Joseph Thompson Lawrence
& Macca (Orange) Lawrence
of Navarro County, Texas


Biography Index





Photos & document scans submitted by Casey Sifuentes, whose grandfather was Lee Stevens Lawrence and whose
great, great, great, great grandmother was Macca Lawrence



The name Lawrence has long been recognized among the pioneer families of Western Navarro County, Texas.   Joseph Thompson Lawrence arrived in The Republic of Texas with his brother, William, in the early 1840's and settled at Fort Franklin, seat of the Colony established in Mexican Texas by Sterling Clack Robertson of Tennessee.  The number of inhabitants of Fort Franklin was pitifully small, but the smallness of numbers was overshadowed by the enthusiasm of the future.  Most residents were from Tennessee, especially from the Duck River area south of Nashville.  Some families, like the Dread Dawsons, had come from the southeast area of Texas along the Sabine River. Other family names included Hill, Pendergast, McMillan, Walker, Fullerton, Matthews, Pierce, Richey, Melton, and more.

It is not known just what work Joseph and William Lawrence performed or what prompted them to came to Texas.   Family lore remembered that Joseph had left Tennessee as a result of some family difficulty.   The family lore did not state whether the "difficulty" was within or without the immediate family.  It was remembered that Joseph was a tall and handsome young man.

Word came in 1847 that his mother was ailing and Joseph and William returned to Rutherford County, Tennessee.   After the death of his mother the family estate was divided.   William, apparently, decided to remain in Tennessee and married Agnes Dement.  Their daughter Lessenby was born in 1849. Joseph's inheritance included a family of slaves, Henry Caruthers, his wife, and two sons.  Joseph returned to Texas in the fall of 1847 and brought the Caruthers family with him.

The Caruthers name entered the Lawrence family in 1791 when James Caruthers married Elizabeth Lawrence in Mecklenburg Co., North Carolina.   The Caruthers family was said to have settled, originally, in Australia, and resettled in North Carolina.

Several Lawrence families were part of the Scotch-Irish who settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and were found in the 1700's in Botetourt County. Samuel and Mary Lawrence lived on Craigs Creek.  Their son, James and his wife, Elizabeth lived nearby.  Isaac Lawrence, "Late of Kentucky," was there in 1795. Isaac may have been one of the many veterans of the American Revolution given land grants in Kentucky and had gone there to establish his claim.

William Lawrence, whose wife was Mary, had inherited some land from James Lawrence.   Botetourt wills record that James Lawrence had died in 1773. His wife was Frances and he had brothers whose names were Robert, and John.

Neighbor names included Isaac Dawson,  William Dempsey, Archibald Graham, James Hall, George and James Houston, John Matthews, Alexander Ritchey, and William Slaughter. 

John Lawrence was killed by Indians in 1787 in Sumner Co. Tennessee.  Many Botetourt settlers had moved to Sumner Co. at that time, claiming bounty lands for having served in the American Revolution.  Maj. William Hall and two of his sons were killed there the same year.

Interesting is the fact that Lawrence Thompson was living in Sumner Co. Tennessee in 1787.    Sam Lawrence may have had a sister who married a Thompson and she gave the name Lawrence to her son, a common practice. Lawrence Thompson had married Kiziah Hart, daughter of Nathaniel Hart and sister of Simpson Hart. Their children were: Richard Lawrence Thompson, Sarah (Fanny) Thompson, Nathaniel Hart Thompson, China Burton Thompson, and Azaniah Thompson.
Sally Thompson, probably a sister to Lawrence Thompson, married George Blackmore in 1787 in Sumner Co. Tennessee.

The mother of Joseph Thompson Lawrence was born Jane Thompson in 1790 and her father was John A Thompson, born 1750.   John A. may have been a veteran of  the American Revolution and, may have taken advantage of bounty lands in Tennessee.  His mother MAY have been a Lawrence and Lawrence Thompson MAY have been his brother.

Thomas Lawrence was found in Wilkes Co. North Carolina in 1809, which could have been Mecklenburg Co. in 1791 when Elizabeth Lawrence married James Caruthers.  Many of the Mecklenburg area settlers migrated to Richmond Co. Georgia in the late 1700's and early 1800's.    Dread Dawson was born there in 1790 and many names common to Western Navarro County, Texas a century later were found in the Augusta, Georgia area.

Joseph Thompson Lawrence had observed the teenage daughter of David McCandless.    Macca Orange McCandless was not more than twelve when Joseph came to Fort Franklin, but she was seventeen when he returned from Tennessee in 1847.  They married the following year.

David McCandless had received Mexican land grants on the headwaters of Richland Creek that amounted to almost 5,000 acres, but would not be settled until 1856. Death had come often to the David McCandless home after they arrived in Texas.  One son drowned in the Brazos River while on his way to join Sam Houston's army.  His wife died a few months later.  Another son died of pneumonia after a wagon trip to Houston.  Two daughters married, both died soon after their marriages.   Mary Minerva McCandless married William Walker whose sister had married Brit Dawson.  Macca Orange McCandless had married Joseph Thompson Lawrence.

David McCandless informed his two remaining daughters and their husbands that they would each received half of the 5,000 acres of his land grant and that whoever settled the land first would have first choice of the land.  Mary Minerva and her husband settled there in 1856 and chose the "bottom land."  It appeared a great choice until heavy rains came several years later and flooded the area.

Joseph and Macca Orange McCandless Lawrence, David McCandless, and the Henry Caruthers family, moved there in 1858.   Joseph and Macca raised a fine family.    Joseph served the CSA Army from the beginning of hostilities until the end of the war.  After the war he shot and killed a Yankee soldier in a saloon at Spring Hill.  (See Momma, I Killed a Yankee).

Members of this pioneer family helped make Texas great and continue to make distinct contributions to the well being of America.  They became farmers, stockmen, peace officers, school teachers, judges, merchants, and more. Lawrence family members have proudly worn service uniforms in every war in which this country has been engaged.   Bill R. Lawrence (1924-1998) was a Navy Corpsman attached to the U S Marines and was in several major battles in the Pacific Theater.  He was wounded on Iwo Jima.

Below is an unproved genealogy of this family.   Corrections and/or additions to this genealogy will be appreciated.

copyright 1998
POB 454



This Page Last Updated on 08/13/18
Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright 2001 Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox