John Henry Brown.

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the organizers of the Taylor Compress Company of
Galveston, established in 1875, and has since its
organization been secretary and treasurer of the

During the late war Mr. Gonzales organized the
Gonzales Light Battery, composed of 150 men,
which was mustered into the Confederate army
and did good service both in the defense of
Galveston and in the support of Gen. Dick Taylor
in Western Louisiana. This battery, which was
made up of picked men and thoroughly equipped,
was the pride of Gen. Magruder, commander of
the department of Texas, and being stationed
along the water front was one of the chief sources
of his reliance in the great naval battle fought at
Galveston, January 1st, 1863.

The following is a copy of the official report
made by Capt. Gonzales of the part taken by his
battery in the engagement : —

Galveston, January 6th, 1863.
CoL. X. B. Debray, Commanding.


I have the honor to report the part taken by my
battery of light artillery, in the engagement, on this
island, on the morning of the first inst. I re-
ceived orders to proceed with my battery and to es-
tablish it in three sections on the strand, as fol-
lows: One section, the left, at the foot of the brick
wharf near the Hendley building ; the center sec-
tion at the foot of Kuhans wharf near Parry's
foundry ; and the right at the foot of Hutching's
wharf near what is known as " The Iron Battery."
Maj. George R. Wilson commanded the left;
Lieut. R. J. Hughes was in command of the center



and the right was under my own command. The
fire was opened at about half-past three in the
morning from my left section, the Major-General
commanding in person, firing the firgt gun. This
being the signal to commence firing, the battery
opened and the firing was continued until about
daylight when orders were received to cease firing
and to withdraw the pieces, the battery having
fired 317 rounds.

I have to report the following casualties : —

In Maj. Wilson's section: Private Louis Gebour,
leg broken at the knee, amputated and since

In my section : Private J. R. Smith, wounded in
the hip ; Private T. Frederick, head and shoulders —
severe but probably not mortal ; Private P. Lynch-
comb, head, slight.

No other casualties occurred. The officers and
men behaved well and though under fire for the first
time, and very much exposed, handled their guns
with coolness and did their work bravely.

I have the honor. Colonel, to be, very respect-
fully, your obedient servant,

Thomas Gonzales,
Capt. Light Artillery, C. S. A.

Mr. Gonzales' career has been principally of a
business nature. He served as a commissioner of
Cameron County for one term during his residence
at Point Isabel and since coming to Galveston has
been frequently importuned to become a candidate
for various local offices, but has uniformly declined
to yield to such solicitudes and has taken only a
passing interest in political matters. He is a con-
servative Democrat, believing in the fundamental
principles of the Democratic party and, within the
bounds of reason and common sense, in party or-
ganization ; but opposes bossism and blind parti-
sanship and all else inconsistent with individual
liberty and the purity o the ballot-box.

As stated, Mr. Gonzales' marriage took place in
New Orleans just previous to his permanent re-
moval to Texas in 1850. His wife was born in
Philadelphia, December 20th, 1833, and was a
daughter of Pierre Boyer. She was connected by
blood and marriage with some of the oldest and
best families of the United States; among them
were the Verplanks and Rumseys of Fishkill,
N. Y., the Weathereds of Baltimore, the Sykes
of St. Louis and the Caverlys of Delaware.
Her brother. Dr. P. C. Boyer, was a physician of
prominence in New Orleans during and since the
war. Mrs. Gonzales was mainly reared in New
Orleans, in the schools of which city she received
her education. She was an accomplished young
lady who, though accustomed to all the comforts
and luxuries of wealth, cheerfully came to this new
country to help her husband make a home and win
a fortune. To Mr. and Mrs. Gonzales six children
were born, four sons and two daughters ; one of
the children, a son, died in infancy ; another, a
daughter, at the age of seven fell a victim to the
yellow fever epidemic of 1867, and a son, Thomas
E., died February 19th, 1892, when thirty-three
years of age. Their surviving daughter, Daisy,
was married to Francis Coolidge Stan wood, a cotton
dealer, and resides in Boston', Mass., while the two
remaining sons, Boyer and Julian Caverly, are
business men at Galveston, the former a member
of the firm of Thomas Gonzales & Sons, cotton
dealers, and the latter paymaster and accountant for
the Taylor Compress Company.

On January 3d, 1895, after a brief illness, Mrs.
Gonzales, died at her home at Galveston, sincerely
mourned by her family and a large circle of friends,
to whom she had endeared herself by her kindness,
charity, fortitude and other womanly virtues.

The religious connection of Mr. Gonzales'
family is with the Episcopal Church, upon the ser-
vices of which all are regular attendants.



Judge Bennett Blake, of Nacogdoches, was born
at Sutton, Vt., November 11, 1809. His parents,
Mr. Samuel Dow Blake and Mrs. Abigail (Lee)
Blake, natives of New Hampshire, emigrated to
Vermont in 1792 and established themselves in

Sutton, Caledonia County, where they resided until
their respective deaths. They left eight children.
The subject of this memoir attended local schools
for three months in the year during a number of
years and acquired a fair common-school education







and, when twenty-five years of age, went to Bos-
ton, Mass., where he remained until March 16,
1835, and then, determining to try his fortune in
Texas, took passage on a sailing vessel bound for
New Orleans. Very rough weather was encountered
on the voyage and it took the ship forty-two days
to reach its destination. From New Orleans he
proceeded up Red river to Natchitoches, La., and
from thence overland to Nacogdoches, at which
place he arrived May 3, 1835, with $20.00 in his
pockets, and shortly thereafter employed a guide,
and with three companions, started out afoot to
look at the country. The guide proved to be in-
competent and got the party lost in the woods.
After wandering about for over four days without
food they succeeded in making their way back to
Nacogdoches. Here Judge Blake obtained employ-
ment as a clerk in the land-office, under George W.
Smith, who was commissioned to put old settlers in
possession of lands north of the San Antonio road.
In September of that year (1835) two surveyors,
whose compasses were at Natchitoches, La., one
hundred and ten miles distant, offered $150.00
to anyone who would bring the instruments to
Nacogdoches within four days. Judge Blake
undertook the journey, accomplished it in three
days and a half and was paid the sum promised.

Of a bold and resolute spirit he was among the
foremost in every expedition designed for the pro-
tection of the country.

Davy Crockett, when on his way to take part in
the Texas revolution, stopped in Nacogdoches for
several days. During the time he took his famous
oath in the old stone fort to support the cause of
the Texians, not for the restoration of their rights
under the constitution of 1824, as was then being
sought, but until their absolute independence should
be achieved. While in the town he delivered a
speech to which Mr. Blake had the pleasure of
listening. He reports "Old Davy" as having
closed his speech as follows : " We'll go to the City
of Mexico and shake Santa Anna as a coon dog
would a possum."

The fall of the Alamo, the massacre at Goliad,
and the butchery of Johnson's and Grant's men
on and beyond the Nueces and the continued
retreat of Houston before the Mexican army,
sweeping victoriously eastward in three divisions,
cast a gloom over the country and the arrival of
the merciless invaders in the eastern part of the
province was daily expected. The roads about and
beyond Nacogdoches were lined with women and
•children fleeing to Louisiana for safety. None
were afterwards seen in any part of that country
until the God of Battles smiled upon the Texian

arms at San Jacinto. The Indians taking advan-
tage of the unsettled condition of the country were
committing numerous murders and depredations.
Mr. Blake and two companions at this time were
appointed to protect the retreat of the fugitives and
watch the Indians, whom it was feared would rise
and attempt an indiscriminate massacre. He and
his comrades discharged the trust with vigilance and
courage. Judge Blake served under Gen. Rusk, in
1839, in his expedition against the noted Cherokee
Chief Bowles who had organized a formidable In-
dian insurrection. On one occasion during the cam-
paign Gen. Rusk offered a furlough of ten days to
anjf of his soldiers who would carry a dispatch from
where he was stationed, north of the Sabine, to
Nacogdoches, seventy-five miles distant, and de-
liver it upon the day of starting. The purport of
the message was a warning to volunteers not to
leave Nacogdoches for his camp except in parties
fifteen or twenty strong, as there were many In-
dians upon the road. It was a perilous mission
to undertake, but Judge Blake volunteered to per-
form the service. He was mounted on a fine
horse and made the trip in the time appointed.
He saw but one Indian on the road and gave
him a lively chase, but says that he felt no
exaggerated longing to overtake him and was
rather gratified that the distance widened rather
than diminished between them, and the Indian
finally lost to view. On arriving at Nacogdoches
he found Mrs. James S. Mayfield standing
guard, with a belt of six-shooters around her waist
and a shot-gun on her shoulder. The young men
had all taken the field against the Indians and left
the old men and women to protect the settlement.
Many of the women of those days were good shots
and of undoubted courage. At his request Judge
Blake was permitted to relieve her and stood guard
for the rest of the night, but says that he was very
tired and is inclined to the belief that he put in the
greater part of the time that intervened to day-
dawn sitting on the ground with his back against a
tree. Mr. Blake remained in Nacogdoches about
four days, and finding it very lonesome, returned to
his companions. Shortly thereafter he partici-
pated in the two days' battle that resulted in a
signal victory for the whites and so completely
crushed the spirit of the Indians that no general
uprising ever after occurred. On the second day
when the Cherokees and their allies had retreated,
Bowles, while heroically trying to rally them, re-
ceived two or three gun-shot wounds and fell from
his horse. A moment later the Texians, firing right
and left as they rode, charged directly over his
body. Bob Smith and Judge Blake were side by



