Edward H. Nance

At the time this biographical sketch of Edward H. Nance is being written (2011) he has the distinction of being our “brick wall” Nance ancestor. There are several descendants searching for information, so we hope that one of these days someone will have a breakthrough. Nevertheless, let me tell you some of the things we do know about this man.

We are fairly certain Edward was born in Virginia in about 1810 as indicated in data from the 1860 United States Federal Census. The names of his parents or siblings are not known. In his book, The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, Jim Kuhlman writes that it is likely that when Edward left Virginia he traveled by wagon on the historic National Road. This was the nation’s first federally funded interstate highway opening the nation to the west. It began in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1811 and eventually reached as far as Vandalia, Illinois, in 1838.

Edward’s wife was Margaret Cammarrar (most commonly spelled Camerer). She was born in about 1815 in either Pennsylvania or Ohio. Records indicate that her family moved to Brouilletts Creek, Edgar County, Illinois, in 1830. Edward and Margaret met sometime after that time and were married October 31, 1834.

Marriage record for Edward H. Nance and Margaret Camerer
Marriage record for Edward H. Nance and Margaret Camerer

After their marriage, they continued living in Edgar County for about five or six more years. During that time Edward and Margaret started a family. A daughter, Catherine, was born in 1836. They also had a son but there is no information giving his name or birth date.

Bureau of Land Management records indicate that in 1836 and 1837, Edward purchased land in both Edgar County, Illinois, and Vermillion County, Indiana, which is just across the county line from Edgar County.

Edward Nance is found on the 1840 United States Federal Census in Clinton County, Missouri. At this time the census recorded only the head of household and his family consisted of a male and a female, ages 20 to 30; and a male and a female both under the age of 5. The census also records one person employed in agriculture. While living in Clinton County, the Nance family continued to grow. A son, Lewis C., was born in 1841, and a daughter, Margaret A., was born in 1843.

Sometime before 1846 the Nance family moved back to Edgar County, Illinois. We know from the 1850 census that Edward worked as a miner. I agree with Jim Kuhlman when he says that working as a miner had to be an extremely difficult job. According to an article entitled “The U.S. Coal Industry in the Nineteenth Century” by Sean Patrick Adams, the coal mines in this area during the 1840’s tended to be small and labor intensive operations often limited to a few skilled miners aided by lesser skilled laborers. The coal miners worked close to the surface, often in horizontal drift mines, which meant that work was not as dangerous in this era before deep shaft mining. Nevertheless, the work of these coal miners was extremely arduous.

By the time of the 1850 United States Federal Census, Edward and Margaret had another child, Edward Y. Nance (born November 4, 1846). Listed with their parents are Catherine, Lewis, Margaret A.., and Edward Y. Note that the son born between 1834 and 1840 is not included on this census. We do not know what happened to this son. Jim Kuhlman does mention some information that might be a possible clue.

 Also listed living in District Nineteen of Edgar County, Illinois in 1850 was Hugh Nance. He was eighteen years old, born in Owen County, Indiana and was working as a farm laborer for Robert Faris, an eighty-five year old framer. Owen County, less than fifty miles east of Edgar County, also was a coal mining area. Could Hugh have been the son listed in the 1840 Census of Clinton County, Missouri? (Kuhlman, 9)

Margaret’s father, Lewis Camerer, died on November 26, 1855, and was buried at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery, also known as Carmel-Light Cemetery, in Edgar County, Illinois. Margaret inherited a 1/9 share of the estate and subsequently sold the property to her brother Daniel Camerer, as did five of her seven sisters. The deed was executed on February 11, 1858, and a justice of peace noted that both Edward and Margaret Nance personally appeared and were delivered the deed. (Wood, 4)

The Nance family lived in Edgar County, Illinois, until after 1855 because information in later census records shows that two more daughters were born there. A daughter, Clara, was born in 1853, and another daughter, Dovey Viola, was born in 1855.

EDWARD, MARGARET AND FAMILY MOVE TO TEXAS

 At some point between the birth of Viola in 1855 and the July 5, 1860 Lavaca County Census, the Edward Nance family pulled up stakes in Illinois and moved to Lavaca County, Texas. Lavaca County lies some sixty miles southeast of Austin and (is) approximately eighty miles west of Houston, Texas.

As the crow flies, the distance between Edgar County, Illinois and Lavaca County, Texas is approximately 900 miles. That’s quite a challenge to undertake with a large family and all of ones belongings. Travel most likely was by covered wagon and oxen. If they made two miles an hour they were really doing well. A hundred miles in a week was a good goal. One can only wonder why a family would move that great a distance and endure the hardships one would entail along the way. One possibility was that land was very cheap and easy to obtain in those days. (Kuhlman, 9)

 Note: In light of the fact that Edward and Margaret personally appeared and were delivered the deed of sale of her inherited property on February 11, 1848, they must have moved after that time. Patte Wood commented in a private email communication that she wondered if perhaps the money from the sale of the property helped finance the Nance family move to Texas. That certainly seems likely to me.

There is an interesting occurrence that lends to more questions than answers about the Edward Nance family. Their oldest daughter, Catherine M. Nance, died on December 28, 1858, in Collin County, Texas. Catherine was owed $68.25 by Joseph Setter in Edgar County, Illinois. Margaret Camerer Nance’s brother, Daniel Camerer, was named administrator of Catherine’s estate on May 3, 1859. The heirs, all who were believed to be residing in Texas according to Daniel Camerer, were named as: Father: E.H. Nance. Brothers and sisters: Margaret A. Scaggs, Edward Y. Nance, Clara E. Nance, Dovey V. Nance, and Lewis C. Nance. (Wood, 4-5)

This raises the question – why was Catherine located in a different place than her parents? Were there relatives in Collin County?

The Nance family settled in Lavaca County, Texas. Information on the 1860 United States Federal Census lists Edward and Margaret Nance along with their five children, Margaret, Lewis, Edward, Clara, and Viola. Edward’s occupation is farmer and his 16 year old son Lewis is working with his father as a farm laborer. It is on this census that Edward gives his birthplace as Virginia.

It is interesting to note that Lavaca County was named after the Lavaca River located in the area. “La vaca” is Spanish for “the cow” which seems a very suitable name for this part of Texas where cattle ranching was a primary industry for many years.

