Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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burst of laughter and applause, and Col. B., though
somewhat taken aback by the quaint comparison of their
respective claims to the title of 'Old Texan,' warmly
shook the hand of the old veteran and congratulated him
upon his excellent speech.

' ' On one occasion, many years ago, Colonel Smith vis-
ited a neighboring town while district court was in ses-
sion, and being, as we suspect, in a somewhat hilarious
mood, did, or omitted to do something in the presence of
the court which his Honor thought merited a fine for
contempt, and forthwith caused the clerk to enter a
very heavy fine against the Colonel, and committed him
to the custody of the sheriff until the fine be paid. The
sheriff, not anticipating that the Colonel would take
'French leave,' was a little lax in his watch, and the
Colonel, seeing a good opportunity, quietly mounted his
horse and rode away to Seguin, congratulating himself
on the easy manner in which he had for "the time
being got out of a rather bad box. Time passed on
and another term of district court was about to convene
in the same town, and Colonel Smith concluded it would
be well to go over and settle his fine, which he did in
the most remarkable way a fine was ever settled before.

"It appears that between times there had been a
change of Judge, Clerk and Sheriff. The new Judge



TEXAS AND TEXANS



was to hold his first term of court in the county and he
was totallv unknown to the sheriff and clerl< of the
court, as was also Colonel Smith. The Colonel arrived
in town and learned that the new judge had not arrived
but was expected to arrive and open court at any moment.
An idea occurred to the Colonel, and he wended his way
with much dignity to the court house. Entering the
room he was promptly addressed as 'judge' by the new
sheriff and clerk who were in attendance. Very gravely
the Colonel assumed the Judge's seat and said, 'Mr.
Sheriff, open the court. Mr. Clerk, give me the docket.'
After turning the leaves for a while he said: 'Mr. Clerk,
I observe that at the last term of court a very heavy
fine was unjustly imposed upon Col. French Smith, an
honorable and very respectable citizen of Seguin, and
I shall exercise my first judicial authority as judge of
this district in relieving Colonel Smith of the unmerited
stigma upon his character. Therefore, Mr. Clerk, you
will enter an order remitting the fine imposed upon
Colonel Smith for contempt of court at the last term of
this court, and I shall so mark it on the docket. Mr.
Sheriff, it is late, and haying traveled a long distance,
the Court is tired and needs rest and refreshment.
Please proclaim an adjournment of this court until to-
morrow morning at nine o'clock.' Which was accord-
ingly done and the crowd dispersed, remarking that
though the session was short, the new Judge graced
the bench with much dignity, and that his first official act
was one of justice to a much injured individual.

"It is said that the joke was considered so good, and
the new judge having some knowledge of the Colonel,
did, in a more regular way, remit the fine.

' ' No man ever lived in Seguin who left more pleas-
ent remembrances among his friends than did Col.
French Smith. He was known far and wide for his
openhearted generosity. No neighbor in distress ever
appealed to him in vain. We do not believe he was ever
a communicant of any church, but he occasionally at-
tended divine worship. Often we have seen him sitting
among the congregation of the faithful in the little log
church near his home, listening with grace and dignified
demeanor to the words of the preacher, and woe to
the person, old or young, who disturbed the service. At
one time he caused the Grand Jury to indict two young
men who engaged in a quarrel near the church during
services. He often entertained preachers in his home,
the only drawback to the entertainment being the neces-
sity of frequent apologies for unique swearing in the
presence of his guest. But the preachers all liked Colonel
Smith and never slighted him when money was to be
raised for religious or charitable purposes."

' ' Colonel Smith was of the same type as Wash Jones
and Phil Claiborne. He had the mannerisms of a by-
gone age. His dress and manner reminded one of the
days of Clay and Webster and Calhoun. He had a mag-
nificent face and head and his face in profile looked as
though it might have served as a model for a Greek
cameo. ' '

It is not possible, with the space available, to quote
further from the article from which the above is culled,
but enough has been written to indicate something of
the bluff frankness of the old pioneer, and to show in a
measure what his life was in Texas and in what ways
he was endeared to the people of his time. He lies buried
within the limits of Seguin, on the bluff of the Guada-
lupe, along whose banks his feet wandered eighty years
ago, when the great state of Texas was not yet a part
of our domain, and was just emerging into independence
from her Mexican bondage.

Guy French Smith, the son of Colonel French Smith
and the father of Judge Garland Smith of- this review,
was born on the old homestead in Guadalupe county, and
in 1884 he took his family from his native county into
Uvalde count.y, in southwest Texas. He located" on a
. ranch in that county on the line where it joins Zevalla
county. There he was engaged in farming and stock rais-



ing for a number of years, but in 1896 he moved his
home to east Texas in Jasper county, where his death
occurred on March 30, 1906. Mrs. Mary J. (Johnston)
Smith is still living.

Garland Smith attended school at Uvalde and after
coming to Jasper county at the age of fourteen entered
the high school in Jasper. He took up the study of law
at Jasper and in January, 1905, at the age of twenty-
three, was admitted to the bar. During 1907-08 Judge
Smith served as county attorney, and in 1912 was worth-
ily honored by the people of the county in his election
to the office of county judge for a term of two years.
It tli::- , ,i:i , - :il ..lit that the grandson of Colonel French
Sin. : '! li.es his place on the bench as the duly

ar.i. ; :_ ..f the district, with the authority to

reimt :. li'.. , -I. ..111.] he feel so disposed, and none to dis-
pute his ruling.

Besides his official duties. Judge Smith conducts a
large law practice in the higher courts, and is a capable
and efficient lawyer, and splendid type of the young
public-spirited citizen. Judge Smith married Miss Jessie
Swann, a native of Sabine county, and they have one
daughter — Miss Garland Smith.

Hon. John E. McGee. The oldest established lawyer
of Lubbock is John E. MeGee. He has been identified
with the Texas bar for more than twenty years, and
about thirteen years ago located in Lubbock. The career
of Mr. McGee contains many chapters of instructive ex-
perience. Left an entire orphan when but five years
of age he had to make his way as only a poor orphan
boy can. The Civil War came on about three years after
the death of his mother, his father having died in the
second year of his age, and under the prevailing con-
ditions "during the war and for several years thereafter
afforded him rather meager opportunities for obtaining
an education. He attended probably half a dozen terms
of the country schools of those times and this was the
extent of his schooling. Having a thirst for knowledge
he formed the habit of reading good books in his young
manhood and has been a close student all his life. He
purchased the school text books after he was a grown
man and took a curriculum course in them with himself
as teacher. Being dependent on his own efforts for a
means of support he did w^hatever his hands found to
do in honorable pursuits. In 1.S75 he accepted a posi-
tion as clerk in a general mercantile store at a salary
of ten dollars per month with board and lodging fur-
nished. From this small beginning he eventually be-
came one of the leading merchants of Brady, Texas,
but being ambitious for a learned profession put in most
of his spare moments in close study until the year 1891
when he gave up the mercantile business and took up
the law. Bead law in the office of Walter Anderson,
one of the leading attorneys of Brady, until 1S93 when
he was granted temporary license and the following year
admitted to practice in all the courts of the state. John
Ealph McGee, the subject of this sketch, was born
April 25th, 1853, in Polk County, Texas, three miles
west of Patrick's Ferry on the Trinity Eiver. His
father was a neighbor of Governor George T. Wood,
second governor of Texas after it became a State, who
lived in the same locality. Mr. McGee says that he has
a more vivid recollection of Gov. Wood's pet bear than
of the Governor. On the paternal side the ancestry was
Scotch-Irish and on the maternal side Welsh. His
grandfather, Ealph McGee, came to Texas in 183-1 and
first settled on the west bank of the Trinity Eiver near
what is now known as Point Blank in San Jacinto
County and later moved to Moscow in Polk County.
His grandfather. Isaac Jones, came to Texas in 1832
and settled on the west bank of the Trinity Eiver in
what is now the northern portion of San Jacinto County.
Grandfather McGee was born in Alabama in 1795, and
Grandfather Jones was 'born in North Carolina in 1793,
and thev lived neighbors after coming to Texas. Grand-



1742



TEXAS AND TEXANS



father McGee died in 1856 and Grandfather Jones died
in 1876.

Mr. McGee 's parents were Absolom and Melissa
(Jones) McGee. They were married in 1849 and lived
happily together until 1855 when his father died and
in 1858 his mother died. There were two sons born of
this union, Henry and John, the latter being the sub-
ject of this sketch. Henry died in early childhood.
Absolom McGee and his wife spent their married life on
a. two hundred acre tract of land presented to the latter
by her father, Isaac Jones, and followed the pursuit of
farming and were quite successful.

