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James Cal Todd

(1842 - 1923)
Biography compiled by Nancy Todd

James was born on August 28, 1842, in Tennessee, the first child of William Todd and Sarah
As a youth of eight years of age, in 1850, James, along with his parents and siblings, Mary J,
William A, Ransom and Robert A, lived in Bradys Rock, Cannon County, Tennessee.
Between 1850 and 1854, three more siblings were welcomed into James' world, Flora A,
Joseph T and Cynthia C. It was about this same time that the Todd family began their courageous and
adventurous migration from their home in Tennessee, through Missouri where yet another child,
Elizabeth, was born, then by 1860, on to Richland, Madison County, Arkansas, James now eighteen
years of age. The tenth of the total sibling group, Sarah E, would be born later in 1865. James
continued to help his father work the earth of the family farm until the summer of 1862, the summer
that would change young James’ life forever.
James described the evolving events of that summer in own words from an 1872 testimony:
“The Home Guards made me go into the Rebel Army in the summer of 1862, and I was sworn into
service. I did it to save my life; I had no intention of keeping the oath when I took it. I could not get to the Union
lines then, and it was go in or be killed.
“In the summer of 1862, while the 'Conscript Act' was being enforced by the Home Guards, seven or eight Home
Guard soldiers (some of them my neighbors) came one day and said they wanted me to go into the Rebel Army. I
did not want to go, but they said I had to. My eyes were very sore at the time, and they agreed to let me wait a
few days but made me promise to go to camp at Huntsville and said if I did not go on the day set, they would
come and take me, then take all the property my father had. I knew they would do what they said, and I went to
Huntsville (the county seat of Madison County) and was mustered and sworn into Capt Tom Berry’s Company (I
don’t remember the name of the regiment). I was with the company only five days when I deserted and went
home … [hiding] until some of the Federal soldiers came into my neighborhood when I got in with them and
went to Fayetteville and enlisted as before stated.
“They got two horses from me after I went into the service (one from my mother-in-law's farm and the other farm
my uncle’s place) and also a gun.”
The date was December 1862.
“At the beginning of the Rebellion, I was for the Union cause. I was only a chink of a boy and had
nothing to say and could not vote. My father was a strong Union man. And I believed strongly in the Union
cause and enlisted in the Union Army the first chance I had and before I was of age.”
So, during the U.S. Civil War (1861 – 1865), in December 1862, at age twenty, James traveled
to Fayetteville, Washington County, and enlisted in the Union military, 1st Arkansas Cavalry, Company
C, to serve as Private, joining for duty and enrolling December 23, for three years. Muster-in date was
August 31, 1863, at Springfield, Missouri. Along with combat duties, James served on detached duty
to forage for supplies, as mail rider, as regiment teamster and on duty at the government slaughter
pen. Muster-out date and honorably discharged August 23, 1865, at Fayetteville, his papers described
young James as five feet seven inches tall, fair complexion, grey eyes and light hair. Additionally,
government documents show that James' younger brother, William A, age 18, joined the war effort just

