. Kit W.,
of Wortham, Texas; Mrs. J. B. Mclnnis, of Teague;
Mrs. J. H. Oliver, of Buffalo, Texas; and Mrs. Ella
Johnson, of Fairfield, now deceased.

Dr. William N. Sneed married Miss Alice Johnson, a
daughter of Col. J. B. Johnson, a Confederate Colonel,
and an ante-bellum settler of Freestone county. He was
an extensive planter and slave owner and the famous old
"rock house" of the Fairfield community was his home,
and was of his own construction. His children were
Edgar, of Waco; William P., a large planter near Fair-
field; Mrs. W. F. Moore, who died in Mexia, Texas, and
Mrs. Sneed. The issue of Dr. Sneed and his wife were
Berta, wife of G. P. Davis, of Fairfield; Dr. Wm. N.
Jr.; Dr. James Edward of this review; Mrs. John F.
Fryer of Fairfield and Miss Alice Sneed, also of Fair-
field.

Dr. James Edward Sneed spent his boyhood acquir-
ing his common school training, and when he was a
high school senior he entered the A. & M. College at
Bryan. There he did the work of the Junior year in the
engineering course, and when he left that institution
he set about his preparation for a medical career. He had
his medical training in Tulane University at Xew Or-
leans, and came fresh from his studies there to take
up his professional duties at Teague, and here he has
since continued successfully in his work.

Dr. Sneed is a member of the local medical societies.



and he is also a member of the State and National
Associations.

On November 6, 1906, Dr. Sneed was married in
Camden, Alabama, to Miss Sallie Belle Bonner, a daugh-
ter of Irvin H. Bonner of Fairfield, Texas, and an old
Confederate soldier and comrade of Dr. Sneed 's father.
Mr. Bonner came to Texas before the war and married
Miss Jane Eobinson, the daughter of a pioneer family
of Freestone county. Mrs. Sneed is one of the two
daughters of her parents, the other being the wife of
Dr. Ernest Bonner of Camden, Alabama. Dr. and Mrs.
Sneed are without issue.

Dr. Sneed is a Mason of the Blue Lodge and Chap-
ter, and is also fraternally afl&liated with the Elks and
the Knights of Pythias. He and his wife are members
of the Presbyterian church of Teague, and take an ac-
tive part in its work.

Joseph T. L.\Eue. A native son of the Lone Star
state who has attained to distinctive success and pres-
tige as one of the representative business men and influ-
ential citizens of Hendeisou couuty is Joseph Thomas
LaRue, the popular president of the Athens National
Bank, at Athens, the attractive and thriving judicial
center of the county, where he has also other important
capitalistic interests. His status in the community sets
at naught any application of the scriptural aphorism
that "a prophet is not without honor save in his own
country," for he claims as his native heath the county
that is now his home.

Mr. LaRue was born on a farm near Murchison, Hen-
derson county, Texas, on the 18th of November, 1864,
and is a representative of the honored pioneer families
of this favored section of the state, besides which the
name has been worthily lined with the annals of Ameri-
can history since 1685, when three brothers came froi*
France and settled in Virginia. The lineage is thus
traced back to stanch French origin and representa-
tives of the family having aided in blazing the path of
civilization on the ' ' dark and bloody ground ' ' of Vir-
ginia and Kentucky, when that commonwealth was still
on the frontier. Joseph M. LaRue came from Bedford
county, Tennessee, to Texas in 1852, and first settled
near Lovelady, Houston county, but in the following year
he removed to Henderson county, where he acquired a
tract of wild land and instituted the reclamation and im-
provement of the same, this county continuing to be his
home until his death, and his having been secure pres-
tige as one of the honored pioneers and progressive citi-
zens of the county, to the development and upbuilding ol
which he contributed his full quota.

Joseph M. LaRue was boru in Bedford county, Ten-
nessee, in the year 1825, and there his father, John C.
LaRue, died very shortly after the close of the Civil war,
at the age of seventy-seven years. John C. LaRue was
born in Kentucky, whence he removed to Tennessee in
the early pioneer epoch of the history of that state, and
he became one of the extensive planters and slaveholders
of Tennessee, where he well upheld the prestige of the
family name, which is perpetuated in the title of LaRue
county, Kentucky, a county named in honor of one of
the distinguished members of the family who was promi-
nent in the early history of the fine old Bluegrass state.
John C. LaRue was a soldier in the war of 1812 and the
maiden name of his wife was Hardin. Of their several
children, Joseph M., father of the subject of this review,
was the youngest. Joseph M. LaRue was reared under
the somewhat patrician regime in the old south and was
afforded the advantages of the schools of his native
state. Upon leaving the parental home and instituting
independent operations as a planter in Tennessee, his
father presented him with a few slaves, whom he em-
plo.yed on his plantation, which was one of modest order,
and whom he brought with him to Texas, where they
continued in his service until the Emancipation Proc-
lamation led to their freedom. Mr. LaRue continued



TEXAS AND TEXANS



2129



his agricultural operations in the vicinity of Murcliison,
Henderson county, until 1S86, when he removed with his
family to Athens, the county seat, where he died in the
following year, honored by all who knew him. He was
a loval supporter of the ca'iise of the Confederacy during
the 'Civil war, in which he served in the command of
General Magruder, the iirmtoy pMit nf the tini.. Ii.'iiiu'

given to service in the ,|iuirU'riii:is!n '- .l,'|i:iri nt.

