Gone to Texas
Jesse H. “Jack” Vardaman, Jr.
July 5, 2009
Revised August 20, 2009
The following is a story of the events, as best I can connect them,
occurring during a period in the history of the Marshall E. Vardaman
family about which we know very little. This is the ten-year
period from ca. 1893 through 1902 when Marshall moved his family from
Coosa County, Alabama, to Texas -- many different places in Texas --
and subsequently back to Coosa County, Alabama.
On Saturday July 19th, 1851, Brinson Ross White, son of Gabriel and
Elizabeth White of Coosa County, AL, married Lucy Ann Elizabeth
Carlisle, daughter of Elder Robert W. and Clarissa (Owens) Carlisle of
Tallapoosa County, AL. They were married by Rev. James G. Eden in
Coosa County, AL. At that time, the bride's father, Elder R. W.
Carlisle, an ordained Minister of the Gospel, was the pastor of the
Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church located in Youngville (later
renamed Alexander City) in Tallapoosa County, AL.
A little over two years later, on Friday, Dec. 22nd, 1853, Lucy Ann’s
brother, John Bunyan Carlisle, married Nancy Harris Craddock, daughter
of David and Sarah (Dendy) Craddock. They were married by the
groom’s father, Elder R. W. Carlisle at the Fellowship Primitive
Baptist Church in Youngville (Tallapoosa Co.), AL, where Eld. Carlisle
was the pastor at that time.
B. R. and Lucy (Carlisle) White would have 10 children, 6 daughters and
who, with the exception of one daughter who died as a young child,
reached adulthood, married, and had families of their own.
Several of these families would later move to Texas.
John B. and Nancy (Craddock) Carlisle would have a total of 9 children,
6 daughters and 3 sons, all of whom reached adulthood, married, and had
families of their own. Their sixth child was daughter Clara Owens
“Odie” Carlisle who married Marshall E. Vardaman, son of John F. and
Julia (Flynn) Vardaman, October 22, 1887, in Coosa County, AL.
They were married by Odie’s grandfather, Eld. R. W. Carlisle, M.G., at
her father’s home in the Mt. Olive Community of Coosa County.
In 1891 times were hard in rural Alabama and good jobs not
available. At this time, one of Odie (Carlisle) Vardaman’s first
cousins, Robert Gabriel "Bud" White, the oldest son of Odie’s aunt and
uncle, Brinson Ross and Lucy Ann Elizabeth (Carlisle) White, went
to Texas to "check it out" as he and some of his brothers-in-law were
having a hard time providing for their families in Coosa County.
He came back to Alabama with such glowing tales of Texas, "land of
plenty", that four of his brothers-in-law (Asa Blackman who had married
Clarissa Ann White, Clem Busby who was married to Lucy Ida White, Jim
Cotton whose wife was Bethenia Virginia “Jenny” White and Robert M.
Carlisle who had married his first cousin Martha Olive “Ollie” Paralee
White), husbands of his sisters, decided to move their families to east
Texas also. This was in 1892 prior to the Texas oil boom which
did not begin until ca. 1900. All of the White girls mentioned
above were, of course, Odie Vardaman’s first cousins.
Incidentally, Ollie White’s husband, Robert Marion Carlisle, the son of
Edmund Jefferson and Martha (Gilliland) Carlisle, was also a first
cousin of Clara “Odie” (Carlisle) Vardaman. Edmund Jefferson
Carlisle was a son of Rev. Robert W. Carlisle and a brother of Odie
Carlisle’s father, John Bunyan Carlisle.
Also, Jenny White’s husband, James Weaver “Jim” Cotton, was a son of
John Weaver and Maria (Hindsman) Cotton and a brother of William Cary
“Bunk” Cotton who married Odie’s sister, Annie Elizabeth Carlisle (more
on this latter couple later in this document).
While the Marshall Vardaman family had remained in Coosa County during
their early married years and through the birth of their first three
children, there is no doubt that Bud White's stories of Texas were not
lost on Marshall Vardaman and, in fact, appealed greatly to his
wanderlust. It is my understanding and belief that this
provides the background for the Marshall Vardaman family's trek to
Texas where he probably felt that he would find much demand for his
skills as a master carpenter and mechanic.
