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The Promised Land, A History of Brown County, Texas, by James C. White, published by The Brownwood Banner, Brownwood, Texas, 1941.

Preface ~ Civilization Moves In ~ First Election Was Illegal ~ Settlers Fight for Their Land ~ Spectacular Indian Battles ~ Index

Preface -- page 1

The series of sketches contained in this booklet was written primarily for newspaper publication rather than as a book. For many years the author and his associate, Mr. Clark C. Coursey, have been gathering and writing stories of the early days in Brown County, and the entire series has been published during the past seven months in serieal form in The Brownwood Banner.

The purpose of this publication is to provide in convenient form a record of the early days in the Promised Land, particularly of the period from the founding of the county in 1856 to the end of the seventies. The facts and figures quoted herein are believed to be as authentic as it is possible to make them. Official records of activities in the frontier era are meager, and we have depended upon the researches of many people in addition to the memories of a number of pioneer citizens for verification of many of the details of the several stories we have used. If there are any serious errors we apologize for them in advance of discovery, but believe that in the main the record is correct.

Hardships that are inconceivable to the present-day citizenry were endured by the early settlers of this and many other Central and West Texas counties. The menace of Indian raids during the first two decades was in reality one of the minor difficulties to be overcome. Of major importance was the clearing of the lands, the erection of homes, the establishment of schools and churches, inauguration of civil government and building of a social order calculated to continue through the future.

Our pioneers were not adventurers in any sense of the word. They first visited this section, spying out the land and evaluating its potentialities. Then they moved in, with their families, their livestock and their household equipment, and settled down to live. Sources of supply were so far away, and transportation so slow and difficult that it was necessary for the early settlers to wrest their living from the country in which they lived. Money was probably needed less than any other thing. The most marvelous feature of the whole story is that so many not only managed to survive the hardships of the frontier, but lived to see the fruition of their work during the earlyier years of the present century. Certainly, there were few weaklings among the pioneers of the Promised Land, but to the contrary they were a people who were strong physically, intellectually and morally. They have given to their children and their children's children a heritage that is priceless, and it is to honor these founders of the country that this little publication is offered, the first printed record of their achievements.

Since our major purpose is to honor the pioneers themselves rather than to write a history of the county, we have sought to gather biographical information about the leaders of the frontier area. It is a source of regret that not all the heroic families of the period could be included in this record, but it is obviously an impossibility to secure the necessary information. If this little booklet has the effect of reviving in the hearts of the people a reverent respect for the memories of those who labored here and have gone on to their eternal reward, and if it inspires any of us who now enjoy the benefits of their labors to give more unselfish and sacrificial service in behalf of the community at large, we shall be well repaid for the effort required to assemble and publish this material.

This booklet is not written or published for profit. It is not copyrighted, and quotation from it is not only permitted but invited. It represents the combined efforts of many who have interested themselves in writing the history of the county, including the following, to all of whom our gratitude and obligation is hereby acknowledged: The Rev. F. M Cross, pioneer preacher, from whose book describing pioneer days and conditions we have quoted liberally; Henry Ford, pioneer citizen and banker, whose series of "Calculators" contained much detailed information about the pioneer period; The "History of Brown County" written in 1935 by Professor T. R. Havins of Howard Payne College, after he had spent many months in research work here and in the archives at Austin; Tevis Clyde Smith's booklet describing many incidents of the pioneer period; personal research work by the late Henry C. Fulleer, once a Brownwood newspaper man who gathered a great deal of information about the early day families of the county; Brooke Smith's autobiography, published serially in The Brownwood Banner in 1939-40; a voluminous scrapbook kept by Miss Elizabeth Dobbs; miscellaneous clippings from The Brownwood Daily Bulletin, of articles written while we were editor fo that paper; the files of The Brownwood Banner; personal interviews with many pioneers and their descendants; letters and other data offered by scores of citizens; and the records of the Brown County Pioneers Association and many other sources. Clark C. Coursey, editor of The Brownwood Banner, shares with the author whatever credit may be due anyone for compliation of this material.

The booklet is respectfully and humbly dedicated to the Pioneers Association of Brown County.

