Removing the Clouds

 

    In 1843 all Hardin Hart’s land in the future “Mulberry” was sold at the courthouse door in Bonham to Thomas A. Dagley.


    In the 1850 census Dagley is “sheriff and census taker.” Tom Scott in “Lawlessness in Fannin County” indicates that, as sheriff, Dagley organized the posse which searched the bottoms of Bois d’Arc creek south of Bonham for Rice Smith (Big Horn Smith, described by editor Charles DeMorse as “a perfect wild man of the woods”) after Smith killed Captain John Nail. Nail had earlier led a group of men intent on driving Smith out of Fannin County, on suspicion of participation in widespread criminal activity. “A young boy who was riding with Nail fled back to Bonham with news of the incident.” Scott concludes this episode: “The final disposition of the case is summed up in one paragraph in the district court records. The State of Texas vs. Rice Smith. Monday 16 November 1846. ‘This case is abated by the death of the defendant.’” Smith was lynched near Bonham by a group of unidentified men.


    When ownership of the Mulberry land was contested in 1872, Hardin stated he was


    ...present at the pretended sale...and publickly objected to all the bystanders and bidders.... I claimed it as my own Headright and continued to claim the same until I sold it.

I let it lay like I did all the balance of my wild lands.


    Dagley (in 1844) sold Hardin’s entire “wild lands” survey to Simeon K. Woodrow, “a longtime and respected citizen of the county,” but Woodrow was killed on November 4, 1845, unarmed, not in the common way with a Bowie knife, but with a double barreled shotgun. Woodrow’s widow Nancy in the next twenty-six weeks of the Standard offered a reward:


“Stop the Murderer”


    I will pay $500 reward for the apprehension and delivery to the Sheriff of Fannin County of Lemuel M. Cochrane, late a resident of said County. Said Cochrane murdered my husband Simeon K. Woodrow in a most inhuman manner and without cause or excuse on Saturday morning the fourth instant and has fled from justice. Description: Lemuel M. Cochrane is about 5 feet 6 or 8 inches high, sandy complexion and spare made, red hair, I believe blue eyes, quick spoken, voice somewhat feminine. He has a stiff knee caused by a gunshot, the right knee, I believe and carried it very crooked. He is supposed to be 31 or 32 years of age. He will be readily recognized by his hair and crooked leg. Nancy Woodrow  Fannin County


    In addition to his lands in Fannin County, Simeon Woodrow owned numerous tracts in Hunt and Collin counties. A will expressed his concern for wife, children—remember the names of two, Ephriam and Margaret—and slaves:


On the account of the deplorable and destitute situation of a lone woman and small children without any protector, friend or relation in this republic and the inconvenience of schools for the education of my children I want my widow, Nancy Woodrow, to have the same power as myself or full power and authority as myself to collect my debts and settle my business and to remove to any part of the world she may think most proper.... I want her to give my children a liberal education and I give her full power to collect all debts and transact all my business and to sell any property or all property except the Negro slaves. If ever my wife should take a notion to marry it is my will and wish for the said P. Hashan and E. Hashan to be the administrators and guardians of my children and if she should marry again, I want her to have the sum of $100, and the remainder of my property to be put in the hands of the administrator and guardians of my children. My Negro slaves to be hired by said administrators and guardians at private sale to persons that will treat them well and give them good clothes and plenty to eat. My money to be collected and laid out in hands in the United States or put out at interest in good hands for the use and benefit of my children when they arrive at the age of maturity, and then to be divided equally and my Negro slaves to be hired to punctual men and men that will treat them well, if they hire for only half wages....


He was saying, “If you treat them well, you may hire my Negro slaves for half wages....”


    T. L. Green, Confederate Tax Assessor and Collector in District No. 25, issued a “certificate for purchase of Real Estate at Tax Sale [August 1862]...entire tract in the name [survey] of Hardin Hart...to secure the war tax due the Confederate States of America for the year 1861....” The owners were the heirs of Simeon K. Woodrow, Ephriam and Margaret.


    1864 November 23: “[Woodrow]...not being in the Military Service of the Confederate States, and two years having expired since the date of the purchase and sale...,” Robert W. Cook received all “right and title” to 1,475 acres. Judge Evans later wrote:


    Robert W. Cook, a saddle and harness maker, resided here. He was a native of Sumner County, Tennessee...settled in Bonham and carried on his saddle and harness making business up to 1861. Though a cripple he entered the Confederate service and was in several battles, but the hardship of field service was too much for his physical strength and he was honorably discharged from the army. He never married....


   Two years after his 1867 arrival in Texas, Charles Grace (pictured) also made an investment in Mulberry land.


    1906 February 11: (Bonham Daily FavoriteMaj. Chas. D. Grace is dead. Whisper it softly.... The atmosphere was pregnant with criminations and recriminations. The North was composed of busy money getters and the South of a splendid type of chivalrous aristocrats.  The crash came. The war was on and the men of the North were pitched against the men of the South in battle array. When the hour came Charlie Grace was in the front ranks. He enlisted in April 1861, in Co. B, Capt. Fauntleroy Todd, 4th. Georgia Regiment, Col. J. M. Mathews’ Doles’ Brigade, and was mustered into the service the same month at Norfolk, Va. A more gallant soldier and brave defended the South had not. He was a born soldier and the boom of the canon and rattle of musketry and the clashing of the sabers only inspired him and diffused determination to win or die in the attempt. He was not a commissioned officer, as many suppose, but was recommended by his officers and by Gen. Lee for the position of major, but the secretary of war did not issue the commission and Chas. D. Grace went through the war in the private ranks. He was often sent out in charge of the sharp shooters and it is said that he was one of the best and most trusted men in that kind of work that could be found.

    He, it was, who saw Gen. Sedgewick at a distance as he was silently creeping upon the outstanding pickets of the Southern army, and with a well directed shot ended the earthly career of that Federal officer. There can be no doubt of this statement as history, unwritten save in the newspapers.... Before the war he had studied law in the office of old Senator Ben Hill of his native state, and to that he gave his attention when peace was declared.

    Hearing of the great possibilities of Texas, he decided to cast his lot with the lone star state, and in 1867, he started for the great undeveloped southwest.... Maj. Grace [married and] bought the home [in Bonham] in which they lived so long and so happily, and in which he died.  This is a historic old place.  About it clustered the pleasant memories of the past. It was the old stage coach station, the home of Judge Roberts, the scene of all Bonham’s social functions and the trysting place for “Fair women and brave men” who were in love. He loved the marks of antiquity about it as he loved it for what it had been as well as for what it is.

    Maj. Grace was a devout Methodist and there was something radically wrong if he was not found in his pew on Sunday. No man ever lived who loved more the old songs of the church than did Major Grace. Gentle as a child, brave as a lion, proud as a king, he won the respect of those about him.



    The North’s victory in war meant that, with the help of lawyers, Simeon K. Woodrow’s heirs, his children in Missouri, Ephriam and Margaret (she had married John Forshee), might recover lands sold for nonpayment of the Confederate war tax. On November 11, 1868, Ephriam Woodrow addressed “Mr. Lyday & Taylor”:


    Dear Sir  After some delay your letter of the 5 Oct arrved. I want you to attend to my buizness if you please. I will contend for one half of the Pope farm. I will pay you 1000 dollars if you gain it and if you dont I will pay you for your troubles and cost including the land in Collen and other Counties the hole thing. I will come out. I will send you a certified showing that I am one of the airs of S K Woodrow if it is nesezary of a coppy of the record of Fathers mareg if I can find it. I will send or bring them and I want you to write when you think the Triel will come of. I will try and be their at that time.  Yours Direct to Bowen Mills  E Woodrow


    1869 August 4: Ephriam Woodrow sold half the Hardin Hart survey to Henry Washington Lyday, Robert H. Taylor and Charles D. Grace, all lawyers in Bonham. Taylor soon sold his interest to Grace. But in the same month, Hardin himself sold the same land to Samuel A. Roberts and Richard Simple.


