SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved

 

DeWitt Colony Biographies
Gonzales Town Residents
Town Lot Owners
Surnames
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T.J. PilgrimPILGRIM. Thomas Jefferson Pilgrim was born December 4, 1805 in East Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut. He was the first of eleven children born to Thomas and Dorcas Pilgrim. From the time he joined the Baptist church, his life was devoted to education and religious work. He entered Hamilton Theological and Literary Institute in New York and finished there in the theological division. When Pilgrim heard that Moses Austin of Connecticut was taking families to colonize Texas, he left college and joined a group of sixty people who were moving to Texas. They made the trip by water to Cincinnati where they stopped for provisions. There Pilgrim bought Spanish books to study as they continued their journey down the Mississippi River. He was a Latin scholar so it was easy to learn Spanish. When they reached New Orleans they rented a small vessel for the voyage across the Gulf of Mexico to Texas. They were at sea longer than anticipated. Provisions played out as well as fresh water. The captain stayed drunk, so Pilgrim sailed the boat into Matagorda Bay to a small settlement at the mouth of the Colorado River. These kindhearted settlers shared their meager food for a Christmas dinner after which Pilgrim and three others set out for Austin's capital, walking in the cold winter rains over unmarked trails. Under these dismal conditions only Pilgrim completed the eighty-mile journey and in early January, 1829 they arrived at San Felipe de Austin. When Austin and Pilgrim shook hands, a long friendship began. Pilgrim became interpreter and translator of Spanish documents for Austin's colony. He started a school known as Austin Academy with about forty students. In 1780 a Sunday school movement was started in England by Robert Raikes. This movement made a strong impact on Pilgrim, so he organized a Sunday school in the spring of 1829 with thirty-two pupils. They met in a log house and the children sat on split logs. The Mexican government soon forced Pilgrim to close the school.


From the Diary of Thomas J. Pilgrim

In the fall of 1828, 1 started from the western part of the state of New York for Texas. I was in a company with 60 other men, women and children. We were led by Elias R. Wightman, who had lived for about 3 years there and was well fitted to be the leader. We traveled in wagon to Olean Point, on the head waters of the Alleghany River. There we built a raft in two pieces. In it we placed our baggage and pushed off to drift with the current. The first day we had no trouble, but by night we were cold and wet. We sought shelter in an Indian village on the north bank of the stream. The old chief seemed moved with pity at our condition, for the weather was very bad. He took us to a cabin about 20 feet square, with a good floor and a fireplace. The floor was covered with peas and beans in the shuck, which he showed us could be scraped up into one corner and a fire made in the fireplace. Truly grateful for his kindness, we soon had a good fire and a plain but tasty meal and all slept soundly. The next day being Sunday, we remained and spent it in such devotional exercises as circumstances would permit. Monday morning we again started on our voyage, having taken on board a pilot to go with us as far as Pittsburgh. About noon we heard a roaring ahead that sounded like a waterfall, but we learned that it came from a dam built across the stream. On one side was a mill. On the other a narrow space was left, through which a gentle current flowed and where the boats or rafts could pass safely. But our pilot kept in the center of the current, and we passed over a fall about 4 feet high. Everyone was drenched with water.

