JAMES H. LOVEJOY
of Houston, Texas
THIRD SHERIFF OF COLLIN COUNTY – 1854 - 1858
The Daily Courier-Gazette, Feb. 3, 1908
While on a recent visit to relatives in McKinney, James H. Lovejoy and wife of Houston were called upon by one of the editors of The Daily Courier-Gazette and Weekly Democrat-Gazette, at the home of their niece, Mrs. Edna Nale, to whom they talked most interestingly of early times in Collin county which county was their home in their younger days. In fact, Mr. Lovejoy claimed McKinney as his home for a period of thirty-seven years (1848-1887) and had the honor of serving for two terms as the third sheriff of Collin county, from 1854-1858. As stated in those papers at the time, Mr. and Mrs. Lovejoy came up from Houston to visit their nieces Mrs. Edna Nale in McKinney and Mrs. M. C. McMahan of White’s Grove and nephew John L. Lovejoy, the prominent McKinney banker (third of the name.
James H. Lovejoy.
James H. Lovejoy, third sheriff of Collin county, whose second term in the office expired now just a half century ago, was born Feb. 3, 1832 at Hot Springs, Ark., and was the son of Rev. John L. Lovejoy, a noted pioneer figure in the early annals of Texas religious, political and commercial circles.
When the subject of this sketch was only three years of age, his father emigrated to Texas–crossing Red River at Mill Creek, May 13, 1835, and settled in what is now the northeast corner of Lamar county. But then there was no such geographical sub-division as Lamar county known on the map, or ever thought of. Texas independence had not yet been so brilliantly won on the bloody field of San Jacinto by Gen. Sam Houston and his patriot band of citizen soldiery. The star of political hope of a new-born republic was just beginning to take root prior to the bursting forth in resplendent glory to shed its rays of political and civil liberty broadcast over an entire territory of unsurpassed, but virgin richness, and rescue it from under the Iron heel of Mexican tyranny and despotism. What is now called Lamar county was then a part of Nachadoches Land District. Bowie county was a part of Arkansas and was represented in the legislature of that state by Travis Wright who later died in Paris. For about ten years, Mr. Lovejoy Sr. made his home there, until about 1845, when he moved to Grayson county, Wilson’s old mill on Sister Grove being his home for nearly a year. Then Collin county became his home. In 1846 he opened up a dry goods business at Old Buckner, the first county seat, where he sold goods till 1848. An election was held to determine a location of a county seat nearer the geographical center of the county. The present location of McKinney was chosen. On Apr. 2, 1848, the first McKinney lot sale in the newly surveyed county capitol was held. Four days later, Mr. Lovejoy had moved his little shack of a store building from Old Buckner and established himself in business in the same , which rested upon the lot now known as the Foote House corner, occupied by White & Newsome’s Gents Furnishing establishment. This was the first store in McKinney and Mr. Lovejoy and his family, who lived in the rear of their store building, became the first settlers of McKinney. James H. Lovejoy then a lad of sixteen, built the first fire in McKinney on the same lot. Mr. Lovejoy also bought three other lots in McKinney on the southeast corner of the square and then bought another lot across the street east, which he later sold to I. D. Newsome, the pioneer McKinney merchant, who founded thereon a mercantile business that was continued by himself and sons for upwards of a half century on the same plot of ground.
Mr. Lovejoy Sr. sold the Foote House corner property to A. M. and C. C. Alexander, pioneer McKinney merchants, and moved to Alton, Denton county, where he sold goods till the county seat of that county was moved to Denton town, when he too moved there and became Denton’s first merchant. During the same time he ran a branch store at Weatherford which place was then called Lovejoy’s Store. All the while he was merchandising at different points mentioned, Mr. Lovejoy had a varied experience as a Texas Ranger, a preacher and active participant in matters political affecting the Republic and newly made Lone Star State. He shirked no duty of a citizen, as he saw it, in any sphere of activity–religion, politics, business or armed defense of his country against the wild Comanche Indian or other foe of this then sparsely inhabited section and looked upon as the extreme border frontier.
Associated with Rev. John W. McKinzey, another noted Texas pioneer minister, Rev. Lovejoy established the first Methodist church in North Texas at Clarksville, Red River county in the year 1832. He had the honor of serving as chaplain of both the lower and upper houses of the Texas legislature during his ministerial career. A unique distinction for Rev. Lovejoy, in this connection, is the fact that he held the above positions of honor in the law-making bodies of Texas before he was ever licensed to preach. In fact, he was not formally clothed with authority to preach by his church until he was seventy-three years old. The revered, D. J. Martin, a pioneer Methodist minister who was known by almost all our older readers, regularly licensed Rev. Lovejoy to reach after the venerable pioneer had been expounding the gospel as a lay minister for about fifty years. This rugged old pioneer frontiersman, merchant, ranger and preacher passed to his reward in the year 1885 at the ripe old age of eighty-five. Denton was his place of residence when his long, varied and useful life came to a peaceful close.
His son James H. Lovejoy as before mentioned, became a resident of McKinney Apr. 6, 1848, but had been here three or four years before that early date even. When he first beheld the spot now known as McKinney, it was a wild prairie, unfenced, untilled, unoccupied, save by the wild game then so plentiful and peculiar to this section before. It was slaughtered or banished by the advancing tramp of civilization. Reared amid such rugged surroundings, it was quite natural for this stalwart young man to become enthused with the first duty of a pioneer citizen–that of protecting his loved ones and neighbors against loss or injury alike from the raids of the savage or the ruthless hand of the lawless white man. He saw ranger service and before he was twenty-one, he was appointed deputy sheriff by Bob Fitzhugh, who was the second sheriff of Collin county. District Judge Mills who organized the county, appointed King Custer first sheriff of Collin county – prior to 1848.
The first election of the newly organized county was held, so Mr. Lovejoy says, on the first Monday in August in the year 1848. Officers elected were: King Custer, sheriff; A. T. Robinson, county judge; Jordan O. Straughan, district clerk; Joel F. Stewart, county clerk; Capt. Beverly, (father of Rev. John Beverly and grandfather of Ex-Sheriff Tom Beverly), Walter Yeary of Farmersville and John B. Martin, county commissioners.
In1850 Bob Fitzhugh defeated King Custer for re-election as sheriff. Fitzhugh served two terms from 1850 to 1854. He was succeeded by James H. Lovejoy, who also was elected two terms–serving from 1854 to 1858. Lovejoy was followed in office by J. Dud Doak who held the position for one term, being succeeded in 1860 by James Reed who was hanged while holding office, during the war, near Rockwall.
James H. Lovejoy enlisted in the state service in the early part of 1860 and helped capture Forts Washita and Arbuckle under Col. Bill Young. In three preliminary skirmished of the impending great civil war much arms and ammunition were taken, after which, the ex-sheriff returned to McKinney and helped to raise two companies for Stone’s regiment. He joined company D which was raised at Old Mantua under Capt. Bowen. He was in the battle of Wilson Creek where Lyon fell; at Pea Ridge when McCullough fell and other lesser engagements. Gen.van Dorn then recalled him as mustering officer and sent him home to help organize Martin’s regiment, DeMorse’s regiment, Burford’s regiment and Stone’s second regiment, rejoined his command near Holly Springs, Miss., and remained with the same to the close of the war.
When the war closed, the subject of this sketch came back to McKinney where he resided until Oct. 20, 1887, when he moved to Hillsboro where he remained for eighteen years, then moving to his present home in Houston. Mr. Lovejoy’s oldest brother, George W., died here in 1856 and was buried in the old McKinney cemetery. He was the father of our fellow-townsman and president of the First National bank, John W. Lovejoy. There were two other brothers, John L. and Wm. C. Lovejoy. The latter died soon after the war from a wound received while in the service of the Confederacy. John L. Lovejoy (second of the name) was the second county clerk of Collin county, serving for then years from 1852 to 1862. He went into the practice of law, moved to Denton, then to Decatur where he died about three years ago. There were also four sisters in the family as follows: Miss Lee Ane, married David Stiff; Miss Margaret, married Dr. Tom Cash at Denton, soon afterward dying; Miss Nancy, married C. C. Daugherty of Denton, still living and Miss Martha, who married Joshua Burks, mother of Mrs. Edna Nale of McKinney and Mrs. Homer D. Wade of Stamford.
James H. Lovejoy was married Oct. 28, 1857 to Miss Malinda Goodman here in McKinney. Rev. Smith, a well known Cumberland Presbyterian minister of those early days, officiated. This old couple are still in the enjoyment of comparatively good health for people of their age and are both possessed of clear memories of events in those early days, and are most interesting conversationalists. The first school Mr. Lovejoy attended was in a small school house which stood on the site of the present home of J. W. Purcell on North Church street in McKinney. It was taught by Prof. Mays. Among the friends of his boyhood and young manhood still living in this county are Alfred Chandler, Albert Chandler, James Wetsel, Sol Fitzhugh, and Eld. Jno M. McKinney. Most of them have passed to their reward beyond. While enjoying his visit in the main, back among the scenes and activities of his youth and prime of life, still there gathered about him melancholy thoughts–tender memories of happy events, loved ones and devoted friends whose bodies have long since mouldered to dust that invested the visit of the old veteran with the only touch of pathos or regret connected with the otherwise pleasant stay of a few weeks in the great county which had honored him more than a half century ago.
JAMES H. LOVEJOY
James H. Lovejoy, one of Collin County’s very first pioneers was born February 3, 1832 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was the son of the late John L. Lovejoy and came to Collin County with his family at age 3. They came by way of Millcreek and settled at Buckner and opened a general merchandise store at the fort, selling to the settlers, trading with the peaceful Indians who lived in the County at that time. In 1848 an election was ordered to relocate the county seat in a more central spot. There was a lot of controversy about the new location, some favoring the present site of McKinney and some liked the land south of town near the old underpass on old Highway 5. The night before the election, a flooding rain fell and all the creeks were so swollen by flood waters that only the people in the vicinity of Buckner could come to vote. On May 3, 1848 the little store, having been hauled across the prairies for three days by 16 oxen, arrived at the present site of McKinney and was placed on the present northwest corner of the square. This was the first business in McKinney and to show his faith in the new town Mr. Lovejoy purchased several lots as they were laid out. The town was then considered the extreme frontier border town. He and another pioneer minister, the Rev. John W. McKinney, established the First Methodist Church, the first Methodist church in North Texas. He served several times as the Chaplain of both branches of the Texas Legislature and served for 50 years as a lay preacher before being formally licensed. He served as a ranger, a deputy sheriff, under the second sheriff, Bob Fitzhugh. (King Custer was the first Sheriff). Lovejoy was elected County Sheriff. His son, James H. Lovejoy served in the Confederate Army under Col. Bill Young, whose company captured Ft. Washita and Ft. Arbuckle in Oklahoma. He returned to McKinney and helped to raise two companies who served in Stone’s Regiment.
