Footprints of Fayette

Peter Faison – Part II

By Marie W. Watts

Peter endeavored to follow Nathaniel into public service but was unsuccessful. Nathaniel had been the Fayette County clerk for a number of years. Peter lost the 1876 election for the position of Fayette County surveyor to Homer P. Hill by a margin of 1,310 to 676.

In 1884, Peter built a substantial addition to the house, connecting the two portions of the existing house. The addition boasted two large rooms with a hallway in between. One was used as a parlor while the other as a bedroom. 

Eventually, Peter became active in the St. James Episcopal Church where he and his entire family were baptized. He did serve in leadership roles within the church, including acting as a warden in 1894.  

Peter had a difficult relationship with his daughter, Maria, and was very protective of her. While Maria was attending school in Staunton, Va., a local young man, Willie Ledbetter, stopped by the school to visit Maria in 1880. He was interviewed by the head of the school and only then was he allowed to visit Maria with a chaperone present. Peter flew into a rage and Maria promised she would not visit with Willie again.

By 1881, Peter ordered Maria home, despite the fact that she had not graduated due to health issues. He insisted the school issue a diploma, anyway. Meanwhile, Maria postponed her homecoming and made a desperate plea to Peter to stay. Apparently it was unsuccessful and she returned to La Grange. Maria died in 1888 at the age of 26 after a four-month illness. She never married.

During Peter’s life, he maintained a complex relationship with the former slaves of his father’s plantation. He posted bond for Lucy Faison (African-American) on Aug. 9, 1866 for a marriage license in Tennessee. Among the papers found in the N.W. Faison house are three notes signed with an “X” by Tom Faison (African-American) in 1898 for $3, $2.45, and $5. Tom was, however, charged an 8-percent interest rate. Tom is believed to be a descendent of the former Faison slaves.

Additionally, Payton Faison, who is listed as a slave in Wright’s will, came to Texas at some point and is shown owning 60 acres of land in the 1871 Fayette County tax records. There is no indication how Payton, who is thought to be the son of Wright, obtained the land, although it could be that he was given the land, or money for the land, by either Nathaniel or Peter.

Peter died of “old age” on Dec. 22, 1918 and was buried in the family plot in the La Grange Cemetery.

Despite the fact that Peter’s well-being depended on the wealth of others, he did not appreciate the same trait in his son, Percy. In May, 1906, Peter wrote his will, splitting his land holdings between his two sons. However, Peter stated that he had advanced Percy different sums of money at different times and, therefore, left the house to Jimmy, who still lived in the family home with his wife, father, and mother.

In a Dec. 2, 1914 codicil to the will, Peter made it clear that when he had given money to Jimmy, he had given a similar amount of money to Percy. Peter complained that he had expected Percy to use some of the money Peter had given him to buy land in Uvalde and Fayette counties for both himself and Jimmy, but this did not happen. In addition to the house, Peter left Jimmy an additional 96½ acres for helping Peter during a lengthy illness.