Eastland County, Texas Biographies


James Henry Calhoun, District Judge, Cisco

Aside from the inherent manhood that came to him from a noble and godly ancestry, our present District Judge lies close to the hearts of the inhabitants of Eastland County from two primary causes. He is one of the first voters and has served the County and District in an official capacity several times. Then, during the protracted drought of 1886 and 1887, Judge Calhoun, who was serving as State Senator from this, the 39th District, accomplished the creation of a special committee for the relief of the drought sufferers, was made its chairman, and did more than anyone else in securing the $100,000.00 appropriated by the 20th Legislature for that purpose.

Judge Calhoun, who is a native of Georgia and graduated from Homer College in Louisiana in 1870, came to Texas in 1871 and located at Waco, where he read law under General Tom Harrison, and was licensed to practice August 8, 1873. He came at once to this County and was here when it was organized. In the election for officers in 1876, he was made County Judge, the first to hold that office in Eastland. He has served two terms as District Attorney and has had an extensive land practice, hut has never confined himself to any particular branch of the profession. He is recognized as a lawyer of eminent ability. In his oratory he is eloquent and impassioned, and merits all the honors that have come to him.

Judge Calhoun is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. South of the Masonic Fraternity, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

He was married to Miss Jennie Conner in Eastland City on January 1, 1882, and has three children. His home is in Cisco. "He is a true friend, a generous foe, and a lover of the pure and good.'


William Allen, Strawn

In the fall of 1858, Mr. Allen came from Missouri and stopped for a short while in the southern part of Palo Pinto County. He found the people to be brave and generous. The country, then, he writes, "Was thickly settled by bands of friendly Indians, who lived by hunting wild game, all kinds of which were plentiful. During the year 1859, I had moved to Eastland County then, the Indians became very hostile and remained so for fifteen years. The settlers had to be continually on their guard."

In 1865 Mr. Allen settled on a ranch on South Palo Pinto Creek (this County), which he still owns. It now aggregates nine thousand acres. He lives in Strawn, and has a wife and five children.

J. M. Ellison

At the time of the Indians' first raid through this County in December, 1859, they stole Dr. Richardson's horses. Mr. Ellison, with six others, followed them three days through a fearful snowstorm without any success. "From that time on I was either on a cow hunt or an Indian trail. Two weeks was the longest I ever did without bread." Clothing was hard to get. Calico cost fifty cents a yard. Mr. Ellison was sadly in need of a suit of clothes. He writes: "I went out one day and killed two bucks, dressed their hides and made me a pair of pants. Then I killed some doe, dressed their hides and made me a shirt, then I was all right for the brush, only I had no shoes. I dug a trough out of a cotton wood log, tanned the leather and made me some."

Mr. Ellison lives near Gorman, where he first settled in October, 1858.

W. C. McGough

W. C. McGough's Residence

In Twigg County, Georgia, December 11. 1836, Mr. McGough was born, and moved to Parker County, Texas, when twenty years old. On January 18, 1858, he was married to Miss Paulina Birch of Bosque County, and moved to Eastland November 1, 1860. He has lived here continuously, at McGough Springs, near Eastland City, since 1863. He is a member of the Baptist Church.

Captain J. J. Keith Family

1. Five Generations

J. J. Keith. 82. Isabel Keith, 81.

2. T. E. Keith, 57. Caroline J. Keith, 52.

Easter Grantham Keith, 26. 4. Crissie Richardson, 18. 5. Natha Richardson, 10 months. (in lap)


The accompanying illustration represents five generations. Captain J. J. Keith, born in Alabama in 1822, and Miss Isabel Ely, born in Virginia in 1823, were married in Arkansas March 8, 1839, and emigrated to Titus County, Texas, in 1844, thus becoming citizens of the Republic of Texas. While here, on December 10, 1846, their oldest son, T. E., was born. In 1860, while living m Erath County, this family with the O'Neals and others, fortified themselves at Dublin (thus founding that prosperous town) and remained there until April, 1863. They finally located at Mansker Lake, where Mr. Keith engaged in stock raising. Here their daughter Ellen, Mts. Derrington of Sabanno, was born, who was the first girl baby born m the county. While residing in Erath Mr. Keith raised a company of Rangers and was made their Captain.

This venerable couple have lived for the last twelve years at Curtis with their daughter. Mrs. Elizabeth Pressley, and have more than one hundred descendants. On the 8th of March, 1904, they will have been married sixty-five years. Out of their thirteen children eight are still living.

Their oldest son, T. E. Keith, has been prominently connected with the history of Eastland since 1863, when he "scouted for Indians." On July 4, 1864, he was married at Mansker Lake to Miss Caroline J. Arthur, daughter of William. J. Arthur, and now lives near Curtis.

"Uncle Tom," as he is familiarly called, has served the county as Commissioner and Justice of the Peace many times. When he realized that he needed the education that he had been deprived of by having been born and reared on the frontier, he set to work with rare energy and tenacity of purpose to remedy the defect, and at the age of fifty-four was admitted to the bar after satisfactory examination. Honor to such persistent effort!

H. S. Schmick

The first Sheriff of Eastland was born in Arkansas, December 28, 1842. He enlisted in the Confederate Army (1861) as First Lieutenant in the 7th Arkansas Regiment, and served until the surrender in 1865.

In 1868 he came to Eastland and engaged in the cattle business. When the County was organized in 1873, he held the office of Sheriff for eight consecutive years. He has been merchandizing since his term of office expired. He is a member of the Christian Church.

The Stockton Family

In 1868, Ike and Sam Stockton, accompanied by their two sisters, Amanda and Sallie Ivie, emigrated to Eastland and finding a desirable place near Desdemona, put up a log cabin, and rested at ease. The game in the woods around them supplied the table, and the meal barrel and flour bin were full. Their ease was not at all disturbed when Sallie told the boys the salt was low. ''Why, we can do without salt for two months," Ike insisted.

At last came a day when dinner was prepared without any salt. "My, what in the world is the matter with this venison?" Ike asked, when he began to eat. "There's no salt in it," replied Sallie.

"Well, my gracious, make some mush." She did so. It was still worse.

"Red man, or no red man," the boy exclaimed, as he hurriedly saddled his horse, "this boy has got to be salted," and he rode to Stephenville after salt. The family spent eight years in this lonely log cabin, with the shade of the green mantle of the oaks and elms as their summer rendezvous, and the babbling spring, one hundred yards away, as their watering place. They now live in New Mexico.


C. C. High.

Mr. High was born in Georgia, March 7, 1851, and came to Texas with his father when only five years old. At the age of fourteen he served an apprenticeship in a blacksmith shop in Crockett, where he was married at the age of twenty to Miss Elizabeth Howell.

He emigrated to Eastland in 1873 and stopped at McGough Springs. He served two years in the Texas Ranger Company "A" under Captain Walder. On the lot he still occupies, Mr. High put up the first blacksmith shop established in the county.

Mr. High is a pioneer Odd Fellow, and assisted in the organization of the first lodge in Eastland. He is a Past Grand and Past Chief Patriarch, and held the office of Treasurer in the Eastland City Lodge for sixteen years.

Mr. High is an open-hearted and typical frontiersman, true as the steel which he hammers.

Oscar Cook

Came to the county in 1872, and in the organization he held the election at Jewell. He writes: "I had to rake the ballot to Bill McGough’s (twelve miles) and then Bill carried it to Palo Pinto to be counted. I was on the first Grand Jury of the first Court, which was held at Schmick School House. Then we held Court on the Colony Fork at Barny Bartholomew's and next at Eastland. It took nearly all of us boys to hold Court.

"I had to go to Comanche (thirty miles) for blacksmithing and for bread. Thomas Mansker, Mr. Justis, Simp Evans, Will Thanish, Thomas Marsh, Calvin Wadkins, and myself were all who lived on the Sabanno then. Our nearest neighbors were six and twelve miles. The Indians took our horses from us twice before we had neighbors enough to keep them away. A fellow felt skittish when out cutting poles to fence with, plowing, or going to mill. But after the county was organized it settled up rapidly."

John Thomas Townsend

Who was born in May 1830, was married to Miss Mary Josephine Jenkins in Kentucky, in 1854. Mrs. Townsend’s father, Charles Jenkins, who was a delegate to the National Convention that nominated James K. Polk for President of the United States, died in Eastland four years ago at the age of ninety-seven.

Mr. Townsend, with his brother, Ira Townsend, and others, located five miles west of Eastland City in 1872. The nearest neighbor (W. C. McGough) was ten miles away; supplies were hauled from Dallas, one hundred and fifty miles; and the buffalo and antelope were still roaming the prairie lands, which have since been covered with timber. Fifty wolves in one bunch, turkeys so thick on the trees the limb would break, and encounters with the Mexican lion are some of the experiences of this pioneer.

The unbounded hospitality of the Townsend Ranch was typical of the frontiersmen, and was the chief means for the dissemination of local news and from the world "back East."

