Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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president of the local board of directors of the Sam
Houston Normal school before the merging of the
various boards. Colonel McKinney in 1875 was Grand
Master of the Texas Odd Fellows, and belongs to the
several bodies of Masonry, having membership in the
Ben Hur Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Austin. He
is an active Preslivterian, and has served his church in
various official capacities.

On September 6, 1882, Colonel McKinney married
Miss Mary L. Hill, a daughter of Col. John Hill of
San Jacinto county a pioneer Texas family, coming here
from Alabama. Mrs. McKinney died July 2, 1912.
Their children are: Miss Mary Cornelia, Samuel, John
Hill, and Andrew T., Jr.

Hon. Willi.\m Owen MtmRAT. Many years of con-
scientious public service have made the name of Senator
William Owen Murrav one of the most familiar in
public life of Texas.' Mr. Murray is now chairman
of the state prison commission, having been appointed
and taking office in September, 1913. This is an office
involving the most taxing and onerous duties, and their
performance in an intelligence and disinterested manner
is one of the highest contributions which any citizen



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1849



can render to his home state. Senator Murray suc-
ceeded Chairman Cabbell. Mr. Murray has been identi-
fied with public affairs in Texas for many years, and
came to Huntsville from Floresville, Wilson county,
where his home has been since October 20, 1880.

William Owen Murray was born in Morgan county,
Missouri, October 22, 1857, and was two years of age
when the family moved to Texas in 1859. He grew up
in Wdlson county, received a common school education
and continued the traditions of the family as a farming
class. He began his business career as a clerk in
LaVernia in Wilson county, then entered the county
clerk 's office in Floresville, and after three years went
into business as a merchant there and continued
therein until 1907. In the meantime he had branched
out and established a general mercantile house
in Fairview, and another business in Eunge, Carnes
County, Texas. As his interests expanded he invested
in farms, ranches and banks, and among other affairs
is a stockholder and director in the First National
Bank of Floresville, and president of the Floresville
Oil and Manufacturing Company.

However, it is with his political career that this
sketch is most concerned, and his public service has been
one of much eventfulness and prominence. Soon after
acquiring the franchise, he became interested in prac-
tical politics, and the first state convention he attended
enrolled him as one of its youngest delegates. He
helped to nominate Governors Sayres, Lanham, and
Colquitt. His first official place was as alderman at
Floresville, and in 1898 he represented his district in
the Twenty-Sixth Legislature, and was vice chairman
and then chairman of the appropriation committee of
the houge. He continued to sit in the lower house of
the legislature during the twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh,
twenty-eight, twenty-ninth, and he was then elected to
the senate and served in the thirtieth, thirty-first, thirty-
second, and thirty-third senates, until he resigned in
August, 1913. His purpose in going to the legislature
was to see that the school land legislation was properly
enacted. He secured the passage of the Murray bill
through the house in the twenty-eighth session, but the
bill did not become a law until the twenty-ninth legisla-
ture. In the senate he represented the twenty-second
district, embracing thirteen counties. His special work
in the senate was to defeat iniquituous and trivial legis-
lation, and he made a record in that capacity. He
served as chairman of the committee on land and land
office and in many ways made himself a leader of
Austin and as one of the ablest of the states ' legis-
lators. Senator Murray left the senate vrith the expecta-
tion of being entirely rid of politics, but consented to
serve on the state prison commission solely from a
conscientious sense of public duty and as a compliment
to his friend Governor Colquitt.

Senator Murray is a son of Asa W. Murray. The
father, who was born in 1832 in Wilmington, North
Carolina, was the son of Owen Murray, a planter. The
Murrays in South Carolina were of the slave-holding
class, were of Scotch stock, and some of the colonial
ancestors were identified with the fnnic.us Mr. kliiiliuit;
declaration of independence. Asa W. Mnnay li.-nn liis
career as a merchant in Morgan county. Mi-^nmi. :iii,I uu
moving to Texas engaged in farming iu W'il&uu cuuuty.
Later he went into the Confederate army as a private,
and was in the Trans-Mississippi Department throughout
the war, and escaped without wounds or capture. Fol-
lowing his return from the army ho tcxil; up farming,
and was elected and served as sherilV aihl mil,, tor of
his county, and on leaving office estalilislir.l a tniiiiture
store at Floresville, where he spent th<' n'liiaiinny years
of his active life. Mr. Asa W. Murray married Miss
Annie Mobley, a daughter of William Mobley, who was
an early settler in Morgan county, and a Baptist min-
ister. Mrs. Murray, who died in Floresville in 1890, had
children as follows: Senator W. O. : James S.. of Wilson



county; Mrs. Annie Boehmer of Eagle Pass; Mrs. Sue
Ezell of Floresville ; Albert C. of Lordburg, New Mexico •
Nettie, wife of O. A. McCracken of Floresville • Asa B '
of Floresville. ' '

The Murray family have always been identified with
the Presbyterian church. Senator Murray is affiliated
with the Lodge and Chapter of the Masonic Order and
with the Knights of Pythias. He was married in
FloresvOle, October 10, 1883, to Miss Ella Peacock,
one of four daughters of Thomas and Salima (Steele)'
Peacock, who came from Shelby county, Tennessee. The
children of Senator Murray are: Mattie S., Ida May,
WiUiam O., Jr., and DeWitt. Mattie and Ida May
graduating from the University two and three years
ago, Wm. O., Jr., graduates in June of this year and
DeWitt will graduate June, 1915.

James Gobee Ashford. For twenty-five years a mer-
chant, banker, prominent business man and leader in
public affairs, James Goree Ashford has probably been
as closely identified with Huntsville and vicinity, as
any other individual, and has been an important factor
in commercial and civic life of that vicinitv.

James Goree Ashford, who came to Huntsville as a
young man from Grimes county, where he grew up,
was born in Madison county, Texas, October 11, 1S5S.
His father was Dr. James Goree Ashford, who died in
Huntsville, during the sixties, and his wife, whose
maiden name was Cornelia Spivey died about the same
time. Dr. Ashford was a native of Alabama, and was
a practicing physician until his death at a comparatively
early age. He and his wife had only two children, and
the daughter was Mollie, who died as Mrs. T. W.
Reeves, leaving no children.

James G. Ashford was reared by his grandmother
Ashford, who was a Goree, and whose people were
prominent in Texas affairs. His education was acquired
in :i , i.antiy s.hool in Grimes county, and his first inde-
l"'ii'li'iii ixpi'i aaice was as a farmer in that same locality.
I.iiniii- III,, iarm he found employment as a clerk in
the pustdiii,!, and drug store at Courtney, in Grimes
county, then went to Giaball iii Washington county,
where he continued cle]kiii- ,iri,| marked and shipped
cotton for James Baldi i,li4,j i,,r srveral years. His
next location was at Wliilohall, iu cirimes county, and
he clerked for George E. White, one of the ablest mer-
chants in that locality and now a well known resident
of Fort Worth. With this varied experience, Mr. Ash-
ford came to Huntsville in 1S88, and was employed
by Cunningham & Ellis, who were the lessees of the state
penitentiary. Thi.s firm employed him as outside store-
keeper, and buyer for the prison. He was with that
firm seven years, and wh(?n the stat,' nsuuH'd control

of the prison he continued in th,. .ai a|,a,ity for

the state's financial agent, Hay\\ai,l I'.ialian. and" also
under the second financial agent. \V. (;. I'arish. He
retired from this office to engage in the general mer-
chandising business as one of the firm of Ball, Smither
and Company. That was a partnership relation which
was maintained for one year, and Mr. Ashford then
-itaitcl on a small scale in the furniture business on
iL'ili street. His business was conducted under his own
laiin.,. and finally in 1896 he built his present store.
The building had just been completed, at the time of
a reunion of the surviving veterans of Hood 's Brigade,
and the new store was dedicated by being used for a
ball given in honor of tlie ol,l veterans.

Mr. Ashford has been |.i-,,iiK!i,Mit in many ..Mi-t affairs
besides his imlividual ni, ,11,11 . ! - I, was one

of the organisers of tbi- llnn-M !- I :, ■ 1 : Jit & Ice
Company of the Huntsvillr ininnn^ 1 .1, j. ■ Mi,' Hunts-
ville Telephone Company, the Huntsville Cotton Oil
Mill Company, and helped organize and is president of
the HuntsvDle State Bank. He is interested in agri-
culture, owns several farms in Walker county, and is
chairman of the good roads counnittee. He has taken



1850



TEXAS AND TEXANS



much interest in the upbuilding of both county and
city, and has done much building which has profited
Huntsville, as well as himself. For the past ten years
he has served as president of the school board of
Huntsville, and during this time, a manual training
school house has been built, and also a hall of music
and a high school building, at a cost of fifteen thousand
dollars. .

