James Timothy (Tim) Sears
830 E. Briar Ridge Drive
Brookfield, WI 53045
E-mail: JTSears@aol.com or NVHN35A@prodigy.com
John Bryant Sears was born on November 14, 1836 in Wilkinson County, Georgia and was the eldest son of William I. and Tabitha Bryant Sears. His parents gave him his mother’s maiden name as his middle name.
He was six years old when his father died and eleven years old when his mother died. We know that he lived in the homes of Willis Allen and his uncle Eli Sears during his childhood. He was well provided for by income from his father’s estate and received an education.
When John Bryant Sears reached adulthood, he moved to Barbour County, Alabama and taught school. It was in Barbour County that he met Sarah Elizabeth (Sallie) Cariker. Sarah Elizabeth Cariker Sears had been born on August 1, 1837 in Muscogee County, Georgia. She was the daughter of George W. and Mary M. Cariker who had moved to Barbour County, Alabama about 1850 from Muscogee County, Georgia; Sallie’s father died in 1856 while she was still a minor. The friendship of John Bryant Sears and Sarah Elizabeth Cariker blossomed into love, and they were married at the home of her mother near Eufaula, Alabama on June 20, 1858.
Shortly after Bryant and Sallie were married, he was thrown from a horse and received a leg injury which left him slightly crippled. The only reason that he escaped military service during the Civil War was his leg injury. He continued to teach school and farm.
Prior to 1860, Bryant and Sallie Sears moved to Randolph County, Alabama and settled near his uncle, Rev. Henry J. Sears. John Bryant Sears (or Bryant as he was often called) continued as a farmer and teacher. He was also responsible for the defense of the inhabitants of Randolph County when Indians made their raids while most of the men were away in the service of the Confederacy.
The U. S. Census for 1860 enumerated the John Bryant Sears family in Randolph County, Alabama. The family included J. B. Sears (farmer, age 23), Sarah E. Sears (housewife, age 21), Witt Sears (son, age 2), and Charles Sears (son, age 3 months). Son Charles died a few months later. Other children born in Alabama were James C. Sears and Mary Frances Sears.
Bryant Sears had acquired several slaves including a slave named Peter who had been purchased in July, 1861 for $1,250 from the estate of Bryant’s grandfather Timothy Sears. Although the end of the Civil War signaled freedom for all slaves, a number of the former slaves remained loyal to Bryant Sears and family.
Legal records reveal that John B. and Sarah E. Sears and family were residing in Randolph County, Alabama on September 5, 1865. Sometime after that date, Bryant Sears decided to take his family on a westward trek and join his uncle Henry J. Sears in Texas. Bryant packed an oxen-drawn covered wagon with household goods and belongings for the trip. An interesting note is that the former slaves wanted to go to Texas with the Sears family. J. B. Sears provided them with an oxen-drawn covered wwagonand supplies so that they, too, could journey to Texas. The Sears family included Bryant, Sallie, Witt, James, and Mary Frances (Mollie). The trip took about three months and was marred by the death of young James C. Sears who died on January 16, 1867 and was buried beside the trail somewhere between Bonham, Texas and Frost, Texas. Legal documents show that John Bryant and Sarah E. Sears were residing in Texas on February 5, 1867. Some time was spent in Navarro County, Texas with the Ingram family which was related to Bryant’s Aunt Winnie Sears.
The John Bryant Sears family landed in Hood County, Texas during 1867 and settled on Robinson Creek near Thorp Springs. (The home site is now located on what was the John R. Black Ranch; landmarks of the home place are still evident.) The Rev. Henry J. Sears family settled nearby. Hood County was still wet behind the ears since it had been created by the Texas Legislature in November of 1866. The first election of county officials took place in 1867. Granbury had been chosen as the name for the county seat; the site finally chosen for the town of Granbury caused quite a controversy. Family tradition tells us that John Bryant Sears taught the first school at Granbury.
Life was harsh during those pioneer days along Robinson Creek. Land had to be cleared for farming. A log cabin was built, gardens were planted, etc. Indians roamed the area and took livestock at will. There were many nights when Bryant Sears stood guard all night just outside the front door to his cabin with ropes around the necks of horses, cows, etc. to keep them from being stolen. Sallie Sears sat inside the door with a loaded rifle to help defend the family if necessary.
During those exciting, frenetic days of frontier history, the Bryant Sears family continued to grow with the birth of J. B. Sears, Jr. and William H. (Billy) Sears. Billy was born just three short months after his father had participated in the “Point of Timbers Fight” which took place on September 11, 1869 when the last Indian fight in the county occurred. A party of Caddo Indians looted the area from Squaw Creek to Stroud Creek and stole horses; the herd of horses eventually numbered about 200 head. An alarm was sounded and some 80 pioneer settlers, including Bryant Sears, gathered to pursue the fleeing Caddos. The Indian band was eventually cornered near Star Hollow. One settler was killed and another wounded before the Indians were finally subdued and killed. Six male Indians and one squaw comprised the Indian band; their scalps were taken as trophies.
The Reconstruction Carpetbagger government in Texas forced a new state constitution on Texans on March 30, 1870. This constitution did away with the office of county judge and dispensed with the commissioners court. Instead, the police court of Hood County (composed of all justices of the peace in the county) became the governing body of the county. The justice of the peace who resided in the precinct where the county seat was located was to serve as Presiding Justice of the Police Court for Hood County. (For all practical purposes, this justice served in the same capacity as the county judge had served). A. V. Shropshire was the first presiding justice, having been elected in the 1870 political race. Shropshire served only a short time before he was forced from office for improprieties. John Bryant Sears was appointed as his successor in late 1870. He continued in office until the election of 1872. Bryant Sears served more than a year without being elected to office.
Reconstruction fervor abated, and all disabilities inflicted by the Carpetbaggers were removed as barriers to elective office. Removal of these disabilities led to the appointment of A. J. (Jack) Wright to fill an unexpired term as sheriff in 1873. Bryant Sears was named as his deputy; the two men served until 1876.
During these hectic times, J. B. Sears, Jr. died. However the family was blessed with addition of son George in 1872. Sallie lost another infant son at birth in the fall of 1874. She never recovered from complications after the birth of this son. While Sallie was ill, Bryant Sears arranged for a maiden lady, Susan Elizabeth Townsend, to care for his wife and family. Miss Townsend was living nearby with her brother William A. Townsend.
Sallie’s illness gives rise to one of the most unusual and interesting stories of the John Bryant Sears heritage. The story goes that Sallie realized that she was going to die and called Bryant into the room for a conference. She said, “Bryant, I’m dying. Susan Townsend would make you a good wife and would be a good mother for our children.” On November 12, 1874, Sarah Elizabeth (Sallie) Cariker Sears died and was buried at the Thorp Springs Cemetery. She was survived by her husband and children–Witt, Mollie, Billy, and George.
A few weeks after Sallie’s death, Bryant Sears is said to have called Witt and Mollie and told them that he was going to bring Miss Townsend over to see them. Whey the children saw them coming, they were to sit on the woodpile and begin crying. Legend says Bryant proposed, and Susan accepted on the spot. Fact or fiction???? We can’t be sure.
One fact does speak for itself. John Bryant Sears was married to Miss Susan Elizabeth Townsend in Granbury, Hood County, Texas on January 19, 1875. Susan Townsend had been born on August 24, 1844 in Clark County, Arkansas. She was the daughter of Allen and Susan Ross Townsend. She had come to Hood County about 1874 to reside with her brother.
Bryant Sears continued to serve as deputy sheriff after his second marriage. He was serving in this capacity when the courthouse mysteriously burned in 1875. Drunken cowboys, unsolved murders, and other crimes kept him busy.
The period from 1873 to 1876 was one of the most turbulent in Hood County History. Murders, feuds, and disturbances seemed to be the order of the day. One of the most famous feuds was the Truit-Mitchell feud which began in 1873. This feud was climaxed by the deaths of several members of the Truit family at the hands of members of the Mitchell family; the members of the Mitchell family who were directly responsible fled the county. Nelson “Cooney” Mitchell, patriarch of the Mitchell clan, was arrested and tried as an accessory to the crime…even though he was not present when the shootings took place. The rather flimsy circumstantial testimony of James Truit (member of the opposing family) was used to convict Cooney Mitchell of murder. He was sentenced to death by hanging. How ironic that Cooney Mitchell had helped support James Truit and had helped educate him for the ministry. Jack Wright and Bryant Sears were both friends of Cooney Mitchell. As officers of the law, they drew the unwelcome task of hanging Mitchell. A tree on the north side of Granbury was chosen as the hanging site; October 9, 1975 was the date set for the unpleasant task. (The story handed down in our family says a tree was used; Mitchell family descendants say a scaffold was used).