James C. White


Civilization Moves In -- page 2

Two statuesque horesmen sat on their ponies on the brow of a rolling hill, shortly after noon of a hot, July day in 1856. Their naked, bronzed bodies glistened sweatily in the mid-summer heat, and their ponies dropped their heads as though exceedingly weary.

Immobile, silent, their faces showing no trace of the thoughts rumbling through their mainds, the riders gazed into the valley lying before them.

They long had known the land, for here they had visited many times on their journeyings to and fro, in search of food, hunting horses or following the vague trails of unknown visitors into their domain.

Today, however, their attention was crystalized upon slowly moving objects the like of which they had never before seen in this part of the country. Riders they had encountered many times; but here were wagons, and horsemen, and cattle, and women and children.

The Indians watched with a trace of instinctive uneasiness in their hearts. They who feared only the anger of the Great Spirit knew from the long talks about their council fires that the pale faces were steadily encroaching upon their domain. Already the red men had been squeesed out of the fertile areas of the east, and compelled to maintain themselves on the more barrne reaches of the buffalo country. Wherever wagons and white men went trouble came to the Indian. And here were wagons, and white people, moving purposefully into the verdant valley before them. An unexpressed fear gripped the hearts of the silent sentinels upon the hilltop.

It was the beginning of a new ear for the western frontier, and of a new and the final hegira of the Indian. His days in the freedom of the open range were definitely numbered. Civilization was moving in.

This year, 1941, marks the eighty-fifth anniversary of the initial settlement of Brown County. Eighty-five years is not so long a time, measured against the tumultuous history of Texas, or the memory of citizens now living in this favored land. Nevertheless, the transition from uninhabited frontier to populous and prosperous urban communities covers a span of human activity that can hardly be measured by years, because it is epochal.

The saga of Brown County's frontiersmen is an oft-told tale, but a tale, nevertheless, that is always full of thrilling interest. It parallels and in some respects even excels the romantic story of Texas as a whole; for here was wrought in a limited area and by a mere handful of heroic settlers what was accomplished in Texas by a larger but no more courageous population of adventurers, homesteaders, professional soldiers and thrill-seekers recurited from the four corners of the earth. Texas has been under six flags; but there was a time when no flag actually flew over Brown County, and no law save his own prowess and fortitude protected the Brown county citizens.

There is no record of the first visit to Brown County by a white man, as there is no record of the first visit to Texas by a white man. Tradition is as indistinct as is history on this point, but it is not unreasonable to surmise that three hunderd years ago this section was visited by one or more of the adventurous explorers who came up from Mexico and elsewhere to spy out the land, and that their reports were similar to the optimistic conclusions of ancient Joshua and Caleb, who found a land flowing with milk and honey, although the inhabitants indeed were men of valor and the land itself presented many grave difficulties for those who contimplated conquering and possessing it.

The terrain of Brown County is the only thing that remains unchanged, or almost so, since the eye of man first saw it. The hills and the valleys, the trees, grasses and flowers are as inviting now as then first examined by the frontiersmen. But the life of this section has undergone a marked change. Then there were buffalo, antelope, wild deer, bears, panthers, and every other form of wild animal life. There were roving bands of warlike Indians, already feeling desperately the constantly expanding encroachments of the invading pale faces, and ready to defend with every artifice known to them the land reamining as their heritage.

The first visitors of whom ther is a credible record were Captain Henry S. Brown and a party of companions who came into Brown County in 1828, chasing a band of Indians who had stolen their horses. The county was named in honor of Captain Brown, although he had no later connection of importance with the founding or building of the county.

After the Battle of San Jacinto and the establishment of the Republic of Texas, Brown County was visited many times, perhaps by Texans examining the country with a view to selecting lands upon which to settle. Included among these were surveyors and officials representing the Republic and one among this number was Judge Greenleaf Fisk, veteran of San Jacinto and a Senator of the Republic. Judge Fisk surveyed a portion of the county, and found the land so desirable that he chose as a part of his land grand (given to each San Jacinto veteran) lands in this county, including the present site of the city of Brownwood.

