SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
PUTMAN/PUTNAM. Mitchell/Michael Putman was born in South Carolina in 1793 and first settled on the Colorado River in 1835. He served in infantry Company F, 1st Regiment under Capt. Heard at San Jacinto in Apr 1836 where he was wounded in the right arm. After the Run Away Scrape and independence, he returned to GonzalesCo in 1838 where he lived, some say in the same yard, next to the Andrew Lockhart family opposite the current site of Cuero in DeWitt County. He is best known because of the Indian kidnapping and murders that occurred the same year in which he lost four children. On 9 Dec 1838 according to Wilbarger (October according to Brown in History of Texas), while the Putman and Lockhart children were gathering pecans which were a delicacy and plentiful in the Guadalupe River bottom, a Comanche band carried off 17 year old Rhoda, 10 year old James, 6 year old Elizabeth and 2 year old Juda Putnam. At the same time they kidnapped 13 year old Matilda Lockhart and reportedly killed the 4 year old daughter of another settler. Wilbarger in Indian Depredations in Texas describes the children's experiences with the Indians as told by them in later years after their return to civilized society:
Her father was a brother of Bird Lockhart, for whom the town of Lockhart, in Caldwell county, was named. As to the Putnam children, the son was reclaimed many years afterwards. He had acquired many of the habits of the Indians and spoke their language. We have been informed that Rhoda became the wife of a chief and refused to return home. Elizabeth was finally reclaimed, but Juda Putnam remained a captive among the Indians for about fourteen years. She was several times sold, and once was purchased by a party of Missouri traders, who, after retaining her for some time, sold her to a man by the name of Chinault, who subsequently moved to Texas and settled in Gonzales county, the same section in which Miss Putnam had been captured by the Indians. With this man she had lived seven years. The citizens of Gonzales county, knowing she had been an Indian captive, and seeing the strong resemblance she bore to the Putnam family, came to the conclusion that possibly she might be the long lost Juda Putnam. After a time the Putnam family began to look into the matter, and questioned her in regard to her parentage and former life. She had forgotten her own name, and could tell nothing of her life prior to the time the Indians captured her; and of that event she had but a dim and uncertain recollection, as she was only about seven years of age when captured. A sister of hers said on one occasion, when speaking of the matter, that if this lady was really her long lost sister she could be identified by a most singular mark on her person. An examination was made by this sister and some other ladies, and the mark was found precisely as it had been described. This, together with her striking likeness to the family, left no doubt in the mind of any one that she was the identical Juda Putnam who had been captured by the Indians in Gonzales county twenty-one years before. Thus, after fourteen years captivity among the Indians and seven years with Mr. Chinault, was this young lady by a train of circumstances brought back to the very spot from whence she had been stolen, and by the merest chance was recognized and restored to, her relatives."
Various accounts differ in detail of the events, names and number and fate and return of the different Putman children. One account says that boys James and Juda Putman were returned within a few months and Elizabeth was kept for two years until she was discovered and her father was able to trade a mule for her return. Rhoda married and became a member of the tribe of her captors, but returned to civilization years later. Brown in his histories of Texas speaks of the Putman children as a small girl, a boy of four and a girl of two and a half year, but in other sections refers to "four" Putnam children. He says the boy was returned to the parents in spring 1840, relates a similar story to Wilbarger above in return of one girl. In addition Brown relates the following story in Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas:
"This leaves the little girl of Mr. Putman alone to account for. She was two and a half years old when she was captured in 1838. Another party of warriors in the spring of 1840, brought in and delivered up at San Antonio a little girl of about five, but who could not or would not tell where she was captured, and no one there from her appearance, could imagine her to be one of the lost children of whom he had any information. The child could not speak a word of English and was wild--afraid of every white person--and tried on every occasion to ran away. The military authorities were perplexed and knew not how to keep or how to dispose of her. Here, again, came providential interposition. The District Court was in session, the now lamented Judge John Hemphill presiding for the first time. In attendance as a lawyer was his predecessor, Judge James W. Robinson, who then lived two miles above Gonzales, and one mile below him lived Arch Gipson, whose wife was a daughter of Mitchell Putman, and a sister of the missing little girl. Hearing of the child he examined her closely, trusting she might show some family resemblance to Mrs. Gipson, whom he knew well and whose father lived only flfteen miles from Gonzales. He could recognize no resemblance, but determined to take the little stranger home with him, for, as he assured the writer, he had a presentiment that she was the Putman child, and had a very sympathetic nature, He, Judge Hemphill and John R. Cunningham (a brilliant star, eclipsed in death as a Mexican prisoner two years later), made the trip on horseback together, the little wild creature alternating behind them. They exhausted every means of gentling and winning her, but in vain. It was necessary to tie her in camp at night and watch her closely by day. In this plight they arrived at Judge Robinson's house as dinner was about ready, and the Judge learned that Mrs. Gipson was very feeble from recent illness. He deemed it prudent to approach her cautiously about the child, and to this end, after dinner he rode forward, alone, leaving the other gentlemen to follow a little later with the child who, up to that time, had not spoken an English word."
"Judge Robinson gently related all the facts to Mrs. Gipson, said it could not be her sister, but thought it would be more satisfactory to let her see in person and had therefore brought the little thing, adding: 'Be quiet, it will be here very soon.' The gentlemen soon rode up to the yard fence, the child behind Judge Hemphill, on a very tall horse. I quote by memory the indelible words given me by Judge Robinson a few days afterwards: Despite my urgent caution Mrs. Gipson, from her first realization that a recovered child was near at hand, presented the strangest appearance I ever saw in woman, before or since. She seemed, feeble as she was, to skip more as a bird than as a person, her eyes indescribably bright, and her lips tightly closed--but she uttered not a word. As the horsemen arrived she skipped over the fence, and with an expression which language cannot describe, she stood as if transfixed, peering up into the little face on horseback. Never before nor since have I watched any living thing as I watched that child at that moment. As if moved by irresistible power, the instant it looked into Mrs. Gipson's face it seemed startled as from a slumber, threw up its little head as if to collect its mind, and with a second piercing look, sprang from the horse with outstretched arms, clasping Mrs. Gipson around the neck, piteously exclaiming: 'Sister, sister!' And tears of joy mingled with audible sobs fell from three of the most distinguished men of Texas, all long since gathered to their fathers---Cunningham in Mexican bondage in 1842, Robinson in Southern California about 1850, and Hemphill in the Confederate Senate in 1862. But when such tears flow do not the angels sing paeans around the throne of Him who took little children 'up in His arms, put His hands upon them and blessed them.'"
Dixon and Kemp in Heroes of San Jacinto say that one Putman child died of exposure and two were re-captured during the Council House Fight in San Antonio in 1840. He relates a similar account to Wilbarger's about return of the girl in 1865 by Judge John Chenaith/Chenault, formerly an Indian agent in Missouri who had moved to Gonzales. A group of traders had purchased the girl from Indians and after she had been with them a while, the Judge had ransomed her, made her a part of his household and given her an elementary education. Author Brown relates a similar story. Mitchell Putman died in Gonzales in 1884.
Putman families are listed in the 1950 census of GonzalesCo, TX in the
St. Marcos River District: Putman, Micael, 50, m, $2,000, Tenn; Putman, Elizabeth, 40, f,
Tenn; Putman, James, 20, m, Ala; Putman, Hencle, 5, m, Texas.
SMITH. Ezekiel Smith and wife, Sussanah Dingess Smith, have been described aptly as a pair of rolling stones. They were in Giles County, Virginia in 1820, Warren County, Illinois in 1830 and in Gonzales County, Texas in 1840. Isaac Smith, father of Ezekiel and the first known ancestor, was born in Augusta County, Virginia in 1746. He married Hannah Sims in 1770 in Augusta County. Isaac served in the American Revolution in Virginia, including Yorktown. Isaac and Hannah, born circa 1750, with their children were in a group of settlers from Rockingham County, Virginia who migrated after the Revolutionary War to Giles County, Virginia, settling along the New River. Isaac and Hannah had nine or ten children, died and were buried in Giles County. Ezekiel was born in Giles County October 19, 1781, married Sussanah Dingess, daughter of Peter Dingess Sr. and Mary "Polly" Smith February 4, 1802 in Montgomery County, Virginia.
