Alonzo Larkin

 

Alonzo Larkin’s Gold Watches

from the Inventory of his Estate

Judge W. A. Evans got one


    Alonzo Larkin (born about 1810 in Rhode Island) bought 811 acres “on Caney Creek” from John D. Black in1846, increasing his holdings. Wife Polly Ann was named (in 1851) when Larkin gave a deed to Obediah Hudson. When he died without a will in 1861, “Mary” claimed she was lawful wife, but got nowhere. Mary Hallaby and Alonzo Larkin were married by Rev. Samuel Wright of Sandy Creek Baptist Church on June 3, 1860.


Alonzo Larkin

Among the queer and old characters who were here 52 years ago


   [Judge Evans wrote in his newspaper series] ... was a man by the name of Alonzo Larkin, but who was known by the name of Jim Larkin. When, where or how he came by the Jim part of his name I do not know. He came here many years ago and stopped near the mouth of Caney Creek and established a little trading station, the principal part of his stock of merchandise being an inferior quality of whiskey. Afterwards he left the whiskey part out and kept the dry goods. He also acquired considerable land and many cattle and ponies. When I first saw him he had on a suit of buckskin, the coat being made after the fashion then worn by the Indians. He sometimes had considerable money. It is related of him that after he had been in Texas ten or twelve years he concluded to go back to his native home and see his father and mother and brothers and sisters, who resided in the state of New York. He went dressed in his Indian garb, and when he got home his mother was not there, having died five or six years before that time. He had never let any of his people hear from him during his absence or had he heard from them. His brothers and sisters nor his father did not recognize in him the handsome, well dressed son who had gone away from them years before, nor could he convince them that he was a son and brother. He told them if it was because they thought he was poor and wanted charity from them was the reason why they refused to acknowledge him they need give themselves no uneasiness on that account for he could carpet their floors with gold. Having carried with him several thousand dollars he exhibited the same to them. While there he managed to secure a fine gold watch and chain that had belonged to his mother, and which he had much desired to have. He brought it back to Texas with him and shortly after his arrival home the watch was missing and he thought some one had stolen it. He saw no more of it for more than a year. The grocery where he did business was a log house with boards nailed over the cracks. One day he pulled one of the boards off and a rat had built her nest behind it and there he found his watch and chain. This watch and chain he prized very highly.

    On one occasion he got into a game of poker in Bonham and the parties with whom he was playing soon got all the money he had with him, about fifteen hundred dollars, I believe.  He had this watch with him. He told the other poker players how he came by it, and then put it up as a stake against one hundred and fifty dollars in gold. They promised to let him redeem it if they won it. They won his watch, but he got on his horse, rode home and got the one hundred and fifty dollars and came right back to town and redeemed that watch, which he kept until his death, which occurred about two years thereafter.

    When a sale of his property occurred I, knowing the history of that watch, attended the sale and purchased it, though at the time some one had taken the case off and the works and the case were apart. But I had it worked on by a silversmith. One of my daughters now owns that old watch and keeps it as a souvenir.

    Mr. Larkin had a residence not far from where the town of Ravenna now stands. He found a steep hillside, and dug his foundation so as to have a three story house. The first story was down on the level with the lower edge of the hill. In this lower story he fed his hogs and sometimes his horses. In the second story he kept his corn and feed stuff for his hogs. There was a trap door through which he could throw down corn for the stock. The third story, the door of which was on a level with the upper side of the hill, was where the family resided, for he had a family of several children. He also kept a small stock of goods in that upper story.

    He died in 1861—I believe it was about that time, anyhow. When he was taken down with his last sickness he sent for his doctor, J. R. McKee, and when he got there he said to him: “Doc, you must not let me die now; I can’t afford it. My affairs are in such a tangle it would break me up to die and you must not let me do it.” The doctor told him that his chances were then fair to go.

    Larkin died and his affairs were rather in a tangle, sure enough. Many persons supposed that he had quite a quantity of money hid away somewhere about the place where he lived. It is said that the hillside all around has been dug into by parties hunting for hidden treasure, but I do not think there was any treasure. He was too fond of gambling. Some days he would be flush and others he would have but very little. He had considerable property in lands, horses and cattle, but was also in debt.

    I do not remember the names of Mr. Larkin’s children or the number, nor do I know where any of them now reside.

    While Jim Larkin, as we called him had his faults, yet he also had his virtues. In his trades with his fellow man he was honest and dealt fairly. He was kind and good to the poor and would help the needy. Let us forget his faults and remember him for his kindness of heart and liberality in helping others along in hours of need.


    Alonzo’s father was Henry W. Larkin (1782-1872); his mother, Lusannah Lacy (1792-1822). J. W. Connelly, “Old Choc,” preserved another account.

      

    At his death, the sorting out of Alonzo Larkin’s tangled affairs took at least a dozen years. Mary Larkin’s claim notwithstanding, a petition dated January 16, 1862 (prepared by W. A. Evans for Thomas J. Gates) stated,


    ...deceased did frequently during his life ask and request your Petitioner that he would if he survived him...administer and take charge of his estate...some ten or fifteen thousand dollars worth of property in said [Fannin] county...[and] having no surviving widow.


    The first Inventory and Appraisal included “1 gold watch, $40.” An addition in November 1862 showed three items: 1 Rifle Gun, $5; 1 Double Barrel Shot gun, $15; 1 negro girl, $400. In reports submitted to the court at intervals, “Hire of negro girl 1863 $72; Hire of negro girl 1864 $61” are repeated. 

    Cash received, amounts paid out, grew long. “Sale Bill Estate of Alonzo Larkin,” signed by T. J. Gates (March 7, 1862): 3 thimbles to A. Sloan, .05...1 shot gun barrel to Sam’l Johnson, .25...1 Bed frill to W. W. Kennedy, $1.45...1 oxwaggon to A. Sloan, $10...1 gold watch to W. A. Evans, $30.50. Hogs and cattle—Sold. “Cash for Sale of Mill to Phipps—$1000.” Set apart for the children: 5 milk cows, $50; 2 yoke of oxen, $95; 2 horses, $150; 1 wagon, $85; 20 head of hogs, $40....


    1862 March 31: Robert Petty became the guardian of Larkin’s six minor children: Sarah, John, William, Lucinda, Elizabeth and Alonzo, aged thirteen years to four. When the children later challenged Thomas Gates, John was  plaintiff.

    1866 April 30: Petty reported $137 spent for the children.

    1868 July 4: Thomas Eason, marrying Sarah, became the guardian of “four surviving children.”


    ...one having died...[they] worked on Petty’s farm and about the house...the girls worked in the fields...ordinarily clad and fed and were sent to school very little, none of them are able to write their names....


    Alonzo Larkin had owned almost 7,000 acres in two counties adjacent to Fannin, Lamar and Grayson.

    Turner Green, Confederate Tax Assessor Collector, paid $20.45 for the other “gold watch.”

    And the “negro girl” drops from sight. Perhaps her name was “Rean”.