William Rufus Shafter was a Union officer in the Civil War. Born in 1835 in Michigan, he was in seminary at the outset of the Civil War and enlisted in the Union Army. About thirty years after the end of the Civil War, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for meritorious service pertaining to an incident on May 31, 1862. Shafter had been a lieutenant involved in bridge construction near Fair Oaks, Virginia when the Union forces were engaged by Confederate troops. Shafter left the bridge and took about twenty-two men to counter the Confederate attack. All but four of his troops were killed and he received a flesh wound and possibly other wounds. However, Shafter stayed on the field, concealing his wounds. In a later battle, he was captured by the Confederates and served three months in a prison camp in 1864 before being released. He was then assigned to the 17th United States Colored Infantry, which appears to be his command when the war ended. Shafter had been elevated to the rank of brevet brigadier general.
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Fort McKavett is located near Menard in Menard County, Texas. It was one in a line of Texas frontier forts built during the era to protect settlers who were moving into the area. The forts were situated roughly in a diagonal line connecting the Red River to the Rio Grande and about one hundred miles west of the currently occupied land at the time. United States Army infantry colonel Thomas Staniford was given orders to build a military post at the headwaters of the San Saba River and he arrived with his regiment on March 14, 1852. The headwaters were a natural spring and Staniford decided to move the location about two miles down from it where the spring formed a small lagoon, favoring the water supply there.
Belle Starr, the famous “female outlaw” was born Myra Maybelle Shirley on February 5, 1848 to John and Elizabeth Shirley in rural Missouri near the town of Carthage. It was a time when bandits, either male or female, were celebrated in some ways. Her family lived on a farm. Reportedly, they were also slave owners in a time when strong attitudes for or against slavery divided residents especially in so-called border states. Her family later sold their rural property and moved into Carthage where they ran the inn and several other businesses. The civil war came and a brother joined the Confederate army and more specifically the controversial outfit known as Quantrill’s Raiders. Her brother Bud Shirley was killed in Missouri in a skirmish between Union and Confederate troops. The economy had generally deteriorated in Missouri because of the war and the Shirleys packed up and moved to near Scyene, Texas, at the time located southeast of Dallas, around 1864.
Herbert Lee Kokernot, Sr. was born in 1867 to Levi Moses and Sarah Littlefield Kokernot. Levi had been born in 1836 in Louisiana and lived most of his adult life in Gonzales County where he was a cattle rancher. Levi had first married the former Sarah E. Littlefield with whom he had a number of children including Herbert Lee. Sarah died in 1878 at around the age of thirty. He later married Hulda Jane Carnes. Hulda had also been born in Louisiana and lived most of her life in the Gonzales area with Levi and her family.
Dr. Junius Mottley was born in Virginia in 1812 to John P. and Mary Williams Elmore Mottley. His ancestors came to Virginia from England in the 1600s. Dr. Mottley received his medical education at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. Transylvania was founded in 1780, was the first university in Kentucky and is still operating. A number of early Texans have ties to Transylvania. After completing his studies, he studied with a practicing physician in Kentucky by the name of Dr. Charles Hay. Shortly after leaving Kentucky, Mottley moved to Texas in 1835. He joined the Texas Army and served as Post Surgeon at Goliad. Mottley was serving in that capacity in early 1836 when he was appointed as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Washington County. Accordingly, he was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Billie Solomon Estes was born January 10, 1925 to John Levi, Sr., a farmer, and Lillian Alice Coffman Estes in a rural area near Clyde, Callahan County, Texas. It may be a legend, but the story was told of the thirteen year old Billie’s “parlaying” of a single lamb that he was given into what became the sum of $38,000. He is said to have raised a flock of sheep with his one lamb, selling them two years later and investing the proceeds into a sow and piglets which, along with some dealings in feed, he turned into the final sum of $38,000 by the time he was eighteen.
Minnie Lou Ottinger Bradley was born December 15, 1931 to Thomas and Zulema Young Ottinger in western Oklahoma. At an early age, she showed a strong interest in livestock as she grew up on the family wheat farm. She joined the 4-H Club and actively participated, although the Future Farmers of America (FFA) was then limited to male members. While in 4-H, she exhibited Angus cattle, sheep and swine. At age ten, she won a blue ribbon at the Oklahoma State Fair for sheep raised on her ranch. After graduating from high school in Hydro, Oklahoma she enrolled at Oklahoma State University, first chartered as Oklahoma Territorial Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1890 and then commonly known as Oklahoma A&M. She was the first female student to enroll in animal science, graduating in 1953 and minoring in agricultural journalism.