Submitted by Thomas G. Anderson
Printed with permission of the Navarro
County Historical Society
The Pursley Community of south-central Navarro County, Texas is named for a pioneer family who came to the area about 1858. Three brothers, William H. (Will)
Pursley, James M. (Jim) Pursley, and George P. Pursley - and a sister Sarah M. Pursley (wife of Samuel L. Cocker), came to the community between 1858 and 1866. They were the children of David Pursley and Elizabeth Harriott who were from the Abbeville District
of South Carolina. The parents moved from South Carolina to Tennessee between 1830 and 1834. They apparently remained in Tennessee only a short time as they were located in Hempstead County, Arkansas by 1841.
Will Pursley who came to
Navarro County in 1858, was the most prominent member of the family in the new community. He initially obtained 1800 acres of land and later added more acreage. Jim and George Pursley, who came in 1866, also purchased land, but in more modest amounts. The home place of
Jim Pursley is still owned by one of his great grandsons and a portion of the Will Pursley holdings still belong to some of his descendants. Will Pursley served as commissioner, postmaster, store owner, and community leader. He donated the land for the Old Pursley
Cemetery and the land for the first community school which was adjacent to the Cemetery property. He later donated land for the construction of another school which also served as a community center and was used by several churches until church buildings were
constructed. When the Pursley and Corinth schools consolidated some of his property was obtained since it was in a central location for the new school.
The origins of the name for the Pursley Community are obscure. Obviously it is derived from the Pursley family who settled there. Although there is no validated
evidence, it is likely that the leadership and benevolence of Will Pursley to the community was the primary reason for its name.
All three brothers served in
the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Will and Jim Pursley both received pensions for their C.S.A. service. George Pursley reportedly served in an Arkansas Regiment, but there is no record of a pension for him. A number of family members are buried in the Old
Pursley Cemetery as Will, Jim and Sarah spent most of their remaining lives in or near Navarro County.. The other brother, George, moved to Kent County, Texas at an unknown time and from there moved to Rush Springs, Oklahoma between 1913 and 1920.
An interesting side note to
the Pursley family is the fact that two of Will Pursley's daughters, Sarah and Janey, married brothers, George W. Ross and Samuel A. Ross, respectively. The Ross brothers were the sons of Thankful Jane Anderson and Dr. Samuel A. Ross, who were members of pioneer Navarro
County families. Also, Emma Josephine Pursley, daughter of Jim Pursley, married Thomas Mitchell Anderson, the nephew of Thankful Jane Anderson Ross and the son of Dr. Thomas Mitchell Anderson. Their farm located at Pursley is still owned by the Anderson family.
Further information about
the Pursley family ancestors and descendants can be obtained from the Navarro County Genealogical Society.
Submitted by: Thomas G.