Captain Peter Garland


by Barbara Thorp Wilkins

Peter and Louisa (Phillips) Garland moved from near Stephenville in Erath County to Hood County in 1860, settling on Stroud’s Creek near Thorp Spring. As the Civil War loomed, bloody Comanche raids on the settlers of the frontier area continued and would for another decade, despite removal of all Indian tribes from northern Texas to the reservations of what is now Oklahoma.

Controversy followed the volatile Garland to Hood County, and some historical writers still debate the part he played in the early history of this “wide-open” part of Texas. As a Captain in the Frontier Guard, Garland has alternately been condemned as an “Indian-hater of the first order” and “murderer” and hailed as a fearless Indian fighter, defender of the frontier, leading citizen and hero. In retrospect, out of the context of the times, it is doubtful that controversy will ever be resolved. In his Hood County History, Thomas Ewell commented that Garland was “honored and trusted by the people who knew him best and were personally cognizant of all the events.” This must have reflected the views of many of Garland’s contemporaries, as he was elected the first Treasurer of Hood County in 1867.

Although not fully documented, strong evidence supports that Peter Garland’s emigrant ancestor to the United States was another Peter Garland in 1650, this Peter Garland descended from Sir John Garland of Sussex, England. Sir John, by virtue of being Warden of the Cinque Ports, lived in Dover Castle, held a seat in Parliament and bitterly opposed Peter’s decision to go to America. The emigrant Peter’s great-grandson was Col. David Garland of the Virginia Militia in the American Revolution,

Capt. Peter Garland of Texas was born in 1805 in Henry County, Virginia, the grandson of Col. David Garland of the Revolution and son of Maj. Peter Garland of the Virginia 64th Regiment in the War of 1812. His grandfather and father had wars to fight. Capt. Peter Garland, some say, created his own war, against the Indians of the Texas frontier.

After leaving Virginia, young Garland was first married to Lucinda Goff in Tennessee and second to Louisa Phillips in Mississippi as he traveled the migration route to Texas, fathering a total of at least 12 children. Before coming to Anderson County, Texas, in 1850, Garland was a Deputy Sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk and saloonkeeper in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. In 1857, the Garlands braved the raw frontier of Erath County along with several other families, including the Thorntons, Hightowers and Wylies. Ten years later, in Hood County, Peter and Louisa’s 16-year-old daughter, Melissa Virginia, was married to James Goodhope Thorp, eldest son of Pleasant and Nancy Thorp, founders of Thorp Spring. James and Melissa Virginia had nine children, all born in Thorp Spring; and their fourth child was Pleasant Garland Thorp, my grandfather.

Capt. Peter Garland died in 1873 in Thorp Spring and is buried there in the old Thorp Spring Cemetery.

Children of Peter Garland and Lucinda and Louisa:
Thomas (m: Martha Wylie)
Mary Anna (m: Daniel L. Thornton)
Lucinda (m: Joshua L. Hightower)
Melissa Virginia (m: James G. Thorp)
Susan Avarilla (m: David L. Nutt)
A. A.
Allison Nelson (m: Mollie Wright)
Daniel T.
Martha Olive (m: J.C. Brown)

This article was scanned from the Hood County Genealogical Society Newsletter No. 16, dated November 1987, Editor Merle McNeese