Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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Peareson married, and then moved to Bichmond, where
his death occurred in 1895. The late Mr. Peareson was
one of the big lawyers and prominent citizens of South
Texas. At one time he was a candidate for congress
against W. H. Grain, and subsequently made a gallant fight
for the ofEce of attorney general of Texas against Gov-
ernor Hogg. He had made a splendid record as a soldier
of the Confederacy, was a courageous and useful citizen,
and had few equals among his contemporaries in the
law. His father. Dr. Peareson, had died soon after re-
turning home from the war. Minnie Eugeley, the mother
of Judge Peareson, was a daughter of Alex Eugeley,
who was a prominent planter and one of the pioneer set-
tlers of Texas. He had come to this state, Texas, shortly
after the close of the Mexican war, becoming a settler
in Matagorda county. During the war between the
states he saw service in a home-guard company com-
manded by his brother. Captain E. S. Eugeley. Mrs.
Minnie Peareson passed away in 1896.

Judge Peareson was one of the five children in the
family. His brother, E. A. Peareson, now deceased, was
a major in the Spanish-American war, in the First Texas
Cavalry, whose commander was Col. Luther Hare, and lie
also was at one time tax collector of Fort Bend county,
and was serving in the office of sheriff at tlie time of
his death. The other children are Mrs. M. C. Andrus
of Eiehmond; Thomas B. Peareson, the present county
attorney, who at one time was a member of the legis-
lature, and Mrs. P. G. Huston of Bay City, Texas.

Judge Peareson became a practicing lawyer in 1890,
and in 1895 took up the large practice left in his hands
by the death of the eminent father. His early education
was attained at St. Mary's Prc|i:ir,Tt(ii v Sdmol in San
Antonio, and subsequently at tlir Ayi i' nil uial & Me-
chanical College of Bryan. In tlir ,,111., (,i' his father
he continued his law studies until ndini'-SM.n to the bar,
and since the year 189.5 has been in constant practice,
with a large and growing patronage, not only that in-
herited from his father, but much that has been won
through his own pronounced ability as a lawyer. In
1904 he was elected to the office of County Judge of Fort



Bend county, that position having been tendered him
without any solicitation on his part. He remained in-
cumbent of the office for two terms, a total of four
years, the limit imposed under the rule of the Jay Bird
Democratic Association. Previous to this time he had
been elected county surveyor, but did not qualify for
that office. He has also served as president of the school
board for more than six years, and for four years was
president of the Jay Bird Association. Much public im-
provement in his home town and county may be credited
to the administration of Judge Peareson. The present
school building in Eiehmond was erected while he was a
member of the board, and the new courthouse and the
new bridge at Eosenberg were practically completed dur-
ing his administration as county judge.

He showed himself an administrator with rare execu-
tive ability, and made his administration a high standard
in the annals of county government.

On June 15, 1892, Judge Peareson married Miss Mary
Sargent of Matagorda county, a daughter of Jno. F.
Sargent. Their only child is Philip E., w^ho is now in
college at Lebanon, Tennessee. Judge Peareson and
wife are members of the Episcopal church of Eiehmond,
and he has served as warden for eighteen years. He is
affiliated with the Knights of Pythias, and Mrs. Peare-
son is an active member in the Daughters of the Cop-
federacy.

Judge Peareson is one of the best known and promi-
nent men of his county; has been urged to run for the
office of District Judge, but refused to make the cam-
paign. He has gained material evidences of success, as
well as the high esteem of his community, and occupies
an enviable place in his home county.

Gayle Tarver Snedecor. One of the ablest as well as
one of the most energetic of the younger generation of
Fort Bend county citizens, Mr. Snedecor is a former dis-
trict clerk of the county, is one of the leaders in the
Democratic party, and is soon to take up active practice
as an attorney.

Gayle Tarver Snedecor was born in Fort Bend county,
Texas, March 9, 1881, and is a son of Bolivar G. and
Sallie (Tarver) Snedecor. His father was born in
Greene county, Alabama, and his mother in Texas. The
father came to Texas in 1868, and now resides upon a
splendid farm on the Colorado Eiver in Fort Bend
county. The Snedecors are an old and prominent south-
ern family, who before the war owned slaves, and Boli-
var Snedecor has long been a man of high standing in
Fort Bend county, possessing an alert mind and keen
intelligence.

