Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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years of age at the time of the family removal to Texas
and he was reared to maturity in the county where he
still has his home. He attended the pioneer schools in
Kaufman county.

Mr. Lewis was liylitemi years of age at the time of
the inceptiiiii of tin' (iiil War. and he promptly mani-
fested his liivaliy tn tlie Confederacy by enlisting as a
private in ('iiiii|,aiiy A, Sixth Texas Cavalry, commanded
by Colonel Sullivan Eoss. He took part in the battle
of Elkhorn, Arkansas, and thereafter accompanied his
command when its crossed the Mississippi river and went
to the aid of Beauregard 's army, at Corinth, Mississippi.
He took part in the engagement at that point and also
in the military operations incidental to the closing of
the Vicksburg campaign, after which his regiment be-
came a part of the Army of Tennessee, under General
Joseph E. Johnstone, and took part in the Atlanta cam-
paign, after which the Sixth Texas Cavalry accompanied
General Hood's forces back to Tennessee. There Mr.
Lewis took part in the battles of Franklin and Nash-
ville, and in the engagement at Aiitlioii\ 's Hill he was
shot in the left breast, the missile |i.iieti atina^ just
above his heart. On the retreat fnnn Nashville he was
taken prisoner for a second time, his first capture having
been in connection with the Holly Spring raid, in Mis-
sissippi, from which state he was taken as a prisoner of
war to Camp Douglas, in the city of Chicago. He was
released on parole and his exchange was soon afterward
effected, at City Point, Virginia. He rejoined his regi-
ment in Mississippi and thence went forth as a partici-
pant in the Atlanta campaign. After his second capture
he was soon released, this action being taken by his
captors when they discovered the serious nature of his


wound. He finally made liis way to the home of his
uncle, Abraham S. Nail, in Mississippi, where he recu-
perated and where he remained several months after the
close of the war. He arrived at his home, in Kaufman
county, Texas, in September, 1865.

Mr. Lewis' first occupation after the close of his
military career was in the gathering of seed for hedges,
and this product he sold to northern hedge-growers at
a good price. By this means he acquired his first cash
capital. He then obtained employment on the Daugh-
erty stock ranch, in Kaufman county, and for two years
he represented this extensive ranch in the marketing of
cattle at Shreveport and Jefferson. He then engaged
in agricultural pursuits, on a small tract of laud near
Forney, and to this line of enterprise he continued to
give his attention until 1880, when he established him-
self in the general merchandise business at Forney. He
became one of the most successful and popular merchants
of this part of Kaufman county and long controlled a
substantial and representative trade. He continued his
mercantile business until 1910, when he sold the same,
and he has since lived virtually retired, though he finds
ample demands upon his time and attention in the gen-
eral supervision of his fine landed estate, lying adjacent
to Forney. He here owns a tract of more than six
hundred acres, and the practical work of the place is
given over to desirable tenants. Mr. Lewis has made
the best of improvements upon his estate and has made
the same one of the model places of the northeastern
part of Texas. In 1910 he erected his handsome resi-
dence, which is of the bungalow type, with spacious
rooms and wide galleries encircling the building, and
this ideal home is known as a center of gracious but
unostentatious hospitality.

Mr. Lewis has not only achieved distinctive success
through the medium of his own ability and well directed
efforts, but he has also shown marked civic loyalty and
public spirit. He has been prominently identified with
the upbuUding of the town of Forney, where he has
erected a number of business buUdings, which he still
owns, as does he also other local realty upon which he
has made excellent improvements. He is a director of
the cotton-oil company at Forney, which owns the light
and ice plants in this village, and is also a stockholder
of the Farmers ' National Bank. Mr. Lewis has inviolable
place in the confidence and esteem of the community
that has long represented his home, has served as a
member of the board of aldermen of Forney, and from
1878 to 1884 he held the office of county commissioner,
the county court house having been completed and
furnished within the period of his service as a member
of the board of commissioners. He has ever been ready
to lend his co-operation in the furtherance of measures
and enterprises projected for the general good of the
community, and in politics he is aligned as an uncom-
promising supporter of the cause of the Democratic
party. He is one of the substantial capitalists of Kauf-
man county, is a representative citizen of this part of
the state, is genial, sincere and kindly in his associa-
tion with his fellow men, and he has reason to be well
satisfied with the results of his many years of earnest
endeavor, as well as with the gracious conditions that
compass him now that he is permitted to enjoy the
rewards of worthy and productive effort.

