By Dana Stubbs – Special to the Navarro County Gazette

The Navarro County Genealogical Society started an exciting a new project in 2021 in which is offered Navarro County Pioneer or Heritage Certificates. These beautiful certificates are a wonderful addition to anyone’s family history book, software or framed for a wall display.

The Society offers Pioneer Certificates to anyone who submits documentation which proves a direct or collateral connection to a resident of Navarro County, Texas, prior to Nov. 21, 1871 along with the application and fee. For Heritage Certification you must supply the documentation to a resident who lived in the county from Nov. 21, 1871 through Nov. 21, 1921.

Verifying your connection to a Navarro County, Texas, pioneer is a special way of honoring your adventurous ancestor. You do have to prove your direct or collateral pioneer connection using sources such as church records, land deeds, tax, census, birth, marriage, and death records to prove they resided in the county and your connection to them. The descendant of the pioneer does not have to live in the county.

The Society also asks that you to fill out a pedigree and family group sheet to send along with the application and fee. These records will be housed with the Society’s holdings. And, as a bonus, a plaque will be on display with names engraved for all who visit to see the Society headquarters in the Liz Gillispie Genealogy Department at the Corsicana Public Library.

Another bonus is your family history may be compiled in a short story and published in the Society’s newsletter or here in the Navarro County Gazette.

If you are interested in obtaining an application or needing help with the process please email the Society at or call 903-654-4808.

As an example, let me introduce you to descendant John Barron and his daughter, Lucy, who supplied the documentation and pictures for their McClung family of east Navarro County.

Cowan and Betsy (Lott) McClung – Pioneer Family of John and Lucy Barron

The father and daughter duo of John Calvin and Lucy Ann Barron are two of the newest members of the Navarro County Genealogical Society’s Pioneer Certificate program. Their applications were approved through the residency of their second and third great-grandparents, respectfully, Cowan McClung and Elizabeth “Betsy” (Lott) McClung.

John Calvin Barron with daughter Lucy Ann Barron. – Courtesy photo

Cowan was born Feb. 10, 1822, in Blount County, Tennessee. His parents were Patrick and Margaret (Cowan) McClung. Family stories say he married Betsy Lott around 1850 in Smith County, Texas. He is listed on the 1850 census as a merchant who was living in the household of Arthur and Elizabeth (Watts) Lott and the Lott children. At this time Betsy Lott was aged 19.

Cowan McClung. – Courtesy photo

Lott was born Oct. 19, 1832 in Covington County, Mississippi. Cowan and Betsy’s first child, William Cowan McClung, was born in 1851; next came Mary Margaret McClung, in 1853 followed by John and Lucy’s ancestor, Sarah Eugenia McClung, in 1855; Ashbell Green McClung, 1858, and Patrick Monroe McClung came early in 1860. Patrick was the last to be born in Smith County, Texas.

Before the eruption of civil war in America Cowan had moved his family to Texas. In 1860 the family was enumerated living at Coxvill, Hill County, Texas. At the age of 39, at the onset of war, he was really too old to be an enlisted man. By 1862, he had moved the family to Johnson County, Texas. The couple’s son George Andrew McClung was born in Aug. 1862 but he died in Oct. 1864. In early 1864, an alarm for the call to arms was issued to protect the Texas Frontier.

Cowan McClung’s military record. – Courtesy photo

Not only were Native Americans taking advantage of the lack of young fighting men in those locations, but small bands of Unionists, such as the Jay Hawkers, were wreaking havoc. Cowan enlisted in February or March, 1864, at Squaw Creek School House into the Second Frontier District under Major George B. Erath. He served 23 days in the crisis in which he received a daily pay of $2.50 for a total of $57.50.

In Dec. 1864, his daughter Beulah Jane McClung was born.

The first Navarro County record found for the family was the 1867 tax record when he paid taxes on his livestock. He purchased a farm on the prairie near Wadeville in the southeast section of the county. Their son Robert Lott McClung was born on June 15, 1868 making him the first native Navarro Countian for the family. Four years later Arthur Watts McClung was born. Soon after this child’s birth his father built a home on nearby Rush Creek. They believed it to be healthier to reside near the creek bottom.

In this new home their last child, Jesse Morgan McClung, was born in 1875. The next year on July 8, 1876, Betsy McClung died. The doctors diagnose her with chronic bronchitis. Her lungs were truly affected and she gave out from coughing and retching. She was interred at the Alligator cemetery.

Alligator Cemetery, named for a nearby creek with the same name, was established in 1870 when Lawrence S. Taylor sold five acres of land for a school and church to Nelson Owen, J. T. Selman and W. B. Gage who became the school trustees. Later the name of the area was changed to Long Prairie.

In 1878, Cowan was elected justice of the peace for Precinct 3, Navarro County, Texas. They were still on the family homestead on the 1880 Federal census.

SSW Deport (circa 1970) in Kerens, Texas. – Courtesy photo

Big news for the whole county came with the arrival of the narrow gauge Texas and Saint Louis Railway. It had taken several years from its organization to reach Navarro County but it was anticipated with great enthusiasm by most of the residents.

When the construction crews for the bridge over the Trinity River commenced their work other crews were grading and building bridges to continue its westward trek. About the first of February, 1881, the construction train arrived in what would become the town of Kerens. Following tradition the railroad people set up the new locations for depots and sold lots to interested companions in order to start a new town.

Will McClung was the third highest bid and secured lot 12 in block 58 for his combination grocery and hardware store. The town was given the name Kerens after one of the railway directors, Colonel R. C. Kerens of Saint Louis.

Over the next several years the town of Kerens continued to grow which put to sleep the old community of Wadeville.

