Clinton Co IL-AHGP site
THE CLARKS
FROM VIRGINIA TO TEXAS
Thru Clinton Co IL

Submitted by Dolores Brandon Miller Poster-#-25-

THE CLARKS

 

 


 

THE CLARKS

FROM VIRGINIA TO TEXAS

 

 

 

 

 

 Chronicled by

Carl Brooks

 

Researched by

Dolores Brandon Miller

And

Nardine K. Brandon

 

Edited by

Jim Miller

 

May 1998

 

 

This chronicle attempts to focus generally upon the Clark family from Patrick County, Virginia, as they move ever westward, seeking a new and better life for themselves and their families.  It is a story mostly about the women of the Clark family but also includes their brothers, uncles, and men they married, as well as others in their families.  The events are pieced together from authentic documents, letters, first hand knowledge of family members, and some speculation of the events appearing within, based solely upon logic.  Two main characters emerge, as they turn their tragedies into an even greater triumph; Martha Clark Huff James, and her granddaughter, Martha Henriette Mofield Clark Brandon. Both are truly exceptional people, as is shown time and time again in the hardships they faced: family dislocation; disease; natural elements; civil war; social calamity; and death.  The loneliness for family members left behind, as their letters so poignantly poured out their honest, heartfelt emotions to loved ones back in Virginia, is profoundly apparent.  The Texas frontier in the mid 19th century was a raw, untamed wilderness, fraught with deadly pitfalls, from American Indian unrest, to deadly bacteria lurking in the very water they drank.  Life there was more than difficult. It rewarded only the strongest, for only they would survive.  Through determination and sheer physical, as well as emotional, strength, these two women and their families met these challenges head on.  Most of them endured at least long enough to ensure their children had learned the basic lessons of survival, which, in the end, is what we all strive to accomplish.

Many superlatives could generously be used to describe these wonderful women, all of which would still fall short.  These people, these ancestors, personify the American pioneer will and determination. I am proud of all of them; who they were, and everything they accomplished. In reading this chronicle, one fact must be a constant throughout its scope -- what we don't know about these people far out-weighs the meager knowledge we have about them, or their lives.  Though a person's character is often defined by adventurous life-experiences, the true strength perhaps lies in surviving the drudgery, repetition, and sheer endurance of day to day living in conditions considered unbearable by others.  We know very little of those two Marthas, but we can surely read between the lines, for there-in lies their real story.

Motivations for the migration of many of our early settlers westward are many and varied:  A better life; necessity; dreams of riches; or perhaps a need to see and be a part of the new and wonderful country available to them by the simple act of settling upon it.  Another, more sinister reason for pulling up stakes and moving West, was a matter of basic survival; to flee the killers of their husbands, wives, and children; that indiscriminate killer was disease.  These people had few, natural immunities and no effective treatments for Malaria, Cholera, Smallpox, Typhoid, etc.  Their only defense was to flee an infected area and try homesteading somewhere else, leaving many of their loved ones, as well as part of themselves, in a succession of graves in their wake.  This particular threat was an ever-present reality for the Clark family, as they migrated westward.

We begin with Martha Henriette Mofield Clark Brandon's great, grandfather, Alexander McKenzie (Mackenzie), and his wife, Ann.  In Alexander's last will and testament, Albemarle County, Virginia, he mentions his wife, Ann, his son, Alexander, his two daughters, Susannah and Margaret, along with two granddaughters, "Patsy" and Nancy Bocock.  In an interesting statement in his will, Alexander excludes his "Daughter," Martha Patsy (not to be confused with his granddaughter, Patsy), from any property gifts, as he writes, "My daughter, (Martha) Patsy, having received as much of my estate as I intend to give her, or her heirs," seemingly excluding her from any inheritance.  From this simple statement much interpretation is called for.  Perhaps Alexander was displeased with (Martha) Patsy in some way, or maybe she had received her share previously, upon her marriage to William Carter.  The possibility exists that Alexander McKenzie was not pleased with (Martha) Patsy's decision to marry Mr. Carter, therefore, eliminating the possibility of Mr. Carter's gaining control over Martha's inheritance; which was accepted law in that era.  In any event, Martha "Patsy" received nothing at the time of her father's death.  At that time, Martha “Patsy” was approximately thirty-four years old.  Alexander McKenzie's will is an interesting document, both in inventory, as well as the fact that he had total ownership of all goods, both real and personal, contained within their household.  That document follows:

 

               WILL OF ALEXANDER McKENZIE

                                                     8 FEBRUARY 1797

I Alexander McKenzie of Albemarle County, in my perfect mind and recollection do make this last will and testament and do make the following disposition of my estate that is to say I leave my only and beloved wife Ann all my estate both real and personal during her life and at her death I give to my son Alexander McKenzie and his heirs 100 acres of my land to be laid off under the direction of my executor to include my present dwelling and that then they or the survivor should sell and convey all the residue of my said estate both real and personal as may be thought most advantageous and the net proceeds to be divided as follows.  To Alexander McKenzie my son and his heirs -- one-fourth tract.  To my grand daughters Patsy and Nancy (Bocock), one fourth tract.  To my daughter, Susannah, wife of Peter Ray, and their heirs -- one-fourth tract, after deducting five dollars which I have advanced to her, and to my daughter, Margaret, wife of Joseph Hardy, and to her heirs -- one-fourth tract plus ten pounds first being raised and advanced for the education of my grandson, Absolum, son of Alexander McKenzie.  My daughter, Patsy having received all of my estate I intend to give her or her heirs.  I do hereby appoint my friends Joshua Key and Tandy Key executors of this my last will and testament revoking all wills heretofore made as witnessed my hand and seal this eighth day of February 179seven.

Alexander (his mark) McKenzie

 

Signed, sealed published and acknowledged

 in the presence of

Wat Key and William White

 

 

 

ALEXANDER McKENZIE'S INVENTORY

Albemarle County.  We the subscribers in obedience to an order of the District Court holden at Charlottesville and being sworn, have made the following appraisement of the estate of Alexander McKenzie and as shown us by the executor.

 

 

        

 

  L

  S

  D

George, a negro man at the price of

  60

  0

  0

One Bay horse

  11

  0

  0

Two cows, 1 calf and two yew, one heffer, and four yearling

  30

10

  0

Thirteen head of hogs and 3 young, 2 lambs

  10

  8

  0

3 beds of furniture, 5 chairs 2 pine tables

  12

  6

  0

One pair smoking irons, 4 pewter dishes

    1

  2

  0

Fourteen do plates, two----------------------------- ------------------------

    1

10

  6

Eight do spoons, 1 iron, 1 do quart measure

    1

  9

  6

One tea pot, one tea kittle, and coffee mill

    1

16

  6

One spice morter and pessell and two juggs

    1

  0

  0

One butter ----------------- one hackle, one shott gunn

    1

17

  0

One pair steelyards and one candle box

    1

10

  6

Two pair sheep shears and 1 candlestick snuffer

    1

  3

  6

One pair tongs, one showell and a poker

    1

  6

  0

Two trivets, one sword and 1 holbard

    1

  6

  0

One flax and one cotten wheels

    1

18

  0

Two pad locks and one branch winder

    1

  7

  0

One stock loch, 3 potts and one Dutch oven

    2

  3

  0

Four pails of different kinds one iro kittle

    1

  4

  0

Two frying pans two chests, one chern

    1

  2

  6

One grindstone one ----- and five slays

    1

17

  6

One other chest and one pair sheers

    1

  3

  6

One hone and cutting knife

    1

  5

  0

Flesh fork, ladle and two pair pott hooks

    1

  3

  0

One lanthem one pr money scales -----------------

    1

17

  0

One bread baker and a ----------------- of nails

    1

  9

  6

Two scyths and cradles, three scths and 7 ---hooks

    1

  7

  6

Four augers, 3 chisels and a gouge, ?drawing knife 2 hand saws one --- and 1 hamer

    1

  2

  0

Two belly, 1 spade 1 ---- 1 cross cut saw 2 cliverces one pr neppers 5 iron wedges

          7 hoes and 3 axes

    2    

14

  0

Amount brought forward

 

 

 

One old saddle  Three halfshare plows

     1

   5

  0

One cart and one pr.  Harnes

     4

   0

  0

Three old hogheads two bee hives

     1

   3

  6

An obligation of William Jones ----- 25 Dc 1797

   24

   0

  0

A promesary note of Reuben Garner payable the 29th March 1797

     1

 12

  3

An obligation of Bland Ballard payable the 1st December 1798

     6

   6

  0

A promesary note of Richard H. Allen for the amount of 1210 lbs tobaco at 2---per    

          hundred

   16

   8

  8

A receipt of the treasurer ackowledging a debt of a parcill of old books a parcel of ----

     0

  12

  0

                                                                                     Amount

 224

  10

  5

/2a doz knives and folks 2 table cloths

 

  13

  6

                                                                                     Amount

 225

    3

 11

 

Benj Brown)

John Alphin) All are in "History." Albemarle Co."

(Jesse Lewis)

 

April 23, 1798

At Albemarle July court 1798:  The foregoing inventory of the estate of Alexander McKinzie deceased was produced into court and ordered to be recorded.

(John Nicholas) became clerk in 1750 and continued hold office until 1792

 

At a Supreme Court held in the town of Charlottesville in April 1798 this last will and testament of Alexander McKenzie, deceased, was in open court proved by the oath of Walter Key and Elizabeth Key, two of the witnesses thereto, and by the court ordered to be recorded and the motion of Joshua Key, one of the executors therein named, certificate is granted him in obtaining a probate in due form of law and his giving bond and security whereupon he qualified and gave bond and security accordingly bt testo.

John Carr C.C.

In his book, History of Albemarle County, in Virginia, published 1901, page 145, the Rev., Edgar Woods, states that Alexander McKenzie owned land in Albemarle County from 1742 until 1799.  Part of that land is today contained within the grounds of the University of Virginia. Alexander died in 1796, or early 1797, but his will was not probated until February 8, 1797.

Martha "Patsy" McKenzie was married to William Carter, also of Albemarle County, Virginia, on January 9, 1782.  William Carter fought in the Revolutionary War as a substitute for his father, Barnett Carter. According to the Patrick County tax records, William Carter owned 100 acres on the Dan River. He and Martha "Patsy" subsequently had five children, one of whom, born in 1790, carried on the maternal, family given name of Martha, who will figure prominently throughout this chronicle.  Sometime during the year 1809, the Carter family moved to Patrick County, in Virginia.

On July 28, 1814, this Martha Carter then married William Clark. It is believed, yet not documented, that William Clark was the son of John Clark, who, as early as 1812 owned 187 acres of land on Matthews Creek, 4 miles east of the Patrick County Courthouse.  Both the Clark and Carter families were prominent in Virginia and were believed to have been acquainted with their neighbor, Thomas Jefferson.

From this marriage came several children who are the characters-of-focus in our story:  Ruth, Alexander Broy, Martha Ann, William Carter, John Newton, Matilda, Gabrielle, and Samuel. According to existing letters written to these family members over a period of years and distance, they truly cared for and loved each other as an emotionally close family. In 1831, William Clark owned 152 acres of land on Russell's Creek.  In 1835 he was taxed for 5 horses and one slave, and by 1837, owned two slaves.

Martha Clark's husband, William, died on February 18, 1837, intestate.  Among his several, prominent positions held in county government, William had been a duly elected Constable of Patrick County at the time of his death.  The following document records the subsequent appointment of William and Martha's son, Alexander Broy Clark, as his successor:

 

               May Court 1837 Patrick County, Virginia.   Order book 4

 

Wm. Clark, late constable of this county, having departed this life, the court proceeded to appoint a successor. Present, Greenville Penn, John Tatum, Harvey Fitzgerald, Thomas J. Penn, Clark Penn, James M. Redd, John Turner, William Critz, Howard K. Moore, Thomas J. Penn, and Richard Thomas, esquire.  Alexander Clark, Herbert Shelton and Jonas P. ____ were considered in absentia, and this court voting viva voci, the following was the result.  For Alexander Clark, all the justices except Clark Penn, who voted for Jonas P.____ , and Wm Critz, Esq., who voted for Herbert Shelton, whereupon the said Alexander Clark was declared duly elected and thereupon he took the several oaths prescribed by law, and together with Alexander Clark and James M. Redd his security entered into bond in the penalty of $2,000.00, conditioned according to law, it appearing to the satisfaction of this court, this, the said A. Clark is a man of honesty, integrity, and good character.


Thus, Alexander Broy Clark took his deceased father's place as Constable of Patrick County, Virginia.  Offices said to have been held by Alexander Broy Clark, while living in Patrick County, were those of Constable and Postmaster.  Upon the death of his father, Alexander Broy Clark entered into a bond of $3,000.00 in order to administer his father's estate. (One of William Clark's daughters, Ruth, is mentioned as a minor heir.) Martha Clark, his widow, appears on the Patrick County tax list in 1840, owning one horse and one slave.

 

                                       Samuel S. Clark

                                                      Youngest child of

                                          William and Martha Carter Clark

 

For reasons unknown to us, on October 18, 1841, Martha left Patrick County, Virginia, for Clinton County, Illinois, with seven of her eight children, including, Ruth V., John Newton, Martha Ann, William Carter, Matilda, Gabrielle, and Samuel, leaving her oldest son, Alexander Broy Clark and family behind. Martha undoubtedly traveled with others whose identities remain speculative.  However, a detailed account of the expenses incurred on her covered wagon journey still exists, and is listed below.

 

"A way-bill from Patrick County Courthouse to Aviston, Clinton County, Illinois, and when I started from home.  Left home 18th day of October A. D. 1841 and arrived at Aviston on the 6th day of December A. D. 1841."

 

VIRGINIA

To Hillsville in Grayson Co. (Carroll Co. current map)

To Jackson's Ferry on New River

To Wythe Court House (Wytheville)

To Smith Court House (Marion)

To Abingdon, Washington County

 

TENNESSEE

To Kingsport, Sullivan Co.

Through Hawkins Co.

To Rutledge, Granger Co.

To Blains Cross Road in Knox Co.

To Robertsville in Anderson Co.

Through Overton Co., then through White Co.

Through Jackson Co., then to Allen's Ferry on the Cumberland River

To Carthage in Smith Co.

To Dickson's Springs in same co.

To Hartsville in same Co.

To Gallatin in same Co.

To Cross Plains in Robertson Co.

 

 KENTUCKY

To Keysburg in Todd Co.

To Hopkinsville in Christian Co.

To Princeton in Caldwell Co.

To Fredonia in same Co.

To ferry on Ohio River

 

  ILLINOIS

To Equality in Gallatin Co.

Through Hamilton Co.

To Mt. Vernon in Jefferson Co.

To Carlyle in Clinton Co.

Through Aviston in same Co.

The amount of our expenses on the journey was 64 dollars 49 cents."

                                                                     

 John N. Clark

 

The following are copied, typed, and certified letters written by the Clark family from January 1844 until January 1861.  The originals are in the possession of Shelley Clark Bateman of Moriarty, New Mexico.

In this series of letters and replies, the following was written by Martha Clark, from Clinton County, Illinois, on January 19, 1843, to her son, Captain Alexander Broy Clark, in Colesville, Stokes County, North Carolina.  (Existing records indicate that A.B. Clark was Postmaster at Avo, Virginia, situated midway between Patrick County Court House, Virginia, and Colesville, North Carolina.  Letters to him were addressed to both places.)

 

Dear and beloved children,

I take my pen up this morning to write to you one time more.  The Lord only knows whether I shall ever be blessed with this opportunity anymore for this is the only way we can get consolation, by the receiving of your letters and to hear that you are all spared. Yes, we received yours dated 6th of November which came to hand the 21st of same month.  We received it with great satisfaction to hear that all of you were well, etc. What a great satisfaction it is to hear from one I dote on as much as I do you.  There is not a day rolls across my head but what I think of you. I think the time long since we parted but I will feed myself on the hopes of seeing you both as soon as you can arrange your matters, etc., and you must not make the time too long.

I was glad to hear that your grandfather and mothers were all with you enjoying yourselves together. If we could not be blessed with that blessed opportunity and if we never meet on earth anymore, I want you to prepare to meet with me in a world above where parting will be no more.

This leaves us all well, fat and saucy and hoping when these few lines you may be enjoying good health and in high spirits a coming out to the west. The children are all as fleshy as I ever saw them and enjoy good health.  Ruth weighs 155 lbs. and John 156 lbs. and says he has caught you in weight at last, and says if you will meet him half way he can throw you down. Martha Ann weighs 150 lbs. and Carter weighs 164, Gabrielle 75 and Samuel 66.  They are going to school and learn very fast.  We have a school in 1/2 a mile of us at this time.

Matilda was married on the 4th of October 1842 to Mr. John B. Ginnett.  This leaves them both well at this time and are living about 3 miles from me in the prairie.  They say they want you at their house to shoot prairie chickens.  Matilda says you must fetch William John out here and she will feed on milk and mush and prairie chickens bountiful and says you must kiss Mary Jane 3 times for her.   She says give her love to grandfather and mothers and all the rest of our connections and old acquaintances, and dear brother and sister I have not forgotten you nor ever shall and should like to see you both out here with us to slay ride in this pretty country.  Mr. Ginnett sends his love and best wishes to you both and says he should like to see you both out here very much and says leave that poor country and come where you can see some as pretty and level as you could wish for.  Matilda says give old Mrs. Estes her best love and compliments.  I received only 2 papers, Moir and Doc Clarks.  Those were all we got.

James Newman called on us as he came on.  He arrived at my house on Monday 9th of January (1843) and stayed until Thursday with us which gave great satisfaction to hear from old Patrick (Co. Va.) and all of my old neighbors and how they were coming on etc.  I was glad to hear your trouble was over and to hear what a fine son you had and very well pleased with his name.

Tell my dear Mother that I hope to meet her in this life one time more but if we should not I hope we shall meet where death pain and sorrow will be no more and tell her I often wish she were with me and miss her no one knows but those that experience it.  Give my love to your grandfather and mother Clark and tell them they do not miss me half as much as I do them.  I often times wish they were with us where we could see and be with each other one time more. Give my love to Mr. and Mrs. Gaines and family and to John and Nancy Hanby and tell them I want them to leave that country and come to this pretty country and to Mrs. Estes and to Mrs. Sally Brown and to Mr. and Mrs. Gray and family and tell old Mrs. Estes that I never shall forget her and to all of my connections not to one alone but everyone and to all inquiring friends etc. and also to Doc I. L. Cole and family and tell him I have never received a letter from him yet.  I am very much obliged to him for his good wishes to us.

I will give you the prices of products etc. corn is 62 1/2 cents per barrel, wheat 37 1/2 cents per bushel.  Pork $1.75 per hundred. Times are hard here and do not get any better.  I shall live on the road leading to St. Louis Mo. this year and tell my old neighbors if any of them move on to call on us and tell them where to find us 1 1/2 miles west of Aviston, Clinton County, Ill.  You will find the stove dye ? on the left hand side of the walk as you go in at the east about 3 steps square from the left. Go past close by a little peach tree. I expect you have ploughed it up.  I did not bury it deep in the ground.

 

(The preceding instructions were assumed to have been directions leading to the location of an object which Martha had left behind, buried in her yard back in Virginia. Possibly a small cache of money, or valuables.)

 

(The following was written in the same letter.  It was probably written by John B. Ginnett, Matilda's husband, and brother-in-law of A. B. Clark.)

 

Dear Brother,

Anytime you will let me know you are ready to move out I will come in. Give me time to arrange my matters to come.  John N., Ruth, Ann Carter and Gabrielle will show you their improvement since they left. They went 6 days to a writing master. Now everyone will write their own etc.

 

(The following was written by Ruth Clark.)

 

Dear Brother and Sister,

I often think of you and will never forget you. Dear Brother do not worry about what you wrote me.  I do not think hard of what you wrote to me.  Forget me not, forget me not.

Ruth V. Clark

 

(The following was written by Martha Ann Clark, daughter of Martha Clark, to her Brother, Alexander B. Clark.)

 

Dear Brother and sister,

I have not forgotten you both and never shall.  I want you both out here.  I merely wrote that to show you my writing.  Give my love to M. Gray.

 Martha A. Cl.

