Adam (Ad or Add) Lawrence (Laurence) 1799-1878

Adam (Ad or Add) Lawrence (Laurence)

one of the earliest settlers in Texas and Williamson County 1821

He was a Texas Revolutionary Soldier 1836 and Indian fighter (fighting the Injuns and Mexicans)

view photos of the restored Log Cabin
maybe the oldest structure in Williamson County


Historical Narrative is written by, Dr. Henderson Shuffler,

One of the first and colorful Anglo-Americans to enter Texas from the North was Adam Lawrence, of Kentucky, a tough adventurer, Indian fighter, revolutionary soldier, treasure hunter, cattleman, and settler. There were few things Lawrence did not try after his arrival at his Uncle's home in what is now Red River County, Texas, in 1815. His Uncle, also named Adam Lawrence, preceded him to Texas by a few Months.

Young Lawrence moved, in 1821, to Austin's Colony to be a farmworker for Simon Miller, one of the old Three Hundred. In 1830 he married Sarah Lucinda Miller, Simon's daughter, and settled in Washington County. He became a well known Indian fighter and made several unbelievable escapes from pursuing Indians, once by leaping with his horse down a fifteen-foot bank into the Trinity River. This legen­dary leap and swim killed the horse but allowed Lawrence to escape. In 1833 a Spaniard offered to show Lawrence buried treasure on Galveston Island in return for the kindness extended by the Lawrence family while camped with the Spaniard on the night of November 3, 1833, Lawrence said showers of falling stars were seen, and he fled, convinced that his companion was led by the devil. Later Lawrence tried to find the treasure, apparently without success, although some Spanish gold pieces were in his possession at his death.

Lawrence took part in the Siege of Bexar and was at San Jacinto.

He became a prosperous farmer and stock raiser, owning thousands of acres of Texas Land.

After the Civil War, although getting up in years, Lawrence went to California and established a ranch at the present site of Los Angeles. After some years of misfortune, including the death of his wife, he returned to Texas where he died in 1878."

Adam Lawrence settled in what later became Williamson County in 1838. This date is given in Border Wars of Texas by DeShields and is also the date when the land which later became Lawrence Chapel was given to Lawrence's brother-in-law, Simon Miller Jr., as his headright. The two traded headrights, and Lawrence came to live in Williamson County.

Later, in 1848, he purchased more land from Miller. Several years thereafter, he allowed a Methodist Chapel to be built on his land and a cemetery established there. The present church is the third one he built on the site.

Adam Lawrence or some of his descendants have lived at Lawrence Chapel since 1838, a year before the founding of Austin.

Ad (Adam) Lawrenece’s leap

from the Frontier Times

Reissued: Vol. 3 No. 2 November 1925

From James T. DeShields "Border Wars of Texas"

In the summer of 1832 occurred an adventure that, as told by the hero in his home-spun phrases, affords the mind's eye a glimpse of the Texas of old and its inhabitants of renown. The heroin question was Adam or "Ad" Lawrence. a gift of Tennessee to Texas, I believe, and who first settled on the headwaters of the Trinity river in 1829.

Indeed, no man could have been by nature, better adapted to the profession he had chosen. Though modest, simple, and unaffected in manner and language and of a kind and gentle disposition, he athletic in body, undaunted in spirit, and inured to hardships, was specially fitted to risk the dangers of frontier life. About 1838 or 1839, he settled on the south side of Brushy Creek about four miles west from what was known as the "Hole in the Rock" in Williamson County, where he died in 1880 at the ripe old age of ninety years. He was not only a brave and daring Indian fighter but the most expert mustang roper that ever threw a lariat in Texas. Ad Lawrence was said to have been the first white man who crossed Brushy Creek at the place since known as "Law­rence's Crossing.” On the occasion re­ferred to, Lawrence and three compan­ions went out "mustanging."

Far out in the broad prairie a herd of about one hundred mustangs were sighted feeding on the tall luxuriant grass.

