MARTHA ANN (STEPHENS) TOWNSEND
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
Shared by Ethel