JOHN WESLEY VICK AND DORA ELLA MCCULLOUGH VICK by John Edward Vick
John Wesley Vick, son of Wesley F. and Elizabeth Jane Guthrie Vick, was born December 27, 1867, in Lavaca County, Texas. Dora was born January 7, 1876, in Dewitt County, Texas. She was the daughter of William McCullough and Elizabeth Ann Davis McCullough. They were married on October 22, 1890, in Lavaca County. They lived in Dewitt County; John started farming and Dora began life as a homemaker and mother, for Ethel Lee was born August 28, 1891, and Minnie Jane was born December 25, 1894.
In May 1896, while Dora was expecting her third child, John filed a petition with the court for guardianship of Dora's younger sister, Willie White McCullough. It was obvious that she was spending time at Dora and John's house, and they were unhappy with what was happening to
her estate. Her estate was estimated at worth about $1,350. This petition said that she was a minor and without a lawful legal guardian. Additional filings indicate that some of her cows were sold by her brother, Joe McCullough, and he had also received some money which belonged to Willie by granting use of her property to someone else.
Her estate consisted of 103 1/2 acres on which Joe was living, and he was supposed to be paying $50 per year rent on the property. Joe, in turn, complained that Willie White was hiding out over at John Wesley's house when she was supposed to be living with Lillie. Joe said they were trying to "marry her off," and it was not in her best interest. What he was really saying was "if they marry her off, she can take possession of her property," which he was now using and did not want to lose.
John won the case in court, and he became legal guardian of Willie White McCullough, and made an effort to collect from Joe the money that was owed her estate (about $145). Dora's third child, Ella Mae, was born November 10, 1896, and Willie White probably was a lot of help to Dora with three young girls.
Joe was right about one thing—she married William Phillip Vick, John Wesley's nephew, on December 23, 1896. In early 1897 Willie White and W. P. Vick went before the court to obtain possession of her property from John Wesley, the guardian. He gave an accounting to the court for all her expenses while she was in his care; he was not able to collect from Joe McCullough what was due Willie. Interestingly, notwithstanding the legal wrangling in this family, Joe McCullough and John Wesley and his family remained close friends. In the last year of Bud's life (approximately 103 years after this all took place), he told me that Joe McCullough was always his favorite uncle and that he always brought presents for the kids—what he remembered most particularly were the bananas.
On September 8, 1897, William P. and Willie White decided to sell the property which they inherited to Dora and John. In late fall (property almost always changed hands on January 1), John and Dora were preparing to move to the Daniel Davis homestead they had just bought from Willie. A small black child about six years old, who obviously was friends with the family and was the same age as Ethel, asked John if he could go with them in the wagon. John said "No, you had better go ask your mother." In a short time, the child came back with a sack of belongings, and said "She said I can go!!" Off they went to the Davis homestead. This was the place where Dora grew up, and the cemetery that held her grandfather, grandmother, mother, and father was located very near the farmhouse. The first year at this place brought another tragedy. Ella Mae died on December 9, 1898. Once again they went to the Davis Cemetery to leave a loved one. The next year. Bertha Elma was born on October 17, 1899. She was the fourth daughter of John Wesley and Dora.
The only male John had to help him with the chores and farm work was Nathan Jones, the young black boy who lived with the family. Nathan was identified with the family in the U. S. Census for 1900 and 1910.
In 1902, July 15 was a big day for John Wesley—his first son, Chester, was born. This event probably encouraged John to have a family photo made, probably in Cuero. This photograph showed Chester sitting on his mother's lap, and was probably made in December 1902.
In September 1903, John and Dora sold their land and moved to Hamilton County. Why would they leave the Vicks and McCulloughs in Lavaca and Dewitt Counties and move to Hamilton County? One reason might have been because William Martin Vick, John's uncle, had come to Pottsville about 1875, along with his children, who were first cousins to John. Oren Richard Vick, John's brother, had moved to Pottsville and was the postmaster there from 1900-1903. Another reason might have been Willie White, Dora's sister, and William P. Vick, Oren's son, had moved to Pottsville. Lillie McCullough, Dora's sister who married William McMurray, was also in Pottsville. In addition to all that, Mary A. Vick, John's first cousin who was married to David McCullough, Dora's uncle, had also moved to Pottsville. Therefore, moving to Shive was kind of like going to a family reunion.
There was one thing that John and Dora did before they left DeWitt County for which their descendants will be eternally grateful. When they sold their property in DeWitt County, they sold everything less the one-half acre which was used for a family graveyard. The deed guarantees ingress and egress rights to this graveyard forever. I guess they wanted to make sure they could come back and visit their own child, plus all the other close relatives that were buried there. This action did not become important until about 25 years ago, when a man bought the property and he decided that he owned the graveyard and that no one would be allowed on his property. Some of the relatives who lived in the local area went to the court, got a court order, and the sheriff explained the situation to this man. Shortly after this incident, they put up a nice chain link fence around the cemetery; the cemetery is available for the use of all future generations.
The Connell School District, about one mile south of Shive now had acquired the John Wesley Vick family. On October 4, 1905, a second son was born, who was Archie Lamar Vick, known to all of us as Uncle Bud. About 1909, a roving photographer came by the farm and took a picture of the family with the farmhouse in the background. The good thing about this is that the photograph included Nathan Jones, the young man who lived with them. He is standing on the porch, appears to be amused, and probably had no idea that he is to be a part of the picture and a part of the Vick history.
On May 8, 1910, the last child of this family was born and her name was Ruby. Ironically, Dora's sister, Willie White, and her husband, William P. Vick, had a little daughter named Ruby in 1908 in Pottsville. Families tended to name their children after their close relatives.
On December 24, 1910, John Wesley was in the hospital in Temple. As quoted in his letter to his wife, he said the doctor told him it was the worst case he had seen. He apologized to his wife for his writing because he said, "you know how I have to lay in order to write." Speculation is that he probably had a bad case of shingles, or possibly poison ivy. In the same letter, he also asked Dora to "tell Dick to do a good job and get all the land broke." Nathan (whom Bud told us they called Dick) was now the man of the house, because Chester was only eight years old and Bud was five. The farming was up to him until John could get home from the hospital. Also he indicated in the letter that he was sorry to hear that Otto Schwartz, his oldest daughter's husband, had lost his money. The circumstances are unknown, but he asked Dora to go over and see about them.
In 1915, the family moved to some acreage on the Goalson Creek; and the following year, early 1916, they purchased and moved to the old Vick homestead that remains in the family today.
In 1916, the family changed again. As the story goes—the Cowhouse Creek was on a rampage after a big rainstorm. John Wesley, Nathan Jones, and the two young boys, Chester and Bud, went down to the creek to watch the rushing water. The boys were horsing around like boys do, and accidentally threw Nathan's hat into the rampaging stream. Nathan's dog jumped in after the hat; but no one seemed to remember whether the dog came back or not, but the hat was lost. Needless to say, Nathan was disturbed by this event. About two weeks later, they got up one morning and Nathan was gone; not a word to anyone in the family was said about his leaving. After about twenty years of staying with them, he decided it was time to go. Chester and Bud thought perhaps they were the cause of his going; but that probably was not the case.
Several reasons can account for his actions—(1) no other black people lived in the county. The rumor is something happened around 1900 and what few blacks were there moved on, (2) Ethel, who was his age, had been married four or five years and had a family of her own, (3) Bud said there was a family named Cole who lived near them and the man had expressed some dislike that Nathan was living with them, (4) Chester was now fourteen years old and Bud was eight, so they were old enough to help their father, (5) Nathan was by now about 25 years old and he might have decided it was time to go make a life of his own. The hat-throwing event may have triggered his leaving, but it is doubtful it was the sole purpose for his leaving them, for he surely was considered a member of the family. A friend reported to John about a year later that Nathan had been seen in Gatesville, Texas.
Dora contracted tuberculosis, and had it for at least ten years before she died on August 11, 1922. John married Fannie Register in December 1923. As the story goes, the two youngest children, Ruby and Bud, were not happy with this arrangement, and the marriage lasted just a short time. There was too much McCullough in this family to bring an outsider into the family. The family, especially Chester and Bud, anytime something was brought up about history of the family, would always announce proudly that their mother was a McCullough. This is indicative of the fact that the family's start in life came from Dora's inheritance, which was worth $1250 then but by today's standards would be worth in the neighborhood of $175,000. All of this is just part of the heritage that Daniel Davis left his descendants after he made the trek to Texas in 1831.
Later on, Chester Vick and Will Smith, Jane's husband, bought the Vick homestead and shared the use of it for several years. Eventually, Chester purchased Will's share in the property. The Bakers lived at this homesite for awhile during the 1940s.
On January 1, 1941, John Wesley Vick wrote his last letter to his son, Chester. It is evident that he was being affected by a failing heart. He indicated he was getting too old to live by himself and was unable to continue to work, and he needed a place to stay. He said he would pay one-half his pension for room and board. He indicated he was out of money and would have to stay in South Texas until his next pension check came. But he died of a heart attack on January 13, 1941, and his body was brought back to Hamilton County for burial right beside Dora in the Shive Cemetery.
One amusing incident happened once when John Wesley had been gone to South Texas for awhile and came to visit Chester and Lillian. John Edward Vick was about three or four years old, so it was in about 1936 or 1937. John W. and John E. were at the well together and John W. said, "Look, I grew me some teeth while I was gone." He took out his new false teeth and started washing them. John E. looked up at his head and said, "Why didn't you grow you some hair, too?"
John and Dora must have made a great team. The Vick history of Primitive Baptists carried over to the John Wesley family. They were baptized into the church in August 1912. A measure of their capabilities and dedication to their family is evident in the history and lives of their children. Ethel, Jane, Bertha, Chester, Bud, and Ruby all became the type of adults of which John and Dora would have been proud.
As mentioned previously, John and Dora's children were keenly aware of their McCullough ancestry and had more social contacts with this family than with John Wesley's family. Even though the Vicks had family reunions each year from the 1920s at Pilot Grove, we have no evidence to show that John and Dora's children actually attended these reunions. Several of the genealogists who had Vick records were not even aware that Wesley F. had a son named John Wesley.
However, attending the McCullough reunions was a ritual with this family. The minutes of a reunion of the William McCullough family in 1959 identified that Dora's family was the best represented at their reunion (this was 37 years after Dora's death). All the children were there with the exception of Jane, and she came on many other occasions. In 1960, 1961, and 1962, Bud, Bertha, and Ruby were the first three persons to sign in at the McCullough reunion for those years. Ethel continued to go to the reunions even after Otto's death. A relative named Herbert Hoch recorded the attendance at the meetings, and we have copies of articles that appeared in the Gonzales paper about the McCullough reunions. There appears to be no further records of meetings after the death of Herbert Hoch in 1967.
In 1960 Chester and several of his sisters attended a funeral service for William P. Vick in Damon, Texas. They did not attend this funeral because William was a nephew of John Wesley, but rather because he was the husband of Willie White McCullough Vick, who was the youngest sister of Dora. It is probable that since the McCullough children were orphaned at such a young- age, having lost both their parents and grandparents, they only had each other, so developed an unusually close relationship which would remain with them for the rest of their lives.