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Rockwall County Texas

James Mason Buck &
Catharine Patience Bayliss

Submitted by Donna McCreary Rodriguez


In many cases, our pioneer ancestors in Rockwall County were children of earlier pioneers of the westward movement in America, and grandchildren or great grandchildren of American colonists. They came with a family tradition of looking for a better place, looking for more land and opportunity, and being willing to earn these with hard work and great risk. This is true of James Mason and Catharine Patience (Bayliss) Buck.

James and Catharine Buck settled in Rockwall County in the early 1880s. Fortunately, through the work of many researchers, the family lines of both are well documented. The James Mason Buck direct ancestors, including all maternal lines, were in the Virginia colony before the American Revolution. The Catharine Patience Bayliss ancestors, including all maternal lines, were documented in the North Carolina colony well before the American Revolution. For all the lines where the first emigrant is known, the ancestral homeland was England. The earliest ancestor documented as born in the Colonies is Barbara Brock, James Mason Buck's third great grandmother, who was born in Virginia in 1665.

James Mason Buck's grandfather, John Henry Buck, earned a notable place in the history of Virginia. Born about 1760 in England, he worked his passage on shipboard to the Virginia colony at the age of eleven, landing at Norfolk. John Henry Buck apprenticed as a millwright and became known for his skill.

Thomas Jefferson engaged John Henry Buck to live at Monticello and build Jefferson's first threshing machine from a model imported from Scotland. Jefferson notes in his daily journal on 5 January 1796, that Mr. Buck had begun work on the machine. John Henry Buck built at least two threshing machines from this model, and after Jefferson sent him to examine another early model elsewhere in Virginia, John Henry Buck returned to Monticello to build an improved threshing machine.

On 24 August 1784 in Culpeper County, Virginia, John Henry was married to Lucy Colvin by noted Baptist minister William Mason, who was instrumental in promoting Baptist missions in Virginia and who had also served as a Captain in the area militia during the Revolutionary War. To John Henry and Lucy were born four sons and five daughters, several of whom were born while the family lived at Monticello.

At the time of John Henry Buck’s death in 1834, the inventory of his estate included a "Gunter's scales," which was a forerunner to the slide rule, the possession and use of which was a testament to his skill. Lucy and John Henry’s fourth son, George Washington Buck, was born in Louisa County, Virginia, 14 February 1801. He married Sarah “Sallie” Estes in Louisa County 24 August 1784. By 1840 George and Sarah had moved their family to Montgomery County, Tennessee, and a study of the early censuses indicates that they moved westward with several other families from their Virginia home county. To this union were born eight sons and seven daughters. George Washington Buck farmed in Montgomery County near Clarksville, his large family intermarrying with other families of the tobacco planter community. He died in 1866. Sarah Estes Buck lived until 1894, and her death was reported on the front page of the Clarksville (Tennessee) Tobacco Leaf Chronicle.

George and Sarah's first son, James Mason Buck, was born 1 May 1830 in Louisa County, Virginia. James Mason grew up in Montgomery County, Tennessee, and served with two of his brothers, George Watson Buck and Benjamin F. Buck, in Company A, 49th Tennessee Infantry, Confederate States of America, during the Civil War. The first battle of their regiment was at Fort Donelson, near their home, notable both as a major Confederate loss and as the point at which opposing commander Ulysses S. Grant took on the nickname "Unconditional Surrender Grant." George Watson Buck and Benjamin F. Buck were taken prisoner after that battle, but James Mason Buck managed to escape along with 1500 other Confederate soldiers. Benjamin died at the age of eighteen at a Union prisoner of war camp at Rock Island, Illinois.

James Mason Buck married Queen Victoria Chiles 20 May 1859 in Montgomery County. Queen was born about 1844 in Montgomery County, the daughter of William and Louisa (Fletcher) Chiles. A study of the censuses of 1820 and 1830 indicates that the William Chiles family likely was among the Louisa County, Virginia, families that emigrated to Montgomery County the same time as the Bucks. To Queen and James Mason were born three children: Thomas W., Elmo Jackson, and Maud Hunter Buck. Queen died in Tennessee 24 Oct 1866.

Then a widower with three small children, James Mason Buck married Catharine Patience Bayliss 20 Feb 1868. Catharine Bayliss was born 5 September 1844 in Montgomery County, the daughter of Harris and Mary P. (Fletcher) Bayliss. Harris Bayliss's parents, John B. and Patience (Horn) Bayliss, had been born in colonial North Carolina but had removed from Halifax County, North Carolina, before 1800, settling also in Montgomery County, Tennessee. Catharine Patience Bayliss was named for her two grandmothers, Catharine Timberlake and Patience Horn.

A member of Catharine’s family is notable in early Texas history, although not a resident of Rockwall County. Catharine Patience Bayliss's uncle, Joseph P. Bayliss, had grown up in Montgomery County, Tennessee, but followed the lure of promised Mexican land grants in Texas and traveled to San Augustine, where he is found in the San Augustine census of 1835 as single man, age 27, with the occupation of land surveyor. During January of 1836, David Crockett and other men from Tennessee came through San Augustine on their way to Nacogdoches. Joseph Bayliss joined this group and on 11 January 1836 stood with them before a judge in Nacogdoches to swear allegiance to the provisional government of Texas, joining up for a period of six months to fight for Texas independence from Mexico. A few weeks later, young Joseph Bayliss rode with David Crockett and the other Tennesseans to the Alamo mission, where all died on 6 March 1836. For his service to the Republic of Texas, Joseph Bayliss was granted 2976 acres of land posthumously. His brother, Harris Bayliss, claimed the land certificates, which were redeemed in Johnson and Palo Pinto Counties for Joseph's heirs, settling his own family in Johnson County.

James Mason and Catharine's first five children were born in Montgomery County: Walter Clovin, Hubert Harris, George Robert, James Bayliss, and Ellen Cline. By the birth of their sixth child, May Bell, they had moved to Texas, and are recorded in the federal census of 1880 in Upshur County. By the time their daughter Katie Pollard Buck was born in 1885, the family was settled on their cotton farm west of Royse City in Rockwall County.

Catharine Patience Bayliss Buck died 18 January 1903 and is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Rockwall County, just a few miles west of their farm. Her tombstone is inscribed, "Thy trials ended, thy rest is won." When James Mason Buck died 30 January 1919, an additional tombstone was erected on the plot, this one shared and inscribed for both husband and wife. James Mason Buck’s death was reported not only locally, but also in the Clarksville, Tennessee, newspaper.

The Children of James Mason and Queen Victoria (Chiles) Buck:

          1.Thomas W. Buck, born 24 March 1860, was the first child of James Mason and Queen Victoria (Chiles) Buck. In the federal census of 1870, Thomas W. is recorded as living in his father’s household, but when his father and Catharine moved to Texas, Thomas remained in the household of his maternal grandmother, Louisa Chiles. He married Eva F. Hackney about 1880 in Montgomery County, Tennessee. Eva was born June 1864 in Montgomery County, the daughter of David W. and Martha A. (Watts) Hackney. Thomas and Eva’s only child, Arthur St. Clair Buck, was born 26 July 1881. In the federal census of 1900, they are living in Montgomery County, where Thomas is listed as a farmer. However, by 1900 Thomas had moved to Rockwall County near his father. In the federal census of 1910, Thomas and Eva are living in Royse City, and Thomas’s occupation is recorded as restaurateur. After Eva's death, Thomas married Nellie L. Dickson, who had moved to Dallas from Ohio. Thomas died 10 June 1921 in Greenville, Texas, where he had owned a successful restaurant called Buck & Son for several years, and is buried at Royse City Cemetery.