We all fell to dipping out water with such vessels as we could find and were soon on our way again. Before night we overtook a raft of pine plank and climbed on it. When we reached Pittsburgh, we discharged our pilot who had caused us much trouble and done us little good. At Pittsburgh we had intended to take a steamer, but finding none ready to leave, we continued on our raft to Cincinnati. We remained there for several days, and I bought a set of Spanish books and began to study the language. Soon we took passages on a steamer for New Orleans and in due time reached that city. We remained there about two weeks, waiting for a ship. At length we found a little vessel from Maine, run by just three men and only one of these was very capable. The captain offered either to sell us the vessel for five hundred dollars or to take us to Texas for that amount. We accepted the latter offer and provided ourselves suitably for the voyage. Before long we were drifting down the Mississippi in perfect calm, at the mercy of the current. This calm continued for many days, until we were far out of sight of land. We were now on the Gulf, drifting about we knew not where, and there was not enough breeze to move the vessel. Finally the wind rose and blew a gale straight ahead. Soon all on board were seasick except the crew and me and many wished that they had never started. For two days the gale continued, and then again there was a perfect calm. And thus gale and calm succeeded each other until we found ourselves off the entrance to Matagorda Bay. The wind was blowing directly out of the pass, and there was little chance of being able to enter, but we resolved to try. Of all those on board, but the crew, I was the only one who knew how to sail a vessel, and the work falling on me was great. Besides we were nearly out of food. For several days we had only one-half pint each of water daily. Part of the time I drank none of mine, giving it to the children. It was plain that we must do everything possible to make harbor soon. For 24 hours we beat against wind and current, but all in vain. We actually lost 3 miles. Finally we ran down to Aransas and entered the Bay safely. Soon all was landed. Fires were made and water was secured. The women did some badly needed washing of clothes. Twelve of the men took their rifles and went in search of game, leaving only the captain, the mate and myself behind.

The vessel was anchored about 200 yards from shore. We had been there only about an hour when we saw several canoes coming down the bay with Indians. These we knew to be Karankawas, who were said to be cannibals. As there wasnly one old musket on board, we feared for the safety of the women and children. The Indians landed and went in the direction of the women. The mate and I jumped into our little boat. He took the oars, and I took the old musket and we rowed toward the Indians, but kept between them and the women. We drew near the Indians and I kept the musket pointed toward the chief, who motioned for me not to fire and made signs of friendship. This position we kept for some time, for we were hoping that the hunters would soon return. They did so presently and we then felt safe. The women were taken on board first and then the men. Lastly, a few Indians were allowed to come. They showed no unfriendliness. Their canoes were well stored with fish, all neatly dressed. They traded to us as many fish as we needed and then left. We were truly glad to have escaped so well. After staying here for several days and supplying ourselves with water and such food as we could get, we again set sail. The wind was now fair and we shaped our course off Pass Caballo. The Captain gave me the helm and went to his berth for sleep. In a few minutes the wind had died down and it was calm. I thought our chance for landing was small and so told Mr. Wightman. I told him I had charge of the vessel, and if he thought best I would beach her, and we would make our way as best we could by land. He said that would never do, for we were more than a hundred miles from any white settlement. We would have no means of travel by land, and the country was full of hostile Indians. Our only safety was in staying with the vessel.

I awoke the captain, who at once saw our danger. We decided to try to make it up the pass. The mate and I went ahead in the boat and sounded it. Then taking a long rope, we guided our vessel into the bay. Soon we were within 2 miles of Matagorda, which then contained two families. The next day Mr. Wightman went to the settlement. He returned with the present of a Christmas dinner, which consisted of some hominy and fresh milk. We promptly ate it. The next day, we landed having been 22 days from New Orleans. Some went to work at once to build homes on the spot. Five young men started up the country. We were told it was 22 miles to a settlement and as we had been so long on board a ship, we thought it would be easy to walk this distance. We started without a blanket or over garment and with only three little biscuits. This was the last of December, and the country was nearly covered with water. The only road was a dim trail through the high grass. About noon the rain began to fall in torrents, and the wind blew strong from the north. The water grew deeper and night was coming, with no sign of a settlement. Three of the men declared they would go no farther, I told them that if they stayed there it meant certain death, but they said if life depended on it they could go no farther. Near us was an old liveoak, which had fallen and lain there for ages. On the underside of its trunk we built a fire, which we kept burning through the night. Having enough tall grass to raise us above the water, we laid down and rested quite well, in spite of the rain and wind. In the morning we arose and started out in the rain, wind and water. We had gone only about a mile when we heard the crowing of chickens. Soon we struck a plain path and were shortly at the home of Daniel Rawls. here we found plenty of food, for which no charge was made. The rain continued to fall and in the evening of the second day, we saw a miserable looking object coming. He was one of our number whom we had left behind. He had left with another, from whom he had become separated on the way. Two horses were soon ready to go and hunt for him. Mr. Rawls riding one horse and I the other. When darkness overtook us we entered a thicket and staked out our horses. By breaking off limbs of bushes and covering them with long moss, we made a bed above the water, on which we slept.

In the morning we continued our way to Matagorda, only to find that the lost man had not returned. Hearing nothing of him, we retraced our steps and found that in our absence he had come in. Here we all remained until the weather cleared up, when we separated and left. The others went eastward to the Brazos, I on foot and alone, made my way north to San Felipe, about 60 miles distant.


In a letter from the Austin Papers AUSTIN TO JOSIAH H. BELL, Stephen F. Austin wrote in Feb 1829:
......Mr Pilgrim proposes to teach school I am pleased wIth him so far as I have been able to judge---My opinion on this subject is that we should all unite with a view of establishing a permanent Academy at this place---If we now commence on this basis, I have no doubt of succeeding, and if the subject is pushed and properly laid before the Govt. I have no doubt of obtaining a liberal endowment of funds---I fear that a division in the minds of the people as to where the Academy ought to be located would totally defeat the object, and for this reason I am in favor of engaging Mr Pilgrim to establish a School here permanently and that measures be adopted without delay to raise funds by subscription for a suitable house, larg enough to accommodate about 100 scholars---I have drawn a plan which I send you This subject is a very important one, it has always been a favorite one with me, and I think an effort should be now made to get the school under way, it can be added to afterwards---in fact it will naturally increase as its reputation becomes known and I fear that if the present opportunity passes of geting a permanent teacher another may not o[ffer so]on. I will however unite in support of any general plan to establish schools, which will do the most public good---........

In the Austin Papers one finds the following voucher:
THOMAS J. PILGRIM TO AUSTIN
Stephen F. Austin 1829 To T. J. Pilgrim
To one Scholar 9 Months ending Dec 13th at $2.50 per Month--- $22; To one Scholar 3 Months ending Dec 13th at $3.00 per Month---$9.00; To one Dollar lent---$1.00;---32.50
Thomas J. Pilgrim appears and makes Oath that the within Accont is just and True Decr 11, 1829---
THOMAS J. PILGRIM, J. WHITE [Rubric]

In a letter from San Felipe, 13 May 1834, James F. Perry informs Stephen Austin that "Mr Pilgrim still continues with us the children are very well." In a letter to Stephen F. Austin during his imprisonment in Mexico from Peach Point, 5 May 1835, James F. Perry mentions "we still have Mr. Pilgram here S.F. Austin and all our children are going to school and improving well M.A. Bryan is studying the Spanish with Mr. Pegram"--Papers of the Texas Revolution, Jenkins. Pilgrim wrote the following letter to Stephen F. Austin from Columbia:

Columbia Oct 6 1835 Col Austin
Dr Sir I staid last night at Mr Perrys and all were quite well except Eliza who has been quite sick but is now nearly recovered. Much excitement is now felt in this section in consequence of a report that 2000 troops are to land in a few days at the mouth of the Brazos. The origin of this report was a letter written by Samuel Powell to his mother assuring her that it was an unquestionable fact and cautioning her to be prepared for the worst. There are many here still, who are willing to march to the assistance of their countryman at Gonzales, did they think it prudent for any more to leave. Is there not at any rate a strong probability that a descent may be made upon this coast should they know it to be unprotected? And would it not be prudent that a portion of our forces should stay to defend it in case of necessity? Would there not be great danger from the Negroes should a large Mexican force come so near? Your information on this subject is doubtless much better than ours and your opinion would be listened to with much confidence and satisfaction. The most vulnerable point should certainly be the best protected one-did we know where that is, I am confident we would hasten to it. Many false rumors are in circulation, it is important to know the truth as near as possible. TJ. Pilgrim


