In September 1840, Robert O. Lusk was then County Clerk of Shelby County at the same time as his father, George V. Lusk (1872-?1853), was Chief Justice of Shelby County, 1837-41. He was succeeded by Archibald W.O Hicks who became Chief Justice on 10 April 1842. Earlier in 1839, the Hon. George V. Lusk had been appointed to organize the county militia for the year 1839, this according to records held in the Texas State Archives. The Southwest Reporter (1889), Vol. 9, p335, remarks of Robert O. Lusk that he died in Leon County in 1875.
Robert O. Lusk (1813-1875), together with a George B. Lusk, signed as witnesses on a power of attorney for an Allin Haley, in Leon County, dated 25 July 1874, so Robert was still living as of this date. On 24 June 1874, Robert O. Lusk applied for a pension due him according to the Act of August 13, 1870 for military services rendered to the Republic of Texas as a member of Captain John M. Bradley¡¦s company in Colonel Sublett¡¦s regiment, from the 15th October 1835 for a period of three months. Robert¡¦s former commander, John M. Bradley (1799-1849), was deputy sheriff under William Watson from 1837-1839, and succeeded Watson as Sheriff of Shelby County (and County Tax Assessor) from Feb 1839 to Feb 1841 before being defeated for the office by Alfred A. George. Robert O. Lusk was a close friend and confidante of Joseph Rowe (1802-1866) who had been Speaker of the House during the Second Congress and an unsuccessful candidate for the vice presidency in 1838, who later removed from San Augustine County to Travis County.
Following is some correspondence between Robert O. Lusk and Alvey R. Johnson (1803-1862), of Shelby County, who was one of the members of the House of Representatives elected from Shelby County to the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas. John M. Hansford (who was murdered by Regulators in 1844) was the other representative elected from Shelby County, was elected as Speaker of the House. It was in the Third Congress that Harrison County was created from Shelby County, and both Hansford and Johnson each had land situated in the new county. As the senator representing Shelby County during the Second and Third Congress, Emory Rains (1800-1878), and his son John D. Rains (1824), whom afterwards county clerk of Rains County (named for his father), together with John M. Hansford and Alvey R. Johnson were each members of Captain George English¡¦s company of Mounted Gunman, 10-26 August 1838, in Major General Rusk¡¦s Indian Expedition into the Cherokee Nation. During this same campaign, John M. Bradley and Robert O. Lusk served each in Captain George Hooper¡¦s Mounted Volunteers, 9-27 August 1838. Between 4 July-10 August 1839, Robert O. Lusk served as Quarter Master of Texas Volunteers.
1849: January 28, Letter from Robert O. Lusk to Alvey R. Johnson enclosing the patent for 13 labors of land for the Hezekiah McKelvey HR:
Texas General Land Office, 1st Class Certificate #332 for 13 labors of land granted to Hezekiah McKelvey dated 1838. Letter from Robert O. Lusk included two patent certificates, one being a certificate patented to Susannah McKelvey, assigns of H. McKelvey, and instructions by Lusk asking Johnson to secure deed from Jesse McKelvey for the property on other certificate lying on the Paluxy in Panola County. Lusk is the assigns of Joseph Rowe, former Speaker of the House in the Second Congress.
Of the three adjoining headrights: the 13 labors of Hezekiah McKelvey (Patent #391, dtd March 14, 1848), the James Alford labor (Patent #97, dtd June 1, 1848), and 22-2/3 labors of the Estavan Carzenarva headright (Patent #576, dtd August 21, 1848), all 1st class headrights, the latter two patents are the only ones in which recognize Joseph Rowe as being the assigns of the original grantees. Estavan Carzenarva's patent further recognizes Joseph Rowe "by virtue of Certificate No. 372 issued by the Board of Land Commissioners of Shelby County to Said Estavan Carzenarva, on the 30th day of March 1838, and transferred to Said Joseph Rowe 29 June 1848".
