T. J. Russell
January 26, 1910
To the Journal:
Last week the paper announced
that an old man named Clark Ashworth died at Voth. In publishing that
statement I presume you did not know that Clark Ashworth was an
historic character in this county. He was the second child born of a
white woman in this part of Texas, then Mexico. His birth date was
March, 1832. The family then lived near Terry, Orange County, Texas.
The family had one neighbor, Hon. George A. Patillo (sic). D. A.
Pattillo (sic), a son was born there in March, 1832, two weeks before
Ashworth, and was the first white child born in either Jefferson,
Orange or Hardin Counties. This was then a part of Mexico, and four
years before the declaration of Texas Independence, March 2nd. 1836.
The Ashworth family had a
peculiar history that to a certain extent, militated against them. The
grandfather of Clark Ashworth was a native of South Carolina, and the
family originally came from Portugal, and were of the Moorish race. A
very dark complexion, but had hair on their head, instead of wool, like
that of African negro; though, the complexion was about as dark. This
fact often caused them to be taken for negroes. An effort was made to
disfranchise the family at one time during the days of the Republic.
And their friends took the matter up in the Congress and had a law
passed, declaring that the law relating to free negroes in the Republic
of Texas, did not apply to the Ashworth family. See Act of Congress,
date Dec. 12, 1840. H.D. Art. 2571.
The men named were William
Ashworth, Abner Ashworth, David Ashworth, Aaron Ashworth, and Elisha
This man Clark Ashworth was a
son of William, and his mother was a fair blonde, as white in
appearance and blood as anybody. The writer hereof was acquainted with
her, in her old days.
This family were among the
very first of the settlers in this part of Mexico, as it was then, and
were wealthy. Owned slaves, and large herds of horses and cattle. They
came here from Louisiana, above Alexandria. The men named above were
born at New Madrid, Mo., then Louisiana territory, and were there at
the time of the earthquake in 1812, moved to Louisiana soon after.
Among the early settlers
these families were recognized socially as white persons, and were so
treated in the present time by the same.
The family did not succeed in
keeping up their wealth, but were in fair condition of wealth. Clark
married a daughter of Burnaby O. Arthur whose headright of land was
located on Sabine Lake, just below Port Arthur now, the original site
of Sabine City in 1840.
Clark Ashworth joined a
company in the Confederate Army of Orange County, commanded by Capt.
J.J. Hannah, this was in 1862, and served faithfully till the break up
in 1865. Since then he has lived in Jefferson County. He lived under
the 5 flags of this country. First a Mexican, second Republic of Texas,
third after annexation in the United States, fourth under the
Confederacy, fifth again under the United States. In his young days he
was acquainted with all the citizens of this country (sic) and Orange.
He met such men as Sam Houston, Geo. W. Smith (sic), A. O. P. Hicks,
Ralph C. Doom, George A. Pattillo, Joseph Grigsby, John McGaffey, James
McFaddin, John J. French, Hezakiah (sic) Williams, J. M. Hebert,
Christian Hillebrant (sic), James Armstrong, F.W. Ogden, Noah Tevis,
Henry Millard, Dr. D.J.O. Millard, Anthony Junker, et al. These men
lived here previous to 1840, and the greater part of them under the
He was a good subject for the
antiquarian of the early days of Southeast Texas. Many things he could
tell of the men and times of the days before the war, that would make
interesting reading now. He is the last of the old set of citizens who
was born here under the rule of the Mexican government. He was a quiet,
peacable, law abiding citizen at all times and places. His widow is
entitiled to a Confederate pension from Texas.
TOM J. RUSSELL