Pioneer History:  [From Goodspeed 1889]

The pine woods of Texas were known to early travelers and hunters of Spanish and French days; but not until 1816 did capital and enterprise come hither to develop them.  Within a few years saw-mills were built, and in the spring of 1820 the Piney was filled with rafts of sawn or hewed lumber and floating logs.  In 1819-20 a saw-mill was erected on the Piney, by Pettit, and later McDonald and Sullens erected one.

First Settlers - When Dabney Lynch settled on Big Piney, in 1826 he found Josiah H. Burkhart's mill on Big Piney; Richard Sullens, who had a mill four miles above the old mill; Thomas Cork's mill, which was located four miles above Sullen's mill, purchased by John Ormsby in 1828 Truesdale's mill, seven miles north of Houston, was purchased in 1828 by Washington Walton.  A few members of the Sullens family were here, Reuben having a farm above the Burkhart mill.

Baldridge's mill was six miles below Truesdale's mill, in Township 30, Range 9, about sixteen miles north of Houston, just west of Licking.  This Baldridge was the first settler there, and early in the 30's sold his farm to Ware.

In 1832-33 a gin-mill was erected by Nesbitt of Big Piney, six miles below Houston.  He sold to Richardson in 1834, who, in 1835 sold to David Lynch and John T. Fourt.  This was sold to Oziah Upton, and it was ultimately washed away.  A mill was built in more recent years by Albert Bates, which is now in existence.

The Shawnees and Delawares were here in 1826, hunting. The Paola and Piankashaw Indians had their two towns on Jack Fork, about six miles above Clear Springs Post-office.  They attended simply to hunting and fishing, and in their dealings with the few settlers on Big Piney they were strictly honorable.

Pioneer Woods, who, like the other pioneers, was two-thirds hunter and one-third trader and lumberman, had at one time a terrible encounter with wolves.  Returning after dark to his shanty, with a trophy in the shape of a deer, he heard the call being near home he hurried forward; the wolves, however, were two fleet, and their proximity urged him to cast aside the carcass of the deer and fly.  Still the wolves pressed after the human prey, and as he was about climbing into a tree they snapped at his heels and pulled him down.  Clubbing his rifle he kept them at bay while he retreated toward the rocks.  After a terrific battle he gained the rocks and fought until help arrived.

The pioneer, Duke, selected a home on Big Creek, ten miles away from the river settlements.  He was a hunter and trader, and drove a team of six elks which he domesticated.  At times he would ride into the mill settlements mounted on a great elk and clad in bear skin; but about 1848, when the tide of immigration set toward the county, he and his six elks set out for California, where he arrived.  In 1845, when he drove up to David Lynch's house to attend court, his outfit, as S.M. Williams states, scared the horses of the settlers and scattered them.

Land Purchasers - The record of land buyers presents the following names in each of the townships within the present county:

Sherrill Township, or No. 32, Range 8, was first entered October 6, 1832, on the southwest quarter of northwest quarter of Section 6, by Thomas Moore, and on the southeast quarter of same quarter by Eli G. Halbert, January 10, 1837; while William Williams entered forty acres adjoining in 1844.  In 1836 Spencer Mitchell entered lands on Section 5, Ephraim F. Bressie in 1840, John Sherrill in 1847, and William Thornton on Section 29, in 1835. (Joel Sherrill states that this entry was not made so early)  Joel Sherrill was one of the surveyors or locators.

Township 33, Range 8, was entered first in 1853, by William L. Boyd and John B. Campbell on Sections 29 and 33.  In 1856 a large number of entries were made, but not until 1858-59 did the tide of immigration turn toward this township.

Township 33, Range 11, was entered in 1856-57 by the Drexells, Collins, Vails and Musgraves.

Township 29, Range 9, was entered by William and James Hughes in 1852, and William Cobble and John H. Lynch in northern sections in 1854.  The Downeys entered lands on Section 13, Township 28, Range 9, in 1857, and in 1857-59 the Healeys, Ellmores, Sullens, Briggs, Priddys, Millers, Lowes, Floods, Norrises, Miners, Harringtons, Thomases, Erwins, Hedges, Roses and Richards entered in Township 33, Range 12.

Township 29, Range 10, was first entered in 1848 by William Roberts, Isaac Self, Samuel Self, William Roberts, Charles H. Latimer, John Skiles and James R. Gardner on Sections 20, 21 and 29.

Township 28 north, Range 11, was first entered in 1850 by Ezariah Farris; in 1856 by George Horton, Reuben Burdine and Joseph Feurs.  In 1857 Launa Smith, Elijah Pruitt, Jerry Bundy, Jesse J. Gardner, G. M. Knowen, Erperia C. Smith and Charles H. Roberts entered lands here, but the larger number of purchasers came in the few years before the war.

The east half of Township 28, Range 12, was first entered on Section 3 by Abram Tine, John Mounce and Benj. C. Stephens in 1851, followed within the succeeding few years by Samuel Hardin, James H. McBride, R. W. McManers, William C. Day, Daniel Hall, Hazard Fry, R.M. Bishop and F. Cunningham.

Township 33, Range 9, was first entered in November, 1836, by William P. Harrison, on the southeast quarter of Section 14, and in 1838, by Joel Sherrill, on southeast quarter of Section 10.  In 1860 William Johnson bought on Section 8, Wesley Ridden on Section 9, and William Johnson on Section 8, and in 1852 J. D. Tate on the same section.  During the years 1855-60 all the eastern half may be said to have been purchased, and a large area in the western half.

Township 32, Range 12, was first entered on Section 14 by John McLaughlin in 1836; John K. Sullens on Section 11, and John McDonald on Section 2; David H. Wilsey and K. R. Tracy purchased on Section 14 in 1839.  For nineteen years after very little, if any, land was sold here, but in 1858-59 the greater part of the eastern half was bought up.

The eastern half of Township 31, Range 12, was first entered in 1838, by William W. Hickey, on Section 25; but not until 1858-60 did buyers come in any numbers.  Then the Atwoods, Stanleys, Bakers, Wilsons, Tuttles, Elrods, Goins, David Baxton, Samuel Flowers and the Tiptons flocked in.

The eastern half of Township 31, Range 12, was first entered by James Bartlett in 1856, on Section 34.  In 1858 Silas Newton bought on Section 14, and the Keiths, Frosts, Tates and Marbles on Section 24.  The McVeights bought here in 1860; also the Medleys, Nortons, and Patrick Smith; and the Russell, Patton and Hall purchases were made after the war.

Township 28, Range 10, was first entered on the northwestern sections in 1851-53, by Elizabeth Elliott, William B. and John Bradshaw, and William Lane.  In 1857-59 several tracts were bought throughout the northwestern sections.

Township 31, Range 11, was taken up principally in 1857-59.

Township 28, Range 7, was first entered in 1858, J. M. Smotherman, Simeon Mason, Edwin H. White and James Crawford buying on the northeastern sections and Jessee Eaton on Jack's Fork.  Greenberry Harlow entered lands on Section 19 in 1853, and Elijah Lynch on the same section in 1858.

Township 38, Range 8, dates the beginnings of its purchase back to 1857, when Ezekiel Pitts, Eli Symmons and Patrick Cleary bought on the northeastern sections.  In 1858-59 a large area became private property.

Township 32, Range 11, was first entered on Section 5, by Moses S. Hunnicut, in December, 1855; prior to the close of 1860 the greater area was in the hands of private owners.

Township 29, Range 8, was first entered in 1854, on northern lots, by Joshua Morris, but the sales of lands here were not extensive until long after the war.

Township 30, Range 8, was entered first in 1849, by William Gilmore.  From that year to 1857 no lands were purchased, but the four years preceding the war saw almost all the western sections pass into the hands of citizens.

Township 29, Range 11, was sparsely settled prior to the war.  In 1853 Levin Green purchased on Section 14, Philip McK. Green in 1855, and John House, Jr., in 1857; Charles Walker purchased on Section 19 in 1854, and south of him the Gaithers, Weathermans, Frields and Drurys bought small tracts in 1857-59.

Township 29, Range 12, was first entered in 1853 by John Barrett, followed by Thompson Rafferty, Ellet Denny, Jesse Stubbs, David Tucker, John Holt, Joseph C. McClurg, P. J. Day, Jesse Miller, Moses Proctor and George F. Lynch.

Township 29, Range 7, dates its first entry to April 12, 1848, when Julia Halbert purchased on Section 22; to May 1, 1848, when Jesse and Thomas Summers entered the northeast quarter of northeast quarter of Section 25, and Buckner Garrison bought on Section 21.

Township 30, Range 7, may be said to have passed entirely into the hands of private owners in 1855-59, except the school section, Benjamin McFarland making the first purchase on Section 25 in June, 1856.

Township 28, Range 8, was first entered in 1858, Andrew L. Grimes, Cyrus H. Frost, P. G. Edward, John W. Baker, Lamech Thorpe, Joab Brooks and Albert Pryor being the buyers.

Township 31, Range 7, was sold simultaneously with Township 30, same range.  In 1854 John W. Swofford purchased on Section 24, and the Jadwins in 1855, near the Swofford purchase.

Other Old Settlers - Among the heads of families who were in the county in 1840, and were still residents in 1880, were Dabney Lynch, Addison Bates, Joseph Riden, Valentine Sutton, Jack Johns, Jack Trusty, Neal Lynch, Lamech Thorp, Charles Ware, Joel Sherill, Spencer Mitchell and Buck Garrison; S. M. Williams came in 1838.

Old Settlers' Association - The Old Settlers' Association appointed the following township vice-presidents in July, 1887: G. M. Pike, of Boone; John Farris and W. H. Hamilton, of Burdine; Wesley Nall of Cass; William Baskett, of Texas; Hugh Stubbs, of Clinton; M. L. Smith, of Current; W. F. Trail, of Jackson; S. M. Williams, of Lynch; J. C. White, of Piney; D. Lynch, of Morris; Allen Norton, of Ozark; William Thorp, of Peirce; Edward Smart, of Roubidoux; John Carter and Joel Sherrill, of Sherrill; and Samuel Carr, of Upton.  J. C. White died prior to the meeting of July, 1888, and Alex Jadwin was appointed in his place.

Mrs. Mary Hamilton won the prize for being the oldest pioneer woman present at the old settlers' meeting in 1887.  Patsey Thronton, now Mrs. Leonard, was said at the time to be the oldest resident female.  Dabney Lynch won the prize for being the oldest male, but others think Carter was the oldest settler.

© 01-26-01
Debbie Linton and Penny Harrell


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