Texas Family Group Sheet for the James A. DICKSON Family
Husband: James A. DICKSON
Birthdate: 4 Mar 1824
Birthplace: Macon, Bibb, GA
Death date: 3 Feb 1897
Place of death: Morgan Mill, TX
Father: Thomas Benjamin DICKSON
Mother: Anna MCCOOK
Marriage date: 30 Jan 1855
Marriage place: GA
Wife: Sarah Aletha BRYANT
Birthdate: 11 Sept 1837
Birthplace: Crawford Co., GA
Death date: 1858
Place of death: near Shreveport, LA
Father: John BRYANT
Mother: Sarah Hannah NICHOLS
Child No. 1: Mary Elizabeth
Birthdate: 31 Oct 1856
Birthplace: Macon, Bibb, GA
Death date: 10 Aug 1913
Place of death: Minco, OK
Marriage date: 12 Feb 1873
Marriage place: Smith Co., TX
Spouse's name: Asa Thomas WILLIAMSON
Child No. 2: Elizabeth Jane
Birthdate: 5 Nov 1857
Birthplace: Macon, Bibb, GA
Death date: 22 Dec 1927
Place of death: TX
Marriage date: 3 Feb-8 May 1873
Marriage place: Smith Co., TX
Spouse's name: William Pierce DUCKETT
* Family narrative:
James was a talented musician who attended a special music school. He could play any instrument, but preferred the fiddle. He taught many of the family slaves to play stringed instruments.
In the early part of 1858, Sarah became very ill. Her problems started with a slow fever which she could not overcome. James, her husband, and her mother took her to doctors all over the State of Georgia. They went to Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, and Augusta. The doctors advised them that she should be sent to a dry climate. She showed all signs of what they called them "consumption", which is now called tuberculosis. The doctors all suggested that she be sent to a drier climate. They suggested Central Texas, West Texas, or new Mexico. West Texas and New Mexico were having Indian problems at that time, and Sarah Aletha's mother wanted to bring her at one to Ft. Worth, TX, which was considered, at that time, far West Texas. Sarah Aletha did not want to leave her two young daughters. She was afraid is she went to Ft. Worth she would die there and never see her family again. After full consideration, James Dickson decided to sell his plantation, free his slaves and move to TX.
Sarah Aletha's mother, Hannah Bryan Dickson made the same decision to sell her plantation, free her slaves and come along. A large lumber company bought the two plantations. James Dickson had a saw mill on his land as did her mother-in-law (Notes: Hannah's father also owned a saw mill and there is still a Nichols Lumber Company today.) This land was located near Macon, GA in Bibb and Monroe Counties. Hannah Dickson handled the paper work of freeing the slaves which was registered at the county seat. The Dickson slaves took the sir names of Bryan, Nichols, Dickson, James, Hannah, St. John, Jackson, Monroe and Washington. Many of these slaves later worked for the lumber companies that bought the plantations.
Ten heavy wagons were made ready for the trip to TX. The wagons were the type used as freight and lumber wagons. It took four big mules or four large oxen to pull each wagon when loaded. The wagons were loaded with furniture, clothing, carpenter tools, blacksmith shop equipment, sewing machines, bedding, cooking equipment, and of course food. One wagon was loaded with food and was called the chuck wagon, al the cooking was handled from this wagon. Two wagons were set up for the family Mary and Ton Hannah slaves who decided to stay with Hannah Dickson. Mary did the bookkeeping for the women, Tom for the men who were paid 10 cents per day, plus food, clothes etc.-payday being set after they reached TX. Hannah, Sarah Aletha and Elizabeth were assigned one wagon. Some of the other former slaves and the two baby girls had one wagon assigned to them. James Dickson and Tom carried their bed rolls on the chuck wagon. One wagon was set up as the wash wagon. All the clothes for the entire outfit was washed each day. Clothes lines were rigged up on the tops of most every wagon. This way washing and drying of their clothes was being done while the wagons were moving. One wagon was loaded with hogs in the lower deck, chickens and turkeys in the upper decks. Four wagons were loaded with feed and hay. The turkeys, chickens, hogs, horses, mules and oxen were fed at least twice each day. Thirty head of milk cows, eighty head of beef cattle, were made ready and lined up ready to travel. About two hundred of the Negroes, all free persons, decided to come to TX with them. The older men were in charge of the wagons, each having two drivers. The younger were in charge of the cattle, about thirty mounted on horses. Ten mounted men rode at the head of the train with James Dickson and eight at the rear-all heavily armed, forming it's own army. On the drive they would push hard for two and one-half days from daylight until dark, and then rest for one-half day.
They crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, on a large ferry type tug boat. It took them two full days to get all of the wagons, mules, oxen and cattle and horses across. On the west side of the Mississippi River, James Dickson leased some land for one week. Here they rested grazed their cattle, etc. and even made make-shift pens and unloaded their hogs. They cleaned their wagons and made necessary repairs. About one-half of the men were assigned to go fishing.
Sarah Aletha had grown more serious. Doctors from Vicksburg were brought to the wagon train. The rest from traveling seemed to help and she improved.
When they stopped each evening to make camp, fish traps were set as they crossed several creeks and rivers each day. When James Dickson started the journey he figured he would have to kill a beef every third day to feed them. He actually only killed one beef each week, he killed no hogs, chickens or turkeys. It took about 120 pounds of meat per day to feed all of the people. Wild game and fish were so plentiful they used it instead of their stock.
When they camped east of Shreveport, LA, Sarah Aletha passed away and was buried on the edge of a cotton field. James Dickson stayed camped there for three days, selecting large rocks for the grave and chiseling her named, date of birth and date of death. Part of a wagon bed was used to make her casket. Mary Elizabeth was two years old and Eliza Jane about one year.
On the fourth day, the wagon train headed west. The crossed the Red River at Shreveport, LA and crossed the Sabine River at Longview, TX. Their next stop was for a half day rest in Starrville, TX. Here they found the people very friendly and James Dickson liked the peaceful looking country just north of Starrville. James Dickson had no desire to go any farther west after he had lost his wife. He was ready to settle down and get things rolling to set up another plantation. He and his mother-in-law and four of his most trust men rode by horse back for miles around and found just north of Starrville, TX and a little east were two sections of land that were for sale. James Dickson bought one and his mother-in-law the other. The wagons were unloaded and they set up camp.
James Dickson took several wagons and hauled lumber from Marshall, TX. He also bought a wagon load of barb wire, chicken and hog wire. It took them six days to make this trip. The first building built was a large chicken house. The pasture land was fenced, barns built, then cattle sheds. Next they built houses for the workers and dug wells. Lots of people from Starrville and neighbors pitched in and helped. The family continued to live in the wagons while the houses were built.
The houses were built about a quarter of a mile north of the site he had selected for his and his mother-in-law's house. James built a dam across a branch of a creek, and soon had a large pond or lake for his cattle. The family home was built back off the road, almost a quarter of a mile. The drive way to the road was lined with cedar trees. A large apple orchard was planted between the main house and the other houses. A large canning kitchen was built out away from the other houses. Two men were assigned to do nothing but hunt and fish with traps to supply meat for all. They had to report each morning on what they had accomplished. As time went on, they built a blacksmith shop, a woodworking shop, a sewing house, a canning house, a wash house, tool sheds and grain bins. Gardens were planted and potato cellar built, one for Irish potatoes, the other for sweet potatoes.
James Dickson owned an arsenal or firearms after outfitting his group for travel and he had molds to make bullets. When the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Confederate Army. He was sent to Galveston, TX to work in a gun factory. He was in the bullet making department throughout the war. When the war ended 9 APR 1865, he walked all the way from Galveston to Starvrville just to see the country and spend time alone. The day he returned home from the war his two daughters saw him walking up the driveway. They wanted to run and meet him, but their grandmother made them bathe and dress in fresh clothes. The girls were never allowed to dress themselves and were thoroughly looked over so their hair was just so and hair ribbons in place.
After returning James had a school house built for the CHILDREN of his workers. He also hired a teacher whose salary was paid for by him and other families attending. He also built a separate house for his mother-in-law.
Hannah Nichols Bryan Dickson passed on her 67th birthday. She took suddenly sick and died in 1872. The Bible that held her death records was stolen, but she is buried in a small cemetery near Starrville.
Elbert Vinson came to see the Dickson's after the Civil War. He and his son rode horses from GA to Starrville and then rode the same horses back to GA. Elbert and his family all moved to KY.
In Feb. 1873 James Dickson's two daughters got married. Eliza Jane was only 15 1/2 years and married William Pierce Duckett 3 Feb. 1873. Mary Elizabeth married Asa Thomas Williamson on 12 Feb. 1873. Both sons-in-law moved in with him. William Duckett helped with the farming operations. Asa Williamson was in charge of his father-in-law's freight wagons and taking the farm produce to market. James liked to work in his wood shop. He made a set of dining room chairs for each of his daughters. They were made of white hickory with rawhide seats still covered with hair. He also like to hunt with his 6-8 hounds. He made a horn out of a large steer horn. He used this to call the hounds and worked out a signal to call his farm hands.
In 1874, James sold his freight operation to a large lumber company. Their farming operations then concentrated on apples and pecans that they shipped to Dallas. James made a trip to Bluff Dale, TX to visit his youngest daughter who was now in the Mercantile business. He like the country and bought some land near Morgan Mill which was north and west of Bluff Dale. He sold his land and equipment in Starrville.
In the fall of 1886 five wagons were loaded and the entire family moved to Morgan Mill. It took about 20 days for the trip. James continued to live with his oldest daughter and family. About Christmas time in 1896, James Dickson took a bad cold and never recovered. He died 3 Feb. 1897. He was buried in the Rock Church Cemetery east of Bluff Dale, TX. A marble marker was place on his grave, but was either stolen or knocked down.
