Pioneers of Ellis County
Hector McNeill Autobiography
Contributed by Steve Edgerton
Mr. Edgerton found this account in his deceased brother's genealogical papers. He is not sure of what newspaper it appeared in nor the exact date other than 1913. - possiblyy Aug. 11.The title of the article is "Pioneers and Veterans." [perhaps this was a featured column?]
"I will write a sketch of my life. I was born in Cumberland Co. N. C. in 1830. My father was Malcom McNeill who married Mary A. McMillan. My father died when I was but 6 years old, leaving mother with six children. The oldest was just 12 years; the youngest about 2. We had hard times in those days. My mother had to spin and weave our clothes. When I was 8 years old we moved to Sumter County, Alabama; lived there four years. Moved to Rankin County Mississippi, near Brandon and lived there six years. In 1847 I left with my mother for Texas. We arrived in Texas in Henderson territory in November. It was a wild frontier country in that day Neighbors were scarce, the nearest was fifteen miles. We stopped at a place called Jubberville; it was a store. They hauled their goods from Shreveport on ox wagons. In 1848 they made two new counties - Van Zandt and Kaufman., We were cut off in Kaufman County, I being one of the chain carriers. The surveyor's name was Enoch Tennon In the spring of 1849 we moved over on the west side of the tRinity river, then [ten?] miles east of where Ennis now stands. We stopped near a camp of Caddo Indians; did not know they were there until we had stopped. The people (what few there were) had to fight them back; had a fort at where Waxahachie now is, and it became a town that year. It was located for the county seat of Ellis County.
I visited Dallas in that same year, 1849. It just had two stores and one hotel. The proprietor was Tom Crutchfield.. I went on to Fort Worth and found nothing there but the United States soldiers'' station; detailed to fight the Indians back so the country could settle up. It is now a fine city, a big change since that day. I lived in Ellis County seven years. I left there and went to Johnson County in 1855, where I thought I would better myself. My mother settled on Nolan River. I cut my road for four miles through the cross timber to get to the western prairies . The county seat was located in that same year on the west side of Nolan River; it was called Wardville, and then it was moved from that place on the east side of Nolan River on the prairie and was called Buchanan, and remained there until after the Civil War.
In 1861 the war broke out. I volunteered at Madisonville, Tex. and in May 1862 I joined Col. Bates 13th Texas Infantry was stationed at the mouth of the Brazos River at Port Velasco. I joined H,. C Moss, Co. E. I was not in any battles I did not have as hard a time as some soldiers did. I had one brother wounded at Atlanta, Ga. in the three days' battle, and he died, but the other two brothers and I returned home when the war closed . I had a very good time. We had plenty to eat but some would complain for something better. My company was made up mostly around Corsicana in Navarro County......We boys had a thousand head of cattle when the war began, but when it closed we did not have enough to give us milk. The county seat was moved again to where it now is in 1867 now called "Cleburne". I have seen it grow from birth to what it is now. In 1866 I was married to Miss Retha McAnear, daughter of "Alec" McAnear. Of our union was born eight children, four girls and four boys, all living but one girl, who died in infancy. M ywife is still living. She will be 71 in October and I will be 83 in July. I am the last one of my family living and have been living in Anderson County for fifteen years near Palestine. We are too old to keep house. We are at my daughters Mrs. Albright, in Knox County, Texas, and if anyone sees this write to me at Cleburne, No 304 Robin Street I am getting very feeble, not able to do anything - Hector McNeill."
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