Garrett Family History

Family History of Jordan C. Garrett and Ezella Jane Walker Garrett

As told by them to Harold Garrett.

Jordan Cravens Garrett married Ezella Jane Walker on 10 November 1897 at the home of the bride in Eolian, Stephens Co., Texas. Their first home was a half dug-out with only one sash window. Fifty dollars was all they had and this had to provide for planting crops and living expenses until the fall harvest. They lived on this farm one year, during which their first child, Eula Belle, was born. The next home was a double log cabin with a hall through the center. After living in this log cabin one year they moved to a box-type house owned by Jordan’s sister, Amy.

During this third year the grasshoppers ate up the cotton except for a small patch near the house where the chickens ranged and ate up the grasshoppers. Ezella remembers that they made only one bale of cotton as she picked most of it while Jordan was in Callahan county looking for a farm to rent.

In the fall of 1900 they moved to Cross Plains, Callahan Co., Texas and lived in a half dug-out on Turkey Creek. It was located West of the creek and North of what is now Highway 36. This house had no glass windows. Instead wooden shutters were closed during bad weather leaving the house in darkness. It was in this house that their second child, Merlin was born.

From here they moved to the Hazelwood place two miles south of Cross Plains now owned by Mrs. Hubert Baxter where they lived five years. Part of this place Jordan cleared and put into cultivation. During this five years he saved enough money to buy a 50 acre place east of Cross Plains. He then bought the Williamson place west of Cross Plains and moved to it. This land was later owned by Pat McNeel. During their sixteen years on this pace their third child, Maola, was born Also the Garrett’s bought their first car, a 1918 Overland. For part of the purchase price of the car was to trade a horse, a cow and a pony. The pony was the children’s, and the decision to buy the car was a hard one for the children to make.

In 1923, Jordan bought the building in which he operated the Garrett Motor Company in Cross Plains. In the fall of 1923 they moved to a house he had purchased in the south part of Cross Plains so he could be close to his new business. They lived in this house two years and moved to their present home early in 1926 just south of where the new school was being built in the north part of Cross Plains.

After operating Garrett Motor Company for 18 years, he turned to full time management of his cattle business on range land he had bought around Cross Plains. This he continued until the loss of his eyesight. Then Merlin operated the business for him.

The first church the Garretts attended when they came to Callahan County was a Methodist Church on the old Coleman road, now Highway 36. This was on the south side of the old town of Cross Plains. A Presbyterian minister sometimes preached in this church. Later a Presbyterian Church was built on location of J. P. McCord’s present home. This church was then torn down and the material used in building the present Presbyterian Church. Jordan was on the building committee of this church. He also served as Elder.

Mr. Garrett’s civic duties included three two year terms on the city council. He served as City Treasurer and Street Commissioner during the three terms. At the end of the fifth year he resigned because of business interests taking too much of his time.

During the depression Cross Plains banks were closed, and a need grew for another bank. At this time the Citizens State Bank was organized with Mr. Garrett serving as member of the first board of directors. As many banks had failed, there were many applications for the job of manager of the bank. Mr. Garrett suggested to the rest of the members that they contact a friend of his, Mr. Henry James, president of the F. & M. Bank of Abilene for a recommendation for manager. He recommended a Mr. J. R. Patterson of the Fluvanna Bank that was being disbanded because of reasons other than finance. Mr. Patterson became their first manager. Mr. Patterson is the father of Mrs. J. P. McCord. Because of Mr. Patterson’s business ability the bank grew and became well established. However there were certain people that wanted a native son in their local bank. A move was started to unseat Patterson and place Ky Neeb in the position. Unfortunately Patterson lost self control momentarily in discussion of a note due by one of the customers. A brief fight resulted between the customer and Patterson. Patterson’s opposition took advantage of the episode and increased their efforts to get the directors to remove Patterson. Mr. Garrett and his brother-in-law, Mr. E. I. Vestal, stood firm in favor of Patterson and as a result the next stockholders meeting removed the two from directorship. Mr. Neeb was then placed as manager of the bank. The bank steadily declined and it became necessary to replace Neeb with the present Mr. Fred Tunnell. Mr. Tunnell rebuilt the bank and it is now a strong organization.

Their Childhood

Jordan Cravens Garrett was born in Clarksville, Johnson County, Arkansas on the 17th May 1876 the sixth child of John Garrett and Nancy Ellen King Garrett. In 1878 his parents left Arkansas and came by wagon train to Stevens County, Texas and settled near the community of Eolian. On this trip to Texas his 10 year old brother, Lofton, died. At the time of Lofton’s death the wagon train had crossed the Red River and had arrived at the Brazos River near Weatherford. He was buried near the River and his father paid a rock mason to build a rock vault over the grave. Weather this was built or not is not known as the wagon train had to move on.