 

 

(The following was written by William Carter Clark to his brother, A. B. Clark)

 

Dear Brother and sister,

I want you both out here so we could see one another everyday.  You wrote that you had a big man that could make me holler "Calf rope," but I think if you were here I would tell you better.  I weigh 165 lbs.

William C. Clark

 

(The following was written by Gabrielle Clark.)

 

Dear Brother and sister,

I want to see you both very bad and tell Mary Jane she must go to school and learn to write and write me a letter.  Give my love to Elizabeth Mofield. I wrote this myself.

Gabrielle Clark

 

(The conclusion of this letter was written by Martha Clark, mother of Alexander

Broy Clark.)

 

I want you to write by every chance you have and my dear son, do not make the time too long before you come out and oh if I had you both out here what I'd give.  You feel very nigh to me. I think the time long since we parted.  This paper will not hold half I want to write but oh when we get together then we can talk with each other and lay the paper aside.  This leaves me hoping it will not be long before we shall be together and enjoy ourselves together.  This time (has gone) so no more at present only remain your true and loving mother until death us do part in this life and hoping we shall meet in a world where parting will be no more.

Mrs. Mary Ann Outhouse sends her love to you and says she should like to see you. You know who I allude to, Mary Ann Booker as was before she was married.

 

Received 11th Feb 1843

Answered 30th April 1843

 

 

(The name, "Outhouse" is mentioned at least twice within these letters, and was first thought to have been used derisively, in making fun of those persons.  However, upon further examination, the name seems to have been German in origin, closely resembling that of the English, "Outhouse." Mr. (or Reverend) Outhouse seems to have been a local minister upon whom the Clark family depended for spiritual guidance.)

 

To Capt. A. B. Clark Galesville, Stokes Co. North Carolina

Aviston, Clinton County, Illinois October 10, 1843

 

My Dear Son Alexander,

I now write to inform you that myself and family (except John N. Clark) are all sick with the chills and the fever and have been for three or four months past.  You will be surprised to learn that my dear John N. is no more.  He departed this life on the 25th day of July at 5 minutes past 5 o'clock PM. He was taken sick on the __ of July and continued to grow worse and worse until he died.  A few days previous to his death, he conversed on the subject of religion.  He said to Mother, "I felt mighty good last night, and had I not have thought that you would think that I was dying, I should have shouted "Glory to God."  Three days before he died, he told Ruth that he wanted to go the Mr. Outhouse's to meeting, to rejoice with them and go into the water and be baptized.  He asked when the next meeting would be there.  He also said to Ruth, "Oh, what a good dream I had last night."  He dreamed he went to that good man and knelt down at his feet and asked Him to forgive his sins.  The good man asked him what his name was.  He told the good man his name was John Newton Clark.  Then he saw the good man write his name in the good book and he came home rejoicing with his arms open wide.

I approached him on the evening of his death, perhaps three hours before his decease and asked if he wished me to pray with and for him.  He said, "Oh, yes, Mother." I asked if I should send for someone to come and pray with him.  He said, "Yes, send for Brother Harris," a pastor who is pastor of the church which I belong to.  I immediately sent for him, but before he arrived, John N. took his exit to the world of the spirits where I hope to meet him ere long to praise our redeemer together.  Just before his decease, he prayed fervently for all of our sisters and brothers and also for yourself and wife and exhorted us all to prepare to meet him in heaven.

He said to Dr. Lee, "Oh, Doctor, can't you strengthen me that I may be enabled to rejoice and pray more?"  The Doctor, being present said, "I don't know, John, I will try to."  He died very easy without a struggle or a groan and believe he has gone to heaven where the redeemed sing and the Angels of God are continually before the throne, praising the creator, crying "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty who was and who is the same.  The Doctor said his disease was the intermittent fever which became very turbid and unmanageable together with his old complaint which carried him off.

Today I am confined to my bed with chills.  I had got better so I rode out to Matilda's and tarried with her three days.  On Thursday afternoon I came home through chilly atmosphere which probably brought back the chills on me again. Ruth was able to go about and do the necessary work two weeks ago but on Sunday she was taken down again with the chills.  Though at present she is, I think, better and will probably nip her ague today. Martha Ann has been sick for more than three months and is very feeble now, but is getting better. Gabrielle is now sick in bed with the ague.  She's been sick ever since July __ with intermittents of one and two weeks___ then it would come back again. Samuel S. was taken sick the first of July.  Since then he has had the chills and fever with intermittents of one and two weeks.  When his ague is on he sits and pats his feet and sings until it goes off again. He is now getting better.  Carter has had the chills for two weeks past and has one on him now, but I think he will be better in a few days.

 

To Capt. A. B. Clark Colesville, N. Carolina

Clinton Co. Illinois

January 21, 1844

 

I take the present opportunity to write to you to let you know that we are in some better health than we have been in some time.  Hoping that when these few lines come to hand that they will find you enjoying good health.  We received your letter dated 24th December which came to hand 12th January which gave us great joy to hear that you were well and all of our connections.  I want to see you.  Nothing can express the many miles apart the satisfaction that it would be to see you and be as we have been, as I feel so lonesome and desolate.  I don't know if we shall ever see each other again but I still live in hopes that we will in a short time.  I think that you have slighted me very much.  It has been most of a year before I have heard from you before this.  There has been a good deal of sickness and deaths in the neighborhood.  It revives memory much when I think of your coming.  I want you to bring Sally and the children with you.  Tell Sally I have not forgotten her nor where we parted nor ever shall. I want you to tell Mother that I want to see her very bad, but if we never see each other again in this world, I want to meet her where parting will be no more.  Tell Father and Mother Clark that I want to see them very bad, and I don't know whether I ever shall or not, but I hope I shall see them again.

Gabrielle sends her love to you both and says to tell Mary that she wants to see her very bad and she wants her to send her a letter and tell Granddaddy and Grammamas that she wants to see them very bad.  Samuel sends his love to you both and says to tell William that he has got him a steer and he rides him and wants to know if he has got one or not, and says tell Granddaddy and Grammamas that he wants to see them.

Martha A. Clark Dear Brother and Sister,

I want to see you very bad. My dear brother don't give out coming next Fall for I want to see you worse than I ever did.  Do look over my bad writing for my hand is very trimbly.  Corn is worth $1.00 per barrel - Wheat 75 cents. Pork is worth $1.50 to $2.00.  Burton Coker says that you say you are coming next Fall and you must not lie as you are not in the habit of lying. Times are hard and get no better. Crops very sorry last year.  It is now raining.  Give my love to Aunt Nancy.  Tell Uncle Moses Clark that we received his letter that he sent our dear beloved brother that is gone.  I want you to write as soon as you get this letter and don't mind postage as we would be glad to get a letter every week.

Wm. C. C.

(William Carter Clark)

So we will come to a close.  Nothing more at present, but remaining your true affectionate parents until death.

 

Dear Beloved Mother,

I am in need of about $20.00, and if you will send me that much I will be able to return it in a short time.  If you can send it in the next letter it will oblige me very much. Shake hand with Nancy Hudson for me.  Mat Clark is doing nothing but lying around and drinking whiskey.

Matilda and John Ginnett send their love to you and Sally and say they want to see you very bad and all of the connections.

 

Dear Brother and Sister,

I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines as I have not written any since the first of July.  I should like to see you both out here.  I have missed the ague and fever two days and my hand is trembling and weak, but I think I shall get over it now.  You must not forget to come and see us next Fall as we shall look until we see you. 

Give my love to Grandfather and Grandmother and Aunt Nancy Hudson.  Mr. Ginnett and Matilda send their love to your father and mother.

M.A.C.

(Martha Ann Clark)

 

(Notation: Mary Gaines was Sarah E. Gaines Clark's sister.  She signed her letters to her sister: Polly Tarter.  Her husband was Caleb M. Tarter of Pulaski Co, Kentucky.

Notations on the letter were: "Received this letter 18th February A. D. 1844

Answered April 21, 1844.")

 

Another letter written August 5, 1844. (The number 25 appears where we usually see the stamp on letters today.  This letter, as the others of this period, was folded and sealed with wax.  No envelopes were used for the letters of the 1840's. Martha Carter Clark's signature does not appear, though it is obvious that she wrote the first part of the letter and bits in-between.)

Martha's daughter, Ruth, was living in her mother's household until she married James Mofield on December 22, 1844, eventually giving birth to three girls, including Martha Henriette Mofield, one of the two the main characters of this chronicle.  The Mofield family had apparently been friends of the Clark's back in Patrick County, Virginia.  This is assumed from the greeting Gabrielle sent along in a letter to her brother, Alexander, (February 1843) directing him to "Give her love to Elizabeth Mofield."

Ruth was probably born about 1818-1820 in Patrick Co., Virginia, although, no documentation attesting to this, has been found.  When Ruth's father, William Clark, died in 1837, Ruth was named as one of his minor heirs.  Ruth and James Mofield's first child, Martha Henriette, was born September 20, 1845, their second child, Sally Ann, 1847, and their third, Gabrielle Matilda, in 1850.

It is known that James and Ruth lived in Clinton County, Illinois in November 1847 about 2 1/2 miles from Ruth's mother, Martha.  Ruth's sister, Martha Ann, lived one and one half miles from Aviston, Illinois, and within a few miles of her mother.

A word of explanation and clarification concerning some of the names contained within this chronicle: Jonathan Huff, or Hoff, is listed in several documents using both spellings, even within the same document. Either could be correct.  The name Mofield, also spelled Moffield, was undoubtedly once Morefield and also appears in official documents spelled both ways.  Though the authors have selected one choice over the others, all should be considered as correct.  The given name of Ruth also occasionally appears as Ruthe; and Henriette is sometimes referred to as Henrietta.

 

        MARTHA A. CARTER CLARK

Martha married Jonathan Huff/Hoff on October 3, 1848, in Clinton County, Illinois.  From the sound of the letters written by her son-in-law, the marriage was not a happy one.  As the pieced scenario unfolds, it appears that after the marriage, Mr. Huff took advantage of Martha by selling her land and stock, then using the money unwisely.  In spite of this unfortunate circumstance, they were still living together on November 25, 1850, in Alton, Madison County, Illinois.

