James Benjamin Garrison, grandson of American Revolutionary War soldier James Garrison, was born in Scott County, Illinois on October 10, 1834. He married Sarah Moore in the county seat town of Winchester, Illinois on October 9, 1853.
Within a short time of their marriage, the couple left with the Moore family and came to Dallas County, Texas. They traveled for two months by covered wagon. Their small wagon train consisted of several families all of whom settled in the Scyene community between Dallas and Mesquite.
From their arrival in late 1853 until 1860 they raised wheat and fine horses on land which is now located near the intersection of St. Augustine and Scyene Road. During this time the first three of James and Sarah’s children were born. Dallas County tax rolls for 1861 show that James Garrison owned 235 acres of land, having bought it from early sellers, John S. Beeman, Joshua Leonard and John C. Fondren.
With the coming of the Civil War, James Benjamin joined the local home guard unit known as The “Mesquite Light Horse”, Dallas Thirteenth Brigade. On the muster roll dated May 21, 1861 he is shown as the 1st Lieutenant. Each man was required to be mounted on a good horse and have a rifle or shot gun and an army “six pistol”.
As conditions in the South worsened, James joined the Confederate Army on March 15, 1862. He enlisted in Dallas, Texas as a private in Company F, 18th Regiment, Texas Cavalry. Colonel Nichalos H. Darnell was commander of the regiment.
The regiment was stationed in Texas only a short time when ordered along with the 17th, 23rd and 24th regiments to Fort Hindman at Arkansas Post, Arkansas. There, on January 11, 1863, most of the Confederate forces were captured by overwhelming numbers of Federal gun boats and cavalry. The enlisted men, James Garrison among them, were transported up the Mississippi to Union Prison, Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois. Following plagues of small pox and exposure, James Garrison escaped and eventually made his way back to Dallas.
Immediately upon his return to Dallas County, James recruited a company of one hundred men, and as their elected Captain, joined Terrell’s Texas Cavalry regiment. When Texas was threatened by invasion of Federal troops from New Orleans all Texas Cavalry was ordered to Mansfield, Louisiana. On April 8, 1864, James participated in the defeat of Union forces in the battle of Mansfield, and the following day, April 9, in another Confederate victory at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. During this battle James was wounded in the groin, causing him to walk with a limp the rest of his life.
At the end of the war on May 14, 1865 Terrel’s Texas Cavalry was disbanded at Wild Cat Bluff on the Trinity River south of Dallas.
The reconstruction period was a most difficult time for the James Garrison family. His wife, Sarah, died in 1868. She is believed to be buried in the Pioneer Glover Community Cemetery at 6508 Military Parkway. James was left with six young children in his care. His war wound was healing slowly, and he was unable to continue farming. For a period of time he opened a wagon yard and harness repair shop on land he owned within the city limits of Dallas. It was located approximately ten blocks east of the Court House in the forks of the road.
By 1869 James Garrison had sold his land in Dallas with the intention of returning to Illinois to seek a new life. However, while traveling through southern Missouri, he was attacked and robbed of all his wagons and livestock by Quantrille and his outlaws. Subsequently, James settled in the small town of Urbana, Missouri. Within seven years James would return to Texas with his new wife. Nancy, this time as City Marshall of Weatherford, Parker County, a position he held for 19 years. James died December 18, 1906 and is buried along side his second wife in Oakwood Cemetery at Honey Grove, Texas.
By Donna Garrison Christensen for Dallas County Pioneer Association’s Proud Heritage, Volume I. Additional Civil War information can be found here.