ISAAC JACOB HARTSELL. The successful farmer and public official whose name heads this article is the commissioner for the fourth precinct of Wise county, where he has lived since the year 1884, and where the substantial achievements of his life have been won. Liberally favored with Fortune’s smile and happily established in the confidence of the community he serves he is one of the figures of his epoch and a citizen most worthy of the name.
Washington county, Tennessee, was Mr. Hartsell’s native place and his birth occurred February 22, 1843. Martin Luther Hartsell, his father, was born in the same county in 1821, grew up and married there and after the war moved into Roane county and there died in 1897. His vocation was that of farming, and as a Whig he favored the union of the states at the outbreak of the war. He cast his fortunes with Democracy later on and was a deacon in the Missionary Baptist church. Jacob Hartsell, his father, seems to have been the founder of the family in Washington county and he settled there with his mother, who was an Auntney, near the opening years of the nineteenth century. Jacob Hartsell married Nancy Milliam, and his children were: Autney, Russell, Martin L., Isaac W., Polly, wife of Orvil Nelson; Delila, who married Thomas Jackson, and Nancy, wife of William Love. Martin L. Hartsell married Margaret, a daughter of Joseph and Hannah (Bogart) Longmire. Mrs. Hartsell preceeded her husband and died in 1882, mother of Joseph, of Johnson county, Texas; Isaac J., our subject; John, of Pulaski county, Missouri; Nannie, wife of A. P. Hutcheson, of Roane county, Tennessee; Hannan, who passed away unmarried; Mary, who married John Viar, of Roane county; Lavenia, wife of William Clark, of Roane county, and Charles, of Wise county, Texas.
Isaac J. Hartsell grew up strictly as a country youth with what opportunities and advantages his community alone provided. September 9, 1861, he enlisted in Company K, Sixty-fourth North Carolina Infantry, Colonel W. N. Garrett, Frazier’s Brigade and Buckner’s Division. He did his first duty at Knoxville and the regiment was then sent to Big Creek Gap. It remained in this vicinity and around Cumberland Gap till September 9, 1863, when that stronghold surrendered to the Federals and our subject was sent to Johnson’s Island as a prisoner of war, remaining such until hostilities had ceased and peace was restored.
Mr. Hartsell reached home in June, 1865, and at once resumed the work of the farm. He remained in Tennessee four years and then moved to Camden county, Missouri, from which point, in the fall of 1875, he came to Texas and settled in Johnson county. Six years later he sought Parker county, and from there made his final move into Wise two years later. A team and about one hundred dollars comprised his visible assets when he began life in the Lone Star state, and he was a renter until after he made his last move. His first purchase was ninety acres of the Margaret Swift survey, a tract of wild land which he has brought under cultivation and place in a substantial and attractive state of improvement. From a rude one-room-with-shed log cabin his family has passed into a modern farm cottage and from the primitive methods of farming he has adopted those of modern days, and his progress has been gradually upward and onward to the present. He added fifty acres more of the same survey and one hundred and twenty-five of the William Swinney survey to his original farm as time went on, and owns now two hundred and sixty-five acres of land.
In the fall of 1900 Mr. Hartsell was chosen county commissioner and has been twice reelected since. The board has built nine steel bridges and opened up many new highways in addition to the routine work of their office, and is regarded as one of the most safely progressive boards ever elected.
October 16, 1867, Mr. Hartsell married Miss Mattie, a daughter of Joseph and Ailsy (Carr) Bowman, old Tennessee people, but Mr. Bowman was formerly from Virginia. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Bowman were: John, Alfred, Calvin, Richard, Henry, Mary, wife of Alfred White, Mrs. Hartsell, Bettie, who married David Swadley, and Julia, wife of a Mr. Rubeck. Mr. and Mrs. Hartsell’s issue are: Robert E., who married Lilllie Boulware and is a Wise county farmer; Oscar L., residing near home, married Eva Pewitt; Bertie, wife of T. B. Hayes, of the state of Washington; Joseph B., still at the old home; Martin L., Jr., married Rosa Blackwood and lives close by; John R., of the parental home; Charles, married Maud Wilks and remains in the home of his childhood, and Fred, the last, still with the domestic circle.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. II (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), p. 328.