The John Garretts were farmers and owned their own land. Soon after they settled the Robert Steele Walker family moved to the farm joining the Garretts. This brought the introduction of Ezella Jane Walker to Jordan.

John Garrett felt that Jordan should have more schooling so he took Jordan and a friend to Burleson, Texas where he was to complete his schooling. However, Jordan soon found that his money would not last so he returned to his home. During this short absence Ezella stated that they did correspond. It is now known if Jordan dated other girls. Ezella recalled that her first date was with Jordan. She was not allowed to date until she was around eighteen. Even these early meetings could not be considered dates by modern standards. The first they could remember was that they attended Revival meetings together, going and returning with their respective parents. It was at one of these Revival meetings that they first held hands.

Of Jordan’s early childhood only one object remains. this is a small handmade brass bell. This bell was given to him by a neighbor sometime between the last of 1878 and 1881. Jordan remembers receiving the bell so it was probably nearer 1881. While his mother was visiting in the log cabin home of the neighbor, Jordan was playing outside. He noticed a bell on a leather strap hanging just out of his reach on the projecting end of a log at the corner of the house. As he jumped trying to reach the bell the man of the house passed by and removed the bell from the log and dropped the leather loop with the bell attached over Jordan’s head and around his neck. The remainder of the visit was spent running and causing the bell to ring as he bounced. Time soon came to go home. Jordan being only three or four years old did not want to part with the bell. The neighbor realizing the young boy’s attachment to the bell told him that he could have it. After Jordan’s marriage his mother brought out the bell for his to keep in his own home. He protected the bell but after moving to Cross Plains he needed a bell for a cow for a short time. The bell was lost and remained lost for a period of time. Later Jordan found the bell in the pasture where the cow had lost it. From then on it was kept in the house. The bell was given to a grandson, Harold Garrett, in 1958 by Ezella then the widow of Jordan. Because of her sentimental attachment Harold requested that she keep the bell at her home until her death and that at that time the bell would become his property.

Jordan also told the story of his first yellow socks. He was probably ten or twelve years of age. It was cotton picking time and it was sometimes difficult to keep a boy of that age attentive to picking cotton. His mother told him that as he picked the cotton there would be an occasional bole that was naturally yellow in color. If he would put the cotton from each of the yellow boles into his pocket he might have enough yellow cotton at the end of the year for a pair of socks. This kept him picking in earnest and at the end of the season his mother took the cotton spun it into thread, wove it into cloth and made him a “real’ pair of yellow socks.

Ezella

Ezella Jane Walker Garrett was born in Plevna, Madison County, Alabama on the 25th of January 1877, the second child of Robert Steele Walker and Cynthia Elizabeth Erwin Walker. She came with her parents to Texas by train when she was twelve years old. Crossing the Mississippi by ferry she remember well. The ferry after loading the rail cars on board would back away form the shore, turn around and approach the river bank and unload. Not realizing this change of direction she lost her sense of direction and this was very troubling to her. She felt that the train was heading back toward Alabama. They traveled by train as far as Arlington, Texas which was the end of the rail line at that time.

They were met there by Uncle Jim Williamson, the husband of Ezella’s mother’s sister Sarah. The Williamsons had come to Texas from Alabama sometime earlier. He took them to Stevens County where they settled near the Garretts.

As Jordan’s bell, Ezella had a small glass cup that she had kept through the years. Drinking water was always kept in the kitchen in a bucket. Nearby would be a dipper usually made from a hollowed out gourd from which everyone drank. Her mother felt that it was not good for a child to drink from a common dipper so she carried this small pressed glass cup in her purse. In later years it was given to Ezella and it was always kept with the bell. The cup was given to her grandson, Harold Garrett in 1958. As the bell is to be kept so will the cup be kept by her until her death.

There are things that I, Harold Garrett, remember about Grandmother Garrett. I only lived a block from them until I was almost eight years old. I would walk up to see her and always expected to get a “tea cookie” from the jar that sat next to the old clock on the buffet on the north wall of the kitchen. They were a rather large, somewhat soft cookie, not real sweet but with a vanilla taste. They only existed at Grandmother’s house and that is true to this day.

Grandmother had an old hymn book with a well worn maroon back on it. I always liked to get her to sing with me. We always selected hymns that we knew from church. I never wondered how it sounded. I don’t guess I ever gave that thought. I just enjoyed singing with her. Grandmothers had the time and patience.

I usually found Grandmother setting in her rocking chair in the middle bedroom crocheting. The fast movement of her fingers made it seem awfully easy. When asked she would always get me a crochet needle and show me how to make a “chain”. I usually tired of the process before my chain was four or five inches long so I seldom got instruction on what to do next.

Grandmother had a backyard full of flowers. No grass, just flowers. There was a narrow trail that was kept scraped clean of all growth. It started at the back door and went out under the grape arbor, down to the chicken pen then across to the sidewalk. None of the flowers were planted in the spring. They were the reseeding kinds like larkspur, flocks, bachelor buttons, petunias, pinks, and bluebonnets. No grass, no weeds, just flowers - every year. And then there was the mulberry tree north of the house. Actually it was in Jack Aiken’s yard but there was plenty of mulberries to eat on our side.

During the late 30’s there was still some rather strong feeling among some people about Northerners. The word Yankee usually did not occur alone. Damn Yankee was quite commonly the expression. At times when Damn Yankees were being discussed Grandmother would just mention that “not all Yankees are bad.” Not long ago I remembered her comments and asked her about it. She told me about stories her Grandparent Walkers had told her about Northern troops coming through during the Civil War. Her Grandfather was to old for military service so he was hidden in the mountains as all men that they found were killed. When the troops came through it was only the grandmother and children at the house. The troops went through the house stealing all the food and any guns they could find. All silverware was taken. The cows were killed and the horses taken. All the meat in the curing shed was stolen. They filled pillowcases with grain from the barn to feed their own horses..

After every thing of value to the military was taken or destroyed they set fire to their house and barns and rode away. However, one or two of the soldiers held back and helped her grandmother get some things out of the house. For this reason there was always the comment that “not all Yankees are bad.”

Their Later Years

Jordan lost his eyesight about three years before his death. This caused him to give up the management of his farm property to his son. As he lost the most of his eyesight during a period of about six months he found it very hard to adjust to a world of darkness.

On November 10, 1957 Jordan and Ezella celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with a dinner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Garrett and a reception afterward at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Merlin Garrett.

On Christmas Day 1957 all their surviving children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren had Christmas dinner at their home. We all exchanged gifts. They gave every person a twenty dollar bill.

The following day Jordan became troubled with an hernia. A local doctor advised that he be taken to a hospital as he could not correct the problem. Harold and Merlin took him to Brownwood Memorial Hospital for examination. There the doctors explained the seriousness of the operation. He then was placed in a room while preparations were made for the surgery. Alone in this room with Harold he discussed his age, his health and the fact that he might die. He was not giving up the fight for his life, he was evaluating the facts as he saw them. The operation was completed shortly after midnight and Merlin stayed at his bedside. He improved the next day and Mrs. Harold Garrett stayed with him during the night. Around one o’clock in the morning of the 27th the family was called to return. He died within the hour.

Not knowing that he was already dead Harold was rushing to get Ezella back to the hospital before he died. He went to her house and awakened Bernadine Ward, a granddaughter, and she in turn awakened Ezella. When awake she said that she was dreaming that Jordan had come back home and that she had been talking to him. No one realized that at this very moment Jordan had come home. The funeral was conducted on Sunday December 29th, 1957 at 3 p. m. in the First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Herbert G. Markley officiating. Burial was in the Cross Plains Cemetery.

Estella still lives in the family home in Cross Plains. Although very lonesome at times she prefers to live alone than to live with her children.

This completes their story to the present, March 1959.

Early Church Records

The following are statements were copied from the minute book of the Cross Plains, Presbyterian Church. It was a Cumberland Church until about 1906, then Presbyterian USA until 1958 when it became the United Presbyterian USA.

April 20, 1901 J. C. and E. J. Garrett his wife, were received by letter from the shady Grove Church in to the Cross Plains Church.
November 14, 1903 Brother A. A. Williamson and J. C. Garrett were nominated to the church as ruling elders and tomorrow at 11 a. m. was set as the time for election and ordination. Records show this was done.
July 19, 1908 J. C. Garrett installed as deacon.
March 7, 1911 J. C. Garrett elected as trustee when church was incorporated under Texas State law.
April 5th 1915 Election of Sunday School Officers: J. C. Garrett, Asst. Supt.
January 24, 1926 The congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of Cross Plains after being duly called, assembled for the purpose of transacting business coming under the jurisdiction of a congregation. The purpose for which the meeting was called - “the building of a new house of worship” was stated by the moderator.
  • On motion, seconded, and full discussion the congregation voted to select a new site and build a new building of brick not to exceed a cost of $15,000.
  • On motion, seconded and vote of the congregation the moderator was to appoint a committee of seven whose duties were:
    1. To secure funds for the new building:
    2. To select and purchase sight for new building:
    3. To select plan for the new building, let contract and superintend the construction and exercise all needful authority in the construction of building until finished.

The following committee was appointed:

  1. J. A. Barr
  2. Tom Bryant
  3. J. C. Garrett
  4. W. K. Walker
  5. S. C. Barr
  6. A. G. Crabb
  7. Charles F. Hemphill

(signed) S. P. Collins Moderator

(signed) S. C. Barr Clerk