A Real “Rootin’, Tootin” Pioneer Hero

It’s a wonder that no one has made a novel, movie, or television series about the life of Wood County’s Martin Varner. It’s all there in black and white in Don Raney‘s recent history of Varner, “Martin Varner: Texas Pioneer, His Life Story and His Descendants.” And, there’s a whole lot of Wood County history there through tracing the many family connections of the Varner family.

Don was born here himself in the Hoard community and not very far from the area that Varner and his family (the first White settlers in the Wood County area) lived just south of present-day Hainesville. Connections to other historic pioneer families of Wood County are also in the book.

Don made all this come alive in his presentation to the April meeting of the society at the library in Quitman. If you want a story about a man who traveled across the United States to Texas with conflicts along the way with Indians, the United States government, and, oh, yes, the Mexican government and ultimately Santa Anna’s army, Don Raney is a man you should see (or at least read his book). Varner’s ultimate death at the hands of a neighbor over what seems to us a trivial matter (tools of the neighbor’s trade) qualifies as a true heroic tragedy.

I am so happy I didn’t miss the April meeting and, thus, miss hearing Don tell the story. I knew he was a good teacher from a previous visit he made to the society and from workshops I attended which he taught at a genealogical conference in Lufkin several years ago.

If you missed the meeting and have not seen his book, society Vice-president Dororthy Harbin has some copies of the book for sale at a very reasonable price (and a part of the purchase price will go as a donation to the society). You can contact her at 903-571-4965 or at P.O. Box 794, Quitman, TX 75783 or by email at Reddot77@aol.com.

Our $$$ Donors

Thanks to all members and non-members who have made monetary donations to the society since July or 2009. They are
Wayne Childers
Dorothy Harbin
K. N. Humphreys
Fred Kramer
David Pedry
Dianne Pierce
Ron Schell
Ronnie & Nan Vance.

Some of these donated in gratitude for research work we did for them, and some members donated for various reasons many adding an additional amount to their renewal of dues for the year. Their generosity helps us fund parts of our program by helping meet our budget goals for the year.

Query: McWhirter

I am seeking information about the death of Jasper Green McWhirter b.1868 AL Marion Co and died 1902 Wood Co.TX as a result of walking on the RR tracks. He left 6 children to be reared by his sister, Mary Caroline McWhirter Harbin and spouse, George Washington Harbin.
Jasper Green’s wife, Mary Silvania Harper Tucker, had died in 1901 Wood Co.TX.
I would greatly appreciate more information on the subject family.
I will remit or donate for the information.
They should be in the Wood Co.Quitman Tx cemetery records.

Louise Hanson
McWhirter/Harper descendant
merrily2003@yahoo.com

Wofford, Amos

More information on Deputy Sheriff Amos Wofford:

1. A killing occurred at Winnsboro Saturday evening in which Dick Milam was shot and killed his son W A Milam seriously wounded and both John and Amos Wofford fatally
shot and dying later. — The Jefferson Jimplecute, February 08, 1907

(Source: IMAGE 3 of 5. Image provided by: University of North Texas; Denton, TX.
Persistent Link http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86089978/1907-02-08/ed-1/seq-3/)

2. Deputy Sheriff Amos R. Wofford
Wood County Sheriff’s Department
Texas
End of Watch: Monday, February 4, 1907

Biographical Info
Age: 35
Tour of Duty: 10 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: Monday, February 4, 1907
Weapon Used: Handgun
Suspect Info: Both shot and killed

Deputy Wofford and his brother, Constable John Wofford of the Wood County Constable’s Office – Precinct 3, were shot and killed while they attempted to arrest a father and son for liquor violations. One of the suspects produced a handgun and opened fire, fatally wounding both lawmen. Both suspects were also shot and killed by return fire in the incident.
Deputy Wofford had been with the agency for ten years and was survived by his wife and three children.

Related Line of Duty Deaths
    Constable John S. Wofford
Wood County Constable’s Office – Precin…, TX
EOW: Monday, February 4, 1907
Cause of Death: Gunfire

(Source: The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc.
http://www.odmp.org/officer/16004-deputy-sheriff-amos-r.-wofford)

3. Union Springs Cemetery, Hopkins County, Texas:
    Wofford, Amos R., 9/5/1871 – 2/4/1907, husband of Emma Hyde Wofford
    Wofford, Emma Hyde, 5/5/1869 – 10/7/1899, 1st wife of Amos R. Wofford
    Wofford, Sallie Dea Trammel, 5/29/1879 – 12/30/1928, 2nd wife of  Amos R.    
         Wofford & after his death 2nd w/o William A. Funderburk
    Wofford, Clara, 1902 – 1903, daughter of Amos and Sallie Wofford

(Source: Union Cemetery, Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County, Texas, Cemeteries of Texas, Submitted by Sheila Funderburk, http://www.cemeteries-of-tx.com/Etx/Hopkins/cemetery/union.htm

Also see Dorothy Harbin’s comment on the original query post for Wofford on March 19.

