This is the second article about James Coryell. He was born in Ohio, in 1803, and at age 18 came down the Mississippi and met adventurers James and Rezin Bowie. In 1835 he and Andrew Cavitt were the first who claimed their headrights on Coryell Creek.
In 1836 Coryell and Cavitt covered the retreat of the settlers during the “Runaway Scrape”. Then the Cavitt family and Coryell began the journey back to their home at Ft. Milam (also known as Viesca), but were stopped by high waters of the Navasota and Brazos Rivers. It was here that Mr. Cavitt became ill with a fever and died on July 1, 1836.
According to A History of Coryell County, Mrs. Cavitt, bought land in 1838 at Wheelock, Robertson County (near Hearne). According to angelfire.com she owned 16 slaves at that time. Cavitt’s remains were later removed and reinterred at Wheelock, where a family cemetery was established.
In the fall of 1836, James Coryell enlisted in Captain Thomas H. Barron’s battalion of rangers to defend the settlers from the Indians. They were stationed at Three Forks on the Little River but because of the large number of Indians there and the small number of rangers they abandoned that fort and moved all the rangers to the Ft. Milam at the Falls of the Brazos near present day Marlin.
James Coryell and two other rangers had located a bee tree not far from the post. According to “Life and Times of James Coryell” an article by Clay Coppedge, they went about a mile from the fort. They cut down the hive and were enjoying the honey. Indians suddenly attacked them and Coryell, severely wounded, covered the escape of his two companions. Coryell lingered between life and death at the Cavitt home but died two days later. Unfortunately, the Indians who killed Coryell were able to escape completely. He was buried a short distance from the fort. Recently, remains were tested but did not prove to be those of James Coryell.
In a draft issued from the war department at Houston on January 16, 1838 shows that Coryell’s estate was paid $252.52 for his service as a private in Captain Barron’s company of rangers from September 11, 1836 to May 27, 1837, a little over 8 months. He had already been granted the one fourth league headright on Coryell Creek allowed for a single man. On his death he was granted 369 acres on Walker’s Creek in Milam County. In Fannin County he was granted 1,920 acres on Little Sandy Creek near Deavers, later to be Grayson County.
Claiming land and living on it in Coryell County would prove to be difficult. Sporadic raids by Indians, often Comanches, killed Coryell County residents as late as 1865.
Mildred Mears book Coryell County Scrapbook attests that courthouse records show that Coryell was killed on May 27, 1837 and the land was sold in Coryell County by his heirs to F. M. Martin in 1853. Numerous Martin families still own land on Coryell Creek. It is beautiful property and I can easily see why he chose it. Hundreds of people over the decades have gone to Pecan Grove Baptist Church, been baptized, or gone swimming in Coryell Creek near this location.
Coryell Creek was named for James Coryell as well as Coryell County, Coryell City, Coryell Museum as well as many other businesses and organizations.