Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

. (page 90 of 177)
Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 90 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


west Texas. His public services there comprised several
terms as an alderman and one term of Mayor. It was
during his administration of the city as mayor that
his leadership and influence were important elements in
bringing about the construction of the Brownwood
waterworks. However, his fellow citizens regarded his
most important achievement his faithful, enthusiastic
and self-sacrificing labors as a member of the school
board. He served as a member of the board for twenty-
six consecutive years, and during fourteen years was
president of the board. When he first came into this
relation with the public schools of Brownwood, there was
a small frame building of two rooms, where all the
educational facilities of that community were centered.
Judge Jenkins with several of his loyal associates re-
alized and took the lead in the matter of securing
proper school buildings, not only to accommodate the
immediate population, but to provide and look ahead
for the future. Under his leadership the board went
ahead and erected a stone school house, known in that
city as the ' ' Coggin school. ' ' The finances of the city
did not justify the expenditure of sufficient funds to
erect such a building, and the members of the board
took the matter upon their own responsibility, and
gave their own individual notes aggregating about six
thousand dollars to provide for the erection and finish-
ing of the school. It was the second school building
and the first modern building of its kind in Brownwood.
The board at the same time also increased and re-
modeled the original school, known as the Central school,
by the construction of an addition which converted the
house into one of five rooms instead of two. The board
went still further, secured a large lot of ground, and
erected a modern high school building at a cost of
sixteen thousand dollars. The city appropriated for this
purpose six thousand dollars, while again the individual
members of the board gave their notes to secure the
balance, ten thousand dollars. These notes were sub-
sequently paid off from year to year as the board was
able to save from the school funds. Then in a few
years the Central school had been outgrown, and the
board determined to replace the old structure with a
new at a cost of twenty thousand dollars. The city
allowed the board ten thousand dollars, and once more
the former process of financing was resorted to, and the
board members made themselves individually responsible
for the balance of ten thousand dollars, an indebtedness
which was finally cleared off in the same manner as had
been done in the former ease.

As a lawyer Judge Jenkins in a few years gained
first rank not only at Brownwood but over the entire
surrounding district. His practice extended to all the
adjoining counties, and in two special fields he prob-
ably had no peer in that part of the state. His early
knowledge of surveying naturally brought about a de-
cided specialization of his practice in boundary cases,
and for many years he has been a recognized authority
on boundary "law and facts. He also gained prominence
as a lawyer of special skill and success in defending
boundary and homicide cases, and his practice also in-
cluded important civil litigation in every branch of the
civil law.

In 1907 Judge Jenkins was elected a member of the
Thirtieth Legislature, and was re-elected in 1909, repre-
senting the Brown county district. In the thirtieth
legislature he introduced a number of bills covering
judicial reform, among which might be mentioned a
bill " Requiring pleadings to be verified and abolishing
the general denial," and also a bill to "Abolish the
degree of murder and creating it one offense instead of
three offenses." He also introduced a bill "Creating




e:^i?9X^^.^-<:-<^.^^>5<^^



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1871



a Legislative Commission," which failed of passage,
although at the present time seven states have a similar
statute, and eventually Texas is sure to adopt such a
plan. The purpose of the bill was to create a com-
mission, whose office and records should serve as a leg-
islative reference bureau, with a permanent and also
elastic file of data and statistics which should be at the
service of members of the legislature in preparing bills,
while the commission itself should pass upon all bills
offered, irrespective of whether the legislature was in
session or not, and report as to the constitutionality, the
general scope and purpose, and feasibility of any cur-
rent piece of legislation.

Judge Jenkins in March 1910 resigned from the
thirty-first legislature to accept an appointment given
by Governor Campbell to fill a vacancy as associate
judge in the court of Civil Appeals for the third Su-
preme Judicial District. In the following November he
stood as a candidate and was elected for the unexpired
term, of four years.

Judge Jenkins is one of the prominent members of
the Odd Fellows in the state of Texas, and has been
identified with the order since 1880. He is Past
Noble Grand of the lodge, a member of the Eebekahs,
is Past Presiding Officer of his Encampment, a mem-
ber of the Cantonment, and has been a delegate to the
State Grand Lodge of the order. He is also affiliated
with the Woodmen of the World, an order he joined
about twenty years ago, and belongs to the Woodmen 's
Circle. Judge Jenkins is an honorary member of the
Austin Press Club, and belongs to the Texas Historical
Association.

