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Ellen Fox Fagan (1826 Ireland – 1903 Texas)

Excerpted from a note to my kin on July 13, 2014

This past week, I started a more concentrated search on information about our 3rd great grandmother, Ellen Fox Fagan. Thought I’d share what I discovered …

Her parents were Daniel Fox (1790 Ireland – 1850 Texas) and Elizabeth Lehay (or perhaps Leahy). Daniel and Elizabeth left Tipperary and came to America. They originally settled in Maine, but around 1825 they show up in Michigan, according to family lore.

I found that the Erie Canal opened in 1825 and there was a flood of folks who left the New England area via the Canal. It’s 383 miles long and today takes about 7 days to traverse at the 5mph speed limit. The Fox history says that they lived in Indiana; I found that Michigan Territory was part of Indiana Territory originally. On two different census records, Ellen states that she was born in Michigan and Indiana; later she states that she was born in Ireland. It must have made a great impact to her as a little girl of 7 or so that the family went to Michigan/Indiana Territory.

Daniel and Elizabeth Fox had 7 children.  Michael, John, Daniel and Garret Fox were the boys. There were three girls. Ellen M. Fox is the only one whose name I can pin down. The other girls may have died young.

By 1839, the family is in Texas. Brother Michael Fox has married Sabrina Brown and is living in the Refugio area. He has children born in Texas as early as 1833, so he may have come to Texas to scout the way earlier. I have found several families who sent someone ahead to report back. Perhaps they came down the Wabash River to the Ohio and then to the Mississippi and on south to New Orleans. Steamer ships where taking folks around to Copano Bay from New Orleans.

The whole family settled in the Refugio County area in what was the Powers-Hewittson grant. Brothers Garret, John and Daniel Fox, Jr are active in local politics and play a role in the Texas Revolution. (Please stand up and cheer at this point!) The Fagan family is in Refugio County as well. Nicholas Fagan has a town house in Refugio (called a Sunday House) across from the Fox home.

In 1842 at the ripe age of 16, Ellen married 19 year old John Fagan. John had a great deal of land of his own, granted to him for his role in the Texas Revolution. No doubt the successful parents helped them build a home.

In 1850, they are living in Victoria County on the old San Antonio Road. John is a wealthy stock raiser and they have one or more slaves. Also about this time, her parents die and are buried in the Fagan Cemetery which was in a pasture near the Nicholas Fagan home on the San Antonio River.

By 1860, Ellen and John have five little children, among them Peter Henry Fagan, from whom we descend. John and daughter Mary sicken and die while in Lamar in Aransas County. I have heard several versions — a flu epidemic? Cause of death for both was listed as pneumonia and they are buried together at the old cemetery in Lamar. So, Ellen is a widow with 4 little children at age 34. So, at the onset of the Civil War in Texas, this young woman is faced with how to raise her family with no spouse. I am sure that, living in the nest of the large Fagan family and their spouses and offspring — she was looked after. And there was lots of money to go around — John’s sister Mary had married Thomas O’Connor. Other siblings were married to men with huge ranches (Sydeck and Teal).

She never remarried. She died in 1903, living in Victoria, and is buried in the old Nicholas Fagan Cemetery. Through the years of census records, one can see that she lists her occupation as “stockraiser” just like the Fagan men. And she accumulates quite a bit of wealth. In 1873 (the time that Reconstruction ended), she registered the JF brand. It’s a J with the F overlaid. About the same time, her son (Peter Henry Fagan, our 2nd great grandfather) registered what was always referred to as the “flower loose 4”.

Uncle Will and Uncle Jules were always talked about by Grandma (Mary Genevieve DuBois Matthews) and Tiz (Texana Susannah DuBois Matthews). They were Lucy Cecelia’s brothers and never married. I am sure that all of the children somehow inherited equally in the Fagan land passed down from Ellen to her three sons, Peter Henry, Joseph Nicholas and John Daniel Fagan. The original ranch was getting carved up by the time it got to Peter and Texana Clark Fagan’s family.

At any rate, Lucy Fagan DuBois was unlucky in love and divorced Galloway Erastus DuBois (who reportedly beat her and the girls). She ranched her land alone also — with  Grandma and Tiz. Lucy’s bachelor brothers, William Clark Fagan and Julius Nicholas Fagan, left their ranches to Grandma and Tiz in their wills.