Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by Jane Kraker

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

William Leonard Jennings was born in Kirk, Limestone County, Texas, September 14, 1886, the son of George Getson and Ida Jane (Little) Jennings.  Upon the death of his father, March 21, 1893, George Linebarger Jennings, his grandfather became his counselor and adviser.  Ida (Little) Jennings married James Franklin Gardner, August 25, 1895.  Mr. Gardner also helped to guide William Leonard and his brothers through their early youth.

In about 1905, the Gardner-Jennings family moved to Coleman, in order that the boys might attend an accredited high school with one of the best ratings for high schools in Texas at that time.  W. R. Hickman was superintendent of schools.  William Leonard and his brother, Thomas Vollie, were privileged to have T. E. D. Shepherd as their classroom teacher.  In the same classroom were two Horne sisters, Ora and Mattie.  Upon completion of the course of study in Coleman High School, George Linebarger felt that it was time for his grandsons to learn more about the responsibility of managing their farms in Limestone County before attending college.  After one year of on the spot management of his farm, Leonard entered Baylor Academy in order to study more science courses before starting his pre-medical courses.  He managed his farm from a distance and on weekends with some summer months, spent working with the guidance of his grandfather, again.  After one year in Baylor Academy, William Leonard went to Huntsville and entered Sam Houston State Normal to begin his basic college and premedical courses.  Two more years was spent in Baylor Medical College in Dallas.  The next two years was in Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1913, he graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.  Another year was spent in the IG&N Railroad Hospital in Palestine, Texas; some of the nurses there were conscientious Catholic Sisters.  During these seven years, Mattie Horne was teaching school and attending classes at the University of Texas.  She taught at O’Possum Trot School near Goldsboro, Ballinger, Bowen School, and South Ward School in Coleman.  During these four years, she took private lessons during her noon hour in piano, art and voice.

On June 9, 1914, William Leonard Jennings and Mattie Asenath Horne were married at the home of her parents, James David and Asenath (Petty) Horne (see James David Horne).  In order to be near two well established medical doctors in the beginning of his medical practice, Dr. Jennings returned with his bride to Mart.  He shared office space with Dr. Charles E. Smith and Dr. Clyde C. Collum.  After four years of practicing and consulting with Drs. Smith and Collum, Dr. Jennings brought his family back to Coleman County where he thoroughly enjoyed every day of his practice for fifty-three years plus the four years in Limestone County.  Due to the highly prevalent cases of malaria in the east Texas counties at that time, Dr. Jennings’s health broke down for about a year.  That is when he decided to come back to a drier climate in west Texas.  He took a rest of about a year, near San Angelo, before resuming his practice again.  However, after that rest, he learned to pace his activities a little more.  Still he answered any and all calls day and night for any distance until he was past eighty-four years of age.  When he first came back to Coleman after his health improved, he shared offices with Dr. R. Bailey and Dr. J. F. Gaines over the then Bowen Drug Store.  Later he moved to his own office over Mayes Drug Store.  Later he moved to the Owl Drug Store where Joe Heddleston was one of the pharmacists.  Oplin Saunders later bought this drug store.  For a number of years, he officed in the Coleman Bank Building.

Dr. and Mrs. Jennings had one daughter, Mrs. A. W. Kraker (Jane Petty) born in Kirk, Limestone County.  Four other children were born in Coleman.  They were the late William Leonard, Jr., Mrs. Horace E. Whitaker (Ida Marion) of Lubbock, David Getson, presently living in St. Louis, Missouri, and Arthur Vollie (see Sparkman Families) in Coleman.

Both Dr. and Mrs. Jennings have been active in church and other community activities for as long as their physical strength would allow.  Dr. Jennings was a member of the First Baptist Church, and she was active in both the Baptist and the First Christian Church, after they moved back to Coleman.  Mrs. Jennings was president of the High School Parent Teachers Association for three years and member of the Shakespeare Club, Self Culture Club and Home Demonstration Club.  Dr. Jennings died June 28, 1971, in Overall Memorial Hospital, buried July 2, 1971 in Coleman.  Mrs. Jennings died in St. Mary’s Hospital in Lubbock, December 3, 1979, buried in Coleman December 6, 1979.

Dr. Thomas Vollie Jennings, buried at Winters, also attended Baylor University, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and graduated from the School of Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans.  He practiced both general medicine and surgery in Winters for forty-four years.  He was Chief Surgeon in a Base Military Hospital in France during World War I.

The aforementioned George Linebarger Jennings, was a captain in the Civil War in the Battle at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He was a Chaplain at that time.  He is buried at Kirk.

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This page last updated January 1, 2006
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