First Families of Limestone County

Hampton Steele

The First Families of Limestone County is a project sponsored by the Limestone County Historical Commission that recognizes early settlers who lived in the county before or during 1896, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the county.  During a Commissioners’ Court meeting held in December, the historical commission recognized Hampton Steele and his second wife, Martha Leona Chisum, as members of one of the First Families of Limestone County.

Hampton Steele was born in Grimes County on August 2, 1839.  He was the eldest son of Mary Ann Powell and Alfonso P. Steele.  In 1844, he moved with his parents and two brothers, Alonzo and Alvarado, to what is now Limestone County.  Part of his account of this move, which he wrote in 1925, is given as follows:

If you had been a spectator down in Grimes county about a hundred miles southeast of here, 81 years ago, last November, being the year 1844, you would have observed an old home made wagon, the old wooden axle kind-the only kind we had in that day and time.  That wagon was standing behind a log cabin.  There was a small like man and a little blue-eyed woman and three little boys around that wagon, and they were loading that wagon with their house-hold goods which did not amount to much.  We had no bedsteads to go in the wagon, no rocking chairs at all, no dresser and no stove.  The bedstead was a fixture to the cabin, the old one post bedstead.  All old Texans know how they built them and we used the three-legged stools for chairs.  Our cooking vessels consisted of skillets and a frying pan and two pots, one large pot, and one small pot that we used to boil vegetables in.  That was our household plunder.  We had two or three straw mattresses, and I must not forget the old spinning wheel that had to go to spin the thread to make our clothes with.  The wagon was loaded, the oxen brought up and hitched to the wagon and their faces turned to the northwest, another pioneer family going to the frontier to help blaze the way for our great civilization that we have today…

I will relate an incident that happened.  We had been on the road about a couple of days.  I didn’t like to ride in the wagon.  I wanted to be out on the road throwing rocks at the birds.  We were coming down a long slanted hill towards a creek where we were going to camp for the night.  Father was riding his horse along in front of the wagon a little ahead.  He happened to look back towards the top of the hill and saw two persons on the hill. I was out behind the wagon apiece.  He hollered to me to look at the Indians.  One glance back was enough.  I sure went to the wagon in a hurry.  So we camped there for the night. The Indians proved to be two negroes out after some hogs.  Father said he didn’t know but what they were Indians when we first saw them.  So all went well.  We passed the night there and the next morning we moved out on our journey through the wilderness towards our destination.  We came up on the east side of the Navasota River until we struck the old San Antonio road, the old road that was made by the Spaniards which led from San Antonio to Nacogdoches.  We crossed over the river there to the west side of the river.  There was not much road through the wilderness then,-just a kind of trail road made by buffalo hunters coming out to the prairie to kill buffalo.  We came through Boon Prairie which is in Robertson county along up Duck creek along where old Eutaw used to be just east of Kosse, came out of the woods at a point of timber where old Governor Brown settled afterwards, which was known as the Gentry Point.  The time we came here that place was called Spillers Point.  My father told me that there was a hunting party came out to the prairie to kill buffalo and one of the men was named Spillers, and the Indians got after them and killed Spillers at that point, whence at an early day it was always called Spillers Point.  We were out of the timber now upon the great prairie, the great and beautiful expanse that reached across this great empire state of Texas, so with our faithful oxen we moved on; we were getting near our journey’s end now, and we crossed Steele’s creek, at what is known as the old Tidwell place now, though there was no settlement there then. 

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