Like others in this area of Texas, Edward began to raise cattle. His sons Lewis and Edward Young followed in his footsteps. From the early livestock brand records recorded in the Lavaca County Courthouse, it is indicated that on June 11, 1861, E.H. Nance and his son L.C. Nance each recorded brands. On November 3, 1862, Edward recorded a slightly different brand. On April 20, 1863, Edward’s son, Edward Y., recorded his brand. These records were found by Jim Kuhlman in the Lavaca County Courthouse. (Kuhlman, 11)

As we know, the United States was engaged in the Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Even though Edward would have been too old to enlist, there are records indicating that his sons, Lewis C. and Edward Y., were enlisted. This was a tumultuous time for our country and life for all people in Texas must have been affected on many levels.

EDWARD H. NANCE DISAPPEARS FROM KNOWN RECORDS

It is regrettable that following the 1860 United States Federal Census and the registration of his cattle brands, Edward Nance almost falls off the “radar screen!” Nevertheless, Patte Wood is another descendant and Nance family researcher and has found a few pieces of information.

 Edward H. Nance apparently did not linger long in Lavaca County according to the information he provided when he registered to vote in Dallas County. On 23 September 1867, E.H. Nance was the 1,028 person to register. He stated he was a native of Virginia; had been in Texas for nine years; in Dallas County for six years; and in the Dallas County precinct for six years. This would mean Edward H. left Lavaca County sometime during 1861. Nevertheless, records indicate Edward H. registered a brand in Lavaca County in 1862.

The tax rolls of Dallas County were searched from 1861 to 1869. E.H. Nance was not located until 1868. He purchased 230 acres of land valued at $400. The original grantee was Robert Clayburg. In addition, he had five horses worth $200. The total amount of his assessed property was $770 and his taxes for the year were $2.04.

By census time 1870, no record is found of Edward H. Nance. It is my belief that Edward H. Nance died sometime between 1868 and 1869 when taxes were assessed in Dallas County. (Wood, 7)

 In light of the fact that Edward’s daughter, Catherine, died in Collin County, Texas on December 28, 1858, it is a possibility he had relatives in that area. (Collin County is located next to Dallas County.) If so, perhaps that was a reason for his move to that area.

There are many unanswered questions we have about the life of our ancestor Edward H. Nance. It would be wonderful to break down that “brick wall” to discover more about his parents and siblings. If he was born in Virginia – where? Why did he leave his family to live in Dallas County? Were there relatives in Dallas or Collin County? Where did he die and where is he buried? I invite other descendants of Edward H. Nance to join us in the search for answers to these questions.

In spite of all these questions, we know enough to realize Edward was a hard working man who farmed the land, worked as a coal miner, and eventually involved himself in the cattle industry. When Edward traveled with his family by wagon across the country from Illinois to Texas through dangerous territory, he showed he was a man of great stamina and courage who was seeking a better life for his family.

Sources

Adams, Sean Patrick, “The U.S. Coal Industry in the Nineteenth Century.”

Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp. Illinois Marriages, 1790-1860 [database

Online] Provo, UT, USA; Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Edgar County, Illinois, Office of Circuit Clerk, Estate Packet for Catherine Nance.

EH Net Encyclopedia, “The U.S. Coal Industry in the Nineteenth Century,” http://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-us-coal-industry-in-the-ninteenth-century-2/

Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD), Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, marriage record.

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Wikipedia, The Free Encylopedia, “National Road,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Road

Wood, Patte Patterson, “Descendants of Edward H. Nance,” 2007. patteatlakeway@aol.com

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

Edward H. Nance Family Group Sheet (click link) edward-h-nance-fgs-document

 

 

Lewis Camerer Nance

nance-lewis-c-tombstone-thursday-june-11-2009

In the year 1841 when Lewis C. Nance was born in Clinton County, Missouri, this was a rugged part of the United States. In fact, it was settled only about eleven years earlier. The man credited with settling the area was John Livingston, and it is written “he killed close to fifty black bears, 22 where the present-day Clinton County Courthouse stands. Until the Platte Purchase (1834-1838) the area was the border county or sometimes known as the Gateway to the West.”

Information we have on Lewis’ parents, Edward and Margaret Nance, is very sketchy. We know that before Lewis’ birth they lived in Edgar County, Illinois, because it is on record that Edward bought land in 1846 and 1847. In 1840 he is found on the United States Federal Census and was living in Clinton County, Missouri. The census listed him, a wife, a daughter, and a son. Both children were less than 5 years of age. The 1840 Census does not give information about occupation. This was a year before Lewis was born.

Lewis was the third child of Edward and Margaret Nance. In 1841 when he was born, the Nances had a daughter, Catherine, who was about 4 years old and a son. No records have been found that give the son’s name. He is not listed with the family on the 1850 census, so may have died or moved away at a young age.

Lewis was between 2 and 6 years old when the Nance family moved back to Edgar County, Illinois, and his father, Edward, was a miner. In his book, The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, Jim W. Kuhlman has this to say about this time in the Nance family’s life.

Between 1843 and 1847 they moved back to Edgar County, IL where Edward H. worked in the coal mines in the Northeast part of the county in Brouilletts Creek Township. These had to be extremely difficult times working in the mines. Two other children were born in Paris, Edgar County. Clara was born in 1853 and Viola in 1855. (Kuhlman, 9)

I agree with Kuhlman. The Nance family must have lived a hard life in those years when Lewis was only a boy. By 1846, he had another sister and brother, Margaret “Maggie” and Edward Young. In 1853 another sister, Clara, was born. Inevitably he and his siblings grew up rapidly and were given chores to help their mother keep the household running. We do no know if Edward farmed his land but more than likely he did. Nevertheless, they lived a frontier life.

In 1850 the Nance family was still living in Edgar County, Illinois. However, as Kuhlman points out that sometime between Dovey Viola’s birth in 1855 and the 1860 United States Federal Census, they had moved to Lavaca County, Texas.

As the crow flies, the distance between Edgar County, Illinois and Lavaca County, Texas is approximately 900 miles. That’s quite a challenge to undertake with a large family and all of one’s belongings. Travel most likely was by covered wagon and oxen. If they made two miles an hour they were really doing well. A hundred miles in a week was a good goal. One can only wonder why a family would move that great distance and endure the hardships one would entail along the way. One possibility was that land was very cheap and easy to obtain in those days. (Kuhlman, 9)

Upon arrival in Lavaca County, Lewis’ father, Edward, became involved in cattle production. Lewis and his younger brother, Edward Young, followed suit. From the early livestock brand records recorded in the Lavaca County Courthouse, it is indicated that on June 11, 1861, E.H. Nance and his son L.C. Nance each recorded brands. (Kuhlman, 11)

Mary Jane Upton May was a neighbor of the Nance family. The 1860 United States Federal Census shows us that she was widowed and had four children living at home. Evidently, one of her daughters, Charity, caught Lewis’ eye and they “struck up a friendship.” By 1862, it had developed into a more serious relationship and they married April 30, 1862, in her mother’s home.

Lewis Nance and Charity May Marriage License
Lewis Nance and Charity May Marriage License

After their marriage, it was not long before Lewis and Charity decided to purchase some land. There is record of Lewis’ purchase of 4-9/10 acres located on the Lavaca River. This should have been a happy time for this young couple, but we know that this was a tumultuous time in the history of the United States. The country was engaged in the Civil War. Not long after Lewis made his land purchase, he enlisted in the Confederate Army. On September 1, 1862, he was enrolled for the duration of the War by Captain George L. Patrick, 2nd Regiment, Texas Cavalry, Company D of the Confederate States Army. Information is from the National Archives Trust Fund Board, Washington, D.C.

During the months of September and October he was paid $24.40 for use of his horse and $50 for a bounty due him for enlistment. He continued to receive $12.20 a month for his horse. Captain Milby paid him $48.80 on February 28, 1863, for November through February.

Lewis Nance made the rank of Corporal in Company D. His service records indicate he was absent on sick leave several times. He was admitted to General Hospital in Houston, Texas on May 11, 1863, for ophthalmia. On May 18, he was furloughed for thirty days. He was on sick leave several other times in 1863 and during the month of April, 1864, according to Confederate Archives, Chapter 6, File No. 275, Page 158. (Kuhlman, 41)

Their family life was terribly disrupted during the time of the Civil War, but nevertheless, Lewis and Charity started a family. A daughter, Mary Margaret “Maggie” was born March 4, 1863, and a son, George Edward, arrived February 28, 1865. Having her family nearby must have been a great consolation for Charity as she kept the farm running with two small children. Like her mother, she was a woman of strength and endurance.

Along with other Texans, Lewis had to get his life back together following the Civil War. Farming and raising cattle was his means of doing it. We can only imagine the terrific struggle it must have been. However, as you will see from the records of all his land transactions, Lewis had an intense inner drive and it was to acquire land.

Following are notes from Kuhlman’s book concerning Lewis Nance’s livestock and land purchases following the Civil War. (Kuhlman, 42-47) Records are from Abstracts and Deeds of Land Records and Livestock Brand Records, Lavaca County, Texas Courthouse.

  • May 18, 1857, purchase of 17 head of livestock and 1 roan mare for $425. He also registered a brand “HR”.
  • August 1, 1867, Lewis and his brother, Edward Y. Nance, purchased 104 acres of land from Z.N. Hanna for $104. Lewis also purchased 104 acres of land adjoining this from James Ballard.
  • January 21, 1868, purchase of 21 more acres of land for $100 from J.M Briggs.
  • August 6, 1867, Lewis and Edward Y. received the deed to 29-½ acres four miles south of Hallettsville fronting on the Lavaca River for doing contracted labor to build a house for John S. Woodward.
  • January 1868, purchase of a small piece of land adjoining the 104 acres previously purchased from James Ballard.
  • Purchase of 21 acres for $100 located next to land Lewis had purchased from J.M. Briggs.
  • July 25, 1870, purchase of 165 acres for $100 from Morgan, Judd, and Williams, Merchants, located in Petersburg on the east side of the Lavaca River.
  • July 25, 1870, purchase of 51-2/3 acres for $60 from John S. Woodward.
  • In January 1868, Lewis purchased a small piece of land adjoining the 104 acres previous purchased from James Ballard.
  • On January 21, 1868, Lewis purchased 21 acres for $100 from J.M. Briggs.
  • On July 25, 1870, Lewis purchased 165 acres of land located on the east side of the Lavaca River for $100 from Morgan, Judd & Williams. On that same day, he purchased 51-2/3 acres along the river for $60 from John S. Woodward.
  • October 4, 1870, Lewis and Edward Y. purchase of 3 tracts of land, 51 acres, 10 acres, and 6 acres for $500 from A.W. and Amanda A. Crawford, located near the NE corner of Hallettsville.
  • January 25, 1871, land sold by Lewis, Charity, and Edward Y. Nance. 3 tracts previously described for $500 to John Zumwalt.
  • January 27, 1872, Lewis Nance and William Harvey Turk purchased part of 10 acre tract of the John Hallett League in Hallettsville for $100.
  • December 20, 1872, purchase of 15 acres for $3 in coins per acre from Nancy Zumwalt.
  • September 1873, First Tuesday “Sheriff’s Sale,” Lewis purchased 38-½ acres for $192.50, located about 3 miles southeast of Hallettsville on the east side of the Lavaca River.

The number of land transactions is amazing to me, but perhaps for Lewis it was both a necessity and a passion. Like others around him, he was a part of the rebuilding Texas after the devastating affects of the Civil War.

The Nance brothers were always looking out for ways to add land when possible, or making land trades during these frustrating times in the rebuilding of Texas after the Civil War. Most likely some of their cattle were trailed to Abilene, Kansas. (Kuhlman, 47)

During this time of building his business, Lewis and Charity were adding to their family. In 1873 they had another daughter, Louis “Lou.” Some online family trees give her name as Louis after her father. However, this is confusing since his name is spelled differently in most records. We do know she was called “Lou” by the family.

There are no documented details about Lewis’ death. His tombstone in the Hallettsville Cemetery (sometime called the Old Hallettsville Graveyard) does not give any birth or death dates. The inscription reads: Lewis C. Nance, Corporal Company D, 2nd Texas Cavalry, CSA.

There is family lore that Lewis died of sunstroke while plowing his fields. His wife was left a widow in her late twenties with five small children and pregnant with a sixth child. Their daughter Adelia “Addie” was born about 3 months after Lewis’ death. According to Jim Kuhlman, this information was given by a family member, Allen Belle Turrentine Johnson. (Kuhlman, 47)

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Clinton County Historical Society, “Brief County History,” www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~moclinto/histsoc/

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Lavaca County, marriage record, vol B, p. 131, Lavaca County Clerk’s Office, Hallettsville, Texas.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2010

Lewis C. Nance Pedigree Chart (click link) lewis-c-nance-pedigree-chart-scan0001

Lewis C. Nance Family Group Sheet (click link) lewis-c-nance-fgs-document

 

 

George Edward Nance

george-edward-nance-2

George Edward Nance was born February 28, 1865, in Hallettsville, Lavaca County, Texas and was the second child of Lewis and Charity May Nance. This small town is located on the Lavaca River, eighty miles southeast of Austin. At that time, as now, much of the economy of the area was based on agriculture and area farmers raised cattle, and grew rice, corn, hay, fruit, and pecans. George’s father, Lewis, farmed and raised cattle.

