John Henry Brown.

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Mr. Guenther was born in the town of Weissen-
fels, Prussia, March 19th, 1826. His father, Gott-
fried Guenther, was a successful business man of
that town, who, in early life, was a merchant and
later owned lands and pursued the avocation of a
farmer. He was a man of property and influence.
Hilmar Guenther spent his boyhood and youth on
his father's farm, received a liberal schooling and
learned the business of scientific milling in all of
its branches, which in those days not only involved
the operation of a mill, but also the arts of planing
and millwright. After learning his trade he held a
responsible position as manager of the largest mill
in the city of Zeitz, not far from his home. Upon
the breaking out of the great German revolution of
1848, not wishing to be involved therein, he em-
barked from Bremen for New York City on a sailing
vessel and reached his destination after a tedious
voyage of about nine weeks. He remained in New
York 'about one month, where he took up and pur-
sued the work of a carpenter. He then went to the
now old town of Racine, Wis., a port town on
Lake Michigan. Wisconsin was then a new and
unsettled State, Racine a small trading port, and

the present great cities of Chicago and Milwaukee
were but small frontier towns. At Racine Mr.
Guenther was employed as a miller a portion of
the time. There was not wheat enough raised in
that section to keep this, a merchant mill, in
operation more than three or four months in the
year. He therefore worked as a carpenter and
builder when not employed in his position
of miller. He remained at Racine something
over a year and then pushed on west to the
Mississippi river and took a steamboat for New
Orleans. Water in the river was low, however,
and the boat stranded at Lake Providence, La.
Here Mr. Guenther disembarked and took a con-
tract for building a residence for one Mr. Green, of
Green P. O., not far from Lake Providence. He
completed his contract in due time, drew his money
therefor and returned to New York, took out his
papers of citizenship, and made a trip to the father-
land to visit his parents. He remained at his home
about three months and then, with the full consent
and approval of his parents, returned to the United
States to make his fortune and his future home.
He landed this time at New Orleans where he pur-
chased himself a full kit of carpenter's and mill-
wright's tools and embarked for Texas, reaching
the little gulf port of Indianola in January, 1852.
While he had personally not much means, he had
received assurances from his father that if he found
a favorable opening for business in his line, the
money would be furnished him to engage therein,
and from Indianola he started on a prospecting tour.
He drove with an ox-team from Indianola to San
Antonio. Here for a time he worked as a carpenter
and, not long thereafter purchased a horse and
saddle and prospected for a business location at
Fredericksburg, then a considerable settlement of
German colonists. His coming to Fredericksburg
was welcomed by the people of the colony and his
proposition to build a mill met with much en-
couragement and promises of support, as, up to




that time, the grinding of corn and wheat had all
been done in small hand-mills at the homes of the
settlers. Mr. Guenther located a water-power on
Live Oak Creek about three miles from Fredericks-
burg. He received means from home and erected
the first saw mill and grist mill ever built in that
section of country.

In October, 1859, Mr. Guenther removed to San
Antonio and developed two water-powers on the
San Antonio river in the city. His first mill, now
known as the Lower Mill, was a modest two-run mill
which was propelled by an under shot water wheel.
In 1866-7 he built a second mill on the San Antonio
on Arsenal street and nearer to the business center
of the city. This is known as the Guenther Upper
Mill. As the country settled up the city grew and
Mr. Guenther's business increased. The Upper
Mill has been converted into a hominy mill and grist
mill and the Lower Millequipped as a full-fledged
roller flouring mill. The capacity of both mills
is now four hundred barrels. Mr. Guenther has
ever been an enterprising business man, always up
to and fully ifibreast of the times and alive to the
growing demands of a progressive city. As he
succeded in business he invested his surplus in
local business enterprises and San Antonio prop-
erty. In 1870 he embarked in the manufacture of

ice on a small scale, and later organized the South-
ern Ice & Cold Storage Company, of which he is
president, and the enterprise has developed into
large proportions.

Mr. Guenther married at Fredericksburg, in
1855, Miss Dorethea Pape, a daughter of Mr.
Fritz Pape, one of the flrst settlers of the Fred-
ericksburg colony. She has proved a loving and
faithful wife and mother, and a genuine helpmeet,
sharing cheerfully in all of her husband's reverses
and enjoying with him his final prosperity.

Mr. and Mrs. Guenther have seven children.
Mr. Guenther has afforded his family excellent
school advantages. All are married and occupy
honorable positions in society and business circles.
Mr. and Mrs. Guenther live at their old home on
Guenther street in the quietude of declining years,
enjoying the fruits of honorable, successful and
well-spent lives, and in the enjoyment of the
society of their children, grandchildren, and a
wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

Mr. Guenther never cared to enter public life
or took especial interest in politics, but has been
essentially a business man, only taking such
interest in matters affecting the welfare of his
city, country and State, as good citizenship re-



Bryant Stoneham, now in his eighty-eighth year,
is the sole surviving representative of the first gen-
eration of Stonehamsthat located on Grimes Prairie,
in Grimes County, Texas. His grandfather, per-
haps the first Stoneham that ever put foot on
American soil, came over from England in colonial
days, and settled in what is now Amherst County,
Va. Ho had four sons, George, Henry, Bryant,
and James, and two daughters. The oldest
son, George, enlisted as a private in the war of
1812 and was never heard of afterwards. His son,
Henry, at the age of fourteen, ran away from home
to serve in the'Eevolutionary War; he served five
years in this war and was wounded at the battle of
Guildford's Court House. Henry afterwards mar-
ried, in Amherst County, Jane Dillard, a native of
Fredericksburg, Va., Bryant and James died in

Hancock County, Ga., at the ages respectively of
108 and 110,years.

Henry Stoneham and his wife Jane (Dillard)
Stoneham moved from Virginia to Georgia in the
year 1801. There were born to them eight sons,
viz. : George, Henry, John, William, James, Bryant,
Erastus, and Joseph, and seven daughters, Mary,
Susan, Jane, Eliza, Martha, Sophia, and Hester.
Henry Stoneham, the father of these children, died in
Hancock County, Ga., in 1815. His sons, tak-
ing their widowed mother, drifted westward from
Georgia, locating for a time in Alabama, but all
ultimately locating in Grimes County, Texas, except
Joseph, the second oldest, who died in Alabama,
leaving a number of small children. The minor
children of Joseph were brought to Texas by their
uncle and guardian, George Stoneham.



Jane (Dillard) Stoneham, died on Grimes Prairie,
June 3d, 1858, beloved and respected by all who
knew her, at the extreme age of 105 years.

The Stonehams of this generation (the children
of Henry and Jane Stoneham) and indeed for gen-
erations back, were an exceptionally hardy people ;
all owners of slaves, nevertheless hard workers
themselves, the women manufacturing, by the crude
means then known to Southern people, nearly all
the cloth used for the household and the slaves.
The men inured to much hardship, also actively
participated in outdoor sports and grew to be splen-
did examples of physical manhood. Their powers
of endurance, capacity for labor, industry, perse-
verance, integrity and manly deportment secured
them wealth and the respect and admiration of
their fellow-men, as well as accounted for their un-
failing cheerfulness and abiding hopefulness of dis-
position, and their long and useful lives. The
sterling integrity, industry, thrift, enterprise and
hardiness of this generation of Stonehams may not
improperly be said to have been largely inherited
from their mother, for in her industry and enter-
prise were realized King Lemuel's description of the
ways of a virtuous woman: "She considereth a
field and buyeth it ; with the fruits of her hands
she pl'anteth a vineyard."

Several of Henry and Jane (Dillard) Stoneham's
children lived to a remarkable old age. Their son
Henry, long to be remembered for his Christian
character, his charity, his love for children and his
exalted integrity, died in Grimes County at the ad-
vanced age of ninety-five years. Their daughter,
Susan, never married, remarkable for her industry^
respected and loved for her noble character, died in
Grimes County at the age of ninety-seven years.
Another daughter, Mrs. Thos. J. Shackelford, died
in Jackson County, Ga., in 1895, at ninety-one
years of age.

None of the sons of this generation of Stonehams
are now living except Bryant, and none have left
issue, to any extent, except Joseph. He married
Rebecca Crowder near Milledgeville, Ga., after-
ward moved to Alabama, and both he and his wife
died in Conecuh County in that State in 1835, leav-
ing six sons and two daughters. The two daugh-
ters (Caroline and Martha) married in Alabama.
The two youngest sons (William and Sebron) died
in Alabama in boyhood. The remaining four boys,
George, John, Henry, and Joe, are the minor chil-
dren referred to as having been brought to Texas by
their uncle and guardian, George Stoneham.

John Stoneham, a son of Joseph Stoneham, and
of the second generation of Stonehams that came
to Texas, was born in Conecuh County, Ala.,

December 20, 1829. When a small boy he attended
school at Evergreen, Ala. His uncles being slave
owners, and desirous of obtaining richer and
cheaper lands than could be readily procured in
Alabama, left that State in 1845 and in preceding
years, taking him with them and his orphan broth-
ers in 1845. Most of them made their way overland
with wagons and teams and camp equipage enough
to make the party comfortable. Those that came
with the orphans arrived on Grimes Prairie in 1845.
They found on Grimes Prairie and vicinity, upon
their arrival there, the following well-known people :
Judge Jesse Grimes, for whom Grimes County was
named ; Mrs. Margaret Mclntyre and her two sons ;
Franklin J. Greenwood and family; Maj. Pierson
and family ; Gwyn Morrison and family ; Andrew
and Edley Montgomery and their families. What
an inviting prospect this section of country must
have presented to the energetic and enterprising
Stonehams! Kich lands of marvelous productive
capacity, well timbered and watered ; sleek cattle
on every hillside and an abundance of game were
all found there. Indeed this was a land flowing
with milk and honey and after over half of a cen-
tury of constant tillage these lands yield bountifully
to the hand of industry.

John Stoneham and his orphan brothers, under
the influences of pioneer life, grew to manhood on
Grimes Prairie. Here they were sent by their
guardian to such schools as from time to time the
people of that sparsely settled country were enabled,
in that primeval day to secure. Upon John at-
taining to his majority, his guardian, who had
judiciously managed his father's estate, placed him
in possession of his portion. He at once invested
in lands and began to follow farming, the vocation
of his father. He was married to Evaline Green-
wood, daughter of the venerable Franklin J. Green-
wood, on the 20th of October, 1853. John Stone-
ham and his brothers George, Henry, and Joe,
served in different capacities on the Southern side
in the late war. Joe was killed at the battle of
Mansfield in Louisiana. He left a widow and four
sons, all of whom are dead. George never mar-
ried ; he died the 12th of July, 1874. Henry died in
Milam County, Texas, leaving a family of girls and
boys, most of whom are married and live in dif-
ferent counties of the State. Since the war John
Stoneham actively engaged in farming, and, to some
extent, stock-raising, and, for about ten years prior
to his death, merchandised. He lived till his death
in the vicinity of Grimes Prairie and during
his long and useful life a large family of children
grew up about him. By frugal and judicious
management he acquired large bodies of valuable



land. As a citizen he was liberal and public-
spirited. Upon the building of the Gulf, Colorado,
and Santa Fe Railway through Grimes County (in
which he actively interested himself in a financial
way, giving the project his hearty support) a
station was built on lands he owned and named for

The life of John Stoneham was characterized by
a rigid simplicity. The sincerity and honesty of
his deeds and words were transparent, and felt and
appreciated by all worthy people that knew him.
He was a devoted member of the Methodist church
and gave liberally to churches and schools. The
beautiful little church at Stoneham and the school
at that place stand as monuments to his zeal for

the cause of Him whose whole life was one of com-
plete, loving self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.
His unselfishness, integrity, good will for his
fellow-man, his charities, and especially his loving
self-sacrifice for his family, will ever cause his
memory to be honored and revered and, above all,
will it be sacredly enshrined in the hearts of .his
widow and children. He died at Stoneham, Texas,
on August 3d, 1894, in his sixty-sixth year, and
friends from far and near came to pay their last
tribute of respect and love when he was laid to rest
in the old burial grounds on Grimes Prairie. He
left a widow and eight sous, who have inherited his
estate. His sons are among the most thriving and
respected citizens of Grimes County.



J. B. Polley, of Floresville, Wilson County,
Texas, was born in Brazoria County, Texas, in 1840.
His father, J. H. Polley, and his mother, Mary
(Bailey) Polley, were natives respectively of New
York and North Carolina. J. H. Polley left New
York in 1818, made his way to St. Louis and there
joined Moses Austin and made a trip to Texas in
1819. Then, returning to St. Louis, he joined
Stephen F. Austin as one of the original three hun-
dred who came to Texas in 1821. Subsequently,
he married Miss Mary Bailey, whose father, J.
Britton Bailey, had settled on the Brazos river, op-
posite Columbia, in the year 1821. The couple
lived at the edge of Bailey's Prairie until 1847 and
then moved to the Cibolo, about thirty miles east
of San Antonio — the husband dying in 1869 at the
age of seventy-three, the wife dying in 1888 at
the age of seventy-eight. Eleven children were
born to them, of whom J. B. Polley was the sixth.

The subject of this sketch, J. B. Polley, gradu-
ated at the Florence Wesleyan University at Flor-
ence, Ala., in 1861, returning home just in time to

avoid the blockade of the Texas coast. Enlisting
in Company F., of the Fourth Texas, he served four
years in Hood's Brigade, participating in most of
the important battles in which that command was
engaged. Wounded in the head during the first
real battle, that of Gaines' Mill, he lost his right
foot in the last real battle in which his regiment
participated, on the Darbytown road near Rich-
mond, October 7, 1864.

Marrying Miss Mattie LeGette in 1866, Mr.
Polley read law and was admitted to the bar in 1868,
but did not begin its practice until 1876, when he
moved to Floresville, the county seat of Wilson
County. He was County Attorney in 1877 and
1878, served as a member of the Sixteenth Legis-
lature in 1879, and since has been engaged in the
practice of his profession.

His children are: Josephine Goldstein, the wife
of E. M. Goldstein, of San Antonio, Texas ; Hortense
Rudisill, the wife of L. O. Rudisill, of Fort Worth,
Texas ; Miss Mattie Polley, Joseph H. and Jesse
Polley, the latter born in 1881.





The lamented Judge Devine was born of Irish
parentage, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the 28th of
February, 1820. His early opportunities for an
education were liberal and in addition to his En-
glish studies he acquired considerable proficiency
in the Latin and French languages, but he was in
early life thrown upon his own resources, and when
but fifteen years of age emigrated to Florida and
was there employed as clerk and salesman in a
mercantile house at Tallahasse, but his aspiring
genius found little congeniality in the mental re-
straints^ and fettering routine of a life of trade.
The cravings'of his mind and the soaring flights of
his youthful ambition impelled him to exertions to
reach a more compatible sphere, and, in 1838, he
began the study of law in the oflSce of Trexton
Davis, a prominent lawyer of Woodville, Miss.
In 1840 he went to Lexington, Ky., where he
continued his studies and attended lectures in
the law department of Transylvania University,
from which he graduated in 1843 and in the same
year obtained his license to practice from the
Supreme Court of Kentucky.

During that year he emigrated to Texas and
located at La Grange, in Fayette County, and he
soon thereafter removed to San Antonio, where he
established himself in the practice of his profession
and lived until his death in 1890.

Judge Devine acquired a high reputation as an
able and thorough lawyer. In 1844 he was elected
City Attorney of San Antonio and held the oflBce
by successive re-elections until 1851, when be was
elected District Judge of Bexar County. He was
re-elected to the bench in 1856 and held the posi-
tion until the outbreak of the war between the
States. He was a leading member of the Texas
secession convention in 1861, and was a member of
the committee of public safety, appointed to con-
fer with Gen. Twiggs, the commander of the
United Suites troops in Texas, and demand the
surrender of all the government arms, ammuni-
tion and military stores and the immediate re-
moval of the Federal troops from the State.
This, in conjunction with two other gentlemen
of the committee, he accomplished with the
skill of a thorough diplomatist and received the
commendation and thanks of the convention.
Being an ardent devotee and supporter of the
Southern cause and a lawyer of eminent ability, he

was soon afterwards appointed Confederate States
Judge for the Western District of Texas. The
functions of this office, though necessarily limited
in extent and application during the time of war, he
performed with the utmost fidelity, and with a view
to the importance of putting the machinery of the
new court in proper motion. In 1863 his admirable
qualities of statesmanship and knowledge of inter-
national law were again called Into requisition. At
the request of Gen. E. Kirby Smith, he proceeded
to the city of Mexico and succeeded in arranging
amicably the threatened troubles between the
Mexican and the Confederate States governments.
In 1864 there was great dissatisfaction in Texas
in consequence of the conscript law and the em-
bargo laid by the Confederate government upon
trade between Texas and Mexico, and serious
troubles were threatening to arise between the gov-
ernment of the State and the Confederacy, but the
patriotism, ability and the pacific qualities of Judge
Devine arrested all evil, and, having promptly
repaired to Gen. Smith's headquarters in Arkansas,
he arranged the whole matter satisfactorily to all
parties involved.

