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The Everett Alabama-Texas Connection  from Judy Everett Ramos, Hurst, Texas

 

This article explains the connection between the Everetts of North Carolina and Georgia to a branch of the family in Alabama and south Texas.

 

When I was a 11 years old, I bought a book on genealogy at a school book fair, and I was hooked. I interviewed my parents, and they drove me around our small town to interview aging relatives, and I jotted notes in my little paperback. There is not a lot to do in San Diego, Texas, a town with a population of just under 5,000, located 54 miles west of Corpus Christi. There was no bookstore, no movie theatre, no mall - there still aren't today - so my new hobby helped pass the time. We moved there from Corpus Christi when I was in third grade, after my paternal grandfather, Ernesto Everett, passed away. It was a temporary move, I was told, just until we could help Grandma get used to being on her own. We never left.

 

Being an Everett in south Texas is a unique experience. We are all related to each other, and most of us look alike. When I was in high school, I was at Dairy Queen picking up an order when I heard a voice behind me say, "Are you an Everett?" I turned around to face a smiling elderly lady. I told her I was an Everett, and she asked me who my father was. I told her my Dad's name is Juan, but everyone calls him Johnny. She told me she was my Dad's first grade teacher and asked that I tell Dad that "Miss Eva said hello." You can spot an Everett a mile away in south Texas.

 

Growing up in a town surrounded by generations of Everetts made me wonder why we all looked alike, what our ancestors were like, and how they got to San Diego.And so, with my paperback in hand, I would visit the cemetery for additional research, and I found a tombstone for Captain Jack Ross Everett and his wife, Antonia Flores. I grew up hearing about Captain Jack - that's what everyone called him - and how he either moved to Texas from New York or Alabama. No one was quite sure.

 

Captain Jack was my great-great Grandfather, and as I write this, I do not know anything about his life growing up in Mobile, Alabama. I recently found out that his sister, Martha Eliza, moved to New York after the Civil War, and maybe that New York information got mixed up in our family's oral history. For me, Captain Jack's life began in Texas at age 17.

Before I opened my online family tree in November 2008, I did not have a lot of information on Captain Jack, or his father, John Fagan Everett. I knew that Jack had a son he named after his father, my great grandfather John Fagan Everett. I know that Jack originally settled in the Rio Grande Valley, but I could never figure out how our family ended up more that a hundred miles north in San Diego. I knew that John Fagan Everett died young of spinal meningitis. I know that Captain Jack also died young, but there was a great mystery surrounding his death. He is not buried in San Diego, Texas. No one knows where his body is or how he died. He seemed to have vanished and left Antonia a widow with lots of kids. That mystery continues today and is an ongoing part of my research.

 

In November 2008, I opened my online account because I was frustrated at having missed two family reunions. I missed one on my mother's side of the family during the summer and an Everett reunion just before Thanksgiving. I live a day's drive away from San Diego, so I don't see my family as often as I would like. I had not done any research in almost 10 years. I have been busy being a Mom to my own son and I was too wrapped up in the here and now to look back at history. But I remembered Miss Eva again and decided it was time to get back to work.

 

I opened my account and searched for information on my great grandfather, John Fagan Everett. In a few seconds, I found someone else's Everett tree, and there was a picture of Captain Jack. It's hard to describe what it feels like to see a family member for the first time who comes with such history - and mystery. I remember my mouth fell open and I said "Wow!" And while at first I could not see any resemblance in Jack's bearded face, after some studying, I was able to see both my brother

Stephen Everett and my cousin Edmund Everett. Jack was a handsome guy. (Photo courtesy of Helen Wallace)

 

And so began a near obssession with trying to get to know the Everetts better. I began documenting everything I could find online, and on New Year Eve 2008, I got an email from a cousin I didn't know I had, Helen Wallace of Austin, Texas. Her grandfather was Ben McCulloch Everett, one of Captain Jack's other sons, and she wrote to tell me of an error in Jack's profile. I was grateful to her and we began sharing information after that. I have found several other cousins through my research, and they have all been generous and helpful. With everyone's help and lots of digging, I have pieced together some of Captain Jack's life and found that his lineage goes back to Nathaniel Everett of North Carolina.

