SHAMROCK, TEXAS – Christmas 1993
When visiting my parents in Amarillo one Christmas, I was asking my mom more questions about her side of the family. When she didn’t have the answers to what I wanted, she would simply pick up the phone and call the best source she knew. One of these sources was my maternal grandfather’s (Elmo Lawson Phillips) cousins.
There were three sisters living together in an old farmhouse is the Dozier Community near my mother’s hometown of Shamrock, Texas. You won’t find Dozier anywhere on the map. I was in Amarillo for several days, so we decided to drive out to visit the “Phillips Girls” as my mom referred to them.
On our first visit in 1993, Irene was 88, Bea was 84 and Lenora was 80. They were very happy to see us since visitors were rare. The “Phillips Girls” were the 6th, 7th, and 8th of nine children born to James Sterling Phillips (1866-1921) and Eleanor Jane (Adams) (1877-1963).
I learned from them that my great-great-grandparents were Thomas Crammore Phillips (1830-1921) and Sarah Caroline (Dismukes) (1835-1929). They told me the story of how Thomas, Sarah and their two oldest children moved from Georgia to Texas before the Civil War. Thomas fought with General Lee’s army in Virginia. while he was gone to war, his wife had to live alone which was dangerous because they still had Indian raids back then in Texas. Thomas got a medical discharge and was eager to get home to Texas.
He tried to get on the first stagecoach to Texas but there was no room inside. He asked to ride on top but the said he couldn’t “because the trees would knock him off.” He was persistent however, and was allowed to ride on top of the stagecoach back to Texas.
The Phillips Girls told us that Thomas Crammore Phillips’ father was from Ireland and married his wife in Georgia. They later moved to Rusk County, Texas and are believed to be buried in Pine Cove Cemetery. This was the first time I heard that I had some Irish blood in me! And although I’m only 1/32 Irish, I have to say that St. Patrick’s day is a little more fun now!
I learned in later research that my Irish ancestor (great-great-great grandfather) was named Joshua Phillips and was born in Ireland circa 1793 and died sometime after 1860. Phillips is a Welsh name and how and why Joshua was born in Ireland is still a mystery. Joshua’s wife’s name was Nancy.
According to the Phillips Girls, in 1875, Thomas Crammore Phillips’ oldest son David Grissom Phillips (1852-d.unknown) moved from Rusk County (just east of Tyler) to Parker County (just west of Ft. Worth) in an ox-drawn covered wagon. As he was passing through Dallas County, a man offered him 80 acres of land for his ox and wagon. David refused. This land later became Oak Cliff! When he later passed through Ft. Worth, the log court house was burning.
The Phillips girls told the tale of how my great-great grandmother Sarah Caroline Dismukes’ father, James Dismukes (1795-1873) owned a plantation in South Carolina. When her father went for supplies (presumably in Charleston) he would be gone for several days at a time. Sarah and her mother Nancy Matthews (Wilson) would spend that time cooking for and feeding the slaves. Her father must not have approved of that while he was there.
Although I found no evidence to confirm the plantation or the South Carolina connection, I did see that the family lived in Pike County, Georgia and did in fact own slaves.
I was very excited to learn of this knowledge about James Dismukes, not that he owned slaves, but that he was born in 1795 in Georgia. That made him my earliest ancestor born in America! Theoretically he would’ve been old enough to fight in the War of 1812. Later research showed that James did in fact do just that! James served as a private in Capt. William Huckaby’s Co., Georgia militia, 1814-1815.
Later research showed that James’ great-grandfather (also James) was born in Virginia (c.1685) and died in Caroline County, Virginia in 1770.
Bea also told me that we had a cantankerous relative that insisted on being buried in his UNION uniform somewhere near Ft. Worth. Apparently, his family was outraged to have Yankee soldier buried in Confederate soil!
To be continued.