As for the origin of the Oliver brothers, the information by Allen T. Gibson (1876-1961) can only be regarded with the most dubious of origin. He cites no sources, and much of what he provides seems to have come from books such as his account of how his great-grandfather Alvy Johnston was the uncle of General Albert Sidney Johnston of Kentucky appears almost verbatim as if taken from Johnston’s biography in Robert S. Lanier, and F.T. Miller (1912) The Pictorial History of the Civil War.
Our relationship with the Johnsons came about by the marriage of our grandfather William Oliver and his brother Andrew Oliver to two Johnson sisters- Amanda and Synthia Lou Johnson. The Johnson sisters were the daughters of Alvy Johnson, brother to Milam and Preston Johnson, and unkle to Albert Sidney Johnson of history fame. The Johnsons were born in Kentucky near the close of the 17th century. They moved into Tennessee and were married there. Milam Johnson, your father married there, and my great unkle, Settled in Shelby Co. Tex. about 1836. His brother Alvy Johnson moved over into Arkansas about the same date and settled near Camden Ark.
Albert Sidney Johnson was a soldier, born in Kentucky 1803- graduated at West Point in 1826 and served with the U.S. Army until 1834. In 1836 he joined the army of Texas as a private soldier, but very shortly became its head; in 1838 he was appointed Secretary of war for the New State, and in 1839 drove the marauding Indians out of North Texas. He served in the Mexican war under General Taylor. In 1855 he received a Cavalry regiment and in 1858 he brought the Mormon rebellion to an end without the use of force. He was then appointed Brigadier General and commander in Utah, and in the department of the Pacific until 1861, when he resigned. In 1862 at the battle of Shiloh he received a mortal wound, which ended the brilliant kreer of our most distinguished relative, but still his spirit marches on through history.”
Considering that Gibson’s mother died when Allen was about 3 years old, everything he learned about his mother’s family evidently came from his father and his father’s family, with some information evidently derived from Elizabeth Baldwin whom he lived with for a short time as a young boy. Gibson was in his early twenties before he learned to read or write, which considering what all he managed to do with his life is quite remarkable. As was provided in the previous epistle, below are the remainder of the letters:
“Alvy Johnson who settled at Camden Ark, and after several years there had acquired a family of four girls, and on the night his fifth child was born his wife died, and the same night his baby girl, age about three years, fell into the fire and burned to death! That tragedy left our great-grandfather Alvy Johnson with a double funeral and a baby boy, they named Preston and none of them old enough to keep house. The best he could do was to place his children in the care of others and try to reestablish home life later. His oldest daughter Amanda and the baby, Preston when to live with Alvy Johnsons brother Milam in Texas. I know not the name of the family with whom our grandmother Synthia Johnson was placed. Her younger sister Elizabeth Johnson was placed in the care of a well to do family named Smith. They gave Elizabeth every advantage in the way of education and careful training.
After Unkle Alvy Johnson had placed his children, he came to Texas and procured land near his brother Milam and was in the process of erecting a house to gather his family to, died without realizing his dream of reestablishing home and family. About that time a political disturbance broke out in the vicinity of the Johnson settlement and got out of controll by local authorities and the military was called out to quell the disturbance or restore order. The two Oliver brothers, Andrew and William were serving in the military and while in the Johnson vicinity chanced to meet the two Johnson Sisters, Amanda and Synthia- They found the Johnson sisters to be intelligent, refined and good looking, and the Johnson sisters saw in the Oliver brothers their ideal in manhood and a future prospect. There was nothing left to do but announce their engagements and mail out the invitations.
Had not that political disturbance occurred the Oliver brothers and Johnson sisters perhaps would have never been brought together and this writer would not be here a hundred years later to write the story and you and many others would not be here to read about it.”
In still another portion of the letter, Allen Gibson provides yet another shorter narrative on the Olivers and Johnsons, which helps tie everything together:
“Adam Oliver, about 1750 to 1810, inventor of the "Oliver Chill Steel" process was father of Andrew Oliver and William Oliver. Adam O. being your great, great, grandfather, William Oliver your great, grandfather and your great, great unkle.
Andrew Oliver married Amanda Johnson, second cousin to Albert Sidney Johnson of history fame, who was your double fifth cousin. William Oliver, younger brother to Andrew Oliver married Synthia L. Oliver, who was Amanda Johnsons sister and your great, grandmother on your fathers side. The two Oliver brothers married the two Johnson sisters which compounded the kinship of their descendants. The father of your great grandmother, Synthia Loue (Johnson) Oliver was Alvy Johnson, my great grandfather on mothers side and your great, great grandfather who dates well back into the 17th century, probably to 1760.”
Each of the sketches by Allen T. Gibson are very similar, because as is noted in the next letter, dated 8 March 1951, says he had written several of these sketches for his relatives, and finding this sketch below while cleaning out his desk, also sent it to his cousin, Willie and Lo (Mr and Mrs William Monroe) Smith, of Fort Worth, which was later transcribed by Kirk's cousin, Sarah Novosatty (and presented by the same orthography):
"Ancestral sketch of the Olivers, Johnsons and Gibsons
The above families are brought together by inter-marriage. The Olivers, I am told are of Irish descent. They first settled in Tennessee about the beginning of the 18th century and came to Texas around 1836; part of the Oliver group settled in Shelby Co. East Tex. while others pushed farther west into Williamson County and settled near where Taylor is now, where the oldest set lived out their lives. One of these early Texas pioneers was named Adam and another, I am told was named Poke, who also had a son who bore his name- Poke, it being an ancestral trait to carry forward family names. Adam Oliver had at least three sons who were: William, Andrew, and Poke, the elder, if this writer has been correctly informed. Although that point is not deffinitely known. The sons of Adam Oliver that are deffinitely known to this writer were Andrew and William, the latter being this writer's grandfather. There being sufficient numbers of the present generation of the Olivers to take care of their own family history, we will confine this sketch to the earlier generations and their family connections.
This particular branch of the Johnson family were born in Kentucky, were married in Tennessee and moved to Texas about the year 1836. Milam Johnson settled in Shelby County at the above date and a Brother, Alvy Johnson moving over into Arkansas and settled at Camden Ark close to the same dates. Milam and Alvy were Albert Sidney Johnson' uncles and His service in the Blackhawk Indian and Mexican wars were distinguished. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he resigned with reluctance an important command to take part with his native South. He received a mortal wound in the battle of Corinth, fought Apr. 6 1862.
Our closest connection with the Johnsons came about by the marriage of two of the Oliver brothers to two of Alvy Johnson's daughters – Synthia Louella Johnson to William Oliver and Amanda Johnson to Andrew Oliver. Amanda being the oldest child of Alvy Johnson. Alvy married a lady in Tennessee who was of english decent, as were the Johnsons. There were five children born to them – four girls and a boy. Their names in order of their births were: Amanda, married to Andrew Oliver; Synthia Louella, married to William Oliver; Elizabeth Johnson, first married to Andrew Truitt. There were three children born to that union – two girls and a boy. One died in infancy. The names of those who lived were: Fannie and William.
The Truitts settled near Suisun Calif. above San Francisco. That union was not a success and Elizabeth divorced Truitt on account of his drinking habit and not providing for his family. Being on her own resources in the far west with two small children to care for she found it difficult to support them. She left the baby boy Willie in the care of a wealthy family near Suisun Calif. Being no adoption law in Calif at that time the child was not adopted. Truitt came back to Texas after the divorce and married Julia Gibson, sister to Rebecca Gibson, who's first husband was Dave Smith and after Smith's death married Andrew Oliver.
To the Andrew Oliver and Amanda Johnson union there were six children. They were: Susie, married to James Grimsley; Martha, married to L.B. Smith; Jennie (called Nicea) married to J. Sam Smith; Sallie married to William Oliver of San Saba, Tex.; Billy Oliver, married to Hannah Gibson and Allen Oliver, married to Lou Rice. After the death of Amanda Johnson Oliver, Andrew Oliver married Rebecca Gibson near Mansfield Texas. Rebecca was widowed by a former marriage to a man named Dave Smith, and Andrew died there at about the age of 60 years and Rebecca lived out her life there also and died some 20 years later.
There in this story, we left Elizabeth Johnson Truitt a widow in California with two small children. She subsequently met and married a man named Truman Baldwin in Calif. T. Baldwin was a good provider and they wished to claim Willie Truitt whom she had left in the care of the childless and wealthy Blythe family. The Blythe's didn't want to give Willie up and he assumed the Blythe name. By that time there were adoption laws passed in California, but it required the Baldwins to make a paupers oath that they were not able to support Willie in order for him to be legally adopted and become heir to the Blythe estate. The Baldwins let them keep Willie, and they gave Willie a splendid education but failed to teach him to work with his hands. Willie taught school a few sessions but disliked the profession and had rather work at common labor than teach. Through a second marriage after Mrs Blythe died, and after Mr Blyths death Willie not being legally adopted was shut off from the Blythe estate. Many years later he burned to death in a rooming house in Suisun Calif.
Elizabeths daughter by Andrew Truitt, Fannie married a wealthy man in California named McElfrish. Fannie was an ambitious woman and became noted for her horsemanship. She kept a stable of fine horses, and seemed more devoted to her horses than to her family. This eventually led to the divorse court. They had only one child, a girl they called Mable Ella Baldwin. Truman and Elizabeth's daughter married a man named James Tarver, who was County Surveyor for Tom Green county for a time. There were no children by that union. Ella Baldwin was a noted artist. Some of her work, I am told, won recognition at the Worlds fair. Charlie Baldwin was enterprising and industrious, amassed a considerable fortune in Oklahoma, was married to Miss Alice Haynes of Llano county.
We will now return to the Alvy Johnson family and note a particular incident which happened while they lived at Camden Ark. And another which happened some years later in Shelby Co. Tex. Alvy had four girls and one boy the oldest child Amanda was about eleven years old. Synthia Louella about nine, Elizabeth about 7, another little girl (name not known to me) about three, and the night the baby boy was born the mother died in childbirth and the same night the little girl fell into the fire and burned to death. That tragedy left Alvy Johnson with four orphant children not old enough to keep house, a new born babe and a double funeral on his hands! The best he could do was to place his children in the care of others. The oldest girl Amanda and the baby boy came to Texas to live with their Uncle Milam.
Synthia L. was placed with a family, I know not the name of, and Elizabeth went to live with a childless family named Smith. The Smiths gave Elizabeth every advantage in schooling and proper training. In the meanwhile Alvy moved to his brothers, accumulated some property, including a tract of land near his brothers. About that time incident No 2 occurred. The two older girls had by chance met two brothers named Andrew and William Oliver. About that time just before the war between the States, a political disturbance between two factions who called themselves "Liberators" and "Moderators". One faction representing the South, the other the North. The disturbance got out of hand and the militia was sent to restore order. The Oliver Bros. happened to be in the detachment and while there, chanced to meet the Johnson girls. The Oliver Bros. were struck by the refinement and good looks of the Johnson sisters, and the Johnson sisters saw the Oliver brothers their ideal in the type of manhood, so they saw no reason why they shouldn't announce their intentions to wed and mail out the invitations.
Amanda and Andrew got wed forthwith, but Synthia had to wait a year on account of being under age. The next year Synthia married William Oliver. In the meantime Alvy had just finished a house on his land to re-establish a family when he died and left his dream of re-establishing home and family unrealized. By that time Elizabeth was 14 years old and left the Smiths and made her home with Amanda and Andrew Oliver. The nest year she stayed with William and Synthia Oliver. She was then in her 16th year, and married quite young that year to Andrew Truitt. After Truitt was divorced, as previously noted, he returned to the vicinity of Mansfield Texas and married Julia Gibson, sister [to] Billy, Hannah, Rebecca, Mattie and Ben Gibson.
There were three children born to the Gibson-Truitt union. Their names in order of their age were: Duff Thomas (called Pat) and Treddie, a little girl who died at about age 4 yrs.
To this writer personally that political disturbance above spoken of is of deepest interest and I would like to place a wreath upon the grave of the one who started it, for had it not been for that disturbance the military would not have been called out and the Oliver brothers and the Johnson sisters would not have been brought together and the writer would not have been here more than a hundred years later to write this story, and the Oliver boys of San Saba and a lot of others would not be here to read it.
(signed) Allen T. Gibson
San Antonio Tex"
As much as it may have some bearing on the story above, I will dispense with relating the Gibson's genealogy, except to say that in her opening statement, Beryl Steele Gibson says of the three families: "Around the close of the 17th century some families of Gibsons, Reeces and Johnsons emigrated from Wales in Great Britain to settle in Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky," which I find quite interesting that Alvey R. Johnson's family could be derived from Wales, when we don't even know his parentage. The information shown in brackets was by Mrs. Beryl Steele Gibson:
"The Johnson, Oliver and Truitt Families
Milam Johnson came to Shelby County, Texas about 1836. He was born in Kentucky and married Denicy (called 'Nicy') [surname not given-Ed.] in Tennessee. They established a home, reared a family and lived out their lives in Shelby County. This writer knows nothing further of Milam's family.
Rufus Alvy Johnson, brother to Milam, married a Miss Phoenix in Tennessee, and settled near Camden, Ark. They had at least six children before the mother died in childbirth. The same night one of her small children burned to death. The other children were: Amanda J., Preston (know nothing of his family and he died many years ago), and Synthia Lou, [writer's grandmother].
Alter Alvy Johnson's double loss of his wife and child and with the responsibilities of a new born babe, as well as other children, he placed Preston and Elizabeth in the care of a well to do family named Smith, Amanda, Synthia and John with other families and came to Texas to his brother, Milam. When Amanda married Andrew Oliver, she took Synthia and John (born the night his mother died) to live with her. Preston stayed with his uncle, Milam Johnson.
Alvey had gotten his family together again and was building a house in Shelby County when he died and again left his children to be distributed among relatives. His daughter, Elizabeth, was then 14, and after living with her sisters for two years, married Andrew Truitt and moved to California. Andy turned out to be a poor provider and a heavy drinker. Neglect of his family caused Elizabeth to divorce him and take their two small children, Fannie and Willie. Another child was born a few months after the separation, who died at the age of three weeks. Elizabeth placed Willie in the care of a wealthy family named Blythe, who had no children of their own. They gave him a fine education, but failed to teach him to work with his hands. William taught school at times, but didn't like the profession. He was intelligent and well educated but made no use of his talents other than to feed and clothe himself and enjoy his leisure hours reading fiction. He was burned to death in his hotel room in Suisune, California at about the age of fifty years."
Of particular interest is Gibson’s version of the Regulator-Moderator War versus say the account by Middleton or Crockett’s, particularly with regards to the war being “a political disturbance between two factions who called themselves "Liberators" and "Moderators" with “One faction representing the South, the other the North” which would have had Texas starting the American Civil War more than two decades before the first rebel shots were fired at Fort Sumter.
Although this story may have been passed down anent how the Oliver brothers met their wives, while serving with the militia sent in to suppress the Regulator-Moderator War in Shelby County, an examination of the muster rolls of the militia stationed at Shelbyville, the Olivers brethren are conspicuously absent not only from the roll of Captain Leonard Mabbitt’s Company of Texas Mounted Volunteers from San Augustine, but also from all the other companies from Sabine, Nacogdoches and Rusk County. Of the 37 men under Mabbitt’s command, 28 were all discharged over the same two day period beginning on November 12, 1844, all of the names are accounted for on Mabbitt’s roster (together with their signatures).
According to Colonel Alexander Horton who was in command of the militia, the other companies from Sabine, Nacogdoches and Rusk were held in reserve and only served as guards for the few prisoners who were captured and confined overnight. Except for Mabbitt’s company, the other companies were discharged and returned home. The Texas State Archives has copies of the claims made against the Republic of Texas for pay, and it appears that Andrew and William Oliver filed no claims for pay nor did they apply for any military service bounties for the minimal three months service entitlement of 320 acres. In noting that no Olivers are listed on the militia rosters, if they indeed came to Shelby County in 1844 they may not have come with the militia but may have came with Oliver Boulware’s Company of Regulators from Harrison and Rusk County?
According to Middleton’s account of the conflict, one battle occurred in the vicinity of the Regulator fort built near Claiborne T. Hilliard’s home (a Regulator), and some of the action evidently spilled over into the Chicken Bayou and in the vicinity of Alvey’s home place. Andrew Jackson Truitt, first husband of Elizabeth Johnston (Baldwin), was one of the Moderators in this battle, and found himself confronting two Regulators, Ephraim M. Daggett and his brother, Charles who rushed Truitt and simply shoved him off into a hole of water, and made their escape in the excitement.
With regard to a date when Moses Birdwell Childress and Eliza Jane Oliver Childress came to Texas, Allen T. Gibson’s account does not provide any date when the Olivers first settled in Texas nor have I discovered any earlier references to Moses. Gibson’s narrative only briefly mentions another brother, Polk Oliver, and Kirk Barron received some information provided on this forum from Helynn Laurel Frady (1998) that Andrew, William, and Polk were sons Andrew Oliver and Mary Lackey, and said that their older brother’s name was Alexander Oliver.
Neither, Andrew Oliver’s 200 acres or William Oliver’s 200 acres were ever deeded to them, and this is not a matter of the deeds having been destroyed when the courthouse burned as I have already explained. That along with the field notes for William Oliver’s 200 acres are notes for three other “renters”, strongly suggests that the Olivers simply rented the land from Alvey, and this would explain why no deeds were executed. Based on the store accounts, it seems likely Andrew Oliver was for a time employed by Alvey quite possibly in operating Alvey’s cotton gin because among the store receipts are items that Andrew Oliver charged against Alvey’s account at Truitt’s Store and was latterly charged to Andrew.
For example, on August 16, 1852, Andrew Oliver charged for 47 pounds of pork, then a month later on September 14, charged for 57 pounds of bacon sides and also 60 pounds of smoked pork shoulders, against Alvey’s account at Truitt’s Store. Still another receipt from 1859 provides that Andrew Oliver’s account on Alvey’s account with Truitt’s Store amounted to $34.03, while still another account due bill shows he owed Alvey $34. But as some of the receipts do not have any dates, makes it more difficult to reconcile in what years they applied. Also, in the last mentioned due account for Andrew Oliver, Andrew’s brother-in-law, Moses B. Childress had owed $31.27 to Alvey.
Another of the names appearing on the above account record was Sextius W. Shaw who appears in the 1860 Census in Hunt County, but in January 1861, he appears as a witness for J.C. Mott on a promissory note executed to Alvey R. Johnson for 150 acres out of the Scarborough HR, and in which is described as the property as the place on which S.C. and S.W. Shaw formerly resided, and states Mott had paid $1,050 in cash and if he pays the balance of $525 on the note before January 1, 1862, it was agreed that Alvey R. Johnson would make a “good and warranted deed”, otherwise it is null and void. Given similar agreements made with others, it suggests that such an arrangement was likely made for the land farmed by Andrew and William Oliver but they chose simply not to buy the land.
Andrew Oliver along with his brother William and Milam Johnson all belonged to the Truitt Lodge, No 149, which according to the Lodge records lists that William Oliver died on February 15, 1868. The following year the Truit Lodge No. 149 and Sam Samford Lodge No. 243 were consolidated under an action of the Grand Lodge of Texas as Sam Samford Lodge No. 149, and both Milam Johnson and Andrew Oliver appear on the new roster in 1869 though Andrew demitted the same year, this presumably being when he moved to Tarrant County since Andrew and his sister-in-law Cynthia Lovenia Oliver appears there in the 1870 Census.
