Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by Rosalee Morris Curtis

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

Cornelius Ambrose Hemphill, known as C. A. Hemphill, was the first of that surname to settle in Coleman County.  A businessman and rancher, he resided in the town of Coleman twenty-eight years, from 1888 until 1916, when he moved to Houston.  His only descendants remaining in Coleman County after 1917 were his daughter, Iva George Hemphill who married Fordyce Clay “Jack” Woodward and their daughter, Mary Lela Woodward, now Mrs. William Henry Clifford.  Cornelius Ambrose Hemphill was born October 21, 1855, on a 600-acre tract of land which his grandfather, William Hemphill, had purchased in Bastrop County, Texas, in 1835.  C. A. Hemphill died July 24, 1929, in Houston and was interred in Fairview Cemetery, Bastrop.  He and his twin sister, Cornelia Elizabeth Hemphill, were the firstborn of Ambrose Baber and Martha Elizabeth (Hemphill) Hemphill.  Ambrose Baber Hemphill was born June 24, 1824, in Monroe County, Alabama, died June 10, 1879, at Hemphill’s Prairie, Bastrop County, and was interred in Fairview Cemetery.  He married November 20, 1853, in Simpson County, Mississippi, Martha Elizabeth Hemphill, born April 4, 1833, in Lawrence County, Mississippi, died June 20, 1916, in Georgetown, Williamson County, Texas, and was interred in Fairview Cemetery.  She was the daughter of Samuel and Nancy (Granberry) Hemphill who were also the parents of W. C. Hemphill who settled in Coleman County in 1891 (see W. C. Hemphill).

C. A. married February 27, 1881, in Bastrop County, Lela Collier, daughter of L. B. and Constance Duffey (Stephenson) Collier.  To C. A. and Lela were born a son, Edgar Wooten, and two daughters, Iva George, and Lela. Lela (Collier) Hemphill died March 28, 1887, at the birth of the infant Lela who lived only three days.  Mother and infant were interred in Fairview Cemetery.

C. A. married secondly, November 14, 1888, at Columbus, Rosa Lee Putney who was born November 3, 1861, at Columbus, died June 18, 1938 at Bastrop, interred in Fairview Cemetery.  Rosa Lee (Putney) Hemphill was the daughter of Robert William and Emma Crockett (Jenkins) Putney.  To C. A. and Rosa Lee were born three sons, Harbert Dibrell, Robert Baber, and Ellis Putney, also two daughters, Hazel Clair, and Rosalee.  All five children were born in the town of Coleman between 1889 and 1899.  Rosa Lee had visited in the home of her relatives, William C. and Margaret Caroline (Jenkins) Dibrell, who settled in Coleman in 1882.  Margaret Caroline (Jenkins) Dibrell was the sister of Emma Crockett (Jenkins) Putney, mother of Rosa Lee.  Another relative was William Newsom, son of Littleberry McLemore “Mack” Newsom.  C. A. and Rosa Lee immediately after their marriage in November 1888, brought the two surviving children of his former marriage and made their home in the town of Coleman.

C. A. Hemphill’s first position in Coleman was in the hardware and furniture store of J. E. Stevens at a salary of $30 per month.  The Hemphill family home burned to the ground after lightning struck it during a severe electrical and rain storm, one summer night in 1910.  Neighbors rallied to help.  Fortunately, just prior to the disastrous fire, C. A. Hemphill had bought for rental property a house on College Avenue just one block north of the home that burned.  After the fire, he moved his family into it.  Hazel (Hemphill) Morris recalls, “The house to which we moved was more commodious and better suited to our large family.  Papa had the house raised and put on a brick foundation.  He made several interior changes and added a bathroom with modern plumbing.  Having all new furnishings, we were very proud of our new home.”

In 1916, C.A. Hemphill was a candidate for County Tax Assessor, but was defeated in the election.  Later that year he and Mrs. Hemphill moved to Houston.  There he worked as a security officer for a bank, and later, as a special agent for the Railway Express. C. A. died in Houston, July 24, 1919, interred in Fairview Cemetery.  Rosa Lee died in the home of their daughter, Hazel, and her husband, Earl L. Morris, at Bastrop, Texas, June 18, 1938, interred in Fairview Cemetery.  Mrs. Hemphill and all their children were members of the Presbyterian Church.

Edgar Wooten Hemphill, was born April 10, 1883, died September 11, 1943, in Pittsburgh.  He married in Tennessee, Martha Clyde Gregory.  He was educated in the public schools of Coleman.  He spent most of his adult life in Pittsburgh.  They had two children, Lela Margaret and Norma Mildred.

Iva George Hemphill, was born June 26, 1885, died October 31, 1963, in El Paso, interred in Santa Anna (see Fordyce Clay (Jack) Woodward).

Harbert Dibrell Hemphill, was born November 18, 1889, in Coleman, died unmarried August 4, 1933, interred in Fairview Cemetery.  Harbert was educated in the public schools of Coleman.  He worked for several years in the First National Bank of Coleman before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1917.  When World War I was over, he settled in Wichita Falls, where he continued his banking career.  He was on a business trip when he died suddenly in Hot Springs.

Robert Baber Hemphill, was born June 30, 1892, in Coleman, died April 29, 1964, in Baytown, interred in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, Houston.  He married in Coleman about 1910, Jet Randolph, daughter of Judge and Mrs. J .C. Randolph.  This union ended in divorce. On March 31, 1928, in Houston, Robert married Mary Lucile White.  There were no children by either of Robert’s marriages.  In 1912, he moved from Coleman to Dallas, where he entered the automobile business.  In 1937, he moved to Baytown, Texas, where he owned and operated the Hemphill Cadillac-Pontiac Company.

Ellis Putney Hemphill, was born May 26, 1894, in Coleman, died April 24, 1960, in Texas City, interred in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery.  He married March 11, 1922, in Houston, Nita Cecil Mayes.  Ellis was educated in the public schools of Coleman.  In 1917, he enlisted in the Naval Air Force and, at the close of the war, he became a clerk with the Southern Pacific Railway Company.  After his retirement he and Mrs. Hemphill moved to Texas City.  They had no children.

Hazel Clair Hemphill, was born August 23, 1896, in Coleman, married June 7, 1916, in Coleman, Earl Luckett Morris, born March 1, 1889, in Bastrop, died June 5, 1961, in Houston, and is interred in Fairview Cemetery.  Hazel was educated in the public schools of Coleman and was valedictorian of her graduating class from Coleman High School in 1914.  After graduation she took the State Teachers Examinations and was certified to teach in Texas.  She taught in the White Chapel and Bowen Schools.  After their marriage in 1916, she and Mr. Morris made their home in Bastrop.  Now a widow, and retired from the teaching profession, Hazel maintains her own home in Houston and enjoys entertaining family and friends.  Children born to Earl and Hazel were Rosalee Edwina who married Robert Pier Curtis, Hazel Anita who married Finley Miller Soulé.  Dr. Charles Robert who married Evelyn Barbee Williams, Patsy Earl who married Robert Myron Sweetman, and Iva May who married Boyd Elton Waltman.

Rosalee Hemphill, was born October 5, 1899, in Coleman, died March 16, 1979, in Wichita Falls, interred in Smithville.  She married December 21, 1922, James Warren Dain, born December 12, 1897, in Smithville.  Rosalee graduated from Coleman High School and later received a B. A. degree from what is now Rice University.  She was the first May Queen at Rice.  James entered the insurance business in Houston.  After the close of World War II, Mr. and Mrs. Dain moved to Wichita Falls, where they spent the remainder of their lives. They had two children, James Warren Jr. who married first Evelyn Randolph and secondly Blanche Ruth Palmer, and Robert Bryan who lived only two weeks, interred at Smithville.

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Iva Hemphill, Edgar Hemphill - about 1887


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