Footprints of Fayette

A Historical Column From The Fayette County
Historical Commission and Fayette County Judge’s Office

La Grange in 1839 – Part II
Transcribed By Rox Ann Johnson

Continuing with a description of La Grange in 1839 as printed in the May 10, 1867 issue of the State Rights Democrat:
“P. [Frede], kept a bar and cake shop, which the old settlers say was a place of great resort. B.F. [Nabors], kept a grocery at or near where Wertz’s tin shop now stands. Garrett E. Boon also kept a grocery at the house where J.C. Eccles afterwards did business. No lager beer then – mostly ‘whisky straight’ or ‘whisky and brown sugar’ were vended at these bars.
“There were quite a number of young men in town then, who had [come] out to seek fortunes in this new country, and many of whom served as Rangers on the frontier against hostile Indians – the names most familiar are J.B. Alexander, D.S. [Kornegay], Tom Green, J.P. Hudson, Ed. Harris, R.A. Gillespie, Milton M. Gillespie, Jim P. Langly, S.S.B. Fields, Frank Morris, Frank [Nabors], Bill [Nabors] A.A. Gardinier, N.W. Faison, and Capt. William McAaron, of ‘Keelboat’ notoriety.
“R.A. Gillespie was killed at the storming of the Bishop’s Palace at Monterey, Mexico, in 1846. The citizens of San Antonio erected a handsome monument to his memory, which now stands as a testimonial of his worth, and heroic conduct on this memorable occasion. During the Mexican war, he was a great favorite among the people of Western Texas.
“A.A. Gardinier was afterward killed by Gus Williams, in a duel, near the old brick kiln, opposite where Behrens, our town butcher, now lives.
“Most of these young men were out of money and had no means of getting any except by serving in the Ranging companies, and, we are told by an old settler, that there was only two linnen-bosomed [sic.] shirts among them all, which were used as ‘common property’ by the young men, when on ‘courting occasions’ and many a scuffle was there over these fine shirts – some wanting to monopolize their use altogether.
“There were only two young ladies in town – Miss Jane Fitzgerald, the landlord’s daughter, and a Miss Hodge – they were the belles of the city. About the latter part of 1839 or the first of 1840, there was quite an acquisition to the town. The young men had long felt the need of a fashionable tailor and their wants were supplied by E. Pickett Howland, who was an excellent tailor and made quite a change for the better in the appearance of the elite gentlemen of the town, butting and making their clothes in the latest style. Howland was acknowledged as authority without questioning, on matters of fashion.
“The heads of families who lived here at that time, were: Felix Chenault, J.C. Cunningham, David Hodge, Jno. [O’Bar], Lyman [Cronkrite], Hiram Ferrill, J.H. Moore, Dr. Jas. A. Wells, Wm. Fitzgerald and Bat Smith.
“This brings us down to 1840. In our next [sic.] we will give some of the incidents of that and [succeeding] years.”
Two weeks later an article appeared in the State Rights Democrat, describing La Grange in 1840.