References to Martha's daughter, Ruth, and her family, were made in several old family letters, including one that Martha wrote to her brother, Alexander B. Clark.  The following are copies of those letters:

 

To Capt. A. B. Clark

Patrick County Court House. Virginia

Clinton County, Illinois

19th November, 1847

 

Dear Son,

I take this opportunity to let you hear from us.  This leaves us well at present hoping these lines will find you and all the rest of our connections well. With sorrowful hearts we write to you.  My dear son William Carter is gone.  He was taken sick on the last day of October and departed this life on 8th of November. He was taken with a chill on Sunday morning and the fever never cooled until Saturday.  I sent for Dr. Fisk the next day after he was taken and he said it was bilious intermittent fever.  I believe that all was done for him that could be, both by ourselves and neighbors and Dr.  He told us the day before he died that he had dreamed of being with his brother, John N. and he thought it would not be long before he was with him.  He told me he loved his brother Alexander though he was a long way from him.  He said not to grieve for him, he wasn't afraid to die.  He was heard at prayer not two hours before he died.  I hope and believe he is at rest.  He was a good child to me and his sisters and brothers.  He told Samuel to be a good boy and to speak ill of no person and he would have friends.  He was very steady and had a great many friends, but he is gone and we are left to mourn his loss.  We feel quite lonely.

Matilda is with us today.  She expects to go home in a few days.  John and Matilda send their love to you all. Matilda said that she would like to see you but life is uncertain.  James and Ruth (Mofield) send their love to you all.  Ruth has another fine girl.  She calls it Sally Ann.  The girls live close together.  They live 2 1/2 miles from me.

Samuel grows very fast.  He won't be able to feed and tend to the stock this winter.  He says he is quite lonesome, he has no brother to go to and be with him.  Pork is 4 dollars a hundred---flour 2 1/2 dollars a hundred---corn 75 cents a barrel.

Give my love to Mother and to Father Clark and all of the connections and friends and tell them I have not forgotten them all.  Gabrielle and Samuel send their love to you all.  Your letter dated the 15th of August came to hand and I was glad to hear from you all.  You must be certain to write me a letter as soon as you get this.  We live in a mile and a half of Aviston.  We get your letters the same day they come to Aviston, so no more at present but remain your loving mother until death."

Martha Clark

 

My dear son left me out of debt but about 40 odd dollars which is mostly to Doctor.  Thought you would like to know how I was doing.  Don't neglect writing.

 

The following letter was written by Ruth to her brother, Alexander B. Clark, on 19 November 1847, the same day the previous letter was written by Martha Clark:

 

 

Dear Brother and Sister,

I, now with grief, undertake to write you a few lines.  To think that our dear brother has left us and that this is the first ________you must look over all bad writing.  I hope that our misfortune will not prevent you from coming as we all have to die, prepared or not, and let us all say that we will try to meet him again in a world of love where there is no sickness nor death nor parting.  Give my love to Grandfather and Mother and Aunt Nancy and Sally Critz and Mary Gray, Mary Webb and Mary Gaines and to Mrs. S. Brown and Mrs. Gray and tell all

inquiring friends and I want to know (about) of all the Negroes you bought off Mr. Gaines and how all of our acquaintances come on.

                                   

   Ruth Clark

 

("Grandfather," was John Clark, the father of William Clark, who died in 1837. “Grandmother” was Martha "Patsy" McKenzie Carter, mother of Martha Clark.)

 

 

Mr. A. B. Clark, Colesville, Stokes County, N. C.

Clinton County, Illinois

January 21st 1849

 

Dear Brother and Sister,

With pleasure I embrace the present opportunity for the first time to address you with a few lines which is the only way we have of conversing together at the present time.  As self comes first in most cases, I will inform you that we are enjoying common health at the present time for which we feel thankful to the Great Power of the Universe for His favors for which we enjoy.  I further state to you that I have some notion of moving to the state of Missouri and I would be very glad if it were so that you could move to that country as I think it is a very healthy country and a fertile soil.

I will now give you some items of general news in regard to prices of the various products of the country. Pork is worth from $2.50 to $3.00 per hundred weight and beef is about the same price.  Flour is worth $4.50 per bbl. (Barrel).  And corn is worth from 15 to 20 cents a bushel.

We have experienced a very severe winter so far and there is considerable ice on the ground at the present time.   We want you to write to us as soon as this comes to hand and give us all the news that would be interesting for us to hear from our friends and acquaintances in that country; and if you would want any information, let us know when you write and we will try to give you and answer that will be more interesting that the present short letter.

I will now inform you that I was at Mother's and Mofield's a few days back and they are all well, though I should say that Mr. Huff, as Mother has married a widower by that name, the third of October last.  He has five children, though none are living with him at this time.  Mother has been looking for a letter from you for some time and thinks strange that you have not written before this time.

I will further state to you that James Madison Clark went to Santa Fe in the volunteer service, but has since returned well and hearty.  As to our domestic affairs I will say to Sally that we have no children of our own though we have three children living with us at the present time.  It would gratify us very much if you were living near us so that we could converse face to face and not be confined to the narrow limits of a sheet of paper. Give our love and respects to Grandmother Carter and Grandfather Clark, Uncle Moses Clark and family and to Aunt Nancy Hudson and family and to all the rest of the connections and inquiring friends.

Dear Brother and Sister, we will now bid you an affectionate farewell after subscribing ourselves your affectionate brother and sister until death.  This from John and Matilda Ginnett to A. B. and Sally Clark.

P.S. I will state to you that Mother is living about 1/2 mile from me on the same place Carter bought.  The place had thirty acres in cultivation when Carter bought it and he took in ten more acres and since Mr. Huff came there he borrowed the money and entered the place.  I then went there and proposed to the old man and Mother to make a deed to the land and execute it in such a manner that the three children that live at the home could hold it after the death of the old lady, but the old man appeared to be insulted very much and Mother was not well pleased with the proposition.  My motive for doing this was - I believed that the personal property was enough for him to dispose of at his own will.  John Ginnett to A. B. Clark

 

The next letter was addressed to Alexander B. Clark and was dated 28 April 1850. It was written by one of Alexander's sisters.

 

Dear Beloved Brother and Sister,

I take this opportunity of writing to you to let you know that we are in the land of the living yet.  It has been a great while since we have written to you or heard from you all. We moved to Alton the week before Christmas which is 40 miles north from where we moved from.  This leaves us all tolerable well at present hoping when these few lines come to hand that you may be in good health.  I heard from John and Matilda and Ruth and Gabrielle two weeks ago and they were all well and doing well. Ruth is making out very well.  She has another girl and calls it Gabrielle Matilda. Gabrielle (Ruth's sister) has been with Ruth all the winter.  One or the other of us will stay all the time with her.

John Ginnett has sold his land and says he is going to leave Clinton County and try some other place as they can't have their health there.  Samuel's health seems to be improving some.  He hasn't had chills and fever for three or four months.  He had a spell of lung fever.  He took it the last of February and it was three weeks that he wasn't out of his room and so weak that we thought he could not live.  His lungs were very much affected.  The doctor said that his whole system was affected.  He seems stouter now than he has been for a long time.  He is now going to school.  The school he is going to is free for all children that have no father living.  He can spell and read tolerable well, but can't write any to do any good.

Mother says that she never would (have) consented to break up (the family) if it had not been for getting Samuel educated.  (Samuel was the 12 year old younger brother of Ruth.)  He seems tolerable healthy now. The cholera prevails in St. Louis, MO. this spring, but there has been none of it in Alton yet. St. Louis is 25 miles south of Alton.

Huff has sold all the stock that Mother had, and has entered the land that the improvement was on, that Brother William C. had bought and paid for before he died and has bought 20 acres of timbered land in his name and paid for it out of Mother's property as he had nothing when he came to our house and has rented our farm out for 40 dollars for one year and takes it in improving the place and has rented a house and lot for 60 dollars for one year.  He sold Mother's wagon and two of her horses for the rent of the house and let for one year and fifty dollars in money and rents half of the house out for two dollars and a half a month and now he thinks he has got everything in his power and reigns master, but there is a chance for him yet.  I hope he is not as smart as he thinks he is.  He is a great deal worse than he was before he moved to Alton.  I will write you in the next letter how things are.

Samuel says he wants to see you out here this fall very much and he says he thinks that he would go home with you if you will come and says tell Grandfather Clark that he has not forgotten him nor ever shall and would like to see him and all of his connections.  Mother says she wants to see you and Sally and the children and to know how many children you have and what their names are___ sends her love to Grandfather and to tell of her connections and friends and says she wants you to write her.  I want to give my love to Grandfather and to one and all of my connections and friends.  Sally, I want to see you and Alexander and the children very much and be with you all again.

Everything is very high this spring.  It has been very wet this winter and spring.  It is raining now and has been all day.  We had snow most of this month a foot deep.  Corn is 50 cents a bushel--wheat 90 cents per bushel.  Bacon is 5 cents a lb. beef 5 cents per lb.  Everything else is high.

I want you not to fail to write me as soon as you get this letter as we want to hear from you very much.  Tell all of the neighbors howdy for me.  Tell Mary Jane I want to see some of her writing very much and that Ruth has two sweet, pretty and smart little girls.  Martha Henrietta and the babe favors their father very much, and Sally Ann favors Samuel when he was small. Samuel grows very fast.  He weighed 124 before he was taken sick.

Direct your letters to upper Alton, Madison County, Illinois.  I want you not to fail writing me as soon as you can and please look over blots and mistakes and I will try to do better hereafter and write oftener.  I shall expect an answer soon so no more at present, but remain your loving sister until death.

P.S. $28.00 price of the two grave stones.  Mother subscribed for two pair of grave stones last fall to go to the boys' graves and now Huff has gone through with all of her property so she can't get them now.  If the man sends them which he will, of course, I want you to send the money that was coming to the two boys if you think right to do it as the children all seem willing for the money to be put to that use.  The man was to send them the first of September.

 

According to family lore, the entire Mofield family, with the exception of the nine-year-old Martha Henriette, died in a house fire in August 1854.  This is probably true.  Ruth's estate settlement-records names Charles Jones as administrator.  An inventory listed several household items, as well as farm implements and animals, etc.  Because Ruth died intestate, everything was sold at auction.  Although Ruth's surviving daughter, Martha Henriette, was not named as an heir, the proceeds from the sale were placed in trust, and later used for her education. 