In 1867 Mr. Lewis wedded Miss Leona Dunnica, who
was born in Cherokee county, this state, in 1850, and
who is a daughter of the late John Dunnica, an honored
Texas pioneer who came to this state from Kentucky
during the Eepublic of Texas. In conclusion of this
sketch is entered brief record concerning the children
of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis: Edward C, who died in Kauf-
man county, married Miss Sallie Kelley, who survives
him, as do also two children — Emma, who is the wife
of M. G. Vernon, of Strawn, Palo Pinto county, and
Jennie, who is the wife of Wallace E. Jones, of Forney.
Frank, who is a representative business man of Forney,

wedded Miss Elizabeth Dice. Miss Kate Lewis remains
at the parental home. Jessie is the wife of Madison
Brooks, who is engaged in the insurance business in
Forney and who is a member of the board of county
commissioners at the time of this writing, in 1914.
John A., who is a prosperous farmer in Van Zandt
county, married Miss Lillian Pendleton. Frederick M.,
who is engaged in the insurance business at Forney and
who was graduated in the law department of Cumber-
land University, at Lebanon, Tennessee, married Miss
Laura Foster.

George J. Cook. The only proper way to measure
success in life is to estimate the obstacles overcome.
Measured by these standards, there are few more suc-
cessful men in Texas than George J. Cook, of Eustace.
Some of the details, of his business career to be set
down in a later paragraph, illustrate how men may
often gain an exceptional success at a vocation for which
they have absolutely no previous training, and in which
apparently all the probabilities are against them.

The Cook family have been residents of Texas for
many years, and was founded in this state by Joab Cook
a Hardshell Baptist preacher in Eusk County. He sub-
sequently moved further to Henderson, where he was
also a pioneer, and died in Athens before the Civil war.
He was the father of twenty-two children by two wives.
Several of the children of his first marriage died before
maturity, and the others are mentioned as follows:
Thomas, who died in Henderson county, leaving a familv;
George, who also left a family at his death; John, who
died in Texas with a faniUy; Francis M., mentioned in
the following paragraphs; Becky, who married James
Simmons, and died in Navarro county, Texas; Hettie,
twin sister of Becky, who married Dr. Glover, and is
now deceased; EmUy, who married a Crosby, and died
in Nacogdoches. By the second wife of Joab Cook, the
following children were born: Benjamin, who died in
Hill county, Texas, left a family there; Stephen, who
has his home in Nacogdoches county; Joseph, who died
and left a family; Margaret, wife of William Box of
Henderson county; Cumile, who died the wife of Mr.
Jess Davis in Henderson county; and Hannah, who
married Amos Etheridge and resides in Navarro county.

Francis M. Cook was born in 1831. The circumstances
of his childhood and youth prevented his getting even
the first elements of book learning. He went through
life without knowing the letters of the alphabet or being
able to write his name. Notwithstanding that handicap
he competed successfully with his fellow men, and at
his death, November 21st, 1910, left a good estate. He
was very sagacious in the barter and exchange of com-
modities, and by close attention to details gained a
generous prosperity. He brought under cultivation some
two hundred acres of land in the vicinity of Eustace.
He was a. staunch Democrat and stood for righteousness
in business as well as in society. Because of physical
weakness he was unable to carry a musket during the
war, but he was loyal to the Confederacy and did some
important work within the boundaries of the state. He
never missed an election and voted the Democratic ticket
from early manhood until late in life. Francis M. Cook
married Miss Catherine Star, a daughter of John Starr,
who came from Illinois to Texas, Jlrs. Cook having been
born in the former state in 1839. The Starr family
moved to Texas in 1S43 and settled in Cherokee county.
Francis M. Cook and wife had the following chUdren:
Thomas, who died in childhood; Jane, who married F.
M. Leach, and resides in Henderson county; Catherine,
who died in infancy; Ellen, who married John A, Owen,
and lives in Henderson county; M, W., whose home is in
Navarro county; Henrietta, who married James E.
Rogers of Henderson county; John, whose home is in
Navarro eountv; George J., of Eustace; Robert, who
died in childhood; Albert J., of Eustace: Cora, wife of
E. S. Carpenter, of Jones county, Texas; Edward, also



in Jones county; Edgar, a twin of Edward, who died as
a child; Emily Ann, who died in infancy, and Jesse C,
whose home is in Jones County.

