Thomas S. Drew, Arkansas’s third governor (1844-1849) bought land in Parker County, Texas in 1875, then later in 1878 moved on to Hood County where he died in 1879. He was buried near Lipan, but his body was exhumed in 1923 and his body reburied in his hometown in Arkansas. The following account is from the Parker County Genealogical Society’s “TRAILS WEST,” Vol. 26, No. 1, October 1995.


Recent news stories about the exhumation of John Wilkes Booth; and the proposed disinterment of Jesse James bring to mind the reburial of an ex-governor of Arkansas who made his home in Weatherford in the 1870s.

Thos. S. Drew, governor of Arkansas from 1844 to 1849, came to Texas after a visit to California in 1874. He bought land in 1875 on Patrick Creek in Parker County. His son, Joseph Drew, and daughter, Emma C. Marr joined him after settling their affairs in Arkansas in 1875 and 1876. The father made his home in Weatherford in 1876, while his son was settling in Hood County that year. Emma Marr was occupied with an extensive series of lawsuits connected to the estate of her late husband in Arkansas and she did not join her relatives until late summer of 1876.

Weatherford was a natural home base for a man who had invested heavily in railroad schemes in the past and who could see the prospects in 1875 that railroads would branch south and west of Weatherford. Drew also had a taste of town-building and fit well into the move-ahead mood in Texas in the last quarter of the 19th Century. He had been a partner in the creation of Pocahontas, the county seat of Randolph County, Arkansas, and he had paid two visits to a California relative who stayed after the gold rush to create a town south of Los Angeles.

In 1878 Thos. S. traded his holdings on Patrick Creek (along with parcels in Haskell County and in the Panhandle plus a few mules and some miscellaneous farm equipment) for about 240 acres in Hood County. The property was recorded in the name of his daughter. Soon, Mrs. Marr and H. Davis had laid out a town and were selling lots in Lipan.

Thos. S. Drew died in 1879 and was buried near Lipan in what is now known as the Old Baptist Cemetery. Within a year or two, Joseph’s wife and child were laid beside him in graves marked by mounds of stones from nearby Crockery Creek. By 1888, Emma Marr had remarried and left the area, and, by the turn of the century, her brother had moved on to Arizona. The graves were ignored for almost half a century. In the early 1920s, however, some Texas residents suggested that the State of Arkansas should provide funds to place a monument at Drew’s Texas gravesite. The legislature rejected the idea and elected, instead, to finance bringing Drew’s remains home to Arkansas and placing a monument in Pocahontas, the former governor’s old hometown. They appropriated $1,000 for the project.

In May 1923, a delegation of Pocahontas dignitaries was sent to Lipan to see to the exhumation of Drew’s remains. They registered at Mal and Mattie Huffstuttler’s hotel, where they left in the wastebaskets bottles to indicate they had dropped by the drugstore to obtain some “medicine” to alleviate the pain of their trip. Lipan businesses closed their doors the day of the exhumation, and newspaper accounts indicate that hundreds came to observe the proceedings. Congressman Fritz Lanham delivered a patriotic oration before the digging began.

At the cemetery, an argument arose about which of the three Drew graves contained the remains of Thos. S. The shovel wielders plunged into one and turned up a hair ornament, the heel of a woman’s shoe, and fragments of a dress. Old-timers recalled Joseph Drew’s wife wearing a dress made of that fabric. The items were returned to the first grave, and the second was dug into. Here, the diggers found a tooth and precious little else, according to an account of the disinterment written by Rep. Lanham. The few remains were placed in the ornamented metal casket provided by the Arkansas Legislature and loaded onto a wagon for transport to the railroad in Granbury.

On May 31, 1923, Arkansas held a magnificent welcome-home for what was found of the ex-governor after more than four decades in a Texas cemetery. A state holiday was declared, and a special train took state officials to Pocahontas for the event. Thousands joined in a mile-long parade and crowded the streets of the town. Those who had been present at the cemetery in Lipan did not dampen the holiday atmosphere by revealing that the coffin contained practically nothing.

Thos. S. Drew’s final resting place is beside his wife and two sons, who also were removed from their first sites. Mrs. Drew, who died in 1872, and the toddlers, both of whom died about 1840, originally were buried in a family cemetery in what is now downtown Pocahontas. As the town grew after the turn of the century, a new street was cut near the burial plot. When erosion of the sites became obvious, a family friend paid to have the remains moved to Pocahontas Masonic Cemetery, where a third son is buried in an unmarked grave.

NOTE: Dee Hubbard Powell, a Parker County native, did extensive research on Thos. S. Drew while teaching Journalism at Arkansas State University. She is the daughter of Iris Williamson Hubbard, author of Glancing Backward, A History of Lipan, Texas. Arkansas history books have a hodgepodge of incorrect information about that state’s third governor, and none can be accepted as factual, she said. She writes from data collected from official records and 19th century newspapers in Texas, Arkansas, California, and other original sources. Details of the Drew exhumation are taken from a report written by Rep. Fritz Lanham, kept confidential until after his death, and from a tape-recorded 1981 conversation between Iris Williamson Hubbard and Mattie Huffstuttler whose Lipan hotel hosted the Arkansas visitors.