m. 18 Aug 1852
- William Harvey Dever was the father of Nancy Dever, first wife of George Marion Keesee. William Dever was also a neighbor to William Keesee Sr..
William Harvey Dever
Dixie Ann Foster
William Harvey Dever was born Christmas day 1802 in Buncombe County, North Carolina. He was the son of Nathaniel Dever and Arabella Gray. His father was killed in the Revolutionary War at Kings Mountain. His mother married again. William was chafing at his mother?s remarriage.
Feeling the westward urge, William met Moses Austin (who was talking Texas, although he had never been there). William did not wait. Traveling from Missouri he reached the Red River at Pecan Point just above Sherman. He floated way to the South, finally reaching the renegade outpost of Nachidoches. He equipped himself and following the old Nachidoches Trace towards San Antonio, a Jesuit settlement, William turned south just above what is now Navasota and reached the Brazos River at Hidalgo Bluffs. He crossed by canoe 12 January, 1819 at the age of 17. He settled near a cedar brake two miles from where Washington-on-the-Brazos is now. He named the creak Doe Run after the one near his birthplace. He and his man Reuben built the first house between the Louisiana line and San Antonio, a four room house of cedar logs. In wet weather they hewed the inside smooth.
Moses Austin visited in 1821. William was strong, tall, silent, but determined in his dealings. As he was there first and had acquired considerable land, he felt Austin should not intrude. The breach grew between William and Austin. Austin never settled at Washington, as originally planned, but located his colony down the Brazos at San Felipe.
William?s sweetheart, Catherine came to Texas with his newly widowed mother, Arabella and he young children. William made his house and horses available to old Dr. Burleson, the founder of Baylor College, and Rev Thrall, the first Methodist preacher in Texas, among others.
At 6?3", William was barred from all rifle shooting contests in the early days because of his unerring marksmanship. He was a sentinel and a witness to the drawing of the Declaration of Independence. He was called away before all had signed. His help was needed in rescuing his family. The rumor of the Mexican Army approaching required him to go, with 17 others, to the relief of the Alamo. They reached the outskirts of San Antonio on the morning of 5 March 1836 as it was being stormed by the Mexican Army. He was a scout and a courier in Houston?s army at San Jacinto. He was one of the party to cut Vince?s bridge that would cut off the retreat of Santa Anna?s army.
Will and Catherine raised eleven children. He lived in Washington County to the age of sixty-nine. Thrall?s "Memoirs" justifies the actions of William when he knocked down and whipped Sam Houston who had mistreated a fine horse in his presence.
- Arabella Gray Dever Harrington, grandmother of Nancy Dever Keesee.
by Dixie Ann Foster
Arabella Gray Dever Harrington was the daughter of and the wife of Revolutionary soldiers. She was a well educated, accomplished young woman. Her mother had experienced a nervous breakdown when her husband was killed at King?s Mountain. The children had been farmed out until her recovery at which time she reunited her family. Arabella in her marriage to Nathaniel Dever, began a progressive move west. First to western North Carolina and later, to the Illinois Territory. The men drove the cattle overland while Arabella followed by flatboat with the furnishings and the children Margaret, Frances, Elijah and William watched with their parents as the Captain fled with all their possessions. Nathan Dever, a linguist, was to work with the Indians to prevent their siding with the English who hoped to regain the Illinois Territory.
In 1810, Nathan died of the "fever" alongside Auger Creek. In December of 1810, baby Mary Mariah was born to her grieving mother (outrageous Arabella having probated the will moved her family into Missouri in time for the 1811 Earthquake. Nathan?s brother, William, came for the girls on horseback thinking they would be better off in North Carolina. Arabella planned to follow. She may have progressed as far as Kentucky, when John William Harrington, debonair Irishman, swept her off her feet. This marriage began a new family. Harrington'? sternness and absence of working skill caused 15 year old William Harvey Dever to head for Texas. Though he had bet the Austin?s, he decided not to wait for the Austin Colony. Once settled and maturing and knowing his mother needed to own land for security, William urged his mother to bring her new family to Texas. Pausing to work in Arkansas, not only J. W. Harrington lost his life, but also young Elijah Dever was killed in a sawmill accident. Undaunted, Arabella proceeded by horseback with 2 year old John Walton clinging to her neck. The girls, Lydia and Mahala rode in the wagon with the household goods. They stayed with William Devers, while their two-room cabin was built on Arabella?s land grant that was to become the city of Brenham. Arabella planned one room for the horse and cow and one for the family. Arabella fed travelers and served as a mid-wife. One day Arabella was called away to deliver a baby. She left Lydia in charge of young John Walton Harrington. As she was feeding him pinion nuts, Indians invaded the cabin and began roasting the potato supply in the fireplace. Suddenly one of them decided to scalp young John.. (to be continued)