William Traughber (29 March 1798 – February 1850)

With so many related William Traughbers in Logan and Robertson Counties, it’s not always clear which references apply to this particular William Traughber. However, we can associate this man with enough records to clearly identify him as the son of Michael Traughber.

In the division of Michael Traughber’s estate in 1829, his son William Traughber received 87 acres in Logan County, Kentucky and a 10% interest in a 100-acre survey on Clifty Creek in Todd County.1 He later purchased the adjacent inherited land of his sister Nancy and her husband John Pence.2 Between 1836 and 1839 he also purchased the interests of four of his siblings in his mother’s 136-acre dower tract that was adjacent to his own land.3 I found no record of his selling that tract, nor did I find a record of his sale of his own inherited 87-acre tract. Rather he apparently sold these tracts piecemeal in smaller parcels.

He Marries Permelia Gorham

William Traughber married Permelia Gorham, daughter of a neighbor named William Gorham, on 21 February 1822 in Logan County.4 [See GORHAM papers]  Subsequent deeds signed by both William Traughber and his wife Permelia allow us to differentiate some of his land transactions from those of the other William Traughbers.

He appears to be the same William Traughber who purchased 100 acres on the Red River in adjacent Robertson County, Tennessee on 9 August 1830 and sold it a year later on 9 November 1831.5 He then bought a nearly adjoining 100-acre parcel on the Red River on 7 March 1833 from Jacob Traughber.6

He had purchased a town lot in Adairville in 1838 on which he was then living, from his sister Nancy Pence, and when he and Permelia sold it on 20 June 1840 he again described it as “on which I now live.”7 William and Permelia also sold 9 acres in 18388, 100 acres in 18409, 110 acres in184510, and another 40 acres in 1845 – the latter being 40a “part of the place where the sd. William now lives”.11 These last two sales were both dated on Christmas Day 1845, apparently preparatory to moving to Dallas, Texas.

In the meantime his father-in-law William Gorham had died intestate, and on 14 June 1837 the appointed commissioners divided his land among three of the heirs who had “received no land from the deceased in his lifetime” one of whom was Permelia, wife of William Traughber.12 William and Permelia received two lots in Logan County, one of 118 acres and the other of 10 acres on Little Whippoorwill Creek.13 They sold the larger parcel six months later, in two separate transactions, to William Gorham and Martha Gorham.14 The smaller parcel they kept for ten years, it being sold by William Traughber alone after he moved to Dallas (see below). On 8 July 1837, William and Permelia and the other heirs also sold their interest in her mother Nancy Gorham’s dower land to Martha Gorham.15

William Traughber appears in the 1830 census of adjacent Robertson County, Tennessee with two female children, one under 5 and the other aged 5-10. In 1840 there are three William Traughbers enumerated in Robertson and Logan counties. Our William Traughber appears to be the one located in the Adairville precinct of Logan County, Kentucky on page 183 of that census. There is another family in the household, apparently consisting of a male aged 20-30, his wife and four young children. Since that can’t be a brother of William, it may be a brother-in-law or sister-in-law.

A Pioneer Settler of Dallas, Texas

John Henry Brown’s history of Dallas County, Texas, lists William Traughber “among those arriving in 1846.”16 He is thought to have arrived in May of 1846, though he doesn’t appear on the Dallas County tax lists until 1847. The 24 July 1875 edition of the Dallas Weekly Herald reports a meeting on 13 July 1875 to organize the Pioneers of Dallas County. There were 112 charter members, two of whom were the former Mary Traughber and her husband George Baird. George was listed 51st: “G. W. Baird came to the County Oct. 20, 1849.” Mary was listed 52nd: “Mary E. Baird came to the County May 1846.” We know from the letters of George and Mary that she did not come to Texas until 1849, so the May 1846 date probably refers to her father’s arrival.

