George Washington Witt (14 February 1853 – 4 December 1943)

He was my mother’s great-grandfather, born 14 February 1853 in Texas (probably in Titus County) according to his death certificate.1   He appears in his parents’ household in the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Titus County, and heading his own household in 1880 and hereafter.

He married Louisa Rebecca Cook, daughter of Andrew Barney Cook and Sarah Gray Rountree, on 17 April 1872.2  They had twelve children, all born in Cookville and all of whom survived him, according to information received from both my grandmother (a daughter of Andrew Witt) and from Mary Lou Witt (a daughter of Fred Witt).    After Louisa’s death in 1920, George married a spinster neighbor named Carrie McAdoo (1883-1939) from whom he was later divorced.

According to an old newspaper clipping, “Mr. G. W. Witt for a number of years operated a brick kiln near the town [of Cookville].”3  He is listed in every census as a farmer.   He was listed in the 1880 census in Cookville with the first three children in the household. The 1900 census shows him in Cookville with the fourth through tenth children.  The 1910 census shows him with the last three children still in the household and in 1920 he is listed with his wife and only the daughter Mildred in the household.

The 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses show him living on Omaha Road, apparently the road that is now US Highway 67.  According to Mary Lou Witt, this farm was located just a mile west of the Morris County line.

His obituary was carried in the Mount Pleasant Times Review on 10 December 1943.4

Pioneer Resident Passes Away at Age of 91 Years

Funeral services were held Monday afternoon at 2:00 at the Cookville Baptist Church for George Washington Witt, pioneer resident of Titus County, who passed away late Saturday afternoon [the 4th]. He had been in bad health for a long time. Deceased was born on February 14, 1853, lacking only a few weeks of attaining his 91st birthday. He was married to Miss Louise [sic] Rebecca Cook in 1872, and to this union was born three sons and nine daughters, all of whom still survive. They are Fred and G. A. Witt of Cookville; Andrew W. Witt, Ft. Worth; Mrs. C. H. Wallace, Dallas; Mrs. Margaret Spencer, Houston; Mrs. Ray Harvey, Ponca City, Okla.; Mrs. Virgil Brooks, Mesquite; Mrs. George W. Williams and Mrs. William M. Fomby of Sweetwater; Mrs. Duke Cantrell, Cotopaxi, Colo.; Mrs. Roy G. Nelson, Dumas; and Mrs. Ennis Moore, Forney. He is also survived by 38 grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren and two brothers, Brack (sic) Witt of Texarkana and John Witt of Tennessee. He was a long-time member of the Baptist Church. The services were held under the direction of Rev. M. M. Pate, with interment following at the Cookville cemetery…

His first wife and mother of all twelve children, Louisa Rebecca Cook Witt, is also buried in the Cookville cemetery.  (I might note that all family records give her date of death as 19 January 1920, but the 1920 census taken on 5 February 1920 lists her because the effective date of the census was supposed to be 1 January 1920.)

The informant for his death certificate was his son Fred Witt. It gives his cause of death as “senility”, and indicates he was buried in Cookville on 6 December 1943. Interestingly, it gives his father’s name as “William (Bill) Witt” and “no record” for his mother’s name.

The children and descendants of George Washington Witt and Louisa Rebecca Cook were documented in 1963 by Mary Lou Witt , a daughter of Fred Witt.5   Additional dates were provided by my grandmother, Passie Louisa Witt Taylor, daughter of Andrew William Witt, and by a variety of other records.  Interestingly for the times, the couple lost no children in infancy or childhood. (The 1900 and 1910 censuses both asked the number of children borne by each female, and the number still living, from which records we know that all their children reached adulthood.)

    1. Andrew William Witt (12 May 1874 – 16/17 August 1965) Known as “Drew”, he married Georgia Ann Bynum on 23 July 1893. He later moved to community just outside Ft. Worth, where he died at the age of 91. [They were my mother’s maternal grandparents.] For more on him and his family, see the separate page.
    2. Fred W. Witt (31 July 1876 – 14 July 1961) He lived in Cookville, but died in the hospital in Mt. Pleasant. Fred Witt was a depot agent for the Cotton Belt Railroad, and then later opened a store in Cookville selling hardware and tack. He married Birdie Narcissus Cobb on 20 March 1898. Their house in Cookville, a Victorian built about 1904, was still well-preserved when viewed several years ago, located very near the Cookville Cemetery in which both Fred and Birdie are buried. They had three children who survived: Mary Lou Witt6(1906), Evelyn Witt (1910), and Thomas Fred Witt (1920). Lillian Witt (1903-1905) died as an infant and a fifth child, named Fred Jr., died at birth on 17 July 1918.   The son Thomas F. Witt (whose middle name is not identified on his birth certificate but was “Fred” according to his sister Mary Lou) was a B-17 pilot in World War II and retired from the Air Force as a Lt. Colonel.
    3. George Alphonso Witt (19 August 1878 – 5 February 1975) Generally known as “Fon”, he married Mary Elizabeth Hall (1885-1962) about 1902. They had six children: Delphia Elizabeth Witt, Anna Vivian Witt, Ralph Witt, William Theron Witt7, Quentin Durwood Witt, and Kenneth Earl Witt. [These are Joann van Boven’s grandparents.] Both he and his wife are buried in the Phillips-Taylor Cemetery in Cookville, Titus County, Texas.
    4. Elizabeth Gray Witt (5 November 1880 – 27 November 1967) Known as “Bessie”, she married a widower named Dr. Charles Harris Wallace on 13 June 1902 in Cookville, Titus County. They appear in the 1910 and 1920 censuses of Titus County, where Dr. Wallace was a physician in Winfield and Cookville. In 1930 they were enumerated in Dallas, where he was listed with no occupation. Her husband died in 1935 and Bessie evidently remained in Dallas, as she was living there in 1943 according to her father’s obituary. They had three children: Imogene Wallace (1903-1980), Charles Harris Wallace Jr. (1907-1973), and Witt Osler Wilson Wallace (1914-1988), according to Mary Lou Witt. Bessie’s own obituary names these three plus three other stepchildren who survived her: Mildred (Wallace) Mathews, Dowman Wallace, and Dewey Diaz Wallace.8 These three were children of Dr. Wallace and his first wife Bertie Killingsworth, who also had two other children named Ruth Wallace and Charles Oren Wallace who were not mentioned in Bessie’s obituary. According to the obituary, she was to be buried at the Cookville cemetery. Bessie’s obituary names all eight of her brothers and sisters who survived her.

      I have a personal connection to one of her stepsons. Dowman Edmund Wallace (21 July 1892 – 20 December 1969) was the eldest son of Dr. Wallace and his first wife Bertie Killingsworth. Dowman was retarded and when his father and stepmother moved to Dallas they left Dowman behind. After his father died, his stepmother apparently arranged for Dowman to be taken in by my grandparents Van Taylor and Passie Witt (daughter of Andrew William Witt above) who had just moved to Daingerfield Road about a mile outside Omaha, Texas. Both my mother and I knew Dowman, who lived in a one-room house on their property for almost thirty years.

    5. Margaret Bell Witt (31 December 1882 – 29 August 1977) She was known as Maggie, and was listed that way in the 1900 census. She married Henry (Bunion) Traylor about 1900, then T. C. Spencer. She had four children: Pauline Elizabeth, Wallace, Barney, and Lucille Traylor. She was living in Houston in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and was still there in 1967 according to Bessie’s obituary. She died in Houston in 1977.
    6. Illa Mae Witt (4 March 1885 – 7 March 1988) She married William Henry Blackwell on 13 January 1901. The 1910 census lists them in Muscogee County, Oklahoma where Blackwell was a street car conductor. They were still there in 1920 when Blackwell was a contract painter. They had two daughters: Edwina Blackwell (c1903) and Hope Blackwell (c1906). Illa was enumerated as a divorced woman in the 1930 census, employed as a dry goods clerk in Ponca City, Kay County, Oklahoma. She married Adrian Leroy Harvey (known as “Roy”) there in 1934 according to Mary Lou Witt. She was still living in Ponca City, Oklahoma in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and in 1967 according to Bessie’s. She died in Ponca City in 1988.
    7. Sallie Myrtle Witt (15 January 1888 – 23 September 1982) She married Virgil Vivian Brooks on 24 August 1907. They were enumerated in 1910 in Longview, Gregg County, with Virgil listed as a railroad brakeman. By the 1920 census they were living in Mineola, Wood County where Virgil was working as a house carpenter. In 1930 they were living in Sherman, Grayson County, and Virgil’s occupation was listed as a factory “erector”. The couple evidently had no children. Virgil Brooks died on 15 December 1952 and, according to Mary Lou Witt, Sallie remarried in 1966 to Jack McCaskill. She was living in Mesquite in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and was still living there in 1967 according to Bessie’s. The Texas Death Index places her death in Mesquite, Dallas County.
    8. Annie Witt (10 July 1890 – 5 April 1983) She married George W. Williams on 2 March 1908 in Mt. Pleasant. They had two sons: George Hansford Williams and Billy Maurice Williams. She was living in Sweetwater in 1943, according to her father’s obituary, and in Abilene in 1967 according to Bessie’s.
    9. Virgie Louisa Witt (25 September 1892 – 1 November 1961) She died at Cotapaxi, Colorado where she was living at her father’s death. She married Duke Cantrell and had three daughters: Virginia, Marian, and Bobbye Jean Cantrell.
    10. Saddie Marie Witt (10 January 1896 – 25 June 1982) Her given name was “Saddie Marie” according to family records, but was known as “Pet” as early as the 1910 census. She married William Mathew Fomby in Cookville on 15 December 1912. They had one child: George Harold Fomby. She was living in Sweetwater, Texas in 1943, according to her father’s obituary and was still there in 1967 according to her sister Bessie’s obituary.
    11. Mildred Cook Witt (7 July 1900 – 9 April 1973) She married Roy Gladstone Nelson on 20 June 1920 in Cookville. They had six children: Mary Louise, Roy Ned, James Witt, Dorothy Faye, Charles Edwin, and Clyde Anthony Nelson. She was living in Dumas in 1943, according to her father’s obituary and in Cookville in 1967 according to Bessie’s obituary. She and her husband are both buried in the Phillips-Taylor Cemetery in Cookville, Titus County, Texas.
    12. Eva Lou Witt (3 April 1902 – 11 August 1997) She married Crawford Ennis Moore on 13 May 1924. Later, she married ____ Tabb. She had three children: Jess Ennis, Betty Lou, and Sally Blanche Moore. She was living in Forney in 1943 and 1967, according to her father’s and sister’s obituaries.
  1. Texas Death Certificate No. 58032. Cause of death was “senility”. The informant was his son Fred Witt. []
  2. Source is family records. For more on Louisa Cook’s ancestry, see COOK and ROUNTREE papers. []
  3. Clipping from unknown newspaper found in Passie Taylor’s records, titled “Historical Facts About Cookville”, by M. W. Barrier. []
  4. Mount Pleasant Times Review, issue of 10 December 1943. []
  5. Genealogy of the George Washington Witt and Louisa Rebecca Cook Witt Families, Mary Lou Witt, (Typewritten manuscript, 1963). []
  6. Mary Lou Witt, the author of the above manuscript, was born 10 November 1906. She didn’t marry until 1950, then was divorced in 1955 whereupon she resumed using her maiden name. []
  7. William Theron Witt was the father of JoAnn Van Boven. []
  8. Dallas Morning News, issue of 29 November 1967. []