CONCORD HOMECOMING — 1986
Presented by Melba Gatlin Schochler
year has been a special year for all Texans. Perhaps you are a little tired of hearing about it so much but my husband and
I are missionaries in Brazil and we arrived back home the first of July. To us, it is still fresh and exciting as we have
heard about it. The celebration I am talking about is the Sesquicentennial celebration because this year has been the focus
of the Texas Sesquicentennial year. We cannot claim 150 years for this community, but we do want to CELEBRATE. . . and so
WE CELEBRATE the lives of courageous, God-fearing men and women who ventured into this part of the world, willing to bear
the hardships, the trials and tribulations which resulted in the establishing of this community and this church. We are all
a part of ones heritage—-
And so I see a tapestry-—a picture woven
of many different colored threads——each thread by itself meaningless but when joined and woven and twisted together
presenting a picture——a picture of a COMMUNITY. All pictures have a beginning, a starting place and so did this
community. Naturally, as a member of the Fitzgerald family, my thoughts turn backward, not to 150 years ago, but to 147 years
ago as of day before yesterday. On that date, Oct 9, 1839, Joicy Hanks Fitzgerald married William A. Fitzgerald. He was 20
years of age and she was 15 years old.
They must have planned well for their honeymoon
because undoubtedly within a few days after their wedding, or who knows, maybe immediately, they must have packed their belongings
in their covered wagon, yoked their oxen and began their journey to this land of opportunity. Indications are that this kind
of trip took two to three months and apparently they were in Texas
by Dec. of 1839 when William A. received a land grant
I wonder if we can truly imagine the hardships
they encountered on such a trip. The heat and dust or maybe in October the rain and cold.
Trails and sometimes no trails.
who made the trip as late as 1850 remembers her trip. She said, ‘There were 28 wagons in the wagon train. When we reached
the Mississippi River, the men cut logs and fastened them to the side of the wagons to float
them across the river. After crossing the Mississippi, we
traveled through timber country, with no roads. After camping at night, next morning the men would chop down trees and brush
for a few miles, then late in the day they would send a negro boy, about fifteen years of age, who came with us, back to the
last camp site and the wagons would be moved up to the new camping place for that night.”
I wonder if at night as Joicy lay down sleep
if her heart beat fast with apprehension as she thought of the new land and all
she had heard--of Indian attacks and massacres for surely that news must have filtered back to Tennessee. The Indians
were still troublesome with several massacres in this general area in 1838 and 1839. There was the Eden’s
massacre in 1838 and in 1839 the Cambell family who had settled in Town Creek, three miles
west of Palestine was raided by hostile Indians and several
members of the family were slain. But then, maybe she remembered that they were heading for San Augustine, and surely that
place was more civilized!
Quite possibly, Williams’s father and mother,
Jackson & Sarah were in the same train——at least Jackson and William both received their land grants at the
same time. Maybe that helped the young Joicy but I wonder if sometimes her courage may not have failed and she longed for
home and the hills of Tennessee.
No doubt the families had heard some good reports
about the New Republic
from family members who arrived earlier. By the winter of 1835, Thomas Hanks had made up his group to come to Texas; three of his sons had preceded him. His wagon train was comprised of thirty families—
-families of his own sons and daughters, friends and many relatives. They spent three months on the road. Thomas Hanks was
related through Joicy’s mother, Nancy Hanks.
We don’t know much about what happened
during those early years to William and Joicy. We do know that they received a land grant for 640 acres located in what is
now Van Zant County. According to the 1850 Census, their first child, James Christopher was born in 1842 in Shelby County, their second one, John C. in San Augustine
in 1844 and then Nancy in Anderson
County in 1846. It’s quite possible that sometime in those first
three years of marriage that thev lost a child. In 1850 there is a deed to William A. from C. Palmer for the property here
The 1850 Census shows four Fitzgerald families
in Anderson County:
William Adkins and wife Joicy and their four children his brother Michael and two brothers of Joicy...George W. (Buckhcrn)
and wife Christina and family of eight and Christopher.
And our tapestry begins—-the greens and
blues and browns, the sky, the trees and the ground.
At that time William A. & Joicy had the Samuel
Holidays and Henry Atkinsons for neighbors. The Holidays had a young girl named Narcissa Maccaskel living with them. We do not know if she might have been some sort of relative to the Fitzgeralds or just
good friends. However, her name is entered in the birth and death records of William A.’s Bible.
During this time
other families were arriving. In 1856 the Gaines family came from Georgia.
They had moved from South Carolina to Georgia
and from there to Texas. Their farm was located east of
the Fitzgerald place.
Ruben Gaines and his wife Sarah developed their
Texas farm to include a gin, sawmill, barns, grist mill
and large apple orchards. When Ruben returned to Georgia
after about fifteen years, he left this property with his son Milton Pinkney Gaines.
The Hathcocks arrived
in 1859, coming from Kentucky and it appears that they traded Kentucky
property for Anderson County
land plus some horses that he owned.
More threads to be interwoven with those threads already existing and our picture continues.
Life in the community was not easy. Many times
clumsy wooden homemade plows had to be used. They were drawn by oxen to break the ground. Not to long ago we drove out away
from the city where we live in Brazil
into the interior. It was the time of the year that farmers break the soil and plant the seeds and there those Brazilian farmers
were, plowing and getting-ready to plant. And what was pulling those plows—-oxen. I used to wonder what oxen looked
like; well now I know. In fact I know a little too well. One night we were out and our car broke down and we had to spend
all night in the car there by the side of the road because the only vehicle that came by all night was an oxcart going the
wrong way. And so the early settlers of this community used oxen to break the ground. Clothes were made of cotton grown by
them——coffee was sometimes made of parched wheat. One early settler in an adjoining community said that on a seven
mile ride (horseback of course) they saw nine bears and one panther.
houses were oftentimes crude structures or maybe when they first arrived they lived in tents as the Hathcocks appear to have.
At best, they were one or two room cabins, made of logs or roughly hewn timber. The kitchen was separate from the main part
of the house. Dog-run houses were built because they were cooler in the summer and I imagine a whole lot colder in the winter!
Education was always a problem. One census report
indicates that Joicy did not know how to read or write but I imagine that she ached for her children to have an opportunity
to attend school, and so on the farm there was a school. We can imagine that it might have been a one-room log cabin with
seats made of split logs as were so many at that time. School was only two or three months a year and the teacher often boarded
with families in the community. The 1860 census shows Wood Chambers, schoolteacher, living with the William A. Fitzgerald
family. In 1871, when the church was organized, reference was made to their convening at the Fitzgerald school house. At some
point, people south of the area organized a school close to the iron foundry which was called the Foundry School. Doff Hutcherson, 96 years old,
remembers in the later part of last century, -as a lad six years old, attending that school. He said that the first phrase
he remembers copying on his slate was “Time and tide wait for no man,” -One year, when there was no school there,
he walked to Concord to school.
The 1860’s were a difficult time for the families of the community. Jim Hathcock who had married William A ‘s
and Joicy’s daughter, Sarah, established an iron foundry for the purpose of making guns for the Confederate soldiers.
They also made plows for those who were left behind and could not get supplies from the North. It was hard for the families
who had sons or husbands or fathers leaving for the war. Times were difficult for those who remained but it was TERRIBLE for
those who WENT. I think the reminiscences of James E. Fitzgerald, evidently the son of George W. expresses it clearly.
He enlisted in Palestine and his first captain was a Hanks. He wrote, “The Company in which I enlisted
did not leave till in 1862. I was only a boy of l6 when I left and oh! the privations and hardships I endured. The many, many
miles I marched, footsore, weary, hungry, and cold. Well do I remember the one—half ear of corn as rations. I threw
my part away thinking that if I could get no more, this would do me no good but someone told me that I had better keep it,
it would taste good before I got any more and it was only too true. But the giver of all good threw his protecting arms around
me and I was permitted to return to my loved ones again. There were four brothers of us in the war and two were lost and two
reached home.” Family after family in the community were also touched by the fingers of death. William A. and Joicy
lost their son John.
And so in our tapestry we have a red thread-—blood
red as lives were given for a cause they believed right.
After the war other families arrived to settle in the community. Among these were the Hardings who came in 1867 from Tennessee, and the Funderburks and Kelleys that arrived in 1868 or
69 (I’ve read both dates) from Union Parrish, La.
Joel Kelley and Deborah Funderburk were united
in marriage in Louisiana around 1845. In 1868 or 69, Joel
Kel1ev’s family moved here alone with his brother and sisters. Deborah’s brother, Van P. Funderburk and his family
joined this caravan from Louisiana to Texas.
They bought adjoining farms and Joel, who was a Baptist minister, later donated the land for the cemetery at the Baptist Church when
it was organized. ***
I don’t know exactly when the Lunsfords arrived but
quite possibly when the Funderburk and Kelley families came because Uriah Williamson Lunsford had married Sarah Funderburk
in 1860. Uriah was born in Alabama in Nov. of 1837. They
located 2 1/2 miles from Brushy Creek. Sarah’s eyesight was impaired and though totally blind she knitted, sewed, spun
and cared for her children——four boys and 5 girls.
As new families arrived, new threads and colors
are added to our tapestry.
In 1871, the Baptist Church was organized in the Fitzgerald
school so the early minutes of the church tell us. There we find the names of Fitzgerald, Gaines, Kelley, Lunsford, Hardin
and Funderburk among others. Naturally, the new church had to have a name. I’m told the Kelleys, Funderburks and Lunsfords
had come from a little community called Concord in La.
The name can mean a harmonious combination of tones bonded together or an agreement in a meeting place to exchange ideas and
thoughts of those in attendance. It carries the idea of peace and unity. Therefore, the church was established in 1871 as
a harmonious place for the community to worship together..
**The Kelleys donated the land for the cemetery
but according to the list compiled by Charlice Gaines and Patsy Clay, Joel Kelley was not the first person to be buried there.
The tombstone of M. L. Dodson shows that he died on Jan 15, 1872, whereas Joel
Kelley died on the 19th of Feb. of that year.
**An interesting story is told about the holly
tree planted in the middle of the cemetery. The story as was told to me goes something like this-some people came through
the area on their way further west. Among these was a young couple who planned to be married. While camped here, the young
girl became ill and died. The heartbroken young man buried his sweetheart in her wedding dress and for a tombstone, planted
a holly tree at her head.
In those years, church life was a little different-usually
the men sat on one side and the women on the other. In the church roll, there was one list for male members and another list
for female members.
Church discipline was common. In every business
meeting, the phrase ‘The peace of the church called for” was used to introduce the subject. If some disciplinary
action was necessary, then it was treated——it may have been for card playing, for attending and participating
in the ball room, exchanging horses on the sabbath or even leaving town owing money without giving satisfaction to the creditors.
If there was not action to be taken or after it was taken, that part of the business meeting was closed with the phrase “church
In 1872, Uriah Williamson Lunsford, who preached
some at the church and M. P. Gaines were elected as delegates to the Cherokee Association which at that time included Anderson
County for the annual meeting. William A. Fitzgerald was one of the alternates.
The church was the cohesive force of the community,
- binding and weaving it together. Without that unifying force, it’s doubtful that we would be gathered here tonight.
Gold is the color of this thread.
Sickness was also a problem. I’m sure that
sometime or other most of us have been doctored with some home remedy. Yet, that was the medicine of those days. Glancing
at mortality schedules, it seems that most of the children died from whooping cough, croup, hives (infants). Pneumonia was
sure death for anyone. Among women, childbirth was a prime cause of death.
Through the years, many marriages took place
between the families. Sarah Jane, daughter of William A. married James Hathcock. There was Mary, the daughter of Billy Coupe
Fitzgerald who married William A. Harding. Then their grandaughter, Florence
married Burette Fitzgerald, who was a grandson of William A. Fitzgerald. Another grandaughter married Jeff Funderburk. The
Harding’s son Bud married Nancy Jane Kelley. The Harding’s grandson Chilton married Ruby Fitzgerald, a granddaughter
of Michael R.
John Edgar, a son of Billy Coupe married Elizabeth
Lunsford. Lena, granddaughter of William A. Fitzgerald married Gregg Gaines. Mary J. “Mollie”,
granddaughter of Michael Robertson married J. Van Kelley . . . and on and on it goes. When I first became interested in family
history because of my son Stan, Bill Randolph told me that I was related to half of East Texas
and “connected to the other half”. I certainly believe him.
So now, for tonight, the picture has neared completion.
The picture emerges and the colors have blended harmoniously. The threads- have been interwoven with a multitude of stitches.
We begin to see a picture of the people of Concord—-with their lives intertwined and interwoven——as families
relate to families through marriage and close friendships and though some still live here and others of us live far away,
we are bound together. We are a part of the whole and tonight we CELEBRATE because WE ARE THE PICTURE OF CONCORD!