March 7, 2001

Tracing Our Bosque County Roots
From the Bosque County News
07 March 2001

I read a wonderful book this past week from the Meridian Library, The Grand Prairie Years, a biography of W. C. Perry by Ron Arnold. If you would like to read about the early school systems of Iredell, Walnut Springs and Meridian as well as some of the families here in the early 1900’s I highly recommend this book. It was a fascinating look at our early education system and a very dedicated man’s struggle to gain a higher education during an amazing time in our history.I attended the Bosque County Historical Commission Preservation Luncheon on Saturday, and had a very enjoyable time. A slide show was presented on historical buildings here in the county. There is a collection of over 500 photographs of historic buildings and sites here in our area. Stop by the Bosque County Collection’s website at or visit them at the third floor of the Meridian Courthouse and take a look at some of the history preserved here for everyone to enjoy. A Bosque County Pioneer Story 

My great grandfather, Samuel Knight Lewis, came to Texas in 1838 to get free land. He stopped in Brazoria County to look around. He was a surveyor and did not need the money so took his fee in land and acquired quite a lot before he found the land he wanted. July 6, 1941 he was issued free land in Austin County. Being highly educated, he was soon in politics, was in the House of Representatives the last session of the Republic of Texas, 1844 – 1845.

In 1848 he learned the stage line was to be extended into his area. He purchased 145 acres of land and a cabin built by William S. Townsend and several hundred additional acres to connect this to the land he owned. Townsend was one of Austin’s colonist in the old 300.

By this time Sam had seven children. He enlarged the cabin into a two story house to accommodate the children and for a stage stop. The Sawyer and Riser Stage went from Houston to Brenham, Austin, San Antonio and back to Houston. Being a shrewd business man it was not hard to get the stage to stop and change horses and let the passengers eat and refresh. First known as Sam Lewis Stopping Place became Winedale Inn in tribute to the homemade wine he served the weary traveler. This practice began with a bumper wild grape harvest and continued as a result of the popularity of the wine.

This is where he raised his children and educated them to teach. He always had a school house on his settlement and insisted his slaves and their families learn to read and write. Sam’s oldest daughter Lota, is my grandmother, married J. A. Wilm Oct. 24, 1859. Their son Sam Julius Wilm was born Feb. 24, 1861. A few months later J. A died, leaving Lota a widow at 18, with a small baby. She went home to her parents and continued her education.

She was teaching school in Chapell Hill where she met and married Frank Green Whisenant, August 3, 1874. My father Ross Lewis Whisenant was born March 2, 1876.
Sam Lewis had land all over east central Texas that he had acquired while surveying. He gave each of his children a secion of land in areas that needed teachers. They couldn’t go until they married, two couples to go in the same area, 15 or 20 miles apart so they would not get too homesick.

Lota’s section was in Bosque County, five miles east of Morgan. The railroad went across the back of the section. When Ross was a few months old, Frank and Lota moved to Bosque County taking 15 year old Sam Wilm along. Three more children were born; Frances, born May 4, 1878 and married Will Farmer, she died in 1906 at Morgan; Harvey, born April 4, 1879, he married Griggs Parks and died in 1970 at Dallas; Katherine, born June 5, 1884 and married Henry Dillon she died in 1940 at El Paso. Sam Julius Wilm married Lucy Hunt in 1883, they lived in a big beautiful two story home in Morgan, raised a large family and died there. Frank Whisenant died March 17, 1888, leaving Lota a widow with three small children. Sam Wilm was close by to help her this time.

Frances and Will Farmer had a bakery in Morgan in 1902, My father Ross Whisenant had a meat market in Morgan in 1902 when he met and married my mother. He also had cattle on the ranch. My brother and five sisters were born in Morgan. I was born on the Whisenhant Ranch April 14, 1914. Frank and Lota Whisenant, Sam and Lucy Wilm, Frances Farmer and many others are buried in Kopperl cemetery. Two of my sisters are buried in Morgan cemetery.
I would be glad to hear from any one that knew my family.
Jennie Marie Whisenant The Gandy Family of Bosque County

Some of my fondest memories, revolve around the time I spent in Meridian, Texas. My family and I spent many holidays, weekends and summers in the beautiful rolling hills of Bosque County, near Waco.

Meridian held a very special bond for my Dad, Loyd Burdette Hennington. His mother, Ella Mae Burdette, was the daughter of Benjamin Apling Burdette and Millie Elizabeth Hood. The Burdette’s and the Gandy’s were two of several original pioneer families of Bosque County. My grandmother Ella Mae’s, older sister Lina, married Frank C. Gandy, son of Francis Marion, thus beginning my Gandy connection.

During visits in my early years, Dad would guide us through the Meridian Cemetery, and point out some of the first Gandy tombstones, including the partriarch James D., and his son Francis Marion. James’ grandson Frank and his wife Lina were laid to rest here as well as many of their children and grandchildren.

The history of the Bosque County Gandy family begins with James D. Gandy. According to records, he was born December 1797, in New York. At some point, before 1832 he emigrated to Tennessee and married a lady noted only as Elizabeth. Their first two children were born in Tennessee as; John W. born 1832, and Francis Marion, born 1833. Shortly after the birth of their third child, Martha, born 1835-37, they moved near Reader, Arkansas, in the north western corner of Quachita county, Arkansas. Four daughters Jane, Nancy, Susan and Elizabeth were born in this county. It is possible, they also had a daughter Mary.

James D.’s daughter Martha, first married Mr. Ward, in Arkansas about 1854. They had two children, Mary E and Commodore Daley Ward. Following the death of Mr. Ward, she married A. Davis in 1860, who had three sons by a previous marriage, named Henry, Wingfield and Young born in Mississippi.

Martha and A. Davis’ only child was James Jefferson Davis, born July 27, 1861 in Arkansas. In early 1862, Martha and A. Davis, died of unknown causes. Both are buried in Quachita County, Arkansas.

Now a widower, Martha’s father, James D Gandy, with the help of his children, took his three grandchildren, Mary E, and Commodore Ward as well as James Jefferson Davis into his house to raise. At this writing, I have found no information as to what happened to A. Davis’ three sons Henry, Wingfield and Young. James D. and his three grandchildren moved to Meridian in Bosque County, Texas about 1869, where his two sons John W. and Francis Marion lived. James died in Meridian in 1873, a member of the Masonic Fraternal organization, and is buried in Meridian Cemetery.

James Jefferson Davis, grandson of James D Gandy, married Martha E. Sanders about 1883, and resettled in nearby Iredell, where they had nine children. After the death of his wife, James married Annis Rebecca Westerman, August 31, 1899 in Bosque County. Annis, a close neighbor, had cared for the ailing Martha and her nine children. Shortly after the death of Martha, family legend says that James begged Annis to move in with him “to care for his nine children”, to which she flatly refused until “they were properly married.” He obviously convinced her, for they married and proceeded to have six additional children. In the 1920’s James and Annis resettled in Roaring Springs, Texas on 80 acres of land.
(This Gandy Family story will be continued in next week’s column)
Gayle Hennington-Van Horn


I was born in Bosque County and remember many a hot afternoon spent swimming in the Bosque River at a place near the community of Walnut Springs spoke of as Jacksons’ Crossing. I am a descendant of the Jackson’s and would love to know the history of the crossing. My Great Grandfather William Randolph (W.R.) Jackson appears on the 1850 census age 4 born in Texas. He was father to numerous children, one of which was my wonderful Grandmother Julia Priscilla Jackson Pittman (1892-1975), wife to John Daniel Pittman. My Grandmother told methey lived near the crossing when she was a child. W.R. Jackson is buried with a Confederate marker next to Great Grandmother Mary Ann Goad Jackson (along with my many other Jackson, Goad, Pittman, Barnes, Skiles, Griffin, Boyd etc…family members) in the Fulton Cemetery near Jacksons’ Crossing. Is there any reference to this place or the early Jackson homestead in the early recorded history of the county?
With much appreciation and fond memories of the most beautiful county in the state,
Connie Hoffman I’m looking for any leads on my great grandfather William Henry Saunders who was born in Bosque County in 1862. His brother, John Saunders, was born in Bosque in 1864. His father’s name was listed as William Saunders on his birth record that I found in the courthouse, but no mother’s name was given. His mother remarried in Bosque County in 1867 to David Eddleman. On the marriage certificate her name was given only as S. V. Saunders. In the 1870 Bosque County Census she is listed as Eliza. Any help would be appreciated.
Debbie McCoy 

I would like to hear from the famlies in Bosque County named Behnke- My Great Grandmother and Grandfather were Henry and Augusta Behnke. They are buried in Bismark Cemetery between Cayote and Valley Mills. Could anyone help?
Thanks Alleen M Stephenson 

If you would like to submit a story or query about your Bosque County family to this column or send in further information on one of our stories or queries please mail them to: LaDawn Garland c/o The Bosque County News, P.O. Box 343, Meridian, TX 76665, fax to (254) 435-6335 or email me at