sixteen months after James' enlistment, and served in the same company. Documents further tell that
the father of James and William A served the Union forces as post butcher for the troops, employed by
the beef contractor with that same regiment.
James lost his personal horse and gun to the war. In December 1872, James filed an
application to have testimony taken by a Special Commission. In October 1873, he filed a claim with
the Southern Claims Commission from the State of Arkansas, for the loss of his horse killed in action
in United States service during the battle at Fayetteville on November 3, 1864, in 1st Arkansas
Cavalry commanded by Col M Lee Reid Harrison, Company C commander.
“The horse charged for is one that I bought and rode five or six months in service. I belonged to a
regular detail to gather up and drive in beef cattle, and I rode this horse principally on that duty. At the time I
went on the beef detail, I could not draw a horse to ride, and I was compelled to buy a horse … I don’t
remember who I got the horse from or what I paid – I just know I bought it. On the 4 th of Nov 1864, when the
garrison at Fayetteville was attacked by a part of Price’s Army, my horse was tied at the butcher shop in range
of the enemy’s guns and was killed in the activities. The horse was a dark bay, 4 years old, fast, a good big horse
(over medium), sound in every way and in good fix. I was offered $120 in green back only a day or two before he
was killed. I never got any pay for the horse and never tried to until I put in for this claim.”
In August 1873, in Fayetteville, James, age 29, gave testimony to the Southern Claims
Commission and additional testimony was heard from his brother William A and his father William. In
December 1874, a "Summary Report" was issued and the claim denied.
After the war, James married his young neighbor, Martha Angeline Ledbetter Johnson, who
brought into the marriage union her young daughter, Violet Angeline Johnson. The date of marriage for
James and Martha Angeline is unknown, and it is unknown if Martha Angeline’s second daughter,
Sarah E, born 1865, is the daughter of James, since James was not discharged until August of 1865,
and Sarah E is not mentioned in James' probate. In 1867, James and Martha Angeline welcomed their
first son, William Thomas, and by 1870, James, age 27, Martha Angeline and their growing family
were living in Richland, Washington County, where James and Martha Angeline had welcomed their
second son, Benjamin (Ben) F, and where James was providing for his family with his long before
perfected farming skills.
Having an opportunity to hear an actual account about life in Arkansas during this period is a
fascinating treat, and one that is afforded here. About this same time, in Madison County, a young girl,
Mary Glaze, was growing up. Many years later, this same young Mary (who later became our
Grandmother and Great Grandmother Mary Todd) shared her memories with her son Elmer, who tells
here the recounting of the Glaze’s life as a pioneer family:
“Wilson Glaze [Mary’s father] owned the farm on which the family lived, and, being a good manager as
well as having a thrifty wife, the family fared well. Mary was taught to spin and weave, for all materials in the
'near frontier' were handmade. Sheep were raised so that there would be wool for spinning. Cotton thread was
bought for the warp threads so that the material woven would be strong and sturdy, and indeed it was, for here
in 1958, Mary Glaze Todd still has a quilt made from scraps of the material she and her mother spun. Geese
were raised so that their feathers could be used for making the feather mattresses used on the beds. The beds
used rope springs with a first mattress of corn shucks or, if that was not available, of straw. The shucks were
much preferred as they lasted longer and were more comfortable. The cooking was done in the fireplace.
Amanda Melton Glaze [Mary’s mother] had two big pots that swung on a crane over the fire and out to where
the food could be stirred in them, one of iron and another one of copper. This copper kettle was her pride, and
neighbors would come for miles to borrow it at preserving time. As the oldest girl in a family of nine, Mary
learned all the things of thrifty homemaking from her mother. A sorrow had just come to the Glaze family when
brother George, just older than Mary, died with diphtheria. This left five boys and two girls in the family.

“The puncheon floors of the house always were scrubbed white, the pottery dishes and pewter cutlery
polished. Wooden trays worn smooth was what the salt risen bread was made in. Mary recalls that a very light
dough was made in the morning of scalded milk, salt and sugar, and enough flour to make it of the consistence
of pancake batter. This was put over a pan of warm water to start rising. By mid-afternoon it would be ready to
make into the mounds for baking.
“In the fall of the year, right after hog killing time, came soap making time. There were always two
batches of this. Mary’s mother set aside some to be made into toilet soap which would harden into lovely cakes.
The other was what was used for washing the clothing and dishes. Mary also tells that the bench they used to
wash clothes on was called the 'battle bench.' There were no rub boards, so the dirt was more or less beaten out
by a big paddle. It is no wonder the bench used to put the tubs on was called a ‘battle bench.’
“Fall was really a busy time, for there was not only hog killing, the smoking of the meat and making of
soap, but there was syrup making and hominy making time. All winter long, when the ashes were removed from
the fireplace, they were put into a trough made from a hollowed log. A layer of ashes, a layer of corn shucks,
another layer of ashes, and another of shucks until the log was filled. In the spring, water was poured over this
until it was full to running over. By fall, the ashes had turned into lye for making of the soap and hominy.
“Mary told of how her father took care of root vegetables for winter use. A ditch was dug on a high
piece of ground. Potatoes, both sweet and Irish, turnips, cabbage and beets were placed in this. The stalks of
sugar cane were placed over them, then a layer of potato vines and then dirt. Beans were dried as well as fruit
for winter use. Nuts were gathered and stored too.
“One of the fun times for the children, Mary said, was when a new field was being cleared. The small
brush would all be piled in one place, and after the work was finished, the children would make a bonfire of it
and roast potatoes, eggs and apples over it. Whenever a new cabin was to be built or a new fence for a field, the
whole community would join the fun, and while the men went at their rail mauling, the women talked and
prepared the food over fires, and it would all end with a dance. Mary recalls that it was not exactly the same
kind of dancing that is done now-a-days. There were spelling bees held in the school house, and, in the
community that Mary lived in, the church services were held in the school house too. There were box suppers
and revivals with dinners on the school grounds, with people coming from miles and miles away to attend.
“Most of us are familiar with Davy Crockett’s squirrel skin cap, but according to Mary, the skins were
also cured, tanned and cut into strips for shoe lacing.”
By 1880, James at 36 years of age and Martha Angeline were living in Prairie, Madison
County, where the family had grown to six children, including two new additions welcomed into the
family, son Charles M and daughter Flora May.
Between 1880 and 1887, the Todd family, like a number of other Arkansas families, took that
giant leap of faith and with much courage made the migration to Texas, settling in northeastern Bell
County near the small town of Old Troy, a community that later sadly and completely disappeared by
As coincidental as life can sometimes seem, another Arkansas family made much the same
journey, also settling in Bell County, near Old Troy. The reunion of the Todds and their former Arkansas
friends, the Glaze family that included daughter Mary, was recounted many years later by Mary’s son:
“When Mary was twelve, her father got the ‘go to Texas fever’ that seemed to be sweeping the country.
He sold the farm and loaded everything portable into a covered wagon and off they started. About the time they
reached the Red River, they met some wagons of people leaving Texas. They told a tale of drought and of
everything being burned up. So the Glaze family decided to go back to Arkansas, back to the same community
but this time to a rented farm. For two years they stayed, with the dream of going to Texas still in Wilson Glaze’s
mind and heart. When Mary was 14, they started again, but this time the trip was made by train to Denton
County. Bell County was the spot that Wilson dreamed of, so after a year of living in Denton County, they moved
south to Bell County and settled just outside Troy, Texas. There, to their surprise, they found the Todd family,
friends who had lived in Huntsville, Arkansas. This was September of ’87. There was also sadness in finding
these friends, for in June of this year, one Saturday the men folk had all gone to Troy for supplies when a storm

came up. The men rushed home trying to reach there before it hit. Just as they drove into the yard, the worst of it
did hit, tearing the doors from the house and blowing all the chairs and tables through the open doorway. Mrs.
Todd [Martha Angeline] was so frightened that she fell unconscious on the bed and never did regain
consciousness but died and was buried the following Monday. The Todd family had moved to Texas thinking it
would be better for Mrs. Todd, for her health was rather delicate, and the weather here was so much milder than
in Arkansas.”
The presumed interment site for Martha Angeline is Old Troy Cemetery, a cemetery that is still
on the site of the now extinct town of Old Troy. Regrettably, the cemetery, with some 30 marked
graves and at least that many, and probably more, that are unknown or lost, is abandoned and badly
overgrown. Dates on the headstones in this forgotten cemetery range from the 1870s to 1920s.
Martha Angeline died in 1887.
After the tragic loss of his beloved wife Martha Angeline, James put distance between himself
and his grief, leaving Texas behind and returning to Arkansas with his three younger children. His
oldest son, William Thomas, stayed on in Texas, where in 1890, Thomas married his childhood
sweetheart, Mary Glaze, and two years later, James’ first grandchild, Will, was born.
When James was 44, he married Julia Henderson on February 14, 1888, in Washington
County, Arkansas.
By 1900, at age 57, James was living in Lamar, Madison County, Arkansas, with Julia, stepdaughters Mary Henderson and Lucinda Henderson, and their newly added children, Anna (Annie),
Nolan V, Clyde Earl and William Homer Ollney.
By 1910, James and his family, with adult stepdaughter, Mary Henderson, were living in
Prairie, Washington County, Arkansas, and four years later, 1914, James' first Great Grandchild, a
baby boy named Randall Woodrow Todd was born in Waco, McLennan County, Texas.
Late 1919, James purchased property in Fayetteville, a forfeited town lot for the sum of $2.40
and two additional lots, all in the Rose Hill Addition, and by 1920, James, age 76, was living on his
Rose Hill town lot in Prairie, Washington County, with Julie and their adult son Homer, daughter-in-law
Effie and grandson, and with sons Nolan V and Earl C living on James’s remaining two town lots.
James had retired from his farming skills, turning his attention and skills to the craft of basket making.
Below is a picture of James proudly displaying two of his baskets that he so skillfully crafted.

James died at age 81, on December 5, 1923, in Harris, Washington County.
Interment on December 6, 1923, was in Evergreen Cemetery, in Fayetteville, Washington


The estate was probated on December 20, 1923, in Washington County.

James Cal Todd (1841 - 1923)

A page from history and the memories of the life of a pioneer family, as retold by the son of

Mary Glaze Todd who was the wife of William Thomas Todd and daughter-in-law of James Cal and
Martha Angeline Ledbetter Todd: