William Hurn biography

A gentleman, widely esteemed in Clay county and most worthy to be mentioned in a work of representative biographical record. His going in and out, as it were, among the citizenship of his county for the past quarter of a century has established him as a thrifty, successful and substantial farmer and a sincere and worthy man. His daily life has been an open book to be scanned at will and the results of his daily toil are shown in the extent of his earthly possessions.

In Monmouthshire, England, June 23, 1844, William Hurn was born. He was a son of a coal miner, Robert Hurn, and his mother was Harriet Williams, of whose seven children are mentioned—Rachel; William was the second child; Maria, John, and Louise.

At the tender age of eight years William Hurn went into the shaft of an English coal mine to work. He was deprived of good school advantages and his mind received its best training at the family fireside and by private reading as he approached manhood’s estate. Tiring of his life of drudge and being determined to eventually discard it he brought his young wife and small family to the United States. He left old County Durham in 1869 and sailed from Liverpool on board the ship Nebraska bound for New York. After fifteen days of uneventful voyage he landed at Castle Garden on the day that General Grant was inaugurated president for the first time. He located near Wilksbarre [Wilkes-Barre], Pennsylvania, first and, as seemed natural, sought employment in a coal mine at once. He remained in the Wyoming valley, gradually improving his finances, and in 1878, he came to Texas to ultimately win him a home. He passed two years in Tarrant county and when he drove into Clay county it was with a team, twelve head of cattle and two hundred and thirty-five dollars in cash. While becoming acquainted with the soil and conditions he rented one year and then bought a tract of land of Angelina county school land, northeast of Henrietta. He hauled the lumber to build his shanty from Gainesville and the first year’s crop was housed in one of the two rooms of his residence. He paid one dollar a bushel for corn and brought other of his supplies from Gainesville. The first year his eighteen acres of cotton yielded him one bale and to provide for the wants of his family till another crop he hitched up his mule and horse and did some freighting “to keep the pot boiling.” There were times when the severest and most rigid economy was necessary to make the supply equal the family demands and it was no unusual sight for Mr. Hurn, on his return home, to find the wolf lying around dangerously near his cabin door. He threatened at times to leave the country but he couldn’t get away and it is well that he could not, in view of his successes afterward and his substantial condition now.

Mr. Hurn’s first real estate was a tract of one hundred and sixty acres, now substantially and attractively improved, and he devoted his energies to mixed farming and stock. He has since added to his possessions until he owns about nine hundred acres and his material independence is universally recognized.

January 1, 1865, William Hurn and Mary Elms were married. She was a daughter of Francis and Dorcas (Chivers) Elms and is one of seven children. She is the mother of Robert, who died at the age of twenty-three; Joseph, Elizabeth, Hattie, Helen, Frank and Myrtle.

The establishment of the post office of Hurnville and its naming was due to Mr. Hurn and in his honor. It came into existence in 1891 and has now a store, a church and a school. Mr. Hurn became an Odd Fellow at eighteen years of age and belongs to both the subordinate and the encampment, having taken those degrees.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 138-139.