While we do not know for certain exactly when Marshall's footloose
career took him and his family to Texas, it was after the birth of his
third child, daughter Ada Myrtle, on Christmas Day, December 25, 1892,
near Goodwater in Coosa County, AL, and before the birth of his next
child, daughter Annie May, February 22, 1895, in Texas. I believe
that available evidence places this move as having occurred sometime
during 1893 or 1894 which would support the almost certain conclusion
that Marshall Vardaman was another of the family members to be swayed
by Robert White’s enthusiastic account of the opportunities to be found
Also, it is not clear as to where in Texas the Vardaman family first
located and where daughter Annie May was born. The next child
after Annie May was Marshall and Odie’s third son (fifth child), Jesse
Harris Vardaman, born Christmas Eve, December 24, 1896, in Wood County,
in northeast Texas.
To my knowledge, only one of the five White related families, who moved
en masse from Coosa Co., AL, to Texas, settled near Wood County, that
of Asa M. Blackman and his wife, Clarissa Ann White. The Blackman
family first settled near Lindale in Smith County, which is adjacent to
Wood County to the north. The Blackman family is also reported to
have lived in the vicinity of the town of Mineola in southern Wood
County. The other four White related families who moved together
from Coosa Co., AL, to Texas (those of Jerome “Jerry” Clem
Busby/Busbee, Robert M. Carlisle, James W. Cotton and Robert G. White)
settled in the counties of Leon and Limestone. These two counties
are located some 185 miles to the northwest of the city of Houston and
east of the city of Waco but much closer to Waco than to Houston.
Although located in east-central Texas, Leon and Limestone Counties are
over 100 miles south of Wood County
It was always known to me that my father, Jesse Harris Vardaman (Sr.),
was born in Wood County, TX, and that the next child of the Vardaman
family, another son, John Eugene Vardaman, was born further west,
probably in either Knox County or Fannin County, TX, October 29,
1899. I was also aware that, in addition to my then living
paternal aunts and uncles (sisters and brothers of my father), there
was another daughter, also born in Texas, who died while still an
infant. This was Annie May Vardaman mentioned above, the child
who preceded my father.
ANNIE MAY VARDAMAN
Annie May Vardaman was born in Texas, February 22, 1895, and died
there as an infant, August 4,1895, when she was only a few days over
five months old.
I first learned of Annie May’s birth and death dates from the records
in the Bible of my grandmother, Clara “Odie” Vardaman, of which I have
long had copies. These same dates were also cited in the Bible of
my grandfather, M. E. Vardaman, copies of which only recently came into
my possession. The M. E. Vardaman Bible records contain
additional information not found in my grandmother’s Bible, including
Annie May’s place of burial clearly identified as “Good Hope”,
TX. This was, presumably, also the place of her death.
I have been able to locate only two “Good Hope” communities in
Texas. One, still in existence, is in the southern Texas County
of Lavaca, an area far distant from any other recorded location of the
family in Texas. This Good Hope is located about half-way between
Houston and San Antonio to the west on Alt. US Rt. 90 about 5 miles
east of the town of Hallettsville. This location is some 150
miles to the south of the area of Leon and Limestone Counties where
four of the five White related families located and 250 miles south of
Smith and Wood Counties where the fifth White related family settled
and where the Vardaman family was known to be located in 1896.
While the areas where the White related families settled and the Lavaca
County area where the Vardaman family may have first settled are not
close, there is nothing to preclude the M. E. Vardaman family from
having originally located in the Lavaca County area before later
journeying further to the north to Wood County. However, I
seriously doubt that this is the case.
The second “Good Hope” community, and the one more likely to be the
“Good Hope” referred to in Marshall Vardaman’s Bible, is now defunct
but was originally located in Denton County, TX. Denton County is
located just north of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and is separated from
Fannin County (to the east) by only the small county of Collin.
The Good Hope (Denton County) community was situated about 15 miles
east of the city of Denton (the county seat of Denton County) near the
present community of Parvin. “The
of Texas Online
” furnishes the following information
about this Good Hope community and I quote in part:
“Good Hope, Texas (Denton
County). Good Hope was on Doe Branch at the intersection of Good
Hope Road and Prosper Road between Farm Road 1385 and the Collin county
line fifteen miles east of Denton in eastern Denton County. The
original settlers … included the families of Jacob and Lewis Rue … who
settled at the site then called Rue Settlement … Ben Rue sold his land
before he moved to Fannin County but saved four acres, which he donated
for a church and school. The Cumberland Presbyterian church was
founded in Rue Settlement about 1854 and was active until 1925.
Good Hope Baptist Church was established in 1875 and used on alternate
Sundays for Presbyterian and Baptist services. The community was
thereafter called Good Hope. In 1878, when a storm destroyed the
building, the church was moved to Parvin, less than a mile away ……
Burials had taken place in Good Hope Cemetery by at least 1870 and
probably as early as the 1850s. In order to preserve this early
cemetery the Good Hope Cemetery Association was founded in 1903.
In 1904 Ben Rue officially gave the land to the association and a state
historical marker was erected at the cemetery in 1986. The
cemetery and burial association remained active in 2002.”
Considering the above information, and bearing in mind that Annie May
Vardaman died in 1895, I believe that it is very likely that this may
be the “Good Hope” where she died and is buried as cited in Marshall
Vardaman’s Bible. In addition to the above it is very interesting
to note that the town of Leonard in Fannin County, where we know the
Vardaman family to have been located ca 1900 to 1902, is only about 40
miles northeast of the location of this Good Hope community in Denton
In addition, I have also noted the town or community of New
southern Wood County, TX. It lies just off of US Rte. 80 near the
border of Wood County with its southern neighbor, Smith County.
“The Handbook of Texas Online
furnishes the following information about the New Hope community of
Wood County and I quote in part:
“New Hope, Texas (Wood County).
New Hope is on Farm Road 1801 four miles east of Mineola and a mile
north of the Missouri Pacific line (formerly Texas and Pacific) in
southern Wood County. The community apparently moved north to
this site from an earlier location as there is a New Hope cemetery just
south of the railroad line and about a mile south of the present
location of the New Hope Baptist Church… By 1917 a Baptist Church,
originally founded in 1864 in nearby Greer’s Neighborhood (later known
as Golden Rule), had, after several moves and name changes, established
itself as the New Hope Baptist Church at the second, more northerly,
site of the community."
Considering the cemetery information mentioned above and the fact that
the Vardaman family was known to be in Wood County as early as 1896,
and notwithstanding the slight difference in the name, this would
appear to be a promising location for the death and burial of Annie May
Vardaman. In addition, it is also known that the family traveled
to and from Texas by train, and the presence of a railroad through the
New Hope community could be an added clue as to this location. Of
course, the community of Good Hope in Denton County as well as the Good
Hope community in Lavaca County could also have been near a railroad,
although I do not know this.
The above information is very curious and the similarity of the names
(Good Hope and New Hope) raises an interesting question, to wit:
Is the Bible record in error and this community of New Hope in Wood
County the last resting place of Annie May Vardaman or is the Bible
record correct and she died and is buried at Good Hope, most likely in
Denton County as previously noted, or even in Lavaca County far to the
While this is a moot point at this writing, I believe that without some
further clue or information, we must respect and accept the Bible
record name of Good Hope as being correct.
In any event, the Wood County, TX, tax rolls confirm that Marshall E.
Vardaman was there in 1896 and 1897, although he does not appear there
in prior or subsequent year records. Based on our extremely
limited data, I believe that the Vardaman family probably made the move
to Texas in either 1893 or 1894 and, based on the aforementioned Bible
record, settled in northeast Texas, probably in the vicinity of either
Denton or Wood County before subsequently moving further west to first
Knox County and then to the Fannin County area. It is quite
possible that Marshall Vardaman originally journeyed to Texas by
himself and either returned later for the rest of his family or sent
for them to join him there.
Marshall and Odie’s fifth child and third son, Jesse Harris Vardaman
(my father), was born in Wood County on Christmas Eve, Thursday,
December 24, 1896, during the second term of President Grover
Cleveland. I believe that the name "Jesse" was probably one of
Odie's favorite names from the Bible, while the name "Harris" was
either after Odie's brother-in-law, Osborne N. ("Os)" Harris, husband
of Odie’s favorite older sister, Annie Eliza Carlisle (more on the
Harris family below) or, possibly, after Odie's mother's middle name
(she was Nancy Harris Craddock). We have no information as to the
origin or significance of Nancy's "Harris" name.
Here I will digress somewhat to provide some explanation for the next
moves of the Marshall Vardaman family.
