John Henry Brown.

Indian wars and pioneers of Texas online

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before reaching his majority, became a skillful car-
penter and, later, a blacksmith, which occupation
he followed for several years. Upon his arrival in
Texas, he first lived at Bastrop. He has followed
farming as his chief means of livelihood in Texas,

He has been twice married: first, in July, 1829,
to Miss Amy Willcoxon, who died in 1852, leaving
four children, of whom Eliza Ann (Mrs. Miller) was
tlie eldest. Mrs. Spencer was born in Ash County,
N. C, in 1810. For a second wife, Mr.
Spencer married a widow Spencer, whose maiden
name was Margaret C. Smilie. She bore him three
children, having, also, four children by her former
marriage. Mr. Spencer has served in the itinerant
Baptist ministry nearly all of his mature life; has
never engaged in politics to the extent of holding
office ; is a member of the order of Ancient, Free
and Accepted Masons, and is an Andrew Jackson
Democrat, firmly grounded in the faith. During
the years 1861 to 1865 Indians became troublesome
in Williamson and adjoining counties, and Mr.
Spencer served as Captain of a minute company and
ranged the country, holding the marauding Indians
in check during that period. Mr. Spencer lives at
his old home during his declining years, enjoying
the esteem and respect of a wide-extended acquaint-
ance, the affectionate regard of an appreciative
community, and the love of his children and of his
grandchildren, of whom there are fifteen.



Escaped from New Orleans, where he was a pris-
oner of war in May, 1863, and came to Brownsville,
having been promised a position on his staff by
Oen. Magruder, whom he had known in Virginia.
Is a son of Edward A. Michel, a native of Charles-
ton, S. C, who came to New Orleans in 1810 at
the age of ten years, and although but a boy, par-
ticipated in the battle of New Orleans, January
«th, 1815.

Edward A. Michel was of French descent, his
father, Lazarus Michel, having been a Lieutenant in

the French navy under Napoleon the First. Ed-
ward A. Micliel married Miss Sulamite Benit, a
daughter of Capt. J. B. Benit, who commanded a
military com|)any at the battle of New Orleans,
where he lost his life.

Hon. John A. Michel is the fourth-born of a fam-
ily of seven children. Upon coming to Texas he
identified himself with the material and political
interests of Cameron County and soon became an
influential and popular citizen. In past years he
has held the office of Assessor of Cameron County



two terms ; has served as City Tax Collector of
Brownsville one year ; served as Alderman of the
city of Brownsville several terms and served as act-
ing Mayor of Brownsville one year. He has been
an active worker in the development of the excel-
lent school system which Brownsville possesses.
He now holds the responsible position of Collector
of United States Customs at Brownsville, the du-
ties of which office he has shown himself well
qualified to discharge.

Mr. Michel married, in 1857, Miss Louise Des-
forges, a native of New Orleans, a member of one
of the oldest families of the Crescent City. Her
grandfather, Adolphe Desforges, served as a soldier
at the battle of New Orleans, where he was severely

Mr. and Mrs. Michel have four children — three
daughters and one son.

Mr. Michel is one of Brownsville's most highly
respected citizens.



Occupation, farmer. Born November 26th, 1838,
in Alabama. Father, E. Norsworthy, of North
Carolina. Mother, Kebecca (Hargrave) Nors-
worthy, of Alabama. Educated at Tuscaloosa
College, Ala.

Came to Texas in April, 1860 ; located first at
Jasper, Jasper County ; left Jasper in January,
1868, and went to Morehouse Parish, La. ;
remained there until 1873 and then came to Orange,
where he has since resided. While at Jasper he was
engaged in merchandising, and while in Louisiana
in raising cotton principally. Upon locating in
Orange he embarked in merchandising, which he
continued to follow until 1892, when he engaged in
rice-farming, three miles from the city, which has
proven a very profitable business. At the beginning
of the war between the States, in 1861, he organized a
cavalry company in Jasper County known as the
Lone Star Eifles and reported to Gen. Ben McCul-
locb about the 15th of August, 1861, in North
Arkansas and was thereupon attached to Whitfield's
Battalion. Tiie company took part in the battle of
Elk Horn the following April and was then trans-
ferred to the branch of the army east of the Missis-
sippi river, with which it served during the remain-
der of the war, and participated in many hard

fought battles, among the number, those at Corinth,
luka, Thompson's Station, Franklin and the heavy
fighting around Atlanta, during the latter being
sixty-four days under fire and wounded four times.
Three of these wounds were received at Thompson's

He had thrilling experiences while on picket duty
just south of Atlanta on the Chattahoochie river,
riding very unexpectedly upon two companies of
Federals, who ordered him to halt. His horse was
shot from under him, his coat perforated with
seven bullet holes, but he succeeded in making good
his escape. He was promoted to Major later on,
near the close of the war, was promoted to Lieu-
tenant-Colonel of Whitfield's Legion.

