Loftin-Brooks Family Collection
Scope and Contents
These documents note the progression of land sales within one family from the time of the mid-1820s under the Mexican Government, to the Republic of Texas, the State of Texas, through to World War I. This collection provides an overview about the value and social status of owning land and the careful recording of the land sales in county records. Prominent Texas personages include Peter Ellis Bean, Henry Raguet, Thomas Rusk, Hayden H. Edwards, and Jose Mariana Acosta, governor of Coahuila and Tejas in 1826. The personal letters and notes provide a view of a close-knit family.
From the early colonization of Texas, land grants were issued by the Government of Coahuila and Tejas to the first entrepreneurs in the form of leagues with 4,068 acres within each league. The leagues described in these deeds were originally granted to William Bean; to his son, Colonel Peter Ellis Bean; John Walker, and David Page. The land grants were held by the named owner, but more often, divided and sold to persons wanting to settle in Texas and as time passed, land was sold or inherited and sub-divided into smaller parcels.
This collection dates from 1826 to the early 1900s. The deeds record the ownership of three different but adjoining leagues of land along the east bank of the Neches River and Saline Creek. When placed in chronological order, the deeds show the ownership of the real estate and the various partitions passed down through sales or inheritance. The collection also contains a Family Bible and a small, leather-bound book of accounts and notes that belonged to William Pitt Loftin.
Of particular interest is the progression and accumulation of documents that were collected, stored, and carefully passed down within the family from 1826 to 2018.
Materials of special interest to researchers may include: Original land grant documents (English and Spanish copies) for the family of Peter Ellis Bean; courtship letters and notes to Miss Anne Loftin; copies of application for membership to Daughters of the American Revolution for the Loftin family; letters from WWI cavalry officer, Captain Oden R. Brooks; and a land deed from Henry Raguet to Otis M. Wheeler. Two wills connected to the Loftin family provide a view into the itemized division of property—land, slaves, money, and personal possessions.
- Event: Donated 2/13/2018
Language of Materials
The collection is in English and Spanish.
Conditions Governing Access
Open for research.
Biographical / Historical
Family history of land acquisition begins with Colonel John Dewberry who came to Texas in 1835. In 1845, he was “appointed by the Texas Legislature, Republic of Texas to locate the boundaries for Smith County” with the county seat located in Tyler (1). In 1852, Dewberry began construction on his plantation house, “on land where General J. Rusk and the Army of the Republic camped in 1839” when they pursued Cherokee Chief Bowles and his warriors (2). This land, as described in the original land grants and deeds on file at the ETRC, is situated on the Saline Branch of the east bank of the Neches River.
Dewberry became a successful business man and cotton plantation owner and at one time claimed 30,000 acres of land with approximately 200 slaves. The property included parts of Smith, Cherokee, and Anderson counties. Dewberry’s first wife, Mary Ann, died without children and he married Mariah R. Richardson Smith in 1857. Mariah had two daughters by her first husband, William Franklin Smith, the oldest was Eddie F. Smith, and her sister was Emma Smith. Census records show that Dewberry adopted Mariah’s two daughters, but there are no formal records of adoption. Dewberry died in 1877, and Mariah and the two girls inherited Dewberry’s entire estate.
Eddie F. Smith (Dewberry) married William Pitt Loftin in 1868; Loftin and his wife produced six children: John Dewberry Loftin, Anne, Emma, William Pitt (Little Peter), Lucy, and Ella. Little Peter died at age 5. John married Mamie Blake Kennedy; they had no children. Anne married Hezekiah Witcher; they had two children, Loftin d‘Verdery Witcher and Emily Virginia Witcher. Emma married Captain Oden Reed Brooks, Sr. and they had two children, Anne Witcher, and Oden R. Brooks, Jr. Lucy married Earl Brooks, Oden’s brother. Ella married E. O. Gayle.
Two members of the Loftin family, Emma Loftin Brooks (#72046) and her sister, Ella Loftin Gayle, (#72047) applied for and received membership with Daughters of the American Revolution through their great grand-father, John Walker (1766-1836) who served under Colonel Elijah Clarke, Virginia (3). Copies of their applications can be found in the collection. Dewberry’s home, Myrtle-Vale, was restored in 2001 and earned the Terry Preservation Award given annually by the East Texas Historical Association. The plantation house is considered an example of a pre-Civil War plantation residence. The address is FM 346 (Tyler-Palestine Highway), Bullard, Texas.
(1) Bob Bowman, “The Colonel’s Home,” in All Things Historical (East Texas Historical Commission, 2005), accessed April 18, 2018, http://www.texasescapes.com.
(2) Bowman, “The Colonel’s Home.”
(3) DAR, “North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000” (Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah), accessed April 18, 2018.
1.10 Cubic Feet
This collection consists of 165 items arranged at the item and folder levels of description in one banker’s box and one oversize bundle. There are 18 folders (159 items) and a family Bible in the banker’s box and 5 items in the oversize bundle.
- Guide to the Loftin-Brooks Family Collection
- Language of description
- Script of description
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