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Biographies

The Jenkins Family
William Jenkins [1] | William Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [1] | Francis Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [3]
Lorenzo C. Jenkins | Thos. William Jenkins | William N. Jenkins

THOMAS WILLIAM JENKINS (1848-1911)

Thomas William JenkinsThomas William Jenkins, born June 17, 1848 in either South Carolina or Georgia, was the eldest son of Lorenzo Clark Jenkins and his first wife Cornelia. Thomas grew up on a farm at or near Carnesville, Franklin County, Georgia.

It is said that in 1869, when he was twenty-one, T. W. Jenkins and his eighteen-year-old brother Benjamin Franklin Jenkins saddled their horses and left their home in Franklin County, Georgia, bound for Texas. An unsubstantiated family story holds that young T. W. left behind a bride in neighboring South Carolina because she refused to leave her mother, or that he divorced her before leaving for Texas. Another story, equally unsubstantiated, has it that after the Civil War, T. W.’s father, Lorenzo Jenkins, left Georgia, taking the family with him to Illinois. It was there or in the Indian Territory, so the story goes, that young T. W. Jenkins met the girl we know he married.

We cannot be certain that either of these stories are true. In the opinion of this writer, there may be something to the first but the second seems particularly implausible. We do know, however, that T. W. and his brother did in fact go to Texas. Our first record of T. W. Jenkins is in Greenville, Hunt County, Texas. It was there, on December 6, 1874, that Thomas William Jenkins married Louisa Williams, the twenty-four year old daughter of John I. Williams, a native of Illinois who had brought his family to Texas sometime between 1858 and 1860. In 1875, Louisa gave birth to her first child, a daughter who was named Delilah Emmeline or "Emma."

According to family lore, Louisa herself had an unusually long name. Apparently, when she was born in 1850, her mother Delilah decided to name the girl for every one of her (Delilah’s) sisters. As a result, Louisa’s entire name was Louisa Iodine Spicy Ann Susan Elizabeth Ludicy Katherine Williams. This story is partly substantiated by the 1860 federal census for Hunt County, Texas, which lists one John Williams with a wife named Delila and a daughter named "Spicy A."

During the first four years of their marriage, T. W. and Louisa Jenkins lived on a farm about 4 miles north of Greenville. The land was part of a larger tract originally known as the John C. Bates survey. It was located on a branch of the Sabine River. Deed records in the Hunt County courthouse confirm that the couple owned 100 acres but sold it, in two parcels, in 1876 and 1878. It appears that afterward, sometime during the fall of 1878, Thomas and Louisa removed to neighboring Lamar County, where they had purchased a 105 acre tract "on the waters of Pine Creek, a tributary of [the] Red River…about 8 miles North West from Paris."

On November 13, 1878, shortly after moving to Lamar County, T. W. Jenkins bought another tract of 227 ½ acres. On the very same date, he sold his Pine Creek property to the same man who sold him the larger piece of property. Because the selling price for each tract was $300, it seems unlikely that any money actually changed hands. It appears that this transaction was simply an even trade.

The new Jenkins farm was situated about halfway between Paris, the seat of Lamar County, and the Red River, which marked the boundary between Texas and Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The nearest community was a little town called Powderly. It was here about 1879 that Louisa Jenkins gave birth to her second child, Thomas Benjamin. He was followed, in somewhat rapid succession by William Newton (born December 20, 1881), George Christopher (born September 9, 1883), and Lorenzo Russell (born March 8, 1885).

Although he was primarily a farmer by occupation, it appears that his growing family led Thomas William Jenkins to seek some way to supplement his income. In the summer of 1886 he obtained a four-year contract with the U.S. Post Office Department to deliver the mail between Paris and Chicota, a town which lay on the south bank of the Red River, a few miles north of his home. The distance between the two points was about 15 or 20 miles and his route took him through Powderly. Consequently, we may imagine that he often stopped at home for lunch. He fulfilled his duty, we may also imagine, either on horseback, carrying the mail in leather saddlebags, or by driving a horse-drawn buggy. Given the poor state of the roads at that time (most were only dirt trails), the former seems the most likely scenario.