Gayle T. Snedecor was largely self-taught, and that
w^as due to the fact that when he was a boy, attending
the common schools, the term lasted only about three
months each year. In 1898 he began working as a line-
man for the Bay City Telephone Company, helping to
construct the first telephone line in Bay City, at a time
when there was only the courthouse and a few old
buildings on the site. Another early ociupatiou was the
driving of buggies and mule teams between \Yharton and
lago before the railroail was built, and he was also em-
ployed on farms, in stores, and elsewhere. That was fol-
lowed by six months of hard stud}- at home under the
tutoriuir'nf an old schoolmaster.

Mr. Siifclrinr then took a position as bookkeeper on
one ut ilir -t,itc farms, near Areola, having charge of
the rMi,inii-s:nv ,|epartment. That was followed by work
in till' Li'iNiiil merchandise department of the Areola
Siig:ir \|ilN, \\li.'i(> he remained for five years. He was

then I kk.Tiicv tor the J. B. Fenn estate, at Duke, and

later, in s.i.teiiiber, 1905, was employed by the Brazoria
Irrigation Company of Biceton, for one year. About
that time Mr. Snedecor first entered practical politics.
A candidate for the office of district clerk of Port Bend
County, his election encountered no opposition. The
only interruption to his regular administration of the



1676



TEXAS AND TEXANS



duties of the office was a period of about eight months
spent in West Texas in order to recuperate his health.
After retiring from his otiicial duties, Mr. Snedecor en-
gaged in business for himself for about four years, and
has since sold out, and at the present writing is prepar-
ing to take up the practice of law. Mr. Snedecor has
always been active in Democratic politics, and is at
present Democratic chairman of Precinct No. 1. He re-
fused an oflfer upon the part of the people to run him
for state senator.

In 1906 Mr. Snedecor was united in marriage with
Miss Buby Schmidt of Harris county, daughter of F. J.
Schmidt, an old Confederate soldier and a member of
Dick Dowling Camp of the Confederate Veterans at
Houston. He was once the sole owner of the famous
Schmidt Gardens of Galveston, long ago converted to
other purposes. To Mr. and Mrs. Snedecor have been
born two children, Winona and .Juanita, both of whom
are living. Mr. Snedecor is a charter member of the
Rosenberg Masonic Lodge, and was made a Mason at
Richmond, in Morton Lodge, No. 72, A. F. & A. M.
He and his wife hold lifetime membership in the Sons
and Daughters of the Confederacy. Such are the bare
facts of biograjihy in regard to the career of Gayle Tar-
ver Snedecor. That outline does not reveal the actual
personality, and, in order to create a proper estimate of
the man as he is, this article will be supplemented with a
quotation from a character sketch written by one w"ho
has had opportunities to appreciate Mr. Snedecor at
close range. This pen sketch is as follows : ' ' The world
is all too full of middle-of-the-road, mediocre men; so it
is refreshing to find a man who possesses that distinct
individuality and strength of mind which mark him as
one of that comparatively small band who bla?e out the
trail, and have been doing so since the world began.
Gayle Tarver Snedecor is as clear-cut an individual as
a lightning flash; yet he is one of the most unassuming
of men. A reader and a deep, bold thinker, his position
is always pronounced and definite. A splendid specimen
of physical manhood, he has hair the color of the famous
house of Hapsburg, but features finer than ever the most
aristocratic scion of that great house possessed. To talk
with him is a pleasure, as his mind is stored with an
amazing knowledge of literature, economics, and political
and civic facts, many of them not culled from books, but
from direct experience. He quotes readily from the best
in the world of books, and the man who hopes to argue
with him in glittering generalities will soon find himself
in deep water; for along with the decided poetic strain
in his nature is a most exacting and hard-headed side,
which moves him to take nothing for granted and de-
mands proof."

Judge Gordon Russell, United States Judge of the
Eastern District of Texas since 1910, is one whose public
service has been of a varied nature, but always in the
line of his profession. He is a son of Georgia parents,
but was born at Huntsville, Alabama, at the home of his
maternal grandfather, Judge James H. Gordon.

Maj. H. A. Russell, the father of Judge Russell, was
formerly of Dalton, Georgia, but is now- a resident of
Atlanta. For many years prior to his removal from Dal-
ton he was engaged in mercantile pursuits in that place.
The mother of the Judge was Mary E. Gordon. The
Gordon family settled in Virginia in the early days of
that colony, and from Virginia that portion of the Gor-
don family from which Judge Russell was descended
moved to North Carolina, and they were there resident
during the days of the American Revolution, taking part
witli the colonists and fighting in tlie American army at
the battle of King 's Mountain. From North Carolina" two
brothers of the Gordon family moved to the state of
Georgia. One of these brothers was Zachariah Gordon,
the father of the Confederate General, John B. Gordon,
and the other brother was Judge James H. Gordon, the
grandfnther of Judge Russell of this review. Through



his father 's family, the Judge is related to the
of Georgia, his paternal grandmother, Caroline Russell,
having formerly been Caroline Hardee, a sister of the
Confederate general, William J. Hardee.

