Family Histories of Coleman County, Texas

by Col. C. A. Hockett

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

Frank and Lenora (Knight) Jordan established their ranch on Home Creek near Trickham before 1870.  He was born in Alabama and they married there.  Frank’s origins and progenitors are unknown.  Kindred Karter and Nancy (Cannon) Knight were the parents of Polly Lenora Knight.  Two of Polly Lenora’s brothers, William Charles and Benjamin Franklin also migrated to Coleman County.  She also had two sisters and two brothers who remained in Henderson County.  Between 1844 and 1847 Nancy E. (Cannon) Knight died, and her father (Kindred Karter) married Hepsibah Jennings Owen.  Kindred and Hepsibah had twelve children.  They moved from Randolph County, Alabama to the Athens area in Henderson County, Texas where they settled.  Apparently Polly Lenora married Frank Jordan either in Alabama or in Henderson County.  Lenora’s brother William Charles married Martha E. Maranza Owen and her brother, Benjamin Franklin (nickname Dock) married Catherine Stirman.  The Jordans and the William Charles Knight families established ranches side by side on Home Creek.  Benjamin Franklin Knight settled with his family on a ranch near Concho Peak in Coleman County.

William Charles Knight, born 1831 in Alabama, died about 1873, married January 4, 1857, Martha E. Maranza Owen, born January 25, 1840 in Alabama, died about 1873.  Their children: Kindred Karter, born August 17, 1859, Henderson County, died young; Charles Eller, daughter, born April 19, 1861, Henderson County, died February 27, 1885, Coleman County, married September 8, 1880, William Henry Burns in Coleman County, children: William F., born August 31, 1881, Coleman County, died unknown, married Daisy Weathers, Sweetwater; and Ausker, July 26, 1883, Coleman County, died March 188?; Jesse Forrester, born April 3, 1867, Henderson County, died October 23, 1939, South Dakota, married March 25, 1908, Nannie Place, South Dakota, died December 24, 1948, South Dakota; William D., July 15, 1868, Henderson County, died February 28, 1885, Coleman County; John W., July 19, 1869, Henderson County, died March 2,1885, Coleman County; James A., January 18, 1870, Henderson County, died before 1880; Edna (Eddie) April 17, 1872, Henderson County, died October 15, 1899, Coleman County, married September 18, 1889, Coleman County, Rial Anslem Ford, September 14, 1861, Comal County, died November 17, 1940, Kelso, Washington; and Betty, December 22, 1873, died young.

Frank Jordan and Polly Lenora (Knight) Jordan did not have any children.  Tragedy struck the William C. Knight family, about 1873, when both William C. Knight and his wife died.  The Knight children became the first of many to be welcomed into the Jordan household.  Frank became their guardian and held their family ranchland in trust for them.

The family of Benjamin Franklin Knight is listed in the 1880 census: Benjamin Knight, age 40, farmer, born in Alabama; Catherine, 30, wife, born in Arkansas; their children: Rolland, 12; Emma, 10; Winchester, 8; Mary, 4; and Dillard, 2, all born in Texas.  The family of Benjamin (Dock) and Catherine increased as eight additional children were born after 1880.  They were: Kate, Jesse (daughter), Johnny, twins Willie and Lillie, Essie, Dock and Tine.

