John Henry Brown.

Indian wars and pioneers of Texas online

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settlers "lived in neighborhoods within a mile of
Red river, and it was ten years before there were
any white settlements on the prairie. The subject
of this sketch was married, April 18th, 1824, to
John Hanks, a native of Kentucky, who died in
1827. One child, Minerva, blessed this union, is
still living and is the widow of Robert Graham.
The subject of this notice was married the second
time to James Clark, then a member of the Arkansas
legislature and a son of Benjamin Clark, a native
of Tennessee, who at the time lived in Arkansas,
but moved soon after to Texas. To this union three
children were born. The first, Frank H., born
April 27th, 1830, attended law school at Lexing-
ton, boarding with Chief Justice Marshall, and had
the benefit of the advice and association of that
eminent jurist. This bright son and promising
lawyer died in 1856. The second son. Dr. Pat
Clark, is a physician and resident of Red River
County. The third and youngest son of this union
is Capt. .James Clark, a leading and representative
citizen of Red River County. In the fall of 1832,
when Mr. Clark was a resident of Jonesboro, a
settlement on Red river. Gen. Sam Houston crossed
the river with five companions and with one of them
passed his first night in Texas at the house of the
subject of this sketch, his four other companions
being prepared to camp out. He remained with
the then Mrs. Clark awaiting guides to take him to
Nacogdoches, as at that time there were no roads.
The whole party were gentlemanly in dress and
conduct, contrary to a statement published as a
matter of history, that they were intoxicated and

disorderly ; the companions of Gen. Houston were
white men and not Indians, as erroneously declared
in the statement alluded to. James Clark died in
1838 at the late home of his widow in Clarks-
ville, Texas, which city is named in his honor.
This husband and the second of her brothers were
in the war of 1836, and fought for the independ-
ence of Texas and it was through the instrument-
ality of Mrs. Gordon, who at that time was Mrs.
Clark, that a large number of recruits were col-
lected and equipped at her expense and sent for-
ward to aid in gaining the independence of the
Lone Star Republic. The third husband of this
lady was Dr. George Gordon, of Coviugton, Ky.
John, their first son, died while discharging the
duties of a soldier in the Confederate army.
Belle was their second and Dick the third. Dr.
Gordon served in the Confederate army as assistant
to her son (and his step-son) Dr. Pat Clark, who
was surgeon of Gen. Lane's Regiment. Prior to
the time of Mrs. Gordon's arrival in Texas, the
prairies were inhabited by hostile Indians, but from
about 1826 to 1836 settlements were made by
several tribes of friendly Indians, Kickapoos,
Delawares, and Shawnees, who were really a pro-
tection to the whites. There was one Delaware
chief who had lost a hand (he said in the battle of
Tippecanoe), and there is a creek in the neighbor-
hood that derives its name from him — "Cut-
hand." Mrs. Gordon knew many of these Indians,
as they came to trade with the white people.
After the war of 1836, Texas made no provisions
for these Indians, and they returned peacefully to
their homes. The Shawnee chief was called
"Cow-leach," and lived on a prairie four miles
from Clarksville, and it still bears his name.
When our subject was first married, for one year
she lived within a mile of a village inhabited by
friendly Choctaw Indians, and they were good
neighbors. Her nearest white neighbor, a Mr.
Cnllum, was four miles off. The white people at
an early day were in constant dread of hostile
Indians. There was a settlement of Caddos on the
Sabine river, about one hundred and fifty miles
distant, and one of them came and told Mrs.
Gordon that the friendly Indians near had planned
to kill the white people. This was a favorite
trick of the Indians to get the white people to
leave their homes so that the redskins could pillage.



On this occasion the men took the Indian and
whipped him, the whipping talking place near the
house of a Mr. Murphy. Just one year after
a party of Caddos came, found Mr. Murphy alone
with his sled to haul rails, and mending his
fence. He had nothing to do with the whipping,
but they killed him, took his scalp, and had a war
dance over it at their village, as reported by a
trader, who said it was done for revenge, which
must have been the case, as they did not even take
away the horse. Mrs. Murphy heard the gunshot
and went to see what was the matter. The Indians
were gone^ but she found her husband's body.
She was entirely alone and carried'waterto wash the
body, covered it and took the horse from the sled
and rode two miles to her nearest neighbor to give
the alarm.