It was in Tarrant county that George J. Cook was
born January 18, 1867. His home and business activities
have been centered about Eustace all his career. When
a boy he started in to bear the share of the family
burdens, and he did so much work on the home place
that he had practically no time to attend school, and his
education gave him only the ability to spell out the
words and read very slowly and stumblingly, to work
the four general rules of arithmetic, and display a very
poor hand at penmanship. He had never written a
letter when he started out as a merchant, yet in spite
of those adverse conditions he has made a useful citizen
and a financial success in life. Mr. Cook remained with
his parents until he was twenty-two years of age, at
which time he began farming for himself, and by four
crops gained a capital of five hundred dollars. At
Payne Springs, he established a store with a stock of
goods valued at one hundred and fifty-three dollars. The
bills submitted to him by the wholesale house showing
cost of articles and indicating prices for selling were
as so much Greek to him. For a time he sold goods at
half what they cost him or double the amount, as the
case happened to be. He worked over his bills, made a
study of his business like a child learning his letters,
and mastered the situation after great mental strain
and much embarrassment in correspondence. He knew
nothing of literary composition, spelled poorly, and his
capitalization was in hit or miss fashion. Persistency
and hard work will conquer many difiiculties. At first
his business little more than paid its way, and he helped
out by chopping cotton and pulling fodder while watch-
ing his store and training himself for merchandising.
At the end of ten years he had gained a success prob-
ably much above his original expectations, and he sold
out his stock of goods at five thousand dollars, that
amount representing his net earnings during his ten
years. In 1903, Mr. Cook moved to Eustace, and estab-
lished a store there. He was a member of the firm of
Cook & Campbell, whose establishment at the end of one
year burned out with a net loss of sis thousand dollars.
With the insurance money of three thousand dollars the
firm resumed business and after several months Mr. Cook
purchased the interests of his partner, and continued
alone for six years. Nearly twenty years of close atten-
tion to business had proved a severe strain upon his
energies, and he then sold out and retired from general
merchandising. In order to get more of outdoor employ-
ment, in November, 1912, he bought the lumber busi-
ness of his father-in-law, the enterprise which he still
has. Mr. Cook's net capital when he began business has
already been stated. His preparation for a commercial
life has been briefly suggested, and something of the suc-
cess he has attained may be inferred from the sub-
stantial interest he now owns in Eustace. He built one
of the best pressed-brick stores in Eustace, has a home
ample for the comforts of his family, and also consider-
able property besides the stock of his lumber yards.
He is vice-president and a director of the state bank of

On December 11, 1910, Mr. Cook married Miss Lillie
Melton, a daughter of Joab Melton, who was born on
the site of the old brick hotel in Athens, Texas, in 18.56,
a son of Josiah Melton, who came to Texas as a young
man and settled in Henderson county. Through several
generations the Melton family have been prominent in
Texas, but the record does not extend back beyond
Josiah Melton, who was an orphan. .losiah married in
Henderson county. Miss Emeline McMannus, a daugh-
ter of Joab McMannus, a pioneer Jlissouri settler, who
lived for a number of years near Athens, and who died
in 1906, at the age of eighty-seven. Joab McMannus
married Eebecca Eads, and their children were Emeline
and Mary, the latter the wife of John T. Paschal of

Murchison, Texas. Josiah Melton moved to a farm
ten miles north of Athens, soon after the biith of his son
Joab, and died there in 1859. His widow subsequently
married Hamp Phillips, and had children as follows:
Thomas, Elijah, Ehoda, wife of O. T. Jeter, and Jacob,
all of Henderson county. The children of Josiah Mel-
ton were: Leonidas, who died a few years ago at
Shrevesport, Louisiana, Joab, and John — both the latter
of Oklahoma.