Yet, the McKelvey headright was also possessed by Rowe, according to a receipt given to Jesse McKelvey, for "a certificate for a league and labor of land issued by B of L. Com'r for Shelby County to Susannah McKilvy to locate and to procure a patent on hold &c without delay, this 24 Feby 1847", signed by Joseph Rowe. From what I have been able to gather, Jesse McKelvey was son and heir to his mother, Susannah, wife of the original grantee Hezekiah McKelvey (whose death date is unknown).
In a letter to Senator James Truit from the General Land Office at Austin, dated on July 30, 1852, in response to a query by Truit on Alvey's behalf with regards to the patent bearing the name of Susannah McKelvey, one of the representatives of the General Land Office replied: "The deed from McKilvey to Johnson cannot be withdrawn from this office.A certified copy can be furnished; or if the party prefers, he may return his patent, have it cancelled and a new one issued to the assignee. As it was an error of the office in issuing patent of the original grantee when the transfer was on file, there is no objection to the latter course."
Since the original parchment patent recognizes A.R. Johnson as assignee of Hezekiah McKilvey, and bears the date of March 14, 1848, it seems evident that Alvey indeed returned the original wrongly-titled patent to the General Land Office for a new one issued bearing his own name as assigns of Hezekiah McKelvey, but bearing a later date than the earlier patent issued to Susannah McKelvey. Evinced by the patent certificate being reissued is further derived from Lusk's letter, dated January 28, 1849, and addressed to ¡§A.R. Johnson Esqr, Presents¡¨:
¡§I avail myself of the present opportunity of addrefsing you a few lines if not Expectations to have collected upon you but arriving to the Mirvou [Murval?] being high I found it impossible to go by your house To Penola.
I have no news to communicate To you of interest. My family are all Well when I left home also the old folks.
You will find enclosed Two Patents for 13 Labors each granted To Susannah McKelvey, one of which is mine. I want the one No. 196 above the mouth of the Paluxy, not because it is the best, for the other is preferable the best land & most in Market. It Conflicted with another I have which portion I have Sold, you will please get Jesse McKelvey to make me a deed for the Land in that Rowe assigned it over to me. Be particular in getting the Deed properly Ifsued &c this I depend on you entirely for you will Keep the Deed to me & the patent until I see you; you will not let McKelvey have either of the Patents until they make me a Deed for my half; Respfy, Robert O. Lusk"
Below this is a short note ¡§be certain to hold on to the Patents until you get the Deed¡¨
On the obverse side, a short note: "If McKelvey is not willing to give me the one I prefer take a Deed to the other", signed "ROL.". Written on the adjoining leaf (in another hand, likely Alvey's), someone has added: "Heirs of S. McKelvey", which in understanding that Alvey had represented others in the administration of their probates, so too it would seem logical that the acquisition of the McKelvey headright by Rowe was perhaps via an estate sale in which both men were the successful bidders. Having the original correspondence is a succinct advantage over someone having merely copies of those records on file in the Texas General Land Office, because the letters impart far more detail on the who bought what, and why. Alvey could have had the other land (No. 196) for the asking. No. 196 is recorded as being the headright of William Fitzgibbons.
Item #2: 1852: October 4, letter from Robert O. Lusk, of Leon County to A.R. Johnson at Shelbyville
"Leon County, Oct 4th 52
"Dear old, and Respected friend
I have concluded to drop you a line and inform you that we are all well and have been during the Season. We have the finest Crops has a surplus of Corn ---
Are you going to remain in that poor old worn out Country? Or are you a going to get some good healthy location in good Range and live easy & Satisfactory to yourself?
I assure you, that Stock Raising is the business that will pay in Texas. Write to me soon & let me know all about the Mary Strickland Land. We ought to attend to that immediately. Be sure to give me a full detail of the matter immediately.
