Col. James A. Stevens Dead
The passing of Colonel James A. Stevens last
Thursday afternoon, December 21st, 1922, removed from Burnet County, in
many respects, its most valuable citizen. He had been in failing health
for some time and realized several days before his death that he could
not recover, but his death was sudden and expected at the time.
His sons had been sent for and Paul from Beaumont and Lexie from Dallas had reached his beside before the end, but Hardy from Mobile was unable to reach Burnet until the day following his death.
The funeral service was conducted Friday afternoon at the Christian Church by Elder Morgan Morgans, assisted by W. E. Fry.
Bro. Morgans gave a short history of Col. Stevens’ long life and his
estimate of him as a citizen. This was followed by a splendid summary
of the life of deceased by W. E. Fry. Col. Stevens had requested
that Mr. Fry talk at his funeral and the tribute offered was beautiful
The body was interred in the Odd Fellows Cemetery. The following were the active pall bearers: Ray Wingren, Ben King, Leonard Frazier, Frank Atkinson, George Lamon and Frank Richey. The honorary pall bearers were named by Col. Stevens himself to J H Stapp the day of his death and were as follows:
All the remaining ex-Confederate soldiers in this community: J.
H. Guthrie, Sr., Capt. T. E. Hammond, J. T. Olney, H. Breazeale, Capt.
B. W. Cocke, J. J. Sarrels, M. J. Bolt, John Yonney, J. D. Wright, C.
and the following younger men: Judge
J. R. Smith, J. A. Jackson, J. H. Stapp, J. O. Lamon, Dr. A. Howell, L.
C. Chamberlain, R. E. Johnson, C. C. Jamison, S. H. Munn and J. R. Bullock.
James A. Stevens
was born in Columbus, Mississippi, July 14th, 1840, making him at the
time of his death 82 years, 5 months and 7 days of age. He was the
fourth child of a family of seven children. He received a common school
education and was awarded a scholarship that would have given him a
collegiate education, but on account of delicate health he could not
avail himself of this opportunity. However, he was of a literary turn
of mind and studious disposition and there have been few men any where
better education along the line of endeavor he pursued in life, that of
editor, and writer on general and special topics. Always rather frail
in body, he had a great mind, which was cultivated and matured by wide
research and study placing him right at the head of writers in the
South. He was a contributor to many papers and journals even up to the
last years of his life, and his productions were sought after and
greatly appreciated by the various papers he honored with his writings.
He was the most widely read man this writer has ever known and his mind
was a veritable store-house of knowledge of the literary annals of the
Except the four years he
spent in the Confederate Army, Col. Stevens’ long and useful life was
mostly passed in newspaper work. At the age of 20 years he enlisted in
the Confederate Army, In Company H, 35th Mississippi Infantry, and
served throughout the war. He made a gallant soldier and was justly
proud of the years he spent in the army. No man thought more of the old
Confederate soldiers than he, and he never permitted an opportunity to
pass where he could do so, that he did not work for their interest and
recognition. He was in the Vicksburg and Corinth campaigns and the
South never had a more loyal defender.
Colonel Stevens was
married three times. There was one son by his first wife, one by his
second wife, and two sons by his third wife; she and three sons, Paul, Hardy and Lexie
surviving him. The sons have followed their father’s example as
citizens and are held in high regard in the communities in which they
Colonel Stevens moved to Burnet in the year 1879, and a short time thereafter purchased the Burnet Bulletin,
at a sheriff’s sale, and which he successfully edited and published for
a period of probably 20 years. He built a reputation for the paper as a
clean, fearless periodical, and as his successor we have tried in our
limited way to maintain its reputation along these lines. From a
literary stand-point, the paper has not measured up to what it was when
he was editor, but it had always been clean and upon many occasions has
he encouraged and complimented us upon such.
When Col. Stevens bought the Bulletin, more than 40 years ago, it
required courage for an editor to condemn the wrong and uphold he
right, as in those days this country contained many desperate
characters who were intolerant of criticism and oftimes men would be
shot and killed upon the slightest provocation. Col. Stevens knew this,
but it did not deter him from vigorously starting and carrying on the
fight in this section of the State for what he considered good
government and civic righteousness.
He had not been a resident of Burnet long until some of his articles
offended some of the desperate characters and they called upon him with
the intention of scaring him into silence, but they soon found out they
were attempting to bluff the wrong man. Their personal violence was
vigorously resented and to protect himself from attack by fire-arms he
carried his gun to his office with him, and continued to publish the
truth, regardless of who was offended or whom pleased, and he continued
this policy as long as he was connected with the paper. His enemies,
and he made many, in leading the fight to stamp out lawlessness in
Burnet County, soon learned to respect him and came to realize that
only death or disability would stop him in his crusade for right.
He never turned his back to an enemy, although he was of a retiring
disposition and never attempted to push himself upon the public. This
timidity of his, prevented him from aspiring to the legislature of
Texas, upon a number of occasions when he was urged to become a
candidate with strong assurances the he could easily be elected. One of
the proudest moments of his life was in August 1901, when he and his
faithful wife were presented with a silver tea set by the
prohibitionists of Burnet County in recognition of their faithful work
for prohibition, when this county was first voted dry. The presentation
speech was made by the then Methodist pastor, Rev. James Sherman.
The writer of this
article is 50 years of age, he was born in Burnet county, and the first
newspaper he can remember is the Burnet Bulletin, with Col. Jas. A.
Stevens as its editor. It was many years afterward that we knew Col.
Stevens personally, but he impressed us as a boy, when we knew only his
paper, as a man who was fighting for the right and scorner of hypocrisy
in high places and low, and was instinctively associated him with every
movement that was for the good of the country and its people. Later we
came to know him personally, and learned to love him as we have for
other men. Without prejudice and his favor, we are confident that he
has been the greatest factor in character-building that this country
has ever had. He was a strong believer, in Christianity and practiced
it as few men do, he was always the champion of education, and
uncompromising foe of the liquor traffic, and a believer in democracy
and its principles.
He has friends in every
section of the State who will hear of his death with the deepest regret
and sadness for he impressed his personality and the things for which
he stood upon the rank and file of the people in a manner that will
live for years and years, ever in generations yet unborn.
Colonel Stevens had met
many of the famous men of years gone by and it was interesting to hear
him speak of these incidents. He was a great admirer of Jefferson
Davis, and met and conversed with him after the war. He also held
Alexander Campbell in great esteem, and believed him one of the great
men of America. He believed Campbell’s teachings of the Bible and
Christianity, and was an active, working member of the Christian Church
for more than 60 years.
During the more than
twenty years since we have purchased the Bulletin from Col. Stevens,
when he was at home and able, a day seldom passed that he did not visit
our office, and we knew that he knew his visits were appreciated, as
were his numerous contributions on various subjects. He never wrote an
article, no matter on what subject, that was not interesting and
instructive, and we have received hundreds of letters from subscribers
in different sections of the country deploring the fact that he did not
write for the paper with more frequency. He may not have thought his
letters were appreciated and looked forward to, by the hundreds of
people who knew him personally and as a writer, but if so, in this he
was greatly mistaken.
The heartfelt sympathy of
the writer goes out to Mrs. Stevens and the loyal sons of this
illustrious father in their deep affliction. In her sphere, Mrs.
Stevens is held in the same high and loving regard as was her husband.
Many homes in this town, in times of affliction and sorrows have felt
her ministering hand, and know her, consecrated life. With a heart
overflowing with loving sympathy for those in distress, she has helped
to lighten the grief and despair felt in many homes where the grim
monster had entered. During her husband’s last days she was a constant
attendant at his bedside, looking after his every want as a mother
would a little child. That the Heavenly Father may reconcile her in her
loss and enable her to spend the remaining years of her life in
contentment is the prayer of the writer of this imperfect tribute to
her loved and honored husband.