Rev. Hampton McKinney
of Navarro County, Texas


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C. L. Jester: Now, Aunt Jane I want you to tell me all you remember in reference to Hampton McKinney, your father, John McKinney, your grandfather, and my great-great-grand father.

Mrs. Beaton: The McKinney family as the name indicates is of Scotch Irish descent but the farthest I can go back is your great-great-grand father, my grand father, who I remember quite well, although I was quite young when he died.

John McKinney was born in North Carolina, what year I do not remember, and died in 1843 at my father's house in Macoupin County, Ill. He married Catherine Eaves, who was related to General Wade Hampton and their oldest child, my father, was named Hampton. John and Catherine McKinney had seven children: three boys, Hampton, Jefferson and Jubilee and four girls, Susan, who married Mr. Otwell, Nancy who married Fenwick Kendall, Polly who married Mr. Gilliam and Diana who married William Hadley. Hampton was the oldest and Jubilee the youngest. I can not state the year that my grandfather John McKinney moved from North Carolina to Illinois, but I know it was after 1797 for my father, Hampton McKinney, was born in North Carolina in that year. John McKinney was in the Revolutionary War and I think he must have been associated in some way with General Francis Marion, for he had a pair of silver spurs given to him by the General. These spurs are still in the possession of one branch of the McKinney family at Corsicana. As I remember, my grandfather was a small man, very quick and energetic in his manner, occupied with something all the time. His wife used to say that he would read if the house was burning down. He died at our house in 1843, four years before we moved to Texas, and is buried in a small private cemetery in Macoupin County.

Hampton McKinney, my father and your great-grandfather, moved with his father to Madison County, Ill. He married Mary Clark, whose family was of English descent. They had twelve children, eight girls and four boys: Lucinda and Louisa (twins). Lucinda died when about eight and Louisa was engaged to be married when she died at age twenty; Diadema, your grandmother, married Levi Jester; Monroe, John P. and Thomas (twins); Jefferson who died when small; Nancy who married John Harlin; Jane, myself, who married Alexander Beaton; Kate, who married Hamilton Morrel and Mary and Martha (twins). Martha died in infancy and Mary married John L. Miller.

Hampton McKinney, owned a large farm in Madisono County, Ill., just across the river from St. Louis. When I was about eight years old, he moved to Macoupin Co. Ill., where we lived there until we moved to Texas. We did not have the luxuries that we have not for they were not to be had, but we always had plenty of everything and father seemed to be in better financial condition than any of the rest of the family. Illinois was not a slave state so we had no servants. My mother and the girls did all the house work and my father and the boys did the farm work. One thing we did have was fine horses, and we could ride, and ride well. Besides my father being a farmer, he was a local Methodist preacher and belonged to the Methodist Church South. He never followed this profession as a means of livelihood, but he loved to preach and gave his services for the simple love he had for the work. I remember the big revivals he used to hold when I was a child. He loved to read and was a constant reader of the Bible - you might say a Bible student, and he always held family prayer in his home every morning as long as he lived. He was a quiet man and took no interest in politics.

My father's brothers, Jubilee and Jefferson McKinney, had visited different parts of Texas on a prospecting trip, and decided Navarro County was the best place to locate, and Jefferson got my father interested in moving to Texas. Jubilee told him so much about the fine land there that he decided he wanted it for his sons. We left Illinois in the summer or early fall of 1846 - a big party of us, My father and his family, (a big family it was, too,) had three or four wagons and a large carryall drawn by two horses for mother and the younger children. His brother, Jefferson, his wife and five children, had two large wagons. His sister, Nancy Kendall, her husband, Fenwick and their several children had one big wagon wagon called a Prairie Schooner. It had a different shape and was much larger that the other wagons. My sister, Nancy, had just married John Harlin and they came to Texas on their honeymoon, so needed only one wagon. There were several young men: Jubilee McKinney, John Gilliam, a cousin and Jim Moore, a cousin of the Kendalls. The young girls in the party were Kate McKinney, my sister, and Kate and Mary Kendall, our cousins. I was just 15 years old at the time. The only things we brought with us were what we would need for the trip - tents, beddings, dishes and cooking vessels. Father and the other men carried their money in a belt which they always wore. It took us two or three months to finish the journey but we did not hurry and when we reached a place we liked we would camp there until we were ready to move on. We came through the Indian Nation, as it was called then, and saw lots of Indians but there were all friendly. The boys would take us girls on horseback to the Indian dances. Just as we were getting into [present] Ellis County there

Rev. Hampton McKinney is buried
in the Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana,
Navarro County, Texas
Part 1, Section B inside U shape
Marker Photo by
Dana (Bell) Stubbs

 was some talk of unfriendly Indians but nothing happened.

