Judge Joseph A. Carroll
Editors Note: The following is an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of the New West and was published in December of 1881. It is therefore not a complete history of Judge Carroll's life or his contributions to Denton County.
Joseph A. Carroll was born in Pike County, Missouri, November 28, 1832. His father, a plain, substantial farmer, was Joseph Carroll, a native of South Carolina, who in transitu, made a crop in Maury County, Tennessee, in 1813, another in the American bottom, opposite St. Louis, in 1814, and in 1815 settled permanently in Pike County, Missouri, where he reared eleven children, of whom Joseph is the youngest. The grandfather of Judge Carroll was also Joseph Carroll, a native Scotch-Irishman, who received a land grant from William and Mary in South Carolina and settled in that state. He was a patriot in the Revolution and was in the battle of King's Mountain. His wife, (nee Miss Brooks), of Scotch-Irish descent, visited the battle field immediately after the contest was over to succor the wounded, and saw the body of Colonel Ferguson, the brave English commander, who died so gallantly on that bloody field, the turning point of the revolution, fought under the most remarkable circumstances of any battle during the war, the crisis in the seven years' struggle, which fact has been, (almost as if by design), ignored by nearly all historians, Benson J. Lossing, in his pictorial history, being a most honorable exception. The mother of Joseph Carroll, our subject, was Isabella Henry, a noble and talented woman, known to and loved by the writer in his childhood. She was a daughter of Alexander Henry of South Carolina, who died in that state, in which she married before going west with her husband. Her father, as a Revolutionary soldier, fought at the Cowpens, Eutaw, Hanging Rock and King's Mountain. At Hanging Rock the belt holding his pants broke in twain, his breeches dropped around his ankles, he kicked them off and went through the fight sans culotte, in English meaning a uniform consisting of a shirt, and in his case, a home-made one. Her brother, Josiah Henry, settled at the same time in the neighborhood in Missouri and married a daughter of Captain Robert Jordan, who, with his thirteen-year-old son, was the last person killed by hostile Indians in Northeast Missouri. John Magee Jordan, son and brother of these two martyrs, married an elder sister of John Henry Brown, of Dallas Texas.
The Carrolls, Jordans, Watsons, Allisons all South Carolinians who settled in Pike County from 1811 (though driven off during the war of 1812-1813) to 1816, were of that religious faith known as "Old Presbyterian Seceders," people of substance, of high integrity and of what are called in Western parlance, "good livers," that is, owning good farms, good houses, fat cattle and horses, and living, in a plain sense, as princes of the realm of independence, just such people, as by aggregation make a country great, independent, jealous of its liberties and enlightened. Of such stock Joe Carroll, of Denton, was born and among such he lived till his twenty-first year (his year of jubilee under our system of government,) had passed its tenth month. He received a good common school and academic education, clerked in the commercial house of Edwin Draper Brothers, well known merchants in Louisiana, Pike County, and in September, 1853, struck a bee line from Texas.
He first hauled in at Tehuacano Springs, Limestone County, where now stands Trinity University and near which passes the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, the same spot where, in 1830, the Cherokee Indians slaughtered the Tehuacanaos. as described by this writer twenty-seven years ago, and the same spot to which the wounded Violet crawled over twenty-eight mile of grass, brush and briers, from the surveyors fight on Battle Creek, October, 1838, as also described by this writer twenty seven years ago. Right there Joe Carroll hired himself to a settler to make rails for a living, perhaps to a brother of Linn Boyd of Kentucky, who owned and died at those beautiful Springs. He next went to Bernard's trading house on the Brazos, on a surveying expedition with Joe Tyus, and, in August, 1854, at the solicitation of John P. Philpot, Joe Tyus, Nelson Tarver and John Karner, he was appointed deputy surveyor of Denton Land District, then embracing a large frontier territory. [ This John Karner was a German soldier at San Jacinto, Shot Jose Maria, (the Indian chief), at Bryant's defeat in 1839, inflicting a wound in the breast which the old fellow was proud to exhibit after peace was made, was a Santa Fe prisoner in 1841-42, and in the Snively expedition of 1843 to the head of the Arkansas, and was one of the bravest and most noble men that ever served Texas.] Carroll surveyed wild lands three years, reading law by fire light and at leisure hours, and, in 1857, after an examination by John C. McCoy, Gustavus A. Everts and Thomas Lewellyng, before the district court in Gainesville, was admitted to the bar by Hon. Nat. M. Burford, district judge.
He laid out the town of Denton, was appointed commissioner by the county court to sell the lots and practiced law till 1861. On the twenty-eighth day of March, 1858, he married Miss Celia J. Burrows, an orphan girl of beauty, accomplishments and great amiability, by whom he had three children. One died in infancy. Of the other two, Miss Secisia, is at home and Sidney Johnston is at the State Agricultural College at Bryan.
Mr. Carroll entered the Confederate army as a private in Welsh's company, in the Indian Territory, but soon became a lieutenant. He was in the battles of Bird Creek, Round Mountain and Chustenallah in the territory. At Bird Creek, serving on Cooper's Staff as adjutant-general, he commanded the center. He was at Elk Horn, still as adjutant-general to his brigade.
In the fall of 1862 he was elected major of DeMorse's 29th Texas cavalry and served in it till the surrender, participating in the battles of Elk Creek, Cabin Creek, Prairie de Anne, Camden and Jenkins' Ferry, and was discharged at Hempstead, Texas, in June, 1865, at the final surrender of the general army. Like a true man he sought his home and family. Like a true "Piker," ( as Californians style natives of the classic county of "Old Pike," where he was born ), he sought honest labor and found it first in a harvest field at six bits a day, next in pulling fodder, and thirdly in making sorghum molasses, whereby he accumulated enough to buy a year's outfit in food and clothing for his family. He then returned to practice at the bar and prospered. His wife died early in 1869. He afterwards married Miss Martha Inmon, daughter of Issac Inmon, an excellent man, who had been one of the first settlers on Obion County, Tennessee, since deceased, but his widow resides with Judge Carroll.
In February, 1876, Major Carroll was elected judge of the district and served till the first day of January, 1881. He declined re- election and embarked in the banking business in Denton, and there he is today, forty-nine years old, of vigorous constitution, well fortified in this world's goods, in nowise ashamed of his lineage, his birth place, the rails he made in Tehuacano, the lands he surveyed in the wilderness, the service he rendered as a soldier, the wheat he harvested, the fodder he pulled nor the molasses he expressed from cane in 1865.