He [Pilgrim] helped capture a Mexican vessel in Matagorda Bay in 1836. In 1838 Pilgrim received a Republic of Texas land grant in Gonzales County. A lake and a settlement on this land were called Pilgrim. The Pilgrim Presbyterian Church, with Pilgrim Cemetery adjoining, was still the focal point of the community in 1884. A Texas historical marker was placed on the road attesting to the history of Pilgrim. Pilgrim married Lucy Ives in 1838. They moved by oxcart to Gonzales, Texas to organize a larger and more permanent school. Shortly afterward Mrs. Pilgrim died and a Comanche Indian raid upset the settlers, so plans for the school were cancelled. On April 13, 1841 Pilgrim married Sarah Jane Bennet, daughter of Major Valentine Bennet, one of the "Old Eighteen" who defied the Mexican soldiers who demanded the cannon. Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim moved to Houston but later returned to Gonzales. Five of their eleven children lived to maturity and grew up in Gonzales. Pilgrim and his wife were among the nine charter members of the First Baptist Church of Gonzales and he was the first clerk of the Gonzales Baptist Association. In 1852-53 Pilgrim served on the board of visitors of Baylor University. He was a member of the board of incorporators and president of the board of trustees of the Gonzales College which was chartered February 16, 1852. He served as county treasurer and three terms as justice of the peace. He also served in the Confederate army. T.J. Pilgrim died October 30, 1877. He and his wife who died February 1, 1883 were buried in the Gonzales City Cemetery. Cary Fleda Chenault (From The History of Gonzales County, Texas. Reprinted by permission of the Gonzales County Historical Commission)


PONTON. William Sr., Andrew, Joel. The Pontons originated in Virginia with William Ponton (b. abt 1772), the oldest child of Joel and Hannah Ponton of Amherst County, VA. Joel Ponton was a Revolutionary War soldier who died on 22 Jun 1826 in Nelson County, VA. Family legend says that the Ponton and Morelands were of French descent having originally come to New Amsterdam (New York) in the 17th century. William Ponton married Isabella Moreland of Pennsylvania on 12 Jan 1801 and they had children Joel (b. 3 Jul 1802), Andrew (b. 1804) and Mary Jane (b. abt 1810) in Virginia and Sarah Ann (b. 16 Sep 1820) in Missouri. William Ponton owned land in HowardCo, MO in 1819 and the family lived also in Boonville, CooperCo, MO where several children were born. It is thought that the Pontons and the John William and Catherine McClure Burket families were good friends in Missouri before coming to Texas. Upon the urging of son-in-law James B. Patrick who married Mary Jane Ponton, the Pontons and Patricks moved to the DeWitt Colony arriving 17 Dec 1829. The Patricks remained in or around Gonzales where James B. arriving in 1829 received title in 1831 to a league on the south bank of the Guadalupe River southwest of Gonzales. J.B. Patrick purchased 2 lots in inner Gonzales town on each of which he built structures, one a home on Water St. About the same time brother-in-law, Andrew Ponton, a single man, received title to a quarter sitio on the Gonzales-LavacaCo line. Andrew Ponton also purchased two lots in inner Gonzales town where he had a smokehouse which was one of the only two structures still identifiable after the burning of Gonzales by Houston's retreating army.

The elder William and Isabella Ponton settled on a league just north of current Hallettsville granted to them in current Lavaca County in the Austin Colony on 27 Nov 1832, the same day as title was passed to James Campbell on the league between the Ponton tract and current Hallettsville. Joel Ponton and family at first remained behind in MO, but followed in late 1833. He purchased in fall 1835 a lot at the bend of the San Marcos River on the far northwest corner of the Gonzales town tract. On 20 May 1834, a band of Comanches caught William Ponton and John Hays away from their guns and horses while they were cutting poles for a crib. Lavaca County author, Judge Paul Boethel in A History of Lavaca County describes the event:

