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Johnsons, Lindleys, Littles & Terrys
of Montgomery County Texas

Family Traces Ancestors Back to Alamo Defender

by Sondra Bosse, Courier staff

March 01, 2002

When Mexican forces stormed the Alamo's walls March 6, 1836, among the dead in the aftermath were famous frontiersmen Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett and a colonist from Polk County named Jonathan Lindley.


As we observe the 166th anniversary of Texas declaring independence from Mexico -- March 2, 1836 -- one Montgomery County family is celebrating its long-standing link to Texas, the Alamo and Montgomery County.

On Feb. 7, Bregan Terry became a ninth-generation Texan and the seventh generation of Lindley's descendents born in Montgomery County.

Lindley's family tree is one of the many generational stories that enhance the rich history of Montgomery County, birthplace of the Texas flag.

According to the Handbook of Texas, Lindley was born Feb. 21, 1814, in Illinois, the son of Samuel Washington Lindley, born in 1788, and Elizabeth Polly Hall Lindley.

He reportedly entered Texas in 1833 and applied for a land grant as a single man in Joseph Vehlein's colony Nov. 4, 1834.

Lindley was granted land, which is now covered by Lake Livingston in Polk County. However, the land grant was invalidated because that land already had been awarded to someone else. According to the Handbook of Texas, Lindley apparently did not know the grant was invalid and was probably still living on it when the Texas Revolution broke out in fall 1835.

Lindley joined Capt. John Crane's company and participated in the siege of Bexar in November 1835. In December 1835, during the storming of Bexar, Crane's company served in the First Division under the command of Benjamin R. Milam.

On Dec. 14, 1836, Lindley joined William R. Carey's artillery company and helped garrison the Alamo under the command of Lt. Col. James C. Neill.
Along with approximately 186 other defenders, Lindley was killed in the Battle of the Alamo. Ultimately, Lindley's death led his ancestors to settle in Montgomery County.

According to a history of the Lindley family, submitted to the Montgomery County Genealogical and Historical Society by Estella Burns Stewart, Samuel Washington Lindley came to Texas on a recommendation to enter Texas from the Illinois governor. The Lindley family is thought to have come to Montgomery County in 1826.

A copy of a Spanish Land Grant shows that Samuel Washington Lindley asked to be granted a league of land. This request was signed Nov. 4, 1834, and proves that Samuel Washington Lindley resided in Texas.

Another copy of a statement from the General Land Office showed that in 1835, Samuel Washington Lindley was a resident of Montgomery County and lived near the Walker County line.

Following Jonathan Lindley's death in the Alamo, his family was given land in Panola County for his service to Texas. That grant was transferred to Montgomery County to Samuel Washington Lindley. Jonathan Lindley's father, Samuel Washington, died in 1859 and is buried in the Shepherd Hill Cemetery.

A historic landmark in the Shepherd Hill Cemetery pays tribute to Jonathan Lindley.

Another of Samuel Washington Lindley's children, Mary, born in 1813, married Hiram Little in 1832. The couple had 10 children. The first one born in Montgomery County was Jonathan in 1836

Hiram Little also played a role in the Texas Revolution.

According to family legend, Little fought in the Battle of San Jacinto with Gen. Sam Houston.

A marker at Hiram Little's grave gives validity to his role in the Texas Revolution. The grave of his wife, Mary Little, also contains a marker showing she was a citizen of the Republic of Texas following the Texas Revolution.

On Nov. 18, 1840, Hiram and Mary Little had a son, William M. (Doc) Little, who was born in Willis. Doc Little married Sarah Elizabeth Paulsel April 25, 1865, at his father Hiram's home in Walker County.

William and Sarah Little moved onto 98 acres of land along Caney Creek in Montgomery County. They had eight children, including Hattie Josephine, who was born Sept. 10, 1883, in Willis. Hattie married a Meador from Montgomery County, and this was who Lee Murray Johnson called "Ma."

Johnson, 74, who is the oldest of four of Lindley's generations still alive and living in Montgomery County, lives off of Airport Road in Conroe and was raised by his grandmother Hattie.

His mother, Ruby Lillian Meador, Hattie's daughter, was born July 22, 1910, in Willis. However, Johnson, whose father was Native American, was given to Hattie to raise shortly after his birth May 26, 1927, in Willis.
According to Johnson, Hattie also had a son three weeks after he was born named Ray.

"Ray and I were raised like twins," Johnson said.

However, Ray Meador was killed as a young man working in the oil industry.

Johnson has spent his life working with horses and cattle in Montgomery County and now shares the excitement surrounding his great-granddaughter's birth.

Johnson had a daughter, Imogene Johnson, who was born March 31, 1959, in Conroe. Her daughter, Resa Ann Johnson Terry, born March 15, 1978, gave birth to Bregan Channing Terry, born Feb. 7 in The Woodlands, thus making for seven generations of the family born in Montgomery County and nine generations who have lived in Texas.

Johnson said stories about his ancestors have been passed through the generations. It was a letter from Edna Elizabeth Little, Doc Little's granddaughter, that helped piece the family history together. She passed along the letter explaining their family history to Johnson and his family.

Johnson now believes he is very fortunate to be able to trace his family heritage back to Texas' infancy and that all of his family members remain close by.

Barbara Franz, head of the Genealogy Department at the Montgomery County Central Library, said there are several families whose ancestors go back many generations in Montgomery County.

For example, a Stewart line also branches from Samuel Washington Lindley. A. K. Stewart who came to Montgomery County in 1924, is descended from James Lindley, brother of Jonathan Lindley.

Stewart was later county superintendent and county attorney for Montgomery County.

Another of Montgomery County's oldest family lines go back to the Collard family. According to a history of Montgomery County, Elijah and Mary Collard came to the Montgomery/Walker County area in 1833.

Collard was one of the first commissioners when Montgomery County was formed in 1837 and was a member of the First Council of Texas.

The Cude family also has a history that dates back to the early 1800s.

However, linking family lines together is much like putting together a puzzle and there are several places for Montgomery County residents to get started.

The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, 1516 Wilson Road in Conroe, offers a Family History Library.

The library is open to the public and offers 95 percent of the genealogical material the Latter Day Saints Church has to offer.

Library visitors first fill out a pedigree chart and then information is sought from the Family History Catalog, Scottish church records, the International Genealogy Index, ancestral files, war information and information from the census.

At the Genealogy Department in the Montgomery County Central Library local records as well as more than 200 periodicals and CD-ROM databases are available.

The department also has possession of some local records that are exclusive to Montgomery County.

For more information on family history, contact the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saint's Family History Center at (936) 756-4004 or the Montgomery County Central Library at (936) 788-8363.

©The Courier 2002



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