Descendants of William Traughber (1798-1850)

William Traughber and his wife Permelia Gorham had three children, Lydia Traughber, Mary Elizabeth Traughber, and Willikam R. Traughber:

  1. Lydia Traughber (c1823 – 22 June 1883)   Her gravestone gives her date of death as 19 June 1883, but her husband wrote that she died on 22 June in a 5 July 1883 letter to her sister. 1  Lydia Traughber married a widower named John W. Gorham by license dated 21 May 1843 in Robertson County, Tennessee.2 John W. Gorham had previously been married to Sally Ann Johnson by whom he had a young daughter named Mary E., aged about 2 at the time of the marriage to Lydia.3 The couple remained in Tennessee. When her father left for Texas, Lydia and her husband took charge of her young brother William Traughber Jr.   The 1850 census shows John (age 30) and Lydia (25) operating a hotel in Springfield, Robertson County, with three children in the family: Mary E. (9), Robert (6), and a daughter named Monterey (3). Lydia’s brother William Traughber is also in the household, having been left in the care of his older sister when their father went to Texas. Their father died in 1850 and on 8 September 1857 John and Lydia Gorham conveyed their rights in William Traughber Sr.’s estate to George W. and Mary E. Baird of Dallas.4 They apparently regretted this after the Civil War when they fell on hard times, as John W. Gorham attempted to reopen the matter of the estate in 1880.5

    The Gorhams left Robertson County in 1854 to move several miles west into Stewart County, Tennessee where he worked as a clerk in the ironworks.6 They were in adjoining Montgomery County in the 1860 census, and in 1870 were living with their son Robert across the state line in Marshall County, Kentucky. In 1880 they were back in Stewart County, Tennessee. An old newspaper article by one of his nephews states: “Major John W. Gorham…was my half-uncle and your great uncle.  He was a good Christian man and a well-posted man on the Bible and many other subjects.  Have heard him repeat passage after passage of scripture and have often wondered why he was never called on by the Lord to preach.  He was a natural orator, a good stump speaker, and also a bookkeeper…Have heard him say that he never had the opportunity to attend school but three days in his like. He helped to fight the Indians in the Florida Indian war.  Kept a tavern in Springfield for some time.  He died in Russellville, Kentucky in 1893 and was buried there.7

    Lydia died in 1883 while living in Stewart County, Tennessee. On 5 July 1883 John W. Gorham wrote to Mary Baird in Dallas to inform her of her sister’s death: “It becomes my painful duty, yes almost heart rending duty, to say to you your dear good sister is dead.  She died the 22nd of what doctors term blood poison.  She was sick but a few days and did not seem to suffer as much as many others do.  She was perfectly calm all the time, and even in her dying moments she complained but little.  She died as she had lived, at perfect peace with all the world and with God.”8 She is buried in Stewart County’s Boyd Memorial Cemetery along with her husband and all three of her sons. Although John W. Gorham’s letter clearly states she died on 22 June, her gravestone gives the date as 19 June 1883. The gravestone says she was 57 when she died, but the 1850-1880 censuses (when she was 25, 35, 46, and 55 respectively) suggest she was probably 58.

    Censuses indicate that John W. Gorham and Lydia Traughber had one daughter and three sons. The 1880 letter written by John W. Gorham to Lydia’s sister speak only of Lydia’s “three boys”, who are called “Bob”, “Curn”, and “Newton”.   [The “Molly” mentioned in the letter is probably John W. Gorham’s daughter, Mary E. Gorham, by his first wife.]

