WILLIAM CONNER, Blind Naaman Area Merchant

13 July 2018 19:55 น. Family Histories, Garland

Will Conner was born on October,29, 1971 at Bickle’s Cove in Stone County, Arkansas. He was orphaned at age two and raised by the Joseph Walker Bickle family there. In 1892, Will and friends, Andrew and Ulysses “Liss” McIntire, with a wagon and two horses came to Texas. They settled at Garland, where Will later bought a farm on what is now Naaman School Road. He built a home and general store on present Crist Road, in what is now the Connersville Community.

William Thomas Conner Family

William Thomas Conner Family

In 1894, Will returned to Arkansas and married his childhood sweetheart, Jennie Haynes, whom he brought to Texas. They had three sons, but only one of them lived, and Jennie died August 21, 1899. She and her two babies are buried in Pleasant Valley Cemetery. Surviving son, Joseph Clifton Conner, was born August,20, 1896. Later, Will married 17-year-old Pet Bickle, whose family had raised him. Will and Pet had six daughters (see below).

About 1895, Will’s gun blew up in his face, and eight years later he finally became totally blind. Young son, Joe, helped him run his store and farm, and trade in livestock. Will evaluated stock by touch and sound, and bought farmer’s crops in the fields by figuring their values mentally. He handled the store’s business without his sight, with the help of his brother-in-law Barney Haynes, who continued to run the store after Will’s death.

Will’s home was the first in the area to use electricity, by means of his own Delco generating plant. His home had inside plumbing, and a windmill. A gasoline-powered pump provided water to his home, store and barn. He owned one of the community’s first automobiles, as soon as son Joe was old enough to drive for him. He had the first radio in the area, and invited his neighbors in to enjoy it. They also had access to his large concrete storm cellar. Will died 5 March 1929 and Dartha on 5 September 1937. Both are buried at Pleasant Valley Cemetery (Sachse, TX).

Will’s son, Joe, married Grace Parker. They had two sons J.C. Jr. and William M. Conner. Daughter Hattie married Otis Wagoner and had six children. Roxie married Monk Wileford and had eight children. Letha married Arthur Kimberley and had two daughters. Daughter, Willie, married E. C. Hull and had one daughter, then married Jack Miller and had another daughter. Nell married J. C. Hibbard and had two daughters. Nancy married Elton Calmes and had one son.

Joe Senior celebrated his 89th birthday with a family reunion where over 100 people attended.  He died on January 19, 1987 at 90 years of age.

Photo, 1917:  Rear, Barney Haynes, Joe, Roxie and Letha Conner.  Front, W. M. Nell, Dartha and Willie Connor with Nancy Ann Haynes Bickle.

By Ms. Estelle Conner Cromeens for Dallas County Pioneer Association‘s Proud Heritage, Volume II.  Additional Garland area history can be found here.