In September, 1873, Judge Jenkins married Miss Annie
E. Smith, a daughter of John W. and Sarah A. Smith,
of Colorado, but who were among the pioneer settlers
of Dallas county. Mrs. Jenkins was a schoolmate of
Judge Jenkins at Dallas. Her death occurred in 1909,
and their three children are as follows : Willie, who
is the wife of E. J. Miller, a lawyer of Brownwood ;
Annie May, wife of J. A. Johnson, of Brownwood; and
Roberta J., who married B. L. Shropshire, of Brown-
wood. Judge Jenkins while in Austin has his residence
at 204 East Tenth street.

Howell W. Runnels. In the spring of 1912 Mr. Run-
nels was elected to the office of mayor of the progres-
sive and thriving little city of Texarkana, Bowie county,
and not only has his administration been marked by lib-
eral policies and careful use of his executive functions
but also by such decisive popular approval .is to make
sure beyond all peradventure that there can be in his
case no possible application of the scriptural aphorism
that "a prophet is not without honor save in his own
country, ' ' for he is a native son of Bowie county and
has ever maintained his home within its borders. Mayor
Runnels is one of the loyal and influential citizens of
the county, where he is the owner of the fine old home-
stead plantation on which he was born, and he is a
scion of a family whose name has been piominently and
worthily linked with the annals of Texas since the days
when it was an independent republic. Thus there are
many points which render specially consistent the definite
recognition accorded to him in this history of his native
commonwealth.

Howell W. Runnels was born on the old homestead
now owned by him and situated twelve miles northwest
of Texarkana, Bowie county, and the date of his nativity
was January 1. 1867. The fifth child and second son in
a family of fourteen children, he is now the only one
living, and in his generation he is effectively carrying
forward the industrial enterprises and civic activities that
were ably instituted by his honored father. He is a son
of Howell W. and Martha C. B. (Adams) Runnels, both
natives of the state of Mississippi and the latter a rep-
resentative of the Adams family of Georgia that has
given two presidents to the LTnjted States and that has



been one of great prominence in the annals of American
history. In IS-IO Howell W. Runnels, Sr., in company
with his brothers Hardin R., Edmond S., and Hiram A.,
came from Madison county, Mississippi, to the south-
western frontier and first settled on the Brazos river,
in Southern Texas, but they shortly afterward came to
the northeastern part of the republic and established
permanent homes in Bowie county, where they had in-
stituted successful operations in the development of the
agricultural resources of the district by the time of the
acbnission of Texas to the Union, in 1845. One of the
four brothers, Hardin R., who was familiarly and widely
known as "Dick" Runnels, became specially prominent
and influential in political and other civic activities in
this part of the state, and finally he had tlie distinction
of being elected governor of Texas, an office of which he
was the efficient and popular incumbent for consecu-
tive terms of one year each. Runnels county was named
in his honor and he was in a true sense one of the
distinguished men of his time in the Lone Star common-
wealth. It may be noted that Hon. Hiram Runnels, an
uncle of the Texas governor of the name, had served
as governor of Mississippi, and that Colonel Harmond
Runnels, a great-uncle and a prominent citizen of Georgia,
was a gallant patriot soldier and officer in the Continen-
tal line in the war of the Revolution. The ancestral his
tory, in both direct and collateral lines, is one of which
the mayor of Texarkana, Texas, may well be proud.

Howell W. Runnels maintained his home near the
old town of Boston, judicial center of Bowie county,
until 1876, when he removed with his family to Tex-
arkana, where he continued to reside until his death,
which occurred in 1897, his cherished and devoted wife
being summoned to eternal rest in his 73d year, and both
having held membership in the Baptist church. Howell
W. Runnels, Sr., was a man of strong individuality, broad
and well fortified views and much business ability. He
was a prominent factor in the social and industrial de-
velopment and upbuilding of Bowie county, was one of
the best known and most highly honored citizens of the
county and was inflexible in his adherency to the Demo-
cratic party. He was a member of Legislature of 1857.
At the time of the Civil war he did all in his power to
support the cause of the Confederacy and thus showed
his loyalty to the South, under whose benignant in-
fluence he had been reared.

