HOOD COUNTY PIONEER
Compiled by Kenneth Hendricks
She arrived in North Central Texas early enough (1853) to be among the first of the white settlers, early enough to suffer all the hardships and grief that the frontier had to offer. Hood County was yet to be chartered; land surveyors were busily shuttling back and forth from Comanche and Kiowa country to Austin with maps and hopes of striking it rich with new land speculations. We do not know exactly how the widow Elizabeth and her group of west Tennessee farmers got to Texas. Probably they followed the same route that her dead husband David had followed 17 years earlier – down the Mississippi to the Arkansas river and somehow overland to St. Augustine or Nacodoches in east Texas then up the Trinity.
The Texas national government had awarded 640 acres of land to all men who had fought in the war for independence from Mexico, so David Crockett’s widow Elizabeth , her sons George and Robert, her daughter, Rebecca Halford and their respective families came to find and claim David’s grant. We know that the group had to spend nearly a year near Waxahatchie before finding a land surveyor to take their claim and convert it to real land somehow. When this was finally done in Austin, they found that the 640 acres was shrunk to 320 – the cost of the survey. Since land was selling for a dollar or two per acre in the area, the survey cost was probably reasonable considering the dangers of Indian intervention. The grant they moved to was about 4 miles north of a growing trading post now called Acton, east of the Brazos river on Rucker’s creek. The land was more suited for rangeland than for cultivation; nevertheless Elizabeth set about making a new home.
Robert built a two-room log cabin for his mother and the family. Within two years, another cabin had been built for Elizabeth. She was then 65 years old and continued to do her share of the farm work
By the time the Civil War had begun, Robert and his wife Matilda Porter had nine children; some stayed in what is now Hood County, and some migrated north and south. One of Elizabeth’s grandchildren was killed during a robbery when he was returning from the War. Rebecca Halford, Elizabeth’s daughter was widowed in 1863. Another daughter, Matilda, stayed in Tennessee and never again saw her mother
By all accounts, Elizabeth was an intelligent lady who knew about business and farming matters. It was through her industry that her husband David was able to establish a mill and distillery in Tennessee. They were relatively prosperous until a flood destroyed the works. There are no known letters in Elizabeth’s artifacts, although it has been said that she could read and write well, unusual for a frontier woman of the times.
Elizabeth Crockett died after an early morning walk from her cabin, at age 72. She was buried in the Acton cemetery. Her remains and that of several family members are in what constitutes the Acton State Park and Monument, the smallest Park in Texas. Her statue above the grave shows her looking to the west, eyes shaded, waiting for her husband to come home from the War.