Our Memories From Upshur County, Texas

The Grandparents Of Paul Morrison Pool

James Nelson Pool, II, born 1852

James Nelson Pool, II, born 1852

The following was written by Sheila Kee Pool, Gilmer, Texas.

James Nelson came to Texas in 1883. He went to work in the Double Springs Community (now called Rosewood) just 9 miles west of Gilmer, the capital of Upshur County. He went to work for Thomas and Harriet (Grider) Hurt, who owned a store in the community.

During the Civil War, James’ future father-in-law, Hugh Ross, Jr, fought with General Albert Sidney Johnston and stated that when his child was born he would name the child for his favorite General.

Keeping his promise, his daughter was named Margaret Sidney Johnston Ross. The Margaret is most likely in honor of her paternal grandmother plus Hugh Ross, Sr had a sister named Margaret so perhaps it was considered a family name.

Margaret Sidney Johnston Ross b.1865

Margaret Sidney Johnston Ross b.1865

Margaret, born in Kentucky, was only 3 weeks old when the family moved back to Henderson County, Tennessee. Even though Margaret was not born at the time, she often told the story of her parents and two older brothers hearing the “big guns” at the Battle of Shiloh, which was near their home. Margaret’s uncle, Jessie Ross, was killed at the Battle of Shiloh.

The Ross family lived in McNary County until 1875 when they began their journey to Upshur County, Texas. Family history indicates they arrived sometime about 1880 and joined the Double Springs Baptist Church at that time.

Harriet Hurt was a sister to Margaret’s mother, Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Ross. It is quite likely that Margaret and James Nelson met at this store in Double Springs, probably while she was visiting her aunt and he was working at the store.

George Washington Davis b. 1868

George Washington Davis b. 1868

They were married in 1885 and had eleven children: Otis, Robert Benjamin, Mary Roxana, George Clifton, Minnie, Eula, James Alex, Roger ‘Dock’ Allen, Willie ‘Bill’ Nelson, Exie, Lester. Only one of these children did not live to adulthood and that was Eula. Dock was the last one to die in 1997, at the age of 96 years. Only two of those children moved out of Upshur County.

James Nelson Pool purchased over 200 acres of land just to the north of the Double Springs Community. At this writing that land has been in the Pool family for about 120 years. Two of the siblings, Otis and George Clifton have descendants that live on the land.

Some of James Nelson’s grandchildren remember him as always having a pocket knife, flipping it over and over in his hand, tapping against wood and running the knife back and forth over his pants. He must have done this often as four different grandchildren, talked to separately, related this same story.

Margaret’s grandchildren remember her sitting in a rocking chair and rocking it so hard that she would move it all over the room. She wore an old stocking cap pulled down over her ears and most of her face when she went to bed at night. The kids all thought that was very funny.

We believe that George Washington Davis & his family came to Upshur County before 1870, not long after George was born as one of George’s brothers died in Upshur County in 1870.

Mary Esther Moon b. 1870

Mary Esther Moon b. 1870

Mary Esther Moon was born in Mississippi on the way to Texas. Shortly after arriving in Upshur County, her father, Thomas Jefferson Moon purchased land in northwest Upshur County. Mary often told her grandchildren how afraid she was, as a child, of the lane leading up to their house. There were tall trees on each side of the lane and she often imagined them to be monsters coming after her.

After Mary and George married in 1886, they lived on the land deeded to Mary by her father. According to family history, George became visibly upset about 1899 because his father had deeded all of his land to the eldest son, John Daniel ‘Tobe’ Davis. Deeding the land to the eldest son was traditional during this era; however, it did not set well with George.

At this time George and Mary Esther had six children: Thomas Columbus ‘Lum’, Pearl, Ruby Ann, George Washington ‘Wash’, Joseph Carl ‘Dugan’, Eula LaVerne. It should be noted that Dugan was a midget.

George loaded all of his family with their belongings that could be carried in the wagon. He asked Mary to sell her land to which she refused. Surely, he must have wanted the money from the land to help live while in the wagon, knowing there would be times when no job would be available. George sold the land anyway, forging Mary’s name on the bill of sale.

The Davis family began a journey, which was to last about two years, around East Texas and into Oklahoma, with George working at odd jobs to support his family. One of the frequent jobs was logging, especially in Cass County close to Bryan’s Mill. The family lived in the wagon during this period in all kinds of weather.

Pearl died during the first leg of this wagon tour and is buried in an unknown grave in Hopkins County. Another child, Lillie, born in 1900 in Cass County after the tour began died in infancy. Family history states that a man in Cass County donated a small portion of his land for a cemetery on which to bury Lillie.

George suffered from a mild form of epilepsy and could tell when a spell was coming on. He would splash cold water on his face in an effort to ward off the spell and many times this worked. However, while logging in Cass County, close to Bryan’s Mill, he felt a spell coming on and went to the small shallow stream to put water on his face.

Evidently, he had a spell and drowned in the shallow water. His family was left on their own to get back to Upshur Co. He was buried in Cass Co. at Bryan’s Mill, close to Lillie.

The oldest son, Lum, who was 15 at the time, drove the wagon back home…only for the family to find that they had no home to which they could return. Here they were back in Upshur County, probably no money or supplies, no place to live and Mary Esther had lost two children and a husband on the journey. How hopeless her future must have seemed at that moment.

Mary Esther moved in with one of her married sisters. As was another custom of the times, everyone was seeking an eligible man for Mary Esther to marry, especially since she had children to raise. She remarried in late 1903 to Elijah Nicholas ‘Nick’ Loving.

In 1904, Mary Esther had a little girl who died in infancy. In the fall of 1905, Mary Esther had a son, Elijah. In 1909, she lost her 16 year old son, Wash, from her first marriage; but, had another son, Lewis, the same year.

She developed consumption or pneumonia in the early part of 1914. During her eleven years of marriage to Nick, she had been abused repeatedly by him, which resulted in her oldest son, Lum, coming to her rescue in mid 1914. However, Mary Esther died a few months later at the age of 44 years. She had endured a very difficult life. Even in the face of adversity, she was still described by all who knew her as very sweet and gentle.

Also by Sheila, “My Mother Was NOT Born Under A Tree!”



About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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