Among those who came here to spy out the land were Welcome W. Chandler, Jesse P. Hanna, Ambrose Bull, J. H. Fowler, and others. All these found the county ideal, from their standpoint, and in 1856 Mr. Chandler moved with his family to a site east of Pecan Bayou, suilt his log cabin and established his family as the first residents. During the year several others joined the Chandler family, settling at various points, principally in the eastern part of what was first included in Brown county but later was sparated and made a part of Mills County.

The Chandler home was located a half mile east of Pecan Bayou, near the edge of what is now the Lucas field. It was about 150 feet south of the amin highway entering Brownwood, and about even with the junction of the old highway cutoff with the new highway. In this house was born on February 1, 1860, Miss Melissa Chandler, only child of the family who now survives, and the oldest living native of the county.

Israel Clements and his family followed the Chandlers, settling near their home on Pecan Bayou.

Jesse P. Hanna and his sons, David, John, James, and R. M. settled in 1856 near the Colorado River, arriving only a few weeks later than the Chandlers. Their home was in what is known as Hanna Valley, and it was here that the first white child, Miss Josephine Hanna, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Hanna, was born in Brown county, March 26, 1857. David Hanna was one of the first county commissioners, and an active leader in the frontier life.

In 1857, and within a year of the establishment of these first Brown county homes, many settlers came here. Among them were M. J. Coggins, S. R. Coggins, Charles Mullins and sons, Isaac, J. C., and William Mullins; Greenleaf Fisk, T. D. Harriss, Sutton Harriss, G. H. Ennis, Harvey Adams, Ichabod Adams, Brooks W. Lee, Marion Potter, J. B. Marshall, M. G. Anderson, David Baugh, and their families. These constituted the frontier aristocracy of Brown County.

The Coggins were founders of the bank which bore their name for many years, and with J. A. Austin and others helped establish Daniel Baker College. Judge Fisk is known as the "Father of Brownwood" because he moved the site of the town from its original location surrounding the Chandler homestead to its present site. The Adams and Baugh families, with Brooks Lee, were prominent in all frontier activities, particularly in the constant battle against Indian depredations and in the efforts make by the early colonists to preserve law and order. The Chandlers were leaders in political life.

In 1858 the movement of citizens to Brown County continues, with W. C. Parks, Richard Germany, Al Kirkpatrick, Jay Kirkpatrick, Richard Robbins and others coming here and establishing their homes. They introduced agriculture to the county, and began the development of the cattle business which started late in 1856 when J. H. Fowler brought the first herd here. Welcome W. Chandler raised the first crop here in 1857. The first bale of cotton was produced by W. F. Brown in 1868. It was ginned in Comanche in a gin operated by horse power. Comanche County was settled a bit earlier than Brown, and was organized in 1856.


First Election Was Illegal -- page 3

Brown County was created by Legislative Act August 27, 1856, almost before the first citizen had moved his family here. The bill creating the county authorized and directed the Chief Justice (county judge) of Lampasas County to order an election for county officers and administer the oath of office to them.

There were so few citizens here at that time, however, and they were so engrossed with the business of building cabins and clearing farm lands that nothing was done toward organization of the county during 1856. Late in 1857, after some two dozen families had moved here, a movement was started to hold an election and organize the county; but upon examination it was found that the boundary lines fixed in the legislative enactment were erroneous, and it was not until February 5, 1858, that the necessary amendments were made by Legislature. The lines as then established began at the mouth of Pecan Bayou, ran due east to the line of Hamilton County, thence northwest along the lines of Comanche and Hamilton counties to the northwest corner of Comanche county, thence west 16 miles, then due south to the Colorado River and down its meanderings to the point of beginning. The amended law also specified that the county seat should be named Brownwood.

After the law was amended an election for officers was held at the home of Welcome W. Chandler late in May, 1858. The following officers were named: Welcome W. Chandler, chief justice; M. G. Anderson, county clerk; W. F. Brown, district clerk; B. J. Marshall, treasurer; Marion Potter, sheriff; Oliver H. P. Keesee, tax collector and assessor; David Baugh, T. J. Preddy, Edmund McReynolds, and David S. Hanna, commissioners.

The site east of Pecan Bayou, a mile and a half from the present courthouse, was selected as the county seat, and a log court house was built in the summer of 1858 but when good water could not be found on the site the courthouse was moved early in 1859 to the Connell farm two miles south of the first location. Title to this land was found to be defective, and the whole matter was in a state of undertainty for a time until Greenleaf Fisk offered a site of 60 acres for the town and 100 acres for county purposes and the court house and town were moved across the Bayou to the present location. The move was made in 1868 or 1869, the exact date not being available because the courthouse and all its records were burned in March 1880.

But the business of organizing the county was not completed with the first election in May, 1858. That election had not been ordered by the Lampasas county judge, as directed by the Legislature, and there was doubt as to its legality. It is interesting to note that while this matter was under consideration Brooks W. Lee received a letter from John H. Connors, at Austin, advising that since the Lampasas County judge had already ordered one election, which was not held because the county boundaries were incorrect, that official had discharged his full duty. Hence, Mr. Lee was advised, "it would be as legal as any plan that could be suggested", for the people to assemble in any convenient place, name presiding officers and proceed to elect officials. All this had been done in May, before the Conners letter was written July 9, 1858.

Meanwhile, the Lampasas county judge ordered an election, which was duly help August 3, 1858, and legally elected officers for the new county were named. The officers who had been elected in May were reelected, however, and no change in the official setup of the county was effected. August 3, 1858, therefore, becomes the official birthday of Brown County as an organized unit.

Elections seem to have been held regularly at two year intervals after the first organization of the county, with the possible exception of a brief period during the war of the Confederacy. Most of the able-bodied men of Brown County were enlisted in the Confederate army, and were away from home much of the time during the period from 1862 to 1864.

Officers were elected in 1869 as follows: Thomas J. Keesee, chief justice; M. G. Anderson, county clerk; Ichabod Adams, treasurer; Frank A. Baugh, sheriff; Oliver H. P. Keesee, tax assessor and collector; Levi P. Goodrich, surveyor; Jesse Bonds, Thomas J. Preddy, J. N. Clark and James H. Fowler, commissioners. Burl Roberts served as Sheriff from April 7 to August 17, 1860. Frank A. Baugh, elected sheriff in August of that year, resigned in March, 1861, and Jesse S. Harriss was elected to fill the unexpired term. Harriss was killed and A. A. McCain was elected June 8, 1861, to complete the term. The mortality rate among frontier sheriffs was high.

County officers elected August 4, 1862, were: Greenleaf Fisk, chief justice; M. G. Anderson, county clerk; Gresham Lee, sheriff; Ichabod Adams, district clerk; Welcome W. Chandler, treasurer; Oliver H. P. Keesee, tax assessor and collector; Thomas J. Preddy, W. L. Williams, David Baught and J. A. Callen, county commissioners. The third term tradition was established early in this county, in the first three elections held.

The first courthouse built in Brown County, moved from the Chandler neighborhood to the Connell farm, was a one story structure, to which an upper story later was added. It was in the upstairs part of the house that the first Masonic lodge was organized in 1865. Brownwood became a post office August 23, 1858. The date of removal of the court house to its present site is uncertain, but is indicated by the fact that the post office was discontinued January 23, 1867, and reestablished March 31, 1868. Conjecture is that the change in location of the town occurred during this period. It is noted, however, that the post office was again discontinued September 9, 1868, and reestablished July 27, 1870; and it may have been during this period that the court house was moved.

Judge Greenleaf Fisk, donor of the site of the new town, threw little light upon the subject when he made a new deed in 1880 to convey to the county the land previously donated for a townsite (because the original deed had been burned with the court house) and stated that it was to replace a "former deed of about ten years ago". Transactions involving the originals of deeds executed under this transfer still appear often in the abstract records of the county.

The first court house on the present site of Brownwood was a log house on East Broadway, just south of the building now occupied by two big chain grocery stores. In 1867 a new building was erected of stone, the first floor being used as a jail with one or two offices, and the upper floor for offices and a court room. This building was burned in March 1880, and a new stone building was built of the present court yard, to serve until 1917 when it was replaced by the structure now in use. In order to finance the building warrants, the county commissioners contrived to "repair" the old building; and in doing so left only a few stones standing in their original position, including a vault now used by the county treasurer, while a magnificent new brick building was constructed around the remains of the old court house. Brown County is still paying for the new building.