Thus, as a judge and peacemaker, this good man
united in his person and in his official character the
noblest qualities of a citizen and patriot and rend-
ered his country the most valuable and the happiest
of all services, the promotion of unity and concord
and the direction of its energies against the common
enemy. At the termination of the war he saw no
hope for his country through the clouds that settled
over it and he took up his abode in Mexico, but
Texas was his home. To her he owed all that he
was, or had been, and his heart was chained to her
destiny. He returned to San Antonio within a few
months, but his known ability, prominence and in-
fluence as a Southerner, drew about him the shafts
of revenge and he was arrested by the Federal
authorities and incarcerated at Fort Jackson at the
mouth of the Mississippi and there confined during
a period of about four months, after which he
returned to San Antonio, quietly resumed the prac-
tice of his profession, placidly awaited the abate-
ment of the storm and watched with anxious gaze
the restoration of the social and political wreck
which the war left in its pathway.

In 1873 Judge Devine was appointed by Governor
Coke an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of




^^^^^^^U^^^^^Bi* W ^z^^^^^^^^^^m.

^^^^^^HWVV°^ ^^^B~^^^^l




Texas. After a short but eminent career upon the
bench, he found that the duties of the bar which he
had so long cultivated and cherished were congenial
to his tastes as well as far more remunerative, and in
1875 he resigned and returned to his law practice at
San Antonio, which, from that time until his death,
he pursued with vigor and uninterrupted devotion.
Judge Devine did not incline to politics or public
life. Under protest from him, his friends in 1878
made him a prominent candidate for Governor of
Texas and, aside from this, he never permitted his
name to be used in connection with any political
oflSce. Judge Devine was regarded as one of the
ablest lawyers of the Texas bar. He was a man of
great intellectual vigor and superior mental en-
dowments and, while he possessed much of the
humorous vivacity and spontaneous repartee char-
acteristic of his parentage and the race from which
he sprung, candor and sincerity were the ruling
traits of his character. He was patient and thorough
in his investigations and an excellent legal coun-

sellor. His uniform courtesy and mild disposition
and his aptness on proper occasions to adorn with
good-natured jest the dull and monotonous features
of legal argument, rendered him an engaging ad-
vocate and gave him great power before a jury.
His oratory often rose to the highest stand^d of
eloquence. As a judge his decisions were charac-
terized by an independence of judgment and a
freedom from the restraints of doubtful precedent
that commended them to practitioners as the
emanations of profound learning, thorough research
and conscientious conviction.

He held the scales of justice in even balance and
no feature of wrong, however speciously attired,
could disturb their equipoise. His judgments
were fixed upon the firm basis of law and right. In
private life Judge Devine possessed the noblest
qualities. He was kind, charitable and public-
spirited, and always ready to respond to every
meritorious demand as a friend, a neighbor and a



Col. W. B. Aikin was born in Burke County,
North Carolina, January 23, 1805. His father,
John Aikin, a native of Ireland, came to America
at the age of twenty-three years, was a farmer by
occupation, and died in Mississippi in 1838. Col.
Aikin's mother, Mrs. Anne Aikin, was a daughter
of Samuel Aken, of Pennsylvania. She died Feb-
ruary 5th, 1867. Her father lived to the mature
age of one hundred and six years.

The subject of this memoir left his native State
in 1823 and went to Jefferson County, Ala., where
he resided until 1831. He moved to Noxubee
County, Miss., in that year, and in 1847 to Cass
County, Texas, where he resided until 1860, and
then moved to Red River County. In 1872 he
made his home in Paris, Lamar County, Texas, and,
until the time of his death, was prominently identi-
fied with the commercial and social interests of that
thriving little city. He was always largely engaged
in agricultural pursuits and left a landed estate of
about fifteen thousand acres of land situated in La-

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 42 of 135)