Deep in the Heart of Texas | Gene Autry
The Texas Factor:
A Pivotal Convergence
'If your parents hadn't bonded just when they did, possibly to the nanosecond,
you wouldn't be here.
Everything each of our ancestors did prior to reproducing determined whether or not each of us was born. But all my grandparents, great grandparents, a few great great grandparents and great great great grandparents had one commonality without which I would have never been born: they were either born in Texas or moved to Texas at the propitious time to meet, marry and have children.
Major social, economic and political forces created this Texas Convergence. All these ancestors were involved in the agricultural economy, all were seeking better lives in an area where land was available and colonization was being encouraged. Several were part of the southern plantation economy and were forced to seek new lands following the Civil War as their previous lives were 'Gone With the Wind.'
My Great Great Great Grandfather Champion Choate (born in Tennessee in 1805) and his wife Anne Burk (born in Kentucky about 1811), were among the earliest Texans of my ancestors. Champion, who was part Cherokee, is shown in the 1830 Federal Census of McNairy County, Tennessee. After leaving Tennessee in 1831, Champion and Anne settled in northwest Arkansas. Champion and his family arrived to Shelby County, Republic of Texas, August 1839. Champion is listed in the "Index to Military Rolls of the Republic of Texas 1835-1845, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade, Texas Militia." Champion patented 553 acres of land in Hardin County, Texas, Oct 2, 1849. He is shown in the 1860 and 1870 Texas Federal Census, Athens Precinct 1, Henderson County, Texas.
Also converging on Henderson County, Texas sometime prior to 1851, Great Great Grandfather John W. Killen of Mississippi married Champion and Anne's oldest daughter, Elizabeth Choate, in 1851. Elizabeth had been born in Arkansas prior to the Choates settling in Texas. Civil War records show that John W. Killen served in Company C, 37th Texas Cavalry, Confederate Army.
Great Great Grandfather William Bailey Stewart, Sr. was born in Georgia. He is shown in Georgia in the 1860 census as having an estate of more than $10,000. William Bailey Stewart, already the father of six children, served the Confederacy. William Bailey Stewart, Sr. and wife Elizabeth Rose Tigner (whose grandfather was a Revolutionary War Soldier of Virginia, Captain of the 5th Company, 2nd Battalion Georgia Troops 1796 and also served in the War of 1812) moved to Henderson County Texas by 1866 where two more children were born. Their oldest son, my Great Grandfather William Bailey Stewart, Jr. born in Georgia, married my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Isabelle Killen, the oldest child of John W. Killen and Elizabeth Choate in Texas in 1871.
William & Sarah Stewart, and family (abt 1890)
My Grandfather Thomas Bailey Stewart, born in 1872 in Henderson County, Texas, was the oldest son of William Bailey Stewart, Jr. and Sarah Jane Isabelle Killen, who was born in Henderson County Texas in 1852. In 1893, Thomas Bailey Stewart married my Grandmother Birdie Alice Little.
Birdie and Thomas Stewart (abt. 1940)
Birdie, born in Van Zandt County Texas in 1878, was a daughter of former Confederate soldier.
Great Grandfather 'Thomas Jeptha Little was a conscript in the Civil War from Tennessee. Little signed the 'Pledge of Allegiance' to the Federal Government, for which he was considered a traitor to the Confederates. T.J. Little might have been kept in the filthy prison camp at McLean Barracks, Cincinnati, Ohio until the close of the Civil War had not other Confederate prisoners who knew T.J. reported to him that his mother was dying. This gave T.J. the courage to sign the 'Pledge of Allegiance' which gave him his release. Little and a cousin, John South, made their way stealthily along the byways to the area of Knoxville where his mother lived. They found the Federals had burned their home and his mother was lying sick on a cot in a shanty that had been spared the burning. Little knew that the Confederates would shoot him if he was caught. He went in to see his mother and his cousin called, 'They are coming!' Little and his cousin, John South, made their escape out the back way and noted three Confederates with cocked guns were going through the trees away from the three horses they had ridden into the front yard. Little and John South jumped on the horses and kept going until they reached Texas. When the War ended, they returned to Knox County to find Little's mother had been buried.' [from a family manuscript]. After Little married Great Grandmother Alice Adelia Copeland, the Littles and the Copelands moved to Cherokee County, Texas.
Thomas J. Little and Alice Adelia Copeland (born 1837/1851)
Great Great Grandfather William George Gordon was born in Kentucky in 1810. He married Susan Walling in 1835. 'About 1836, William and Susan migrated to Missouri up the Missouri River and lived in the northwest part until 1840 and settled on a farm near Luray, Clark County, Missouri where their five younger children were born. William Gordon became a pioneer in Missouri, one of the old pioneer landmarks of Clark County, a large land owner and a prominent farmer. Although his home was near the Iowa line, his slaves never attempted to escape for they were well and kindly treated, and William George Gordon remained there contented and successful until the war cloud arose. He was a Union man, strictly opposed to secession, and to keep from trouble he refuged in Iowa for three years, returning to Missouri at the close of the war to settle up his business. Selling his possessions there, he moved to Texas in 1867, purchasing land in Lamar County and again becoming an influential farmer, there spending thirty years of his remaining life and dying on the 4th of April, 1897, aged eight-seven years.' [from book A History of Oklahoma].
