Animals in Navarro County, Texas
Series by Bill Young
Navarro County TXGenWeb


Navarro County Texas History

Mules | Horses

Value of animals on 1850 ag census

By Bill Young

The last category listed on the 1850 agricultural census is referred to as the value of animals slaughtered. I have to wonder why they went to the effort to record the animals butchered for meat on this census. In looking at the dollar values listed by each farmer, I think it is obvious all of the meat produced from the slaughtering was meant for home use. Only two people, Thomas J. White and Mrs. F.E. Tate, told the census taker the value of their slaughtered animals was $1,000 each. Everyone else stated the value of their animals slaughtered at less than $170 while the majority reported less than $100. Mr. White and Mrs. Tate must have marketed a fairly large portion of the processed meat to consumers while on the other hand, it looks as if all of the other individuals were consuming their own meat production.

One other item which would have been useful to know is what types of animals were being slaughtered. I would think swine would have been at the top of the list followed by cattle and then sheep. Even though chickens and turkeys were not listed, I cannot help but think poultry was slaughtered on a weekly basis, at least once a week, because of all of the stories about raising chickens and the gathering of eggs published in various books about the early life on the frontier.

Out of the 186 people listed on the 1850 census, 175 reported they had slaughtered animals of value. Occasionally I have found in the deed records at the courthouse someone’s will where it was filed and/or probated. In those wills, the individuals who were serving as the executors of the deceased person’s estates placed a value on everything in the estate. In some cases, other individuals were appointed by either the court or the executor for the same purpose. Quite often I have found the value for the pigs or the cattle in an estate ranging from a few dollars per head to as much as $20. Horses are also listed but I sincerely doubt if horses were being slaughtered back in the early days. A horse was a prized possession to a farmer and his family. What I have noticed is the wide range of values placed on animals in an estate but in several cases the quantity of a certain animals was not noted. Instead, the papers may state a herd of cows or a group of pigs or sheep. Therefore we are faced with the same problems we saw when the census taker recorded the value for the quantity of land, either improved or unimproved, each farmer reported. It was at the discretion of each individual farmer to place the value on anything he reported. If the farmer was fearful whatever he reported might be used for taxing purposes, many farmers might tend to under report their values thereby hoping to reduce the amount of taxes they needed to pay. It might be interesting and helpful to do some research into how taxing was determined in those days. Since transportation was limited to horses, buggies and wagons, and roads were few and far between and in terrible condition, the census taker and his relationship with each landowner might be the only permanent record we have remaining.

Beside the two people listed above with $1,000 each for their animals slaughtered, 20 other individuals all reported in between $72 and $200 each. John Bean placed his value at $200 followed by Jonathan Newby and George W. Hill at $170 a piece. Next came Joshua S. Hanley with $165 followed by Robert Stark and James Henry Chambers with $150.

William Richey was next at $140 followed by William Spurlin and Henry Cook with $124 each and Thomas K. Miller with $120. Then came Ethan Melton with $112 followed by his brother Jeremiah and James J. Williams with $110 each. Elijah Anderson and Francis Sanches were tied at $100 each. James Hoggard listed $92 followed closely by Jacob Hartzell and John Pevehouse with $90. The last two I listed were Wilson J. West with $84 and Thomas R. Donage or Donighee (spelled both ways on the census) with $72. One of the nice things about this last category is the fact several new names have appeared on the list. This helps researchers in understanding how each individual farmer helped to contribute to the local economy and the beginnings of Navarro County.

Next week I will be starting on the 1860 agricultural census. The categories are the same but in the span of 10 years, many things were changing in Navarro County. First of all, the 1850 census included people who were living in areas which were divided off into new counties after 1850. Please remember in 1846 when Navarro County was created, the area was huge, spanning from a point on the Trinity River which is still our southeastern corner, diagonally all the way to the Brazos River where Aquilla Creek enters the Brazos. Then the line followed up the Brazos to a point due west from Tarrant County, then eastward to the west line of Dallas County. The survey then went around Dallas County and swung back east to the Trinity River. Contained within those boundaries today are the following complete counties: Ellis, Tarrant, Hill, Johnson and of course Navarro. Major portions of Palo Pinto and Parker counties and minor parts of McLennan, Hood, Somerville and a tiny part of Limestone completed the survey. Ellis County was split off in 1848 and both Tarrant and McLennan in 1850 so the people living in these areas may not be on the 1850 census. For sure the residents living in Ellis were not included. Hill was divided out in 1853 followed by Johnson County in 1854, Parker in 1855 and Palo Pinto in 1857. When Johnson County was created in 1854, the areas which today are part of Hood and Somerville became part of Johnson County. I know some of those areas mentioned above were unsettled in 1850 so the census taker did not have to go much farther than the mid area of what is now Ellis County and over to the Brazos River. We know he did list the army personnel stationed at Fort Griffin on the Brazos in 1850.


Mules in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

Mules were not as popular as horses in 1860 in Navarro County. Was this due to the fact mules can be more obstinate or possibly the fact mules tend to move along at a slower, steady pace? Horses were much faster and, in turn, a horse could transport someone much quicker to a specific place than a mule. Over the long haul, a mule probably would show less wear and tear because a mule methodically plods along never getting into a fast pace while many horses might be winded after only a few miles if allowed to run wide open.

Mules and oxen were good animals for pulling heavy loads such as wagons and plows. I feel sure a number of early settlers migrating here to Navarro County came in a wagon pulled by either a mule or an ox. Once they had located on their property, the mule was utilized daily pulling out stumps, hauling away brush and finally pulling a plow which allowed the new settler/landowner to plant his first crop whether it was a food product for his family or a cash crop to sell or trade for their family needs. In the past few years I have occasionally heard someone say a matched pair of mules is extremely valuable. Not being a farmer I had to find out the meaning of a matched pair. There seem to be at least two different answers to this term. One means the two mules are the same height and the same color while the other meaning, which I think is more pertinent, means the two mules moved along at the same pace pulling whatever they were pulling at an equal even pace. Also, both answers could be said to be true for a team of matched horses. A matched set of any animal can be eye appealing to many people.

On the 1850 agricultural census, which I wrote about several months ago, the total quantity of mules listed in Navarro County was 116 animals. In 1860, the quantity increased dramatically to a grand total of 880 which means about eight times as many mules as previously listed 10 years earlier. I would assume a lot of this increase was brought about by the influx of settlers migrating to the county utilizing mules to pull their carts and wagons. Speaking of carts, there are several descriptions written by early settlers in which they state they came here in a two-wheeled cart, not a four-wheeled wagon. Those big two-wheel carts were capable of transporting fairly heavy loads and I would imagine a two-wheel cart was considerably less expensive than a four-wheel wagon. I have read several descriptions about some of the wagons being referred to as one type or another so there must have been several different styles available to purchase. Once in a while, you might come across the term “prairie schooner” which I think describes a particular type of wagon but keep in mind I have not done any research on wagons.

Out of the 116 mules listed on the 1850 census, George Barnard owned 54. When the census taker came around 10 years later in 1860, Mr. Barnard and his brother had moved westward establishing a couple of trading posts on the Brazos River. Since the Barnards seemed to want to have their trading posts on the edge of the frontier, we must assume the Brazos River was the boundary of the frontier around 1860. There seems to be a rather simple rule of thumb in determining exactly where the frontier was in a certain year. The rule of thumb is about eight miles westward per year. Since Navarro County was free from marauding Indians before 1850, the Brazos River would be approximately the boundary 10 years later. It was until some 20 years later all of the Native Americans were removed from Texas and placed on reservations elsewhere.

In 1860, 182 individuals told the census taker they owned one or more mules. This is a fairly large increase over the 33 people listed in 1850. Again more proof of mules being used to help settlers migrate here. Two individuals had a lot of mules. Henry Jones, who was at the top of the list as the number one horse owner in 1860, also was number one on the mule list in the same year with 75 mules. We know he owned a lot of land in the western part of Navarro County where he raised horses on part of his plantation but was he also raising mules for a living or were most of the mules utilized to pull plows? Henry owned 33 slaves in 1860 which seems to indicate he had a lot of his land under cultivation.

Number two on the list of the largest number of mules was Joseph Burleson with 73. Also, Mr. Burleson was a plantation owner but his land holdings were only about one-fourth as large as Henry Jones. Just like Henry Jones, Mr. Burleson owned slaves and a fair amount of his land was under cultivation. However, much of his land was bottom land along the flood plain of Richland Creek. It is possible some of his mules were being used to help clear this land. Thomas R. Kellum was third on the list. The ghost town of Kelm which was located northwest of Emhouse was named for him. For some unexplained reason no one could say Kellum so the name got slanged into Kelm. Mr. Kellum stated he owned 61 mules in 1860.

The next person on the list coming in at number four was Matt Finch with 35 mules. Then two of the Ingram brothers were next, Anderson Ingram with 26 and Washington Ingram with 24. Again these are two plantation owners with a lot of slaves cultivating a lot of land. Number seven was Britton Dawson who had 18 mules followed closely by James C. Key with 17. The ninth position was a four-way tie. Dr. George Washington Hill, W.F. Craig, J.W. Abbey and J.L. McConico all said they had 15 mules apiece. And the last one I listed was R.A. Younger who had 14 animals. Needless to say, there were a lot of mules scattered about Navarro County in 1860 plus keep in mind Navarro County had shrunk to its present size between 1850 and 1860.


Horses in Navarro County in 1860

By Bill Young

Even though the human population of land owners increased by three and one-half times between the census years of 1850 and 1860, the number of horses recorded in 1860 only doubled from the 1850 census. In 1850, 2,936 horses were listed and in 1860 the number rose to 6,081 horses. Needless to say, there were a lot of four-legged animals roaming across Navarro County. Of course we must remember, the horse was the number one means of transportation in those days whether the animal was ridden with the aid of a saddle or the horse was utilized to pull a wagon or buggy. Everyone needed some form of transportation or so I thought!

Forty individuals stated they did not own a horse; however, six of those did own a mule but the remaining group of 34 people stated they did not have either one. How did these individuals get around? Where did they live? My guess is most, if not all, lived in the vicinity of the courthouse and they did not need to have any form of transportation. Instead, they walked to their appointed places to take care of their business or personal needs. If at some point in time they did need a horse or a horse and buggy, they could rent one from the local livery stable for a nominal fee. In this way they did not have to deal with a place to keep a horse and feed the animal on a daily basis. Also since horses were taxable, these individuals were able to avoid this tax.

On the other side of the fence were the individuals who raised horses as part of their income. At the head of the list was Henry Jones. Mr. Jones and his three daughters and one son moved to our county in 1856 from Matagorda County. In just four years when the 1860 census was taken, Henry Jones listed a herd of 325 horses. Even though I have done a lot of research about Henry and his family from the very first days when they came to Texas from South Carolina, I was not able to discover how many horses Henry Jones had prior to his moving here but I must assume he brought a fairly large herd with him when he migrated to Navarro County since he was listed as a plantation owner in Matagorda County from 1844 to 1856. I am also aware of the fact Henry Jones was made an honorary general in the Confederate Army because he raised horses for the Confederacy.

The second highest owner of horses in 1860 was a local attorney and judge by the name of William Croft. Obviously the raising of horses was a secondary business venture for Judge Croft plus he bought or traded land occasionally. William Croft told the census taker he had a herd of 225 horses which is a substantial herd. He was followed closely by John W. Townsend who had 210 horses. I don’t have any other information about Mr. Townsend nor do I know where his land was located. Third on the list was James C. Key with 180 head and just like Mr. Townsend I am not familiar with Mr. Key.

Washington Clary came in fourth on the list with 150 horses. I have found his name on several documents but I do not know where he resided. James Dunn was fifth on the list with 110 horses. Much of Mr. Dunn’s land is now under the Richland-Chambers Reservoir and his family cemetery is located in a lake development known as Arrowhead developed by Mr. Jerry Jackson. There are some members of the Johnston family buried in the same cemetery because they married into the Dunn family. Number six on the list is Britton Dawson whose family gave the land for the town of Dawson. The Dawson family cemetery is located on part of his original ranch. Mr. Dawson told the census taker he had 103 horses. Next on the list was J.J. Hammond with an even 100 head of horses. Here again I have seen his name but I cannot tell you where he lived in the county. Keep in mind most of these horse owners had several tracts of land where they raised the horses. A lot of the tracts were scattered about within the county so sometimes it is very difficult to determine where an owner had his homestead and where he farmed or grazed his animals.

One thing I would have enjoyed seeing on the 1860 census is what type of horse was raised by each owner and, in turn, what value was placed on each horse. Needless to say this would have required a lot more time and effort on the part of the census taker and the information probably was not needed back in those days. A farmer needed plow horses and I would assume he would place a high value on a good plow horse. On the other side of the fence would be an individual who wanted a gaited horse capable of smartly pulling his buggy. The farmer/cowboy type would want a good cutting horse by which he could work his herd of cattle or other horses. And finally there would be the race horse enthusiast who constantly made wagers on how fast his horse was. Francis M. Martin was well known for his race horses and he went back and forth across the nation racing his animals. On the 1860 census, Mr. Martin was listed as owning 40 horses. Most every community had a race track at one point in time. Here in Corsicana, there were at least two different areas where horses were raced. One was a straight track starting near Post Oak Creek on North Ninth Street heading south but I have not found out where the track ended. A second race track was located on the east/southeast side of Corsicana but this may have been a circular track. There was a track at Wadeville where Mr. Martin lived and another track southwest of Purdon. I am sure there were others as the practice of racing horses was a regular big entertainment event for many of the small settlements.

I will mention a few other owners and the number of horses they owned, but I will not add any extra information about these individuals. I also want to mention the fact George Barnard is not listed on the 1860 census with any horses, yet he was second on the list in 1850 with 26 animals. This helps to show he and his brother had moved out of the county prior to 1860 moving father to the west and establishing two trading posts on the Brazos River. Dr. George Washington Hill, who was number one in 1850 with 35 horses, had by 1860, modestly increased his herd to 60 animals which is still a lot of horses. Some of the other owners with fairly large herds were W.F. Craig with 95, Nathan Hobbs with 89, R.N. White, the county clerk, had 85 and L.C. Lockart had 80. Many owners had from 30 to 70 horses on the census.



Navarro County TXGenWeb
© Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox