Pursley Community
Navarro County, Texas


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Pursley Community


 

The History of Pursley
By Charles Copeland
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", Vol. 1961
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society

Pursley was settled in 1866 by three Pursley brothers - Will, Jim and George who came by ox wagon from Arkansas.

Will Pursley purchased 1,800 acres of land for 50 cents an acre in the vicinity of the present Pursley Store.  At that time the land was of uncultivated timber and open range nature.

George Pursley's children were Berry, Cell and one daughter whose name I could not obtain.

Jim Pursley's children were Henry, Dane, Ruff, Erson and one girl, Jo.

The children of Will Pursley were George, Jim, Henry, Lee, Sara Jane and Ellen.  Henry  Pursley is the only surviving member of Will's family and resides presently in the Pursley Community.

Henry Pursley is approximately 89 years of age.   To my knowledge, Henry Pursley is the only surviving member of this family.

Some of the other old timers report that before Pursley was named, the Aaron Roberts family came from Union County, Illinois by ox wagon and arrived in this section of the County about 1846.  It took six months for the party to make the trip from Union County, Illinois.

It is also reported that Evan and Benjamine Roberts were in this party, and they, likewise, settled in the community which was later to be called Pursley.

Around 1850, the Norvells, Jim Bremister, John Mason families settled in this section.  Dr. Norvell died with small pox which he contracted while attending a young physician, Dr. jimmy Roberts.

Dr. Norvell was interred in his field, as they would not permit his burial in the cemetery for fear of exposing those citizens who attended his funeral.

The land settled by the Roberts family remained in the family possession for 98 years.

Another old timer was R. W. Anderson who operated the first cotton gin in Pursley.  They picked the cotton in baskets and it took all day to gin 3 bales.

W. T. Owen was another of the early day settlers.   All of the Owens' were great lovers of hounds, and the chase.  They ran deer, bobcats and wolves.  W. T. Owens built the first barb wire fence in our Community, which ran in front of the present Pursley Community Center.

Joe Payne was another early settler.  He was Will Payne's father, who ran a store at Pursley for over 50 years (now deceased).

Will Pursley owned the first store, followed by Henry McClain and then the Payne brothers, Will and Aaron.

Deer, buffalo and bears were in Pursley at that time.  Henry Pursley remembers a bear being killed close to where the old store now stands.

They had one school house 20 x 30 in those days which was used by all church members as a meeting house.  In due time, however, the Baptist, Methodist and Church of Christ built their own buildings for worship.  The Baptist and Church of Christ still remain.

Entertainment in the early days were square dancing and horse racing.

A race track on the Swink ranch just west of Pursley was patronized by the entire community.  The people rode horseback or used an open buggy as means of transportation over the open prairie.  The races took place in the afternoon; dancing at night, closing the festivities.

A lot of cattle were driven through here on the way to market.  Stampedes often occurred which took days to round up the cattle.

Building a tank dam was a difficult matter in the early days.  However, the early settler would take a dry bull's hide, load it with dirt and, pulled by oxen team, fill a ravine, making a splendid dam site.  Neighbors joined in and helped each other with building of tanks and homes.

 


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Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox