Thomas Henry Skidmore was born March 19, 1823 in Morgan Co., Alabama. He was widely known just as Henry Skidmore. Through the years, Henry became a story-teller and historian in Lamar County. While his many writings which were published in the Paris Press, were destroyed by fire, we are fortunate that some of his stories were preserved by Gibbons Poteet as told to A.W. Neville who wrote a column in the Paris News called Backward Glances. This biography will share some of those tales of the early days in Lamar County.
Henry's father, Abraham Skidmore, was born in 1797 in Madison Co., Kentucky. During the War of 1812 he served with the Tennessee Militia from Bedford Co., Tennessee. By 1818 he was in Morgan Co., Alabama. Abram was a surveyor and served as sheriff of Morgan Co. On August 20, 1820, he married Celia Thompson, daughter of James Thompson. Their children are: James Thompson (died in infancy), Thomas Henry (the subject of this biography), Edward Thompson, Lemuel Dickson, Joseph Franklin (died in childhood), William Hooley, John Alexander, Frances Jane Skidmore (died in infancy), Nancy America, and Mary Eliza. (Abraham and Celia Skidmore Family Bible Records)
Henry spends his early years in Alabama but as the frontier pushes westward, he is growing up and adventure calls him. He heads for Texas, arriving by January 1836. A.W. Neville writes of Henry and Davy Crockett in Backward Glances, The Paris News, on March 11, 1934: One of Crockett's personal friends was Uncle Henry Skidmore, who was a long time resident of Lamar County. Of him and of Crockett, J. R. Scott tells me this incident. Mr. Scott says:
"Your Backward Glances reminds me of some of the old-timers as they are called. You have had mention of Uncle Henry Skidmore, a man I know well, it having been my pleasure to entertain him in my home many times. He was a walking encyclopedia and could and did interest me more in talking about early times than any man with whom I ever conversed.
On one of his visits he told me about coming to Texas. He said that he and Davy Crockett intended coming together from Tennessee and had made all arrangements to meet at a certain place for the start. There was evidently a misunderstanding about the time agreed on, for when Crockett reached the place and did not find Skidmore there he concluded Skidmore had gone on without waiting so he struck out for Texas, expecting to overtake his friend. Skidmore arrived at the starting point the next day and found that Crockett had already gone, so he in turn struck out, expecting to overtake Davy.
When night came Skidmore had reached the camp Crockett had made the night before, so he stopped for the night and took up the trail next day. Each was riding hard, each expecting to overtake the other, but Skidmore never caught up with Crockett until after they got to Texas. That winter Uncle Henry and some others went prospecting up Red River. There came a sudden change in the weather and there was a heavy snow fall which added to their discomfort. Provisions were running low and Uncle Henry said things looked serious, when one of the party killed a buffalo. This relieved them and they figured they were setting pretty nice, and went to work skinning the animal and cutting it up. They got the skin off and, as they turned the carcass on its back to begin cutting it, the buffalo got away from them and made its escape. After letting one wonder how a skinned buffalo could escape, Uncle Henry would tell about it. The ground was frozen and covered with snow and ice and the carcass was near the river bank where the ground sloped. When they turned it over it got too far on the sloping bank and slid into the water and could not be recovered."
This was only one of the stories Uncle Henry used to tell to let folks know what hard times the
pioneers had when they came to Texas, and he enjoyed telling them. I regret that I arrived in
Texas too late to meet and know Mr. Skidmore and hear from own lips some of his yarns, for
from this sample I am sure they would have been well worth hearing."
The story of Henry's arrival in Texas is also recorded in The History of Lamar County, Page 238, by A.W. Neville.
"Through the village came many of the people who were to settle in the Valley or go further into Texas. To Jonesboro came Stephen Austin, and talked with Wright about routes into Texas for his colonists. He was advised to bring them through Nacogdoches as they would be nearer to the lands they were to occupy, there would be fewer streams to cross, and the trails were better. Sam Houston came through Jonesboro on his way to southern Texas and was entertained by James Clark. David Crockett, on the way from Tennessee to San Antonio, crossed the river at Jonesboro.
Crockett traveled south to about where is now Clarksville, visited some people he had known in Tennessee who had preceded him to Texas and settled. Then he angled southwest to the home of Mattias Click, who had left Miller County some years before and was living on his land several miles south of where now is Paris. At Click's he spent some time, going west over the prairies as far as what is now Grayson County. He was hunting buffalo and near where now is Honey Grove, in Fannin County, he found wild bees and honey so abundant that he wrote his children about it, and the city of Honey Grove takes its name from Crockett's discovery.
Matt Click had come from Tennessee and stopped for a time in the Pecan Point settlements. He had come into Texas in 1834 and he and his sons took their headrights in what is now southern Lamar County. There Click built a two-story log house, with one-story wings, not far from Aud's Creek, and entertained travelers who were becoming numerous. (Note: Matt Click was one of the earliest settlers and got 36 square miles of land, while later settlers got only a section of land each. The earlier you got there, the more land you could take up. Click's home was about 5 miles a little west of south of Paris, about where the Limekilm community is.) Well, when Crockett had satisfied his hunting desire and left Click's he went to San Augustine, then to San Antonio -- and death. One of Matt Click's sons, even after he had grown to be an old man, was so prone to tell of Davy Crockett's visit with his father that people began to call him "Davy Crockett" Click, and he liked it.
The Skidmore family, who settled not far from the Clicks later, were friends of Crockett in Tennessee. One of the sons, Henry Skidmore who spent his life in Lamar County and was a respected citizen, said he and Crockett had agreed to come to Texas together. They were to meet at a designated place and time, but by some mischance Skidmore was delayed, or Crockett was ahead of time. When Skidmore reached the place, Crockett had gone. Skidmore followed but never caught up with Davy, though he found the ashes of what had been Crockett's camp fires in several places on the trail. When Skidmore reached Lamar County, which then was a part of Red River County, Crockett had gone and Skidmore followed him no farther.
There were many other pioneers, some of whom are told of in other parts of this story of the Valley. Some came direct to Texas after it had gained independence, but while the Valley was still largely unexplored, and finding it to their liking, they settled and spent their lives."
Time Line Note: Davy Crockett arrives at the Alamo on February 8, 1836. The attack on the Alamo begins on March 6, 1836.
On March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence is signed by delegates at Washington on the Brazos.Settlers who arrived in Texas before March 2, 1836 received certificates of the First Class. Heads of families received a league and a labor of land, and single men over 17 one-third as much. Records of most of the Class 1 grants in Lamar will appear in the Red River County records. Red River County in 1837 was one of the original counties and a Land District for the granting of land. The First Settlers of Lamar County, Texas by Gifford White.
Abe Skidmore arrives in Texas on January 5, 1836. His First Class Headright is Certificate # 25, issued by the Red River Board of Land Commissioners for one league and one labor. Abe settles 12 miles south of Paris, near Biardstown on "Skidmore's Prairie". A portion of Abe's land eventually became part of Delta County. This area of Delta County was formed from Lamar County in 1870 and Abe's land fell on both sides of the division along the North Sulphur River. Texas General Land Office; Archives and Records Division; 1700 N. Congress Avenue; Austin, Texas. Lamar County Headright Map, TGLO, October 16, 1885.
Years later, Gibbons Poteet recollects about Biardstown in the early days. He says: "Biardstown was one of the pioneer burgs of Lamar county. I do not know exactly when it was settled but I do know that 63 years ago it was a well established community with a store, mill and gin, doctor's office, etc.
As the name suggests, it was named for the Biards - as I remember, it was named for Uncle Wash Biard . . . The Biards were a kind of intellectual bunch. All of them could read and write way back before the war and they were fond of reading. In fact, Biardstown would likely have taken the prize for literacy over most of the communities of the county. It was a reading and thinking community. Besides the Biards there were the Skidmores, Poteets, Ratliffs, Robersons, Smiths and many others who could read and write and put in most of their time at it. Besides the papers and current stuff they read history and the solid books. And, like the Jucklins, they knew the Bible from 'kiver to kiver". This gang also liked humor and read every word of Mark Twain, Bill Nye, Harte and Josh Billings as fast as they came out. . . ." Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the Paris News on May 6, 1934.
On March 19, 1840 Thomas Henry Skidmore reaches the age of 17 and, as a single man, is eligible for a Fourth Class Headright from the Republic of Texas: "Certificate No. 44. Thos. H. Skidmore. 320 acres. Arrived to the age of 17 in the Republic in March 1840. Witnesses: Abram Skidmore and John Boren. Recorded 13 September 1841. Issued by the Lamar County Board of Land Commissioners." Records show that Henry's original grant was located in Hopkins County and transferred to W. W. Crook on January 5, 1846, per Abstract # 856. Patent No. 1100 was issued to Wm. W. Crook on August 13, 1852. Texas General Land Office; Archives and Records Division; 1700 N. Congress Avenue; Austin, Texas
In 1839 Abe sends Henry back to Alabama to bring the family to Texas. Henry writes this letter four months after he applied for his own Texas land grant. He is seventeen years old now. He tells how the family farm is already established and producing by the time Celia and the younger children arrive. The following is from Neville's Backward Glances column, published in the Paris News on November 8, 1951.
After the introduction customary to letters in those days, of taking his pen in hand, stating condition of his health and hoping his uncle and family had the blessing of good health, Mr. Skidmore said:
"We arrived in this country the first of May 1839, and we were three months on the way. This is the finest country I ever saw - between here and Alabama there is none so good. . . . Last season corn crops would average 10 barrels to the acre and cotton crop #300 pounds per acre. For any other produce it is good accordingly. This year we won't make so much on account of the dry weather. We had no rain from about the first of May to the fourth of July, though in the neighborhood of Clarksville, about 35 miles east of this, they have had seasonable weather throughout the season, so far, and it was so wet in the spring that very few could plant until May. Corn here is worth 50 cents per bushel, cows and calves $20, port is worth about $6 to $7 per 100 pounds. I think from accounts of that country of yours, you would better yourself to move to this country."
This letter was dated at the Clarksville post master as being dispatched August 8, and Mr. Evans noted on
the margin it was received September 12. Mails were not very rapid in those days.
This letter is further discussed in an article from Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the
Paris News on 10 May 1928.
ALABAMAN LIKED THIS TEXAS SECTION.
Several Months After Arrival He Advised His Uncle To Move Here From the Coast Country
Having told his uncle, Joseph Evans, something about this section of Texas in a letter written in July 1840, Thomas H. Skidmore gave his relative, then living at Texana, near the Texas coast, some news of the family connections and friends both in Texas and Alabama. He said:
"We received from James C. Thompson a letter stating that he was well, also his family. On the 29th of December, 1838, he was married to Miss Margaret J. Reeves and set in overseeing for Mr. Murphy of Lawrence, Alabama, on the 1st of January, 1838, for 12 months. He is now overseeing for the widow of Colonel Dervin of Morgan, Alabama. His wife had a fine son, October 14, 1839. He wants to come to Texas if he can get off.
"He wrote that he had a difficulty with a couple of his hands. One rebelled and he shot him and another ran up to help and he knocked him in the head with a stick. They were not dead when he wrote though. She wants him not to quit her now. He says that he has the best cotton that he has seen and is confident it will make more than 300 pounds per acre, if that. Tennessee four at $ per BBBl &c.
"I can state to you that Uncle Thomas Skidmore moved to this county last fall. William Skidmore was married to Miss Caroline Williams in March, 1838. S. B. Skidmore and Miss Sarah Williams were married July 20th, 1840. Mr. Jackson Bratton and Miss Cynthia Skidmore were married on the night following. We understand that Aunt Alice has a fine son since she arrived in Texas.
"Dear uncle, come to this part of the country, if you can, and I think you can better yourself by it. I can say I think you are very careless about writing, etc. Direct your letters to Clarksville, R.R. county, Texas."
Then Mr. Skidmore added the usual postscript: "I won't forget to tell you, Riley S. Davis is married to the Widow Collier."
The following is a tale of the Click family, neighbors of the Skidmores, told by Henry Skidmore as recorded by Gibbons Poteet in the Backward Glances column of A. W. Neville in the Paris News on December 17, 1839.
"The Clicks were a droll people - solid, hardheaded, honest, with a kind of dry wit and a keen sense of the ludicrous. They nicknamed the members of their own family and most all the neighbors, the nicknames being suggested by some a personal peculiarity or happening. Terrell Click was 'Mote". I don't know how it started. Eldridge was 'Nail' Click. Most men in the early days had to make their own shoes and Eldridge nailed his shoes so strongly to the last that he had to tear up the shoes to get out the last. Ever after that he was 'Nail'. I believe they called John Click 'Hobbs' but do not know why.
A new settler had come and lived in a cabin between Click's and what is now Glory. One morning Click got on his horse and went to a brother's and said, 'Get on your horse and let's go name that newcomer.' They rode to the cabin and called the usual Hello. A woman came to the door, replied Hello as she looked at them over her iron specks. Click asked who lived there and she said 'Mrs. Scrivner'.
'Hey, what's that?', said Click and she replied, giving the name again. One Click looked at the other, who said, 'I don't see how that name could be. Ask her again.' So she was asked and made the same reply. 'What's his full name?' said a Click. She replied, 'Bush - Bushrod Scrivner.' Click turned to his brother and said, 'Come on, somebody's already named this cuss.'
Uncle Henry Skidmore knew and could tell all these tales - and more."
At age 23, Thomas Henry Skidmore is married to Laura L. Crain on July 12, 1846 in Lamar County, Texas by H. K. Armitage. Laura is 16 years of age. Census reports show that Laura's birthplace was Illinois. Lamar Co., Texas Marriage Record, Book 1-39
Henry is Assessor and Collector of Lamar County in 1847 when a special census is taken of scholastics in Texas. He and Laura live in Fannin County for a time, as they are found there on the 1850 census: 174- 174 Thos. H. Skidmore, 27, m, Farmer, 700, Ala.; L. L. Skidmore, 20, f, Ill; Jos. E. Skidmore, 8/12, m, Tex.
By 1854 Henry and his family had returned to Lamar County, where he held the combined office of sheriff and tax assessor. Source: Backward Glances, Vol. 3, by Alexander White (Sandy) Neville, pg 136. Henry was again Tax Assessor and Collector for Lamar County in 1855. Texas Scholastics 1854-1855. A State Census of School Children by Gifford White. Thos. H. Skidmore is a deputy under R.R. Roland who was elected sheriff on August 7, 1954 and he serves until August 2, 1858. Alexander White (Sandy) Neville; Backward Glances, Vol. 2, pg 49; The Wright Press; Paris, Texas; also in the Paris News on January 15, 1949.
Along in the 1850's Henry is a teacher in the Biardstown area. Gibbons Poteet tells one of Henry's yarns in A. W. Neville's Backward Glances column in the Paris News on June 2, 1940. Washington Boren went to school for years, according to Uncle Henry Skidmore, and was never able to master the alphabet. He had to start on his letters at the beginning of a each term. In those days there were no desks for the children to rest their books upon so the book was held usually in the right hand with the thumb down in the crutch. This would wear the lower part of the book and each student had a thumb paper to rest his thumb on to try to save the book. But in spite of thumb papers Washington wore out so many blue-backs as the years passed that finally his father had to cut his alphabet on a pine paddle, and that was Washington's book. While the other children wagged their books, Washington carried his paddle. Washington claimed that he had the best book -- "I can kill wasts with my book," and Washington did sometimes when going to the Summer term, stir up a wasp's nest and bat the wasps as they came.
Henry Skidmore was the teacher one year and had Washington up by his knee for his lesson. He said he showed him a C and said, "What is that?" Washington would cock his head and frown and say, "Mr. Skidmore, I don't know." "What is that, Washington?" pointing to an B?" "Well, Sir, I don't now. "That's a B, Washington. "Old B, I believe I will know him next time I see him -- B for bull's foot -- I have heard to him." Finally Uncle Henry said, "Well, Washington, what DO you know?" Then, according to Uncle Henry, Washington replied: "Mr. Skidmore, I am entirely destitute of any knowledge whatever." Of course, Uncle Henry embellished up Washington's reply. What Washington really said was, "I don't know a dern thing."
My father remembered Washington well. When Washington was about six feet tall he still carried his paddle book and came from Sandy Creek to Antioch on Hickory where Uncle Tommy Poteet was teacher that year. . . . Poor old Washington no doubt is now over in the beautiful woods on the other side of the River Styx batting "wasts" with his "book" and asking the erudite angels to "figger some fer him."
About this time, Henry, who had become a Presbyterian Minister, and his brother Edward, who was a Justice of the Peace, are performing quite a few marriages in Lamar County.
In 1860, the family is enumerated in the Lamar Co., Texas Census:
474-478, Surveyor and M.C.P. 1,000/700 Thomas Henry Skidmore, 36; Laura L., 30; Joseph
Edward, 11; Donald, 9; James Riley, 6; Wm. Henry, 4; Celia E., 2; John McKee, 1/12.
In The History of Lamar County, pg. 133, by A.W. Neville, we see that Thomas Henry Skidmore is a surveyor in Lamar County.
"The boundary line between Lamar and Hopkins was defined and marked during this time. The Hopkins court had appointed Hiram McMillan to ascertain, survey and mark the boundary line and the Lamar court named Thos. H. Skidmore to represent this county. They were to meet at the northeast corner of Hopkins, April 5, 1861, and at the August term of court Mr. Skidmore reported the work done and his report was approved. Skidmore later resurveyed for Lamar county the line between Lamar and Red River Counties . . . and the Lamar-Fannin line, which was designated when Fannin was created from Red River County."
Henry's father, Abe, dies on June 15, 1861. He is buried at his farm in the cemetery now designated as Skidmore #2. His Lamar County death record gives his full name as Joseph Abraham Skidmore. (Note: Skidmore #2 Cemetery is located in Biardstown, south of Paris. It is about 1 mile south of the Bethlehem Church Cemetery. It is near Minter. This cemetery was on the R. M. Robinson farm in 1940 and was enumerated then by Sallie Lee Lightfoot for the DAR. Then Elizabeth Booth listed it again and stated it was on the late Dr. O. W. Robinson's farm.) Abe leaves a Will and Edward and Henry are named as administrators to his estate. That will have to wait.
On December 20, 1860 South Carolina declares its independence and the South begins to secede from the United States. Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas secede soon after South Carolina and these seven states form the Confederate States of America. In February these states create the Confederate Constitution and Jeff Davis is named President. Lincoln is inaugurated on March 4, 1861. The first shots of the Civil War are fired at Ft. Sumter in April 1861, and Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina join the Confederacy. In July 1861 the First Battle of Bull Run is fought and Federal Naval Forces blockade the South. In August 1861, at age 38, Thomas Henry Skidmore enlists as a Private, Company for Beat No. 2, Lamar County, Ninth Brigade, Texas Militia, General H. Shelton, Commanding., Captain J. J. Martin, Commanding Company. In November 1861 the men in Lamar County are organizing at Camp Rusk under the direction of Col. Sam Bell Maxey. The 9th Texas Infantry (also known as Maxey's Regiment) appears to have been organized about November 4, 1961. It was mustered into the service of the Confederate States December 1, 1861, for twelve months, under special authority from the Secretary of War, and it was reorganized May 8, 1862, under the Conscript Act. Thomas Henry Skidmore serves with the Confederate forces for four years, throughout the War Between the States, attaining the rank of Captain and Assistant Quarter Master in June 1862.
The following letter was written to The Paris Press by Thomas Henry Skidmore detailing the history of the 9th Texas Infantry. The Press was a weekly newspaper in Paris, established in 1860. Captain F. W. Miner was the editor during and some years after the Civil War and served with the Lamar Rifles, a company organized by Sam Bell Maxey in May 1861.
The letter below was located at the Confederate Research Center, Hill Junior College, Hillsboro,
Texas by Ron Brothers, President of the Lamar County, Texas Genealogical Society. According
to the information therein, the letter is undated.
History of the 9th Texas Infantry
By Thomas H. Skidmore
Editor of the Paris Press Having seen an article in your daily of August 8th copied from "Sherman Courier" of August 7th, under the caption of "A War Relic," from which it appears that the old flag of the 9th Texas Infantry was unfurled on the previous evening at the Binkley House in Sherman, as the flag of the Maxey Brigade.
As I note some palpable errors in said article, I write to correct some of them, and record a few brief data [sic] of the history of said Regiment, its flag, etc.
In the summer of 1861, Captain (afterward General) S. B. Maxey raised a company in Lamar County. Soon afterward he went to Richmond and was authorized to raise a regiment for the Confederate Service; soon after his return, ten companies reported to him. However, his old company had organized by the election of E. J. Shelton as Capt., I. L. Gaines. W. H. Long, and D. F. Latimer, Lieutenants.
About the 28th Oct (1861) the various companies rendezvoused at Camp Rusk, then in the southwest portion of Lamar County. Companies and Captains were as follows:
Co. A (Lamar County) Capt. E. J. Shelton
Co. B (Red River County) Capt. Smith Ragsdale
Co. C (Grayson County) Capt. W. H. Young
Co. D (Titus County) Capt. W. E. Beesom
Co. E (Lamar & Fannin Counties) Capt. Jas. Hill
Co. F (Hopkins County) Capt. Jas. Leftwich
Co. G (Hopkins county) Capt. Joe Moore
Co. H (Fannin County) Capt. W. A. Stanley
Co. I (Collin county) Capt. Joe J. Dickson
Co. K (Lamar & Red River Co.'s) Capt. Miles A. Dillard
A few days after reaching Camp Rusk, the Regiment was organized by the election of S. B. Maxey, Col; W. E. Beesom, Lt. Col; W. A. Stanley, Major; and appointment of T. W. Scott, adjt; W. M. Harrison Capt. and AQM; T. J. Saufley Capt. and A.C.S.; Dr. J. R. McKee Surgeon; T. N. Pettus Assistant Surgeon.
The writer of this was thus appointed by Col. Maxey, to muster the regiment into the C. S. A. Service, which was done in accordance with the Army regulations, requiring that each enlisted man subscribe the oath administered, and a minute description list made out of each individual. This occupied several days. In the meantime, J. H. McReynolds was elected Capt. of Co. D in place of Capt. Beesom, elected Lt. Col. and Harvey Weiss Capt. of Co. H in place of Capt. Stanley elected Major. While at Camp Rusk, measles broke out and raged furiously up to the time the regiment took up the line of march for Memphis, Tenn., -- the 1st of January, 1862. Many choice men died of measles and its effects. From Memphis to Iuka, Miss. when Col. Maxey left the regiment for Richmond where he was promoted to the rank of Brig. Genl. after which Major Stanly was elected Colonel. The regiment was first assigned to Gen. Chalmers Brig. but the boys so nearly plagued him out of his life, that he would not have them. It was then assigned to Gen. Anderson's Brigade, in which Brigade it went into the battle of Shiloh, where it lost several most excellent men. Among them Capt. J. J. Dickson of Co. I. (One of the leading spirits in the regiment.) And Capt. Moore of Co. G killed. In this battle J. M. Long esquire of Paris of Co. A lost a leg which disabled him for service the rest of the war.
In May '62 the reorganization of the regiment took place at Corinth, Miss.
W. H. Young Co. C elected Col.
M. A. Dillard Co. K elected Lt. Col.
James Burnett elected Major
W. H. H. Long elected Capt. Co. A
Jas. Kennedy elected Capt. Co. B
L. F. Ely elected Capt. Co. C
J. H. McReynolds elected Capt. Co. D
J. W. Moore elected Capt. Co. E
Wm. Brown elected Capt. Co. F
Justin Hopkins elected Capt. Co. G
John Lane elected Capt. Co. H
W. R. Ballew elected Capt. Co. I
J. H. L. Bray elected Capt. Co. K
R. F. Luckett Adjutant
Surgeons returned home and just before evacuation from Corinth Dr. A. L. Alston assigned as Surgeon and R. T. DeAragon Assistant Surgeon.
About this time the regt. was put in Gen. Maxey's Brig. in which it remained till the last of August or first of Sept. when Gen Maxey's Brig. was disbanded at Chattanooga, Tenn. (The Brig. having been composed of 9th Texas, 24th Miss (Col. Dowd) and 41st Georgia (Col. McDaniel). the 9th Texas was then temporarily assigned to Gen. A.P. Stewart's Brig. composed of the 4th Tenn. (Co. Strahl - afterward- Gen. and killed at Franklin, Tenn.), the 28th Tenn. Regt. and others, all Tenn.
With Gen. Stewart's Brigade, the regiment went into Kentucky and at Harrodsburg it was assigned to Gen. Preston Smith's Brigade composed of 13th Tenn. (Col. Vaughn), 154th Tenn. and others. Was with Smith's Brigade at the battle of Perryville, Oct 6, 1862. Nothing eventful in history of regiment from Battle of Shiloh to Battle of Perryville, except prevalence of sickness at Corinth and march to Tupelo, the last of May, 1862.
Stay at Tupelo pleasant -- Major Burnett left for Texas to raise Battalion of Sharp Shooters for Brigade in June. Capt. Bellow resigned captaincy of Co. I and M. Board became Capt. And as Capt. Harrison had resigned and returned to Texas, the writer was appointed Capt. and AQM of the Regiment. In July the Regiment went by train and steamer to Chattanooga and with Gen. Maxey to Shell Mound just above Bridgeport on the Tennessee River, where they remained till the Brigade was disbanded and Army began march to Kentucky under Gen. Bragg.
The march was hard and laborious -- Many marching for days barefooted. At the Battle of Perryville Capt. Lane of Co. B was killed by a cannon shot--the only casualty. He was succeeded by Lt. Daniels. From Perryville the Army returned via Cumberland Gap to Knoxville. Much suffering and privation. From Knoxville to Tullahoma by rail, the regiment remained for a few days and was sent to McMinville on out post Duty, reporting to Col. Marcus J. Wright (Afterwards Maj. General.) Here they had a gay time until a few days before the battle of Murfreesboro, where it marched up in time for the battle, here its loss of men was fearful: many of the best men in its ranks falling in the dreadful conflict. It was at this battle that Gen. Cheathano [Cheatham] rode up to Col. Dillard and ordered him with the regiment to take a battery which was being planted on a hill not far distant. Col. Dillard expostulated and said there was not a cartridge in his regiment to which Gen. Cheatham responded with his characteristic oath and style that it made no difference as the regiment would take it with barlow Knives if the order was given And to charge with fixed bayonets. The order to charge was given and the battery brought in.
After Murfreesboro, fell back to Shelbyville. Here about the 1st of July '63 the regiment was transferred to Ector's Brigade in which it remained to the close of the war. In May it was sent by rail to Jackson, Miss. to assist in defense of Vicksburg but was not in time as Grant had effected the landing of his Army below Vicksburg. The battle of Bakers Creek had been fought, Sherman had been out to Jackson and Canton and Shermanized both these places.
It stayed at Jackson and in vicinity of [Yazoo] City and Vicksburg until surrender of Vicksburg and then fell back to Jackson where it suffered seriously. From Jackson fell back to Morton, Miss. 26 miles East of Jackson where it remained from middle of July to nearly last of August when it went by rail to neighborhood of Chickamauga. Its losses here were considerable in killed wounded and prisoners. A few days after this battle ordered back to Jackson, Miss. Nothing of unusual interest occurring until in Feby. When Gen. Sherman made his move towards the East advancing as far as Meridian and Enterprize. Gen. Polk falling back to Demapoles Ala. After staying here some weeks moved back to Sandersdale Springs, Miss. and after a short stay here took up line of march to Tuskaloosa Ala. thence to Rome Ga. And thence to Dalton and thence through the memorable Dalton-Atlanta running fight of over four months, And then the siege and evacuation of Atlanta and March via Altoona Blue Mountains and to Tuscumbia, Ala. In all of which many good men were lost, wounded, notably our beloved Brigadier Gen. Ector in siege of Atlanta lost a leg. Col. Young then assumed command of Brigand and Major McReynolds the command of Regiment. Col. Dillard having been on surgeons list of disability. In fact Col. D's health was such, that he was not able to be with the regiment any scarcely till close of war.
In this time quite a number of changes have taken place in affairs of companies Capt. W. H. H. Long Co. A came home under orders in Aug. 1864 and was not with the regiment any more till close of war. Capt. Bray of Co. K had resigned and Capt. Ridely commanded Co. K. Major McReynolds of Co. D had been promoted to Major and Capt. Tom VanWey commanded Co. D. Capt. Daniel of Co. H had resigned and Capt. Cobb was in command. Capt. Hopkins who was wounded at Murfreesboro had never returned, and Capt. Kennedy wounded at same time had never been able to be with his company.
From Tuscumbia its march with Gen. Hood began in Nov. 1864 it is useless to say its numbers suffered greatly on this campaign from cold, fatigue, hunger, and hard marches, etc. Col. Young had been captured, and Brigade was commanded on this trip by Col. Dave Coleman of 39th N.C. Regiment. From Nashville came back to Tupelo Miss. and after a months rest went to Mobile and was at Spanish Fort when it was evacuated and from there went to Meridian, Miss. where on the 12th of May 1865 was formally surrendered by Gen. Dick Layton to Gen. Canby of U.S.A. And here it stacked arms and colors -- And the work of the regiment closed.
A word as to Colors and Color bearers etc.
At the organization of the regiment Co. E was Color company and Sgt. P. Mayo Spears color bearer. Shiloh was the only engagement in which the regiment had taken a hand before the reorganization. After the reorganization in May 1862 Co. G was the Color Company and Sgt. Festus O'Conner of Hopkins County was color bearer in every engagement to the close of the war. But in August 1864 when the C. S. Congress passed a law making the Color bearer a Commissioned officer with rank and pay of 2nd Lieut. Col. Young appointed Ben R. Milan a worthy young man color bearer but before he had an opportunity to carry the colors in action a stray ball from Yankee Sharp shooters struck him in the hand while holding up the flag. And placed him "hors du Combat" for the rest of the war. A few later Charles Douglass was appointed. He had scarcely raised the Colors till a minnie ball struck him about the center and upper part of the Sternum from which he soon died -- the Colors were thus returned to Connor who bore them aloft in every engagement to the day he stacked the old flag, (which was exhibited at Sherman) with the Surrendered Stacked arms at Meridian Miss. on the 12th of May 1865. The Stand of colors with which the regiment marched from Texas were not used after the reorganization and my recollection is that about three stands of colors had been shot all to pieces before the one surrendered.
Conner had carried the flag in every action and had carried it high and well to the front and I think three stands had been shot all to tatters, and the Surrendered flag instead of fifty, had one hundred and fifty minnie bullet holes besides in the upper and outer corner. Something a little more scary if not more dangerous had bestowed a kiss upon it which clearly left its imprint upon it.
Allow me to relate a little incident here: Shortly after the Amy under Gen. Polk fell back to Demopolis Ala., he had a general review of the troops at the Fair Grounds -- well everybody and his wife were out.
Cockrell's Mo. Brigade surrendered at Vicksburg. Even the pets in that country having spent the time from their surrender up to their exchange at the homes of these people -- and they were worthy pets. Well Cockrell's Brigade all had very fine new showy flags -- so had Loring's Division.
Well Gen. Polk had taken his position and for a long distance on each side of him was the vast concourse of lookers on -- and here allow me to say, other troops in the Corps with no good feeling often called the old Regiment "Polk's Pets" -- they had served under him almost from the beginning and he almost knew them by name. Well Gen. Loring's Division was nicely fixed up and had fine [horses] and looked -- what they truly were -- every inch soldiers. Then followed Cockrell's Brigade nicely dressed and bearing gaudy flags, "Ector's Chubs" bringing up the rear.
Handkerchiefs were waved and bouquets thrown to Loring's and Cockrell's troops by the ladies but "Hecs Chubs" did not seem to attract their attention till one lady of a group chanced to notice a tattered banner carried by Conner (Col. Dillard and myself were riding just behind it) when one lady exclaimed, "Ha! look at that old tattered rag that that Regiment carries for a banner, would you not be ashamed to follow it?" -- I replied "that whenever the beautiful colors that had gone before could tell the same tale of blood and Carnage, and all that goes to prove the noble daring of its followers, then will these followers be more proud of them than today".
Just about that time the head of the old Regiment came opposite Gen. Polk when the old General raised his cap, I don't think I ever heard Texans yell as loud as they yelled then, and the old General yelled as loud and lustily as any of them. I was just then "opposite" the lady who had spoken, and said to her, "Gen. Polk has not treated any other banner with a tenth the respect that he has given that 'old tattered rag'."
Mr. Editor, -- that old flag is simply of 9th Texas infantry, and carried by Col. W. H. Long and for more than three years of the war in Ector's Brigade. Nor was that flag surrendered at Spanish Fort, but at Meridian Miss. It had not fifty, but 159 bullet holes in it and it was not brought home by Capt. W. H. H. Long, who came home in August before surrender in May, but by Mr. C. P. Matthews of your county by whom it was detached from the staff and the staff was also brought home by Mr. C.P. Matthews. and Lt. Jenkins of McKinney.
I have hastily thrown these thoughts together from memory, and if I have erred in any thing I cordially invite correction.
T. H. S.
[Thomas H. Skidmore]
Late Capt. AQM 9th Infantry
M. L. Johnson, I hurriedly wrote the foregoing pages for your paper. I would like to rewrite it, but have not had time. Publish over my initials.
T. H. S. late Capt.
On the 9th day of May, 1865, Thomas Henry Skidmore laid down his arms at Meridian, Mississippi, signed the Oath of Amnesty and began the long journey back to Texas. He returned home to the family and home he had left behind four years before.
It should be noted that all of the brothers of Thomas Henry Skidmore served in the Confederacy. Their service is listed below:
Edward Thompson Skidmore, Co. K, 9th Texas Infantry & Co. G, 23rd Texas Cavalry.
Lemuel Dickson Skidmore, Lieutenant, Co. K, 9th Texas Infantry, Co. G., 23rd Cavalry and Company G, 27th Cavalry.
William Hooley Skidmore, served as a Sergeant in the Mounted Battalion of Texas Volunteers in the War of 1854-5. He enlisted in Captain Milton Webb's company of Lamar County Volunteers. He was attached to Ford's Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers. He later served in Co. K, 1st (McCulloch's) Texas Cavalry and in Co. D, 8th (Taylor's) Battalion of Texas Cavalry as a Corporal and lastly in Co. I, 1st (Yager's) Texas Cavalry.
John Alexander Skidmore, Third Sergeant, Co. K, 9th Texas Infantry & Co. G., 23rd Texas Cavalry.
The husband of their sister, Nancy America Skidmore, was Shadrack R. Hendricks who served in the Civil War with the 27th Texas Cavalry, and died at Priceville, Mississippi on June 23, 1862.
Skidmore cousins: Thomas H. Skidmore served in Co. K & H, 6th Texas Cavalry (Note: There were two men - cousins - named Thomas H. Skidmore who served from Lamar Co. The man who served in the 6th Texas was the younger, born in 1834 and was the son of Elijah Skidmore.) Jesse Skidmore served in Co. K & H, 6th Texas Cavalry. John Thomas Skidmore served in Co. K, 6th Regiment, Texas Cavalry. Gaius Kibby Skidmore served in Co. G, 27th Texas Cavalry and died in Tennessee in the spring of 1863. Matthew L. Skidmore served in Co. G, 27th Texas Cavalry. He was captured was paraded in Washington D.C. as "Hood's Ragged Cavalry", a humiliation that he remembered all his life. David Anderson Skidmore was exempted from service because of his asthma, but he and his brother, Murdoch M. Skidmore, owned a mill in Lamar County where they ground flour for the Confederate Army six days a week and for themselves and their neighbors on Sunday. Confederate service records on Skidmore brothers and cousins from: Skidmore, Warren Skidmore and William F. Skidmore. SKIDMORE, Rickmansworth, England; Delaware; North Carolina and West - 1555 to 1983. Akron, Ohio and Knoxville, Tennessee. July 1983.
From Backward Glances, Vol. 2, pg 279, Alexander (Sandy) Neville; The Wright Press; Paris, Texas, we find a final tribute to the 9th Texas Infantry.
"Captain D. Ridley, who was Lamar County Clerk from 1874 to 1882, was a Confederate soldier. In 1892, soon after the organization of Albert Sidney Johnston camp of ex-Confederates here, he wrote for a paper published here a short time by George Holcombe, called "The Texas Ex-Confederate" some recollections of his army service. He was a member of the 9th Texas Infantry, Maxey's Brigade, and the movement of that body of soldiers is traced in the story Captain Ridley wrote. He said:
"I think first of the old 9th Texas Infantry, of which I was a member, more than 1,000 strong, the bright eyes and robust forms, the buoyant spirits; the excitement of Camps Rusk and Benjamin; the march to Little Rock and Des Arc; the river trip on barges and steamboats to Memphis; the hurry and scurry of procuring arms; the camp at Iuka; the sickness and deaths there; the hurried call to Corinth; the night march; the battle of Shiloh; the weary march through Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama; marching, fighting at Murfreesboro; the retreat from Rome; Bill Arp; battles at Altoona Heights, Chickamauga, Perryville; the siege of Atlanta; the disastrous Tennessee campaign; the defeat at Nashville; then Spanish Fort, and the final surrender after long years of fighting and the homecoming for the few who were left - all rush with lightning-like rapidity through the mind.
"But where are the Thompsons, Dicksons, Huffs, Provine, Worthington, Allen Patterson, Baker and hosts of others. Alas, they sleep the last long sleep on the battlefields of Shiloh, Chickamauga, Murfreesboro, Atlanta, Spanish Fort and some on the lonely skirmish lines. But the memory of their brave deeds lives on as bright today in the hearts of their comrades as on the day they fell. What gallant times were those! What excitement! What uneasy brooding before the battle. But when once in it, what exhilaration, what madness! The boom of cannon, the rattle of musketry, the shriek of the bomb, the angry hiss of the minnie ball, the shouts of command, the charge, the counter charge, the advance, the retreat - all flash across memory as we live over again the days of the past, and I think of time intervening between the close of the war to this good hour. Our comrades who did their duty so grandly in war have been no laggards or cowards in the every-day battle of life. Everywhere, in all walks, they are found now as then in the forefront. They were not willing to rest on the laurels won in battle, but strove to redeem the country from the results of war. How nobly they have succeeded, let history speak."
Laura, having borne eight children and endured the hardships of the war, dies by age 36, after the end of the war. We are reminded of the words of Mrs. Jefferson Davis, writing at Christmas in the Confederate White House, "The lessons of self-denial, industry and frugality in which they became past mistresses then, have made them the most dignified, self-reliant and tender women I have ever known - all honor to them."
The children of Thomas Henry Skidmore and Laura Crain:
1. Joseph Edward Skidmore, born 1849 in Lamar Co., Texas. He married Amanda P. Caylor. They had a son, Thomas, born in 1871. Joseph died in Titus Co. before the 1880 census.
2. Donald Skidmore, born 1851 in Lamar Co., Texas; died before 1870 in Lamar Co., Texas.
3. James Riley Skidmore, born 1854 in Lamar Co., Texas. He was living unmarried in Bosque County in 1880. He married Sarah Alice Coleman, a widow after 1894. They lived in Randall County, Texas in 1910 and in 1920 they were in Tillman County, Oklahoma.
4. William Henry Skidmore, born March 21, 1856 in Lamar Co., Texas; died May 03, 1931 in Biardstown, Lamar Co., Texas. He owned a blacksmith shop in Biardstown. He married Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Lindsay February 02, 1888 in Lamar Co., Texas. They had Pauline born December 7, 1888, never married; Wallace born January 10, 1891 and died in 1914; Paul born January 2, 1893, married Emma Catherine Warlick on February 19, 1921, died in Dallas about 1955; Winnie Davis born May 5, 1895, married Milsap Gunn, died December 19, 1959 in Paris; Lucille born October 25, 1899, married Chambers Spain, died September 9, 1962; Roger Mills (twin) born August 12, 1905, married Evelyn Jane Rush October 25, 1937, died March 15, 1960 in Paris; Sarah Maxine Elliot (twin) born August 12, 1905, married Henry H. Moomaw, died March 24, 1975 in Dallas.
5. Celia E. Skidmore, born 1858 in Lamar Co., Texas.
6. John McKee Skidmore, born June 15, 1860 in Lamar Co., Texas. He married Cornie E. Binford on September 22, 1892 in Lamar Co. They had a daughter, Laura A., born June 1895 who married Fred Lee on October 22, 1915 in Lamar Co. John died April 13, 1897 in Lamar Co., Texas.
7. Mary Alice Skidmore, born 1862 in Lamar Co.
8. Sidney B. Skidmore, born 1866 in Lamar Co., Texas. He was a patient at the State Epileptic Colony in Taylor Co., Texas.
Returning to his home after the war, Henry faces many changes. His father died at the beginning of the war and now he has lost his wife, Laura. He is left with a family of young children to raise. We begin to see Henry moving toward the religious life that had been planned for him by his father. It is at this time that Edward and Henry must set about to settle Abe's estate. Only Henry, Ed, Lem, John and Nancy are living to inherit.
Henry deeds 25 acres to Robert and Nancy America Smith (his sister) on February 25, 1867. (as recorded in Lamar Co., Texas, Book U, pg. 673). Three days later, on February 28, 1867 in Red River Co., Texas, Henry marries Elizabeth J. Curlee, who was born in 1855 in Tennessee. In 1870, Reverend Thomas Skidmore is living at Clarksville, Red River County, Texas, with his wife Elizabeth. (Census pg. 100) Living at home were children, Joseph, James, William, John, and Alice. Also in his household was Albert Carrel (Curlee), aged 11, perhaps a stepson.
Henry is in Lamar County on June 1, 1870. Judge Rutherford kept a diary which noted that on that date, "Henry Skidmore here, no pay from him." This is reported in Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the Paris News on April 26, 1939. Again from Judge Rutherford's diary: November 23, 1870. Henry Skidmore and son here. Published in the Paris News on May 7, 1939.
There is a reference to Henry in Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the Paris News on January 20, 1934. The story is told by Henry's nephew, Gibbons Poteet of Roxton.
"I thought I would tell you about Uncle Abner Neathery today . . . I did not know Uncle Abner personally as he had moved to Grayson county before my day, but I learned of Uncle Abner through my father and mother and especially through "Old Tom Skidmore", the surveyor. Uncle Tom Skidmore knew most everything pertaining to the pioneer days. He was educated for a Presbyterian preacher but slipped and got to be the most noted land surveyor of the county. Guess Uncle Tom Skidmore knew every corner and hack on a tree in the county; and he knew much besides. In fact knowing things was Uncle Tom's main occupation in life. He had a massive mind which retained information and facts like a jug. And I guess he know more Abner Neathery yarns than any other man living.
Poteet Gibbons writes again of his Uncle Henry, correcting the previously published name of "Uncle Tom". This is from Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the Paris News on February 18, 1934.
"Gibbons Poteet, who has been giving me some old-time stories takes occasion to correct two statements he made inadvertently and adds something to his recollection of one of the county's early settlers . . . "
"And then I said it was Uncle Tom Skidmore who was a surveyor. Don't know how I made that slip for most every one in Lamar county who can read and write knows it was Uncle Henry Skidmore who was the perennial and permanent surveyor. Uncle Henry was educated for a Presbyterian preacher but slipped from grace and got to be a surveyor. He had a head he used to carry facts in, he knew history, mathematics, and every man, woman and child, horse, mule and marked tree in the county. Uncle Henry was full of yarns which he used to spin at all his stopping places over the county. He had a place in every community where he would "put up" when out on his surveying rumbles. When on Hickory creek he stopped at our house; when on Roxton creek he stopped at old Dr. Maness'. He knew all the history of the pioneer days of the county and he was responsible for preserving for posterity most the Uncle Abner Neathery tales.
Uncle Abner was a pioneer who left this county and went to Grayson county just about the time I arrived in this county, just "after the war". As before suggested, Uncle Abner was a live wire full of fun, frolic spirits and practical jokes. While his brother Wesley Neathery (my grandfather) was a very steady and dignified man and pious as half a dozen preachers, Uncle Abner was loose and easy and with such an oversize sense of humor that some people considered him impious. Uncle Henry never impeached his character but did leave the impression that Uncle Abner was not always sober. I am ashamed of Uncle Ab, but inebriety could be better excused in the pioneer days than now for then licker was home-made and not nearly as deadly as now.
Here is one of Uncle Henry's Uncle Abner yarns. It seems that Uncle Abner was a man of sense and knowing courts and their wobbly ways he naturally had a contempt for court, and so, one day when inspired by a pint or some of native corn, he went into the court house, a little log shack at the time. Court was in session. Uncle Abner walked in and proceeded to show his contempt of court by slinging out an appropriate and alliterative oath. The thing having become somewhat chronic and a little irritating to the dignity of the judge, he says: "Mr. Clerk, please fine Mr. Neathery $10 for contempt." Uncle Abner walked up to the clerk's desk and planked down a $20 gold piece. The clerk started to give him the change when Uncle Abner says, "No, Clerk, you needn't bother about the change - I'll curse that out directly."
Poteet Gibbons tells us more about Henry and gives us one of his Abner stories. This is from Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the Paris News on March 13, 1934.
"After a hard day's walking as surveyor, Uncle Henry Skidmore was sitting by the wood fire after supper with his old clay pipe purring peacefully and I, in pipe language, purring sweetly on the home- raised twist and as the smoke curled and eddied gracefully toward the ceiling, Uncle Henry was at peace with the world and happy with his gastric works. And as usual, Uncle Henry was reminiscent and naturally his mind reared back to the 50's and 60's - the pioneer days in Texas. This is the tale he told me:
Speaking of Abner Neathery, you know he married Mat Click's daughter Louisa and, being of a gay and festive nature, he led Louisa a merry dance. The Still House was down the road a little piece, near where the old Rock Ax Biard's place later was, and Abner would naturally gravitate down to the still House. Religious services were few and far between in those days and when they did have "meetin" the who county turned out. One Sunday morning Abner says, "Louisa, I hear there is a preacher passin' through and he is goin to preach down at Lazy Neck today. Would you like to go?"
"Why, yes, Abner, I would like to go to the meetin."
"All right then, Louisa, get ready while I go and drive the hosses in and we will jist go to the meetin."
The story goes that Abner got his "hoss" and while looking for Louisa's rounded in to the Still House. He lingered round there with the boys till finally some one suggested that they better be off to meetin'. Abner, being rather absent-minded, got on his horse and went on, forgetting his obligation to his plump and fluffy spouse.
When they got to the meetin' Abner entered lustily into all the hymns. Abner, being tall and gangling and at the time a little wobbly on his pegs, got next to the wall of the log meetin' house and when it came time to sing he would get up and run his arm through the crack in the log wall and thus supported was able to make the welkin and the woods sing.
It was a hot day and the preacher had labored long, with the sweat rolling the intake of his breath wheezing like a hog with the quinsy. Just as the parson was winding up his two hour labors, into the meetin' house heaved Aunt Louisa who had walked five miles. She was big and fat and mad and puffing. Uncle Abner then remembered and was anxious to placate Aunt Louisa. So he called out to the preacher: "Say, parson, here is my wife, Louisa - she has walked a long way to the meetin' and it would be a pity for Louisa not to get any benefit from the sermon. Parson, couldn't you preach another sermon for Louisa's benefit?"
