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"Tribute to Civil War Veterans"

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society

Civil War Veterans Obituaries

We would like to share with researchers our Tribute to Civil War Veterans who lived out their lives in Van Zandt County. Many came here from other states. The following is an obituary found in the collection of old newspapers on microfilm in the Library of Genealogy and Local History, Canton, TX. If you have an obituary of a Civil War Veteran ancestor and would like to share, please contact Sibyl. We would be happy to add your material to this site.


Dies in 101st Year

Grand Saline Sun

February 17, 1949


Grand Saline's only Civil War veteran and one of the few left in Texas died quietly Monday afternoon. He was William Henry (Uncle Will) James, in his 101st year when he died.

"Uncle Will", a familiar figure on downtown streets until only a few months ago, died about 4 o'clock Monday afternoon at the home of a grandson, Luther Barker, of the Friendship community on the Alba Highway Northeast of Grand Saline.

Until he moved to his grandson's, "Uncle Will" had lived at his home place in town and produced much of his own food there.

The white-haired, walrus mustached, active little man was stricken earlier in the day and did not recover.


Looking at James as he stepped lively down the street or sat quietly on a bench in front of Tippett's Cafe here, no one would realize that he was crowding 100, and on his birthday he got a big kick out of Foster (Sox) Land paying off a promise to give him a box of 50 cigars for living to be 100. A picture of the exchange on James' 100th birthday anniversary last Dec. 10 is published in the Sun today on page 8.

James, who came to Grand Saline in 1902 with his then grown family, did not draw a Confederate pension from the state of Texas until about two years ago. Through the efforts of friends and Lawyer Enoch Fletcher, James began drawing the maximum pension as he was a widower. It amounted to about $100. a month.

LIFE Wanted Pictures

So few are the survivors of the Civil War on both sides that national magazines have been exploiting these veterans and two weeks ago the Southwest representative of LIFE magazine contacted the Grand Saline Sun for information and photographs of "Uncle Will" James. Whether the pictures will be published now that he has died is problematical. The Houston Press ran a story and picture of James on two occasions in a series on Texas Civil War veterans. The Press Monday wired and telephoned for information on James' death.

William Henry James was born near Butler, Marion county, Georgia, Dec. 10, 1848. He once told a reporter that he had chewed tobacco since he was five years old, and said the way he stayed young was to sit down and meditate on happenings 50 to 75 years ago and the years seemed to roll off his well-proportioned shoulders like water off a duck's back.

He said he only took one drink of liquor and "then not too much." "I just had enough to be a fool and I have never wanted any since seeing what it does to you," he told a Sun reporter once.

Joins Army at 15

James went into the Confederate Army Aug. 18, 1864, when the Confederacy was conscripting men from 16 to 60."I wasn't 16 until the next Dec. 10, but I just went and volunteered. I got by. Men those days were old at 60."

James reported that he was never in actual combat, but helped guard supplies at Corinth, Miss.. A band of Yankees tried to cross the mile-wide Mississippi one night, James said. They built a pontoon bridge while the Confederates waited. "We had those old muskets that wouldn't shoot 60 yards, so we just waited until they got nearly to our bank and in gunshot range. Then we let them have it. We stopped 'em."

Comes to Texas in 1902

James married Dec. 24, 1872. They were parents of seven children, four of whom are still living. All were born before the family hit the trail for Texas in 1902, when they settled near here. His wife died about 13 years ago.

Surviving them are Oscar, 61; George, 68; Westley, 64; and Mrs. Annabelle Thompson, 58, of Wellington. The sons live here. He left a number of grandchildren and later descendants. He has a brother, Joe, 89 of Waco.

James entered the grocery business when he came to Grand Saline. After he did this, he returned to the farm to stay there until about four years ago. He said when he quit work that he decided to "loaf a spell".

Reads Without Glasses

James prided his ability to read without spectacles and on his steal nerves. He used to demonstrate his lack of nervousness by putting two pin points together at arms length.

Last rites and burial for the centenarian were held at Creagleville church at 4o'clock Tuesday afternoon by Roger Florence of Fort worth, a former resident here now preaching.

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This page last updated 23 May 2007

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society Website maintained by
Sibyl Creasey