As women have been equal sharers with men in the trials and horrors of war, so they have been equal sharers of the privations and tragedies of the early pioneer life. They braved the dangers and the suffering of the wilderness in the early days of Texas, and a few of them live today to tell their grandchildren and great-grandchildren of some of the experiences they can never forget. Such a one is Mrs. M. E. Lawson of Matagorda. Seventy-nine years of age, she is yet in good health and able to do most of her house work and in fact delights in the heavier yard work which one would suppose she would not have the strength for. But she does most of the flower-garden work, and even operates the lawn-mower, though she admits that is getting a little too heavy for her strength.
Mrs. Lawson is a native of Felicina Parish, La., and at the age of sixteen married Mr. W. S. Baker, in 1853, Mr. Baker coming to Texas and settling at Matagorda, soon thereafter locating a large tract of several thousand acres west of the Colorado, just above the Robbins farm. Mrs. Baker was left at Cooper Wells until Mr. Baker had prepared a home for her. Mr. Baker was improving the lands across the river, converting it into a fine farm and great hunting preserve, with a number of slaves he brought with him. But the slaves became very much dissatisfied with their isolation and one night while Mr. Baker slept, the leader among the slaves, his carriage driver, shot him through the window, killing him instantly. The murderer was strongly suspected if not known, but was not arrested. Heirs appearing and claiming a division of the negroes and property, and the young bride not being in the State, one of the heirs claimed the smart negro suspect, and he was carried away toward Mississippi, but on the way he died. Mrs. Baker came to Matagorda to look after her interests, and in 1856 she married Mr. J. A. Lawson, who was a son of Dr. Henry Lawson, who was a member of one of the oldest and most prominent families of Alabama. J. A. Lawson was a nephew of Lieutenant Governor Alex. S. [Albert C.] Horton who was an extensive planter on Caney with a home in Matagorda, and who by the way, erected a large two-story building along about ’55 and offered it to the state for a capitol building if the capitol should be located at Matagorda.
A large family grew up around them, and their home life was all that could be desired. They moved to Louisiana in 1870 to educate their children, returning in 1880. Mr. Lawson carried with him to Louisiana a large herd of Mexican horses, which he sold while there. In 1880 they returned to the ranch west of the river where they lived until 1898 when they moved to the Matagorda home and lived there ever since, Mr. Lawson dying there in 1907. Mrs. Lawson conducted the ranch with the aid of her son until 1910, when she sold her cattle and leased the land. She says her last year’s rice crop paid her a net profit of $1600.
Of their children there are yet living three daughters and two sons: Mrs. Jesse Matthews of Glen Flora, Mrs. Sam A. Robbins of Houston, Mrs. Green Stewart of El Paso, Emmett Lawson, rancher, of Matagorda, and Frank H. Lawson of Chicago.
Mrs. Lawson has witnessed more phases of Matagorda life than any
other woman. She had her trials and sorrows in the pioneer days, and
the joys and comforts of the aristocratic days “Befo’ the Wah” when
Matagorda was the rich shipping point of all Texas, and she shared
the dangers and uncertainties of the civil war, when her husband was
a soldier of the Confederacy, and the more disagreeable days of
reconstruction. And yet it was her fortune to miss the two great
storms of 1854 and 1875, the first being the year before she came to
Texas, and she being in Louisiana educating her children when the
The Matagorda County News and Midcoast Farmer, Friday,
September 8, 1916
Copyright 2011 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Sep. 18, 2011
Sep. 18, 2011