    1. Robert T. Gorham (6 May 1844 – 20 January 1928)  He is buried in Stewart County’s Boyd Memorial Cemetery. His wife’s stone identifies her as Emma Stone Gorham (1861-1936) whom he must have married about 1871 according to the 1900 census.   In 1880 they were enumerated in a separate household in Stewart County with no children.  According to the 1900 census, only two children were alive at that time, both of whom are also buried in the Boyd cemetery: Robert Edward Gorham (21 Aug 1880 – 22 December 1932) and Newton Sydney Gorham (28 November 1881 – 9 August 1909).   Robert T. Gorham served in the CSA, applying for a pension for his service in the 1st and 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.9 He appears as a private on a muster roll of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry and as a sergeant on muster rolls of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.
    2. Monterey Gorham (c1846 – 1860s?) She is in the 1850 census as Monterey (age 3) and in the 1860 household as W. M. (age 13). She apparently died in her teens, for there appears to be no marriage record for her and she is not in the 1870 household. Her father’s letters mention the three sons, but do not even hint at a living daughter.
    3. Caronel Joseph G. Gorham (1852 – 1913) His gravestone in Stewart County’s Boyd Memorial Cemetery gives his date of birth as 1850, which is contradicted by every census record, all of which point to a birth in 1852.   In the census of 1860 he was enumerated as “C. J. G.” Gorham (age 8), while in 1870 he was called “Caronel G.” (17), and in 1880 was “J. G.” (27).   His father’s letter of 1880 calls him “Curn” but in 1900 and 1910 he was enumerated as “Joseph G.” (born July 1852 according to the census).   He married Mary C. “Mollie” Boyd (1857-1934) in Stewart County on 10 December 1873. She is buried with him. The children attributed to him by the 1880 and 1900 censuses, most of whom are buried in the same cemetery, were: John W. Gorham (1875-1915), Maggie P. Gorham (1875-?), Robert Gill Gorham (15 April 1879-1959), Addie M. Gorham (1882-?), and Boyd Gorham (1882-?). Mary was listed in 1910 as the mother of five children, four of whom were living. Addie was evidently the deceased child, as a Gravestone for Addie G (sic) Gorham with only a birth year of 1882 is near her parents. The Boyd cemetery also has a stone for another child, James N. Gorham, who died in infancy in 1874.
    4. Newton Kennedy Gorham (October 1854 – 1931) He is also buried in the Boyd Memorial Cemetery, as are his two wives. The first wife was Mattie A. Boyd (1860-1878) whom he married on 23 May 1876 in Stewart County. She died on 19 September 1878, evidently in childbirth as the Boyd Memorial Cemetery contains a gravestone for a daughter named Mattie A. who died on 6 January 1879 “age 3 mo.” Newton was a single man living in the household of his brother J. G. Gorham in the 1880 census. He married again to Mary E. Atkins (1859-1906) on 25 March 1885. The 1900 census indicates that she bore only one child who was living in 1900: a son Newton Kennedy Gorham Jr. (16 February 1894 – 22 December 1983).   The census indicates she bore one other child, and a gravestone exists for a daughter named Tommie A. Gorham, who died in 1887 at the age of one year.   After his second wife’s death, Newton Gorham was enumerated in the 1910 through 1930 Stewart County censuses living with his son Newton Jr. His middle name was Kennedy, for several records (including the 1930 census) give the middle name of Newton K. Gorham Jr. as Kennedy. The son’s World War 1 draft registration card also gives his full name. His gravestone identifies him only as N. K. “Jink” Gorham. His father’s letters called him Newton.
  2. Mary Elizabeth Traughber (28 April 1825 – 19 January 1890) Her birth date is according to a record left by her granddaughter Georgia Lee Brown Fowler. She married George Washington Baird on 7 October 1847 in Robertson County, Tennessee.10 Several letters written between Mary and George, before and after their marriage, as well as letters to Mary from both her Traughber and Gorham relatives are reproduced in the Baird Letter Files. George Washington Baird was an early settler of Dallas who served briefly as town Marshall and as an alderman, and who operated a grocery store in what was then downtown. Mary accompanied him to Dallas, Texas in 1849 and died there on 19 January 1890 according to the family Bible.

    She and George had several children, all of whom are treated in more detail in other papers: George Rolando Baird (28 November 1849 – 25 January 1895), Mary Emma Baird (2 November 1856 – 9 April 1950) the wife of William Cass Brown, William Guess Baird (9 December 1858 – 1935), Lee Baird (13 July 1861 – 21 November 1884), and Robert Edwin Baird (13 October 1864 – 25 October 1912).  She also had two children who died in infancy – a daughter named Permilla Baird and a son Thomas Walker Baird.

    For more on Mary Elizabeth Traughber and her family, see the paper on George Washington Baird and family.

