James Alexander McNutt biography

JAMES ALEXANDER McNUTT. This biographical sketch deals with the history of a family which pioneered to the Lone Star state about the time it laid aside the mantle of a republic and since 1844 its representatives have, like a great mass of thorough-going Texans, been concerned with the state’s domestic development. James A. McNutt, the only survivor of the original family, has served his state as a farmer and his southland as a soldier and, in whatever other civil capacity his services could be utilized, he has stood ready with the tender.

In 1851 Mr. McNutt settled on Briar creek in Montague county, bringing hither many cattle, his horses and other property common to the farm. The quarter section of state school land which he purchased, in section 3, possessed a pole cabin and in this he housed his family until good, comfortable quarters were provided. So long as he had free range he was conspicuously in the cattle business, but with the curtailment of this and the final closing-up of the wild lands he turned off his stock and dropped positively into the path of agriculture. His farm lies on the Bowie and Jacksboro road and he has made it one of the desirable places along that highway.

James A. McNutt was born in Lawrence county, Alabama, June 7, 1834. William McNutt was his father and William McNutt was his grandfather. William McNutt moved his family from North Carolina into Alabama and located near Decatur when William was a boy and there the latter was reared and married. William McNutt, Sr., had sons, Davison, Hamilton, Alexander, and William and a daughter Mary.

William McNutt, Jr., married Elizabeth, a daughter of Samuel Irvin, and soon after the family came to Texas she died in Upshur county. The children of their union were: Alfred, who died at Coffeyville, Mississippi; Harvey, who passed away in Upshur county, Texas; Samuel, who departed life in Lafayette county, Mississippi; James A., our subject, and Hiram, who was killed in battle at Bayou Tesche [sic], a soldier in the Confederate army.

About 1842 William McNutt took his family into North Missouri where he bought Pontatauk Indian land, intending to settle, but after trying the country a year or so he found the winters too severe and he returned south and before he settled again he found himself in Gregg county, Texas. He seems to have been undecided, or dissatisfied, for a few years, for he tried Webber’s Prairie in Travis county and then back to Gregg, and, finally, to Tarrant county, where he settled on the Toombs and Catlett land, but afterward moved into Dozier Valley and there died on his farm in 1840 at the age of seventy years. When he went into Tarrant county, in 1853, Fort Worth was only a military stronghold and there was only one farmhouse along the road between there and Decatur, and by his vote his son James A. helped locate the county seat at the Fort before the war.

James A. McNutt learned little in books while growing up and nothing of the world beyond his frontier experiences. He had taken his station in life in a humble way before the war but when that contest came up he joined Sibley’s command and helped take all the western military posts from the Federal government and when he returned he enlisted in Capt. Moody’s company, Steele’s regiment, and saw all his service in the Trans-Mississippi Department. He helped capture Galveston and was in battle with Banks at Bayou Tesche, Louisiana. He fought at Pleasant Hill, Mansfield, Yellow Bayou and Fort Donelson. Toward the end of the war he was detailed to the Brazos river country to impress mules into the army and was so engaged when Lee surrendered.

At once upon shedding his uniform Mr. McNutt got down to the business of civil life. He bought up some wild cattle, broke them to work and began freighting between Jefferson and Houston and followed this with good profit for five years. He then began farming and remained in Tarrant county until 1875, when he removed to Wise county and pursued the same vocation until his final settlement, in Montague county, six years later.

November 6, 1868, Mr. McNutt married, in Tarrant county, Georgiann, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Brown) Simmons, who were the parents of eight children. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. McNutt was productive of issue, as follows: Robert Lee, of Vernon, Texas, married Maria Rogers; Laura, wife of J. H. Stone, and Minnie, wife of Amos Pipkin, both near the family home, and James Rufus, who yet adheres to the old home.

In his course as a citizen Mr. McNutt has lent his active interest to only those things which promised good results. He has been ambitious for success only as a farmer and nothing else has tempted him or led him astray. He has eliminated politics, other than to vote the Democratic ticket, and in his spiritual relations hold to Christianity and his name is on the rolls of the Missionary Baptist church.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 453-454.