Ellis County's Frontier Days

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Ellis County's Frontier Days
are Colorful Time of Stirring Struggles

Published in Waxahachie Enterprise - 1933

Contributed by Jean Caddel


Ellis County, other than the fact that it was organized in 1850, furnished three or four companies who fought under the Stars and Bars during the struggle for the independence of Dixie Land; has, since August, 1850, increased from a population of one family and one negro slave to a little more than 53,000.  It has placed most of its arable area under cultivation, has enjoyed the reputation of being the champion county of the world as a producer of cotton; yet it has very little of what would be considered as history of world interest.  However,  it is these people who helped to shape the direction in which this country would move.

Therefore, we of  the present day must be content to gather around the family fireside and tell our children and grandchildren where our fathers settled and of their struggles to conquer the frontier and to bring organization out of the chaotic conditions which confronted them when, with stout hearts and determination, they undertook to solve their many problems.

One of these determined and industrious characters was James R. Henderson who was reared in North Carolina. In early manhood, he moved to the state of Tennessee and in 1851, he brought most of his family to Texas. They settled in Ellis County near the place now known as the Hughes Graveyard. His daughter, Mary, became the wife of Jerry Hughes and was the mother of Frank N. Hughes, a Confederate veteran, a citizen of Italy, who has for more than a third of a century been constable of Justice Precinct No. 8 and voluntarily retired from office a year or two ago.

Daniel Boone Henderson married Miss Lucy Kellum and settled on the Howe Survey. One of his daughters, Dan Ella, partly reared in the old home, later moved to Navarro County and married W. J. McDuffie, whom she met while he was teaching a writing school near the present site of Forreston. To this union were born several sons and daughters. Sallie, a sister of Mrs. McDuffie, married John Maggard. James Henderson Jr. married Mary Jane Taylor, but did not long survive. A son, James Henderson, died in early childhood. Mrs. Henderson married Mr. Parker and was the mother of Jesse Parker of Italy, a teacher of long experience and, later the mayor of Italy.  Rev. Alex Henderson, son of James R. Henderson Sr., did not come to Texas with the other members of the family, but later settled in the Rankin Community. He was the father of Mark Henderson who lives in Waxahachie.


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