Joab Melton grew up on the farm where his mother
now lives and continued farming until he reached his
majority, in the meantime getting a country school edu-
cation, with also two or three years of training in the
Goshen school, which was then an educational center of
much importance. He began clerking at Goshen, and
subsequently got into store keeping for himself. After
twenty years he moved to Eustace in 1900, and estab-
lished the lumber business which was conducted with .
much success by him untU it was sold to Mr. Cook, in'
November, 1912. Among other interests, Joab Melton
has been identified with farm development and increased
the material resources of Eustace by the erection of a
good home, and in other ways. He served as president
of the school board at the time the new school house
was erected, and had active control of the work as
superintendent. He is an elder in the Christian church,
and a Democrat in politics. Joab Melton was married
November 9, 1885, to Miss Nannie Whatlev, of Bell
county, Texas, and a daughter of William Whatley, a
farmer from east Texas. The Melton children are:
Lottie, now Mrs. Cook; and Clara, wife of Simmons
McLaughlin, of Eustiee, the McLaughlin children being
Bueford and Gladys.

To the marriage of George J. Cook and Miss Lillie
Melton were born the following children: Lillian Euth
and Oscar Branch.

William H. Lease. Official honors were never be-
stowed more fittingly than on William H. Lease, present
county and district clerk for Brewster county, with resi-
dence in Alpine. Mr. Lease has spent more than twenty-
five years in western Texas, and is a product of the old
cattle range, and the activities which preceded the pres-
ent era of modern stock farming. He was thrown on his
own responsibilities when but a child, and began riding
the range when he had difficulty in reaching up to the
pommel of his broncho saddle. He learned the cattle
industry in all of its . details, and this practical and
diversified experience was the foundation of the pros-
perity which he won for himself. For many years he
has been in the cattle business on his own account, and
now owns a splendid ranch in Brewster county.

William H. Lease was born in Edwards county, Texas,
August 7, 1868. When he was three years of age his '
father died, and the mother had passed away somewhat
sooner, so that he was reared in the family of a step-
mother. Such education as he attained was from the
country schools at limited periods of attendance, and
when he was thirteen years old he began the battle of
life on his own account. He took a position with the
firm of Hurd, Finley & Kerr at Uvalde, and was quickly
initiated into all the activities of the cattle range. He
began at a salary of $20.00 per month, and continued
working at a salary in different parts of the state until
1886. He then came out to Brewster eountv, where he
accumulated a little herd of cattle, and during the next
dozen years or so was energetically engaged in building
up a ranch enterprise of his own. He has long since been
numbered among the prosperous cattlemen of Brewster
county, and his ranch in this county, located about fifty
miles from Alpine, is a valuable property, and is stiU
carried on under his non-resident management.

Mr. Lease has one brother and one sister in Texas.
Mrs. Mary Kelso is a resident of Sabinal, where her hus-
band is engaged in business; and Thomas M. is unmar-
ried and is a rancher in Presidio county. At Alpine, on



November 13, 1898, Mr. Lease married Miss Mollie Shoe-
make, whose father, James Shoemake, was a former
resident of LaSalle county, this state. Mr. and Mrs.
Lease are the parents of seven children, five sons and
two daughters whose names are William A., Gladys,
Mamie, Thomas il., Clarence A., Henry 0., and Norma A.
The family worship in the Baptist church, and Mrs. Lease
is a member of the Ladies Aid Society of that church.
Fraternally Mr. Lease is affiliated with the Knights of
Pythias and the Woodmen of the World, the Independ-
ent Order of Odd Fellows and the Pretorians. As a good
citizen of his community he is an interested member of
the Alpine Commercial Club and also belongs to the
social club known as the Mountaineers. It was on the
Democratic ticket that he was elected to his present
ofEce as county and district clerk, but his popularity as
a citizen and well known standing in the community
were sufficient of themselves to have been honored with
such an office. As an old cattleman, he still finds his
greatest pleasure in riding out over the country on a
good horse and among his cattle. He is particularly fond
of a good speech or lecture, and says that he enjoys hear-
ing a smart man talk no matter on what subject he
may choose.

Judge Garland Smith. The public administration of
Jasper county affairs is in excellent hands, under the
direction of Judge Garland Smith, now serving his first
term as county judge. Judge Smith is a lawyer by
profession, and represents the fourth generation . of a
family which has been identified with Texas since the year
of the Revolution.