The latter headright was concerned in the probate administration on the estate of Mary Strickland (widow of Samuel ¡§Strickland) of Panola County, who when living, was administrator on her late husband¡¦s estate. Samuel or ¡§Tiger Jim¡¨ Strickland (1793-1842) as he was known was reportedly by the Sabine Advocate newspaper (4 August 1842):
¡§We are informed that the free booter, Jim Strickland was shot through the head, a few days ago, by a company of gentlemen from the Trinity river who were in pursuit of several negroes decoyed off by Jim, his brother Henry, and another individual, belonging to the Strickland company, one of whom they also killed. It was the same Jim Strickland and his brother Henry, who in attempting to assassinate Col. Straw at his house, in Shelby county, shot a boy by the name of Buckner; also several weeks previous to this, he lay in ambuscade and shot a worthy citizen of Shelby County by the name of Middleton.¡¨
Middleton here refers to John W. Middleton (b1808), who was deputy sheriff under Sheriff Alfred A. George (d1846), elected 1841 and who left office early, leaving Middleton as the sole lawman in the county, after which Middleton joined the Regulator faction during the conflict known as the Regulator-Moderator War, 1841-44. Middleton is author of the 1883 monograph entitled, History of the Regulators and Moderators and the Shelby County War in 1841 and 1842 in the Republic of Texas.
Alvey R. Johnson¡¦s papers contain various receipts, including Henry G. Strickland's county and state tax receipt for the year 1841, and another identifying Alvey R. Johnson as administrator of the estate of Samuel Strickland, and below, on the same page, the receipt of Mary Strickland, guardian of David Strickland and others (et al), dated 31 July 1848. There is similarly a note by Joseph Rowe, dated 16 January 1848, asking for the field notes and certificate of Mary Strickland, and stating that Amos Strickland is to pay Hill (or Hous) for making the last survey, and that Rowe had paid him to do so the previous summer when he was visiting with Rowe in Travis County. Also, is a copy of the deed from Amos Strickland on his own headright in Hunt County (for 26 labors of land on the Sabine) made over to Joseph Rowe, dated at Travis County, 10 July 1847 (see below).
However, in September 1849 Mary died of bilious fever, after which their son, Amos Strickland was appointed as the administrator on each of his parent¡¦s estates. Although his father, Samuel Strickland together with his wife and three children were immigrants of the year 1821, Samuel¡¦s headright had originally belonged to Mary¡¦s brother, William Humphries, the proof of which is contained in a letter dated at Austin on 27 April 1861, and addressed to Alfred M. Truit, from Crosby¡¦s General Agency, Austin, intimating that Samuel Strickland was the assignee of William Humphries, and that the headright was never patented on account it conflicted with several others. The headright was further located in that part of ¡§old Shelby County¡¨ that in 1846 became Panola County.
A description of a parcel of the headright of Samuel Strickland reads as follows: "running with Coopers and Daggetts lines on the north, and the west by James Strickland, on the south by John Farrar & on the E[ast] by Reed", provides us with some idea of the location, but which identifies Henry C. Daggett (the brother of Ephraim M. Daggett) was one of the adjoining property owners. This seems most likely in noting a receipt made to Alvey Johnson asking him to give the five bags of cotton he has in his cotton gin to H.C. Daggett, signed "Mary Strickland, administratrix".
As the letter to A.M. Truit states, Crosby's Agency considered Samuel Strickland's claim as good, and noted that it would have been patented years earlier, excepting the conflict. Not having a copy of Samuel¡¦s or Mary¡¦s inventories, it is difficult to say whether the other 2302 acres (half league) in Shelby County patented in 1849 on certificate #45 was land Samuel had bought or was by some other means acquired. It is unfortunate that so little of the probate papers survive, but we really should not complain.
Among the documents also include an indenture from Samuel¡¦s youngest daughter, Rachel, who, before 1854, married William S. Mann, and subsequently moved to Freestone County, where in August 1854, she sold her interest in her father's land in Shelby County to Alvey R. Johnson and Van D. Walling, the administrators for the Estate of Samuel and Mary Strickland. On September 25, 1859, is a letter from James (Samuel) Strickland (1832-1904), of Freestone County, asking about the power of attorneys he left with Alvey R. Johnson, and asked for their return as he was anticipating to sell his whole interest in the lands in Panola and Shelby County to another party.
