The Wallis and Barrow Families Move to Texas - 1824
By Kevin Ladd
Any time I travel over Interstate 10 into Louisiana, I always find myself thinking back to the journey that brought the Wallis and Barrow families here. Each river and bayou the highway crosses always reminds me how these folks were compelled to travel though some tough terrain by wagon and horseback and sometimes by foot.
This pivotal event in the early history of these families was conducted in the late fall or winter of 1824, when Elisha Henry Robert Wallis and his wife Sarah Barrow loaded their five children and all of their possessions into wagons and set out for the Lower Trinity River. Sally Wallis, as she was usually known, was born about 1795 in the Opelousas area and married in 1814 to Mr. Wallis. This would have made her around thirty years of age. Oh, yes, lest we forget - she was expecting her sixth child, Sarah Ann, who would be born here in May 1825. I enjoy speaking to various groups about these early pioneers, and I like to pass this information on.
The first person in this county to take an interest in family history was a lady by the name of Lula Jackson Wallis, who was born in 1861, a daughter of John Jackson - called "Smith Point John" and his wife Sarah Wallis Jackson (the baby Sarah Wallis was carrying as she made this journey). Lula was a grandchild of E. H. R. Wallis and Sarah Barrow. And Lula married her first cousin, George Neville Wallis, a son of Dan and Jerusha (Kipp) Wallis. Lula may not have followed what we call proper genealogical procedures, but she asked questions, wrote letters to lots of her cousins, and wrote down some of the things she learned.
Here is a small excerpt from a longer story that she called "First Families of Chambers County:"
"The Wallis family was the first to settle in what is now Chambers county. Three bachelors were located here when they came. One a Mr. Burney: the other two names I cannot recall. Elisha Henry Robert Wallis came from Burk county, Georgia, to Louisiana, where he married Sarah, or, Sally Barrow. They came to the province of Texas from Natchitoches Parish, La., crossing about where Orange now is, reaching the town of Liberty December 25, 1824, later coming down the Trinity river in flat boats to where Wallisville now is.
"With them came Sally (Barrow) Wallis' three brothers, helping drive a small stock of cattle before them, the family traveling in a farm wagon.
"Afterwards Solomon Barrow settled on the west side of the Trinity river, where his descendents are well represented today, Benjamin near Turtle bayou and Reuben on Double Bayou. The latter's oldest child, Marthy (Mrs. Joseph LaFour) was the first child born there.
"The three oldest Wallis children were girls, the oldest eight, when the family came to Texas. Her husband, James Taylor Dunman fought in the battle of San Jacinto, and in the war with Mexico in 1847- 48."
Another story from an unknown source provides some additional information on the journey: "Mr. Wallis came with his three young brothers-in-law. This was a practical way for a family to travel. All of the men helped in fording the streams and driving their combined livestock. They arrived in Liberty on Christmas Day in 1824 and then headed south into present-day Chambers County. Old legends say that skirted the woods to the east, camped along Turtle Bayou, and kept huge fires burning at night to keep away the alligators. In such manner did the first part of the Barrow clan find their way here."
E.H.R. and Sally Wallis had the following children: Rachel, who married James Taylor Dunman; Martha, who married John White; Eliza, who married Elisha Stephenson; Julia, who married Newton Swinney; Sarah Ann, who married John Jackson; Elijah, who died young; Solomon, who married Sarah Labadie; and Daniel, who married Jerusha Kipp. After Sally's death in 1841, Mr. Wallis married Martha Shelton, and they had two sons, Francis Marion and Hansel Roberts Wallis. E.H.R. Wallis died in 1849.
Lula Jackson Wallis, who died in 1929, would have to be considered the first family genealogist in the Chambers County Barrow family --- and responsible to some degree for furthering family history and folklore.
Next month, we will move back over to West Chambers County and consider the lives of Solomon and Elizabeth (Winfree) Barrow.