THE HARRIS FAMILY JOINS THE
VARDAMAN FAMILY IN TEXAS
One of Odie’s older sisters - and her favorite - was Annie Elizabeth
Carlisle, born January 22, 1857, who had first married William Cary
“Will”, or "Bunk", Cotton, 29 January 1878 in Coosa Co., AL. This
couple had two sons, John William Cotton, born 2 January 1879 and
Weaver Allen (or Allen Weaver) Cotton, born 22 June 1882, before Will
Cotton was accidentally killed August 19, 1884, leaving Annie a
widow. She then married Osborne N. “Os” Harris, son of John M.
and Sarah (Candler) Harris, on December 1, 1887, and had four more
children - all this while still in Coosa County, AL.
The four additional children were Walter M. Harris (born in October
1888), Lera Harris (born January 1891, Leo N. Harris (born in May 1893
and Annie Pearl Harris (born in May 1896).
John W. Cotton is reported to have attended a military school in
Birmingham and, after finishing there, joined the Marshall Vardaman
family in Texas, ca 1898-1900.
In Texas, Marshall Vardaman had moved his family from Wood County
sometime after 1897 and apparently, after first residing in Knox
County, was living further east on a farm near the town of Leonard in
southern Fannin County, TX, at the time of the 1900 Census (dated 14
June 1900). During this period, their sixth child and fourth son,
John Eugene Vardaman, was born either in Knox or Fannin County on
Saturday, October 21, 1899, during the first administration of
President William McKinley.
Since the Marshall Vardaman family was not on the Wood County tax rolls
after 1897 and were known to be in Fannin County by June of 1900 (date
of 1900 census record), I believe that John E. Vardaman may have been
born near the town of Leonard in Fannin County, TX. However, it
is also quite possible that he may have been born in Knox Co., TX,
prior to the family’s arrival in Fannin County (see the Bible record
discussion on pages 9 and 10 of this document placing the family in
Knox County in 1899). His first name, John, was probably after
both his paternal and maternal grandfathers (his father, Marshall, also
had a brother named John). I have no idea where the name "Eugene"
came from. During his early years John E. Vardaman was called
"Gene" by his family, although in later life he more commonly came to
be called "Johnny".
Odie Vardaman’s nephew, John W. Cotton, mentioned above, was living
with the Marshall Vardaman family at the time of the 1900 Census.
In addition, Marshall's sister, Maggie, and her husband, Thomas
Jefferson “Jeff” Webb, were also living in Marshall’s household in
1900. I have no information as to when the Webbs arrived in
Texas, how long they stayed, or when they returned to Alabama, except
that I know that they were back living in Kellyton in Coosa County by
1902. Incidentally, Thomas Jefferson “Jeff” Webb, husband of
Maggie Mae Vardaman, was a first cousin of Odie Carlisle
Vardaman. He was the son of Odie's Aunt, Clarissa Jane Carlisle,
and her husband, Charles David Webb. The elder Webbs lived at
Kellyton in Coosa County. In this case, Jeff Webb was not only
Odie’s first cousin but also her brother-in-law by marriage.
Meanwhile, also in 1900, back in Coosa County, AL, Os Harris contracted
to buy a house and land in Alexander City, in nearby Tallapoosa County,
AL. In order to complete the Alexander City transaction and move
there, he held an auction and sold not only his house and farm in Coosa
County but all of his belongings also. Unfortunately for the
Harris family, the seller of the property in Alexander City backed out
of the deal leaving them with no place to live.
As a result, Os Harris decided to move his family to Texas just as his
wife’s White and Vardaman cousins, as well as his step-son, had done
before him. Since his step-son, John Cotton, was already living
with the Marshall Vardaman family in Fannin County that is where Os
Harris and his family went also. Lera (Harris) McCaskill, a
daughter of Os and Annie (Carlisle) Harris, remembered well and
described to me their arrival at the train station in Leonard, Texas,
"on the last day of the last month of the 19th century” (December 31,
1900), and being met there by her Uncle Marshall Vardaman and taken by
horse and wagon to his farm.
A ROMANTIC INTERLUDE
During this time, John Cotton had fallen in love with the comely
daughter of one of the Vardaman's neighbors and the couple wanted to be
married. The young lady, Nettie Melton, daughter of Andrew and
Lucinda Melton, was only 17 years old at the time and, unfortunately,
her parents objected to the marriage. As a result, John Cotton
and his sweetheart Nettie eloped and were married in Hunt County (just
to the south of Fannin County), 30 December 1900. They then
traveled to Floyd County, TX, far to the west in the west Texas
Panhandle area. They were accompanied on this trip by John’s
step-father, Os Harris. The rest of the Harris family would join
them a short time later. Both the Harris and Cotton families
subsequently settled in the city of Childress, county seat of Childress
County, located northeast of the city of Lubbock, some 300 miles to the
west of Fannin County. Here John and his father-in-law
became merchants, establishing a store in Childress. .
