The Decrows of Decros Point and Matagorda County

Submitted by Pat Nichols
 

 

Elijah Decrow, my 2nd great granduncle, was born 21 February 1799 in Lincolnville, Waldo, Maine the sixth of ten known children of Daniel D and Azubah Gay Decrow. He immigrated to Matagorda County in 1832 and received land grant #13 for 1/3 of a league. His 1/3 league was located on Matagorda peninsula encompassing the area known as Decrow’s Point then and Decros Point now.
 

Thomas Decrow’s ¾ league and labor was located eleven miles north of Gonzales, Texas. He chose to settle on the peninsula and build his house there. Elijah never married and apparently lived with Thomas. He is in Thomas’ household in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 US Federal Censuses for Matagorda County. In 1850, he is listed as a Stock Farmer with his real estate valued at $6,000. There is no occupation listed in 1860; in 1870; Elijah is listed as Retired Farmer.

Thomas wrote a letter to his father, Daniel back in Maine dated June 1838 describing life on Elijah’s land. A copy of the original is on file in The Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin and was transcribed on Pages 195-196 in Volume 1 of Historic Matagorda County. I obtained my own copy from The Center for American History and the following is transcribed from this copy:


“…we are here at Ps Cavallo on Elijahs third of a league of land for which he has been offered Twelve Thousand Dollars & a small proportion reserved to himself & refused, this place is wanted to build a town on. I am liveing here in our own house & for this country it is a good one it has 4 rooms beside Piazzas on both sides* we have between 90 & 100 Cattle, about 45 of which are cows we milk 8 or 10 which is sufficient for our use they are all perfectly gentle we have a small garden, chickens & pigs & they are very little trouble to raise, yet they cost each one as much as a cow we live near the water, I will get up & step to the waters edge ___ I find it 56 strides, on approaching the water I saw a small “tortoise” & rushed in to my hips & caught him, he will make us a fine dinner & we have a Negro woman to cook it.  I can stand in my door & talk with men on the vessels decks & they laying in 5 fathoms water  I catch fish with a hook or net by going to the waters edge & “’oisters by going 2 miles they are plenty and so common they are no rarity  I get Codfish & “Mackeril” and sometimes hollabote [halibut] from vessels & your country potatoes we give from 4 to 5 Dollars pr Bhl [bushel] for, I was looking with my glass to see the cattle off in the “Priare”, I counted 16 deer feeding near them this is however an every Day sight when we go a little from the house”.

*This is not the same house that was destroyed in the hurricane, which must have been built later as the family continued to grow.

Elijah died 16 October 1871 according to Elijah’s Williamson County probate file. Probate in Matagorda County was filed 14 February 1873. Thomas Decrow requested that his son-in-law, Henry N Peaslee, my 2nd great grandfather, be appointed administrator. Elijah’s probate file and the county deed books contain a wealth of information for the Decrow family researcher. He died intestate. Book O of the Deed Records for Matagorda County, pages 2-9 mention his sister, Olivia Doane, numerous nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. Olivia Smith, the daughter of Olivia Doane and Olivia herself each had a 1/5th interest in Elijah’s estate, which they sold back to Thomas Decrow for $200 each on pages 2-6.  Pages 6 – 8 list the nieces and nephews who are the children of Elijah’s brother Bateman. The are Azubah Ann Decrow Shute, Mary Webb Decrow Stephenson, Francis or Fannie W Decrow Hunter, Harriet Clements Decrow Keene, Eliza Decrow Bean, Olive Jane Decrow Emery, Thomas Howard Decrow, and William Bateman Decrow. They also sold their share back to their Uncle Thomas. On page 8 and 9, the great nieces and nephews are mentioned; they are Ann A Gonin, Volney Thompson, Dolly C Dudley, Sarah J. Thompson, Selwin Thompson, Ida H Thompson, and George C. Thompson. The great nieces and nephews are the grandchildren of Elijah’s sister Anna who married Jeremiah Clements. Their daughter Dorcas Decrow Clements married I. B. or J. B. Thompson. Dorcas died 11 Dec 1865. The great nieces and nephews also sold their part of the estate to Thomas for $200.

The entire probate did not go as smoothly. Elijah’s probate file housed at the Matagorda County Museum Archives in Bay City contains documents relating to a suit filed against the administrator, Henry Peaslee. Another of Elijah’s nieces Susan/Susannah M Decrow, daughter of his brother Howard, married Robert C Hasbrook 22 April 1869 in Matagorda County. Robert residing at this time in Rockport, Aransas County, filed suit against Henry, on 24 May 1875. His suit alleges that the inventory of the estate “does not contain a true and correct statement and list of all the property belonging to the said estate.” He further alleged that Elijah had an undivided half interest with brother Thomas owning the other half of a “certain stock of neat cattle ranging in the County of Refugio … numbering two thousand head more or less and  worth at least four dollars in coin per head”. He alleged that their was a large amount of “ready money” amounting to at least $2000 and a “certain large dwelling house”* with improvements inhabited for years by Thomas and his family located on the headright of the deceased at Decrow’s Point valued at $5000,  and “a great amount of other property real and personal.”

