Fawcett:FAWCETT, Joseph Willis (1849 - 1942)

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More information can be found at: Person:FAWCETT, Joseph Willis (1849 - 1942)

Biographical sketch

JOSEPH WILLIS FAWCETT was born on Friday, May 18, 1849 to Susan Stabler and Willis Fawcett at Headley, near St. Charles, Missouri (Death Certificate 12215; Sherman Democrat 3/20/1942:7, 11/7/1928; E.S. Fawcett statement 3/22/1867). Joe (also known as Jody) moved to Virginia with his parents and siblings late in 1851.

His mother was of Quaker ancestry. She died in her native Alexandria, Virginia in January 1852. J.W. and his six siblings were raised by their Stabler relatives in Alexandria, Virginia and Sandy Springs, Maryland after his father moved to Texas in 1852. J.W Fawcett lived in the Robert M. Reese household in Alexandria. As a young boy his sister Gene took him to see the printing presses at the Alexandria Gazette. While looking at them, he slipped in a puddle of blue ink and smeared ink all over his white pants. They created quite a spectacle walking home with him dripping ink (Letter: J.W. Fawcett to S.S. Fawcett 5/22/1929).

While living in his aunt Debra Stabler’s household in Alexandria, Joe Fawcett and Beulah Reese both had measles and were put in same bed upstairs. Joe would get out of bed and play,until he heard someone coming up the strairs. He had a black spotted white hobby horse named Barney. This house may have been the same as his grandmother Stabler’s home (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 3/2/1913).

The estate left to Joseph Willis Fawcett was administered by his uncle/guardian, Richard H. Stabler (Will 7:5 4/12/1855, 7:124 8/12/1856; Deed 1:146, 2:370). Edward/Mary Stabler left some of their estate to him in May 1853 (Alexandria Will 6:215). Jody’s father, Willis, visited Alexandria in July 1859. When Rebecca Stabler died in October 1860, she also left a portion of her estate to Joe (Will 4:438). Jody Fawcett lived with his uncle Henry Stabler in Sandy Springs, Montgomery County, Maryland (Letter L Fawcett to V Fawcett 10/7/1860).

J.W. Fawcett attended the Westtown School, a Friend's school in Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in November 1864. He was still a resident of Sandy Spring. Joe also studied dentistry (1865?), probably in Baltimore like his brother Edward Stabler Fawcett. Even though J.W. Fawcett attended a northern school, his sympathies like those of some of the Stablers and Leadbeaders of Alexandria, were with the south.

J.W. Fawcett came to Texas in the summer of 1866, sailing from New York to Texas on the steamer "the Star of the Union". He then took the former-Confederate blockade-runner "Lillian" to Powder Horn and Port Lavaca. J.W. Fawcett traveled by four-horse stage from Victoria to Yorktown, where he was reunited with his father whom he had not seen for a decade. In September he still lived with Willis and Jerusha near Yorktown (Letter W Fawcett to Fawcetts & Moore 9/29/1866).

J.W. Fawcett did not live with his father in DeWitt County for very long, but moved to Fairfield in Freestone County by January 1870. He worked for Dr. Webb at the Cotton Gin, joined a church, and planned to farm the doctor’s land during the following year (Letter W Fawcett to L Fawcett 1/14/1870). Dr. and Mrs. Webb were neighbors of Willis and Jerusha Fawcett at Yorktown or Clinton, Texas (Letter W Fawcett to L Fawcett 5/4/1871). J.W. Fawcett voted for Tilden for president at the polling place at Fairfield, Freestone County, Texas that was guarded by two columns of African-American troops. J.W. Fawcett purchased 128 acres for $1550 in the Eli Russell league from W.R. Oswalt on July 13, 1870 (Deed K237). He was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and practiced dentistry (1867-72) in Fairfield.

Joe Fawcett had two treasures from his ancestors. He had a pocket book of his grandfather, Joseph Fawcett, and a strand of his mother’s hair that his sister Eugenia sent to him. He passed these treasures on to his grandson, Joseph Willis Fawcett (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 5/2/1929).

J.W. Fawcett arrived in Sherman, Grayson County, Texas on January 3, 1873, where he worked as a contractor and builder. He constructed the first cottage in the College Park Addition. He lived in Sherman from 1873 through 1880/82.

Joe married Mary Ann Dunn on November 4, 1878 in Indian Territory (Oklahoma [Sherman Democrat 3/20/1942:7, 11/7/1928]). His father left nothing to Joe when he died in September 1879. Willis and Mary Fawcett are listed in the 1880 census of Preston, Grayson County (ED16), where there eldest son (Young Penn Fawcett) was born in 1880. They lived in Sherman for several years (ca. 1881-83), before they returned to Preston where their remaining sons were born. Their nine sons are Young Penn Fawcett (1880-1959), Willis "Will" Fawcett (1882-1978), Delorama "Dee" Stabler Fawcett (1884-1966), Frank Stabler Fawcett (1886-1959), Joseph Melton Fawcett (1889-1954), Washington R/P. Fawcett (1891-1918), Ray A. Fawcett (1893-1968), Ernest Fawcett (ca. 1895, died in infancy), and Leotis Fawcett (1900-1951 [1900 census Grayson Co TX 49, Pct 8, ED 116, sheet 15, line 40).

J.W. Fawcett lived and farmed in Preston for 50 years (1875-1929). During 1895 they had to flee from a tornado. At that time they lived in a single story frame house that Joe had built near the main road about a mile from the Preston post office. He farmed and raised a few sheep (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 3/2/1913). No deeds have been located for his land.

For 25 years J.W. Fawcett was the Sunday School Superintendent (1898-1925) at the Preston Methodist Church.

During a server storm in late February 1913, Joe and his wife were joined in their storm shelter by his son, Will, and wife, Sallie, and their two sons, Joe and Lee Edward Fawcett (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 3/2/1913).

During mid-July 1915 Mary visited her son Dee and his family in nearby Pottsboro. Dee also brought his family to Preston to visit (Sherman Democrat 7/15/1915), possibly because J.W. Fawcett was ill at the time (Sherman Democrat 7/27/1915). After he recovered, Mary became ill (Sherman Democrat 9/23/1915). Later in the year she attended a Christmas party at Mrs. Mary Bell's residence in Preston (Sherman Democrat 12/16/1915).

Mr/Mrs D.L. Jackson of Preston took J.W. and Mary Fawcett for a Sunday drive in the Jackson's automobile. They visited the A.S. Noble family in Sherman (Sherman Democrat 7/23/1919). Later that summer, their son, Y.P. Fawcett, brought his family for a visit from Homer, Louisiana (Sherman Democrat 7/23/1919).

As a hobby under the pen name "Uncle Rip", J.W. Fawcett wrote squibs for the local newspapers. He was the Preston correspondence for the Sherman Democrat,writing columns (1905-20) in support of constructing a bridge across the Red River at Preston (Sherman Democrat 1920) and other civic projects (e.g., opposition to public purchase of school books [Sherman Democrat 7/19/1919], whiskey cache [Sherman Democrat 6/15/1921], County Fair [Sherman Democrat 9/27/1915]). He voted as a Democrat. For many years he wrote the rural news column for the Denison Herald. In the 1910s he also wrote for a paper in Oklahoma (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 3/2/1813). Some of his columns or letters also appeared in the Sunday edition of the Dallas Daily News, including a group photograph of his family (ca. 5-6/1932; Letter JW Fawcett 6/6/1932).

At the time of the 1920 census, J.W. Fawcett still lived in Preston with his wife and their younger sons, Allie Ray and Leotis (Grayson Co TX v. 74, ED 117, sheet 8, line 71). J.W. Fawcett was then 70 years old.

On March 26. 1925 J.W. and Mary Fawcett were in an automobile accident. He was bruised but she suffered a small broken bone. She was on crutches for 7 months (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 12/26/1927). J.W. Fawcett recovered from an operation at the end of 1927, and returned to his farm. All of Joe and Mary’s children were married and living elsewhere except the youngest, Leotis (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 12/26/1927). The following November (11/3/1928) J.W. and Mary Ann Fawcett celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Within a year they moved from Preston to Denison.

Joseph Fawcett lived in Denison at 727 W Crawford St (1929), 1319 Sandy St (1930) and 408 W Mortan/Moton (1931), and then Sherman at 542 N. Ricketts (1932-34), 116 N. Ricketts (1935-36) and 917 W. Laurel (1937-41). By 1929 Joe and Mary were raising their son’s (F.S. Fawcett) children after he separated from his wife (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 5/2/1929). Frank also lived with them. During the late 1920s he often told stories on Friday nights to local Boy Scouts.

In August 1930 J.W. Fawcett visited his Fawcett, Reese, Stabler, and Leadbeater relatives in Alexandria, Virginia. He left Denison on August 16, and traveled by train via St. Louis. He especially enjoyed crossing the Allegheny Mountains. In Alexandria, Joe visited the grave of his mother (Letters JW Fawcett to L & SS Fawcett 11/20/1930, JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 5/10/1931, 7/29/1931).

One Sunday in mid-March 1932 his grandson, Mervin Fawcett, took J.W. and Mary to visit their former church in Denison (Letter JW Fawcett to E Fawcett 3/22/1932).

During the fall/early winter of 1933, Joe and Mary Fawcett visited their son, Y.P. Fawcett, in Longview, Texas (Letter JW Fawcett 1/27/1934). Until 1937 J.W. and Mary lived with their son, Leotis Fawcett, after that Mary and J.W. Fawcett lived alone (Letter JW Fawcett 6/15/1937).

J.W. Fawcett died at his home (917 W. Laurel) in Sherman at 12:53 a.m. on Friday, March 20, 1942. He died of artereo sclerosis myocorlitis, and was suffering from senility. After a funeral at the Short-Murray Chapel in Denison the next day, "Uncle Rip" Fawcett was buried in the Preston Bend Cemetery, near the Methodist Church (Denison Herald 3/21/1942; Sherman Democrat 11/7/1928; 3/20/1942:7; TX Death Certificate 12215). Mary Ann Dunn (Fawcett) died on November 4, 1946 and is buried in the same cemetery. Their graves may not have been moved before Lake Texoma inundated Preston.


From A History of the Fawcetts and Related Families in America by William Bloys Fawcett. Used by permission of Dr. Fawcett.

This book was first published in 1996 and some of the information is quite dated. If you find errors or want to add updates, contact me, and I will add notes to the page.

Copyright © 1996, 2007 by William Bloys Fawcett, Jr. All rights reserved. No copies may be made of this document through any electronic, photocopying or other means without permission of the author.

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