Around the time of George’s birth, the American Civil War was coming to a close and Texas was a Confederate state. Needless to say, the Nance family, like all Texans, must have been greatly impacted by this war. George’s father, Lewis, was enrolled for the duration of the war and was a corporal in Company D, 2nd Texas Cavalry.

In the years following the Civil War, Lewis Nance was doing what he could to provide for his growing family. In his book The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, Jim W. Kuhlman provides a record of Lewis’ land transactions and livestock purchases in Lavaca County, Texas (Kuhlman, 41-47). Some of the land transactions were in partnership with his brother, Edward Y. Nance. He also registered for a livestock brand.

It is evident that he valued land ownership and raising cattle was his business. I imagine young George was required to help his father on the farm and was receiving some early lessons in farming, ranching, and the importance of owning land.

Unfortunately, there is little information about George’s childhood. However, when his father died, in 1874, the Nance family had five children (Mary Margaret, George, Katherine, Sarah, and Louis “Lou”) and his mother was expecting a sixth child. Since George was only 9 years old when his father died and was the only son, it is likely he had to grow up very quickly. Undoubtedly his mother expected him to be “the man of the house” and depended on him to help with the chores on their farm. Jim Kuhlman gives two differing family perspectives on Edward’s young life.

 Bennett Nance wrote in ‘The Nance Family History’ in 1992 that George Edward was the boss at an early age and was spoiled by his sisters who had to do the work. Others in the family said he was adored by his five sisters for he had done so much for their mother Charity and the girls as they were growing up without a father. (Kuhlman, 47-48)

It is likely there is some truth in both statements. Nevertheless, the views, one by a son and another by George’s sisters, give us a little insight on family dynamics.

George met the daughter of a neighbor John Woodward when he was in his early twenties. Her name was Lucinda “Lucy” Ann Woodward. Following a courtship they married on January 23, 1888, in the Mossy Grove Methodist Church in Lavaca County.

Mossy Grove Methodist Church, Lavaca County, Texas
Mossy Grove Methodist Church, Lavaca County, Texas

George Edward and Lucy Ann Nance began their early married life on the Nance land south of Hallettsville along the east side of the Lavaca River in January 1888, raising cattle and farming. It has been said that he started with $17 dollars and a team of mules. George inherited the urge to acquire land from his father Lewis and the conservative way of life from his Cherokee grandmother Mary Upton May. Lucy Ann learned from her family, the Woodward’s, the value and importance of land and livestock. Losing her mother at twelve years of age, and having to help raise other brothers and sisters, prepared her to raise her own family. (Kuhlman, 73)

 Note: Mary Jane Upton’s Cherokee ancestry is family lore and has not been documented.

In his book, Kuhlman wrote that George Nance began early in life to develop a desire to own land, and between the years of 1888 and 1896, he made a number of land transactions in Lavaca County, Texas. One purchase of particular interest was from his sisters, Sally Nance and Margaret “Maggie” Nance Varnell. He paid them $100 for 150 acres 3 miles southeast of Hallettsville near the small community of Sweet Home. This eventually became known as the “Nance Homestead.” Records for all Lavaca County land transactions are in the Lavaca County Courthouse, Hallettsville, Texas. (Kuhlman, 73-74)

GEORGE AND LUCY START THEIR FAMILY

Three years after they married, George and Lucy Ann started their family with the birth of a daughter, Willie Mae, on January 28, 1891. By 1897, they had four more children – Gladys Gertrude (August 10, 1892); Norma Dell (March 11, 1894); George Edison (January 3, 1896); and Sadie Ann (September 4, 1897). All were born in Lavaca County, Texas.

George and Lucy with daughters, Willie Mae and Gladys.
George and Lucy with daughters, Willie Mae and Gladys.

In 1900 we find the George Nance family living in Goliad County, Texas, their family of seven listed on the 1900 United States Federal Census. They lived near the small community of Charco located in the northeastern part of the county. This little burg was settled by at least four members of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred. The Spanish charco means “pool” or “watering hole,” a name suggested by the numerous bodies of water that once dotted the area. In his autobiography, Bennett Nance says their farm was on the banks of the San Antonio River about 4 or 5 miles from Charco which at the time had one school, one grocery store, a cotton gin, and a blacksmith shop.

While living in Goliad County, the Nance family continued to grow with the birth of Bennett Allen, December 23, 1901 and John Allison “Al” September 18, 1903.

In 1907, the Nance family moved to Wichita County, Texas as described by Bennett Nance.

Bennett and Al Nance
Bennett and Al Nance

 We moved our furniture, plows, wagon, buggy, horses, and mules in one freight car to Electra, Texas. We moved into an old house that had formally been the home of W.T. Wagoner. It was a block from the old depot. He was the owner of the 600,000 acre Whiteface Ranch…We lived here only a for short time, and then we moved to a farm on Beaver Creek, 11 miles south of the town. This was a 984 acre stock farm which is still held by Nance descendants. (This is no longer the case in 2009 as I copy this information.)

 The Nance family stayed on the Beaver Creek farm near Electra until about 1915 and then readied for their next move to Floyd County. In his book, Jim W. Kuhlman provides an excellent record of George Nance’s land transactions in Floyd County. (Kuhlman, 80-82) It seems he had quite a good eye for land and was an able dealer.

Oil had been discovered in 1911 near Electra, and in 1914, Papa Nance leased our farm to Texas Oil Company (later Texaco). Having a craving for land, Papa found this place west – a 320 acre farm 5 miles south of Lockney, Texas, in Floyd County. In 1915, we moved there, but we kept the Beaver Creek farm. In about 1916 oil was discovered on the Lockney farm and eventually there were more than 100 wells on the place. In 1915, we moved by train to a farm 5 miles south of Lockney, a town of maybe 100 homes. Every house in the town had a windmill. In those days no small town had waterworks. What a sight! Back on Beaver Creek we did not have windmills, and I don’t remember one in Electra. An elderly couple was more than glad to sell Papa their farm. Their name was Keys. Again the school was on our property – Pleasant Valley. My sisters had all married by this time. Al and I went to school here. Our teacher was Miss Maggie Satawhite. My older brother, George, did most of the farming with me and Al helping out. We still used horses and mules. The first crop on the 320 acres was planted with mules and a planter called a “sod buster planter.” Since the World War I was being fought, we made enough grain at about $3.00 per hundred weight, which was enough to pay for the land with the first crop. (Bennett Nance autobiography)

After meeting with Bennett Nance, Jim Kuhlman shares some of their conversation about the Beaver Creek farm.

When Papa purchased the farm in Lockney and moved the family once again, he wanted to sell the 984 acres in Wichita County but Mama Nance would not hear of it, so they kept the property. She must have had a hunch something good was going to happen!

Not long after their move to Lockney, oil was discovered on the Beaver Creek property, around 1916. This certainly was a major turning point in the lives of the Nance family. On March 28, 1993, Bennett told me that some of the wells drilled back in the teen years were still producing today. ‘We had over 100 oil wells on that place at one time on 984 acres. My friend Herman Mitchell who I grew up with at Rocky Point School, said that the Nance place was the cream of the crop.(Kuhlman, 82)

 During the years of 1914-1918 the world was embroiled in war. Like others in our nation, the Nance family was affected by this terrible event when George and Lucy Ann’s son, George Edison, joined the U.S. Navy on December 27, 1917. World War I was a conflict which involved most of the world’s great powers and was centered in Europe. It has gone down in history as one of the largest and most deadly wars with more than 15 million people killed. It was also known as the Great War and the War to End All Wars. Having their son in the military must have been a terrible worry to George and Lucy Ann. I imagine they and their entire family were deeply concerned about his well-being and safety. Seeing an end to the conflict could not come soon enough.

World War I ended in 1918 and the Nance family is found on the 1920 United States Federal Census living at 418 Sycamore Street in Abilene, Taylor County, Texas. George Nance was listed as a farmer and his son, George Edison, is a tool pusher meaning he worked in the oil fields. By this time, all of the Nance daughters were married and only the sons George, Bennett, and Al were named as a part of the household.

GEORGE AND LUCY ANN MOVE TO THE TEXAS PANHANDLE

 In 1921 George Nance turned his eyes to the Texas Panhandle. When he learned of some land available in southern Randall County, some of which was owned by the Harris family

from Floyd County, George Nance worked a trade of some of his Floyd County farm for the Randall County land. Jim Kuhlman gives the details of the trade. (Kuhlman, 127-128)

 As it turned out, this was only the first land transaction for George Nance. More than ever, it is evident that George Nance had a hunger for land in his beloved Texas.

By February 1924 George Nance owned nine and one half sections which stretched five miles from the west border of section 117, which is next to the Schuette place, to the east border of section 121, on the Palo Duro Canyon. (Kuhlman, 134)

Note: A part of this land was purchased in 1929 by George and Lucy Ann’s son, George Edison, and his wife, Lucille, and they developed the renowned Nance Hereford Ranch.

From his conversation with family members, Jim Kuhlman points out that it was well known that George Nance was a good stockman, trader and businessman. His grandson shared that he was told that his grandfather would sit in the lobby of the local banks to learn what was going on and visit with the bank officers about different opportunities. He soon became a stockholder in the bank in Canyon, Texas. (Kuhlman, 132)

After his initial land purchase, George and Lucy Ann began thinking about another change, and in 1922 they moved from Abilene to a small primitive ranch house on one of the seven sections of land near the Palo Duro Canyon. While living here, George Nance purchased cattle for his new operation and most likely they were Hereford. They also raised their own forage feed, farming with horses and mules;

The Nance family lived in the old ranch house until the spring of 1924 and then made the decision to build a new house on one of the sections of land.

 The Nance family decided that the east one-half of section 118 would be a good location for a new home and a headquarters for their ranching operations. It was reasonably level land with good productive and nutritious native grasses including blue grama and buffalo grass. The pastures were free of trees and shrubs…

So early in the spring of 1924, a new home was built on a knoll on the north side of the half section that eventually became the home of the Nance Hereford Ranch. Bennett shared with me on March 29, 1993, ‘We had to pull all the nails out of the lumber from the house down in the header of the canyons to build the Nance home on the ranch. Papa Nance wouldn’t throw away the nails; they and the lumber could be used again.’…As Bennett had mentioned earlier, his father was a very frugal person. He believed in paying cash, and definitely did not believe in charging purchases. Credit cards were unknown in those days. (Kuhlman, 134-135)

 George and Lucy Ann Nance lived on their ranch near Canyon, Texas, until 1929 when they decided to retire. At that time their son, George Edison, and his wife, Lucille, purchased the ranch home place and two additional sections. George and Lucy bought a lovely home in Brownsville, located in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

George and Lucy Ann's home in Brownsville, Texas.
George and Lucy Ann’s home in Brownsville, Texas.

George Edward Nance died February 4, 1937, in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas, and was buried in the Dreamland Cemetery near Canyon, Texas. Jim W. Kuhlman shows his admiration of George Nance with this wonderful tribute.

 At seventy-one years of age, almost seventy-two, the very adventurous life of a major pioneer born in Hallettsville, Texas, came to an end. He certainly left a wonderful mark on this world and a shining example for all his family for generations to come. A great lover of land, he impressed upon his children ‘Never sell land.’ So even today some of the land that he put together in his lifetime is still owned by his descendants. (Kuhlman, 193)

An obituary from the Canyon News, Canyon, Texas, Thursday, February 11, 1937.

Mr. Nance was one of the large pioneer ranchers in this section of the country, and he and Mrs. Nance made their home at their ranch east of Canyon until six years ago when they moved to Brownsville because of his failing health. Mr. Nance was a kind, generous, and successful businessman, who was loved by all who knew him. He was formerly associated with the First National Bank of Canyon as Vice President and as a member of the Board of Directors. (Kuhlman, 193)

nance-george-edward-d24b6a61-4795-441f-a4b9-5788e11422b8

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United

States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2002.

Ancestry.com. Texas Death Index, 1903-2000. [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Canyon News, Obituary for George E. Nance, February 11, 1937.

Commonwealth, Volume 4, Chapter LX, Wortham-Molyneaux Company, Fort Worth, Texas, 1924. www.texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org/wortham/4345.htm

Croft, Lucy Ann Nance, Looking Back: Reflections On My Life, 2007.

George Edward Nance, death certificate no. 6978, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Handbook of Texas Online, www.txgenweb2.org/txlavaca;hallettsville.htm and www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/HH/hgh1_print.html

Kellner, Marjorie, Project Director, Wagons Ho! A History of Real County, Texas, Curtis Media, Inc., 1995.

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Lavaca County, marriage record, vol. E, p, 409, County Clerk’s Office, Hallettsville, Texas.

Nance, Bennett Allen, Autobiography of Bennett Allen Nance: Rancher in Real County, 1927-1948, 1985. n.p.

Wikipedia The Free Encylopedia, “World War I”, www.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_WarI

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2010

George Edward Nance Pedigree Chart (click link) scan0006

George Edward Nance Family Group Sheet (click link) george-edward-nance-family-group-sheet-document

 

 

Bennett Allen Nance

bennett-nance

Bennett Allen Nance was born December 23, 1901, near the small community of Charco, Texas, located in northeastern Goliad County. Interestingly, this little town was settled by at least four members of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred. The Spanish charco means “pool” or “watering hole,” a name suggested by the numerous bodies of water that once dotted the area. Bennett was the sixth child of George Edward and Lucy Ann Woodward Nance. The Nances lived on a farm on the banks of the San Antonio River about 4 or 5 miles from Charco which at the time had one school, one grocery store, a cotton gin, and a blacksmith shop. In his autobiography, Bennett says:

I was born in a shack, I remember, and Al (his brother) was born (September 18, 1903) in a new house Papa had built. I visited the old homestead a couple of years ago and the oldhouse had burned down. It was very sad to see. All that remained were the foundation and chimneys.

Bennett and Al Nance
Bennett and Al Nance

In 1907, the Nance family moved to Wichita County, Texas. Here is what Bennett writes:

We moved our furniture, plows, wagon, buggy, horses, and mules in one freight car to Electra, Texas. We moved into an old house that had formally been the home of W.T. Wagoner. He was the owner of the 600,000 acre Whiteface Ranch. Electra was named after his daughter. Electra was very small, maybe 200 people. The barn on our place was behind the house in the middle of the present town. The present bank in Electra is where our house was located and a drug store is now where our barn was located. We lived here only a short time, and then we moved to a farm on Beaver Creek, 11 miles south of the town. This was a 984 acre stock farm which is still held by Nance descendants. (This is longer the case.) A school, Rocky Point, was built on the corner of our property and four of us started to school there. I remember Miss May Pridgen as my first teacher. Also, there was a Mr. Adrain.

According to Bennett, the Nance family stayed on the farm near Electra until 1915. He has this to say:

Oil had been discovered in 1911 near Electra, and in 1914, Papa Nance leased our farm to Texas Oil Company (later Texaco). Having a craving for land, Papa found this place west – a 320 acre farm 5 miles south of Lockney, Texas, in Floyd County. In 1915, we moved there, but we kept the Beaver Creek farm. In about 1916 oil was discovered on the Lockney farm and eventually there were more than 100 wells on the place. In 1915, we moved by train to a farm 5 miles south of Lockney, a town of maybe 100 homes. Every house in the town had a windmill. In those days no small town had waterworks. What a sight! Back on Beaver Creek we did not have windmills, and I don’t remember one in Electra. An elderly couple was more than glad to sell Papa their farm. Their name was Keys. Again the school was on our property – Pleasant Valley. My sisters had all married by this time. Al and I went to school here. Our teacher was Miss Maggie Satawhite. My older brother, George, did most of the farming with me and Al helping out. We still used horses and mules. The first crop on the 320 acres was planted with mules and a planter called a “sod buster planter.” Since the World War I was being fought, we made enough grain at about $3.00 per hundred weight, which was enough to pay for the land with the first crop.

By 1920 the Nance family is found in Abilene, Texas (1920 Federal Census). Bennett tells about their move here.

My older brother, George, had by this time (1917 or 1918) volunteered for the Navy in World War I and was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. The war was getting terrible. We moved to Abilene, Texas (1917 or 1918). I was seventeen years old and in the 6th grade. I went to Simmons College where they also taught grammar school. It was 3 miles from home and I walked it twice daily until the Armistice was signed and then I rode a streetcar.

During the next years in Bennett’s life, he lived in several locations, primarily for better education. In 1921 he entered Peacock Military School in San Antonio, Texas, and was classified as a junior in high school. By the end of his first year, he was promoted to captain. In 1922, he went to live with his sister, Willie Mae, and her husband, Doc Fisher, in Electra, Texas. It was here that he spent his senior year in high school and met his future wife, Archie LeBus. They graduated in the same class – The Electra High School Class of 1922.

Electra High School Class of 1922
Electra High School Class of 1922

Evidently, Bennett was well liked by his classmates at Electra High School. This was revealed to me as I looked through his small scrapbook of mementos including notes, cards, programs, and news clippings. Among these souvenirs was a program for the Electra High School Senior Play. It may surprise some in his family but Bennett was the leading man in the play, “Aaron Boggs, Freshman.” Perhaps we are a bit taken aback because our dad and grandfather was a man of quiet demeanor. I for one find it almost impossible to imagine him on stage!

After graduation from high school in 1922, Bennett wanted to continue to pursue an education. He says:

I persuaded my parents to let me go by train to school at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. I stayed only a few months, to my everlasting sorrow and regret. It was a wonderful institution and I have always wished I could have graduated from there. I came home part way by boat via Savannah, Georgia.

While I was at Brown University, Papa had, in the meantime, traded for a ranch 6 miles east of Canyon, Texas, on the banks (edge) of what is now Palo Duro Park. At that time no one had ever thought of it being a park. I have been down in there by horseback. Big Sunday Canyon, one of its tributaries, headed in our pasture. I attended classes again in Canyon at West Texas State Teachers College (currently a university). Of course, I helped at the ranch also.

Bennett and Al Nance on the ranch
Bennett and Al Nance on the ranch

BENNETT AND ARCHIE WED

As previously mentioned, Bennett met Archie LeBus while a senior in Electra High School and they had stayed in contact in the years following graduation. In 1924, Bennett visited family in Electra and got in touch with Archie. Here he shares his thoughts about that time.

On a trip back to Electra, I was re-acquainted with Archie (we had been corresponding) and I decided I wanted to get married. It was the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, to acquire such a priceless pearl. She was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. We were married on January 1, 1925, in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the First Christian Church. Her brother, Jack LeBus, stood up for us.

Bennett and Archie Nance
Bennett and Archie Nance

We went on our honeymoon in a Model T Ford. After this, we decided to move back to Canyon with my folks. There were three families of us – my father and mother, my brother George and his wife, Lucille, and Archie and myself living in one house.

Mom (Archie) and I were never happy on the ranch at Canyon, so we went to Electra and I went to work at the LeBus and Friend (L & F) Chevrolet Company selling cars and helping out front at the gas pumps. In the meantime, Papa had sent me word that if I could find a ranch that I liked, he would look into the matter. I began to look around for another location and found an area that intrigued me around Rocksprings down in the Hill Country of Texas.

Bennett and Archie were still living in Electra when a very sad event occurred in their lives. Archie gave birth to a baby girl on September 16, 1926, and they named her Aileen. However, much to their great sorrow, baby Aileen died that same day. It must have been a devastating blow for them to lose their first child. Regrettably, neither of my parents spoke about this experience to me and Daddy (Bennett) makes no reference to it in his autobiography. I suppose through the years the pain of that event was partially replaced with the joy of having other healthy children.