 

For some unknown reason, Jack left what I presume was a comfortable life in Mobile for adventure in Texas. Jack's father, John Fagan Everitt, was a politician most of his adult life, serving as mayor of Mobile, in the Alabama House of Representatives, and as Mobile County judge at the time of his death in 1842, at age 58. John Fagan spelled his last name with and "i" but Captain Jack spelled it as I do, with an "e" before the double "t". John Fagan Everitt also had a sense of adventure, having been a captain in the Creek Indian Wars, part of the War of 1812. In March 1839, young Jack obtained 320 acres of land in what today is Aransas County, just outside of Corpus Christi. He was 17 years old. We do not know how long he had been in Texas or how he obtained the land grant. By April 1842, Jack (actually named John Ross) was back in Alabama. He was named Captain of the Mobile Greys, left for Galveston, then sailed to Corpus Christi. Texas had been a republic since 1836, but there was still palpable tension with Mexico, and life on the frontier was dangerous. There was a former Mexican fort outside Corpus Christi called Lipantitlan, named for Lipan Apaches. Captain Jack and others volunteers established a camp there. The book, "Corpus Christi and Lipantitlan: A Story of the Army of Texas Volunteers, 1842," notes that Captain Jack transported at least one group of Mexican prisoners to their homes near the Rio Grande. He would eventually make his home there.

 

Jack also served in the Mexican-American War, and he has a small mention in the "New Orleans Tropic" newspaper, now featured online in "The Mexican-American War and the Media, 1845-1848." That passage read: "A party of Mexicans and Americans under the command of the daring Captain Jack Everett, formerly of Mobile, had gone in pursuit of the Comanche Indians who had been committing depredations upon the property of and murdered several Mexicans." So he was handsome and daring, too. This was getting interesting.

 

These qualities no doubt attracted young Antonia Flores to Jack. Antonia also has her share of history. Her grandfather and great Grandfather had the original Spanish land grant to establish San Diego, Texas, when it was still under Spanish rule, and her roots go back several hundred years when Mexico was still called New Spain. The Flores family brought the first settlers to San Diego in the early 1800s. But Antonia was raised in Mier, Mexico, just on the other side of the Rio Grande, and it was there that she met the young, handsome, daring Captain Jack. The family story is that Jack rescued an old man who had been beaten and robbed in Mexico. To show his gratitude, the man (probably Antonia's father) took him to his hacienda and Jack met the 15-year-old Antonia. Jack was 25. They were married April 19, 1847, one day after Jack converted to Catholicism. It seems to me that Captain Jack was always in a hurry, almost as if he knew he only had a few years left.

 

Jack was done with military life, but he was very busy. He founded the town of Everettsville, which was centered around a sulphur spring in the Rio Grande Valley that was going to be a spa to provide a healthy getaway. The town didn't last, and today it is listed in a book about Texas ghost towns. Then Jack did what probably came naturally and began a political career in Starr County, Texas. Between 1852 and his death in 1864, he was a county commissioner, district clerk, tax assessor, and assistant marshal and census enumerator for the 1860 federal census. Sometime after 1856, he sold the land in Aransas County, Texas. In 1862, he registered his allegiance to the Confederate States of America. Then he disappeared in April 1864. To this day no one is sure what happened or where his body is buried. The family story is that he was transporting prisoners to a jail somewhere and was murdered. I am still trying to find out what type of law enforcement he was in or where he was going when he disappeared.

 

Somehow, Antonia, a young widow with many children, traveled north to San Diego, Texas, which was well established by this time. Her son, John Fagan Everett and his wife Juanita Valdez, had my grandfather Ernesto Everett. Then he and my grandmother, Hilaria Rios, had my dad, Juan Everett. Antonia died in 1911 and is buried in San Diego, Texas. The tombstone has both her name and Captain Jack's, although she is buried alone. I'm sure it never occurred to her that nearly 100 years later she would have someone like me so interested in her story.

 

It was through Everett Generations that I was able to confirm Captain Jack's lineage back to Nathaniel. Jack's father John Fagan Everitt, was born to a John Everett and Sarah Fagan in North Carolina. The family moved to Georgia when John Fagan Everitt was an infant. After John Fagan Everitt's first marriage ended in divorce, he moved to Alabama, where he married Captain Jack's mother, Sarah Britton Hand. John Fagan Everitt's father, John Everett, fought in the American Revolution and then after the move to Georgia, began a life in politics by being one of the first justices of the peace appointed by the new Georgia legislature in 1796. John's parents were Nathaniel Everett and Elizabeth Bell, and his grandparents were Nathaniel Everett and Mary Mitchell Harrison of North Carolina.

 

I moved back to Corpus Christi after college graduation in 1987. In 1992, I moved to my present home in north Texas, 500 miles away, with no family here except my husband. It seems I have inherited that Everett sense of adventure and willingness to travel to uncharted places. My roots go from North Carolina to Georgia, Alabama to Texas, and from Mexico/New Spain back to Texas. Over the years I lost the little paperback that got me started on my genealogy journey, but the people I have met along the way have given me more than I could ever fit into that book. I recently found out that one of my cousin's sons lives not too far from me. I've never met him, but if he looks like an Everett, I am sure I will spot him a mile away.