Os Harris and his family would remain in Childress for several
years. He is there with his wife and four children on the 1910
census. His daughter Lera married Ottis McCaskill prior to1920
and this McCaskill family is found living in Childress on the 1920
census. However, on the 1920 census, Os Harris is enumerated far
to the east in the city of Commerce in Hunt County, TX, residing in the
household of his younger daughter, Annie Pearl, who has married Wade J.
“Jerry” Debenport. Os is still listed as a merchant
(wholesale grocer). Information in my records (source not
documented) shows that Annie (Carlisle) Harris died June 21, 1912, in
Texas. This agrees with the information that I received from Lera
McCaskill that her mother, Annie (Carlisle) Harris, died at the age of
55 in Commerce, Hunt County, TX. Commerce is in east Texas, far
removed from Childress County in the Texas Panhandle.
Cousin Joe Pearce has furnished us with the information that both Os
and Annie Harris are buried in Rosemound Cemetery in Commerce in Hunt
Co., TX, and that this can be confirmed by visiting that cemetery on
the Find-a-grave site on the internet, which I did and found that the
birth and death dates that I had for them are in agreement with the
dates on their grave stones.
This information indicates that Os and Annie Harris had left Childress
and moved east to Commerce in Hunt County prior to Annie’s death June
21, 1912, and that Os was still there and still in business as a
merchant at the time of the 1920 census. It would seem that Os
had either moved his business from Childress in the west to Commerce in
the east or had disposed of his Childress business and established a
new business in Commerce. In addition, since Wade J. Debenport,
was residing, age 15, in the household of his parents, Charles J. and
Allie Debenport, in Commerce, Hunt County, TX, on the 1910 census, I am
confident that Os and Annie Harris’ daughter Annie Pearl moved with her
parents from Childress to Commerce and that she and Wade
Debenport married in Commerce, TX.
Osborne N. Harris died August 19, 1934, in Childress County (Texas
Death Index 1903-2000) and is buried with his wife in the Rosemound
Cemetery in Commerce, Texas. I have noted that both the McCaskill
family (his daughter Lera) and the Debenport family (his daughter Annie
Pearl) are located in the city of Childress in Childress County on the
1930 census. I could not locate Os Harris on the 1930 census but
he, too, must have returned to Childress County since he is reported
(Texas Death Index) to have died there. He is not listed in
either daughter’s family.
John Cotton, on the other hand, tired early of a storekeeper’s life,
sold his interest in the store to his father-in-law and left Childress
to pursue a career in the meat-packing industry which he engaged in for
the rest of his life. After the birth of his first child, son
Mark, ca 1902-03, in Childress, TX, he moved his family to Oklahoma
where his second child, daughter Goldy, was born ca 1905 and still
later to Louisiana where his next two children, son Winston and
daughter Johnnie B., were born ca 1907 and 1911 respectively, and where
the John W. Cotton family is found in the Shreveport area (Caddo
County, LA) on the 1910 census. By the time of the
1920 census the John W. Cotton family had returned to Texas and a fifth
child, son Melton, born in Texas in 1919, has joined the family.
The family is found living in the city and county of Dallas on this
1920 census. By the time of the 1930 census the family, including
both parents and all five children, had moved to San Francisco (city
and county), California. John William Cotton died 14 December
1947 in San Francisco and Nettie L. Cotton died 16 September 1967 at
Santa Clara, CA. Their place of burial is unknown.
Note: Much of the above family information concerning the Osborne
Harris and John W. Cotton families was furnished to me personally via
telephone conversations and correspondence in 1987 by Lera (Harris)
McCaskill, daughter of Osborn N. and Annie E. (Carlisle) Harris.
Born January 9, 1891, Lera was well on her way to her 97th birthday
when I was in touch with her. She died 17 February 1991 at the
age of 100 years, 1 month and 8 Days in Tarrant Co., TX (part of the
Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area).
WEAVER ALLEN COTTON
(or Allen Weaver Cotton)
In the preceding section we have discussed to a small degree the
destiny of John William Cotton, the oldest son of William C. “Bunk”
Cotton and Annie Elizabeth Carlisle, but what became of the younger
son, Weaver Allen (or Allen Weaver) Cotton?
On the 1900 census seventeen-year-old Weaver Allen Cotton is in the
household of his mother and step-father, Annie (Carlisle) and Osborne
N. Harris, in Coosa County, Alabama. By the 1910 census he has
married Bertha Alice Brown, daughter of Henry and Louisa Brown, ca.
1905, probably in Fannin Co., TX. Bertha was born 18 February
1878 in Grayson County, TX. Her parents are located in the town
of Leonard in Fannin County for the 1910 census. Allen Cotton had
obviously accompanied the family of his mother and step-father when
they moved to Fannin County in Texas at the end of 1900. It
certainly did not take him long to find a wife in his new environment..
On the 1910 census he and his wife are residing in the town of
Childress in Childress Co., TX, where he is employed as a baggage man
at the railroad depot. The only known child of A. W. and Bertha
A. Cotton, son, Almer G., born ca. 1905-06, has been added to the
family. The move to Childress was, in all probability, the result
of his brother and step-father having previously settled there.
The family is still in Childress for the 1920 and 1930 censuses with
son Almer age 13 in 1920. Allen’s occupation in 1920 is listed as
bookkeeper for a garage. By 1920 their son Almer G., now age 24,
has married Juanita McCracken, age 19, and they, together with their
infant daughter, LaJuana, are living with Allen and Bertha. Allen
is employed in 1930 as a truck driver for an oil dealership while son
Almer is listed as a salesman in a drug store..
Sometime after 1930, the Weaver A. Cotton family will move to the San
Francisco, California, area where his brother John William Cotton has
previously settled. Weaver Allen Cotton died 22 November 1946 in
San Francisco, CA; however, his place of burial is unknown.
Bertha (Brown) Cotton lived for another 22 plus years after her
husband’s death, never remarrying, and apparently moved back to Texas
during this period. She died July 16, 1967, in Denton, Denton
Co., TX, and is buried in Eastview Memorial Park at Vernon in Wilbarger
BACK TO THE MARSHALL
We left the Marshall Vardaman family residing in Fannin County, TX, at
the time that the Harris and Cotton families removed to Floyd and
Childress County in western Texas. Since John and Nettie Cotton
married in Hunt County (southern neighbor of Fannin County) on the 30th
of December, 1900, I believe it is safe to say that the Vardaman family
was still in Fannin County at the beginning of 1901.
I have a picture of my Dad, Jesse Vardaman, about five and a half years
old, and his younger brother, John Eugene, age about two years plus,
standing on the porch of a rural farm house. On this picture my
grandmother had noted:
H. Vardaman. 5 yrs old
Eugene J. Vardaman
As near as can be determined, based on Jesse’s age noted on the picture
and the dress of the two boys (both are barefooted), the picture would
appear to be from sometime in the summer of 1902.
But where is this Floyd, Texas?
There is a Floyd County in Texas located in the Texas Panhandle about
45 miles to the northeast of the city of Lubbock and about 95 miles
west of the City of Childress. According to Lera McCaskill’s
information, Floyd County is where the Harris and Cotton families first
located when they removed from Fannin County and before they settled in
Childress. In view of this, it would not seem unusual for the
Vardaman family to have moved to this far west area of Texas
also. However, it is not certain that this is what happened.
There is also a town or community of Floyd in Hunt County, TX, located
on US Rte. 380 about 10 miles east of the city of Greenville (county
seat of Hunt County). This location in northern Hunt County is
only about 15 miles south of the city of Leonard in southern Fannin
County, Hunt County’s neighbor to the north. In view of the
proximity of this location to the known location of the Vardaman family
as late as 1901 (Fannin County) and the notation on the picture, I
believe that there is a possibility that this might be the Floyd
referred to on the picture and the last known location of the Vardaman
family in Texas.
For reasons not completely known to us now, Marshall Vardaman, true to
his wanderlust, did not stay in Texas but moved his family back to
Coosa County, Alabama, possibly in the latter part of 1902 or sometime
during 1903. I suspect that this return to Alabama may have been
precipitated by his father’s deteriorating physical condition from a
severe arthritic condition which had progressed to the point of
confining him to a wheel chair, thereby creating a need for Marshall to
return home to help operate the family farm and take care of his
Before leaving the annals of the Marshall Vardaman family in Texas, two
additional items of interest must be mentioned.
