Early History of Limestone Co.



(From the First Settlers to 1860)
by Hampton Steele
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 00:45:04 -0800
From: svega@pacbell.net
To: TXLIMEST-L@rootsweb.com

Published by
The News Publishing Company
Mexia, Texas

Hampton Steele
Pioneer, Patriot and Author
(From Mexia Daily News)

Hampton Steele, author of this sketch of the early history of Limestone County, has herein given some valuable information concerning the life and character of the early period of the county.  He is to be highly commended for his interest in the matter.  He has given generously of his time and thought, out of a rich experience that dates far back to the first families of the section, and has herein given reports of people and of incidents which the world would never have had any record of, had he not written this story from real like, by which the traditions, tragedies and romances of an illustrious page out of the past has been preserved for the inspiration, absorbing interest, and encouragement of suns and daughters of today and of sons and daughters of tomorrow.

Mr. Steele does not present it as a work that is free from omissions and free from error.  He did the very best he could and it is certain that if any important names and incidents have been overlooked. It is a mistake of the hand and not of the heart.  Certain it is that the annals of Limestone county present no more absorbing story of pioneer life, its hazards, its struggles. Its difficulties and its opportunities, than Mr. Steele here has given to his people.  It is truly a noteworthy contribution and one the importance of which will be known better and better with the coming of the years.

Out of the long list of honorable citizens of the county, none could have been selected more fitted to the writing of this history of Limestone county.

He and his brother, Rado Steele, are the only survivors of the first families now in the county.  During these years, he has retained his citizenship in this county where he has taken an active interest in matters of public weal.  He is the eldest son of Alfonso Steele, last survivor of the Battle of San Jacinto.  His illustrious father died at the honorable old age of 94 year and 3 months, July 8, 1911, a portrait of whom graces the halls of the Capitol at Austin.

The living children are Hampton Steele of Thornton, Rado Steele of Mexia, Alonzo Steel of Lovington, New Mexico, Mrs. T. Bennett of Mexia and Mrs. Alice Eubank of Huston.

Though born in 1839, under the Republic of Texas, now in his eighty-sixth year, Hampton Steele, is hale and hearty, in love with life and active in its affairs.  He has lived under four flags and did not have to move out of the state to do it.  He was born in Montgomery County, Texas, then known as Robertson Colony. In 1844, his parents moved to Limestone county and here he has resided ever since.  At that time, there were only thirteen families living in Limestone County.  The nearest mill was located fifty miles away at Old Franklin and, as a boy, Hampton took corn there to have it made into meal.

About the year 1833 there was a band of people that had moved from over in the hills of Virginia to the State of Illinois.  They remained there for a while and then the spirit of adventure and pioneerism took hold of them and they located their wagons and bid farewell to their neighbors and friends and struck out on the long journey to Texas through the wild and wilderness country.  There were no bridges across streams and no roads like we have today.  They were trail-blazers for civilization to follow after a long and tedious journey, and they landed where Grimes County is today near Grimes Prairie.  There they stopped and stayed about one year and a half.  Then they loaded their wagons again and put their faithful oxen to those wagons again who had brought them safely through the long trip from Illinois to Texas;  then they turned their faces to the Northwest through the forests and jungles again.  It was not so long a trip this time.  They soon landed at their journey's end which is now know as old Fort Parker, situated about two miles northeast of Groesbeck,  The county seat of Limestone county.  That colony consisted of the following people:  The Parkers, the Anglins, the Frosts, the Bates, the Plummers and Dwight Nixon.  They built their cabins there and a stockade to protect them from the Indians.  That was in the year 1835 when they landed there. The following spring they broke the land and planted their crops to supply their wants; so everything was moving along nicely and they were happy and contented in their new home.

Lo and behold the tragedy that was to come to them!  It was on the 19th day of May, 1836, a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining brightly; the flowers were in bloom; the birds were flitting from tree to tree singing their songs; the buffalo were browsing around some lone tree in the vast expanse of the prairie; the wild deer were skipping from glade to glade and all nature was smiling that beautiful spring.  The children were playing around their mothers' feet and every one seemed to be happy.  Perhaps the mother would look into the face of her babe and think of the Indians and her cheek would blanch.  There would be a little heart-ache and a silent prayer that the Indians would spare them and pass them by.

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