Thomas S. Drew, Arkansas's third governor
(1844-1849) bought land in Parker County, Texas in 1875, then later in 1878
moved on to Hood County where he died in 1879. He was buried near Lipan, but
his body was exhumed in 1923 and his body reburied in his hometown in Arkansas.
The following account is from the Parker County Genealogical Society's
"TRAILS WEST," Vol. 26, No. 1, October 1995.
ARKANSAS EX-GOVERNOR LIVED IN WEATHERFORD
Recent news stories about the exhumation of
John Wilkes Booth; and the proposed disinterment of Jesse James bring to mind
the reburial of an ex-governor of Arkansas who made his home in Weatherford in
Thos. S. Drew, governor of Arkansas from 1844
to 1849, came to Texas after a visit to California in 1874. He bought land in
1875 on Patrick Creek in Parker County. His son, Joseph Drew, and daughter,
Emma C. Marr joined him after settling their affairs in Arkansas in 1875 and
1876. The father made his home in Weatherford in 1876, while his son was
settling in Hood County that year. Emma Marr was occupied with an extensive
series of lawsuits connected to the estate of her late husband in Arkansas and
she did not join her relatives until late summer of 1876.
Weatherford was a natural home base for a man
who had invested heavily in railroad schemes in the past and who could see the
prospects in 1875 that railroads would branch south and west of Weatherford.
Drew also had a taste of town-building and fit well into the move-ahead mood in
Texas in the last quarter of the 19th Century. He had been a partner in the
creation of Pocahontas, the county seat of Randolph County, Arkansas, and he
had paid two visits to a California relative who stayed after the gold rush to
create a town south of Los Angeles.
In 1878 Thos. S. traded his holdings on
Patrick Creek (along with parcels in Haskell County and in the Panhandle plus a
few mules and some miscellaneous farm equipment) for about 240 acres in Hood County. The property was
recorded in the name of his daughter. Soon, Mrs. Marr and H. Davis had laid out
a town and were selling lots in Lipan.
Thos. S. Drew died in 1879 and was buried
near Lipan in what is
now known as the Old Baptist Cemetery. Within a year or two, Joseph's wife and
child were laid beside him in graves marked by mounds of stones from nearby
Crockery Creek. By 1888, Emma Marr had remarried and left the area, and, by the
turn of the century, her brother had moved on to Arizona. The graves were
ignored for almost half a century. In the early 1920s, however, some Texas
residents suggested that the State of Arkansas should provide funds to place a
monument at Drew's Texas gravesite. The legislature rejected the idea and
elected, instead, to finance bringing Drew's remains home to Arkansas and
placing a monument in Pocahontas, the former governor's old hometown. They
appropriated $1,000 for the project.
In May 1923, a delegation of Pocahontas
dignitaries was sent to Lipan to see to the exhumation of Drew's remains. They
registered at Mal and Mattie Huffstuttler's hotel, where they left in the
wastebaskets bottles to indicate they had dropped by the drugstore to obtain
some "medicine" to alleviate the pain of their trip. Lipan businesses
closed their doors the day of the exhumation, and newspaper accounts indicate
that hundreds came to observe the proceedings. Congressman Fritz Lanham
delivered a patriotic oration before the digging began.
At the cemetery, an argument arose about
which of the three Drew graves contained the remains of Thos. S. The shovel
wielders plunged into one and turned up a hair ornament, the heel of a woman's
shoe, and fragments of a dress. Old-timers recalled Joseph Drew's wife wearing
a dress made of that fabric. The items were returned to the first grave, and
the second was dug into. Here, the diggers found a tooth and precious little
else, according to an account of the disinterment written by Rep. Lanham. The
few remains were placed in the ornamented metal casket provided by the Arkansas
Legislature and loaded onto a wagon for transport to the railroad in Granbury.
On May 31, 1923, Arkansas held a magnificent
welcome-home for what was found of the ex-governor after more than four decades
in a Texas cemetery. A state holiday was declared, and a special train took
state officials to Pocahontas for the event. Thousands joined in a mile-long
parade and crowded the streets of the town. Those who had been present at the
cemetery in Lipan did not dampen the holiday atmosphere by revealing that the
coffin contained practically nothing.
Thos. S. Drew's final resting place is beside
his wife and two sons, who also were removed from their first sites. Mrs. Drew,
who died in 1872, and the toddlers, both of whom died about 1840, originally
were buried in a family cemetery in what is now downtown Pocahontas. As the
town grew after the turn of the century, a new street was cut near the burial
plot. When erosion of the sites became obvious, a family friend paid to have
the remains moved to Pocahontas Masonic Cemetery, where a third son is buried
in an unmarked grave.
NOTE: Dee Hubbard Powell, a Parker County
native, did extensive research on Thos. S. Drew while teaching Journalism at
Arkansas State University. She is the daughter of Iris Williamson Hubbard,
author of Glancing Backward, A History of Lipan, Texas. Arkansas history
books have a hodgepodge of incorrect information about that state's third
governor, and none can be accepted as factual, she said. She writes from data
collected from official records and 19th century newspapers in Texas, Arkansas,
California, and other original sources. Details of the Drew exhumation are
taken from a report written by Rep. Fritz Lanham, kept confidential until after
his death, and from a tape-recorded 1981 conversation between Iris Williamson
Hubbard and Mattie Huffstuttler whose Lipan hotel hosted the Arkansas visitors.
1997 HOOD COUNTY TEXAS GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY