Churchill Sr. Receives His Land Grant - On July 7th, 1824 Churchill Fulshear Sr. officially petitioned the Mexican Government and Stephen F. Austin to allow him and his family to settle in a new colonial establishment located in what today is Fort Bend County Texas. He was on that day granted a league of land totaling 4,428 acres. The use of Sr. in the above introduction was not due to having seen it in recorded documents or deed records, but instead to distinguish between the gentleman who participated in the original Mexican Land Grant and his son Churchill Fulshear Jr. Most who know the history of the town of Fulshear are more familiar with Churchill Fulshear Jr. since there is more recorded history during the mid to late 1800’s. From the historical records point of view, Churchill Jr. had more to do with the development of the town of Fulshear due to his age and lifespan. His father Churchill Sr. passed away in 1836 before the Texas Revolution and just 12 years after receiving his Land Grant.Coming to Texas Churchill Fulshear Jr. was born July 10, 1808 in Tennessee. He came to Texas with his father, mother Betsy and older brothers Benjamin and Graves and Sister Mary. According to the filed document recording the original land grant, the location of their land was referred to as “in the East margin of the Brazos River”. It was typical for the families settling in this region to locate on or near the Brazos River. It is believed that the Fulshear family first built a cabin on or very near the Brazos River at the south end of their 4,000 plus acre property. The boundaries of the original land grant can be identified by referencing present day landmarks. The Brazos River is the southern boundary of the 4,428 acres. The northern boundary is north of downtown Fulshear running along North Fulshear Estates Road and bounded by FM 359 and just north of the Irene Stern Community Center. The western line runs south crossing FM 1093 at the entrance to the Fulbrook Creek residential development and continues to the Brazos River. The eastern line travels south past Irene Stern Community Center then follows Fulshear Katy Road as it crosses FM 1093 and continues to the Brazos River. A Growing Family From the time period between 1824 and the taking of the 1850 US Census there is little recorded information as to the activities and whereabouts of the Churchill Fulshear family. In 1830 Churchill Jr. married Minerva Cartwright the daughter of Jesse H. Cartwright. Together, they had 5 children: Mary, Graves, Jessie, John and Churchill (the 3rd). It is reported that Churchill Jr. and his brothers, Benjamin and Graves, joined the Republic of Texas army in 1836 and were scouts along the Brazos River bottom. In 1856 Churchill Jr’s son Graves married Lavinia Colburn and they had a son named Thomas Fulshear and a daughter named Ella Fulshear. Other writings mention Jessie and John eventually joining the confederate army in 1862 and having never married. Real Estate and Horse Racing One of Churchill Jr’s first real estate transactions was on May 10, 1844 when he sold 654 acres to John Randon. The property was located at the northeast corner of Churchill’s league of land. Incidentally the Randon family had also been granted the adjacent league of land. The deed between the two noted Randon paid Fulshear $4,000 for 654 acres. There were many more land sales that followed. Various accounts include that between 1850 and 1870 Churchill Fulshear Jr. operated a horse racing course located north of the town in or near what was then called the town of Pittsville. He called his track “Churchill Downs”. He was known for his love of horses which was evidenced by the fact that he built stables for them on the lower level of his home. One of his most famous horses at that time was “Get-A-Way” also known as “Old Get” by the local people. The horse was bred by Churchill and competed on numerous tracks throughout the United States and Europe. Churchill Junior Builds His Mansion In 1850 Churchill Jr. began construction of a new home that he called Lake Hill. He chose to build the home on one of the highest points on his land. The hill is hard to miss as you travel into Fulshear on FM 1093 from the east. It fronts on the right (north) side of FM 1093 between Katy Fulshear Road and Syms Street. The home overlooked a lake just south of the home across FM 1093. The very large red brick home with white colonial columns was 3 stories high and included a bottom floor or basement. It is said that the lower level contained a kitchen, a store room and stables for Fulshear’s most