John Henry Brown.

Indian wars and pioneers of Texas online

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Ornithology, mammology and oology. He left
Boston when a very young man, and after an
extensive tour through Mexico, during which he
made a complete collection of birds and animals of
that country, he settled in Laredo, Texas, where
he began a systematic search for specimens in this
border section. In pursuance of the latter under-
taking he came to Brownsville in Marcli, 1890, and
finding it an excellent point for securing the services
of hunters and trappers, as well as for his personal
excursions, he located his business here and married
the following year, 1891, April 2d.

His establishment at the corner of Washington
and Eleventh streets is crowded with specimens of
natural history, and is well worth the careful atten-
tion and examination which the courteous propri-
etor freely accords to all who visit it.

The price list of birds' skins bears the names of
275 different species, which he constantly carries
in stock and furnishes to naturalists, scientists and

The proprietor is a skillful taxidermist himself
and employs four assistants, all of them constantly
employed in selecting and properly treating the
numerous subjects found in this vicinity.

The birds of this section are more numerous
than those in any other known to Mr. Armstrong.
It is owing to that fact that he has found such en-
couragement in his chosen field.

He married Miss Marie Isabel Schodts, a daugh-
ter of the lamented Michael Schodts, a portrait and
biography of whom appears in this volume. Mrs.
Armstrong is a lady of superior educational attain-
ments and rare social accomplishments.

Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong have two little daugh-
ters, Sylvia, age 4 years, 6 months, and Jennie, age
2 years and four months. One daughter, Susie, is
deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong have one of
the most spacious and luxurious homes in the city
of Brownsville and a summer seaside home at
Point Isabel.

Mr. Armstrong is thoroughly identified with the
interests of Brownsville and Southwest Texas, and
is highly esteemed by a wide circle of friends
throughout all parts of Texas.



Is a native of Kentucky, born near the city of
Owensboro, in Daviess County, October 1st, 1836.
His father, John Combe, was a planter by occupa-
tion, and successful business man ; his mother (nee
Helen Berthoud) was of French descent, a native
of the Isle of St. Thomas, and a lady of domestic
culture and many feminine graces. Dr. Combe
received his early education at St. Joseph's Col-
lege, Bardstown, Ky., one of the leading educa-
tional institutions of that day. He there nearly
ended bis classical course in the year 1854, when,
owing to the untimely death of his father, he re-
linquished his studies. Soon after he took up the
study of medicine under Dr. Louis Eogers, an
eminent physician of Louisville, Ky., with whom
he remained nearly three years, at the same time
attending lectures at the Louisville University.

Dr. Rogers then sent him to the Charity Hospital
at New Orleans, that he might get the clinical ad-
vantages which that institution afforded. He then
went to the Jefferson College of Medicine at
Philadelphia, from which celebrated university he
was graduated in the year 1858. The following
year he came to Texas and engaged in the practice
of his profession at Brownsville, which has since
been his home, with exception of a few years resi-
dence in the border city of Matamoros, Mexico,
and the time he was absent from Texas, on several
prolonged visits to different parts of the United
States and Mexico. Dr. Combe has seen much of
pioneer life on the Mexican border, and experienced
many of its dangers and vicissitudes. He accom-
panied Col. John S. Ford on his advance against
Juan N. Cortina in 1859-RO. He also served as a





surgeon in the Confederate army during the war
between the States, when Gen. Magruder com-
manded in Texas. Among other signal services to
the Confederate cause he aided in passing large
quantities of arms, ammunition and much needed
medical stores into the country.

In the Diaz Revolution in 1876, he espoused that
cause, and was a staunch supporter and friend of
Gen. Diaz. He was commissioned a surgeon in
the Mexican army, and served as chief surgeon of
the Military Hospital at Matamoros from 1878 to
1882, under Gen. Servando Canales. During this
period he rendered important quarantine services
to both the United States and Mexico. He has
served Texas as a State health officer, and has also
been an officer of the National Board of Health.
His eminent and faithful public services ended in
1882, since which time he has quietly practiced his
profession, and devoted much of his time to the
care of his landed and stock interests.

Dr. Combe is president of the Medical Examin-
ing Board of his district, has been president of the
Brownsville and Matamoros Medical Association,
once an important, useful and prosperous organiza-
tion, and has served his city as a member of its
board of Aldermen.