Howell W. Runnels, Jr., now the only surviving mem-
bers of the immediate family, was a lad of about eight
years at the time of the family removal from the old
homestead plantation to Texarkana, where he duly availed
hirnself of the advantages of the public schools, after
which he continued his studies in the Texas Agricultural
& Mechanical Coljege, at Bryan. He has never wavered
in his allegiance to the great basic industries of agricul-
ture and stock-growing, and still gives his active and
appreciative supervision to his old homestead plantation,
which is doubly endeared to him through the gracious
memories and associations of the past. This property is
equipped with the best of permanent improvements,
comprises 2,200 acres, seven hundred under cultivation
and, as previously noted, twelve miles northwest of Tex-
arkana. In addition to his successful enterprise in this
connection Mr. Runnels is also engaged in the timber
business, in which his operations have been somewhat
extensive.

For a number of years Mr. Runnels has been a de-
cisively influential figure in the local councils of the
Doimir-ratic party and has shown deep interest in public
affairs. He never consented to become a candidate for
public office until 190<<, when ho was elected citv assessor
and collector, a dual office of which ho continued the
efficient and acceptalilo iu(iniiI>ont for four years. He
was almost immediately called to the highest office in the
gift of the people of his home city, as in April, 1912, he
was elected mayor of Texarkana, by an overwhelming ma-
jority over all opposition. This was an emphatic testi-



1872



TEXAS AND TEXANS



mony to his personal popularity and to the confidence re-
posed in him by the voters of the city. His policy as chief
executive of the municipal government has been at once
progressive and duly conservative, and he has bent every
energy and thought to the furtherance of wise admin-
istration of all departments of the municipal govern-
ment, as well as to insistently advocating measures
and enterprises of progressive order, especially in the
expanding of the scheme of permanent public improve-
ments. His regime has met with approval and com-
mendation and within the same Texarkana has been
prospered along both civic and material lines.

In the time-honored Masonic fraternity Mayor Eun-
nels has received the ancient-craft, capitular and chiv-
alric degrees, his affiliation being with Clarkesville Com-
mandery, Knights Templar of same place, where he
also holds membership in the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows, the Woodmen of the World, the Improved
Order of Eed Men, and the fraternal Order of Eagles.

On the 18th of April, 1894, was solemnized the mar-
riage of Mr. Eunnels to Miss Katharine M. Neely, who
was born in the state of Mississippi, and who has
proved a most popular acquisition in the representative
social activities. Mr. and Mrs. Eunnels have six chil-
dren, Howell E., Jack N., Martha Octavia, George Eliz-
abeth, Hardin Eichard, and Patsy Darden.

Major George W. Littlefield. The founder and
president of the American National Bank of Austin is
one of the honored veterans of the great war between
the states. His gallantry as a fighting member of the
famous Terry "s Eangers earned him the rank and title
by which he" has been familiarly known to a large por-
tion of Texas people for nearly fifty years. Among
the cattlemen of the southwest Major Littlefield has
also long held a conspicuous position, and a great variety
of experience and incidents as well as financial achieve-
ment and success have characterized his career.

Though born in Panola county, Mississippi, June 21,
1842, Major Littlefield 's home has been in Texas for
nearly sixty-five years. His parents, Fleming and Mildred
M. (Satterwhite) Littlefield, natives respectively of
Tennessee and Georgia, in 1850 settled at Gonzales,
Texas, where the father was a cotton planter and mer-
chant until his death in 1853. The mother died in June
1880.