Gordon Russell was educated at the Sam Bailey Insti:
tute. Griffin, Georgia, and at the Crawford High School,
in Dalton, Georgia, finishing with an A. B. degree at the
University of Georgia. After his graduation, he read law,
at the same time occupying himself with school teaching,
and he was admitted to the bar in 1879, while still a
minor, and soon thereafter he came to Texas.

Settling in Canton, Van Zandt county, Texas, in 1880,
Mr. Russell was elected county judge four years later.
He relinquished the office voluntarily after one term of
service and resumed the practice of his profession, and
in 1888 he moved to WUls Point, Van Zandt county,
where he continued in practice until 1895, when he re-
moved to Tyler, Smith county. That place continued his
home and the center of his professional activities until
1910, when he took up his residence in Sherman, upon
election to his present office, and here he still resides.

In 1892 Judge Russell was elected District Attorney
of the Seventh Judicial District of Texas, and was re-
elected to the office in 1894. While serving his second
term as district attorney a vacancy was created in the
office of Judge of the District Court by the resignation
of Hon. Felix J. McCord, whereupon the governor of the
state appointed District Attorney Gordon Russell to fill
that vacancy. At the next general election, in 1896, he
was elected to the office by the people, and in 1910 was
re-elected to the office without opposition. While he
w^as serving his second term as .iudge of the State Dis-
trict Court, he resigned that office to become a member
of Congress, having been elected to that body in 1902.

The election of Judge Russell to Congress was pre-
ceded by a campaign between himself and Hon. R. C.
DeGraffenried which attracted the attention of the entire
state. Tlie two rifal candidates held a series of joint
debates, which were attended by great audiences, and
the discussions were characterized by intense vigor and
earnestness. The people of the district were greatly
wrought up by the campaign and personal feeling ran
high. The result of the contest was the election of Judge
Russell by a large majority. He was re-elected to con-
gress in i904, in 1906, and again in 1908.

In 1910 a vacancy was made in the office of United
States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas
by the death of Judge David E. Bryant. Judge Russell
w'as at that time serving the term in Congress to which
he had been elected. He was not an applicant for the
United States Judgeship, but had declared his intention
of becoming a candidate for re-election to Congress, and
had announced himself to his constituents in an address
to that effect. Notwithstanding these facts, President
Taft selected him as United States Judge and sent his
nomination to the Senate of the United States. The '
nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Senate,
and Judge Russell was commissioned by the President as
United States Judge of the Eastern District of Texas on
June 6, 1910.

Soon after receiving his commission Judge Russell re-
signed his seat in Congress and entered actively upon
the discharge of the duties of his office of Judge of tin
United States Court. The oath of office was administered
to him bv Chief Justice Edward D. White, then Asso-
ciate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,
and the ceremony occurred at the Department of Justice
in Washington, being witnessed by a number of his
friends, among them being Postmaster General A. S.
Burleson.

During his service in Congress. Judge Russell gave
special attention to those questions which were of legal
nature, and he was regarded by his fellow members as
a reliable and accurate lawyer. He engaged in many of
the debates in Congress when legal propositions were
under consideration, and attracted attention by the clear-



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1677



ness of his statements of the law. After delivering his
speech on the Hepburn Eate Bill he was invited to
make an address before the bar association at Buffalo,
New York. He accepted the invitation, and made an
address that was received with favor by the Bar and by
the Press. It was, no doubt, due to the character of the
arguments that he made in the House of Representatives
that President Taft, though a Eepubliean, determined
to appoint him to the Judgeship lie now holds. Judge
Eussell participated in some of the most important de-
bates in Congress, notablv in the discussions of the White
Slave Law, the Hepburn Bill, the Bailroad Eate Bill, and
the proposed Arbitration law.

Judge Eussell has been twice married. His first wife
was Miss Jennie Matthews, to whom he was married in
1884. Five children were born of tliat ukui :i->, i.nlv
two of tlicm surviving. His second wilC :i M \ > u ,.

Ford, whom he married in 1897 :ind ]:} ■ one

child. His surviving children are Mrs. .\ II" I- M.ii Isiy
of El Paso, Texas; Mr. Henry Eussell, an ;it1nrney at law
of Sherman, Texas, and Miss Annie Laurie Eussell, also
of Sherman.

Stephen Decatur O'Brien. A residence of more than
fifty-four years and a life characterised by business ac-
tivity and honor well entitle Stephen ficfatur O'Brien
of Liberty to nn-i' :'i:iii |-.i - :>i^ n^ nll..ii ;,- one of his
community 's re[' ■ ■ :i ' > ■' ■ ; i!^ ' i^ > niifined his

energies to our h' ■ i "- '" , "■ ' ' '!- ' '■'" '<- his aim
to attain the hiLjin-i ■Ir-'.rr ,,! |Mir.> ,,,, jlung several
directions, has lieeu alril ninl en;, i j.i i-n^, and pos-
sesses a positive genius for (liniviii- .uhl c xc.uting the
right plan at the right time. .\lnr,MA ci , hr has main-
tained a policy in harmony with the old and time-tried
maxim concerning honesty and labor, and his business
record might be summed up in the phrase ' ' through
struggles to success. ' '

Mr. O'Brien was born in St. Mary's Parish (now
Morgan City), Louisiana, April 27. 1833, and is a son of
Charles Wallace and Felid (Salles) O'Brien. Mr.



O'Brien's great-grandfatl
served as a private in .i \ Hu i
Eevolutionary War, ].ri-
had owned large landi^ I ■
during the struggle fnr An^ >,i!
the chil.livn nf tli,' oM |,:iiiimi

familv brr.'inir IHnliiilh.Ilt 111 \'ir

Christoiihcr. Th.. hitler iiianuVl
to Illiuuis. then to i^ouisiaua, w h
iforgan City) was named after



topher O'Brien,

< pany during the

iiieak of which he
li. however, he lost
I iipondence. ■ Among
ir a daii-liter, whose
la a Ha lis. and a son,
.Miss in'Mvick, moved
Beruii-k's Bay (now
s wife's family, and



finally passed away, after some years spent in agricul-
tural pursuits. His brother George lived during the last
years of his life at Beaumont, where he passed away,
while another brother, Luke, came to Te.xas and died at
Liberty. All reared families. The children born to
Christojiher O'Brien .aial his wife were as follows: An-
drew; (Icoii;,.; Cli.ailis Wallarc; America, who married
Captain s.,..rii- aial ,.a-s,M tlir -ivater part of her life
in Louisiana, imt ^la.i al Liluaa^. Ti'xas; Cvnthia. who

came tn tins state I nitniaial Frank Hardin, a Ten-

nesseoaii tind luir ni tlie nld surveyors of Liberty county,
and died li(-rr; Katie, win. married Mr. Bagley and died
here, and Viiyinia. wlio married Mr. Collins and re-
mained in Louisiana.

Charles Wallace O'Brien was born in Louisiana, and
was given a very limited education in his youth. He
passed his life as a farmer of the slaveholding class, and
died in the Liberty comiiiiiiiity in 1879 at the age of
sixty-five years. He was in syiii|i.atliy .and harmony with
the Confederacy durine iln- w.ii lietwecn the South and
the North and contrilmtecl his seivire to the cause by
his activities as a civilian in his, home place. He never
held public position in his life, preferring to devote his
whole time and attention to his own affairs, and was
without membership in fraternal organizations of any



kind, although he had a wide acquaintance and was
popular with his fellow men. On an occasion in his
youth Mr. 'Brien was insulted by a minister of the
Gospel, and ever after that throughout his life he
avoided the church. Mr. O 'Brien was married in Louisi-
ana to Miss Felid Salles, a French lady, who belonged
to a pioneer family of that state, and they became
parents of a family of ten children, as follows: Hor-
tense, who became the wife of Ed CuUen and is now a
resident of Austin, Texas; Permelia, who became the
wife of John Eidley and passed away at Waco, Texas;
Eowenna, who became Mrs. Dick Hardin and died in
Leon county, this state; Stephen Decatur of this review;
Charles W., who died in Leon county; Benjamin Mi-
chael, a merchant of Liberty and farmer and stock
raiser of Liberty county, a slseteh of whose career ap-
pears on another page of this volume; Frank, who
passed away in childhood; Christy S., who died unmar-
ried in Dallas county, Texas; Mary Juanita, who resides
at San Antonio, and Florialla White, who is the wife of
H. A. Speer of San Antonio.