Ezekiel and Sussanah had eight children all born in Giles County, Virginia: Paris, Peter D., French C., Charles A. and Gertrude (twins), Eliza, and Polly and Harriet (twins).
Paris, born March 16, 1803, died July 30, 1869, married Dorcas Wilson June 3, 1827 who was born February 9, 1805 in Monroe County, Virginia and died August 11, 1864. Both were buried in Seguin. Their children were: Harriet, Susan Jane, Emmett, William Anderson, Elizabeth, Theresa, John Dingess, Mary Hutchinson, Sidney Wilson and Virginia.
Peter Dingess Smith was born in Giles County, Virginia November 13, 1805 and married Jane F. Darbyshire who was born in London in 1807. Peter died February 14, 1833 and both were buried in Guadalupe County. Their children were: John Ezekiel, Elizabeth, Joe, William Pitt, Thomas, Joseph and Salina. [Peter's death date is probably confused with his marriage date--WLM]
French C. Smith was born April 2, 1809 in Giles County, Virginia and died March 21, 1880. He married Elizabeth Hector October 30, 1831 who was born December 27, 1812 in Scotland and died July 8, 1888. Both were buried in Seguin. Their children were: Andrew (Andromache), Albert Galeton, Stein (Astynax), William A. (Argetorix), Ann Elizabeth (Sunnorix) and Guy F.
Charles Anderson Smith, born September 21, 1811 in Giles County, Virginia, married Elizabeth Henderson who was born November 1, 1821 in Tennessee or Illinois. Their children were: Ezekiel Henderson, Paris, Gertrude, Margaret, Emily and Virginia Young, a child from Elizabeth's second marriage. Charles and Elizabeth died at Seguin.
Gertrude Smith who was born September 21, 1811 married William Anderson Dingess March 26, 1829. They remained in Virginia. Eliza Smith was born December 27, 1812. Harriett was born March 11, 1814, died December 1, 1824 and Polly was born March 11, 1814 and died December 21, 1815.
In the mid-1820's Ezekiel and Sussanah began to move westward. By 1829 Ezekiel and Sussanah, Paris and Dorcas Wilson Smith, William A. and Peter D. were in Warren County, Illinois. The families later relocated across the Mississippi River to what became Burlington, Iowa, operated a ferry and farmed. Paris had a store and was a land surveyor. Ezekiel, Sussanah and son Charles left Iowa to join French C. Smith and his wife, Elizabeth Hector, in Texas. In a claim for state land, Ezekiel attested that he arrived in Texas in May, 1837. French received a land grant in DeWitt's Colony in 1831.
The Paris Smith and Peter D. Smith families temporarily remained in Iowa. In April, 1840 they began a river trek on their houseboat down the Mississippi to New Orleans, then to Galveston. After a stop in the Gonzales vicinity with Ezekiel, all the Smiths began to move to the area in Gonzales County that became Seguin. Paris and Dorcas were reported to have arrived there July 12, 1840. Ezekiel and French fought in the Texas War for Independence. Ezekiel enlisted in the Texas army for the Somerville Expedition and in the Mier Expedition in 1842. At the age of sixty-two he was with the group of Texan shareholders on the Mier Expedition who chose to cross the Rio Grande in pursuit of the Mexicans. They were captured and marched to Tampico where Ezekiel remained in prison for two and one-half years before he was released September 16, 1844 to return to Seguin [descendants say he walked the entire distance from Tampico to Seguin--WLM]. The first court to convene in the new Guadalupe County after its organization in August, 1846 was at Paris Smith's house in Seguin. Paris operated a store and worked as a land surveyor, a farmer, the postmaster and a Guadalupe County clerk. French was a friend of Sam Houston and supported Houston's stand against secession and the Civil War. He was mentioned in 1857 as a candidate for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Sam Houston. The Seguin Journal favored their candidacies but the Mercury of July 15, 1857 said: "In regard to French Smith, this is a useless parade of his name, for to imagine either his or the election of Houston is to argue a state of credulity not very constructive to a healthy mind." Ezekiel Smith died October 28, 1854. Sussanah died October 26, 1848 and both were buried in Riverside Cemetery, Seguin. The Kemp Papers in the Barker Library, The University of Texas at Austin, contain other information. Walter Williams (From The History of Gonzales County, Texas. Reprinted by permission of the Gonzales County Historical Commission)
Ezekial Smith was among the Texans captured at the 1842 Battle of Mier and was transported via Matamoros to the Perote Prison in Tampico. There he wrote the following letter [contributed by descendant Cathy Passmore]:
April 29, 1843
Additional historical notes in descendants papers state:
Ezekial stayed in Seguin with his wife and son, but still making numerous exploring and hunting trips to West and Northwest Texas. He lost his beloved wife, Jane, in 1848. He spent most of his remaining life in hunting trips, still having the never-ceasing roaming desire in his heart. He brought back buffalo robes and smoked tongues. His son, pleading with him not to travel for he was getting old, got this reply, Ive never been sick in my life or have ever taken any medicine. But exposure took its toll from these trips and the massive physiqued man that had loved to roam ended his travels in 1853. He died with his grief-stricken son near his bed in Seguin, October 28, 1854, making his final trip at the age of 73.