As they cautiously approached, the mus­tangs showed no signs of flight. Com­ing nearer, the hunters prudently halted, being much surprised that the animals exhibited no signs of alarm. Says Ad: "The long grass of the prairie suddenly became alive with Indians. There was one to each pony, and they all mounted at a jump and made for us at full speed, coiling their lariats as they rode. There was no time for swapping horses, so we all turned tail and made a straight shoot for the nearest settlement on the Trinity, about ten miles off. Our ani­mals were all fine, but the nag I rode was a black mare a little ahead of any­thing in the country for speed and bot­tom. We rather left them the first three miles, but then their ponies’ began to show themselves. I'll tell you you've no idea how much an Indian can get out of these mustangs. Instead of being a weight to them, they seem to help them along, and they kept up such fearful yelling, 'pears like you could have heard them to Red River. We noticed that they divided, one-half striking off to the left, and we soon' found out the reason for we quickly came to a deep gully or ravine, which had to be headed; it could not be crossed. They knew every inch of the ground and one party made straight for the head of the ravine, while the balance struck in below to cut us off 'Twas no use talk­ing, we had to ride about a quarter of a mile to the left, right in their very faces and head that branch. My nag was tolerably fresh; the others were be­ginning to blow light smartly. I rode just fast enough to keep in the lead. I didn't care particularly to save myself without knowing what became of my companions. Just as I came to the head of the hollow, the Indians were within a hundred yards and yelling awfully.

"They thought they had us sure. I gave my mare the rein, just touched her with the spur and turned the corner with about fifty arrows whizzing about my ears.

One stuck in my buckskin jacket, and one in my mare's neck. You may believe she didn't go any slower for a that-for while; I thought she cleared about twenty feet at a jump. Soon as I got headed right again, I look­ed around to see what had become of my companions. One look showed me. They were everyone down. About half the red skins had stopped to finish them, and the balance was coming after me like red hot lightning. I felt kinder dizzy-like for a minute and then straight­ened out, and determined to get away if I could. I didn't feel much fear if I didn't have to head to another branch. I could see the timber of the Trinity three miles away, and I gave my mare her head. She had been working too hard and was puffing a good deal. I managed to pull out the arrow that was sticking in her neck. Then I worked off my heavy buckskin coat, which was flapping about with the arrow sticking in it, catching a good deal of wind, and threw it away. I kept on about a mile further without gaining or losing much. Then I made up my mind to stop and let my nag blow a little because I knew it didn't; she could not hold up much longer. So I pulled up and alighted and looked around. It seemed as if the whole country was alive with Indians—about forty in a bunch a few hundred yards behind and one, not a hundred yards off. I loosened my saddle girth so she could breathe good, took my handle in my left hand, and pulled my butcher knife with my right. It was the only weapon I had; I dropped my rifle when I got dizzy. He never stopp­ed until he got within ten feet of me. Then he threw away his bow, jumped off, and came at me with a long knife-like mine. There was no time for a long fight. I had my calculations, and. he was too sure he had me. He ran full against my knife, and I left him lying there. I heard an awful howl from the others, and I pulled off my heavy boots, tightened my girth, and mounted. A few minutes more, and I struck the timber of the Trinity and then made the rest of the way to the river.

"I knew that for miles up and down the river banks were bluffs, fifteen or twenty feet high.

I knew my mare would not take the leap; I had to do it without her. She stopped an instant and snorted once or twice, but hearing the savage yell close behind, she took the jump, went full fifteen feet plump into the water. We both went down for the second time, then she arose and struck out for the opposite bank, with me on her back. Poor creature, she got about two-thirds across and gave out under me with a groan. I tell you, I fairly loved that animal at that moment and hated to leave her as bad as if she had been human.

"I swam the rest of the way and crawled out on the bank pretty well used up. But I was safe. I saw the howling and disappointed savages come to the bank I had left. But not one of them dared to take the leap. The distance was too great for them to shoot. So I rested awhile and then made the rest my way to the settlement.

Adam Lawrence (also spelled Laurence)

of New Year Creek

Historical narrative by JOHN P. LANDERS
from the Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Adam (Ad) Lawrence (Laurence) was born in Logan County, Kentucky, on October 16, 1799, [1] the son of Joseph Lawrence and the grandson of Adam Lawrence, [2] a North Carolinian, who was one of the first settlers of Kentucky during the late eighteenth century. This elder Adam Lawrence had participated in the Amer­ican Revolution during his residence in North Carolina. The Lawrence family had immigrated to America from Saint Albans, England, during the seventeenth century and had settled on Long Island. Distinguished members of this line were William Law­rence, a prominent landowner and patentee of Flushing in the seventeenth century, and Adam Lawrence, high sheriff of the Queens and member of the New York legislature in the eighteenth century. [3] Joseph Lawrence began the North Carolina branch of the family in the eighteenth century.

According to family tradition, Adam Lawrence was dissatisfied with the second marriage of his father, Joseph Lawrence. As a result, it is thought that he left his Kentucky home with the connivance of his sisters in 1815, going at the age of fifteen to live with his uncle, Adam Lawrence, at the point where Jonesboro later developed on the Red River. [4] Adam Lawrence, the uncle, was definitely in residence there as early as the winter of 1815, being the first Anglo-Saxon settler to move across the Red River into the present area of Texas.

His place site Kiamichi Creek, in a region vaguely defined and consequently disputed for some time between Arkansas and Texas. [5]

Because there was a danger that the United States government might give the land to the Cherokee Indians, the settlers of the area sent various petitions to Congress requesting the right of preemption. On Cum appeared the names of many early Arkansas and Texas pioneers, including that of Lawrence. [6] Numbers of these people later became acquainted with the plans of Moses and Stephen F. Austin, likewise residents of the region, for a colony in Spanish (later Mexican) Texas. Lawrence attached himself to the family of Simon Miller, one of Austin's Old Three Hundred Colonists, and traveled with him to the area of present Washing­ton County, Texas, in December 1821. [7] Lawrence and Miller camped on New Year Creek with Austin on the last day of 1821. Adam spent some time at the Miller home in Fort Bend County on the San Bernard River and was listed in the census of 1825 as a farmworker in Miller's household. [8]

As was his won't go because of a restless spirit, Adam Lawrence made a trip to North Texas to visit his uncle Adam in the spring of 1826. While they were hunting wild horses with relatives and friends along the Washita River on April 17, they were attacked by a large body of Indians, supposed to be Osages, dressed in soldiers' clothing and armed with bows and arrows and shotguns. Adam Lawrence and his son John Lawrence were in company with young Adam Lawrence, a nephew of the former. They were attacked on horseback and pursued a considerable distance before the two formers were overtaken and killed. The latter, with great difficulty, made his escape, after a long pursuit, in the course of which he received six-shot holes through his hunting shirt, but fortunately sustained no other injury. Henry Lawrence, son of George Lawrence, was killed about the same time, while in another direction, in company with Mr. Dewall. [9]

In about 1830, at San Felipe, Lawrence married Sarah Lucinda Miller, the daughter of his old friend Simon Miller, then re­turned to Washington County and obtained on February 25, 1831, the grant of a quarter of a league of land from the Mexican government. [10] This land was located near the Brazos River on New Year and Cedar creeks adjacent to the lands of Samuel Miller, a brother-in-law of Simon Miller, who also had removed to Washington County by that time, and Gibson Kuykendall.

The Kuykendall family, also quite prominent in early Texas annals, had, like the Lawrence's, originated in colonial New York and migrated first to North Carolina, thence to Henderson County, Kentucky, thereafter to Arkansas, and finally to Austin's colony.

Thus the two families, often connected by marriage, had lived in the same communities for over two hundred years. Adam Lawrence, like his forbears, was every inch the classic American pioneer. His name is frequently mentioned as being at the head of a group of Indian fighters in the colonial days of Texas and later during the republic. In 1823 and 1824, a severe drought prevailed over much of Texas, and it was Lawrence who was instrumental in organizing hunting parties to range towards the northeast in search of game to supply the grievous deficiencies in the colony. [11] In 1828, he engaged in a battle with Comanche Indians about two miles below the present site of Taylor. [12] Again in 1830, he was the leader of a group of eleven men organized in the neighborhood of San Felipe to pursue a band of Waco Indians. The eyewitness account of one of the participants paints the encounter in vivid colors:

In the month of November 1830, a Chickasaw Indian brought in­telligence from the frontier that a party of eleven Wacoes was on their way to the neighborhood in which I resided (22 miles northwest from San Felipe) for the purpose of stealing horses. ... We learned late in the evening, [that they] were encamped near the residence of James Stephenson, on Caney creek [within the present limits of Austin County]. ... At the dawn of next day, with a force of eleven men, precisely that of the Indians—we stole upon their camp. ... The Indians ran and were pursued a short distance by our leader, Adam Lawrence, who reloaded and fired at them again—but fur­ther pursuit was prevented by the fall of Young Cooper. ...

Of the eleven men engaged in this affair, only the following names are recollected, viz.: Adam Lawrence, Thomas Stevens, [13] Adam Kuy­kendall, Charles Gates, George Robinson, William Cooper, B. Kuykendall. [14]

In 1832, there occurred an exploit for which Lawrence is more widely known than for any other in his long career. He was again hunting mustangs in East Texas near the Trinity River when he and his group were astounded to see the "prairie become alive with Indians" who had concealed themselves behind the apparently grazing wild horses. Surprised, the white men took to flight, but soon Lawrence, who was ahead of the others, looked back to see that all his companions were down and in the process of being "finished." With an arrow in his own shirt and one in his horse's neck, Lawrence spurred his mare towards the timber of the Trinity three miles distant. Stopping to let his horse breathe, he killed one attacking Indian with his only remaining weapon, a butcher knife. The others continued in hot pursuit until Law­rence had reached the high banks of the Trinity. His own words best describe the rest of the story.

I knew that for miles, up and down, the banks were bluffs and fifteen or twenty feet high. Where I struck the river, they were fifteen. I knew if my mare wouldn't take the leap, I had to do it without her. She stopped an instant and snorted once or twice, but, hearing the savages yell dose behind, she took the jump. Down, down we went, full fifteen feet, plump into the deep water. We both went under for a second, then she rose and struck out for the opposite bank with me on her back. Poor creature, she got about two-thirds across and then gave out under me with a groan. I tell you, I fairly loved that animal at that moment and hated to leave her as bad as if she had been human.
I swam the rest of the way and crawled out on the bank pretty well used up. But I was safe. I saw the howling and disappointed savages come to the bank I had left. But not one of them dared to take the leap. And the distance was too great for them to shoot. So I rested awhile and then made the best of my way to the settlement. [15]

A unique experience is attributed to Lawrence in 1833. An old Spaniard came to the Lawrence home stating that he was sick and asking to rest there a few days. After a month of somewhat wary hospitality on the part of the family, the partially recovered Spaniard informed his host that he had been one of Lafitte's buc­caneers. He explained further that, during Lafitte's "capture on Galveston Island by the U. S. Marines," he and two companions, who had been guarding the treasure, had escaped notice and had subsequently hidden the spoils in two old cannons, one for gold, and the other for silver, which they then buried under a hack-berry tree.

The old Spaniard, being the sole survivor, offered to divide the loot with "Senor Lawrence" and eventually make him his heir if Lawrence would provide his home until his death. The journey in search of the treasure, to which Lawrence agreed, commenced soon thereafter, but on the second night "Senor Adam," after gazing upon the sinister, scarred visage of his sleep­ing companion and hearing the howling of wolves and the hoot­ing of an owl, looked heavenward and saw the "stars falling in showers." This phenomenon of November 3, 1833, convinced him that his companion was a diabolical visitant, leading him to de­struction; consequently, he fled in terror.

Sometime later a man who witnessed the Spaniard's death brought Lawrence a package addressed to the pirate's "heir."

His wife, Sarah Miller Lawrence, put the bundle away and promptly forgot its location, but Law­rence, having examined briefly the map it contained together with pieces of Spanish gold, set out with his brother-in-law, Lindsay P. Rucker, a surveyor, to find the treasure. This and several other trips were unavailing. At the time of Lawrence's death, however, twenty-eight Spanish gold pieces were found among his pos­sessions. [16]
With the possible exception of the above-mentioned expedition, Adam Lawrence was nearly always accompanied by his devoted old slave Jim, who cooked and acted as a body servant. When the Negro died, he was buried in Lawrence Chapel cemetery next to the place where his master was destined to rest. Another old slave often mentioned in Lawrence's annals was Sella, a Negro woman who was brought as a child from Virginia by Simon Miller." Sarah Miller received Sella as part of her dowry when she married Lawrence, and the old Negress lived until after Lawrence's death in 1878. The clouds of discontent were gradually gathering during the early 1830's, and when the first rumblings of revolution broke out, Lawrence was in the forefront of the fray. In 1835, he joined the volunteer scouting company under the command of William B. Travis and, after various horse-catching forays, took part in the historic siege of Bexar, in December of that year. [18] He was with Houston's army at Gonzales, and, when he heard of the massacre at the Alamo, in which his wife's half brother, Thomas R. Miller, was killed, [19] he hastened home to aid his family in preparations for that great flight before the Mexican advance known as the Runaway Scrape. While they and the slaves re­mained at Groce's plantation near Hempstead, he took part in the victorious Battle of San Jacinto, in which his half-brother, Joseph Lawrence, was also a combatant. [20]

Thereafter he re-enlisted in Captain Henry Reed's company and served therein from June 4 to September 4, 1836. [21]

Besides the headright augmentation of three quarters of a league and a labor of land, which he received in Washington County on January 13, 1838, [22] Lawrence was awarded various grants for his revolutionary services. He received 3,273.74 acres of land in Madiso County in 1844 and 499.71 acres in Trinity County as a first c ass augmentation to the former in 1845; in 1848 he was awarded a bounty of 320 acres in Calhoun County. [23] Subsequent to the revolution he had lived for about a year and a half in Burleson County, but in 1838 he followed Yegua Creek to its source in Milam (present Williamson) County and settled at a place known soon thereafter as the Crossroads and later as Lawrence Chapel. [24]

The land on which he settled consisted of three fourths of a league and a labor which had been granted to his father-in-law, Simon Miller, in January, 1838. Miller died during the following month, however, and some dispute arose.

The Republic of Texas awarded the disputed land to Adam Law­rence's brother-in-law, Simon Miller, Jr., on November 20, 1845. [25] In the meantime, Lawrence had been living thereon. This was a region of which he was quite fond, and it is said that he was the first white man to cross Brushy Creek at the point later known as Lawrence's Crossing. [26] There, with the aid of his slaves, he constructed a large double log house of hewn beams, the size of which shows that the trees of his day were much larger than the post oak presently growing in the area. The building still stands and is used as a barn by a descendant. On October 12, 1848, Simon Miller, Jr., made a formal transmission of 2,00o acres of this "Miller League" to Lawrence. [27]

Soon the locality began to thrive because of its site and well-watered, arable land. Lawrence, being a devout Methodist, set aside land for religious worship and soon built a log church on it for the use of early circuit riders. A-frame church, about the third to be erected on the spot, is still in use. [28] The first person to be buried in the adjacent cemetery was, according to tradition, a child of some travelers who spent the night at Lawrence's home in the late 1840s.

