William Whitfill and Margaret (Durbin) Whitfill

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Pioneers of Ellis County

William Whitfill and Margaret (Durbin) Whitfill

Compiled by Jean Caddel


William Whitfill and Margaret (Durbin) Whitfill, natives of Grayson Co. Ky. came to Johnson Co. Texas in 1880 and to Ellis County in 1882. Having heard of a farm at Alma (from his brother, Jerre ,in Bardwell), Mr. Whitfill bought  it from Mr. Tiebant, who had been the third settler of Alma. William and Margaret Whitfill had eight children: Drewsill A., ( mar. John Warren Horrell); Benjamin Whitfill (mar. Delima Besse); Martin, ( mar. Margaret Lena Durbin); Lewis Whitfill, (mar. Alda Besse); Isabelle, ( mar. Louis Parry Lindle); Mary, (mar. Grandville Rutherford); Sarah,( mar. Nicholas Durrlin; and Rebecca, ( mar. Sebe Newman). All of the children  except Sarah and Rebecca made Ellis County their home. Sarah lived in Riviera, Texas, and Rebecca and her husband lived in Washington, D.C.

William Whitfill was born August 26, 1833 son of Martin and Rebecca (Shaw) Whitfill. His older brother, Robert Whitfill, died in 1856. His sister, Sarah E. married John Langley; his brother, Joseph, married Sarah Fowler; his sister, Martha Jane, married J. J. Fowler; his sister, Margaret E., married John Cave; and his younger brother, Jeremiah, married Catherine Valentine Langley.

Martha Durbin Whitfill was born in Edmonson County, Kentucky in 1835. She had at least one brother, Thomas Durbin, who married Theresa Decker, and one sister, Sarah Durin, who married a Langley. Their parents are believed to have died when the children were very young so little is known of them.

Mr. And Mrs. Whitfill are members of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Alma and have contributed liberally to the betterment of the community.

Martin Whitfill, brother to Jesse,  was 18 when his parents moved to Alma from Alvarado, Johnson Co. Tex., their farm being adjacent to that of Jessie H.. Curlin. On July 29, 1884, in Corsicana, Texas, Martin Robert Whitfill  married Margaret Lena Curlin, the ceremony being performed by the Reverend Father Theon. After their marriage, they continued to live in Alma and farm until 1889 when he opened a general store on Lot 1 of Block 3. Later this store burned along with  the farm implement store belonging to his brother, Ben Whitfill. Martin's store was rebuilt facing Main Street. In addition to the store, Martin owned 300 acres in the Trinity River Bottom and 400 acres in Lockney, Floyd County, Texas.

Martin and Lena Whitfill were the parents of ten children and they raised their niece, Annie Berry, the daghter of Joanna (Curlin) Berry, from infancy. The children were: Ema Desdamona, ( mar. Steven Andrew Whitfill); William Jessie, (mar. Julia Frances Hil)l; Mary Ethel, who died in 1888; Alyce Pearl, who married Richard M. Whitfill; Joseph Robert, who maried Theresa Kelly; Margaret Inex, who married Patrick Henry Hill; Ida Winifred, who married Robert Coleman Wilson; Esther Cordelia, who married James Robert Langley; Alphaus Festus, who married Christine Grace Feagan and Flora Edith.  Annie Lee Berry their niece, married C. L. Simmons.

In addition to taking of their farm and cattle, as well as the store, Martin and Lena Whitfill found time to be active in the community and were prominent and respected citizens.. They aided in erecting and maintaining the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Alma .

Reference: Memorial and Biographical History of Ellis County Texas; Chicago, Lewis, 1892; rpt Ellis County History, Ft Worth Historical Pub., 1972


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