© 1997-2012, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved

DeWitt Colony People & Demographics


(ca. 1810-1852)

Families in Black and White Texian Worlds


According to JacksonCo, TX census and probate records, William Bracken (spelled Brackin in some records) was born before 1810 in BathCo, Kentucky to Matthew and Nancy Rogers Bracken. In the census of 1850 he was listed as a farmer age 40.  An affidavit of 1853 given by Sarah DeWitt (died 1854), wife of Empresario Greene DeWitt filed in GonzalesCo, TX after William's death:

The State of Texas § County of Gonzales
Personally appeared before me Sarah De Witt consort of Green Dewitt who being duly sworn deposeth and saith that she was well acquainted with William Bracken late of Jackson County. That she acquainted with him in the year AD 1820 in the town of New London in Rowels [Ralls] County Missouri; that in the spring of 1826 he left there for New Orleans; that in the same spring she left Missouri on the way to Texas and in Orleans met the said Bracken and that on the 27th of June of the same season they left Orleans with the said Bracken for Texas and landed on the 3rd of August near Port Lavaca where it that since that time she has been acquainted with the same Wm. Bracken having seen him repeatedly at sundry times until his death. Thus heard said Bracken say that his relatives resided in Kentucky but does not know in what county; that while she lived in Missouri she knew that the said Bracken left Missouri and that he said he was going to Kentucky to see his parents in Kentucky and that after his return he spoke of having seen his parents in Kentucky. Despondent further states that she was intimate with the said Bracken in Missouri and after his immigration to Texas he spent much time at her house and always called upon her when he passed and that during his residence in Jackson Co. he frequently called upon her. Thinks the last time she saw him was in the spring of 1850 and is certain that the Bracken of Jackson Co. is the same man she was acquainted with in Missouri. Signed and sworn to § Sarah Dewitt before me this the 3rd day of May 1853 Thos. J. Pilgrim J.P.S. County State of Texas § Gonzales County I.F. Chenault Clerk of the County Court of the aforesaid County certify that Thomas J. Pilgrim whose name is signed above is an acting Justice of the Peace in and for Gonzales County and that the official acts as such are entitled to full faith & credit. Given under my hand and official seal April the 3rd AD 1853 I.F. Chenault Clk CCGC ? 78 Ms. Dewitt affidavit of Bracken heirs Filed 30 May 1853 G.R. Billups Clerk Recorded Book C E112 & 13

According to Sarah DeWitt’s affidavit, Bracken was in RallsCo, Missouri in 1820 and was acquainted with the DeWitt family who were from the same area. In the spring of 1826, Bracken went to New Orleans where he may have met Empresario DeWitt or one or more of the family or its representatives, and arrived in Texas at Port Lavaca in August of the same year. According to memoirs of another DeWitt daughter, Edna (Lest We Forget, Gonzales, TX), her father had advertised the new opportunities in Texas in New Orleans and MO and returned to the newly founded DeWitt Colony with his family and the Stephens, Lockland and Reynold families in 1826. A Francis and John W. Smith, John McCoy, Kirwen and William Bracken and a Mr. Hardy may have left Missouri with the group. DeWitt states that the party met Byrd Lockhart and Arthur Burns in New Orleans. The party left Missouri in April from St. Charles County down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. From there they traveled by schooner down the coast in the Gulf of Mexico entering Matagorda Bay between the Matagorda Peninsula and Matagorda Island eventually anchoring in Lavaca Bay at the mouth of the Lavaca River. The party joined the settlers at Old Station on the La Vaca. In John Henry Brown’s History of Texas from 1685 to 1892, William Bracken is listed as an original DeWitt Colonist. Bracken’s own affidavit in Jackson County Probate Records (filed 30 May 1853, recorded Book C, E 112) further states his nativity, arrival in Texas and residence as of 1850:

“William Brackin is My name and sun [sic] of Matthew and Nancy Brackin Plase [sic] of nativity Bath County Ky. Emigrated to Texis [sic] in Eighteen Hundred and twenty six this April the seventh 1850 now living on Lavaca River Jackson County Texas signed William Brackin”

According to John Henry Brown’s History of Texas, in Dec 1828, Bracken joined Capt. Henry S. Brown in Gonzales in a party organized to recapture horses Capt. Brown and associates had lost due to an Indian raid on the way back from a horse trading trip to Mexico. They eventually recovered about 500 of the original 700 horses and returned to Gonzales in Jan 1829. In addition to Bracken, Brazil Durbin, a Shelby, Andrew Scott, “Cherokee” Luke, nine Mexicans, Jesse Robinson, Moses Morrison and Abram M. Clare were on the expedition. Bounty and land donation records indicate that Bracken began serving in the Republican Texian Army as early as Oct 1835. Records of the Republic of Texas indicated that he was a Sergeant in Capt. Phillip Dimmit’s Company based in Goliad. From mention of his activities in archival communications he served as a courier or even in intelligence gathering from as far south as Zacatecas to Bexar. In a communication from Capt. Dimmit to Stephen F. Austin of 20 Oct 1835, he is apparently the source of intelligence on the resistance to Santa Anna’s Centralista dictatorship south of the Rio Grande in Zacatecas. He was the source of information on the situation during the beginning of the Siege and Battle of Bexar to James Kerr indicated in a letter from Kerr of 28 Oct 1835. He may have been moving between Goliad and Bexar watching movements of the Centralista force moving toward Bexar and even been involved in some skirmishing with them along the way. While a part of Dimmit’s Company, Bracken participated in the Battle of Lipantitlán on the Nueces River in the fall of 1835. He commanded a guard of about ten men who captured James O. Riley outside the fort on 3 Nov. Riley was thought to be assisting the enemy. They returned to San Patricio for the night. Bracken was wounded in both hands losing three fingers on one by a Mexican rifle ball while reloading his rifle during the attack on the fort and was the only Texian casualty of the action at Lipantitlán. Republic of Texas Claims, letter to the Adjutant General’s Office in Austin, dated Nov. 22, 1850, states:

Adjutant General’s Office Austin, Nov. 22, 1850 I certify that the name of William Bracken appears as a Sergeant on the Muster Roll of Capt. Dimmitt’s Company stationed at Fort Goliad from the 9th day of October 1835 to the 8th of December 1835 and further certify that in the action of the 5th of November at the Nueces he was severely wounded in his right hand. Ben F. Hill [illeg] Adjt. Gen. 2 mos. @ $20 - $40.

A Late Republic of Texas Debt Claim concerning Bracken’s service was filed in Austin 29 Nov 1850 in the Texas State Archives:

Public Debt of the late Republic of Texas 2nd class This is to certify that William Bracken has under the Provisions of an act of the Legislature of the State of Texas, entitled “An Act to provide for ascertaining the Debt of the late Republic of Texas”, approved 20th March, 1848, filed with the auditor and comptroller a claim for services as Sergeant in Capt. Dimmitt’s Company in 1835. Amounting to forty no/00 dollars; which is sufficiently authenticated to authorize the auditing of the same under the laws of the late Republic of Texas. The said claim, according to the date before us, is worth forty no/00 dollars, in par funds, as having been at that rate so available to the Government. In Testimony whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and affix our seals of office, at Austin, this twenty-ninth day of November A.D. 1850

At the 3rd Texian Consultation at San Felipe de Austin in Nov 1835, Bracken was appointed a 1st Lieutenant in the Calvary along with Placido Benavides, Jonathan Burleson, W.G. Hill, Allen Larrison and M. W. Smith.  However, there are no indications that Bracken exercised this commission in later actions in the Texian Independence movement.

According to an entry in the journal of Valentine Bennet, William Bracken was part of a surveying crew in the spring of 1839 along with Col. L. Franks, John James, George Edwards, George Lord, Ephraim Bollinger and others in the Cibolo country.  It may be on this trip where Bracken first became familiar with the area that was the influence that caused him to own land in the area that eventually became the town of Bracken, Texas in Comal County.  Bracken’s eligibility to be on the petition for annexation of JacksonCo to the Republic of Texas was confirmed in Apr 1838 in a document in the Archives of the Texas State Library, Austin. He received a favorable judgement in a debt dispute with John Brown on 17 Dec 1840 and in Jan 1841 purchased 505 acres in Victoria County at 0.20¢ per acre of John Brown land holdings. In 1842 Bracken provided 3 beeves to the Republic of Texas Army in Corpus Christi for $12 per head in addition to those provided by neighbors John H. Woods and D.M. Stapp. Goods belonging to Bracken were listed in an 1844 estate sale for William Ryan of JacksonCo:

“A list of sale of goods & chattels belonging to the estate of William Ryan decd. Jany 20th1844 …
Wm. Bracken – 1 pr. Track chains & back..? $2.00
William Bracken – 1 ax $1.00
William Bracken – 1 grubbing hoe $1.00
William Bracken – 4 chairs .38¢…”

Texas archival military rosters indicate that William Bracken served in Capt. Lafayette Ward’s Company of Texas Volunteers from Jackson County under the command of Col. Clark L. Owen for the period March 6, 1842 through June 6 organized to serve in the Vasquez Campaign, a shortlived invasion of San Antonio in March 1842 prior to the larger invasion that led to the Battle of Salado in September of the same year.  For his service to Texas, Bracken received land bounty grants of 320 acres in GuadalupeCo for service 9 Oct 1835 to 9 Jan 1836 and 1280 acres in HaysCo for service 8 Mar 1836 to 25 Aug 1837.  In 1849, Bracken gave power of attorney to John James of BexarCo concerning a sale of land in New Braunfels, ComalCo. The site became current towns of Bracken and Danville.

From the collective archival records, it can be deduced that William Bracken was a close associate of James Kerr (1790-1851) both in the early days of the DeWitt Colony and subsequently in the Jackson and Victoria county region of the Republic and State of Texas where they were neighbors. William fathered several children by one of Kerr’s bonded servants named Cynthia, in addition to an “adopted” wife of German origin (Elizabeth Schneider/Snider). It is unclear whether Cynthia was kin to and one of the original group of black servants brought to Texas with Kerr which would make her one of the first black Texas settlers west of the Colorado River.   On his deathbed Bracken wrote a will naming his 3 children with Cynthia along with his 3 children with German born Elizabeth Schneider as equal beneficiaries to his assets. He requested that his son Charles be purchased from the Kerr estate and Charles along with his 2 sisters, Amanda and Harriett, whom he had possession at the time to be sent to live up North and educated. These children as is Cynthia are listed in the Kerr Family Bible in which James Kerr listed his slaves along with his own family members. It is speculated that William Bracken may have fathered Bracken Bill, Will B. and possibly other children listed as slaves in the Kerr Bible. The Kerr Bible indicates that Amanda was born “of Cynthia” on the first of September 1841 and Harriet the 31st of March 1843. Another entry indicates “Will B. of Cynthia Born 6th of March 1845 Died 15th March 1 o’clock A.M. Interred 16th.” “B.” was presumably “Bracken”. Another entry denoted “Bracken Bill (of Cynthia) Born 9th March 1846, 5 O’clock P.M.” “Bracken Bill” is thought to be son Charles mentioned in William Bracken’s will. 

A sale document in JacksonCo records of 6 Oct 1844 indicates that William Bracken purchased his daughters Amanda and Harriet from James Kerr in Aug 1848.  

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, That I James Kerr, of the County of Jackson Republic of Texas, for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars, to me secured as herein after specified have bargained, and sold and by these presents, do bargain and sell unto Wm. Bracken two yellow girls (Children of Black woman Cynthia) viz Manda aged two years and Harriet aged six months to have and to hold said girls as slaves forever, warranting and defending title to the same from my heirs or any person or person claiming the same. Said children are sold as aforesaid for the sum of two hundred dollars – five of which the seller herein acknowledges to have received of the buyer herein and his promissory note for one hundred and ninety five dollars payable on first of March next. Signed on the 6th day of October, 1844.  Witness,  James Kerr State of Texas § County of Jackson §  I, George Billups, Clerk of the County Court do hereby certify that James Kerr personally appeared before me and acknowledged the within Bill of sale for the uses and purposes therein expressed.   Given under my hand & seal of the County Court this 14th Augt. 1848. G.R. Billups C.C.C. J.C. Recorded Aug. 16th 1848 J. Kerr Bill Sale To W. Bracken Filed 14, Augt. 1848 C – 213 - 214

On 22 May 1849, a JacksonCo record of sale of a black Jane to William Bracken by R.A. Johnson was recorded. The mortgage was cleared after full payment to R.A. Johnson on 4 Jul 1848:

State of Texas § Jackson County§ On or before the fifteenth June Next, I promise to pay William Bracken, on order one Hundred & fifty dollars for value received, this 22nd day of May, 1849.  R.A. Johnson seal Witness, James Kerr State of Texas § County of Jackson § This indenture, made this 22nd day of May, A.D. 1849, between R.A. Johnson of the one part and Wm. Bracken of the other part both of the County & State aforesaid WITNESSETH, that the said R.A. Johnson for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars to him paid by the said Wm. Bracken the receipt whereof is herby acknowledged hath granted, bargained, and sold and by these presents doth grant, bargain, and sell alien and confirm unto the said Wm. Bracken, and to his heirs and assigns forever one certain black woman called Jane about twenty eight years of age, to have and to hold said woman as aforesaid provided always that these presents are upon this express condition that if the R.A. Johnson, his heirs or legal representatives shall pay or cause to be paid to the said Wm. Bracken , or to his legal representatives the sum of one hundred and forty dollars in manner particularly specified in a certain note or obligation bearing even date herewith, executed by the said Johnson to the said Wm. Bracken, then and from thence, then and from thence forth, these presents and everything herein contained shall cease to be void any thing herein contained to the contrary not withstanding.  In witness whereof the parties aforesaid subscribe their names.   R. A. Johnson William Bracken State of Texas § County of Jackson § I, the UNDERSIGNED, Notary Public for the county of Jackson do hereby certify that R.A. Johnson and Wm. Bracken whose names are subscribed to the foregoing indenture personally appeared before me and acknowledged the same to be their act and deed for the purposes therein set forth. To certify which I sign my name and affix my seal this 22nd day of May, A.D. 1849. James Kerr, Not. Pub. Recorded June 8th, 1849 R.A. Johnson & Wm. Bracken Filed, 25th May 1849 G.R. Billups C.C.C.J.C. C-262 Sidenote: Wm. Bracken appeared Before me and stated That he had his money & cancelled the Mortgage. January 18, 1840 G.R. Billups I hereby relinquish all claim to Mortgage recorded on page 262 & 263 July 4th, 1848

The 1850 census of JacksonCo lists William Bracken, age 40, farmer with birthplace Kentucky living with Elizabeth Snider, age 22 whose birthplace was Germany. Two children are in the household, Mary, age 2, and Robert age 7.5 months, both born in Texas. Independent genealogical records indicate that Mary was born 10 Feb 1848. A burial marker in Hirschhauser Cemetery indicates that Robert S. Bracken was born 25 Nov 1849 and died 12 Dec 1920 (marker next to Mary J. Bracken, born 13 Jan 1853, died 1 Mar 1930). Hirschhauser Cemetery is a well kept cemetery on the south side of Highway 59 about 13 miles northeast of Victoria just south of Inez and the JacksonCo line. On 24 Aug 1851, a third child was born to William and Elizabeth named Sophie Elizabeth (Elizie), about five months prior to the death of her father. She is also buried in Hirschhauser Cemetery with marker Mrs. Elizie Franz, born 24 Aug 1852, died 15 Mar 1918. Beside her is the grave of Henry Franz (1838-1907) and Fred C. Franz (1875-1936).

On 15 Jan 1851, William Bracken purchased slave Bill from John and Caroline Cook:

State of Texas § Jackson County§ January 15, 1851 Received of William Bracken the full sum of nine hundred dollars in full payment for and Negro man named Bill aged about twenty-five years of dark complexion and we do by this present … and defend the title to the said negro man Bill to the said William Bracken against ourselves, our executors administrators and assignees and against all persons whatsoever claiming to claim the said Negro Man Bill and we …as above the negro to be sound in body and mind and to be a slave for life in testimony where of we have hereunto set our names and affix our scroll for a seal the day & date above within. John F. Cook seal Caroline A. Cook seal D.L. Cook, attny State of Texas § County of Jackson § I George R. Billups Clerk of the County Court do hereby certify that John F. Cook personally appeared before me for the uses and purposes therein explained and at same time appeared Caroline A. Cook, wife of said John F. Cook who being examined by me...and apart from her said husband and having the same explained... to her she acknowledges the.. the same for the use and purpose therein set forth and that she wishes not to retract. Given under my hand and seal of the County Court this 22nd day of March, 1851 G.R. Billups Clrk Recorded March 25th 1851 Cook & Wife To William Brackin Filed 16 January 1851 G.R. Billups Clk D-126

On 28 Apr 1851 a claim for a debt of $11.00 was filed by the estate of James Kerr (deceased 23 Dec 1851).

William Bracken died on 20 Jan 1852 as stated in JacksonCo probate records: “William Bracken late of said county after having executed his last will and testament departed this life at his residence in said county on the 21 January 1852.” He apparently prepared a witnessed deathbed will on 19 Jan:

Charles Coleman, John J. Ewens, MD Box and Peter White who after being duly sworn stated (individually) that they were present at the residence of William Bracken dec during his last sickness and that they were called upon to witness his will bearing date the 19th day of January AD 1852 and that said Bracken died the next day after executing the said will which has been proven by us and admitted to Probate.

