Zachariah Westbrook Family
Navarro County, Texas


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Zachariah & Mary (Agnew) Westbrook

In the Prairie Point Cemetery near the Bazette area north of Kerens, Texas, Navarro County, TX, there is a broken monument which assures us that Zachariah Westbrook was born in Chester District, South Carolina on December 25, 1809, was married January 8, 1835, and died February 1, 1878.

Behind this factual bit of information lies a typical, yet interesting story of a large pioneer family who followed a path of migration in the search for new and better land.  Apparently, Navarro County proved to be a bit of the "promised land", for this family settled down and added their story to the maturing of the county.

Zachariah was the third son of Jarrett and Lucy (Blake) Westbrook.  Sometime between 1801 and 1809, Jarrett left Virginia to live in Chester District, South Carolina.  Jarrett's father had been John Westbrook whose will is found in the Southhampton County, Virginia Will Book 11, p. 659.  John's other children were Zachariah, Betsy, and Dolly.  This earlier Zachariah is believed to have also migrated from Virginia to South Carolina and remained there.  There is some indication that the above John fought in the revolution, but there remains much possibility for additional work on this family in Virginia and before.

Below, for your speculation and enjoyment, is offered a version of a story which has been passed down in the family:

Great-grandfather Westbrook... had served in the Revolutionary War.  While on picket duty during the Revolution he shot and killed what was supposed to be the "old white sow" which was in the habit of going the rounds of the patriot camps daily.  The post he was placed on to guard was an unlucky one, three men having been shot and killed there while on picket.  He was instructed to hail any object approaching him three times, and then shoot if no answer came.  When the old "sow" approached him, grunting along, he hailed it three times and then fired, and the "sow" jumped up and ran only a short way before falling over a log, and the next morning when the officer of the guard went to inspect the spot he found a dead Englishman and his gun lying there.  The gun was taken home by Mr. Westbrook, and handed down to his posterity and finally came into the possession of John Westbrook (Note: John Wesley Westbrook who was the son of Zachariah) who brought it to Texas, and during the Civil War the gun was remodeled as a muzzle loader and carried to the front by a Confederate soldier. (Another source states that the gun was lost at that time.))   "See John Westbrook Gun Story"

Obviously, positive proof of this story is lacking, and as one descendant observed to me, "it sounds pretty far fetched to me as I feel sure a British soldier would have used better judgment than use a hog costume any were near Washington's camp where it was well known a shortage of food existed".

Jarrett and Lucy Westbrook's children, along with Zachariah, included John (b. 1797 Va.), William (b. 1801 Va.), Samuel, Middleton, and James (b. 1812 Va. - d. 1892 Monroe Co., Miss.)

Tradition tells us that Zachariah moved to the Aberdeen area near the Tombugby River, Monroe County Mississippi as a young man and bought land from the Indians.  It also tells us that he returned to South Carolina and married Mary Agnew, daughter of George Agnew.  In any event, at some period before 1840, he, his parents, and all of his brothers settled in Monroe County.

In 1852, a time when immigrants were pouring into Texas, Zachariah and his brothers John and William and their families crossed the Trinity.  One story tells us that a large number of wagons came together -- all bearing Westbrooks and their "kin".  There is a possibility that some members of the family came and then returned to Mississippi.

His brother John (m. Jane Jackson) settled in Ellis County near Village Creek and the Trinity River (5 or 6 miles above Porters Bluff).  They had ten children;  James Turner, Jackson W. (m. Becky Bollware), William (unmarried), Henry, Reuben (unmarried), David (moved to Grayson County), Elizabeth (m. Benjamine Sands - lived around Chatfield, Navarro County), Lucy Jane (m. John Westbrook -- no relation -- called "Mexican John"), Jemimiah (unmarried), and (?) Ann (m. Mr. Brock or Brook).

William settled 8 miles south of Chatfield near the Trinity River and is buried with his wife in unmarked graves near the old "homesite".  William was married to Margaret (called Peggy) Agnew who was a sister to Zachariah's wife Mary (called Polly).  Their children were Joshua (m. Lucinda Frazier - moved to Houston County), John, Jarrett, Wesley, George William, James Henry, Zachariah (d. Mississippi), Lucy, and Mary.

In 1855 Zachariah and William, along with three other men, founded the Prairie Point Methodist Church.  The fact that they were naming their children "Wesley" would indicate they had been Methodist at least back in Mississippi.  Zachariah donated the land for the church and the cemetery.  The original church was built around 1860, and the cemetery appears to have been first used in 1871.

Zachariah bought land in the Henry Brown survey.  As the children married, they too settled nearby; and the family eventually owned a substantial amount of land in the area.  This became known as "the Westbrook neighborhood".  On what is suppose to have been the original home site, there remains today a house which is said to encompass the original log cabin.

One wonders at the problems they faced; isolation was surely one.  An old history book tells us that in 1853 there was a serious plague of grasshoppers in Navarro County and that the prairie fires were always a serious threat.  Certainly  there were personal trials such as a period ca. 1862-1872 which included the loss of our of their gown children, as well as other relatives; a period which also included the civil war.

Before the war, the family maintained a "plantation" type operation.  They farmed and raised stock.  They apparently took pride in their horses.  Zachariah was one of the early cotton raisers of the county and the owner of the first reaper operated  in the county.  They had some type of cotton gin and also made their own brick.  Zachariah owned two wagons made of bois d'arc wood, a wood said to have made stronger wagons than oak.  They would haul eight or ten bales of cotton to Houston and buy supplies for the coming year.

Zachariah's son James Nelson as well as William's sons George William and James Henry were killed in Virginia fighting for the Confederacy.  Zachariah's sons John and George Middleton (having run away from home to join) also served in the civil war.  History tells us that in Texas, the people had a worse time dirig the reconstruction era than during the war.  The Chatfield area was a "hotbed" of rebellion.  Family tradition tells us that some members of the family sustained serious difficulties with the federal troops which were stationed in Chatfield.

Mary (b. S.C. Oct. 20, 1813 - d. May 25, 1896) and Zachariah's children were: 1. John Wesley (1837-1916) m. Drucilla Sanders; 2. Lucy J. (1838-1862) m. Joseph B. H. Sessions; 3. James Nelson (1840-1863); 4 Mary (1841-1873) m. (1) Jeptha Sessions, (2) William Turner Garner; 5. George Middleton (1844-1925) m. (1) Emma Hunt, (2) Mary E. Morgan; 6. Margaret E. (1846-1886) m. P. A. Peck; 7. Christina (1848-1923) m. James H. Holland; 8. Penninnah (1852-1934) m. (1) Thomas C. Banks, (2) Sterling Carpenter; 9. Zachariah, Jr. (1855-1870); 10. Robert Payne (1856-1899) m. Sarah Frances Posey. All of the above with the exception of Lucy and Zachariah Jr. (who are buried at Chatfield) and James Nelson (who was killed in Va.) are buried in the Prairie Point Cemetery.

In no way is this to be considered a definitive study and no effort has been made to touch upon later descendants of this family.  It is an area which would be worth investigation; and I would be glad to exchange information with anyone interested.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the following people, as well as others, who have collected and shred information on this family; Mrs. Reed Albritton, Mrs. William Albritton, Mr. Harlan Banks, and Mrs. Mike Hairgrove.

Written and submitted by: Jean Westbrook Gibbons and Ellie Funk.

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Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox