Our Pioneering Aunts in Texas

Margaret and Flora Wilkinson, my second great grand aunts, were such close sisters that they wound up marrying two young men who were close friends and spending the rest of their lives in the same frontier community.

In 1829, the two were among the founding members of the Presbyterian church in LaGrange, Georgia. The town had just been formed in 1827 and the girls, in their late teens, had come with their family from the Fayetteville – Cross Creek area of North Carolina, where so many Scots had settled. Sadly, their father had died after only about a year in Troup County. The family had been in Monroe County and may have been staying with either the Johnston or Potts families, who were founding families in Monroe. Two of their brothers married Girls from those families and their father’s land purchase in Troup shows him as residing in Monroe County at the time of the purchase. Their father died in late 1828 – early 1829 leaving his widow and ten children. Within the next year all five of the oldest children married. There’s an age gap between the oldest five and the youngest five, which leads me to wonder if their father’s widow was a second wife.

In 1830, the two young women married two best friends. Margaret married Pleiades Orion Lumpkin. Born to Wilson Lumpkin, famous Indian agent who instigated the Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ and later governor of Georgia, Pleiades Orion Lumpkin’s name was probably enough of a burden to bear in life. His nickname was Dan.

At the tender age of 17, he was admitted to West Point, but had so many demerits that they overflowed onto the adjoining page of classmate Robert E. Lee. He earned more than one place in history, including a page in ‘Last in Their Class’ by James Robbins, which dubious honor he shared with George Custer. Regardless of his history at West Point, he was affectionately referred to as ‘Major’ throughout his life.

Flora married George Washington Browning, son of a wealthy English landowner who was one of the early settlers of Morgan County, Georgia. Today, Browning Shoals still carries the family name. Wash’s father stated in his will that he wanted all his sons to have the equivalent of a good English education. Wash practiced law in Palestine, Texas, which he helped to settle. George Washington had died just nine years before Wash’s birth. Many young men of the era were named after our founding father.

The couples were married in a double ceremony in LaGrange, Georgia. We know that the Brownings stayed for a time in Troup County in the Long Cane area where Flora’s mother and brother Neal lived. Wash’s aunt, Clara Browning lived nearby, having married

There’s no record of the Lumpkins until they showed up on a passport to enter the Mexican territory that is now Texas. However, land sales records show they must have followed other family members who moved across the Chattahoochee from Troup County into Alabama, where there was a brief and disappointing gold rush in 1834. My guess is that sometime around 1834 the two couples went to Alabama and then in 1835 set out for Texas by wagon.

By 1836 the two young couples were living in Houston County, Texas (now Anderson County) in fear of raids by the Kickapoo Indians, but that’s another post.

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