In 1860, Alvey¡¦s eldest son James L. Johnson (1829-1862) had moved from Shelby County to Greenville, in Hunt County, as is found according to records by the Hunt County tax assessor's office indicates that on 20 April 1860, J.L. Johnson then of the district of Fannin was assessed for his county taxes for the year 1860 for: two negros, valued at $1800, two horses, valued $165, and 125 cattle, valued $755; all total $2,720. In a letter by J.L. Johnson, dated 26 January 1860, he addressed "Dier Father", and remarks:
"This Letter Will inform you that We are all Well And That I have bin at greenvill And Found on Record Amos Strickland Deed to Joseph Row Recorded 29 day of Novem 1852; I will send you a copy of Strickland Deed to Row„o
Renford had his Deed Recorded When he Was up at grenville; I don't know Whether He Brought Suit Or not; I don't belive he did; This Deed Was Witnefsed by Robert O. Lusk And J.S. Jones„o
I am at a Lose To know What to do For I think you will lose This land. Old man Rains Wants His Place back That I Rented of Him; you will have To do The best you Can with Graves and Neill For I think it is nonsense To Conten With Row; I want to know What I had best do I Will do The best I Can Till I get a letter from you So know at Present„o J.L. Johnson"
According to the 1860 Census, James and his wife, Mary, were residing in the vicinity of Turner's Point in Kaufman County, being situated in the extreme north central part of the county, where it bordered with Hunt. Turner's Point was situated about a half mile south of the Hunt County line, and about three miles east of Hunt's corner with Rockwall. In fact, we know precisely where James was living because he mentions where in a letter to his father on 26 January 1860, from Greenville, Hunt County. As James refers to "Old Man Raines wants his place back that I rented from him," more than likely refers to Emory Rains (1800-1878) who obtained a headright for himself in Hunt County.
Much of the letter is concerned instead with the Amos Strickland headright, which in the letter, James says that he would sent his father a copy of the deed by Amos Strickland to Joseph Rowe, dated at Travis County, 10 July 1847, conveying his interest in 26 labors (4605 acres) in Henderson (afterwards Hunt) County, on the Sabine, being his headright received from the Republic of Texas. And indeed, among these papers was found a copy of Strickland's deed, dated as noted. As James mentions, his father would have to ¡§deal with Graves and Naill¡¨, referring to Philip Graves (the spouse of Elizabeth Strickland) and George Nail (spouse of Mary Strickland), who, in November 1848, were appointed as the joint administrators for the estate of the deceased Amos Strickland. This however refers to Amos Strickland (b1783), elder brother to Samuel rather than the Amos Strickland (b1828), who was the son of Samuel and Mary Strickland.
According to the letter, another man, mentioned only as Renford, had evidently filed a counter claim on Amos Strickland's headright, and had his deed recorded at Greenville, but James had not been able to ascertain whether Renford had brought a suit or not. Yet, James warned his father was in jeopardy of losing the land, and begged instructions. Indeed, this case became a prolonged legal battle that lasted until at least 1879, when both Alvey¡¦s only surviving son, Benjamin Milam Johnson (1838-1915) and his brother-in-law, R.L. "Bob" Parker (1830-1917), were each engaged in law suits over this land. At late as 1898, Alvey's heirs were still seeking to obtain clear titles to the Mary Strickland headright, and empowered an attorney to collect it from the heirs.
Alvey R. Johnson was also administrator on the estate of John M. Bradley, his wife, Elizabeth Bradley nee Choate, and her late father, Christopher Choate (1774-1838) of Shelby County, and her brother, Wade Hampton Choate (1826-1849) who had been the first administrator appointed on these estates. Wade is often confused as the second son of Redmon Choate, who is a cousin. Christopher¡¦s brother, William Moises Livington Choate (1794-1868) of Polk County, figures in the partitioning of the estate of Elizabeth Bradley and Christopher Choate, as guardian of Louisa Choate (b1831), named as heir to Christopher Choate, while Elizabeth¡¦s four children by John M. Bradley were recognized as her heirs, and were represented by their guardian, Alvey R. Johnson. By this marriage John M. Bradley became a brother-in-law to the English family as well as an in-law to the Andersons, Humphries, McFaddens, and Stricklands. But you won¡¦t find this info at the Handbook of Texas, just as you likely will not find Alvey R. Johnson listed as ever having been a Texas legislator. Shelby County¡¦s pre-1882 records were all destroyed by fire when the courthouse burned in 1882, making all his personal papers a unique collection in East Texas.