The first involves yet another entry in the Marshall E. Vardaman Bible
where it is recorded that Marshall and Odie Vardaman received
confirmation into the Christian Church (an affiliation of the Disciples
of Christ denomination) in 1899 at “Knox, Texas”. There is a Knox
County in northwest Texas located about half way between the city of
Wichita Falls to the east and the city of Lubbock to the west.
The only town or community with the name “Knox” in Texas is Knox City
located in the aforesaid Knox County. Thus it appears certain
that the location of the Church confirmation was, indeed, in Knox
This, however, would seem to indicate a somewhat unusual movement of
the Vardaman family--if it were not for Marshall Vardaman’s reputation
for always staying on the move. If they were in Wood County as
late as 1897 and then in Fannin County in mid 1900 (both confirmed and
both, more or less, in northeastern Texas), to have also been present
in Knox County, much further to the west, in 1899 would have involved,
first, a move from Wood County in east Texas to Knox County far to the
west, then back east to Fannin County, all occurring during the period
1897 to 1900. And this would have been in addition to the other
potential movements of the family in Texas prior to 1897 and after 1901.
As outlined above, there could have been yet another move even further
to the far west from Fannin County to Floyd County in the Texas
Panhandle. Such a series of moves in such a short time frame,
even for a man with the wayfaring ways of Marshall Vardaman, stretches
one’s credulity. Nevertheless, the “Knox” reference in the Bible
cannot be dismissed, and it is a known fact that Marshall and Odie
Vardaman as well as certain of their children (including their son
Jesse--my father) were known to be members and supporters of the
The second item of interest involves the birth place of Marshall and
Odie’s daughter Maggie Lucille. She was the next child born to
Marshall and Odie Vardaman after their son John Eugene (who was born in
Knox or Fannin Co., TX, October 21, 1899), and was their third
daughter, seventh child, born October 25, 1902. While the Bible
records of both her mother and father (mentioned previously) are in
accord regarding the date of her birth, neither of these records, nor
any other official record, provides the place of her birth.
Family members living today have always believed her place of birth to
be in Coosa County, AL. This is her place of birth as known to
her daughters and where she personally insisted to me during her senior
years that she was born. For this to be correct considering the
dates appearing in the forgoing narrative, the Marshall Vardaman family
must have returned to Coosa County, AL, from Texas by the latter part
However, on both the 1920 and 1930 censuses, Maggie Vardaman’s place of
birth is reported as Texas. Presumably, the information for these
two censuses was furnished by either she or her mother both of whom
should have known her correct place of birth. This does not agree
with her place of birth (Alabama) as reported on the 1910 census.
Unfortunately, the places of birth as reported on the 1910 census
cannot be relied on and should be ignored as some are patently in
error. On the 1910 census all of the Marshall Vardaman family
members are reported as born in Alabama although it is a known fact
that at least two of the children (sons Jesse and John Eugene) were
born in Texas. This not only leaves the correct place of birth of
daughter Maggie in doubt but also leaves open to question just when the
family actually returned to Alabama from Texas.
I have a picture of the entire John B. Carlisle family clan (about
seventy individuals) assembled at the Carlisle home in the Mt. Olive
Community of Coosa County, AL, taken on the occasion of the celebration
of the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Odie’s parents, John Bunyan and
Nancy Harris (Craddock) Carlisle. This would have officially
occurred December 22, 1903. However, since December 22, 1903,
occurred on a Tuesday, I suspect that the celebration, including the
taking of the picture, possibly occurred on the following Saturday,
December 26 (the day after Christmas) or Sunday, December 27, of 1903.
In this picture the entire Marshall E. Vardaman family, including both
parents and six of the seven children born to the family up to that
time, are present and can be clearly identified. As noted
previously, their second daughter, Annie May, died as an infant in
Texas in 1895. Their last (eighth) child, son Carlisle T.
Vardaman, will not be born until 1905. This picture definitely
places the family back in Alabama in December of 1903 but does not
negate the possibility of their return somewhat earlier, possibly in
the latter part of 1902.
Based on the available information, it is my belief that the family
probably did not return from Texas until after Maggie’s birth in Texas
in October 1902, the return possibly occurring sometime during the year
1903, and that Maggie Lucille Vardaman may not have been born in Coosa
County, AL, but, instead, in Texas, either in Floyd, Fannin or Hunt