          2. Elmo Jackson "Jack" Buck was born 27 December 1863 to James Mason and Queen Victoria Buck. Jack divided his years between his father’s home in Texas and his maternal grandmother’s home in Tennessee. The censuses of 1870 and 1880 record him in the household of his father, but in 1890 he was back in Montgomery County, where he married Florence Dee Huffman. Florence was born April 1869 in Montgomery County, the daughter of Jack and Dee (Mason) Huffman. Two sons were born to this union: Robert Elmo, 3 June 1897, and Frank Forrest Buck, 21 September 1899. Elmo Jackson Buck farmed for a number of years in Rockwall County, but then returned to Clarksville, Tennessee, where he is listed in 1920 as living in the city and working in tobacco production. Florence died 8 January 1926, and Elmo Jackson followed her in death 1 March 1938. Both are buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Clarksville.

          3. Maud Hunter Buck, born 10 May 1865, was the third child of James Mason and Queen Victoria Buck. Although she is recorded in her father’s household in Tennessee in 1870, after he and Catharine moved to Texas, Maud remained in the household of her maternal grandmother, Louisa Chiles. On 2 November 1881 Maud married Leonard W. Hancock, son of William Alfred and Sarah Ann (Vass) Hancock of Todd County, Kentucky. To this union was born one son, Elsie Hunter Buck, on 27 February 1883. Maud Buck Hancock died in Montgomery County, Tennessee, 11 May 1883.

The Children of James Mason and Catharine Patience (Bayliss) Buck:

          1. Walter Clovin Buck, the first child of James Mason and Catharine Buck, was born 17 February 1869 in Montgomery County, Tennessee. He married Settie Lougenia “Jennie” Canup 4 December 1890 in Rockwall County. Miss Canup’s parents, John Adam and Lundy Canup, had settled in Rockwall County from North Carolina about 1877. To Walter and Jennie were born one son and seven daughters: Walter Clifton, 28 February 1892; Vena P., 12 October 1894; Lela Mae, 20 December 1895; Oma Bell, 7 March 1898; Alma, 16 July 1900; Linnie L., 21 September 1902; Josie Vernall, 14 September 1904; and Jimmie Clovin, 4 January 1907. By 1920 the family had relocated to Farmersville in Collin County, where Walter continued in cotton farming until his death on 17 November 1944. It was a common practice for the Bucks to give family surnames as middle names, and this writer speculates that Walter Clovin's middle name was actually a representation of his great grandmother's family name, Colvin.

          2. Hubert Harris Buck was born 1 July 1870. Harris married Anna (Annie) Laura Graham 22 August 1901 in what was then called the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory (later Oklahoma). Miss Graham was born in Missouri 24 January 1881. After the death of her father William, her mother Millie Graham, a native Kentuckian, moved to West Texas to be near her parents. Later Mrs. Graham married William Gunter, and in 1900, the family is recorded in the federal census of Lehigh, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory.

Harris Buck lived in Rockwall County but had business interests in Lehigh and nearby Coalgate, and there he met and married Anna Laura Graham. Harris and Annie made their home in Texas, and within a few years had bought a cotton farm just a few miles east of Mt. Zion Cemetery near Fate in Rockwall County, which was near the home of his parents. About 1910, they built their new home around and above a smaller house, much of which had been constructed with square nails.

To this marriage were born five sons and four daughters: Hubert Clide, 21 August 1902; Ethel Mae, 7 November 1903; Dwight, 1904; Thelbert E., 28 January 1905; Iva Lea, 15 October 1906; J.M., 1909; Harris Don, 15 July 1911; Nellie Louise, 6 January 1915; and Vinita Dell, 24 November 1920. Harris Buck died 3 April 1936. Six years later, Harris’s sister Katie introduced Annie to Thomas Jefferson Thompson, a boyhood friend of Kate’s husband Sam. Tom and Annie were married 11 May 1943 and lived on the Buck farm until Annie's death 10 Feb 1958. Mr. Thompson returned to his boyhood home in Lee County, Mississippi, where he died 6 Feb 1961 and is buried.