"William Ponton, a member of DeWitt’s Colony, was killed by the Indians near his home on Ponton’s Creek in 1834. It was in spring, good rains had fallen for some time and the ground was covered with a luxuriant growth of wild flowers and grass, and game was abundant when a stray band of Comanches fell upon this settler and his companion. Ponton and his companion, named John Hays, left the house as day was breaking, May 20th, and rode out to the timber, where the Dickson or Evergreen schoolhouse once stood, to cut poles for a crib. They had been chopping about two hours and the pile of poles was steadily growing, when Ponton suddenly dropped his axe, pointed towards the top of the hill to the south, and said: 'John, look yonder; what do you reckon that is?' There, just beyond the crest of the hill, was a glimpse of several figures moving about. The two men turned pale as they realized their situation. They had brought their guns with them but had left them, together with their horses and lunch basket, a full half mile below them, where they had first started in to work. They crept in behind some trees and watched the crest of the hill, where the moving figures had disappeared, but Hays felt certain he caught the glitter of a lance before they vanished. 'Our only chance will be to get to our guns and horses,' said Ponton. 'Mebbe they haven't seen our horses. Come on, let's run for it,' and throwing aside his axe, he made a run for them, closely followed by Hays. They had hardly covered two hundred yards, however, before they heard a shrill cry from the hill and saw the Indians riding down upon them, waving their lances over their heads. A minute or two later, Ponton and Hays reached a shallow gully that stretched directly across their path; the heavy rains had made the bottom of it a quagmire, and gathering all his strength, Hays cleared it in a jump but Ponton fell short. As Hays ran on, he caught a glimpse of his comrade struggling to free himself of the mud and mire and the Indians were fast closing in upon him. Reaching the spot where they had started in to work, he saw that the horses had become frightened and had broken loose, and at the moment were galloping away across the prairie to the left. Catching up his rifle, he ran to a dense thicket of low bushes that covered two or three acres of ground on the far bank. He reached it in a few minutes and turned to look back for Ponton. The Indians were all dismounted and around the gully and he could see that his comrade was a prisoner. Working his way deep into the dense underbrush on his hands and knees, dragging his rifle behind him, he found his cover, and prepared to make his stand by laying out his ammunition beside him. In a little while, the Indians came up and rode around and around the thicket, sometimes venturing in a short distance, and then out. The underbrush was so dense he could only be guided by their voices. About two in the afternoon, the Indians brought Ponton up and made him call his comrade, but getting no response they continued their search. Just as night came on, they brought Ponton back again and this time in agony. He called upon Hays to come out and maybe they would spare his life, stating they had cut all the skin off the bottom of his feet. Again and again Ponton called to him as they continued to torture him and finally the Indians built a huge fire before the thicket. By and by all sounds ceased and Hays concluded his comrade had been killed and the Indians had ridden away, but he stayed in the thicket all night. He crept out of his hiding the next day and hurried to the nearest settlement where he organized a rescue party and returned to the scene. The party found Ponton, scalped and horribly mutilated, near the thicket."

In 1835, Andrew Ponton emerged as the Alcalde of Gonzales who guided the government of the colony through the events leading to separation from Mexico including the original confrontation at Gonzales over the Gonzales cannon. The event became known as the Battle of Gonzales, the "Lexington" of Texas and the precipitation of events leading to victory over Santa Anna at San Jacinto. Andrew Ponton became the agent for disposition of his parents league on the Lavaca River north of the Hallett home near current Hallettsville, but before any of the family could settle and improve it they were forced to flee east on the Runaway Scrape in front of Santa Anna's army. In the fall of 1837, Andrew Ponton, his brother Joel Ponton and family and sisters Sarah Ann Eggleston and Mary Jane Patrick and families returned to the DeWitt Colony to begin life again in an independent Texas Republic. Andrew, his widowed mother Isabella Ponton, and the Egglestons established homesteads on the William Ponton league on the Lavaca River near Hallettsville in addition to their homes in Gonzales town proper. The Patricks remained in Houston for a time until daughter Sarah Jane was born in 1837 and then returned to Gonzales. In 1838 the Patricks and Sarah Ann Ponton Eggleston were in San Felipe where Mary Jane Ponton Patrick became ill and died, probably in Apr 1839, in the presence of mother Isabella and other relatives. While in San Felipe, titles to tracts on their father's league were formalized. Andrew Ponton and his mother returned to a homestead on the Lavaca River, Joel Ponton acquired and settled property on the Navidad River and the Egglestons settled in Gonzales town. James B. Patrick and children also apparently returned to Gonzales town where he continued to be active in Gonzales town politics and public service. Andrew Ponton apparently made his home and spent most of the time through 1841 in Gonzales where he continued in public service as described below. After his marriage to Mary H. Berry in 1841, the couple focused on stockraising on their league on the upper Lavaca River. With slaves Austin, Elvira and Sam, the Pontons became prosperous. Upon statehood, Ponton was elected the first county judge of Lavaca County. Widowed matriarch of the Ponton clan made her home until her death after 1850 with daughter Sarah Ann and son-in-law Horace Eggleston in Gonzales.