After the tragic fire, which destroyed her family, it is believed Martha Henriette went to live with Grandma Martha only a few miles from her previous home.  Records indicate that Martha Henriette attended boarding school between the years 1854 and 1860.  She was probably fairly well educated for a girl living in her era.  Also, she had inherited the small estate left by her parents and with the sponsorship of her grandmother, had the support and means to pursue her education.

Grandma Martha's husband, Jonathan Huff, disappeared from historical records after the end of 1850. It is possible that he finally went a step too far, with his imprudent squandering of Martha's assets, and she divorced him, forthwith.  The possibility also exists that he simply died, without familial fanfare.  No record has been found in the family Bible or ledgers.  He simply vanished.  Either way, the next indication that Grandma Martha ever remarried is that, years later, her death is registered under the name of Martha James.  No record can be found alluding to this Mr. James.  We do not even know if this marriage took place in Illinois or later in Texas but suspect the marriage began and ended in Illinois.

A considerable gap in time and information occurs between 1850 and 1860.  Grandma Martha Clark apparently corresponded with her son, A. B. Clark, who still lived in Patrick County, Virginia.  Little is known concerning events of that decade, however, bits of information can be gleaned from other correspondence, which leads to logical conclusions concerning their actions.  The following is a possible chronicle of events concerning the Clark family during those missing years:

 

After much hardship, several deaths, as well as rampant sickness within the extended Clark families living in Illinois, Grandma Martha met and married Mr. James.  My guess is that he was at least elderly and died within a few years of that marriage.  Meanwhile, the struggle for survival continued as those remaining children grew and became stronger.

Rumors of political and social strife were becoming more and more serious, especially in Virginia, as the Federal Government in Washington D.C. became increasingly intent on coercing and threatening to enforce their values on the citizens of the southern states.  The issue of slavery was at the forefront of this disagreement.  The entire Southern economy had been established, and was based upon slavery, but now the northern states objected on the stated grounds of morality.  The South found it odious that a seat of government so far removed from their way of life was dictating how they should be allowed to live.  To them, slaves were only part of the problem.  Many Southerners saw their individual states as their "Countries," especially Virginia, and reacted vehemently.  In the view of most Southerners the issue was clear; their states rights were being violated -- an action which they perceived as a major, direct insult -- and would not, nor could not, honorably be tolerated.  The threat of civil war was very real in 1860, and nowhere was this threat felt more strongly than in the founding state of Virginia, the home place of the Clark family, and the present home of Alexander Broy Clark.

Correspondence between Grandma Martha and her son A. B. Clark, back in Patrick County was likely full of news concerning this major, social, and political problem, comparing public opinion, as well as assessing relative dangers in the face of impending conflict.  It is known that Grandma Martha, herself, owned at least one, and maybe more, slaves. A. B. Clark is also known to have owned several more.  Since the Illinois Clarks lived in a "Northern" state, they must soon be faced with the very real possibility of giving them up and capitulating to the will of the authority in Washington D. C. Virginia, being one of the first southern states to feel the wrath of this new "Morality" sweeping the North, seemed to be immediately in harm's way.  So, I believe it was decided among the two families to reunite at long last and move their homesteads to the frontier of Texas where perhaps the threat of war would remain far away to the North, leaving them to live their lives in peace.  But since this conflict had a long and bloody arm, it would eventually touch all Americans, North and South.

In the spring of 1860 Alexander Broy Clark gave up his position as Postmaster and is believed to have left Virginia with his wife, Sarah, and their nine children, en route to Texas, by way of Clinton County, Illinois.  Grandma Martha, along with her orphaned granddaughter, Martha Henriette (then only sixteen years old), at least three slaves, and any other family members who wished to join them, left Illinois to escape Northern ideology and explore this new Texas country to the south.  Following their arduous journey, what they found was a raw, unimproved, near wilderness, which would sap their strength and surely discourage lesser people.

It is generally believed that during the journey from Illinois, Martha Henriette Mofield and William John "Billy" Clark, her first cousin, and son of Alexander Broy Clark fell in love with each other.  On the slow, difficult trail south, ample opportunity must have presented itself for them to engage in long talks and experience, first hand, the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s character.  Having been placed in a situation of working together, and struggling toward the common goal of surviving the trip to Texas, the result seems almost inevitable.

Arriving in Grayson County, Texas, sometime in late summer, Alexander purchased a parcel of land for farming and began the task of setting down roots. According to the following letter written November 1, 1860, as well as another, written on January 26, 1861, the trip was far from easy. After experiencing much hardship, bad fortune, and sickness on their arduous journey, the family apparently began farming near Sherman, not far from, and situated between, the Trinity and Red Rivers.

 

This letter to A. B. Clark, from a friend in Patrick County, mirrors the concerns of those closest to the impending conflict which was set to explode with the inauguration of the new president, Abraham Lincoln.  The next few months could be described as being the most divisive and tragic within the history of our country.  It isn't difficult to imagine people in remote areas of the country, such as Texas, being hungry for information concerning their home state, along with kith and kin left behind to face the catastrophic threats of war.  It is inconceivable that any citizen would not have definite opinions concerning the issues at hand and feel a strong need to declare his, or her, loyalties to their chosen cause.  People sought these reassuring declarations from family, friends, acquaintances, and in the eyes of strangers.

 

                                                                                    November 1, 1860

To Capt. A. B. Clark

Grayson County, Texas

 

Dear friend,

 

I received your letter dated Sept. 22nd a few days ago and was sorry to hear you had so much sickness on the road and after you landed in Texas also; but was glad to hear that most of you were improving.

Sir, myself and family are as well as common.  The children have had colds - some of them; and the fever has been worse here this season than common - that is, those who have had the fever it has been harder with them.  Mr. Clifton and Frederick Dalton have been down some two months or more and their cases were hopeless for a long time.  Doct [Dr.] Petrop was Clifton's doct. & doctor Bishop Dalton's.  Clifton had no nurse but his wife at any time and then his wife was taken down and some of the children I understand Clifton lay for 2 or 3 days at a time without help.  The fever has got so much worse, the people have got more alarmed about it.  Coleman Dalton's son William died with fever about one month ago.  W. W. Casaday is expected to die any day now.  There have been several cases of fever in this country this season.  Col. Tatum lost 2 negroes:  Riley and a woman with fever with Doct. Bishop in attendance.

Again you write me that most of you are very well satisfied and I am glad to hear that you all got to Texas and I hope when you all get well you will be still better satisfied with Texas and the people in Texas.  I learn from your letter that you had a good deal of sickness on the road which I was sorry to hear as it must be bad to be sick in a land of strangers; though sometimes strangers are the best of friends to travelers.  I understand that Jacob S. Clark has sold the land he bought of you -- sold for $850.00 to Will or James Harber.  Mr. J. Smith has not moved yet and Davy W. Smith is in Danburg prison for a debt against him  It is hard to tell when he will get out.

I will turn to the crops  --  wheat, very sorry about 3 bushels to 1 a.  Sowing some few crops a little better.  Rye, sorry.  Oats, the finest crop I ever saw here.  I made a good stack to the bushel sowing this year for the first time I ever did.  Corn crops some better than they were last year in this neighborhood and down the mountain below the court house they say they haven't had such crops of corn in 10 years.  The tobacco crop is over an average crop and there are a good many crops of old leaf tobacco in the country not sold.  The leaf market is thought to be dull next spring.  Some of our merchants wont lay in any goods until the Presidential election is over and will be governed by that.  Money matters are hard here with most of the people.  There are several sheriff sales now advertized for taxes in this neighborhood.  There is some excitement about the election and the times.  It is thought by some that there is a young preacher in this country who is a friend of the abolitionists and you have seen the man.  I suppose he is very friendly toward the blacks.  From what I understand, he is judged very strong etc.

I will say something about my mother.  She is poorly, but keeps about.  The 1st of July she was taken down to her bed and was confined about 7 or 8 weeks before she was able to walk without help.  She had very little medicine given her during the time.  It was mostly from the cancer she has on her face.

And Sir, Mr. Boyd has just left my house and he said they were all well etc.  I was at Hamilton Joyces last Sunday and Penn and wife and the Widow Norman were there.  They were all well as common.  Aunt Lizzie has another son.  Tell Cousin Sally, Mary has another daughter born May 12 and its name is Harriet Columby.

We are a long way a part and many rivers between us and lakes, but we must say something about the children and watch for them awhile as the rising generation might be led astray by false teachers on many points and I am afraid there are too many books and institutions before the children of these times.

To Mary, tell her to cheer up.  She is not forgotten in this county for the day I got your letter there was a neighbor young man there.  I will say who he was, Peter, and he was very anxious to hear the letter read and I came to where Mary was sick and he did not stay much longer.  The day you left your place of residence I returned home and he passed my house in great haste going somewhere and afterwards called to see you start in the afternoon, but you were all gone and he was badly disappointed.  We are a long way apart, Cousin Mary, but we must pay some jokes freely -- no harm.  I would like very well to see you all and talk with you.

Now I am afraid we will have something else to do if Lincoln is elected President of these United States.  It is thought here that he will stand a good _______________ for the With House the next 4 years.  The people here are divided in this county with 2 parties of the South.  We ought to unite and go for one man.  I think there are some few Douglas men here, but mostly Breckenridge men - some Bell men.

Of the seasons of this year we had rain aplenty in the first of June and then dry till corn seemed almost done, then the rain came in parts of this country and made very good crops here, but south of this it is worse than it is here on Snow Creek and Dan River.  Corn is $1 per bushel from the stack, so said.

The renters are moving about right smartly in this country.  We've had a great deal of rain this fall - the farmers have not sowed much wheat yet.  The land is very soaked with rain here how.

The prices of merchandise are a little advanced in some things in this country.  Coffee is 30 cts per pound.  We have some ______  ______ but it was badly injured by the hail.  We have had 3 of the heaviest hails here in May that I ever saw fall.  The hail stones were from the size of small bird eggs to the size of goose eggs.  Col. Tatum weighed some of them and they weighed 3/4 of a pound.  After the rain was over some 1/2 of a pound.  It ruined some wheat fields.

Mary to Cousin Sally and Mary -- You have gone a long way and I am here yet; and from all news and circumstances I hear from the West I would not change my place of residence under present circumstances.  I would like to see you very well, but the only way we can speak to each other is by pen and letter.  We are far apart & I have nothing more at present.  You must excuse my bad spelling and writing etc.

But remember your ever and affectionate friends.

                                                            B. L. & Mary E. Gunter until death. & I want you to write to me as soon as these few lines come to hand and let me know how you all are.  It will be satisfaction to me to hear from you all as often as I can.  Mary sends her love to you all and I wish my love to be given to you and family.                                                                   Yours with respect

                                                            Beverly S. Gunter

 

To A. B. Clark in Texas  

 

 

(While living in Patrick County, A. B. Clark was referred to as "Captain Clark" by all who knew him.)

 

Patrick Court House, Virginia

Jany 26th, 1861

Capt. Clark,

 

My Dear Friend,

Yours of date December 8th has been received and I assure you my dear sir, if afforded me much pleasure to hear from you, and learn that you were well and all your family well, and well satisfied with your new home.  I was much edified with the narrative you gave me of your travels from Virginia to Texas.  I see you met with some troubles on the way, but a man of your determined spirit and perseverance will dispel everything which can be drove away by masterly effort, and fortitude.  Such is the only character of men who ought to undertake to conquer western wiles.  A faint hearted, timid man would have turned back under many of your troubles, but now that you have over-rode them all, and planted your standard in the land of your destination, your example may lead on many to exercise faith and never yield to any thing which is intended for human ingenuity to conquer and vanquish.

To my dear friend, for such I shall ever regard you, I have no fear that you will not only make friends, but under the guidance and smiles of a kind providence you will ever be kept free from danger and trouble.  You have my most anxious and earnest wishes for your prosperity and happiness in this world.

I have not seen Marsh Smith since I received your letter, but will attend to your request when I see him.  My brother left me last November for home.  His address is Washington, Texas.  He would be much pleased to hear from you -- he was very much attached to you.

Well every body in Patrick are in great excitement about the distracted state of affairs in the United States, some here are for secession, some for compromise, some for submission, and some for running.  I understand that many say they will go into the mountains before they will fight, but all such we can spare, and then have too many.  The Spirit of Virginia, thank God, is to resist every aggression and fight as soon as necessary.  I am proud to see that you have not forgotten your early teaching in your old Mother State, never to submit to any indignity or insult which your interest or honor requires you to meet and rebuke in a manly way.  The state of Virginia, I think, will secede.  Our legislature has called a convention of the people and we hold a mass meeting on the day after tomorrow, Monday, and it is Court Day, as you know, to select a candidate for the convention.  The election is to be held on Monday-week.  The forth of Feby, and the convention is to be held in Richmond on the 13th Feby - Who the man will be, I am unable to say.

I reacon you will ask what I am doing at home if the Legislature is in session and this leads me to answer one other of your enquirys.  In relation to last Spring's election, and you may be some what astonished at my course, but all my friends here justify me.  Shelton, as you know, was my opponent for the office of Commonwealth's Attorney, and Turner and Sandefer were for Ohff - Shelton came to me and asked me who I intended to vote for, and I told him Sandefer.  He then refused to tell me who he intended to vote for, and I asked him if this was one of the advantages he expected to take of me in the canvass to array the Turner influence against me.  He said not and pledged himself in my house in the presence of Greus Cheely and my brother, to say nothing about it.  He went to Turner and told him the next day, and right away bent themselves against me, and the Shelton and Turner men swoped votes all over the county - Turner men saying all the time they were going to vote for me, and when the poles came in, the trick was fully shown, and Watt Shelton's own friends cursed themselves for having voted for him as he acted the hypocrite so completely, and they sent him word from all over the county that it was the last vote they would ever give him. So he took up his all and left us.  He is now living at Floyd C.H. (Court House) with all the curses of the people of Patrick on his head.  He has not a warm friend in the county.  Well then my course after the Governor called an extra session of the Legislature is what I ask you whether or not I was right.  I resigned my seat and they had to hold an election.  John Staples run without opposition. They then wanted me to run again.  I told them I would never serve such a people again.  Was I right?  Many are anxious for me to consent to run for the Convention.  I haven't said that I would, but if I do it will be because My country is in danger and not Patrick.  My paper is out and I must close, so remember me kindly to all of your family.

Your friend

Wm. A. Durwell

 

After a long and protracted argument in the United States Congress concerning the slavery question, the Republic of Texas was finally accepted into the union on Dec 29, 1845.  Some of the conditions under which it gained statehood provided that:  (1)  the state could keep its public lands; (2) Texas would pay its own public debts; (3) the United States would settle all boundary disputes with other countries (Mainly Mexico); and (4) Texas could later divide itself into as many as four more states.  Following the war with Mexico, 1846-1848, settlers continued to flock to the state and, by 1850, the population exceeded 212,592.

Vast expanses of virgin land, millions of acres, awaited anyone bold and adventurous enough to brave the hardships, clear the swamps, survive diseases, outlast drought, and still struggle year after year for the chance to own a piece of this new frontier, and grow with the country.  Only the strong and hearty need apply.  The primary qualifications for this task included their willingness to work and their ability to endure. Not everyone was up to that gigantic task.  There were many failures; still, many more successes.  We are living proof of those successes.

Grayson County claimed a small settlement called Sherman, while next door neighbor, Tarrant County, contained the beginnings of Fort Worth. Neither community, aside from being excessively hot in summer, and cold in winter, possessed many special characteristics to mark its significance.  The landscape was generally pleasant, with low, rolling hills and large stands of oak trees growing abundantly in rich, heretofore, untried soil.  Rainfall was adequate for their purposes, but they still had to acclimate themselves to floods, droughts, and other important factors determining the success or failure of yearly crop production.  This was a raw and harsh area of the Texas Frontier, accentuated by the unusually brutal conflict between white settlers and the Kiowa and Comanche Indians just across the Trinity River to the west.  Military forts were a necessity of the times.

On September 17, 1860, Alexander purchased 100 acres of land in Grayson County from George Shields for $1,600.00.  On November 11, 1861, he sold 20 of the same acres to John C. Caton for $1,700.00.  These two, simple transactions, coupled with social, economic and personality conflicts, may have eventually led to the tragic and untimely deaths of the two principals involved.

The simple fact that Alexander Clark had bought the land from George Shields for the sum of $1,600.00, then only one year later, sold a mere 20 acres of it for $1,700.00, is enough to cause hard feelings in the minds of some individuals, namely, Mr. Shields.  According to several different accounts, Alexander and Mr. Shields did not get along well at all.  Being neighbors, and both farmers, only exacerbated the tense situation.  Alexander owned and utilized the labor of several slaves in the development and production of his farm.  Mr. Shields was said to have been jealous of Alexander's "free labor" force and harbored resentment over the previous land deal.  As time passed, the situation became increasingly worse.

In April 1861, forces sympathetic to the Southern cause fired upon the federal garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.  War was inevitably declared by the newly inaugurated president, Abraham Lincoln, and the country exploded into civil conflict.  Texas secession came soon after.  No one really knew what to expect due to this historical anomaly, for there was no precedent for its occurrence, but almost no one believed the unpleasantness could possibly last more than a few months at most.  Regardless, ex-patriot Virginians, as well as Texans, were willing and ready to fulfill their duties and destinies to their staunchly ingrained Southern ideals.  Many would soon pay the bloody price for that valor.

Unlike previous conflicts on American soil, reasons for this divisiveness and "Civil War" were generally unclear to the average citizen and soldier, whose lives and families were to be directly and adversely affected.   Mr. Lincoln saw it as a horrible, but necessary, step in the evolutionary progression and growth of the country. In short, it was inevitable if the country, as a whole, were to survive intact and bring these two distinct cultures together as one nation. It has often been said that before the Civil War our country had been loosely referred to as "These" United States, while afterwards, it was described as "This" United States.  The average "Billy Yank" saw the conflict as a means to bring the arrogant and uncontrollable Southern culture under some semblance of control. "Johnny Reb" saw it as defending his homeland and chosen way of life from foreign aggressors, the Yankees.  All three were generally correct, but since none of these were sharply clear-cut, slavery was promoted as the moral issue and pivotal point of contention.  The reason could then be described in a single word, "Slavery."

.

According to family lore, official records, and excerpts from existing letters, John “Billy” Clark and Martha Henriette Mofield eloped on August 5, 1861.  The reason for the elopement is fairly obvious.  It is quite logical that the family would strongly discourage the marital union of first cousins.  Martha was 16 years old while John was nearly 19.  In January of 1862, Martha Henriette became pregnant while living in the same general household with the rest of the extended family.

In March 1862, with the knowledge of Martha's pregnancy adding new impetus to his obligations, John Clark enlisted in the Army of the Confederacy in order to do his part in the struggle.  Enlisting at the same time and in the same place was one, Richard Day Brandon of Tarrant County, Texas.  There is no documentation suggesting the two men knew each other at the time of their enlistment, but, if not, it is strongly believed they quickly became acquainted.

Richard Day Brandon was soon on his way to the confluence of the Black and White rivers in northeastern Arkansas with Colonel Sweet’s Texas Cavalry Regiment to disrupt northern supply lines.  John is thought to possibly have gone with the same unit.  It is generally believed that John and Richard served together for a time, shared facts about their respective families, and became trusted friends.

Only a short time after the departure of John and Richard, Alexander Broy Clark Sr., along with his son, Alexander Broy Clark Jr., then 17 years old, were both arrested for the murder of George Shields.  Members of the family remember the incident differently.  All of the accounts are at least second hand and vary widely:

 

"According to letters in the possession of E.S.M., one of A. B. Clark's grandchildren who was not present at the time of the incident, but written by one of his children:

"Captain Clark was killed while drilling troops in Sherman.  A fellow by the name of Shields used water from the same well as the Clark Family.  Shield's children were throwing dirty things into the well. Father told them to be careful about the well, or else not get water there.  The children's father rushed over, raised a fuss, and was beating Grandfather over the head with a hoe.  Uncle Broy (who was then 17) shot Mr. Shields before anyone could stop him.  Then, Mrs. Shields hired a man to kill Grandfather.  Grandfather's friend followed the man, caught and hanged him in Bonham, Texas.  Then Grandmother moved to the place at Randoll's Mill."