The Lovejoy family were staunch pioneers who served to build a new country.
James served ... two terms as sheriff of the county.
John Lemuel Lovejoy, son of George W. Lovejoy, was born in Paris, Lamar county, Texas, August 22, 1848 and came with his parents to Collin County in 1848 settling at White’s Grove. He was a successful businessman in McKinney for many years, serving as president of the First National Bank, director of the Texas Electric Railway, director of the Texas Cotton Oil Company, vice president of the McKinney Cotton Oil Mill, vice president of the McKinney Dry Goods Company and a number of other interests. He married Carrie Louise Emerson, daughter of Francis Emerson. The late Mrs. C. G. Comegys was his daughter, and her sons, George Wilkins Comegys and J. L. Comegys, continued to serve the town in many areas. The third generation is still active in business and civic life of Collin County.
Uncle Johnnie Lovejoy
(By Dr. Jno. Cunningham)
“Within the sun-lit prairies
Our roof the bright blue sky.
Where fountains flow and wold flowers bloom,
We life our hearts on high.”
At the recent Confederate reunion we met an old veteran who had fought in many battles beneath Dixie’s flag. He claimed to be 70 years old. His name was Lovejoy. In the run of his conversation we learned that we was a son of Rev. Jno. L. Lovejoy, a pioneer in missionary work of the M. E. church. He landed in North Texas from Little Rock, Ark. in 1835. Uncle Johnnie had accompanied many ranger companies in their raids on the track of the marauding Comanches. He carried not only his musket but also his Bible and song book. In battle Uncle Johnnie was always in the front ranks. When the battles were over and the victory won, he would assemble his patriots around the campfires at night, sing a song, have prayers, preach a spirited sermon, ever teaching the doctrine that the good Lord would ever deal kindly with the brave soldier killed or wounded in battle Hence, all over North and West Texas, wherever Uncle Johnnie was known, he was welcomed and loved.
The great war had come and gone during which Uncle Johnnie had still played soldier-priest. In the winter of 1873, the famous 13th Texas Legislature liberators of Texas, assembled in Austin. A Democratic caucus was held. Dr. Taylor of Jefferson was chosen speaker, and a full corps of officers, except chaplain, was chosen. There were several veterans for the sacred office, all splendid looking men, well appraised in Prince Albert suits and plug hate. Uncle Johnnie was also there and a candidate fore sacerdotal honors. We remember Uncle Johnnie well, though thirty-five years back. His dress was very plain and on the shabby-genteel order; his beard and hair were unkempt and shaggy his hate had gone to seed; his brogans were holy. [sic]
Dick Burdough, a young lawyer of Gainesville, was Uncle Johnnie’s campaign manager. Dick, at fifteen years of age, stood beneath the beautiful folds of Dixie’s proud flag and fought through the bloody and cruel war, from Mississippi. He was small of stature and primitive in dress. Was always minus vest, necktie or coat. Was very boyish in appearance and very fond of peach and honey. He was talented and an orator; was law partner of Judge Weaver, the soldier, poet, orator and jurist. Dick’s greatest argument in Uncle Johnnie’s behalf was that he would give us each morning the Lord’s prayer, the greatest prayer of the world, and would then turn us loose and let us go Scott free until next morning. This writer and many others took a hand with Dick. The opposing candidates had their strong adherents. Well, to make a long story short, a vote was taken in the House one morning and when the ballots were counted Uncle Johnnie had scooped the chaplaincy over all opponents with over a two-thirds majority. It took hard rapping from the speaker to quell the continued applause to Uncle Johnnie, who arose and in a neat, short speech, thanked the House and his friends for the honor and emoluments–$8 a day, Sunday included–conferred upon him. Uncle Johnnie went to a barber, thence to one of the finest and largest stores in Austin, dressed himself from head to foot with a 75-dollar Prince Albert suit, plug hat, black kid gloves, boots to match and everything else in order. That evening Uncle Johnnie returned in the House in his new suit. Nobody knew him. Dick had to take the chaplain around and introduce him again. He made a splendid chaplain. We all learned to love him.
The last sad and pathetic scene of the 13th House was enacted alone by Uncle Johnnie. He made a prayer and sang a song that caused many years to trickle down over brawny cheeks of old soldiers that had never blanched on the slippery decks of a hundred bloody battlefields. Of such were the House composed. He was the true type of the “Grand old Southern gentleman.”