First Settlers of Texas

Fort Houston

Fort Houston

Named Pleiades Orion Lumpkin at birth, it is no wonder that this son of Wilson Lumpkin, Governor of Georgia and instigator of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, preferred to go by Dan. He grew up in Morgan County, Georgia. He attended West Point but has the distinction of receiving more demerits than anyone and flunked out in his first year. His demerits overflowed onto the pristine adjacent page of Robert E. Lee.

Dan’s best friend was Wash (George Washington) Browning. Although Dan’s father was illustrious,

Wilson Lumpkin

Wilson Lumpkin

having been the author of the Trail of Tears and also governor of Georgia Wilson Lumpkin, Wash’s father was just plain rich, owning 10000 acres of land in Morgan County at what is now known as Browning Shoals.

The two boys fell in love with two sisters – Margarett and Flora Wilkerson – my 3rd great aunts. The happy couples were married in a joint ceremony in 1830 in my home town of La Grange, GA. The two young couples migrated west in about 1834, their first objective a brief gold rush in northern Alabama.  Other members of their families also migrated in that direction.

By the following year, they had made the trip west to the territory which is now Texas. They are listed in “The First Settlers of Houston County, Texas”. The two young men arrived just in time to take place in the Battle of San Jacinto, and like all other combatants, were awarded land.They settled in the area that is just north of Palestine and was later named Mound Prairie.

When the two young couples arrived in what is now Anderson County, the Kickapoo Indians were raiding regularly and they had to take shelter in Fort Houston, a log affair about 40 x 40 in size. That must have been harrowing with young children. This is about the same time that Sarah Ann Parker was abducted. There were raids and terrible killings by the Indians.

Stephen Austin

Stephen Austin

The two young fathers along with their neighbors signed a letter to Steven Austin pleading for help in defending their families against the raids.

The two young men began as farmers, but as time progressed Wash practiced law, bought the rights to a mail delivery route and became wealthy.  Dan was very charismatic and dabbled in politics, as can be seen by the information below.  Interestingly enough, even though he never held the military title, he was referred to as “Major”.

Once he settled down to farming in 1850, he was instrumental in founding the Mound Prairie Academy, in the now extant town of Mound Prairie which was about eight miles north of Palestine.  He died in 1859, just before the Civil War.

Wash, on the other hand, fell prey to ‘gold dust fever’ and organized a party to head to the ’49 Gold Rush in California. Along the way he fell sick with Typhoid Fever and died on the trail, somewhere in what is now New Mexico.

The Civil War was hard on Margarett and the children of the two couples. Margarett lost two sons, both killed just before the war ended. Flora had died in 1857 and two of Wash and Flora’s daughters died during the war, probably from the deprivation caused by the war.

From the Texas Historical Association:

LUMPKIN, PLEIADES O. (?–?). Pleiades O. Lumpkin, soldier, legislator, and jurist, was in Texas during the revolution and served in Capt. L. H. Mabbit’s company from April 24 to July 24, 1836. In the spring of 1837 he signed a petition requesting that Nacogdoches County be split into two counties. In 1837 and 1838 he represented Houston County in the Second Texas Congress. In the House journal he is referred to as Major Lumpkin; although there is no record of his having attained that rank in the Texas army, a P. O. Lumpkin received a bounty warrant for 320 acres for service between April 24 and July 24, 1836. On January 23, 1839, Lumpkin was elected chief justice of Houston County. He resigned that office on March 12 to become government agent to aid in selecting and surveying a permanent site for the capital of the republic. By joint vote of the Fifth Congress on January 31, 1840, he was appointed one of three commissioners to inspect the land offices east of the Brazos. He resigned the position a short time later. He represented Houston County at the Convention of 1845, after which he seems to have retired from public life. The 1850 census listed him as a farmer in Anderson County.


Armistead Albert Aldrich, The History of Houston County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1943). Houston County Historical Commission, History of Houston County, Texas, 1687–1979 (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Heritage, 1979). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941)


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