 

W.T. "Ted" Clark's story

"My version is that Grandfather was killed by a Mr. Shields, in Texas, after 1861, at home.  Shields came to the house and started trouble; then moved to kill Grandfather.  Grandfather ran to the shop for cover.  He was shot from behind, and when he fell, Shields got a hoe and began beating him.  Uncle Broy got the gun from the house, went to a window and shot Shields.  There was nothing said to me about the well that I remember; but I feel sure the Shields was classed as a "Yankee."

 

Nora Andes Harris' story 2/10/55

"And about Grandfather's death and Uncle Broy.  Here is what I know:  When I built my new home in Asher, Uncle Thomas and your grandfather came and stayed a month with us, and at the supper table one night, this came up.  Here is what the three said:  "Mr. Shields lived close to Grandfather and was mad because Grandfather had Negroes, and was always causing trouble about what the Negroes did.  Mr. Shields was hauling wood and using wagons with oxen.  Instead of keeping on the road, he came through the yard and hung the wagon on the corner of the house.  When Grandfather went out of the house to talk to him, Shields grabbed him and put his head between his knees and beat him with the butt-end of his whip.  So, Uncle Broy shot him before his mother could stop him.  Shields' clothes caught on fire, and Judy, the Negro that was given to Grandmother for a wedding present, put out the fire.  Mrs. Shields, and her two sons, said right over him that they had begged him to let Grandfather alone.  Shields wanted the Negroes that Grandfather had, but my mother said Grandmother never did think one of Shields' family killed Grandfather.  Grandfather was killed on his way from Sherman.  Mother said that Mrs. Shields cleared Uncle Broy when she was put on the stand.  Now, this is what the three talked about that night, and Mother had always told us children the same thing; but now, Dear, don't take my word for this."

 

Regardless of the particulars, it is fact that Alexander Broy Clark Jr. shot and killed George Shields while he was engaged in an altercation with Broy's father.  It is my understanding that A. B. Sr. and A. B. Jr. were both originally indicted for murder in the killing, and subsequently had the charges dropped after an inquest into the matter.  A. B. Clark, Sr. did, however, die within a few months of the shooting incident, on June 17, 1862.  The cause of his death is unknown to date.  Some say he was murdered, and some believe he probably died of disease.  Official records are absent in the matter.

On September 7, 1862, six months after Richard and William enlisted in the army, Martha gave birth to a baby boy, Buddy, as he was called; however, the boy died of Typhoid Fever on March 26, 1864.  It isn't likely that William ever saw his son. Ironically, on the same day as Buddy's death, William and Martha's grandmother, Martha Clark Huff James, along with one slave-child, all died of Typhoid Fever.  (Records indicate at least five slaves were in the Clark household: Bony; Henry; Dave; Harriet (Light complexion); and Jane).  A month earlier, on April 14, William John Clark's sister, Mary Jane, had also died of Typhoid.  She was twenty-three years old and had been married to Washington Mason for only eleven months.  It is also believed that at least two more of A. B. Clark's children also died during that terrible Typhoid epidemic.

Thus, the long, fruitful and interesting life of Grandma Martha Clark Huff James came to an untimely end.  She was 74 years old on the day of her death and had been an American pioneer in the truest sense.  Her bravery and adventurous spirit is unquestioned.  As the story continues, we follow her granddaughter, Martha Henriette Mofield Clark, who obviously had inherited her grandmother's bravery, stamina, and determination.

Martha Henriette had suffered much tragedy in her short life: the death of her mother, father, and siblings in the house-fire; the deaths of her other close relatives from sickness while still in Illinois; and the deaths of her beloved and revered Grandmother, and Uncle Broy, who had endured such hardships in bringing them all to Texas.  Now, the worst possible tragedy had befallen her, the death of her very own child, while Billy was off at war.  They would somehow survive this bottomless pit of misfortune.

Following the death of A. B. Clark, Sr., Sarah, his widow, was charged with settling the estate of her late husband in trying to determine the true extent of her economic status.  She apparently turned at least part of the problem over to the joint administrator of the estate for proper disposition of some of the non-liquid assets and dissolution of debt.  A two-fold problem existed for Sarah with the demise of her husband: she badly needed her slaves to help maintain her farm; and she needed to see to it that they all had something to eat.  At the same time, no one knew, at this juncture, which side would win the war or which ideology would prevail.  Most thinking-people knew in reality that slavery, regardless of the war's outcome, was on the way out, and most were in agreement with that fact.  The widow, Sarah, being in debt, faced some very hard choices.  Sell her slaves now, while they still had worth, or keep them and maintain her farm.  We don't have Sarah's original letters, but the following is the joint administrator's assessment and suggested solution to the problem of her debt:

 

 

Sherman, Texas

Oct. 29, 1862

Mrs. Sarah Clark,

 

Dear Madam,

 

Your letter of Oct. 3rd and also of the 20th are before me, and in answer will say that I cannot find the note on Mr. Leonard, among my papers here.  Neither can I find the bond of which you speak, but I suppose the matter can be arranged, should the papers be lost.

Our court commences here on the 17th day of November, so you will be here by that time and Mr. Brinkley requested me to say that, if there is anything you wish to prove by Mr. Alverson he had better be here.  I am getting along with the business very well so far.

There have been claims presented against the Estate to the amount of $1,184.60 including Brinkley's and Hendricks' claim for $500.00.  It is certain now that there is not sufficient means here to pay the debts of the Estate, without selling some property, and as the attorneys have a lien on this boy here, I would advise you to let him sell, for he will bring more now than at any other time.  I think he will bring some $700.00 to $800.00 now on the block which amount with what we have in claims will pay the Estate out.

If you do not want the boy to be sold, you will be compelled to borrow money, and settle the claims as I am satisfied that Mr. Hendricks will force the sale of the boy as soon as he can.  You will be here at court and then you can see how the matter stands.

Your boys hired out here are doing well so far as I know.

 

Yours Respectfully

 

B. A. Bradley

 

(B. A. Bradley was joint administrator of A. B. Clark's estate with Sarah (Gaines Clark.)

 

Author's comment:  It is my understanding that a woman in Sarah's particular predicament was compelled to seek the services of a man to settle the debts of her husband.  Attempting to do so, herself, would have been a breech of tradition and social etiquette.  Not having sufficient funds to repay her family's debts, she was probably forced to sell the Negro boy to satisfy them.  It is my belief that she probably experienced some degree of anguish due to the necessity of that transaction.

 

In December 1864, shortly before the close of the great Civil War, Billy Clark was killed in the battle of Nashville.  We aren't certain if Martha was informed of her husband's death before the war's end in April 1865, or after the battered soldiers began arriving back home, defeated.

 

In August 1865, after a bout with Smallpox near where Texarkana now stands, Billy Clark's friend, Richard Day Brandon, arrived back home in Tarrant County, Texas.  He almost immediately rode to Grayson County for the purpose of visiting, and possibly consoling, his dead friend's wife, Martha. Either having been previously acquainted, or having the memory of Billy in common, they apparently became friends. Martha, the young widow, was twenty years old.

 

In the wake of these devastating tragedies Richard and Martha were married on October 22, 1865, in Birdville, Texas, a short distance from Ft. Worth, and the county seat of Tarrant County.

 

 The southern states were physically battered, economically depleted, and wanted desperately to heal their terrible wounds.  The northern states now needed all the beef it could get, and Texas had an abundance of that particular commodity.  Thus, the Fort Worth area became a major marketing hub for the massive cattle drives north to the railhead at Abilene, Kansas. Richard and Martha Brandon began housekeeping in Tarrant County, Texas, in the midst of all the chaos... and opportunity.  They farmed and raised cattle near Richard's extended family.  Yet another branch of the Clark and Brandon families was started which would eventually number fourteen children; ten, surviving to adulthood.

 

It is my understanding that, while neither Martha nor Richard Brandon could be considered anywhere near wealthy for that day and time, both had been the recipients of modest, accumulated, family property.  Richard, whose parents were still living, had assumed the unofficial roll of family leader, therefore, with general control of his family's property.  Martha, by virtue of her late mother's estate, plus any property which could have passed from her grandmother, Martha.  In any event, Richard and Martha engaged in the general commerce of that time and place, consisting of the growing of wheat, corn, cotton, etc., and raising cattle. In that era, a married woman's property came under the control of her husband.  By all indications, Richard administered both his own, as well as Martha's property, wisely.


   Richard Day and Martha H. Mofield Clark Brandon

 

 

1870 Census, Tarrant County, Texas: Richard and Martha Brandon live next door to Richard's parents, James Adams and Frances Brandon.  James Alexander, their oldest surviving son, isn't listed in Richard and Martha's household but would have been about two years old.

Also in 1870, Sarah Gaines Clark, the widow of A. B. Clark, sold her holdings in Grayson County and, with the remainder of her family, moved to Tarrant County, possibly to be near her niece, Martha Henriette Brandon, and her family.

By the year 1874, Martha had borne six children with Richard:  George C., named after Richard's half brother, died at the age of one year; James Alexander; William Arthur; Mary Frances, who died at the young age of three and one half years; Rhoda Jane; and Sarah Alice.

1880 Census, Tarrant County, Texas:  Richard and Martha have eight children. James Alexander is twelve years old. Frances, Richard's mother, has died and is buried in Rehoboth Cemetery, Mansfield, Texas.  His father, James Adams, who had owned and operated a cotton gin in Mansfield, is then boarding in the home of Ansley Williams and is listed as being "Generally Disabled."  Four more children were added to the Brandon household:  Martha Annie (the family name continues); Samuel Stevens; John Day; and Henry.  By the middle of 1885, three more children blessed their household:  Bette, who died at the age of 22 months; Ida; and Richard. Richard died at the age of one year.

 

The question arises as to why James Adams Brandon, Richard's father, was boarded in a house other than his family's.  We don't know for sure, but it was not uncommon for an older, especially infirmed, family member to assume residence in another home nearby.  Perhaps it was due to Martha's being extremely busy with her children and couldn't see to the special needs of Richard's father, or maybe James simply preferred the peace and quiet of a less vigorous environment.  Either explanation is plausible.

