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Sarah Standifer

* Photo contributed by Mary Ann Daniell of Lampasas, Texas.

From the book Pioneer Women of Texas by Annie Doom Pickrell, 1929; Pub. The E. L. Steck Co., Austin, Texas; p. 277.
(Contributed by Mrs. S. J. Smith, Austin, Texas).

Note: I have included this article in its entirety!

Mrs. John Litton born Sarah Standifer

"Most things worthwhile in this world come from a tiny thing we call a seed. When seeds are gathered together and sown in a suitable soil, something worthwhile is almost sure to happen. When that something worthwhile has really happened, we are likely to look back proudly to that little bunch of seeds. If any human being connected in any little way with our own line of folks happens to possess just claim that he be numbered with any one bunch of seeds, we are likely to become a bit "puffed up" over the connection. Today, Texas, with her three million people looks proudly back to the illustrious three hundred pioneers, and many of her people, following the instinct to "puff up", state with the pardonable pride that her forebears were among the people thus numbered.

History, particularly any good history of Texas, will tell you all about the men in that first colony. Volumes concerned with the life of Stephen F. Austin are being written all over our state today. This writing entails much labor and research, and no man or women of today would disparage in any way the work of those thus interested in the intrepid colonizer. Spanish grants and ancient land titles, dating back a couple of centuries will show the gift of the league and labor of land to each man who came thus with Austin. Any lawyer, proficient in his business, can trace a land title back to the men among the three hundred who received it first. We are proud of those men, just as we are proud of Austin and his far-reaching vision, but we want right now to call your attention of two women who started out to do that very same thing.

Elizabeth Standifer, a widow, came from Missouri with that first colony brought by Austin to Texas. Why she took this step, we cannot say. Were it a matter of financial troubles, or disappointment in social matters, it must ever remain a mystery. Moreover, her daughter, Sarah, a young woman, unmarried, elected to come with her. The two women with five other children, no grown man in any way connected with them to act as a protector, undertook the long perilous journey to Texas in order that they might make for themselves a home in the wilderness.

But before our Sarah could reach Texas, before the young lady, in fact, had reached the number of years commonly ascribed to discretion, at some place in the wilderness, she fell in love with John Litton. Said John, the son of Lem Litton and Anne Forrestor Litton, had been born in South Carolina in 1812, had gone to Missouri with his parents and had run away from that Missouri home in 1830 to take up his home in Texas with an uncle named Leman Barker. Leman Barker later had married Elizabeth Standifer, the mother of our Sarah. One year later, our Sarah became the wife of this John Litton, lately decamped from old Missouri.

And that marriage, true in every way to the characteristics of the bride, had been an outstanding event, even in our day and time. Sarah was married five times, but each time, save the mark, to her own dear John. Neither was Sarah particular as to Protestant or Catholic form. In fact, her trouble lay in the fact that neither forms of church worship furnished right then in her locality the necessary man to administer the marriage sacrament. The laws of her country changed, too with every one of it's boasted six flags. Determined to obey those laws in every respect, Sarah, therefore, married her John many times. She jumped the broomstick with him, she took a lick of salt another time, and John, believing intensely in Sarah, did each time as he was bidden.

Some years after this marriage was celebrated, Sarah took part in the runaway scrape. Back of a trusty mule, perhaps, or then, perhaps again, in an ox-wagon, but this we do not know. During that hysterical flight from a mistaken sense of danger, Sarah's baby, the first of fourteen children, was born and died.

Along in 1841, on February 6, John Litton received a grant of land from the Republic of Texas, the paper being signed by David G. Burnet and Thomas William Ward, Commissioner of the General Land Office. On this land, Sarah and her John finally took up their residence, the place being known far and wide as "Hog-Eye".

The title is, to say the least, lacking in beauty, both as to sound and suggestion, but as time went on, that settlement became one of importance to the people in that vicinity, a place now known as Elgin.

There is a legend connected with it's name, true, maybe, false more than likely, but we are told that as time went by young people--and few old ones--began to dance at this home, the music being furnished by a traveling fiddler, and he knew (alas!) but one tune. He could play the tune on most any two strings of his little red fiddle, if so happened that others were missing. He might have, for all we know, antedated the famous violinist who delighted his vast audiences with his own composition played entirely on one string. It is pretty nearly certain now that the immortal tune that stimulated the young people in the frolic had been dubbed "Hog-Eye", and the home where the first traveler first played it, soon took on the name of the tuneful bit of harmony.

On another spot of ground Litton found an every-flowing spring. He found as well that deer abounded in the region, so Litton built a platform above the spring, and from this platform the venison was killed, there being many testimonials extant today as to the venison's tastiness. The place is today known as Litton Springs.

But the settlement at Hog-Eye, on the Brenham and Austin roads was a type far different from the lodge established at Litton Springs. A house had been built there, of logs, to be sure, but a woman presided over this place of habitation, and it was not slow to show the effect of such presiding. It was furnished as well as one might expect it to be in a new country, some few things therein reminding Sarah of the old home in Missouri. Slaves, brought from across the border, had multiplied, and had rendered their services. Wild lands had been turned into fields and gardens, furnishing both vegetables and flowers suitable for our Sarah's table.

