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 Jesse Marshall Standifer, MD

  Bullet3.gif (148 bytes) This wonderful article was written and contributed by Brian Bivona,
a descendant of Jesse Marshall Standifer. Thank you, Brian!

Jesse Marshall Standifer was the son of Skelton Standifer and Lydia Echols. He was born in Eatonton in Putnam County, Georgia in 1812. In 1836 Jesse Marshall Standifer graduated from the Medical School of Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. There he gave his address as Athens, Mississippi. He practiced medicine briefly in Aberdeen, Mississippi, near the Tombigbee River.

doctober.gif (1525 bytes)Dr. Standifer came to Texas as a young man and settled in Shelby County where he met another local doctor, John E. Edwards, and began practicing medicine in the office of Dr. Edwards. In 1838 he purchased 320 acres of land in Shelby County. He married one of Dr. Edwards’s daughters, Eliza Panthea Edwards, Feb. 14, 1840. In the tax rolls of 1840 of Shelby County, Texas he was listed as owning one saddle horse, one stud horse and one wooden clock. That year he became a member of the Masonic Lodge and helped organize a lodge in Shelby County. By 1842 Jesse Marshall Standifer had gone into Lamar County and was listed as owning 400 acres of land and 7 slaves.

On October 8,1844, Dr. Standifer was involved in a land transaction where he purchased part of the Charles Lindsay headright in Shelby County.

He was among a group of Masons who, on May 1, 1846, asked Redland Lodge No. 3 in San Augustine to recommend to the Grand Lodge of Texas that a Masonic lodge be established at Shelbyville. Sam Houston Lodge No. 32 was granted a dispensation by the Grand Lodge of Texas and the Lodge was formally instituted on Oct. 3, 1846. J. M. Standifer served as Junior Warden of the Lodge until 1849. The Lodge granted him a dimit in April of that year.

On August 1, 1848, Jesse M. Standifer enlisted at Johnson Station for service in the Mexican War. He was honorably discharged December 15, 1848.

In 1849, Dr. Standifer was stationed near Waco as U.S. Post Surgeon, and was commissioned by Major Ripley A. Arnold to accompany seven other officers and soldiers to select a more "healthful location" for the soldiers. At that time the health of the soldiers stationed near Waco was far below normal, hence the reason for locating a new post. In June, 1849 the above mentioned 7 officers and soldiers, together with Dr. J. M. Standifer, U.S. Post Surgeon, selected the site for the new post. It was near a large spring that furnished an abundant supply of water for the soldiers, and which in time proved to be the "healthful location" they sought. They named Fort Worth in honor of Major General Worth. After moving the soldiers to this new location, Fort Worth, Dr. Standifer was still retained as U.S. Post Surgeon, with Dr. Young as his assistant. Dr. Standifer did not immediately move his family (consisting of a wife and three small daughters) to the new Fort Worth. Instead, he moved them to Johnson Station and left them in the home of Col. M.T. Johnson for some three months while the Standifer home was being built, near the home of Col. Johnson."

On the 9th day of June 1849 the following article appeared in the Camp Worth newspaper:

"The new Army post on the Trinity River began to take definite shape today. Busy Maj. Ripley A. Arnold marked sites for living quarters and fortifications which the 41 men in his command will build. The post, on a bluff overlooking the Trinity’s Clear and West Fords, will be built around a parade ground. On the north, overlooking the river, will be barracks for the enlisted men. Quarters for Arnold and the three other officers will be built on the south side of the parade ground. A hospital building for Dr. J.M. Standifer, surgeon with Major Arnold’s detachment, will rise on the west....."

The newspaper of the 23rd of June carried the following: "Progress has been so rapid here that Maj. Ripley A. Arnold, Camp Worth commander, told his troops today that they could bring their wives and children here. The first application for dependency quarters was made by Dr. J.M. Standifer, the post surgeon. Standifer’s wife and three daughters, Castera, Eliza, and Julia, are living in South Texas. Arnold assured the doctor a cabin would be built for him near Camp Worth as soon as his family arrives.Mrs. Standifer and the children will travel by the horse-drawn Army supply train that makes deliveries regularly to Fort Graham. They will ride horses the rest of the way to Camp Worth. Arnold suggested that Mrs. Standifer and the girls could live at the home of Col. Middleton T. Johnson until their cabin is ready for them.Colonel Johnson’s home is at Johnson’s Station, six miles east of here. There the former Texas Ranger operates a grist mill and trades with the Indians."

Mrs. Julia Walker’s daughter further stated that: "Dr. Standifer left his family in the care of four faithful Negro servants in his home, he remaining with the post at Fort. Worth all week and returning to his home and family on Saturdays and Sundays at Johnson Station......"

Dr. Standifer and Eliza had three daughters, Castera Jefferson born in 1840, Eliza Panthea, and Julia Caroline, born in 1845. In the 1850 census they are shown living near Ft. Worth, along with Eliza’s sister, Caroline Mildred Edwards. It may be presumed that Caroline Mildred was in the Standifer home taking care of her sick sister and the children at the time the census was taken. Eliza Panthea (Edwards) Standifer died 16 December 1850 of pneumonia when she was 28 years old.

After his wife's death, he resigned his post at Fort Worth and moved his three little daughters, Castera, Eliza, and Julia to the home of their grandfather, Dr. Edwards. Family history is that Eliza Panthea extracted a promise from her sister "Callie" that the sister would take care of the three small daughters after Eliza’s death. It is also told that Jesse forced Caroline Mildred to marry him by threatening to take the children from her, "far away." Caroline Mildred Edwards married her deceased sister’s husband, 20 August, 1851, in Shelby County. Jesse and Caroline Standifer with his three children then moved to Dallas County and he reopened his medical practice.

Jesse Marshall and Caroline Mildred (Edwards) Standifer had seven children: James Ripley, Elizabeth Pauline, Sarah Elvira, Isabella, Thomas Edwards, John A. Echols, Emma Ruth

For a period of time in 1852, Dr. Jesse Standifer had returned to the post at Fort Worth. In the November 13 edition of the Texas State Gazette for that year, an article appeared where Dr. Standifer was on a committee of men assigned to determine how to go about finding which men had been stealing horses from the friendly Indians in the area.

chapel.gif (2014 bytes)On 10 May 1854, J.M. Standifer was named as one of seven trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church South on Cedar Mountain in Dallas County. William Bradford was another of the trustees. In the same type of indenture in Dallas County, dated 25 April 1854, trustees were listed, but not Dr. Standifer. On 9 October 1854, Jesse Standifer’s name appeared on a similar instrument in Dallas County. In 1854, Dr. Standifer retired from the army and moved his family to Decatur in Wise county, Texas.

Donnalita (Standifer) Sallee, relates a story of the move to Decatur:. "On the trip to Decatur, the Standifer family drove a large flock of geese all the way. Caroline Mildred later had a feather mattress made from the feathers of these geese. When Elizabeth Pauline, one of the daughters, married, Caroline Mildred gave her the mattress. Many years later, Elizabeth Pauline had four pairs of bed pillows made from the mattress, one pair for each of her daughters."

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In the early 1850's, Dr. Standifer moved his livestock from Wise County to Bell County near Salado where he had leased pastureland. He thought this might keep the Indians from stealing his cattle and horses. One of the Standifer sons had a fine saddle horse that died. He was grieved over the loss but the following night the Indians stole all of the other horses. The son’s antagonism was so strong against the Indians that he stated that he was glad his horse had died. The morning after the theft, Indian moccasin tracks were discovered thick in the sand all around the Standifer home. They had been peeping in the windows.

As previously mentioned, Dr. Standifer was one of the organizers of the first church in Wise County. He was listed with his son-in-law Jim Brooks and others.

Wise County, Texas, historian, Cliff Cates states: "The winter of 1854 and ‘55 seems to have been a propitious time for the beginnings of an earnest stream of immigration into the county, for many arrivals are noted in that season. Heading the column in the Deep Creek community were the families of James Brooks and Dr. Standifer, who settled on Walnut Creek, as the first neighbors of Mr. Woody....On coming to Wise County he (Dr. Standifer) retired from the active practice of medicine, but gave some aid to the sick of his community which constituted him the first physician in the county."

The General Services Administration has no record of Dr. Standifer as a participant in the Civil War. Two of his descendants tell of his being in the Civil War and in the Mexican War:

From Iris Hill: "He (Jesse Standifer) went to war with a Negro body servant and I have heard Aunt Belle say that Grandfather’s Negroes stayed with him in Texas after the war until the neighbors complained that they ought to go. So Grandpa sent them all to the fort or rather started them there. They most all died of measles which they caught on the way where there was no one to doctor them. Grandfather Standifer was so very meticulous about cleanliness that the Negro servant whom he took to the Civil War with him always gave him a towel to put over his lap when he read his medical books."

Another cousin, Donnalita Sallee wrote: "Since Grandfather was away from home serving in two wars, the Civil War and the Mexican War and when at home, riding with his medical saddle bags on his horse to see patients, he had a very strong, loyal Negro man ‘Brit’ to protect his family from Indians. The Indians came to the house one night and Grandfather had instructed Grandmother and Brit to not shoot so long as they did not try to harm the family. So when Brit heard them, he watched and Grandmother put her hand over the baby’s mouth so she couldn’t cry. They left talking all stock, and even Brit’s horse. Brit killed so many Indians in Indian wars and in the area miles around their home that when he was finally killed by the Indians, they cut him open and sewed a dog up inside him."

The 1880 census listed Dr. Standifer’s condition of his health as "general debility." On 1 August 1881, Jesse Marshall Standifer died in Keeter, Wise County, Texas. The cemetery outside Keeter is adjacent to no church and is very poor condition. There are no gravestones bearing the name Standifer but there are about twenty-five graves with inscriptions on the markers. There are two other nearby cemeteries, one adjoining the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, with no evidence of Standifer graves. In the manuscript of Mrs. Walker’s daughter, it is stated that Jesse Standifer and his second wife Caroline were buried near Garvin, Wise County, Texas. This would be a little over four miles from Keeter. The two closer cemeteries were associated with Baptist churches, and the Standifers seem to have been staunch Methodists.

* From: Wharton, Clarence R., ed; Texas Under Many Flags; American Historical Society, 1930; p. 43. (As told by his son Thomas Edward Standifer) He was with the army during the Mexican War. On going to Ft. Worth he filed on a section of land around the military post. A close friend was Captain Daggett, who was the most conspicuous citizen in the founding of the town of Ft. Worth. When Capt. Standifer was ordered to move to a military post farther west he asked Captain Daggett to come along with him, but the latter preferred to stay, expressing his belief that some day a great city would rise at that location. Capt. Standifer told him that only 8 men would be left to guard the post and all of them might be killed by the Indians. Daggett decided to stay. Standifer thereupon gave him his section of land as a gift, and it is on this section of land that the courthouse of Fort Worth was built and much of the city besides. Capt. Standifer continued in the army until 1855 when he retired on account of a wound given him in an Indian fight. He was wounded in the shoulder and being the only doctor available he had to depend upon one of his soldiers to treat his wound, and it never healed properly. After that he could raise his right arm only a little way. Nevertheless he rendered service as a surgeon in the Confederate army.

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