John E. McGee, after the death of his mother, lived
with his relatives in Polk County for about two years
when he was placed with Eichard Foster, first cousin,
who moved with his family to De Witt County where
they resided about four years returning to Polk County
in January, 1864. In March of this year his grana-
f ather, Jones, ' ' moved out west, ' ' taking Mr. McGee
along when he was but a lad eleven years of age,
stopping a few months in Williamson County; thence
they moved to Hays County where they lived nearly
four years. • Running away from his grandfather In
the spring of 1865 he spent the balance of his stay in
Hays county with distant relatives of his father and
strangers. In 1868 he went to live with an uncle,
W. W. Jones, at Fort Mason in Mason County where he
spent ten years of his life. During eight years of that
time the wild Indians made frequent depredations in
Mason and adjoining counties stealing horses and often
killing and scalping the settlers. He had some of the
exciting experiences of frontier life during that period —
going after and frequently running from the Indians.
Served four months as a Texas Sanger under Capt. James
M. Hunter in 1870.

In 1878 Mr. David Doole, a merchant of Mason, es-
tablished a branch store at Brady, Texas, and sent Mr.
McGee there in charge of that business. In 1882 he
purchased Mr. Doole 's interest in that store and con-
tinued the business until 1891 when he sold his mercan-
tile interests and turned his attention to the law. He
continued to reside in Brady until 1901 when he re-
moved to Lubbock where he now resides.

At Mason, Texas, on June 18th, 1879, he was mar-
ried to Miss Cassie Davis, who was born in Llano county,
a daughter of Ben. F. Davis, an old settler of that
county. Their four children are named as follows: G.
E. McGee, a prosperous druggist of Dalhart; Ethel, de-
ceased, who was the wife of H. B. Earnest, her death
occurring March 9th, 1908, at Lubbock; Hattie, wife of
C. O. Collins, a traveling salesman, and Phillip, who
died in infancy.

Mr. McGee has made some advancement in Masonic
circles. He was made a master mason in MeCulIoch
Lodge No. 273, A. P. & A. M., at Mason, in December,
1880; was a charter member of Brady Lodge No. 628;
his chapter degrees were conferred in Lubbock Chapter
No. 248, E. A. M., in 1904; has taken the Cryptic de-
grees in the Council; he is afiSliated with Lubbock Com-
mandery No. 60 of the Knights Templar, having been
dubbed a Knight Templar in Plainview Commandery
No. 53 in 1909; served five years as district deputy
grand master of the ninety -third Masonic district; Mr.
McGee is an elder in the Christian Church.

He is a Democrat in polities and served several
years as county chairman in McCulloch county. In
1878 he was elected county treasurer of McCulloch
county and filled that office for nine terms, eighteen
consecutive years. In 1906 he was elected county judge
of Lubbock county and served in that oiBce three terms,
six years.

William T. Mowdy, D. D. S., M. D. Known as a
specially able representative of a vocation that is to be
considered both as a profession and a mechanic art.
Dr. Mowdy is engaged in successful practice in the city



of Cameron Milam county, and his large and important
protessional business denotes the popular estimate placed
upon him as a man and as a skilled practitioner of both
operative and laboratory dentistry. He has not only
been most successful in the work of his profession but
has shown also great circumspection in connection with
capitalistic investments and business affairs, the while
he stands exponent of loyal and liberal citizenship as
one of the progressive men of Milam county and its fine
capital city or county seat.

,, °^\,^°7'Jy y;=is born in Perry county, Alabama, on
the 5th of April, 18o8, and of the same county his par-
ents likewise were natives, his father, William Mowdy,
having been born on the 20th of November, 1823, and
his mother, Mrs. Melinda (Laginer) Mowdy, having
there been born on the 28th of October, 1826". William
Mowdy came with his family to Te.xas in 1868, passing
the first year in Panola county and then removing t%
Milam county, where he passed the residue of his life the
greater part of his active career having been devoted to
the basic industry of agriculture, in connection with
which he achieved definite success. He was one of the
honored pioneer citizens of Milam county at the time
of his death, which occurred February 9, 1900, and his
wife survived him by about six years, her death occur-
ring in 1907. They became the parents of nine chU-
dren— Nancy E., Melinda E., Margaret F., John G
William T., Mary A., Allen W., Martin, and one who
died m infancy.

Dr. Mowdy attended school in his native county, in
Alabama, until he was ten years of age and he then
accompanied his parents on their removal to Texas. He
continued his scholastic discipline in the public schools
of Milam county and in pursuance of higher training
he then entered the University of Tennessee, in the de-
partment of dentistry of which institution he was grad-
uated in 1888, with the degree of Doctor of Dental
Surgery. For the purpose of fortifying himself further
for his chosen profession he completed also a course in
the medical department of his alma mater, the Univer-
sity of Tennessee, from which he received the degree of
Doctor of Medicine in 1890. He has given his attention
principally to the practice of dentistry and has kept in
touch with all advances made in its scientific and me-
chanical phases. As a student in the university he had
the distinction of winning a handsome gold medal,
valued at fifty dollars, this having been the Founder's
medal, awarded for the best evidence of proficiency on
all subjects. He has also another medal, valued at
twenty-five dollars, this being awarded him for making
the best record of his class in his first course in the
dental department of the university.

After his graduation Dr. Mowdy was engaged in the
practice of dentistry in Hays county, Texas, for eight
months. He then, "on the 10th of May, 1890, estab-
lished his residence at Cameron, Milam county, where
he has since continued in the successful practice of hii
profession and where he has gained recognition as one
of the representative dental surgeons of Texas. The
Doctor is a stockholder and director of the Texas Fidel-
ity Bonding Company, of Waco, also the Peerless Fire
Insurance Company; he was formerly vice-president of,
the Gaston-Sprinkle Mercantile Company, of Cameron,
with which he continued to be thus identified from 1901
until his retirement, in 1908; he is the owner of 400
acres of improved farming land in MUam county, 5,500
acres of coal and timber land in Tennessee, and 96S
acres of oil and agricultural land in Mexico, and alsi
has real estate property in Long Island, New York,
His residence in Cameron is one of the most attractive
in the city, even as it is one of the most hospitable of
homes. He' and his wife are members of the Christiai
church in Cameron and he is affiliated with the loca
lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

On the 8th of October, 1881, Dr. Mowdy wedded Misi
Josephine Parker, daughter of William S. Parker, of



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1743



Milam county, and she died in 1SS4, as did also their
only child, Charles W. On the 2ljth of February, 1S90,
was solemnized the marriage of the Doctor to Miss
Adelia Barnes, daughter of Dr. William C. Barnes. Of
this union were born four children, of whom three are
living— Charles W., Bettie M., and Thomas J. Susan
A., the third child, died in infancy.

HakVey L. Eix. The merchandising and business en-
terprise of Big Spring has no larger and more pros-
perous establishment than that of the Eix Furniture &
Undertaking Company. The members of the Rix fam-
ily connected with this company have shown themselves
to be business builders of remarkable ability, and have
not only established a large concern, but have carried
it through all the preliminary difficulties to permanent
prosperity. The business supplies furniture, house fur-
nishings, musical instruments of all kinds, and prac-
tically everything that goes into a home from cellar to
garret as permanent furnishings, and a separate branch
of the business offers the most complete undertaking
service and equipment to be found in all this part of
Texas.

Harvey L. Eix, the active head of the business, was
born in Cedar Creek, Wisconsin, on January 30, 1880.
His ancestry is full blooded American, the first mem-
bers of the family having come from England in 1645,
and through the many generations have furnished men
of prominence in affairs and business. The parents of
Mr. Harvey L. Eix are Barnett and Eliza M. Eix, of
Washington county, Wisconsin. His father was engaged
as a farmer in that county before coming to Texas, and
he brought his family to this state in 1887, first locating
at Colorado in Mitchell county, and in 1890 came to
Big Spring. While in Mitchell county he was engagea
in stock raising and on coming to Big Spring opened
a stock of hardware, which in 1896 he sold and then
in 1905 joined his son Harvey in the furniture and un-
dertaking business.

In 1910 the business was incorporated under the name
of the Eix Furniture & Undertaking Company with a
capital stock of $20,000. The stock of goods carried by
the firm values at from eighteen thousand to twenty
thousand dollars, and three buildings are occupied with
the stock and the display rooms, besides the barns and
other houses for the horses, hearses, vehicles and other
equipment. One of the buildings was constructed es-
pecially for undertaking, and all the goods of that class
are kept in that special building. Among other features
of its equipment it contains a reception hall and chapel
and morgue, and as undertakers the Eix Brothers con-
trol nearly all the business for a distance of one hun-
dred miles about Big Spring. Both Harvey L. and his
brother J. A. Eix are licensed embalmers.

Mr. Harvey L. Eix received his early education in the
public schools and subsequently attended the Metropoli-
tan Business College at Dallas, where he was graduated
August 28, 1896. In politics he has always voted the
Democratic ticket, and fraternally is affiliated with the
Woodmen of the World, and the Modern Order of fre-
torians. His church is the Methodist South. On June '
15, 1904, he married Bertha Deats of Big Spring,
daughter of L. T. and Elizabeth Deats. Her father
is now mayor of Big Spring and a well known financier,
being vice president of the First State Bank of the city.
Mr. Eix and wife have five children, three sons and two
daughters, whose names are Ealph W., Lewis E., Paul
A., Elizabeth Maywood and Lorena Lueile, whose ages
range from eight to two years.

Greenleap L. Brown. The live stock industry and
general business interests of West Texas have had no
more capable nor more successful representative during
the past thirty years than Greenleaf L. Brown, now and
for many years a resident of Big Spring. Mr. Brown
is the owner of thousands of acres of this west Texas



county, and has his herds scattered over country which
is almost an empire in extent. He is a banker, and
having had his ranch headquarters in the vicinity of
Big Spring before the building of the railroad and the
founding of the town, his interest has always been de-
voted to the progress of this locality and he has prob-
ably done as much as any other individual citizen for
the advancement and welfare of the community.

Greenleaf L. Brown represents a family which has
been prominent in Texas since the time of the Eepublic,
and Brown county, where Mr. Brown was born, at
Brownwood, on February 2, 1861, was named in honor
of this family. His parents were WOliam Franklin
and Elizabeth (Gilliland) Brown, both of whom were
born at Atlanta, Georgia. William F. Brown, now one
of the most venerable old residents of Texas, was mar-
ried first in the 'thirties and his wife, the mother of our
subject, died when her son was about eight years old.
The father married again at Atlanta, and in 1867
brought his bride in a wagon drawn by ox teams the en-
tire distance from Georgia to San Augustine county,
Texas. The first born children, Martha and John, came
with them. Subsequently he moved into the Brazos
Valley, and finally in 1857 located permanently in Brown
county, where he still resides retired in peace and com-
fort at the age of ninety-three years. He is a hale and
hearty man for all his varied experiences and career
and usefulness. He has one sister, Eliza Gilham, who
resides at his home and is eighty-eight years of age.
The wife of William E. Brown died in 1872, and he sub-
sequently married Miss Talitha Harris, who died Decem-
ber 5, 1912, at the age of eighty-seven. William F.
Brown served in the Indian wars of Georgia and Ala-
bama during the campaigns of the 'thirties which finally
subdued the native tribe in the southeastern state. When
he was seventy-five years of age, his application for a
pension in reward of these Indian war services was
finally approved and he received $1,100.00 in back pay
and is now enrolled on the regular pension list. He is
probably one of the oldest Indian fighters in the United
States and his services are receiving only a just recog-
nition, belated though it is, from the national govern-
ment.

Farming and stock raising were his regular pursuit
until he retired. In the early days he frequently took
herds of cattle from Brown county across the country
to Shrevesport, La. A successful business man he was
always high in the esteem of his community, and was
honored with various county offices. His " politics is
the old school Democracy. William E. Brown was the
father of twelve children and four are now living. W.
H. Brown, his oldest son, was killed in western "Texas
by the Comanche Indians in 1875. John P. Brown, the
oldest living son, is a retired farmer in Brownwood;
Missouri is the wife of Eev. W. D. G. Anderson, a Bap-
tist minister in Comanche county; G. L. Brown is the
next in age of the living children and Emma is the
wife of Samuel Tipton of Brown county.

Mr. G. L. Brown received his education in the pub-
lic schools of Brown county, and left school when
seventeen years of age. His earliest associations were
with ranch life, and he was a cowboy almost as soon as
he would ride a horse. He went out to Mitchell county,
after leaving school, and worked as a cowboy in that
county for ten years. Saving his earnings he finally
began m the cattle raising business on his own account.



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 48 of 177)