Stephen Decatur 'Brien was not yet seven years of
age when he came with his parents to Liberty county,
in I'ebrnary, 1860, and here he grew to manhood, near
Lilierty, on the family homestead, making the most of
his opportunities for an education, although his school
a<lvautages were not many. He remained with his fa-
ther until he became of age, and, when he reached his
majority, embarked in farming and stock raising on his
own account in this community. In this he has been en-
gaged to the present time, although he has also passed
some twenty years as a merchant. . He engaged in mer-
chamlising at Liberty in 1886, and was identified with
the firm of B. M. O'Brien & Brother until 1906, when a
ilissolution occurred and S. D. O'Brien resumed more
actively his farming and stock raising. His ranch and
farm are in the Martin Survey, and he has been a
factor in the develo]iim'iit of other farms near Liberty.
He is having tille.l -.ume 275 acres, which gives employ-
ment to thirty ii\e lamilies, and other outside labor is
required frnm time fn time. Tenant houses have risen
oil liis land al the hands of Mr. O'Brien, besides his
new revi,|eme in Liberty, which is of modern type and
adds ( (ms|'h.iniii-ly to the appearance of the town. This
resiilenee is a t\xostory structure of seven rooms, com-
modious and convenient, with open stairs and curtained
oiienings, finished in mission, and it sets oft' handsomely
the large, picketed yard. The O'Brien store also, where
he did Ijusiness for so many years, is an example of the
work he has done in developing Liberty. He lias served
the town as an alderman, and has given efficient service
on the board of education, and in a political way has al-
lowed himself to serve his county and city in conventions
as a Democratic delegate.

On February 21, 1900, Mr. O'Brien was married at
Liberty to Miss Xonie Grain, a daughter of Capt. E. J.
Grain, who came hither from Ibberville Parish, Louisiana.
Mr. Grain, who died in Liberty, was a school teacher by
vocation, and for some time was also engaged in the saw-
mill business here. During the great struggle between
the South and the North he served in the ranks of the
Gray, in command of an infantry company, and subse-
quently passed his life as a private citizen. He and his
wife were the parents of the following children : Mrs.
O'Brien: Genrgie. who is the wife of William Lanwehr
of Houston, Texas; Cora, who married Shelby Stiles of
Fort Wnith: Leila, who married E. W. Leslie' of Galves-
ton, ami Alis< I'orinne, principal of the school of Devers,
Texa-, I ear ehihlren have been born to Mr. and Mrs.
O'llrieii. iiaimly: Berwick Grain, Decatur. Charles D.
and Fulide Connue.

W.A.LTER Gresham. Galveston has been fortunate in
the character of its citijens of light and leading. Other-
wise, pierhaps, the colossal material misfortunes which



1678



TEXAS AND TEXANS



have at various times passed that way would have over-
whelmed the spirit as it did the structure of the city.
Praise is due to many, and the honors and rewards have
often been parceled out to the deserving, but to none
more than to Walter Gresham. Only oocasionaUy does
it happen that a citizen while alive and active m the
cause to which he has devoted his years and efforts be-
comes the object of an affection and esteem which usually
attach to the memorv and not to the living presence.
One need live in the city of (ialvcston but a short time
in order to appreciate, as did tlie writer a few years ago
with what peculiar inllection of admiration and respect
the name of Walter Gresham is spoken by associates and
citizens of every class. His has been a career m which
disinterested labor in behalf of a community and civic
patriotism has dominated over all private interests and
individual successes. He is a lawyer by profession, an
able one, at that, but only comparatively few who know
him think of his professional attainments; rather is he
the booster of all the big things which represent a prac-
tical realization of Galveston's ideals Mr. Gresham has
lived in Galveston since the close of the Civi war, in
which he served with the efficiency of a good soldier, and
Cis as keenly and vi,nv„nslv n „,an of the present and
modern spirit as the \ciiniurvi ■ m/cn. i ,„ :„

A Virginian by bmli. W:,!,,, .;,esham "'as bo;" ^"
-irC„ ,„l rinppn comitv .lulv 'JL!, 1.S41, a son of Edward
fnfilt Mann) Grosliam. His father, who was ed^
ucated for the law but never practiced, owned a large
vTrginia plantation and devoted his time to its opera-
tion On that old plantation, and with the surroundings
and atmosphere of the old-time Virginia societies, Walter
Gresham grew up and received his early education m pri-
vate schools. Still pursuing his studies when the war
broke out in 1861, he went into the Confederate service.
While recuperating from illness and wounds i^eceived m
his firs' campaign, he entered the University of Virginia
and studied 'diuing the fall of 1861. In the following
spring he returned to the army, and remained until the
sprini of 1863, when he returned to the University and
completed his law course, graduating with the degree of
L B in June, 1863. As the war was still m progress,



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 27 of 177)