Building on the Battles Legacy


“We are who we are because of who we were.”

We, the Battles, were…everything. We were mothers and fathers; preachers and teachers; trailblazers and movers and shakers. Our resolve to stand tall through the trials of life – and bring our little ones alone with us, has brought us all the way through, from then to now. Those of us who remain, who are here THIS DAY, know and understand that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Knowing this, we gladly compile these pages that take us back into the lives of the Battles past. Come find out who we were. And who we are.

A Special Thank You

I would like to whole heartedly thank Rodney Augustus Battles and Annie Pearl Hale for their untiring dedication and hard work in researching information regarding our family history. Their gathering of information has given us all a view into our past that helps us understand our present. This information has introduced all of us to family members that we did not know existed and will allow each of us to share our family with other families. Again, thank you Rodney and Annie for being so diligent in your pursuit of this great quest.

Knowing this, we gladly compile these pages that take us back into the lives of the Battles past. Come find out who we were. And who we are.

C&C Milano


C&C Milano

In 1998, W.J. Battles organized a Labor Day Reunion for the descendants of Gus and Angie Battles. In 1999, Javaun “ReeRee” Smith Jackson organized another reunion. At the 1999 reunion, we touredneighborhoods in Fort Worth to see some of the houses where our parents and grandparents had livedand where we had grown up. During this weekend event, we also shared family photos and discussedthe family, or as much as we knew about it. After viewing some old photos that W.J. had, we realized we didn’t know very much about our family history.

During the 1999 reunion I volunteered to research the family’s history. Purely by a stroke of luck, I was fortunate to locate a lady named Annie Pearl Battles Hale on the Internet. Early in the process, I sent e-mails to several people whose last name was Battles to see if we might be related in any way. One white lady replied to my email by telling me she definitely was not related to me, but she knew someone who might be. She passed my e-mail address alongto Annie who e-mailed me and told me she was also a great granddaughter of Horatio Battles. Annie is the granddaughter of Calvin Sam “Uncle Sam” Battles by Sam’s first wife. Those of us in Fort Worth who knew Uncle Sam and Aunt Nealie didn’t know Uncle Sam had a first wife—so just the knowledge of Annie's existence was an exciting revelation to me.


Annie Pearl Battles Hale worked diligently to provide information, copies of obituaries, and photographs for many of the Battles family members in East Texas for the first edition of the Battles’ Book. I am truly grateful to her for assisting in bringing the initial project to fruition. A great deal of the information that Annie provided to me was provided to her by Ms. Eulalia Choice in Tyler, Texas. Eulalia was Annie’s aunt and the daughter of Susie Choice, whose place in the family is documented in the pages of this book.

In June 1995, Lafane “Golly” Battles, his wife, Kathryn, and their daughter Lavonne visited MyrtleHunt Thomas, daughter of Settie Alma Battles Hunt. Lafane videotaped their visit. I am thankful toLafane for providing me with a copy of the tape.

I’d also like to acknowledge Johnnie Battles and Myrtle Hunt Thomas for the photographs andinformation they so graciously shared with me about our family.

A heartfelt thanks goes out to the descendants of Gus and Angie Battles for the information andphotographs that have provided for our branches of the family. I am particularly grateful to DianaLenzy Kelley for several of the photographs that are included in this edition of our family’s history.

Lastly, I’d like to acknowledge Mr. Calvin Littlejohn (1909-1993) whose work as a professionalphotographer has been credited for providing a comprehensive portrait of the African-Americanexperience in Fort Worth and Tarrant County during the turbulent period of segregation and beyond.

Mr. Littlejohn was born in Arkansas. He moved to Fort Worth, Texas in the 1930s and established hiscommercial photography studio in the Fort Worth area in 1934. World War II interrupted hisphotographic work while he served as an Army private at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri, but upon hisreturn Littlejohn began expanding his scope to include capturing recreation hall parties, speakingengagements, visiting celebrities, church events, school activities, and other everyday events which produced more candid images than his studio portrait work.

Though Littlejohn spent time as an accomplished gardener, civic developer (in his attempts torevitalize Ft. Worth’s Evans Ave. business district), publisher, painter, and inventor, the demands of his successful photography studio, as well as occasional freelance photography for newspapers like the Fort Worth Mind, Lake Como Monitor, La Vida News, the Fort Worth Press, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, occupied most of his time.

