Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chapter 3 My Mother’s Kin

I am fifth generation Texan; my first forefather arrived in 1818 when Texas was known as New Spain. Mexico won her independence from Spain in 1821, and Texas won her independence from Mexico in 1836. Texas remained an independent Republic until 1845, when we decided to join the United States. The Republic of Texas and the United States of America entered into a treaty where the Republic of Texas agreed to become a state in the Union. My GGGGrandfather was an observer of most of these historical events; his name was John Goodloe Warren Pierson.

Originally from North Carolina, being born there in 1795, he moved to Union County Kentucky with his family in 1805. He was trained as a blacksmith and surveyor, like his father. He married Purity Ruffin Pennington January 17, 1815 and they had two children before moving to Texas in 1818. The territorial governor appointed JGW as a major in the militia, leading some 60 men against Indian raiders. JGW became the sheriff and also the judge in Lamar County where he established the first Anglo-American town in the county. Purity died in childbirth in 1820, but the child survived.

After Purity died, JGW loaded up his three kids and moved south. When Stephen F. Austin brought 300 settlers to Texas, he hired JGW to survey the land for their homesteads. At this time, JGW established the town of Independence, TX. He married again and had three more children before his wife, Elizabeth, died. JGW was hired by another empresario, Sterling Robinson, to be his chief surveyor and attorney in fact to handle all his business in Texas. They established the town of Sarahville de Viesca near present day Marlin, TX.

JGW was elected a delegate to the Consultation at San Felipe de Austin, where he served on the "Committee of Five" which established the Texas Rangers. He signed both the declaration of cause for war with Mexico and the ordinance that established the provisional government of Texas.

JGW was a captain in the Texian army in the battle for Texas Independence. During this presumably busy time he met Narcissa Cartwright and they were married and subsequently had three children. Shortly after Texas won her independence Gen. Adrián Woll of the Mexican Army invaded Texas and captured San Antonio. Sam Houston called for volunteers and JGW responded by raising a force of 50 men; they elected him their captain. He was a member of the ill-fated Mier expedition; after surviving capture, imprisonment, escape, recapture, a death lottery known as the Black Bean Episode and the infamous prison known as Perote, he returned to his family in Texas.

The black beans came into play as a result of the escape attempt as the Texians were being marched to prison. 176 of the escapees were recaptured and Santa Anna decreed they would all be executed. The decree was altered to doom only every tenth man. Each of the men drew a bean from an earthen jar; those that pulled out one of 17 black beans were shot.

John Goodloe Warren Pierson is something of a family legend. My daughter pretends to believe that no man could have been so many places and done so many things and there were actually three men: John, Goodloe and Warren Pierson. However, history confirms that there was indeed only one man-and he was one of a kind.

The oldest child from JGW Pierson’s first marriage was John Hogue Pierson, and he was my GGGrandfather. He married Nancy Hutchison from Montgomery county Texas October 8, 1838, and their oldest child Emily Elizabeth, my GGrandmother, was born October 2, 1844. She married Alfred Haynes Watson and they had one daughter Bertie Waller Watson, born September 9, 1878, who was my Grandmother. She married Forrest Mathew Marley on September 18, 1901 and they had two daughters. The oldest was my mother Mary Marley who was born August 26, 1902.

My Grandmother, Bertie Waller Watson Marley    My grandmother, Bertie Waller Watson was quite a lady. When she was about 18, in 1896, she lived in Hamilton, Texas. She got a job teaching in Hico, about 20 miles to the north of Hamilton. Almost every Sunday after lunch she would ride her horse over the rolling prairie to Hico, where she would teach school all week. Then every Friday she would ride back to Hamilton. There was no road between Hamilton and Hico but there was a trail she followed.

Every time I travel between these two towns I think of her riding over those rolling hills and wading across several creeks on her way. I wonder what her horse looked like and what was she thinking. Although the danger from Indians had past, there were many outlaws roaming around Texas at that time. The Bill Dalton gang was still marauding across Texas. As a matter of fact one of the gang, Bill Bennett was killed during a bank robbery in 1893 and John Wesley Hardin was killed in 1896. Commuting to work was not for the faint of heart.

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