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Thomas Russell Hightower

Thomas Russell llightower, one of the leading citizens of Union Township, Webster Co., Mo., was born in Caswell County, N. C., May 1, 1839, and is a son of Deverex and Sicily (Gooch) Hightower, natives, respectively, of linox County, Tenn., and North Carolina. The parents were married in North Carolina in 181 d, where they lived until the fall of 1850, when they removed to Greene County, MO., and three years later located in Webster County. When a young man the father learned the stone- mason's trade, at which he worked in connection with farming all his life, and was very successful until the outbreak of the Civil War, during which he lost heavily. He was a Democrat politically, and in his death, which occurred September 17, 1872, Webster County lost one of its most enterprising residents. Mrs. llightower died in October, 1858, a member of the Primitive Baptist Church. There were eight sons and eight daughters born to the parents of our subject, of whom four sons are now living, viz.: Joshua, a farmer of Niangua Township, Webster County; Eppa, a farmer of Wright County, Lao.; Abner, a farmer of High Prairie Township, Webster County, and Thomas Russell. The latter received his education in the common schools, and his home was with his parents during their life-time, providing and caring for his father during the last years of his life. He started in life for himself with limited means, but industry and good management have added 280 acres to the eighty acres led him, and he now owns a farm of as good laud as there is in Webster County. March 4,1860, he married Martha Walker, daughter of Robert Walker; she was born in Cedar County, MO., June 5,1843. To this union were born six children. Mr. llightower is a Democrat in politics, a member of the Masonic fraternity, and a member of the Methodist Church. lle is one of the enterprising men of the county, and is highly respected by all who know him.




John Hightower

John Hightower, Jr. was born Novem- ber 13, 1725, in Richmond County,Virginia, the son of John and Mary Bryan Hightower. Ilis birth was recorded in the Farnham Farish Register. His parents migrated to Amelia County, Virginia around 1748 and John, then about 23 years of age, went along with them.

The first reference we find of record in Amelia County, Virginia, is dated August 7,1756. Deed. John Ornsby to John Hightower, Sr. Adjoining John Hightower, Jr. This establishes his residence in Amelia County, Virginia. He married l) Ann Smith, daughter of Agniss Smith. It is not known at this time the number of children born of this union, however, we are certain there was at least one child, a daughter, Lucy. She was named in her grandfather, Agniss Smith's Will, Book 2, Amelia County, Virginia, proved 24 March 1774. John and Ann Hightower were married prior to 1758, as she is mentioned in legal transaction in that year.

September 21,1757, Amelia County, Virginia. Deed. John Hightower, Sr. to John Hightower, Jr. 250 acres. Tomahitton Swamp. Amoco's Corner. Stanley's Branch. September 21, 1757, Amelia County, Virginia. Deed. John Ilightower, Sr. to John Hightower, Jr. 100 acres. Tomahitton Creek. Womack's Corner. September 21, 1757, Amelia County, Virginia. Deed. John llightower, Sr. to Richard Hightower. Adonis his brother, John Hightower, Jr. September 27,1758, Amelia County, Virginia. Deed. John Hightower, Jr. and wife, Ann to Benjamine Milner. 100 acres adjoining William Hightower, to the Sedge Bottom. June 5,1759, Lunenburg County, Virginia.Deed. John Ilightower, Jr. of Amelia County, Virginia, from Joseph and Amelia fIightower of Lunenburg County, Virginia. 300 Acres. llounds Creek.



Lewis Buckner Hightower

Often I am asked if my family is related to the distinguished Hightower family in southeast Texas. Judge Lewis Buckner Hightower was a pioneer in Liberty County, Texas, and a renowned bear hunter in the Big Thicket. His progeny include many distinguished lawyers, judges and public servants. Judge Hightower was a descendant of Austin Hightower. Another descendant of Austin Hightower was Judge Richard Levesly Hightower, who was brought to Texas in a wagon train at the age of four in 1840, and served as a member of the Texas Senate in 1881. As a lawyer he is remembered for obtaining an acquittal for Abe Rothschild in the Diamond Bess Murder Trial. Some have inquired about our relationship to Jim Hightower, the Commissioner of Agriculture of the state of Texas. When the commissioner was asked this question in my presence he replied, "Oh yes, we are last cousins." Regardless, whether "first" or "last" cousins, it would seem that there is a great probability that through descent from the family of Joshua and Eleanor, most who carry the name Hightower are kin.

