William Clark Carson

b. 9 January 1790, d. after 8 December 1830
William Clark Carson|b. 9 Jan 1790\nd. a 8 Dec 1830|p76.htm|Charles Carson|b. 22 Oct 1761\nd. 5 Oct 1816|p158.htm|Rachel Clark|b. 10 Dec 1766\nd. 17 Nov 1842|p159.htm|||||||William Clark|d. a 15 Jul 1786|p1628.htm||||

Great-grandfather of Louise Underwood.
3rd great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Underwood and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for Louise Underwood
1827 Signature
     William Clark Carson Click to view image was born on 9 January 1790 in New Castle County, Delaware.1,2,3 He was the son of Charles Carson and Rachel Clark. He married Caty Jane Patterson, daughter of John Patterson, on 17 December 1815 in Posey County, Indiana.4 He died after 8 December 1830.
     William was almost four years old when the family moved from New Castle to Virginia. In Abingdon, the older Carson children had surely talked to settlers heading west over the Cumberland Gap and listened to stories told by commercial travelers coming back through. How impatient they must have been to see for themselves what lay on the other side of the mountains!

     Whether by chance or design, the Carsons settled by 1807 in the area of Indiana that became Posey County. There, settlers were free to exercise squatter's rights. However, the Indians also claimed the land which led to the Battle of Tippecanoe on 7 November 1811. Along with a number of other Posey (Knox) County participants, William Carson appears as a private on a roster of Indiana Militia, Captain David Robb's Company of Mounted Riflemen. The official dispatch sent by General Harrison to the secretary of War on the 18th of November, eleven days after the battle, says of Captain Robb's Company:
     Several of the militia companies were in no wise inferior to the regulars. Spencer's, Guiger's and Warrick's maintained their posts amid a monstrous carnage - as, indeed, did Robb's, after it was posted on the right flank. Its loss of men (seventeen killed and wounded), and keeping its ground, is sufficient evidence of its firmness.
The Battle of Tippecanoe was, in effect, the first battle of the War of 1812. The following year, Harrison was called back to command U.S. forces in the West. He spent nearly a year converting militiamen into passable professional soldiers. In the War of 1812, William Carson was a private in the 4th Regiment Mounted (Evans') Indiana Militia.5

     No further account is found of William until 1815, when just shy of his twenty-sixth birthday, he and "Caty Jane Patterson" obtained a marriage license in Posey County. Their son John P. was born the following year, probably in Posey. However, out of five entries found for John's children on the 1880 and 1900 censuses, three show Kentucky as their father's birthplace. Because no records have been found to place the family between the 1815 marriage and 1819, it is possible they lived in Kentucky for a brief period.

     By late 1818 or early 1819, the Carsons were in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, as were at least some of the Patterson kin. William's brother-in-law William Griffin purchased town lots from a Robert Patterson in Harrisonburg on 10 October and 7 December 1818. A relationship to Robert Patterson has not been discovered. The first appearance of William Carson in the Catahoula Parish records was in January 1819 when he bought 198 acres on Catahoula Prairie from James Leavins. He sold this land, with house and improvements, for $300 to William Griffin in January 1820. A story passed down through the generations that William's health failed him in Louisiana, if true, may have prompted the sale, for it appears that afterward he lived in town. Although there is no record that he bought a town lot, a January 1821 description of a Harrisonburg lot "bounded on north by William Carson" appears in the records. This is the last mention of William in the conveyance records. How and when he disposed of his Catahoula Parish property is not known.

     Stephen F. Austin's Family Register provides the next source of information on William and his family, and in many ways contradicts family tradition and gives rise to some puzzling questions:

     The family line, simply put, is that the Carsons were from Catahoula Parish. William was an invalid, and Catherine, thinking the Texas climate might improve his health, packed up their belongings in 1824 and moved the family by covered wagon to Austin's Colony . They had three children, two sons, John P. and William J., and a daughter, Rachel Jane, who was the youngest. As one of Austin's "Old Three Hundred" families, they settled on their grant on the San Bernard River in what is today Brazoria County. William's health did not improve, and he died after being in the colony only a few months. Catherine and the children then moved into town (Columbia) where she operated a boardinghouse. Both sons were in the Texas Army in the spring of 1836 when their mother and sister left their home in April to escape the advancing Mexican Army in what became known as the "Runaway Scrape."

     Austin's entry in his register for William C. Carson is dated 1 July 1826, and tells us that he "has had his family in the Colony for 4 months." He was 36 years old (correct), born in Delaware (correct), and was married and had five children, two sons and three daughters. It further states that he moved to Texas from Indiana. This account contradicts where they came from, when they came, the number of children they had, and their birth order. It only supports that the Carsons were admitted to Austin's first colony, thus earning them the distinction of an "Old Three Hundred" family.

     Where did they move from? Austin's Register makes it appear the family moved back to Indiana before their migration to Texas as members of Austin's first colony, and, unless it can be otherwise documented, must remain their official point of departure. However, a more realistic, if not provable, explanation is they simply considered Indiana "home" and answered the question accordingly.

     When did William and Catherine arrive in Austin's Colony? As far as has been determined, the question has no satisfactory answer. On 1 February 1838, Catherine deposed in an application for an additional labor of land that she had "been a resident citizen ever since the year 1824" (Brazoria County records). Austin's Register, if exact, places them in the colony no earlier than 1 March 1826. On 12 May 1827, William was in San Felipe de Austin asking that he be given possession of the league of land he had previously selected. He stated that the reason he had no legitimate title was the absence of Commissioner Bastrop who was deceased. (He died in 1826.) Information from the Texas General Land Office is that no titles to land in Austin's first colony were issued between August 1824 when Baron de Bastrop left to assume his position as a delegate in Coahuila, and 1827 when Gaspar Flores became the new land commissioner. Therefore, it can't be ruled out that the Carsons arrived as early as 1824 or as late as 1826. Whatever the case, Austin granted William's request, and on May 15, 1827, he was given title to "One league of land lying between the San Bernardo creek and the plain called Bay Prairie, and known as league No. 21."

     How many children did they have and what were their ages in 1826? Austin's Register shows two sons, ages 2 and 10, and three daughters, ages 1, 5 and 14. The five year old daughter is obviously Rachel although she had turned six on February 4, 1826. The one and fourteen year old daughters are a mystery, as they have been mentioned in no other account. Probably the youngest died very early and knowledge of her existence didn't survive the generations. The older daughter presents a much more perplexing problem: she was three years old when William and Catherine married. Catherine's maiden name is on the marriage record, so William was her first husband. William was 25 when they married, so perhaps this mystery daughter was by a previous marriage, although no record has been found. For her not to have existed at all would mean that both the 1820 Census and Austin's Register are wrong. (See her record for a possible explanation).

     The sons present another problem in that both were supposedly older than Rachel. Both the 1820 Census and Austin's Register show only one male child older than Rachel. Even if the age of the youngest was misreported in Austin's Register, he had to be younger than Rachel who had just turned 16 at the time of the "Runaway Scrape." If both were away in the army at that time, the second son was a very young soldier. John P. Carson received pay for his service in the Texas Revolution; William J. Carson did not.

     Did William die within a few months of his arrival in Austin's Colony? No. There is probably some basis in fact that his health was failing, but it is doubtful he was an invalid when he, upon taking possession of his land in 1827, "shouted, pulled grasses, threw stones, planted stakes and performed the other necessary ceremonies." Even if this is not a literal statement, there was a law that required the land to be cultivated inside of two years. Under those conditions, it seems unlikely that an invalid would be granted land. Furthermore, on 8 December 1830, in the town of San Felipe de Austin, he appeared before Thomas Barnett, Constitutional Alcalde of that district, and made a legal and binding trade of land with James Hensley. It was William's last transaction recorded in Brazoria County.

