The mention of this name introduces a subject whose career covers the civilizing era of Montague county, a period fraught with perpetual dangers and filled with blood-freezing incidents for nearly a dozen years subsequent to the advent of the family to this county. He represents both the old time and the new, because his life spans more than forty years of the history of the county, in which time all that is herein was made. He has taken part in the Indian hunts, the cow hunts and in the industrial and political strifes which the fact of settlement engendered, and of the settlers along Sandy of that early date he is among the very first.
The founder of the Marlett family was Chesley Marlett, the father of our subject, who settled on Sandy in 1864, six and one-half miles south of where Bowie now stands. Save for the exodus during the most dangerous period of the Indian troubles he remained permanently on the creek and did his modest part in the civil affairs of his neighborhood till his death. He entered his land as a homestead, and while he achieved some results as a farmer he never acquired wealth, and passed away with little valuable property, as his estate amounted to about $2,000.
Chesley Marlett was born in Orange county, North Carolina, in 1822, and in childhood his father, Joseph Marlett, migrated to Orange county, Indiana, and there Chesley, Jr., grew up. The Marletts of the olden time were French people, and our subject’s great-grandfather was the founder of the family in the Tarheel state. Chesley Marlett, Sr., married Sidney Montgomery and their issue was: Isaac, who died in Orange county; Indiana; Eperson, a citizen of Arkansas; William, who expired in Orange county, Indiana; George, who resides in that county; Malinda, who married Cyrus Lomax; Elizabeth, who became Mrs. Ervin C. Polk, and Chesley.
Chesley Marlett, Jr., was not an educated man. His lot when a boy was cast with the primitive country of southern Indiana, where opportunity for education was almost unknown to the country youth. He married when he reached manhood Miss Margaret Jane Hill, a daughter of Joseph and Mary (Davis) Hill. His wife was born in the county in Indiana where she married in March, 1821, and is passing her few remaining years among her children. In 1853 Mr. Marlett moved to Coles county, Illinois, and remained there three years, coming thence by team to Texas, and settled a farm eleven miles north of Decatur, in Wise county. Wherever he lived he practiced the industry of the farm and maintained himself an honorable and respected citizen. In politics he was a Democrat, a Home Guard soldier of the Confederacy and a member of the Christian church. He died February 3, 1886. Of the children of Chesley and Margaret Marlett, Joseph, of Montague county, was the first born; then William, of Tolongo, Oklahoma; Frank, our subject; Malinda, wife of R. J. Sandefur, of Montague county; Axiann, wife of Jacob Warner, of Ryan, Indian Territory, and Mahala A., wife of George Buchanan, of Ryan, Indian Territory.
Frank Marlett was born in Orange county, Indiana, April 10, 1850. He acquired little knowledge of books as a pupil in school and his life was void of interesting events or excitement until he became associated with the frontier of Montague county. The frequent foray of the red man into the settlement to pillage and steal furnished numerous opportunities for life in a high key, and he joined in the eager chase on many occasions. To rehearse the story of the many deeds of violence inflicted upon the hardy and daring settlers of that dreadful time would only be infringement upon the domain of general history and would aid us none in the development and proper conclusion of this sketch, and we therefore pass it with a mere suggestion of it seriousness. When Frank Marlett became able for responsible service on the farm he devoted some seasons to the cowboy life in the family interest. With the curtailing of the range the cow interest lapsed and finally disappeared, as a distinct business, and he then devoted himself to the work of the farm. His farm of two hundred acres lies just back from Sandy, and his residence occupies a commanding knoll on the Bowie and Jacksboro road. In 1885 he erected a cotton gin, and for some fifteen years its site was one of the busy places in the Selma settlement. With the wearing out of the machinery and the erection of more modern plants near the railroads the gin lapsed into idleness and the building only is left to mark the spot where an industry grew up, thrived and died.
December 6, 1876, Mr. Marlett married Miss Martha Wagoner, a daughter of Francis and Adaline (Smith) Wagoner. As a result of this union there were born: Henry A., who died at seventeen years; Ida A., who passed away at eighteen; Ada M., wife of William Ford; Addie, wife of Frank Moore; Frankie, Millie and Mattie, at home. Of the Wagoner children those surviving besides Mrs. Marlett are: Charley Matthias, of Oklahoma; Frank, of Clay county. Mrs. Marlett was born in Titus county, Texas, April 27, 1857.
In spite of his wild surroundings, growing up among the Indians and the wild game of the forest, he made an honorable citizens from the beginning of his career and he has passed toward the afternoon of life in the respect of and having the good-will of all. He has never been content with what his industry brought him and has taken little notice of matters beyond the boundaries of his personal interest. He answers to the call of Democracy in all party matters, and some years ago united with the Christian church. Thus, briefly, we have touched upon the salient features of Frank Marlett’s life, and thus do we submit his record to posterity.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. II (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 23-24.
Contact Charles Klingel for additional information on the Marlett family.