*This sounds more like the house destroyed in the hurricane.

Henry’s response to the suit alleged that it does not appear that Susan Hasbrook is joining in or interested in the suit or that the suit was brought on her behalf against the estate. He also stated that the cattle ranging in Refugio County are the sole property of Thomas Decrow as is the dwelling house and improvements. He further stated that he knew nothing of the money mentioned in Robert’s suit. Henry asked that the suit be dismissed and that Robert pay the costs of the suit. The last set of documents in the probate file are dated February 1876. These documents ask for the final account and settlement of the estate. $225 came from the sale of Elijah’s Spanish horse and 50 head of neat cattle on 15 December 1874 less various costs relating to settling of the estate totaling $107.85. This included the costs of contesting the Hasbrook suit. The document mentions the suit filed against Henry and goes on to say that “since that time [the suit] was compromised and settled by the late Captain Thos Decrow”, Thomas having died in the hurricane of September, 1875. In the Deed Records Book P, Page 92 Susan Hasbrook joined by her husband Robert A Hasbrook received $370 in American silver coins to bargain, sell, and release their interest in Elijah’s estate. The estate was finally closed 2 May 1877. The probate of Elijah’s estate ending with $107.85 to be divided between the three surviving children of Thomas hardly seems worth all that time and effort. The Hasbrooks seemed to have benefited the most.

The family reopened the probate of Elijah after they relocated to Williamson County on 8 May 1886. Henry Peaslee asked that he be appointed administrator to recover a claim against the civil government that was not included in the original probate since it was not thought possible to collect it. The claim amounted to $1222.63. The probate states that Thomas Decrow, now deceased, was the brother of Elijah and that “he became the sole owner of Elijah’s estate by purchase from all the other heirs” and that Thomas Decrow’s heirs now reside in Williamson County.

Howard Decrow, my second great granduncle was born 20 October, 1806 in Lincolnville, Waldo, Maine the youngest son of Daniel D and Azubah Gay Decrow. He immigrated to Matagorda County in 1831. Thomas sent a letter home to brother Robert dated 1 June 1831 stating that Howard was expected any day. He received land grant 61 filed in Matagorda County for one league and a labor. His land grant was surveyed in two different parts of South Texas. The three quarters of a league and a labor was located 5/6 in Harris County and 1/6 in Montgomery County on Spring Creek located 1 ½ mile from Cypress Bayou and 20 miles from Houston. The unallocated ¼ league was located in Jefferson County situated on the waters of Big Hill and Taylor Bayous about 10 miles S 10ْ E from Beaumont. I have not found any indication that he ever lived on either of the pieces of land.

Howard married Mary Kuykendall in Matagorda County 18 October, 1837. They were married by H. L. Cook. Mary was the daughter of Robert H Kuykendall and Sarah Gilliland. Mary was born about 1818 in Arkansas. Mary’s parents moved to Matagorda in 1830. Howard and Mary had four known children all born in Texas, most likely Matagorda County; Elijah born about 1838, Thomas Edwin about 1839, Sarah Emma about 1842, and Susanna M 29 July, 1844. The approximate dates of birth are based on census data.

Howard owned the Lighter Polly Hopkins which carried goods and saw service during the Republic of Texas. I found a digitized document online at the State of Texas Archives website in the Republic Claims section relating to this service, transcribed as follows:

    “This is to certify that Lter Polly Hopkins, Howard Deckow Master has been imployed in the Service of the Republic of Texas from the eighteenth of January up to the twelfth of February for which the government of Texas is Bound at the Amts of twelve dollars Each day.” The document is approved by William Fisher, Secretary of the Texas Navy.

I have not found an exact date or cause of death for Howard. There is some evidence that Howard died before the 1850 census since he is not listed in the household. The census was conducted 2 October, 1850. The household consists of Mary, age 32, Elijah, age 13, Thos E, age 8, S E, age 6, and E S , age 6. Digital documents exist in the Texas State Archives in the Republic Claims section showing that Mary was living in Goliad County in 1853. An affidavit filed in Matagorda County 14 December, 1853, signed by James Stanley and D E E Braman attests that they personally “knew Howard Decrow (now deceased) and that they know Mary Decrow, formerly the wife and now the widow of said Howard Decrow, decd and that they have known the said Mary Decrow, wife as aforesaid for many years past as a resident of the County of Matagorda but that her present residence is Goliad County…”. Another document in the collection dated 20 March 1856 filed in Goliad County states “…I A. M. Boatwright of the county and …aforesaid Guardian of the persons and property of the minors, Elijah, Thos Edwin Decrow, and Sarah E & Susannah M Decrow children and heirs of the late Howard Decrow”.    

On 27 October 1856, documents were filed in Matagorda County Probate Court on behalf of Thomas E Decrow and Sarah Emma Decrow, both minors over the age of fourteen year announcing their intentions to choose a guardian of their person and estate since both parents are deceased. The petition asks that their maternal uncle John Moore be appointed their guardian. The court approved the petition on 27 October, 1856. John Moore married Mary Kuykendall Decrow’s half sister Sarah Ann Kinsie. By 1860, Sarah and Susan are living in the household of their uncle Thomas Decrow on Decrow’s Point.

Howard’s daughter Susan married Robert A Hasbrook 22 April 1869 in Matagorda County. William H Burhkart married them. Robert was born in New York State about 1834. Robert appears on the June 11 1860 census in Deming’s Bridge, Matagorda County. His occupation is listed as Stock Raiser, his real estate is valued at $1000 and his personal estate is valued at 10,000. His dwelling is 2 dwellings down from Thomas Kuykendall, Susan’s maternal uncle. This probably explains how they met. I have not located them in the 1870 census. According to the suit against Elijah’s estate, by 1875 they were living in Rockport, Aransas County. In the 1880 census the Hasbrook’s are living in the town of Refugio, Refugio County.
 

The date of the census is 1 June, 1880. The Hasbrooks are listed in Dwelling 41, Household 42 Page 335 A Lines 48-50 as follows:
 

        Hasbrook, R A              W     M   44   Married   Occupation is Clerk in Store

                          Susan           W     F   30     Wife                               Keeps House

                          Courtland A W    M   9       Son                                At School

The household continues on Page 335B Lines 1-4

         Hasbrook, Anna T        W    F     7       Daughter                       At School

                           Robert D     W    M    5       Son

                           Henry H?    W    M    3       Son

                           Margaret E  W   F     11/12 Daughter

Susan Decrow Hasbrook died 8 May 1883. Robert Decrow Hasbrook shows up the the 1900, 1920, and 1930 censuses in Victoria, Victoria, Texas. He married Beatrice Koontz daughter of Henry Clay Koontz born in Matagorda, Matagorda County 12 April, 1847. Robert’s sister Margaret E in 1900 is in the household of an uncle in the borough of Manhattan, New York, New York. This would indicate that R. A. Hasbrook was deceased by this time.

Elijah Decrow, son of Howard and Mary, married Mary Dooley 29, June 1863 in Calhoun County. The marriage record appears on “The Register of Marriage Licenses issued and celebrated during the war, when the book of records was sent to Sweethome for safekeeping.”  They were married by H. B. Cleaveland.

Elijah appears on the 1870 census in Refugio County with wife Mary. Also listed in the household is Edward, who may be Elijah’s brother Thomas Edwin; the age would match. The date of the census is 26 July, 1870. They are listed in dwelling and household 231 Page 151 Lines 17-19 as follows:
 

           Deckrow, Elijah           32   M   W   Farmer

                            Mary            20   F    W   Keeping House

                            Edward        28   M   W   Stock Herder

Elijah’s real estate is valued at $1000 and his personal estate at $2000.

I have found no further records of Howard’s children or grandchildren.

While applying for membership in the Mayflower Society and the DAR, I did discover lineage papers that were accepted under a marriage of Elijah Decrow, Thomas and Howard’s brother. The marriage is to Helen Nelly Givens and supposedly occurred in Indianola. The line comes down through their daughter Sarah Emma who was born about 1870. This would have made the elder Elijah 71 years old at the time of Sarah’s birth. There is no mention anywhere in Elijah’s probate of a wife and daughter. “Nelly” Deckrow does appear in the 1880 census for Aransas County where she is appears with daughter Emma, age 10 and son Rowell age 8. More research needs to be done to solve this dilemma.

Within six months of the hurricane that devastated Decrow’s Point, the descendants had fled. There are still descendants of the brothers residing in Texas. Descendants have scattered to Idaho, Michigan, and California, as well.

 

Family Group Sheet

Subject Howard Decrow (846)

                  Birth  20 Oct 1806 Lincolnville, Waldo, Maine.