Additional Data

217B     Samuel Cannon paid $260 to James Leavins for 198 acres 201100. certificate dated 5 June 1807, surveyed 5 June 1803 ... /s/ James Leavins, William Carson - Witness: William J. Clarkson, Tho Long. (Undated; nearest dated entry is 12 January 1819).6

100C     William Carson for $300 paid by William Griffin sell to Griffin tract of land lying in the Catahoula Prairie - 198 acres having front of 6 acres and depth of 40 arpents adjoining James Leavins lands being same Carson purchased of said Leavens together with house and improvements ... /s/ William Carson, William Griffin Witness: Charles Craig, J. Wilds. (This entry is undated. The entry before and the one after are both dated 6 January 1820).6

William Clark Carson appeared on the 1820 U.S. Census in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. In his household were one male, 0 through 9; one male 26 through 44; one male 45 years and over; two females 0 through 9; one female 16 through 25 years; no slaves. Click to view image

174C     8 October 1820 - James Ussery sells to Richard C. Brightman for $250 a parcel of land lying in the Catahoula Prairie fronting on said prairie being part of tract conveyed to James Leavins by Comm. Cert. Reg. B #711, dated 5 June 1807, 100 acres. Leavins conveyed to Carson, Carson conveyed to Wm. Griffin, Griffin conveyed to James Ussery... /s/ James (x) Ussery, R.C. Brightman - Witness: Joseph Brightman.6

214C     2 January 1821 - Robert Rogers buys from Richard Haley for $150 a lot in Harrisonburg bounded on north by William Carson on the south by Timothy Mahan, on the east by James Wilds and on the west by Bushley St. which I lately purchased of Charles B. Harvey...Witness: Joseph J. Williams, William Byrne.6

William C. Carson appears in Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families in an entry dated 1 July 1826.2 Click to view image

On 15 May 1827, William C. Carson received title to one league of land (4,428.4 acres) was obtained through Stephen F. Austin's first empresario contract with the Mexican authorities. Persons who received title under this first contract have been designated the "Old Three Hundred," three hundred being the number of families called for in the contract. Most of the titles under this contract were issued by Commissioner Baron de Bastrop in July and August, 1824. In August of that year Bastrop left to assume his position as a delegate in Coahuila and the remaining titles under this contract were not issued until 1827 by Gaspar Flores, the new commissioner assigned to this task. The land covered by this title is located in what is today Brazoria County, League No. 21 between the San Bernard and Bay Prairie. This document is in Spanish and bears Carson's signature, as well as the signatures of Stephen F. Austin and Commissioner Flores.7,8,9 (Note: 3706 acres of League 21 granted to William C. Carson were in Brazoria County. The remaining 722 acres of the 4,428 acre grant were in the adjacent county of Matagorda).

On 8 December 1830, in the town of San Felipe de Austin, William C. Carson appeared before Thomas Barnett, Constitutional Alcalde of that district, and made a legal and binding trade of land with James Hensley. The transaction called for equal exchange, "determined of their own free will," of the lower one-quarter section of Carson's grant for the lower one-quarter section of Hensley's grant "situated on the left bank of the river San Bernard." Each parcel was valued at $278.00. Witnesses were Stephen F. Austin and Samuel M. Williams; Thomas Barnett, assistant witness. This was William's last transaction recorded in Brazoria County.10

Child of William Clark Carson

Children of William Clark Carson and Catherine Jane Patterson


  1. [S45] "Carson, William C.," The Handbook of Texas Online, online http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/…
  2. [S64] Austin's Colony Records (Austin's Register), (MS, 1824-1836; Austin's Colony, Coahuila and Texas), 5-6, Texas General Land Office (TGLO); Austin.
  3. [S249] Delores Dixon Wilson, "Carson Family," e-mail message from <e-mail address> (Swartz Creek, Michigan) to Laura M. Cooper, 14 July 1998.
  4. [S233] Indiana State Library Genealogy Division Database of Indiana Marriages Through 1850, online <…>.
  5. [S244] William Carson, Index to the Compiled Military Service Records for the Volunteer Soldiers Who Served During the War of 1812, micropublication M602 (Washington: National Archives), roll 35.
  6. [S218] First Settlers of Catahoula Parish, Louisiana: 1808-1839, online <http://files.usgwarchives.net/la/catahoula/history/settlers/…>.
  7. [S245] State of Coahuila and Texas Land Titles: folder 33, Texas General Land Office (TGLO), Austin.
  8. [S246] Brazoria County Deeds, Spanish Records: 212-216, English transcription, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  9. [S247] State of Coahuila and Texas Original Field Notes Book 5: 54, Texas General Land Office (TGLO), Austin.
  10. [S248] Brazoria County Deeds, Book E: 67, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.