The family remained in Tarrant County until 1887 then moved to Brown County.  In December of that year Ada, their last child, was born, and three days later on 18 December, Richard's oldest living son, James Alexander Brandon, was married to Anna America "Mec" Huddleston in Mansfield, Texas.  "Jim" had mainly worked on his father's farm while growing up, perhaps also learning the operation of his grandfather's cotton gin along the way.  He loved animals, especially horses, and became quite adept in the Blacksmith trade, as well at being a farrier, or the shoeing of horses.  When he met his new wife, Jim had worked on several cattle drives north across the Red River.  "Mec" had thought him about the handsomest man she had ever seen and immediately vowed to marry him.  She swore that Jim had appeared to her in a recurring dream as she was growing up.  After the marriage, Jim quit the cattle drives, settling down in the blacksmith trade in Tarrant, Wise, and Montague counties.

 

The Brown County move for Richard Day and Martha was yet another attempt to establish a homestead and put down permanent roots, but something made them pack up once again and continue westward.   At some point previous to this move Richard's two half brothers, John E. and George C. Brandon, had migrated west, near the Nolan County area, where they were engaged in raising cattle and herding them north through Oklahoma, and on to the railhead at Abilene, Kansas.  Perhaps due to their reports sent back to Richard, a seed of wonder, and opportunity presented itself.

 

In 1888, the year the state capitol building was completed in Austin, Richard and Martha's immediate family of nine children, as well as Richard's father and possibly others, moved by wagon to Dora, Texas, in Nolan County.  Richard and Martha's eldest son, James Alexander Brandon, along with his new wife, temporarily left their home in Tarrant County to help with the construction of Richard and Martha's new homestead.  The Brandons were perpetually blazing new trails westward.  With this latest sojourn they had ventured deep within the area previously known as "Comanche Territory."  However, by that time most of the buffalo population had been decimated by white hunters, as well as the Indian tribes who depended on them for food, and their way of life.  All that remained of hostile factions were small, fugitive bands wandering remote areas of the countryside in search of food and shelter.  Many were desperate, resorting to desperate deeds in order to survive.  Dora, Texas, was described as being within that area.

 


      Home of Richard Day and Martha H. Brandon, Dora, Texas

 

 

Evelyn Sanders Jones, grand daughter of Richard Day and Martha Brandon:

 

"They all came in Ox-wagons.  She, Aunt Alice, and Aunt Ann, drove the cattle as they came along - and the smaller children - I don't know what my mother said about Uncle John, Uncle Henry and Uncle Sam - but the smaller children, and Aunt Ada, rode in the wagon - and probably Grandmother did too.  They came to Nolan County in 1888."

 

Arriving at the edge of Mulberry Canyon, the Brandon family went to work building a homestead.  No documentation exists as to how this task was approached, however, tradition dictates a barn first be built for temporary shelter, while the house, which takes much longer, is completed.  When the house construction seemed to be at a standstill, James Alexander's new wife, Anna America, told her husband he could stay if he wanted, but she was going back home to Tarrant County.  Jim and Mec had come to this new place to help Richard and the family get settled, but they had their own lives back in Mansfield which now needed tending.

 

Evelyn:

"The house they built was down on the edge of the cedar brakes.  There was a spring right down on the edge about a hundred yards from the house, and that's where they got their water.  My mother told me that sometimes when she went down to the creek to get water, she would hear a panther scream.  She never did mention the Indians.  But at that time, I'm sure there must have been some stray ones that came by, because there were still some in the area.  I don't remember just when the house was moved up on the road, but it was moved up there so they could get access to the road that went into Dora.  The house had two stories with a chimney at each end, and a front and back porch.  There were three rooms downstairs; a large kitchen and dining area, two large rooms in the front, and the two bedrooms upstairs.  The ceilings were ten feet high.  They built a smokehouse out back, a barn, an outhouse and storm cellar.  The Brandon children attended a one room school about two miles away, in Dora, and of course they walked to school.  It accommodated all ages"

 

According to all available accounts, there was much happiness and love experienced within the family and in the Brandon house at Dora.  They farmed the land and modestly prospered, raising kafir-corn, maize, flax, cotton, ... and children.  Most of the Brandon children married and remained in Nolan County.  Many of their descendants live there today.

 

An interesting note of fact:  Often, the listed owners of Texas land, such as some parcels in remote areas like Dora, were people who lived in Chicago and New York.  This came about, in part, because the state of Texas offered the designers and builders of the state Capitol building in Austin, some 30 million acres as payment for the massive construction project.  Since they didn't want to live there, themselves, the land immediately went up for sale on the open market. Records of property purchases made by Richard Day and Martha, found to date, include:

 

On September 2, 1889, a mortgage was agreed upon for the purchase of 160 acres from Charles J. Canda, Simeon J. Drake, and William Strouss of New York City.  The purchase price was $480.00; $48.00 cash down payment and the balance at six- percent interest.

 

On October 21 1895, Richard bought four and one half acres from G.W. Hawkins for $250.00.  Payment due in five years at eight percent interest.

 

On October 22, 1895, the next day, he purchased another plot from Mr. and Mrs. Norris for $525.00.  A description of the land exists but the number of acres is missing.

 

On July 8, 1910, Richard purchased still another 160 acres from George W., and Alice Pierce.  The purchase price was $2,600.00 and was paid in cash.

 

After moving to the new home-place in Dora, Martha's life "settled in" into a steady routine of making a living, struggling through the seasons of unpredictable west Texas weather, raising children and grand children, and somehow getting through more family tragedies; this time involving Richard's side of the family.  Foul play was expected when Richard's half brother disappeared while returning from a cattle drive, and Richard's half brother's son, Joseph James, was shot and killed under mysterious circumstances while homesteading in Capitan, New Mexico Territory, on Christmas Day, 1903.  (More information is available concerning this event in the chronicle, "Joseph James and Effie Brandon."

 

Richard's father, James Adams Brandon, died April 16, 1894 and was buried in Nolan cemetery in South Nolan County.  The Brandon's had been pioneers in the truest sense; having had the vision and courage to bring their families further and further west in search of a better life.  A reality of human nature is that people, family members, tend to gravitate toward an individual within their group whom they perceive as a natural or willing leader.  James Adams Brandon obviously fit that description.  Even much of his extended family remained close to the very end.  Long before James relinquished his title as patriarch, Richard and Martha were there, capable and ready to assume those duties; Martha, adding her own brand of strength in the nurturing of her children.  (More information on the earlier Brandon family is available in the chronicle, "Richard Day Brandon.")

 

According to a story passed down through her children, Martha was chopping wood one day, when a splinter flew up and struck her in the right eye, blinding it.  There were few doctors in that remote area of the west and none in Dora. Martha simply doctored it as best she could and went on with her life.  In subsequent photographs taken of her, she always showed her left profile, so as not to display the bad eye.

 

Martha Henriette Mofield Clark Brandon died on January 12, 1917, at the age of 71.  The strength and courage, which was part of her spirit, was evident in every aspect of her productive life, and was passed on to her children.  Considering her life, as well as the conditions in which she lived it, she was truly a magnificent woman.

 

To assume that Martha and Richard’s life in Dora was uneventful, would seem highly unlikely.  Considering their past experiences, both before and after marriage, a chronicle of their lives in Dora would be welcome indeed.   No such documentation exists to my knowledge.   Descriptions of mundane and common events such as daily routines, chores, simple conversations, as well as particularly joyful occurrences including births, weddings, and the occasional reunion or party, would give us valuable insights into the lives of these people we have come to care about.   Because of the noticeable lack of this type of information, perhaps we can do better by our descendants, leaving them a clearer and more comprehensively defined idea of our true identities.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Richard Day Brandon

With Civil War Rifle

Dora, Texas, 1926

 

 

SOURCES:

 

1850 U. S. Census Patrick Co., VA,  Page 364, Dwelling #207, National Archives Microfilm

1850 U. S. Census Madison Co., IL,  Page       , Dwelling #574, National Archives Microfilm

1860 U. S. Census Erath Co., TX

1870 U. S. Census Tarrant Co., TX, Page 476, Dwelling #56, National Archives Microfilm

1880 U. S. Census Tarrant Co., TX, Page 232, Dwelling #71, National Archives Microfilm

1900 U. S. Census Nolan Co., TX

 

Dorothy Ford Wulfeck Marriages of Some Virginia Residents 1607-1800 Vol. I

Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.

Baltimore 1986 p. 40-41

 

Dorothy Ford Wulfeck Marriages of Some Virginia Residents 1607-1800 Vol. II

Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.

Baltimore 1986 p. 226

 

Lela C. Adams Patrick County Marriages 1791 - 1850 Page 21, 23

 

Rev. Edgar Woods History of Albemarle County In Virginia

The Michie Company, Printers

Charlottesville, VA 1901 p. 145-146

Original Newspaper Article

The Semi-Weekly Farm News

Dallas, TX, July 17, 1925

 

Will of Alexander McKenzie, Albemarle County, Virginia

Will Book I, page 2

Will Book III, page 352

 

Certified Certificates of Marriage:

James Mofield marriage to Ruth Clark, Clinton County, Illinois, December 22, 1844, p.118.

 

Letters written by Ruth and her mother, Martha Clark. (1843 to 1850)

Certified Copies of original letters owned by Shelley Bateman, Moriarty, NM

 

Revolutionary War Pension Application Records for William Carter

From Virginia Revolutionary Application Vol. 16

Abstracted and compiled by John Frederick Dorman, Washington D. C. 1972

 

Inventory and appraisement of the estate of William Clark

May 17, 1837, Patrick County, VA, Will Book 3, pages 14 and 15

 

Exhibit and State of Account for Martha H. Mofield, orphan

Clinton County, Illinois, July 24, 1872 (loose papers)

 

Estate inventory settlement, Ruth Mofield, Clinton County, Illinois, May 6, 1856 (loose papers)

 

Confederate service record for Richard Day Brandon

Muster roll, March 8, 1862

Cavalry Co., 2nd Rgt., Col. George H. Sweet, Comdg.

Johnson Brig. CSA

Holdings of the Texas State Archives

 

 

Confederate service record for William John Clark

Muster roll, March 8, 1862

Cavalry Co., 2nd Rgt., Col. George H. Sweet, Comdg.

Johnson Brig, CSA

Holdings of the Texas State Archives