He married, May 15th, 1865, Miss K. M. Impey,

a step-daughter of the Hon. Stephen Powers of

She was a lady of broad intellectual culture and
social accomplishments. She was a daughter of
Frederick Impey, a merchant of New Orleans,
where she was born. Five sons have been born of
this union, viz.: Frederick J. Combe, M. D.,
Charles B., Jr.; Frank B., Dr. Joseph K, and
Emile B. Combe.

The life of Dr. Combe has been a busy and use-
ful one and connected with many incidents that
have largely made up the most thrilling part of the
history of the southwestern portion of the State.
He is quiet and unassuming in manner and is
esteemed as one of Brownsville's most worthy
citizens. During the yellow fever epidemic of
1882, Dr. Combe distinguished himself by the
promptitude with which hediagnosed the early cases,
and his heroic conduct generally throughout the
epidemic. He was in constant communication with
Surgeon-Gen. J. B. Hamilton, of the United States
Marine Hospital Service, Washington, D. C, who
complimented him for his services. Dr. Combe
enjoys not only the confidence and esteem of his
fellow-citizens of Brownsville and the members
of his profession, but has thousands of friends and
admirers throughout Texas and Mexico.



Was born April 9tb, 1821, near Cornersville, Mid-
dle Tennessee, and was brought up on a farm. His
education was limited to a common school course,
as his father was not able to send him off to college.
At the age of eighteen he joined a company of
young men and came to Texas overland with emi-
grant wagons, reaching old Tinninville, Robertson
County, in the fall of 1839, where he j jined Capt.
Eli Chandler's company of " Minute Men " and
remained in the frontier military service under
Capls. Chandler and Wm. M. Love, until January
1st, 1842.

When not in the woods on duty during this
period, he was employed by the few families at
Tinninville, to teach school during 1840, and was
similarly employed by Maj. Eli Seales and neighbors
on Cedar creek (now Brazos County), during 1841.

Tinninville at that time was headquarters for

all military operations between the Trinity and
Brazos rivers, and, being on the extreme northern
boundary of the settlements, there was not a single
civilized human habitation north of it in Texas. It
was the place of rendezvous and starting-point for
all the company's expeditions. The service of the
company to which Mr. Mitchell belonged consisted
in periodical excursions from river to river in search
of Indian marauders and in the pursuit of them
when they succeeded in getting into the settlements
and stealing horses, which they frequently did,
sometimes killing and scalping a lone roan and
carrying off his wife and children.

In this service the company had numerous skir-
mishes, but no pitched battle of note.

Brazos County having been created and organized
by invitation Mr. Mitchell moved his residence to
old Boonville, January 1st, 1812, to take charge of




the Counly Clerk's office as deputy and act as
amanuensis, and do all the office work for all the
county officials.

This was a necessity at that time, as the perqui-
sites of ail the offices were not sufficient to support
one man, and no one could be found willing to
leave their farms and move to town to fill an office,
and to save the county organization from disso-
lution this plan was adopted, and to augment his
earnings Mr. Mitchell hired out to the Carter
family to teach school at $20.00 per month and
board, attending to all official duties at leisure hours
(at night, evenings, mornings, etc.).

In 1845 he turned over the school to Miss Carter,
whom he had educated, and he engaged in
merchandising and, there being no other stores in
the county, and having the confidence and patron-
age of the people, he was successful and prosperous.

Having fallen desperately in love with Miss A.
J. Foley, who had finished her education in 1847,
under the tutelage of the Hon. John Sayles, at
Brenham, Texas, and finding that his affections
were reciprocated, they were married April 6th,
1848, and being Clerk of the County Court at that
time, he had to issue his own marriage license — a
rare occurence, it is to be presumed.

He continued selling goods, trading in land and
stock, and running all the county offices until
1853 — when others became eligible and willing to
take his place, and in 1855 he moved to "Red
Top" (now Beuchly) and engaged extensively in
the land business and merchandising. Being per-
sonally familiar with all the original surveys in
Brazos and with many in Robertson County, and
also with most of the non-resident owners, he suc-
ceeded in acquiring a large landed property ; but,
having been appointed Assessor of Confederate
State Taxes for Brazos County, for convenience
he moved back to Boonville in 1863, and after the
close of the war built a new and beautiful home a
mile out of town, where he lived until 1879, in which
year, having previously voluntarily surrendered all
the earnings of his forty years' life of toil to the
creditors of friends, so-called, in whom he had
misplaced confidence, not reserving even his beauti-
ful homestead, he bought a cheap shanty in Bryan
on credit, and, disposing of surplus furniture,
moved into it and hired out his baby boy, James B.
Mitchell, now of Fort Worth, Texas, to a jeweler
in Bryan at $10.00 per month, to aid in making a
new start. His other living children, Jefferson P.
Mitchell, Mrs. R. L. Weddington and Mrs. Wm.
H. Dean, now of Bryan, and Mrs. E. R. Nash,
now of Waco, were all grown and providing for
themselves, but were not able at that time

to aid him financially. In 1880 be bought a
small farm on the Navasota river and, with the
assistance of friends, mainly Guy M. Bryan, Jr.,
purchased other adjoining lands, and improved
them and now has a farm of 1,000 acres, well im-
proved and stocked, under cultivation, but resides
at his home in the town of Bryan. But he is now
old and feeble and realizes that his life-work is
about finished. His time is mainly spent now in
reviewing the past, in which he finds some comfort.
His living children are all engaged in useful pur-
suits and are well thought of by the people who
know them and are kind to him, and he feels some
pride in the consciousness of having been efficient
in helping to convert what was an unbroken wil-
derness in 1841, with isolated settlements at long
distances apart and without any of the luxuries
and conveniences of enlightened civilization, into
one among, the most prosperous and populous
counties in Texas ; that his own beloved county
(Brazos) to-day abounds in churches and schools;
is the home of the A. and M. College of Texas,
has railroads, commodious and substantial build-
ings, good highways, a number of factories and
many palatial residences, and possesses a large and
prosperous population engaged in commercial and
agricultural pursuits. As a soldier, he did his full
share toward its protection while it needed protec-
tion as a border county. The duty was assigned
to him to build three of the courthouses the county
has had, the first in 1846 ("the Board Shanty
Court House") ; the second in 1853, a more pre-
tentious structure, and the third, the " brick court-
house " in Bryan, in 1878. He served, either un-
der commission or an amanuensis, in all the county
offices for a term of years when no other plan could
preserve the county's autonomy. He never sought
any office, but was elected at different times to that
of Chief Justice, County Clerk and County Sur-
veyor as the occasion required for the public good,
and from 1842 until 1853 had the custody and con-
trol of all the archives of the county and, there
being no resident lawyer in the county, was the
man upon whom the people depended to write
deeds, bonds, contracts, petitions and reports for
administrators and guardians, and to officiate as
preacher at weddings, etc., all of which he did
gratuitously. He built the Methodist Church now
in Bryan, donating $500 of its cost and lending
$500 more to finish and seat it. He built Alexan"-
der Chapel (the first church edifice ever built in the
county) for the Methodists and Union Chapel for
the Presbyterians, and donated liberally to all the
churches in Bryan when first built, and also to other
public buildings as well. But his crowning joy is



over his successful effort in securing the location
in his county of the Agricultural and Mechanical
College of Texas. It was the highest ambition of
his life. He was fully impressed with its impor-
tance as a source of revenue to his people, for all
time to come, as thousands of dollars would annu-
ally be brought into the country and disbursed
among the people for labor and supplies.

The commissioners authorized by law to select
and secure a suitable location for this institution,
had visited and examined many competing points
in the State, that offered by Brazos County among
the rest, and advertised for bids, in the way of bo-
nuses, to be opened and the location awarded on a
given day in Houston. The State Senator from
the district in which Brazos County is situated,
Hon. W. A. Saylor, Judge Spencer Ford and Mr.
Mitchell, were selected at a large mass meeting
held in Bryan to meet the commissioners on the
day fixed and, if possible, secure the award. Ac-
cordingly Senator Saylor and Mr. Mitchell went
down to Houston a few days in advance. Judge
Ford did not go and Mr. Saylor went on to Galves-
ton, leaving Mr. Mitchell alone to wrestle with
powerful competitors for the award — San Antonio,
Austin, Waco and other prominent and wealthy

But he managed to learn what bonus his people
would have to raise to secure the prize, which was
so great that he feared it was beyond their reach.
He wired Mayor Downward for instructions, and
waited for a reply, but none came ; and, nerved
with the excitement of desperation, he resolved to
act on his own responsibility, and proceeded to
write out a bid offering the necessary bonus, which
was accepted on condition that be would have per-
fect titles to the land (2250 acres which he had pre-
viously shown them) presented within forty-eight

He was then en route for New York to spend the
summer, but boarded the first train back to Bryan,
reported what he had done and, with the help of
other citizens, mainly that of Hon. John N. Hen-
derson, flow Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court, and M. W. McCraw, now deceased, the
money was raised, the lands bought and deeds to
same secured and delivered to the commissioners

within the time specified, and he resumed his
journey to the northern cities, the proudest man in

In this transaction he felt, and still feels, that,
while it brought a paramount blessing to his county,
he also rendered good service to the State. The
position selected for the site of the college being
central, healthy and attractive, and a great trunk
line (the H. & T. C. ) railroad running through the
grounds, which, with its various branches and
multitudinous connections, affords convenient access
to all parts of the State, make it an eminently fitting
location for this great institution.

These services have secured for him many flatter-
ing soubriquets, such as "Father of the County,"
etc., etc.

But his reminiscences are not all of a happy
character. He has had many sad and sorrowful
experiences. He was at one time, most unexpect-
edly, reduced from comparative affluence to a con-
dition bordering on destitution and dependence,
while powerless to prevent it. He was made to
witness the death of his aged father and mother
and the passing away of a beloved sister and two
brothers, who had left happy homes to follow and
be with him in Texas. He was called upon to con-
sign to their little graves four bright, loving and
promising children within one short week. He has
been separated by death from the large majority of
loved ones and intimate friends of the long, long
ago, and is to-day one of the only two living men
who were citizens of Brazos County when it was
organized in 1841. But the supreme, heartrending
grief of his life, was the surrender of his ever
faithful, loving, angelic wife, to the cold. embrace
of death on the 3d day of June, 1885.

It brought a shivering, ponderous darkness to
his soul, from which he shall never be released in
this life, and now, as the thickening and lengthen-
ing shadows of life's evening gather around him,
his chief consolation is that, if it be true that there
is a blissful haven in the great beyond for the
souls of the pure and good of earth's children, she
is surely among the blest, and that ere long he will
be with her, and all the loved ones that have pre-
ceded him and are yet to follow.





The subject ol this memoir was in his day one of
Austin's most active, useful and esteemed citizens
and, as such, was known throughout Central Texas.
He was a native of Indiana and was born on the
Wabash near Logansport, in Cass County, April
4th, 1820. His father, John Miller, was a farmer
by occupation, late in life removed to and located
at Fayetteville, "Washington County, Ark., and
there died in 1875 at ninety years of age. He was
an honest and pious man, raised a family of thirteen
children and left them the inheritance of an honor-
able name.

John T. Miller, of whom we write, grew up on the
farm and acquired a thorough knowledge of all the
details of intelligent agriculture, which for several
vears he pursued. He located with his father near
Fayetteville, Ark., and there married Miss Francis
Cone, who bore him two children : Amanda, born
May 22, 1841, now wife of M. M. Long, a farmer
who lives near Austin, and Jefferson J. Miller, born
January 22d, 1843, who married Hattie Spencer;
both of these are dead and left no children. Mrs.
Miller died in 1843. March 4th, 1845, he married
Miss Eliza Ann, eldest daughter of Rev. Wm. O.
Spencer, at Fayetteville, Ark., and they embarked
in life together by soon thereafter, in 1847, coming
to Texas. They located at Bastrop, where he en-
gaged in the livery business. They soon, however,
in consequence of Mr. Miller's ill-health, paid their
Arkansas home a protracted visit and returned to
Bastrop in 1849. They there remained and Mr.
Miller prospered in business until 1855, when he
transferred his business to and took up his resi-
dence in Austin, where he was soon recognized as a
safe and conservative, but enterprising business
man. He opened and conducted business for many
years at the Southwest corner of Congress avenue
and Bois d'Arc, or Seventh street.

