James T. Coursey biography

JAMES T. COURSEY, who, living in Muenster, was one of the early settlers of Cooke county, Texas, was born in Lafayette county, Missouri, January 15, 1846. He is a son of Henry and Mary M. (Pace) Coursey, the former a native of Maryland and the latter of Kentucky, in which state their marriage was celebrated. The paternal grandfather, James DeCoursey, was of French descent and, settling in Maryland, there reared his family and remained until called to his final rest. He had two sons: Henry and Thomas B. The latter became a resident of the state of Delaware and there died.

Henry Coursey, father of our subject, was born and reared in Maryland and on removing westward took up his abode in Kentucky, where he was married. Not long afterward he went with his young wife to Missouri, settling in Lafayette county, spending many years in that and Johnson counties. He was a carpenter by trade and followed that pursuit throughout his active life. In 1855, however, he left Missouri and came to Texas, settling at Weston, Collin county, where he was again connected with building operations. He was a successful mechanic and remained at that place for a number of years. When too old to engage longer in active labor he found a good home with his son, passing away in Cooke county in 1879, at the ripe old age of seventy-six years. He was a consistent member of the Methodist church and also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was one of those who made the overland trip to California in 1849 and there he followed his trade successfully for four years, after which he returned home by way of the isthmus route. His first wife died in Missouri in 1853 and there he was again married. Soon afterward he came to Texas. His second wife was a Miss Aelsy Mayhew, of Kentucky, who removed to Missouri, where her marriage occurred. She yet survives and makes her home on Elm Creek with a daughter. By the father’s first marriage there were four children: Mrs. Mary E. Gilbert; James T., of this review; William, a prominent merchant of Fannin county, Texas; and a leading farmer of Cooke county. The children of the second marriage were: Virginia, the wife of C. Williams; Mrs. Fannie Hatcher; Livingston, deceased; Mrs. Henrietta Spragens; and Mrs. Ida Marsh. During the father’s old age and following his death his son James T. cared for the children of the second marriage and provided for their support.

James T. Coursey was born in Missouri and in 1855 came to Texas with his father and the family, being then a youth of nine years. He remained under the parental roof until fourteen years of age and assisted in the work of caring for the farm and the stock. His school privileges were limited, but he has managed to acquire a fair practical business education through experience, observation and reading. In the fall of 1860, when a youth of fourteen years, he came to Cooke county with his brother-in-law, Mr. Gilbert, with whom he remained until 1862, when he enlisted for service in the Confederate Army with Alexander’s regiment and went into camp at Fort McCulloch, where on account of being under age he was discharged. He then returned to Cooke county and later joined Colonel Bourland’s regiment for frontier service with headquarters at Gainesville. The most of the command, however, was stationed at the town of Montague, where Mr. Coursey went into quarters, but later was detailed for gathering beef cattle to be forwarded to the regular army. For this work he was well qualified because of his long connection with the cattle industry, enabling him to know the value of stock. He was thus engaged until the close of the war.

When hostilities were over Mr. Coursey returned to Cooke county and was employed as a cow boy and worked on the range. He afterward went to the Rio Grande and was familiar with all the trails and the vast territory of northwest Texas. Game of all kinds was then plentiful and wild beasts roamed at will. He assisted in running out the red men and in reclaiming the country for the uses of civilization. Following his marriage, which occurred in 1867, he purchased a tract of raw land of one hundred and sixty acres in Cooke county near where he yet resides. This he improved, bringing it up to a good state of cultivation. Later, however, he sold that property and bought where he now makes his home. He afterward added another survey and today has three hundred and twenty acres of land. He has made substantial improvements and has his property all under fence, while one, hundred and thirty acres is highly cultivated. He is engaged in the raising of diversified crops and the farm supplies many products for the use of the family. The place is improved with a commodious house and barn, good outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock, and there is an abundant water supply which is piped to the barn lots and the house, a wind mill being used for pumping power. He has set out a good orchard, which is now in bearing condition, and he uses improved machinery in the care of the place. He raises stock to a greater or less extent and his entire life has been devoted to agricultural pursuits. His experiences in Texas have been varied and often times there have been exciting chapters in his life record, for following the close of the Civil way’ the red men became very hostile and troublesome to the settlers, running off the stock and often times murdering the people. Mr. Coursey took part in many raids after the red men and saw much of their devastation and cruelties. He was never wounded but on one occasion had his horse shot from under him.

