I - -I-- --
I was born January 3, 1808, the son of Drury and Martha M. Middleton,
and on December 15, 1831, was married to Mary Ann Chalk, who was born
April 12, 1810, in North Carolina, near the mouth of Chowan river. A wife
faithful and affectionate, she performed every duty, professing religion at Mount
Nebo camp meeting ground in Maury county, Tennessee, she lived religiously
until called to live with the children of God, March 23, 1871. I resided in
Tennessee until the autumn of 1834, when I removed to Marshall county,
Mississippi, ten miles north of Holly Springs, where, as the proprietor of a
house of entertainment on the public road, I became known to large numbers
of people. Losses in business affairs rendering me dissatisfied and desirous to
try my fortune in a new country, I resolved upon removal, and on the 15th day
of June, 1837, I landed with my family, in the Republic of Texas, and settled
in the county of Shelby. The country was thinly settled and the condition of
society disagreeable, as there were many settlers who were fugitives from
justice in the United States. The unsettled political situation of the Republic
and the nearness of Shelby county to the line of the United States, rendering
it easy to carry on acts of lawlessness and crime and to continue that course of
conduct which had rendered the perpetrators exiles from the United States.
Harrison and Panola counties join Shelby county, and lie in the northeastern
part of the State, contiguous to Louisiana. Settling in Shelby county,
I commenced farming, and was soon known to the community as one who
desired peace, but was always ready to lend my aid to preserve order and assist
in the punishment and expulsion of any who were guilty of acts of violence or
breeches of the law of the country.
In Shelby county were two political parties, known as the English and
Haley parties. They were divided in politics but united in their protection of
the desperado and fugitive from justice.
I will narrate a few incidents occurring between 1837 and 1840.
In April, 1837, Amos and Jim Strickland committed the theft of a store in
the State of Louisiana and transferred it on horseback to Texas. They were
so hotly pursued that nearly all the goods were recovered by the owners. In
1838, Jim Strickland stole a mare from a man named Henry Cannon and being
seen in possession of it by Ben Odell, the mare was freed and she returned
to her owner. Strickland denied the theft and afterwards killed Odell.
In 1837, one of the Anderson's guarded a large number of horses with their
bridles and saddles, stolen in Louisiana and was afterwards caught and killed
in Beecham's field, four miles east of Shelbyville, on the Teneha.
The county seat of Shelby county was moved from Shelbyville to Center.
A man named Hillary came the same year to buy land and had with him
$1,400 in coin, $300 in paper and a suit of clothes in his saddle bags. At San
Augustine, while he was asleep at the tavern, he was robbed by Willis Watson
Middleton, John W. History of the regulators and moderators and the Shelby County war in 1841 and 1842, in the republic of Texas, with facts and incidents in the early history of the republic and state, from 1837 to the annexation, together with incidents of frontier life and Indian troubles, and the war on the reserve in Young County in 1857. Fort Worth, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2362/. Accessed October 4, 2015.