Wednesday, March 28, 2018


The Atlee Family in Texas

David Atlee Phillips' descent from Mary Parson Atlee (click to enlarge)
David Atlee Phillips was born and bred in Texas, but his great-grandmother, Mary Parson Atlee, born in Athens, Tennessee, was a direct descendant of William Augustus Atlee and Esther Sayre, the Pennsylvania-born progenitors of the Atlee clan.

The Children of Edwin Augustus and Sarah Gilbert Atlee

Amelia Varian Atlee - Atlee Marriage to Ayres

Named for Edwin's eldest sister, Elizabeth Amelia, who had married Episcopal minister Alexander Varian, Amelia Varian Atlee, was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1829 but lived in Athens, Tennessee, at the time she was married in 1850 to Rev. Alexander Findley Cox.

Their eldest daughter, born in 1852 in Athens, was given the name of a popular poet, Felicia Hemans  Cox. The Coxes' second child, Peery At Lee Cox, was born in Virginia in 1854, and a third child, born a year later in Tennessee, died at six weeks of age. Less than a year after the death of the baby, Rev. Cox was sent to do mission work in Texas, where a fourth child, Mary Eliza Cox, was born at Goliad, Texas in late summer of 1857--twelve years after the Republic of Texas had been annexed to the Union as a state. Felicia Cox grew up to marry in 1868 Youngs O. Coleman, one of the bosses at the Coleman ranches in Rockport, Texas, started by Margaretta Atlee's husband, Thomas M. Coleman and his father, Youngs Levi Coleman, who died in 1881.

Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH
Their younger daughter Mary was married in 1881 to John H. Williamson in Lockhart, Texas, and a son, Alexander Bascom Cox, would be born in Goliad in 1861. When he was 30, he married Martha Rischke, a German-born citizen of Texas. A widow since 1910, Martha and her daughter Amelia Katherine Cox had for many years lived in San Antonio only a mile or two from Bascom Cox's uncle, the architect Atlee B. Ayres. Katherine, single, was a schoolteacher supporting her mother when Atlee's first wife died in 1937. A few years later the cousins married. Martha died in 1952 at their home in San Antonio at 201 Belknap. Katherine's brother, A. Bascom Cox, Jr., became a Brownsville, Texas, attorney. Martha's sister, Anna, had married another cousin, Alex. O. Coleman, son of Youngs O. and Felicia Cox Coleman, and but she had died in 1909.

Amelia V. Atlee Cox was the first of this branch of the Atlee family to arrive in Texas as early as 1855. Rev. Cox, a Virginian and a Methodist, arrived in Athens, Tennessee (home of East Tennessee Wesleyan College), and there he met Amelia, whose younger brother, Edwin Augustus Atlee, Jr. had recently attended Ohio Wesleyan University, not founded until 1844. In Ohio he met an Ohio native, Nathan Tandy Ayres, the man who would marry Mary Parson Atlee, Edwin, Jr. and Amelia's youngest sister. In Goliad the Coxes would meet John S. McCampbell, an attorney, who would marry another relative.

John Smith Gillett, of Karnes County, who for 36 years was secretary to the West Texas Conference's board of missions of the Methodist Church, wrote Rev. Cox's obituary in the Beeville, Weekly Picayune,  9 Apr 1897:
Rev. A. F. Cox Passes Peacefully Over the River."
According to this piece, Cox lived in that region of Texas around 40 years, "having reached Goliad December 1, 1856, and being a minister and most of the time actively engaged in preaching... He was born in Washington county, Va., December 1, 1823, was at the time of his death 73 years, 4 months and 4 days old. On May 1, 1850, he was married to Miss Amelia V. Atlee, who, with seven children survive him." It adds that Cox was a preacher for over 52 years, as well as having been for seven years "editor and publisher of a weekly paper in the town of Goliad, called the Goliad Messenger, which was finally changed to the Goliad Guard by the father of the present publisher (R. T. Davis). For about twenty-five years Bro. Cox has been a member of the West Texas conference."
 John Light Atlee

Edwin's second child, John Light Atlee, born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1832, grew up in Athens, Tennessee before moving to Philadelphia to study medicine. Two uncles had studied there before him:
  • John Light Atlee (1799-1885), for whom he was named, who studied medicine and 
  • Washington Lemuel Atlee (1808-1878), who graduated from Jefferson in 1828 and practiced medicine at Lancaster, Pennsylvania until 1845 when he moved back to Philadelphia to teach at Jefferson's successor, Philadelphia Medical College.
After graduating in 1853 from Jefferson College in Philadelphia, where his uncles had studied and taught, he returned to Athens, Tennessee to practice. There he married Sarah Humphreys. He could easily be confused with an uncle and cousin with the same name, who were also physicians, but who practiced in Pennsylvania.

In May 1855, soon after his sister's husband was sent to Texas as a missionary, Dr. Atlee packed up his belongings and announced he too was moving to Goliad, Texas. The Athens newspaper bid him farewell and wished him well in his move to south Texas. Dr. Atlee, however, clearly did not find the wild west to his liking, as he had returned by August of the same year. In 1906 he and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he died six years later. 

