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