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Walter W. Little was born in Fort Bend County, on the last day of October 1828, in what was then called the Fort settlement in the bend of the Brazos, where Richmond now is.
William Little, father of the subject of this sketch, was a native of Pennsylvania, but came to Texas from Missouri as part of the colony of Stephen F. Austin in 1821. His headright league was located twelve miles below the present town of Richmond, on the east side of the Brazos River, opposite the league of Henry Jones.
In November 1821, the Fort, from which the County of Fort Bend takes its name, was erected in the bend of the Brazos River, north of Richmond, about where the McFarland place is now. The river makes ‘a bend here of eleven miles around by two miles across it. The fort was built by William Little, William Smithers, Charles Beard, Joseph Polly and Henry Holsten. It was constructed of logs cut from the river bottom and consisted of two log cabins with hall between, and was intended for shelter, and in which to keep supplies, as well as defense, in case of an Indian attack.
Previous to this time General Austin had visited the country on the Colorado, Guadalupe, Brazos and other places to select locations for his colonists, many of whom were en route from the ‘States of the American Union, and some had already arrived. Having selected the great bend of the Brazos on the west side as a suitable place to plant a colony, he left the five young men above mentioned, to build the fort for the benefit of the first installment, which was to form the nucleus of (the settlement. The first actual settler, however, there was William Morton, whose head-right league was located on the east bank of the Brazos and his labor on the west side near the fort.
The next settlers to come were Henry Jones, John Rabb, Joe Kuykendall, John Jones, James Jones, Randall Jones, Hall Roddy (a single man), and one other named Gash. Most of these came in to the colony among the first installment, but some of them had first stopped further up the country about San Felipe. Randolph Foster had been here in camp before any colonists arrived, and Henry Jones, Randall Jones and others had passed back and forth over the country. In 1823 many more came and grants were located in various places up and down the river on both sides. Also in 1823 a. band of coast Indians, known as Craunkaways, made a raid on another band of Indians living on the Trinity River, and succeeded in carrying off some of their stock. Mr. Little thinks these Trinity Indians were Choctaws, while others are of the opinion that they were Cooshatties or Osages. Be that as it may, they followed the Craunks and surprised a band of them at a point of timber two miles below the present site of Richmond and quite a battle was fought, in which the Craunks were defeated and all killed except probably one, as some think, but Mr. Little is under the impression that all were killed. The bones of the slain Indians remained there many years.
In 1832 J. H. Pickens came and rented the farm of Henry Jones, thoroughly cultivating and making a fine crop, but in 1833 a great and disastrous flood came which swept the Brazos valley for seven miles on each side of the river, overflowing into Buffalo Bayou, and destroying all crops and drowning all stock in the bottom. All of the stock of William Little was destroyed, and also two of his Negroes drowned by the upsetting of a skiff.
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In 1836, when the Mexican army came to Fort Bend, Walter Little, then eight years of age, was at his father’s farm and remembers that many neighbors and families gathered there, among whom were John H. Pickens, Joseph Johnson, the Thompsons, Mudds and Wicksons. After consulting with one another as to the best course to pursue under existing circumstances, it was thought advisable that those who had families to take care of to move on with them and keep out of reach of the Mexican army. All, however, did not go together. The Johnsons, Mudds and Thompsons took the ‘Stafford road, while the Littles and others took the Shipman road, and entered a dense cane bottom and went into camp, hoping the Mexicans would not discover their retreat, which they did not. In three or four days three Texas scouts, Henry Karnes, John Shipman and John Morton, came to them and told them to stay where they were, as the Mexican army was now ahead of them. Also about this time Joe Kuykendall and John R. Fenn and some of the women from Morton’s at the bend, made their way through the dense bottom and joined them, but soon went on towards Harrisburg. Kuykendall and young Fenn had been captured by the Mexicans, but had’ made their escape. Before this the steam-boat “Yellowstone” was heard coming down the river and Walter Little and others went to look at it, and Mr. Little says it passed so near them that he could see the bullet holes where the Mexicans fired into it when the boat passed Fort Bend. He says the captain had set up cotton bales on end around the pilothouse for protection. During the flight, he says, of the people from Fort Bend Mrs. Gil. Kuykendall lost her baby and did not see it again for six weeks. It was carried off in another party by her sister.
While in camp in the cane brake measels broke out among the people, and they scattered away, most of them back to their homes, and in a few days the famous scout, Deaf Smith, came and told them to rest easy, as a great battle had been fought at the San Jacinto River, in which the Mexican army had been nearly annihilated, and Santa Anna captured. Great rejoicing was now indulged in all over the country.
Mr. Little remembers when Deaf Smith died, and thinks it was at a hotel in Richmond. He had taken up his abode there in 1837, and he and Gail Borden had formed a partnership in the land ‘business, but he died soon after. He says that Smith was a medium sized man, hair partly gray, and about forty years of age.
On the 23rd of December 1858, Mr. Little married Miss Sarah R. Wilson, daughter of Dr. Hugh Wilson, of Louisburg, Virginia. She died in 1870, and he afterwards married Miss M. A. Laird, his present wife. William Little, his father, died, the 8th of July 1841, on his farm below Richmond. He laid off the town of Richmond in 1836.
Mr. Walter Little has a family relic, which has been in their family for more than 100 years. It is a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles of antique make, which was given to his grandfather, John Little, by General Horatio Gates, of the American Army of the Revolution of 1776. John Little was major of artillery in the army of General Gates, and the occasion of the presentation was after a battle, in which the eyesight of Major Little was injured by powder, and the spectacles were given on that account.
Mr. Little now resides with his family at Eagle Lake, Colorado County.