T. W.’s job as a mail carrier brought him a modest income of $150 a year. But certainly, he and Louisa were in need of it. Over the next four years, two more children were born: Andrew Jefferson (born February 20, 1887) and Pearlee Margaret or "Maggie" (born September 15, 1889). These were followed, in the 1890s, by another two: Susan Zobedia or "Beadie" (born September 29, 1893) and Sada Elizabeth, the last child (born January 4, 1898).

Around 1892, T. W.’s and Louisa’s daughter Emma Jenkins married David Andrew Morrison, the son of one of the family’s nearest neighbors. Not long afterward, the older couple became grandparents when Emma’s first child, Christopher Columbus Morrison, was born. Why Christopher Columbus? Well, in 1893, when baby "Lum" arrived, the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by the famous Italian navigator was being celebrated (a year late) at the World’s Columbian Expostion in St. Louis, Missouri. Surely, this event was the inspiration for his name.

The Morrison and Jenkins families seem to have been very close. About 1894, when T. W. and Louisa sat for a formal portrait with six of their children, not only were their son-in-law and baby grandson included but also Janey and Emmerine Morrison, two of Emma Jenkin’s Morrison’s new sisters-in-law.

Around the same time period, T. W. and Louisa posed for a formal portrait on their own. In appearance, they seem like an "odd couple." Dressed in a dark, three-piece suit, T. W. is of average height, thin, with a mustache and Buffalo Bill-style goatee. Louisa, only slightly shorter, stands to her husband’s left. She is a large, buxom woman wearing a white blouse and a dark, floor-length skirt. Each has a hand resting atop the back of a chair. They seem stiff and ill-at-ease.

On July 14, 1900, a second Jenkins-Morrison union occurred when William Newton Jenkins, age eighteen, married his brother-in-law’s sister, Emmerine J. Morrison, less than two weeks before her twenty-sixth birthday. In an age when men traditionally married younger women, (oftentimes many years younger) the groom being six years younger than the bride was something out-of-the-ordinary. Be that as it may, this union, which produced three children, was short-lived. In February 1904, after contracting blood poisoning (possibly as a result of child-birth), Emmerine Jenkins died.

Around this same period of time, the first decade of the twentieth century, T. W. Jenkins and his wife Louisa were divorced. We do not know why. Nevertheless, in 1910, when he was sixty-two years of age, the federal census-taker found T. W. living alone in a house on North Lee Street in Paris. The family of his nephew, Benjamin Franklin Jenkins, Jr. (the son of T. W.’s brother Benjamin) lived next door. His ex-wife lived with their son William Newton Jenkins, his new bride Celeste, and their children, probably in Powderly.

TW Jenkins grave, Paris, TexasAt 1:20 a.m. on October 6, 1911, at his home in Paris, T. W. Jenkins passed away. It appears that he was under the care of a physician, Dr. P. A. Spain, at the time. We do not know the cause of his death but we do know that very little time passed between his death and burial. His funeral service was conducted at his home, at 3 p.m. in the afternoon of the very same day he died. Afterward, T. W. Jenkins was laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery in Paris. (See photo left, of T. W. Jenkins grave marker.)

An inventory of T. W. Jenkin’s possessions, made after his death, shows that although he had moved to town, he still owned eighty acres of land and some livestock, including several cows, pigs, and mules. Like his grandmother, Dorothea Jenkins, he had been a beekeeper, having no fewer than fourteen hives.

In 1913, Louisa Jenkins was living in Paris at 1025 North 29th Street, where she paid $500 in property taxes. Her son, William Newton Jenkins, his wife "Lestie," along with William’s three children by his first wife, lived with her. The following year, on March 28, 1914, Louisa also passed away. Presumably, she too is buried in Paris’ Evergreen Cemetery.


The Jenkins Family
William Jenkins [1] | William Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [1] | Francis Jenkins [2] | Francis Jenkins [3]
Lorenzo C. Jenkins | Thos. William Jenkins | William N. Jenkins


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