March 15 Meeting News

The regular monthly meeting (on March 15) is approaching and only a week away. Here are some items of interest about the meeting:

1. The program will feature guest speaker Joe Hayden of Quitman talking about Wood County veterans. Vice-president Dorothy Harbin is working on some additional ideas to go with that theme.

2. If there is time, we may also be able to work on the accumulation of obituaries in the Genealogy Research Center. You might want to bring some scissors and glue sticks just in case.

3. President Shirley Patrick has sent a message asking that we let members know that she will be unable to attend the March meeting due to grandchildren visiting over Spring Break, and she has ask the vice-president to preside at the meeting.

4. Dorothy is still working on the program for April and expects to hear soon about a confirmed speaker about several of the earliest settlers families in the county.

5. Also be aware that election of officers for next year is scheduled for the May meeting every year. If you have ideas, etc. you might contact President Patrick to pass on to the nominating committee.

6. If you want to get with the group meeting before the meeting at Peralta’s in Quitman, we gather and visit and eat starting at 5:30 p.m.

Comments…We Get Comments

1. Responses (2) to “Mae Etta Johnson:”
First, Charles L.Bookman, on February 2nd, 2010 said: “Thanks for sharing this important part of history.”

Second, Melba Gordon Jones, on February 6th, 2010 said: “I really appreciate you publishing my mothers presentation as part of your newsletter. Thank you so much for sharing our story of our hero who knew that God does have the whole wide world in His hands.”

2. Response to “Member Contact List:”
Sharon Gallatin Phillips, on February 1st, 2010 Said: Dear Members,
I am not as yet a paid member. I have not found family in your area,however, I appreciate your website as I have learned much and the links are helping me also. I am what one might call a newbie. My husband’s family is mostly in Rusk Co., and mine is in Brazos, Madison, and Limestone. To my knowledge they do not have websites near as nice as yours. I do read ETGS also. I am on an extremely set budget, and I appreciate the access to your website.”

3. Comment on “Vertical Files A-B:”
June Powers on November 1, 2009 said: ” Interested in vertical files on Benton and Banks. If significant and not too much, could send $ for copies, or can you send copies via email? Let me know what is appropriate, please. Thanks.

4. Comment on “Help a distant researcher:”
June Powers 0n October 31, 2009 said: “Re the vertical file: Is it possible to receive copies of articles of certain files? I do not expect to be in Quitman again in the near future.”

5. Comment on “WCGS Bulletin Goes Live Sept.15:”
Dorothy Harbin on October 7, 2009 said: “You have done an outstanding job on this project. I can’t wait each day to see what new articles will be listed next. I’ve lost a lot of sleep exploring all that you have done, Keep Up The Great Job.

6. Email received from Linda Winterhoff: “Got the newsletter, glanced at it. It looks great as usual. Saw on the website there are Quitman Family Histories. What is the procedure to get my family info in there, or is there one?? My line is Grogan, basically….

7. Email received from Ron Schell: “That’s a great looking Newsletter! I like the layout and generous use of links for further research. I’m looking forward to reading it carefully. Thanks for your work in putting it together.

8. Comment received from Terri O’Connell on Genealogywise: “I love the set up. You have all the information there and it is easy to find. Which I find is the biggest problem with some of the local societies.
The only thing I would look into changing, is nothing related to the site. If it is possible for the society to set up the ability to join the society on line. Sometimes, it is just easier for those of us at home to do it that way. For instance, NEHGS had an add on Facebook and I was able to click through it and join. Keep in mind it was something I had wanted to do, it was just easier for me to do it this way.
Otherwise, I love the crisp feel to it. Great job!

9. Email received from Kathy Gunter Sullivan, CG: “Certainly you may re-post the item if you think it will be useful to your readers. I visited your site, and your bulletin is extremely well-done and informative.

10. Email received from Geneabloggers webmaster at http://www.geneabloggers.com: You’ve got a great genealogy blog, and I’ve added it to the blog list at GeneaBloggers.”

January Meeting Monday, 1/18/2010

The regular monthly meeting of the Wood County Genealogical Society will be held next Monday, January 18, at 7 p.m. at the Quitman Public Library. The informal gathering at Peralta’s Restaurant open to all members and guests starts at 5:30 p.m. in Quitman.

Program activities for the 7 p.m. meeting are under the direction of Vice-President Dorothy Harbin.

Native American Lifestyles

Kathy Lynn Copeland and husband Joe brought and explained artifacts which gave us insight into the lifestyles of members of the Cherokee nations in the 18th and 19th Century at the November society meeting. Mixed in was history of the Cherokees from arrival in the Americas to their southeastern United States lives and then their forced removal to the Indian Territory.


Especially interesting were the stories passed down from their ancestors including how the coyote, blue birds, and red birds got their colors. Also, Kathy related the tale of how the poor old rabbit lost its long, beautiful tail.

Minutes and the Treasurer’s Report of the November 16, 2009 meeting are posted in the File Archive in the right column.

Query Followup: Taylor

Re: Isaac (Ike) Taylor from a query of Roby Ottwell, first published in the July 2009 newsletter. “Isaac (Ike) Taylor, Mr. Ottwell’s grandfather, …was killed in 1922 when a hired man killed Taylor and stole his money.”

Society researcher and previous newsletter editor Shirley Bates went back to the Winnsboro News office (following the July newsletter) and asked to look at back copies of the Winnsboro News, but they didn’t allow her to look because the newspaper is too old and fragile to handle. Then she went back to the library and tried again going through microfilm, this time from about July until December. Again, she didn’t find anything. Member Dorothy Harbin was still looking in the microfilm at Quitman Library and looked at a site called smalltownpapers.com and it stated that there was a reprint in July, 1956 but she could never find the article. She looked in the Wood County Democrat (as Bates had done earlier) and the Wood County Echo, and found nothing.
Harbin also talked to a man named Taylor, and he had heard the story and had seen the rope on the water tower where the hired man was supposed to have been hanged, but it was frayed and had been up there quite some time. He said he was no kin but there are two other Taylor families in the county and that she might try to contact them.

Bates and Harbin both looked at the microfilm of the Wood County Democrat and looked through society books at the Quitman Public Library. Bates went to the courthouse to check on a death certificate, but Isaac Taylor was not listed in Wood County. The County Clerk suggested that since Winnsboro is in different counties, Wood, Hopkins, and Franklin, it’s probably listed in one of their death index books.

According to Winnsboro News of Oct. 27, 1922, “killed on Sunday” in Sherman, one Maynard Taylor. Could this have been Ike, and he delivered to Sherman instead of in Wood County?

Bates wrote again to Ottwell Sept. 10, 2009 that Harbin had found “a discrepancy.”

Harbin has found an article in a 1944 newspaper with an obituary or an article about Grogan (his mother’s maiden name) Shoemaker. It stated that Grogan’s father was the man who was killed by a black man and then the black man was taken from the jail and hanged from the water tower in Quitman. Harbin contacted the Dallas library and they looked it up and said that it was listed as Jan. 1, 1944. She found an article about his being very sick in the Wood County Democrat on Dec. 30, 1943, but the next newspaper (Jan. 6, 1944) is unreadable on the microfilm. She found Mr. Shoemaker’s wife’s maiden name from the marriage book in the genealogy room at the Quitman Public Library, and she also found some Shoemakers in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. The maiden name of his wife was Annie (Anniebell) Wallace Taylor and her father’s name was Wallace Taylor.

Bates wrote Ottwell , “It’s possible that whoever told you that Ike Taylor was killed in that way may have gotten him confused with Grogan Shoemaker. The Taylors lived next door to the Shoemakers. It’s unfortunate, but many of our genealogy stories result this way because they are repeated over the years without documentation and people get confused.” (Editor’s note: the previous information is taken from a letter written to Mr. Ottwell by Shirley Bates in August 2009.)

Good Turnout For Expo

A big turnout at the Winnsboro Business Expo on the first weekend of Autumn Trails Days resulted in lots of visitors to the Wood County Genealogical Society booth/table. Fifty-one people signed the booth register and many more stopped to inquire about our genealogy and to visit. Surname some of the visitors are researching include Wilcox, Davis, Newsome, Johnson, Dodgen, Porter, Lindsey, Bearden, Cox, Sutton, Michael, Ray, Mills, Robison, Sansom, Jones, McElyea, Coe, Gaines, Kennedy, Bumgardner, and Williams.
WCGS members meet guests at Expo
Working at the booth were (above) members Vice-president Dorothy Harbin (who set up the display on Friday and was there from start to finish on Saturday) and Deason Hunt, and (below) Mary Beth Ramage, Martha Hunt, and Harbin.

WCGS members work at booth at Winnsboro expo

The society received lots of publicity, and a number of booth visitors expressed an interest in getting started on their own family lines and some an interest in coming to our regular monthly meetings. Followups to try to take advantage of the interest were discussed during the day.

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