side and Smith, seeing around the fallen chief's
waist a red belt holding a sword that Gen. Houston
had given him (Bowles) in former days, stooped
over to jerk it off. As they tugged at the belt
Bowles rose and Smith shot him through the head
and the noted Indian warrior tumbled forward upon
his face and expired without a groan. In the two
days' fight one hundred and eight Indians were
reported killed. Two of the whites were killed and
twenty-eight wounded.

In February, 1841, the Indians made a raid
through the Nacogdoches country and murdered a
man named Jordan. A party of settlers, flfty-two
in number, Judge Blake among them, hastily
assembled and started in pursuit. They had a
severe experience, having to walk a greater part of
the time, as the roads were so boggy they could
not use their horses. They were three days with-
out food and at the end of that time had only suc-
ceeded in traversing a distance of seventy-five miles.
The expedition proved fruitless. This was the last
expedition against the Indians in which Judge
Blake participated. The only change in use in the
country from 1835 to 1838 was made by cutting a
Mexican dollar into quarters. These circulated as
twenty-five cent pieces. Judge Blake says that it is
just to state that the Mexicans never to his knowl-
edge cut a dollar into more than four pieces,
while Americans in many instances would make
five and put them into circulation as twenty-
five cent pieces. He recounts an amusing in-
cident that marked his acquaintanceship with Gen.

In 1835 the cholera epidemic that then prevailed
made its way to Nacogdoches and several citizens
fell victims to the scourge. Everj'body, who could,
left town and Judge Blake with eight companions,
among the number Gen. Houston, went to Niel
Martin's, eight miles from town, where they secured
board and lodging and comfortably established
themselves. The entire party slept in the same
room. The first night, and a number of nights
thereafter, Gen. Houston sat up and read until
midnight and then went to bed and called his negro
Esau, to pick ticks off him. These performances,
however agreeable to the General and improving to
Esau, were not at all edifying to the General's
room-mates and they decided to try the effects of
a practical joke. Accordingly they gathered all
the ticks they could find and put them in a box and
while Houston was eating his supper scattered them
in his bed. The General had not long retired
before he called loudly for Esau, who literally had
his hands full until some time near davlight.
Houston never disturbed the rest of his companions

again and the stay at Martin's proved delightful to
all concerned.

Judge Blake was honored by his fellow-citizens
with office almost continuously from 1837 to 1876,
serving as justice of the peace, member of the Con-
federate Legislature in 1863-4, county judge, and
member of the constitutional convention of 1875.
Confederate money was worth very little when he
was in Austin as a member of the Legislature and he
paid $100.00 per day for board and lodging for the
sixty-five days of the session. Daring his terms of
service as justice of the peace and county judge,
he tried seven thousand civil suits and five hundred
criminal cases. A great many appeals were taken
from his decisions but not one was ever reversed.
Judge Blake for many years has refused to be a
candidate for any office.

He has been married three times: first in New
Hampshire in 1833, to Miss Mary Lewis, who died
a short time after their union ; next, in Montgom-
ery County, Texas, in 1849, to widow Harrison, who
died in 1852, and in 1853 in Nacogdoches to Miss
Ella Harris, who died in 1886. Three children
were born of the latter union ; Bennett Blake, a
prominent farmer in Nacogdoches County ; Myrtle,
wife of Judge James I. Perkins of Rusk, and Addie
Louisa, widow of Mr. W. E. Bowler of Nacog-
doches. Miss Ella Harris, who became the wife of
Mr. Blake and mother of his children, a noble
Christian lady, was born in Georgia in 1832. Her
father was Dr. Eldridge G. Harris, and mother
Mrs. Mary (Hamilton) Harris. She was brought
to Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1836, by her mother,
who was joined at that place by Dr. Harris, who ■
had preceded them. Dr. Harris was a surgeon in
the Texas revolutionary army and a pioneer greatly
beloved by his fellow-soldiers and neighbors. He
died in 1838 and his wife in 1872, at the home of
Judge Blake in Nacogdoches.

Judge Blake has seventeen living grandchildren.
He is a member of the Democratic party and Royal
Arch degree of the Masonic fraternity.

Judge Blake has been successful in a financial
way, having accumulated a considerable fortune.
He has passed through many stirring and thrilling
scenes, scenes that can have no counterpart in the
after history of the country, and always bore him-
self as an upright, manly man. Privation and
misfortune only nerved him to stronger exertions
and danger but caused his blood to run swifter and
his nerves to steady themselves as he encountered
and overcame it — not his the spirit to become
dejected, nor the heart to quail. His virtues,'
abilities and services to the country entitle him to the
place accorded him upon the pages of its history.






J. R. Fenn, one of the leading citizens of Hous-
ton, a Texas veteran and a patriot whose fidelity to
the principles of liberty has often been evinced
upon Texas soil during the past half century, is a
native of Mississippi, born in Lawrence County,
that State, October 11th, 1824. He is of Scotch-
Irish descent, a strain so eloquently eulogized by S.
S. ( " Sunset " ) Cox, in his " Three Decades of
Federal Legislation," as having furnished to this
country some of its most successful generals,
purest statesmen, eminent lawyers and useful and
distinguished citizens.

His parents, Eli Fenn and Sarah Catherine
(Fitzgerald) Fenn came to Texas in 1833 with their
children, and in June of that year opened a farm
on the Brazos river, three miles below the site of
the present town of Richmond. Mr. Eli Fenn
served in the Creek War, participating, among other
engagements, in the battle of the Horse Shoe, and
in the war of 1835-6 fought in the Texian army
as a member of Capt. Wiley Martin's Company.
He died at his home in Fort Bend County, Texas,
in 1840. His wife was a daughter of David Fitz-
gerald, a Georgia planter who came to Texas in
1822, settled in Fort Bend County, and shortly prior
to his death in 1832, took part in the battle of Ana-
huac, a brilliant affair that was a fit precursor of
the more decisive struggle against Mexican tyranny
that was to follow a few years later. She died in
1860, and sleeps beside the beloved husband with
whom she braved the terrors of the wilderness.
Two children were born of the union, John R. (the
subject of this memoir) and Jesse T. Fenn, the
latter of whom died in Fort Bend County in 1873.
Mr. J. R. Fenn was not quite twelve years of age
when the battle of San Jacinto was fought, but pre-
serves a vivid recollection of the stirring scenes of
those times. His mother and others who had pre-
pared to cross the river and retreat before the
advancing Mexican army mistook a body of troops
under Col. Almonte for a part of Gen. Houston's
army, narrowly escaped into the woods from the
house in which they were and came near being
captured. His father, a member of Martin's spy
company which was near, and seeing the approach
of a portion of Santa Anna's army, and knowing
the danger his wife and other ladies were in, swam
a swollen creek with his gun on his back and arrived
on the scene at the moment his wife and others

were fleeing across the field, raising his gun to his
shoulder shot a Mexican dead. This attracted the
attention of the pursuers to him and enabled his
family and others to make good their escape. J.
R. Fenn, subject of this memoir, and a negro boy
who had gone out in the morning to drive horses,
returned to the deserted house about eight o'clock
in the morning and rode into the Mexican lines and
were made prisoners. Late in the afternoon young
Fenn made a break for liberty and, although he was
shot at by a score or more of Mexicans and the
leaves cut from the trees by their musket balls fell
thick about him, he kept going and was soon safe in
the depths of the forest. He passed his home and
went ten or fifteen miles further where he found
several white families. An hour later they were
joined by Joe Kuykendall. The party traveled all
night, at daylight arrived at Harrisburg, and during
the day reached Lynchburg. Here young Fenn
found his mother and some of the other ladies who
had fled with her. They had walked for miles
through mud and water, a keen norther blowing,
some of them (men, women and children) without
shoes and half clad. The entire company continued
east, crossed the San Jacinto river and hurried
forward as rapidly as their exhausted condition
would permit. Coming to one of the bayous that
empty into the bay, and having no rafts to effect a
crossing, they attempted and at last succeeded in
wading across on the bar at the mouth of the stream.
Although a big wave would come rolling in ever and
anon and knock them over they would scramble to
their feet and start again.

