Silas Witt (1790 - 1881) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Dandridge, Jefferson County, Tennessee
Death: Died in Moody, McLennan, Texas, USA
Managed by: Jason Peter Herbert
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About Silas Witt

Silas was a Baptist Minister. He served in the War of 1812 in Captain Reuben Tipton's company of Tennessee mounted infantry volunteers. Tipton's company was under Major John Chiles' battalion and attached to General Coffee's brigade. This brigade defended the left flank of Andrew Jackson's army at the battle of New Orleans. Goodspeed's "The Lone Star State" describes him as a soldier and patriot.

In 1819 Silas helped organize the New Hopwell Baptist Church in McMinn County, Tennessee. He is mentioned in Burnett's "Tennessee Pioneer Baptist Preachers" in connection with the organization of churches around the state.

For his military service in the War of 1812, Silas was awarded land grants in Alabama. He moved his family to Cherokee County, Alabama in 1833. He continued to work as a preacher in several churches in northern Alabama and was an active member and leader of the Tallasahatchee Association.

The family prospered in Alabama, but their land was devastated and many of their possessions taken during the Civil War. The reconstruction was very hard and like many other southerners, they were drawn to Texas by reports of abundant inexpensive land.

Silas and his family began their journey to Texas in September 1870 or 1871, Their caravan of about 30 covered wagons, consisted of children, grandchildren, other relatives and friends. Silas was 81 years old and Susanna 76. Some of the families stopped along the way. Children later told stories of dragging their feet in the Mississippi as the crossed on a ferry. About 20 wagons arrived at Perry just before Christmas.

(Source: Todd Coker http://members.alo.com/todd2612/nti00186.htm)

Silas Witt, a patriot and well-known Baptist minister, was born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, on May 28, 1790. On July 30, 1812, he was married to Susanna Randolph, the youngest of the children of James and Sarah Randolph.

Silas Witt early became interested in religious work. With Jesse Dodson, he helped in organizing the New Hopewell Baptist Church in McMinn County, Tennessee, sometime after 1820. About the year 1833, Silas Witt and his family moved to Cherokee County, Alabama, where he continued his activities in church work.

Various association and church minutes, the originals of which are now in the Alabama Department of Archives and History, are in Silas Witt's own handwriting. In the minutes of some of the meetings, he is described as an evangelist. He served as minister and moderator at many Baptist meetings and conventions throughout the state of Alabama.

In addition to serving his church, Silas Witt also found time to serve his country in its wars. In Goodspeed's The Lone Star he is described as a soldier and patriot. He is said to have fought in the War of 1812, in "the Indian Wars," and in the Mexican War of 1846-48.

According to his service record in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he enlisted in Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 22, 1814, as a private in Capt. Reuben Tipton's Company of East Tennessee Mounted Gunmen (militia), serving under Major Childs in General John Coffee's brigade. He was honorably discharged at Knoxville on May 1, 1815. For his service he received a grant of bounty lands in Cherokee County, Alabama.

Although it has been claimed that he fought in the Battle of New Orleans, in which some of General Coffee's troops were a major force, the records of the East Tennessee Mounted Gunmen in the Tennessee State Library and Archives show that during the period September 1814 to May 1815 they, along with a battalion commanded by Major William Russell, were serving on the Escambia River in the Florida Panhandle in search of Creek Indian warriors who had escaped capture after the Battle of Pensacola (November 7, 1814). It is interesting to note that Silas Witt named one of his sons, William Carroll Witt, after another commander of Tennessee militia during that time: General William Carroll.

If Silas Witt's service records in the Indian Wars and the Mexican War have ever been located, they have not been brought to my attention.

Silas is found in Warren County, Tennessee, in the 1820 census. Sometime in the 1820s, however, he took land in McMinn County.

In 1871 or 1872, when he was already past eighty years of age and Susanna over seventy-five, they still retained enough vigor to dare to conquer new lands. It was then, like many others across the Old South, that they and most of their children and grandchildren tacked the sign GTT (Gone to Texas) on their door, loaded their wagons, and headed west. An eyewitness account of the departure of the Witt family from Alabama reads as follows: "The family group met at the home of Joseph Lockhart Witt and his wife, Nancy J. Penn. The place of departure was about twenty miles from Decatur, Alabama, in Morgan County. There were ten or twelve covered wagons, and those remaining gathered--stood on the front porch--and saw them leave for wild and woolly Texas fraught with no telling what hazards. Rev. Silas and Susanna Witt occupied a buggy and led the caravan."

Silas and Susanna Witt and many of the family settled near Moody, in southern McLennan County, Texas, or in adjoining northern Bell County. Susanna died in 1880 and Silas a year later. They are buried in Old Perry Cemetery, north of Moody. The front (east side) of Silas's tombstone bears the following inscription:

Rev. Silas Witt

was married to

Susana Randolph

July 30, 1812

The reverse (west) side reads:

Holy

Bible

Rev. Silas

Witt

Born

May 28, 1790

Died

July 15, 1881

Beloved one Farewell

Weep not he is at rest

(Source: N. Parsons http://members.cox.net/nparsons13/wittfami.htm)

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Silas Witt's Timeline

1790
May 25, 1790
Dandridge, Jefferson County, Tennessee
1812
July 30, 1812
Age 22
Jefferson Co.,Tennessee
1813
August 23, 1813
Age 23
Jefferson County, Tennessee
1815
1815
Age 24
Dandridge, Jefferson, TN
1817
October 30, 1817
Age 27
Dandridge, Jefferson, TN
1820
February 3, 1820
Age 29
Dandridge, Jefferson, TN
1822
April 10, 1822
Age 31
Dandridge, Jefferson, TN
1824
1824
Age 33
Dandridge, Jefferson, TN
1826
February 26, 1826
Age 35
Dandridge, Jefferson, TN
1828
January 24, 1828
Age 37
Rural, McMinn, Tennessee