Maj. Norsworthy has now in his possession the
battle-flag of Whitfield's Legion. Although tat-
tered and torn by shot and shell it is still the pride
of his heart.

He is a member of the Baptist Church and
Masonic fraternity, holding the Royal Arch degree
in the latter. Married, May 9th, 1866, to Miss
Mattie Wingate, in Newton County, Texas. He
was elected Mayor of Orange in 1880 and served
until 1884, his administration meeting with the
hearty approval of his fellow-citizens.





The Hon. William Neale is now eighty-five years
of age, but with the exception of a partial loss of
vision, retains the powers of vigorous manhood.

He sits now in his arm-chair, surrounded with
every comfort, attended by relatives, gazing with
dim eyes at the well-filled book cases lining the
walls and containing those friends, the books, over
which he once burned the midnight oil ; but they
are silent now, forever, and he turns inward to his
wonderful memory for solace in his declining years.
Mr. Neale is the acknowledged oldest inhabitant of
Brownsville, and possesses the faculties of the
chronologist and narrator in an eminent degree,
coupled with a most engaging manner.

Mr. Neale is an Englishmaa, and calls himself a
cockney, from the fact of his having passed his
youth in London, where he was " raised " accord-
ing to Yankee parlance. He ran away from home
and went to sea when quite a lad, but he had already
acquired such stability of character that he at once
began the keeping of a diary, and continued the
habit throughout his rambles over the world. He
had in this manner amassed a fund of information
which would have been of infinite value to posterity,
had it not been destroyed by the insatiable Cortina,
when that much dreaded chieftain drove Mr. Neale
and his family from their home and burned it to the

Mr. Neale's career on this side of the Atlantic
began with his service on board the first frigate in
the Mexican navy of 1821. The vessel was pur-
chased in England, the ammunitions of war and arm-
ament being placed on board secretly. The boxes
that apparently contained dry-goods were opened
after putting to sea, and found to contain cannon-
ades and other articles for fitting out a warlike
expedition. The ship was run into a convenient
but isolated harbor, where she was pierced for forty-
four guns, and in a short time set sail for Mexico.
The frigate captured Castle Ulloa, a Spanish for-
tress guarding the harbor of Vera Cruz and per-
formed good service in the cause of Mexican

After the country had passed from under its 300
years of Spanish rule Mr. Neale traveled extensively
through Mexico and met and formed the acquaint-
ance of many prominent men of the time, which
outlasted all the political convulsions through which
the country passed.

Upon completing his travels in Mexico he settled
in New Orleans, where he learned the trade of
house, sign and ornamental painter, pursued the
business there for several years and then in 1834,
went to Matamoros, Mexico, established only a few
years previous.

At that time there was not a habitation of any
kind on the present site of Brownsville, and when
Gen. Taylor occupied the point in 1846, there were
not more than a dozen Jacals (huts) scattered
about the vicinity among the fields of cotton and
corn. Wild horses and cattle roamed over the
whole country, and hostile Indians were numerous.
Mr. Neale met men who were conspicuous as leaders
in the Texas Revolution and being a British subject
was enabled to befriend some of them. Mr. Neale
lived at Matamoros for seven years. Barney
Blannerhassett — a young man of excellent family,
who had strayed into the Southwest in the train of
Aaron Burr, not getting fight enough in the corn-
pan}' of that individual, had sought greater excite-
ment on the border, was indebted to Mr. Neale for
saving his life at a critical moment. Young Blan-
nerhassett had been seized bj'' the Mexicans and
was pretty roughly handled, when Mr. Neale passed
the spot. Blannerhassett was tightlj' bound and
threatened with speedy death and begged Neale for
laudanum, in order that he might cheat his captors;
but, instead of giving him the drug, Mr. Neale
interceded for him with the officials, and secured
his release.

A few years after the Texas Revolution, and
before the Mexican War, Mr. Neale established a
line of stages from Matamoros to Point Isabel,
starting from the present location of Brownsville.
Mr. Neale's stages were pressed into service by
Gen. Taylor as ambulances, were cap'ured and it
was in his attempt to recover them that he first met
the General and had an interview with him. These
events occurred after the bombardment of Fort
Brown, which Mr. Neale witnessed from the top of
a windmill that stood between the two Mexican
forts built by Gen. Ampudia, for the defense of
Matamoros, on the right bank of the Rio Grande,
one at Santa Cruz Point, called Fort Conejo, and
the other at the upper extremity of the city, called
Fort Paredes. From his elevated position Mr.
Neale could plainly trace the shells as they sailed
through the air, and had a bird's eye view of the



battle waged between Fort Brown and the Mexican
forces, in the early days of May, 1846.

After the Mexican War Mr. Neale estal)lished
his stage line and did a good business for a number
of years. He had been identified with the route for
, twenty years, when he was forced to abandon it by
the unsettled state of the border. There was a
marked contrast between the early days of his stag-
ing and those near the close. He carried a great
deal of silver coin, having sometimes a hundred
thousand dollars on a single wagon. The money
was packed on open-work bags made of grass and
the metal glittered in the sunlight or reflected the
rays of the moon, as the case might be, but he was
never attacked for the treasure and did not lose a
single dollar by theft, although he would frequently
miss buckles and parts of harness. The bad state
of the "roads sometimes compelled him to pile up
thousands of dollars on the wayside and leave it
until the next day, when he would And it as he left it.

Smuggling was carried on most openly in the
early forties. Vessels would arrive off the bar,
without any manifest or clearance papers whatever,
and from that vantage ground the owners of the
goods would bargain for the best figures. The
merchants soon got rich. Mr. Neale built a house
in Matamoros in which the nails cost him fifty cents
a pound. At the same time you could buy a good

mule for $10.00, a cow and calf for $1.50, and mares
for $1.50 each. When the English offered a dollar
a piece for hides, it was considered such a good
price that guns were brought into service to slaugh-
ter the animals, and beef, or jerked meat, was such
a drug in the market, that, when a customer asked
for a picayune's worth, he was handed a knife and
told to help himself. Up to 1852 there had not been
a pound of butter made in the country, and many
of the inhabitants had never seen any. In 1852
Mr. Neale took up a ranch at Santa Maria, twenty-
five miles up the river from Brownsville. During
Cortina's raid, Mr. Neale was forced to abandon a
large amount of live stock, a store filled witli valu-
able goods, and a furnished house, fleeing with his
famil3' to save their lives. A little later his son was
one of Cortina's victims in the Brownsville raid.
Mr. Neale then settled in Brownsville, and was there
at the outbreak of the war between the States.

In November, 1863, he went with his family to
Matamoros, after narrowly escaping the machina-
tions of Gen. Cabos ; remained there a short
time, sent his family back to Brownsville, and, later,
returned there himself. Since the summerof 1865,
Mr. Neale has lived in Brownsville, in peace and
quietude. He is now enjoying the confidence and
high esteem of four generations who surround him
with well merited honors.



A well- to-do farmer living at Boerne, Kendall
County, Texas, came to America in December,
1852, landing at Galveston, January 1st, 1853,
accompanied by a friend, Otto Frederich ; went
from Galveston to New Braunfels via Indianola,
spent two months at New Braunfels and one year
in San Antonio, where he worked at gardening and
then, in 1854-6, served as wagon-master from Port
Lavaca to El Paso, making occasional trips into the
mining districts of Arizona. In 1861-4 he served
the Confederacy as a ranger on the Texas frontier
under Col. Jones. He was married ,1861, to Miss

Mary Beyer, of Bexar County. They have three
children: Clara, now Mrs. Henry Clemmens;
Bertha, now Mrs Adolph Weyrick, of Boerne, and
Adolph, who married Miss Ida Phillip, of Boerne.
Mr. Harz was born October 22, 1824, in Saxony.
Mrs. Harz' father, Antone Beyer, a German by
birth, came to America in 1844 from Bohemia,
where he owned a woolen factory. He devoted his
attention to farming after coming to America.
Mrs. Harz was born in Bohemia, February 5, 1844,
and was two and one-half years of age when her
family reached this country.




