Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Little More About The Ponton's

PONTON. William Sr., Andrew, Joel. The Pontons originated in Virginia with William Ponton (b. abt 1772), the oldest child of Joel and Hannah Ponton of Amherst County, VA. Joel Ponton was a Revolutionary War soldier who died on 22 Jun 1826 in Nelson County, VA. Family legend says that the Ponton and Morelands were of French descent having originally come to New Amsterdam (New York) in the 17th century. William Ponton married Isabella Moreland of Pennsylvania on 12 Jan 1801 and they had children Joel (b. 3 Jul 1802), Andrew (b. 1804) and Mary Jane (b. abt 1810) in Virginia and Sarah Ann (b. 16 Sep 1820) in Missouri. William Ponton owned land in HowardCo, MO in 1819 and the family lived also in Boonville, CooperCo, MO where several children were born. It is thought that the Pontons and the John William and Catherine McClure Burket families were good friends in Missouri before coming to Texas. Upon the urging of son-in-law James B. Patrick who married Mary Jane Ponton, the Pontons and Patricks moved to the DeWitt Colony arriving 17 Dec 1829. The Patricks remained in or around Gonzales where James B. arriving in 1829 received title in 1831 to a league on the south bank of the Guadalupe River southwest of Gonzales. J.B. Patrick purchased 2 lots in inner Gonzales town on each of which he built structures, one a home on Water St. About the same time brother-in-law, Andrew Ponton, a single man, received title to a quarter sitio on the Gonzales-LavacaCo line. Andrew Ponton also purchased two lots in inner Gonzales town where he had a smokehouse which was one of the only two structures still identifiable after the burning of Gonzales by Houston's retreating army.
The elder William and Isabella Ponton settled on a league just north of current Hallettsville granted to them in current Lavaca County in the Austin Colony on 27 Nov 1832, the same day as title was passed to James Campbell on the league between the Ponton tract and current Hallettsville. Joel Ponton and family at first remained behind in MO, but followed in late 1833. He purchased in fall 1835 a lot at the bend of the San Marcos River on the far northwest corner of the Gonzales town tract. On 20 May 1834, a band of Comanches caught William Ponton and John Hays away from their guns and horses while they were cutting poles for a crib. Lavaca County author, Judge Paul Boethel in A History of Lavaca County describes the event:
"William Ponton, a member of DeWitt’s Colony, was killed by the Indians near his home on Ponton’s Creek in 1834. It was in spring, good rains had fallen for some time and the ground was covered with a luxuriant growth of wild flowers and grass, and game was abundant when a stray band of Comanches fell upon this settler and his companion. Ponton and his companion, named John Hays, left the house as day was breaking, May 20th, and rode out to the timber, where the Dickson or Evergreen schoolhouse once stood, to cut poles for a crib. They had been chopping about two hours and the pile of poles was steadily growing, when Ponton suddenly dropped his axe, pointed towards the top of the hill to the south, and said: 'John, look yonder; what do you reckon that is?' There, just beyond the crest of the hill, was a glimpse of several figures moving about. The two men turned pale as they realized their situation. They had brought their guns with them but had left them, together with their horses and lunch basket, a full half mile below them, where they had first started in to work. They crept in behind some trees and watched the crest of the hill, where the moving figures had disappeared, but Hays felt certain he caught the glitter of a lance before they vanished. 'Our only chance will be to get to our guns and horses,' said Ponton. 