As previous mentioned, Bennett’s “Papa” told him if he found a ranch, he would buy it. According to Bennett, here is what happened.

Homer Grizzle, my brother-in-law,(who also worked at L & F Chevrolet ) and I decided we would take a trip down through central West Texas to see what we could find. We drove down to San Angelo, Menard, Junction, and other parts of the country. I found a place I liked on the north fork of the Llano River. We went back to Electra and I contacted my folks and told them about the country we had seen. I also told them about mohair and wool being in its prime and how great goat ranching was. Goat ranching was in its real heyday as mohair was being used in autos for upholstery, furniture, cloth, drapes, etc.

When I got Papa Nance down there to look it over, Papa was just ‘carried away’ with the ranch country in the Edwards Plateau. He had never heard of that area. All the ranchers down there were raising Angora goats and doing well since mohair was in its prime, being used a lot in the rapidly growing automobile industry. One of the key people we visited with before making a purchase was a man, ‘Reo’ who worked on the Charlie Schreiner YO Ranch at Mountain Home, Texas, established in 1858. Papa Nance purchased the ranch from the Rudisil’s. It was located on the Divide of the Edwards Plateau where the Frio River started and became known as the Divide Ranch, 35 miles east of Rocksprings and 65 miles west of Kerrville.

In late August, 1927, we had all of our belongings loaded and traveled to the ranch to start our new adventure. I drove a truck and Archie followed in the car. We drove on mostly dirt roads. I can remember driving up to the ranch and going through the gate that was just about 100 yards from the house. The gate was too narrow and I ripped our new bedsprings off the side of the truck. Archie was upset and crying. You must remember this was a real change for her, but she was determined to try and be a good wife and mate.

We started improving the ranch. I was very pleased now being in what I thought was the best place on earth and in a new business. I knew nothing about sheep and goats, although, I had the advantage of being a country boy. The Great Depression was starting, but we were always able to get groceries once a week on credit payable when the mohair or wool sold.

THE NANCE FAMILY BEGINS TO GROW

More changes occurred in 1929 when Bennett and Archie were expecting a baby. Because Archie needed to be near a doctor and medical attention, they decided to move back to Electra. Having lost their first child, it makes sense that they must have felt some anxieties about this second baby and felt relief knowing she would also have family support there in Electra. Dan Allen was born April 10, 1929. Happily they welcomed their healthy baby boy! After Archie and Dan were strong enough to travel, they moved back to the ranch.

Dan Allen Nance
Dan Allen Nance

On October 25, 1931 Archie gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter, Nancy. Again, they had moved near a doctor but this time to Kerrville which was only 65 miles from the ranch. By this time, they had built a new home on the ranch which was more comfortable and suitable for their growing family. I recall hearing about the larger kitchen with both a wood-burning iron stove and a gas stove. Archie probably enjoyed her better equipped kitchen since cooking for her family was something she absolutely loved.

Nancy Nance at 3 years old
Nancy Nance at 3 years old

In his autobiography, Bennett says that by 1935 living in such a remote area presented a “school problem” for Dan and Nancy. To help remedy this they built a small school house and employed a tutor, Miss Dorothy Sikes, from Center Point, Texas to live in and teach the children. However, as the Depression got worse, home schooling worked for only a short time. They decided to rent a house in Kerrville during the fall and winter so that Dan and Nancy could attend school. Bennett commuted back and forth from town to ranch.

Bennett and Archie’s family continued to grow and on February 22, 1937, their baby girl, Lucy Ann, was born at home in Kerrville. (She was named after Bennett’s mother.) Perhaps it was more common at that time to give birth at home, but it required special preparation and, of course, a doctor who made house calls! In her autobiography, Lucy Nance Croft shares some memories her brother Dan had about her birth.

The first thing I can remember about you is Mom’s preparations for your being born at home. At the time it was 925 Myrta Street. Of course, that’s in Kerrville. I remember Mom and her friends obtained a hospital bed somewhere. They made up a lot of absorbent pads. They also had a crib and other things around. I can recall the big event but really not in great detail (Croft, 7).

Lucy Ann Nance at 6 months
Lucy Ann Nance at 6 months

In the fall of 1938, there was another move for the Nance family. When the school situation again presented a problem, they rented a home in San Antonio so that Dan and Nancy could attend better schools. This was a longer commute to the ranch for Bennett but it was necessary.

Continuing to search for a solution to the “school problem,” Bennett and Archie decided to purchase a home and move to Wichita Falls, Texas, so that Dan and Nancy could attend school there and Archie would be near her family. Bennett continued to commute to the ranch but says that because he had good help he could stay in Wichita Falls for longer periods of time. However, this changed somewhat in 1941 with the advent of World War II. He had to do his part in the war effort by raising food, mohair, and wool. Bennett makes the statement that his draft board gave him orders to do so. This meant he had to spend more time at the ranch and away from his family. Archie must have been happy to be near her family during this time of national and world upheaval.

A very happy event occurred on July 25, 1943, when Bennett and Archie added a beautiful little red haired baby boy, Steven Anthony, to the family! Not long after his birth, the family sold their home in Wichita Falls and bought a home in Kerrville. They lived at the ranch for about six months while the house at 901 Myrta Street was being remodeled. During that time, Nancy and Lucy attended a one-room school on the Divide and Dan was at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri.

Steven Anthony Nance
Steven Anthony Nance

BENNETT SELLS THE RANCH AND BUYS A FARM

In 1948 Bennett made a big decision to trade the Divide Ranch for a farm in south Texas. Here is what he says:

Batching at the ranch and driving 65 miles back and forth to Kerrville became impractical. Dan was in Kemper Military School in Missouri. I finally decided to make a switch, so I traded our Real County ranch for a farm in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. We still own this farm. (This is no longer the case. In 2010, only Dan Allen Nance owned a section of this farm.)

With his ranching days behind him, Bennett shares these thoughts:

On leaving the ranch, I had the fantastic notion that I was departing one of the last areas or vestiges of The Old West. I had the privilege of knowing a lot of folks that were the last persons to live in an era that is now gone forever. I am proud to have experienced a small fraction of it.

Owning a farm must have been quite a new and challenging venture for Bennett. Even though he had a sharecropper farm his land, his commuting days were not entirely over. Through the years, he and Archie made routine trips to the Valley to check out their crops of cotton and grain along with other business related to the operation of a large farm (1000 acres). As farmers can attest, there are good years and there are bad years. It seems to me that a farmer needs to have a lot of patience and a deep faith to negotiate the ups and downs of weather, price fluctuations, good help and other obstacles.

Archie and Bennett celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary
Archie and Bennett celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary

Both Bennett and Archie loved living in Kerrville. Through the years they made countless friends and were always so proud of their lovely home at 901 Myrta Street. Bennett called it his “castle.” Maintaining a beautiful yard was especially important to them.

Nance family home at 901 Myrta Street, Kerrville, Texas
Nance family home at 901 Myrta Street, Kerrville, Texas

Later in life, Bennett and Archie decided to purchase a small country house on 60 acres of scenic land near Leakey, Texas. It was adjacent to Rosetta Nance’s home and property and very near the Frio River. They called the place “El Charco” commemorating Bennett’s birthplace. For Bennett it became a work place and he enjoyed involving himself in various projects improving the house and land. The house was comfortable but rustic, so perhaps he enjoyed it more than Archie. Nevertheless, it provided a little “get-away” spot for them. It is possible it reminded them of their early days at the Divide ranch.

The darkest day of Bennett’s life occurred on August 5, 1987, when his dear wife, Archie, died. They had traveled together to the Rio Grande Valley to check out the cotton crop on their farm. While visiting there, with no warning, Archie died. It was a deep shock to Bennett and the entire family. Her body was returned to Kerrville for her funeral and burial at the Sunset Cemetery in Mountain Home, Texas.

Bennett continued to live in his home on Myrta Street until 1991. By then his health began to deteriorate, so he moved into a nursing home in Kerrville where he remained until his death. At one time he felt it might be possible for him to move into the home of one of his children, but after thought and discussion, he realized that was not a realistic solution. Dan, Nancy, Lucy and Steve helped “dismantle” his home and pack some of his favorite belongings to move to his new location. Even though they tried to ease the transition for Bennett, they knew it was a difficult time for him.

During the next few years, Bennett’s children would spend time with him, visiting, going out to eat, running errands or driving in the countryside. Dan made an effort to come to Kerrville for one week out of each month to be with his dad. Bennett and his children enjoyed these special times together.

Bennett Allen Nance died February 17, 1994 in Kerrville, Texas. He was buried at the Sunset Cemetery, Mountain Home, Texas beside his beloved wife, Archie.

nance-bennett-gravesite-monday-october-05-2009

In her autobiography, Lucy Nance Croft writes about her father.

During the early years of my life, Daddy was a rancher. When I was eleven, he sold his ranch and bought a cotton farm in the Rio Grande Valley, between Harlingen and Raymondville. He had a tenant to farm it, so even though he spent a good bit of time traveling there, we continued to live in Kerrville. As both a rancher and a farmer, Daddy loved the earth, its bounty and beauty, and treated it accordingly. I can say I certainly had a wonderful role model of a good steward. He had some direction from his dad in ranching and farming, but he gained most of his knowledge from on-the-job experience.

Education was important to Daddy, whether it was formal or informal. He graduated from high school and attended some college, but in many respects I would say he was self-educated. I feel that he regretted not having more college education. Reading and life experience were his primary means of continuing education. His favorite books were about Texas history or historical people, and he enjoyed reading the Bible and his Encyclopedia Britannica. Daddy also learned Spanish by working alongside Mexicans and reading Spanish newspapers. He never felt fluent, but I thought of him as bilingual and considered it quite an accomplishment. He loved many things about the Mexican people and their culture, especially their music.

Daddy was a very honest, responsible, and conservative person. He believed in diligence and persistence in all undertakings and was a fair person in his dealings, whether in business or daily living. He was a perfectionist in many ways, and because I am much the same way, I can say that it may have been both a blessing and a curse!

Because of his hard and frugal upbringing, I think Daddy had a difficult time enjoying himself. He was very comfortable with solitude, was a reserved, private, and rather shy man. I remember that he had only a few close friends whom he would occasionally meet in town for coffee. Also, Daddy and Mama seemed to be happiest when they had family gathered for a big meal. Another one of their pleasures as a couple was going for drives or “rides” as they called them. Late in the afternoon, they would drive around the Kerrville area, to Fredericksburg or along the Guadalupe River.

Daddy would sit on our front porch late in the day enjoying his home and yard. He always referred to his Kerrville home as his castle. He enjoyed good home-cooked food, and his favorite meal was a breakfast of eggs, bacon or ham, gravy, biscuits, peach preserves, and perhaps a few hot peppers on the side. A favorite quote of his—”A man should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Actually, that is pretty healthful advice.

Daddy was a conservative man in his lifestyle, religion, and politics. His tastes were simple, but he did enjoy looking well groomed and was quite handsome when he dressed up. He loved hats. In his older years, he always wore a “gimme” cap.

This is a favorite quote from Daddy’s autobiography – ‘I have lived a versatile and romantic life, witnessing the times of cotton kingdoms, cowboys, oil booms, drillers and roughnecks, oil field machine shops, and inventions beyond our wildest dreams – From the horse and buggy to traveling in space and to the moon. But the most memorable of all is a honeymoon in a model T Ford!’

On reflection, I would say that Daddy’s integrity, fairness, strength of character, diligence, perfectionism, and stewardship of the earth and his possessions were the qualities that most affected my life. Being a man of simple tastes, he appreciated the small things in life and was not overly impressed with the materialism of the world around him. Acting responsibly was important to him and influenced his evaluation of others. He was a dear and special man—a great daddy! He died in Kerrville at the North Haven Care Center on February 17, 1994, at the age of ninety-two. (Croft, 28-31)

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

Tom Curry, minister, First Presbyterian Church, Kerrville, Texas, used Psalm 16:5-6 as the text for the message at Bennett’s funeral service.

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, (database online). Provo UT,

USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census, (database online). Provo UT,

USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census, (database online). Provo UT, USA:

Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2002.

Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census, (database online). Provo, UT, USA:

Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Ancestry.com. Social Security Death Index, (database online). Provo, UT, USA:

Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Bennett Allen Nance, birth certificate no. K211604, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Bennett Allen Nance, death certificate no. 0174460, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Croft, Lucy Ann Nance, Looking Back: Reflections On My Life, 2007.

Handbook of Texas Online, www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/CC/hnc46html

Kellner, Marjorie, Project Director, Wagons, Ho! A History of Real County, Texas,

Curtis Media, Inc., 1995. (Includes Autobiography of Bennett Allen Nance.)

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Nance, Bennett Allen, Autobiography of Bennett Allen Nance: Rancher in Real County 1927-1948, 1985. n.p.

Wichita County, marriage certificate no. 12846, County Clerk’s Office, Wichita Falls, Texas.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2010

Bennett Allen Nance Pedigree Chart (click link) scan0005

Bennett Allen Nance Family Group Sheet (click link) bennett-a-nance-fgs-document