Andrew Ponton. Andrew Ponton (1804-1850) was born in Amherst County, Virginia and went to the DeWitt Colony, Gonzales County, Texas in 1829 from Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri with his parents, two sisters and others. Andrew's parents were William Ponton (1772-1834) and Isabella Mooreland (1782-1860), a native of Pennsylvania. William was killed by a stray band of Indians May 20, 1834 where he and a friend John Hays were cutting poles for a crib. The daughters were: Polly "Mary" Jane Patrick (1810 near Lovingston, Nelson County, Virginia-1837 San Felipe, Austin Colony) married May 29, 1828 James Blair Patrick in Cooper County, Missouri; and Sarah Ann (September 16, 1820 Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri) who married Horace Eggleston. Andrew married July 8, 1841 Mary H. Berry in Columbus, Colorado County, Republic of Texas with his brother Joel Ponton, a minister of the Disciples of Christ Church, performing the ceremony. He died July 4, 1850 and was buried in the Gonzales Masonic Cemetery where the Texas Centennial Commission erected an Historical Marker on his grave in 1936. His brother Joel (July 3, 1802 near Lovingston, Amherst County, Virginia) married January 5, 1827 in Cooper County, Missouri Sarah Ann Reavis (June 8, 1794 August 31, 1837), a native of Rutherford County, North Carolina, and died in Gonzales County. The school where Andrew received his education has not been found.

In 1835 Andrew was elected Alcalde of Gonzales, and in September he was a member of the Gonzales Committee for Safety. The Mexican government had furnished a cannon for the protection of Gonzales' inhabitants against Indians; in 1835 Mexico sent soldiers to Gonzales to get the cannon or bring Ponton to San Antonio as a hostage. He put them off, and the final result was that he sent a very diplomatic letter of why he could not return the cannon. He was a farmer, stockman, politician and judge. He was the first chief justice of Gonzales County, a member of the Second Congress, House of Representatives in Houston for the County of Gonzales 1837-1838. He was elected the first chief justice of Lavaca County when it was formed in 1846. His land grant was issued June 18, 1832 and was located on the Gonzales-Lavaca County line. Andrew Ponton and his son Thomas Jefferson were members of the Masonic Order A.F. & A.M. Andrew and Mary had four children: William W. (1842) joined the Confederate army in 1862 and was soon released for a disability; Andrew S. (1845-1862) joined the Confederate army in September, 1861 and was killed in the battle at Atlanta in 1862; Thomas Jefferson Ponton Sr. (April 6, 1847 Gonzales County-December 9, 1889 Gonzales) after his high school education studied law and became a prominent attorney in Gonzales County, married February 27, 1872 in Gonzales Martha "Mattie" Kentuckey Brown (1849-1887) and had seven children with descendants later living in California and Florida; and Samuel Virgin (1849 1856). B. Elmer Spradley (From The History of Gonzales County, Texas. Reprinted by permission of the Gonzales County Historical Commission).