In 1902, Asa Williamson and his family moved to Bransford, TX about twelve miles northeast of Ft. Worth, TX-10 miles southwest of Grapevine. Today it is known as Colleyville. In the fall of 1906, they sold a great part of the farming equipment and moved to Minco, OK. Mary Elizabeth passed away 11 Aug. 1913. In 1916 Asa sold his property. He went to live with his son James Monroe. On 18 Mar 1918 Asa passed away at his son's home. He and Mary are buried on the north side of the old cemetery in Minco, OK.
The Adriance Library and Research Center
By JAMIE MURRAY
William Pierce Duckett? No, I did not remember hearing of him before, but there in the Information Files of the Adriance Library was a file folder with his name on it. Who was he, to have his own file in a collection of folders that includes places, events, and topics but very few surnames? I expected to find only the major players of Texas history indexed here, like Stephen F. Austin, Jane Long, Sam Houston, and Brit Bailey. I was a bit surprised to find a folder with a name I did not recognize. As usual, I stumbled across this file while looking for something else. I was pleased to find that it contained a memoir-- one of my favorite sources for historical information. I wanted to learn how this person, William Duckett, figured in the story of Brazoria County. I began to read and found that he was born in Georgia in 1852, but moved with his widowed mother and three brothers to Mississippi circa 1865.
By page three of the memoir, William was writing about moving to Texas. He wrote his memoir in the third person, as if he is speaking of someone else. If it were not for the preface written by his daughter, Dorothy Duckett Jones, we would not know that this is a personal memoir.
Dorothy tells how her father had written his memories in third person "in pencil on very poor tablet paper," following his wife Eliza's death in December of 1927.
After an uncle from Texas had visited William's family in 1870, William made his decision to go there himself. William wrote: "[A]bout that time William taken the Texas fever. He had heard so much about Texas he really thought everybody out there were bandits that had escaped from other states. He had heard everybody carried from one to two sixshooters. So as a matter of fact, he had to have a six-shooter and he naturally thought that he would have to practice shooting. So for a month before starting out to Texas he did little but practice shooting."
William arrived at his uncle's store in Starville, Smith County, Texas, by way of train, boat, and stage. He worked for a time in his uncle's store. He turned 18 years old that May. William had hardly arrived in Starville when he met Eliza Dickson, "the prettiest girl he had ever seen." They married in 1873. Not content to stay in one place, William and Eliza moved on to Johnson County, then to Somerville County, and on to Hood County.
In 1875, 23-year-old William led a group of 12 young men "to explore the west then all frontier country." Some of the boys hoped they would see an Indian, but William expressed the opinion that although "he thought he had a brave head...he didn't know how brave his feet and legs were" and that "he had always thought a good run was better than a bad stand." After touring several counties and encountering no Indians, the young men chose a beautiful site in the Caddo Valley of Stephens County. They returned home, and William and some of the others prepared to move to the Caddo Valley.
After spending two years there, they relocated on Deep Creek in Callahan County, but sold their place there after only one year. In the hard winter of 1882, William lost nearly all his cattle. He gave up the cattle business and moved on again, this time to the town of Bell Plains, and then to Baird, the new county seat of Callahan County. Once there, the Ducketts opened a grocery store and a hotel. Another hard winter in 1884 meant that the local farmers could not pay William what they owed him that spring. It was time to move again, this time to Erath County to the brand new settlement of Bluffdale. William and Eliza's family now had grown to include three girls and two boys. Bluffdale was thriving and business was good, but William became ill in January of 1891. After several months with little improvement in his health, he took his doctors' advice and moved to the coast of Texas.
They had heard of a boomtown called Velasco, and one of William's doctors agreed to accompany him there. From Bluffdale, they traveled to Fort Worth, then went by train to Houston and Columbia, where they boarded a boat called Hiawatha that was headed for Velasco at the mouth of the Brazos River.
They could find nowhere to stay the first night in Velasco except "a large tent with 100 cots in it, almost all occupied." A brand new rooming house was just being completed so William and his doctor moved into it the next day, even though "they could hardly sleep for the noise of the hammering and sawing" as carpenters worked day and night building this new town.
After only a few weeks in Velasco, William's health had improved greatly. He enjoyed walking around and watching the town of Velasco as it was being built.
William and the doctor returned to Bluffdale, but by this time William had made up his mind to move his family to Velasco. By December of 1891, he was ready to make the move, with three wagons and a hack loaded with household goods and inventory for a store. It seems that William's wife had a relative, a lawyer named Bryan, whose partner was a man named Kiber. The brand new town did not even have a name when William moved there, but soon it would come to be known as Angleton. William Pierce Duckett's journey landed him in Angleton before the town even had a name.
Copyright © Lillie Ruby. All rights reserved.
Submitted by: Lillie Ruby
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