Peter Dingess Smith was likely married on 14 Feb 1833 in IL, a date that is erroneously listed as his death date in the above article and related citations. He had 7 children and 5 appear to be born between 1835 and 1846. A land transaction by Peter D. Smith in Seguin, Guadalupe Co records indicate that Peter received a government land grant of 640 acres in GuadalupeCo on 8 Jun 1848. He is listed in the 1850 GuadalupeCo census (page 586, household #102) as a 44 year old farmer, born in Va with wife Jane F. Smith with 5 children [data provided Jun 2005 by descendant Carolyn Oldfather].
According to James Nichols in Now You Hear My Horn, Ezekial Smith was a devout and outspoken Methodist. Smith's brutality toward helpless and wounded Indian and Mexican centralist enemies at the Battle of Plum Creek and Battle of Salado, respectively, were noted by multiple eyewitnesses to the battles. He is also known in the following anecdote surrounding the Whipping Oak in central park, Seguin:
On the north edge of current central park, Seguin, across from the courthouse, at least one of the cluster of live oak trees was used in administration of punishment by the lash. A 3-inch ring embedded in one oak which has become famous as The Whipping Oak was thought to have been where runaway slaves, thieves and wife-beaters were administered according to one court document in 1846 "....as many licks as a certain settler had given his wife." French Smith is said to have happened by noting a man tied to the tree, inquiring why he was informed he was a wife-beater. Smith became irate demanding the man's release shouting "That there ain't no fitten crime to be punished for!"
SMITH. Stephen Smith. From The History of Gonzales County, Texas by Dorcas Baumgartner. Texas attracted settlers from many places and for all manner of reasons; however, one thing they all had in common was a hunger for land. Stephen Smith was no exception. Merchant, trader, speculator, banker, a real "Wheeler dealer", Smith arrived in Gonzales early in 1830. With him were his wife Temperance and two young daughters, Adeline and Mary Ann Saphronia. Almost immediately he began acquiring land. Along with all of DeWitt's other settlers he received a grant from the Mexican government. The land grant was located on the San Marcos River, and the Guadalupe-Gonzales County line ran through it as also did a small creek referred to in old deed records as "Stephen Smith Creek." Next he purchased town lots, five inner lots and four outer lots. Within the next five years he managed to obtain a total of 20,128 acres in DeWitt, Gonzales, Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties. Stephen died in 1839 leaving an estate that was tied up in the courts for years. When his holdings were finally divided, only two of the original five heirs were alive to benefit. The identity of Stephen before he came to Texas or where he and Temperance came from was unknown. "Smith" may have been an alias, and it was possible that his real name was Stephen Stuckey. However, extensive searching for both names was in vain, and the origin of the family remained a mystery.