  3. William R. Traughber (10 November 1835 – 25 January 1881)  His birth date was supplied when he was baptized on 13 November 1880 at St. Matthews Cathedral In Dallas.  His father’s estate file identifies both William Traughber Jr. and his sister Lydia Gorham as heirs, stating that both were residents of Robertson County, Tennessee.   William Jr. was about 11 years old when his father went to Texas and left him in the care of his older sister Lydia Gorham.  A letter written by John W. Gorham to Mary Elizabeth Baird many years later, on 21 April 1880 (see Baird files), states that “…your father gave [a slave] to me conditioned that I would raise Billy, which I did and paid all his expenses and that too with a liberal hand in every particular. I raised him well, educated him well, and venture to say that when he left my roof at maturity he was a young man of as much promise as could well be found. If he has turned out badly the fault was not in his raising as you well know. I never taught him by presept (sic) or example any habits of idleness or dissipation but to the contrary.”  William Traughber, age 14, is in the household of John W. and Lydia Gorham in the 1850 census of Robertson County, Tennessee.

    Billy Traughber moved to Texas sometime in early or mid-1860.   He was listed as “removed” on a Robertson County list of tax defaulters for the tax year 1860-61.11 He was in Dallas by 24 September 1860 when he was enumerated in the census household of his other sister and brother-in-law, George W. and Mary Elizabeth Baird.12  He and his nephew George Rolando Baird apparently became business partners, for the 21 November 1860 Dallas Herald ran an advertisement for their grocery store.13

    Two months later, a few months before the Civil War erupted, an 82-man militia company called the Dallas Minutemen was organized under the command of Capt. J. M. Crockett.   One of the organizers was George Baird, who may have used his influence to appoint his young brother-in-law Billy Traughber as the company’s 1st Sergeant. 14  The 2nd Sergeant was John H. Bingham, older brother of his future wife.

    William R. Traughber enlisted as a private in the Dallas Light Artillery (Good’s Company) on 13 June 1861, a unit to which his older brother-in-law George Baird had briefly belonged a few months earlier.  This unit was comprised of two 50-man companies, one raised in Dallas and the other raised in Smith County. It was variously known as the First Texas Battery, the Dallas Light Artillery, the Good-Douglas Battery, and Douglas’s Battery, and became the only unit of Texas artillery to serve east of the Mississippi River.  15 William Traughber served only about six months before being discharged. The Dallas Weekly Herald reported that “Wm. R. Traughber, late a member of Capt. Good’s battery, returned home a few days ago having been discharged on account of bad health.”16 He does not appear to have reenlisted.  William R. Traughber appears on a list of soldiers of Dallas County associated with a December 1863 act of the Texas Legislature providing support for the indigent families of soldiers, but this may refer to his earlier service, as he managed to be present in Dallas to marry and father a child earlier that year.

    He married 21-year old Martha “Mattie” Fort Bingham, sister of John H. Bingham, in Dallas on 1 September 1863.17 Their son, John William Traughber, was born in Dallas a year later on 4 August 1864.  William Traughber is enumerated in the 1870 census of Dallas County as “W. R. Trauber”, age 34, with wife Mattie F. (age 26) and children Willie (age 6), and twins Eddie and Emma (aged 7 months).  His occupation is listed as “Confectioner”.   Another child was Francis Elizabeth Traughber, who died on 20 April 1870 at the age of 3 years, 2 months and 4 days according to a newspaper obituary. 18  The young son George Edward Traughber died at the age of 8 months and 11 days on 21 October 1870.19

    William Traughber is in the 1875 Dallas city directory living at 21 Wood Street, about a block east of the Trinity River.20 In the 1878-9 directory and in the 1880 census his occupation is listed as a fisherman, apparently in the Trinity River, and he was living on Olive Street several blocks west of what was then downtown.21 In 1880 he and Mattie are enumerated with four children, the twins evidently having died.

    By 21 April 1880, when John W. Gorham wrote the above letter, Billy may have run afoul of the law in some way. That letter seems to be apologizing for “Billy” turning out badly.

    Billy Traughber’s death was announced on 25 January 1881 according to a newspaper report: “W. R. Traughber, a landmark in Dallas County died today of consumption. He leaves a wife and four children in destitute circumstances.”22. There is no probate record for him in Dallas County, probably because his estate was small.  Consumption was the usual description of what was later identified as tuberculosis.

