TEXAS STORIES FROM THE PAST


Biography of
Milton G. York, Sr.


By his son Dr. W. E. York, with some assistance by Milton G. York, Jr., and a short biography of Representative men of Texas: [As this article was being retyped, statements in brackets were added 9 June 1997 by Dr. Katherine Louse Willingham Woerner, descendant of Sarah Jane York, first cousin of Milton G. York, Sr. The father of Sarah Jane, Levi L. York, Jr. was the brother of Aaron York, the father of Milton Garrett York.]

The first of his family known, as tradition has it, handed down from father to son, as follows: The first Yorks known was that Aaron and Levi York’s father and mother [Levi L. York, Sr. and Margaret; Levi is the son of Aaron York who is possibly the son of Joseph York who is the son of Jeremiah York of Orange County, NC], after their marriage and while young [1810-1820], crossed the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina [Rockingham Co., NC-1810 census] to North East Tennessee [Franklin Co., TN-1820 census], on their ponies with all their earthly possessions. There they settled and reared their family [1830 Bedford Co., TN census]. When their sons, Aaron and Levi York were about grown they decided they wanted to go to Texas. In the early 1830’s they left their home in Tennessee for Texas, supplied with provisions and some funds for travel.

Their journey had been uneventful until they stopped in Mississippi to work some to replenish their supplies; while working they contracted malaria, becoming very sick; after several weeks, Grandfather Aaron York thoroughly recovered, but his brother Levi was still too weak to continue the journey. Aaron York became restless over the delay and decided to leave his brother to come on when able. Aaron York’s next stop was in San Augustine County, Texas, USA [arrived in Texas 1 April 1838 and was awarded 1 League and 1 Labor of land (#629) in San Augustine Co., TX and was awarded 640 acres (#1840) 21 Dec 1839 in San Augustine Co., TX- First Settlers of the Republic of Texas and 1840 Citizens, Vol.1, Land Grants by Gifford White, Austin 1993].

When Levi York left Mississippi he went into Arkansas and settled in Hempstead County [Actually, Levi went to Texas and back to Tennessee before going to Hempstead County, AR. Levi L. York was in Texas before 1 October 1837(1838?); he received 640 acres (#1289) in San Augustine Co., TX 25 Oct 1839-First Settlers of the Republic of Texas. Levi paid 1 poll in San Augustine Co., TX in 1840- 1840 Citizens, Vol. 3, Land Grants by Gifford White. Levi was then on the 1850 Fayette Co. ,TN census with his three children and his parents and he was on the 1860 Springhill Township, Hempstead Co., AR census with his three children and Milton G. York, his nephew, and near his parents.] Aaron York preempted a tract of land in San Augustine County and improved it, making it his home. He found a wife in Jasper County marrying Ruth Lucas. To this union were born three boys, Robert, William and Milton Garret [b. 5 Sept 1843 in Chireno, TX], the youngest, who became my father.

His mother died when he was a baby and his father died when he was nearly thirteen years old. His brothers went to their mother’s people in Washington County, Texas, USA, into the part that is now in Lee County.

My father, Milton G. was sent to live with his uncle Levi York in Hempstead County, Ark. When he was thirteen, his uncle obtained a Star mail route from his town Fulton to other points, putting him on a little mule to carry the mail. He had been influenced by some one to go to school and get an education. A night school was being taught in Fulton on Red River. He decided to enter this night school. He carried the mail nearly three years. He became greatly interested in the school, applied himself zealously for three years, and for those frontier times, was considered well educated. Just after he was sixteen [This must have been shortly after the 1860 census where they were all still in Hempstead Co., AR]; his uncle Levi decided to move to Texas, going to Kaufman County, where he located [Levi is not found on the 1870 census, but is on the 1880 Kaufman Co., TX census with his daughter Sarah Jane and her husband, James Henry Murdock]. Milton decided to return to his old home, which he did and clerked in a store in San Augustine for six months, but he was so anxious to see his brothers, he decided to join them and his mother’s people in Washington County. He had not been with them but a short while, when the people of the settlement learned of his education and he was persuaded to teach school; he soon consented, next they needed a school house--The people gathered in and a log house was built and he was installed as teacher, teaching several months until he decided on his eighteenth birthday [5 Sept 1861] to enlist in the Confederate Army in 1861.

It was while teaching this school he met my mother, Matilda Ann Heck, and fell in love with her. Her father, R.D. Heck, was a merchant in Evergreen, a little town in that settlement. [Evergreen in located about 9 miles north of Giddings in Lee County (formed from Washington), Texas, USA.]

On September 5th, 1861, his birthday, he entered the Confederate Army as a soldier in Company F. Fifth Texas Regiment, General Tom Green’s brigade. He served in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, until the army was disbanded in May 1865, nearly four years of service. His brother William was with him for awhile, but disappeared after one of their big battles, evidently killed in battle.

After the war he went back to his home in Washington County. He was married to Miss Matilda Ann Heck October 19, 1865. To this union were born and reared the following children: William E., Milton G. Jr., Nettie Maud, Ollie C., Addie and John B. He after his marriage, entered into the farming business with a few cattle on the range.

His father-in-law, recognizing his ability named him, in his will as executor without bond.

He joined the Masonic lodge in 1867 and a few years later, he and his wife, joined the Baptist Church and were active faithful members until their death. Milton G. York was very active in the creation of Lee County out of a portion of Bastrop, Burleson, Washington and Fayette counties. When the Legislature passed the act creating said Lee County, it at the same time appointed C. Perry, Milton G. York, A.P. Gaines, Solomon Fehr, and O.G. Jones as commissioners, with full power and authority to organize said county of Lee; which they did in 1874.

He served four years as county commissioner of Lee County and in 1890 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the twenty-second Legislature serving one term.

It could be truly said, the most prevailing thought of Milton G. York was education. His children gave him much concern and he made a sacrifice for them. When his oldest child was fifteen years old, he moved his family to Giddings, giving his children a better opportunity for an education.

Milton G. York, Sr. died September 20, 1911 of Cancer of Liver at 68. Matilda Ann Heck York died March 27, 1924 of Apoplexy at 77.


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