I will go back now and tell you something about your grandfather and grandmother Jester who were left behind when we moved to Texas. Diadema McKinney was the oldest daughter of Hampton McKinney who lived to be grown and married. She was born in 1821 in Madison County, Ill. and married Levi Jester about 1841 I think. Father and Mother were very much opposed to the marriage so they ran away - I don't know where they married. Afterwards they lived with Uncle William Hadley and didn't come home for a long time. The reason Father didn't want her to marry him was that he just drifted in from Delaware - said he was away from his folks and nobody knew anything about him. But that was all that was against him - he was a stranger and nothing was known about him or his family. He was a small man - your father, Charlie Jester, favored him more than any of the boys. They stayed on in Madison County, Ill. until after the birth of their first child, your father, in 1841, but they lived in Macoupin County when we moved to Texas. Soon after we left, they moved to Waverly where Levi died - I think about 1850 or 1851. After his death, Diadema Jester and her children stayed there until 1858 when they came to Texas. Charlie was then 17 years old and he and his mother made a living for the family. My brother, Monroe McKinney, went back to Illinois and brought them here. Major Beaton gave them a lot and she built a house there.

Coming back to our arrival in Texas, when we reached Navarro County, we stopped at Dresden and stayed there until the next winter. I know we raised a crop of sweet potatoes and everybody said they were the largest ones ever seen around there. We had a log cabin of one room and a shed and another room off in the yard where the boys slept.

While we lived there there was a big camp meeting over where Bazette is now and we all went to the meetings. Coming back, we passed right through the place where Corsicana is now located. There was nothing there but it was such a beautiful part of the country that my father decided to locate his certificate there and make a permanent home for his family. He bought an empty cabin, moved it on what was later the site of the R. Q. Mills home and located his headright certificate for 640 acres. My brothers, John and Thomas, each had a certificate for 320 acres and Jubilee located his 320 acres just north of town where the old Jubilee home now stands. He was on the old bachelor list when he came to Texas but he married a Miss Story.

My father was really the first settler in Corsicana and had the first residence, if you can call a one room log house a residence. Afterward, when the town of Corsicana was located, he lifted his certificate and put in in Johnson County; however, he reserved a good part of the town property for his own use.

After the town was located he moved down to where the court house is now, moved two little cabins there and built a hallway between and a shed at the back and we lived there until he built the first hotel where the jail now stands. Called the McKinney Tavern, it was for many years the only hotel in Corsicana. It had two big rooms down stairs with a long gallery in front, two other rooms at one corner and a long ell back for a dining room and kitchen back of that. The upstairs was one big room. There were big fire places in the rooms but no stoves except the cooking stove. In fact, we had the first cooking store ever brought into Corsicana, and probably the first one in the county. Father ran the hotel as a means of livelihood and made a good living for a number of years, but he did not particularly care about that kind of work. We were living there when I met Major Alexander Beaton whom I married in 1852. All my sisters, except Mary, were married while we lived at the Tavern.

Major Alexander Beaton was born in 1820 in Scotland and came to this country as a young man. He was living in Independence, Mo. when the Mexican War began and enlisted there, serving throughout the War. Afterwards he came to Texas where he taught school at Chapel Hill in Washington County, then moved to New Orleans. I think he came to Corsicana in 1850 with Col. Croft, for they were always together. He studied law and after he got his license began to practice here. He and Col. Mills were partners before the Civil War and had their office on the east side of the square. Major Beaton finally became disgusted with the law and quit his practice, dealing solely with land trading. About four months after we married, we built a little home of our own on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Eleventh Street. He was always interested in the growth of Corsicana and it was largely through his efforts that the railroad came here in 1871. When the new part of town was laid off, he gave the land for Beaton Street, specifying that it should be 100 feet wide, and it still bears his name today, We had three children: Ralph, who lives in Corsicana; Kate who married Dr. S. W. Johnson and Tom, who has been dead for years.

My father, Hampton McKinney, died in 1857 of pneumonia, at the age of sixty years. After his death, my mother lived with us until she died in 1883/84.

I have lived here continuously for 74 years and have seen Corsicana grow and develop from the one room cabin my father built to the beautiful little city of today with its many handsome homes and buildings. Those early days were happy ones for me and I shall always look back on them with much pleasure for they were the days of my happy youth.

[Signed] Mrs. James Beaton 10 February 1921, before Lucille Bonner Notary Public For Navarro County, Texas

C. L. Jester: Aunt Mary, I would like you to give me your early recollections of our families early days in Illinois before they came to Texas. and also after they settled in Navarro County.

Mrs. Mary Miller: I was only a small child about eight years old when my father came to Texas, but I have some very vivid recollections of the old home in Macoupin County, Illinois and also of the trip to Texas.  I was born on a farm in Madison County, Illinois, near Edwardsville, but I was very young when my father sold that farm and bought a farm in Macoupin County where he lived until 1846 when we came to Texas. I can remember the comfortable two story house, the gardens and orchards and farm land that was our home.  Your grandfather Jester and his wife, my sister Diadema Jester, lived near us in Madison County at that time, and when we moved to Texas we came by their home and I ran in to see them and can remember so well picking up your uncle George who was the baby then and playing with him.  Your father, Charlie Jester, was then a little boy about five years old.  I remember him well at that time.  He was a very bright and smart little fellow. Cousin Helen Marshall taught school close to Girard, and Charlie went to school to her, and he was such a bright little fellow that she always had him making speeches for the school. I also went to school to her, my first school.  At that time there were not many school in our part of the State and very few churches; the preaching was mostly done in schools and private houses. And those who did not go in wagons would ride horseback, except in the winter time when we had sleighs, as we always had plenty of snow. I enjoyed the sleigh rides more than anything else.