The will which was written on 19 Jan 1852 and filed for probate 29 Mar 1852 stated:

Jackson County § State of Texas In the name of god amen, I Wm Bracken being at present sick though sound in mind and memory have considered the frailness of mortality commit my spirit to God, my body to the Earth, and all my just debts to be paid by my Executors & friends John McHenry and W.B. Thompson: I will and bequeath to Elizabeth Sneida one thousand dollars in cash my adopted wife also one hundred head of average cattle also all the household and kitchen furniture for the use of the family. In by that my son Charles be purchased and all the balance of my effects equally divided between my son Charles, my daughter Amanda and my daughter Harriet, my daughter Mary Sneida and Robert Sneida and Eliza Sneida. The present crop to be completed and raised, cattle to be gathered next fall and that after Elizabeth’s are taken out, I will that my Executors sell one third of a league on the Chipidarius being a joint interest between Edward Dweir & myself, next fall also one other third on the Santa Clara also a joint interest with Edward Dwier. Also one third on the San Antonia Road all of which is in Baher County. Also 1200 acres in Comal County near New Brunesville [sic] tract, also 2000 in Guadaloupe County above Seguine all on …..Tracts, I wish my Executors to sell at private sale and that this my home place be kept for my family homestead until they arrive at maturity or youngest marry. I also will that all my home place not occupied by the family be settled and the hands hired out. And now I do by those presents lawfully constitute commissioners appoint and by those presents conveigh and …forewith full and ample authority to settle up my businesses in a manner and form as above… Named, the Exct’s John McHenry and C. R. Thompson to receive and receipt and carry out in all respects this my last will and testament and by those present constitute the Extrs John McHenry and C.R Thompson my legally constituted attorneys in law in testimony where of I have here unto affix my hand and seal this the 19th of January 1852.  Attest § signature and seal M. Box John J. Eweirs Charles Coleman Peter White

State of Texas County of Jackson § We the undersigned John J. Ewes, Charles Coleman & Peter White & M. Box witness to the foregoing will of William Bracken decd sworn state on oath that the foregoing will was signed by William Bracken deceased and was by him subscribed in our pressance as his last will & testament on the … that we subscribed it as witness at his …. And in his pressance and in the preseance of each other. Charles Coleman John J. Ewiers Sworn to Subscribed in open Court This 29th day of March AD 1852 Thomas Simons, Chief Justice Admitted to Probate 29th March 1852 in co…with attached explanation Thomas Simons C.J. Will 8 Wm Bracken Filed 29 March 1852 G.R. Billups Clk Recorded Book C E 95 & 6

An affidavit further explaining that the will included his children Charles, Harriet and Amanda of African blood was filed on 29 Mar 1852 and attached to the will:

The State of Texas § Probate Court County of Jackson March Term 1852   This day personally appeared in open Court, Charles Coleman, John J. Ewens, MD Box and Peter White who after being duly sworn stated (individually) that they were present at the residence of William Bracken dec during his last sickness and that they were called upon to witness his will bearing date the 19th day of January AD 1852 and that said Bracken died the next day after executing the said will which has been proven by us and admitted to Probate. That during his said last sickness and at the time of making said will, the said Testator gave full and perfidious instructions and directions to the writer of the said will in our presence and to our full understanding - the particulars of said instructions do not appear therein or appear ambiguous. We therefore now come into Court as the friends of the dec and state that the writing witnessed by us and admitted to probate under our aforesaid does not fully show the desires and often expressed intensions of said Testator and that his full forcible and --- --- expressions, directions and desires for the disposal of his Estate may be shown set forth and perpetuated, we make the following declaration which we wish to be recorded and attached to the will aforesaid as an explanation thereto and as a statement of the particulars. To wit, The Testator Wm. Bracken had three children which he acknowledged and owned before us, they are the parties in said will mentioned as Charles Amanda and Harriet who are part African blood the two latter living with him at his homestead the former the property belonging to the Estate of James Kerr decd. He emphatically directed his Executors to purchase said Charles and to take him and his two sisters to a State of the U.S. where they can be emancipated that they provide for their education and that when they are of legal age they should have an equal share of his Estate with his other children such portion remaining until that time in the hands of his Executors. That the other parties in said will mentioned to wit: Mary Snider & Robert Snider and Eliza Snider were acknowledged by said Testator as his own proper children and that he wished them to be so considered and to inherit his property as such Sworn & subscribe before me in open Court this March Term 1852 Thomas Simons Chief Justice, Charles Coleman John J. Ewens Peter White M. Box received and ordered to be attached to the will as explanation thereof Thomas Simons, C.J. March 29, 1852 ?78 Explanation of Wm Bracken Will Filed 29 March 1852 G. R. Billups Clerk Recorded Book C E 96 & 7

On the 21st of Jan 1852, the Executors petitioned for probate of William Bracken's estate:

The State of Texas § County of Jackson To: the Honorable Thomas Simons, Chief Justice in and for said county your petitioners John McHenry and N. B. Thompson would most respectfully show that William Bracken late of said county after having executed his last will and testament departed this life at his residence in said county on the 21 January 1852 and that by the terms of said will your petitioners were appointed his executers. They would therefore pray that they may at the next February term of your --- court be permitted to prove said will and that the same may be probated and entered upon the records of said court and that ---- ---- -----.  Will ever pray J.J. Holt Atty for Petitioners 78 William Bracken Estate Petition for Probate of Will Filed 26, Jan. 1852 G. R. Billups Clerk Recorded Book C E 94

An inventory of the Bracken estate was done on 21 Jan 1852:

State of Texas § County of Jackson January the 21st 1852
Inventory of the Estate of Wm. Bracken Deceased
Cash in silver                                                         50.25
In gold                                                                 446.50
In a note on the Hamburg Bank                            100.00
In a note on the Mechanics & Traders Bank             5.00
A note on Wm. G. Ford of Texana                       439.18
Balance on note against Y. Keller                           20.00
A xxx receipt for two notes of land on L. Cilla M. Brown and Ezekiel Brown both dated August 10th 1847 for 25/100 and due August 10th 1848 and 1849.                                          $211
Also 23 ½ Labors of Land and five tax receipts to be professionally attended to xxx to be Collected and recorded
A note on Dutch John                                             15.50
Note of land on the two Bayless
To sustain an order on I. Bailey by S. Leeper for    55.00
County treasury Certificate                                        2.16
Note on Joseph Rodgers                                        300.00
Note on C. and Wm B. Gayle for                           500.00
Receipt from L.C. Owens for Draft                        3750.00
Statement as per letter of CL Owen Showing Ben Perkins in due to Wm Bracken
Note on Ruffin Lawson                                                5.00
Note on John M. Black decd                                     15.00
Memorandum against Holloman                                  60.00
Memorandum against Ben Pierce for                         100.00
Memorandum against  C. B. Thompson for one steer100.00
Note against I. Mitchael for                                         14.50
Memorandum against Emigrant for 100 bushels corn   75.00
Weight of cotton delivered in the fall of 1851 to C.L. Owen of Texana for shipment
One audited Certificate                                                40.00
One note on J.F. Cook and C. L. Owens for                68.7
Bill of Sale for slave Bill                                            900.00
Bill of Sale for negro boy Richard                             750.00
Bill of Sale for negro boy Tobias                              450.00
Bill of Sale for negro boy Britton                              300.00
Bill of Sale for negro boy Cato Abandoned long before decd
Bill of Sale for Woman Slave by the name of Amy   500.00
One Patent for 1/3 of a leagueof land on waterway of Cibola in Baxer County
One Patent for 1/3 of a leagueof land on the East side of Lavacca in Jackson Co. homestead not William Bracken as assignee to be disposed of Crichoph Martenas of first class             360
Deed for League on the West side of the Lavaca River in Jackson County.Assignee of Pedro Gallardo
Certificate No 19 fourth Class Issued by board for Jackson County A patent issued to Wm Bracken cr 260 for 320 acres County land Vol 4                                                                         160
Patent for 26 labors of land Wm Bracken Assignee of Jose Flores No 14 first class
One Patent Wm Bracken assignee of Francisco Rodriguez No 18 first Class Vol 6 on the Cibola 206.910 sq. vrs.
Patent No 380 Wm decd assignee of Vicente Mitchals First class for 3.610.00 sq vs. and tax and title supposed for same for 1476 acres surveigh No. 447 Situated on the L. Llano in Bahar County
Wm Bracken assignee of C. C. Delgado Patent No 379 first class  Wm Bracken assignee of Vicente Micheli for 22,390.00 sq vrs and a tax title supposed to be for same for 3129 acres to Wm Bracken assignee of C. Delgado survey no 445 situated on the L Llano                                                                                 3000
One patent to Wm Bracken for 261 cres No. 247 and in Vol 6 and first class
And three head of horses, ““ of mules, and “”of mares and “” of colts
Household and kitchen furniture all of which was directed for the use of the family by said deceased as stock hogs …and which there will be neither to spare, Three yoke of oxen and between two and three hundred head of cattle to sell this fall ….
The content of will.. bonds…Executor yet unknown.
Signed N.B.Thompson Executor Inventory of Wm Bracken Estate of Jackson County Texas filed 3 March by N.B. Thompson at ½ past one o’clock p.m.  G.R. Billups Clk Recorded Book C E78 <This document is very difficult to read--Transcribers 2005>

On 30 Jan, executors petitioned for sale of Negroes belonging to the estate:

To John Menefee, Chief Justice of Jackson County A.T. Gayle, John McHenry & Peter White, commissioners appointed to divide the land in this & Lavaca County and the negroes to wit, Toby, Bill, & Dick between the Legatees & heirs of Wm. Bracken decd. and having reported the said negroes duly appraised as not capable of division the Court is respectfully requested to grant an order to the adm. to sell the negroes according to law.  January term of Probate Court January 30th 1854 W. Hunt Adm. 78 Estate of Wm. Bracken Petition for sale of Negroes filed 30th January 1854 G. R. Billups Clk Recorded Book C Page 200

The estate was further inventoried and appraised on 26 May 1852:

The State of Texas § To: James J. Bonham, Peter Jackson County White and R.T. Nance By order of the County Court held in and for said County on the last Monday in April 1852 you were appointed appraisers to appraise the property belonging to the estate of William Bracken decd situated in the County of Jackson. You will according to the best of your knowledge and ability upon oath appraise said property and makes return to said Court as the law directs.  Given under my hand Head of the County Court this 26th day of April 1852 G.R. Billups Clerk 78 Inventory Filed 28 June 1852 G. R. Billups Clerk Recorded Book C  E 101, 2, & 3

An Inventory and appraisment of the Estate of William Bracken decd made by the undersigned appraisers on the 26th May 1852.

2 feather beds - at 8 dollars each                                 $16
6 setting chairs                                                                2.00
one table                                                                        2.00
cooking utensils etc. etc.                                                 4.00
one chest                                                                          .50
2 bedsteads $2.50/100 each                                           5.00
one pair saddle bags                                                       1.00
one smoothe board gun                                                   4.00
2 pistols 10¢ each                                                             .20
one wagon 3 yokes and log chor drawing chain               40.00
3 yoke of oxen at 40$ per yoke                                     120.00

one work horse -grey                                                        45.00
one black riding horse                                                        45.00
one riding grey mare                                                          30.00
two brood mares and a colt                                               75.00   
three work mules - about 40$ each                                  120.00
three young mules unbroken 35$ each                              105.00
young st… horse 2 years old                                              35.00
farming utensils including plows, hoes, axes etc.                   20.00
four setts of gears                                                                 5.00
one cross cut saw                                                                 2.00
Augers handsaw chisel etc                                                    2.00
Negro man Tobe                                                              300.00
negro man Bill                                                                  800.00
negro woman Amy                                                           500.00
negro boy Dick                                                                600.00
mulatto girl Amanda                                                         400.00
mulatto girl Harriet                                                           300.00

An old negro man named Britton who died 16th April 1852 which if alive would be valued at about
Stock of hogs partly wild number unknown                         50.00
Saddle & Bridle                                                                   8.00

A league of land on which is the homestead in Jackson County Texas valued at

All the cattle except the work oxen number unknown Valued at $5.50 cents per head Sworn to and submitted §  James J. Bonham § Appraisers Before me this 26th day Peter White May 1852 R.J. Nance G.R. Billups Clk. C.C.JC

In addition to the foregoing appraisement which the executor adopted as part of the inventory which is here continued
One hundred head of average cattle set apart to Elizabeth Sneida and by her received as so much willed to her
10 cows & 10 calves sold at public sale bid – at 6$ 25¢ per head and set down to Matthews {note & security given         125
188 head cattle sold 27 May 1852 at auction bid off by Matthews & Harrell {security given for}at 8$ per head                1504
29 Head beef cattle sold to John J. Lynn at                                                                                                                         290
There are more cattle out - number unknown but will be reported so soon as can be collected and disposed of  see petition relative thereto.  Two beeves only have been killed for support of the family.

Money on hand at Bracken’s death
cash in silver                                                                     $50.25
In gold                                                                              446.50
Bank note on the Hamburg bank                                       100.00
Bank note on Mechanics & Traders Bank                             5.00
Amt money                                                                       601.15

Notes & Accounts
Balance on note of F. Keller                                                  20.00
A note on Dutch John paid off to decedent by wagering         15.50
A Neills receipt for two notes on Cilla M. Brown & Ezekiel Brown for $211.25/100¢ each which notes as appears from credits was collected and paid over to decedent in his lifetime
County Treasury certificate                                                   $12.16
Joseph Rogers note for                                                         300.00
Note on C & W.B. Gayle                                                     500.00
Recpt on CL Owen for draft drawn by JM Wicks for          3250.00
Benj. Perkins due decedent (insolvent)                                  200.00
Note on Ruffin Lawson for (nonresident)                                   5.00
Note on John M Black (dead & insolvent)                               15.00

Inventory Cont.
Memorandum against Holisman for                                           80.00
Memorandum against Benj. Pearce for (note since given)         100.00
Memorandum N.B. Thompson for one steer (since delivered)
Note on I Mitchell for                                                                94.50
Weight of cotton delivered to CL Owen in 1851 for shipment 15971 lbs---- on sale to the estate
One Audited certificate for                                                          40.00
Note on JF Cook & CL Owen for                                              68.75    
I. Rogers acknowledges himself indebted to the Estate for 9 head of cattle purchased of decedent at $4.00 each
A. Neill acknowledges himself indebted to the estate of decedent balance due upwards of
Note on Wm. G. Ford for                                                         439.18
Note on the two Bay--- placed in decedents hands for to secure to … Bracken
account on Griffin now in note for                                                23
On Henry Looney for 36 bushels corn at 50¢ per bushel             18

One third of league of land on the Chipedarius jointly owned by decedent & Edward Dwyer
One third of a league of land on Santa Clara jointly owned by decedent & Edward Dwyer
Also one third of a league on the San Antonio road which the ex.’s believe to be also owned jointly with said Dwyer – the 2 above lands all in Bexar County Texas
1200 acres in Cameron County near New Bronsville
2000 Acres in Guadalupe County above Seguine
one fourth of a League of land on the Lavaca River in Lavaca County
A land certificate No 19 fourth class issued by board for Jackson County Issued to Edward Hardy and conveyed to Wright & he to Wm Bracken
Sundry other land titles and if the lands were not sold by decedent when ascertained will be duly reported to the court.
Sworn & subscribed to § John McHenry Executor Before me this 28 June 1852 of William Bracken decd G.R. Billups Clk

Report of a cattle auction in late May 1852 was filed in Jun 1852:

Sale Bill of Cattle at Auction belonging to the Wm. Bracken Estate the 26 & 27 May 1852
10 cows & their calves to L. Matthews at $6.25 per head                                     $125.00
Beef cattle to take all that is gathered by 25 June 1852 bid off by John J. Linn at $10 per head – 29 head gathered
Cows and calves yearlings & two year olds all that could be delivered by 25 June 1852 bid off by John Harroll at $8 per head    188 head                                                                                                                             $1504.00
Subscribed & sworn before me John McHenry Executor of This 28 June 1852 the Estate of Wm. Bracken decd. G.R. Billups Clerk The State of Texas § I George R. Billups, Clerk of the County Court do hereby certify that the above is a true copy of the sale bill filed in my office 28th June 1852, belonging to the estate of W. Bracken decd.  Given under my hand and seal of office this April A.D. 1853 G.R. Billups Clerk 78 Sale Bill of Cattle of Bracken Estate Filed 28 June 1852 G.R. Billups Clerk Recorded Book C E 101

A claim of money due Bracken of $212.83 was made against the James Kerr Estate on 30 Aug 1852.

An additional inventory was filed on 22 Sep 1852:

One third league of land on the Santa Clara Creek in Bexar district jointly owned with Edward Dwyer 738 acres at $1.00 per acre $738.00
One third League of land on the San Antonia road in Bexar district jointly owned with Edward Dwyer 738 acres at $1.00 per acre $738.00
1200 acres in Comal County at 1.00 $1200.00
2000 acres in Guadeloupe County at 1.00 $2000.00
One ¼ league in Lavaca County on Lavaca River say 1107 at $1107.00
One yoke of oxen at $35.00
We the undersigned appraisers in an additional appraisement of the property of Wm. Bracken decd. under oath do hereby certify that the above is a true valuation according to the best of our judgment, so help us God.  James J. Bonham  Peter White  Sworn to and subscribed before me this 22nd Sept. 1852 John M. White J.P.J.C.

Still another in Dec 1852:

State of Texas § County of Jackson An additional appraisement of the property of Wm. Bracken decd. as presented to us by the administrator. To wit one undivided interest of one third league on Chipedarius Creek in Bexar District jointly owned with Edward Dwyer. 738 acres at $1.00      $738.00
Dec Term 1852 An Additional Inventory of Wm Bracken’s Estate
25 head cattle – appraised to $125.00
Judgment in Jackson County District Court against  I. Lawson for $146.00
Sworn & subscribed in  Open Court Dec 27th 1852  John S. Menifee Chief Justice J.C.

The following report on a sale of part of Bracken's estate by executors was filed on 1 Dec 1852:

Report of the Sale of a part of Wm. Brackens Estate made 1st day of Dec 1852 by John McHenry Excr. on six months credit
An old ox wagon to S.C. Barton for                                          51.00
One log chain & a piece of chain to Chas Coleman                    3.00
One of the oxen & yoke to L. Mathews                                    32.00
One of the oxen & yoke to L. Mathews                                    38.50
One yoke of oxen & yoke to I.M. Stanton                                50.00
One yoke of oxen & yoke to Dr. Ferrell                                   40.00
Three old ploughs 2 hoes & single tree Jacob Knopp                  4.25
One plough, a scooter & 2 hoes to T. Eeller                                4.00
Two ploughs to John Waddie                                                      2.00
Four old ploughs J. Knopp                                                          2.00
One rifle & shot bag to Daniel Dennett                                         2.00
One cross cut saw to A.C. Yoes                                                 4.25
One lot of *** to Wm. B. Gayle                                                  6.50
One pair saddle bags to E. Beaty                                                 1.25
One grey mare to John L. White                                                35.00
One gray horse to Elizabeth Sneida                                            40.00
Iron grey mare & colt F.M. White                                              60.00
Bay mare & colt to I.M. Stanton                                                40.00
Black poney [sic] to Thos. M. Haynes                                       28.00
Roan mare mule to Gayle transferred to A. Baker                      36.50
Big black horse mule to Ayers transferred to M. Gayle               75.00
Old sorrel horse mule to J. Knopp                                             36.00
Young brown mare mule Tho. S. White                                      26.00
Young dun mare mule to Charles Coleman                                  20.00
Iron grey stallion to Peter White                                                  90.00
Four pair gear to Wm. B. Gayle                                                    3.25
Saddle & Bridle to John Maddock                                                6.75
Stock of hogs all that can be gathered in 6 months P. White        115.50
25 stock of out cattle say 25 head the remnant known of together with the brand for six months to B.B. Pearce
100 bushels corn at 40¢ per bushel to Chambers                          40.00
100 bushels corn at 42¢ per bushel to John Garrett                       42.00
300 bushels corn at 40¢ per bushel to F.F. Wells                        120.00
200 bushels corn at 40¢ per bushel to Tho F. Cook                      80.00
100 bushels corn at 40¢ per bushel to H. Vaughan                        40.00
100 bushels corn at 38¢ per bushel to C. Coleman                        38.00
100 bushels corn at 38¢ per bushel to T.W. Vance                        38.00
100 bushels corn at 38¢ per bushel to A. Yoes                              38.00
100 bushels corn at 38¢ per bushel to Whitsett                              38.00
100 bushels corn at 38¢ per bushel to Gardner                              38.00
200 bushels corn at 37¢ per bushel by Billups for John T. White   92.50
100 bushels corn at 38¢ per bushel to Loamas                               38.00
A 320 acre land certificate at 19 1/2¢ per acre to Col. Hunt           62.00
Remnant of corn if any at 38¢ per bushel to P. White
Rent of land for 1853 on 12 months credit Upper field for 1853 rented to l. Matthews at 1.50¢ Per acre being seventy acres amt to                                                                                 105.00
Lower field to same 34 ½ acres at 2$ per acre                               69.00
Hire of negroes for 1853 on 12 months credit Boy Bill to Col. Hunt for
Boy Tobe to J. Knoppe for                                                          147.00
Boy Dick to Charles Coleman for present month 1853                    74.25
Girl Amy to J.M. Stanton for                                                        128.00
If the corn does not hold out to amt sold a deduction from above for deficit will have to be made if a remnant over an addition to above will be made which when known will be reported to the Court in due time. All else may be considered as delivered except the yoke of oxen sold to Dr. Ferrell one of which could not be got on day of sale but was sold on condition if found & delivered which if not found will defeat the sale to him – hereafter if necessary to be reported to court. – the cotton not sold – December 27, 1852 John McHenry Exr. 78 Estate Wm. Bracken Sale Bill Filed 27 Dec. 1852 G.R. Billups Clk

On 30 May 1853, Executor John McHenry testified concerning identity of heirs of William Bracken:

State of Texas § Jackson County Be it remembered that at a County Court in the month of May A.D. 1853 at a regular term thereof in and foresaid County by the Hon. John S. Menifee Judge of said Court, on motion the following evidence was heard on behalf of the heirs of William Bracken deceased:
John McHenry being duly sworn says that the document marked A. and this day filed among the papers of the Estate of William Bracken was found by him among the papers of the said William Bracken; that it is in the hand writing of the said William; that he heard the said William speak of a brother by the name of Robert; that he William wishes his said brother Robert would come to Texas, that the country would suit him; that witnesses saw the said William when he William first arrived in Texas in 1826 with Green Dewitt and his family; that said William told willfully his mother twice in Bath Co. Ky.  Peter White being sworn says that he knows that William Bracken, late of Jackson County was the same man who once lived in the state of Missouri; that witness knew said William Bracken in Missouri that the said William then told witness that he William came from Bath County Kentucky; that he had a sister who was named Jane and married to a man by the name of Boyse; that while living in Missouri the said William told witness that he William had been to Kentucky on a visit to see his father and mother.
Document marked B was also introduced and read and is this day filed.
Document marked C was also read in evidence and is herewith filed. Peter White also testified that he knew Robert Bracken on sight from his strong resemblance to the said William Bracken deceased.  John McHenry also testified that three of the children named in the will of William Bracken, to wit Amanda, a girl about eleven years and Harriet aged about nine years and Charles aged about six years all slaves for life. I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the proceedings held in open court.   John H. Menifee Chief Justice ? 78 Heirs of Bracken D Filed 30th May 1853 G.R. Billups Clk Recorded Book C E 113 &114

On 31 May 1853 the relatives of William Bracken petitioned that the estate be settled and claimed to be legal heirs:

The State of Texas § County of Jackson To the Hon: John Menifee Judge of Probate in and for said County.
Your Petitioners James, Robert, and Thomas Bracken, Jane Boyd and Moses Boyd, her husband, Elizabeth Keys and William Keys her husband, Abigail McGahey and Samuel McGahey, her husband, the said Thomas, James, Robert, Jane, Elizabeth & Abigail being brothers and sisters and heirs at law of William Bracken decd. Morning Vice as Guardian of his minor children by Polly his late wife who is another sister and heir at law of William Bracken decd and Fleming Vice, son of the said Polly and of full age; Abigail also a daughter of the said Polly who is joined in this petition by her husband Ashly How: Samuel & Elsy Bird children of Margaret Bird who was also a sister of William Bracken decd; respectfully represent that they are heirs at law of William Bracken decd and that they are advisees and behavs and charge that the administrator of the Estate of William Bracken has been open for more than twelve months. Your petitioners also charge that the debts of said Estate are all paid and that there is a considerable sum of money in the hands of the Executor ready for distribution. Your petitioners therefore ask that the said Executor may be cited to appear by the next Term of your Hon. Court and show cause if any he have why and order of distribution should not be made and that in default of such cause being shown that an order of distribution may be made.  Your Petitioners also ask for the appointment of Commissioners to divide the real estate and other property and for general relief and as in duty bound they will ever pray  A.H. Billups  Atty for Petitioners  Estate of Wm Bracken ? 78 Petition for Distribution Filed 31 May 1853 G.R. Billups Clk Recorded Book C Acknowledge service on the written May 31, 1853   John McHenry  E 114 & 115 

The court commissioned that the real estate and Negroes be appraised and distributed among the legal heirs in July 1853:

The State of Texas § To: Alexander T. Gayle, Robert Milby, County of Jackson Peter White, John McHenry, James f Bonham Commissioners Greeting: Whereas, by an order of our County Court, at its June term A.D. 1853, you were appointed Commissioners to divide the real estate situated in the Counties of Jackson and Lavaca in said State, and also the slaves, all belonging to the estate of William Bracken deceased, into equal parts or portions, one of which to be for the legatees, Mary, Robert, and Eliza Schnieder illegitimate children decd. and the other half or portion to be for and subject to distribution among the legal heirs of the said William Bracken dec. These are therefore to authorize and commission you that you proceed to act and divide said real estate and slaves as afore said, and that you report how you have divided the same on or before the next term of said Court, to be held in the last Monday, to wit in the 25th day of July AD. 1853, when you are also required to report whether the halves would be susceptible of an advantageous division among the heirs at law also whether the Negroes, slaves as aforesaid, are susceptible of division. (for your further information, the legal heirs above mentioned, are 3 brothers, 3 sisters and the descendants of 2 sisters, and in your report it might be of advantage to the final heirs if you had an eye to their separate interests so that the Estate may be eventually distributed with as little trouble and difficulty among the several heirs as possible.  I make due return hereof Witness my hand and the seal of the County Court at my office in Texana, the 28th day of July AD 1853 George R. Billups Clerk CCC Jackson Per his Deputy Henry D. Starr 76 Estate of Wm Bracken Recorded Book C Top 263 Commission to Alex T. Gayle Robt. Milby Peter White John McHenry & Joseph Bonham Issued June 28th AD 1853 To Divide Land & Negroes George R. Billups Clk CCCJ for Henry D Starr Deputy

William Bracken's executors object to the petition by siblings of William Bracken claiming all his property is willed to his children:

To Chief Justice of Jackson County Court June Term 1853 Whereas Thomas Bracken and others relatives of Wm. Bracken late of Jackson County decd. have petitioned for a portion of decedents Bracken’s Estate as legatees and have cited all persons having objections to the same to appear before this court at this term and show cause why. Now John McHenry Exr. of said Bracken’s Estate by S.C. Barton his attorney files the following objections:
First objection: Because by decd. Bracken’s will and the intentions of the same, as explained by witnesses and ordered by the court to be recorded as the decedents will. Said Thomas and others as legatees are not entitled to any part of decedent’s property.
Second Objection: By the will of said Wm. Bracken decd. said petitioners are not entitled as heirs on legatees of said decedent to any part of decedents Estate, that the property is willed to decedents children.
Third Objection: That because the Boy Charles has not been purchased but in and was at the time of decedents death the property of ** James Kerr’s widow and children who by law are entitled to the portion willed to said Charles.
Fourth : By the legal construction of said will by the laws for the construction of wills with explanation allowed by law said children Harriet and Amanda named as heirs in the will are entitled to their freedom and what is willed to them.  S.C. Barton Atty for J. McHenry, Exr. 78 Estate of Wm. Bracken Objection to *** for Partition Recorded Book C Filed June 27th AD 1853 George R. Billups Clerk C.C.C.J. For Deputy Henry C. Starr E 116 & 17

An additional Sale Bill of Wm Bracken’s Estate was made 2 July 1853 on 6 months credit:

One yoke Oxen to L. Matthews for 26.00
Hoggs that can be gathered by first April next to L Matthews for 5.00
The mark & brand of the cattle sold until 1st day of April next for 20.12 ½ to N.B. Thompson
One … to N.B. Thompson .50
One drawing knife to Peter White .50
One Iron Square to A. Ewes  .60
$52.72 ½
Subscribed and sworn to § Before me this 22nd day Of July AD 1853 Henry D. Starr J.P.J.C.

Commissioners of the JacksonCo probate court filed the following field notes in Jan 1854:

Estate of William Bracken, Deceased, Report of Commissioners Filed Jan 30, 1854 21/489 State of Texas County of Jackson § To the Hon’ble Judge of the Probate Court of Jackson County  The Commissioners appointed to divide the real estate and slaves belonging to the Estate of William Bracken Deceased in Counties of Jackson and Lavaca have made division as follows:
A league of land, the homestead lying in Jackson County on the West Bank of Lavaca River appraised at Ten thousand dollars, divided into two parts equal in value giving the upper part 2450 acres and the lower part 1968 per original plot.  A third of a leaguee lying in Lavaca County value at $1476, divided into two parts equal in value and the same front on the river. These two tracts area all the land belonging to the Estate of Williams Bracken deceased in the Counties Jackson & Lavaca that have come to our knowledge.   Field notes of the upper portion of the league: Beginning at the upper corner of the league, on the river at a wild peach; Thence SW with the original line of the league 6490 varas to corner a stake in prairie, Thence SE 2067 ½ varas with the line of the league to corner; Thence NE to corner on the river, a wild peach 6 in dia mkd + from which a sycamore 3 feet dia mkd + bears N 43 degrees W 8 degrees and a pecan 2 feet in dia mkd + bears N 10 degrees E 9 varas; Thence up the river with its meanders to the place of beginning.

Bracken - homestead tract

Field notes of the lower portion of the League  Beginning at the lower corner of the upper portion, a wild Peach 6 in dia mkd + from which a sycamore 3 feet in dia bears N 63 degrees W 8 vs and a pecan mkd + 2 feet dim bears N 10 degrees E 9 varas, Thence SW with the lower line of the upper portion to its SE corner, Thence SE with the original line of the league 1407 ½ vs to the SE corner of League, Thence NE 7740 with the lower line of the League to corner on river bank a pecan 18 in dia mkd + from which and Elm 12 in dia mkd + bears 55 degrees E 11 varas and a pecan 8 in dia mkd + bears SW 8 vs, Thence up the river with its meanders to place beginning. 
Neither of these tracts are susceptible of division advantageously amongst all the heirs of the deceased. The division into two portions equal in value as shown the accompanying Plot is just, but the two tracts are not subject to subdivision to advantage. The undersigned have divided the two tracts by lot as the law directs and lot No. One in both tracts fall to the legal heirs of said deceased and lots No. Two on both tracts to the devisees, that is to the children by a certain dutch woman recognized and made devisees by said Brackens Will.
The Negroes:- Bill we valued at one thousand dollars, Toby at the sum of six hundred dollars and Dick at eight hundred dollars, and we are of opinion they are not subject to and cannot be equally divided amongst the heirs and devisees without a sale – all which is respectfully reported.
Dec. 26, 1853.  John McHenry  Peter White  Alex J. Gale  Sworn to and subscribed before me this 31 Decr. 1853  John S. Meneff, Chief Justice J. C. Filed 30 Jany 1854  George R. Billups, Clk.  The State of Texas  County of Jackson § I, W. M. Moore, Clerk of the County Court in and for Jackson County, Texas, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true and correct copy of the Report of Commissioners in the Estate of William Bracken, Deceased, as same appears of record in Vol. “C”, page 200 st seq., Final Records of Jackson County, Texas.  Given under my hand and seal of office this 21st day of March A.D. 1912. W. M. Moore, Clerk County Court, Jackson County, Texas. By Ola Rouse, Deputy.
Filed for record March 21, 1912 at 2:30 o’clock PM, and Recorded March 21, 1912 at 4 o’clock PM. W. M. Moore, Co. Clerk   Estate of  Wm. Bracken, Dec’d, ……….Order Approving Report of Com’rs.  Report of the Commissioner (filed) to divide said estate making an equal division of the homestead league of land and one third of a league in Lavaca County and reporting that the Negroes were not susceptible of an equal division.  It is orders that said report be approved and ordered to be recorded.  The State of Texas County of Jackson § I, W. M. Moore, Clerk of the County Court in and for Jackson County, Texas, do hereby certify that the above is a true and correct copy of Order made and entered by the county Court at the Jany. Term, 1854, approving the Report of the Commissioners, in the Estate of William Bracken, Deceased, as same appears of record in Vol. C, page 122, Minutes of the Probates Court of Jackson County, Texas.  Given under my hand and seal of office this 21st day of March, A. D. 1912. W. M. Moore, Clerk County Court, Jackson County, Texas By Ola Rouse, Deputy Filed for record Mach 21, 1912 at 3 o’clock PM, and Recorded March 21, 1912 at 4:10 PM.  W. M. Moore, Co. Clerk

In response to court order, the sale of the Bracken estate's Negro slaves Toby, Bill and Dick was announced on 7 Mar 1854:

To the Chief Justice of Jackson County setting at Court of Probate In obedience to an order of the Court at its January term after being duly & legally advertised I offered for sale at Public auction at the Court house door on Texana on Tuesday the 7th March 1854 between the hours of 10 o’clock A.M & 4 o’clock PM the Negro, belonging to the Estate of Wm. Bracken decd., to wit Toby Bill & Dick Peter White being the highest bidder for Toby at the price of $500.00 Robert Willoughby being the highest bidder for Bill at the price of $1305.00 & A.H. Phillips being the highest bidder for Dick at the price of $1205.00  The same were knocked off to them at the prices respectfully mentioned which is respectfully reported and the approval of the Court asked.  March 7th 1854 Subscribed & sworn to § W. Hunt adm. Before me the 7th March 1854 de bonis non with will annexed G.R. Billups in Estate of Wm. Bracken decd. Clk 76 Estate of Wm Bracken decd Sale Bill Filed 7 March 1854 G.R. Billups Clk   Recorded Book C Page 202

