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On October 30, 1846, a wagon train began it's way to the area of the DeWitt colony in Gonzales County, TX from Rankin County, MS.  Rankin and other Counties of MS had suffered a terrible epidemic of Yellow Fever during the later part of the 1830's and early 1840's.  Many families had lost loved ones which may have caused them to consider moving elsewhere.  Some of the families that were known to have been members of this wagon train were:

1. William Steen, 58 and nine children.  His wife, Mary Rumley Enochs Steen, had just died August 19, 1846.  His son, Carroll Jefferies Steen had just married on October 8, 1846 to Margaret Ann Neely.  His daughter, Mary Agnes "Nancy" Steen had married Joseph E. Stevens on May 17, 1840.  Others in his party were daughters, Narcissa Steen, age 22 who later married John Henry Stevens, and Mary Steen age 15 who remained unmarried, sons John Rumley Steen age 21 who later married Mahala Burkett, William Steen age 16 who later married Elvira Louisa Hall, James Eiley Steen age 13 who later married Frances E. Stevens and Enoch Miles Steen age 10 who later married Arabella Stevens.
2. Eli Stephens age 54 and wife, Susanna Thompson  Stephens age 46 and family.  In addition to the sons mentioned above, sons, Barnabus Stephens and wife Christen Townsend, Joseph Stephens age 7, Daughters Mary E. Stephens age 21, Frances E. "Fannie" Stephens age 20, Ann Elizabeth Stephens age 18, Martha Ann Stephens age 15, Susan Caroline Stephens age 12, Harriett Jane Stephens age 11, Adeline Malissa Stephens age 9 and Arabella Stephens age 3.
3. Merrill J. Smith age 44 and wife Susan Lusk Smith age 37, daughter Nancy Jane Smith age 16 who later married Thomas Boyce Eidson in MS. Five sons, Brandon Davidson Smith age 17 who later married Amanda Caroline Oldham, daughter of John Oldham in MS, Robert Lusk Smith age 13, Harrison W. Smith age 11 who later married Mary M. Tandy, daughter of Albert W. and Sarah Smith Tandy in Texas although Sarah Smith was born in MS in 1827, Jiles Vance Smith age 8 and Silas C. Smith age 3.
On the way, William Steen became ill and the wagon train stopped in Nacogdoches Co., TX where he died at the home of his sister and brother - in - law, Levi and Jane Steen Noble.  The wagon train continued on after his funeral and eventually settled near Hell's Gate on the Guadalupe River north of Cuero in what was then Gonzales Co, TX.  After about one year Merril J. Smith feeling that Texas was so wild the the influence of the associations with which they would be thrown would have a detrimental effect upon the character of his two older boys, moved back to MS, However they moved back to Carroll County instead of Rankin County .  In 1853 the family including son - in - law Thomas B. Eidson moved back to T4exas.  John Oldham and family probably came to Texas with Merrill J. Smith and family.  They are found in Lavaca County, Tx in 1856 in the Scholastic Records.  Deed records in Lacaca Co, Tx indicate that Merrill J. Smith purchased land in Lavaca in 1858.  John Oldham was a witness to the land purchase of Merrill J. Smith.
In 1858 the land purchase indicated that M. J. Smith was from Coryell Co, TX  Coryell County had been organized in 1854.  The Stephens were also from Carroll County, MS
Eli Stephens settled in Carroll Co, MS in 1838 for about 10 years before moving Gonzales County with a large group including his wife, Susana and 13 children.  He died in 1867, buried along the Guadalupe River, Gonzales Co. on his property in a family Guadalupe

Shared by Ethel Mae Townsend

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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