The 1880 Census also lists members of the Thomas, Ford Haley, Tooke and Mathews families.  All of those families were important contributors to the history of the Jordan ranch.  The Thomas family migrated to Texas from Mississippi in company with members of the Haley family.  Inof (or Jno. ?) Thomas, born unknown, died before 1860, buried unknown, married October 23, 1835, Mary Anne Haley, born in Mississippi, died unknown, buried in Thomas plot at Trickham.  Children: Craft H., born December 11, 1836, Mississippi, died September 7, 1913, buried, Thomas plot, Trickham, married October 6, 1867, Sylvia Haley, buried in Biloxi, Mississippi; William I., born December 11, 1838, died January 29, 1839; Elizabeth (Bettie) A., born May 26, 1840, died unknown, married (1st) Rial Anslem Ford, June 22, 1858, died September 22, 1861, in Comal County. (Rial Anslem Ford had driven his stock to market and did not return.  A search by John Haley, brother of Mary Anne, located Rial’s body (murdered) in a Mesquite tree along the trail to the Ford home.)  Their children: James B., born September 3, 1859, died age 12; Rial Anslem, September 14, 1861, died November 17, 1940, Kelso, Washington; Elizabeth (Bettie) A. Thomas, married January 8, 1867, W. D. (Drayt) Mathews.  Children of this marriage picked up 1870 and 1880 census: Victoria Armenta, born February 15, 1842, died January 8, 1929, buried in the Thomas plot Trickham, married Frank A. Jordan, December 13, 1887, in Coleman County.  This lady became Aunt Vickie to all family members and most friends.  Mary E. J. (S. I. ?), March 18, 1847, died September 6, 1869; Clarissa Isabella (Bella), September 18, 1849, death unknown, buried in Thomas plot Trickham, married Isam Tooke, October 8, 1872; John B., birth and death unknown.

By 1870 the family group had moved to Hays County, and listed as two households: W. D. Matthews, age 31, farmer, born Georgia; Betty (Elizabeth A. Thomas Ford) 30, wife, born Mississippi; children: Willie, 3, son; Mary, 8 months; James Ford, 11, stepson and Ryam (Rial) Ford, 9, stepson, all children born in Texas (see W. D. Mathews).  The second household was listed under Craft Thomas and his wife, Sylvia Haley (not related to Mary Anne [Haley] Thomas, Craft’s mother).  The household included Craft’s mother and two sisters, as well as uncle.  1870 Hays County Census: Craft Thomas, age 33, farmer, born Mississippi; Sylvia, 23, wife; Mary A., 52, retired; Victoria A., 23, Clarissa J., 20; and John Haley, 36, Blacksmith, all of these were born in Mississippi.

By 1880 the Mathews family and the Thomas family, except for Craft Thomas and his wife Sylvia, who had returned to Mississippi, had migrated to Coleman County.  Clarissa J. (Bella) Thomas had married Isam Tooke and they were the parents of four children, three are listed in the 1880 census, the fourth, Annie, was born after 1880.  The family households as they were listed: Isam Tooke, age 35, farmer, born Georgia; Bella, 25, wife, born Mississippi; children: John, 7, and Cappie, 2, a son and daughter, both born in Texas.  William Matthews, age 41, farmer, born Georgia; Elizabeth, 39, wife; children: William, 11; Mary T., 9; Elizabeth, 8; Ellen, 6; Walton, T., 3; Anslem, stepson, 19, all born in Texas; plus Mary Anne Thomas, 62, mother-in-law; and Victoria Thomas, 29, sister-in-law.

Both the Tooke household and the Mathews household were established near the Jordan Ranch which became an important part of the lives of both households as the years passed.

Subsequent to 1880, Mrs. Mary A. Thomas moved to Trickham, a few miles away, and with her daughter, Victoria A., opened a little store.  Her brother, Thomas Haley, operated a blacksmith shop in Trickham for many years.  When he could no longer work in his shop he became a member of the Jordan family and lived in a log room added to the ranch house to accommodate him.  Frank was steadily building and improving.  The ranch house was of logs as were the corncribs, barns and some of the fences.  Most of the fences were built of rocks, which Frank removed from the fields as he cleared and tilled them.  Years later, the doctors who attempted to treat Frank’s blindness stated that he had toiled himself to blindness.

Early in 1885, two of the Knight children, Jesse and Edna, were at the ranch of their uncle, (Doc or Dock), attending the Concho Peak School when tragedy struck the Jordan ranch.  Their other brothers and sisters, including their married sister, Charles Eller (Knight) Burns, was visiting at the Jordan ranch.  Her two sons, William Frank and Ausker were with their father.  In late February, Typhoid (it is believed) struck the Jordan household.  On February 27, 1885 Charles Eller died, followed closely by Lenora (Knight) Jordan and William D. Knight on the 28th.  John W. Knight on March 2, 1885.  All were buried in a family cemetery on the ranch.  Only Jesse and Edna remained of the William C. and Martha E. Maranza (Owen) Knight family.  Frank Jordan married Victoria A. Thomas, December 13, 1887.

Rial Anslem Ford experienced greater and greater difficulty in his life with his stepfather, William Matthews, and often left the Matthews home to live with his Aunt Vickie and his grandmother in Trickham.  After Victoria married Frank Jordan, Rial Anslem Ford also became a member of the Jordan household.  By 1889 Rial Anslem and Edna Knight were in love and Frank Jordan gave his permission for them to marry.  They were married on the 18th day of December 1889 in Coleman County.  Following their marriage, Rial Anslem and Edna (Knight) Ford settled on 80 acres of land that was Edna’s legacy from her parents.  With the help of Jesse Knight, Rial built a house on the land and started farming.  Four children: (1) Eula Frank, born August 14, 1890, died August 8, 1937, married Burna Lee Blanchard.  (2) Bessie Lee, born July 10, 1892, died in 1983 in Washington, married Fay John Hockett, December 9, 1918 in South Dakota, where she had gone to work in her Uncle Jesse Knight’s store on an Indian reservation.  (3) Ella Kate, born February 27, 1895, died about 1952, married Church Deer, June 10, 1917, who worked on the ranch.  (4) Vickie Alma (Tina), born September 27, 1897, married Curren Daniel, January 24, 1917.  They made their home on his farm near Abilene.

The Ford farm joined the Jordan ranch and Bessie Lee Ford Hockett’s recollection of the life there is quoted as follows.  “My mother and father were extremely happy on the 80 acres that was their own home.  All four of us children were born in the little cottage.  Father made good crops and had grassland for four horses and several cows.  We had two homes, the Jordan ranch and our cottage.

In 1898 heavy rains caused high water, which flooded the Ford farm and ruined the crops.  Upon seeing the damage, Rial and Edna decided to sell the farm.  When the farm was sold the family moved to Santa Anna and Rial built a store at Rockwood.  Edna did not see the store, she died of typhoid in October 1899.  The Ford children were sent to the Jordan ranch and the Jordans were parents again, living with their Aunt Vickie and Uncle Frank for seven years until their father rented a farm near Mereta and moved them there.

After five and one half years (about 1911) the Ford girls returned to the Jordan ranch to live while their father worked freighting oil drilling equipment to the oil fields.  Eula Ford found farm work near Wichita Falls and remained there until his marriage in 1917.  Life was wonderful for the girls.  They attended church in the summer in outdoor gatherings in Trickham and surrounding communities.  Aunt Vickie was an accomplished dressmaker and made most of their nice dresses for them.  A real highlight was to go to town in the surrey and pick out goods for their dresses.  Aunt Vickie set high standards for the girls’ lives, clothes and deportment which she enforced through love and understanding in her quiet way.  Life on the ranch included a full round of chores such as milking and feeding the cattle, hoeing in the garden, cotton picking and general housework.

Uncle Craft and Aunt Sylvia Thomas lived at the ranch after years of shuttling between Texas and Mississippi.  Craft died on the ranch and was buried near his mother and sister in Trickham.  Sylvia returned to Mississippi where she lived the rest of her life.  John Haley went to visit relatives, where he died.

Frank Jordan died November 20, 1920, buried in the ranch cemetery.  Kate and Church Deer left the ranch for South Dakota shortly after Uncle Frank’s death, so that Aunt Vickie had only herself to care for.  She continued to manage the ranch until her death January 8, 1929, buried in Trickham.  The Jordan ranch passed to Frank Burns, a nephew of Frank Jordan and the son of Ella Knight Burns who had died on the ranch in 1885.

(Images to be added)

Corn crib built by Frank Jordan

Rial Anslem Ford

The Ford Girls: Bessie Lee, Kate and Tina, with Aunt Vickie

Elizabeth (Thomas) Ford Mathews

Families History Index
Coleman County Index
Please send additional links, comments or suggestions for articles to:

This page last updated January 2, 2006
© 1982 - 2006 Ralph Terry.  All rights reserved.