ELI P. OLIVER. The farming interests of Montague county find a worthy representative in Eli P. Oliver, a native son of Arkansas, whose birth occurred in Washington county, November 27, 1841. His parents were William E. and Rhoda (Hart) Oliver, both of whom were natives of Tennessee, but their marriage was celebrated in Arkansas. Their respective parents went to that state when the Cherokee Indians were being removed from Tennessee. Eli Oliver, the grandfather, was likewise a native of Tennessee, where four brothers resided, becoming founders of the various branches of the family. Eli Oliver took up his abode in Arkansas, and died in that state. He was a prominent pioneer agriculturist and came to the middle west when the work of improvement and progress had scarcely been begun. Wild game of all kinds was plentiful, and the land was untilled. He devoted his attention to general farming and stock raising, and thus provided for his family. Politically he was a Democrat, and religiously a Methodist. His children, who grew to adult age, were William E., Franklin, Juda, Bettie, Richard and Eli.
William E. Oliver was reared in the state of his nativity and after his marriage began farming on his own account, following that pursuit throughout his entire life. His death occurred in 1866. He, too, was a Democrat, and a Methodist, and a man whose genuine personal worth made him highly respected by all who knew him. His wife, who died in 1865, was a daughter of Henry and Polly (Snow) Hart, natives of South Carolina. Her paternal grandfather was a soldier of the Revolutionary war, and was a gun-maker by trade. Henry Hart followed the occupation of farming, and died in Tennessee. He loved frontier life, and was celebrated as a hunter. He killed many bears, and at one time killed a panther with a pine knot. He was a fearless man, strong and athletic and was well fitted to cope with the hardships and experiences of a frontier existence. His wife, with other families, removed to Arkansas, where her death occurred. She was a member of the Methodist church. She had a son and two daughters, Rhoda, David and Mary, the last named being the wife of W. Magee.
Mr. and Mrs. Oliver had eleven children: Lela, who died in Texas; Eli P.; Richard, who served throughout the Civil war and died in Mexico; Polly, the wife of William Black; Espetia, the wife of John Moss; David M., who was a soldier in the Civil war, and is now in Texas; Joseph, who died in childhood; Mrs. Martha McCurdy; Mrs. Ellen Wilson; William T., who died leaving five children; and Alice N., who died leaving six children.
Eli P. Oliver remained with his widowed mother until 1861, when he felt it his first duty to his country. His sympathies were with his loved southland and he enlisted in the Confederate army with Captain Good’s company, San Antonio Artillery. This command was attached to the Trans-Mississippi department, and under General Ben McCulloch did service in Missouri, Indian Territory, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Although Mr. Oliver was in some very hotly contested engagements he was never wounded nor captured. After the battle of Pea Ridge he left the artillery and joined Hines’ Infantry, taking part in the battle of Walnut Grove. Later he joined General D. H. Cooper on the Washitaw river in the territory. In April, 1865, the command disbanded and the men returned to their homes.
After visiting his mother Mr. Oliver went to Hopkins county, Texas, where he was employed as a farm hand for two years, when he returned to Arkansas, there remaining until 18799. He next removed to Texas, settling in Montague county, where he rented a farm for a year, after which he bought a claim on an old survey, securing his title in 1882. Here he still resides. He first purchased two hundred and sixty-two and one-half acres, to which he has added, and although he has given considerable land to his children he yet owns nine hundred acres, having purchased three good farms. On the home farm he has one hundred and forty acres under cultivation, on the second farm sixty-five acres, and on the third one hundred and twenty acres. He rents his cultivable land and he raises some stock. When he arrived in the county the cattle industry was the chief source of livelihood and farming was as yet an experiment, but he demonstrated that the land could be successfully farmed and raises various crops.
In 1863, during the period of the Civil war, Mr. Oliver was married in Arkansas to Miss Mary M. Snyder, a native of that state, and a daughter of William and Elizabeth Snyder, of German and Welch descent respectively. He became a pioneer agriculturist of Arkansas, where his death occurred in 1859. He was highly respected for his integrity and genuine worth. Both he and his wife died on the old homestead now owned and occupied by their son James’s widow and their two sons. Their children were: James E., who served throughout the Civil war; Cornelius, who was killed at the battle of Walnut Grove, Arkansas; Solomon, who was also a soldier throughout the Civil war; Margaret; Sarah; Susan, and Mary.
Mr. and Mrs. Oliver have seven children: William L., a farmer of Oklahoma; Mrs. Susan Nerider, who died leaving two children; James E., a railroad man of Cleburne, Texas; Ida, who died at the age of five years; Martha A., the wife of George Baker; C. W. D., at home; and Ollie G. The parents and children are all members of the Methodist church, except C. W. D., with which Mr. Oliver has been identified for more than thirty years, and in the work of which he has taken an active and helpful part. His life has been quietly passed, yet his history contains lessons that are worthy of emulation, because he has been faithful in friendship, reliable in business and loyal to the trust reposed in him.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 586-588.