AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum Archive
Ancestors raised cane in Sugar Land, TX
Former slaves of Brazoria and Fort Bend County, Texas: Wesley Marshall, Adeline Brevard Willis Marshall, Wes Ford, Sarah Criss Ford, Anthony Christopher, San Jacinto Lewis, Lucy Lewis
Sources: Varner-Hogg Plantation Slavery Project, Texas Slave Narrative Collection (Federal Writers Project), Hanbook of Texas Online, and census information
1834 For $13,000 Martin Varner, early Anglo Texan settler, sold property in Brazos River area to Columbus R. Patton, a son of John D. Patton. Varner and Patton were veterans of the Texas Revolution. Varner’s family moved with their slaves to Wood County in East Texas.
1835-50 Patton plantation was fifth largest sugar producer in Texas.
1836 Battle of San Jacinto: Cinto (San Jacinto) Lewis said he was named for this decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Lewis was a slave on the plantation of David Randon near Richmond in Fort Bend, a county adjoining Brazoria County, Texas. Randon’s wife Nancy was a sister of John McNeel. Cinto’s wife Lucy had a Mexican father and African-American mother. At the time of their interview, Cinto believed that all of his children were dead; but he had fifteen living grandchildren.
1851 estimated birth year of Anthony Christopher, former slave of Charles F. Patton of Brazoria County, Texas. Christopher’s parents told him that they had been free in Virginia where they were born, “But somehow dey gits bonded ‘gain and when de Pattons comes to Texas dey brings my folks and dey is slaves sho’ ‘nough here.”
1854 Columbus Patton declared non compos mentis.
Columbus Patton, who kept an African-American mistress, Rachel, in his home, was declared insane and committed to mental asylum in South Carolina. It is suggested that Patton died of a brain tumor. At his death, the Patton estate went into probate court and John Adriance was chosen to manage the plantation. I speculate that Patton family members or employees who accompanied Columbus Patton to the sanatorium returned with slaves from South Carolina, possibly including Kate and Adeline. Rachel fought and eventually won a legal battle with the Patton family who tried to have Columbus Patton’s will overturned. In the will he had effectively set her free and provided her with an income from his estate. Meanwhile Kate, Adeline, and other slaves were sold to pay the Patton family’s debts.
1856 estimated birth year of Kate’s daughter Adeline. They were included in a group of slaves that Mathew and Medora Patton sold to Louis Stroble (Lewis M. Stroble) in order to pay debts owed to E.T. Barstow and to George Williams of Kentucky. I speculate that Kate’s daughter may be “Adline Marshall” (Adeline Brevard Willis Marshall) whose narrative is included in the Federal Writers Project collection of interviews with former slaves.
Anthony Christopher was a former slave of Charles Patton, a brother of Columbus Patton. Christopher said that his older sister Deenie “was Marse Patton’s gal. He wasn’t married and he keeps Deenie up to de big house.” Adeline Brevard mentions a similar relationship between “Cap’n Brevard” and a slave mistress: “Old Cap’n has a big house, but I jes’ see it from de quarters, ‘cause we wasn’t ‘lowed to go up in de yard. I hear ‘em say he don’t have no wife, but has a black woman what stays at de house.” After Emancipation, Anthony Christopher’s family remained on Charles Patton’s plantation for a time as paid farm workers before “pappy get some ground down in de river bottoms, an’ we make good crops dere, ‘til I is growed up.” Christopher left for San Antonio and later lived in Brenham, Texas where he helped build the Santa Fe railroad. He voted for the first and only time as a farmer in Chapel Hill, in Upshur County, Texas.
1857 To pay debts, the Patton family sold a group of slaves to Louis Stroble (Lewis M. Stroble). They were put up as collateral on Feb. 26 and sold on Aug. 26. Kate’s and Adeline’s ages were estimated, as 19-20 years and 12-18 months, when they were appraised for sale. My speculation is that Stroble sold Adeline to Brevard, who lived between the Borden and Thatcher families near Oyster Creek in Brazoria County. Stroble and Brevard enlisted in the same cavalry regiment of the Confederate army. In her interview Adeline recalled that Brevard said he had brought her from South Carolina as a baby. This may be a partial truth. I speculate that Adeline’s mother, if still alive in 1870, could be SC-born Kate Robinson, a sharecropper living near Adeline Patton.
1858 Sarah Ford, daughter of Mike and Jane Criss, probably born on Feb. 25, 1858. Columbus Patton acquired Sarah’s maternal grandparents Kyalo and Ina from Christopher Dart, whose heirs later tried to sue for their return. I don’t know if Sarah Ford knew Adeline, a slave on E.J. Brevard’s farm, but these women may be approximately the same age. Their narratives cover roughly the same period. Both were relatively young (children or adolescents) at Emancipation. Both women later moved to Houston with their husbands. Sarah Ford’s memories of the Patton plantation are those of a young child, five to twelve years old. Adeline, with no parents, didn’t have much of a childhood. She was put to work in Brevard’s field while Sarah was given the job of minding the younger children on the Patton plantation. If anything went wrong, Sarah could get help from Judy, a cook who was also a folk healer. Sarah stayed with her parents until she married Wes Ford. Her parents died in 1875 as Sarah was giving birth to her first child.
1860 census. Living in Columbia, Brazoria County: C.F. Patton, planter, and M.T.C. Patton, grocer. Living in Sugarland, Fort Bend County: E.J. Brevard, farmer. Living in Richmond, Fort Bend County, Adeline and Samuel Patton, farmers; Young Adams; David and Nancy Randon, farmers; W.D. Mitchell, farmer, and J.C. Mitchell, physician. Living in Stafford’s Point, Fort Bend County: Jack and Frank Adams, farmers.
1863-64 E.J. Brevard (unknown rank) on roster of Confederate 3rd Regiment Cavalry of Texas State Troops. Lewis M. Stroble was a captain of this regiment. Both men were born in SC, according to 1860-70 census.
1865 Texas slaves emancipated on June 19, currently celebrated as “Juneteenth.” With no known family, Adeline stayed on Brevard’s farm and worked “for something to eat,” until Jack Adams hired her.
1865-70 Jack Adams hired Adeline from Brevard’s farm.
1870 census. Living in Stafford Point: Adeline Brevard, servant; Jack Adams and Frank Adams, farmers; Isaac Marshall (probably relative of Wesley), farm worker. Living at Richmond: Kate Robinson, sharecropper; Adeline Patton. Living in Brazoria County: John McNeel, farmer.
1875 Mike and Jane were killed in a storm at East Columbia. Mike was “part Indian.” They are parents of Sarah Ford and her younger sister Rachel who was born a little before Emancipation. Sarah’s first child was born on the same day that her parents died. Sarah’s narrative is included in Federal Writers Project. She was formerly a slave of the Patton family, born on plantation of Columbus “Massa Kit” Patton in West Columbia.
1880 census. Living in Pct 3, Fort Bend County: Adeline and Austen Willis, farmers; Wesley and Haldy Marshall, farmers; Philip and Vergil Marshall, farmers. Living in Pct 2: Wesley and Sarah Ford. Wesley Ford was born in Texas. Wesley’s parents were born in SC.
1899 Adeline Wellis (Adeline Brevard Willis) married Wesley Marshall in Fort Bend County on Dec. 27. They acquired a piece of land from Jack Adams and made the transition from sharecroppers to owner-farmers.
1900 census. Living in Pct 3, Fort Bend County: Adeline Willis, servant, and Wesley Marshall, farmer; Louisiana Marshall (probably daughter of Wesley and Haldy Marshall) was ward of Dave and Bettie Jones.
Galveston hurricane devastated slave cabins and sugar mill at Varner-Hogg Plantation (aka Patton’s place). In addition to oppressive social, economic, and political conditions, deadly storms in 1875 and 1900 probably motivated many families from Brazoria and Fort Bend counties to move to Houston. According to her narrative in Federal Writers Project, Adeline and her second husband Wesley Marshall moved to Houston before the Galveston hurricane. In 1900 Sarah Ford, laundress, lived with children William, Mike, Adelaide, Wilson, Blanche, and Madeline in Columbia, Brazoria County.
1901 Former Texas governor James Hogg buys Varner-Patton property for $30,000.
1910 Adeline and Wesley Marshall lived in 2 J-Pct in Houston. John and Lou Jennie Mitchell were paying a mortgage on their farm in the same precinct. Sarah Ford, widowed laundress, lived on Weber Street in Houston with her children Bessie (Elizabeth), Wilson, Blanche, and Mattie (Madeline).
1920 Sarah Ford, laundress, lived at 3114 Bell Avenue in Houston with her daughter Mattie.
1930 Adeline Marshall, widow, lived with her grandson James H. Lawson and wife Odella (or Idella) at 3449 Elgin Avenue in Houston. Jennie (Lou Jennie) Mitchell, widow, was an owner-farmer in Bellaire, Harris County, Texas.
1938 Clarence Drake interviewed widow Adline Marshall (Adeline Brevard Willis Marshall) at 3514 Bastrop Street in Houston; Anthony Christopher at his home, “a typical ‘shotgun’ type dwelling located in an alley court leading off York St., between Lamar and Dallas Ave., in Houston, Tex.).” C.H. Drake interviewed Cinto and Lucy Lewis at their home, “a dilapidated brick cabin…on the Huntington Plantation in Brazoria County”; Sarah Ford at 3151 Clay Avenue in Houston. She had eleven children, six boys and five girls.. In 1938 she said, “Wes an’ all ‘cept four of my chillen is dead.”