Comanche-chaser, general store owner and his wife, Evalyn Alice Freeman
Early Pioneer Texans, my great-great grandparents
Thomas M. Moore (“T.M.”), and Evalyn Alice Freeman (“Eva”), our great-great grandparents, making me and my siblings 5th generation Texans.
Eva and T.M. Moore
The earliest native Texan in our family tree is our great-great grandmother Evalyn Alice Freeman, born in Birdville, Texas in 1854 just 18 years after Texas declared its independence. Her parents were Alphonso Freeman and Amanda Elliston; her mother died when Evalyn was just 3. We will hear a lot more about Alphonso later, as he helped found Fort Worth, hewed its logs, then fought in every major battle of the Mexican-American War. But for now let’s focus on Evalyn and her husband Thomas M. Moore.
Birdville in 1840 was a community a few miles northeast of Fort Worth (now known as Haltom City in Tarrant County and home of Birdville Independent School District).
Here’s how we are related if you are my family. (No one else cares.)
At 18, in January 1873, Evalyn married Thomas Martin Moore, in Parker County, 25 miles west of Fort Worth. (He was “T.M. the elder” after our grandfather, Daw, was named after him and both went by T.M.) Seven months after their wedding vows, T.M. was chasing away a band of Comanches while a baby was in his wife’s belly. The first page of The Double Log Cabin: A History of Parker County, recounts a skirmish where seven Comanches disguised in broomweed attacked a pioneer log cabin in August 1873, killing one man, but not before he got a shot off at them and after which Tom Taylor and Tom M. Moore pursued. They didn’t catch ’em but I bet they gave ’em a good chase.
Such was normal life on the Texas frontier where the government had established 16 forts from the Red River to the Rio Grande to protect settlers from the barbaric Indian attacks. “It is estimated that from the first settlements in 1854 to the last raid in 1874, that within a radius of 100 miles –including Parker County, which was the worst sufferer–the Indians stole and destroyed six million dollar’s worth of property, killed and scalped or carried away about 400 people into a captivity worse than death.” I’m proud that my ancestors, both T.M. and his father T.C., were part of the organized frontiersmen who warded off and fought these savage attacks on families. Grit.
The Moores had come to Texas from Arkansas in the spring of 1855 when T.M. the elder was 3 years old. His father Thomas C. Moore had packed up his wife Matilda Freeman (no relation to Alphonso), their children and goods in a wagon and trekked from Arkansas to Parker County, Texas. (Page 198 of A New History of Parker County, 1906 lists Thomas Moore as a pioneer in 1856 — this was Thomas C. Moore.) It was probably more like a band of wagons as Thomas C.’s brother William G. also came with his family. They wanted to find land. An 1856 act of Congress allowed current settlers to apply for 160 acres each, and in 1857 the brothers received adjoining plots, T.C’s on Grindstone Creek, a tributary of the Brazos River.
From Jordan, Jerry Wright, Abstracts of Parker County, Texas
Thomas C. is listed in Parker County’s early tax, probate and other courthouse records, too many to list here. Trails West, Vol. 15 lists “Moore, Thomas” as a “Pioneer Family of Parker County.”
And so while T.M. the elder was not born in Texas, he was raised here from a toddler, learned the life of a rough frontiersman and helped establish the area.
Three years after the 1870 census, in which T.M. was 17, he would marry Evalyn Alice. For the next 6 decades Eva and T.M. lived in Garner, Graham and Weatherford, the county seat. Legend has it that TM owned a general store and cotton gin in Garner and the family attended church meetings at Blue Springs and Red Mud, two little congregations that alternated weeks by Baptist and Methodist preachers.
In 1900, T.M. and Eva likely spent evenings on the porch of their home about 3 blocks north of the courthouse at 210 Throckmorton in Weatherford (shown at top).
Parker County Courthouse in Weatherford. Built in 1884–1886, it was the county’s fourth courthouse; the first was a wooden building, and the second and third both burned down.
In Weatherford, T.M. owned a blacksmith shop on the street behind the post office. For many years he served as a Commissioner of Roads.
They had six children, the youngest being Elmer Everett Moore, our mother’s grandfather (and Daw’s father). Elmer and his brother Claude learned the trade and worked in their father’s blacksmith shop, and as we know Daw became a welder, too.
Here’s a great old family photo. T.M. the elder is on the far left, wife Eva is in the middle, with youngest Elmer seated between them.
TM Moore family ca. 1894.
Seated, left to right: TM, Elmer, Eva (Freeman), Thomas Alfred, and Claude Alphonso. Standing: (Harvey Frederick’s wife Claudia Kidwell, Harvey Frederick (“Fred”), and Susan Alice “Allie.” The second born, a daughter named Mary Matilda, died when she was seven, in 1882.
Here’s Eva on her birthday later in life, with her five living children, 1940 or 41. They didn’t smile much for photos back then.
Our great-great grandmother Evalyn Alice Freeman Moore with her children, Claude, Fred, Allie, Elmer (Mom’s grandfather second from the right), and Alfred, on her birthday in early 1940’s.
Also from that day with four generations, young to old: Linda (my Mom), T.M. younger (Daw), Elmer and Evalyn Alice. Daw knew to smile.
This article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1942, in which Eva remembers her father Alphonso and the frontier days when the Indian raids were at their height.
You can read the article and comments about a couple of its errors by clicking on it.
T.M. and his father Thomas C. both served in companies of the Confederate Army, one of several groups organized from the 1850-70’s to protect against Indian attacks — although they did not fight in the Civil War nor did they own slaves (“Of the 800 men from Parker County who joined the Confederate army, perhaps no one was a slave owner,” says The Double Log Cabin on page 91.) “During the period 1854 to 1874, Indian massacres were numerous and Parker County settlers were ever at the mercy of marauding parties. On almost every full moon, these fiendish attackers swept through the pioneer communities, stealing cattle, destroying lives and property and taking many white women and children away into captivity to endure the hardship and privations imposed by Indian treatment. It was, indeed, perhaps a dark period for the western frontier, and the terrible tragedies enacted made warriors of many men.” (Id. p.57.) The book chronicles in torrid details the stories of those who were killed in these massacres. Brave men volunteered or joined companies “for the protection of the frontier against Indian raiders or Mexican marauders” (quote from the affidavit).
Eva received a pension of $25 per month for T.M.’s service. This affidavit says T.M. Moore was seen doing guard duty in August 1865 about 7 miles N.W. from Weatherford and served until honorable discharge in April 1868, meaning he was 13 to 16 years old (born in 1852). At first there was no record of his service, but the government eventually approved the pension for Evalyn Alice based on these statements.
T.M. Moore’s cousin, Joe C. Moore, vouched for him. He was the son of Thomas C.’s brother., W.G. Moore.
One affidavit states, “We had more trouble with the Indians immediately after the close of the Civil War than we had all together besides that summer.”
I found this story in my Mom’s files, handwritten by her in 1965, about her great-grandfather Thomas Martin Moore. He told it to Thomas Martin Moore, the younger, who heard it as a boy from his grandfather’s lips.
“It was sometime in the 1870’s (my father cannot recall the exact date) in Parker County where T.M. (as my great-grandfather was called) was riding out looking for a stray cow. While riding he became aware of two groups of Indians coming at him from the sides. He gave his horse the leather and went as fast as he could, the Indians not too far behind him. He knew the country and knew that lying ahead was a deep and wide gully which was hidden by tall grass until one was right on top of it. The horse he was riding was not his best one but as he approached the gully he spurred his horse and jumped the gully. He gained time and soon made it back to his pace, the Indians no longer pursuing. The next day he and a neighbor retraced the route as he had lost his pistol in the fast dash from the Indians. It was his only pistol and guns were very valuable pieces of property to have on the frontier. After several hours he found it at the bottom of the gully where it had fallen when he had jumped the gully fleeing the Indians.”
To be continued…