No fences disturbed the freedom of the cattle in these days. "Grass and water were plentiful, land and cattle were cheap. Lands which are now worth from twenty-five to thirty dollars an acre could have been purchased then, at most, for from fifty to seventy-five cents an acre."

Dr. E. D. Townsend, a prominent physician of Llano, Texas, and Mrs. B. F. Kelly of Eastland, are W. H. Townsend's living children. One son, Dr. W. F. Townsend, died in Llano, August, 1902.

Mr. Townsend, who lives with his wife at home in Eastland City, says: "If I could find another Eastland County as it was thirty years ago, I would emigrate to the hunter's paradise at once."

Mr. J. L. Duffer.

Mr. J. L. Duffer, who served on the first jury in Eastland, was the first man to be married in the County after it was organized, as the records in County Clerk Cox's office will show.

Squire Watson of the Alameda Precinct, (Hogtown, the voting place), performed the ceremony, and Miss Mary Boling was the lady he married.

Reverend C. Beashears


Dr. Jackson Evans

Was born in Kentucky July 8, 1846. He came to Texas with his father, who located in Parker County in 1851, where he remained until 1872, when he settled in Eastland. Mt. Brashears was married December 32, 1863, and has six children, all reared in this county. He is pastor of a Baptist Church at Ellison's Spring, where he lives.

There was no physician nearer than Stephenville, Erath County, when Dr. Evans arrived in Eastland, March 10, 1872. He was called at once to see a very sick woman who, although she had been stricken with fever three weeks previous, had not been visited by a physician. It is to Dr. Evans' credit that she was soon convalescent.

The territory covered by this first doctor reminds one of the extent of the pioneer "circuit rider." From the North Fork of Palo Pinto Creek to Desdemona, and from Barton's Creek in Erath County to the limits of civilization in Eastland were the bounds of his calls. "My three children were then very small, but I had often to leave them and their mother alone when there was danger of Indians. We stopped near a cow-ranch for protection, as there was no town in the county and we are still at our old stand with all the practice I can do.

"Eastland was a paradise for hunters, when I came here, cougar, bear, deer and turkey in abundance. I killed all I needed for family use, while out visiting the sick. One day, just one mile from where I now live, a party of men (of which 1 was a member) killed four bear, while another party in hearing of us killed two more.

"Many jokes were perpetrated on Eastland County in those days," continues Dr. Evans. "I heard a traveler, who was passing along the road near my house, say, I would not have this County and one dollar.' We little thought then how valuable this shinery was."1

Dr. Evans and wife have five children.

Joseph Peter Davidson

Was born November 5, 1828, and was reared in Giles County, Tennessee. He moved to Texas in 1853 and stopped two years in Bosque County. In 1865 he settled permanently in Eastland, "Davidson's Ranch" is one of the old landmarks of the county.

Until the year 1870 he engaged in the cattle business and farming, when he was appointed District Surveyor of the Palo Pinto Land District, which included Eastland. In 1873, when Eastland was organized, he was elected County Surveyor and held the office until 1878, when he declined to serve longer. Many old settlers testify that he helped them in locating good surveys without a thought of remuneration.

Mr. Davidson was a member of the Methodist Church, South, and a Royal Arch Mason. His chief characteristics were his patience, integrity, purity of life and boundless hospitality. Hospitality on the frontier has always cast a sheen and glamour of dignified nobility, but few carried that virtue so far as "Uncle Peter." For nearly twenty years on his ranch he kept "open house" for all who came or went, traveler, prospector, homeseeker, stranger, all were royally entertained. He died at Strawn, 1897, and was buried by the Eastland Masonic Lodge, of which he was a charter member.

J. E. Higgins

In the fall of 1872 Mr. Higgins settled on the farm where he now lives, six miles southeast of Eastland City on the Leon River. One year later he married. "In those days we lived in log cabins, usually with one door, no window, roof weighted on, and puncheon floor. We went in ox wagons to Stephenville or Comanche to mill. Stephenville was my post office." Mr. Higgins owns a fine farm with a good home and plenty of stock. His wife is a daughter of W. C. McGough.


1. It is interesting to note the ignorance of the early settlers regarding the productiveness of the soil. Then it was a cattle country and a "hunter's paradise," but it was also an unknown and undeveloped agricultural land, with the rich chocolate loams of the eastern part of the County, the sandy loams of the middle, and the light, enduring sand, with its clay subsoil, of the south and west, as the products raised in great abundance today verify.

Source: History of Eastland County, Texas, by Mrs. George Langston, A. D. Aldridge & Company, Dallas, Texas, 1904.