On June 26, 1830, Stephen Decatur Greer was born in Troup Co, Georgia
the fifth child of
Nathaniel Hunt Greer and Nancy Ann Terry Roberts. Shortly thereafter -- perhaps the next year --
NHG led his family across the Chattahoochee into the eastern edge of the Creek Territory and
established his trading post.
Cate, as he came to be known, grew up in Texas, mostly in Washington
County where the family
settled after moving to Texas in March 1837. In the early 1850s, his family lived in Port Sullivan,
Milam County, where virtually the entire family converted to Mormonism. He was a young man of
24 when the family embarked on a disastrous trek to Utah -- on the trail many of his family were lost
to cholera. The next year, 1856, most of the Greers returned to Texas where Cate met and wooed
the daughter of two pioneer heroes: Colonel Philip Howard and Sarah Creth.
Colonel Howard, born in Kentucky, had clerked at the Fort Dearborn trading
post that would later
become the city of Chicago. He fought in the Black Hawk War under General William Henry
Harrison (later President of the United States) before emigrating to Texas in 1833 at the age of 21
to become a Texas Ranger. After helping to win Texas independence from Mexico, he protected
settlers from Indian attacks. During the Mexican War, he was Army Commissary.
Sarah Creth, born in Illinois, married John Sherry and emigrated to
Texas where he was killed by
Indians in 1829. She then wed John Hibbins who, along with her half brother, was slain in her
presence by Indians who then took her and her two children prisoner. A short time later her infant
was beaten to death before her eyes, and yet she maintained her reason, escaped, and sought help
from a band of Rangers who soon rescued her remaining son. After this nightmarish experience, she
wed a man named Stinnett who, while traveling to New Orleans to buy supplies, was murdered by
outlaws. By this man she had one daughter who drowned at the age of two. In 1839 she wed Col.
Howard by whom she had three daughters, including Cate's future bride. That Sarah survived her
ordeals (for which she became famous), retained her sanity and went on to live a productive life as
wife and mother is a testament to her amazing courage and a triumph of human endurance rarely
matched in history.
Cate wed Martha Arminta "Mintie" Howard on April 7, 1858. That August
he purchased from her
father 200 acres where Steele Creek flows into the Brazos River. On this homestead all six of their
children were born.
Cate was too young to fight in the Mexican War, but did participate
in rangering and in the Civil
War. In the winter of 1863, he enlisted as a cavalry private in Co. E, Mounted Frontier Regiment,
Texas State Troops, commanded by Col. J. E. McCord. Later he was in Capt. Henry Fossett's Co.
A of Lt. Col. Buck Barry's "Battalion," Texas Frontier Regiment, C.S.A. This service allowed Cate
to honor Union sympathies he shared with his father-in-law by protecting the frontier against Indian
raids rather than fight his northern brother. On January 8, 1865, his unit was in the Battle of Dove
Creek, the most famous frontier engagement of the day. This battle has been recounted in many
works on Texas and the War.
During the Civil War, Cate was stationed at Camp Colorado where he and
Mintie lost their infant
daughter, Ellen May, who was buried at the nearby town of Coleman. The rest of their children lived
long, full lives.
In 1871 Cate bought 5.5 acres in Meridian, providing the children greater
access to schooling. The
next year he added 30 acres to their Meridian land. On April 23, 1881, he sold his 160-acre
inheritance of the 1280 acres of his father's headright land in adjacent Hill County.
After farming during his later years, Cate died January 25, 1905 in
Meridian -- tragically by his own
hand, and for reasons unknown -- by drinking strychnine. Mintie then lived many years with her
widowed daughter, Susan, until passing away in De Leon, Texas, on October 22, 1923.