A. C. WILMETH, who has been honored with various public offices indicative of the rust and confidence reposed in him by his fellow citizens, and who is regarded as a worthy exponent of the law, successfully engaged in practice in the courts of Texas, now resides at Snyder, Scurry county. He is descended from Scotch-Irish ancestry. Tradition says that an early period in the colonization of the new world a young man by the name of Wilmeth came to this country after securing a prepaid steerage passage, but on his arrival in America he was old by the ship captain to labor for a term of years to pay the passage again. As far as is authentically known the progenitor of the name in this country is William Wilmeth, who emigrated with his family from North Carolina to Kentucky. His wife was in her maidenhood Miss Mary Crawford, and they reared a family of thirteen sons, who separated after reaching manhood, five of them coming to the south, while the others went north. Their descendants are numerous and are to be found in various parts of the country. They are in Kansas, Wisconsin, Iowa and California, and the southern branch has sent its representatives to various parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and western Tennessee.
One of the sons of William Wilmeth was Joseph Brice Wilmeth, who was born in North Carolina, September 11, 1807. On leaving the place of his nativity he went southward and became a resident of McNairy county, Tennessee, where, on the 26th of December, 1826, he was married to Miss Nancy Ferguson, a daughter of James and Martha (Hogge) Ferguson. Her place of birth was on “Caney fork of the Cumberland,” near Sparta, Tennessee, to which wild region with its wooded hills and gushing streams her father had been attracted by its abundance of wild game, making his way thither soon after his discharge from the Revolutionary army, in which he had served from his sixteenth year. This service, however, developed the rather unusual occurrence of father and son being opposed to each other in war, for his father was the Colonel Ferguson who fell while commanding the British forces in the memorable battle of Kings mountain in North Carolina, October 7, 1870 [sic].
In the autumn of 1831, J. B. Wilmeth and his father-in-law, James Ferguson, headed a movement of about ten families, all related by blood or marriage, and crossed the Mississippi river at Memphis, Tennessee, locating in Lawrence county, Arkansas. For about a decade and a half no one was more actively engaged in the various enterprises of that region than Mr. Wilmeth. He rafted timber to New Orleans, became village blacksmith, served as a United States soldier in escorting the Choctaws and Chickasaws from the Mississippi to the Indian Territory, also engaged in farming, raising live stock and distilling whiskey, served as clerk of the courts and preached the gospel. While there he experienced a new awakening in religious matters and did his preaching “without money and without price,” also without serious interference to his business interests, for he made his own house a chapel for Christian preaching and worship, and to it his neighbors were often invited on the Lord’s day to join with him in worship. In 1845 J. B. Wilmeth, having learned—mainly from an advertising pamphlet of a colony agent—of the fertility and other attractions of the broad prairies in the region “the three forks of Trinity,” and also of the grant of title free to one mile square of land to every man who was head of a family located in the colony, he determined to possess himself of a Texas home. He accordingly resigned his position as clerk of the Lawrence county courts, which position he had held for eight consecutive years, and began preparations for a removal to Texas, and in the latter part of October of that year started on his way. They ferried across Red river at Lane’s Port to Clarksville, which was the first Texas town that they reached, and which probably contained thirty-eight or forty houses at that time. They stopped at Skidmore’s Mill, a few miles west of Clarksville to rest a day or two and await the grinding of an additional supply of meal. Pinhook, or Paris, as it was afterward called, had nothing in sight save a dozen or more cabins. At that point all signs of civilization were left behind. A dim wagon route called the “military trail” stretched across the prairie to the southwest. East fork was crossed by bridging the stream, the work being accomplished on Christmas day. The following day brought the company to Dallas, Texas, which then consisted of about a half dozen cabins, and there they spent most of a week in camp, about two hundred yards south of where the courthouse now stands. On the 1st of January, 1846, the party went into camp on the south bank of West fork near the present site of Grand Prairie. Thus occurred the arrival of one of the early settlers of the state, and did space permit many incidents of life in a new country could be recounted. The settler had ample opportunity to indulge in hunting on account of the abundance of wild game. The pioneer experiences also included dealings with the Indians, who were at times friendly and then again assumed a very dangerous attitude in possession of the inroads made by the whites into their undisputed possessions. The children of the Wilmeth family became worthy and valued citizens of Texas, and many of them have occupied important positions of honor and trust in the affairs of the state. Some of them gave up their lives for the southern Confederacy during the Civil war, fighting bravely for the cause they espoused.