George W. Littlefield had a few years of public school
training, and subsequently attended the Baylor College
while it was located at independence, Texas, and also
at Gonzales College. With the outbreak of the war in
1861 his services were enlisted as Second Sergeant in
Company I of the Eighth Texas Cavalry, better known
as Terry's Eangers. In January 1862 came his pro-
motion as second lieutenant of his company, and in May
1862, following the great battle of Shiloh, he was made
captain. He continued in active service during the great
campaign between the northern and southern armies in
Tennessee and northern Mississippi during the years
1862-63, and after the battle of Chickamauga in the lat-
ter vear was made acting major of his regiment. On
December 26, 1863, on the battlefield of Mossy Creek
in eastern Tennessee, a portion of a shell cut his left
hip, making a wound eleven inches in length and dis-
abling him from further service. While he was lying on
the battlefield, Brigadier-General Thomas Harrison and
Colonel Patrick Christian rode up, and General Harrison,
on seeing Captain- Littlefield lying wounded, exclaimed:
"I promote him to the rank of major for gallantry on
the field." The wound kept Major Littlefield in his bed
for four months, and he had to use crutches until 1867.
Eesigning his command in 1864, he was unable to get
back to Texas for nearly a year, and after the war
turned his attention to farming.

With the rapid development of the live stock in-
dustry after the war. Major Littlefield became one of its
most prominent operators. Since 1871 his investments



and enterprise have extended to a large part of the dis-
trict in west Texas and New Mexico, where he has owned
outright or held under lease many thousands of acres,
and has been one of the most extensive cattle raisers.
At one time seventy thousand head of cattle roaming
over the range were marked with his brand, and forty
and fifty thousand acres of land were owned or con-
trolled by him. In the seventies and eighties probably
most of his cattle were taken from the west Texas
ranges over the old cattle traU through the Indian ter-
ritory into Kansas, and from 1887 his ranch head-
quarters were in west Texas, with operations through
Mason, Menard and Kimball counties. He had pre-
viously become interested in a large cattle ranch in New
Mexico. In 1901 Major Littlefield bought upwards of
three hundred thousand acres of land in Hotkley and
Lamb counties in the Panhandle, from the Farwell in-
terests of Chicago. This land, bought at two dollars
an acre, has since risen to five or six times that value.
At the same time he retains his large land and cattle
interests in New Mexico, and has owned a large amount
of irrigated farm land near Boswell. His Hereford
cattle ranch in that vicinity has long been a feature
and one of the most valuable properties of its kind in
the southwest, Major Littlefield having refused the
sum of three hundred thousand dollars for the land and
its improvements.

In 1890 Major Littlefield organized the American
National Bank of Austin with a capital stock of one
hundred thousand dollars, which has since increased to
three hundred thousand dollars, with a surplus of six
hundred thousand dollars. He has been president of this
strong financial institution since its organization. He
built one of Austin 's finest business blocks, the Littlefield
building, has served as president of the Central Bank and
Trust Company of Austin, is a director of the South-
western Life Insurance Company of Texas, a director of
the Pierce-Fordyce Oil Company of Texas, and has
numerous other financial and business relations with the
state.

Probably every visitor at Austin has admired the
splendid statue on the Capitol grounds constituting a
monument to Terry 's Eangers. This monument was
erected in 1907 and Major Littlefield was chairman of
the monumental committee and personally paid the
greater part of the expense of having the bronze figures
executed and placed in its present commanding posi-
tion. Major Littlefield has long been closely identified
with the affairs of the United Veterans of the Con-
federacy. Since 1910 he has served as a regent of the
Univers'itv of Texas, is a Master Mason and also af-
filiated with the Eoyal Arch and Knights Templar de-
grees. His social relations are with the Austin Club,
the Austin Country Club, and the University Club.
Major Littlefield on January 14, 1863, married Miss
Alice P. Tiller, a stepdaughter of W. Harral of Hous-
ton, Texas. Mrs. Littlefield was born in Mississippi,
and her parents came from Virginia. The Littlefield
home is at 300 West Twenty-fourth street, Austin.

Frank Taylor Eamsey. It has long been a way of
praising the work of the agriculturist to say that he
has made two stalks of wheat grow where only one grew
before. But in proportion as a perennially fruitful tree
is more valuable than the stalk of wheat, so must a
still greater tribute be paid as an adequate reward for
the man who introduces an orchard where before was
an unproductive waste, and who by his knowledge and
skill in horticulture increases the fruitfulness of a
country by the perfection of new varieties of fruit and
those more adaptable to local conditions. In this field
has been the distinction of Frank T. Eamsey of Austin,
and Eamsey 's Austin Nursery has for twenty years been
one of the thriving industries of that locality.

