T. J. Russell

Clark Ashworth

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 Ashworth.

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 Mexican government.

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.