Archibald Willingham


1. ARCHIBALD WILLINGHAM (1786-1857). Archibald Willingham, early settler, was born on December 10, 1786, in Columbia County (then Richmond County), Georgia, USA. In the War of 1812 he served as a sergeant in Capt. Thomas Carr's Company of Georgia Militia and attained the rank of captain. According to family legend, Willingham underwent some form of medical training during this time and after his discharge was a physician. On December 6, 1809, he married Eleanor Belcher in Columbia County, Georgia, USA. Between 1810 and 1833, they had eleven children, only two of whom died in childhood. Willingham emigrated from Georgia to Texas in January 1839 and settled with his wife and all of their surviving children near Washington-on-the-Brazos. When he arrived in Texas he was already an old man, by early-nineteenth-century standards. He presumably practiced medicine at this time; his descendants have some of his medical instruments. He was a farmer and a rancher and was involved in the politics of nearby Washington-on-the-Brazos, the first capital of Texas, during the ten years he lived in Washington County. His name appears in a document dated November 10, 1843, that names five individuals to draft a preamble and resolutions resulting from a meeting between a "committee of citizens of Independence and the Honorable Anson Jones." On December 2, 1848, Willingham's eldest son, Francis Marion Willingham, traveled to Austin as agent for his father and purchased 320 acres of land on Salado Creek from Elijah S. C. Robertson for a dollar an acre. By 1850 Archibald Willingham, who is credited with being the first permanent settler at Salado, and at least two of his sons had settled on that land. The Willinghams built a double log cabin with a dog trot about a hundred yards west of where the Stagecoach Inn was later built. Dr. James Edwin Guthrie, an early Salado physician, and his wife built their first home on the same site, which is now occupied by the Stagecoach Inn offices. Some of Willingham's children remained in Washington County and there raised families. Caroline Eliza Willingham married Henry G. Anderson. Their son, Wilson Anderson, was murdered by the notorious gunman William Preston (Bill) Longleyqv in 1875. Longley was hanged for this murder on October 11, 1878, at Giddings.Willingham was primarily a farmer and stock raiser. The 1850 Milam County census indicated that he had property valued at $3,000. He was also involved in activities related to the formation of Bell County in 1850. Among these, he superintended construction of a road from Nolanville (Belton) to Chalks Mill on Salado Creek. In 1852 Willingham moved several miles upstream to a place that became known as Willingham Spring. The family built a house there called Three Chimneys.This home, once a landmark, has been in ruins for more than 75 years. Sterling Robertson bought a tract of land from Willingham on January 5, 1854, for $2,000, presumably the same tract he had sold them in 1848, although he was living in the Willingham cabin by March 1852. There he resided while he built the large Greek Revival home to which he moved his family from Austin in 1854. Apparently, Willingham moved to Belton in the last few years of his life. He died on October 27, 1857, and was buried at Three Chimneys. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Worth Stickley Ray, Austin Colony Pioneers (Austin: Jenkins, 1949; 2d ed., Austin: Pemberton, 1970). Felda Davis Shanklin, Salado, Texas, USA Its History and its People (Belton, Texas, USA: Bell, 1960). Texas State Gazette, October 31, 1857. George Tyler, History of Bell County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1936).

The parents and siblings of Archibald Willingham (1786 - 1856) are still a mystery and there is no clue as to how Archibald lived his childhood. He first appears in records when on the 6th day of December 1809, he married in Columbia County, Georgia, USA to Eleanor Belcher. Archibald served as Sgt. in the War of 1812 from Georgia under Captain Thomas D. Carr and Colonel Ignatius A. Few. He was Captain in the Monroe County, Georgia, USA Militia in 1823.All of Archibald and Eleanor’s children were born in Georgia and came to Texas with him with the exception of his first born child William who died while carrying mail across a creek in Georgia.  Entering the Republic of Texas at Sabine County, December 1839, he received a head-right 1 Jan 1840. This land was awarded by the Washington County Land Board. Archibald made his home first in Washington County, Texas, USA and later in Milam County, the part that later became Bell County. He was credited with settling the town of Salado, Texas, USA and a Texas natural landmark recorded 1967 located on Salado Creek in Salado, Bell County, Texas, USA reads . . . Quote: "First Anglo-American settler was Archibald Willingham 1851". Note: Proof of kin to Archibald qualifies one for the Daughters or Sons of the Republic of Texas.  Archibald Willingham was a Dr. by apprenticeship, rancher, surveyor, and reputed to have worked on original survey of the capital of Texas building 1853 in Austin, Texas, USA.   NEXT→

Douglas B. Willingham




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