A circus-like atmosphere prevailed on “hanging day.” Bryant Sears took young son Witt and young daughter Mollie with him so that they could observe the hanging. A mule-drawn wagon was used to transport Mitchell from the jail in town to the hanging site. As was the custom, Mitchell sat on his plain wooden coffin during the trek. Nelson Mitchell made a lengthy, impassioned speech to the huge crowd of spectators that had gathered. He stressed that he was honest and always paid his debts. James Truit was present that day, and Mitchell had some rather pointed remarks for him. When Nelson Mitchell had finished his speech, Bryant Sears placed the black hood over his head; the mule-drawn wagon was driven from underneath Mitchell after the rope was placed around his neck. After Mitchell was declared dead, his body was placed in the waiting coffin and taken o the burial site selected by his family.
A postscript to the feud exists. Years later, James Truit was a minister in East Texas. A stranger walked into Truit’s home and shot him. Truit died instantly. One of Cooney Mitchell’s sons had finally avenged his father’s death by hanging. Thus ends the story of the first and only legal hanging in Hood County.
Bryant Sears played a part in this terrible saga; however, it must be remembered that he was only fulfilling his duties as an officer of the law.
After the election of 1876, John Bryant Sears retired to private life. His wife, Susan, lost four premature sons (including twins in 1877). Son Glen was born in 1879. Bryant Sears saw that his children had an education. Witt and Mollie were among the early students enrolled at Add-Ran College which opened in Thorp Springs in 1873. (This school was the fore-runner of what later became Texas Christian University at Fort Worth, Texas). As the other children became old enough, they were also enrolled at the Clark brothers’ school.
The 1880 U. S. Census lists the following members of the Sears household in Precinct 2 of Hood County, Texas: Bryant Sears (41, born Georgia, farmer), Susan Sears (36, born Arkansas), Will Sears (21, born Alabama), Mary Sears (15, born Alabama), William H. Sears (10, born Texas), George T. Sears (8, born Texas), and Glenn Sears (1, born Texas). A relative of Susan Townsend Sears, George Townsend, 19, born Mississippi, was also residing in the Sears household.
Children born to Susan and Bryant Sears after 1880 were Albert, Daniel, and Andrew. They lived on the family farm on Robinson Creek.
From 1876 to 1890, John Bryant Sears spent most of his time farming the Robinson Creek property. During this time he was very active in the Farmers Alliance of Hood County.
J. B. and Susan T. Sears were members of the Baptist Church; Bryant Sears often served in the capacity of lay preacher when no ordained minister of the gospel could be present for Sunday worship services. Sears was also a deacon in the Baptist Church. The Sears family usually traveled to and from church by horseback.
The changing composition of the Sears family began in 1885 when Witt Sears married and moved to Lipan. Mollie married the same year and also moved to Lipan. Grandchildren soon arrived on the scene–James Glenn and Robert Lee Sears were only a year younger than their Uncle Andrew Sears. Other grandchildren born before 1890 were Chula Glenn, Sallie Sears, and Bertha Sears.
By 1889, Dan and Mollie Glenn had moved to Granbury and entered the mercantile business with his brothers on the north side of the courthouse square. Tragedy struck when both their children died within a month of each other in 1889.
In 1890, John Bryant Sears was elected to serve as County Commissioner for Precinct One. He was elected to three consecutive terms between 1890 and 1896. This was the only elective office he ever held. The Commissioners Court built a new courthouse during this time. The name of J. B. Sears is inscribed on the cornerstone which was laid in 1890.
Allen Townsend, father-in-law of Bryant Sears, often resided in the Sears home during these years. He was a witty, intelligent man who entertained the family with his experiences. Bryant B. Sears, son of William Henry Sears and nephew of J. B. Sears, came from Alabama and resided in the Sears home for a time and attended school at Thorp Springs. He later married and settled in Comanche County.
The John Bryant Sears family was saddened by the untimely death of son William H. (Billy) Sears on December 19, 1891. Billy had been working on a ranch near Cresson on the eastern side of Hood County. While he was breaking horses, he was thrown and killed. His remains were returned to Thorp Springs and interred just south of his mother’s grave.
About 1892, George Sears moved to Lipan and lived near his brother Witt who was running the mail hack from Lipan to Weatherford; Witt ran the route from 1890 to 1894. When he resigned, George Sears assumed the task of mail carrier.
John Bryant and Susan T. Sears moved to Lipan in late 1895 or early 1896; they first lived west of Lipan on the Santo-Palo Pinto Road in a house situated on a hill which sloped eastward to the bank of Kickapoo Creek. At this time the younger sons attended school at Lipan. They attended school in the first permanent school building which had been constructed during the early 1880’s.
Bryant Sears completed his term as county commissioner at the close of 1896 just before the death of his father-in-law, Allen Townsend, on January 2, 1897. The Bryant Sears family attended the funeral at Rough Creek Cemetery on the north slope of Comanche Peak.
J. B. Sears was not allowed to remain idle for long after his term as commissioner ended. Tom J. Petty, who had been elected sheriff in 1896, died of pneumonia on September 26, 1897. Bryant Sears was named acting sheriff until S. P. Snyder was appointed to fill Petty’s unexpired term.
The Sears family moved with the help of sons Glenn, Albert, Daniel and Andrew to a log house about two miles north of Lipan. The Witt Sears home was only a few hundred yards from this log house. During the 1898-1899 school year Andrew attended school at Lipan as shown by school census records. Glenn Sears had married in 1898. Also, Dan and Mollie Glenn returned to the Lipan area and bought a farm near Double Mountain.
On April 17, 1899, Bryant Sears purchased the farm west of Lipan where Dan and Mollie Glenn had been living. The farm was in close proximity to Hood, Erath, and Palo Pinto counties. The house was located in Palo Pinto County while the farm was located in both Hood and Erath counties. Before Bryant and his family could move to the new farm, he became quite ill and was confined to his bed. His illness lingered for some time (into the fall), and he refused to take his medicine.
Witt Sears traveled to the Bethel community southeast of Lipan and asked an old family friend, John Dennis, to go to Bryant’s home and persuade him to take his medicine. The Dennis family was in the midst of harvesting its corn crop; Witt offered to stay and help with the harvest if Mr. Dennis would go to his father’s aid. Mr. Dennis agreed to go; Witt stayed and assisted with the corn harvest. Bryant Sears did agree to take his medicine; his condition did show improvement.
Bryant’s health remained precarious, but he was determined to move to his new farm west of Lipan. The family had been settled only a short time when John Bryant Sears died at age 64 on January 5, 1900 in Palo Pinto County. Ruth Hubbard was eight years old at the time. (Ruth was a younger sister of Bryant’s daughter-in-law). Ruth lived in the George Sears home and knew that Bryant Sears was critically ill. She recalled in later years that she was at school when the bell across the road at the Baptist Church began to toll about noon. The bell tolled 64 times. She immediately knew that Bryant Sears had died.
The family wanted to take his remains to Thorp Springs for burial. The inclement January weather made such a trip almost impossible. The weather compounded the fact that both Mollie Glenn and Florence Sears were expecting and unable to make the trip to Thorp Springs. Witt and George Sears each had children buried in Evergreen Cemetery just east of Lipan so the family made the decision to bury Bryant Sears at Evergreen Cemetery. John Bryant Sears was survived by his wife Susan and children–Witt, Mollie, George, Glenn, Albert, Daniel, and Andrew–plus his brother William Henry Sears of Heflin, Alabama.
Susan Sears continued to reside on the family farm. However, she and her sons were incorrectly enumerated on the 1900 U. S. Census as residents of Erath County rather than Palo Pinto County. The family home was near the Erath County line which accounted for the incorrect enumeration. Susan’s sons soon went their own ways, leaving their mother alone in the home west of Lipan.
Albert and Coleta Sears moved into the home with Susan Sears in 1914. The Bert Sears family shared her home until they moved to Santo in 1925. Susan T. Sears, known to her friends as Lizzie, made the decision to move to Santo with them.
Lizzie Sears joined the Church of Christ after her husband died and continued her already devout Christian life until her death. She was greatly loved and respected by all who knew her. Her step-children lovingly called her “Maw” as did her own children. Susan Elizabeth Townsend Sears died on February 2, 1936 at age 91 in the home of Bert Sears at Santo, Palo Pinto County, Texas. Her funeral was held at the Lipan Church of Christ; she was buried beside her husband at Evergreen Cemetery near Lipan, Hood County, Texas.
