By Billie Galyean Brown
592 Belden Ave.
Camarillo, CA 93010-6510
Much of the American population was concerned with "Moving West," and the West was
continually moving toward the Pacific Ocean. The era that I am now researching begins in 1808,
with the Louisiana Purchase and the states that were admitted to the Union; Kentucky, Tennessee
and Ohio. My ancestors (the Pirtles) lived on much of that land. Of those three states, the Pirtles
lived in two; Kentucky and Tennessee. Of the lands in the Louisiana Purchase, my ancestors also
lived in two areas; Arkansas and Oklahoma. How or when they arrived in Kentucky, and where
the older members were born, has not yet been discovered. They did not just travel through; the
records indicate they spent decades in each state. After a time, they chose to travel on farther
west, as most farmers did, during those days of upheaval.
They migrated during the days of confusion for the Union. The Missouri Compromise was
passed, 15 March 1820. It did not settle the conflict as to what was to be the future of our
society. To be slave holding states or not to be slave holding states was an every present debate.
It remained a problem. Later the government did go a step in a better direction. 15 May 1820
Congress began negotiating with other countries to try to produce a treaty that would authorize
the seizure of slave ships along the coasts of Africa, America and the West Indies.
A law in 1808 made the importation of slaves from Africa illegal, but the law had been widely
violated. The next year our Isaac Newton Pirtle, Sr., was born in KY, the year was 1809. He
began his life in a society that was headed for a Civil War. James Monroe was president and was
having to deal with this emotional problem. Sequoyah, the Cherokee Indian, developed his 86
letter alphabet and unlocked the mysteries of the native American language. On the side of levity,
France introduced "Long Pants"to the fashion conscious.
In researching the family of Isaac Newton Pirtle, Jr., I found a variety of spellings; Purtel, Pirtle,
Pyrtle, Purtell, and no doubt many I have not yet seen. But, this Isaac is my great uncle, and his
surname is Pirtle. My family's records have never shown it any other way. My great grandmother
told us many stories of the family, and she preferred Pirtle. She always insisted that anyone who
used another spelling of their name, were "not related to us." I have found that they are, even her
own husband's name was spelled Purtle in some records. Oh my, would she ever be upset.
John Pirtle, the father of Isaac Sr., accompanied by many of that family moved from Kentucky to
Tennessee. They were recorded as being there in 1830. Records that we have found indicate the
group included Elijah, Isaac, Jacob, John Jr., and John Sr., and 21 others, unnamed. The date of
the move is not yet known, but it was as least two years before 1830, because Isaac Newton Sr.,
married Eunice Cunningham, in Hardeman County, Tennessee, on 13 December 1828. The year
the first wagons crossed the Rockie Mountains, was the year that their first son, James B. Pirtle,
Sr., was born in 1830 Tennessee. Six years later records show them in Arkansas.
The young couple, Isaac Newton Pirtle, Sr. and Eunice Cunningham Pirtle, with their two young
sons, did not travel alone. The whole clan moved through the territory together, which was
common practice. There are records of many individuals by that surname. Added, to those listed
above, are the names James M. and Albert, with 8 unnamed others. They traveled in large family
groups for protection and for strength of religious purpose. When a house, church, or a barn was
needed; there was, also, a requirement for many hands to build it.
Things were looking more encouraging for the farmer, the McCormicks grain reaper was patented
21 June 1834, now they could feed their livestock easier, once the group bought that piece of
equipment to share. Farmers were still sharing large pieces of equipment when I was a child in
the Las Cruces Valley of New Mexico, during the last part of the 1920s.
Isaac Newton Pirtle, Jr. was the fourth child, of the family of Isaac and Eunice, and their third
son. He was born 5 October 1839, after they arrived in Arkansas, His sister Lucy Ann, the third
child, was born there, three years before him. The second son, Robert Joseph was born in
Tennessee; 22 May, 1832, before, they migrated from Tennessee to Arkansas between 1832 and
1836. They were farmers, or Sodbusters, as the Park Service indicated in their book. As most
anyone knows, who has been to a farm, or lived on a farm, the children were required to work as
adults. In those days it did not matter how young you were, there were chores to do. They are
some of those who were pleased to welcome the grain reaper.
There have been many family oral history tales of the hardships and tribulations along the trails
West. Our family was not, in any way, an exception to common history of that time. They were
not rich, but seemed to have more money than some. There are documents of wills, and
purchases of land and of animals. There are values on their property or net worth in the census
records, that seem to exceed those in the farms around them. The family stayed in Arkansas
around 20 years.
Isaac, Jr. was about 18 years old when they arrived in Texas, and considered an adult by the
census takers, as he was listed as a farmer on their pages. During the years after his mother died,
and until after the war began, he lived with his father, and the other unmarried family members.
They were all working on the farm. In the 1860 census records their farm was listed as number
36-39. In the 1870 census, their farm was listed as number 231-231. The value changed between
the two records. In 1860 the value was 3,000/5,500, but in 1870 the reduced value of 1500/200.
The war seems to have taken a toll on their financial security. Another possibility is that Isaac, Sr.
divided what he had, with his sons returning from the war. In the 1870 census, all of them, but
the missing James B., had a place of their own.
The 1860 Census of Lamar County, TX lists the members of the household to be, the father, Isaac
Purtle (Pirtle), the oldest daughter, Lucy A. J., Isaac Newton Jr., J. B., the younger one, Mary
E., Martha C., the two younger daughters, and the two younger sons Allen T. and Walter J. The
last child was only 4 years old when the mother died. There was also a male, named Carol Guest,
age 35, born in MS, listed in the household. As was custom in those days, the older daughter
stayed and took care of the family until Isaac Sr. died in 1875. On 21 September 1879 she
married a school teacher, James Wilson White. In the 1870 census, he was listed as boarding,
with the family.
When the Civil War began the four brothers all "signed up." Isaac and J. B. were around 20 years
old, and single, so they were off on a romantic adventure. James B. Pirtle Sr., and Robert Joseph
Pirtle were around thirty years old, and married with children, but that did not deter them from
participating in this, their duty. That their wives were young and their children were under 10
years old, did not seem to be of any importance. The male members of the immediate family who
did not become a part of the foray were; Isaac Sr., the Grandfather age 51, Allen T. age 12,
Walter J. age 8, and John N. age 5. Allen T. Pirtle, may have participated, but as yet I have not
found that record. One wonders how the widowed father must have felt seeing four of his sons
leaving with no guarantee that they would return. My records do not show that James B. Pirtle,
Sr. ever returned home. All four of the sons enlisted in the fall months of 1861. Records indicate
various dates for "Joining for Duty," but I believe those records are of the transfers to other units,
or when they received commissions, or promotions.
During the war Isaac N. Pirtle, Jr. must have taken leave from battle, for he returned home to
become the husband of Mary A. Miller, from a neighboring farm, on 3 July, 1862. I propose, that
he went home on leave to get married, because the records indicate he had joined the fighting
earlier. They had lived in the same area while in their teens. He lived in residence number 36-39
[1860 Census], and she lived in residence number 40-45. There were only three farms between
them. Their first child was named for his oldest sister, Lucy A. J. Pirtle, and his aunt Lucy A.
Cunningham. She was born in 1863 and named, Lucy E. Pirtle. Isaac's mother's given name was
Eunice, I assume the E. as his daughters middle name, was Eunice in memory of his mother.
These were the times when the people were talking about the Monitor and the Merrimack, on 9
March 1862, it was news of the day. It was, also, a time when President Lincoln was trying to
alleviate the situation by offering aid to any state that would promise to gradually abolish slavery,
4 April 1862. Texas was celebrating the election of Jefferson Davis as president of the
Records of the book by Janet B. Hewitt, Texas Confederate Soldiers 1861 - 1865 lists Isaac Jr.,
on the Name Roster, and indicates that Isaac was a 1st Lt. in the 1st Texas Sharpshooters, and
attached to Company B. There are various records and a bit of confusion along the way. There
is a record of his joining on 19 June 1861, in Lamar County, as a 2nd Lt., a record of an
appointment, a record of an Elected Commission of 1st Lt. on 1 August 1862, and another record
of a 10 December 1862 present for duty, in Fannin County, as a 1st Lt. The change in the county,
from Lamar to Fannin, is a puzzle, but it is understandable, for those were confusing times. The
beginning of the war was a confusing chaos but the ending was chaos of poverty for many and a
heartbreak for the whole Pirtle family, and others, as well.
There are records that seems to indicate that Isaac Newton Pirtle Jr. served with incident from 19
June 1861 through October 1964. There are records of his being present for duty, and voucher
records of his paydays. There is a record in 1864 that he became very ill and requested that he be
allowed to resign. There is also a Medical Examining Board recommending his resignation be
accepted. On 28 July 1864 there is a record of him being allowed to go on leave until his
resignation could be heard. That order was signed by Major General Maxey, on 1 September
1864. The record reflects that he was allowed to resign and he returned home. His Post Office
address is listed as Honey Grove, Fannin County, Texas. There my mother was also born, and the
Pirtle families made their homes, throughout the rest of the century, and some may still be in that
The news this year covered a strange machine, called a submarine. It participated in a battle with
the Union ship Housatonic. The Confederate's H. L. Hunley, the first submarine, destroyed the
Housatonic. It was supposed to be the South's "Dream Machine." It did not do well. It sank and
killed more men from the South than it did those serving the North. It obviously was "before it's
Grant's and Lee's Armies clashed on 6 May 1864, in a battle which had no glamor or glory.
Twenty-five thousand men died that day. The musket fire ignited the dry brush and the wounded
suffered agonizing deaths, as they burned in the forest. That was not enough, the slaughter
continued. Later, a Union soldier wrote in his diary "June 3, Cold Harbor. I was killed", it was
evident to those in the battle that there was no way out for those of either side.
When the war was over for Isaac Newton Pirtle, Jr., he recovered, somewhat, from his illness.
The family increased by another child, Mary Alice Pirtle, born 1 September 1865. On 9 April
that year Lee met and surrendered to Grant. Abe Lincoln was sworn to a second term as
president on 4 March and swore there would be "malice toward none." Peace did not rest well in
Paris, Texas. As one reviews the records, there are many pages listing the indigents. Living off
the land may sound poetic, but that was a time that one can only imagine, when viewing a movie
like "Gone With The Wind." President Lincoln is reported to have written to a woman who lost
five sons, "the grief that must be yours, to have paid so costly a sacrifice on the alter of freedom."
One son or two, I believe the grief was almost the same.
Our family's war hero Isaac Newton Pirtle Jr., lived only until 27 June 1883, and died when he
was 44 years old, eight years after his father. His daughter, Lucy E., married James Smoot on 20
December 1883 just after her father died. I found records of their daughter Rosa Smoot born in
1889. She was listed in the OK Indian Territory Census of 1900, living with her uncle Jeff Pirtle;
who is the son of Robert J. Pirtle, one of Isaac's older brothers. His daughter, Mary Alice, did
not marry until 21 May 1998, when she married Joe A. Bramlette. Isaac lived to see his children
grown, and he lived to see better times in his land, but many of his "tomorrows" were erased by
the war. Isaac and Mary are still together. They are buried side by side in the center section of
Forest Hill Cemetery in Lamar County, Texas. Their graves are enclosed within a small fence.
(I am still researching the records of his wife Mary A. Miller Pirtle. It appears in some records
that she remarried, to James Ryan, on 1 November 1887.)
General Land Office publication of Texas Land Title Abstracts Vol 1-A, by Bascom Giles,
Prospector, Cowhand, Sodbuster, by National Parks Service, edited by Robert G. Ferris.
Chronicle of America, Clifton Daniel, Editorial Director.
Various records from Lamar County Genealogical Society, Paris. TX
KY, AR and Territorial, OK and Territorial, and TX = Census records and cemetery records have
provided much information, but the family and the family oral history has put it all together better
than I could have, in any other way.
Lamar County Marriage Book 1841 - 1874, page 47.
Ron Brothers, The Death and Cemetery Records of Lamar County, Texas, (Paris, TX, 1999.)
2nd Lt. Newton Pirtle is found listed in Lamar County Deed Book L, p. 324, as a member of
Hill's Lamar Cavalry Company No. 2, organized, 10 Jun 1861, under Captain James Hill, at
Persimmon Grove, Lamar Co., TX, filed for the record on 19 Jun 1861. The Document states the
Company "is a volunteer Company and attached to the Texas Militia Battalion organized under
the act to incorporate volunteer companies, approved February the 15th, 1858"
Newton Pyrtle is found in The History of Lamar County, by A. W. Neville, North Texas
Publishing Co., 1937, pp. 120-121 as a member of Lamar Cavalry No. 2.
Isaac N. Pirtle, 1st Lt., Co. B, age 23, appears on Company Muster-in Roll, Burnet's Battalion
Texas Sharp Shooters, 1st Battalion Texas Sharp Shooters, National Archives Microfilm roll 323,
Roll dated Camp Jackson, Lamar Co., TX, 10 Dec 1861, joined for duty at Fannin Co., TX, 1 Aug 1862 for 3 years of service.
Roll dated Dec - Feb 1863: present.
Roll dated Mar - Apr 1863: present.
Roll dated May - Jun 1863: present.
Roll dated Jul - Aug 1863: present.
Roll dated Sep - Oct 1863: present.
Isaac N. Pirtle, 1st Lt., Co. B, 1 Battalion, Texas Sharp Shooters, appears on a Register
containing Rosters of Commissioned Officers, Provisional Army Confederate States, Date of
appointment August 1, 1862; Confederate Archives, Chapter 1, File No. 87, page 311.
Voucher No. 48, paid 10 Sep 1863 for July - August 1863 for $180.
Voucher No. 1331, paid 24 Oct 1863 for September 1863, for $90.
Voucher No. 1479 paid 31 Oct 1863, for October 1863 for $90.
(Letter of resignation is in file but is almost unreadable.)
Office of Medical Examining Board
Bonham August 30th 1864
We hereby certify that we have carefully examined 1st Lt. I. N. Pirtle, Co. B, Burnet's Battalion,
Sharp Shooters and find him unable to perform the duties of his office by reason of Chronic
Hepatitis, and chronic valvular disease of the heart for the past two years and we would most
respectfully recommend the acceptance of his resignation.
Post Office in Honey Grove, Fannin County, Texas
W. C. Boon
Surgeon and President of Board
Claudius E. Rushing
(Other name unreadable)
J. W. Maddin, Asst. Surgeons
I. N. Pirtle, 1st Lt., Co. B, 1 Battalion, Texas Sharp Shooters, appears on a Roster of the
organization, not dated, date of election 1 Aug 1862; remarks: "on leave of absence until his
resignation can be heard from since 28 Jul 1864, by Order of Major Gen. Maxey," endorsement
on roster dated 1 Sep 1864.
©Ron Brothers and Billie Galyean Brown, All Rights Reserved, 1999.
May 31, 1999
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