According to Allen T. Gibson in his 1941 recollections, he claimed that ‘after marriage his grandparents Cynthia and William Oliver settled on Farmer’s Creek in Montague County, Texas, and sometime after William died about 1880, Cynthia left Montague County, and after visiting several spots in Texas, settled near Field Creek in Llano County’, while in another letter by Gibson’s cousin had Cynthia and her husband William Oliver residing in Orange County after they left Shelby County. But as the 1870 Census shows, Cynthia appears in the 1870 Census in Tarrant County, and in the 1880 Census in Montague County, and in each case she appears alone as a widow.
If she latterly moved to Llano County where her sister Elizabeth was living in 1900, by that year Cynthia was living with her son John A. Oliver (1850-1929) in Sevier County, Arkansas, and also by then went by her middle name, Lovena. According to the 1900 Census, which provides the month she was born, as well as the origin for each parent, while her father was given as born in Tennessee, her mother was reportedly born in England. Curiously, this the same information as Elizabeth provided in the 1910 and 1920 Census for the birth place of her parents: Tennessee and England. So, that their mother was “of English descent”, did they know something we don’t?
So, how were you able to find where Eliza Jane Oliver was born (i.e. White County, TN)? While the 1850 Census listed that the elder Andrew Oliver was born in Georgia, and I did in fact find an Andrew Oliver (age 60-70) enumerated in the 1840 Coffee County Census, he was the only male listed, along with three females, the eldest 40-50 years of age, and so seemed an unlikely candidate since the younger Andrew Oliver appears to have been born in Tennessee, just as Moses and his wife, who in the 1850 Census as you are aware, their youngest child to be born in Texas was age 2 while the next eldest (age 7) was born in Tennessee, suggestive that Moses may have brought it family to Texas after 1842.
Not that I have discovered any records in the state archives or the General Land Office relating to Moses Childress, if he did not arrive in Texas until after 1842 this may explain why he did not qualify to receive any land as an immigrant to Texas, since qualifying for a 4th Class headright expired on January 1, 1842 and the same may apply to the Olivers? Although I would need to look back through the Laws of Texas to find the citation, and I cannot just now recall the year of its passage, there was a law passed exempting ministers of the gospel from service in the Texas militia. But I will see what I can find.
I did notice that the Land Office had no character affidavit or titles issued in his name even though others have suggested that Moses had served in the Texas Revolution. In the county history book published in 1988, are some eight articles that were submitted on the various members of the Childress family descended of the Rev. Wyatt Childress (1802-1878), including one by Katie Busbee Horn, who provided a picture of the younger Moses B. Childress (1871-1943) and his family. None of the articles contain any mention of the elder Moses B. Childress (1805-1868) but include mention of the Rev. Wyatt’s brothers George C. and Hiram C. Childress but for whom the former who penned the Texas Declaration of Independence was (as I understand) not a brother and as near as has been determined may not have been of any near relation to the Shelby County family. I seem to recall that George C. Childress was from Nashville, and according to his bio at the Handbook of Texas, he was a nephew of Sterling Clack Robertson the empresario for Robertson's colony (formerly the Texas Association at Nashville).
But I do recall that Kirk Barrow suggested that William Oliver was a Cambellite minister though precisely how he came by this information is unknown. However, I know that the original church building at North Jericho bears a sign at the entry indicating it was built in 1866 (I think) and know that at least for my lifetime, as well as my mother and her parents, North Jericho Church has been non-affiliated and non-denominational. Likely, the original church was a Campbellite or Reformed Baptist church when the Rev. Wyatt and Moses B. Childress served as its ministers, and also know that the old hymnals were published by the Church of Christ back before my grandparents were even born, and my grandfather was born in 1903. In fact, I have two of the old hymnals that my mother had from when she was in high school (1939-44), and the hymnals were more than 50 years old even then.
It is doubtful that anyone now living could say just how old the Church Covenant would be, the Covenant was reproduced as a large sign and displayed on the wall of the church along with a set of morality rules, saying such things as no drinking or swearing, being the typical ones, but the no music or dancing was one that I knew my grandparents had broke long ago. Not only did they own a Victrola and lots of old records, my grandfather played the fiddle and my grandmother loved to dance. But I also recall from the summer visits there (and other times of the year), many of the ministers were “fire and brimstone” ministers, and as a young boy, I was frightened to death of them!
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