John Henry Brown.

Indian wars and pioneers of Texas online

. (page 61 of 135)
Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 61 of 135)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

as a soldier in the Revolutionary War of 1776 that
resulted in the American colonies throwing off the
yoke of British tyranny, and the establishment of
the United States of America, a monument to the
patriotism, valor and wisdom of the people of that
day which has no parallel in all the annals of
the human race. His maternal grandfather, Judge
James L. Burke, took part in the battle of the
Horse Shoe and fought through the War of 1812.

His father, Thomas Harris, was born near
Milledgeville in Georgia, September 15th, 1812,
was a farmer by occupation and died August 26,
1894, aged 82 years, in Comanche County, Texas,
where he then resided.

His mother, Mrs. Lydia Harris, was born in
Jasper County, Ga., January 28, 1816. Her
father moved to Talbot County, Ga. , when she was
a girl, and there she grew to womanhood, married
in 1835 and remained until 1845, when she moved
to Scott County, Miss., with her husband, where
she died in May, 1861, leaving nine children.
Judge A. J. Harris was six years of age when his
parents removed to Mississippi. He resided there
until after the close of the war. He graduated
from the University of Mississippi in 1861, with high
honors, and on returning home raised a company
for service in thie Confederate army and was elected
Captain. It^was mustered into service as Company
I, Twenty-seventh Mississippi Regimentof Infantry,
and did duty at Pensacola and Mobile, and in Ten-
essee and Kentucky. He participated with his com-
mand in several skirmishes and minor engagements
and took part in the great battle of Murfreesboro,
in all of (^which he bore himself with the coolness
and gallantry that became an ofHeer of one of the
grandest armies that ever marched forth to battle
for the rights ;and liberties of a people. On account
of physical disabilities he resigned his commission
in 1863 ; but subsequently, upon restoration to
health, rejoined the army, attaching himself as an

independent volunteer to the Fourth Mississippi
Cavalry and remained with it through the fall
and winter of 1863-64. From the spring of 1864
until August of that year, he was not connected
with the army, but, in August, Gen. Clark, then Gov-
ernor of Mississippi, issued a proclamation calling
on all who could bear arms even for thirty days to
go to North Mississippi and join the army under
Gen. Forrest, to meet the invading Northern army
of Gen. A. J. Smith. Responding to this call. Judge
Harris joined Duff's Regiment and served about
three months. He joined the regiment the next
day after he reached Forrest and marched with it
to Hurricane creek, north of Oxford, and remained
there night and day for several days under a constant
downpour of rain. The Confederate troops were
then driven back south of Oxford and went into
camp on Yocony creek. The next day the E'eder-
als burned Oxford and retreated with the Southern
army hanging upon their flank. The Confederates
overtook their rear guard at Abbeville and had a
slight brush with them which ended the campaign.

Judge Harris came to Waco, Texas, January 1st,
1865, and taught one month in the Waco Univer-
sity. He then went to Salado and taught in the
college at that place from February, 1865, until
July, 1867, after which he removed to Belton and
entered upon the practice of law, but was persuaded
by the people to open a school, which he taught
for two years. In 1869 he returned to the practice
of law ; but, in 1870, a vacancy occurring in the
faculty of the school at Salado, the people of that
place called upon him to fill it, promising to secure
another teacher to take his place, which they failed
to do, and he remained there one year, much against
his will. This service marked the close of his
career as a school-teacher. Returning to Belton,
he entered vigorously upon the practice of his
profession, in which he has since continued.

He was elected County Superintendent of public
free schools in 1873, and filled the office until the
adoption of the constitution of 1875, which dis-
pensed with county superintendents. He was
elected without opposition and without being a can-
didate. In 1880 he was elected to the State Senate
and was elected for a second term in 1882, serving
with marked distinction in the sessions of the Seven-
teenth and Eighteenth Legislatures. In 1877 he
formed a copartnership with X. B, Saunders, under

• Enj! by Y/TBaU er. BklynNX

^ ""S^b/ U6 ^ Koe /eta Me'VN' f-



the firm name of Harris & Saunders. Judge
Saunders succeeded Judge Alexander in the firm,
Judge Alexander having been appointed to the Dis-
trict Judgeship to succeed Judge Saunders, who was
the incumbent. This firm has occupied a lead-
ing position at the bar of Central Texas for many

Judge Harris was married July 31st, 1866, to Miss
Olivia P. Sugg, daughter of William and Mary
Sugg, of Calhoun County, Miss. They have six
children living: Mary, wife of S. S. Walker, a
merchant of Belton ; Martha Elizabeth, wife of
Pike L. Phelps, a gentleman engaged in the insur-
ance business, at Belton ; Olivia Frances, wife of
John P. Hammersmith, a Belton merchant; Lucy
Bell and Annie Jackson, who live at home and are
now students at Baylor College, and Andrew Jack-
son Harris, Jr. One son, Thomas, died July 9th,
1886, of membranous croup, aged two years and
six months.

Judge Harris has been a member of the Baptist

Church since 1876 and is one of the trustees of
Baylor Female College, at Belton.

He has never sought ofllce and has never been a
voluntary candidate ; nevertheless, at the State
Democratic Convention, held in 1886, his name was
submitted by his friends for nomination for one of
the judgeships of the Supreme Court of Texas, and
they claim that he received a majority of the votes
cast by the members of the convention, but on
account of some irregularities in counting them,
another ballot was taken and Judge R. R. Gaines
elected as the party's nominee.

Judge Harris occupies a position at the bar of
Texas, which he has so long graced with his learn-
ing and talents, that should be a matter of pride to
him and is certainly a source of gratification to his
thousands of admirers and many friends who ap-
preciate the dignity and purity of his character,
the value of the public services he has rendered
and the luster that he has added to the profession
which he has so long adorned.



T. W. House, veteran, merchant and banker of
Houston, was one of the notable pioneers of early
civilization and commerce in Texas. Born in
Somersetshire, England, in the year 1813, he died
at San Antonio, Texas, January 17th, 1880. His
forefathers were from Holland, from whence they
emigrated to England in the early dawn of the
eighteenth century, and settled in Somersetshire.
Up to the time that the subject of this memoir was
nineteen years of age, he worked on his father's
farm, but his father was poor, and, being the
youngest of four children, the future was not
bright, so he decided to come to America. He was
seconded in this resolution by a friend who was
captain of a merchant vessel plying between Bristol
and New York and with whom he set sail for
America in the year 1832. He remained in New
York for several years, and afterwards went to New
Orleans, where he lived for a short time before com-
ing to Texas. It was while living at New Orleans
that his attention was first called to Texas and her
wonderful resources, and early in the year 1836 he
landed in Galveston, and at once went to Houston,
which was then being laid out. It was at this


place that be was destined to achieve the full meas-
ure of his ambition. Soon after his arrival at
Houston he volunteered his services in behalf of
his adopted country and served as a soldier under
Gen. Burleson in the last days of the war of
1835-6, against Mexico. In 1838 he returned to
Houston and there, with the few hundred dollars
at his command, erected a tent, purchased a supply
of goods and began his wonderful career as a mer-
chant. His fortunes grew with the growth of the
town, to whose upbuilding he contributed perhaps
more than any other man, until he achieved the
rank of a merchant prince.

In 1840, he married Mary Ehzabeth, only daugh-
ter of Charles Shearn, afterwards Chief Justice of
Harris County. At the beginning of the war be-
tween the States in 1861, he had reached such a
position in the financial world that his advice and
services were sought by those in command, of the
Confederate forces in Texas, and he co-operated
effectively with them in the work of obtaining
clothes and arms from abroad. He owned jointly
with the Confederate Government, the Harriet
Lane, the celebrated Federal steamer which was



captured by the Confederates upon the retaking
ol Galveston by Magruder the night of December
31, 1862, and the day following. Besides his
interest in the Harriet Lane he also owned a fleet
of vessels which he used as blockade-runners in
conveying cotton out from Galveston and bringing
return cargoes of clothing and arms. With vast
resources at command, with a credit at home and
abroad excelled by none, with an unimpeachable
integrity, T. W. House did more perhaps during
the war between the States, than any other man in
Texas to maintain her credit abroad and supply the
wants of his fellow-citizens. His services in the
directions indicated were invaluable. When the
war was over he became actively engaged inducing
capital to invest in Texas and was a promoter of
several of the longest railroads in the State.
Among others he induced Commodore Morgan to
make large investments in Texas, and subsequently
to purchase $500,000 of the State's bonds. It was
this purchase that marked the beginning of the
credit which has given Texas bonds rank in the
stock market second to no similar class of securities
in the world. Charitable, without ostentation,
magnetic in manner, democratic in his tastes and
associations, he died beloved by many and honored
by all who knew him.

Leaving his native isle a penniless young man he
made his way into a new country, devastated by a
war marked by the most sanguinary atrocities and
the greater extent of whose territory was an unre-
deemed wilderness. Animated by the spirit of
ancient Cresy and Agincourt, like a true Briton, he
was as ready to use a musket as to settle down to
the more peaceful business of laying for himself
the foundation of financial iudependence. A wise
philosopher has said and said truly that the young
men who left their homes in foreign lands from
1800 to 1860 to come to America and push into its
wildernesses constituted a bold and enterprising
class and as a rule were possessed of more than
usual natural abilities. They were not content
with the hard conditions to which fate had ap-

parently consigned them. The plodder, the timor-
ous and the laggard might stay discontentedly
amid such scenes, but, as for these choice spirits, in
very childhood their eyes looked wistfully out to
sea and thoughts arose in their minds of lands
beyond the far-away horizon-bar, and these thoughts
gave birth to resolves, carried in due time into exe-
cution, to try their fortunes under other skies where
courage, self-reliance and ability insured honor-
able and useful careers. Such men as these came
to America by hundreds, and many of them to
Texas, among the number the subject of this
memoir, T. W. House. In their veins flowed rich
and ruddy the blood of the old Norman conquerors.
Where armed foes were to be met, they overcame
them. Where the wilderness was to be subdued,
they subdued it. Where cities were to be built,
they built them. Where the genius of commerce
was to be evoked they evoked it with the magic of
their indomitable wills. They were state and
nation builders who occupy a unique position upon
the pages of the history of the country, whose
services to posterity have been incalculable, whose
rugged virtues are worthy of all admiration, and
remembrance of whom should be preserved to
remotest time. Should the nation ever be in dan-
ger of sinking into effeminacy, those to whom is
committed its rejuvenation can turn to these men
as models to be imitated, and rebuild and restore
the vigor of the State.

Long before his death the name of T. W. House
had become a household word in Texas. He was
one of the foremost citizens of the commonwealth —
one of the most useful men of his day and genera-
tion. In his career he demonstrated the truth of
the aphorism of the author of Lacon that " while
fortune may be blind, she is by no means invisible,
and he who will seek her determinedly will be sure
to find her."

He has passed from shadow- land to shadow-land —
from birth to death.

He played his part nobly and well. May others
seek to emulate his example.






Jacob C. Higgins was born in Caledonia County,
Vt., November 2, 1815. His parents were Samuel
and Betsey (Chamberlain) Higgins. His father
came from Ireland and his mother from England.
They first met aboard a ship bound for America,
married and located in Caledonia County, Vt.,
where his father died, when the subject of this
memoir was four years of age, Mrs. Higgins follow-
ing him two years later. About a year after the
death of his mother Jacob C. Higgins fell into the
hands of an old sea-captain, Capt. Armington, who
was a TIniversalist and objected to his going to Sun-
day school. Consequently it became a regular
practice with the lad to play on that day with a
crowd of companions. On one of these occasions
while engaged in some sport, he was accosted by
Mr. Erastus Fairbanks, superintendent of the local
Presbyterian Sunday school, who asked him his
name, the names of his parents and .his place of
residence. In the conversation that followed, the
mutual discovery was made that Mr. Fairbanks'
wife was a first cousin of the boy's mother, and
a few days thereafter he was transferred to the
home of Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks, where he was
treated in every respect as one of their sons, grew
to manhood and was given every opportunity to
perfect himself in the trade of a machinist and mill-
wright. He was quick to learn and soon became
proficient, and in 1836 was sent by the firm to
superintend the building of a saw-mill upon the
banks of one of the rivers of Alabama. This he
completed, and then engaged in steamboat
engineering, which he pursued for three years,

