JESSE VOWELL TYRA. One of the familiar figures of Young county who settled on the south prong of Fish creek in 1875 and who has aided modestly, yet substantially, in the domestic development of the county, is Jesse V. Tyra, mentioned in the introduction as the subject of this sketch. He located in that wild and unsettled region, in the midst of the open range and surrounded by the wild game of the forest and plain, and bought a tract of two thousand acres at two dollars per acre, as the nucleus of his permanent home. Throughout the succeeding years he has clung tenaciously to this location, cleared up the meskeet [sic] and postoak, builded [sic] him a comfortable yet modest home and brought up his family in the paths of righteousness and honor toward all mankind.
As in Hill and Robertson counties, where he resided a few years prior to his advent to Young, he has been employed chiefly with the promotion of agriculture with stock as supplementary and an aid to a well conducted farm. He spent seven years in Hill, and going to Robertson close upon the close of the Rebellion from Itawamba county, Mississippi, where his birth occurred December 17, 1836.
Mr. Tyra was a son of Jesse V. Tyra, who settled in Itawamba county, Mississippi, in 1836, and became a successful planter there. The latter migrated from Walker county, Alabama, where his life was launched in the early years of the nineteenth century, and from which state he joined the American troops in the last war with the Seminole Indians in Florida. He married, in his native state, Miss Frances Gilham, who passed away in early life, leaving issue, viz: Joseph, of Des Moines, Iowa, who served in the Federal army during the Rebellion; Vowell, who died in Mississippi in 1860; Jennie, who married a Mr. Musgrove; and Elizabeth, wife of a Mr. Lawler. Jesse Vowell Tyra died in Walker county, Alabama, in 1867, aged one hundred and eight years. The latter was the grandfather of our subject and served with his son in the Florida war. He married Patsy Tittle and had issue as stated above.
Our subject is the first of a family of eight children, the youngest ones being: Joseph, who died in Arkansas; Elisha, who departed life in Mississippi, as did William, the next; Ransom, died in Texas; and Adaline married a Mr. Frederick and died in Alabama; Emanuel, who came to Texas and died, and Josephine, who married a Mr. Kanada and passed away in Mississippi.
Jesse V. Tyra, of this sketch, grew up near a cotton patch and little more than peeped into a country school house in his childhood. In February, 1856, he married Martha J. Higgins, a daughter of a Mississippi planter, A. J. Higgins, who was born in Alabama, in 1840, and died near Murray, Texas, April, 1898. Until the war came on Mr. Tyra followed the vocation of his fathers, and when the Confederacy called for troops he joined Company K, Thirty-Second Infantry, under Colonel M. P. Lowrey in Cleburn’s Division of Hardee’s Corps. His first fight was at Corinth and then followed Shiloh, Mumfordsville, Kentucky, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the Atlanta campaign and Franklin, from where his command fell back to Shelbyville, Tennessee, and remained in that vicinity and surrendered with General Hood when the Confederacy collapsed.
Returning to the farm he had little more than gathered up and rounded together his affairs when he set out for the Lone Star state. He came to Young county with fifty head of cattle and one hundred and one hundred and eighty sheep, but while he succeeded well with the former, all of the latter died but twelve. He was successful as a farmer, and crops seemed to yield him as well as then as now. Except during the year of the great drouth he has raised his own corn and with his stock, and his two hundred and forty acre farm, he is one of the independent men of the Fish creek settlement.
To Mr. Tyra and his faithful lamented companion were born five children, as follows: Russell D., who married Rosa Hart, and resides near his father on a farm; Nancy, widow of Jesse Cloud, who owns a farm in the home community; Helen, wife of William Porter, of Louisiana; Earnest L., whose wife was Miss Walsh; and Miss Ethel yet with her childhood home.
In his political affiliations Mr. Tyra is a Democrat and he has served five terms as trustee of his school district. He has faith in religious teachings, believes in the church as the great agency for the purification of society and the lever which elevates its moral tone.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 483-484.