Lawrence was also an active Mason and, in addition to his range brand, which is registered in the courthouse at Georgetown, [29] used as his trail brand an unusual Masonic emblem, [29] which was later used by his son-in-law, Henry Inlo Layne.

About 1848, Lawrence's aged father, Joseph, came from Kentucky and was reconciled with his son, who had so bitterly opposed to his second marriage. Joseph spent the remaining years of his life at Lawrence Chapel and was buried in the cemetery when he died about 1853. [31]

At first, there was no school in the area, and the children were sent back to Washington County for their education—in later times to Salado Academy. After about 1850, however, Lawrence hired a teacher to instruct the younger children of the community in the church building. [32]

Lawrence became a prosperous farmer and stock raiser in the years preceding the Civil War. In 1860, he owned over three thou­sand acres of land in Williamson County valued at $3,500, where­as his personal property was evaluated at $4,000." He owned four slaves, a large number of cattle, and also had acquired about 1,000 acres of land in Comanche County.

His discouragement at the failure of the Southern cause, in which his children and sons-in-law participated, and other changes together with the crowding of newcomers into the area caused him to adopt in 1866 a bold plan which Captain F. S. Wade describes in his recollections:

His children, some of them married, his brethren in the church, and hosts of friends tried to dissuade him from moving in his old age from a good home and an abundance of this world's goods. All were unavailing. In less than a month, he had traded his land for one thousand cattle, having about the same number in his own brand. Inox. wagons he started for California. [34] At El Paso, he sold all his cattle except his teams at twenty dollars ahead in gold, bringing over forty thousand dollars. That fall, he reached Los Angeles and bought several sections of land between the then small town and the Ocean on the San Gabriel River, establishing a stock ranch. Since then, this has proven the most valuable land in the U. S., But in a few years, the same old trouble overtook him. Settlements began to thicken around him. So he sold again and moved to a lofty valley 8o miles north of Los Angeles and that distance from any neighbor. He moved his cattle. This was in the Cascade range of mountains. Here trouble and misfortune followed him. His cattle strayed off; frost came every month in the year; his remaining chil­dren married and left him, and worst of all, his loved and trusted wife dear old Aunt Sallie sickened and died. His property was gone, and he was left desolate."

After the failure of his California venture, Lawrence returned to Texas and, at the suggestion of Captain Wade, applied for a Revolutionary veteran's bond. [36] In about 1875, he lived at Lawrence Chapel in the home of his daughter, Mrs. H. I. Layne, who had remained in Texas because of her previous marriage. The other children stayed in California after his return. Lawrence died on October 2, 1878, at the Layne home and was buried in Lawrence Chapel cemetery. [37]

Soft-spoken, generous, proud, loyal to friends and family, but quick to anger and restless under restraint, Adam Lawrence was the embodiment of the pioneer type that characterized Texas in the mid-nineteenth century. Of his courage and daring, there is no need to speak further.

(for footnotes, view the PDF version)

View PDF for narrative with the footnotes

Adam Lawrence was a Texas Revolutionary Soldier 1836 and Indian fighter

(read about fighting the Injuns and Mexicans)

This log cabin is being rebuilt by the Lawernce family on the Lawernce Chapel Cemetery grounds

his old log cabin

read about Add Laurence (Adam Lawrence) in
The Ladder Of Rivers - The Story Of I P Olive (history of the Lawrence Chapel area)

Lawrence, Adam (or Laurence), pages 29-30-31,

41, 45-46, 79-80-81, 163, 239

Lawrence, Carl and Sadie, 8

Lawrence, C. B,, 130

Lawrence Chapel (and Cemetery), Tex.,

41, 45, 76, 84, 164, 172-73, 181, 238,

313, 328

Lawrence, Sarah (Mrs. Ad), 29, 41, 81

view old map