In 1840 he determined to try his fortune in
Texas, and landed in Galveston, March 16th of that
year, with $2,500 in good Alabama and Louisiana
money, the proceeds of a year's labor. With this
he purchased a .stock of merchandise from C. C.
Ennis, of Galveston, and went to Austin, where he
sold the goods for Texas money, which he discov-
ered, when too late, was of little or no value. He
had also bought a number of bonds. Regarding
these as worthless he laid them aside. They became
valuable later on, however, as Texas by the treaty
of annexation, sold the Santa Fe territory to
the United States for $10,000,000 and with a
part of the money so procured, called in and paid
off all outstanding bonds issued by the late Re-
public at their face value with all accumulated in-

terest thereon. Mr. Higgins, by this means, came
into possession of a considerable sum of money, his
profits on his bond purchases amounting to about
three hundred per cent. In June, 1840, soon after
his arrival in Austin, he was present at the organ-
ization of the first Methodist church established in
that town, and in fact in that section. Dr. Haney
held religious services in the old capitol on the
occasion referred to. When he called for all Meth-
odists present to come up and shake hands with
him, one man and one woman responded ; and with
these he organized the church. During the re-
mainder of that year Mr. Higgins was variously
engaged, part of the time working with a corps of
surveyors, and part of the time participating in
expeditions against the Indians.

In June, 1841, he moved to Bastrop, and was
there employed, to run a mill situated on Copperas
creek, two miles distant from town. In 1842 he
purchased the mill and ten acres of ground from
his employers on credit, and for years thereafter
husbanded his resources and invested all the money
that he could command in negroes and lands,
purchasing ten thousand acres of land in the sur-
rounding country and thereby laying the founda-
tion of future wealth.

He is an indefatigable worker and a clear-headed
financier, and hence prospered in all his business
undertakings. From the time that he landed in
Galveston to the annexation of Texas to the United
States, he endured many hardships and privations,
but thereafter when he had realized upon his bonds
and secured sufficient capital to operate upon,
lived more easily. He resided alone at the mill,
did his own cooking and housekeeping, and often,
for ten days at a time, did not see a human being
during the year 1842. In the early days of his
residence at Bastrop the Indians came into the
town and stole stock and committed numerous
depredations. About 1843, Bishop Morris, of
Baltimore, visited the place to see his son, and
while there preached in an old storehouse. During
the services a band of Indians, who were out on a
raid, broke up the meeting and the congregation was
obliged to fly for safety to a fort that had been
provided for such emergencies. During Mr. Hig-
gins' residence on Copperas creek he was also
frequently troubled by Indians. From 1871 to
1885 he added merchandising to his other busi-



ness. During these years he also established a
private bank. He continued banking until 1892,
when be retired from active pursuits.

He was first married in Bastrop County, in 1843,
to Miss Sarah Gamble, daughter of,Col. William I.
Gamble, who came to Texas from Alabama with
his family in 1839. By this marriage he had two
children : William, now a prosperous farmer in
Bastrop County, and Erastus Fairbanks Higgins,
who died leaving one child, Claud C, who now re-
sides with his grandfather. Mrs. Higgins died in
1849. Mr. Higgins was married at Seguin, in 1852,
to Miss Mary Keener, daughter of a prominent col-
lege professor of Alabama, and first cousin of
United States District Judge John B. Rector of
Texas. Five children were born of this union,
three of whom grew to maturity : Samuel, who is a
well-to-do farmer in Bastrop County ; Blanche,
wife of Brook Duval, of Bastrop County, and
Horace, who died June 4, 1880. Horace graduated
at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn.,
and later in the Law Department in the University
of Virginia. After returning home he formed a
co-partnership with Hon. Joseph D. Sayers, but he
died three months later, and thus came to a close
what promised to be a brilliant career at the bar.

Mrs. Mary (Keener) Higgins [died in Bastrop
County, in 1861.

In 1867, Mr. Higgins marriedjhis present wife,
Mrs. Carolina Yellowley, a widow with two daugh-
ters. The elder, Bella, married Dr. G. M. Patten,
of Waco, in 1883, and died in 1888. The younger,
Charlton, became Mrs. Brieger, and now resides in
Bowie, Texas. Mr. and Mrs. Higgins have two
daughters: Lielah, wife of D. Pope Holland, of
Atlanta, Ga., and Fairbanks who is now at Bishop
Garrett's College, at Dallas.

Upon returning to Texas in 1857, from a visit to
the home of Mrs. Fairbanks, in Vermont, Mr. Hig-

gins found that^he had been elected to the House of
Representatives of the Texas Legislature. He
served one term as a member of that body. He
could have been re-elected but would not consent
to become a candidate for that or any other political
oflBce. During the war between the States he
served in the Confederate States militia for twenty-
two months. He is a member of the Masonic
fraternity and has taken all the chapter degrees of
that order. In religion he is an Episcopalian, and
is senior warden of the Episcopal church at Bastrop.
In politics he is a Democrat. Although he lost
greatly by the result of the war between the States,
owning eighty valuable slaves who were set free at
its close, he has practically in all instances been
successful in his investments, and is now one of the
wealthiest men in his section and the largest tax-
payer in Bastrop County.

Up to his eleventh j'ear, when Providence discov-
ered him to his noble benefactors, Mr. and Mrs.
Fairbanks, the prospect that apparently laid before
him was cheerless. Whatever boyish hopes that
were to arise in his breast it seemed were doomed
to wither one by one, through long years of toil and
saddening disappointments, and in the end be
drifted to their graves adown the blasts of Destiny's
chill December. There was work for him to do in
life, however, and it was to come to him and be done
by him if he proved worthy. He did prove worthy
of the labor assigned him when the opportunity
came, and he embraced it.

He was grateful, he was honest, he was ambitious,
he was industrious, he was enterprising, he was
daring, resolute and patient, and as a result, his
life has been an honored, useful and successful
one. Had he failed in any of these particulars
this would not have been. Such a life contains a
moral that the young will do well to ponder and
profit by.



From the days when the commerce of Phcenicia
extended itself to the verge of the then known world
merchants have been the pioneers who have carried
forward the illumining torch of civilization. With-
out their energy and determination to attain success
amid difficulties apparently insurmountable, there

would be but little progress in wresting from nature
the waste places of the earth for the benefit of man-
kind. In the days when railroads were thought to
be impracticable and the telegraph a superstition,
a brave and hardy set of men were traveling over
Texas from end to end, on horseback, or in wagons.


cornf:lius ennis.



the compass being their only guide, or, if haply pre-
ceded by some comrade, they followed his footsteps
by means of the notches ^he had cut in trees. The
roads were almost impassable in rainy weather —
and, as there were no bridges, many an anxious
hour was spent at the fords. In traveling, pistols,
bowie knives and a gun across the knees, were
necessary to afford protection against man and
beast. Their avocation was, indeed, a perilous one,
but when have the sons of commerce been deterred
by peril ? They have braved alike the terrors of the
Barcan desert and the icy North, nor have they
feared to go among any savage people or travel any
foot of earth. Prominent among the pioneer mer-
chants of Texas was the subject of this memoir,
Cornelius Ennis, born in 1813 in Essex County
(now Passaic County), New Jersey. Mr.' Ennis'
great-grandfather was Mr. William Ennis, who
came from the north of Ireland in the latter part of
the seventeenth century, and settled in Bergen
County, New Jersey, with his wife (nee Miss Han-
nah Brower). Mr. Ennis' mother was a Doremus,
of Knickerbocker stock, from one of the original
Holland families that settled in this country.

After receiving as liberal an education as that
State then afforded, he went to New York in 1834,
and obtained a position in a drug store, and three
years later began a trip down the Ohio and Mis-
sissippi rivers in search of a desirable location.
Traveling on the Mississippi he met a great num-
ber of people from Texas, going to Canada to
join the patriots around Toronto. All were en-
thusiastic concerning the agricultural and business
opportunities afforded by Texas. These recitals
together with stories of the gallantry and courage
of the victors in the War for Independence, fired
the imagination of the young merchant — and he
determined to make his home in the Republic. He
returned to New York in May, continued in busi-
ness there until January, 1839, and then purchased
a stock of drugs and medicines and embarked on
the schooner " Lion " (Capt. Fish commanding)
for Galveston.

He found Galveston very sparsely settled, with-
out a hotel or wharf, and proceeded to Houston,
then two years old and the capital of the Republic.
Here he immediately established himself in busi-
ness, purchasing a lot on Main street, where he
built a storehouse. In November of the same
year he formed a partnership with Mr. George W.

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 61 of 135)