Despite such difficulties the party finally reached
the Neches river in safety. Here Mr. Eli Fenn
joined the party. Gen. Gaines commanding United
States troops near San Augustine had given the
Indians a scare and they had all left that part of
the country, and Capt. Martin, whose duty it was
to keep between the Indians on the north and the
white families that were fleeing from the Mexican
invader, seeing no further need of his men in that
section, gave them permission to go in search of
their families. Mr. Fenn took his wife and son to
Louisiana and returned to the army, where he
served until October, 1836. He then procured a
discharge and went after his family, which he
brought back to the old homestead on the Brazos.

The subject of this notice acquired a fair com-



mon school education iu such schools as the country
afforded, to which varied experience and extensive
reading and observation have since largely added.

He marched to San Antonio in the spring of
1842, and again in the autumn of that year with
Gen. Somervell as sergeant in Capt. William Ryan's
company, to oppose Gen. Adrian Woll, who
attempted another Mexican invasion. Mr. Fenn
served throughout the campaign.

In 1846, when war was declared between Mexico
,and the United States he went with Gen. Albert
Sydney Johnston to the seat of war and served with
Capt. Jack Hays' company.

During the war between the States, he enlisted
under the flag of the Confederate States and did
good service as Second Lieutenant in Strobel's

Mr. Fenn was united in marriage to Miss
Rebecca Matilda Williams, of Fort Bend County,
Texas, April 13th, 1853, and has four children:
Francis Marion Oatis, who married Miss Lottie
Benson, of Charlottesville, Va. ; May, wife of Mr.
Jas. McKeever, Jr., of Houston; Ann Belle, and
Jos. Johnston Fenn, the latter of whom married
Miss Mollle Walker, of Houston.

Mrs. Fenn was born in Woodville, Miss., in
1835. Her parents were Mr. Daniel Williams and
Mrs. Ann Fitz Randolph (Ayers) Williams. She
is a great granddaughter of Gen. Nathaniel Ran-
dolph, a Lieutenant and Aide de Camp on the staff of
Gen. Lafayette during the war of the Revolution,
and also a great granddaughter of Ezekiel Ayers,
who also served with distinction in the Continental
army. Her grandfather, Isaac Williams, was one
of the pioneers of the Province of Mississippi, of
which he served for some time as Colonial Governor.
An uncle. Governor Henry Johnson, was Governor
of Louisiana and a member of the United States
Senate, retiring from that body in 1860 when
eighty years of age. Her parents came to Texas
in 1845, and settled on Oyster creek, in Fort Bend
County, bringing with them four children : Joseph
Smith, who died in the Federal prison at Fort
Butler, in Illinois, during the war between the
States ; Johnson Coddington, who also died in that

prison ; Edwin J., now living on Oyster creek ; and
Annie Williams, who died in Houston, February
17th, 1893. Johnson Coddington Williams, who
was a member of Terry's Rangers when first
enlisted, but at the time of his death at Fort Butler
was a member of W. H. Wilke's Regiment,
Carter's Brigade.

Mrs. Fenn's first year in Texas was spent in the
old homestead of Moses Shipman, one of the
original "Austin 300." The logs and boards of
the house were all made by hand and joined to-
gether with wooden pins, there being no iron bolts
or nails in the country. Here she and the family
were obliged to drink water from creeks and ponds
and suffered all the inconveniences and hardships
incident to life in a new and, entirely undeveloped

Mrs. Fenn is a member of the Presbyterian
Church, president of San Jacinto Chapter, Daugh-
ters of the Republic of Texas, and since 1877 has
been a member of the Texas Veterans' Association.
She is a lady of rare culture and intellectual

Mr. Fenn has been a member of the Texas
Veterans' Association since 1876. He is a member
of the Democratic party, with the highest sense of

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 57 of 135)