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Christmas’ with the “Phillips Girls” Part One

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.

Phillips Farmhouse

Phillips Farmhouse in Dozier Community near Shamrock, Texas

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.


  1. We seem to have some common ancestors. Some facts fit, others do not. However, I’ve found out that everyone in the same family may differ on facts….birthdays and such.My father, A.W. PHillips, thought that Joshua Phillips came to the US around 1818 or 1819 with two sons, Charles and David. In 1953-54, my dad met two old maid Phillips, who had a trunk that Joshua brought over from Ireland. In it was his Masonic Robe, that I understood he wore in Dublin. Dad was going to take me to meet them on one of my trips home from college, but we never got to go. I don’t remember their names.

    Katie Taylor Linton, a descendant of David, shows Joshua in the following:
    Census 1820 Barnwell Co., S.C.
    Census 1830 Morgan Co., GA
    Census 1840 Meriwether Co., GA

    Katie Linton writes: Notes from Miss Eddie Phillips–“Joshua Phillips was born in Belfast, Ireland. He was a 33rd Degree Mason and had some part in laying the corner-stone of the Masonic Temple in Belfast, Ireland. He had two Brothers who fought in the Battle of Waterloo with Wellington when Napoleon fell. I could find only two Phillips’ in the records of Waterloo. Could they be Joshua’s brothers?) One of his brothers was a professional gambler and was killed during a poker game by a blow to the head with an ax. This probably happened in Georgia.”

    1850 United States Federal Census Record
    Name: Joshua Phillips
    Age: 67
    Estimated Birth Year: abt 1783
    Birth place: Ireland
    Gender: Male
    Home in 1850
    (City,County,State): Division 59, Meriwether, Georgia

    Georgia Marriages, 1699-1944 Record
    about Joshua Phillips
    Name: Joshua Phillips
    Spouse: Nancy Weeks
    Marriage Date: 10 Jun 1825
    County: Morgan
    State: Georgia

    1860, 1870, 1880 Census show Joshua in Rusk County

  2. Hi Scott, it’s a cold blistery day in Nova Scotia–a true Canadian blizzard. A good day for review of earlier initiatives which includes the Phillips ancestry. In your last email you discussed the possibility of a “Part II with the Phillips Girls”. Has there been any developments?

    My next trip to Europe will include Ireland. Do you have a County or Shire name for the origin of Joshua Phillips?

    Best wishes and “Happy Holidays” to you and your family.

    C. Don Phillips

    1. Hi Don,

      Part II will come at some point. Finding time and motivation intersecting at the same point is elusive though. What I have to write is not much, but should’ve been done when I wrote Part I. I get around to it, or as we say in Texas, I’m fixin’ to get right on that.

      I don not have any info on Joshua Phillips other than a census saying he was born in Ireland. Phillips is a Welsh name, so his family may have originated there and ended up in Ireland for some reason. If you find out anything, let me know. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. My wife’s family has roots there as well and I know where they come from.

      Best to you and your family this new year!


  3. Scott,thanks for your response, looking forward to part 2. It appears that your mother or grandmother is the sister of Wanda Kiser. I haven’t seen Wanda and Roy since the early fifties. If they are still with us please give my regards. My mother, Mildred, is 93 and living in a nursing home in Olton, Tx.
    I have retired to Weymouth, Nova Scotia. My daughter, Monica Phillips, lives in Chicago. Your website is very insightful. Looking forward to future entries.
    Regards, Don

  4. Hello, enjoyed
    your story of “The Texas Girls”, will there be a part 2? I am the grandson of Jesse Arvel Phillips of Heald, Texas. Nothing left of the village but I do have photos of the old family store and a 4 generation gathering thru my great grandfather. I believe his name was Thomas Franklin Phillips.
    Don Phillips

    1. Hi Don,

      Yes. There will be a “Christmas With The Phillips Girls. Part II” coming up this Christmas 2011.


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