Biographies and Business
"There is a
tide in the affairs of man,
Two young men in a land office in Dallas pondered over the truth contained in the quotation above as they again went over the map before them.
"We must take the current when it serves.
Or lose the venture."
"The current serves now, for they won't put up buildings at Merriman, I am told," said one.
"We must take it, then, or else lose our venture." These young men, late of the University of Kentucky, had just bought from; J. A. Speers the C. S. Betts survey, three hundred and twenty acres, centrally located, and had conceived the idea of moving the County Town from Merriman, and locating it on their own land.
On their way to Mansker Lake to have District Clerk A. J. Stuart, who resided there, to record their deed, the young men met J. H. Ellison, to whom they disclosed their purpose. "It can never be done," he said. The adverse opinion of the old frontiersmen did not daunt them. They located the southwest corner of the C. S. Betts survey, selected a slightly elevated spot of ground between the North and South forks of the Leon River, made a rough sketch, and staked out the public square of Eastland, (the name the Legislature had provided for the county town), January 15, 1875.
After having employed a Mr. Allen to cut logs for the cabin to be raised in May, the young men, Jack Daugherty and C. U. Connellee, returned to Dallas. In May Mr. Connellee, accompanied by J. B. Merriman, who had become a member of the firm, returned. The survey of the town was completed, the log house put up where the La Roe Hotel (Mr. Greenfield proprietor) now stands, and a frame store-house built on the lot now occupied by the Eastland County Bank, in which was put a stock of general merchandise. The goods and the lumber for the store were hauled in wagons from Dallas, the nearest railroad point, by way of Granbury and Stephenville, thence on the Fort Griffin military road by way of Desdemona and Merriman. From a point near where Uncle George Moss now lives, and where the Texas and Pacific railroad crosses Colony Creek, a road was blazed to the new town, and the wagons proceeded. The drivers were Heath Hale and George Martin. The founders encouraged settlement by offering a deed fee simple of any lot to any person who would put up either a residence or a business house.
Six miles west of Eastland lived John T. Townsend, R. S. Drake, Ira Townsend, Tip Saunders, William Munn, and a few others lived on the South Fork of the Leon; lower down the stream, nearer Eastland, were Uncle Sandy Martin, Jack Drake, and others, and about two miles northeast of the town C. E. Johnson lived. He is the father of Dr. J. L. Johnson. With Mr. Johnson boarded Mr. Connellee and his bride, and three bachelors, J. E. Gold, John S. Bedford, and William Gwaltney, who were surveyors and interested with Mr. Johnson in farming and cattle raising. Down at Mansker Lake, at A. J. Stewart's, there boarded a young lawyer, who spent his spare time dreaming of a practice that would someday be his. His dreams came true and he presides over the District Court today.
A number of people availed themselves of the opportunity to get a lot in town. J. F. Davenport, now of Cisco, built a house on the northeast corner of the square, where Downtain's brick building stands, and merchandised. Isham Finch built a hotel on the southeast corner of the square. "It was beyond question the best public place of entertainment in the county at that time, there being no others." Major J. H. Davenport, formerly State Senator from Bell County, established a law office on the south side of the square and published the first newspaper in the county, "The Review." J. H. Calhoun, present District Judge, built a law office on the north side of the square in 1876, which is now the oldest house standing.
Other lawyers who established themselves in the town at an early date were Frank Stanley, now a distinguished lawyer of Fort Worth, and D. B. Corley, the first lawyer who came to Eastland City. The latter was made Postmaster and established his office in Daugherty, Connellee & Ammerman's store. Mr. Corley exhibited the original "Uncle Tom's Cabin" at the Chicago World's Fair, and is author of a book entitled "The Lives of the Apostles."
J. H. and J. C. Cox merchandized under the firm name of Cox Brothers. J. H. Eversdale put up a sawmill and manufactured what was known as "rawhide lumber" out of the oaks that covered the hills. This enterprise greatly facilitated the building of small houses. Later, Mr. Eversdale engaged in the mercantile business and had the misfortune to lose his stock of goods by fire in 1885.
