My great-grandfather, John Martin Rawlins, was born at Roodhouse, Greene County, Illinois on July 24, 1825 to William Rawlins, a blacksmith, and his wife, Euphamia Martin, a housewife. He lived in the Greene County area until the fall of 1845 when he started to Texas. He arrived in late December of 1845 and in January of 1846 began to live with his cousin, Pleasant Taylor, near present-day Lancaster, Texas. He sharecropped on his cousin’s land for several months and later began to haul merchandise back and forth between Lancaster and East Texas.
He was baptized by Barton Warren Stone, well-known Restoration leader of the Church of Christ before coming to Texas. He had also learned the blacksmith trade from his father before coming to Texas. He began to dedicate himself to preaching the gospel, farming and blacksmithing here in Texas.
He married Polly Minerva Parks, daughter of Meredith Parks, in Lancaster, Texas on September 21, 1848. John and his father, William Rawlins, were the first ministers of the Church of Christ in Dallas County. John and Polly Rawlins were parents of fourteen children and accumulated several hundred acres of land.
He later broke away from the church in Lancaster, which he and his father had started, when instrumental music was introduced by another faction. John helped start the Cold Springs Church of Christ west of Lancaster. This is the oldest congregation in Dallas County and still meets each Sunday. He preached for this group until 1880 when he, Addison Clark and Randolph Clark went to Thorp Spring, Hood County, Texas, to establish the Thorp Spring Christian College. He taught and preached in that area until his death April 19, 1886. He was buried in the Thorp Spring Cemetery.
His parents were born in Kentucky, William Rawlins on July 5, 1796 and Euphamia on May 9, 1796. Both died in the fall of 1850 from drinking polluted water. His parents were buried in the Rawlins Cemetery in Lancaster. His wife, Polly Minerva, is also buried in Rawlins Cemetery. Polly died on November 6, 1906 of a stroke while riding in a buggy with her daughter, Mattie Blanche Rutherford. Polly’s parents, Meredith Parks and Malinda Sharp came to Texas in spring of 1848. They also are buried in the Rawlins Cemetery.
John Martin Rawlins was not only a preacher of the Gospel but also a farmer and blacksmith. During the Civil War, he made wagon wheels for the Confederate Army. He was of an experimental mind having seen the difficulty in farming the black land soil of Central North Texas area after rainy days especially. He made the first gang plow used in Dallas County areas. He also designed and built the first mould board plowshare used in this area. It would peel the black clay soil off easily.
Mr. Rawlins served from 1867 to 1870 as a county judge for Dallas County. He came to Texas early enough to be a CITIZEN OF THE REPUBLIC.
Mr. Rawlins was father of the following children:
1. Louisa J., August 6, 1849-deceased December, 1850.
2. Emily Adeline, March 15, 1851- October 26, 1871–married Gifford Hash.
3. William Meredith, November 5, 1852-spring 1874—never married. Died of roseola.
4. James Alfred, January 9, 1854- 1917 – married Louise Bernard at Altus, Oklahoma.
5. John Jay Crittendon, March 1, 1856 – deceased 1874 – Never married. Died from roseola.
6. Theodore F., April 4, 1858 – de-ceased July 1860 from flux.
7. Henry Clay, March 3, 1860-December 11, 1951 – married Penina Walker Adair on September 25, 1879.
8. Benjamin Parks, February 25, 1862-April 1, 1884 – in Thorp Spring, Texas. Never married.
9. Melinda Euphamia, June 24, 1865-June 21, 1948 – Married Samuel Houston Gilliland on February 25, 1891.
10. George Clement, August 7, 1867-March 22, 1942 – Married Mary Florida Holiman on November 4, 1893.
11. Thomas Edward, May 1, 1869- April 9, 1946. Never married.
12. Addison Clark, June 2, 1871- spring 1874. Died from roseola.
13. Mattie Blanche, July 5, 1874- May 10, 1935 – Married Mack Donald Rutherford.
14. Addie May, May 25, 1876- Janu-ary 1, 1961 – Married Arthur Jasper Cherryhomes.
Billy Joe Denton, who submitted this article, is the son of Berta Lee Rawlins Denton (married Clyde Overton Denton); Berta Lee is daughter of Henry Clay Rawlins, the seventh child of John Martin Rawlins. He is in the Mesquite Chapter #45, Ranger John Beeman through his great-grandfather, John Martin Rawlins. This is a chapter of THE SONS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS.
Photo: John Martin Rawlins & Polly Minerva (Parks) Rawlins.
By Billy Joe Denton for Proud Heritage, Volume !!! by Dallas County Pioneer Association.