John Claybourne Crisp

   JOHN CLAYBOURNE CRISP, of Beeville, Bee county, Texas, a lawyer, was the eldest of eleven children of David Hardee Crisp, M.D., and Elizabeth Amanda Crisp, both of whom were born and reared in Caswell county, North Carolina.
   Dr. Crisp was born April 18, 1824, and practiced his profession over 54 years. He died at Uvalde, Texas, June 23, 1906, aged 82 years, two months and five days. He had a fine English and classical education and received his degree of M.D. after a three years' course in the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, class of 1846. He began practice in Tippah county, Mississippi, succeeding to the lucrative practice of this uncle, Dr. John H. Crisp, an M.D. from the same university.
   In 1858 Dr. D. H. Crisp removed to Texas, settling on the Colorado river in Colorado county near Columbus, where he also developed a large plantation, on which he had sixty-three valuable slaves set free by President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation. He served as surgeon in the Confederate army during the Civil war. He was always the highest type of the Southern gentleman, -- a Chesterfield in his manners and language. He attained some distinction in his profession as a writer. He was president of the Medical Society of Colorado county and was president of the board of medical examiners of his district. Dr. Crisp was not a member of any fraternal order but was a devout Christian and life-long ruling elder in the Presbyterian church, having been a descendant of an ancient and historic family of Huguenots who refugeed from the great massacre of St. Bartholomew at Paris, France, to London, where his maternal ancestor married an Englishman named Crisp. His half brother, Stephen Monroe Wells, held a diploma from the University of Mississippi and became a brilliant lawyer at Columbus, Texas. He died of measles while a captain in the Confederate army in the Civil war. Jabez A. Wells, another half-brother of Dr. Crisp, also died, a soldier in the same army.
   His uncle, Dr. John Hancock Crisp, was a distinguished physician and surgeon and extensive cotton planter in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Texas, who died in Brazil, South America, having moved there after the Civil war.
   Mrs. Elizabeth Amanda Crisp was the third of the eight children of John and Elizabeth Mitchell (nee Mebane), descendants of old Scotch-Irish Presbyterian families from the north of Ireland who were among the earliest settlers of North Carolina. Mrs. Crisp was a lifelong and devoted adherent of the old faith in which she died a triumphant death at Uvalde February 14, 1907, aged 70 years, nine months and five days. She always bore a most lovely Christian character and was greatly beloved by all who knew her. Her mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Mebane, daughter of David Mebane, whose father was Alexander Mebane of Orange county, N.C., who was in 1776 a member of the Halifax Constitutional Convention, in 1783 a member of the house of commons (and repeatedly afterwards), and in 1793 a member of Congress at Philadelphia.
   William Mebane, of Mason Hall, N.C., and James Mebane, of Caswell county, N.C., were sons of Alexander Mebane above named. Many members of the Mebane family were prominent figures in the history of the "Old North State" as lawyers, preachers, statesmen and soldiers.
   Hon. Anderson Mitchell, an uncle to Mrs. Crisp, was a graduate of the University of North Carolina, a member of the United States Congress, and a distinguished lawyer and judge of the highest courts of that state. Robert Mitchell, a brother of Judge Anderson Mitchell, was a prominent physician in North Carolina.
   Mr. Albert Gallatin Mitchell, brother of Mrs. E. A. Crisp, was of a high order of scholarship, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was severely wounded in the Civil war. Mr. Mebane Mitchell, another brother of Mrs. Crisp, died while a soldier in the United States army in the war of 1845 with Mexico, and his remains were buried in Mexico.
   The family of Dr. D. H. Crisp comprised eleven children -- ten now living, all grown, named as follows:  John Claybourne, William Mebane (of Bexar county, Texas), Elizabeth (died at two weeks of age), Annie Eliza (Mrs. A. P. Harris of Temple, Texas), Mary Lee (Mrs. D. W. Barnhill of Uvalde, Texas), Albert Sidney (proprietor and editor of the Cuero Star, daily and weekly, Cuero, Texas), Anderson Mitchell (secretary and treasurer of F. A. Piper Company at Uvalde, Texas), Bettie Alice, Martha Francis (Mrs. J. J. Spier of El Paso, Texas), Kennie Lillian, David Hardee, Jr., a member of the mercantile firm of Crisp & White of Uvalde, Texas.
   J. C. Crisp, subject of this sketch, was born in Tippah county, Mississippi, near Holly Springs, August 8, 1857, and was reared on his father's plantations in Mississippi and Texas. In 1876 he entered the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, at Bryan, being one of its "original six" matriculants. In his senior (or fourth) year he was prevented by failing health from obtaining his coveted degree of A. B.
   After leaving college, J. C. Crisp was principal of the public schools of Columbus, Texas, which were first organized into the graded system by him. Failing health compelled him to abandon his first chosen profession, that of educator, for which a liberal and classical education eminently fitted him. His education also included the German language, which he spoke and wrote fluently and taught successfully  to both American and German pupils. He moved from Columbus to Uvalde for the benefit of his health. He served as deputy county and district clerk and deputy tax assessor of Uvalde county, whose tax rolls were written up by him for two successive years. Newspaper work next engaged his attention. In 1885 he established the West Texan of Uvalde, which was destroyed by fire in 1886 and was succeeded by the Uvalde News established by him, with which he also consolidated the Uvalde Hesperian, the first paper established in Uvalde county. In November, 1887, he was promoted in his second chosen profession to be proprietor and general manager and managing editor of the Waco Examiner (daily and weekly) which under his management was one of the leading dailies of Texas, and during that time is said to have been one of the best daily papers Waco ever had. During his career as newspaper man Mr. Crisp was an active and influential member of the Texas Press Association, on some of whose leading committees he served and which he represented in 1889 as a delegate to the National Editorial Association, whose annual meeting was held in Detroit, Michigan. The first editorial work done by our subject was on the Texas Collegian, a literary magazine published at A. & M. College, he being a member of its editorial staff. Mr. Crisp has been a liberal contributor to the leading papers of his state and nation. On abandoning newspaper work he was elected an honorary member of the Texas Press Association at its meeting held in Dallas in 1888, and received many most complimentary personal mentions in the press of Texas.
   Mr. Crisp now changed from the profession of Journalism to that of the law, and was admitted to the bar at Hillsboro, Hill county, Texas, after two years spent as a law student, his tutor being Judge B. D. Tarlton, then of the firm of Tarlton & Tarlton, and now professor of law in the State University of Austin. Since entering the legal profession he has been a member of the Texas Bar Association and most of the time a member of its most important committees. While on its committee of Legal Education and Admission to the bar, he labored a number of years in the endeavor to raise the standard for admission to the profession, and the present state of the Texas laws on that subject are largely the result of his reports and debates on that subject in the association.
   The Texas Reports and legal reports of the country contain reports of a number of important cases in which Mr. Crisp appeared as counsel. His practice has been limited solely to civil cases and mainly to cases involving the law of real estate, in which he enjoys an enviable reputation as a specialist in connection with many of the large landed estates of his section of the state.
   Our subject is a fluent and forceful public speaker and has made speeches in Texas and other states in all kinds of meetings and gatherings -- political, industrial, literary, religious, etc., having made speeches in the cities of Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, as well as in Texas cities.
   While a college student he became a member of the Presbyterian church, the church of his ancestors, and since the organization of the Beeville church has been one of its ruling elders, its clerk of session, and much of that time superintendent of the Sunday School and teacher of a Bible class. He has served often as representative to Presbytery and Synod, and twice as commissioner from the Presbytery of Western Texas to the General Assembly in its meetings at Macon, Georgia, and Atlanta, Georgia, serving at Macon on the judicial committee and at Atlanta on the committee on bills and overtures.
   On July 31, 1901, Mr. Crisp was married to Miss Rebecca Boone McCoy, who was reared in Hot Springs, Arkansas, though born in Mississippi, where her parents both died when she was about three years of age. Mrs. Lucy Johnston, of Auburn, Alabama, an aunt of the little orphan, took charge of her and kept her until she was twelve years of age, when she was again left an orphan by the death of both her foster parents, who left her to their son, Oscar A. Johnston, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who with his wife reared and educated her, with whom she lived until her marriage to the subject of this sketch. She bore the name of her great-great-grandmother, Rebecca Boone, wife of Daniel Boone, of Kentucky. Her great-uncle, James McCoy, was one of Colonel Fannin's men, massacred by the Mexicans at Goliad, Texas, in 1836, in the war with Mexico for the independence of Texas. Handsome monuments to the memory of Fannin and his men have been erected in the town of Goliad, and other Texas cities, and their deeds of valor will illumine the pages of history forever.
   To Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Crisp three daughters have been born, viz.:  Julia Mebane, Delia Boone, and Frances Elizabeth.


from A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas, Lewis Publishing Company. Chicago, 1907. Vol. II, pp. 462-465.