Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by Elithe Hamilton Kirkland and John Howard Hamilton

From A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission

John Thomas (June 25, 1842 - June 10, 1900) and Julia (Gowens) Hamilton (February 3,1846 - January, 1940), with his daughter by a former marriage, Mary Ann (later Hollinger), arrived in Coleman County in 1876; Mary’s sister, Minnie (later Snook), remained behind.  They migrated from Council Bluff, Iowa, as part of a caravan of covered wagons pulled by oxen (see Hollinger-Hamilton and Berryman-Gowens-McClure-Martin).  Julia’s parents were James and Luvisa Gowens, whose graves are the first in White Chapel Cemetery.  John Thomas purchased 1200 acres, excellent for raising cattle and domestic crops in what was later the White Chapel Community.  He cleared the trees in a big live oak grove and built the log cabin where his children, Aaron, Ettie, Eva “Evie,” Benjamin Freelove “Free,” Arch, and Bertha, and also the first grandchild, Tommy Saunders, would be born.  Handy to the back door, he raised the large iron bell on a pole, a souvenir from the Hamilton family’s Kentucky plantation days; it would announce meals and summon help.

The Howard Netherton family lived over the hill to the south.  His family consisted of four girls, Maggie, Grace, Eunice, and Mabel.  Arch Hamilton married Maggie and had Agatha, Durwood, John Howard, Dudley (see Carroll - Moser), Aleene, Harold H., Weldon, and Randall.

Eva Hamilton (November 7,1883 - February 24, 1955) married J. M. Hill.  They had five children: Decina, Zenobia, Arreus, Bailey, and Cherrie June (see William H. Hill).

Dan and Minnie Purcell came to Coleman County from Burnet County around 1900, and settled a few miles east of the Hamilton place.  They had seven children: Ben, who married Mineola Williams; Fannie, married Albert Livingston (see J. T. Livingston); Watson, a bachelor; Lena, also unwed; Dudley, married Pebble Baker; Austin, married Mildred Needham, daughter of Newt Needham, who with his family of 13 and his syrup mill, lived west of the Hamilton place; and Eva, who married Free Hamilton.  Dan was very civic-minded, related closely to the affairs of the county, and served on Federal Juries at the State Capitol.

Eva Purcell was born in Burnet County, April 15, 1886, and married Free, February 25, 1906.  Free died in 1940.  Their only child, Elithe, born September 1, 1912, married Dr. R. D. Kirkland, and is well-known for her novels of historical fiction, including her first, Divine Average.  She and her husband live on part of the original land of John Thomas Hamilton.

Bertha married a Shields, and Etta married a Saunders (see J. T. Saunders).  Her son, Oplin, also owns part of the original Hamilton tract.

John Thomas died in 1900 at the age of 58.  Julia soon divided the estate among the six children although she lived a widow for forty years after his passing.  Arch received the acreage with the log cabin.  He lived his ninety-three years there, moving about fifty yards from the cabin to the picturesque white frame house built in 1903.

(Image to be added)

Back: Ettie, Aaron; Front: Free, Julia, Bertha, Eva (in front of her), John Thomas and Arch Hamilton.

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This page last updated March 18, 2006
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