For the first year after Mrs. Gordon came to
Texas, unless the vessels were brought with them,
the people had none but gourds. For some years
all the cloth was made from cotton, the seeds
picked out with the fingers, then spun and woven.
In those daj's there were cotton pickings, but not
like those of this day. In the long winter
evenings people would meet at a house and pick
X)ut seeds. Then it was ready to spin for making

The pioneers had no chairs, but made stools.
Beds were made fast to the wall. For seven years
Mrs. Gordon never saw a plank floor, as all floors
were made of puncheons — that is, lumber hewn
out of logs. For a number of years there were no
wagons, and people moved in canoes. The men
wore clothes made entirely of deer skins, the skins
of deer and cattle being tanned in a trough. The
nicest shoes were made of deer skins, and our sub-

ject was married to Mr. Clark in a pair made by a
shoemaker named Huey Shaw.

The people had an abundance of food at an early
date, deer and bear meat and fat wild turkeys
being plentiful. The woods were full of bee- trees.
Bread was made by beating out the corn in a
mortar. Later the people had steel mills which
they turned by hand. About once a year a keel-
boat would be pushed up Red river with such sup-
plies as sugar, flour and coffee.

Mrs. Gordon still has relatives living in Ken-
tucky and Indiana, among them the Hamiltons of
Montgomerjr County, in the former State. Judge
Elliott, who was killed at Frankfort, Ky., a few-
years ago, by Judge Buford, was a great-grand-
nephew of her mother.

Mrs. Gordon's name is synonymous with all
that is good and charitable. The wealth which
a beneficent Providence entrusted to her care
was judiciously used for the relief and com-
fort of her fellow-creatures. Her whole life was
spent toward the advancement and good of her
country and its population. For many years her
life was not connected with any religious denom-
ination, but her life and its example could have
been followed to good purpose by many of those
who claimed to have passed through the purifying
fires of repentance. In 1864 she joined the Cath-
olic Church, of which she was thereafter a devout
and consistent member.

The love for this good woman is shown by the
numerous namesakes she has in the States of
Arkansas and Texas. She gave land, lots and
houses to many poor, but deserving, people. Hun-
dreds reverence her memory.

She died in June, 1895, and is buried at Clarksville.



Capt. T. C. Westbrook, born at West Point,
Mississippi, October 1st, 1842, of well-to-do and
highly respected parents, representatives of the
fine old Southern aristocracy of the halcyon days
before the war, had the advantage in youth of care-
ful training and thorough education, graduating
with the rank of Captain from the Military Insti-
tute, at Frankfort, Ky., when seventeen years of
of age, and soon after came to Texas with his step-

father, L. W. Carr, who located with his family on
the rich alluvial lands of the Brazos river bottom
near the town of Hearne,' in Robertson County.
Mr. Westbrook entered the Confederate army in
the spring of 1862 as a soldier in Company B., en-
listing for three years, or so long as the war might
last, and was stationed with his command first on
Galveston Island, then at Virginia Point, and then
at Camp Speight, Texas, near Millican, where the



Fifteenth Texas Infantrj- was organized, with J. W.
Speight as its Colonel, andM. D. Herring, Captain,
and the subject of this memoir Lieutenant of Com-
pany B. The regiment was ordered to Arkansas,
remained at Camp Daniels until 1862, reached
Little Rock in October following, and did garrison
duty at Camp Nelson and Camp Bayou Metre until
shortly before the fall of Arkansas Post, when
it was ordered to Fort Smith, and from thence
through the Indian Territory, to Camp Kiamisha on
Red river. In 1863 the Fifteenth, and the brigade
of which it formed a part, were ordered to Louisiana
to oppose, with the other troops under Gen. Tay-
lor, the advance of Gen. Banks. The brigade was
commanded by Gen. J. W. Speight, Sr., Gen.
King and Gen. Polignac, in the order named,
and participated in the fights at Fordasb,
Bayou Bourdeau, Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Marks-
ville, Yellow Bayou, and numerous skirmishes
and smaller engagements. Capt. Westbrook was
slightly wounded at the battle of Mansfield.
When mustered out of the service at Houston,
Texas, after the final surrender of the Confederate
forces, he held the rank of Captain and was acting
Adjutant of his regiment. A friend, speaking of
his bearing as a soldier, says: "In camp he was
modest and unobtrusive, kind and jovial ; in the
thickest and hottest of the raging battle, cooler
than most men on dress-parade, prompt to act and
utterly fearless. He enj'oyed the respect and con-
fidence of his men and brother and superior ofllcers.
Knowing him as I did, I can truthfully say that he
was as a friend as true and tried as tempered
Damascus steel ; as a soldier and patriot, as brave
and devoted as any man who wore the gray."

