Robert L. Dement Remembers

This is an effort to tell some of the story of the Reuben and Sinia Glenn Dement family from the time they left Mississippi until the present time.

It is a mostly word-of-mouth story with a few facts taken from records found in Lural Alexander’s old trunk. These papers and an old Bible are in my possession at this time; they were left in our home upon Grandpa Alex’s death in 1910.

The story was told by my grandpa, Lural Alexander Dement, to his son, Robert Bethel (Bat) who was my father, and by Bat Dement to his children, that includes me, Robert Lee (Bob) Dement.

An excellent research has already been made of the ancestry of Reuben and Sinia Glenn Dement and need not be repeated here. This is an effort to pick up part of the story from the time Reuben and Sinia decided to come to Texas.

According to the 1850 census, Reuben was born in Kentucky, Sinia Glenn in Georgia. They were married in 1830. Three children were born in Alabama, one of whom was my grandpa, Lural Alexander, born in 1836. Three children were born in Mississippi, the last one being Charles Gilbert born in 1844. The last three children were born in Texas; the first one was Edward Harvey, July 6, 1847. So Reuben and Sinia had to have come to Texas after March 1, 1844 and before July 6, 1847. Using Grandpa’s Citizenship Oath, i think they came in 1845 or 1846. So Grandpa Alex would have been 9 or 10 years old at the time and could remember something about the trip and early days of Texas.

When Stephen F. Austin settled Austin County, he brought a surveyor with him named Glenn, a brother of Sinia Glenn Dement. This was several years prior to 1945. The brother lived in Austin County somewhere near Bellville. So about 1845 Reuben and Sinia decided to move to Austin County, Texas. Two of Reuben’s brothers and their families decided to come also. The two brothers were Thomas and Benjamin.

The plan was for them to sell their possessions and catch a river boat in Mississippi near where they lived, and travel down the Mississippi to New Orleans. From there they would take a boat across the Gulf of Mexico and land on the Texas coast, probably in Galveston, Velasco, or Matagorda. Wagons and supplies could be bought for the short overland trip to Bellville in Austin County. Upon reaching New Orleans and waiting for several days, they could not find a boat going to Texas nor was any scheduled to sail in the near future. However, they did find a river boat that was going back up the Mississippi, then up the Red River to a settlement near Denison in northeast Texas.

The choice then was to travel overland from New Orleans or go to northeast Texas and travel overland from there. The journey from New Orleans of about 400 miles over low swampy land; and then across the territory between the Sabine and Neches Rivers and was considered to be very dangerous. The country country between the Sabine and Neches Rivers was full of outlaws and robbers and was really a no-man’s land. They chose the journey up the Mississippi and Red Rivers to northeast Texas. The distance from there was shorter, the traveling better, and there were only a few Indians to worry about.

The story about this part of the trip that I remember is about Grandpa Alex losing his hat. It seems that as they were going up the Mississippi, Grandpa was standing on deck and his hat blew off. As they moved up the river, he could see his hat floating down the river. Upon reaching northeast Texas, Reuben found that there was not a hat to be bought, but someone made Alex a coonskin cap, the David Crockett type. He wore this for months. After the family reached Austin county, an old peddler came by and had a hat for sale. It was too small, but Great Grandma Sinia bought it for Alex anyway. She wet the hat and stretched it over the bottom of a round churn and placed it in the sun to dry. When it dried, it was as round as the churn and fell over his eyes. He wouldn’t wear itand had to wear his coonskin cap for several years.

The three dement families bought wagons and supplies in northeast Texas and started toward Bellville in Austin County. After traveling a short while, they came to a settlement. Thomas liked the country and was tired of traveling; so he decided to stop there. Reuben and Benjamin with their families came on to Austin County. Benjamin did not stay near Bellville long; he moved to Gonzales county near Waelder. Reuben and Sinia settled \in northeast Austin County near where Shelby is today. Edward and Nancy M. were born here. James C. was born July 10,1851 but died September 30 , 1851. Their first born Margaret J., also died in infancy (September 10, 1832 – January 10, 1836).

I know very little about the families of Thomas and Benjamin Dement; however, Papa (Beth) said he remembered a reunion the three brothers had at his grandpa’s home when Beth was a small boy. This must have been sometime in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s. One of the Thomas Dement descendants lived near Galena Park, Texas (1956-1970). I moved to the Dement home place near Burton in 1970. L. D. Dement’s son Len attended the 1980 reunion. One of Benjamin’s descendants lived across the street from me when I lived in Boling, Texas (1941-1956). In fact, his name was Ben Dement. Unfortunately, we were not interested in our roots and family connections enough for me to try to establish relationship with him at that time.

So far as I know, Reuben and Sinia lived out their lives in Austin County. Papa (Beth) always said that they were buried in Austin County.

The rest of the story concerns the Lural Alexander branch of the family. When Grandpa Alex was a grown young man, prior to the Civil War, he obtained a job driving an ox-drawn freight wagon for a freighter. The route traveled was usually between Harrisburg (Houston) and Austin. There would be several wagons with two or three yoke of oxen per wagon in the train. They would haul salt, flour, sugar, whiskey, and manufactured goods inland and return with hides and cotton. There were no roads as we know them today and no fences, only open land. They had to ford the creeks and cross the rivers by ferry. Travel was slow, especially during the winter and during rainy spells. When the prairies became muddy, the wagon train could travel only a few miles in a day. Early each evening, camp would be made. The oxen were hobbled and turned loose to graze; the freighters would cook meals and rest. The next morning the oxen were gathered up, and the journey was resumed. This old wagon road would often pass near settler’s homes, and the freighters were welcomed into these homes to visit and bring news.

The old road that Grandpa Alex traveled went across southwestern Washington County, and across LaBahia Prairie just west of where Burton is today. The remains of this road can still be found here today. In fact, it is just a few feet from my front yard fence on LaBahia Prairie. It also passed near the home of Thomas Derrick who settled on LaBahia Prairie in 1852-3. The old Thomas Derrick home place is now owned by M. C. Kieke and joins the Dement place. Grandpa Alex met the Derrick family on these trips, and therein lies another story, for Thomas Derrick had a daughter named Missouria Ann Derrick.

When the Civil War began, Grandpa Lural Alex Dement joined the Confederate Army. He served in Green’s Brigade. This was a unit made up mostly of men from Washington, Austin, Fayette, and Bastrop Counties. In 1863 Grandpa was wounded. His left hand was almost shot off. I believe it was in a battle near Brownsville. He was sent home for his wounds to heal. On May 6, 1864, he was given a medical discharge. This discharge is among his personal papers.

In September 1863, Lural Alexander Dement was married to Missouria Ann Derrick. Grandpa and Grandma Dement lived the remainder of their lives in Washington County on LaBahia Prairie west of Burton. They are buried in the Derrick family cemetery, west of Burton on the M. C. Kieke place. This cemetery also holds the remains of many of the Derrick family.

Lural Alex and Missouria Ann Dement had four sons and one daughter. Their daughter Lucy Jain died in infancy. The sons grew up near Burton on LaBahia Prairie. Marion Gilbert, (1864-1925) was married twice. He first married Nannie Mercer. There were two children from this marriage, Herman and Nannie. After Nannie’s death, he married Emma Lindsey. There were two boys from this marriage, William and Marion Gilbert, Jr. Marion Gilbert and Emma are buried in Sommerville, Texas. John Thomas (1866-1939) was married to Dicey Wendt. There were six children, Mary Ella, Hester Ann, Rachel Louise, Winnie Ethel, Lenora, and Alvean Greene. John and Dicey spent almost all of their lives near Burton and are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Burton. Reuben (1868-1922) married Frances (Fanny) E. Wendt (a sister of Dicey). There were four children, Georgia Ella, Ruby, Fred Alex, and Clydia Missouri. Reuben and Fanny lived all of their lives near Burton and are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Burton. Robert Bewthel (Beth or Bat) (1870-1955) was married to Emma Black. There were four children, Harold Lural, Ira Missouri, Robert Lee, and Johnny Merten. Beth and Emma lived all of their lives on LaBahia Prairie near Burton and are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Burton.

Now, the tree is too large to go any farther. Everyone will have to make his connection and keep up with his branch, if he wishes to keep the Dement history going.

Robert L. Dement 9/16/1981