Mother was opposed to coming to Texas but the children, like all young folks were eager for change and adventure, and the long journey overland - it was just an extended pleasure trip to us.  We came through St. Louis and crossed the Mississippi River on a ferry boat. St. Louis was a pretty big town at the time. We crossed the Red River at Fulton, Mo. and it was so red that it made a lasting impression on my childish mind. We came through the Indian Nation and saw plenty of Indians, but they were all friendly Indians and father would trade with them for feed for our horses.  I remember when we would stop near the Indian camps the boys would take the girls to the Indian dances.  Just before we reached Navarro County, we camped in Ellis County on Chambers creek, not far from Reager Springs.  R. N. White, who afterwards move to Corsicana, he lived near there with his family; and mother was sick and they came to get her and took her to their house and took care of her; we have always known them.  They moved down here soon after we did, and settled in Corsicana on what is now Fifth Avenue about a block from Beaton Street. Cyrus White was the first child born in Corsicana.

The first stop we made in Navarro County was at Dresden in which was about the center of the county, and the first people we got acquainted with was D. E. Hartzell's family who lived near there; and I always looked on him just like one of my brothers. He used to go with my sister; Kate, who afterwards married Ham Morrell. Dan Hartzell's sister waited on me when I was married. After we moved to Corsicana, Dan Hartzell, who was in business there, boarded with us for years and years, and was like one of our family. From Dresden we moved to Corsicana, only there was no Corsicana at that time, just an open prairie, and we lived for awhile in a little log cabin on what is now the R. Q. Mills place. From that place we moved into a big log house of two cabins with a small hall between, located on the square, between where the present court house is now and the jail, and lived there until father built the McKinney Tavern, on the right of the present jail. It was while we were living in this little house on the square that I first knew Col. Winkler. He came from the southern part of the state and was at that time, 1847 or 1848, judge of the first circuit court they had here. He boarded with us while we were living in this little two room house and went from our house to be married.

Mother got his clothes ready for him when he married his first wife, who was the widow of Thomas I. Smith, who was an Indian agent at that time.  When the war came on he enlisted and became a distinguished soldier.  It was during the Civil war that he married his second wife.

After father built the McKinney Tavern, we used to entertain all the lawyers who came to court.  Col. Winkler was one of the first lawyers I remember.  Some of the lawyers who were here in those days and stopped with us while we were keeping the tavern were Rob. S. Gould, who was district attorney and lived in Palestine; John H. Reagin;  (and) A. H. Willis, who was afterward Judge

Grave site of Rev. Hampton McKinney & Mary McKinney
Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana,
Navarro County, Texas
Part 1, Section B inside U shape
Marker Photo by
Dana (Bell) Stubbs

 of the Supreme Court. They used to come here to attend court. Some of the first lawyers that settled here were Maj. John L. Miller (and) Maj. A. Beaton. I afterwards married Maj.  John L. Miller, and my sister married Maj. A. Beaton. Then there was Col. R. Q. Mills who was a law student at that time and was later a partner of Maj. Beaton. He was a gallant young man at that time, and very good looking and popular and used to go with our crowd of young folks all the time. We would get together and go to camp meetings. The young men would write the girls notes to go, and would get a wagon and we would all go together.  Among the other lawyers here the were Col. Croft and Maj. L. T. Wheeler. Col. Croft married first Roxie Elliot, a daughter of Colonel Jacob Elliot. She only lived a short time, afterwards he married a Miss Lockhard, they are all dead now.

The first court house in Navarro County was situated on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 12th St., just across from where Mrs. Singletary now lives. It was a log house of one room and was used as a court house, a school house, a church and general assembly hall of the town for years.  I used to go to school there to Mack Elliot.  I think Col. Mills moved that house on his place years ago and it is there now somewhere.  The next court house was a frame building erected on the present sight of the court house in 1851. This court house burned down in 1855. It was reported at the time that the court house was set on fire by parties that wanted to destroy certain indictments and papers that were in there but it was never proved.  The court house was built in 1856, a brick building, on the same site and this was the same court house that your father, Chas. W. Jester, hauled the brick for, he had just come here from Illinois and had a good wagon and team and this was the first thing he found to do. This brick court house was used until it was torn down in 1880, and a new one built which was used until the present one was built.

The first church was built by the Cumberland Presbyterians, and was located about where Will Gordon's place on Third Avenue is now, then Main Street.  All denominations held services in this church and used it time about until the Methodist Church was built.  The next church built here was the Methodist church built in 1871.  I think it was a frame building and was between where the Methodist church and parsonage now stand.  That was the church on which the steeple fell down.  There was no Methodist Church here before the war.  I remember that was the only church here beforehand we used to go to the Cumberland Church to work for the soldiers during the war.  I remember they had a big convention in this church when Mills was nominated for Congress.  There was no regular Methodist preacher stationed here before the war. This was on a circuit and we had what was called "circuit riders." Among the first preachers who were circuit riders I remember was Old Brother Mose.  I think he was here as far back as 1847 when we lived in Dresden; Brother Hardin was another circuit rider who had some very bad boys, who were called the first desperadoes of this section, one of the sons was named John Wesley Hardin and was a notorious desperado. Another circuit rider was Brother Manley, who married me and my sister, Mrs. Beaton. Brother Fly was one of the early Methodist preachers here. He was a very smart man. Brother Campbell who married Samentha Starley, was another of the early preachers, and Horace Bishop and Brother Wells, and there was a circuit rider named Fergerson.  I remember the first preaching we had was in that old court house.  They used it for years for services; afterwards there was a large hall built about where Tom Kerr now lives on Third Avenue and they used the lower part for a church and school and the upstairs for a Masonic Lodge; that was the first place outside of the Court they held public mectings. It was built by the community and all denominations held church there;  and they used to have temperance meetings in the hall upstairs. This building was called Cedar Hall because it was built of Cedar logs; this hall was afterwards torn down.