'Mebbe they haven't seen our horses. Come on, let's run for it,' and throwing aside his axe, he made a run for them, closely followed by Hays. They had hardly covered two hundred yards, however, before they heard a shrill cry from the hill and saw the Indians riding down upon them, waving their lances over their heads. A minute or two later, Ponton and Hays reached a shallow gully that stretched directly across their path; the heavy rains had made the bottom of it a quagmire, and gathering all his strength, Hays cleared it in a jump but Ponton fell short. As Hays ran on, he caught a glimpse of his comrade struggling to free himself of the mud and mire and the Indians were fast closing in upon him. Reaching the spot where they had started in to work, he saw that the horses had become frightened and had broken loose, and at the moment were galloping away across the prairie to the left. Catching up his rifle, he ran to a dense thicket of low bushes that covered two or three acres of ground on the far bank. He reached it in a few minutes and turned to look back for Ponton. The Indians were all dismounted and around the gully and he could see that his comrade was a prisoner. Working his way deep into the dense underbrush on his hands and knees, dragging his rifle behind him, he found his cover, and prepared to make his stand by laying out his ammunition beside him. In a little while, the Indians came up and rode around and around the thicket, sometimes venturing in a short distance, and then out. The underbrush was so dense he could only be guided by their voices. About two in the afternoon, the Indians brought Ponton up and made him call his comrade, but getting no response they continued their search. Just as night came on, they brought Ponton back again and this time in agony. He called upon Hays to come out and maybe they would spare his life, stating they had cut all the skin off the bottom of his feet. Again and again Ponton called to him as they continued to torture him and finally the Indians built a huge fire before the thicket. By and by all sounds ceased and Hays concluded his comrade had been killed and the Indians had ridden away, but he stayed in the thicket all night. He crept out of his hiding the next day and hurried to the nearest settlement where he organized a rescue party and returned to the scene. The party found Ponton, scalped and horribly mutilated, near the thicket."
In 1835, Andrew Ponton emerged as the Alcalde of Gonzales who guided the government of the colony through the events leading to separation from Mexico including the original confrontation at Gonzales over the Gonzales cannon. The event became known as the Battle of Gonzales, the "Lexington" of Texas and the precipitation of events leading to victory over Santa Anna at San Jacinto. Andrew Ponton became the agent for disposition of his parents league on the Lavaca River north of the Hallett home near current Hallettsville, but before any of the family could settle and improve it they were forced to flee east on the Runaway Scrape in front of Santa Anna's army. In the fall of 1837, Andrew Ponton, his brother Joel Ponton and family and sisters Sarah Ann Eggleston and Mary Jane Patrick and families returned to the DeWitt Colony to begin life again in an independent Texas Republic. Andrew, his widowed mother Isabella Ponton, and the Egglestons established homesteads on the William Ponton league on the Lavaca River near Hallettsville in addition to their homes in Gonzales town proper. The Patricks remained in Houston for a time until daughter Sarah Jane was born in 1837 and then returned to Gonzales. In 1838 the Patricks and Sarah Ann Ponton Eggleston were in San Felipe where Mary Jane Ponton Patrick became ill and died, probably in Apr 1839, in the presence of mother Isabella and other relatives. While in San Felipe, titles to tracts on their father's league were formalized. Andrew Ponton and his mother returned to a homestead on the Lavaca River, Joel Ponton acquired and settled property on the Navidad River and the Egglestons settled in Gonzales town. James B. Patrick and children also apparently returned to Gonzales town where he continued to be active in Gonzales town politics and public service. Andrew Ponton apparently made his home and spent most of the time through 1841 in Gonzales where he continued in public service as described below. After his marriage to Mary H. Berry in 1841, the couple focused on stockraising on their league on the upper Lavaca River. With slaves Austin, Elvira and Sam, the Pontons became prosperous. Upon statehood, Ponton was elected the first county judge of Lavaca County. Widowed matriarch of the Ponton clan made her home until her death after 1850 with daughter Sarah Ann and son-in-law Horace Eggleston in Gonzales.