James Brice Wilmeth and his wife made their home in Collin county, Texas, where, after sixty-six years of married life, they passed away, both dying in January, 1892, so nearly together—she on the 14th and he on the 15th—that they were laid to rest side by side on the same tomb. They had reared a family of twelve children, and with the exception of two, James B. and William C., who lost their lives in the war, were married, and reared families of their own. These children were: Mansel W., Martha M., Kentura M., James R., Joseph B., William C., Hiram F., Nancy Ann, John F., Andrew J., Amanda, C. M., and Betty. The last three were born in Texas and one died in infancy.
James R. Wilmeth, father of A. C. Wilmeth, was born in Lawrence county, Arkansas, in 1835, and came to Texas in 1845, first settling at Eagle Ford, Dallas county. He afterward removed to a place two miles north of McKinney, Collin county, and while residing there some time in the fifties he went to Bethany, West Virginia, where he continued his education by attendance at Bethany College, a school of the Christian denomination then presided over by Alexander Campbell. He was graduated from that institution in 1858. Returning to Texas he was married the same year to Miss Maria Florence Lowrey, and unto that union five children were born: Charles T., who is living in Alvarado, Johnson county, Texas; A. C., of Snyder; Nellie, the wife of W. T. Malone, of Odessa, Texas; Clara, the widow of A. M. Millar, and a resident of Ballinger, Texas; and Jo B., who is also living in Ballinger. Mr. Wilmeth’s wife died in 1867, and about that time he was called to a professorship of the Kentucky University, where he spent three years. During the summer months he engaged in preaching the gospel and made extensive trips throughout the northern states and in Canada. In 1870 he went to Mexico, preaching and teaching, going as far as the city of Mexico, and his labors were thus devoted to intellectual and moral progress until 1875. He then returned to Collin county, Texas, where he founded the first Christian paper published in the state. This was afterward merged into the Texas Christian, now known as the The Texas Christian Courier.
James R. Wilmeth was again married in 1876, his second union being with Miss Clara Schultz, and unto them were born four children, who are yet living, Clementine, James, Edna and Grace. The elder daughter is the wife of Oll Dwyer, of Brownwood, Texas. The father remained in Collin county, until 1882, and then removed to Hood county, where he accepted the professorship of English and Latin at Add Ran University, acting in that capacity for three years. He then resigned and became president of the Nazareth University in Howard county, Arkansas, but after a year again resigned and returned to his ranch in Mills county, Texas, where he is now living.
Alexander Campbell Wilmeth was born April 7, 1861, in Collin county, Texas, obtained a common school education in his youth, and worked upon the home farm until the law as a profession, he entered the office of Jenkins & Pearson, of McKinney, Texas, and was admitted to the bar March 27, 1884. Three days afterward Mr. Wilmeth was elected city attorney of McKinney, which office he held until August of that year, when he resigned and came to Snyder, Scurry county, where he has since resided. He was appointed state surveyor in October, 1886, serving for three years, and for two years he was attorney for the Thirty-ninth district, being appointed in March, 1897. In 1904 Mr. Wilmeth was elected to the twenty-eighth general assembly of Texas, of which body he is now a member, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent representatives of political interests, his course being characterized by a public-spirited devotion to the general good. In his chosen profession he is a successful exponent of the law, his practice being confined principally to both civil and criminal.
On the 1st of August, 1887, Mr. Wilmeth was married to Miss Mary Camp, of Snyder, and they have three children, Lex, Mary and Willie. Mr. Wilmeth has been a member of the Christian church since 1883. He joined the Woodmen of the World in 1897, and is a charter member of Valentine lodge No. 544, of Snyder, Texas. Not alone because of his capability in his profession, but also because of the active part which he has taken in public life is he regarded as a representative citizen of this state, having in recent years done much to mold public thought and action.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 436-438.