DAVID ATLEE PHILLIPS:
A Texan Born and Bred
by Linda Minor
David Atlee Phillips, born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1922 to Edwin T. and Mary Young Phillips, hardly had a chance to know his father. Edwin's father, George Wilson Phillips, a Pennsylvanian, had married Blanche Murphy in 1874 in Iowa. Prior to 1898, the family had moved moved to Fort Worth from Marshall, Texas, where George was an engineer for Benjamin F. Yoakum's Frisco Railroad until his death in 1906. Blanche Phillips and her children, Henry Smith, James Olcott and Mattie Phillips were thereafter listed among communicants of St. Andrews Episcopal Parish in the heart of the Fort Worth business and courts district.
|The Phillipses were Episcopalian.|
With help from his older siblings, Edwin managed to attend the University of Texas and obtain a legal education. It was in Austin that he met fellow student, Mary Louise Young; he graduated in 1908, and Mary in 1909.They married in 1912 and moved to Fort Worth. By 1920 Mary had already given birth to three sons, ranging in age from two to six years old. David would come along like an afterthought, two years later. Edwin had by then become a "corporation attorney," and was a partner at Phillips, Trammell and Chizum. The law firm specialized in oil and gas cases, taking some of them on appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. The firm also worked closely with Fort Worth's oldest and most respected law firm--Capps, Cantey & Hanger.
The marriage would last only sixteen years, cut short by Edwin's untimely death in 1928. Edwin's law practice, in which he represented wealth oil interests, however, would give his widow, Mary Young Phillips, the springboard of contacts she needed, when added to those from her own background, to find a career that helped support her family.
Charles Glidden Young
|1870 Census of Young family in Rusk|
We know that Charles had arrived in Texas by way of Mississippi and Louisiana, just as the civil war was beginning. The Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad (VS&T), which he was constructing, reached the Texas state line in 1861.
Six years earlier (1855) Charles G. Young had been elected by the board of directors of the VS&T as its president, working with the railroad's engineer, William G. Bonner. The two had been instructed by the Board to approach the Texas Legislature to ask for a route through Texas, with a long-range plan of ultimately linking up with the Southern Pacific line. Ultimately, if achieved, it would have given The VS&T a connection to the Pacific Coast.
Charles may have moved his family at that time to Chappell Hill, Texas. Located in Washington County, near the site where Texas independence had been born in 1836, the Washington County Railroad before long negotiated a merger with the railroad being built out of Houston by William Marsh Rice--the Houston & Texas Central.
Before the VS&T's dream of linking to the Southern Pacific could materialize, however, its roadbed and rails were seized in December 1861 by the Confederacy, which took them over for its supply line. Thereafter, as reported on January 21, 1863, by the Dallas Herald, Union forces had not only destroyed the road, but had also:
captured and destroyed or carried away a large quantity of Confederate property. They also burnt three of the most important bridges on the route, viz: at bayou Macon, Tensas, and lake One. They also burnt the depot at Delhi and materially injured the railroad track. The bridges, we are informed, cannot be rebuilt under years of hard labor. We presume we are once more cut off from all communication with the country east of the Mississippi river, save that which may be carried on by the "runners of the blockade."
Despite all the disruption of his railroad-building plans by both sides in the War Between the States, Charles G. Young did not give up. When in November 1861, Young was "relieved" by the superintendent of the VS&T railroad, and he took the opportunity to relocate his family to Texas--first settling it appears in Washington County, where James Mills Young, his youngest son was born. He built a smelter and operated a sawmill, brickyard, and store at Rusk in Cherokee County, selling goods brought by a wagon train with supplies from Galveston and Matamoros, Mexico. The smelter and sawmill were a necessary part of the Houston & Great Northern Railroad, which he chartered in 1866 in the hope that, with the war now concluded, there would be no further violence. The maternal grandfather of David Atlee Phillips, James M. Young, was listed as a lad of seven in the Young residence at Rusk in the 1870 census. However, he had been born in Washington County, Texas, not far from today's Brenham, where older siblings married and remained when their father took the younger brood to Rusk.
For example, Daniel Marshall Young, born in Mississippi in 1840, married a girl named Marie from Virginia, and their first child was born only a year after his young brother James. Daniel worked as a farm laborer in Chappell Hill to support his young family. The eldest daughter, Catherine (called Callie), had studied music and married a lawyer named I. M. Onins who became a judge in what was at that time the 28th Judicial District of Texas. They had a daughter named Posey. The Texas Legislature granted Onions a three-month leave in April 1873 to leave Texas until July 1873.