Andrew Ponton. Andrew Ponton (1804-1850) was born in Amherst County, Virginia and went to the DeWitt Colony, Gonzales County, Texas in 1829 from Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri with his parents, two sisters and others. Andrew's parents were William Ponton (1772-1834) and Isabella Mooreland (1782-1860), a native of Pennsylvania. William was killed by a stray band of Indians May 20, 1834 where he and a friend John Hays were cutting poles for a crib. The daughters were: Polly "Mary" Jane Patrick (1810 near Lovingston, Nelson County, Virginia-1837 San Felipe, Austin Colony) married May 29, 1828 James Blair Patrick in Cooper County, Missouri; and Sarah Ann (September 16, 1820 Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri) who married Horace Eggleston. Andrew married July 8, 1841 Mary H. Berry in Columbus, Colorado County, Republic of Texas with his brother Joel Ponton, a minister of the Disciples of Christ Church, performing the ceremony. He died July 4, 1850 and was buried in the Gonzales Masonic Cemetery where the Texas Centennial Commission erected an Historical Marker on his grave in 1936. His brother Joel (July 3, 1802 near Lovingston, Amherst County, Virginia) married January 5, 1827 in Cooper County, Missouri Sarah Ann Reavis (June 8, 1794 August 31, 1837), a native of Rutherford County, North Carolina, and died in Gonzales County. The school where Andrew received his education has not been found.
In 1835 Andrew was elected Alcalde of Gonzales, and in September he was a member of the Gonzales Committee for Safety. The Mexican government had furnished a cannon for the protection of Gonzales' inhabitants against Indians; in 1835 Mexico sent soldiers to Gonzales to get the cannon or bring Ponton to San Antonio as a hostage. He put them off, and the final result was that he sent a very diplomatic letter of why he could not return the cannon. He was a farmer, stockman, politician and judge. He was the first chief justice of Gonzales County, a member of the Second Congress, House of Representatives in Houston for the County of Gonzales 1837-1838. He was elected the first chief justice of Lavaca County when it was formed in 1846. His land grant was issued June 18, 1832 and was located on the Gonzales-Lavaca County line. Andrew Ponton and his son Thomas Jefferson were members of the Masonic Order A.F. & A.M. Andrew and Mary had four children: William W. (1842) joined the Confederate army in 1862 and was soon released for a disability; Andrew S. (1845-1862) joined the Confederate army in September, 1861 and was killed in the battle at Atlanta in 1862; Thomas Jefferson Ponton Sr. (April 6, 1847 Gonzales County-December 9, 1889 Gonzales) after his high school education studied law and became a prominent attorney in Gonzales County, married February 27, 1872 in Gonzales Martha "Mattie" Kentuckey Brown (1849-1887) and had seven children with descendants later living in California and Florida; and Samuel Virgin (1849 1856). B. Elmer Spradley (From The History of Gonzales County, Texas. Reprinted by permission of the Gonzales County Historical Commission).
Joel Ponton. Joel Ponton was both medical doctor and a minister of the Disciples of Christ Church. He married Sara Reavis in CooperCo, MO on 5 Jan 1827 where they had children Andrew Judson (b. 4 Aug 1829; d. 12 Jan 1908, buried Junction, KimbleCo, TX), William Lee (m. Lutilia Ezzell 1856) and Jemima Jane (m. Thomas L. Hunt 1848). After arrival in Gonzales, a fourth David Barton (m. Lemelia Lay) was born 30 Apr 1834. On 31 Mar 1837, another son, Joseph Parthenias (m. Eliza Jane Bownds), was born in Columbus on the way back to the Gonzales area after their flight to East Texas. Wife and mother Sara Reavis Ponton died 31 Aug 1837 in Gonzales. On 28 Mar 1839, Dr. Ponton married Rhoda Delaney who adopted his children and bore more children Joel (b. 1842), Alexander (b. 1843), Martha and Ellen (and probably more) while Ponton ministered both to the physical and spiritual illnesses of his clients. Records indicate that he commonly applied steam and lobelia treatment, steam to cause sweating and lobelia (Indian tobacco) as an emetic. As a doctor, Ponton was in large demand and widely respected in the community, he had a large practice kept busy by