On the 14th of March, 1867, Mr. Coursey was married to Miss Emma J. Grant, who was born in Fannin county, Texas, November 19, 1848, and is a lady of intelligence and culture. Her parents were George W. and Mary E. (English) Grant, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Indiana. They were married at Bonham, Texas. The father was a son of James Grant, also of Kentucky, who was a carpenter by trade and died in the Blue Grass state. He was a consistent member of the Christian church. In his family were four children: George W., the father of Mrs. Coursey; Charles, who died in Texas; Thomas, who came to this state and afterward went to the Indian Territory, where he died; and Mrs. Lizzie Perrin.

George W. Grant was born and reared in Kentucky and learned the carpenter’s trade with his father. The year 1846 witnessed his arrival in the Lone Star state. He had just attained his majority and sought a home in the southwest, locating in Fannin county. Subsequently he made his way to the Red River valley, where he was employed at his trade and he afterward paid a visit to his old Kentucky home. Soon returning to Texas, however, he was married in this state and continued to work at the carpenter’s trade until 1860, when he came to Cooke county and purchased a tract of raw land, which he developed and improved. During the Indian depredations, fearful for the life of his wife and children, he removed his family to Grayson county, but after the red men had been subdued he returned to the farm and there erected a commodious house. While the Civil war was in progress he was a member of the state militia, doing service on the frontier. As a pioneer settler of Cooke county, he built many homes for the early residents, working at the carpenter’s trade, while employing others to carry on the farm. Thus he contributed in substantial measure to the improvement and development of his part of the state. He never aspired to office but gave his political allegiance to the Democracy. He is yet remembered by many who knew him and speak of his virtues and many good qualities, for he enjoyed the trust and good will of all with whom he came in contact. He held membership in the Christian church and also affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He remained upon the old homestead until death claimed him in 1897. His wife survived for several years, passing away in 1902. She was a daughter of Bailey English, of Indiana, who was a farmer by occupation and a pioneer settler of Fannin county, Texas, taking up his abode there before the county seat, Bonham, had an existence, He bought raw land and improved a good farm and his efforts were of permanent benefit to the substantial development of his community. As the years passed by his business undertakings were crowned with prosperity. He voted with the Democracy, held membership in the Presbyterian church and was accorded a place among the representative citizens of his community, at length passing away upon the old homestead in Fannin county. His children were: Mrs. Eliza Cowart; Mrs. Sarah Fuller; Robert and Horton, both of whom served in the Confederate army; Mrs. Mary E. Grant, mother of Mrs. Coursey; and Mrs. Letitia Ward. After the death of his first wife Mr. Bailey married Mrs. Nancy Grooms, a widow, and their children were: Barton; Alexander; Mrs. Leatha Huddleson; Riley; Bragg; and Florence, the wife of C. Flack.

Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Grant had eight children, the eldest of whom is Mrs. Coursey. The others are: Mrs. Tom Hoover, Charles, William, J. B., John, Joe and Harry.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Coursey have been born nine children: Jennie, the wife of William Brown; Mrs. Maggie Moyer; Mrs. Anna Short; Georgia, who is a successful school teacher; Mrs. Belle Johnson; Clara, Jasper, Mamie and Joe, all yet at home. Mr. Coursey has lived to see great changes in Cooke county as this western district has been transformed from a vast wilderness to a well improved district settled with a peaceful, contented and prosperous people. He has undergone all the hardships and trials incident to frontier life and has hunted buffaloes and deer upon the plains, greatly enjoying the sport. One time he knew most of the prominent people west of Gainesville and most of the voters in Cooke and Montague county. He stands as an excellent example of a high type of Texas citizenship, has a hospitable home in which good cheer always abounds, and in his life record has displayed many excellent traits that have made him a favorite with those with whom he has come in contact.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 647-649.