Marking birthday of early Victoria citizen

Nov. 25, 2011 at 5:25 a.m.

Editor, the Advocate:

David Murphree's 200th birthday is Dec. 4. Born in Bristol, Tenn., he came to Texas in 1834, probably on horseback most of the way. In late 1835, he served with Ben Milam at the "first battle of the Alamo." According to family lore, he was also a messenger to James Fannin at Goliad. In March, 1836, Murphree joined Capt. William Patton's Columbia Company at Gonzalez and marched with Sam Houston to San Jacinto. At San Jacinto, Murphree took command of the Columbia Company when Patton was promoted to Houston's staff, and he led the Columbia Company in the battle defeating Santa Anna, winning Texas independence.

After independence, veterans of the Texas army were awarded with sections of land for their service. Murphree, after spending a short time in Bexar County, claimed his 640 acres in Victoria County, near what is now Thomaston in DeWitt County. In 1839, Murphree returned to Tennessee with his half brother, Hamilton Ledbetter, and brought his parents, 10 siblings and Ledbetter's family to Texas. He settled at Point Evergreen near Price's Creek, married Capt. Patton's sister, Margaretta, and built a home. He was one of the first county judges in Victoria County, serving from January 1840 to February 1841. While he was county judge, Comanches invaded Victoria, and Judge Murphree joined the volunteers who repelled the attack. After his time in office, he participated in the Vasquez Campaign and, later, in the Somerville Expedition.

David and Margaretta had three sons: Alex, who was killed in the Civil War, James Owen, and John Charles. David Murphree himself served in the Confederate home guard at Indianola. Margaretta died in 1863 and was buried near their Point Evergreen home. In 1866, David took some cattle to Missouri to sell. While in Missouri, he was murdered in Osceola, according to reports in the Victoria Advocate at the time.

David's father was buried at the site of the old railroad depot in Victoria in 1840, and his mother in Evergreen Cemetery in 1853. All of his siblings lived the remainder of their lives in Texas; Virginia Featherstone Murphree Smith was the last survivor of his siblings, and she was buried in Cuero in 1910.

Information gathered from family notes and the History of DeWitt County.

Jim Stokes, David Murphree's great-grandson, Victoria



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