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Indian wars and pioneers of Texas online

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campaign the Democracy of Texas divided in the
famous Hogg-Clark contest. Governor Hogg made
a most remarkable canvass and beat the Clark fol-
lowing and the most able and popular Populist
candidate for Governor Texas ever had (Judge T.
L. Nugent) by nearly 60,000 plurality.






Dr. Richard M. Swearingen was born in Noxubu
County, Miss., on the 26th day of September, 1838.
He is the lineal descendant of Garrett Van Swear-
ingen, who emigrated from Holland to Maryland in
1645, and the son of Dr. E. J. Swearingen and
Margaret M. Swearingen, who settled in Washington
County, Texas, in 1848.

His father was a pioneer in the cause of educa-
tion, and was the projector of the splendid schools
that, in ante-bellum days, made Chappel Hill
famous throughout the State. His mother was the
daughter of Maj. Boley Conner, of Irish descent,
who was an officer under Jackson in the War of
1812. She was a lady of gentle manners, marlied
individuality and deep piety. In the new town,
made by their efforts and a few congenial friends a
center of wealth, culture and refinement, their
children, Sarah Frances, Patrick Henry, Helen
Marr, Richard Montgomery, John Thomas, and
Mary Gertrude, were raised and educated.

R. M. Swearingen was growing into manhood
when the political excitement of 1860-61 began to
shake the foundation of the government. Fiery
denunciation of Northern aggression and stormy
oratory was the order of the day. Reason gave way
to passion, and men seemed driven by inexorable
forces on to an inevitable destiny.

The voice of Sam Houston rang through the land
like an inspired prophet, but was drowned in the
whirlwind that heralded the impending war.

The subject of this sketch, nearly thirty years
after the guns of Fort Sumpter sounded the death
knell of peace, with satisfaction records the fact
that he was one among the few who stood with the
immortal Houston in opposing and voting against
the ordinance of secession. When, however, his
State, by an overwhelming majority, went out of the
Union, he felt in duty bound to give his allegiance
to her, and responded to the first call ever made
for troops.

On the 28th day of February, 1861, he embarked
at Galveston, under Gen. McLeod's command, for
the lower Rio Grande. After a six months' cam-
paign in the regiment of that well-known and gal-
lant old frontiersman, Col. JohnS. Ford, the young
soldier returned to his home in Chappel Hill. After
resting a few days, information having been re-
ceived that his younger brother, J. T. Swearingen,

was sick at Cumberland Gap, Tenn., he started for
that place.

J. T. Swearingen had left the State some months
before, with troops bound for Virginia, but having
been refused enrollment on account of extreme
youth, left them at Knoxville, Tenn., and volun-
teered in Brazelton's battalion of Tennessee cav-
alry. The brave boy had served under the ill-fated
Zollicoffer, in Kentucky, and had won the admira-
tion of his comrades, but the rough campaign had
too severely taxed his physical powers, and rest
was imperatively demanded. The ordinary methods
to secure his discharge having failed, the older
brother took his place in the ranks, and for the
second time donned the uniform of a Confederate

The new company joined was commanded bj''
Capt. A. M. Gofarth, who, a few months later, was
promoted Major of the regiment, and who fell at
its head, sword in hand, leading a desperate

About two months after the brothers had changed
places, the company was reorganized, and the gen-
erous Tennesseeans elected the only Texian in the
company their First Lieutenant, and in less than
six months promoted him to the Captaincy. For
nearly three years he commanded this noted com-
pany ; noted, not only for faithful and arduous
services rendered during the war, but for the brill-
iant successes made by some of its members after
the war had closed. Pryor Gammon, of Waxa-
hachie, Texas, was First Lieutenant ; George Moore,
Louisiana, was second ; and Sam. M. Inman, of
■Atlanta, Ga., was third. Mr. D. C. Williams, of
Collinsville, Ala., and James Swann, of the firm of
Inman, Swann & Co., of New York, and Sam.
Dick, of the firm of S. M. Inman & Co., were Ser-
geants. John H. Inman, of New York, now one of
the railway kings of this continent, was a member
of the company. The firms of Inman, Swann & Co.,
and S. M. Inman & Co., rank high among the'great
business housesof the world, and he who commanded
the men who made those houses great, through per-
haps the stormiest periods of their lives, gives to
history this testimony, "that fame and fortune,
for once, found men worthy of their richest offer-

