From History of Texas Published in 1896

This gentleman, to whose life history we now turn, stands conspicuously forward as one of the first settlers of his locality and as one who has been closely identified with the physical, moral and religious development of the country. His is distinctively a pioneer. His parents and grandparents before him were pioneers; their history shows a succession of migrations and a people occupying leading and representative positions in the various frontier settlements in which they cast their lots. The biography, therefore, of our subject, is one of special interest in this connection.

John R. Northcutt was born in Tennessee, January 21, 1814, and when a child was taken by his parents to Georgia, where he was reared in frontier settlements and with no other educational advantages than the primitive schools of the community afforded. His parents were Alexander and Lucy (Robinson) Northcutt, the former a native of the Old Dominion and the latter of North Carolina.

The Northcutts are of Scotch origin. The grandfather of our subject came to this country from Scotland at a date prior to the Revolutionary war and made settlement in Virginia, where he resided a number of years. He left his wife and three little sons there while he joined the army and fought for independence. Returning home on a furlough, he found his wife had died and his little ones were scattered, and while at home he suffered much abuse at the hands of the Tories. He shortly after went back to the army, and continued in the service until the war closed. Subsequently he married again, and by his second wife had two children, a son and a daughter, the son being Alexander, the father of our subject. When Alexander was a youth of sixteen the family moved to Georgia, and there the Revolutionary veteran passed the residue of his life and died. Alexander Northcutt married and moved to Tennessee, and a few years later, when a treaty was made with the Indians, he returned to Georgia and located in Jasper county, where he was a prominent pioneer. While in Tennessee, he served in the War of 1812. He was in the battle of Talladega, and also the Horse Shoe Battle, the latter in the Creek war. After the treaty had been made with the Indians and another new territory opened, he moved west to the Ocmulgee river and pioneered again, opening up a farm and taking the lead in the new settlement. But even there he was not satisfied. The spirit of emigration again seized him, and his next migration was to Campbell county, on the Chattahoochee river, where he settled among the Creek Indians and opened another farm. His next and last move was after the Cherokee purchase, when he selected a location in Cobb county. There, with the aid of his sons, he reclaimed from nature his last farm, and there the stalwart pioneer passed his closing years and died. Both he and his wife were members of the Primitive Baptist Church. When the Church was divided he left it, while his wife went with the Missionary Church and remained a consistent and devoted member of the same until her death. Captain Northcutt, as that worthy pioneer was called, earned the title during his military service. He filled various positions of trust and prominence in the different localities where he had his abiding place, was public spirited, frank and generous, and was as highly respected as he was well known.

From this succinct review of our subject’s paternal ancestry we pass now to some mention of the Robinson’s, his mother’s people. John Robinson, his grandfather, was a wealthy farmer and slaveholder of Georgia, and died there. His son Luke, an uncle of Mr. Northcutt, was a noted Primitive Baptist preacher in Georgia for over forty years; and John Robinson, a brother of Luke, distinguished himself as a member of the Georgia legislature, where he served twenty-two terms, at the end of that time refusing to serve longer on account of his age. He was a very wealthy man, an owner of many slaves, and was well known and greatly esteemed throughout Georgia. J.J. Robinson, the youngest son, was a lawyer of marked ability. He came to Texas about 1826 and located in Sabine county, where he remained through life, and where he died during the late war. He never married. He accumulated a large amount of wealth, and at one time was the owner of many slaves. He, however, had given all his slaves their freedom before the war came on.

The children born to Alexander and Lucy Northcutt numbered twelve, their names in order of birth being herewith given: Elizabeth, Nancy, William, John R., Elijah, Alford, Jesse, Alexander, Luke, Lucy, Frances and James.

John R. Northcutt remained with his father, moving about from one frontier settlement to another as above recorded, until April 5, 1835, when, having attained his majority a short time before, he left the parental shelter and started out to make his own way in the world, with no assistance and with nothing to lose and all to gain. After changing his location once or twice, he settled in the Cherokee Indian country before the Indians had been moved from that section, and in Chattahoochee County bought land and made a farm. For nine years he made that place his home. Then he returned to Cobb County, where he followed farming and merchandising until January, 1853, at that date removing to Alabama, maintaining his residence in Alabama sixteen years, until his removal to Texas in 1868. In 1851 he was converted and joined the Missionary Baptist Church. Soon afterward he began to take an active part in church work, his interest never flagged, and after his return from a hard service in the late war, he was ordained a minister and dedicated his life to the service of the Lord. His first regular charge was Pine Grove, where he served as pastor until his removal to this State. Before proceeding to his life in Texas, we would revert briefly to his army experience.

In 1861, at the very beginning of the war, Mr. Northcutt raised a company, and as its captain, marched to the front. There were few, if any, companies in the southern army that were composed of braver, truer men, or commanded by a braver captain than this. They made some long, hard marches, including one beyond Mobile, and were participants in the battle of Corinth. In that noted battle this company lost in killed and wounded about one-half its number, among the latter being the captain who received a bullet wound in his right thigh, the bone being badly fractured. As a result of this wound he was a great sufferer for six months. At once he resigned his commission and returned home, and it was immediately after his recovery that he was ordained for this ministry. After this he took no further part in the war.

On coming to Texas in 1868, Mr. Northcutt stopped first on the Brazos River in Hood County, where he remained two years before deciding upon a permanent location. In 1869 he bought a section of wild land in Erath County, and to this place he moved in December of the following year. Here he developed a farm and in this same locality he still lives. Some five or six families were already settled within a few miles of the land he purchased, but he was the pioneer of the immediate vicinity. Stephenville was for some time the nearest trading and milling place. He sent to the Brazos for his first bread-stuff, and he recalls having paid as high as one dollar and twenty five cents per bushel for corn. As soon as possible he brought his land under cultivation, and all these years he has been more or less interested in farming, raising some stock, too, not however making a specialty of the stock business. From time-to-time he assisted his sons in obtaining land near him, and of recent years he has divided his holdings with his children, until now of his original six hundred and forty acres he retains only one hundred and sixty, this including the family residence.

But farming was only a “pot boiler” with him. While he carried forward the improvement of his land and cultivated his crops of grain, he was at the same time at work in other fields, sowing other seed. During his sojourn in Hood county, he preached some twenty miles from home, at a church called Kimble. After his removal to Erath County, he at first preached wherever opportunity offered. The pulpit of Round Grove, the Church nearest his home, was then filled by Brother Ross. Mr. Northcutt preached in different churches, near and far, going whenever and wherever called and allowing nothing to hinder him from his appointments. He helped to organize Zion Hill Church, and occupied its pulpit two years. Next, he helped to organize Rock Dale Church, where he proclaimed the gospel at regular intervals for a period of five or six years; also assisted in the organization of the Flat Creek Church, and preached there two years. Later he went to Green Creek, and there he at first preached under the trees, the result being an organized church, over which he served as pastor for four years. He organized Walnut Creek church and was its regular minister four years. Also he organized Coperas Creek church, where he served another four years as pastor. The last church he helped to organize was at the head of Barton’s creek, but he never officiated as regular pastor there. His last charge was at Live Oak church, which he filled four years, and since then, on account of infirmities of age, has not been in active work, preaching only occasionally, where invited. For a number of years Mr. Northcutt belonged to the Bosque association, of which he served as moderator two years. With the development of the country, this organization grew until it was necessary for a division and eleven churches withdrew from it, forming what has since been known as the Comanche association, of which Mr. Northcutt is a member. His long service in the ministry has ever been characterized by devotion to the cause. His own experience in the various new settlements where he lived from time-to-time early gave him an intimate knowledge of the needs of frontier people; and this knowledge, together with his earnest desire to benefit mankind and honor God, has made him a power for good. As an organizer of churches and expounder of the gospel, he has exerted an influence here in Texas that can be measured only by eternity.

In conclusion, we would speak of Mr. Northcutt’s domestic relations. For more than half a century he was blessed with the companionship and loving devotion of one of the truest and best of wives, death separating the aged couple April 23, 1886, when the wife and mother was summoned to her last home. Mr. Northcutt was married in his youth to Miss Annie Dorsett, a native of South Carolina, born January 21, 1821, daughter of Elijah and Anna Dorsett, both natives of that State. Her father was a prominent farmer and died in Georgia. A brother of Mrs. Northcutt, Elijah Dorsett, came to Texas at an early age and became prominent in Houston county, where at one time he served as county sheriff. He died in Crockett. As the years passed by sons and daughters to the number of fourteen were given to Mr. and Mrs. Northcutt. Three of these children died in infancy and eleven grew up to occupy respected and useful positions in society. Briefly, their record is as follows: Elijah, who was killed in the battle of Chickamauga; Charlotta, who has been twice married, first to a Mr. Ganes, who was killed in the late war, her present husband being I.S. Mason, whom she wedded after coming to Texas; John R., who died at the age of twenty-eight years, left a wife and two children; William M., a resident a Dublin, Texas; Alford and Jesse, twins, both farmers of Erath county; Luke, a farmer of this county, died and left a wife and five children; F.P., deceased, left a widow and four children; Emma E. is the wife of A. Jones, a farmer, and Robert, also a farmer. Mr. Northcutt now makes his home with his son Jesse.


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