From History of Texas Published in 1896

Among many other residents within the bounds of Texas who started out in life with naught but an abundance of determination and indefatigable industry, and a strong and healthy constitution, and who have succeeded through their own diligence, energy, and economy, we classify the gentleman whose name stands at the head of this sketch. He is actively engaged in agricultural pursuits in Hood county, raising upon his extensive farm, corn, wheat, oats and cotton.

Mr. Shirley is a native of South Carolina, born February 6, 1844 and descended from Irish ancestry. His parents, Robert C., and Elizabeth (Posey) Shirley, were born, reared and married in South Carolina, where the father followed farming. When our subject was nine years of age they removed with their family to Mississippi, making their location in Choctaw county, where they spent their remaining days. The great-grandfather Shirley aided the colonies in their struggle for independence.

Under the parental roof our subject remained until February, 1862, when he joined the Confederate army, enlisting in Company C, First Regiment of Mississippi Artillery, and served until the close of the war. He participated in all the engagements in which his regiment took part, with the exception of the siege of Vicksburg, during which time he lay ill in the hospital with typhoid fever, and was a conservative soldier, always found at his post of duty.

On returning to his home in Mississippi, Mr. Shirley worked as a farm hand for some time. There he was married, on the 25th of January, 1868, the lady of his choice being Miss Mary Fair, also a native of South Carolina, who had come to Mississippi when quite young. Ten children were born of this union: Beulah, wife of J.T. Estes; Walter, at home; Arthur; Ella, wife of Frank Burnett, a farmer of Hood County; Ethel, wife of Frank Forest, of the same county; James, Vivian, Carrie, Nannie and Claude.

After his marriage, Mr. Shirley purchased land in Mississippi, where he engaged in farming until November, 1878, when he sold his property there and removed to Hood county, Texas. Here he first bought two hundred and eighty-five acres, on which he still makes his home, but has increased the boundaries of his place until it now comprises fifteen hundred acres in one body, four hundred of which he has placed under a high state of cultivation. It is the old Davy Crockett farm, as twelve hundred and eighty acres of it were patented to the heirs of that gentleman for his services. Mr. Shirley also owns five hundred acres in Jones county, and in addition to general farming is also extensively engaged in stock-raising. Although he started out in life a poor man, he has acquired his large estate through his own well directed efforts, and is now numbered among the wealthiest men of Hood county.

In politics, Mr. Shirley is an ardent Democrat, taking a deep interest in the success of his party, but cares nothing for political preferment. For two years he served as county commissioner but declined a re-election. He earnestly gives his support to our public-school system, and has supplied his children with excellent educational advantages. Religiously, with his estimable wife and family, he is an active member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. Financially, he has reason to be satisfied with the results of his labors, and his course as a citizen has been such as to commend him to the people among whom he lives.

James Travis Shirley died October 23, 1922 and was buried in Cresson Cemetery in Johnson County, Texas.


History of Texas, 1896, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co.