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James Wilson McKenzie was a substantial citizen of Texas during and after the Civil War period. He was born in Mississippi and moved to Texas with his parents in 1856 when he was 16 years old, served in the Confederate Army, and later was an upstanding citizen of north central Texas.


James Wilson McKenzie was born November 19, 1839, near Monticello in Lawrence County, Mississippi as shown on his Confederate Honorable Discharge papers. His father's name was Alexander W. McKenzie and his mother's name was Albany Blount Carr. He accompanied his father and family to Texas in 1856, moving to Walker County with the family in April 1857.


On September 13, 1860, James married his first wife, Mary Ann Miller of Yazoo County, Mississippi, born July 8, 1845.3 James is listed in the 1860 Walker County, Texas, Federal Census with his father, Alexander, on written page 98, printed page 137.


During this time period, the war between the states consumed everyone's life. After marrying in 1860, James "took up the burden of life on his own responsibility", working for a time in Walker County and later going to Madison County, where he cultivated land belonging to his father.

At the beginning of the war between the states, James was not slow to show his colors and prove himself a true Southern man. He first enlisted in July 1861 under Captain John Cleveland. However, when Captain Cleveland and his company went to the front in Virgina, James was left behind because of severe illness, and he was subsequently discharged from that command.

On March 25, 1862, he again enlisted, this time at Galveston as a private of Company I, Twenty-sixth Texas Cavalry, De Bray's Brigade, Army of the Trans-Mississippi Department, J. R. Whitehead First Captain, X. B. De Bray Colonel. James relates that "On being made a regiment by having several companies of scouts attached to the battalion, General Hebert, who was in command of the Western Division of the department at the time, announced by special order that Samuel Boyd Davis was to be our colonel. The men stacked arms and refused to serve under any appointed officer, and were then allowed to select as their colonel X. B. De Bray, the choice being unanimous". Col. De Bray was later promoted to Brigadier General at the battle of Mansfield, La., and J. J. Myers was promoted to colonel as his replacement.

James spent the winter of 1862 in Wallisville, near the mouth of the Trinity River, with his company and one other which was stationed there. He was on detached service and had many privileges including having his wife spend the winter with him, boarding with a Mrs. Kilgore. He was there on January 1, 1863 when the battle of Galveston was fought. His company blew down the lighthouse on Bolivar Point just after the capture of the city, and captured seven Yankees (six privates and one lieutenant), who had landed for the purpose of foraging. He then spent about seven months on Galveston Island.

James then did picket duty between Texarkana and Orange, TX, for two years. He spent the winter of 1863 near the mouth of the trinity river as a courier working about four hours every other day. His leisure was passed in hunting and fishing, and he referred to this time as one of the happiest periods of his life. He then participated in the battles of Mansfield, La.(April 18, 1864), and Pleasant Hill (April 9, 1864), and followed General Banks in his retreat to Yellow Bayou, where they engaged him and "had the hardest fight of any, excepting Pleasant Hill".

During the war, James had maintained residence in Walker County and it was here that he united with the Baptist Church at Huntsville in 1863. Ruben E. Brown and J. A. Kimbell attended and preached during the meeting. It was also here that his wife, Mary Ann Miller contracted an illness and died on December 9, 1864, leaving no children. James nursed her through this sickness, and after her death, rejoined his regiment at St. Augustine, Texas, January 1, 1865. He was made company clerk that same day and shortly thereafter was elected orderly sergeant, in which capacity he was retained until the close of the war. He carried the company into Houston on May 25, 1865 the last time it was out in service, and received his discharge on the same date. His Honorable Discharge papers stated that he was born in Lawrence County, Mississippi; he was 25 years old, six feet one-half inches tall, fair complexion, blue eyes, auburn hair, and was a farmer. This document was dated May 25, 1865, at Houston, Texas and signed by L. E. Trezevant, Captain. James later stated that he had worn out three good horses during the war.

After the war, James moved to Madison County where he purchased one hundred eleven acres of land initially, and later added other lands amounting in all to four hundred and thirty-six acres. It was in Madison County where James married Lauren Emeline Winn, daughter of Burwell Green and Syrena (Spillars) Winn, on November 21, 1866. She was born in Walker County, Texas, on September 30, 1848, and their union produced 10 children, one of whom died young. In 1867, he was at the old Trinity River Baptist Association, possibly in the 1870 census in Corpus Christi, Texas, and in the school years of 1871-72, and 1872-73, received a Third Class Teacher's Certificate from the State of Texas.

James and his family continued living in Madison County until November 1879. During this time, James served as the first sheriff of that county after the war, under the reconstruction regime.


In 1879, less than ten years after the Comanche and Kiowa Indians were reported swarming over Llano, Mason, and Gillespie Counties to the south, and were devastating a wagon train in Jack County to the north17, James and Emeline moved to Comanche County where he bought one hundred and six acres of land located half way between Dublin and Carlton, near the Purves community.

James and some of his family are found in the 1880 Comanche County, Texas, Federal census. James belonged to the Comanche Baptist Association from 1880 to 1889; he served as Treasurer for the association for two years.

On March 29 1881, James and William Miller opened a store at Miller's Mill, later known as Democrat Mills. The firm was to be known as Miller and McKenzie. The agreement was that Miller furnish the store house and necessary fixtures, a house in which James could live, do the freighting until the cotton came in, and furnish half the required capital. James was to furnish the other half of the capital and manage the business. Merchandise on hand at the opening was valued at $377.31.

On December 6, 1889, James purchased one hundred and nine acres one and one-half miles north east of Carlton, Hamilton Co., Texas. James moved to this land and continued farming operations successfully until April, 1893, at which time he moved into Carlton. This farm was still in the family on Christmas Day, 1906, when a family photograph was taken in front of the farm house.

During this time, James served as the clerk of the Hamilton Baptist Association for one year, and served as moderator for four years. On May 22, 1893, he was made postmaster of Carlton. He continued in this job at least until December 1897. Soon after this last move, he formed a partnership with Dr. J. H. Tull and started a drug and stationary store. During this general time period, he also served two terms as Justice of the Peace, and became a notary public in June 1895.

 James W. McKenzie died August 18, 1911, at age 71 at Carlton, Texas, and is buried in the cemetery there. Lauren Emeline Winn McKenzie died January 29, 1929, at age 80, and is buried with James W.

J. R. McKenzie Jr.


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People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
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Copyright March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress