Nathaniel T. “Tom” Journey


    Mulberry’s story began in 1836 with the arrival of Nathaniel T. Journey (born 1802) to whom a large part of this bend of Red River passed “from sovereignty”—the Republic of Texas. His certificate of “head-right” (the ninth) gave “priority of location,” and he settled at the “mouth of Caney Creek.” Wyatt W. Kennedy also received a certificate. Fatefully for Journey, Kennedy took his land in Fannin County “on Caney Creek.”

    If Indians showed a “sulky friendliness” toward white settlers in 1836, that changed on May 16, 1837 when Daniel Montague and seventeen others, “seemingly without provocation,” attacked and killed several Indians near Warren. When hostilities died down, the Indians continued to be distrustful and stole horses. To “punish” them two volunteer companies were formed in the spring of 1838. Tom Journey, as the captain of one, led out the Fannin County men, according to Judge Simpson, “all in high glee under the influence of strong drink.” On the first night the Indians took Journey’s “charger” and two other horses. Replacements had to be found before the “march” could resume. Later, when Captain John Hart’s “Mounted Men” “joined the offensive,” and “Indian scalps were taken,” Journey’s horse was found with the Indians.

    Captain Journey’s company of forty-one men served between September 14, 1838 and March 13, 1839. One man with Journey was Wyatt W. Kennedy. An account was provided by Anderson Rowlett of Bonham in 1904:

    By request of some of the white people of this city, I will relate a little history of some of the first settlers of Texas, I being the only one now living who came to Texas in 1836.

    I was born in Kentucky. I was a servant of Dr. Rowlett, who brought me and my mother and sister, a baby to Texas.... [Indian troubles are described; the actions of General Tarrant, “my boss,” and Captain Washborne are recounted. A desperate search for water:]  It was miserable and horrible looking water.... My boss would give me a sup at a time till I got enough. In an hour the men began to throw up and groaned all night long....

    Now it was Captain Journey’s time to go west with his men, but he never left camps until the rains had set in. He started with 200 men and traveled until they got near the Plains.  The first thing they knew the Indians had them all surrounded. The Indians had their guns drawn on our men. The men dropped their guns to keep the Indians from firing. The Indians then closed up on them. The Captain said he thought there was about 1600 Indians. Captain Journey said that it was the first time that he was ever bad scared. “I felt small enough to go in an auger hole,” he said, “when I saw all them Indians pointing their guns at us.” But the Indians never hurt any of our men. They had an Indian with them that could speak our language and he did the talking for them....

    The Indians, I think, from what our men said, kept them about half a day, holding a council over them. They then took all the best horses and best guns and all the blankets that our men had and told them to go home and “me ketch you again me shoot you.” Our men said they were very glad to get off that easy. They thought the Indians would kill them. Most of them had to walk home. After that our men never went to the Plains any more....

right: “It was 1832 or ’33... that

the Osages paid their last visit to

this section....”  A. W. Neville’s

popular column in the Paris News

may have mis-named “Mrs. Journey,”

as this clipping in the archives at

Texas A & M University -

Commerce shows.

    Was she Rebecca?

    Ursula Lankford

married Journey on Dec. 20, 1839.

Another formidable lady, she will

marry twice more. When she died in

November 1859, her will cited

“all my personal Estate and my

negro girl Rean”.

    It is February 25, 1840: The Court has just appointed Journey to be the guardian of Peggy and William Bowman, children of John Bowman, and Journey is now wounded by “his neighbor” Wyatt Kennedy in a fight. Although most records of the subsequent trial have been lost, the grand jury’s indictment paints a vivid picture:

    Kanady not having the fear of God before his eyes but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil...being feloniously, willfully, and of his malice aforethought, did make an assault...the said Wyat Kanady, with a certain his right hand...held the said Nathaniel T. Journey, otherwise called Tom Journey, in and upon the right side of the belly one inch below the short ribs...did strike and thrust said mortal wound of the breadth of one and one half inches and the depth of eight inches of which mortal wound...from the twenty-fifth...did languish and languishing did live...on the twenty-sixth day of February...of the mortal wound died.

    November 9: “Kennedy...not guilty...set at liberty by the sheriff.” Sixty-nine years later Judge W. A. Evans of Bonham wrote a series of biographical sketches for his family’s newspaper.

Wyatt Kennedy

    52 years ago there lived about twelve miles north of Bonham, at a place now owned by John Agnew, a man by name of Wyatt Kennedy. He was an old man in his appearance then.  He was a man of peaceable, quiet habits; an industrious man attentive to his own business.  He had a wife and one son, James Kennedy, now dead. He was peculiar in some respects.  He seemed to live to himself and did not mix much in society.

    I met him several times at Bonham but was never very well acquainted with him. He was very careful with his money and spent none of it foolishly. He even had his own coffin made and paid for it several years before his death. I recollect seeing him driving out of town one day with a coffin standing on end in his buggy, and on enquiring I found that he was carrying it home for himself, so that he might have it ready when he died, so as to limit his people in the expense. He did not wish to have on that [coffin] cost much, and he had his made by Mr. W. D. Hendricks, who was a carpenter residing in this town. Mr. Kennedy died about 1869 or 1870.

    Right of guardianship to

the “two orphan and unpro-

tected [Bowman] children”

passed to James S. Baker on

March 30, 1840: “You are

empowered to take into your which

now belongs to the aforesaid

orphans...requested to super-

intend their Education.” The

following January Baker

petitioned to be released;

Daniel Montague came for-

ward to assume responsibility

and posted a $10,000 bond.


    The earliest grave in the

Mulberry cemetery is Mrs.

Leonard Bowman’s (1881). She

died during childbirth while her

husband (in local lore) “played

cards in the next room.” The

brothers Bill and Jim Jackson

dug her grave.

right: Fannin County record showing later

subdivisions of the Journey land grant. At

center are three parallel tracts touching Caney

creek, property of the Reid sisters.

    Joseph Columbus Jeffries (1785-1844, born in Georgia) had owned property across Caney creek from Journey and “bound himself” to the dead man’s heirs in October 1840, mentioning “a place known as Journey’s Bluff.” As early as November 1836, though, Journey and Rebecca, “by making their several marks,” had already sold their own “headright” to Daniel Montague. (The Republic of Texas did not actually grant the land of Journey’s “ninth certificate” until July 14, 1841.)

    She was Rebecca Elizabeth Bradsbury (born 1780), marrying Journey in Illinois on September 22, 1823.  One record shows her to be the mother of eleven Journey children. (Another says her death occurred in 1830. Question this.)  In Fannin county, Texas, James B. Journey (1827-70), born in Illinois, was Nathaniel’s “only child and sole heir”.

    1851 May 2: James Journey instigated his claim to land held by the Jeffries heirs, holding that prior to his father’s death he (Nathaniel) had purchased one Labor and League from Jeffries, “since deceased,” south of Caney Creek. But Nathaniel “departed this life” before a deed could be obtained. James was soon satisfied; in the same year he and wife Mary Ann started selling. A deed to R. H. Lane was for 2,250 acres, “it being the South portion that remains after taking off 1,200 acres for Ursula Journey” at the “north end,” and where Caney Creek empties into Red River.

    Mary Ann Journey “in her eightieth year....” Born Mary Ann Brown, she married James Journey on December 16, 1850; burial in the “Brown grave yard.” From Bonham News in March 1907:

   One By One They Go.  Another of the Early Pioneers of Fannin County Called Home.  Mrs. M. A. Journey died Monday last at the home of her daughter five miles north of Bonham.  It was the old home place where Mrs. Journey and her husband settled when Fannin county was a wilderness, save for a few scattering farms. They came to this county in 1852, and lived here until they died, the husband going many years ago.... The old pioneers are going fast, and at most it will be but a few years until the last of the forerunners of civilization is gathered to his fathers.

    Israel Journey, born in Fannin county on December 6, 1852, was a son of James and Mary Ann. Another poignant recollection in 1908 was J. K. Johnson’s cited elsewhere in full:

    ... Israel Journey, has drifted here for a few days stay. Our talks carried me back to the time when Gen. Agnew, Joe Anthony, and many others too numerous to mention were having the jolliest time of our lives.....

photo: Israel Journey

With Nora Richmond (1863-97) he had eight children.

The 1880 census shows them living in Fannin county’s Precinct 7.



    Nathaniel T. Journey’s father was John Journey, Jr. (1780-1814); his mother, Nancy Ellen McMullen (1782-1854).

    “Wyatt Kennedy,” June 4, 1909. “Written especially for The News by Judge W. A. Evans,” a series titled “Bonham 52 Years Ago” started to appear on January 29, 1909: “...we will speak first of the town of Bonham. After that we will write of the other few little villages that we had then and of the men who resided therein....”  Tom Scott, a cherished historian of Fannin County wrote, “Most of the people Evans wrote about he had known personally and for the others he received detailed information from friends and members of the families. Unfortunately the files of The Bonham News were destroyed by fire many years ago and a complete run of the papers in which Judge Evans’ sketches appear are unavailable.”