Returning to his home in Robertson County he
engaged in farming upon his own account. His
possessions increased from year to year until he
took rank as one of the wealthiest planters in
Texas. He was an ideal, practical farmer — one
of the most successful in the State — and his large
Brazos bottom plantations near Hearne, on which he
continued to reside until his death, showed at all
times the perfection of good management. He
spared no expense in securing and enjoying the
good things of life. He and his beloved wife
(formerly Mrs. Jennie Randle), to whom he was
married December 4th, 1878, dispensed a generous
and wholesale hospitality at their palatial home to
their many friends and the chance " stranger within
their gates." It was his custom, assisted by his
wife, to see that every one on his plantation, black
or white, received each Christmas day some suitable
present. He lived in the half patriarchal, half
princely style of his ancestors and was a noble sur-

vival of the high-souled, warm-hearted and chivalric
gentlemen of a by-gone day. While exact in his
business methods, his hand dispensed liberally to
others of what it gathered. He sympathized with
human suffering and sorrow and sought when he
could to relieve it, and few contributed so much to
the support of the church. It was chiefly through
his influence and exertions that the Hearne &
Brazos Valley Railroad was constructed and put into
successful operation. He was elected president of
the company upon its organization and served in
that capacity up to the time of his death, the road
earning handsome dividends on the money in-
vested, under his management.

He manifested a lively interest in and was active
in support of all worthy enterprises. He was a
life-long Democrat and ardent advocate of clean,
wholesome measures and always interested himself
in helping elect good men to office. He was a
delegate to numerous county and State conventions
and was more than once importuned to become a
candidate for election to the legislature, but de-
clined, having no desire for political honors and
much preferring the quiet and peaceful home-life to
which he Was accustomed. In July, 1893, he suf-
fered from a severe attack of la grippe from which
he never fully recovered. He sought restoration to
health by travel, sojourning for a time in Mexico,
and visiting, among other places, San Antonio, Hot
Springs and Wooten Wells. A month before the
coming of the end he was taken to Mineral Wells
and died there on the 17th of Septenaber, 1893,
leaving a wife, a daughter of Mrs. Westbrook by
her former marriage (Mrs. Monroe, Miller, of Aus-
tiu), two brothers (C. A. Westbrook, of Lorena,
McLennan County, and M. L. Westbrook of
Waco), a sister (Mrs. S. C. Beckman, of Hearne),
a step-father, to whom he had been as a favorite
son ; two nieces and a nephew and many score of
devoted friends to mourn his loss. The announce-
ment of his death cast a shade of sorrow over the
community of which tie had been such a prominent,
useful and honored citizen. The remains were con-
veyed to Hearne in a special car and were followed
to their last resting-place in Oakwood Cemetery by
the largest funeral cortege known in the history of
the town, many of those in attendance coming from
a distance. So ended the career of a noble man.
There is something peculiarly sad in the reflection
that he was cut down in the full maturity of ripened
manhood and when he was surrounded by all the
endearments that render a continuance of life
desirable. However, if ever man was ready for
the summons, he was ready. To his devoted wife
is left the consolation that through her example and




influence he was led to give his heart to God and
to the perfect day of a happy immortality and
that a blessed reunion awaits them beyond the

Mrs. Westbrook is a daughter of Allen Carr, who
came to Texas in 1858 and settled in Burleson
County, were he was for many years a prominent
citizen and she was reared.



Jabez Demming Giddings was one of eight sons
of James Giddings, a farmer of Susquehanna
County, Pa.

James Giddings was descended from George
Giddings, of Saint Albans, Hertfordshire, England,
a gentleman Of property, who emigrated to America
in 1635, settling in the town of Ipswich, Mass.
James was born in Norwich, Conn., June 29th,
1780. At an early age, he entered the merchant
marine, rising to a captaincy, with full charge of
cargo on attaining his majority.

In consequence of a shipwreck off the Carolina"
coast in 1810, by which was destroyed the fruits of
many years of daring adventure and successful
trading, he abandoned the sea and settled on a
farm in the then wilderness of Western Pennsyl-

He was a man of great firmness and bravery and
of an adventurous spirit, qualities generously
transmitted to his numerous progeny.

The mother of J. D. Giddings was Susie Dem-
ming, of Connecticut, whose ancestors were early
immigrants from France, and who distinguished
themselves, as did the descendants of George
Giddings, by their loyalty to the fortunes of the
American Colonies in the Eevolutionary "War.

In 1835 Giles A. Giddings, an older brother of
J. D. Giddings, came to Texas to select and sur-
vey a tract of land for a colony, but finding the
Texians engaged in a struggle with Mexico, joined
the army of Gen. Houston, just previous to the
battle of San Jacinto, and died from the effects of
wounds received in that engagement. The night
before the battle he wrote to his parents a letter
worthy of copying in full as a model of literary
excellence, but from which only a few sentences
will be quoted, as disclosing the patriotic courage
and love of liberty which marks his family.

"It is reported Houston will attack them,
[Santa Anna's army] in the morning. What will
be the result or fate of Texas is hid in the bowels of

futurity. Yet I think we are engaged in the cause
of justice and I hope the God of battles will pro-
tect us. * * * I was born in the land of free-
dom, and taught to lisp the name of liberty with
my infant tongue and, rather than be driven out of
the country or submit to be a slave, I will leave my
bones to bleach on the plains of Texas. » * *

"Be not alarmed about my safety. I am no
better, and my life no dearer, than those who gained
the liberty you enjoy."

In 1838, Mr. J. D. Giddings, having completed
his educational course at the Cassanovia Institute,
New York, came to Texas to settle the estate left
by his brother and, being pleased with the coun-
try, located in Washington County. For about
two years after his arrival he taught school, study-
ing law during his leisure moments.

On a call for volunteers to avenge the raids of
Vasquez and Woll and to rescue the prisoners held
by the Mexicans, he promptly responded and re-
mained with Gen. Somervell's army until it was
officially disbanded, when he, with the great major-
ity, returned home, thus escaping the slaughter at

As a means of support during the prosecution of
his legal studies, he sought the office of district
clerk, was elected, and served four years.

In 1844, he married Miss Ann M. Tarver,
daughter of Edmund T. Tarver, a prominent farmer,
who had moved to the State from Tennessee in

On the expiration of his term of office as district
clerk, he was admitted to the bar, where he achieved
signal success, though numbering among his com-
petitors many of the greatest minds in the State.

Of a genial disposition and possessing a wonder-
fully retentive memory ; warmly sympathizing with
the distressed and aiding the needy with kindly gen-
erosity ; charitable to the faults of others, yet con-
trolling himself by the strictest code of moral princi-
ples, his acquaintance became extensive, and ties



of personal friendship, strong and lasting, were
formed, thus predisposing most juries to a favor-
able consideration of any cause that he might ad-
vocate. His intellectual processes were, however,
distinctly logical and, though impressing his hearers
with the sincerity of his own convictions by the
earnestness of his manner, he yet appealed directly
to their reason by a masterly marshaling of his
facts and the cogency of his arguments. His
energy was indomitable and patience tireless, no
detail of a case being considered unworthy of at-
tention. This completeness of preparation, com-
bined with cautiousness in the enunciation of
legal principles or judicial rulings, gave him a mer-
ited influence with the courts and the degree of
confidence placed in his integrity and executive
capacity is shown by the frequency of his name on
the probate records as counselor or as the fiduciary
agent of estates. Though thorough in the examina-
tion of all questions, he was bold and progressive
in the advocacy of measures conducive to the
advancement of his town, county and State.

He was thus among the first to perceive the bene-
ficial possibilities of railroads and in 1856, in con-
nection with his distinguished brother, Hon. D. C.
Giddings, he assisted in the organization of a com-
pany for the purpose of constructing a railroad
through Washington County and, to prevent the
failure of the enterprise, the firm of J. D. and D. C.
Giddings undertook the building of the road.

The self-abnegation, bravery and constructive
energy of the pioneer settlers of America has made
thejr history pleasant reading to all and their
example has fired the hearts of many struggling for
the political advancement of their race, but the
promoters of the first railroads built in America
are entitled to well-nigh equal admiration, for they
have shown equal ability, equal energy and equal
courage in grappling with difficulties and have, too,
frequently sacrificed the earnings of a lifetime in
their efforts to advance their own and the material
welfare of the country. Though the line built by
J. D. and D. C. Giddings was but a short one, yet
the troublous times during which the work was
completed and the faithfulness with which they
complied with all their obligations to Northern
creditors, not only elevated them to the highest
plane of business capacity, but laid the foundation
of Brenham's present prosperity.

Treasuring as a priceless jewel the liberty gained
on the field of San Jacinto, Mr. Giddings took a
lively interest in all political issues. His wide

acquaintance, knowledge of human nature, and
executive ability made him a party leader of ex-
ceptional power, but his fondness for the pleasures
of home and his aversion to the turmoil of public life
restrained his political aspirations and he refused
offers of office on all but one occasion.

In 1866, when the disorganization consequent
upon the cessation of the war between the States
was most complete, when questions of vital impor-
tance to the peace and happiness of his people were
to be settled, and when many of our best men were
dead or bowed down by discouragement, he accepted
a seat in the legislature and served one term.

He was a religious man. His God was his friend
and counsellor. His Bible was the source of daily
comfort and aid.

The support of his church, her ordinances and
ministers, was with him not only a duty but a posi-
tive pleasure and, though sparing of time and
means for personal indulgence, neither were too
valuable for the advancement of religion or the
cause of charity. This religious element in his
nature enabled him not only to fully appreciate the
sublime beauties of the Masonic ritual, but
, prompted his aspirations to positions of honor in
the order and, as in his church he was elected to
the highest honors possible to a layman, so he held
the highest offices in the three grand divisions of

In 1878 he was thrown from his buggy and, a
few days afterwards, on the 25th of June, died
from internal injuries.

In 1880, the old frame church (in which as
superintendent of the Sunday school he ministered
for over twenty years) was torn down and a hand-
some modern building erected on a more beautiful
spot and dedicated as the "Giddings Memorial

With qualities pre-eminently fitting him for
political leadership, he sought only the advancement
of his friends and the good of his country. A
great lawyer and skilled in all the subtleties of his
profession, he was a willing friend and a chivalrous
opponent of youthful attorneys.

Forgetful of self, but ever indulgent of others,
a ready helper of those in need and denying ad-
vice to none in distress, welcoming all with gen-
erous hospitality, a devoted husband and father, a
true friend and good citizen, he will ever be held
in remembrance, by those who knew him best,
as a noble specimen of God's greatest work — a





Judge William Croft, long a distinguished figure
in Texas and the oldest practicing attorney of the
Navarro County bar, is a native of Mobile, Ala-
bama, born February 9th, 1827.

His parents, "William and Annie Willard Croft,
were natives, the father of England and the mother
of Pennsylvania. His father was for a number of
years a cotton commission merchant of New
Orleans, where he died when the subject of this
sketch was an infant. Judge William Croft, of
whom we here write, was reared in New Orleans
and received his earlier education in the schools of
that city, finishing at Louisville, Ky. He read
law under the Hon. Isaac T. Preston, of New
Orleans, then Attorney-General and afterwards
Judge of the Supreme Court of Louisiana ; came to
Texas in April, 1847, and was admitted to the bar
on May 5th, 1848, at Kichmond, Fort Bend
County, before the Hon. Joseph C. Megginson, of
the First Judicial District. He then entered the
practice at Richmond and followed it in Fort Bend
and adjoining counties until December, 1849, when
he came to Navarro County and took up his resi-
dence at Corsicana. He has since been a citizen
of Corsicana and has been actively engaged in the
practice of his profession at that place, except
while in the Confederate army, a period of two and
a half years. While the war was in progress there
was little or no practice in the courts. The first
session of the District Court, which Judge Croft
attended in Navarro County, was the spring term of
1850. The county having been organized in 1846,
there had been only two or three terms held prior
to that lime and the machinery of the court had not

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 40 of 135)