Stephen Wesley Scallorn 1787-1887

 

Ancestry

[8] Peter C. Scallorn (Scallion) (b. 1688, d. ?? Maryland)

            [8] m. Ann Dement 1734 Maryland (b. 1714 Maryland, d. unknown)

[7] John Scallorn Sr. (b. ~1755 Charles Co. Maryland, d. 1823 Limestone, Alabama)

[7] m. Joda (maiden name unknown) Scallorn

[6] Stephen W. Scallorn, 5th of 11 children

 

Biography

 

Stephen Scallorn was an early Texas settler whose 100-year life spanned the period following the American Revolution to a few years short of the twentieth century.  He and his brother William made several contributions to the early history of Fayette County and Texas.

Stephen was born on February 23, 1787 in St. Mary's County, Maryland, the sixth of at least nine children of John and Joda Scallorn1.  While still a young boy, his family moved to Granville County, North Carolina, where his brother William was born in 17962.  Again his family moved west to Kentucky, where at the age of 23, Stephen married Miss Polly McClure3.  (His brother later married Polly's sister, Alice4 in 1818.)

Stephen and Polly Scallorn then settled in Haywood County of the Western District of Tennessee, where he began the practice of medicine.  At about the age of 25, Stephen joined the Baptist faith, and he soon became a prominent member and ordained Deacon of the nearby Primitive Baptist Church5.

By 1831, Stephen and Polly had a large family of eleven children, but on March 10, 1833, Polly died.  A year later Stephen married Martha Bullock6.

John Wesley Scallorn, Stephen's oldest son, came to Texas sometime in 1834-1835 and fought with the Texas Army under Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto7.  John's impressions of Texas were apparently favorable and resulted in the emigration to Texas of Stephen, William, and their families.  The Scallorn group left Tennessee in the fall of 1837 and arrived in La Grange, Texas8, on February 8, 1838 (Stephen was 51 years old; his brother was 42).  Both families settled in the vicinity of Plum Grove, on the west bank of the Colorado River about eight miles west of La Grange.

Soon after their arrival Stephen and William became active in the organization of the Hopewell Baptist Church, which has since been recognized as the first Baptist church founded west of the Colorado River, and the first Baptist church in Texas to ordain a pastor and to administer the ordinance of baptism9.  Both Stephen and William were charter members of this church, which was organized in April 1839 with the help of Z. N. Morrell, a prominent traveling missionary of the time.  Morrell had first visited the Plum Grove Settlement a year earlier and had preached a sermon for the local settlers at the request of William Scallorn10.  Asiel Dancer was elected Pastor, and Stephen Scallorn was elected Deacon and Clerk11 in October of 1839.

Not long after the church was organized, the Scallorn brothers found themselves on opposite sides of a religious issue which eventually split the young church apart.  Even though the church had originally been founded as a Primitive (anti-missionary) Baptist church, consistent with the philosophy of both Asiel Dancer and Stephen Scallorn, the church charter contained provisions advocated by pro-missionaries William Scallorn and others (probably including Morrell)12.  This issue apparently caused problems in the congregation as early as 1840, and reached a crisis in October of 1841.  At that time, the question was forced to a vote by William Scallorn and the pro-missionaries, who prevailed by a count of fourteen to eight.  Church officials Dancer and Stephen Scallorn refused to recognize the vote or to relinquish the church house and records.  The dispute continued for over a year, during which time the congregation would often hold separate services, with the pro-missionaries often meeting in a member's home.  In a final attempt to resolve the problem, William Scallorn wrote a letter to the missionary Morrell in February 1842, requesting his support at an upcoming church meeting.  Morrell borrowed a horse from a friend and rode all night from Gonzales, then preached for two days.  His biography states that fellowship was restored and the church saved13, but the compromise later failed and in November 1842 Pastor Dancer and Stephen Scallorn officially dissolved the Hopewell Church.  William Scallorn and the pro-missionaries reorganized the church as the Plum Grove Baptist Church, while the Primitives founded the "Friendship" church nearby14.

Stephen suffered other losses in the year 1842.  In September, the Mexican Army invaded Texas once again and captured San Antonio.  Texas Colonel Matthew Caldwell began organizing a force outside the city, and a group of Texans from La Grange under the command of Captain Nicholas Dawson formed to join the fight.  En route, they were joined by John Wesley Scallorn and his younger brother Elam, both children of Stephen.  The group of 53 volunteers continued an all night ride toward San Antonio, but as they approached the battle of Salado Creek already in progress the next morning (September 17, 1842), they were intercepted on open ground by Mexican cavalry and artillery.  Unable to escape on their tired horses, thirty-five of Dawson's men were killed, including both John and Elam Scallorn.  Their bodies and those of their comrades are buried in the memorial at Monument Hill State Park, south of La Grange15.  Monument Hill also contains the final graves of several men from the subsequent Mier Expedition, which culminated in the famous "black bean" incident of March 25, 1843.

In 1845, Stephen moved to the Mulberry Creek area of southwestern Fayette County, where he remained active in church life.  The Mulberry Primitive Baptist Church was first constituted in his home in July 1850, and he and his wife Martha became charter members16.  By this time, Stephen had retired from practicing medicine in favor of farming.  He was granted 1280 acres of land in Taylor and Jones counties by the Republic of Texas and also was the recipient of a grant from Fayette County of 320 acres of land in Lavaca County (south of Mulberry). 

Stephen had three children by his second wife, Martha (for a total of fourteen).  After her death in 1880, he lived at the home of his son Francis, first at Mulberry Creek and later on Francis' farm near Upton, Texas in Bastrop County.  At the age of 98, Stephen helped form yet another new church, the Colorado Primitive Baptist Church of Upton, to which he was ordained a Deacon17.

On February 23, 1887, an all day celebration was held in Upton on Stephen's 100th birthday.  Among the visitors was his brother William, whom he had not seen in 44 years even though they had lived less than 25 miles apart (the brothers were bitterly divided over the Hopewell Church incident in 1842).  Family records18 indicate that the brothers embraced, settled their differences, and spent all day and night talking together.

Stephen died at his son Francis' home on Christmas Eve 1887, at the age of 100 years, 10 months and a day.  He was buried in a private family cemetery located about one mile southwest of present-day Upton (the gravesite and marker remain in good condition to this day).  The Upton land was farmed by his grandson Robert Lee Scallorn until his death in 1957. 

William survived his brother by eight days; he died on New Years Day 1888, at the age of 91.  He was buried in the Plum Grove Cemetery near present-day West Point, Texas.

Stephen and William Scallorn were typical of many American pioneers who moved west to a new frontier, only to later move west again and again.  They were early settlers in both Kentucky and Tennessee, but stopped only after they reached Texas, where they made important contributions in spirit and service to the state.

 

FOOTNOTES

 1.  Diggle, Sue R., Scallorn Genealogical Data.  John Scallorn Sr. was born circa 1755.  He and Joda (maiden name unknown) were married about 1775, but where is not known.  They are listed as Charles County, Maryland residents in the Maryland census of 1790.   St. Mary's County, Maryland, is located on the western shore of Cheasapeake Bay.  Its county seat, Leonardtown, was a major terminus for ships bearing immigrants from Scotland and Ireland.

 2.  Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas, Volume I, page 256.

 3.  Most of the biographical names and dates pertaining to Stephen Scallorn are from his obituary by J. W. Shook.  This includes the first name of his wife, Polly.  Weyand/Wade Fayette County, gives her name as Mary, however (page 60).

 4.  Weyand/Wade, Fayette County, page 60, and Founders and Patriots, Volume I, page 256.

 5.  Shook, Scallorn Obituary.  Haywood County is located between the present-day cities of Jackson and Memphis.

 6.  ibid., and also Weyand/Wade, Fayette County, page 60.

 7.  Kemp, Honor Roll of the Battle, page 6.

 8.  Weyand/Wade, Fayette County, page 60.

 9.  ibid., page 218.

10. Morrell, Flowers and Fruits, pages 107-108.

11. Newman, Primitive Baptists in Texas, page 41.

12. Essentially, the Anti-missionary (Primitive) philosophy held in the concept of pre-destination, and therefore did not advocate the recruitment of new converts by missionary work, since those who would become Baptists were pre-destined to do so.

13. Morrell, Flowers and Fruits, pages 152-155.  William Scallorn's request for help from an advocate of his views (Morrell was obviously Pro-missionary, since he was a missionary himself), was as follows:

"Dear Brother Morrell:  Our conference meeting comes on at Plum Grove next Saturday.  We are in trouble.  The Anti-missionaries have been among us, sowing the seeds of discord.  We are on the eve of a rent in the body.  Come and help us.  You may effect a reconciliation.  Come, if possible; and may the Lord come with you.

                                      Wm. Scallorn."

      (Morrell received this message in Gonzales, 50 miles away, on the evening before the meeting.)

14. Johnson, History of Plum Grove Church, pages 8-11.

15. Duewall, The Story of Monument Hill, pages 1-5, page 33.

16. Newman, Primitive Baptists in Texas, page 41.

17. ibid., page 51.

18. Diggle, Sue R., Scallorn Genealogical Data.

 

References

Handbook of Texas

Scallorn Family Genealogy Forum

Carroll, J. M., A History of Texas Baptists, Baptist Std. Publishing Co., Dallas, Texas, 1923.

Census of 1840, State of Texas, Austin, Texas.

Duewall, L. A., The Story of Monument Hill, La Grange Journal Publishing, La Grange, Texas, 1959.

Johnson, T. H., History of Plum Grove Baptist Church, privately published, Plum, Texas, 1977.

Kemp, L. W., The Honor Roll of the Battle (of San Jacinto), San Jacinto Museum of History, San Jacinto Monument, Texas, 1974.

Morrell, Z. N., Flowers and Fruits in the Wilderness, Boston 1872.

Newman, J. S., A History of the Primitive Baptists of Texas, Oklahoma, and Indian Territories, Baptist Trumpet Publishing, Tioga, Texas, 1906.

Shook, J. W., Obituary of Stephen Scallorn, Newspaper of Bastrop County, Texas, Dec. 1887.

Weyand, L. R., and Wade, H., An Early History of Fayette County, Eakin Press, Burnet, Texas 197