"Old Shelby" Jonathan Anderson
From Know Your Heritage by Leila B. LaGrone
The Panola Watchman newspaper column, May 25, 1975


Jonathan Anderson, known by his friends as "Old Shelby," has the distinction of having served Panola County well in its early days.

There are conflicts in reports of his birth dates. Early stories oh him say he crossed the Sabine River at Logansport, La., in 1819 on his 20th birthday, making him born in 1798. Panola County Census Records for 1850 show that he was born in Kentucky in 1800. The Census also shows that he married Hanna, a native of Tennessee, and their first child, Mahala, was born in Texas in 1825.

At any rate, he settled about 41/2 miles southeast of Carthage in Shelby County long before there was either a Panola County or Carthage resident. His home was in the neighborhoods of the ANDERSON, ENGLISH and MCFADDEN families. ANDERSON owned the pine forest where Carthage now stands. Though he had made his claim in pre-Texas Republic days when the area was still under Mexican rule, the Head-Right survey was not completed by Texas Republic for a patent until June 1848. It was at that time an uninhabited forest.

Jonathan Anderson was a veteran of the Texas Revolution. At he age of 89, in 1887, he applied for a donation Land Certificate under the Texas Revolutionary Veteran Act of 1881. He stated on the application, "I , Jonathan Anderson, rendered service from November 1, 1831, to the end of the War, or furnished a substitute in my place. I was in actual military service of Texas at the time of the siege of Bexar, in December, 1835. I was at the battle of San Jacinto in April 1836."

Capt. John English signed the application as Anderson's representative, and Anderson signed with his mark. Witnesses were John Sinclair and  W. B. Biggar.

When Panola County was formed from Shelby and Harrison Counties in 1846, Jonathan Anderson's land was near the very center of the new county.

A temporary county seat was established at Pulaski, one of two major villages of the county at the time. An argument arose between citizens in Pulaski and those in the Grand Bluff area as to where the permanent seat of justice should be The Texas Legislature required that the people choose a place not more than five miles from the geographical center of the county. The Act of the Second Legislature of the State of Texas, on March 15, 1848, ordered, "...Commissioners shall have powers to purchase land in an amount not to exceed one hundred and sixty acres for the use of said county, or to receive any amount as a donation."

Jonathan Anderson came forward and offered to donate one hundred acres of land for the use of the county, if the people saw fit to select the center of the county for the county seat.

When the election was held to choose between Pulaski and Carthage, the choice fell on Carthage. Though the people of Grand Bluff protested, the election was declared legal and final.

In keeping with his promise Jonathan Anderson appeared a the County Clerk's office, November 13, 1848, and deeded one hundred acres of land to "Thomas G. Davenport and his successors in the office for the use of Panola County." He had been elected sheriff for the county, an office he held for four years. He continued to serve in various county offices until 1862.

Hats Off! to The Old Red Review, official newspaper of the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association for reprinting this article. For a copy of the book Know Your Heritage, which contains all Mrs. LaGrone's columns, or for more information about PCHGA, contact the LaGrone Family History Center.

hatsoff.gif (734 bytes) Hats Off! to The Old Red Review, official newspaper of the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Association for reprinting this article. For a copy of the book Know Your Heritage, which contains all Mrs. LaGrone's columns, or for more information about PCHGA, contact Panola County Historical & Genealogical Association by email or phone 903-693-3388.

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