The Homestead's History

A Long Way From Home: The Elisha Smith Wyman Story

Elisha Smith Wyman

It is a long way from Maine to Texas, and yet, that is the path of the life Elisha Smith Wyman.  He was born in Livermore, Androscoggin, Maine on May 15, 1811.  His parents were Thomas and Susannah Smith Wyman.  On August 8, 1833, he enlisted in the U. S. Army in Boston, Massachusetts for a three-year term.  By 1846, Elisha Smith Wyman had made his home in present day Hill County.

What we know of his military career comes from his enlistment records.  Wyman was stationed at Ft. Gibson, Oklahoma in May of 1836.  On November 2, 1836, he was at Camp Nacogdoches, Texas.  Wyman enrolled for a six-month stint on 2 August 1846 in Navarro County (remember that present day Hill County was Navarro County until 1853).

Wyman mustered at various locations in Texas during the Mexican War.  Records indicate that he was on local defense duty.  Local being relative, as he shows up in San Antonio, Falls County (near present day Marlin), and Smith’s Station which may or may not have been in present day Shackelford County.  Wyman is mentioned as having served as a Texas Ranger.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found any official records to support that.

Wyman in the Navarro (later Hill) County Area

Evidence of Wyman’s presence in Navarro (later Hill) County is evidenced in early public records.  Wyman is listed on the Navarro County Tax Rolls 1 in 1847.   I believe that this indicates that Elisha Smith Wyman owned property by this time He registered his brand in Navarro County in 1848 as well as registering three surveys in 1849 (one from Brooks land and 2 from Simons).  Wyman  is also on the 1850 U. S. Federal Census.

He married Martha Danforth in Navarro County in 1843 according to LDS records.  Martha’s maiden name was Danforth.  She was the widow of William Colder.  Colder had been scalped by Indians and died as a result.  Wyman was name the petitioner for administration of the estate of Colder after Colder died without a will in February 1843.  The petition is in the probate court records for Dallas County.  Wyman and the Widow Colder had married sometime prior to January 10, 1847 (last digit unclear) as noted in the probate records.

The Wyman-Wood Connection

The Texas Handbook Online entry for Brandon, Texas states that a road was surveyed on the banks of Pecan Creek (the creek just south of the Wyman house) in 1840-41.  Elisha Smith Wyman and Martha Danforth Colder Wyman built a home here in 1846 (Hill County Historical Commission, A History of Hill County, Texas, 1853–1980, Waco: Texian, 1980).  A.Y. Kirkpatrick, in his book entitled “The Early Settlers Life in Texas”, mentions the Wymans and the property several times.

The Elisha Smith Wyman Home

A.Y. Kirkpatrick gave the physical description of Wyman’s property to be a clapboard house with two rooms.  He stated that there were three stables built of elm poles and that Charley Davis lived in one of the stables.  Charley was later elected the first sheriff of Hill County.  He was the brother of James Ransom Davis, who would later marry Margaret, daughter of James and Isabella Wood.

There was an election held at Wyman’s spring on Pecan Creek in 1851.  According to Kirkpatrick, there were 24 men in this end of the county (at that time Navarro County). Seventeen votes were polled there.  Kirkpatrick describes the Wyman house as where “Ben Ward now resides”.  Ben Ward married Janette Wood, daughter of James and Isabella, who purchased the family homestead from her siblings after her parents passed away.

James and Isabella purchased the Wyman survey for $800 in June 1852 according to county land records.  In 1853, the voting box across the street from their house (near Wyman Spring) was the location for the voting that determined that Hill County would be formed from Navarro County.    In 1856, James Wood became a U.S. citizen. He was the first naturalized citizen in Hill County.

The home of the Woods was one of only three houses on this road between Dallas and Waco.  Stagecoaches stopped here for fresh horses and to let passengers rest during their journey.  Also from the Brandon, Texas entry in the Texas Handbook Online, the house served as an overnight stagecoach stop.

Cynthia Ann Parker spent the night here according to local and family tradition.   If true, she likely spent the night on her way to Austin to receive her pension and land grant from the State Legislature.

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