John Hightower, the son of Joshua Hightower and his wife, Eleanor, was born about 1692, probably in Richmond County, Virginia. He was married when he was about twenty six years to age, in 1718 or 1719, to Mary Bryant, in Richmond County. Mary was the daughter of Thomas and Eleanor Winniford Bryan.

It is evident that John Hightower was a profitable farmer, most likely in tobacco. In one court reference h paid 5000 Ibs of tobacco for 180 acres of land on Turk's (see Hightower News 1996) Branch of Tutskey Creek in October, 1726. The County records reflect that he was a slave owner in Richmond County in 1729 and by August 28,1745 he and his wife Ma! owned 290 acres of land. At this time they sold it to Nicholas Flood for 50 pounds of Virginia money. Also from the court records we learn that he was a surveyor and was appointed as the surveyor of highways as prescribed b law June 18, 1739.

In about 1748 they moved to Amelia County, on Hurricane Creek, near Blackstone, in present Nottoway County, Virginia. They stayed in Virginia their entire lives and their only move was to Amelia County. Between 1748 and 1756 they acquired 1600 acres of land in Amelia County and were granted 400 acres in Lunenburg County

William Hightower, the eldest son of John Hightower and Mary Bryant, was born July 20, 1720, Richmond County, Virginia. He was the first grandchild of Joshua and Eleanor Hightower. He married Susann Hanks, the daughter of William and Hannah Mills Hanks, October 12,1743, in Richmond County. Susannah w born December 18,1725, in Richmond County (See The Hanks Family).

The Hightower families decided to move and all moved together some settling in Amelia County, some Brunswick. The migration began around 1750. William followed

Hightower, Stephen Hightower, born about 1780, Susannah Hightower, ~ Pressley Hightower.

Thomas Hightower was born in Amelia County, Virginia, about 1751, the son of William Hightower and Susannah Hanks (See The Hanks Family). By 1774 he had moved to Mecklenburg County, Virginia, on Piney Creek, a few miles northeast of South Hill. He lived there until 1782 when the tax lists credit Thomas Hightower with six slaves. In 1782 he sold his farm in Mecklenburg. No further record is known until August, 1789, when Thomas bought 400 acres of land in Union County, South Carolina. He was married to Mildred Arnold, the daughter of James Arnold of Mecklenburg County sometime prior to November 6, 1775, when James Arnold wrote his will (See Hightower Family Wills).

In December, 1776, Thomas and Mildred sold their land and moved to Elbert County, Georgia. By 1801 Thomas and his family, three of the children married, had moved to Greene County where his brother William had settled in 1796. His neighbors were his brother William, James Leggett, Reuben Smith and Russell Talley. He bought an improved farm there in April of 1803. But he was not to enjoy the possession of it long, for he died the following September 22,1803. Mildred was living in Putnam County, Georgia, as late as 1820.

Thomas Hightower served in the Revolutionary War under the command of Col. Robert Goode and Brig. Gen. James Wood. He was wounded in 1781 while under the immediate command of Major General The Marquis de LaFayette. He received a pension for his services which began September 4,1783. He was a private in the militia of Chesterfield County, Virginia.

Thomas Hightower, Jr., the son of Thomas Hightower,Sr. and Mildred Arnold was born in 1800 at Cracker's Neck, Greene County,Georgia2. On October 16,1821, he married Elizabeth Tucker Moreland in Putnam County, Georgia.

Revolutionary service authenticated by Daughters of the American Revolution, No. 415734. 21n 1797 Rev. James Jenkins, a leader in the early days of Methodism, preached at Cracker's Neck and reported in his journal that, once a "fiery exhortation", a man in uniform came down the aisle and fell to his feet, crying for pardon.

Thomas and Elizabeth lived in Putnam County until 1824. They moved to Monroe County, Georgia, in 1825. By 1830 they were in Troup County, Georgia, where they lived until after 1840. By 1846 they were in Chambers County, Alabama, and moved on to Clalborne Parish, Louisiana, sometime before 1860.


Thomas Hightower, Jr., died in Clalborne Parish, Louisiana, May 15, 1874. Elizabeth died there October



William Clayton Hightower's
War Experiences

An account of W. C. Hightower's service during the Civil War can be found in a history of the "Clalborne Guards" by W. C. Cooksey in The History of Clalborne Pansh, Louisiana, compiled by D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse, New Orleans: Press of W. B. Stansbury & Co, 38 Natchez Street, 1886, beginning at page 173:

This company was organized in Homer, in April, 1861, with John Young, Captain, and J. B. Parham, J. M. Andrews, and John S. Young, Lieutenants. The company left immediately for New Orleans, where it went into the Second Louisiana Regiment of Infantry. Captain Young was promoted to be lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, which necessitated a new election of officers for the company, resulting in the choice of J. M. Andrews, Captain, and J. B. Parham, John S. Young and W. C. Leslie, Lieutenants. The regiment remained about a week in New Orleans, drilling, when we were ordered to Yorktown, where we passed a month in fortifying the place. From Yorktown we went to Williamsburg, where we remained two months, drilling and throwing up breastworks. Then we moved about ten miles, to the James River, where we spent two months more in drilling; after which we went into winter quarters about twenty miles east of Yorktown.

Early in the spring of 1862, we left winter quarters for Dams Nos. 1 and 2, in the Peninsula, where we spent a short time without any occurrence worthy of mention, except a little engagement, which, in the light of subsequent experience, we have always regarded as a very small affair. During


Clasping Hands with Generations Past

by Hazel Hightower

Texas gained her independence on March 2,1836, and its vast new territory beckoned to many of the pioneer families that had pushed their way down from the Virginias, through the Carolinas and the overland road through Tennessee and across Mississippi's Natchez Trace was frequented with long wagon trains creaking their way to this new land. Families with all their earthly belongings, including slave property, joined the trek as it moved through the states.

And so it was, this cold dreary winter of 1839-1840. A group that had joined the train in Tennessee, stopped off at Shreves Port, Louisiana and camped on the banks of the Red River. A dispute over slave property had developed enroute and the matter had to be settled before the slaves could be transported out of the United States into the Republic of Texas. Their destination_a day's travel west_seemed now as far away as did their home in Tennessee. Perhaps the only one in the group unaffected by the turmoil was a happy little four-year-old, blue-eyed boy, playing about the camp. Were it not for him, this story would not be possible.

Our story has its beginning in the State of Tennessee, near Somerville, in Fayette County, on December 26, 1829. One Drury S. Field, because of the love and affection he had for his brother, James A. Field, deeded 300 acres of land and two slaves, Bob and Diana, for his use and benefit, as well as that of his wife, Sally (also referred to as Sarah) and their five children, Stith, Alexander S., Caspor Wistor, Drury and an only daughter, Jane Anderson Field. A Peter R. Bland was named trustee. The instrument carried a provision that the land could be sold and monies derived therefrom used for the use and benefit of the family as James A. Field so directed.

The 1830 census of Fayette County records the household of James A. Field and wife, Sally, with a daughter between 15-20 years of age; two sons between 10-15 years of age and two sons under five years of age.

Six years pass before we find another link in our story. Drury 5. Field, again feeling magnanimous, deeds a slave boy, Alexander, nine years of age, to his namesake, Drury, youngest son of his brother, James A. Field. The instrument has a provision that Caspor Wistor, next to the youngest son of James A. Field, have possession of the slave boy should his brother, Drury, die prior to age 21 years. The document was dated December 12,1835, and was witnessed by three men, one of them signing as R. S. Hightower

According to the next authentic documents, it has been ascertained that the acreage covered in the original deed of trust had been sold and the monies derived therefrom, $2, 200. 00, paid to Drury 5. Field for eight slaves, with a balance outstanding of $ 1, 900. 00, to be paid as the slaves earned the money through their labors. The document was dated December 23,1835, and a clause therein substituted Robert S. Hightower as trustee instead of Peter R. Bland. The recipients are spelled out in this instrument as in the original deed with the exception of Jane A. Field; her name is written Jane Anderson Field Hightower. This is the first record we have that Robert and Jane are married.

On May 24, 1836, a son, Richard Levesly Hightower, was born to Robert Smith and Jane Anderson Field Hightower in Fayette County, Tennessee. From all indications, Robert was well accepted by his wife's people and the next three years found him busy, not only looking after the welfare of his wife and son, but also that of his wife's parents, James A. and Sally Fields along with four younger brothers. Two of these brothers were pursuing a formal education; Caspor Wistor preparing to become a doctor and Drury in the study of law.

Jane A. Field Hightower negotiated to purchase land in the Republic of Texas from James Shandoin of Shelby County, Texas. Certificate of Headright #499, dated June 8, 1835. It was agreed that he would sell her a league and labor of land 4, 605. 5 acres when she appeared in person to consummate the transfer of title.

Much thought and time went into the preparation of this move. This change of residence would not only affect her own home but that of her parents and her brothers. It also meant the moving of all the<. slave property belonging to her parents and brothers. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1839, all had been readied and their wagons, heavily laden, joined an already too long wagon train headed for Texas.

The trip was a long and tedious one, especially for Jane. Only a few weeks away from Tennessee, Jane learned she was again with child. In spite of her frail stature, she had determination and a strong will power. Traveling in the same train was Jane's Uncle Drury S. Field. Uncle Drury's patience and betterside was no longer showing after a few weeks on the trail. He did not feel so magnanimous anymore. Instead, he began to feel I remorse over having sold the eight slaves under ~he condition that he did, ie: The balance was to be paid as the slaves earned their keep.

Uncle Drury complained to Jane and to her husband. Hardheaded young Robert contended that a deal is a deal and that he positively refused to pay for the slaves other than as spelled out in the deed. Uncle Drury shouted that the slaves could not be taken out of the United States into the Republic of Texas until they were paid for in full.

The train was moving at a snail's pace across Louisiana. Finally. Iate in October, 1839, it reached Shreve's Port on the east bank of Red River. When the wagon train moved on west, the Field- Hightower clan remained in camp. No settlement had been reached. Too, Jane had given birth to their second child, a girl, who was given the name of Sarah P. Hightower. After a few weeks' discussion over the possibility of settling permanently in the vicinity of Shreve's Port(now Shreveport, or going on to Texas, it was decided that the climate would not be best for Jane's health, and Texas remained their destination.


Since nothing could be amicably agreed upon between her husband and her uncle to the slaves, Jane decided to take matters into her own hands. Lifting her full top skirt to the knee, she extracted a money purse from her petticoat pocket, counted out nineteen one-hundred-dollar bills, paid Uncle Drury 5. Field in full for the eight slaves and had all three instruments pertaining thereto recorded in the Conveyance Records of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, Book "A", Pages 231-237.

And so it was, this cold dreary winter of 1839-40, the families traveling the Shreveport-Grand Bluff Road west from Shreve's Port, Louisiana arrived at their destination_then a wilderness, identified to them only by surveyor's stakes_ but a Utopia to this group of weary and roadworn travelers. Little did Jane know that the place she had bargained for would be the birthplace of her firstborn son's fifteen natural children and become known to all as the Hightower community.

The first dwelling was a log house. The site was chosen for the abundance of timber and it was about one mile north of the Shreveport-Grand Bluff Road, approximately four miles east of the present town of Elysian Fields, Texas. The balance of the year 1840 was used getting the families housed and clearing land for the next year's crop planting.


1841 was the year that legal title to the acreage was acquired. James Shandoin deeded the property, situated in Harrison County, to A. Field Hightower for a cash consideration of $909. 00. This also was the year the permanent homestead was built. The building was located in the corner of the section where the Shreveport-Grand Bluff Road intersected the little-traveled road to the town seven miles to the north Waskom, Texas.

It is assumed that the family occupied the new homestead in late 1841 or early 1842, and that the third child of Robert 5. and Jane A. was born in this house. James F. Hightower was born February 1, 1842.

The next four years could very well have been spent clearing, crop raising, and generally getting settled in their new world. Nothing is actually known of the activities of the family during this period. Taken from Bible records of one of the descendants, it was learned that Jane A. continued to fail in health that she again became pregnant and soon thereafter developed tuberculosis.

Now that Richard Lee was married and head of a household, he filed for and was successful in securing a partition of the estate of his parents. To the union of Richard Lee and Martha A. Powell Hightower were born the following named children: Hannah , Edgar Wallace, Malcolm, Harriet Ella, Sallie ~ William.

During 1858, Richard Lee's sister, Sarah P., died The exact date and cause of death is unknown. She was eighteen years of age and had never been married. Her property was divided between her two brothers, Richard Lee and James F. Hightower. On April 3,- 1863, James F. Hightower, a bachelor, living in the Hightower homestead with his brother, Richard Lee, deeded all of his right title and interest in all real and slave property that he owned to his sister-in-law Martha A. Powell Hightower.

This family progressed in the farming industry as well as could be expected during the Civil War and the years to follow. When its slaves were freed they chose to remain with this family and both prospered.

Tragedy struck this family around 1869. Martha, the beloved wife and mother, died leaving six children. the oldest, Hannah, approximately fourteen years of age and William only four.

Richard Lee Hightower, a widower at the age of 33 years, was undaunted by the hardship. Even though this was quite a blow to this ambitious young lawyer and surveyor, he was determined and of strong will. Hannah, his fourteenyear-old daughter, was a great comfort to him. She helped with the management of the household and cared for her little brothers and sisters, with the help of servants, of course. This type of family life was trying and Richard Lee felt that he must find a wife for himself and a mother for his children. On June 15, 1870, he married the widow of the late Douglas J. Rogers, Martha E. Fortson Rogers, with three children, namely: Joseph E., John and a girl, Willie. These children were around the ages of Richard Lee's three oldest. Very little information could be obtained on the third child, Lee. Therefore, it is assumed that he died in infancy. Taken from the records of the fourth child, Cora, her mother died of childbirth, only two weeks after she was born_October, 1878.

Less than ten years had passed and again Richard Lee found himself in somewhat the same predicament, only more complicated. Five of his children by his first marriage, two of his three stepchildren and three little ones of his second marriage, all in his household without a mother.

By the same source of information, it was determined that Robert decided to return to Tennessee for recuperation. Early in 1847, Robert and Jane A. Ioaded up their wagon and set out for Somerville, Fayette County, Tennessee, leaving their three small children with Jane's parents, James A. and Sally Field, in the Hightower homestead.Jane's health did not improve and it is assumed that the child was born and\ died in infancy and buried in Fayette Couny. Robert S. had instructed the family that when he died, he wanted the grave to be large enough to accommodate the bodies of both he and his wife, Jane. He selected the site for the family graveyard, which was only a few hundred feet to the north of the homestead. He designated the spot he desired that he and Jane be buried at the base of a young, trim Cedar Tree. So it was, in 1849, Robert and Jane A. Field Hightower were laid to rest in their own private cemetery, sharing in death the same grave as they had shared in life the same bed.

According to the 1850 census of Harrison County, James A. and Sally Feld were maintaining the Hightower homestead and the three children of Robert S.. and Jane A. Hightower were with them. The oldest, Richard Leevesly Hightower, was fourteen. His sister, Sarah P., ten years old and their younger brother, James F. was eight years old. Even though Richard was young in years, he was mature in his way of thinking. He had diligently applied himself during there years to his studies, especially the study of law and survey. Tutors were hired to come live in at the homestead to teach the children.


