Young J. Rylee Family Early Hood County Pioneers

The following family biographical note was scanned from the
Hood County Genealogical Society Newsletter No. 28; November 1990
Editor: Merle McNeese

Written by Mabel Aiken Bayer in 1977

In 1856 a wagon train wound its way to Texas from Atlanta, Georgia with the Y, J. Rylee family with 40 Negro slaves looking for a, new home in wild west Texas.

When they left their families in Georgia, it was as they all knew that they would probably never see them again as the miles between them were too many, but as their parents loved them and wanted them to be happy in their new home in a new country, they wanted them to go to Texas.

After landing in Texas they didn’t stop until they got to Hood County. They stopped at Stockton Bend, just about 4 miles from Granbury and Mr. Rylee took his sons and some of the Negroes and started out on mules and horses to find a place to settle. On the tour they came up the side of the Brazos River until they came to a turn in the River east of Granbury and they saw Indians all along the river but on exploring that section he found some large springs coming out of the banks of the river and of course there was plenty of wood all around. Mr. Rylee told his sons this was where they were going to locate, so they went back to Stockton Bend and moved the wagon train to that site.

He decided to build his house just about four hundred yards from the bank of the river where the springs were and at that site with the Negroes he began clearing it off. He found that he could buy the land for fifty cents per acre from the state of Texas and he purchased several thousand acres around that section and some north of Granbury.

He then began looking for someone to build his home and it was not long before a group of Norwegians came through the country looking for a job building houses. They were rock masons and as there was plenty of rock on the place, Mr. Rylee hired them to build a big rock house with two large fireplaces and of course rock chimneys. They hand cleaned the rock and for the shingles they hand-hewed them out of the cedar trees on the place. They didn’t have lumber so he had the lumber hauled from a fort where Dallas is now located, it was named Colbert. They had to haul the lumber with ox wagons and it took a long time to go to Fort Colbert and get back with the lumber, as it was then about 90 miles.

After the house was completed and he moved his family in, he built a number of Negro cabins between the house and the river for the slaves to live in. He had to get some way to cross the river when it was up and he made a ferry boat, not only to take his family across the river, but to take other people across. He then built a log cabin for a man to live in so when anyone ever came along who needed to cross the river he would be there to take them across.

“In 1856, the year that the Rylee family arrived in Hood County, a girl was born and they gave her the name Narcissus because at that time of the year the wild Narcissus flowers covered the fields where they lived near the Brazos.

“When Narcissa Rylee was 16 years old she was out in front of the house in the yard when a wagon train from Aiken, South Carolina with a young mar named Ed Aiken driving the horses to one of the wagons. He saw the young lady, Narcissa Rylee, standing in the yard as they passed and he told one of the men in the wagon train, “I will marry that girl someday.”

When they stopped in Johnson County he made a trip back to Hood County and did meet the young lady, Narcissa Rylee, and they were married in two years at the Rylee home in 1874. They built their home on the Rylee place and later when the rock house was for sale, Mr. and Mrs. Aiken bought the home place from the heirs and moved into the rock house that Mrs. Aiken was reared in. They reared their family of ten children in the rock house that still is in the location that Y. J, Rylee built over one hundred years ago. It is a landmark in Hood County and is still in the Aiken family.

“There are still some of the Aiken family living in Granbury. Arthur Aiken, Sr., son of Arthur Aiken, Sr., Byron Aiken, son of Virgil Aiken and Mrs. Mabel Aiken Bayer and Mrs. San Aiken Rickenbrobe, daughter of Arthur Aiken, Sr., Karen and Stevie Ricken-robe, Sr. and children of Arthur Aiken, Sr. Karen and Stevie are the fifth generation of the Aiken family who have lived in Granbury, Hood County, Texas”

Contributed by J. C, Campbell

Note: Mabel Aiken Bayer was born 17 Dec 1898, died 2 March 1978. She is buried in the Granbury Cemetery,

Located in the Historic Homes file in the Hood County Public Libary is the following article which appeared in The Dallas Morning News, dated April 22, 1939:GRANBURY HAS HISTORY DATING BACK TO 1860

Y. J. Rylee Brought Twelve Slaves
When He Came to Texas
“It was a group of twenty-six strongly flowing springs along the east bank of the Brazos River which gave this Hood County capital its start shortly before the War Between the States.

“Y, J, Rylee of Atlanta, Ga,, was the westward-bound pioneer who recognized this spot as the place he had sought for his home- site, and the date was 1860. The twelve Negro slaves he had brought with him took their axes into the woods along the Brazos and cut and hewed the logs for a temporary house consisting of two square cribs with a hall between. This structure still is used on the farm as a place for feed storage and a feeding pen.

“Work on the permanent home was started at once by Mr, Rylee, with native rock as the material. This long stone ranchhouse, completed seventy-seven years ago, still stands at the eastern end of the Crockett Bridge which spans the Brazos and leads into Granbury.

“It was not long after the Rylee settlement had been established that other pioneers began to recognize the value of the lands along the Brazos and the little village was established on the river’s west bank to give the present city of Granbury its birth as a typical Western trading post.

“When Rylee built his house the present Hood County was a part of Johnson County. By the time the Legislature erected the separate county of Hood in 1866 Rylee’s daughter had become the wife of Ed Aiken and the first settlement was thereafter known as the Aiken farm.

“Ed Aiken was a stalwart of the early days of West Texas and he reared a large family. Nine of his children are still living. V. R. Aiken Miss Mittie Aiken and Mrs. Eula Findley live in Granbury. Dr. S. Aiken and J. O. Aiken live in Fort Worth. At Corpus Christi live Dr. Alton Aiken and A. E. Aiken, E. M. Aiken lives at San Benito and Mrs. G. E, Bayer is a resident of Georgetown.

“The Aiken place was one of the first homes in West Texas to have running water. Many years ago it was found feasible to lift water from the springs to a tank near the house with the use of a hydraulic ram, and the water also was used for irrigation.

“The property still is owned by the Aiken estate and is farmed now by J. E. Jones and his son, N. G, Jones.”

In Judge Henry Davis’ papers in the library is the following:
“RYLEE, YOUNG J. (1812-1876)
“Affidavit of Mrs. Sadie Rylee 5-18-1937 who m. J. D. Rylee, son of Y. J. Rylee in 1882.
Children b. to Y. J, and Mary Permelia Rylee:

  1. 1. Indiana m. (1) Abel Nutt (2) Robert Walton
  2. 2. John, d. leaving one son W. B. Rylee
  3. 3, Martha M. m. Samuel Y. Edwards
  4. 4. Madison (Bud)
  5. 5, J. O. (Jeff) d. 9-7-1917
  6. 6. A. L., dau. m. S. L. Knight
  7. 7. N. M., dau, m. Ed. Aiken, sometimes called M. N., name was Narcissa M.

“Mrs. J.D. Rylee, widow, b. TX 12-4-1858, d. 11-29-1944, father W. J, McDonald “78-426 Deed Records Hood County, Texas”