This gallant pioneer, whose name was long fa-
miliar in every cabin in tlie land, was an early set-
tler and ever ready to meet a public enemy, whether
Indian or Mexican. He was, physically, a man of
portly and commanding presence, a pure, blue-
eyed blonde, with a native suavity and dignity
deemed by book worms and cloistered scholars un-
attainable attributes to men of cabin and forest
life — a complacent assumption disproven by many
of the early and bnckskin-attired defenders of in-
fant Texas.

Capt. York was one of two brothers (Allison
York being the other), besides several sisters,
who first settled on the Lavaca and afterwards
west of the Brazos in Austin County. He partici-
pated in numerous expeditions against the Indians
and always exhibited the ability to lead. In com-
mand of a company in the citizen army before

Bexar in 1835 he and all his men volunteered to
follow the intrepid Milam in storming that strongly
fortified place, defended by Gen. Cos and about
1,.500 Mexicans. The contest lasted from the 5th
to the lOtli of December, though Milam fell on the
8th, and terminated in the capitulation of Cos to
his tliree hundred assailants. No royal insignia of
merit or valor bestowed ever conferred greater
honor on a body of men than was won by the citi-
zen heroes who triumphed at Bexar, and none of
that gallant band exhibited more determined cour-
age than Capt. John York.

In 1846 he removed to the Colleto creek, in De-
Witt, where the pretty village of Yorktown per-
petuates his name.

His death, in command of a company west of
the San Antonio river, in 1848, in a contest with
ambushed Indians, is elsewhere narrated.


This modest but gallant man was a volunteer
from Georgia and one of those who escaped slaugh-
ter in the Fannin massacre in March, 1836. He
long lived at the exposed frontier village of Seguin
and from 1838 to 1855 was in most of the expedi-
tions from that section against both Indians and
Mexicans, frequently serving as commander of a
company or detachment. In March, 1842, he com-
manded a company in the retreat from iSan Antonio
before the Mexican column of Vasquez, the writer
of this being a subordinate officer under him. He
also commanded a company in the battle of Salado,
September 18th, 1842.

As senior officer of three small volunteer com-
panies, in 1855 he pursued a party of Lipan and
Kickapoo Indians across the Rio Grande to their
chief encampment near San Fernando, twenty-
seven miles inside of Mexico and there had a
bloody fight. He was soon confronted by over-
whelming odds, including large numbers of Mexi-
can outlaws, and was compelled to retreat, but in

doing so displayed such admirable tact and courage
as to not only preserve the utmost coolness among
his followers, but to repulse the frequent attacks of
his pursuers. His wounded, including little B.
Eustace Benton, whose brains were oozing through
a bullet-hole in his eye, were successfully brought
away. This heroic youth, now of Pine Bluff,
Ark., was carried for that long dista^ice by Capt.
Wm. A. Pitts, of Austin, who placed the wounded
and unconscious boy in his saddle and rode behind
him on the same horse, tenderly holding his little
friend in his arms. This scene with bullets whiz-
zing from a relentless foe, and the father (Col. Nat.
Benton) wrought almost into frenzy by what he
considered the death wound of his only child,
involuntarily recalls the legend of Damon and
Pythias. Another youth, Willis, the son of the
Hon. William E. Jones, wag left dead on the field.
The enemy expected to greatly cripple Callahan's
force while recrossing the Rio Grande at Eagle
Pass, but in this they were disappointed by the



timely action of the United States commander,
Capt. Burbank, of Fort Duncan, on tiie Texas
bank, who turned his guns so as to rake the west-
ern bank and by this ocular demonstration said to
the pursuers: "If you attack my countrymen
while the}' are crossing the river, I shall pour shot
and shell into your ranks." The admonition had
the desired effect and unquestionably saved many
lives. It won the heart of Texas to that gallant
officer, who hazarded his commission in the cause

of humanity, as did his second in command, Capt.
John G. Walker, afterwards a Confederate Major-

Capt. Cillahan about this time settled on the Rio
Blanco, in Hays County, and soon afterwards fell
a victim to assassination, regretted by all who
knew his worth and his services to the country. It
was the privilege of the writer, joyfully exercised
in the Legislature of 1857-8, to name the county
of Callahan as a tribute to bis memory.


To dwell on the characters of the early pioneers
and portray their courage and virtue has ever been
a sad pleasure to the author, the more so because of
the oft-repeated and unpardonable falsehood that
Texas was originally settled by refugees from jus-
tice, and outlaws from the United States — a more
infamous slander than which never fell from human
lips or pen. In the plenitude of His mercy the
God of our fathers and our God never allotted to
the wilderness of any country, as its pioneers, a
grander or purer-hearted people than those who
first settled the colonies of Austin, DeWitt, Robert-
son, De Leon, Powers and Hewitson and MoMuUen
and McGloin in Texas. They were neither outlaws
nor refugees from justice, but fathers and mothers
who came here, under the enticing colonial laws of
Mexico, in search of lands so munificently tendered
that they hoped to be able to give to. each son and
daughter, as he or she married, a landed home of
his or her own, rather than to have them become
tenants to some rich landholders, as in the older
States and in all old countries. To even do this
required a courage, morally and physically, worthy
of the highest commendation, for this country was
then a vast wilderness in the possession of roving
bands of treacherous, bloodthirsty and hostile sav-
ages. There was no field for robbers, for there was
nothing to rob. There was no field for murderers,
for love and mutual affection and dependence per-
vaded every household. There were no drunken rows,
for whisky was unknown in the great bulk of the
country. Peace, harmony, mutual dependence and
mutual regard pervaded every cabin from the Trin-
ity to the San Antonio. The only murder ever

committed for robbery in colonial Texas, from 1821
to the Republic in 1839, was by one stranger upon
another — by the son of an ex-Governor of Ken-
tucky. The murderer was arrested, tried, and
sentenced to be hung, but died in prison before the
day of execution. Can the world surpass such
facts in the settlement of any wilderness country?
But in the comparison, remember that Texas was a
foreign and a wilderness country, settled by for-
eigners, born to the use of the pistol and rifle, and
then the comparison more distinctly stands forth in
vindication of the early pioneers of Texas. No
man who has lived fifty or sixty years in Texas can
make the comparison to-day of the " then " and the
" now " without a sense of pain. I speak for my
fellow-men and women, as one who has seen, has
been a part of and lived through both eras of our

It is a solemn and indisputable fact that among
the earliest pioneers of Texas there was an extraor-
dinary per cent of the purest, most refined and lov-
able women, and in this and succeeding chapters I
desire to speak of a few of them as fair representa-
tives of the class to which they belonged.

The first to be mentioned was Angelina Belle
Peyton, born in Tennessee, the daughter of an early
Virginia surveyor located in that then new State,
and a sister of the long -noted Bailie Peyton. She
married her cousin, Jonathan C. Peyton, and as a
young bride landed at the mouth of the Colorado,
on Matagorda Bay, in one of the first schooner-
loads of immigrants (both arriving at the same time)
in February, 1822.

This young couple, in due time, settled at the



new towa of San Felipe, on the Brazos. Two chil-
dren were born to them — Alexander G. Peyton
and Mag, who became a pet child of Travis, Bowie,
the Wharton brothers, the Jack brothers, Lesas-
sure, Stephen F. Austin, R. M. Williamson, and all
the prominent men of that day. She was a beauti-
ful child. Mr. Peyton died before the revolution,
leaving these two little children. Mrs. Peyton,
with a few household servants, thrown upon her
own resources, opened a hotel in San Felipe, wh'ch
became the headquarters of the most distinguished
men of Texas. When the revolution broke out in
1835, and San Felipe was the virtual capital of the
country, she was thus occupied, and was known
throughout Texas, not only as a devoted patriot,
but as one of the handsomest and most queenly
women ever born in the valley of the Mississippi.
In his celebrated and only speech before the coun-
cil, in December, 1835 (of which an account has
been elsewhere given), Col. James Bowie, while
appealing for active service and justice, said: —

" My attendants are encamped under a tree, my
horses are shivering on the prairie as the sleet falls,
and I am a guest on the bounty of that grandest of
American women in this country, Mrs. Angelina B.

At the close of the revolution Mrs. Peyton mar-
ried Capt. Jacob Eberly, who was in the ranging
service, and when Austin was founded in the
autumn of 1839, she built, opened and kept the
Eberly house in that place. In the dismal periods
of 1843, connected with what is historically known

as the Archive war, her son, Alexander G. Peyton,
was murdered in the streets of Austin. Capt.
Eberly died not far from the same time and this
early pioneer mother found herself again alone,
with only little Ma^, the early pet of San Felipe,

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 106 of 135)