He soon purchased this and adjoining property,
and, as the demands of business warranted, erected
a substantial business block on the site of his stables
and removed his business to the present location of
the extensive establishment of his son, Monroe
Miller, to whom he finally sold in 1874 and practi-
cally retired from aggressive business life, only,
from that time, looking after his property interests.

John T. Miller was a man of unpretentious ways
and in his own quiet manner diligently planned
and labored to accomplish a desired end. He was

aggressive in money-making, but was not avari-
cious. He only sought in his business to supply a.
public necessity and reap a legitimate profit thereby^
He came to Austin when the growing seat of gov-
ernment had the greatest need for a man of his-
stamp. He was a fair type of a successful early-
day business man. He came to Texas with ayoung^
wife and four children, and absolutely without,
means. His sterling traits of character, his natural
business tendencies and his inflexible honor, won.
for him the admiration and confidence of all with
whom he was brought in contact, and were really,,
with bis great industry, the foundation upon which
his successful career in life was based. He saw in
Austin the nucleus of the beautiful city that during
his lifetime it became, and practically evinced his
faith in and materially contributed to her growth
by the investment of his surplus means in substan-
tial business blocks and other property.

He possessed a warm and loyal heart, yet an in-
tensely practical mind, and dealt in a very practi-
cal way with the problems of life as they presented
themselves to him from day to day. Mr. Miller,,
aside from the untimely death of his first wife, was
very fortunate in his domestic relations, receiving
as he did the loving counsel, and sympathetic-
encouragement of his wife, who was to him a true-
helpmeet, ever at his side in times of adversity,,
such as always must mar, at intervals, the career
of even the most successful men. She was ever
ready to applaud and enjoy with him his achieve-
ments and successes. This union was blessed with,
a family of seven children, a brief record of whom,
is herewith given in the order of their biith:

First. Eliza, born June 20th, 1847, married "W.
H. Millican. She died October 8, 1882, leaving^
three children, Minnie, Lilla and "Willie. Minnie
is Mrs. J. D. Randolph, of Travis County.

Second. Monroe, born Jan. 1st, 1850, married for
his first wife. Miss Eliza Stringer, who died without
issue in 1882. His second marriage was to Miss-
Mollie Randle, a daughter of the late Senator Ed.
Randle, and of the present Mrs. T. C. "Westbrook,
of Hearne. They have three children : Monroe, Jr. ,
Nelleen and Randle. He has by purchase suc-
ceeded to and extended the business established by
his father, maintaining in every way its honor and
usefulness, and holds a big position in the business



Third. Miles, born August 22d, 1852, married
Miss Imogene Coulson. Tliey have one son, John
T. He is a successful farmer in Travis County.

Fourth. Emma, born April 1st, 1860, married
Mr. George B. Westlake. She died September 22,
1890, leaving one orphan daughter, Lila May,
whose home is with her parental grandparents at
£1 Paso, Texas.

Fifth. Wallace R., born July 8th, 1862; unmar-
ried. He is a farmer.

Sixth. Ella, born December 29th, 1865, married
Mr. John Whites, of Austin, an accountant in the
Pirst National Bank. Thej' have two children,
Bessie and Eleanor.

Seventh. Clara, born November 29, 1869, mar-
lied Mr. Joseph Shumate, of Austin, a member of
the mercantile firm of Teagarden & Shumate. Mr.
and Mrs. Shumate have one son, Harold.

Mr. Miller was a model husband and father. He
was a member of fraternal societies, but was for
many years a consistent and devout member of the
Baptist Church. He left the impress upon society
•of a busy, honorable career and a valuable estate
to his family.

He died at his home in Austin, February 18th,
1882. Mrs. Miller, still in the vigor of advanced
years, lives at the family home, corner of Seventh
and Brazos streets, in the city of Austin. Her
children, all within easy calling distance, hold
honorable positions in the business and social

Her father, the venerable Rev. W. O. Spencer,
lives at Liberty Hill, in Williamson County, Texas.
He is one of the pioneers of that county, having

come to Texas in 1847, from Fayetteville, Am.
He was born in Illinois, about two miles from Vin-
cennes, Ind., September 10, 1809; a son of Wm.
Spencer. He inherited mechanical genius, and,

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 105 of 135)