The first school  I remember in Corsicana was taught in the old courthouse by Mack Elliot. He was a surveyer, and a nephew of old Jacob Elliot and the father of Mrs. John D. Lee and Mrs. Ellen Cheney and the grandfather of Mrs. H. C. Johnson. The next school I went to was in Cedar Hall taught by Capt. Peek. He and his wife taught that school and boarded with us at the McKinney Tavern, and their first child was born there.  Mrs. Peek used to lecture me about going with the boys.  She said I looked like a little Pin Cushion Sock on the arm of a boy. The truth was the boys would come to see my older sisters and as there were more boys than girls here at that time some of them would fall back on me when they could not get one of the older girls.  Mrs. Peeks health failed and they went back east somewhere and she died there and her child was burned to death. Afterwards he came back here and went into the mercantile business and kept a general merchandise store on the east side of the square. Afterwards he left here and went to Freestone Co. and settled at Fairfield and married again. Mack Elliot was quite a young man when he taught school here and boarded with us at the McKinney Tavern; he was afterwards a prominent surveyor here for years.

Among the early doctors here was D. Oakes, I think he went from here to Waco.  His wife was a right young thing and she used to send for me to stay with her when he was called away.  Then there was Dr. Leach, a very fine physician and Dr. Green Kerr, a brother of Uncle Jimmy Kerr, and Dr. Wootan and Dr. Tate, who was the husband of Mrs. Tate, a relative of Judge Frost. He was a high tempered man and fell out with my father because he sent for Dr. Dixson one time when he was sick.  Dr. Dixson was a peculiar kind of doctor.  He administered roots and herbs instead of regular medicines.  He was my father's doctor at the time of his death. Then there was Dr. Love, one of the early physicians here, and Dr. McKie, the father of J. W. McKie who married Eve Elliott, a daughter of Col. Jacob Elliot. Col. Jacob Elliot has three girls, Eve who married Dr. McKie, Roxie who married Col.  Croft and Lou who married H. P. Walker. Col. Elliot was a land trader here in the early days and first lived down near Richland and that is where his first wife died. He afterwards went back to Kentucky and married again and when he came back to Texas he lived in Corsicana.

The Loves were early settlers here.  W. M. Love built the first house in this County down near Patterson Lake.  Among the early settlers was R. H. White, who came here very soon after we did. Col. Henderson who came about the same time and built a house where the Third Ward School is now. He was a lawyer but he didn't practice much.  He had a rich brother in New Orleans who sent him money all the time, and he didn't do much of anything but chess. The Van Hooks were also early comers and lived out here on the H&TC RR just north of town. Capt.  E. E. Dunn was another. Buck Barry was sheriff about that time. S. H. Kerr came a little later. Jim Carytgers was another old settler. David R. Mitchell was one of the first settlers of Corsicana, and was the man who gave most of the land on which the old part of Corsicana is situated.  He donated to the town the land the courthouse square is on, and also the lot for the Methodist Church. He and my father were good friends and father was instrumental in getting him to donate this land. He owned a lot of land and really was a very fine man.

I went to school with his daughter, Bema Mitchell, who afterwards married Dr. Seale. The business part of the town was on the square and all the stores were around the square, but after the railroad came here in 1871 the town moved down towards the railroad. Maj. Beaton took great interest in getting the railroad here, so much so that it never would have come here If it had not been for him. He took Capt. Harris, who was the locating engineer, to his home and entertained him and his bride, and got Capt. Harris interested in locating the railroad at this point He also gave 640 acres of land and money besides. Uncle Jimmie Kerr stood right by Maj. Beaton in this enterprise, they had some land below town where the cotton factory is now and they cut this land up into lots and blocks and sold it and raised some of the money in that way to get the road here.

The first post office was in the McKinney Tavern and father acted as postmaster. I can remember as a child how I liked to hand out the letters to the people.  Also the first photograph gallery was in the McKinney Tavern, run by a man by the name of Isaac Cline. I was very fond of having my picture taken and he would practice on me.  The pictures he took were of old fashioned daguerreotypes.  The McKinney Tavern seemed to be the center of civilization for that part of the country in those early days. I don't think father was very anxious to keep the Tavern but there was no one else to do it and he was more or less forced into it. He didn't like the rough element that naturally congregated around a hotel in a frontier town so he finally sold out I think to David R.  Mitchell and built a house right about where Richard Mays built his house and where Homer Pace now lives.  We always speak of this place as the Pace Place, as Mr. Pace bought all this land afterwards. It was while I was living at this place that I married Maj.  John Miller and the other girls married while we lived at the McKinney Tavern. Maj. Miller came out here from Tennessee in about 1852 an entered into the practice of law in Corsicana and lived here all his life. He was born in 1821 in Murry Co. Tennessee and died in Corsicana, Texas in 1907 in his 86 year. He was a member of the Tennessee Legislature at the time James K. Polk received notice of his nomination for President.

