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Biography of
William M. Spitler, 1833 - 1901

Source:  Sue Wright <housewright2 [at]>, June 2006

William Marion Spitler was born Oct. 2, 1833 in New Albany, Floyd Co., IN, the first child of Martin Spitler and Ruth Ragsdale McMahan.  William’s father, Martin Spitler, drowned in 1838 while working as an engineer aboard the steamer Ophelia.  A letter from the riverboat captain addressed to Ruth in Memphis tells of the death.  [Photo of William Marion Spitler]

Sometime between 1850 and 1856, William left Tennessee and came to Texas.  Family legend says he was sent to his grandmother, Mrs. E. Y. SharpElizabeth Yancey Criswell McMahan Sharp.  In 1860 and 1870, Mrs. E. Y. Sharp appears in the census of Fayette County, TX.  She had Criswell relatives in Texas which could explain why she came to Texas.

[Photo of Wm Spitler and sister Jane]

Records show that William was initiated into the Masonic Lodge in LaGrange in March of 1856; purchased town lots in the town of LaGrange in October of 1857; and was married in Bastrop in June 1858 to Sarah Jane Burleson, daughter of Joseph Burleson and Allie Murray Seaton.  [Photo of Sarah Jane Burleson]

In Feb. 1859, William bought 100 acres in Bastrop County East of the Colorado River on the waters of Buckner’s Creek.  He kept that land until January of 1878.  While living in Bastrop County, the following children were born:

1. Joseph Martin Spitler, born May 21, 1859, died Jun 07, 1932, married Mary Jane Saunders
2. Florence Spitler, born May 26, 1861, died April 4, 1942, married Ebon Milton Jones
3. Allie Spitler, born May 6, 1864, died Feb 12, 1956, married Sam Henry Munn
4. William Murray Spitler, born March 6, 1868, died March 8 , 1947, married Maud Elizabeth Wolf
5. Sarah Jane Spitler, born Oct 30, 1871, died April 12, l966, married Theodore Edgar Arbuckle
6. Villulah Ruth Spitler born April 6, 1875, died Jan 13, 1961, married James Washington Newcomb

While living in Bastrop County, William enlisted in the Confederate Army and served as Sergeant and 1st Sgt., Company G., 21st Cavalry, 1st Texas Lancers, 1st Regiment, Carter's Brigade.  He was wounded accidentally in left hand May 63 and appointed Tax Collector by the Confederate States for Bastrop Co. He received 1117 acres in Burnet County by virtue of Confederate Scrip #339 issued Aug 12, 1881. This land was sold to A. R. Johnson by deed of 15 Feb 1889.

In 1876, William purchased “two tracts of land part of a League and Labor Survey No. 5 in the name of James Hickman on waters of Deer Creek, East of the Colorado River” in Burnet County and moved his family there.  He applied for a post office for the new town of Naruna, and served as its first postmaster in 1878.
The Handbook of Texas states that William named the town of Naruna after the boat on which he came to Texas. (Likely a riverboat from Memphis, but no records has been found).

He stayed on the land until 1883 at which time he purchased “Lots 1 and 2 in Block 27 in said Robert Alexander's addition to the Vandever Portion of the Town of Burnet, said lots lie immediately West of and front upon E. Boundary St.;  Lot 1 is bounded on the North by Pecan Street, and Lot 2 on the South by Short or Elm St. and contain one half acre each.   Cost $150 paid in a 12 month note at 10% per annum.  Lien discharged 26 Jan 1884.

In 1884, William and Sarah’s last child was born in Burnet.

7. Susan Elizabeth Spitler, born April 14, 1884, died June 27, 1934, married James Fenton Pittman

[Photo of Sarah Jane Spitler and daughters]  [Photo of Sarah Jane Spitler in later years]

Deed records in Fayette, Bastrop and Burnet Counties detail his many purchases and sales of land.  Masonic records indicate that William belonged to lodges in all three counties as well as the Colorado Commandery #4 and the Ben Hur Shrine in Austin, TX.

His occupations included farmer, district clerk, postmaster, justice of the peace, notary public, and furniture store owner.

William spent his final years in Burnet where he passed away May 19, 1901.
An old photo shows William in front of his furniture store on the square in Burnet.  The property is currently known as 133 Jackson Street.   [Photo of Store]

Another old photo of the five daughters was taken on the front porch of the Spitler home, currently 309 Pecan Street.   [Photo of sisters on porch]

Only one of William and Sarah’s children stayed in Burnet County.  Allie, who married Sam Henry Munn, lived in the Shady Grove community of Bertram. 

The Spitler graves can be found in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, Burnet.  [Photo of Spitler tombstone]




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