    On 6 February 1881, John W. Gorham wrote a letter to Lee Baird, Billy Traughber’s nephew, referencing Lee Baird’s letter of 24 January that had apparently informed him of Billy Traughber’s death.23 He wrote: “the news of Billy’s death is very sad to us, the more so when we take into consideration the great pains we took in raising him. We educated him well in letters as well as more and when he left us at his maturity he was as promising a young man as ever left Tennessee. Honest, honorable, and in short was looked upon by every body as one of the most exempellery (sic) young men of our country. But his end, Oh how heart rending. And the more so to us as we raised him and loved him as one of our own children.” Why and how Billy Traughber met his end is a mystery which a more thorough perusal of Dallas records may someday solve.

    In November 1882 her mother Mariah Bingham made a gift (for $1 and natural affection) of a lot on Jackson Street in Dallas to the widow “Martha F. Trauber”.   Mattie F. Traughber was listed on the Dallas tax rolls in 1884 and 1888  but at some point during this period she remarried to Franklin A. Sherlock, a recent arrival from Pennsylvania.24  The 1886-7 Dallas City Directory lists the eldest son William Traughber (the only child who was an adult at the time) as living with Mrs. Mattie Sherlock. Mattie Sherlock herself is listed in the directory as “Mattie (Mrs. Frank) Sherlock”, a seamstress, living at 304 Crockett St., a block west of Olive St. where William R. and Mattie Traughber had been enumerated in 1880.

    Neither Mattie nor her son is listed in the Dallas City Directories of 1890 and later, apparently because they moved about 11 miles west-northwest of Dallas to a tiny community called Sowers, which is nowadays part of western Irving.   Franklin Sherlock apparently acquired part of the J. C. Reed survey in Sowers. In 1888 Franklin and Mattie F. Sherlock sold 20 acres of that survey in Sowers to her son J. W. Traughber.25  After Franklin Sherlock’s death in 1893, Mattie F. Sherlock sold other portions of that same survey.26 It seems likely that Mattie and her youngest son John lived in Sowers with or near her daughter Lydia Ranft, for the 1910 census shows Lydia Ranft and J. W. Traughber living on the same farm, and John Traughber living less than 20 households away, all in Sowers.

    Both Frank and Mattie Sherlock are buried adjacent to her son J. W. Traughber and near her daughter Lydia Ranft in the Sowers Cemetery. Her gravestone identifies her as “Mattie Fort Sherlock” born 17 May 1842 and died 5 January 1907.   Buried next to her is her husband F. A. Sherlock with the dates 2 December 1855 – 9 December 1893.

    William R. Traughber had at least seven children, only three of whom lived past childhood:

    1. John William Traughber (8 August 1864 – 15 October 1913)   Possibly named for John W. Gorham, he is enumerated as “Willie” (age 6) in the 1870 census and as “Jno. Wm.” (age 14) in the 1880 census. He is listed in the 1886-7 Dallas City Directory as “William Traughber”, living with his mother and stepfather. In 1888 his mother and stepfather sold him 20 acres in Sowers, 11 miles west of Dallas, for $5.27 In the 1895 and 1896 county tax lists, he (as “J. W.”) and his brother-in-law Edward Ranft were taxed in the Sowers community. I did not find him in the 1900 census, but in 1910 he is enumerated as “John. W. Trauber”, a 45-year old single farmer, living next door to his sister and brother-in-law, Edward and Lydia Ranft, in Sowers.   He is buried adjacent to his sister Lydia in the Sowers Cemetery with the above dates on his stone. He evidently never married.
    2. Frances Elizabeth Traughber (16 February 1867 – 20 April 1870) The 1870 mortality census contains an entry for four-year old (sic) Frances, who died of measles.  The Dallas Weekly Herald carried an announcement of her death on 20 April 1870 at the age of 3 years, 2 months and 4 days.28
    3. George Edward Traughber (10 February 1869 – 21 October 1870) He is enumerated in 1870 as “Eddie”, aged seven months. George Edward Traughber died at the age of 8 months and 11 days on 21 October 1870 according to a newspaper notice.29
    4. Maria Emma Traughber (October 1869 – 1870s?)  She was baptised at St. Matthews Cathedral by  her parents on 22 May 1870.  Like her twin Eddie, she was in the 1870 census household, but not in the 1880 household, presumably dying in childhood.
    5. Eliza Lydia Bingham Traughber (18 November 1872 – 29 August 1962) Her given name is somewhat uncertain. The 1880 and post-1900 censuses list her as “Eliza”, but the 1900 census shows her as “Lydia”. The birth records for her children give her maiden name variously as Eliza Bingham Traughber, Lydia B. Traughber, Eliza B. Traughber, and Lida Traughber.30 She is Eliza on her death certificate and Lida B. on her gravestone. She was apparently named after one of her father’s sisters and her mother’s maiden name. She married Edward Joseph Ranft about 1892.31 He was living in the small community of Sowers, just outside Irving, in the 1895 tax list and apparently remained there.She and her husband, Edward J. Ranft (13 June 1867 – 22 May 1935), are buried in the Sowers Cemetery in what is now Irving, Texas with a single gravestone. At least two of their children (Lida and Edward Jr.) are buried nearby, along with her older brother John William Traughber and her mother Mattie Bingham Traughber Sherlock.

      She and her husband appear in the 1900 through 1930 censuses of Dallas, having married about 1892, with eight children named Laurence Edward Ranft (January 1894), Mabel Louise Ranft (July 1893), Sidney George Ranft (20 August 1897/8 – October 1967), Mattie Mae Ranft (15 August 1900 – March 1983), a set of twins who died young named Edward J. Ranft Jr. (13 June 1906 – 12 September 1930) and Lida T. Ranft (13 June 1906 – 2 November 1920), Ivey Rose Ranft (c1909) and Gilbert Daniel Ranft (11 July 1912 – 30 December 1992).   The 1910 census indicates that at least one additional child died in infancy.32

      The Dallas Morning Herald issue of 30 August 1962 ran a brief obituary of Lydia Ranft, calling her “a lifetime resident of Dallas County.” The obituary says she was survived by three daughters, Mrs. J. W. Yates of Irving, Mrs. F. M. McMinn and Mrs. D. S. Lively both of Dallas, and two sons, S. G. Ranft of Irving and G. D. Ranft of Graford, Palo Pinto County.

    6. Syddy Gorham Traughber (3 November 1875 – ?) A daughter named “Syddy”, age 5, is in her parents’ 1880 household.  As “Sidy Gorham Traughber” she was baptized by her parents at St. Matthews Cathedral on 13 November 1880, but no further record was found. No marriage record for her seems to exist in Dallas County, thus she probably died young.
    7. John Traughber (17 May 1876 –?) The birth of a son named John Traughber is recorded on this date in Dallas city records, with the mother given as Mattie Bingham and the father as William Traughber. (When I copied this record in the early 1970s, I wrote the year as 1876, but other records suggest that the year was 1878.)33 [Note that the eldest son in this family appears to have been named John also, though he went by J. W. or William.   Perhaps one son was John William and the other John —-, their middle names differentiating them.]   This is clearly inconsistent with the female child listed below, who must have been born only about five months later. Further, no son named John is listed in the 1880 household of William Traughber. It could be that John and Witla are the same person.

      A John Traughber is in the 1910 census newly married to Lucy Bragg and living in the house of her parents north of Dallas in the same Sowers community as his older sister and brother. (Lydia Traughber Ranft and J.W. Traughber (brother and sister) are living adjacent to one another in Sowers on census page 8a (house #147 and 148). John and Lucy Traughber and the Braggs are enumerated on page 6b (house #122).) They were enumerated in Henderson County in 1920 and in Kaufman County in 1930.   According to these censuses he had a daughter Frances Traughber (c1914) and a son Johnnie Allen Traughber (c1925).

      While living in Henderson County on 12 September 1918, John Traughber filled out a draft registration card giving his date of birth as 17 May 1878 and listing wife Lucy as his nearest relative. The card indicates he was short and slender with blue eyes and “light” hair. His occupation was listed as farmer. He signed with an “x”.   I did not track him after the 1930 census.

    8. Witla Traughber (14 March 1878 – April 1881) The 1880 census household included a female child named “Witla”, age 1 whose baptismal record at St. Matthew’s Cathedral gives her birth date and spells her name “Whita”.  The “Weekly Mortuary Report” published in the Dallas Weekly Herald issue of 9 April 1881 contains the item “Whitla Trauber, age two years and six months (sic), white; cause of death, pneumonia from measles.”  Note that the birth date is inconsistent with John Traughber’s birthdate as given in his draft record.


  1. See Baird Letters file for a transcript of this letter. []
  2. Robertson County Marriage Book 1, page 73. []
  3. Logan County Will Book 16, p277. Will of Henry Johnson makes $200 bequest to Mary E. Gorham, daughter of his deceased daughter Sally Ann Gorham, and John W. Gorham. []
  4. Dallas County Deed Book F, p176. []
  5. See letter from John W. Gorham to Lydia’s sister Mary E. Baird dated 21 April 1880. []
  6. See letter from Nancy and Mary Ferguson dated 3 December 1854, which states “John Gorham left here about 2 week of October for the Ironworks in Stewart Cty.  He is clerking there and gets $600 a year…” []
  7. Published in the Springfield (Tennessee) Herald-News in 1938.   The clipping was found in the Springfield Library among the papers of Mrs. Ardrey. []
  8. The full text is in my “Baird Letters” files, as are several other letters from John W. Gorham to the Baird family in Texas. []
  9. Pension File #S16321, S16382 according to an index to Confederate pension applications. []
  10. Robertson County Marriage Book 1, page 140. []
  11. Robertson County Order Book 14, p741. (He owed $1.50 in taxes.) The list itself is dated 6 April 1863. []
  12. His age is given as 24, and he is credited with $600 in real estate and no personal property. []
  13. Dallas Weekly Herald, issue of 21 November 1860. []
  14. Reported in the Austin State Gazette issue of 5 January 1861, page 2. []
  15. George W. Baird, George W. Guess, Thomas Walker, Samuel Pryor, and several others enlisted in Capt. Good’s company earlier in 1861, but all were in other units a year later. []
  16. Dallas Weekly Herald issue of 19 January 1862, page 2. []
  17. Dallas Marriage Records.  Her name is entered as “Mattie Vallie F. Bingham.” This is the only instance in which her name was given as “Vallie”.   The death record for their daughter Lydia gives her maiden name as Mattie Bingham, teh children’s baptismal records refer to her as Martha, and other records call her Mattie Fort Bingham. []
  18. Dallas Weekly Herald issue of 7 May 1870, page 3. The article does not mention her parents, but the location of her death was Dallas and Billy Traughber was the only Traughber there at the time. []
  19. Dallas Weekly Herald issue of 12 November 1870, page 2 contains the death notice and identifies him as the son of W. R. and M. F. Traughber. []
  20. 1875 Butterfield & Rundlett City Directory of the City of Dallas []
  21. The 1880 census entry is incorrectly indexed as “Fauber” by some publications. []
  22. Galveston Weekly News issue of 27 January 1881, p7 under the dateline Dallas January 25. []
  23. See the complete text of the letter in the “Baird Letters” document. []
  24. Franklin A. Sherlock, age 25, was an unmarried stonemason in the household of his brother David in the 1880 census of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. []
  25. Dallas Morning Herald issue of 28 July 1888, page 8: Real Estate Transfers. []
  26. Dallas Morning Herald issue of 7 November 1893 and 11 February 1894.   These sales were apparently forced by a lawsuit against the estate of Franklin A. Sherlock which is listed in several newspapers dated in September and October 1893. []
  27. Dallas Morning Herald issue of 28 July 1888, page 8: Real Estate Transfers []
  28. Dallas Weekly Herald issue of 7 May 1870, page 3. The article does not mention her parents, but the location of her death was Dallas and Billy Traughber was the only Traughber there at the time. []
  29. Dallas Weekly Herald issue of 12 November 1870, page 2 contains the death notice and identifies him as the son of W. R. and M. F. Traughber. []
  30. Dallas City birth registry. I found records for the birth of four children: an unnamed son on 7 November 1912, Ivey Rose on 27 November 1909, Mattie Mae on 15 August 1900, and Mable Louise on 7 July 1895. []
  31. The 1900 census shows them as having been married eight years. That is consistent with later records. []
  32. She is shown as the mother of eight, seven of whom were living. There is a nearby undated gravestone for baby Blanche Ranft who was apparently this child in the Sowers Cemetery. []
  33. Book 45, item 629 reads: John Traughber 17 March 1876, father William Traughber, mother Mattie Bingham. []