Mr. Ashford for ten years has served as county chair-
man of the Democratic party. He is one of the Demo-
cratic leaders, has served as mayor of Huntsville, and
while in that office the city installed the system of
water works now in operation. During his active career
he has missed only a few state couventions. He was a
delegate to the famous car-shed convention of 1892, and
remained with the Hogg faction. He has also been a
warm supporter of Senator Bailey, and it is his opinion
that the state lost a fine statesman when Bailey went
out of public life. Mr. Ashford is affiliated with the
Huntsville Masonic Lodge, has taken the Knights Temp-
lar degree, is a past master, past high priest and past
eminent commander and was one time deputy district
grandmaster of this district. He is a past chancellor of
the Knights of Pythias, and a charter member of the
Pythian Lodge at Huntsville.

Mr. Ashford was married at Cuero, Texas, in 1889
to Miss Ella Claire Wbodworth, a daughter of J. C.
and Nannie (North) Woodworth. Her father was at
one time mayor of Cuero, held the office of postmaster
under Presid'ent Cleveland, and is now postmaster un-
der "Woodrow Wilson, was a Confederate soldier, but
had brothers who were on the Union side. The family
of Mr. Ashford and wife are: J. G., Jr., of Brazoria
county; Marv, wife of A. M. Barton of Midway, Texas,
a merchant, and private secretary of Governor Campbell,
and subsequently financial agent at the penitentiary;
Claire and Nan, who are both at home.

John "Wesley Eobinett. A resident of Huntsville
since 1885, John Wesley Eobinett has lived in Wlalker
county since 1856. His father, David W. Eobinett
brought the family to Texas from Eussell county, Ala-
bama. A wheelwright and carpenter by trade, he spent
the last ten years of his life as a farmer, and died
on the Walker county farm in 1878. His birthplace was
about twenty miles west of Eichmond, Virginia, where
he grew up, going to Georgia at the age of twenty-two
and settling in Fluvanna county, and from there going
to Alabama. He brought his family to Texas by rail
as far as Montgomery, Alabama, where they took boats
to Mobile and there embarked on Lake Pontchartram
steamer to New Orleans, and thence by ocean vessel
to Galveston. At Galveston they again changed and
took passage on the "Bettie Powell" up the Trinity as
far as navigation, getting off at Liberty and continued
and completed their journey of many experiences by
wagon and stopped at the old Cabiness place near Hunts-
ville. , . ^

David W. Eobinett had three brothers and a sister:
Allen lived in Georgia; GranvU lived in Columbus,
Georgia; WUliam of Eichmond, Virginia, was noted
as a naval officer on one of the Confederate gun boats
during the war; and Margaret married a Mr. Williams
of Virginia. David W. Eobinett married Elizabeth
Clemmons, who was liorn in Alabama, and when she
came to Toxas had five children. Her death occurred
in Huiit-NiUc Ml ; - '. 'V' . rluMiv,, ivrrr: .John W.;
Williain. I- .. ■•'■■" 1 ^^'" ■"^^"ice as

a CoiilV. r,:.,. i' ' I ^V ; \ irtoria who

married ('ImIi.h, I;.uI. - :.,., I, , .t ( Ira.rland, Texas;
Thomas died when ciditi'Pii yc:irs old; Andrew died m
childhood; Katie married James H. Smith of Hunts-
ville; Wiley Eobinett, who was a child of David's first
wife' died in Huntsville, spent his life as a farmer and
was also a Confederate soldier.

John Wesley Eobinett was a boy of twelve years



when the family came to Texas, and during his youth
spent in the vicinity of Huntsville, he knew some old
Texas independence veterans, including Sam Houston,
Sam Calhoun, Captain Wright, and James Mason. He
heard the last speech General Houston delivered from
the hotel porch in Galveston at the beginning of the
war, when he urged the necessity of Texas remaining with
the Union, predicted the final overthrow of the South,
and at the same time advising that Texans should remain
loyal to their state whether it seceded or remained
in the Union. At that time General Houston wore the
famous Leopard-skin vest, which is among the collection
of his relics at Sam Houston Normal School.

Mr. Eobinett himself entered the army in May, 1862,
in Captain Dickey's Company at the Twentieth infantry
under Colonel Elmore. The company was sent to Galves-
ton and assisted in retaking that city from the Federals.
Later it was at Sabine Pass, where Dick Dowling made
his command famous by its remarkable exploits. Com-
pany H to which Mr. Eobinett belonged was stationed
at Fort Orange when the firing of cannons was heard
at Sabine, and they embarked on the famous river
steamboat Florilda, and reached Sabine Pass in time
to receive the prisoners from the Federal boats. The
Clifton and the Sachem, two big boats, and four barges
laden with soldiers and four hundred and eighty pris-
oners were taken by the forty-two Irishmen in com-
mand of the fort. That was an engagement which will
always have a prominent place in the annals of the
war. The prisoners were taken to Beaumont, thence
to Houston, and marched through the country to Tyler,
where they were confined in the stockade. After the
battle at Sabine Pass, the company to which MV.
Eobinett belonged returned to Louisiana, took .part in
the battle of Fordoshe and subsequently returned to
Texas and was disbanded at Eichmond, on June S, 1865.
At Galveston he received a flesh wound, and was once
captured, but made his escape.