CHILDREN OF JOHN BRYANT SEARS
1 John Bryant SEARS b: November 14, 1836 in Wilkinson Co., GA d: January 05, 1900 in Lipan, Palo Pinto Co., TX Burial: Evergreen Cemetery at Lipan, TX
+Sarah Elizabeth CARIKER b: August 01, 1837 in Muscogee Co., GA m: June 20, 1858 in Eufaula, Barbour Co., AL d: November 12, 1874 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
2 Wittich SEARS b: March 27, 1859 in AL d: October 18, 1936 in Carlsbad, NM Burial: City Cemetery, Carlsbad, NM
+Isabella BISHOP Hightower b: February 02, 1864 in TX m: January 04, 1885 in Lipan, Hood Co., TX d: November 17, 1938 in Artesia, NM Burial: City Cemetery, Carlsbad, NM
2 Charles H. SEARS b: May 06, 1860 in AL d: November 23, 1860 in AL Burial: AL
2 James C. SEARS b: August 10, 1862 in AL d: January 16, 1867 in TX Burial: Near Frost, TX
2 Mary Frances SEARS b: February 20, 1865 in Auburn, AL d: March 20, 1961 in Odessa, TX Burial: City Cemetery, Odessa, Ector Co., TX
+Daniel Kelly GLENN b: October 23, 1861 in Sherman, TX m: October 15, 1885 in Hood Co., TX d: October 03, 1945 in Odessa, TX Burial: City Cemetery, Odessa, Ector Co., TX
2 John Bryant SEARS, Jr. b: August 19, 1867 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: October 1870 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
2 William H. SEARS b: December 31, 1869 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: December 19, 1891 in Cresson, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
2 George Timothy SEARS b: June 15, 1872 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: September 10, 1921 in Weatherford, Parker Co., TX Burial: Evergreen Cemetery at Lipan, TX
+Carrie Virginia HUBBARD b: January 13, 1878 in Bells, Crockett Co., TN m: July 08, 1896 in Hiner, Parker Co., TX d: September 15, 1919 in Lipan, Hood Co., TX Burial: Evergreen Cemetery at Lipan, TX
*2nd Wife of  George Timothy SEARS:
+Nora MAJORS b: October 08, 1888 in TX m: February 12, 1921 in Weatherford, Parker Co., TX d: June 08, 1954 in Santo, Palo Pinto Co., TX Burial: North Santo Cemetery, Santo, Palo Pinto Co., TX
2 Infant Son SEARS b: November 1874 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: November 1874 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
*2nd Wife of  John Bryant SEARS:
+Susan Elizabeth TOWNSEND b: August 24, 1844 in Clark Co, AR m: January 19, 1875 in Granbury, Hood Co., TX d: February 02, 1936 in Santo, Palo Pinto Co., TX Burial: Evergreen Cemetery at Lipan, TX
2 Infant Son # 1 SEARS b: 1876 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: 1876 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
2 Infant Son #2 SEARS b: 1876 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: 1876 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
2 Infant Son #3 SEARS b: 1877 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: 1877 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
2 Infant Son #4 SEARS b: 1877 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: 1877 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX Burial: Thorp Springs Cemetery, Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX
2 Walter Glenn SEARS b: January 24, 1879 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: February 12, 1948 in Hale Center, Hale Co., TX Burial: Hale Center Cemetery, Hale Center, TX
+Mary Florence RIPPETOE b: January 16, 1880 in Cookeville, Putnam Co., TN m: July 31, 1898 in Hood Co., TX d: January 03, 1963 in Hale Center, Hale Co., TX Burial: Hale Center Cemetery, Hale Center, TX
2 Albert SEARS b: October 30, 1880 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: November 07, 1945 in Santo, Palo Pinto Co., TX Burial: North Santo Cemetery, Santo, Palo Pinto Co., TX
+Coleta Frances MONTGOMERY b: March 27, 1886 in Coalville, Palo Pinto Co., TX m: May 19, 1912 in Red Springs, Baylor Co., TX d: October 09, 1974 in Stephenville, Erath Co., TX Burial: North Santo Cemetery, Santo, Palo Pinto Co., TX
2 Daniel Cecil SEARS b: August 09, 1882 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: January 26, 1924 in Wyandott, Perkins Co., SD Burial: Ruby Cemetery, Zeona, SD
+Louise HELMS b: 1886 in Sweet Home, Lavaca Co., TX m: April 16, 1907 in Sturgis, SD d: September 10, 1919 in Aberdeen, SD Burial: Catholic Cemetery, Aberdeen, SD
2 Andrew W. SEARS b: July 21, 1885 in Thorp Springs, Hood Co., TX d: August 21, 1964 in Portland, OR Burial: Skyline Cemetery, Portland, OR
+Bertha A. BAYLISS b: June 08, 1889 in Patilo, Erath Co., TX m: February 22, 1905 d: March 06, 1907 in Lipan, Hood Co., TX Burial: Evergreen Cemetery at Lipan, TX
*2nd Wife of  Andrew W. SEARS:
+Nellie ATOR b: June 22, 1887 in Palo Pinto Co., TX m: January 21, 1908 d: May 17, 1970 in Beaverton, OR Burial: Sunset Cemetery, Portland, OR
*3rd Wife of  Andrew W. SEARS:
+Mary Alberta TISSUE b: July 10, 1900 m: 1937 in Corvallis, OR d: December 25, 1988 in Portland, OR Burial: Skyline Cemetery, Portland, OR