Chasing Our Tales - The Garlands of Palo Pinto and Parker Counties

Chasing Our Tales - The Garlands of Palo Pinto and Parker Counties


After publishing the first Fortune Bend story, I reported that I had heard from Noel Garland <> of Mesquite, Texas. Over the last couple of months, Noel has presented me with a wonderful store of information about his family and other Garland families of the area. I am going to make a note here, to watch the William Garlands, for like most families there is a name thread, and in the Garland family it appears to be William!

In his first email, Noel said that he was a member of the Palo Pinto/Parker County Garland family and that his cousins, the William Lafeyette Garland clan, populated Garland Bend which is the bend of the Brazos River next to Fortune Bend. He went on the say that the William Amos Garland family, Noel's grandfather, settled at Ballew Springs near Garner about 1886. The family had traveled from Mint Hill, near Charlotte, North Carolina. Noel's father, William Caldwell Garland, was born 22 May 1886, during the move. William Caldwell moved to Mineral Wells in the early 1900's.

It seems that Noel's ancestor may have been yet another William Garland, of Chesterfield, South Carolina, who fought with the Continental Line, 10th North Carolina, until 1781, when he moved to the PeeDee section of South Carolina and fought with the partisan rangers against the British in Francis Marion's (The Swamp Fox) 1st and 2nd South Carolina regiments. They fought mostly in the swamps of South Carolina--thus Marion's nickname.

These ancestors are believed to have come through Edgecombe County, North Carolina, but originally settled on the Isle of Wight, Virginia. Noel feels that if this information is accurate, the Garlands would have ancestors going back to 1655 in Virginia, and possibly they can discover a link to those particular Garlands who were well known in Albermarle County and in Lynchburg, Virginia. This could prove to be a link between the Garlands and the Lynch family who founded Mineral Wells.

I did discover in the DAR Patriot Index of 1990 that one William Garland/Galland was born between 1755 and 1760 in North Carolina and died in 1827 in South Carolina and married Lydia Cooley, and was a private in the South Carolina army during the Revolutionary War.

Noel' says great-grandfather died at the age of 38, in 1862, a casualty of the Civil War. He had served, it is thought, in the 48th North Carolina Infantry during the war. Also, other Garland ancestors either died in a Yankee Prison, Point Lookout, or lost limbs at Cold Harbor, Maryland.

Noel was born in Mineral Wells in 1935, the last of nine children. The oldest, William Clarence (see that William again!), drowned in the Brazos River in 1927 at the age of 12. Noel is the last of this Garland family, except for three nephews and one niece, all of whom seem to have disappeared.

Noel went on to tell me that he spent the first nine years of his life in Mineral Wells before moving to Dallas in 1944. His family home was about a mile west of downtown Mineral Wells on Highway 180. The folks who lived next to the Garlands were the Lipes family, and there was a little store close by which was run by a Mr. Jones. A Mrs. Barker lived on the corner west of Noel's home, and the Moores lived a bit further west. Bill and Diana Botts, and Noel's best friend at the time, Donald Botts, lived around the corner. Noel remembers walking to Sam Houston Elementary School. Some other of his classmates were Morris Wayne Garrett, Jimmy Hay, and Charley Moore. Noel is presently endeavoring to collect information from former servicemen who were stationed at Fort Wolters, as Noel was in 1958.

Interestingly, Noel's first cousin, Charles Richard Garland Jr., was in the movie, Friendly Persuasion. He played the minor role of a farmer. Although he never met Richard, Noel says he was tall and handsome, with black curly hair. Richard married Beverly Fessenden, who later became known as Beverly Garland. She starred in movies and television. Richard's parents were married in 1915 in Mineral Wells, and Richard and his sister, Marjorie, the last female singer in the Merry Mac's, were born in Mineral Wells.

Marjorie Garland married the lead singer of the Merry Mac's, Judd McMichael, one of three brothers in the group. McMichael's grandfather married a woman named Gertrude Adams in 1900, who was a direct descendant of John Adams, the second president of the United States.

Majorie's daughter, Carried McMichael <>, states that the Merry Macs were in several movies. Two of these were RideEm Cowboy, which included MaryLou Cook, Judd McMichael, Ted McMichael, and Joe McMichael as actors, and in which Ella Fitzgerald debuted; and Mr. Music, starring Bing Crosby, and had Marjorie Garland McMichael and the Merry Macs in it. Other movies featuring the Merry Macs are Melody Lane and Moonlight in Hawaii. The Merry Macs were popular during World War II and did backup work for Bing Crosby and Judy Garland, working on such tunes as Mairzydoats.

Noel's mother was a Robertson, and members of that family, along with several Garlands, are buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Mineral Wells. Charles and Don Garland's family is buried in the Indian Creek Cemetery, and many other Garlands, particularly those of the William Lafeyette Garland family, are buried in the Palo Pinto Cemetery.

Rick Garland, of the Garland Bend Garlands, owns Goldmine Bingo about two miles down the road from Noel in Mesquite. He was raised in Garland Bend and remembers stories about the Garland and Weldons who were well known both in the Bend and in Pickwick, the community which now lies beneath Possum Kingdom Lake.

Rick tells Noel that there was a Miss Weldon who was a school teacher in Graford and taught many of the Garlands. Also, he relates, the sheriff of Palo Pinto County at that time was Sherman Weldon, a great prankster, who was always playing practical jokes on people. Rick says there is a story about Sherman impersonating the "Crazy Lady of the Mountain" and sneaking up on Wick and Joe Bailey Garland to scare them. It appears he did such a skillful job, Wick and Joe Bailey gave him a good thrashing before he had time to identify himself.

Also, Rick tells, Sherman decided to scare a fellow named George Pendergraff who slept in a lean-to near a barn dance he was attending. As Pendergraff was tying his mule to the hitching post, Sherman, dressed in a big fur coat, grabbed Pendergraff from behind, made loud growling sounds, and scared Pendergraff so badly he tore out, lickety split, running and yelling all the way to Frotune Bend. The next day Sherman had to return Pendergraff's mule to the Bend.

I have also received information from Ruth Garland Penzera. Ruth tells me that the Hights, McCoys, Ganns, Nowaks, and a few Garlands were in school together in the one-room schoolhouse at Fortune Bend in the 1930's. She also states that Garland Bend has had a Garland in residence since December 1872 when Washington Lafeyette Garland married Saphronias Maxwell who was born 13 October 1849 in Alabama. Saphronias died in 1909. The Maxwell family owned land just over the mountain from the Garland on what is now the Belding Ranch.

Washington and Saphronias' first child, Willie Jane, lived only one year. Their son, George Armenius was born in Strawn in 1876. In all, Washington had eight sons to reach manhood, and Ruth tells me she is the granddaughter of the oldest, George Armenius. The other sons were Bud, Will, Matt, Grover, Jess (Coon), Ross, Jack, and Hugh.

George married Grace Leona Miller in 1898. Their children were Wick, Bailey, Candis, Burkie, Fancher, Keeta, and John X. All the children were born at Garland Bend except John X. who was born in Graford.

Washington Lafeyette was was born on 4 May 1847, and left the Carolinas at an early age. He pioneered in Oklahoma and later came to Palo Pinto County. Following his first wife's death, Washington married Mattie Belle Brown with whom he had four more children. Two sons of that union are still living, Couts M. Garland of Midland and Carte Garland of Del Rio. Washington Lafeyette died 22 March 1918.

Ruth goes on to tell that there are three grandchildren of George "Menius" and Grace Garland who still live in Garland Bend permanently, and quite a few that have retirement homes waiting on them to retire. At times they have had five generations at a time staying at Garland Bend. The only living child of George Armenius and Grace Leona is Fancher Garland who lives in Mineral Wells.

The Garland family reunion is held the second Sunday in June each year. The 2002 Garland Reunion was held at Eddie Garland's home which is the last one on Garland Bend Road (you have to pass the log house to get there).

Finally, I have had information from another Garland Bend family member, Dee (Tomlin-Garland) Moseley <>. Dee says she is sure she must be a cousin to Noel. She states that there are seven fourth generation Garlands who still live in the Bend and some fifth generation families, not Garland, live there, also. Dee also says that she and her 97-year-old father are moving back to the Bend in the fall of 2002!

Isn't this a truly interesting and wonderful family? I am surely appreciative to these members of the Garland family who have shared their history with us, and I hope that members of other families will also share their tales, as well! I can be contacted at P. O. Box 61, Mineral Wells TX 76068-0061 or on the internet at

One other letter I would like to share comes from Christine Tomerlin who lives in Garner. She states that her family lived at the county farm when it was no longer used as a prison farm. She says she is a member of the Baker family who came from Mississippi and settled in the Lake Mineral Wells area. Their farm was purchased by the City of Mineral Wells in 1918 in order for the lake to be constructed.

I want to thank Noel, Ruth, Rick, Dee, and Christine for writing. You all come back now, real soon, and God bless us everyone!

Washington Lafeyette Garland

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