While thus giving his tii.l in ilic Mippnn ,,( smi.iIumh
arms Mr. LaRue ackuowledgeil conversion to the Cliris-
tian faith and became a member of the Baptist church,
of which his wife likewise was a devoted adherent. He
was affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, and his life
■vas guided and governed by the highest princiides of
integrity and honor. As a young man he weddeil iliss
Mary F. Oliver, who was born in the state of Tennessee,
and who survived him by several years. Concerning their
children following brief data are available: Clara is
the wife of General J. Eads, a prosperous agriculturist
near Athens, Henderson county; Penine became the wife
of William Rhodes and now is deceased; ,Tnse)ih T.. of
this review, was the next in order of birth ; S.|iiiir K.
resides at KU'ampo, Wharton county; EIl.i is tln' wite
of James 0. Denton, of Murehison, Hendi-isnii c.unty;
William J. died in the city of Galveston, in liluii ; and
Anna is the wife of John H. Towery, of Athens.

Joseph T. LaRue was reared to maturity on the old
homestead, which was the place of his birth and in
connection with which he gained his initial experience
in the [iractical duties and responsibilities of life. After
comjileting the curriculum of the rural school, he con-
tinued his studies for a time in Hubbard College, at
Overton, and later he attended thfe high school at
Comanche. That he made good use of his scholastic oppor-
tunities is shown by the fact that for two years he was
a successful and popular teacher in the country schools
of his native county, but in the light of events it cannot
be regretted that he deflected his attention from the
pedagogic profession to identify himself with practical
business activities. At the age of twenty-two years Mr.
LaRue established his residence in Athens, where he
assumed a clerkship in a mercantile establishment. He
continued in the employ of others for eight years and
then engaged in business as a merchandise broker, in
the handling of heavy groceries and farmers' supplies,
cotton-gin products, etc. Mr. LaEue continued success-
ful operations in this line actively about fifteen years
and then turned his attention to other fields of business
enterprise, in which his success has been of equally un-
equivocal order. In 1902 he effected the organization of
the Athens National Bank, which was incor]iorated with
a capital stock of twenty-five thousand doll.'ns. He has
been a potent factorr in the developmrnt ami upbuilding
of this substantial and popular fiii;iiiri:il Institution of
which he has been president since r.inl. tli.' ntlier mem-
bers of the official corps being as licif iM.trd: Dr. C.
R. Johnson, vice-president; B. .Siylci. caslmi ; and Isaac
P. LaRue, assistant cashier. Thi' l.ank imw liiis a sur-
plus of thirty-five thousan.l d. .liars, its iin.livplrd profits
are five thousand dollars, and it li.is |irM\,i,| a li.-n.-li. ,.nt
agency in conserving the rivic ami mat.TiMl H.ttair nf
Henderson county. Mr. Lal.'ui' is jui'sidciit alsi> i.f the
First State Bank of Murehison, which was organized in
1912, is secretary and treasurer of the Farmers' & Mer-
chants' Gin Company of Athens, is a stockholder and
director of The Citizens '*Ice Co., and is president of
the Athens Business Men 's League, a well organized and
representative commercial body with high civic ideals and
progressive policies. Mr. LaRue is ever ready to give
his influence and tangible co-operation in the support of
measures and enterprises projected for the general good
of his home city and county and has done much to fur-
ther the material development and upbuilding of Athens,
where he is the owner of much valuable realty and where,
in 1912, he erected a row of attractive and substantial
brick business places on the south side of the court-



house square. The town of LaRue, thirteen miles south-
east from Athens, on the T. & X. O. R. R. was named
for him.

In politics Mr. LaEue was reared in the faith of the
Democratic party, and from the same has never per-
mitted himself to be deflected. He served several years
as a meudier of the city ronii.il nf Athens and he is one
of the leading men of al'laiis in llnmlerson county, with
a circle of friends that is IihiiIimI only by that of his ac-
quaintances, as his sincerity, integrity and purpose and
genial personality have gained and retained to him un-
qualified popular confidence and esteem. He is affiliated
with the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias and both
he and his wife hold membership in the Baptist church
in their home city.

On the Kith of March, 1S92, was solemnized the mar-
riage of Mr. LaEue to Miss Stella Parsons, daughter of
the late Dr. H. L. and Margaret (Richardson) Parsons,
who were prominent pioneers of the village of Terrell,
Kaufman county, Mrs. LaEue being said to have been
the first white child born at that place. Dr. Parsons
was a native of tlio stafr of New York, received from
Yale University tho d.-i,vs of both Bachelor of Arts
and Doctor of -Mcln in,, and he long held prestige as
one of the most distinuuislied and honored representa-
tives of the medical profession in northern Texas; Mrs.
LaRue is the elder of his two children, and the yoimger,
Homer L. Parsons, is a representative citizen of Athens.
Mr. and Mrs. LaRue have had the following children, —
Eldred Bailey, Isaac Parsons, Margaret, Mary F., Jo-
seph C, Frank E. and Stella. The eldest of' the chil-
dren was born in January, 1893, was graduated in the
Athens high school, after which he was for two years a
student in Baylor University, at Waco, and he is now
engaged in the merchandise brokerage business under
the firm name of LaRue & Borrou. Isaac P. LaRue is
assistant cashier of the Athens National Bank, as above
stated.

CH.iRLES S. Taylor. This early Texas pioneer had a
very prominent part in the events which preceded and
followed the establishment of Texas independence, and
for reason of his public service, the fact that he was one
of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence,
and for many other causes which wjll later appear, his
life has a peculiar appropriateness in the biographical
annals of Texas. The following article, briefly describ-
ing his life and services, has been kindly prepared for
this publication by his son, Lawrence T,aylor, one of
the venerable residents of Nacogdoches, in which city
the family have had their home for nearly a century.

Speaking for himself to his family at Nacogdoches,
which includes his son Lawrence S., he said: "I was
born in the city of London, England, and an orphan in



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 173 of 177)