Texas


Friendship
Texas declared its secession from the United States on February 1, 1861. It joined the Confederate States of America on March 2, 1861. Over 70,000 Texans served in the Confederate Army and fought in every major battle throughout the war. Texas provided 45 regiments of cavalry, 23 regiments of infantry, 12 battalions of cavalry and 5 regiments of heavy artillery. Among the most famous units were the Terry's Texas Rangers, many of whom became peace keepers in the old west.

Preston Witt

By Danella Dickson

Preston Witt and his twin brother Pleasant were born December 7, 1819 in Polk County, Illinois, the sons of John and Ellender (Penny) Witt. Preston married Harriet Ann Huffman, June 20, 1839 in Greene County, Illinois. Harriet was the daughter of William Riley and Margaret (Goforth) Huffman.

In 1842 Preston, Harriet and Pleasant accompanied their father John Witt to Texas for the purpose of settling in the newly created Peters Colony. The settlers were promised 640 acres for each head of household and 320 acres for a single man. Pleasant settled in present day Collin County while Preston and John Witt settled in Dallas County. “Each settler was required to live on his land for three years, to cultivate ten acres, to have the land surveyed and plainly marked, to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Texas and to procure from a county judge a certificate signed by two reliable witnesses stating the terms of the agreement had been fulfilled.” (http://www.collincountyhistory.com/peters-colony.html)

Preston and Pleasant Witt were well known as Indian fighters, taking part in several battles. During the Mexican War, 1846-1848, Preston served in a regiment known as the Texas Mounted Volunteers. Following the war Preston went into business with his brother Wade Hampton Witt as the two became owners of a mill located in Dallas County.

In the late 1850’s Preston, Pleasant and Wade Hampton Witt began to raise horses. The brothers may have moved through several counties before settling in Parker County. The three brothers were listed on the Parker County tax records for several years. In 1863 Preston paid tax on 50 horses valued at $1500.00, while Wade Hampton Witt paid tax on 100 horses valued at $3,000.00. Pleasant Witt was also listed on the tax rolls but with only three horses.

When Texas seceded from the Union forty-three year old Preston Witt volunteered to serve the Confederate States of America. According to family records he enlisted in February of 1862 in Company B, 18th (Darnell’s) Texas Cavalry under the command of his brother, Wade Hampton Witt. No official documentation has survived to tell us how long Preston Witt served but due to his age and the conscription laws his period of service may have been measured in months.

Preston and Harriet Witt with two adult sons (Edward and Louis) were list on the 1870 Jackson County, Texas census. The location near the coast of Texas may have been chosen for health reasons as Preston was reported to be in bad health during this period. By July 1875 Preston and Harriet Witt had returned to Dallas County where they took part in the organization of the Dallas County Pioneer Association. At the young age of fifty-seven Preston Witt died March 22, 1876 in Dallas, Texas, his burial place is unknown.

Harriet Ann Huffman Witt soon moved to Labette County, Kansas to live with her daughter Margaret and son-in-law, Daniel William Eggers. While living in Kansas Harriet applied for, and received, a widows pension based on Preston Witt’s service during the Mexican War. At the age of eighty-four Harriet Ann Huffman Witt died on August 24, 1885. She is buried in the Oak Creek Cemetery, Chetopa, Labette County, Kansas.

Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts

Pleasant Witt

By Danella Dickson

Pleasant Witt and his twin brother Preston were born December 7, 1819 in Polk County, Illinois. They were the sons of John and Ellender (Penny) Witt.

Pleasant and Preston Witt accompanied their father John Witt to Texas about 1842 in the first wave of settlers bound for the newly created Peters Colony. The colony was located in North Texas and made up of twenty-three present day counties including Dallas and Collin counties where the Witt’s first settled. Pleasant and Preston were early settlers in the Addison area and by 1849 had built and were operating an ox-powered gristmill on White Rock Creek.

About 1845 the Witt’s were joined by their brothers, Wade Hampton, Andrew Jackson and Eli Witt and sister Mary and their families. By 1850 Pleasant Witt was living in Collin County and married to Eliza Jane Mounts, the daughter of Jesse V. Mounts. The Mounts family had also traveled from Greene County, Illinois to settle in the Peters Colony.

In 1861 Texas seceded from the union and called for volunteers to defend their state. Forty-two year old Pleasant Witt enlisted March 1st, 1861 at Dallas County to serve in Darnell’s Regiment Mounted Volunteers. Pleasant served in Witt’s Company under the command of his brother Captain Wade Hampton Witt. Pleasant came equipped with a horse and gun valued at $175.00. The only other surviving military record list Pleasant’s discharge July 15, 1862 at Camp McCulloch, Indian Territory.

Pleasant returned to Texas to soon become involved in the defense of the frontier against a familiar enemy, the Kiowa and Comanche Indians. Captain Pleasant Witt served in Company A, 1st Frontier District, Texas State Troops, under the command of Major William Quayle. The State of Texas had identified frontier counties at risk and divided them into three districts. The three districts were organized, supplied and paid by the State of Texas. These men were not members of the Confederate State Army and could not be called to duty outside the state. Squads of about fifteen men were sent out for patrol duty usually remaining out for about ten days at a time. When the war ended the Texas provisional government officially disbanded all military units in the state. The threat from the Indians did not stop so unofficially the men of Parker County continued to protect their families and property to the best of their ability.

Pleasant Witt was last listed on a military pay roll dated February 1864 and his last entry on the Parker County tax roll was the same year. He has not been located on the 1870 census although (Eliza) Jane Witt, and their thirteen year son Albert, were listed on the Collin County, Texas census living next door to her brother Thomas Mounts. This census was the last record for Eliza Jane Mounts Witt, death dates are unknown for Pleasant or his wife.

Albert Witt, Pleasant Witt’s only identified child, married Theodocia Jones on April 29, 1876 in Tarrant County, Texas. In 1880 Albert and his family were living in Freestone County, by 1900 they had relocated to Montague County, Texas. In 1910 Albert and family were living in Wagner County, Oklahoma where Albert is reported to have died October 2, 1910.

Courtesy of J.B and Ramona Roberts

Eli Witt

By Danella Dickson

Eli Witt was born December 26, 1818 in Pope County, Illinois, the son of John and Ellender (Penny) Witt who had recently moved from Jefferson County, Tennessee. Eli married Elizabeth Miller, the daughter of John and Mary (Findley) Miller September 9, 1841 in Greene County, Illinois. Eli and Elizabeth were the parents of eight children.

Family records record Eli Witt’s conversion at the age of 22, in April, 1841 when he joined the Taylor’s Creek Church of United Baptist in Greene County, Illinois. He was licensed to preach in 1844 by the same church.

In the spring of 1845 Eli and his family migrated to the Republic of Texas to join his father, John Witt, and brothers, Andrew Jackson, Pleasant, Preston and Wade. The Witt family was recruited to settle in the Peters Colony, later to become the Texas counties of Collin Cooke, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Grayson and Tarrant. The early settlers were challenged by the dangers from Indians, weather and the remote location. The changes in Peters Colony management led to disputes over land ownership that was not resolved until after Texas became a state. Eli’s land grant of 320 acres, located in Collin County, was dated May 24, 1855 and is recorded in the Texas General Land Office.

Eli was a charter member of the Elm Fork Baptist Association of Texas which was organized in November of 1849. “The First Twelve Years” by Elder J.M. Myers relates the history of the early Baptist churches and the pioneer preachers who served the early congregations of Collin, Denton, Dallas and surrounding counties. Often Eli served as a traveling minister visiting the different parishes, delivering sermons, performing marriages and helping organize new churches. Another church historian described these early horseback parsons as men who came not for wealth, but to serve, to make life for the pioneers a little less hard and discouraging.

Eli and his brothers Preston and Wade Hampton Witt were charter members of the White Rock Masonic Lodge chartered in 1854. At that time it was known as a “moonlight lodge” because the light of the full moon was needed for lodge members to travel to meet. The town of Addison grew up around the lodge with many of the early members playing an active part in the growth of the area. (http://www.whiterocklodge.org/node/4)

Eli, and his family, lived in Collin, Dallas, Grayson, Cooke, Wise and Collingsworth counties. His occupation on census records was usually listed as farmer which no doubt supported his family while he remained active in work for the Baptist Church.

In 1861 Southern states went to war to defend their rights. At the age of forty-three Eli Witt enlisted March 1, 1861 at Dallas, Texas under the command of his brother, Wade Hampton Witt. Eli furnished a horse and equipment valued at $205.00. Military records for Eli’s service are meager but in an application for a Confederate pension filed in October of 1899 he stated he served 2 ½ years in Witt’s Company, Darnell’s Regiment Texas Volunteers. The official records for this unit indicate the regiment served in Arkansas where many of the men were taken prisoner in January 1863 at Arkansas Post. They were exchanged in April and May of 1863. When Eli filed his pension application he stated that he was 80 years old, living in Wise County, that he was in poor physical condition due to old age, but still serving as a minister. His application was cancelled when it was assumed he was already drawing a U.S. pension; however research indicates the pension for service during the Mexican War Service was actually going to an Eli W.W. Witt who was a relative. Perhaps the task of documenting the error was too much for Eli as no attempts to correct the mistake are recorded

Eli’s first wife, Elizabeth Miller Witt, died May 1, 1882 in Collin County, Texas. He married Margaret Melton February 13, 1887 in Cooke County, Texas. Margaret died June 29, 1911 and is buried in Memorial Gardens, Wellington, Collingsworth County, Texas. Eli Witt lived until January, 1915, his death and burial place are unknown.

Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts

Andrew Jackson Witt

By Danella Dickson

Andrew Jackson Witt was born August 13, 1815 in Pope County, Illinois, the son of John and Ellender Penny Witt. Andrew married Harriet Rattan, the daughter of Thomas and Gillian (Hill) Rattan, May 6, 1841 in Greene County, Illinois.

The Witt family immigrated to North Texas in two groups, John Witt and his sons Preston and Pleasant arrived in 1842 to become part of the newly created Peters Colony. The land set aside for the colony covered a vast area; counties later formed included Collin, Dallas, Denton, Cooke, Grayson, Tarrant and others. The terms for settlers were generous, each head of a household received 640 acres and single men received 320 acres. “Each settler was required to live on his land for three years, to cultivate ten acres, to have the land surveyed and plainly marked, to take an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Texas and to procure from a county judge a certificate signed by two reliable witnesses stating that the terms of the agreement had been satisfied.”(www.collincountyhistory.com/peters-colony.html)

The year 1845 brought more settlers from Greene County, Illinois including John Witt’s sons, Eli, Andrew Jackson, Wade Hampton and their families. John Witt’s daughter Mary and her husband Thomas McKee Ellis traveled to Texas with the Witt brothers. Most of the family settled in present day Collin and Dallas County.

In 1850 Andrew and Harriet Witt were living in Collin County with their three children. By 1860 they were living in Dallas County and had six children. Family records indicate the couple had a total of nine children but several died young.

In 1861 Texas seceded from the Union and war was declared. Andrew Jackson Witt enlisted September 9, 1861 at Dallas, Texas in Company F, 6th (Stone’s) Regiment Texas Cavalry. Andrew was equipped with a horse, double barreled shotgun and a Bowie knife with a total value of $160.00. The forty-six year old Andrew was appointed Quarter Master for Stone’s Regiment. His service through 1861 is documented by muster rolls recording his assignment from Dallas, Texas to Arkansas. In 1862 Stone’s Regiment was assigned to Ross’s Brigade and served with the Army of Tennessee during the Atlanta Campaign, ending the war in Mississippi. The last muster roll for Andrew is dated August 9, 1863, location unknown.

Harriet Rattan Witt died March 10, 1864 in Dallas County, Texas leaving an infant and four other children under the age of thirteen years. On May 19, 1864 Andrew J. Witt married Mary Elizabeth Hawpe. Andrew and Mary Elizabeth were the parents of Georgia M. and Wade Witt.

Andrew Jackson Witt died in February of 1870 from bronchitis. He is buried in the Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Texas. Mary Elizabeth Hawpe Witt is reported to have also died in the 1870 leaving Georgia M. and Wade Witt to be raised by their Aunt Selinah Hawpe Cook. Andrew Jackson Witt’s children from his first marriage were raised by his oldest son John T. Witt.

Courtesy of J.B. and Ramona Roberts

John Thomas Greene

By Danella Dickson

John Thomas Greene was born January 17, 1846 in Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas, the son of Jones and Mary Ann (Ellis) Greene. The Greene and the Ellis family had moved to Texas from Greene County, Illinois shortly before John was born.
During the spring of 1861 a group of young men had formed the Lancaster Guards and began to train in anticipation of war. Since several members of his extended family were part of this group it is possible 15 year old John took part in the drilling and training and was accepted as part of the group in spite of his youth. When the men were mustered in on September 9, 1861 as Company F, 6th Texas Cavalry John was also there to sign up. On the muster rolls he was listed as eighteen, which was the accepted age for military service. He came fully equipped with a horse, a Minnie rifle and a six shooter valued at $150.00, apparently with his parent’s permission.

John’s service is documented with muster rolls from the time of his enlistment through 1862 and most of 1863. The last record is for May and June 1864 when he was present for duty. These records tell us he was never wounded or taken prisoner and any illnesses did not require medical attention. He would have been with the regiment as they moved through the southern states taking part in more than eighty military actions.

The regiment was paroled in Jackson, Mississippi in May 1865. If John Thomas Greene was there his name was not recorded but most important to his family was the fact he had survived his war and returned to Lancaster to help his widowed mother attempt to recover from effects of the war.

On October 16, 1867 John Thomas Green married Lucretia Ann Witt, the daughter of Leonard and Rebecca (Johnson) Witt. John and Lucretia were the parents of six children. John died November 23, 1888 and was buried in Edgewood Cemetery. Lucretia lived as a widow forty years, dying in 1928. She was buried beside John in their family plot.

Courtesy of J.B. & Ramona Roberts