THOMAS ASA MOUNTS. The venerable Texas pioneer and subject of this article is a distinguished citizen of Clay county and long a resident in the Lone Star state. Few men now living within its borders have been Texans for sixty-two years, and fewer there are whose lives have spanned an era of such unprecedented growth and development as has occurred in this commonwealth since its admission into the union of states. After having witnessed the settling up of several of the counties of East Texas and been a spectator of many of the events incident to their settlement and development, he sought the open and uncrowded prairies of Clay county in which to pass the final years of his life.
Thomas A. Mounts was born in Greene county, Illinois, January 2, 1827. Jesse Mounts, his father, was of French stock and settled in Illinois in 1831. His French ancestor settled in the state of Maryland, from which point his descendants drifted south into the border states of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Jesse Mounts was a southern emigrant to Illinois and he was identified with the early agricultural interests of Greene and Macoupin counties for ten years. He was a leading citizen of Greene county, as is evidenced by his selection as a commissioner of the county. In 1841 he took his family into Andrew county, Missouri, and was, of course, a pioneer settler there. Having acquired a liking for frontier life and having advised himself of the social conditions then exiting in the Republic of Texas, he decided to cast his lot with it and, in 1843, brought his family to his new location. He stopped first in Lamar county, but was granted land by the Texan Emigration and Land Company in what Was known as the Peters Colony, and a year later located on the south line of Collin county. He resided also in Dallas county, for he served as one of its county commissioners prior to the war. He was a farmer wherever he lived, and he died in Collin county in 1866 at sixty-six years of age. He was a soldier in the Black Hawk Indian war, enlisting from Illinois, which furnished him his sole military experience. He was married in Greene county, Illinois, to Nancy Harris, who died in Texas.
The issue of Jesse and Nancy Mounts were: Rebecca, who died in Collin county as Mrs. J. W. Perkins, leaving a family; John, who died at Winniwood, Indian Territory, without issue; Elizabeth; Mrs. Geo. Fisher, who died in McLennan county, leaving children; Thomas A., our subject; Eliza J., who married Pleasant Witt and died in the insane asylum at Austin, leaving a son; and George, who died at Vera Cruz, Mexico, while a United States soldier in the war with Mexico.
Thomas A. Mounts was sixteen years of age when he first saw Texas, then a republic only seven years of age. Being a frontier youth, his education was of the pick-up kind, and reading, writing and a little ciphering was all he was able to obtain. He was married first in Denton county at twenty years of age to Evaline Harmison, a daughter of Peter Harmison, a settler there from Arkansas. His wife died in Grayson county ten years later, whither they had moved in 1852. Mr. Mounts had lived in Lamar, Collin and Dallas counties while under his father’s roof, and his home in Grayson for ten years was fourteen miles south of Sherman, but in 1862 he removed to near Cleburne, in Johnson county, and remained there three years, when he returned to Collin county and was a farmer near Van Alstyne until 1880, when he took up his location in Clay.
By his union with Evaline Harmison Mr. Mounts was the father of Serena, who married W. E. McWhorter, who resides in Howard county, Texas, and has eleven children; Ann, wife of Taylor Creager, of Vernon, with five children; Josephine, Mrs. S. W. Mahar, of Van Alstyne, with three children; Rebecca, who died in Collin county as Mrs. John Gill, without issue; Martha E., of Denver, Col., wife of Gideon Bryan, with one child. In 1859 Mr. Mounts married his second wife, who was Susan, a daughter of Alexander and Betsy Carruth, from Tennessee. Mrs. Mounts was born in 1835 and died in Clay county, Texas, September 16, 1904. Her children were: Angeline, wife of Eb McKinney, of Vernon, with two children; Bettie, Mrs. O. O. Smythe, of Marlow, Indian Territory, with three children; Thomas F., of Hale county, Texas; Maud E., wife of John D. Orton, of Bellevue, with children; Mary S. and John D., Jr., and Kate V., wife of Samuel Kelley, of Vernon, with two children comprising their household.
In 1846 Mr. Mounts enlisted and was mustered in command was George T. Wood and Captain E. M. Weller commanded his company. Following the battle of Monterey, in which he participated, he was mustered out, owing to the expiration of his enlistment, and he returned home to his former rural life. During the Civil war he belonged to a company of the Home Guard, but was never called into the field for active duty.
In the matter of politics the Mounts have supported Democratic principles in state and national affairs, but in the settlement of county matters our subject has never failed to prefer the man to the party, and a good man, in whatever party, never failed of his confidence and support. He is a Master Mason, having joined the order in 1863.
When Mr. Mounts located in Clay county he purchased the W. F. Short place, less than two miles east of Bellevue, where, until his wife’s death, his home was made. The loss of his companion broke up his home and the happiest days of his future will come to him as he visits among his children and grandchildren in Texas and the Indian Territory. Although seventy-eight years of age, he appears hale and vigorous, and his large frame and strong, smoothly shaven face give him a somewhat striking personality. As the years have lengthened out and old age has crept upon him he has become vividly conscious that his life has spanned an era incomparably the greatest of our national life.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 345-346.