Rev. J. C. Weaver, a Methodist minister, held the first divine service in the town in the unfinished log hotel being put up by Isham Finch. Rev. J. M. Lingo organized the first Baptist Church.
In the summer of 1875, Daugherty, Connellee and Ammerman made a proposition to the citizens to move the County Town from Merriman to Eastland. The election, held August 2, 1875, resulted as follows: Eastland, sixty-seven; Merriman, nine; McGough Springs, forty-four; Center of the County, five, and scattering, two. The gentlemen making the proposition had agreed to erect a two-story stone building and donate the second floor to the County for a court room as long as desired, and entered into a bond of $5000.00 for its faithful performance. This building is still standing on the northwest corner of the square.
The county assumed a new dignity. The court had a home and offices, and a number of lawyers located in the town: J. E. Flemming, later Judge of the District; J. M. Moore, son of Chief Justice Moore of the Supreme Court of Texas, and who was appointed Secretary of State under Governor Ross; Judge E. T. Billiard; J. E. Thomas of Dallas, who served as County Attorney; T. H. Conner, now Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals of Fort Worth, Texas; G. W. Ferryman; A. Lawrence, who held the office of County Attorney and Judge; E. B. Truly, at one time District Clerk; and B. F. Collins.
Daugherty, Connellee and Ammerman offered the Texas and Pacific Railway Company one-fourth of the lots in the town if the road were built through Eastland. In October, 1880, the first engine rolled into the county town, which remained the terminus for several months. J. B. Ammerman was made station agent. Eastland was now the distributing point for all towns North, South and West; and also the starting place for numerous stage and United States mail lines, during which time it was a flourishing Western town. Mr. Berry of Stephenville did a banking business in Jake Alexander's store.
Keenly alive to the interests of the town, a committee of citizens went to Waco and offered to the company projecting the Texas Central Railway line through the County the sum of $35,000.00 to build through Eastland. This offer was not accepted and the junction with the Texas and Pacific was made at Cisco, ten miles west of Eastland.
Cisco was a precocious youngster, and wanted to be the County Town. An election was held August 2, 1881, which resulted as follows: Eastland, three hundred and fifty-four; Cisco, three hundred and twenty-four. The question settled, the Commissioners' Court let a contract for the building of a court house at a cost of $57,000,000. This three-story building of native stone was put up in 1883-84. The original contract price made with Lance and McEashen, contractors, was $34,998.00, but the Commissioners Court had to take charge of it when half completed. The County, aided materially by citizens of the town, erected prior to this a stone jail on the public square at a cost of $5,500.00. The jail was built by Messrs. Martin, Byrne and Johnson.
On Sunday morning at three-thirty o'clock, November 26, 1896, the court house was discovered to be on fire, and was burned to the ground. Hill and Schmick and Judge J. T. Hammons lost their libraries and office furniture. Judge Calhoun, who officed in the building, saved his library. The County's loss was $50,000.00, with $30,000.00 insurance.
Two months later, on January 26, the question of moving the County Town to Cisco was again voted upon. Although Cisco offered to donate the land and erect the building free of cost to the County, she failed to secure the necessary two-thirds vote to remove the town to a point outside of a five-mile radius from the center of the County. The vote stood: Cisco, nine hundred and forty; Eastland, five hundred and fifty-three; Carbon, three hundred and fifty-live; Center of the County, sixteen; Curtis, one, and Dustie one.
The contracts for a new court house and jail were let at once. John White of Vernon, Texas, agreed to put up a three-story fire proof building for $49,000.00. The extras, including fence, furniture, etc., made the house cost, when completed, $58,000.00. The fire proof jail was built by J. A. White of Houston, for $10,000.00, and furnished at a cost of $2,000.00.
Eastland has thus grown from, a one-roomed cabin in the woods to a substantial town, the capital of one of the best counties in the State. It has an excellent graded public school system, with an enrollment of three hundred pupils, a commodious two-story building and employs a Superintendent and four assistants. Three churches, the Baptist, Methodist and Christian, have organizations and buildings.