"No, Brother Neathery, I feel that I am too much fatigued to preach another sermon"
Then Uncle Abner says, "Well, begad, parson, couldn't you sing a hymn for Louisa, anyway. I'd hate for her not to get any benefit from the meetin' at all?"
So the old preacher lined off another hymn. Abner got up and hugged his log and sung lustily. It
is not reported what kind of song Louisa made Abner sing after they got home."
Another story Henry told about Abner is related in Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the Paris News on December 27, 1939.
"It appears that Uncle Abner in the 50's lived for a while in what is now Hopkins county at a settlement known as Black Jack Grove. There were few white people living anywhere in the country and Indians often made raids on weak settlements. The citizens of Black Jack Grove were worried and excited because they had heard that Indians had appeared near there, coming from East Texas. The male population got their old guns, got on their horses and lit out to hunt Indians. After a day or so they got tired and hungry and wishes they were back home, so they turned back. On the way they came to a creek and got off their horses, turned them loose, and the boys drank and lay down in the shade to rest.
One of the fellows was walking about and imagined that he glimpsed Indians from his hill. He came tearing back yelling, 'Indians boys, Indians coming.' They all jumped up and caught their nags and lit out for home. Uncle Abner's old mare had strayed a distance away and he was late getting his mount. He finally got on but the mare was lazy, and one of the boys ahead yelled, 'Come on Abner, come on.' Uncle Abner, who was digging his mare in the ribs with his heels, answered back, 'Come on hell, you didn't suppose I was ridin' jockey in a case like this, did you?"
In 1871 a son, Thomas Skidmore, is born to Henry and Elizabeth. Warren Skidmore and William F. Skidmore. SKIDMORE, Rickmansworth, England; Delaware; North Carolina and West - 1555 to 1983. Akron, Ohio and Knoxville, Tennessee. July 1983
We find a Deed dated December 27, 1871, as recorded in Lamar Co., Texas, Book V, pg. 388: Abram Skidmore by executors Thos. H. Skidmore and Ed Skidmore to widow Emily for 80 acres; daughter Nancy A. Smith for 112 acres; son L.D. Skidmore for 110 acres; son Wm. M. Skidmore 110 acres; son John A. Skidmore 105 acres; son Ed Skidmore 105 acres; and son Thos. H. Skidmore 171 acres. (Note: Abram died in June 1861.) Lamar Co., Texas Probate Records: Book A, Pages 90 & 91- Abraham Skidmore
Henry lives in Grayson County, Texas in 1876 until July 1877. There is a Deed dated April 17, 1876, as recorded in Lamar Co., Texas Deed Book X, pg. 415: Thomas H. Skidmore of Grayson Co., Texas; Ed Skidmore, L. D. Skidmore, John A. Skidmore, Nancy A. Smith and husband, Robert A., and Wm. M. Skidmore, of Lamar Co., only heirs of Abram Skidmore, deceased, and his former wife, Celia, to Ulysses Matthiesson. Henry's acknowledgment is taken in Grayson Co., Texas on 17 November 1873. Another Deed is dated April 17, 1876 and recorded in Lamar Co., Texas Deed Book C-2, pg. 425. Thos. H. Skidmore of Grayson Co., Texas to Silas A. Brumback of Grayson Co., Texas. 150 acres in Lamar County.
By 1877, Thomas Henry is interested in leaving Grayson County and locating closer to Lamar County. The Minutes of Session of the Green Hill Presbyterian Church, located 5 miles north of Mt. Pleasant, dated January 18, 1877 state:
According to appointment, Green Hill Congregation met and was constituted by prayer. J. M. Suggs in the chair. The object of the meeting being to secure a minister for this church. A letter from Rev. T. H. Skidmore was read, and also other letters pertaining to the subject under consideration. After a free discussion of the matter, it was decided on motion by a unanimous vote to extend a call to Rev. T. H. Skidmore of Grayson County as ministerial supply for the whole of his time at a salary of Four hundred and twenty-five dollars, this amount having first been subscribed. Meeting adjourned closed with prayed. G. M. Suggs requested to notify Rev. T. H. Skidmore at once of our action. (Compare old minutes). Revised and corrected by McA. Harris.
On March 18, the Minutes of Session report: Green Hill Congregation met in accordance with a previous appointment to consider the propriety of sending up a call to Presbytery to have Rev. T. H. Skidmore installed as Pastor of this church. The meeting was opened with prayer, and after the objects of the meeting had been duly explained, and advantages of making the above change set forth, it was resolved on motion to order the Session to make out a call to be sent to Presbytery at Paris, to have the relations between this church and Rev. T. H. Skidmore changed and a day fixed for installation. Vote unanimous and the call made out in due form. Closed in prayer. Sig.: G. M. Suggs
This was approved by the Presbytery at Paris Texas on March 31, 1877 and on July 15, 1877, Rev. T. H. Skidmore was installed as Pastor of green Hill Church with Rev. H B. Bowle and Rev. W. N. Dickey officiating.
On October 27, 1877, the Rev. T. H. Skidmore asked and obtained permission of this church to preach one Sabbath in each month to the Church at Rocky Ford in Lamar County, to begin July 22 in the year as indicated at the head of the margin. (Note the date at the margin is 1877 - but it is October and the action is to begin in July.)
A year later, on October 19, 1878, the Minutes of Session state: Rev. T H. Skidmore asked the Congregation to join him in a request to Presbytery for the Dissolution of pastoral relations existing between himself and the Church at Green Hill, which was done by a resolution to be forwarded to Presbytery at its next meeting. Sig.: McA. Harris in the chair, C.C. Horn, Sec.
However, on March 27, 1881, the Minutes show that Rev. T. H. Skidmore preached there and that the Congregation had not located another minister. The minutes were signed by Rev. T H. Skidmore, Chairman. (Research Note: The Green Hill Church cemetery is located approx. 5 miles north of Mt. Pleasant and about 1/2 to 3/4 mil off farm to market road 2152. It is located on a county road. The church is connected to the Presbyterian faith. I do not think they have services regularly, but the church is still standing and is a Texas landmark. Cypress Basin Genealogy and Historical Society Cemetery Book.)
Henry keeps his religious ties to Lamar County during this time as we see from a list of members of the Church of Christ worshipping at Antioch, Lamar County in 1879. This membership list includes Thos. Skidmore, Presbyterian. His son, Wm. H. Is listed as withdrawn from (membership). Henry's brother Edward, his wife Jane and their family are on the list. Vol. 13, No. 1., (Membership and minutes records book) The Church Record of the Church of Christ, Worshipping at Antioch, Lamar County, Texas, John Burns, Publisher, 1879. Headquarters for all Christian Publication and Sunday School Supplies (St. Louis, Missouri).
By 1880 Henry Skidmore is the Titus County Surveyor. (History of Titus County, Vol. 2, page 21.) The family is enumerated in the Titus County, Texas census (# 331) with their four youngest children. In the household next to him was the widow of his son Joseph Edward, Amanda P. (Caylor) Skidmore, and her son Thomas, age one (enumerated with her father Francis M. Caylor). It is believed that Elizabeth died soon after as we find the following record: Mrs. Reverend T. H. Skidmore was buried at Plot II, Row 9, #4, in the cemetery at Greenhill Church, Titus County, Texas, but no tombstone is found there for her. The death must have been before 1884 as Henry returns to Lamar County at that point. Cypress Basin Historical Society.
"It was about 1881, said Gibbons Poteet, while my father, Pembroke Poteet still lived on his farm on Hickory Creek about two miles north of Biardstown on the Paris road leading from the forks of Sulphur and points south. It was summer time. A fine full moon was flooding the fields and spilling all over the neighborhood.
This was a happy night for us kids. Uncle Henry Skidmore had come to stay all night and we knew we were going to hear yarns. It was after supper. We were all on the gallery. Uncle Henry had filled his mighty body full of roasting ears and fried chicken and he was feeling prime and the tales rearing to ooze out. He had screaked his ponderous frame down into a good stout hickory chair and filled his old clay pipe full of home-made tobacco, rank and fragrant, cut from a twist and pulverized in the palm of his hand and lit by putting a coal of fire on top. - Oh yes, we always kept a 'start' of fire in the fireplace in those days, winter and summer - no matches then, or if there was a few, ten cents for a small box. When Uncle Henry had performed the sacred ceremony of filling and lighting his pipe and fogged out a bushel or two of fragrant smoke that would have given a cigarette smoking town feller of the days the fantoids, then we knew the show was about ready to open.
Uncle Henry said, 'Speaking of sheep reminds me of the time that old Abe Skidmore lost his ram.' Abe Skidmore was one of the original who lived between Biardstown and Sulphur. He was Henry's father. I guess Abe died before or just after the Civil War, but let us get on with Uncle Henry's yarn.
Yes, Abe had a ram that had strayed off. Old Si Evans lived just south, over in the forks of Sulphur, and Abe had an idea that maybe his ram was over at Si's. So he went over and said, 'Si, one of my rams has strayed. Have you seen anything of him?' 'Don't know, Abe, he may be with my sheep. If you can find him, take him.' 'Well,' said Abe, 'I can tell whether he is my ram or not by givin' him a test. My boys have been prankin' with him. Just as the old ram makes his butt, the boy drops flat and the old ram jumps clear over him. Now, if I see a ram that looks like mine, all I have to do will be to get down and play butting with him and see how he responds.
Si said, 'All right, Abe, go head with your test.' 'Yes,' said Abe, 'here is one. I will test him out.' So Abe got down on all fours and assumed a belligerent attitude. The ram responded all right - he came at Abe like a battering ram. Abe fell flat - but my goodness - when Abe dropped down, a weed or stick pinched his nose and naturally and automatically he jerked his head up just in time catch the impact of the ram's head right in his own forehead. They were right on the high bank of Sulphur, with a deep hole of water just below. Abe finally sputtered up out of the creek and Si says, 'Abe, take him, he is your ram.'
'Yes,' said Uncle Henry, "the boys used to have some fun in those days. Now everything is dry - cut and dried. And look at the farms now - no space for a real man to get his breath any more. Our cattle and sheep used to range over a space ten miles each way with not a farm in the way. Now a man has to work like a galley slave to get any living at all. Wish I was a little younger - I would go the Big Indian Territory."
Backward Glances by A.W. Neville, in a column printed in the Paris News on January 4, 1940.
In 1884, 1885. 1886, 1888, 1890, and 1893 Henry's bond as County Surveyor was approved in Lamar Co. (Commissioners Court Minutes). He surveyed and marked the boundary lines between Lamar and Fannin and Red River Counties during this time.
When Lamar County was created by taking the west third of Red River County, the eastern boundary line was run by Allen Urguhart, a surveyor in the service of the Republic. Land then was not valuable in dollars and the survey was not exact, as was found later. The western boundary behind Red River and Fannin had been made when Fannin was created in 1837. More than four years after the Urguhart survey the Lamar County commissioners employed Thomas H. Skidmore to ascertain and mark the eastern and western boundaries of the county, as there was some doubt of where the exact lines ran. He was to begin the work in January 1885 and the two adjoining counties were notified as they could have representatives. Skidmore started the west line in February, having been delayed by bad weather. M. Keithey had been named by Fannin County. They reported the point of origin of the line between the Fannin and Nacedoches Land Districts was the center of Boisd'arc Bayou, at the crossing. They found the mouth of the bayou to be about a mile and a half west of the original mouth and the south bank of red River had caved and fallen in for about 100 varas. They took the old bed of the bayou which was plain, and surveyed to Sulphur. The report described each mile . . . In August 1885, Skidmore reported on the east line. Red River County had appointed David Rainey to represent it and the two surveyors met March 4 to begin the work which, because of rain and high water in Sulphur River bottom, had not been emptied until June 30. The report said that they found the back of Red River at the beginning of the Urguhart survey had grown by accretion until the mouth of Pine Creek, where the original survey began, was 600 varas (about one-third of a mile) east of the original location, so they began at the 1841 beginning point used by Urguhart. Details of this survey by miles were given as had been the western boundary and the 34 mile posts had been set. The report said they started to follow the Urguhart survey but found so many variants they went back to the 7-mile post from Red River and ran a line that sometimes was on one side of Urguhart's, sometimes on the other side, but at no great distance. The court allowed B. M. Patterson $16.50 for 27 mile posts and J.H. McRady $3.50 for lettering them, which was one-half their claim for the Lamar-Fannin line posts. . . Backward Glances by A.W. Neville, in a column printed in the Paris News on April 1, 1951.
From The History of Lamar County, pg. 188-189, we find this record on this survey:
"There being no marked boundary lines for the county east and west, the court November 12, 1884, employed Thomas H. Skidmore to resurvey and mark the lines. Fannin and Red River Counties were notified and the west line was begun February 16, 1885, M Keithley representing Fannin County. The east line was begun March 4, 1885 with David Rainey representing Red River county, but because of rains was not completed until June 30, 1885. This is the line that separates Red River and from Lamar County today. The Skidmore report is a part of the records of the Lamar county commissioners court."
We find a Deed dated February 7, 1898, recorded in Book 87, pg. 501 which states: Thos. H. Skidmore, an heir at law to the estate of my deceased brother, Wm. M. Skidmore, late, to Alex S. Skidmore, Robert L. Skidmore and Albert B. Skidmore, undivided 1/5 interest in 112 acres out of survey made for A. Skidmore by virtue of Hd. Rt. Cert No. 25 issued to him by the Board of Ld. Coms. for Red River Co., Texas in May 1839 for 26 labors of land situated in Lamar Co., Texas about 12 miles SSE from Paris and patented to the heirs of said A. Skidmore, deceased. Thomas Henry's acknowledgment was taken in Lamar Co. on February 8, 1898. This is the last deed record involving Thomas Henry Skidmore before his death.
Backward Glances by A.W. Neville, in a column printed in the Paris News on May 22, 1930 and again on October 10, 1930. Copies in the Paris Junior College Archives. "September 22, 1899 . . . Squire Skidmore, a well known citizen, was in town from Biardstown, told a News reporter he was in search of a fine black land farm, encumbered by a widow. The Squire was quite a joker." This is the last reference we find of Thomas Henry Skidmore. He was 77 years old.
Loose Leaves of the History of Lamar County by Ed H. McCuistion. In the edition reprinted by Betsy Mills, it is on page 137.) . . . Uncle Henry Skidmore, who for many years was county surveyor of Lamar County was, from a historical standpoint, the best informed man in the county on matters of local history. During his life he wrote probably a hundred columns of historical information for the local papers about the early days in Lamar County. These papers were of priceless value as historical data. But his family never kept any copies of them, and all of the newspaper file copies were destroyed by fire.
Poteet Gibbons tells of Thomas Henry Skidmore and his role as historian in Lamar County in Backward Glances, by A.W. Neville, published in the Paris News on December 12, 1939. He writes to Neville and says:
"I think you are doing valuable work in recording some of the early history of this section of Texas. It will soon be that there is no one living who has even a hearsay knowledge of the pioneer days of Lamar County. . . .
But about the greatest narrator of the history of Lamar County and anecdotes of its people of the early days was Uncle Henry Skidmore, the old surveyor. He had a staying-all-night place in every community in Lamar County. He was a man of great brain power and a great story teller. He had a retentive memory and for forty years he put in his time smoking and telling tales, when he was not surveying.
Henry Skidmore was a powerful man. He was educated to be a Presbyterian preacher but he fell from grace into the commoner occupations of smoking and chewing tobacco, drinking 'likker' and telling tales and surveying land in this and adjacent counties for the folks who had headrights and who were wanting to find out just where their land lay and how much they had. When Henry Skidmore died years ago, there died with him much of the early history of Lamar County and it pioneers."
Contributed by: Diane Skidmore Kuras, 4573 Colleen St., Port Charlotte, FL 33952-9172.
©Ron Brothers and Diane Skidmore Kuras, All Rights Reserved, 1998.
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