At the beginning of the Mexican war he organized a company and commanded this company as Major which was the origin of his title of Major.  However there was another company organized that got in before his company.  I was married to Maj. Miller in 1855 and to this marriage the following children were born: Mattie Miller, now living in Corsicana; Terry Miller, who died when he was 20 years old, unmarried; John Lanty Miller; Beaton Miller, and Ursula all living.  After my marriage I lived at home for a while and then moved to the house which is now the servant house on the Nortie Kerr place, only then the house was north of the street and fronted west. I lived there a short while and then moved to the place where I am now living on the corner of 3rd Ave. and 15th St. In 1856 or 1857, we had a house on that lot of one room which was afterwards added to until it was a good sized house, and lived in that house until about two years ago when it was torn down and the present house was built in which I am living now.  In about 1858 Maj. Miller and I moved up near Rice, and it was during this time that my brother, Monroe McKinney, went back to Illinois and brought my sister, Diadema Jester and her family to Corsicana. That was in 1858 and they lived in our house until her own house was finished. Maj. Beaton gave her a lot 100/160 feet right where the telephone exchange is now and she built a house there, and after she moved to her home she took boarders for a living.

Diadema and Levi had the following children, all born in Illinois:  Charlie Wesley, your father; Martha, who married Jefferson Kendall;  Geo. T. Jester, whose first wife was Alice Bates, and his second wife was Fannie Gorden;  Mary D., who married James Hamilton; Vina, who married R. P. Bates, a drummer who drove a double team and carried his samples in the back of his buggy (they both died within the last few years); and L. L. Jester, who married a Miss Cain of Tyler, Texas.  Your father was about 17 years old when he came to Texas and as he had. a good wagon and team, about the first work he got to do was hauling brick for the court house they were building at that time, the first brick court house here.  He did first one thing and another to earn a living.  He then got work with old Man Jornigan, who kept a saddle shop on the square, and worked with him until he went to the war.  After the war he came back here and bought out old man Jornigan and ran the saddle shop for himself. He used to do a great deal with the cowboys and that class of people. His shop was on the square about where Col. Kerr's residence is now.

The Jesters brought with them to Texas the first painted or factory made wagon ever brought to the county and for years this wagon was used for a hearse in every funeral. It attracted a great deal of attention and the country people and children would gather around it and admire it as they do a circus wagon now.  Your Father, Charlie Jester, married Eliza Rakestraw, a daughter of Geo. A. Rakestraw, who lived down near Patterson Lake, and after they married they lived right next to his mother.  Monroe McKinney, my brother, married Lou Johnson. He went to the war and was killed at Yellow Bayou over in Louisiana; he left three children; his wife afterwards married a man named Allen.  John O. McKinney, another brother, went up into Johnson County and laid his headright certificate and lived there a good while but he got sick and came back home and died at our house while we were living where the Mays place was afterwards built. He was 27 years old at the time of his death and unmarried.  He was very handsome, quiet and reserved, not like any of the rest of us.  He was very much like my father.  My brother, Thomas McKinney, lived here with us until he married Jan Petty.  He then moved into Ellis county and lived there until his death.  Kate McKinney, who was the next youngest child to myself, married Hamilton Morrell, usually called Ham Morrell, who lived right where Judge Hardy's residence is now. Nancy McKinney, my sister, married John Harlin and came with us to Texas on their honeymoon trip. They settled right where the old Wereing place is now and had a mill there for a long time. John Harlin was a hustler and a very capable man, and could do anything. Could build a house better than anybody else.  In fact, there wasn't anything he couldn't do. Everybody liked him and respected him and if anybody got into trouble and needed help they would go right to John Harlin, and he would always help them out. He certainly used his hood offices to see that the law was defeated in the case of Ham Merrell.  He lived in Waxahachie for a while and then moved to Ennis and lived there until his death.  His descendants are still living in Ennis and are very prosperous folk.

My father was very much opposed to slavery; he didn't believe in owning Negroes. But after we came to Texas he had to buy some in order to get servants.  There was no other way to get help, so he bought a Negro woman we called Old Aunt Edie, paid $1,200.00 for her and her two children, but he never thought it was right to own slaves.  He didn't approve of dancing and we never had dances at the McKinney Tavern but they used to have dances at the Randall Hotel.  That was opened some time after we built the McKinney Tavern, and the boys would come after us girls and get father to let us go to the dances just to look on but we would always get to dance before we got back. We always told father we would just look on. Camp meetings were the principal amusement for the young folks that didn't dance. Father never objected to our going to camp meetings and the boys would get a two horse wagon and take a crowd of girls and boys and it was about as much fun as anything else.  We also had an occasional circus to come here; the first circus I remember seeing was Robinson's circus that was traveling through the country. Of course it had to travel by wagons as there were no railroads here then, and the circus grounds were where the 3rd ward school is now. All the town was up around the courthouse on the square and didn't move down to Beaton Street until after the railroad came here in 1871.  I remember the only herd of buffalo I ever saw was where the H & TC Railroad is now, that was all open prairie then.  There was a grove down here across the street from where the Ideal Theater is now, where they used to have public meetings, and I remember Sam Houston coming here to speak and he spoke in that grove there, and Maj. Miller introduced him.

That was before the war.  Houston was a union man and he was very much condemned for his union ideas. He said afterwards that he had made a mistake and regretted it after he knew the way our people felt about it. He and Col. Mills had a disagreement and I am sure that was the cause of it, for Mills was for the Confederacy good and strong.

The first newspaper published here before the war was a weekly paper called The Prairie Blade.  Dan Donaldson was the editor and his wife is still living, that was the only paper here before the war.

Old Col. Riggs was another one of the early settlers when we moved out of the cabin on the courthouse lot and went to the McKinney Tavern. Col. Riggs rented this cabin and that is where Mrs. Ruth Teas was born. Dan Hartzel was one of the early settlers here and ran a store on the west side of the square. Just back of Mr. Dyers house now, Cap. Peck was in the mercantile business for a while after he came back and A. Fox had a dry good store here before the war. His store was on the east side of the square, north of the Stell property. Uncle Jimmie Kerr had a store on the square and Col. Kerr and then there was a Jew named Michael had a grocery store. Uncle Jimmie Kerr had his store on the corner just across from the 3rd Ave. church where Mrs. Gowen now lives, and about the middle of the block Bob Morrell, a brother of Ham Morrell, had a saloon. He always had a rough crowd around his place and every Saturday night they would come in from the country and get drunk and get up fights and generally go out of town whooping and yelling.  Old man Byers was one of the earliest merchants here. I think Uncle Jimmie Kerr bought him out, all these merchants kept a stock of general merchandise, shoes and men's clothing. N. H. Butler and Sam Taylor were blacksmiths, and old man Burrow, who had a son that went to the war, and a man named Smith were also in the-blacksmith business at that time.

With the coming of the railroad after the war there were some new merchants; Sanger was here for awhile, and Padgett and Huey, and Schneider and Allyn, and Garity, all of that crowd followed the railroad on to Dallas, except Huey, Garity, and  Allyn who stayed here.  Sanger used to board with your grandmother Jester who made her living taking boarders, and your father used to help her until he married and went to keeping house right next door to her.  Your grandmother lived right where the telephone exchange is now and kept boarders.  Your Aunt Vina Bates was married from that house and your Aunt Mary Hamilton and your Uncle George married and brought his wife there, and there was where she died when her youngest child, Alice was an infant.

Your grandfather Rakestraw never lived in Corsicana. He was a farmer and lived near Patterson Lake near where Old Col. Elliot first settled.  Just after the war closed he went with quite a party of others to South America because they said they would not live under a Yankee Government, but they didn't stay in South America long and soon were all back here again.  I have lived in this town for nearly 75 years and am sure I could be called the oldest inhabitant in point of long residence but not in age, and in these reminiscences I have tried to recall the incidents in a long and happy life in relation in particular to our own family, the descendants of Hampton McKinney, my father, and your great-grandfather, who was the very first settler in Corsicana.
Mrs. Mary Miller
Sworn to and subscribed before me this the 10th day of Feb. A. D.1921-Lucille Bonner, Notary Public for Navarro County


Before me. Elmo Jeffers, a Notary Public in and for Navarro County, Texas on this day personally appeared Mrs. Helen V. Marshall, who being duly sworn upon her oat to the truth, deposes and says:
My name is Mrs. Helena V. Marshall, I reside in Venus, Johnson County, Texas. I live with my son, C. C. Marshall, who is cashier of the First National Bank Of Venus. I am over eighty one(81) years old. I am now visiting friends in Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas. I was born near Wheeling, West Virginia, in the year 1821 but immigrated with my father and his family to Morgan County, Illinois. In the year 1836 the county was subsequently divided, however, we then lived in Cass County, Illinois. I made frequent and long visits from Cass County, Illinois to Macoupin County, Illinois, during and subsequent to the year 1840. In the year 1876 I moved from the State of Iowa to the State of Texas, and remained one year. I returned to Texas again in 1880, and have since lived in Texas.

While visiting in Macoupin County, Illinois in the year 1841 I frequently met and conversed with one John McKinney then an elderly man. Before meeting John McKinney, however I met his wife Catherine Eaves McKinney, in the month of January 1841, and met John McKinney about Oct. 1841. I fix these dates at this late day to the election to the Presidency of the United States of William Henry Harrison recalling as I do that the presidential campaign was in progress when I was first visiting in Macoupin County and Harrison was seated in the spring of the next year. I met John McKinney and his wife both at the home of their son, Hampton McKinney and also at the home of their daughter, Mrs. Nancy McKinney Kendall. John McKinney, through his sonís wife, Mrs. Hampton McKinney (Nee Mary Banes Clark) was related to my family, and in this way I became quite intimate with he and his family.

John McKinney and his wife Catherine had seven children, as follows: Hampton McKinney, who married Mary Banes Clark; Jefferson McKinney, who married Lucinda Sams; Jubilee McKinney, who married a Miss Story; Susan McKinney, who married a Mr. Otwell; Diana McKinney, who married a Mr. William Hadley; Mary McKinney, who married who married a Mr. Glllam; and Nancy McKinney, who married a Mr. Fenwick Kendall.

To Hampton McKinney and Mary Clark McKinney were born the following children: Lucinda and Louisa, twins, both of whom died unmarried; Nancy McKinney, who married John Marlin; John and Thomas McKinney, were twins, John having died unmarried and Thomas having married Mary Jane Petty; Monroe McKinney, who married a Luisa Johnson; Jane McKinney, who married Major Alexander Beaton; Catherine McKinney, who married Ham Morrell; Mary and Martha, twins, Mary having married Major J. L. Miller, and Martha having died unmarried; and Diadema McKinney, born in Madison County Illinois in 1821 and died in Corsicana, Texas, married in 1840 in Illinois to Levi Jester, born in Delaware, died in 1850 in Waverly, Illinois. The following children were born: Charlie Jester, who married Eliza Rakestraw; Martha Louisa Jester, who married Thomas Jefferson Kendall; George T. Jester, whose first wife was Alice Bates and second wife was Fannie Gorden; Mary D. Jester, who married James Hamilton: Vina Jester, who married Robert Bates; and Levin Jester, who married Minnie Cain.

To Diana McKinney and her husband, William Hadley, were born the following children: Strage Hadley, Jestina Hadley, Cynthia Hadley, Wilbur C. Hadley and W. Flavius Hadley. Afflant has not been requested. and therefore does not undertake to give the names of the other grandchildren of the said John McKinney.

To Nancy McKinney Kendall and Fenwick Kendall were born the following children: Catherine or Kate, who married Mr. Cook; Mary, who married Mr. Dixson; Susan, who married Mr. Fred; Joseph Kendall. who died during the Civil War unmarried; Helen; Betty, who married Mr. OíNeal; Jennie, who married Mr. Ashford; Cyrus Kendall, who married Mandora House; and Emma, who married Mr. House. To Thomas Jefferson Kendall and wife Martha Louise Jester the following children were born: Edgar Jester Kendall born Nov. 22, 1865, married Willa Dean in 1890 (died 1944); and Charles Paul Kendall born Feb. 6, 1869, married Dec. 20, 1889 to Minnie Allen.

Now referring again to the said John McKinney; when I knew him I was a young woman, about twenty years of age and spent much of my time at the home of Hampton McKinney, where John McKinney and his wife lived about half of their time. John McKinney was a small man, being perhaps five feet six or seven inches high and weighing about one hundred and thirty pounds, fair complexion and had blue eyes; when I knew him his hair was perfectly white. He was an excellent conversationalist, was a great reader, had fine memory for historical dates, and was exceedingly tidy in his dress. Prior to the time I knew John McKinney he had lived on a farm in Madison County, Illinois but had broken up housekeeping and spent the remainder of his days with his children. I was accustomed during those days to talk with John McKinney for hours at a time. and he was to me, then a young woman, a most interesting character. I took a great deal of interest in hearing him tell of his services under General Francis Marion of South Carolina in the war of the American Revolution. I remember at the time we had a published volume of the life of General Francis Marion which I read aloud in his presence, and he added much to the bookís interest and instruction by supplementing it with explanatory remarks and illustrations in connection with the items of history upon which it touched. Many of the places referred to in the book, he said he had been over and was with General Marion and his men on many occasions to which it refers. In fact I heard John McKinney tell scores of times of his services under General Francis Marion. The following is a brief subsume as I now recollect it of Mr. McKinneyís statements to me as to his services in the Colonial forces, etc.

I will not be positive that he stated he was born in South Carolina, though the impression left upon me was that he was born there, and enlisted in there, and further evidence of the fact that he lived in South Carolina, or at least married there is this: as before stated, he married a Miss Catherine Eaves, whose mother was a sister of General Wade Hamptonís great grandfather and they, as I understand it were South Carolinians; they named their oldest son Hampton. I do not recall from what place he enlisted, nor do I remember in what place in South Carolina he lived, he always referred to it as simply South Carolina.

Jestina Hadley, Cynthia Hadley, Wilbur C. Hadley and W. Flavius Hadley.  Affiant has not been requested. He stated at about the age of Sixteen he enlisted in the Colonial Army, and my impression is he served during the remainder of the war; he stated he served under General Francis Marion. He may have stated he served under other officers, but if so I do not recall now under whom else he stated he served. Near General Marionís camp lived a certain influential and wealthy Tory family who made frequent calls at Marionís camp and pretended great friendship for Marion and the Colonists. But Marion suspected him of duplicity, and of real sympathy and friendship for the British, whereupon he called for some one who would undertake the task of a spy in order that the true attitude of this suspected (Tory) might be ascertained. Young McKinney volunteered to act out the roll, and was chosen. He dressed in ragged citizens clothes and at night was carried to a creek bottom some twenty miles from camp, and was there left alone; by degrees he worked his way towards the Tory house and in the course of a few days reached his destination. There he begged something to eat, and a place to sleep, and finally procured a position as a hireling there on the place.

By pre-arrangement he was to communicate with Marion by means of an improvised secret post office system, and general Marion was thereby kept informed. After remaining for two weeks or more young McKinney learned for certain of the Toryís disloyalty to the colonists, and was instrumental in bringing about the capture of the Tory farmer and quite a few British officers and soldiers who were at the Toryís house enjoying a feed. It seems that the British were at the Toryís house feasting at night preparing to attack Marionís men the following day, but while yet feasting, and ill prepared for battle, Marion and his men made an attack on them and succeeded in capturing the entire force, officers and men. Young McKinney (had) succeeded in procuring a horse from the pasture, and (had) carried the news to General Marion. McKinney, under the pretext of watering the horses and doing other chores about the place, would go to the improvised post office agreed upon, and there communicate by writing such matters as were of importance, and at night a carrier from General Marionís camp would come to the post office and get the latest bulletins and convey them to Marion.

In recognition of these services, I was told by Mr. McKinney (during the conversation referred to) that General Marion had presented to him a pair of silver spurs and had also afterwards written him a personal letter making mention among other things the spurs which he had presented him and of this services to his country, and in addition to this he told me he had his honorable discharge from the American Army.

Upon being-told of this by John McKinney, I expressed an intense desire to see the spurs and letter and discharge. He told me that they were at his old home in Madison County, Illinois but that he would have some of the boys, referring to his sons to get them the next time they went to Madison, and that I might examine and read them. Not long after this, Hampton McKinney (his eldest son) brought the spurs and letter and discharge to his home where his father was staying and I then had the privilege of examining and reading the letter and discharge, and discussing them with the said John McKinney. I distinctly recall that the spurs and letter and discharge were all brought together in a leather box.

It would be quite impossible at this late date to state even in substance the entire contents of the letter which purported to have been written by General Marion to John McKinney. I distinctly recall, however, that he addressed him "Dear Johnnie" and wrote to the following effect; that it was not the largest men that did the most to accomplish our liberty for you were one of the smallest men in my command and did more to trap the old Tory than any dozen men had done. You richly deserve the spurs I gave you. I wish they were gold. I also distinctly recall that he mentioned the recent death in Virginia of an officer who was a great friend of McKinney. It was a friendly kindly letter, and Mr. McKinney prized it very much. I cannot be positive as to the place from which the letter was written, though it seems to me Pee Dee was the place. I do positively recollect that frequent reference was made in the letter to Pee Dee.

The question asked to which of his sons to give the spurs seemed to worry John McKinney not a little. Hampton (the oldest)suggested in my presence to give them to Jubilee(the youngest)and his father replied that he knew Jefferson would not be pleased. It was apparent the father preferred Jubilee should have the spurs, but he did not care to offend Jefferson. It was thought by all that I(Affiant)was engaged to be married to Jubilee McKinney, and John McKinney placed the spurs in my keeping, exacting of me the promise that I would never part with them unless to give them to Jubilee. I took the spurs from him and left them at Hamptonís house for safe keeping, where John McKinney died a year or two afterwards. Hampton McKinneyís wife afterwards told me that a few hours before his death John McKinney asked her to bring him the spurs, and after looking upon them, fondly admonished her to tell Helen (the Affiant) to remember

her promise. The spurs remained there until the morning Jubilee, with several others, started for the first time to the then Republic of Texas, to inspect the new country. Desiring to escape the further responsibility, I presented the spurs to Jubilee as a parting gift. He took them with him, and I had not seen the spurs since until August 5th 1902, when one of the spurs was exhibited to me by Mr. C. Lee Jester, a son of C. W. Jester, and a great-great-grandson of John McKinney, and I readily recognized it as one of the same spurs(except that the rowel was missing) which John McKinney had shown me and placed with me more than sixty years before. The other spur I have heard was lost or stolen some fifteen years ago. This spur is now, I am told, kept in a time locked safe in the vault of the Corsicana National Bank, at Corsicana, Texas by C. W. and George T. Jester, great-great-great-grand children of the said John McKinney but the spur actually belongs to Mr. J. Preston McKinney, who lives near Corsicana, Texas, son of Jubilee McKinney.

Referring again to the letter and discharge mentioned, About the year 1846 I attended in Macoupin County, Illinois the wedding of Nancy McKinney and John Harlin at her fatherís (Hampton McKinney) house. I remember on the day of the wedding (at which there was naturally something of a family reunion) that Jefferson McKinney was looking over his fatherís papers and he came across the letter from General Marion and discharge which were at that time kept in an old leather pocketbook and he read them aloud and passed them around to the company for examination, after which he placed them back in the pocketbook and said he intended to keep them as long as he lived.

It has always been my impression that Jefferson McKinney brought these documents with him to
Texas when he and his family, Hampton and his family, and Jubilee, who was at that time
unmarried, immigrated to Texas in the year 1846, a few days after the marriage of Nancy
McKinney to John Harlan.

As stated before, I came to Texas in the year 1876 and spent about a year, and here I frequently met and conversed with Nancy McKinney Kendall, a daughter of John McKinney, and I inquired about the letter and discharge her brother Jefferson McKinney had during his lifetime, he having died several years previous to this time. She told me that she had seen the letter and discharge after they came to Texas, but thought that possibly Clinton McKinney, a son of Jefferson, had them in his possession. Clinton McKinney is now dead. I am informed that up to this time the letter and discharge have not been located by these descendants of John McKinney in whose behalf this affidavit is being made.
Witness my hand at Corsicana, Texas, this August 11,1902, (Signed) Mrs. Helena V. Marshall
Sworn to and subscribed before me at Corsicana, Texas, this the 11th day of Aug. 1902
(Signed) Elmo Jeffers, Notary Public in and for Navarro County, Texas


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