In this town are several organized bodies: A progressive Business Men's Association: a Woman's Literary Club, the Hawthorne, which founded and has charge of the Public Library; and Masonic, Odd Fellow, and Woodmen's Lodges. There are to be found here three resident ministers, eleven lawyers, three doctors, three dry goods establishments, four groceries, three drug stores, two hardware and implement houses, one bank, two livery stables, one wagon yard, three hotels, two restaurants, two boarding houses, two barber shops, two meat markets, one furniture store, two gins, a telephone exchange with long distance connections, two blacksmith shops, and two lumber yards. The town is incorporated for municipal purposes, the tax being only one-fourth of one per cent, and contains one thousand inhabitants.
The second National Bank established in the county opened its doors for business in the autumn of 1890 with Major W. H. Parvin, now deceased. President, and John T. Yeargin, Cashier.
Eastland County Confederate Association. One of the leading features of the historical, social and benevolent interests of Eastland County is the organization of this unchartered body. Its purposes have been so thoroughly and uniformly adhered to, and so pleasant and commendable that interest in its annual reunions increases.
At the suggestion of our well beloved comrade, Dr. S. H. Stout, who new sleeps in an honored soldier's grave, a preliminary meeting was held in County Clerk John T. Yeargin's office, February 8, 1886. The Confederates present were Dr. S. H. Stout, Colonel George W. Shannon, John T. Yeargin, W. H. Day, Henry Hallum, J. T. Hammonds, C. E. Johnson, Captain J. L. Steele, and June Kimble. A committee consisting of Messrs., Hardeman, Yeargin and Kimble was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws, and a call made for a meeting, April 8, 1886
The call was responded to by more than one hundred gallant old Confederates who braved a storm for the privilege of placing their names upon this roll of honor, which yet remains intact. The following officers were elected: Dt. S. H. Stout, President; Colonel George Shannon, Vice President; June Kimble, Secretary: John T. Yeargin, Treasurer, and the Rev. Jack McClure, Chaplain.
There are four hundred and ninety-three names on the roll. Those who have passed over the river, and those who have moved to other localities are so entered, making it a true record.
The annual reunions of this organization, which long since became an institution of the, County, have brought our people together for seventeen years, the delightful gatherings numbering from three to five thousand veterans, wives. Sons and Daughters, and friends.
The constitution declares the object of this Association to be "historical, social, and benevolent." The organization owns in fee simple a beautiful and convenient plot of ground, located one-half mile north of the court house, consisting of five and one-half acres, upon which it purposes to build a capacious tabernacle. When the building is completed it vail pass into the hands of the Sons and Daughters, who will doubtless receive it as a sacred trust committed to them by their fathers.
Mr. Daugherty, the father of Eastland City, was born in Missouri, August 25, 1849, and educated at Lexington University, Kentucky.
He came to Dallas in 1873 and soon became interested in a real estate business, and in the founding of Eastland City. He was the author of the Business League in the United States.
On his motion, the Dallas Board of Trade created a committee on Public Interests in 1882. Under this committee, of which ho was Chairman, three railroads, the Galveston News as Morning News, and the headquarters of the T. & P. and M. K. & T. Ry. Companies were brought into Dallas; the Fair was organized and the Opera House and Merchants' Exchange Buildings were built. Other prominent cities, Denver, Kansas City, etc., organized Business Leagues.
In 1882 Mr. Daugherty was elected President of the Real Estate Men's Association of Texas; in 1889 he was elected Chairman of the State Immigration Association, in 1892 he was appointed to represent Texas in the "Good Roads'' Committee of the United States and many of its policies and principles were formed by him.
He was unanimously chosen by the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress at Denver to prepare an address to the people of the United States on the silver question. Richard P. Bland, then in Congress, adopted this address as part of his argument on this question, and it was printed in the Congressional Record.
Mr. Daugherty, who now resides in Houston, is still a successful dealer in real estate.
C. U. Connellee was born and reared among the picturesque hills of Eagle Creek in Scott County, Kentucky, and was educated in the A. & M. Department of the University at Lexington. He came to Texas in 1874, located in Dallas, and engaged in the real estate business and in the location of land certificates.
In March, 1875, he married Miss Mattie Payne, of Champaign County, Ilinois and came with her direct to Eastland City, where he has ever since made his home.
In these early days he was Chief Marshal of all the forces working for Eastland City and County, the general source of information for all prospectors and proposing immigrants. Others came and left, C. U. Connellee stayed on; when the settler came in wanting a quarter section of school land, C. U. Connellee knew of one to point out to him. In these days of railroads, telegraph wires and telephone lines, one can scarcely appreciate the difficulty of forwarding settlement in a heavily timbered county with no means of direct communication, only wagon roads over which to travel, and the nearest railroad one hundred and fifty miles away. But under all difficulties Mr. Connellee held firm his faith in Eastland County.
As frontier agent for Daugherty, Connellee and Ammerman he located lands, making frequent trips west, even penetrating the Staked Plains for this purpose, where he encountered Indians a number of times. In 1887 he was elected to the State Legislature from the District comprising the counties of Eastland, Stephens and Palo Pinto. As Representative he served one term, and was connected with the enactment of several very important laws.
His present wife was Miss Tullie Folts Hardeman, with whom he became acquainted while serving as Representative, and shortly afterwards married.
J. B. Ammerman was born January 5, 1855, on a farm in Harrison County, Kentucky, and educated in the public schools, and in the State University at Lexington, where he was a roommate of J. S. Daugherty.
After leaving school he came to Texas and in the spring of 1875 became associated with Mr. Daugherty in the land business at Dallas, Texas. In this position he became connected with the early settlement of Eastland County, and in the founding and development of Eastland City as the County Town.
He conducted land-locating parties when it was necessary for every member to be heavily armed, penetrating the then trackless plains almost to the New Mexico line.
In December, 1880, he was married to Miss Lelia Barlow of Bourbon County, Kentucky, and moved from Dallas to Eastland City, where he served as the first station agent of the Texas and Pacific Railway. After leaving the employ of the railroad company, he bought William Cameron & Company's lumber business at Eastland, and also established the first lumber yard at Cisco. Later he engaged in the stock business and bought a ranch six miles north of Cisco, which he still owns.
In 1887 E. M. Hall, State Land Commissioner, appointed Mr Ammerman State Surveyor and Classifier, and in this capacity he worked for the General Land Office of the State of Texas and the Southern Pacific Railroad Company for two years, surveying and classifying some thousands of sections of land.
Finishing this work in the spring of 1890, he has since made his home in Cisco, where he has engaged in various business enterprises. At the present time he superintends one of the large ginneries in Cisco, in which, in addition to his square bale press, he operates the pioneer round bale press of the county.
Scott & Brelsford
Associated Law Offices, Cisco and Eastland.
This firm is composed of Judge D. K. Scott, of Cisco, and H. P. Brelsford, of Eastland. The firm, as at present constituted, was formed in 1892 and has been in existence without change since that date. They do a general State and Federal Court practice and maintain offices at Eastland and Cisco.
Mr. Scott has been several times County Special District Judge. Mr. Brelsford is the present Representative from the 85th District. He served as Special Justice of the Court of Civil Appeals at Fort Worth by appointment of Governor Culberson.
L. A. Hightower
Mr. Hightower established himself in his present real estate and abstract business, which is confined entirely to this county, in 1895. He now has an abstract of every title in the county, which are in twenty-four bound volumes of abstract books and indexes.
Mr. Hightower, who came to Texas from Arkansas in 1864, located in Stephens County in 1876, where he was engaged in the stock business and remained there until he came to Cisco in 1883. He was married to Miss Callie Alford in the city of Fort Worth, April 24, 1881. They have seven children and have lived in Eastland City since 1895.
In the early history of Cisco, Mr. Hightower kept books for Park & Paterson and for Blake & Son.
The Conners of Eastland County
Samuel S. Conner, born June 10, 1821, and his wife, Margaretta L. Conner, born November 19, 1830, settled in Eastland in 1876. They were from Virginia and Kentucky families, and immigrated to Texas from their native State, Indiana, in the early fifties, and spent the greater part of their subsequent lives in Caldwell, Ellis and Eastland Counties. They moved from Ellis to Eastland County in the fall of 1876, and are now lying peacefully side by side in the graveyard in the city of Eastland, S. S, Conner having died on the 11th day of February, 1899, and M. L. Conner November 20, 1901. They were both strong characters and through the many years residence in this county became widely known and universally esteemed, conspicuous types of that sturdy Christian manhood and womanhood that have made our nation great.
As a result of their union, they reared the following children, most of whom are now well known: Truman H., Maud, Ella, Jennie, Claude L., and Earl.
The most distinguished member of this noble family is the oldest son, Truman H. Conner. He graduated in the Law Department of Trinity University, Texas, in 1876, and was in the active practice of his profession from the spring of 1877 until July, 1887, when he was appointed Judge of the 42nd Judicial District, composed of Eastland and other counties, by Gov. L. S. Ross, and was thrice re-elected to the office. In 1898 Judge Conner was elected Chief Justice of the 2nd Supreme Judicial District of Texas, composed of ninety-five counties, including Eastland. Since the date of his present incumbency, he has lived in Fort Worth.
Maud, whose home was never in Eastland, was married to Col. John W. Coleman of Ellis County in 1871, and they now live in Coke County, Texas. Ella was married to Wm. S. Parson, of Ellis County, in 1872, and they lived in Eastland a number of years as many old settlers will recall. They have one daughter living in the county, Mrs. Grace Dreinhofer of Ranger. Earl Conner is practicing law in Eastland and is well known.
Claude L. Conner is well and favorably known, and makes his home at Cisco with his sister Jennie, the wife of the present District Judge, J. H. Calhoun. All the Conners are and have always been, loyal in their devotion to the best interests of the county and her people.
E. A. HILL, Mayor of Eastland City
In Tennessee, on July 16, 1865, the subject of this sketch was born. Seven years later his father died. Having been reared on a farm his education was limited to that afforded by the common schools and the Dresden High School.
At the age of eighteen he entered the office of the Dresden Enterprise and there served an apprenticeship. In 1864 he came to Texas and entered the law office of Davenport and Conner as a student, and was admitted to the bar June 11, 1885, at the age of twenty-one.
Mr. Hill was elected County Attorney in November, 1888, and re-elected in 1890. He is a good lawyer, has a well-equipped library and office on the north side of the Square, is a ready speaker, a good story-teller, and an excellent entertainer. He is serving his fourth term as Mayor of Eastland.
On December 14, 1892, Mr. Hill was married to Miss Bessie, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Evans. Mrs. Hill died in 1894. He was again married on December 25, 1892, to the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Parvin.
Mr. Hill enjoys in a marked degree the confidence of his fellow townsmen.
The Eastland Chronicle.
This creditable weekly Democratic paper is owned, edited and published by Frost and Chastain, lawyers, and is devoted to "Science, Literature, Religion, Politics, and the Upbuilding of Eastland County."
Judge Frost, son of B. Frost, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1849. When only eighteen years old he engaged in teaching "with little education, but by hard study'' he familiarized himself with Natural Sciences, and with the English, Latin, French and Spanish languages. He came to Texas from Illinois in 1872, and was admitted to the bar to practice law in 1883.
Judge Frost was a member of the 26th Legislature.
Claude P. Chastain
Claude P. Chastain, the junior member of the firm, is a native Texan and was educated at Weatherford College (under David W. Switzer), and Baylor University. He was admitted to the bar to practice law in 1897, after having taught school for five years Mr. Chastain served as a Lieutenant in the Fourth Texas Infantry during the Spanish-American war. He was married to Miss Maude Harrison on September 25, 1902.Source: History of Eastland County, Texas, by Mrs. George Langston, A. D. Aldridge & Company, Dallas, Texas,