GARRETT FITZGERALD, was born about 1806 in Tennessee, the son of Jabez and Elizabeth Fitzgerald. The 1830 census records show that Garrett and his parents were living on adjacent farms in Marion County,
Alabama. Garrett, the oldest son of the Jabez Fitzgerald family, had married Nancy Mathews, daughter of
Jane McDavid and Thomas Mathews. By 1830 Garrett and Nancy had one son, William Patrick Fitzgerald,
born 2 May 1830. And the 1830 Marion County, Alabama, census lists Garrett as head of household, with a
wife, and one son less than five.
Our Garrett is sometimes referred to, in records, as Garrett Fitzgerald, Jr. This, no doubt, was done because there was a Garrett Fitzgerald, who was living in Marion County, AL, in 1830, and who also came to Fannin County,Texas, in 1836. The older Garrett could have been a brother to Jabez, but was likely more distantly related, such as a cousin. Yet early Fannin County histories refer to the Fitzgerald brothers. The
older Garrett Fitzgerald, known as Garrett, Sr., married, had children, left a will dated 25 Feb. 1859, and
proved 25 April 1859, according to Fannin County probate records. He names a widow, Elizabeth, in his will.
But on the 1850 Fannin County census Margaret is listed as his wife. His descendants believe this was one
woman, Margaret Elizabeth Rhotan. Children of this older Garrett Fitzgerald were John Denison Fitzgerald,
born 1827 in AL; James Fitzgerald, born 1829 in AL; Elizabeth Jane Fitzgerald, born 1833 in AL; and
perhaps others. Garrett, Sr., was most likely the son of William and Mary (Gibbons) Fitzgerald.
Jabez and Elizabeth Fitzgerald left Alabama in 1836 to settle along the Red River in Fannin County, TX.
Jabez's will, dated 10 January 1843, Fannin County, Texas, named Garrett, Jr., as a son. But by the time
Jabez's estate was settled, Garrett was deceased. Nancy (Matthews), his widow, was granted guardianship of
Garrett's minor children 31 December 1855. This was necessary as the children were named among Jabez's
heirs when distribution of his estate was made on 25 April 1859. So there is no doubt that our Garrett
Fitzgerald, Jr., was the son of Jabez Fitzgerald.
Garrett and Nancy (Mathews) Fitzgerald left Marion County, AL, after the birth of their first child. They
were in Tennessee when their next three children were born: Elizabeth Jane Fitzgerald, born 28 November
1831; Garrett A., in 1834, and Thomas C. in 1836. But their next child, Jabez, was born in Marion County,
AL, in 1837.
So we have our Garrett Fitzgerald, born around 1806 in TN, living in Marion County, AL, in 1830. He's
back in Jackson, County, TN, from 1831 to 1836, because he has children born there during that time
frame. Another child in born in 1837 in Marion County, AL, but records show that he was in Texas by 1836
along with his parents and siblings.
Garrett went back to Alabama because on the 6 August 1838, in Marion County, AL, he filed cert. #9802
for land section 19, Township 10S, Range 13W. Nancy and the children remained in Marion County, perhaps
to hold this claim, while he returned to Texas and filed on more land. However, Nancy may have remained in Alabama thinking the Republic of Texas was too unsettled to bring their young children.
On 3 November 1839, in Fannin County, Republic of Texas, Garrett filed for a landgrant of 640 acres, a
third class grant. This type grant was issued to those who arrived in the Republic of Texas after 1 October
1837, but prior to June 1840. Garrett was likely forced to file for this type claim because he had returned to
Alabama in 1838. Heads of families received 640 acres and single men only 320. But there was a residency
requirement of three years. To hold his Texas land, he was forced to remain in Texas. To hold his Alabama
land, Nancy, his wife, likely had to remain in Alabama. This was possible as her parents were there. Nancy
was listed fourteen houses from them on the 1840 Marion County census records, which show her as the
head of household along with six young children. This profile matches the family perfectly except for an
extra girl aged 5-10, who likely died young.
On 3 January 1840, Fannin County, Republic of Texas, Garrett was granted a conditional headright on the
640 acres of land. On 21 September 1844, Fannin County, Republic of Texas, Garrett had proven his
residency and all other requirements; so the title to the 640 acres of land was secured. This was the year he
brought his family to Texas.
In William Patrick Fitzgerald's obituary, it is stated that he came to TX in 1844 along with his parents,
Garrett and Nancy Fitzgerald. William Patrick had always told his children that he was 14 years old when he
came to Texas. These facts bear him out. He just failed to mention that his father had been living here for
several years prior to that.
Three more children were born after the family arrived in Texas. They were Mary Margaret, 1847; Rueben, 1848, and Charlotte, 1850. There is a skip in the births of Garrett and Nancy's children for a span of
about ten years, 1937 to 1847. This fact further points that the above speculations are correct. By the time Garrett's Texas land grant was issued, Nancy (Mathews) Fitzgerald, his widow, received the grant in her
William Patrick Fitzgerald, son of Garrett and Nancy, married Emily Belle Downing in March 1852 in
Fannin County, Texas. They lived near Ector, Fannin County, Texas, on a farm which they received by
grant. He died 29 October 1914 at Savoy, Texas, and was buried at Willow Wild Cemetery, Bonham, Texas.
The marriage of Jacob Baldwin to Elizabeth Jane Fitzgerald, daughter of Garrett, in 1850 was the first wedding held in Windom. And in 1851, their son, William H. Baldwin, was the first white male child born in Windom. The Baldwin family, who remained in Windom, had thirteen children.
Thomas C. Fitzgerald married Catherine Wall 16 September 1858 in Fannin County. Jabez Fitzgerald,
child number five, married Lorinda Farrar 27 November 1860, and married second Mrs. Minnie Dixon. He
died about 1898 in Fannin County. Nothing is known about Mary Margaret Fitzgerald, the next child,
except that she either married late or never married. Rueben, the youngest son, operated a store north of
The last child born to Garrett and Nancy was Charlotte/Charity Fitzgerald. She married J. M. Brooks 26
November 1868 in Fannin County. Garrett Fitzgerald was listed on the 1850 Fannin County Census as head
of household; but he was dead by 31 December 1855, when Nancy, his widow, filed for guardianship of their minor children. We can be fairly certain that Garrett Fitzgerald met an unexpected death, as he left no will.
But we can't be certain as to the date, as Nancy was forced to file the guardianship papers in 1855, as that
was when Jabez Fitzgerald's estate was settled, and her children were to receive their father's portion of
There is a possibility that Garrett Fitzgerald was a Texas Ranger, but his name is not found on the Ranger
rolls. Garrett called himself an "Indian fighter," and seemed to have been away from his family for long
periods of time. On the 17 October 1835, the Texas Rangers were organized to guard the northern frontier
from the Neches River to the Colorado River against Indian depredations. We know a Capt. G. B. Fitzgerald
of Company A, Rangers, signed a discharge paper, dated 26 January 1852, Los Angeles, CA, for Pvt. Thomas
Mathews, who was the son of Nancy's brother, William Mathews.
William Mathews lived in the San Bernardino Valley, CA, and there was a contingency of the US Cavalry
stationed there. At that time, the Texas Rangers were known to chase Indians throughout the Southwest.
Could this Capt. G. B. Fitzgerald be our Garrett Fitzgerald or just another man by the same name? Could the
Rangers have been sent on to California in chase of the hostile Indians?
Nancy S. (Mathews) Fitzgerald and her children are remembered among the early settlers of Windom,
Fannin County, Texas. The Fitzgerald landgrant was part of the present town of Windom. Nancy kept her
family together, farmed, and took an active part in community life, which was unusual for a woman at that
time in history. Nancy Fitzgerald's will, dated 19 June 1874, was proved 12 December 1874 in Fannin County, Texas. In her last will and testament, she left her farm, the house, and household goods to Mary
Margaret, a daughter. This daughter had remained with her mother during her declining days. Nancy stated
that the others had been provided for at marriage and were settled in life.
Nancy Fitzgerald was buried in the family plot on their farm. Her grave marker is no longer standing. As
time went by, the farm was sold and the Fitzgerald Cemetery was not maintained. The headstones were piled in a corner under a tree, and cattle were allowed to trod over the graves. In the book, "Our Town, Windom,
Texas," it states that if Nancy Fitzgerald could speak, she would say, "Cry for me a little, think of me
sometimes, but not for long; it is not good for you." Most likely, Garrett Fitzgerald rests beside Nancy in that
long forgotten Windom cemetery, the town's first.
Compiled by: Lora B. Tindall
RESEARCH LOG: Texas Land Grant, Minutes of the Land Commissioners of Fannin County, TX, 1838-40 by Gifford White, p 56; History of Fannin Co., Texas, by Floy C. Hodge; TX Land Title Abstracts, Vol. I-A to Aug. 1941 by the General
Land Office Austin, TX, Fannin Co., TX, Abstract #391, Patent #236, Vol.#30, File #2155 (check same source for other Fitzgerald grants--there are several more); Fannin Co., TX, 1850, 1860, 1870 Census Records; Fannin County, TX, Probate Book C, page 379, dated Feb. 1855, Nancy Fitzgerald granted guardianship of minor children; Settlement of Jabez Fitzgerald's Estate, Fannin Co., TX, Probate Book D, PP 262-266, PP 349-352, and PP 366-367; Nancy (Mathews) Fitzgerald's will, Fannin Co., TX, Will Book H, p 574, proved 12 Dec 1874; Probate Records of Fannin County, TX, can also be found LDS FHL, Microfilm #1293839 (1838-1848), #1293840 (1852-1861), #1293841 (1861-1869); Sherman Democrat 100th Anniversary Edition (1879-1979) Sherman, TX, articles on Windom, Dodd City, Bonham, & Honey Grove, all in Fannin County, TX; First Land Settlers of Marion Co., AL, p 4 compiled by James C. Lawler; Our Town, Windom, Texas, Windom Study Club, PP 4 & 278