William Traughber seems to have left his younger children behind in Robertson County in the care of the eldest child Lydia and her husband John W. Gorham. He was a resident of Texas on 8 June 1847 when he served on a Dallas jury.17 On 11 October 1847 he styled himself a Dallas resident when he sold 10 acres in Logan County, Kentucky to his son-in-law John W. Gorham.18 He again served on juries in Dallas a month later, on 7 December 1847.19

Dallas was quite a small town at this time, and northern Texas still wild country. The first recorded expedition to the Dallas area had been in 1837, when an expedition of 29 men camped on the Trinity River, were attacked by Indians, and retreated south. In 1841 the Republic of Texas authorized the Texas Emigration and Land Company (also known as W. S. Peters and Associates of Louisville, Kentucky) to recruit settlers for a 1,300-square-mile tract stretching from present Dallas County northward to the Red River. The company advertised widely for settlers throughout the United States and even in Europe. John Neely Bryan, the first settler, arrived alone in 1841, followed by several families early in 1842. By late that year, deeds were referring to the area as “Dallas”, evidently honoring George Mifflin Dallas, vice president under James K. Polk. John Neely Bryan later received a grant of 640 acres and personally laid out the original town on his land. When Texas became a state in 1845 its first legislature made Dallas a county in 1846.

Pioneer and Saloon Keeper

A longtime resident of Dallas, Mrs. Addie McDermott, described the town in 1847 when William Traughber arrived as “a sort of doll village. The houses were small log cabins, the largest not exceeding 14×14 feet.   The courthouse was a cabin, 10×10 feet… Jack Smith’s store [was] the only store in town… there were no streets. A network of picturesquely winding paths, more or less weed and grass grown, connected the houses…”   She remembered William Traughber as a baker, recalling that “George Beard [sic] married the daughter of Mr. Trauber, the first baker.20

As a married man, William Traughber was eligible for a 640-acre grant from the Peters Colony. He had two 320-acre plots surveyed. Half the land was in what is now Collin County21 and the other half within what became the city of Dallas.22 Although surveys and entries were made in his lifetime, the grants were not actually issued until after his death, when his son William R. Traughber received both parcels in two separate grants.

He also acquired several town lots from John Neely Bryan, one of which he used to open Dallas’s second saloon.  He was convicted on 25 May 1848 of gambling and allowing “21” to be dealt in his saloon, and on 22 November 1848 he was again indicted and found guilty of several counts of permitting gambling in his saloon.23 Apparently unrepentant, he was indicted and pled guilty to the same charges several months later on 21 May 1849.24

He Dies in 1850

William Traughber died in Dallas County sometime in February 1850.  The 1850 Texas Mortality Schedule lists him as a 52 year old brick mason who died of “inflammation of liver [after an illness of] 20 days.” He had evidently been sick for some time. Among the papers in his probate file is a bill from his doctor (Samuel B. Pryor, who would later be elected Dallas’s first mayor) for several days of care per month from February through August of 1849. In August 1849 he paid Dr. Pryor $50 in advance for a year of medical services.   He did not leave a will, but his probate records include several documents, one of which is a successful petition by George W. Baird to be named administrator.25 It states “On __ February 1850 William Traughber departed this life intestate and that he has no son of mature age.”   It lists the heirs as Mary E. Baird, formerly Mary E. Traughber, Lidda Gorham, wife of John W. Gorham, residing in Springfield, Tennessee and William Traughber, a minor, also living in Springfield. (George Baird made another statement on 28 March 1850 in which he claimed that William Traughber had come to Texas in 1846 with two children, one under the age of 17. William Jr. may have come to Texas and returned to Springfield.) George Baird made an attempt to acquire the entire estate for his wife, claiming that the other heirs were not only non-residents of Texas but that Traughber “had done enough for them” in his lifetime. The inventory returned by George totaled just under $1,500 and consisted mainly of twelve town lots in Dallas and one Negro boy named Adam. The judge required that the settlement of the estate be publicized and a clipping from the Bonham Advertiser dated 26 February 1852 was included in the probate file. The estate was eventually settled on 31 August 1852.

William R. Traughber, who was still a minor, received his father’s 640-acre grant. Lidda Gorham received eight town lots comprising all of Block #56 in Dallas, and Mary E. Baird received four town lots (lots 2 and 3 of Block 1, and lots 5 and 6 of Block 13) in Dallas plus the slave boy named Adam. Each heir also received cash from the sale of stock and furniture. The land in Block 1326 given to Mary E. Baird was one quarter of the block on which the Texas Book Repository later stood.  [At this writing that land houses the John F. Kennedy Memorial and the Dallas County Administration building.] The Bairds already owned (or would shortly acquire) half of that same block (see Baird files). The two lots on which the Baird’s house was built is the present site of the notorious Texas Book Repository, now known as the County Administration Building

Permelia Gorham Traughber predeceased her husband, but it’s not clear exactly when she died. We know she was alive on 25 December 1845 when she released dower in the sale by her husband of the land on which they lived in Logan County, Kentucky. She evidently accompanied her husband to Texas a few months later but died shortly thereafter. According to one of the papers in his probate file, dated 28 March 1850, George W. Baird claimed 640 acres as administrator of William Traughber, deposing that William Traughber “emigrated to Texas and entered the Colony…in the year 1846 with his family consisting of his wife and two children…” [Whether than is actually the case is unclear. Clearly none of the children accompanied him to Texas, but his wife may have done so. It wouldn’t surprise me if George W. Baird were stretching the truth in order to assure that William Traughber received the full 640 acres due to the head of a family. However, two other persons deposed to the same facts, one of whom was the esteemed John Neely Bryan. If Permelia did accompany him to Dallas, we can infer that she died after mid-1846 but before 1850.] Permelia was probably deceased by 11 October 1847 when William Traughber sold land to John W. Gorham, since that was the only deed in Logan County that not executed by both William and Permelia Traughber.

His children are covered in this separate document.

  1. Logan Country Deed Book P, p404, dated 18 April 1829. []
  2. Logan Country Deed Book V, p484. []
  3. He bought four shares as follows: 6 October 1836 from Jonathan and Polly Rohrer of Morgan County, Illinois (DB U, p442), 17 December 1836 from Henry Traughber of Macon County, Illinois (DB U, p507), 13 January 1838 from John and Nancy Pence, a deed which also conveyed Nancy’s inherited land (DB V, p484), and 9 November 1839 from Martin and Penelope Blainey of Morgan County, Illinois (BD W, p440). []
  4. He bought four shares as follows: 6 October 1836 from Jonathan and Polly Rohrer of Morgan County, Illinois (DB U, p442), 17 December 1836 from Henry Traughber of Macon County, Illinois (DB U, p507), 13 January 1838 from John and Nancy Pence, a deed which also conveyed Nancy’s inherited land (DB V, p484), and 9 November 1839 from Martin and Penelope Blainey of Morgan County, Illinois (BD W, p440). []
  5. Robertson County Deed Book V, p170 and Book W, p146. []
  6. Robertson County Deed Book W, p433. This deed was witnessed by Bartley Pitts, a neighbor who had witnessed the sale in 1831 by William Traughber. []
  7. Logan County Deed Book W, p110. []
  8. Logan County Deed Book W, p67 dated 25 October 1838 to Richard Hutchens. []
  9. Logan County Deed Book X, p48. []
  10. Logan County Deed Book 27, p414. []
  11. Logan County Deed Book 28, p142. []
  12. Logan County Will Book F, p313. []
  13. Logan County Deed Book V, p388. []
  14. Logan County Deed Book V, p481 and p510, sale of 58 and 60 acres, both on 16 December 1837. []
  15. Logan County Deed Book V, p216. []
  16. Memorial & Biographical History of Dallas County, John Henry Brown (Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago,1892), pp151. []
  17. Dallas County Minute Book A, p12. Also see p16, p25, p31, and p33 for juries on subsequent court sessions in the June term. []
  18. Logan County Deed Book 28, page 603. Permelia may already have been deceased, as there was no release of dower. []
  19. Dallas County Minute Book A, p38 and p40. []
  20. Dallas Morning News issue of 21 June 1925, section 3, page 10. []
  21. Fannin Third Class Grant #1104 []
  22. Nacogdoches Third Class Grant #1962 []
  23. See, e.g., Dallas County Minute Book A, p73 and p82 and p94. []
  24. Dallas County Minute Book A, pp110-111. []
  25. Dallas County Probate Record #664, a collection of loose papers []
  26. Block 13 on Bryan’s map was later designated as Block 10 on the official city maps. []