Thomas Elliott Bolling

My Great-Grandfather, Tom

born July 29, 1832 -- near Vicksburg, Warren County, Mississippi

died March 18, 1911 -- Edna, Jackson County, Texas

Early years of Tom's growing up were farming near Vicksburg, until 1846 when the family moved to Tensas Parish in Louisiana, where they operated a barrel stave factory. Three more little boys were born, but only one, Frederick, survived. Finally, Tom's mother Lucy died in childbirth there in August of 1848. One of Lucy's brothers took little Frederick, and little Margaret Ann, who was five years old, went into the Robert Randolph home.

Malaria was also a heavy threat there, and may have contributed to the casualties, so hearing of the gold rush, the devastated family decided to move to California. They traveled there via New Orleans to Yucatan, overland to the Pacific, and up the coast by boat to California, where they raised cattle in the Feather River area.

They made a trip to back to Texas to get cattle which they then drove overland to California. The cattle thrived well, so they decided to go get a second group of them, but that was not successful, so they returned to California via sailing ship around Cape Horn.

Meantime their friends the Robert Randolph family were successfully ranching cattle in Jackson County Texas along the Carancahua Rivers. In 1859 Tom's dad married a widow named Harriet McDowell and began living near the Randolphs there.

When the War Between the States came Tom enlisted and fought all through it as a member of Terry's Texas Rangers Eighth Texas Cavalry. His wound at Shiloh April 6, 1862 with a Minie ball through the right wrist and shoulder when his carbine was raised, was an injury from which he never completely recovered.

The following account is in his own words.

Enlisted in the Confederate Army in the Spring of 1861, at Columbus,
Texas, as private in Company I, Terry's Texas Rangers, Eighth Cavalry,
Independent Scouts, Army of Tennessee.  My first Captain was Jones and first
Colonel, Terry.  On April 6, 1862, early in the morning at Shiloh in a
charge I had fired once and just about to fire the second shot when a minie
ball struck me on the wrist and went up the arm and then into my side,
striking a rib it passed round and was cut out at the spinal column.  I was
never promoted.  Served as quartermaster with rank of Captain, but did not
care for the honor.  I went into the ranks at will.  Was in the battles of
Shiloh, Bardstown, Perryville, Murfreesboro and others.  Was always ready
when scouts were needed.

After being wounded I was sent to the hospital at Corinth, where I was put
in the care of the Sisters of Charity and received the best of treatment.
After I had somewhat recovered I went to my uncle's in Warren County, where
I remained under treatment four months.  After my wounds had healed I found
that my wrist was stiff.  I spent many hours working my fingers in an effort
to regain their use.

In August I returned to my command and they were just going into Kentucky.
Gen. Harrison insisted that I take a discharge on account of disability, but
I refused and he gave me a broken down horse and I went with them.  When the
cold weather came on I found I could not stand it and he gave me a place in
the commissary department, in which capacity I served, going into skirmishes
and raids when possible.

In the winter of '63 and '64 we were camped at Missionary Ridge, fighting
all winter.  In the spring we went to Atlanta, after which we did some hard
fighting in an effort to reach Gen. Lee.  The news of his surrender reached
us at Raleigh, N. C.  Here we remained six days and then went to Winchester,
where we surrendered.

Terry's Rangers started out with 1,100 men and were several times recruited
and always from the Lone Star State, but when I issued the last rations we
numbered, rank and file, 340 men.  I had lost my horse and had to walk to
Montgomery where we got a boat to New Orleans and from there to Texas.  When
I arrived home I found my earthly possessions reduced to 1,500 sheep.

above excerpt courtesy of Troy Groves from Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray by Mamie Yeary, (McGregor, Texas, 1912; rpt., Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1986).

After discharge Tom went to Mississippi and rounded up a bunch of horses that belonged to him, and broke them, expecting to settle there and raise cotton on a large scale. Among his old friends and relatives, he was especially interested in Miss Susan Eugenia Scott. Her mother was dead, and she managed the home of her father, Dr. Robert Baker Scott, a country doctor, taking care also of two little brothers and a sister, in addition to teaching school, painting, and church work. They married, and their first boy, Scott, was born in Mississippi.

About this time, Dr. Scott decided to settle on the Red River in Fannin County some miles north of Honey Grove, Texas. Tom and Sue soon followed, building themselves a home on the farm and living there for about twelve years, during which time five more boys were born, two of them dying in infancy.

Tom was advised by the doctor to find a healtier climate. Sue had an aunt, Sallie Walcott, who lived in Comanche County, Texas, and whose husband had passed away, so Tom and Sue decided to move there to help Aunt Sallie. They loved their life there. Cattle were plentiful, and in addition to ranching they developed a meat canning plant.

Tom's brother Bob Bolling bought the ranch near the forks of the East and West Carancahua Rivers on Matagorda Bay which had belonged to Robert Randolph. Later it would be passed down to Tom's son John.

Around 1893 Bob felt that he needed help on the ranch, so he wrote to his brother Tom to send him a boy. My own grandfather, Dick, aged eighteen, wanted to come rather than stay in school, so he came. Uncle Bob did not approve of Dick's quitting school, so he set him splitting posts in August in the hottest spot possible. After about three days Dick came in at night and said "What was that you said about me going to school, Uncle Bob?" Dick entered West Texas Military Academy in San Antonio that fall, and later went on to medical school at Sewanee The University of the South.

Tom and Sue and the other three boys decided that they should move closer. Tom bought a farm a few miles below Edna. Tom usually batched on his farm with the boys Scott and Roscoe coming and going when he needed them. John went to work on the ranch, and Sue moved into the ranch house to care for the elders.

As Tom and Sue grew older, they decided to move into town at Edna, where they upgraded an existing home. Trinity Episcopal Church was also built and they enjoyed their Edna home and associations very much.

Favorite saying as spoken to his daughter-in-law Ruth Jamerson Bolling: "There is an old saying, Ruth, of the Chinese, that, 'You come into this world crying while all around you laugh; may you leave this world laughing while all around you cry!'"

Family Facts regarding Thomas Elliott Bolling

son of

John Alexander Bolling (b. October 25, 1808 Brunswick County, Virginia -- d. September 18, 1900 Edna, Jackson County, Texas) and Lucy Burwell Randolph (b. August 14, 1810 Brunswick County, Virginia -- d. August 16, 1848* Tensas Parish, Louisiana)


Samuel Edward Bolling (b. September 12, 1830 -- d. July 22, 1856)

John Alexander Bolling, Jr. (b. April 1, 1834 -- killed in Battle of Corinth, Miss, October 3, 1862)

Robert Randolph Bolling ("Uncle Bob" b. January 21, 1836 -- d. June 5, 1894 Edna)

William Elliott Bolling (b. January 1, 1838 -- disappeared in California ca. 1862)

Margaret Ann Bolling (b. March 24, 1840 -- October 11, 1917)

Richard Bolling (b. April 11, 1842 -- died September 6, 1844)

Frederick Bolling (b. May 30, 1844 -- d. July 23, 1855)

David Bolling (b. December 19, 1846 -- d. October 26, 1847)

*Edward Randolph Bolling (b. August 16, 1848 -- d. August 16, 1848)


March 4, 1869 in Mississippi Susan Eugenia Scott (b. January 14, 1845 Warren County, Mississippi -- d. October 21, 1927 Trepalacios Bay, Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas)


Robert Scott Bolling (b. September 9, 1870 near Vicksburg, Warren County, Mississippi -- d. age 69 September 12, 1938 Trepalacios Bay, Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas)

John William Bolling (b. December 28, 1872 -- d. June 15, 1958 Trepalacios Bay, Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas)

Richard Elliott Bolling (my grandfather) (b. July 17, 1875 near the Red River, Fannon County, a few miles north of Honey Grove, Texas -- d. July 13, 1915 Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California)

Thomas Elliott Bolling (b. October 2, 1878 -- d. November 9, 1878 Trepalacios Bay, Matagorda County, Texas)

Edward Hawks Bolling

Roscoe Randolph Bolling (b. November 11, 1880 -- d. April 10, 1964 Trepalacios Bay, Matagorda County, Texas)

Thomas Elliott Bolling at Online Archive of Terry's Texas Rangers

Aunt Ruth's Book

For everything on this website, and for personal life enrichment beyond words to ever express, I am profoundly indebted to my incredible Aunt Ruth and her monumental work:

Tales of a Texas Ranch,

by Ruth Jamerson Bolling. San Antonio, Naylor, 1959.

Tom Bolling's home page