David Carey Nance was only nine years old when he came to Texas in 1852. He came to help work a farm his father had purchased on the blackland prairies southwest of Dallas. In the following excerpt is from his unpublished recollections, which he wrote in about 1924. He describes his life and labor in early Texas and the dangers of living on the periphery of civilization.
Frontier living was hard. His father was in poor health and he was the oldest son. Young Nance had to assume responsibilities and perform tasks that were challenging and difficult even for adults. His recollections provide insights into pioneer farm life, a boy’s personal interests and thoughts. Meager educational opportunities were available at this time in North Texas. There were few opportunities for recreation. The occasional chance to attend a “pay”- school was a welcome change from the demanding routines of farm life.
David Nance, however, sought an education with an eagerness that belies his years. He spent what little spare time he had teaching himself to read and write. He constructed wooden water buckets,
churns, washtubs, and other essential household items from red cedar cut from the hills overlooking the blackland prairies. He used the money from the sale of these items to pay itinerant teachers for a few days of precious instruction during the summer months.
These descriptions make this brief excerpt rewarding reading for students of Texas history; the interest of many readers may be enhanced when they learn that David Nance was the grandfather of Don Morris, the first chancellor of Abilene Christian University.
Left Home For Civil War
On a brisk day in November, 1861, David C. Nance rode into the winter encampment of the 12th Texas Cavalry which sprawled along Sim’s Bayou nine miles south of Houston. He was riding his beautiful horse ” Morgan,” which his father had given him. Both horse and rider were decked with spare clothing, cooking utensils, bedding, and other items essential to a man camping along the trail. Having ignored the anxious warnings of the father, Nance and a neighbor named John Sullivan had enlisted in Company E of the 12th Texas Cavalry just two months before.
David Carey Nance, at the age of 82, died peacefully in his sleep at “the old sweet home” on Heath Branch (now Ten Mile Creek). He was laid to rest in the William Rawlings Cemetery near Lancaster, Texas.
Source; Texas Military History, Volume 8, 1972 and A History of Greater Dallas & Vicinity, Volume II.