Settlers Fight for Their Land -- page 4

Early settlers of Brown county literally had to fight for their land. Not all of the fighting was against Indians, for there were roving adventurers traveling through the country from time to time to steal livestock and commit other depredations, and it is of record that at least one bloodless engagement of the War of the Confederacy was won by Brown County men in the early sixties.

Brown County people late in 1861 held a formal election and ratified the ordinance of secession from the Union. A Confederate flag was made by patriotic women of the community, and was erected on a flag pole 100 feet high. The flag was made by Mrs. Welcome W. Chandler, Mrs. Brooks W. Lee, and Miss Jame Chandler. A little later men from Brown County and neighboring communities journeyed out to Fort Camp Colorado, held by Union forces, and brought about the surrender of the fort by Captain E. Kirby Smith, who joined the Confederacy and made a splendid record as a Confederate officer.

Indians Here First: Indians roved over this section for many years before the first white settler came to challende their supremacy. There were two principal tribes of Indians in this section. The Apaches, comprising a dozen or more tribes, were fierce fighters; and the Comanches, most bitter warriors of all the Indians of Texas, made this their hunting grounds. They were excellent horsemen, usually well mounted, and fought uncompromisingly and savagely.

There were two main trails by which the Comanches entered the county. One of these was through Mercer's Gap, running along toward what later became known as Salt Mountain, and continued toward the west and northwest up Pecan Bayou and on into Callahan County. The other tril came from the west, and crossed Pecan Bayou in the vicinity of what is now Elkins. In raiding this county the Comanches usually entered from the west, circled around south of Brownwood, then doubled back through Mercer's Gap and on to the north.

An Indian raid was responsible for the coming of Captain Henry S. Brown, first white man known to have entered Brown County. In 1828, Captain Brown and a company of 28 men left Gonzales early in December 1828, to recover about 500 horses which the Indians had stolen from Brown. The trail led toward the mouth of Pecan Bayou and crossed the Colorado River into Brown County. Traveling westward, Captain Brown and his company came to an Indian camp on Clear Creek. Here a hot fight occurred, and after a time the Indians ran away. Brown, pursuing them, camped for the night on Home Creek. During the night camp fires of a body of Indians were discovered about two miles up the creek and at daybreak Brown and his company surprised the Indians, killed some of them, and stampeded their horses. Brown then rounded up the horses, recovered almost all his 500 head, and drove them back to his home.

The first Indian raid into the county after settlement began here was in November 1857, A settlement on Steppes Creek was raided, and a man named Lewis was slain, many horses being drived away by the marauders. The first Indian fight of the new community was in the following year, 1858, in the Swinden Valley. One of the Chandler slaves discovered a band of Comanches rounding up horses in the valley and gave the alarm. J. S. Harriss, M. J. and S. R. Coggins, A. E. Adams, Israel Clements, George Isaacs, and W. W. Chandler happened to be at the Chandler home at the time, and went immediately to attack the Indians. The whites were defeated, however, and beat a retreat. The Indians drove their stolen horses toward Delaware Creek, and after about seven miles were met by Captain Conner, W. L. Williams, and a man named Holman of the Texas Rangers. Williams dismounted and killed one of the Indians but lost his horse. After about fifteen minutes of fighting the Indians withdrew and made their escape with the stolen stock. Holman was taken to the Chandler home and was ill for a long time.

Welcome W. Chandler had an experience with the Indians again in 1862. He had traded a part of his homestead, now a part of the Lucas farm, for 200 ponies. He took them to Williamson County for pasturage, and shortly after he had returned the herd to a coral near his home the Indians came. Chandler had his saddle horse tied near the door of his house, and when the Indians attempted to steal his horses he jumped on his pony, without saddle, bridle or a gun, and gave chase. The Indians left hurriedly without taking a single animal. They evidently did not know that chandler was armed only with his righteous anger.

There were many small raids by Indian bands, with wanton murders of homesteaders, and there were a few major engagements between the Indians and the whites. The Jackson murders were among the most savage and gruesome of all the tragedies occurring during their forntier period. It was in December 1858, that Mose Jackson, whose home was in the Jackson Springs community in southwestern Brown County, with his wife and four of their children, started from their home to the Kirkpatrick home, a few miles away and near Pecan Bayou, to gather pecans. About two miles away from their home cabin they were attacked by Indians, and the father, mother, and two daughters, one 18 years old and the other a child, were killed. The other two children were carried away by the Comanches.