Robert and Jane A. Field Hightower left no wills_this gave generous Uncle Drury a chance to step into the picture again. He promptly had himself appointed administrator of the then large estate of Robert and Jane A. Field Hightower. Young Richard was aware of the manner in which his uncle was handling the affairs of his late mother and father and squandering moneys that was rightfully his as well as his younger brother and sister. He was very displeased. The state continued to dwindle the first four year, after the death of Robert S. Richard (who now preferred to be called Richard Lee) was mentally mapping out his plan of action to salvage as much of the estate as he could. When he reached the age of eighteen years, he t.took himself a wife, He married Martha A. Powell on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1854. W. W. staples, minister, officiated.

Judge Hightower. as he was then called, was 42 years old and very active practicing attorney, as well as carrying on a lucrative survey business. Even though farming was the backbone of the financial structure of this family, loyal freed slaves relieved the strain and burden somewhat. His brother, James, and oldest son, Edgar, son, Joseph and step-son, John, looked after the management of the crops and bringing in supplies. Hannah, his oldest daughter, again, assumed the role of mother and housekeeper, and promised her father if he would not remarry that she would remain single and care for the children for him. He though it over but felt the sacrifice on Hannah's part would be too great; that she needed to make a life of her own. this was not in keeping with what Hann had expected and proved to be a great disappointment to her at the time. This decision perhaps led to more than one early marriage of the older children. Hannah married his step-son, Joseph E. Rogers, and the second daughter, Harriet, married J. Brooks Rogers(no relation to his step-child It was along about this time that the second step-son, John married Mattie. Shortly after this rush of weddings, Richard Lee won the hand of pretty, 2-year-old, Miss Alice Marion Fortson of Keatchie, Louisiana. She was the daughter of F. Marion Fortson and Frances Ann Spence.

In spite of the extreme hardships and grief of his life, Richard pressed on, achieving recognition as one of the best defense lawyers in East Texas. He was known far and near for his legal expertise and his services were widely desired. One of the more prominent cases of his career was the Diamond Bess Murder Trial. Diamond Bess(Bessie Moore) was murdered in a lonely heavily wooded area on the outskirts of the then thriving and booming town of Jefferson, Marion County, Texas. Her husband, Abe Rothschild, was accused of her murder. Abe's wealthy family resided in the Boston area. They had a squad of lawyers representing him in the courts of Marion County but the young Man seemed doomed to hang. Some of the members of his family, having heard of Judge Hightower's fame, sought his counsel. After much thought and some delay, the Judge accepted the case, provided the hearing could be held in Marshall, Harrison County, Texas. He felt that his client would receive a fair trial in a county removed from the scene of the crime. The motion was granted and Richard Lee was successful in securing a "Not Guilty" verdict for the accused. The murder is unsolved to this date.

Richard L. Hightower was serving in the State government in Austin as a senator during his whirlwind courtship and marriage to Alice. Each year, for many years now, the Jefferson Pilgrimage, held in May, stages a play with the reenactment of the courtroom scene of the trial. A player portrays Judge Hightower wearing a high- topped hat and frocktailed coat, as did the Judge in the day and time of the trial.

The winter of 1889-90 was a bitterly cold one. It was during these chill months that Richard Lee was doing extensive survey work, necessitating his being out in the weather for long periods of time. Combined with overexposure to the severe weather and extra long working hours, he became ill and confined to his bed at his homestead. The doctor attending him was unable to control the high temperature without using cold, wet applications. Richard Lee's weakened condition caused him to develop pneumonia and he died on April 5, 1890 at his homestead at the age of 54 years. He was survived by his third wife, Alice Fortson Hightower, twelve of his fifteen natural children(Malcolm, Sallie and Lee deceased), three stepchildren, and sixteen grandchildren. He was buried on April 6, 1890 in the Hightower Cemetery to the right of his second wife, Martha E. Fortson Rogers Hightower. In reading the diary of one of Judge Hightower's neighbors, Judge W. J. Owens, the writer found the following entry: April 6, 1890. I had to go dig ole man Hightower's grave this morning. Got it done

 



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