On 26 Oct 1861, an administrator de bonis non of the Bracken estate (a person appointed by a probate court to finish probate proceedings when the previous administrator cannot perform the job) petitioned the court to sale William Bracken's children Amanda and Harriet:

To the Hon. County Court of Jackson County:  The petition of Wilkins Hunt adm. de bonis now with the will of William Bracken decd states that there are two slaves belonging to said estate in his possession unsold the one named Amanda a girl about fifteen years old and the other also a girl about thirteen years old named Harriet.  These slaves can not be divided in kind among the heirs at law of said decedent …. Equal division and distribution a sale of … is necessary. Petitioner therefore prays the Court to make an order directing him to make sale of said slaves on such terms as the law prescribes.  If an order of sale cannot be granted in the …. The petitioner respectfully asks the appointment of commissioners to make division of said slaves of …… to report thereof to this Court. Petitioner makes this application … of said estate as well as … of partion of said heirs and refers to the … of the Jackson County Court … title.  Respectfully W. Hunt adm. de bonis for…on Estate of William Bracken decd.  October 26, 1861 T. R. Cocke Wm. Traylor Thomas Taylor Wm. L. Venable G.F. Rogers  Hunt, adm. Bracken Petition for sale of Negroes filed October 28th AD 1861 Henry D. Starr Clerk C.C.J.C.

Court order was issued 28 Oct 1861 for the estate to sale Amanda and Harriet:

The State of Texas § To the Sheriff of Victoria County in said StateGreeting: You are hereby commanded together with Thomas R. Cocke, Wm. Traylor, Thomas L. Taylor, Wm. S. Venable, and George F. Rogers, citizens of your County to partition the slaves named in the following order according to the same to report accordingly and to wit:  The State of Texas § In the County Court County of Jackson October 28th AD 1861 Estate of Wm. Bracken decd.  In this Estate comes Wilkins Hunt, adm. ??? by petition praying for the partitions of the Negroes Amanda & Harriet mentioned in the will of Decedent as Devises of this Estate but decreed by the Court to belong to the property of this Estate and the Court having duly considered the matter.  It is ordered by the Court that the clerk issue a writ of partition to the Sheriff of Victoria County together with the following commissioners appointed by this Court to wit Thomas R. Cocke, Wm. Trayler, Thomas L. Taylor, Wm. L. Venable, & George F. Rogers, citizens of said County Victoria. Commanding them to divide & partition said Negroes under Decedent Wm. Bracken’s will & or make due report thereof, if the same are not capable of division and to report thereon at the next Term of this Court.  You will accordingly act and make due report to me at my office in Texana by the last Monday and 25th day of November AD 1861 how you have executed this process and as the law provides under this writ of Partition and send into the same a bill of all costs hereby accruing to you and ??? herein (said slaves to be shown you by Wilkins Hunt adm ??? of said Estate)   Witness my hand and the seal of the County Court at my office in Texana this 29th day of October AD 1861. Henry D. Starr Clerk C.C.J.C. Report The State of Texas § County of Victoria To the Hon. Wm. G. Ford Chief Justice of the County of Jackson in said State, in County Court Nov Term AD 1861.  We the undersigned sheriff and commissioners of Partition appointed by your Hon Court as its last proceeding Term to partition 2 certain Negroes female slaves by name Amanda & Harriet between heirs of the Estate of Wm. Bracken decd and under the will of said decedent beg leave to report: That we have examined said slaves and find them incapable of division as required and we appraise the same to wit:
Amanda at             $1000
Harriet at                 $850
Total value             $1850
And respectfully recommend the sale of the same. As in duty bound will ever pray, Sworn to and subscribed § Tho. L. Taylor Before me on this 23 day Wm. Traylor Of November AD 1861 Thos. R. Cocke Nat. T, Gaines commissioners J.P.V.C. Est. of Wm. Bracken decd. Writ of Partition of 2 Negroes Issued Oct 29th AD 1861 Henry D. Starr Clerk C.C.J.C. Filed & recorded Book D Page 331 Oct 28th AD 1861

In Feb 1872 the attorney for William Bracken's children further petitioned against administrator de bonis and the William Bracken estate for additional sums particularly related to value of Amanda and Harriet:

Wm. Bracken District Court February Term 1872 Wilkins Hunt Adm. § And now comes the heirs at Law of said estate by their attorney … to exceptions filed on behalf of Mary, Robert & Eliza Sneider on the …. Day of …. 1872. … claiming the sum of $3047.17 as is in set exceptions stated. Th… respondents …. The right of said claimants... said sum of money or any part thereof.  And as to that portion of said exceptions … claims the sum of $1850 the appraised valuation of the slaves Amanda and Harriet as stated in the accounts of the Adm. marked “73” These respondents … the right of said claimants to said sum of money and they ask a decree of this Court. That said sum of &1850 with interest at 8 per ct. from December 30th 1861. Entitling these respondents to said sum as against said claimants. A.H. Phillips Atty for Heirs. Estate of Wm Bracken W. Hunt Adm. Reply to Exceptions of Legatees Filed February 24th 1872  Sandford Dist. Clk Recorded Book G Pages 172 Phillips

Court rulings of late Feb 1872 appear to have made judgements on the above issues:

Estate of Wm. Bracken Decd. Wilkins Hunt Adm. § And now comes Robert, Mary & Eliza Sneider by their Guardian H.D. Starr & by attorney, and object to the final account filed herein by the Administrator and for special exceptions they show the following:
1st The Administrator shows a balance on hand of $3047.17 which he proposes to pay over to the heirs of Wm. Bracken upon the ground that he has paid hereupon an equal sum to these legatees, your petitioners ~ That this proposed distribution to the heirs of Wm. Bracken decd. is based upon an erroneous construction given to the Will of Decedent by the Adm., ~ That said construction … the part of said estate bequeathed to Charles, Amanda & Harriet as a lapsed devise which Charles, Amada & Harriet having been decided by the supreme Court to be incapable of taking descended to the heirs at law. That this construction is erroneous that Decedent devised all his estate to his children as a class, that the parts devised to Amanda, Charles, and Harriet did not lapse by reason of the civil death of the devises or legatees, but remained as if no such devise had been made it being a void devise; and that by a true construction of said will all of said Estate was intended to be equally divided between those qualified in law to take to wit your petitioners.  Therefore so far as there is property money and effects of said estate now in the hands of the administrator belonging thereto they pray that an order be made requiring him to deliver the same to your petitioners.  Your petitioners claim interest at the rate of 8 percent per annum upon all sums in the hands of the Adm. from the date of his receipt of said funds and to this end they pray that he may be required to …. his account and date each entry of debits & credits.  They object to commissioners as charged & here on this point adopt the objections filed by A.H. Phillips for … A.B. Peticolas

And their first exception first being overruled these complainants then come and file these additional exceptions (not waiving any right under or by virtue of said first exception)
2nd That the negroes Amanda & Harriet … by the Adm. Wilkins Hunt, … upon his inventory of said Estate as property belonging thereto, that by a decision of our Supreme Court (Hunt vs. White 24 Tex 643) they .. decided to be not entitled to their freedom & become assets of Wm. Bracken’s estate that all the effects of said Estate were to be divided & by the terms of Wm. Bracken’s will that under an order of Court on 28 Oct 1861 Amanda & Harriet were appraised at $1850 & reported incapable of partition that on 26 Nov 1861 [D-331] Wilkins Hunt informed the Court that he expected to … Amanda & Harriet at their appraisement & he did so. [D- 332] ~ That on 30th Dec 1861 the Court ordered the administrator to file his bond in the court for the amount. [D – 333] This order of the court was not complied with until 27th April 1863 when the Adm. came into Court and filed his bond to certain heirs in the sum of $1000 for their interest in said slaves. That the same had previously purchased the interests of some of the heirs at law & his bond was filed upon the assumption by him that your complainants had no interest whatever in said slaves.  That the testator by his will left a legacy to his adopted wife Eliza Snieder & …. in … gave … half of all the balance of his estate to your complainants, who are the children of Eliza Sneider & decedent. Whereupon they claim one half of the appraised value of said negroes Amanda & Harriet and claim interest thereon at the rate of 8 percent per annum from the date when it became due & payable to wit Nov 26th 1861 at which date Hunt received them at their appraised value.
3rd And these complainants adopt all the exceptions to this final … filed by the heirs at law of Wm. Bracken. February 21st 1872.
4th The inventory show that the Adm. received from McHenry … a note dated July 2nd 1853 for $20.02 against N.B. Thompson who always was solvent yet reports in his account no collection was made from him. Complainants show that said note was good for its amount and pray that said Adm. be charged therewith & be also required to pay interest thereon at 8 percent per annum form its maturity to the present time.
5th Said Adm. in his first item of credit, credits himself with commissions for receiving and paying out $9982.99 @ 10% $998.29 when by law he is only entitled to 5 percent for receiving … $499.19 and 5 percent for paying out the … not including the amount   paid to himself $9483.78 $474.18 Thus making his true commissions $973.37 & leaving due the estate from this source $24.92  They pray that this be corrected & that Adm. be charged with said sum.
6th Complainants object that said account entirely fails to show the kind of funds received and paid out. That Adm. credits himself with … of taxes paid in confederate money which is improper amounting to the … to $20.83 with which amt they pray the Adm. may be charged.  And further that he credits himself with U.S. Currency at … seven times amounting to $68.14 which …when paid were worth about ... the rate of 1.40 for gold & ought not to be received at … in the settlement of the account of an administrator. They pray that these & all currency items be corrected & that the Adm. be charge with the difference.  A.B. Peticolas Atty for … Estate of Wm Bracken Wilkins Hunt Adm. Exception of  Mary Robert & Eliza Snider  Legatees & Devisees of Wm. Bracken Decd. Filed February 23rd 1872 Geo F. Simons Clk DCJC Recorded Book G Pages 171 & 171 A.B. Percoilus

Estate of Wm. Bracken § Wilkins Hunt Admn. § Feby 25th 1872
This cause coming on to be heard upon the first objection of Mary Robert & Eliza Snieder legatees by their Guardian H.D. Starr, to the …. Claiming all the balance of money & property now in the hands of the admn., under a proper construction of the will and the answer of the admin to said objection being read & argument of counsel heard, it is adjudged & decreed by the court that as it appears from the records of said estate that there has been … a judgment of the probate court construing said will & … the whole estate to be equally divided between the heirs at law & these legatees, that said judgment is considered res adjudicate upon the question of the proper construction of this will and said first objection is overruled.  Estate of Wm. Bracken Decd. § Wilkins Hunt Admn. §  Feby 27th 1872
And this cause now coming on further to be heard upon the second exception of said Legatees to said final account of the administrator claiming under the will of Wm. Bracken, that they were entitled to one half of two slaves Amanda & Harriet a part of the estate. And argument of counsel having been heard and the court being sufficiently advised thereon it is ordered adjudged and decreed by the court that said Legatees Mary Robert & Eliza Snieder be and they are hereby declared entitled to a one half interest in said slaves & were entitled thereto at the death of Wm. Bracken.  And it further appearing that Wilkins Hunt in November 1861 took said slaves at their appraised value of eighteen hundred & fifty dollars and has not accounted thereto. It is therefore ordered adjudged and decreed that the said Legatees have and recover from Wilkins Hunt the sum of nine hundred & twenty-five dollars and 8 percent interest thereon from the 1st January 1872 to Oct 21, 1871 the date of the filing of the final account. It is further adjudged and decreed that the heirs at law recover the sum of nine hundred & twenty five dollars and 8 percent interest thereon from 1st January 1872 to 21st October 1871, and the court now here having calculated the interest & it appearing therefrom that each party is entitled to $1650.80. It is therefore adjudged ordered & decreed that said Legatees Mary Robert & Eliza Snieder do recover of Wilkins Hunt in his individual capacity & as administrator the sum of sixteen hundred & fifty 80/100 dollars and he is hereby ordered to pay the same to A.B. Peticolas the attorney for said legatees, & for the Guardian of said legatees. And it is further adjudged & decreed that the heirs at law of Wm. Bracken decd. do recover of the said Wilkins Hunt in his individual capacity and as administrator, the sum of sixteen hundred & fifty 80/100 dollars, and he is herby ordered to pay the same to the said heirs of Wm. Bracken … A.H. Phillips their attorney of record.

Estate of Wm. Bracken § Wilkins Hunt Admn. § Feby 27th 1872 This cause coming on further to be heard on the 3rd 4th 5th & 6th exceptions of the legatees aforesaid & the exceptions of the heirs and upon the answers thereto filed by the admin., ~ After argument of counsel it is ordered & decreed by the court that said account be reformed & a final statement of said account made under the following orders & directions of the court. To wit:
1st It is ordered that on all amounts collected & paid out by the administrator, except the amounts paid to him & legatees, the administrator is entitled to 5 percent for receiving & 5 percent for paying out ~
2nd That where debts have been collected and the proceeds have been paid or to be paid to the legatees or heirs at law, the administrator will be allowed 5 percent commissions for receiving only and no commissions for paying out ~
3rd That if a sale of real or personal property has in the course of the administration been made for the purpose of effecting a partition distribution between those entitled to receive the estate, then the administrator will be allowed commissions both for receiving & paying out the same whether paid to the legatees & heirs or others. If money had been received by Wilkins Hunt Admin. from the former Executor McHenry ~ one commission only will be allowed on such sum ~
4th For the sum of $20 83/100 dollars in Confederate money paid out by the administrator he is allowed the sum of five dollars as a credit ~
5th The Admin is allowed those items of his account paid in U.S. currency at ….
6th The court disallows thirty two dollars the per deium of the Admn. upon two items of expenses in his account ?. 6 & 7 and charges him therewith
7th The court refuses to allow to Wilkins Hunt 5 percent commissions on the amount of commissions for receiving which he paid to himself amounting to a difference of $24.92 with which the Admn. is charged
8th And it appearing from the a/c that $5631.96 was rec’d not from sales and that more than that amount was paid to the legatees & is to be paid to the heirs at law. Wilkins Hunt is only allowed commissions on that amount of 5 percent & will be charged with $281.59 commissions on that amount erroneously credited in his a/c making the whole amt of error in the credits of his a/c 281.59 72.75 $354.34
9th the Administrator will be charged interest on all items in his accounts of moneys received from and after twelve months after the receipt of the same up to April 18th 1871 at the rate of 8 percent per annum but he will be allowed to deduct payments made at the date of the payments
Feby 28, 1872
And all the parties … interest being now before the court represented by counsel and a full and accurate calculation of amounts due upon said administrator final account being made, under the decision of the court it is ordered adjudged and decreed by the court as a compromise … agreed upon between the all the parties in interest here & now represented by counsel in court, & as a full and final settlement of the total sum due by said Admn. to the Legatees and to the heirs at law, that said administrator pay to said Legatees Mary Robert & Eliza Sneider or their attorney of record A.B. Petticolas the sum of two thousand dollars in cash and that he pay to the heirs at law of Wm. Bracken decd or to their Atty of records eight thousand, four hundred & fifty-five 43/100 dollars in full payment & settlement due by said administrator to said heirs or …..and all errors are mutually agreed to be mutually released and this final decree is entered as a complete absolute & final settlement of said estate and it is further ordered that upon the payment or …. Of the said two thousand dollars decreed to the said legatees and of the said sum of eight thousand four hundred and fifty-five & 43/100 dollars decreed to the heirs at law as aforesaid and the payment & costs of court the said Wilkins Hunt be discharged as administrator of said estate and his …. Released from all liability upon his bond.

As the records show none of William Bracken's wishes concerning his three mulatto children, Charles, Amanda and Harriet was executed.  Charles remained property of the James Kerr estate and at one time the executors took the view that Charles' share of the inheritance per the will should go to the Kerr estate.  The fate of Charles or Amanda and Harriet is currently unknown and under investigation. At the time of William's death, Amanda and Harriet were about 11 and 9 years old, respectively.  A supreme court decision appears to have declared Amanda and Harriet ineligible for their stated inheritance, freedom, education and equal share of the Bracken estate as William Bracken willed.  As indivisible property of the estate they were subject to disposal similar to other real property by administrators of the estate as the court records above indicate.  By standards of the day, William Bracken’s holdings were significant. Elizabeth Schneider remarried soon after William’s death. William Bracken’s burial place is currently unknown, but thought to be somewhere in LavacaCo. The town of Bracken in ComalCo, TX is named after William Bracken.

The above was compiled from the research of Cheryl McMullen, a descendant of William Bracken. Ms. McMullen and Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas is seeking any and all new information concerning William Bracken and his descendants and particularly the fate and descendants of Charles, Amanda and Harriet Bracken whose mother and her parents are among the earliest Black Texians on record.  Ms. McMullen solicits leads on the whereabouts of the James Kerr Bible that lists his black servants including those related to William Bracken.  The last known location for the Bible is noted as follows: “This bible is now in the possession of Major General James Kerr Crain, Retired, at the above address [5612 Woodway, Washington 16, DC, July 24, 1957].” 

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