One of the first settlers in the Wylie, Texas area was mark L. Morris. He was born n Alabama in 1823. He was of Scottish ancestry. He and his family were among those who came with Andy Burns, Fayette Summers and Adam Scott to Texas from McNary, County, Tennessee. They came with their slow moving ox drawn wagons. They arrived in McKinney, Texas on November 20, 1852 after 52 days of traveling.
He settled on a 317 acre tract of land near Wylie on January 1, 1853. Even today one may receive a title stating that his land is the Mark L. Morris Survey. Elizabeth Farmer became the Mrs. Morris. There were possibly three of them, but Elizabeth was the mother of his eight children. Little information is known of her except some of her descendants say she is buried in an unmarked grave in the Forest Grove Cemetery near McKinney.
Many of the men in this area entered battle at the beginning of the War Between the States, and Mark L. Morris was no exception. He became Second Sergeant in the Sixteenth Regiment of Captain Gabriel H. Fitzhugh’s Texas Cavalry Volunteers and served gallantly. Following the war, Morris not only farmed but hauled freight with neighbors and sons, especially “Uncle” Andy Burns and James Gallagher. Occasionally, there would be a sack of green coffee which he would bring home to distribute to friends and neighbors. Often this was the first coffee which they had seen since the beginning of the Civil War, and you can imagine their rejoicing.
Before Protestant churches were formed here, Methodists and those of other faiths congregated at the homes of Mark L. Morris and William Spurgin to conduct afternoon services, which were usually hymns unless a circuit preacher rode by. When a Methodist Conference was held in Arkansas on July 26, 1865, Morris was appointed one of three members as a Board of Trustees for a Campground meeting place. He immediately gave two and two thirds acres of land so that families could congregate for old fashioned meetings and campings. This was quite the thing and was their way of vacationing.
Morris was quite a generous person, and in 1872 he noted a school was needed. With John and Elizabeth Skelton, he deeded a plot of land to be used as a school and a church. It was given Morris School and Liberty Chapel, but was better known as “Rawhide,” because a door was made of rawhide stretched over a frame.
Mark L. Morris lived to 1909, having enjoyed a rich, full life. He is buried in an unmarked grave at Wylie Cemetery.
Photo: Mark L. Morris & five children. Seated are Harriett Angeline Scott, Mark L., and Marry Burns. Standing is Lennie Nall, John Wesley and Reathey Walden.
Courtesy Wylie Area Heritage by Beb Fulkerson.