Great Grandfather George Washington Gordon moved from Missouri to Texas in 1866 with my Great Great Grandparents, William George Gordon and Sarah Walling Gordon, and settled near Paris, Lamar County, Texas. 'In 1871, his father gave him a span of good mules and harness and a new wagon fitted out with extra side boards, feed, box, spring seat and bows. George went to work for his uncle Dave Gordon of Houston County, Texas. Dave Gordon had married the widow Martha Ann Thames Mobley, my Great Great Grandmother.
Martha Ann Thames Mobley (born 1825)
Following the death of her husband in 1856, my Great Great Grandfather Harvey Mobley, she sold their farm near Corinth on the Pearl River in Mississippi, freighted their household goods by wagons to Natchez, traveled down the Mississippi River by flatboat to New Orleans, then by boat to Galveston, traveled up the Trinity River by steamboat to Hall's Bluff Landing and located in Houston County, Texas between Grapeland and Crockett where she bought land and, with her children's help, made a home. The children went to the Linwood School walking or riding horseback a distance of about 3 miles. Martha Ann told of having to climb a tree to get out of the way of large herds of cattle being driven down the road from southeastern Texas to the Sedalia or Chisholm Trail.' [from family manuscript]. Martha's son, Thomas Jefferson Mobley, age 16, was a Confederate soldier in the Tennessee Regiment under command of General Hood and was killed near Franklin, Tennessee in one of the last and bloodiest battles of the Civil War in 1864. In only five hours Federal casualties numbered 2,500, Confederate casualties: 7,000.
George Washington Gordon married Martha Ann's daughter, my Great Grandmother Mary Jane Mobley, on December 12, 1871 in Daly, Texas.
Mary Jane Cornelia Mobley (born 1854)
'There being no railroads in Texas, George Washington Gordon engaged in freighting with his ox teams, finding this a profitable employment and thus continuing until 1877, when he got together a bunch of cattle and took them to Jack County, later buying land in Young County, adjoining, and he continued in the stock business there until 1880. Selling his stock he followed the sheep business until 1885, when he sold both his land and sheep and moved to Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma.' [from book A History of Oklahoma].
George Washington Gordon (born 1849)
Great Great Great Grandfather Richard R. McIntire was born in Georgia in 1811. His wife Mary was born in South Carolina in 1815. They moved to near Shawneetown, Grayson County, Republic of Texas, about 1837 and then to near Choctaw, Texas. Two of their sons, age 12 and 14, were killed and scalped by Indians (possibly Shawnees) near Choctaw TX about 1838. (Indian Depredations in Texas by J.W. Wilbarger). It has been suggested that 'Grayson County be known as the battle ground of the Lone Star State, and be given precedence by its baptism of blood and human sacrifice.' Richard R; McIntire served as a private soldier in Republic of Texas Rangers stationed on the frontier of Fannin Co. in 1840 and was paid $150.00 in 1850. (Discharge No 17.)
Great Great Grandfather James M. Thomas, was born in Tennessee in 1818. Republic of Texas Army records show that he served from 10 February 1836 through May 30 1837. He is shown in the Texas Census of Grayson County, Republic of Texas in 1846, He later received a pension for his service in the Civil War. He married Tempis 'Tamy' McIntire, the daughter of Richard R. McIntire, (born about 1830 in Tennessee), 28 January 1847 in Grayson County, Texas. Their son, Great Grandfather George Calvert Thomas (born January 3, 1855 in Grayson County, Texas) married Great Grandmother Alidosia M.T. Bowman (born in Tyler County Texas, 1859), February 7, 1878, Grayson County, Texas. Alidosia 'Alice' was the daughter of P. Bowman and wife M.A. P. Bowman was born Missouri 1820 and listed in the 1860 census of Tyler County, Texas. M.A. was born in Louisiana in 1825 and shown in the 1860 census of Tyler County, Texas.
George & Alidossia Thomas, and child (abt 1880)
'After Alidosia died when George was 31, he moved his three daughters by wagon across the Red River separating Texas from the southern part of Indian Territory. They settled on the south bank of the South Canadian River at Silver City on the Old Chisholm Trail. At high noon on April 22, 1889 when shots rang out to enter the Unassigned Lands, George crossed the South Canadian River, it being the south boundary of the coveted land, and staked his 160 acres.' [from family manuscript].
My paternal Grandmother Blanche Oglethorpe Thomas was born in Texas in 1880. Blanche moved to Indian Territory at the age of three. Blanche married my grandfather Andrew Jackson Gordon, Sr. (born in Texas 1872) in 1897, in Indian Territory. Andrew Jackson Gordon had accompanied his father George Washington Gordon in the Oklahoma Land Rush and settled in Oklahoma Territory. 'Andrew rode horseback 90 miles to El Reno, Oklahoma to obtain a marriage license for him and Blanche.' [from family manuscript].
Andrew & Blanche Gordon, and children (abt 1901)
My parents, Andrew Jackson Gordon, Jr. and Dewey Lee Stewart, were born in Oklahoma Territory, moving to New Mexico following the birth of my brother Ladd and me.
Due to the foregoing Texas Convergence and my 1950 marriage to Nedra C. Callender,
Nedra and Larry Gordon
our descendants have been given life.
Larry & Nedra Gordon, and descendants (1993)