On September 19, 1882 Cowan married Mary Frances Bell. They had no issue. – Courtesy photo

In 1888, Kerens boasted a population of about 500 people. The leading fathers thought it was a good time to incorporate the town. A petition was presented to the county Commissioner on April 11 which asked for the election. It was signed by thirty men which included Cowan and Will McClung. Cowan not only signed the petition but also served as the election judge. The vote was 46 yes to incorporate and 3 no.

After an election for the city officers, W. P. Noble became the first mayor; S. O. Scruggs, city marshal and the aldermen were J. W. Waters, T. S. Daniel, C. K. Melear, Press Owen and W. C. McClung.

Cowan moved to the new town site of Kerens and continued as a civic minded resident until his death on Jan. 7, 1895 and was interred next to his wife Betsy in the Alligator cemetery.

Cowan’s obituary from the
Dallas Morning News. – Courtesy photo

Sarah McClung was next in line for John and Lucy’s Pioneer Certificate application

As stated above, Sarah was born Aug. 28, 1855, while her parents lived in Smith County, Texas. She moved to Navarro County with her parents as a young teenager.

Sarah Barron. – Courtesy photo

Sarah married John W. Barron on Jan. 28, 1875 at Wadeville. On the 1880 Federal census the couple along with two children were living with her parents, Cowan and Betsy McClung at Wadeville. John W. Barron’s occupation was listed as farmer and constable of Precinct 3, Navarro County, Texas.

No one is really sure what happened to John W. Barron. Some say he drowned in a creek or was killed when he fell from a horse. The truth is 140 years later whatever happened to him seems to have been covered with the dust of time. What we do know for sure is on May 10, 1881, J. F. Selman took over as precinct 3 constable in order to fill the vacant office of a deceased John W. Barron.

(I am going to throw this into the mess for other researchers to work through…just in case…In 1881 Kerens had a small pox epidemic. It was later in the year of 1881 that it reached its height of deaths in the community but I believe as a researcher it should be a possible consideration for the cause of his death especially since John and his son William died within weeks of each other.)

26-year old Sarah was left a widow with a very young son and one on the way. John and Sarah’s children were William Franklin Barron, 1876-1881; John and Lucy’s ancestor, Oliver “Ollie” Churchworth Barron, 1879-1956, and John Cowan Barron who was born in July 1881.

The year 1881 must have been a horrible time for Sarah. She lost her husband and a son and had a son born without a living father. Two years later, on Sept. 13, 1883, Sarah married Bluford Napolean McKinney. The McKinney’s had four daughters: Emma Odella McKinney, 1885-1925; Mary Bertha McKinney, 1887-1992; Beulah George McKinney, 1890-?; Lottie Viva McKinney, 1893-1972.

Sarah died at age 39 on May 16, 1895 and was interred in the Alligator cemetery. At her death Mr. McKinney was appointed guardian of the two minor Barron boys.

Next in John and Lucy’s line was Oliver “Ollie” Churchworth Barron

Ludie and Ollie Barron. – Courtesy photo

Ollie was born in Wadeville on Aug.1, 1879. Ollie was a long time farmer in the Kerens/Powell/Navarro areas of the county. He married in 1905 to Ludie Vista Massey. She was the daughter of John Montgomery and Mary Caroline (Guest) Massey of Upshur County, Texas. Ludie was born on March 16, 1886 in Upshur County. The Masseys had moved to the Kerens area between 1900 and 1905.

Ollie and Ludie were the parents of nine children: Theresa Mae Barron, 1906-2002; Eulyess Hayden Barron, 1908-1994; Calvin Churchman Barron, 1910-1999; Harvey Haskell Barron, 1913-1915; Lottie Lorene Barron, 1915-2015; Clifton Montgomery Barron, 1917-2007; Harold Hardy Barron, 1921-1975; Mary Fayrine Barron, 1923-2008; Dorothy Jean Barron, 1925-1997.

Ollie and Ludie & some of their children
L-R: Eulyess, Ollie holding Clifton, Theresa, Ludie, Calvin and Lorene. – Courtesy photo

Sometime in the early 1920s, the family moved from the farm to the city of Corsicana. A few years later, Ollie became the proprietor of a service station located on the Powell Road. Then later in life he joined the staff at the Cotton Mill as a sweeper.

Ollie Barron with his chickens. – Courtesy photo

Over the years, there were signs of a rocky marriage, but they never let a divorce be granted. Ollie died in Navarro County on May 30, 1956 from cancer, and Ludie died in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 12, 1967 from heart disease. They were interred at Oakwood cemetery in Corsicana.

John’s father and Lucy’s grandfather was Calvin Churchman Barron

Calvin was born Dec. 2, 1910 in Powell, Navarro County, Texas. He was the third of nine children born to Ollie and Ludie Barron. The family moved to Corsicana before Calvin entered high school.

Calvin Churchman Barron. – Courtesy photo

In the late 1920s he became a member of Battery D, 132 Field Artillery, Texas National Guard. As a young twenty-two year old he hired on with the Corsicana Cotton Mill. He worked his way up from fixer to spinning room foreman before he left the firm in 1954.

On July 4, 1936, he married Ruby Jo Morris. She was born March 2, 1914 in Ellis County, Texas. Her parents were Albert C. and Mary (Pollock) Morris. Ruby Jo also worked at the Corsicana Cotton Mill.

After Calvin left the cotton mill in 1954 he went to work for the Corsicana Coca Cola Bottling Company. At retirement he was working for the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company.

Calvin C. and Ruby Jo Barron had one son, John Calvin Barron.

John Calvin, Ruby Jo, and Calvin Churchman Barron. – Courtesy photo

McClung/Barron Family Pictures

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