Anna Elizabeth Atlee

E.A. Atlee's children have reunion, 1907
Anna Elizabeth Atlee, born 1834 in Gettysburg, grew up in Athens, Tennessee, but, in 1857, while visiting her elder sister Amelia Cox in Goliad, Texas, met a lawyer named John Solomon McCampbell. They married in Athens but made their home in Texas. In 1876 McCampbell formed a partnership with Anna's younger brother, E. A. Atlee, Jr., for three years before Atlee became a politician. McCampbell  then entered into a second partnership with John S. Givens, which lasted until Givens' death in 1887. Givens' sister, it should be noted, was the widowed mother of  Archer Parr, who grew up in Givens' home after his father's death. Edwin Atlee McCampbell, born in 1856, also practiced with his father in Corpus Christi following Givens' death.

John McCampbell would also serve as a director with Richard King of the King Ranch on the railroad King and Uriah Lott were starting to build by 1876, which was sold in 1881 to a syndicate that chartered it as the Texas Mexican Railway to build westerly to Laredo on the border with Mexico. By 1890 the McCampbells were engaged with Uriah Lott in building a harbor in Corpus Christi, and by the end of the century they were in a law partnership with Robert Weldon Stayton, noted legal scholar.

Sarah Catherine Atlee

Sarah Catherine Atlee was born in Gettysburg, PA in 1836. In 1856 she married Giles Exum Luter, whose parents had moved west from North Carolina to Texas. Luter died in Texas in 1868, and afterward Sarah took her three daughters (Emma, Sarah Margaretta and Clara Augusta Luter--all born in Goliad, Texas) back to her mother's home in Athens, Tennessee. They did, however, return to Texas from time to time, including in 1907 for a family reunion in Corpus Christi, hosted by the McCampbells.

Margaretta Susan Atlee

Born 1839, Margaretta, at the age of 20, married Thomas M. Coleman of Rockport, Texas. She died in 1872, leaving one son, Thomas Atlee Coleman.

Letitia Smith Atlee
Letitia Atlee's husband
Born in 1841, Letitia married Percival Clark Wilson in 1856, a year after he graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University. He joined the university's faculty in 1861, but soon became an officer in the army as the civil war began. After the war, they moved to Athens, Tennessee, where he became a merchant, but he soon became involved in the organizing of the Athens Female College. Letitia's father, Edwin Atlee, helped in the founding of the college. However, the first President of the college bought additional lands with his own personal funds, which he then loaned to the college, on which he held a lien. It was Atlee who bid at the foreclosure sale to acquire the lands for the Methodist school in 1866. The next year the charter was granted, merging the female school into East Tennessee Wesleyan. It became coeducational in 1868.

 Mary Parson Atlee

Mary Parson Atlee was the sixth daughter, born 1843 in Athens, Tennessee. When her two youngest brothers were sent to Ohio Wesleyan College in 1865 for their education, they met a young man named Nathan Tandy Ayres, also a student at Ohio Wesleyan College in Delaware, Ohio, about 30 miles north of Columbus. According to an article that appeared in 1966 in the Hillsboro, Ohio, Press-Gazette, Nathan's father died when he was one week old, and his mother, having already lost two husbands to death, married William Plummer Bernard, a wealthy man of Hillsboro, Ohio, located east of Cincinnati. When the civil war began, Nathan joined the 89th Ohio Voluntary Infantry, which served three years during 1862-65. In December 1863 he was in Chattanooga, sending reports of the regiment's action back to his hometown newspaper in Ohio. He remained in Athens, Tennessee, to attend the Methodist college and in 1867 married Mary P. Atlee, whom he eventually brought back to his home in Ohio.

In 1869-70, Tandy Ayres was recording secretary for the city of Hillsboro, Ohio, when he and an associate bought a glassware and china store. He sold his interest in the store to his partner in late 1873 and went into the dairy business, with 30 cows from whose milk he made his own cheese. In 1876 he made an exploration tour from St. Louis to south Texas on the Iron Mountain Railroad, writing a report, the first of several, for the local newspaper. He remained in Texas from February until late May that year, as he was said to suffer from asthma, which was relieved by the drier climate. This routine continued every winter until September 1879, when he packed the family up and moved to Houston.

During her marriage to Tandy, Mary Ayres gave birth to four children, though the first son died as an infant:
  • William E. Ayres in 1872, and died the same year;
  • Atlee Bernard Ayres in 1873;
  • Anna Mary Ayres in 1878; and
  • Clara Augusta "Gussie" Ayres in 1880.
Edwin Augustus Atlee, Jr.

Edwin Augustus Atlee, Jr., born 1846, was a student at Ohio Wesleyan College in 1866, when he met Nathan Tandy Ayres. In 1872 Edwin taught Latin and literature East Tennessee, before he relocated to Texas and became state senator from 1885-1901 for a district including Duval, Webb, Nueces, Cameron, Hidalgo and other counties bordering Mexico. This is the same district which would later be controlled by Archer "Archie" Parr, who began his career working for the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Co.,  owned by Thomas Coleman, Edwin Jr.'s brother-in-law. Around 1907 Archie, assisted by his uncle, John Givens, law partner of another of Edwin's  brothers-in-law, began a political career Duval County. By 1915 he was noted for election fraud, political corrupution and manipulation of the court system, protecting Democratic politicians. His son George Parr succeeded Archie and became known as the Duke of Duval. The Parr political machine was mentioned in a piece I wrote in 2000, relating to its role in stealing an election for Lyndon Johnson.
Bernhardt Gilbert Atlee

Named for his maternal grandfather, Bernhardt, the youngest of the siblings, was born in 1848 and attended preparatory school in 1866 at Ohio Wesleyan, along with his slightly older brother, and later studied dentistry there.

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