                  Marriage  18 Oct 1837 Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Death  before 14 Dec 1853 Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Father  Daniel D Decrow (775) (b. 17 Nov 1758,       )

                  Mother  Azubah Gay (773) (b. 19 Oct 1765,     )

            Spouse  Mary Kuykendall (1421)

                  Birth  __ ___ 1818 Arkansas.

                  Death  __ ___ 1856 Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Father  Robert H, Sr KUYKENDALL (194) (b. 1788, d. 1831)

                  Mother  Sarah GILLILAND (195) (b. 4 Dec 1787, d. 13 Oct 1857)

 

            Four Known Children:

 

            M   Elijah Decrow (185)

                  Birth  __ ___ 1838 Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Marriage  29 Jun 1863 Mary Dooley (6199) (b. 1850,     ); Calhoun County, Texas.

 

            M   Thomas Edwin Decrow (180)

                  Birth  __ ___ 1839 Texas.

 

            F    Sarah Emma Decrow (184)

                  Birth  __ ___ 1842 Texas.

 

            F    Susanna M Decrow (186)

                  Birth  29 Jul 1844 Matagorda County, Texas.
 

                  Marriage  22 Apr 1869  Robert A Hasbrook (6092) (b. 1836,     ); Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Son:  __ ___ 1871 Courtland A Hasbrook (6232); Texas.

                  Daughter:  __ ___ 1873 Anna T Hasbrook (6233); Texas.

                  Son: 14 Jun 1874 Robert Decrow Hasbrook (6234); Texas

                  Son:  __ ___ 1877 Henry H Hasbrook (6235); Texas

                  Daughter:  __ Jul 1879 Margaret E Hasbrook (6236): Texas.

                  Death  8 May 1883

 

Family Group Sheet

Subject Elijah Decrow (185)

                  Birth  __ ___ 1838 Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Marriage  29 Jun 1863 Calhoun County, Texas.

                  Father  Howard Decrow (846) (b. 20 Oct 1806, d. before 14 Dec 1853)

                  Mother  Mary Kuykendall (1421) (b. 1818, d. 1856)

            Spouse  Mary Dooley (6199)

                  Birth  __ ___ 1850

                  Father

                  Mother

            No Known Children

 

Family Group Sheet

Subject Susanna M Decrow (186)

                  Birth  29 Jul 1844 Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Marriage  22 Apr 1869 Matagorda County, Texas.

                  Death  8 May 1883

                  Father  Howard Decrow (846) (b. 20 Oct 1806, d. before 14 Dec 1853)

                  Mother  Mary Kuykendall (1421) (b. 1818, d. 1856)

            Spouse  Robert A Hasbrook (6092)

                  Birth  __ ___ 1836 New York

                  Father

                  Mother

 

            Five Known Children

 

            M   Courtland A Hasbrook (6232)

                        Birth  __ ___ 1871 Texas.

 

            F    Anna T Hasbrook (6233)

                        Birth  __ ___ 1873 Texas.

 

            M   Robert Decrow Hasbrook (6234)

                        Birth  14 Jun 1874 Texas.

                        Marriage  __ ___ 1903 Beatrice R Koontz (6237) (b. Jun 1883,     ), daughter of Henry Clay Koontz Sr (7443) and Mary Ann Finegan (6240); Texas.

                        Daughter: __ ___ 1905 May Aline Hasbrook (6238); Texas.

                        Daughter: __ ___ 1909 Mary Koontz Hasbrook (6239); Texas.

 

            M   Henry H Hasbrook (6235)

                        Birth  __ ___ 1877 Texas.

 

            F    Margaret E Hasbrook (6236)

                        Birth  __ Jul 1879 Texas.

 

Family Group Sheet

Subject Robert Decrow Hasbrook (6234)

                  Birth  14 Jun 1874 Texas.

                  Marriage  __ ___ 1903 Texas.

                  Father  Robert A Hasbrook (6092) (b. 1836,      )

                  Mother  Susanna M Decrow (186) (b. 29 Jul 1844, d. 8 May 1883)

            Spouse Beatrice R Koontz (6237)

                  Birth  __ Jun 1883 Texas.

                  Father  Henry Clay Koontz Sr (7443) (b. 12 Apr 1847, d. 28 Jan 1908)

                  Mother  Mary Ann Finegan (6240) (b. 12 Apr 1859,      )

 

            Two Known Children

 

            F    May Aline Hasbrook (6238)

                        Birth  __ ___ 1905 Texas.

 

            F    Mary Koontz Hasbrook (6239)

                        Birth  __ ___ 1909 Texas
 


Thomas Decrow Family History
 


 

Copyright 2007 - Present by Pat Nichols
All rights reserved

This page was created
Apr. 27, 2007
This page was updated
Apr. 30, 2007
   

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