Ursula

and the Rev. Samuel Wright

 

    For Wyatt Kennedy’s trial, John Hart was grand jury foreman.  John P. Simpson delivered the indictment. Potential jurors included William Lankford, Silas Colville, William Twitty, Leth Parker, Daniel Montague, William Wiley and Joseph Jeffrey, “from which list the prisoner elected the...jury to pass upon his trial....” Daniel Montague was foreman. Kennedy pled “not guilty” on November 3: “...hearing the evidence as well on the part of the Prisoner as of said Republic....”     

    1840 November 9: “...not guilty... set at liberty by the sheriff.”


    The court appointed William Lankford co-administrator, with widow Ursula (born about 1818), of Journey’s estate, but on July 31, 1840, Lankford resigned and William E. Wiley petitioned, by virtue of his marriage to Ursula, to be made administrator. Joseph Sowell, Daniel Montague and James B. Shanon appraised Journey’s estate. Their inventory totaling $6,565.19 was accepted in December. The court ordered the sale of “the ballance of the personal property belonging to the...Deceased except the Negro Girl....”


    1848 August 24: Ursula Wiley, “late widow” (again), received 1,200 acres “off the North End of the Jeffries survey, on which she now resides...so as to include the improvements....”

   

    Ursula married a third time, to John Brown, in 1852. She had four children by William Wiley and two additional by John Brown. They continued to live at her place on Caney Creek until Brown died in 1858. Ursula herself died in Bonham on November 27 or 28, 1859; her brother John Lankford became the executor of her will and guardian of her children. He had authority to sell “all my personal Estate and my negro girl Rean,” putting the money out at interest to educate the children, “each out of its particular fund.” The two oldest were placed with Rev. Sa
muel Wright (pictured), pastor of the Sandy Creek Baptist church, “that they may be educated.” The youngest child went to Ursula’s sister.


J. W. Connlee, “Old Choc,” is writing:


       In 1856 Rev. S. J. Wright came from Southern Texas to Kentuckytown. His parents came to Texas and settled on the Colorado river when he was a small boy. When he was converted he felt that it was his duty to point sinners to the Lamb of God. And believing that a man should not engage in any calling without first preparing himself for it, and not being satisfied with his attainments, he entered Baylor University after he had married where he cultivated his mental powers with the same energy that subsequently marked his ministerial career. I have seen the humble log cabin in which he and his noble wife lived while he was preparing himself for the great work he afterwards accomplished. And I wish that young men who desire the office of a bishop would follow his example and not plunge headlong into a work for which they are not qualified. Wright was not a beautiful speaker, but his sermons were always instructive and hence were listened to with marked attention. He was an able writer and here his greatest power lay. He had a keen logical mind and was thoroughly skilled in his method of attacking error and defending the truth. Through his whole life he was distinguished for the warmth of his friendship, the firmness of his faith in Baptist doctrine, the sincerity and ardor of his piety and the faithfulness of his ministry. He succeeded Portman in the pastorate at Kentuckytown, and then moved to Sandy Creek and took the pastorate of that and the Bonham church which he served until his death, Oct. 14, 1868. He held a high place in the estimation of his brethren and did more than any other man to lay broad and deep the foundation of that success that has attended the cause of Christ in North Texas. The first sermon I preached after my ordination was his funeral. He was buried near the Sandy Creek church and a few years afterwards [his] faithful wife followed him and sleeps by his side.


    1860 June 8: The land in Ursula’s estate was appraised at $6 per acre but was not for sale “until the youngest child comes of age.” Lankford’s report in April 1861 showed “tuition for Jarome and Susan” in the previous year as $12. 

    The land was sold in 1869 to A. W. Jolley.


    In a protracted law suit, Louisa Brown vs. A. W. Jolley, Ursula’s daughter (b. 1853) tried to establish a claim to part of her mother’s estate, citing Susan Wiley as half sister. And, just a little, depositions start to draw the woman Ursula of earliest “Mulberry” out of shadows. When her household goods were sold, Samuel Johnson for $1.00 bought “two dishes.” Mrs. Lucretia Lankford bought a molasses pitcher for $1.35. The inventory of her property included a house and lot in Bonham; one Negro girl, “Lorina, called Rene”; one horse; one mare; one rifle; the irons of an old wagon.

    “There is a mare pony and a young horse belonging to the Estate, but where they are is not known.”

    A creditor presented his bill for items purchased by Ursula in 1858: “Bot of Nunnellee & Coffar” ... umbrella, calico, tumblers, rope, flannel, tin dipper, pencils, needles, ribbon, coffee mill, bees wax, starch, spool.... The bill totaled $61.07.        

    Reuben Lewis was still due (a year later) $10.00 for “making a coffin for the dead.” The court ordered him paid on March 25, 1861.

    “In her own name” Ursula had purchased two tracts of land and “a certain negro girl named Lorina, a girl about fourteen years.” Louisa claimed that her mother’s property was wrongfully sold. When she married a farmer, C. G. Hartman, in July 1872, Louisa was nineteen; the case was still unresolved when she died in December 1874. The next year a jury decided in Hartman’s favor, but Jolley appealed for a new trial.


    And Lorina, called Rean?  One is tempted to speculate that she passed first into the household of Alonzo Larkin, then “freedom.”