Hiram Abiff Willson

and Family of Peachtree Village, Tyler County, Texas

Submitted by Carolyn Wilson

Hiram Abiff WILLSON, Sr. was born on September 10, 1821 probably in Lincoln County, Georgia. He was the oldest child of Dr. Stephen Pelham WILLSON and Mary Richardson DAVIS. As a child his family migrated to Arkansas, Louisiana, and then in 1834 to Texas. The family settled at San Augustine, where Hiram grew to be a young man. In San Augustine, he met and married Mary Amanda STOW on December 18, 1844.

Mary was the granddaughter of Edley EWING and Elizabeth LOVE of Tennessee. Mary was born circa 1828 in Tennessee. Her parents are still a mystery, although it is assumed that her mother was the daughter of Edley Ewing and died sometime before the EWING family migrated to Texas. Mary Stow WILLSON is specifically mentioned in legal transactions as the granddaughter of Edley EWING, over the years there has been a misconception among some members of the family that her surname was Ewing. She was only sixteen when she married Hiram Willson, so it is very unlikely that she had obtained another name (Stow) before the date of their marriage.

The couple traveled with Dr. Willson to Tyler County, Texas prior to 1850, and settled on land near Peachtree Village. Hiram Willson was a farmer by occupation according to the census records for 1850 and 1860. The 1850 census shows that Hiram A. Willson and his wife had real estate valued at $2,800. By 1857, Hiram Willson also owned a store at St. Charles in Tyler County.

By 1860 the following members of the Hiram A. Willson family were living in the Chester area of Tyler County. Hiram A. Willson, Sr., age 38; Mary A. Willson, age 28; Stephen E. Willson, age 13; (twins) Hiram A. Willson, Jr. and Samuel Houston Willson, age 10; Sir John Franklin Willson, age 8; Mary Amanda Willson, age 6; and Elizabeth Lou Willson, age 5; and Ida M. Willson, age 1. Another child was born to this family after 1863, Julia Ann Willson. In the 1860 census of Tyler County Texas, Hiram Willson’s occupation is listed as farmer with real estate valued at $3,600 and personal property valued at $9,210. Part of the personal property included slaves inherited by his wife from her grandfather, as well as slaves purchased by the Willson family.

On March 6,1862, Hiram Willson joined thousands of other Texans by joining the Confederate army. According to the National Archives, Hiram A. Willson enlisted as a private in Company K, 27th Texas Cavalry; also called Whitfield’s Legion, First Texas Legion for a period of twelve months. The 27th Cavalry was originally created as the 4th Texas Battalion, Texas Cavalry on November 12, 1861 with four companies, A to D. It was increased to a regiment of thirteen companies on April 2, 1862. The 27th Cavalry served west of the Mississippi River for a brief period. It was transferred east of the Mississippi River, where it served as a dismounted unit the fall of 1862.

The regiment served in the following major engagements in spring and fall of 1862 that Private Willson took part in, Pearidge, Leetown, and Elkhorn Tavern, Arkansas; Iuka, Mississippi; Cornith, Mississippi; and the retreat to the Hatchie River, Mississippi. Willson was captured in the fighting at Davis Bridge on October 5, 1862, and paroled. After this the muster rolls indicate that Hiram Willson was a paroled prisoner. Hiram Willson did not enlist in the army until after his father, Stephen’s death in 1861. He is found in Tyler County after 1862, which is the date of Mary Richardson Davis Willson’s death.

Hiram Willson acted as the agent for his brother when the family settled the estates of Dr. and Mrs. Willson. Samuel Willson had given his brother power of attorney to settle the estates. Lieutenant Samuel Andrew Willson was serving in the Confederate army east of the Mississippi at this time.

After the war, Hiram Willson continued to farm in Tyler County. That he had certain influence in the community is indicated by the fact that he served in several different capacities during the years that he lived in Tyler County. In 1856, Hiram Willson was one of the trustees for Woodville College, which was established by the Texas State Legislature that year. The College met in Woodville Lodge #62. Willson was also one of the founding members of the Masonic Lodge which still holds its meetings in Chester, Texas.

Hiram Willson was chosen to a by the citizens of Tyler County to attend the Constitutional Convention which was held in 1875. Each organized county in Texas was allowed three elected delegates to the convention, which met in Austin. The Constitutional Convention of 1875 was responsible for writing the present constitution for the state of Texas, which was adopted in 1876. The adoption of this Constitution ended Reconstruction in Texas.

Hiram Willson died in the late 1870s or early 1880s. He and his wife, Mary are both buried at Sulpher Springs Cemetery in Tyler County, Texas. The cemetery is now located on land owned by Champion International Paper Company. The children of Hiram Willson, Ida M. and Mary Amanda are also buried at Sulpher Springs, unfortunately their graves are unmarked.

Many of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Hiram Abiff Willson, Sr. live in Tyler County, with several still residing in Chester. The children of Hiram Willson were Stephen Ewing Willson born circa 1847; Hiram Abiff Willson, Jr. and Samuel Houston Willson, born March 18, 1849; Sir John Franklin Willson, born September 10, 1851; Mary Amanda Willson, born circa 1853, Elizabeth Lou Willson born June 28, 1855, Ida M. Willson born circa 1859, and Julia Ann Willson born circa 1864. Stephen Willson married Margaret Elizabeth N. Barnes; Hiram Abiff Willson, Jr. married Sidney Ann Kirby; Samuel H. Willson married Mary Ann R. J. Barnes; Frank Willson married Olive Peters; Elizabeth Willson married Joseph Hilliard Peters (Olive’s brother); and Julia Willson married Levi B. Nowlin. I have information that Ida Willson married a Charlie Parks, however I have not found information to back this for my personal research.

Margaret Barnes Willson and Mary Ann Barnes Willson were the daughters of Samuel H. Barnes and Margaret L. V. McKee. Joseph Hilliard Peters and Olive Peters Willson were the children of Isaac Peters and Matilda Lucinda Darden (Dirden). Sidney Ann Kirby Willson was the daughter of John Thomas Kirby and Sarah Payne. Sidney Ann Willson was the sister of East Texas lumberman, John Henry Kirby.

Carolyn JoAn Willson (GGGGGD)

cwillson@livingston.net

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