Being near the public highway between Houston and San Antonio, the place became after a time to be known as a "Stage Stand", as the traffic was becoming heavy as the dawn of Texas advances. There the stagecoach horses were changed, and men and women came to wait the arrival of the stage, as one would wait the arrival of a railway train in our own day and time. They had there, too, what was known as a family grocery. This emporium was supplied with the necessities of life; all brought in by ox-teams, plying back and forth over that same road. One corner of the store held the bar, over which was dispensed without question the now widely tabooed liquor. And be it said in tone of warning to him that would doubt the wisdom of the eighteenth amendment, no matter how earnestly Sarah might speak her woman's warning, many killings took place in that same family grocery, a pint or so of liquor clearly to blame.

Before that same bar, Bowie and Crockett and Travis paused many times on their way about the new country, and there is little reason to believe that they failed to enjoy the libation provided for the asking. Bowie stopped there on his way to enter the Alamo, stopped and chatted with Sarah and her husband as men so often chat with no thought of the tragedy that may be lying in wait for them.

In the work incident to maintaining such an establishment, Sarah bore well her part. She managed the slaves that cared for the travelers' comfort. She gradually took entire charge of the fields and gardens. The cattle collected from year to year through her husband's efforts covered apparently the whole face of the earth. They brought the Standifer's gold, too, these cattle, and it was kept in its precious beauty by this thrifty Sarah in a secret locker in the bit old fireplace.

Through all this hard, stirring, active life, Sarah Standifer Litton gave birth to fourteen children. The black mammy was present to help, of course, but the real burden of parenthood must always fall on the mother. If Sarah and we know she recognized this duty, if she ever rebelled against this part of her life, it has been kept from the public eye and ear. We even believe that she went about the task joyfully, happy, contented wife that she was. Her children appreciated her efforts, unfolding like so many little blossoms, snuggling close to the parent stem.

Her love for her children brought Sarah one distressing experience. While she was yet a young woman, when her oldest boy had reached the proud estate of ten years of age, when they were still a little new to the Indian infested country, the Indians stole that oldest lad. Sarah, realizing the situation, raised the alarm, using clouds of smoke, blasts from a horn, and her husband in the fields and her friends and neighbors answered the call. All day they scoured the woods, the banks of the streams, keeping s sharp lookout over the prairie stretching in between. A thousand visions floated through that mother's mind. Mindful of tales of Indian atrocities and Indian outrages, those visions were of torture. That boy's face, usually bright and merry, wore in that other's eyes the pinched white agony of suffering, and the other children crowded tearfully about her, were but ready to be carried off, in her tortured mind, when the brutes should appear on the morrow. And then with the sun sinking in its unfeeling glory, with aching eyes still scanting that prairie stretching in golden light before her, Sarah saw two Indians coming to her door, two of them, and in between them they bore her son. Tortured? Not a bit of it. His eyes alight with the spirit of adventure, his smile beaming upon his mother, he made his low bow before her, dressed, if you please, in a suit of deerskin, to all appearances made new for him in a day, and dotted before and behind with beads as only Indians know how to dot things! Friendly Indians, a whole tribe of them living near had and Sarah had now known about it.

In 1857, John Litton was stricken with what is now commonly called appendicitis. The doctor called in proceeded after the manner of the day to bleed his patient, and he lost his life as a result. The blow fell heavily upon Sarah. She had come with mother to Texas, had braved the trials of a new country along, but for twenty-eight years she had been the wife of a good man and true. She had learned the value of real companionship, and Sarah's hear rebelled at the thought of thus giving it up with life still young for both of them. Distressed, well nigh broken hearted, Sarah but doubled her efforts for the sake of her family, and she, a lone woman in this still raw, unsettled country, raised all of her fourteen children.

The life of this rather remarkable woman may be summed up thus. She was a matter of fact, plainspoken woman. Her education had been limited, as many another women's has been limited by the want of advantages in the environment in which life had placed her. She possessed, however, a keen mind, a quick mind. She took a matter as it was laid before her and studied it and sifted it until she reached conclusions satisfactory to herself. Through these conclusions she was able to gather about her no mean amount of property, and continued as long as she lived to manage this property and acquired in connection with her husband. She escaped the snuff-stick, but she sat her down once a day and smoked her clay pipe, deriving apparently the same comfort therefrom that one sees today on the face of lord of creation when similarly employed.

Sarah knew little; perhaps, of the dainty ways of the women drifting hither from the cultured parts of old Virginia. Her life had never known the ease, the manner that follows the possession of wealth from generation unto generation. She had spent little time in the dance, in the frolic, in the gay, light-heartedness to which youth should be justly heir, but her stern integrity, her dauntless courage, her undying loyalty to her family and her country have left their enduring mark upon her children and her children's children."

Anderson (son of Benjamin) married Elizabeth James on April 12, 1809 in Elbert County, Georgia. Soon after they migrated to Tennessee then on to Union County, Illinois. Anderson died there after 1821. Sarah was then eight years old.   Sarah Elizabeth Standifer married John Thomas Litton in 1834 in Texas.

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Righttan.jpg (1229 bytes)Click here for Sarah and John Litton's lineage.

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