the hazards of pioneer life. It is unclear if Dr. & Reverend Ponton practiced his spiritual ministry in the colony prior to independence. However, afterwards he was an enthusiastic minister in the early Church of Christ and established at least two congregations on the Rio Navidad in 1841-1842. In early Texas days, both of his ministeries combined could not support the large family. Ponton supported his family by as a rancher and farmer and also served the public in civil capacities. In spring 1839 after attending the death of his sister Mary Jane Ponton Patrick in San Felipe and the settlement of the William Ponton estate among the children, Ponton established his homestead on the Navidad River. On the way to the homestead on the Navidad, he purchased a 45 year old slave named Squire from James Campbell near Hallettsville. Both of Dr. Ponton's ministeries kept him on the road between homesteads and settlements, most frequently to Gonzales town. On 5 Aug 1840, he and Tucker Foley while on the way to Gonzales from their Navidad River homestead were attacked by a band of 27 Comanches on their way to the great raid on the coast at Linnville. Dr. Ponton survived, but companion Foley did not. On 5 Mar 1850, wife Rhoda Delaney Ponton died leaving him a 48 year old widower with 11 dependent children. On 11 Jul 1850, he married 18 year old Mary Henderson, one of six children of James and Lucinda Henderson from Water Hole Branch on the Lyons League about 12 miles south of Hallettsville. Joel and Mary Ponton settled near Hallettsville and had eight more children, Sarah, James, Alice, Laura, John, Lena, Henry and Victor Hugo.
Upon the death of his brother Andrew Ponton in 1850, Joel Ponton became the administrator of his estate by will of widow Mary H. Berry Ponton. After Andrew's widow Mary H. Ponton married Dr. Daniel C. Bellows in Dec 1850, the couple challenged Joel Ponton's position as administrator of the Andrew Ponton estate and he was removed, but after Ponton had established home tracts and slaves Austin and Elvira as property of the children of Andrew Ponton. The Bellows became owners of the Hicks Hotel and Tavern in Hallettsville, renamed it The Mansion House and after financial difficulties with it, Mary H. Berry Ponton Bellows died in Dec 1856 and Bellows moved out of the area. In 1857, Joel Ponton was re-established as guardian of the Andrew Ponton minor hiers and estate. He was forced to sell Austin for $157 and Elvira for $800 and tracts of land to support his nephews.
When the Civil War came, Dr. Joel Ponton supported the cause of the south without wavering and continued to do so after Lee's surrender. Prior to "Yankee Rule" in Lavaca County, Ponton served as deputy county clerk Josiah Dowling, he tried without success to obtain office under reconstruction and was elected county judge in 1866 when open polls were restored. However, he was removed form office by Federal authorities. He became again deputy county clerk under Josiah Dowling through Mar 1869. As county clerk and local minister, Ponton took care of both the civil and ceremonial formalities of marriages in the area. Wife Mary Henderson Ponton died on 17 Aug 1868 and Dr. Ponton married for the fourth time, Mrs. M.A. Beedle, by minister James Ballard. She died on 31 Mar 1871. In the same year Joel Ponton married Mrs. Harriet W. Koonce, mother of a daughter-in-law Elizabeth Koonce Mayo Ponton. On 1 Feb 1875 five times married DeWitt Colony pioneer doctor, minister, rancher and farmer Dr. Joel Ponton died with his large family in attendance. He is said to be buried on the Koonce tract of land near the Kent homestead on the Andrew Kent league in a location known as Ezzell, established by Sam and Ira Ezzell.


  1. Doggoneit, You family is part of the roots of Texas..

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  3. Ben, I just never thought about that. Being young & dumb it just didn't not interest me.
    You know I guess with everybody I just wish I had talked with my Father & Grand Mother more about this stuff. My Grand Mother grew up in Spicewood Texas. She told me as a kid when they came to Austin it took them 2 days by wagon. They would camp at a place called Bee Caves. Now it takes about 45 minutes to get to Spicewood from my house..