Israel Mathias Harkey born January 18, 1835 near the present site of Charlotte, North Carolina. At an early age, his parents moved the family to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1840 near Pleasant Valley. (Sometimes called Harkey Valley.) Here the families lived fifteen years. They began casting about for more land to there liking, so Riley and Israel left Little Rock early in the spring of 1854 on horseback, headed for Texas, looking for a better location while working earning their own way in frontier land.
In due time they reached a point in the north bank of the Colorado River at Eagle Ford after riding up the beautiful Cherokee Creek taking a westernly course soon arrived at Wallace Creek. Here it looked like a hunters paradise for white tail deer, turkey, black bear, quail and fox, squirrel, and just a few miles north or west the immense herds of buffalo shook the earth as they shifted frin okace ti okace. Wild game in herds and droves everywhere. The broad acres of fine black loom land covered deep in lusicious grasses for grazing. Only a few days were spent resting their horses and homeward bound back to Arkansas they went. No time was lost in relating their experiences and what they had seen at Wallace Creek. After many family consultations all agreed and were determined to move to San Saba, Texas. The father, Mathias Harkey, owned considerable property, began seeing about how to dispose of it, before moving to Texas.
By early spring, 1855, the trek to Texas was ready, the grass was sufficient to feed their work oxen. In June, the Harkey clan landed at Wallace Creek, none the worse for the long trip. They had landed at their destination noon June 11th, 1855. The county was not organized until a year later in May 1856.
Israel Harkey had left a young girl, his sweetheart, back in Arkansas. In the many lonely months ahead, helping his brothers establish their homes, he wrote his girl. We are fortunate to have a copy of the original letter sent before he returned for his bride. He was married on March 11, 1858 in Arkansas to Bungelo Duskey Josiephine Canzada Jane Gunter who was born August 17, 1840 in Tennessee. She died June 29, 1925 at 2:45 p.m. in San Saba, Texas.
Israel was thrifty and accumulated a goodly amount of acreage of San Saba river bottom land near the mouth of Wallace Creek. His occupation was farming, raising good cattle and breeding and training horses, in which he took great pride. In the family records, held by Olga Harkey, there is a letter addressed to Mr. Israel Harkey and family from John L. Gunter, a brother of Canzada, telling of the hardships endured by the clan left in Arkansas during the Civil War. This is a heart rendering account of all the hardships that came to the families that declared their allegiances for the Union or to the South, even to those who did not declare or have to fight, all became involved in the emotional battle of loved ones who were lost in battle. Those people who took vengenance upon the helpless in the dark of nite as did many met their maker by such behaviour of their fellow man.To the union of Israel and Canzada were born eleven children many of these descendants still live in the San Saba area. This young couple spent their honeymoon in an ox wagon on the road back to San Saba County. To Texas, according to the 1860 census of San Saba county, John Gunter was with his sister and acting as a laborer for her husband. That year they were farmers worth $394 in San Saba. The county was still being contested by its previous inhabitants, the Indians, the settlers were often subjected to Indian raids. On February 9th, 1860, the citizens of San Saba petitioned Governor Sam Houston to allow them to raise a force of twenty men to help protect the settlement. This petition was signed by fifty men, including Mathias Harkey and his sons.
The Civil War greatly disrupted life on the frontier of Texas. Indian raids increased because so many men of military age were away fighting in the East. The Harkey family in Texas apparently did not take much part in the War, although Israel's brother Riley did take part in border defense against Indian raids. The Harkey family in Arkansas, however, was caught up in the fighting and joined the Union side. After the war, Israel received letters telling of the war's effects. The letters were from two of Canzada's brothers, John L. and William Gunter. The letters are presented in their original spelling and puctuation. They give the market prices of stock and grains and the availability of such. The poem of the frontier love letter express the deep feelings for those held dear to the heart and his respect for a God, only through his loving Grace are we able to do the things we try only for his strength that he gives us are we able to accomplish anything.
As the century progressed, the family became more prosperous. They owned farmland near Harkeyville and raised cattle and horses, living in the area until he was stricken with appendicitis in 1914. Surgery at that day had not reached the high point of perfection that it is today. His family doctor told him that his was a very serious complaint and that a major surgical operation was necessary at once, and that the wise thing was to get ready for any emergency. Mr. Harkey's reply, "I am ready." The operation was made, complications set up, and in spite of the best of medical care, death cam August 6th, 1914. The wife, Canzada Gunter-Harkey, who was born August 17th, 1840, survived her husband till July 6th, 1925. They both rest in the San Saba County Cemetery.
Israel and Canzada eventually had thirteen children: Mary L., Melisa Catherine, Telitha Ann, Richard Taylor, Ossa C., Louisa Virginia, Isadie Alvin, with two children dying in their infancy.
Source: The Gunter/Harkey files of Jack Clark
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