Following the war he returned to the quiet vocation
of farming, but after a few years came to Huntsville
and took up merchandising. His first stock was shoes,
and with increasing business he expanded it to a general
store. Mr. Eobinett has continued in business at inter-
vals ever since. At one time he went to Waco, and con-
ducted a lumber yard there for eighteen months, when
he sold at an advantage, and returned to Huntsville
as the center of his merchandising. He has done his
share towards the upbuilding and improving the town.
He was the first man to lay a sidewalk in Huntsville.
He built a business block, one of the best residences in
the city, and other improvements have sprung up as a
result of his capital and enterprise. Mr. Eobinett has
served as an alderman in Tlnrits\illc. is an active Demo-
crat, has served in i->'\utty and state conventions, and
was a delegate to thi' San Antonio convention that
nominated Governor Colquitt. Fraternally Mr. Eobinett
is a past master of the Masonic Lodge, has been twice
to the Grand Lodge, and has taken the Eoyal Arch
decrees. His church is the Christian.

His first wife was Amelia Drewry, a daughter of
Sherman Drewrv. She died in 1877, leaving three chd-
dren two of whom grew up. Beulah, who married
M. W. Consden, and died in San Antonio, leaving five
children, and Sherman, who died unmarried at Hunts-
ville. On October 20, 1881, at Huntsville, Mr. Eobinett
married Miss Annie H. Abernathy, a daughter of James
Abernathy, who came to Texas from Pulaski, Tennessee:
James Abernathy married Louisa Shelby, and both lived
to an old age and died in Huntsville. The other Aber-
nathy children were: James, of Huntsville; John, who
died at Huntsville; Ida, wife of Jack Hampton of
Huntsville. Bv his second wife, Mr. Eobinett had the
following children: James B., a book-keeper at the
ppnitentLary in Huntsville; Minnie, the widow of
Nanse Bowden; Katie, wife of Mr. Hopkins, an insur-
ance man at Dallas; John O., a Huntsville merchant;



Tr-.^



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1851



Wiley, a book-keeper at Huntsville; Annabelle who mar-
ried Mr. Litherlaud of Port Arthur, a railroad man;
Horace; and Stafford.

Hon. William L. Davidson. The people of every
state are especially jealous of the honor and integrity
of their highest courts, and Texas has always had spe-
cial reason to be proud of the attainments and personal
character of its judges and the dignified, able and im-
partial manner in which justice has been administered
from the state courts. During more than twenty years
of membership as associate and part of the time as pre-
siding judge of the court of common appeal. Judge
Davidson has discharged his judicial functions with a
degree of human and technical understanding that rarely
comes to the public service. Judge Davidson comes from
that hardy, courageous and splendid stock of Scotch-
Irish people and his ancestors were among the early set-
tlers of the Atlantic colonies. Through his own record
he has added much to the lustre of the name of this
country.

William L. Davidson was born November 5, 1845, near
Coffeeville, Mississippi. The Davidson family was orig-
inally Scotch, and the Davidson clan was one of the
strongest in Scotland. From the north of Ireland they
emigrated to North Carolina, while Judge Davidson 's
maternal grandparents were of the Irish stock of
Mitchell, who came to the United States previous to the
Eevolutionary war. Judge Davidson is a son of Eev.
Asbury and Mary M. (Ply) Davidson. His father, a
native of Tennessee, was a Methodist minister and was
one of the delegates and members of the Methodist
Episcopal Conference at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1884,
which inaugurated the division of the Methodist church
into northern and southern branches. Eev. Davidson
came to Texas in 1851, locating in Gonzales, and for
many years was Presiding Elder of that district of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, South. His death occurred
December 21, 1868.

Judge Davidson received his early education in the
country schools, and was about sixteen years old when
the war broke out between the states. Though little
more than a boy, he bore a full share of individual
service prncticallv from the beginning until the close
of tlic jN:it r<,nili,t. He was with the troops in 1861,

but .li _ ily enlist until March 10, 18(32, when

he br- .1 ii,. ,i" [ of Cook's Heavy Artillerv, and in

1863 «a,, tiai.oit-ri..l to Conipany B of the Thirty-second
Texas Cavalry, attached to General Tom Green's Divi-
sion. Prom that time until the close of the war he saw
service in Louisiana and eastern and northern Texas.
After the war he took up the study of law in Gonzales
and in June, 1871, was admitted to the bar.

