Mary Witt Allen, Moody, Texas

Billie Harris - Aug 25, 2009

I've recently come across a number of old, old photos that I've had for many years.   unfortunately, the backs of most have no names on them.   One that I just posted says on the back "Daughter of Mary Witt Allen" and I've posted it in the Photos section.  

The Witts are related on my Lewallen side of the family.   Amanda Narcissus Witt Lewallen was the sister of Mary Witt Allen.   Amanda was the wife of William Henry Lewallen, son of James Calvin Lewallen and grandson of Wylie and Mary Lewallen.

Annette Swenson of Belton, Texas, compiled a great deal of information on the Witts.   Here's what she wrote about Mary Witt Allen.   For those of you who have now or had relatives living in and around Moody and/or around Hamilton (which I believe is in Hamilton County), you might check to see if you recognize any of the names.


Mary Elizabeth Witt was the fourth child of Isaac Martin and Sarah Taylor Witt.

She married James Marion Allen on December 3, 1876, near Moody, Texas, and they moved to Hamilton, Texas in 1880.   They purchased land on Blue ridge, near Hamilton, where they made their home.

She has been described as being tall and slender with black hair and high cheek bones, and very pretty.   She told many stories of her life and these are recorded elsewhere in this book.   From these it is obvious that she led a avery interesting life.

She was a midwife for many babies born in Blue Ridge; and she helped raise sixteen children besides her own, among them her granddaughter, Katherine Wood.

It was said of Mary Elizabeth that she lived a colorful life, with sunshine and shadows; but courageously she went her way, making it obviously worthwhile for others to follow in her footsteps.

Mary Elizabeth and James Marion Allen were the parents of twelve children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood.   This was a very closely knit family, and a very loving family.   They were a very musical family, with seven of the children playing musical instruments.   They had much enjoyment playing and singing together for family and friends.

Mary Elizabeth Witt always had words of encouragement for others; and by her deeds of thoughtfulness and her very deep love for her children, she brought sunshine into their lives.   She left a wonderful heritage for her descendants, and she also left wonderful memories.

FAMILY (as told to Katherine Wood Moore by
Mary Elizabeth Witt Allen)

When she was a little girl, still living in Alabama, Mary Elizabeth and her brother, James Randolph (Jim Ike) were sent to pick wild berries along the fence rows.   The Yankee soldiers came by, and the two children hid in the berry bushes until they went by.   She said it took a long time for them to pass, and then the children ran all the way home.   She said her brother was protecting her all the time.   She mentioned again that the Yankees always took everything as they went through.

When Mary Elizabeth and James Marion first settled in Hamilton County after their marriage, they were very young.   James Marion built them a 14x16’ log cabin with a fireplace in one end.   At that time there were only a few white settlers there.   Their few neighbors lived several miles away.   They were Nan and George Knoll (grandparents of Katherine Moore’s husband), the John Hibbets, and a few others.

They went to Cowhouse Creek for their water until they could afford to get a well dug.   This was at least three miles away.   The big cattle drives would come through twice a year, and the drovers always stopped there for water for the cattle.   In those days, any kind of cattle were sold; and when the cows dropped a calf, and the calf could not travel, it was left behind.   James Marion would go to the creek after the drovers had left and pick up the stray calves and bring them home to raise.   Many times he would get several calves.   When he sold them after about nine months for $5.00, which was good money then, he would take the money and buy more land.   The land sold for $.25 an acre –  and that was the way they accumulated their land.

Like all the pioneer women, Mary Elizabeth made her children’s clothes.   She would buy flannel (cotton) by the bolt and make their underclothing…everything sewn by hand.   At Christmas time she made little horses and dogs (stuffed) out of scraps of flannel, and put red yarn for their tails and buttons for eyes.   One Christmas as she was putting the toys on the tree, one of the boys stuck his head out from the covers and said “That striped one is mine.”   She had seven girls, and as each one left home, she was given seven quilts and one comforter, all hand made.

One year, after they had made a good crop, James Marion took the wagon to Gatesville, the railroad center then, to get wood to enlarge their house, and to get other supplies.   He told Mary Elizabeth that it would take him four or five days, and that he would have a surprise for her when he returned.   On the fifth day he returned and brought a large box into the house.   It was a sewing machine, the only one in Hamilton County.   Mary Elizabeth sat down and cried; that was the best present she could have received.

One day Mary Elizabeth was making home made lye soap.   As she was stirring the soap, she looked down and saw Indian moccasins by her feet.   She looked up and saw a very tall Indian man standing there.   He told her by signs that he wanted milk and butter; that all their cows were dry.   She got him the milk and butter, which he wanted to pay for, but she would not take the money.   About a month later, he came back and brought her little moccasins for her small children.   He then wanted to swap Red baby for White baby.   She told him NO, she could not do that.   She said that for a long time she slept with the baby in her arms for fear that he might come back for it.   Each time she saw him in town he would say, “How” and make the sign that he was her friend.   He came back to her home several times to see her, but was always just a friend; and always brought beads and trinkets.   One day he came and told her he was leaving and would not be back –  he had come to tell her goodbye.

Once a band of wandering Indians came through, terrorizing the settlers.   Mary Elizabeth was frying cornmeal bread when they came by her house.   They asked for food, and she told them she would fix some for them.   Evidently, she wasn'’ doing it fast enough to suit the Chief so he pushed her aside and did the frying himself.   Then to add to her fright, one of the squaws liked the little White baby and wanted to trade her baby for the White one.   (Mary Elizabeth might have just thought the Indians wanted to trade babies –  they might have just wanted her to give them her baby.)   At any rate, she held onto her baby, and they left peacefully.