It was in 1858 that his father, Alexander M. Eamsey,
set out an orchard in Burnet county, which was the



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1873



first one of any size or importance in the county, and
was one of the pioneer undertakings in the growing of
orchard fruits in western Texas. In Burnet county
Frank T. Eamsey was born June 15, 1861. His father
and mother, A. M. Eamsey and Ellen Taylor, were born
and married in western Pennsylvania. They moved to
Burnet county in 1860, but had bought a farm there in
185S, and had sent peach seed for an orchard from Mis-
sissippi, which state had been their home for eight
years. The sheep business was the principal occupa-
tion of A. M. Eamsey for some years, combined with
general farming, but hard winters and absence from
home while engaged in scout sers-ice against the
Comanche Indians, and the natural consequences of war
left him in a poor condition financially when the war
was over. A. M. Eamsey died in 1S95, and his wife
passed away in 1890.

Frank T. Eamsey received a common education in the
country schools. When sixteen years old he became a
partner with his father in the nursery which had been
established by the latter in 1875, and so continued until
his father's death at Austin, the nursery having been
moved to the capital city in 1894 in order to secure
better transportation facilities. Mr. F. T. Eamsey was
married in 1884 to Miss Belle Sinclair, and another
reason for his moving to Austin was to better educate
his children, four of whom subsequently enjoyed the
advantages of the university. After the nursery busi-
ness was established in Austin it grew enormously, and
Mr. Eamsey was the mainspring of its development
until 1908, when his son, John Murray Eamsey, became
a partner in it.

Their location was on the south margin of the range
of peaches of the Persian strain and on the north
margin of the south China strain, so they had to test
and grow a larger list of peaches than is usually nec-
essary. Besides the conditions imposed by local climate,
Mr. Eamsey possesses a love for securing and testing
any new varieties of fruits that promise to be valuable,
and it is said that he could from memory name and
describe probably five hundred varieties of peaches and
three hundred of plums.

He has the reputation of having secured and budded
more varieties of pecans, English or Persian walnuts,
American persimmons, Chinese and Japanese jujubes,
and various other fruits than any one in the United
States or in the world.

Mr. Eamsey thought out and discovered many new
methods in handling, growing and planting of trees of
all kinds. He had a natural love for the hardy wild
shrubs and flowers of West Texas, and has collected,
tested and introduced many of them ; and accidental
hybrids, and crosses, and new seedlings in the nursery
gave him some valuable and beautiful new trees, among
which is a pyramidal tree that looks like a pyramidal
cypress, but came from a seed of an arborvitse, which
he calls Gracegreen Hybrid, and another that he calls
Beauty Green that came from seed of a horizontal
cypress and has the outlines of its mother tree, but in
its foliage shows it has arborvitĀ« blood.

Mr. Eamsey is a member of the noted Eamsey family,
widely known not only in Texas but elsewhere in the
United States, and its members have been prominent
in the various walks of life for generations. The au-
thentic history of the Eamsey family commences with
the invasion of England by the Xorman Conquerer,
A. D. 1066. The common ancestor was an officer in the
army of William, and participated in the decisive battle
of Hastings, and from this family all the present Eam-
seys and Eamsays of the British Empire and America
are descended. At the same date the Stewart family
appears in history, and the Stewarts and Eamseys have
been closely related, having intermarried for many gen-
erations. Some of the family came over in the May-
flower, from whom probably came many of the name
in New England. Toward the close of the seventeenth



and the beginning of the eighteenth century quite a
number of the family came to Pennsylvania. These
sought religious freedom and were at variance with the
established church. They were known as Seceders and
Covenanters, and the two sects afterwards uniting
then were known as the United Presbyterians. A few
years later these were followed by quite a number of
Eamseys as exiles after the defeat of the Stewart pre-
tender at the battle of Culloden. These Eamseys, with
the banished Stewarts, landed together in Pennsylvania
about the middle of the eighteenth century. From these
families probably descended the majority of the Eam-
seys in the United States today. From Pennsylvania the
families went south and west and founded the numer-
ous families to which the greater number of the Eam-
seys belong. As to religion most of the Eamseys in the



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 90 of 177)