Judge Smith was born in Gaudalupe county, Texas,
in 1882. His parents were Guy French and Mary J.
(Johnston) Smith, and his paternal grandsire was French
Smith, a native of Virginia and a Texas pioneer who
located in this state in 1836, the year in which the bat-
tle of San Jacinto was fought, and in which the Texas
Eepublic was established. He located in Gaudalupe
county, at a place twelve miles from Seguin and four
miles from Belmont, and there he long was resident. One
of his daughters, Mrs. Dowdy, still resides on that old
farm. French Smith saw service as a soldier in the
Mexican war, enlisting from Texas, and was active in
much of the strenuous life of early Texas, as many wUl
be found to testify. He was a man of unique and in
many ways pleasing characteristics, and much has been
written and said of him in Texas publications. An ar-
ticle, especially happy in its portrayal of the character
of the pioneer Texan, was published in a Seguin paper
in 1900, under the caption of "In Old Seguin" and
under the initials " S. S. P. " This article so faithfully
portrays the Colonel in his many little oddities and at the
same time depicts his bigness of character, that generous
quotation is here made verbatim from the sketch, with
due credit accorded to the author, " S. S. P. " The ar-
ticle follows in part : ' ' Associated with our recollections
is the tall form and classic features of Col. French
Smith, who was one among the earliest settlers in Seguin
— in fact, one of the original shareholders of the town.
A Virginian by birth, a gentleman by nature, a man of
many oddities, a citizen of many virtues, a man whose
mouth was full of strange oaths but whose heart was
full of human kindness — such was French Smith.

"Colonel Smith was one of several brothers. Peter,
Paris and Anderson are the names of the brothers now
remembered by the writer. They came to Texas in an
early day and all saw more or less service in the military
organizations of the infant republic. French Smith
as a soldier was, as in everything else, a remarkable
and distinctive character. Though ever ready to go
forth to combat in defense of his country and in de-
fense of the scattered families of the settlers,' he was
never a member of an organized company in Texas. He
was a free lance; he sought no leadership himself, but
he acknowledged no leadership in any other man as far

as he personally was concerned. He merely asked the
privilege of fighting if fighting was to be done. His
name was found upon no other muster roll. Were he
alive today he could not be placed upon the pension roU
of veterans of the Mexican war, yet he participated in
many bloody battles with the Mexicans and Indians.

"He claimed on all occasions that he had been in
Texas since 'the year one,' and he disliked exceedingly
to hear a man styled 'an old Texan' who had only
been in Texas twenty-five or thirty years. We remem-
ber on one occasion we attended a Democratic barbecue
near the mouth of Mill Creek. It was a presidential
election year and there were numerous speakers pres-
ent. One of them, one of the most gifted orators the
county ever possessed, had closed one of his character-
istic speeches in which he more than once had alluded
to the fact that he was an old Texan, and had lived
in Texas twenty-four years. Colonel Smith had not
spoken, and with the close of Judge B. 's address, there
came calls of 'Colonel Smith! Colonel Smith! A
speech ! ' Slowly the giant form of the old man mounted
the rostrum and for a moment his keen blue eyes scanned
the vast audience before him. After a few preliminary
remarks the speaker launched into one of the most
stirring appeals to the people to stand by the Democracy
that it was ever our fortune to hear. His speech was
an appeal to the friends of good government, denuncia-
tion of the part_v in power, a quaint medley of persua-
sive eloquence, savage denunciation, pathos, wit, humor
and anecdote. He alluded to the long years he had spent
in devotion to the service of his adopted state, Texas, on
the battlefield and otherwise, and that he, in truth, was
entitled to call himself an ' old Texan. ' Turning to
Colonel B., who sat near by. Colonel Smith with ridicule
in every twinkle of his eye and feature of his face, con-
tinued: 'My dear friend. Colonel B., has been pleased
during the course of his remarks, to call himself an ' ' old
Texan," and to announce to you the fact that he has
lived in Texas twenty-four years. Why, fellow citizens,
when Colonel B. can say that he has lived in Texas
half as long as French Smith, then he can begin to
call himself an ' ' old Texan. ' ' Seguin is now a thriving
town and was a thriving town when Colonel B. first saw
Texas. Yet, fellow citizens, old French Smith slept with
his saddle under his head in what is now the putlic
square of Seguin when this country was a howling wilder-
ness; he has met and fought the wild Comanche Indian
in his mountain fastnesses and picked the bones of the
buffalo on these western prairies when Colonel B. was
a sucking babe. '

"The speaker descended from the platform amidst a

Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 47 of 177)