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South Texas Living

In memory of John S. Craighead

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James A. King
Historic Moments
August 22, 2012 | 1,786 views | Post a comment

This was written in October 1935 and published in the Floresville Chronicle-Journal.

There was no better people ever lived on earth than those early pioneer families who settled on the Cibolo, near La Vernia and Sutherland Springs, before the War Between the States. Wilson County was then on the frontier; they were the advance guard of civilization. Without calling them all, there were among them the families of Payton Warren, J.D. Murray, Dr. E.C. Stevenson, Joe Brooks, Dr. J.M. Weston, C.N. Vezey, the Baylors, the Polleys, Tillie Mac Wyatt, Sanford Brown, the Sutherlands and Mary Johnson, the Sheehy and Job Clifton families, Tom Morris, Wayman, Gambier and Charley Scull, Dr. David Houston, Curtis Warren, R.W. Murray, the Wisemans, McClungs, the Dorsetts, and others.

Among these people, young John S. Craighead grew to manhood, he rode with them on the cattle round-ups, slept under the stars with his saddle for his pillow, and these brave, strong men of the frontier instilled in him the spirit of truth, honor, and independence that characterized him throughout life; he did his own thinking under his own hat; he never jumped at conclusions but heard the facts and calmly formed his decisions, and he was never at any time afraid to express them.

The old Craighead Ranch near Sutherland Springs, where he and his family lived, was always the seat of Southern hospitality. It was the gathering place of the people of that section and many a happy hour has been spent by the “old timers” under that hospitable roof.

After the war he, (John Craighead) returned to his home in Sutherland Springs and on Dec. 22, 1871, he was happily married to Miss Mary McAlister of La Vernia. Miss McAlister belonged to a pioneer family in that section and was a most gracious and kindly wife and mother and friend to all who came under her Christian influence. Mrs. Craighead died on March 4, 1910. To this union there was born seven children, four of whom preceded him in death. Of those surviving are: William C. Craighead of McCoy, Texas; C.A. of Hebbronville; and a daughter, Mary (Mrs. B.M. Myers) of Floresville, and nine grandchildren.

In 1894, Mr. Craighead was elected sheriff of Wilson County and served two terms and during this time the most remarkable race that was ever run in Texas took place. Mr. Craighead had an opponent who contested with him for the election of sheriff of the county; these two men went together all over Wilson County, riding in the same buggy, sleeping and eating together and “electioneering” together. The best of friends then and the best of friends until death separated them. I recall this incident to show the character of the man I am writing about. It took big-hearted and high-souled men to conduct that kind of a campaign. Would to God we could have some of it in this present age.

Mr. Craighead was converted in early manhood and joined the Methodist Church at Sutherland Springs but in 1924 he united with the Presbyterian Church at Floresville and lived and died firm in the Christian faith. Gov. Roberts said, “That civilization began and ended with the plow.” How true it is that those who till the soil, undergird and uphold the world. Mr. Craighead was a farmer and stock raiser the greater part of his life, which is, in some respects, the hardest and yet the noblest of all vocations.

Some years ago he came to that great institution, the Confederate Home in Austin, and here his last days were spent. Some weeks ago, it was seen that the end was near and his beloved daughter came and later one of his sons to minister to him; to wait and watch through the long, lonely hours for some opportunity to serve him; his beautiful character shown at the best, so kind, so patient through it all. He had every service of that great William P. Hobby Memorial Hospital, one of the best in Texas but silently, gently in the early hours of that Sunday morning, he slipped away into eternity.

He was a good man, a faithful officer, a kind and indulgent husband and father. In every condition he was true to his principles and his conviction.

“He never, never failed a friend, And he never feared a foe.”

He loved his friends. He never quit a friend because he found a flaw in his friend’s makeup. He stuck closer to him. No one can have a friend when he is with him one day and against him the next.

I had known Mr. Craighead and his family many, many years. I thought so much of him and my good wife and I went often to the Home to see him. He often asked about the people of Wilson County; they were his people, his friends, and he carried their interests in his heart. He was always so glad to see us. He was not fearful of what the future held for him. We believe that he has found the following lines written by Albert Pike to be in all things true and realizes and enjoys the glory they foretell:

“But the truer life draws nigher,

Every year;

And the morning star climbs higher

Every year

Earth’s hold on us grows slighter,

Every year,

And the heavy burden lighter

And the dawn immortal brighter

Every year.”

Article found in Floresville Chronicle-Journal, Oct. 4, 1935; submitted by Shirley Grammer for Historic Moments in Wilson County. August 2012.

Find out more about the Wilson County Historical Society at

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