By the end of 1831 a third daughter Elleanor was born, and the family had settled into a small log home on Block 3, Lot 6, the corner of St. Louis and St. John Streets. Adjacent to Smith's home a larger structure was built which became "Smith's Store." Merchants in early Texas sold a marvelous variety of goods. Old book accounts told that Smith's merchandise consisted of shoes, silk shirting, school books, fine hats, whiskey by the bottle (the one-half pint and most popular "by gourd"), lead bars, nails, "two dry hides wt. 26 lbs. and one panther skin." Customers were local citizens and others passing through. Mathew Caldwell came for coffee and plug tobacco; Wash Cottle for whiskey, sugar and sire; and there were the customers Ezekiel Williams, Almeron Dickenson, Moses Baker, William B. Travis, Samuel B. Williams, Creed Taylor and the families Lockhart, Sowell, Nash, Davis, Fuqua, Floyd and others. Thomas R. Miller, also a merchant, was a frequent partner with Smith in transactions such as cash loans at the rate of ten percent, and of the purchase of land. George C. Kimball wrote on a scrap of paper, "February 27, 1836, Recd. of Stephen Smith 52 lbs. coffee....for the use of the men that has volunteered to go to Bexar to the relief of our boys." Kimball, owner of a small hat factory and Miller, known as "....the richest man in town," were among the thirty-two citizens who hurried to "the relief of our boys" and died with them in the Alamo. 1836 was a year of heartbreak and desperation for the Gonzales settlers. Stephen with Temperance expecting a child and their three young daughters joined in the Runaway Scrape. Traveling through mud in driving rain and over swollen rivers, the Smith family made their way to Louisiana in time for Temperance to give birth to a fourth daughter Caroline. After three months in Louisiana they returned to Texas, staying in Liberty County until it was safe to return to Gonzales in 1838. Stephen died, probably January 1, 1839, for Temperance paid John D. Wollfin twenty dollars on that date "....for making a coffin." Temperance alone, unable to read or write and with four young daughters, was a widow for only six months. On July 12, 1839 Temperance and James Blair Patrick were married. Patrick, alcalde in 1832, member of the "war party" and county commissioner in 1840, had recently lost his wife Mary Jane Ponton. He was left with two young children, John age six and Sarah Jane eighteen months. On July 30, 1844 Temperance petitioned the court, her health being much impaired, to appoint Dr. Caleb S. Brown administrator of Stephen's estate and guardian of minor daughters Elleanor and Caroline. Unable to conduct business or care for her children, Temperance lingered in poor health until her death in December 1845. Her place of burial was unknown. Saphronia and Caroline were the only surviving members of the family when in May 1849 Stephen's estate was at last settled. James B. Patrick had petitioned the court for his share but without success. Adeline had died by April 1848; she had first married William S. Morrison and in April 1846 married a second time to William H. Stewart. Elleanor died in July 1848 as Mrs. Joshua D. Brown; her marriage took place in July 1846. Caroline married Thomas Randolph Hodges in May 1851 and had at least three children before her death in 1871. Mary Ann Saphronia became Mrs. John Seborn Hodges.
Stephen's reason for making a "fresh start" in Texas was unknown. However, like all of Green DeWitt's other colonists, he was a bold, enterprising and courageous pioneer. He served as sindico procurador in 1832. He supplied cattle, wagons and money to the Republic of Texas army. He resided, worked and died in Gonzales and was very much a part of its history.
After completion of the above, further facts were uncovered: Stephen Stuckey born circa 1786, the third child of Edmund and Edith Howell Stuckey, of Sumter County, South Carolina, first married Jane DuBose, daughter of Peter and Laney Worthington DuBose, and had eight children. One source stated that after Jane's death Stephen married her sister Penelope; however, there may have been only one wife, Penelope Jane DuBose. A South Carolina newspaper, February 26, 1825 stated, "Mrs. Stuckey and her infant of Sumter District . . . murdered by servant girl." Stephen was charged as an accessory to the murders. He deeded his property to his brother William Stuckey. Stephen's eldest son, Alexander Nelson Stuckey, was appointed guardian to Stephen's minor children: Erasmus P., James Jefferson, William N., John Madison, Abbeline, Amelia and Penelope Jane. Stephen left South Carolina, changed his name to "Smith" and went to Texas. In 1848 Stephen's children "as legal distributors" executed power of attorney to George Tarvin to handle property in Texas of "Stephen Stuckey alias Stephen Smith recently of Gonzales County, Texas now deceased." When and where Stephen met his last wife Temperance was not known. Dorcas Baumgartner (Reprinted by permission of the Gonzales County Historical Commission).
OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS