Fayette County Biographies

William Menefee

The Texas Monument, January 29, 1852, written by William P. Smith

. . . we will take the liberty of saying a few things concerning our worthy friend, Judge Menefee.

This distinguished individual landed on the Texas coast at the mouth of the Brazos, on the 25th of January, 1830. From the time that the little band of Texians put in motion the ball of the revolution, until the present, his life has been one of patriotism, sacrifice and devotion to his country's cause. During the darkest period of the Texian revolution, when our almost destitute soldiers in the field were about to be disbanded by starvation, no citizen of the Republic acted a part more benevolent and disinterested in supplying the army by his private munificence, than Wm. Menefee, and that without the hope, or even desire of remuneration. He was a member of the Consultation that formed the Provisional Government in 1835—after that, of the permanent Council of the Provisional Government—then a member of the Convention, which, on the 3d day of March, 1836, severed the chains of Mexican oppression, and declared Texas a free and independent Republic. He acted three years as Judge of the Probate Court—six years in the Congress of the Republic—was a member of the Committee for locating the seat of Government, and also the Penitentiary; and now he is an efficient member of the Monumental committee, for devising the best ways and means for doing honor to the memories of all the heroes who have fallen in the glorious cause of Texian freedom, by erecting a durable monument, as a memorial of departed worth.

Quinn M. Menifee

Thrall, Homer S. History of Methodism in Texas, 1872, pp. 164-165

. . .Quinn M. Menifee, son of Hon. William Menifee, was a native Texan. We were intimately acquainted with his boyhood, and watched with growing interest the development of his mental faculties, first in the school-room, and subsequently as he took his place at the bar, with a fine prospect of success in his profession. At the call of duty he relinquished the practice of law, and entered the itinerancy [ministry] in 1857. During the war he enlisted as a private soldier in the army of Virginia, and endured for nearly two years the hardships and perils of soldier-life. At the battle of Sharpsburg he lost a leg, and was for some time a prisoner in the enemy's hands. One of the most touching scenes we ever witnessed took place when he first entered the pulpit after his return home. It was at a camp-meeting, among the playmates of his boyhood. As the noble young man went hobbling into the pulpit upon his one leg with his crutches, the sight awakened the sympathies of the whole assembly, and there was scarcely a dry eye in that multitude. The early part of the year 1867 witnessed a gracious revival on his charge, and he had every prospect of a pleasant and prosperous year. But the pestilence [yellow fever] came, and the faithful pastor was one of its first victims. Quinn Menifee was a young man of noble and generous impluses, a high-toned gentleman, and a pure-minded Christian. He prepared his sermons with great care, and delivered them with an unction and pathos that awakened a profound interest in his hearers. Notwithstanding the loss of one of his limbs, his friends predicted for him a useful and successful career in the ministry. But his sun of life went down ere it had reached its meridian.

Isaac Sellers

In a letter written in 1922 to his nephew and contributed here by Christine Smith, Isaac Sellers details his family's history in Fayette County. Isaac Sellers was an attorney in La Grange, then Fayette County Judge from 1875-1876, before becoming a Baptist minister.

Weimar, 3-27-1922.

Dear Frank:

Your nice kind letter came yesterday and did me great good. I think of you so often and wish to see you and all yours. No news. We both keep up. Flue very bad here and we try to keep away from it.

In answering your points about Pa's place and date of birth, I will write it out and you can fill in your blanks to me ,or re-write it and set it correctly.

Pa was born April 25, 1809, on the bank of the Wabash River in Ill. Indians began to raid that state there when he was a small babe and his father, Isaac Sellers, moved to Gibson County, West Tenn. and raised a large family and died there. Pa married Miss Miller (I think she was) when he was about 22 or 3, and came to Fayette County, Texas, in 1835, with his first cousin Robert Sellers, father of cousin W. Harvey Sellers who was one of the Mier prisoners in hands of Mexicans, drew a white bean and was released by the Mexicans and came to his home in LaGrange and was elected County or District Clerk of Fayette County, and in 1847, when war with Texas and Mexico broke cut, he resigned and went as a Lt. in Company of Cavalry from Fayette County, in Col. Hayes' Regt. of Texas Cavalry and led the charge at Monterey, so one of his Company told me in Navasota when I was pastor there. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he quit his business in New York and came home to Houston and joined the Bayou City Guards and was of the 4th Texas infantry of Gen. Hood's Texas Brigade of Infantry. Hood made Cousin Harvey Adj. Genl.on his staff
and he served until the close of the war. He led the charge at Gettysburg for the Confed. Army, so one of his Regiment told me at Navasota. He had three brothers, F E., John S. and Robert, and sister Ann Sellers. His son Lee died in
Houston since the World War with a broken heart (before his death) that he had two sons of the staff of Gen. Pershing and both killed in France. He has a son Henry still living in New York, and two daughters in Virginia, Rose and Alice.

Pa's younger brother, Isaac Sellers, went to Mexico in 1&47, and died there. I think was with Cousin Harvey, as he lived in Fayette County, above LaGrange, on the Colorado. He left two boys, Stephen and Harvey. Stephen was seven months older than I and went in 1861 in Capt. I. G. Kiliough's Company Cavalry from La Grange in Gen. Tom Green's Reg. of Cavalry. He died in Arizona or New Mexico in 1861 or 1862, before the Regiment came back to Texas.

In the Spring of I836 when Santa Anna invaded Texas and the families ran from Fayette, Colorado, Gonzales, Wash-
ington, Lavaca and other counties to Nacogdoches, Texas, from the Mexicans, Pa's wife and two girls went with them and Pa shouldered his rifle and walked to LaGrange, crossed the river and met Gen. Houston and [space] one-half way from La Grange to Gonzales and joined a Company and came back to the Colorado River and crossed 12 miles below LaGrange, and on to Columbus on the North side of the river, while Santa Anna was in Columbus on South side of the Colorado River, and several shots passed between Texas and Mexican forces, across the river. Houston stayed there two or three days and went to the Brazos to the old town of San Felipe above where Richmond is now located. Houston saw no chance for a stand on the Mexicans and gave Pa a furlough to follow his wife and girls to Nacogdoches or near there. In a few days the battle of San Jacinto was fought and the war ended before Pa could get back. He stayed in or near Nacogdoches and made money and moved to La Grange sometime in Fall or Winter of 1837. Sometime in 1837 his wife died and was buried in La Grange, and he took sisters M. and E. to his father's in Gibson County, Tenn., and left there with his parents and sister Mary and he came back to LaGrange and settled up his business and went to Tenn. - I don't know the year. His cousin Robert who came to Texas with him in 1835, died in LaGrange (I think) in 1837 or I838. He was Robert, Sr. Their leagues were located side by side in Gonzales County. I held a camp meeting en Pa's league. Pa's older brother John I am almost sure, was in War in 1847 with Unce Isaac. He came to our house in Rutersville in 1849 and went to Houston and died. His son was the first white boy born in Galveston and had a lot given him by the city or someone there. I don't remember his name.
Uncle John located on Galveston Island years before Pa came to Texas in 1835.

My mother was Miss Nancy Sellers, daughter of Capt. Saml. Sellers, first cousin to Isaac Sellers, Pa's father. She married Pa in Sept. 1841, and came to Gibson County, Tenn. and they lived there until April 1842, when they came to Rutersville, Fayette County and lived there until October 1849 and bought and moved on a farm three miles of [sic.] Round Top in Fayette County, and left there March 3, 1853, for the new home in Colorado County, where your parents met and married. We reached Rutersville in May 1846.

Pa belonged to Capt. John Moore's Company of Texas Cavalry of Fayette County that followed a band of some 400 or more Indians who came on a raid through the country to the coast and back near Gonzales and were beaten near Lockhart, Caldwell County, by Texas soldiers. Capt. Moore's Company was not in that fight. Pa and your great uncle Red A. were together in raids for Indians and I think he was with Pa under Capt. John H. Moore.

Sister Nannie was born in Rutersville December 24, 1846, Robert Jr. Sept. 18, 1849, and Annie Mar. 3rd, I think in 1852 and just a year old the day we moved to Colorado County from near Round Top. Your uncles, Red, Thelston and Will Andrews, John Wallace and I all joined Capt. Ben Shropshire's Company of Infantry in October 1861 and went to Galveston and ware sworn in October 19th, 1861, in Col. E. B. Nichols' Reg. of 6 mos. Volunteer Infantry.

John Wallace and your uncle Athelston were sick in Galveston and both discharged before the term of 6 mos. was over. Red, Will and I went into Company "D", Willis Battery of Cavalry of Gen. T. N. Waul's Texas Legion, 2 Batts. of Infantry and 1 of Cavalry, 18 companies, 6 in each Bat. of the Legion. We drilled at Camp Waul 8 miles of Brenham from May to last of July 1862 and up to battle line. Cooped the Mississippi River at Vicksburg Sept. 30, 1862, and moved on up 8 miles above Holly Springs and camped until we ran from Gen. Grant's army and fell back to Grenada, Miss, in December 1862. Gen. Van Dorn topk Willie Batt. of Cavalry and all the cavalry of the S. army there and made a swing in the rear. Grant and on Dec. 20 went into Holly Spring, Miss., about day break and surprised the Yanks and captured and killed near 4000 and burned 2 large train loads of supplies, one of food and one of clothing, and came back to Grenada, then Grant fell back. I was with a Lieut. and a scout of our Battery and was captured by the 3rd Michigan Cavalry Dec. 18 and paroled December 22 at Oxford, Miss. Came back to Grenada and reported to Gen. Waul and was sent to Jackson, Miss., to the Parol Camps. I came home in [sic.]

I came home in March I863 and remained until June 1863 when exhanged [sic.]

Your uncles Red and Will remained with Company D until close of the war.

Vicksburg fell July 4, I863, while I was on my way to Mississippi to rejoin my Company D, but was stopped by evading General in command West of the Mississippi and sent to Shreveport, La. and did post duty there until Sept I863, when I was sent back to Texas and did post duty at Gonzales until March 1864, when I left Texas with Gen. Waul who was captured at Vicksburg, and now commander of Batt. Gen. Harris Brigade Walker's Div. of Texas Infantry and
went through Louisiana and Arkansas with them in 1864.

Rest and Joe Andrews, cousins of your fathers, were with me in 1864 in Louisiana and Arkansas. Your father's two
other brothers, Mike and John, joined some Texas command after I left home and served to close of war.

I was licensed to practice law November 1866 by Judge Ben Shropshire, my first army Captain. I quit law
June 30, I876. I was Justice of the Peace, County Attorney and then County Judge in December 1873 to June 30, I876 to I was licensed to preach, I think in September 1873, papers lost, and ordained December 21, 1874. My Pastor at LaGrange, Bro. S. C Craft our Gen. Miss, for San Mos Association, and Dr. R. C. Burleson composed the presbytery that ordained me. Pastor at Luling 6 years and over; Georgetown 11 1/2 years, full time Palestine near 6 years; Valley Mills, Tyler, Abilene and Navasota for full time work, and several little churches; 1/4 time when I first began and some 1/2 time churches, LaGrange and Weimar.

I believe I have given you all I know of the tribe of Sellers, except they came from Ireland and located in North Carolina. Dr. T. G. Sellers was President for years of Baptist College in Mississippi, and two of his daughters married Dr. T. C. Latimore of Dallas. Cousin Dessie his first daughter, died and he (Dr. L.) married her sister.

T. G. Jr. .was in the army in France and came here to see me since the war. His mother and two old maid sisters live in Dallas.

I hope I have not worried you with this long letter by pencil scratching. I did have a full pedigree of the Sellers tribe and sent it to Cousin Lee S. just before he died and I lost it.

Wife joins me in love to you and all yours. I wish you all could come to see us.

Uncle Isaac

Abnus Bailey Kerr

The following comes from Texas - State Government, publication date unknown.



Senator from the Eighteenth Senatorial district, composed of Fayette, Lavaca and Colorado counties, was born in Augusta county, Virginia, on the 4th day of March,1832, and passed his boyhood and youth there, amid scenes familiar to his ancestors, who were among the first settlers of that historic region.

His grandfather upon his father's side, was a wealthy planter and left a large estate that was equally divided among his children and placed them in independent circumstances.

His parents were Robert G. and Cassandra C. (McEarchen) Kerr, Virginians by birth and descent, the former of whom died at Flatonia, Fayette county, Texas, in 1892, and the latter in Williamson county, this state, in 1881.

The subject of this notice attended country schools, worked on a farm and later clerked in a store until twenty years of age and then came to Texas. Reaching this, as he hoped, "land of promise,' with nothing but his own energies and abilities to depend upon, he sought and secured employment as a book keeper, was stricken down by a severe illness and upon recovery, finding himself without a job and entirely without money, went to work as a hod-carrier at seventyfive cents a day (forty cents of which had to be expended for board) and in that capacity helped to build the Kaiser House, one of the first brick buildings erected in the town of Gonzales. Such work was little suited to a young man possessed of his talents and ambitious spirit. It merely served to bridge him over the crisis into which his affairs had fallen, and that done, he attached himself to a surveying corps, as a member of which he assisted in locating and surveying 17(10 square miles of land in the old Peters' colonial grant for the Texas Immigration and Land Co., and earned $400 or 500. With this money he bought a small stock of cattle in 1854, and established himself on the Cibolo, a few miles distant from San Antonio, and prospered in his undertaking from the beginning.

A year later he was united in marriage to Miss Mary Mercer, daughter of Col. Levi Mercer, a prominent citizen and wealthy sugar planter of Wharton county, and moved to Fayette county, where he has ever since resided. Three children were born to them, viz.: Thomas 0., James L., and W. B. Kerr, all living and now copartners with their father in the mercantile firm of A. B. Kerr & Sons, at Muldoon, Texas. Mrs. Kerr died in Fayette county in 1871. In 1872 Senator Kerr married Miss Bettie Ragsdale, daughter of Mr. C. C. Ragsdale a resident of his neighborhood. Four children have blessed this union, viz.: John A. Kerr, a graduate of the Texas University and now practicing law with Brown & Lane. at La Grange. Texas; Mary Kerr, who died at nine years of age, and Charles G. and Lelia Kerr, now attending the Southwestern University, at Georgetown, Texas.

Senator Kerr served in the Confederate army, as a soldier in Shaw's regiment, for one year during the war and was then, at the close of hostilities, mustered out of service.

He has been a delegate to many local and very nearly every state Democratic convention held in Texas during the past thirty years has canvassed Fayette Colorado and Lavaca counties and otherwise worked in the interest of his party at various times has long been a leading citizen and Democrat in the section in which he resides, and in 1896 was tendered and accepted the nomination for the office of State Senator from the Eighteenth Senatorial district and helped lead the hosts in the hot campaign that followed.

He is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Contingent Expenses, and a member of the committees on Finance, Penitentiaries, Public Debt, Commerce. and Manufactures, State Affairs, Towns and City Corporations, Private Land Claims, Counties and County Boundaries, Frontier Protection, Claims and Accounts, and Stock and Stock Raising.

The only offices held by him prior to his election to the Legislature have been those of Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, School Trustee of the public schools of Fayette county, Assessor of Taxes, and County Commissioner, these various services extending over a period of about eighteen years.

He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, holding the degree of Royal Arch Mason in that order, and, while not connected with any church, inclines to the Baptist denomination.

As a Democrat he believes that every party pledge made to the people should be redeemed by appropriate legislation, and as a law maker is laboring, as far as lies in his power, to that end.

He is neither a pessimist nor optimist, if by pessimist is meant one who expects no future good, and by optimist is meant one who believes that all things are well enough as they are and that which is desirable will come to pass without individual or collective effort; but, he has an undying faith in the beneficence of Almighty God, the limitlessness of man's capability for advancement along all lines, the benefits to be derived from free government, if founded and administered upon the principles enunciated by Jefferson and Jackson, and in the cardinal doctrine of Jesus Christ that men of all conditions constitute a common brotherhood and should be mutually charitable and helpful.

He is president of the Rockdale Mining and Manufacturing Company and also of the Rockdale Mining Company, at Rockdate, Texas; operates a large coal and wood yard at San Antonio; owns a controlling interest in and is manager of the celebrated rock quarries at Muldoon, which have furnished over 20,000 carloads of rock for the jetties at Galveston, Velasco and Aransas Pass and dimension rock, for building purposes, to towns in all parts of Texas, and employ about one hundred men; owns with his sons a large general merchandise store at Muldoon, maintained for the benefit of employees in the quarries and the people of the surrounding country; has in cultivation about 4,000 acres of land, portions of which are situated in various Texas counties; owns about 50,000 acres of land scattered over a large part of the state, has a fine hacienda of 50,000 acres in Coahuila, Mexico, and is considered one of the wealthiest men in the Southwest.

When he reached Texas he did not have a dollar. The poverty and trials through which he passed did not sour him. The wealth he has accumulated has not spoiled him or caused him to fail in charity to those who, for one cause or another, have not been equally successful. He is a kindly, broadminded, well rounded, great-hearted and great-purposed man, whose life has been one of constant labor and usefulness and who is still, although advanced in years, an active worker among the foremost of those who are developing the great commonwealth of Texas.

Much that is denominated success does not deserve the name, but his may be truly said, in the best sense, to have been a successful life. As to Fortune, such men as he fitly illustrate the truth of the assertion of the author of Lacon, that "while Fortune may be blind, she is not invisible and the man who will boldly and rightly seek for her will find her."— pp. 31-34