Judge Davidson carried on a successful private prac-
tice at Gonzales until January, 1887, and since then has
been continuously in the public service. Governor L. S.
Boss appointed him assistant attorney general of the
state, and, by reappointment from the same governor in
January, 1899, served four years in that office. On
February 1, 1891, on the resignation of Judge Sam A.
Willson from the court of criminal appeals. Governor
Hogg appointed Judge Davidson as Willson 's successor.
He qualified for this high judicial position on February
5, 1891, and his service has been continuous for more
than twenty-three years. From January 1, 1899, until
July 1, 1913, Judge Davidson was presiding judge of
the court.

Judge Davidson is a Past Master of Gonzales Lodge,
No. 3, A. F. & A. M., affiliated with the Eo.yal Arch
Chapter and the Eoyal and Select Council. He is a
member of the Austin Press Club. On December 22,
1870, Judge Davidson married IMiss Susan B. Howard.
Her parents. Dr. Willinm au.l Sarnh Catherine (Duval)
Howard, came to Texas from Virginia in 1853, locating
at Gonzales, where her father gained distinction by his
service as a physician. The Howards were an old and



prominent Virginia family, while the Duval family has
likewise been prominent in the south, and one of its
niembers was a governor of Florida. 'The seven children
of Judge Davidson and wife are named as follows:
Nellie, the widow of W. K. Clement, a former lawyer
of Milam county, Texas, now lives at Georgetown, and
is principal of the Art Department of the Southwestern
University; Katy is the wife of George W. Graves, a
lawyer of Houston; William Howard Davidson is now
judge of the district court at Beaumont; Thomas P.
Davidson is a member of the firm of Kirby & Davidson,
lawyers, at Abilene; Frank Boss Davidson is in the oU
business at Beaumont; Duval A. Davidson is a business
man at Georgetown; and Susie A. Davidson lives at
home. The family resides at 610 San Antonio street
in Austin.

Ira S. Sewell. The present mayor of the city of
Vernon is a type of the enthusiastic and energetic young
business men who are doing things in northwest 'Texas,
and to whose ability and practical work this section of
the state has owed its best development. The Sewell
family has been well known in business affairs, and in
civic life at Vernon for over twenty years, and was in
fact among the pioneers of Wilbarger county.

Ira S. Sewell was born in Lavaca county, Texas, Sep-
tember 15, 1879, a son of Sylvester and Mary E.
(McCown) Sewell. The father, who is a prominent
Vernon business man, and sixty-one years of age, was
born in Texas, was reared and educated in the state,
and during his younger years was a close friend and
companion of Temple Houston, the son of Sam Hous-
ton. He adopted the career of merchant, and in 1890
located at Vernon. He was in the gin business in
Lavaca and Fayette counties for some years, operating
one of the first gins to take care of the early production
of cotton in this section of the state. He is still a live
and enterprising merchant in Vernon, and is engaged in
the feed and coal business with his son. His wife, also
a native of Texas, was reared and educated and mar-
ried in the state, and is now fifty-two years of age.
There were three children, one of whom is deceased.
M. Eupert Sewell is in business with his father and
brother.

Ira S. Sewell, the oldest of the children attended
school at Platonia, and from the age of eleven until
finishing his education was a student in the schools, of
Vernon. When he left his studies he went to St. Louis,
and entered the college of pharmacy of that city, where
he was graduated Ph. G. in 1901. 'He then entered the
drug business at Vernon for one year, and pursued
similar lines in Port Worth during the next seven years.
Eeturning to Vernon on January 1, 1909, he established
himself in the feed and coal business, with his father
and brother, and they have built up a large and success-
ful trade.

Mr. Sewell has taken an active part in public affairs,
served as alderman in 1911, and has recently been
elected to the office of mayor. He is a Democrat in
politics, is affiliated with the Knights of P.ythias, the
Woodmen of the World, and worships in the Presbyter-
ian church. On July 3, 1898, at Vernon, Mr. Sewel]
married Miss Sadie J. Givens, a daughter of P. G.
and Amelia (Sebastian) Givens, both of whom are now
living and residents of California. The two children
born to Mr. and Mrs. Sewell are: Herbert Sewell, born
at Vernon in July 1902, and attending school and Buth
Aileen Sewell born at Fort Worth, December 14, 1907.
Mr. Sewell is not only well known in Vernon, but has
many influential friends in all parts of the state. His
enthusiasm is all for northwest Texas, and he can
advance many reasons for his belief that the resources



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 83 of 177)