As soon as news of the tragedy was circulated around, a posse took up the chase, and a fight occurred near Salt Mountain. Another group of Indians, camped in the same neighborhood, heard the firing, and left immediately, leaving the two kidnapped children to be found a little later by the whites. Descendants of this Jackson family still live in Brown County.

Because of the constant menace of Indian raids, Brown County people successfully asked for a company of Rangers to be assigned here, financed in part of a $70,000 legislative appropriation. It turned out, however, that the principal responsibility for defending the county remained with its own citizens, because most of the fifteen Rangers assigned to this county were recruited from settlers here. Under the leadership of Captain John S. Ford, these Brown County men were recurited for Ranger service: Brooks W. Lee, Sr., George H. Adams, A. E. Adams, H. C. Knight, George Isaacs, J. S. Harriss, Dick Germany, B. J. Marshall, Willis Holloway, W. L. Williams, Cyrus Ford, Avery Toby, Steve Derrick, John Herrige, and Andrew Mather. Headquarters of the camp as established on Pecan Bayou about a mile east of the present courthouse, and Brooks W. Lee was placed in command of the company.

Indian raids occurred at frequent intervals furing this period, some of them originating in neighboring Comanche County and continuing into Brown County as teh Indians were pursued by the avenging white setttlers. One spectacular fight occurred on Salt Creek in 1859 or 1860 in which Comanche County men engaged.

Spectacular Indian Battles -- page 5




Adams, A. 4
Adams, George 4

Adams, 2
Adams, 2, 3
Anderson, M. 2, 3
Apache 4

Austin, J. 2


Baugh, 2, 3
Baugh, Frank 3
Bonds, 3

Brown, Capt. Henry 2, 4

Brown, W. 2, 3

Bull, 2


Callahan 4

Callen, J. 3

Chandler, Miss 4

Chandler, 2
Chandler, Welcome 2, 3, 4
Chandler, Mrs. Welcome 4
Chandler 4

Clark, J. 3
Clear 4

Clements, 2, 4
Coggins, M. 2, 4
Coggins, S. 2, 4
Colorado 4

Comanche 2, 3, 4
Comanche 4

Connell 3
Conner, 4

Conners, John 3

Coursey, Clark 1
Cross, Rev. F. 1


Daniel Baker 2
Delaware 4
Derrick, 4

Dobbs, 1

E 4

Ennis, G. 2


Fisk, Judge 2, 3
Ford, 4

Ford, 1
Ford, Captain John 4

Fort Camp 4

Fowler, James 2


Germany, Richard (Dick)............... 2, 4 4

Goodrich, Levi 3


Hamilton 3

Hanna, 2, 3
Hanna, 2

Hanna, Jesse 2
Hanna, 2
Hanna, 2
Harriss, Jesse 3, 4

Harriss, 2

Harriss, T. D........................................................page2

Havins, Professor T. 1
Herrige, 4

Holloway, 4

Holman, (no Christian name) 4

Home 4


Isaacs, 4


Jackson, 4
Jackson 4


Keesee, Oliver H. 3
Keesee, Thomas 3

Kirkpatrick, 2
Kirkpatrick 4

Kirkpatrick, 2
Knight, H. 4


Lampasas 3

Lee, Brooks 2,3
Lee, Brooks W. 4

Lee, Mrs. Brooks 4

Lee, 3
Lewis (no Christian name) 4
Lucas 4


Marshall, J. 2, 3, 4
Masonic 3
Mather, 4

McCain, A. 3

McReynolds, 3
Mercer's 4
Mills 2
Mullins, 2
Mullins, 2
Mullins, J. 2
Mullins, 2






Parks, W. 2
Pecan Bayou................................................. 2, 3, 4

Post Office, 3

Potter, 2, 3
Preddy, Thomas 3




Robbins, 2
Roberts, 3


Salt 4

Smith, 1
Smith, Captain E. 4

Smith, Tevis 1
Steeps 4
Swinden 4


Toby, 4






Williams, W. 3, 4
Williamson 4








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