John Forshee’s Deposition


    In either 1867 or ‘68 [I went to Texas]...to look after myself and my wife’s landed interests. [We] revoked the power of attorney [given Ephriam], or intended to revoke [it] when Ephriam Woodrow returned [to Missouri] from Texas...in the spring or summer of 1869...[when] I first learned...that he had sold and conveyed to R. H. Taylor and Lyday and Grace...a part of the headright of Hardin Hart....

    In the Spring of 1870 or in 1871 I was in Bonham, Texas and saw Lyday while there, and I told Lyday that I was dissatisfied with the Sale made by [Ephriam] Woodrow  to Taylor, Grace & Lyday...and told him that he ought to pay me back my money or deed the land back to me as he had not complied with his contract. Lyday then said to me, “Forshee, I will make it all right with you; let it go.” After this conversation and during the same month I had another conversation with...Lyday. I told him you promised me to make this land matter all right and that I wanted him to do it. He then turned off and would not give me any satisfaction about it. I then left and that is the last time that I ever saw him.... I think I asked Lyday what he would take for his interest in the Hardin Hart headright. He said that there was others interested in the land and that he could not sell it. He did not price it.... I sold a part of the Hardin Hart headright [March 16, 1871] to Dickerson, Young & Abernathy; I think that H. W. Lyday drew and prepared the papers in the transfer....


    Meantime, Hardin Hart sold the land (yet again) to J. P. Smith (possible relation to Gideon not known) who proceeded to sue George Lightfoot, a tenant of Lyday and Grace. Hart claimed the original sale in 1843 was a fraud. From his deposition, April 29, 1873:



    ...I am 58 years of age, reside in Dallas county...lived in Fannin County from 1836 to 1848.... I refuse to answer this question for want of certainty...my wild lands...the amount paid me was...expressed in the deed...in gold coin...he made no inquiry of me as to the land title. I stated to him that I had the Patent.


    1875 January 4: [Forshee’s attorney] ...does not know whether Ephriam Woodrow was an educated man...but thinks that Forshee told him...Ephriam Woodrow got some cattle in the trade.... He does not remember of Woodrow or Forshee telling him that Woodrow was forced to make the sale to Taylor, Grace and Lyday.

[Forshee] Taylor was recommended to me as being a reliable man and a good lawyer and understood the land business.... I was to pay R. H. Taylor one thousand Dollars for his services...provided that he gained the Pope tract...and if he did not...I was to pay him only one or two hundred dollars for his services.... I understood from Taylor that all of the lands owned by the heirs of S. Woodrow deceased had clouded titles.... I employed Robert H. Taylor and H. W. Lyday to take charge of all of our lands in Texas and to remove the clouds from the titles.

Neither myself or my wife ever at any time transferred or conveyed my wife’s interest in the Hardin Hart survey of land to H. W. Lyday, Charles D. Grace, and Robert H. Taylor.... I don’t know what services said attorneys performed for us.... I think that we have lost more than we have gained....

[Robert Simple] The deposition in question was one taken from Ephriam Woodrow, then residing in...Missouri...on 14th of July 1874...deposition was...returned to the court on 28th of August 1874 and no attempt was made to suppress...until the 3rd of May 1875...on the 19th of May 1875, this court...suppressed said deposition...motion to suppress...was not made in time to enable plaintiff to retake.... Taylor, Grace and Lyday had brought suit against... Woodrow for four thousand dollars...he saw that he could not help himself and he then deeded...premises...and other facts showing the unfair procurement of said deed....


    1877 March 6: A jury found for Lyday and Grace; they retained title to half the Hardin Hart survey. Margaret Forshee was required to pay $2,100 in “legal fees” and for “improvements.” (Maybe she refused; her interest ends.)

    1877 December 1: Henry W. and Thomas Lightfoot bought Charles Grace’s interest in the Hart survey for $2,000.

    1879 January 21: The Lightfoot brothers and H. W. Lyday divide the Hart survey; the Lightfoots took the south end, Lyday the north.