Mills Piland (1795-1869)

Republic of Texas ancestor of M. Gerald (Jerry) Spencer



The ancestor who qualified  Marion G. “Jerry” Spencer  for membership in the Sons of the Republic of Texas, Ephraim Daggett chapter 36 Fort Worth Texas is Mills Piland. His father was James Piland, Jr. of North Carolina.


Mills Piland, born c.1795 in Perquimans County North Carolina married Peninah Harrell 26 March 1819 in Gates County North Carolina. They were the parents of five sons and two daughters prior to moving to that part of Red River County, which became Lamar County in 1840, where Mills acquired land grant # 205 for 640 acres granted by the Board of Land Commissioners of Red River County, dated 5 December 1839.


Children of Mills and Peninah Piland are Jesse b. 1823 NC, Elijah b. 1824 NC, Elisha b. 1830 NC, Reuben b. 1831 NC, George W. b. 1835 NC, Mary F. b. 1836 TN, Peninah b. 1836 TN.   There were other children who must have died as infants and not recorded except as numbers on census records.


Mills is listed on the 1830 census of Gates County North Carolina, page 102, with a wife, 3 sons and two daughters. He is listed on “1840 citizens of Texas” Vol. 1, land grants by Gifford White. Pg. 200. Mills and family are listed on the 1850 and 1860 census for Lamar County and he died there in April of 1869. His land grant and site of his home was located Southwest of Paris near the town of Petty Texas today. Descendants of the family reside in that area today (2007)


Mills’ youngest daughter, Peninah Piland Fulfer Baker was living in her father’s home at the time of the 1860 census, along with her son by her first marriage to Jacob Fulfer.  Peninah married Sam Houston Baker 12 September 1860, these are my great grandparents.   Sam Houston and Peninah baker had four children, one being my grandfather, James Carroll Baker who was born in 1866 and married Emily Eldora Wallis in 1888 in Bowie, Montague Co., Texas.


James and Emily Baker are the parents of my mother, Laura Baker who married Joseph H. Spencer in 1920 in Ft. Worth, Texas. James C. and Emily Eldora Baker, along with several other members of my family, are buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Bowie, Montague County Texas.   I was born in 1933 in the northern part of Tarrant County where Eagle Mountain Lake is now located. I have remained in Tarrant County having graduated from Fort Worth Technical High School prior to receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Construction from Texas A&M in 1956. I am currently retired after working as a structural engineer in the Fort Worth-Dallas area for more than thirty-five years.


My wife and I have become addicted to the hobby of Genealogy and spend most of our time researching various lines of family history. My wife’s maiden name is Studebaker and that family history has been thoroughly documented. She has produced two family history books, one on her Earp family and another on her Benton family. Her mother’s maiden name is Earp and they speculated that there might be a relationship to Wyatt Earp. My wife decided to learn whether that was true and spent about ten years researching that family before producing a 650 page book titled “My Earp Family in America”. She begins that book with the fact that Thomas Earp came to this country aboard the ship named “Constant Friendship” in 1674 and landed in Baltimore, Maryland. She does prove the relationship to Wyatt Earp as her fifth cousin thrice removed. Because I was helping with her research, she felt that I should begin work on my own family history and I have since learned that some members of my Spencer family came to Texas as early as 1837. They settled first in Harrison County and migrated to several Counties in Texas and New Mexico, Arizona and California.


A distant cousin of mine, Lavinia Spencer, was the second wife of Creed Taylor and her first cousin, William A. Spencer, was the husband of Creed Taylor’s daughter, Caroline. Lavinia was a first cousin and mother-in-law to William. This Taylor family is known for their involvement in the “Sutton-Taylor Feud” that occurred in South central Texas after the end of the Civil War and continued for many years resulting in the deaths of many people. The “Feud” was not only a fight between two factions but also resulted from the governmental enforcement by Union Soldiers during “reconstruction” over men who had just served in the confederate military. Some of the Union Troops were black and that added to the resentment by these native sons of Texas.


I have also been working to learn the origin of William Spencer who died in Augusta Georgia in 1806. One of his daughters was Harriett Spencer who married Patrick Jack in Augusta. Patrick Jack’s father was James Jack, who delivered the Mecklenburg Papers (North Carolina’s Declaration of Independence from England) by horseback to Philadelphia from Charlotte North Carolina in May of 1775.  James Jack presented that document to the North Carolina delegates to the Continental Congress and asked that they be presented to the Congress for adoption. It was decided to postpone that action hoping for the King to relent on mistreatment of the Colonies.   It was, of course, a year later that the Declaration of independence of the United States from England was adopted.


Patrick Jack attained the rank of Colonel during the War of 1812 and refused higher rank, preferring to stay close to his men. Patrick and Harriett had twelve children, three of them sons who were educated as attorneys in Georgia and Alabama prior to their migration to Texas in 1831. Those three sons were William Houston, Patrick Churchill and Spencer Houston Jack. Patrick became a law partner of William Barrett Travis in Anahuac and they were involved in the disturbances resulting from their arrest by Col. John Davis Bradburn. His brother, William Jack, gathered men to confront Bradburn and demand the release of Patrick Jack and William Travis. William was one of the originators of the Turtle Bayou Resolutions resulting from that episode. Spencer Houston Jack and Peter Grayson were ordered to go to Mexico City to obtain the release of Stephen Austin from prison and Spencer fired one of the first shots to begin hostilities with Mexico when ships were being blockaded at the mouth of the Brazos River.


Patrick was a district judge in Brazoria County, William served as the first secretary of state under President Burnet and all three of these men served in various roles during the battles for independence of the Republic of Texas from Mexico. Patrick and William died within a month of each other in 1844 from yellow fever and the remains of all three men have been re-interred in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin Texas. For their service to the Republic of Texas, Jack County was named in their honor.