During the occupation of Cumberland Gap, while



on a scout in the mountains of East Tennessee,
Private Swearingen was prostrated with pneumonia,
and left in Sneedville, at the house of Mr. Lee
Jessee. This trifling episode would not be worthy
of record, bat for the fact that Mr. Jessee had an
accomplished daughter, named Jennie, who was
very kind to him while sick, and who won his life-
long gratitude and affection. During the subsequent
years of the war, neither distance nor danger de-
terred him from seeing that genial, happy family,
whenever it was possible to do so. On the 12th
day of September, after a rough and perilous
journey over the mountains from Sneedville (then
within the enemy's lines) to Jonesville, Va., Miss
Jennie Jessee, in the presence of her brave, sweet
sister, Sallie, was married to Richard M. Swearin-

Ten days after the marriage, upon a dark night,
Capt. Swearingen ventured into Sneedville, to tell
his wife and the family good-bye, but before the
words were spoken, the house was surrounded
by a company of mountain bushmen, and he
was forced to surrender. For two weeks he was
in the hands of these hard men, suffering all kinds
of cruelties and indignities. Once he was tied,
apparently for prompt execution, and would cer-
tainly have been killed, but for the interference of
one Joab Buttry, who had once been the recipient
of some kindness from Mr. Jessee, his wife's
father. Buttry was the chief of the band, and his
hands were stained by the blood of many Confed-
erates. He had seen his own brother shot down in
cold blood by a scouting party of Confederate
soldiers, and the bold mountaineer, then a quiet
citizen, hoisted a black flag and enlisted for the

During the days of imprisonment, the young wife
and her friends were not idle. A written proposi-
tion from Gen. John C. Breckenridge, commanding
the department, "that he would give the bushmen
any three men that they might name, then in Con-
federate prisons, in exchange for their prisoner,"
was accepted. That same day the chief of the
band, alone, took his captive to the north bank of
Clinch river, and released him, with expressions of
good will.

Joab Buttry seemed made of iron, but through
the dark metal would shine the gold of a noble
manhood, that desperate deeds and a desperate life
had not altogether obliterated.

After his fortunate escape, Capt. Swearingen
started on a long hunt in search of his lost com-
pany, and found it not a great distance south of
Ealeigh, N. C. The space allotted him in this vol-
ume of biographies will not permit even a casual

notice of the incidents and experiences of those
eventful years. Th'e company participated in many
engagements ; was with Bragg in Tennessee, Kirby
Smith in Kentucky, Joseph E. Johnston in the
retreat through Georgia, with John H. Morgan
when he was killed, with Hood at Atlanta, and
again with Joseph E. Johnston in South and North
Carolina. To enable the reader to form some esti-
mate of the hardships of the Confederate service,
the statement is here made that this company, the
last year of the war, did not possess a tent or
wagon, or anything in the shape of a cooking
vessel. Their rations of meat were broiled upon
coals of fire, and the cornmeal cooked in the same
primitive fashion. Notwithstanding these depriva-
tions, the men, as a rule, were happy, buoyant,
capable of great physical endurance, and they
wept like children when, among the tall pines of
Carolina, their flag went down forever. In obedi-
ience to the cartel of surrender, Capt. Swearingen
marched the company back to Tennessee, before
disbanding it.

That last roll-call and parting scene on the banks
of the French Broad river is one of those clearly
defined memory-pictures that possibly live with our
souls in higher forms of existence.

For three years those men had shared each
other's dangers, and under the shadow of a com-
mon sorrow, the humiliation of a hopeless defeat,
they were to look for the last time upon each other.
The commanding officer, whose route at that point
diverged from the one to be taken by the company,
fronted them into line and tried to call the roll, but
failed to do so. He then moved around by the
roadside and they filed by, one at a time, and shook
his hand. There was a profound silence ; no one
attempted to speak a word, and every eye was filled
with tears, as the curtain rolled slowly down upon the
saddest act in that long and weli-jDlayed drama of

Capt. Swearingen, a few weeks later, assisted by
his wife, was teaching a country school at the foot
of the Cumberland Mountains in Lee County.

In the autumn of 1865, information having
reached him of a requisition from Governor Brown-
low, of Tennessee, upon Governor Pierrepont, of
Virginia, for his arrest and return to Sneedville,
the newly-installed teacher abruptly closed his
prosperous school.

Capt. Swearingen was confronted with an indict-
ment for some unknown offense, and the trial of
Confederates in East Tennessee, at that time, was
on the style of drumhead courtmartials, with ver-
dicts prepared in advance. To remain there, only
twenty miles from Sneedville, was not to be thought



of; to go elsewhere for safety, and leave his
wife without a protector and without money, was
another dilemma equally as painful as the first.
About 10 o'clock, the first night after closing the
school, while the husband and wife were discuss-
ing the situation, a rap upon the door, and an
unforgotlen voice, announced the arrival of the
young brother, who four years before had been
found at Cumberland Gap, only a few miles from
the place of their second meeting. J. T. Swear-
ingen had heard of his brother's dangerous sur-
roundings, and, selling about all of his earthly pos-
sessions to get funds for the trip, went to his relief.

The next morning R. M. Swearingen left his
wife in safe hands and started for Texas. At
Huntsville, Ala., he awaited (as had been previously
planned) the arrival of those left in Virginia, and
with bright faces they journeyed on to Alta Vista,
where the best of all good sisters, Mrs. Helen M.
Kirby, received them with open arms.

The State was then going through the agonies of
reconstruction, and the machinery of the govern-
ment was virtually in the hands of military rulers
and reckless adventurers. Old customs and sys-*
terns, and ties, and hopes, and fortunes, were lost
forever, but the old South, crushed to earth, with
vandals on her prostrate form, and bayonets at her
breast, bravely staggered to her feet and faced a
glorious future. The courts were closed, or only
opened to make a burlesque of justice and a
mockery of law.

In such a reign of anarchy, the profession of
medicine was the only one of the learned professions
that offered any promise of immediate success, and
Capt. Swearingen selected it for his life work. He
at once commenced the study, and graduated iff the
school of medicine, New Orleans, March, 1867, de-
livering the valedictory, and located in Chappell
Hill. The friends of his parents, and the friends of
his youth, received him with great kindness, and
when the yellow fever epidemic of that year deso-
lated the town, he was conspicuous as a tireless
worker among all classes, and was rewarded with a
patronage both gratifying and remunerative. His
wife, as courageous as when tried in the furnace of
war, would not leave her husband, although urged
by him to do so, rendered faithful services to the
sick, and survived the epidemic, but her only child,
beautiful little Helen, was taken from her.

In 1875 Dr. Swearingen removed to Austini
where he still resides, and where a clientelle has
been secured that satisfied his ambition, and enabled
him to provide comfortably for those dependent on
him. His family consists of wife, one daughter
(Bird), now happily married to E. B. Eobinson,

their baby (winsome Jennie), and his wife's niece,
Miss Lulu Bewley. When the yellow fever epi-
demic of 1878 made such fearful ravages in the
Mississippi Valley, he responded to an appeal for
medical assistance made by the relief committee of
Memphis, Tenn., and with his friend. Dr. T. D.
Manning, reached that city the 3d day of Septem-
ber. From there they were transferred by the
relief committee to Holly Springs, Miss., where
they organized a hospital service that did effective
work until the close of the pestilence.

The good accomplished, however, viewed through
the dim lights of human understanding, seemed
dearly bought, for in less than two weeks after they
had entered that valley of death, a thousand hearts
were sorrowing for the young, gifted and dauntless
Manning. The great loss of life, and the destruc-
tion of property caused by that wide-spread epi-
demic, induced the Congress of the United States
to enact a law, authorizing the President to appoint
a board of experts upon contagious diseases, con-
sisting of nine men, and directed them to prepare a
report upon the causes of epidemics, and also to
suggest some plan of defense against subsequent
invasions, for the consideration of that honorable
body. Dr. Swearingen was a member of that board,
and the bill creating the National Board of Health
was drawn in accordance with the plan presented to
Congress by that board of experts.

January, 1881, Governor O. M. Roberts ap-
pointed Dr. Swearingen "State Health Oflflcer,"
and in 1883 Governor John Ireland reappointed
him to the same position. Under the guidance of
those two distinguished executives, he controlled
the health department of the State for six consecu-
tive years. He has always been a zealous friend of
public schools, and has been a member of the board
of trustees of Austin City schools since the free
school system was inaugurated. He is a member
of the American Public Health Association, and the
president of the State Medical Association, num-
bering more than 500 active, progressive physicians.
In January, 1891, Governor James S. Hogg ten-
dered Dr. Swearingen the office of State Health
Officer, and that gentleman accepted the honor and
entered upon the duties of the position.

By his friends he is classed among conservatives,
but is positive in his convictions, and was never
a neutral upon any great moral or political ques-

He has made some reputation as a speaker, but
has no aspirations in that line. His last effort, un-
dertaken at the earnest solicitation of old Confed-
erate soldiers, was made in the House of Repre-
sentatives, December 11, 1889, to an audience of



two thousand people. The occasion was the mem-
orial service in honor of Jefferson Davis.

It is Dr. Swearingen's wish to have the address
appended to his biography, not on accoiintof any
special merit claimed for it, but to perpetuate, and,
if possible, to make imperishable some evidence of
his love and admiration for a pure, a good and
great man.


"Me. Chairman, Ladies akd Gentlemen — The
unsuccessful leaders of great revolutions loom up
along the shores of time as do lighthouses upon
stormy coasts, all of them brilliant and shining afar
off like stars ! But few of these men have left be-
hind them substantial evidences of their greatness,
or monuments of their works. Their names are not
often wreathed in the marble flowers that glisten
upon splendid mausoleums. Tradition tells no
story of loving hands having planted above them
the myrtle and the rose, and of manly eyes paying
to their memories the tribute of tears. History
can now write another chapter. Last Friday, when
the wires flashed the news to the uttermost borders
of civilization that the ex-President of the Confed-
erate States was dead, a wave of sorrow swept over
the fairest portion of the earth. The soldiers of the
dead Confederacy were bowed down in grief, and
men and women, from the Potomac to the Rio
Grande, talked in low, tremulous tones of their old
chief, and the glorious record he had made.

"This occasion will not permit even of a brief re-
view of his illustrious life, nor an analysis of the
' why ' he formed a new republic, nor the ' how '
that young republic, after a colossal struggle, went
down beneatl^the tread of a million men.

" Jefferson Davis was the ideal Southerner — the
highest type of American manhood.

"For four consecutive years he was the central
figure in the stormiest era in the world's history.
Around him gathered the hopes of a nation, and
upon his shoulders rested her destinies. At his
■word legions sprang to arms, and his name was
shouted by dying lips upon every field of battle.

' ' Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since
the last shell exploded over the contending armies.

Green forests have grown up in the rifle pits and
in the trenches. An universal charity has thrown
a white mantle of forgiveness over the men who
fought beneath the stars and stripes, and over thai
gallant few who followed to the death the waning
fortunes of that ' bonnie blue flag ' we loved so well.

" Through all these years the dark-robed reaper
has been busy at his work, striking with impartial
hand the fearless hearts that formed the lines, and
the lofty plumes that led the van.

"Lincoln, Grant, Sheridan, Thomas, Albert Sid-
ney Johnston, Lee, Jackson and Bragg have long
since passed to the other shore, and to-day the mar-
tial form of Jefferson Davis, clothed in the uniform
of gray, is consigned to mother earth.

' ' Death never gathered to her cold embrace a
purer Christian ; the cradle of childhood never
rocked to sleep a gentler heart ; the fires of martyr-
dom never blazed around a more heroic soul ; the
Roman eagles, the lilies of France nor the Lion of
St. George never waved above a braver, truer sol-

" On the field of Monterey, wounded and almost
dying, he bore through fire and smoke the victor's
wreath ! In the counsels of State he wore the in-
signia of a leader, and when his ofBcial light went
out forever, he won the glory of a martyr. Crushed
down by defeat, cast into the dungeons of Fortress
Monroe, unawed by manacles, unterrified by a fel-
on's death that seemed inevitable, this ideal South-
erner, this leader of the lost cause, was still true to
his people, and rose above the gloom of his sur-
roundings, tall, majestic and eternal as the pyra-
mids that look down upon Sahara. As bold Sir
Belvidere said of kingly Arthur, ' The like of him
will never more be seen on earth.'

"Farewell, my peerless, unconquered old chief.

" Your fame will go down the ages as the purest
and grandest of mortals ; and I do pray that your
mighty spirit has found some beautiful spot on the
ever shining river, where no beat of drum nor clank
of chains shall mar the melody of golden harps
when swept by angel fiagers ; where no prison walls
can hide the light of the throne, and where the
smile of a loving God will fall around you for-




The Houston & Texas Central Eailvoad is
known throughout Texas and the whole United
States as the pioneer railroad line of Texas. It was
founded by men who took part in the early develop-
ment of the State, and they gave to the location of
this great line the results of their knowledge of its
agricultural capacities, and the lay of the land
affecting the movement of products toward the
proposed line.

They planted this railroad at the head of tide-
water on Buffalo bayou, at the city whose name is
linked in song and story with that immortal day at
San Jacinto, when the Lone Star of Texas rose
resplendent over the ever glorious field of San
Jacinto — Houston.

Here, where the flow of the Gulf of Mexico rests
against the alluvial deposits from the great prairies
on the divide between the Brazos and the San
Jacinto rivers, was started, in 1853, that great rail-
road which, in every stage of the development of
Texas, since its first fifty miles was built, has dem-
onstrated the wisdom of its route and its hold on
the business of the State. It has the open sea at
its base of operations, and the goodly land of Texas
on each side to give it sustenance. The Trinity
lies about sixty miles to the eastward, and the
Colorado about 100 miles to the westward. It
commands the rich lands of the Brazos for- about
160 miles, and thence almost due north to Denison,
making a total distance from Houston of 338 miles.
As it leaves the waters of the Brazos, the Trinity,
which has been on a line almost parallel to the east,
now bears to the westward, and the road is soon
among its tributaries. Then, touching the main
stream at Dallas, it continues through a region thus
watered, until it reaches the tributaries of the Red
river, near its terminal point. These contiguous
water-courses give the drainage and moisture that
insure growth and constant sustenance to the crops.
The bottoms of the rivers and creeks are subject to
but occasional overflows, have rich alluvial, while
the uplands of prairie and timber have a great
depth_ of fertile soil, varying according to the
peculiar features of the region, its elevation and
geological formation. The trade of the prosperous
cities on its line from Houston to Denison, and its
close connections with Galveston, have made the
cross lines, which have been built by other interests,
feeders to an extent which more than overcomes

At Austin the Houston & Texas Central connects
with one of the new lines working harmoniously
with its system, the Austin & Northwestern Rail-
road. This line penetrates the great county of
Williamson, and thence through Burnet and Llano
counties to its present terminus among the Granite
Hills, fronl whence come the thousands of tons of
rock for the Galveston jetties.

At Garrett, on its main line, 234 miles from
Houston, another of its feeders, the Central Texas &
Northwestern Railway, and Fort Worth & New
Orleans Railway, pour into its lap the business of
those rich counties, which lie between the main line
and the famed city of Fort Worth, and the business
which flows from and through to the Gulf.

The Lancaster Branch from Hutchins gives to
the enterprising town of Lancaster, in Dallas
County, an independent connection.

The Houston Direct Navigation Company, which
carries out to the Gulf over 400,000 bales of cotton
via the Houston Ship Channel, is one of the prin-
cipal connections of Houston.

The lines of the Houston & Texas Central cover
the richest agricultural region of Texas, embracing
the timbered and rolling prairie region from 100
to 700 feet above the Gulf, resting upon the "Timber
Belt" beds of sandstone and limestone, which al-
ready are quarried to a considerable extent. The
soils are red clay, red sand or mulatto, just as they
are underlaid by sands or clays respectively. On
many of the uplands there is a gray sandy soil,
grading down into a red subsoil, which is especially
adapted to the growth of fruit. This whole area
from Houston to the Red river will compare favor-
able with any region of the world in its combination
of rich soil.

The controlling interest of this great line is princi-
pally in the hands of capitalists connected with the
Southern Pacific Company, and although under a
separate management, it is operated in harmony
with the great Southern Pacific system of railways
and steamships.

Since the Houston & Texas Central Railroad was
completed in 1876, a number of new and important
lines have been constructed, affecting, in part, the
territory from which its main business comes, yet
its advantageous position continues to assert itself.
It carries to tide water annually about one-fourth

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 132 of 135)