Joel Ponton. Joel Ponton was both medical doctor and a minister of the Disciples of Christ Church. He married Sara Reavis in CooperCo, MO on 5 Jan 1827 where they had children Andrew Judson (b. 4 Aug 1829; d. 12 Jan 1908, buried Junction, KimbleCo, TX), William Lee (m. Lutilia Ezzell 1856) and Jemima Jane (m. Thomas L. Hunt 1848). After arrival in Gonzales, a fourth David Barton (m. Lemelia Lay) was born 30 Apr 1834. On 31 Mar 1837, another son, Joseph Parthenias (m. Eliza Jane Bownds), was born in Columbus on the way back to the Gonzales area after their flight to East Texas. Wife and mother Sara Reavis Ponton died 31 Aug 1837 in Gonzales. On 28 Mar 1839, Dr. Ponton married Rhoda Delaney who adopted his children and bore more children Joel (b. 1842), Alexander (b. 1843), Martha and Ellen (and probably more) while Ponton ministered both to the physical and spiritual illnesses of his clients. Records indicate that he commonly applied steam and lobelia treatment, steam to cause sweating and lobelia (Indian tobacco) as an emetic. As a doctor, Ponton was in large demand and widely respected in the community, he had a large practice kept busy by the hazards of pioneer life. It is unclear if Dr. & Reverend Ponton practiced his spiritual ministry in the colony prior to independence. However, afterwards he was an enthusiastic minister in the early Church of Christ and established at least two congregations on the Rio Navidad in 1841-1842. In early Texas days, both of his ministeries combined could not support the large family. Ponton supported his family by as a rancher and farmer and also served the public in civil capacities. In spring 1839 after attending the death of his sister Mary Jane Ponton Patrick in San Felipe and the settlement of the William Ponton estate among the children, Ponton established his homestead on the Navidad River. On the way to the homestead on the Navidad, he purchased a 45 year old slave named Squire from James Campbell near Hallettsville. Both of Dr. Ponton's ministeries kept him on the road between homesteads and settlements, most frequently to Gonzales town. On 5 Aug 1840, he and Tucker Foley while on the way to Gonzales from their Navidad River homestead were attacked by a band of 27 Comanches on their way to the great raid on the coast at Linnville. Dr. Ponton survived, but companion Foley did not. On 5 Mar 1850, wife Rhoda Delaney Ponton died leaving him a 48 year old widower with 11 dependent children. On 11 Jul 1850, he married 18 year old Mary Henderson, one of six children of James and Lucinda Henderson from Water Hole Branch on the Lyons League about 12 miles south of Hallettsville. Joel and Mary Ponton settled near Hallettsville and had eight more children, Sarah, James, Alice, Laura, John, Lena, Henry and Victor Hugo.

Upon the death of his brother Andrew Ponton in 1850, Joel Ponton became the administrator of his estate by will of widow Mary H. Berry Ponton. After Andrew's widow Mary H. Ponton married Dr. Daniel C. Bellows in Dec 1850, the couple challenged Joel Ponton's position as administrator of the Andrew Ponton estate and he was removed, but after Ponton had established home tracts and slaves Austin and Elvira as property of the children of Andrew Ponton. The Bellows became owners of the Hicks Hotel and Tavern in Hallettsville, renamed it The Mansion House and after financial difficulties with it, Mary H. Berry Ponton Bellows died in Dec 1856 and Bellows moved out of the area. In 1857, Joel Ponton was re-established as guardian of the Andrew Ponton minor hiers and estate. He was forced to sell Austin for $157 and Elvira for $800 and tracts of land to support his nephews.

When the Civil War came, Dr. Joel Ponton supported the cause of the south without wavering and continued to do so after Lee's surrender. Prior to "Yankee Rule" in Lavaca County, Ponton served as deputy county clerk Josiah Dowling, he tried without success to obtain office under reconstruction and was elected county judge in 1866 when open polls were restored. However, he was removed form office by Federal authorities. He became again deputy county clerk under Josiah Dowling through Mar 1869. As county clerk and local minister, Ponton took care of both the civil and ceremonial formalities of marriages in the area. Wife Mary Henderson Ponton died on 17 Aug 1868 and Dr. Ponton married for the fourth time, Mrs. M.A. Beedle, by minister James Ballard. She died on 31 Mar 1871. In the same year Joel Ponton married Mrs. Harriet W. Koonce, mother of a daughter-in-law Elizabeth Koonce Mayo Ponton. On 1 Feb 1875 five times married DeWitt Colony pioneer doctor, minister, rancher and farmer Dr. Joel Ponton died with his large family in attendance. He is said to be buried on the Koonce tract of land near the Kent homestead on the Andrew Kent league in a location known as Ezzell, established by Sam and Ira Ezzell.


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