expensive race horses. The second floor included a parlor, a dining room, and the master bedroom along with a few other small rooms. The third floor contained more bedrooms and a top floor that was used to look out over the land. The Fulshear home was built with bricks formed using water from the nearby lake and accounts are that Churchill fired the bricks himself. Each brick was personalized with an imprint of an oak leaf. Many Rooms for Many People It is interesting to note all of the names of the individuals who lived in the Fulshear home after it was completed. The home’s first occupants included Churchill Jr. 42 his wife Minerva Fulshear 40, and their 5 children. Their names were Mary A. Fulshear (age 18), Graves Fulshear (age 15), Jessie Fulshear (age 13), John Fulshear (age 7) and Churchill (age 2). Ten years later the 1860 US Census reported Churchill’s residence included himself, then age 51, M.(Minerva) K. Fulshear (age 50), Mary A. Moore (age 25), F.(Fulshear) Moore (age 6), Jesse Fulshear (age 21), John R. Fulshear (age 18), C. Fulshear (age 10), John C. Cooper (age 74), R.A. Oliver (age 33), E. Oliver (age 26), C.M. Oliver (age 6), G.W. Oliver (age 4), Martha Oliver (age 1) and B Morse (age 22). Twenty years after the home was built, the 1870 US Census revealed that John Huggins (age 22) joined Churchill Jr. as a resident along with Julius C Wimberly (age 18), Moses Johnson (age 27), Lucinda Johnson (age 20), Emma Johnson (age 4), Jane Coleman (age 15), Thomas Cuny (age 16) and Lewis Foster (age 14). By this time, Churchill Jr’s wife Minerva, daughter Mary and her son Fulshear Moore had passed away. Additionally Churchill Jr’s sons Graves, Jessie, Churchill “the 3rd” and wife Virginia were reported as all deceased due to tuberculosis and related diseases. Minerva passed away in 1862. Graves passed in 1859 and Jessie and Mary each passed in 1866. Down to Four By 1880, the Fulshear household was down to four occupants other than Churchill. Emma Wilson, age 39, lived in the home and her occupation according to the census was “keeping house.” Emma’s birthplace was listed as Germany. The census included Churchill’s grandson Thomas, age 22, “atnd stock” (attended stock) and two servants Ann Flake, age 50, listed as a “cook” along with Liser Gordan, age 50, shown as a “maid”. On the 23rd day of February 1883 Churchill Jr. deeded property out of the original Fulshear League to his grandson Thomas Fulshear. Churchill states in the deed that this transfer of property was based on his deceased wife’s will in which others were given property and now those who were given property are deceased. He stated that he and Thomas were “the only surviving parties interested in said estate of community property belonging to my wife at her death”. The property description included “parallel with the west line of the S.R. Walker tract to strike a pecan tree located in the fields and north of the Big Bayou said tree being about 2 feet in diameter”. The tract was further described as being “some where between Five Hundred and One Thousand acres”. Enter the Railroad Probably the most well know land transfer occurred in 1888 when Churchill Jr. granted the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway Company (S.A. & A.P.) right away to run their tracks through his property. The deed that records the transfer states the railway track would be running from Wallis in Austin County to Houston in Harris County. Part of the railroads responsibility was to build and maintain the railroad depot. Additionally S.A. & A.P. Railway surveyed and platted the entire town of Fulshear in order to show the railway right of way as it related to the remainder of the “downtown” area. The railway company provided a survey/plat and attached it to the June 1888 deed. The plat included the names of all of the streets which are still used today. What is not as well known is that other negotiations and transactions occurred in order to get this deal done. The deed referenced earlier, dated June 1888, included a transfer of land unrelated to the pathway of the railway. Churchill Jr. deeded 100 acres to the railroad including 13 Blocks of land, most of which were comprised of 12 individual lots each and located in downtown Fulshear. Additionally, Churchill Jr. deeded to S.A. & A.P. Railway company six specific even numbered lots out of four Blocks located on what was then called North Front Street and is now known as FM 1093. It may be assumed that Mifflin Kenedy the President of the S.A. & A. P. Railway Company used this type of deal making in order to finance the construction of the railroads. Shortly after the transfer of the downtown properties from Churchill Jr. to the railway company, both parties began selling the lots. On a side note, Mifflin Kenedy must have done well for himself given the fact the town of Kenedy, Texas located between San Antonio and Victoria was named after him. Growth, Tragedy, and Rebuilding Most notable of the lot sales from both Churchill and the railway company were six lots out of Block 2 that all front on FM 1093. They begin at the corner of FM 1093 and FM 359 and continue east one block to Wilson Street. The existing Shell station sits on four of these six lots. Churchill Jr. sold lot 5 to William Seay in 1889 for fifty dollars and lot 3 to J.H. Ferguson and Warren Miller in 1890 for seventy five dollars. Payment was made with ten dollars cash and a note for sixty five dollars. The railway sold lot 6 and 4 to James H. Quinn and W. L. Nesbit in 1891 for fifteen dollars cash and a sixty dollar note. The significance of these initial lot sales was that lot 5 was eventually sold to Henry Bullwinkle in 1897 for six hundred dollars. By 1904 Bullwinkle and a George Hunken both had ownership interest in this lot. Based on an old photograph it is known that Hunken owned a grocery store and Bullwinkle a dry goods store in Fulshear. The photograph is believed to be from between the late 1890’s and 1910 and ties the location of their original store(s) to be where the Shell gas station now sits at the intersection of FM 1093 and FM 359. Additional stores and owners from that same photograph and Block of lots were J.G. Mayes Saloon, Dr. P.D. Harris Drug Store & Office and the Huggins Building. The Churchill Fulshear Jr. home on the hill can also be seen in one of the photographs. Across North Front Street (FM 1093) was the location of the train Depot. It sat on the north side of the tracks across FM 1093 from the existing Shell gas station. The City of Fulshear has located three flags and a flower garden near the site. There was a fire in 1910 that destroyed most of the buildings in downtown at that time. Following the fire, in 1911, J.G. Mays and M.K. Mayes built a two story building on the southeast corner of FM 1093 and FM 359 which was called the Mayes Building. The first businesses in this building included M. Solomon Dry Goods, M.K. Mayes General Merchandise and J.G. Mayes Saloon. Churchill Jr.'s Will Unfortunately, Churchill Jr. did not live long enough to see the development of downtown due to his passing February 1st 1892. According to Churchill Jr’s Last Will and Testament dated August 14th, 1884 and witnessed by R. L. Harris and E. M. Huggins, Emma Wilson, his housekeeper, was to receive his “present place of residence known as Lake Hill” and the land surrounding it described at that time as “containing 500 acres more or less”. Churchill Jr’s grandson, Thomas Fulshear, was also named as an heir and was to receive 25 head of horses and 50 head of cattle along with the remainder of Churchill’s land. On May 23rd, 1892 when the Will was probated there was a survey ordered to more accurately describe and account for the property willed to Emma Wilson and Thomas Fulshear. Wilson’s property was surveyed and actually contained 976 acres and Thomas Fulshear ended up with a total of two tracts containing 535 acres on the north portion of the original League and 503 acres out of the southern portion. The Fulshear Family Cemetery Still located on the old Fulshear family home site is a small family cemetery with three head stones still in place. There is a 4 sided head stone with the following names: Churchill Fulshear (the 3rd), his wife N.V. (Virginia) Fulshear, Jessie C. Fulshear, Fulshear Moore (Mary’s son), Mary A. Wimberly (Churchill Jr’s daughter) and her husband W. C. Wimberly, M.K. Fulshear and Graves Fulshear. Inscribed on a separate headstone is “In Memory of Churchill Fulshear” born July 10, 1808 and died Feb 1, 1892. A third head stone has the name Amelia who is further described as the “wife of J.C. Wimberly”. From the Author I hope the information shared serves to not only document facts related to the life of Churchill Fulshear Jr., but to also help paint a picture and keep alive some of the history of the town of Fulshear which has disappeared. The obvious focus of the article was Churchill Fulshear Jr.’s life, however there are numerous other local families that have roots going back to the early days of Fulshear. With assistance we hope to include those family stories in upcoming issues.
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