LEGACY COMES TO LIFE
ELIZABETH JANE HUNNICUTT ISAACS
EDITOR’S NOTE: The story of Elizabeth Jane Hunnicutt Isaacs is told by her great-great-grandson, Wiley Clarkson. Wiley is a member and official photographer of the David Crockett Chapter of The Sons of the Republic Texas.
My name is Elizabeth Jane Hunnicutt Isaacs. I was born in Washington County, Texas on July 2, 1834, to Roland and Levina Hunnicutt before this wilderness became a Republic, and I lived out my life in Texas. I was here when my home was in Mexico, then, the Republic of Texas, the State of Texas in the Union, the State of Texas in the Confederacy, and the State of Texas when it was again a part of the Union.
My parents were Roland and Levina Hunnicutt, who came to Texas before I was born. They were living in Giles County, Tennessee, in 1833 when my father decided to come to the Texas frontier. They packed a wagon, sold our property, and left for Texas with other future settlers. They acquired some nice land on a river and built a log cabin just in time for me to be born. I’m not sure why my father decided to return to Tennessee after I was born but it changed our lives forever. It is a long trip between Tennessee and Texas and not a safe trip, as we would find out in 1835 when more settlers arrived from Giles County, and she was told that my father had died on the trail and was buried where he died.
Mother told my brothers that there wasn’t much time for grieving because our land still had to be worked. My oldest brother was now the man of the house and did much of the hardest work. Then there was the threat from the Mexican dictator, Santa Anna. Mother told me he caused all sorts of problems until Sam Houston stopped him at San Jacinto. He killed so many of our men who stood up against the evil he was causing. She told me stories occasionally about that time when I was just two years old, and she thought the Mexican army might come toward our land. She was prepared to take us away from the battle but was worried that my brother James, who was then 15, would join the fight. I think he probably would have if Mother hadn’t needed him so much here on the farm.
Mother remained unmarried for the next 10 years until one day in 1844 she told us that she was going to marry Lewis Boatwright, who lived across the river from us several miles away. After Texas became a republic, she applied for a land grant and received about 4,400 acres, and that greatly expanded the property she owned here in Texas. Lewis added another league of land, which he had received as a land grant.
As for me, my life was now just growing up in Texas. I would have a normal life, if you could call living on the frontier normal. We worked the farm, raised some cattle, raised a big garden, and sold what we raised. There was always the threat of Indians but fortunately didn’t have any problems. I was schooled at home as it was just too far to the closest school. Washington County would divide into several counties during the next couple of decades after independence from Mexico, and we eventually ended up living in what became Lavaca County.
When I was 15, in 1849, Mother told me it was time to make the long trip to Giles, Tennessee, to claim an inheritance from my uncle. While I was in Giles County, I met a young physician, eight years my senior, named Abraham Conn Isaacs. We married on November 8, 1849, and lived in Giles County until the good traveling weather returned in 1850. When we returned to Lavaca, we started our family and Abraham set up a medical practice. Over the next 10 years, we would have five children.
The next several years were very troublesome. My stepfather, Lewis passed away in 1859. We helped Mother whenever possible, as did my brothers who had now married and started their families.
Texas seceded from the Union in February of 1861, and my husband became an officer in the Confederate army here in Lavaca. We would hear of friends losing their family men in battle a thousand miles away. We were thankful that Abraham stayed in Texas during the war.
We survived the years of war between the states but after that war ended, a war started in my family between me and my husband. In 1865, I found out that Abraham had been unfaithful to me and had slept with a very pretty, teenage slave girl who bore him a son. I couldn’t stand having an unfaithful husband and I told him he needed to leave our home and not return.
He did leave, but he really shocked me when he filed charges of adultery against me asking for a divorce. Imagine that! He committed the adultery and then tried to make it look like I committed the adultery. He had also kept my inheritance that I received from my uncle back in Tennessee. That information did not become public knowledge until later.
Because it was a man’s world and women had very few actual legal rights, I was tried in a court of law with an all-male judge and jury! It was a nasty trial but, in the end, I was cleared of the adultery charge, but we were still married. I then filed adultery charges against him and included the withholding of my inheritance. It was another trial by an all-male court.
Women had so few actual civil rights back then and I tested them to the limit! When the second trial ended, I won a divorce from my unfaithful husband, along with a court order to return about half of my inheritance and, of course, dividing our property and the children. He agreed to raise the three oldest children and I took the two youngest children. We remained in Lavaca until after my mother passed away in 1869. After settling the estate, both Abraham and I ended up moving to different parts of Milam County.
The following years held numerous moves for me and my two youngest children. We lived near my three oldest children close to Cameron in Milam County for several years. Those were good years but seemed like soon the three oldest had now grown up and moved on with their lives.
Lucinda married Sam Pope, from Falls County. I would then go with them wherever they lived. We lived in Waco for a while, then we moved to Justice, in Andrews County, out west between Odessa and Seminole. From there, we moved to Big Spring. We were in Big Spring when Lucinda became sick with cancer. She passed away on Sept. 1, 1919, and was buried, in Mount Olive Cemetery, in an unmarked grave. I passed from mortal life on Oct.v 18, 1919, after 85 years of life in Texas and was buried next to my daughter. Our graves remained unmarked, and the location lost until my great-great grandson, Wiley Clarkson, located my grave and placed a permanent marker on it several years ago.
WHO ARE THE SONS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS? The Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT) consists of members who are direct lineal descendants of those who settled the Republic of Texas from 1836 to February 19, 1846. The purpose of the SRT is to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who won Texas’ independence. They set the course for Texas to become a nation and eventually the 28th state. LEGACY COMES TO LIFE personifies our ancestors with true stories about real people who changed the course of history!