Harris and Annie Buck are buried together in Royse City Cemetery. Until the spring of 2007, the farm house that Harris and Annie Buck built still stood, one of the last of the old farm houses in Rockwall County. Their youngest child, Vinita Buck McCreary, owns part of the original Buck farm, where she lives in a modern house just down the road from the site of the farm house where she was born and lived until the mid-1970s.

          3. George Robert Buck was born 5 November 1871 in Montgomery County, Tennessee. George married Eula Ulysses Humphreys 21 April 1893. Eula’s parents, Francis Ulysses and Minerva (Coats) Humphreys, had moved from Tennessee and had established a farm in the Scyene community of Dallas County before 1860. George and Eula Buck moved to Baylor County before 1910. To this marriage were born eight children: Robert W., May 1894; Lena G., September 1899; James M., 1903; Marie, 1904; Valine, 1905; Mildred E., 1907; Eula Bernice, 1909; and Frances C., 1914. (The birth years of the last six children are estimated from federal censuses.) George Robert Buck farmed in Baylor County, and in the federal census of 1930, he is listed as County Commissioner. He died 10 January 1949.

          4. James Bayliss Buck was born in Montgomery County, Tennessee, 20 March 1875. James married Lurah Dorinda Whitesides 27 July 1901 in Travis, Falls County, Texas. Lurah was a schoolteacher born in Lee County, Mississippi, the daughter of Major Calvin and Mary Bridges (Middlebrooks) Whitesides. Calvin and Mary Whitesides had moved their ten children to Texas and established a farm in Falls County in 1895. After their marriage, James and Lurah also bought a farm in Falls County. To this marriage were born two daughters and the youngest, a son: Reba, 10 July 1902; Vita Lona, 3 May 1905; and Avon, 11 February 1911. In 1918 James is listed as an official of the county Falls County draft board, which had been established for World War I draft registrations. By 1930 James and Lurah Buck had moved to Denton County, where James is listed in the census as a carpenter. James died 16 June 1959 and Lurah died 3 March 1959; they are buried in Denton at Roselawn Memorial Cemetery.

          5. Ellen Cline Buck was born 15 February 1877, the first daughter of James Mason and Catharine Buck. Ellen died 4 August 1879 in Upshur County, Texas, at the age of two years six months.

          6. May Bell Buck was born 4 August 1881, the first of her family to be born in Rockwall County. May married John Allie Middlebrooks 5 August 1900 in Rockwall County. Mr. Middlebrooks was born 7 March 1879 in Lee County, Mississippi, the son of Isaac Richard and Mary Mildred “Mollie” Middlebrooks. Isaac and Mildred Middlebrooks were in Texas by 1877, establishing a farm in Collin County and then by 1910 living in Royse City. They are buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery. Allie and May were farming in Collin County at the time of the federal census of 1910, but shortly thereafter moved to Royse City, where they established a cotton farm just west of town. To this marriage were born four children: Roy R., 25 June 1901; Glen Ray, 9 November 1902; Lorraine K., 24 February 1906; and Richard Mason, 8 November 1907. John Allie died 1 October 1939 and May died 15 May 1973. They are buried together in Royse City Cemetery.

          7. Katie Pollard “Kate” Buck was born 4 Aug 1885 in Rockwall County. Kate married Samuel A. Matthews, Jr., 24 Dec 1905, in Rockwall County. Samuel was born 8 Aug 1880 in Lee County, Mississippi, the son of Samuel A. and Frances (Smith) Matthews. Samuel Jr. is first found in Rockwall County in the census of 1900 living with cousin Rosa Rains Patterson and assisting her husband Anson Patterson on their farm. By 1918 he had established his own farming operation near Royse City. Sam and Kate had one son, James Delyal, born in 1918. Samuel died 30 Oct 1960, and Kate died 26 Jan 1977. They are buried at Royse City Cemetery.