During the 1950s and 60s, Littlejohn’s Studio was located on 607 Bryan Street (although the card says Bryan Avenue), four blocks north of Gus Battles’ Love Sanctuary Church of God in Christ.

After Calvin Littlejohn’s death in 1993, his wife, Lucretia “Lou,” donated her husband’s 70,000 plus photographs and negatives to the University of Texas at Arlington.

In December 2001, most of the collection was physically transferred to the Center for AmericanHistory at the University of Texas campus in Austin. Since then, two more accessions have arrived at the Center from Ron Abram, Littlejohn’s grandson and current representative of the Littlejohn estate.

As prominent members of Fort Worth’s African-American community in the 1940s and 50s, Mr.Littlejohn eternalized several images of the Battles family on film. I am pleased to include some of the priceless images from Littlejohn’s collection in this edition of the family book.

All photographs from the Calvin Littlejohn Collection at the University of Texas - Center forAmerican History have been designated with the appropriate credit.

Richmond Battles

A few slaves were imported from Africa as early as 1619. With the spread of tobacco farming in the 1670’s and the diminishing number of people willing to sign-on as indentured servants in the 1680’s, increasing numbers of slaves were brought in from Africa. They replaced Native American slaves, who were found to be susceptible to diseases.

Sometime around 1814, a white man named John N. Battles purchased several slaves in Norfolk, Virginia and transported them to Monroe County, Mississippi Territory, where John Battles owned 120 acres of land. One of the slaves John Battles purchased had a son who would become known as Richmond Battles.

The slave that John Battles purchased had at least one brother who was purchased by another plantation owner whose last name was King. Several years ago, Myrtle Hunt Thomas met a Reverend King in Fort Worth, who said he was a grandson of the slave who had taken the King surname after the slaves were freed.

Richmond was born in 1832 according to notes that were written in the family Bible. Richmond’s mother was a Creek Indian, and was a good-looking man. Although Richmond’s father was a slave, Richmond never had slave status because children born from black slave men and Creek women were considered full members of their mother’s clans and of the tribe, which meant Richmond was a freeman.

After Andrew Jackson’s defeat of the Creek Indians in 1814, more and more settlers from the upper South began flocking to the dark, rich soils of Mississippi. The territory’s cotton economy boomed in the 1820s as large numbers of slaves were imported to work the cotton fields. From 1810 to 1820, the enslaved population on the Mississippi frontier grew by more than 90 percent. By 1830, the slave population rose to nearly 66,000 persons. Slave children were sent into the fields at about twelve years of age, where they worked from sun up to sun down. The life expectancy for a twenty-year-old black male in Mississippi in 1850 was thirty-seven years.

When the slaves were freed in 1863, Richmond’s father would have been between 68 and 72 years old if he was still living. Richmond took the last name of his father’s slave owner and moved to Georgia for two years.

While Richmond Battles was in Georgia, he met a woman named Susan. He also met a woman named Louisa. According to family members, Susan and Louisa followed Richmond to Smith County, Texas in 1865. Susan was pregnant and lived in the Canton Beat next door to Richmond and Louisa. Susan and Louisa did not get along.

Susan Mipus was born in Georgia in 1844 and was light complexioned. Prior to moving to Texas, Susan had given birth to a son in 1864 named William Daniels. William’s father was an Indian. When Susan moved to Smith County in 1865, she brought William Daniels with her.

Louisa Battles was born in Georgia between 1844 and 1846 and was the daughter of a black mother and a rich white, Georgia plantation owner. Louisa was well educated and she dressed well. Her father claimed her and took care of her financially—even after she married Richmond in 1865.

On September 29, 1865, Susan gave birth to a second son and named him Horatio. In 1868, Susan gave birth to another son named Cheris. Richmond Battles was Horatio’s and Cheris’ father, but Richmond’s wife Louisa didn’t know it. Cheris died in 1869. That same year, Susan gave birth to a daughter named Anna.

For many years, the relationship between Richmond, Louisa, Susan, Horatio, and William Daniels was a mystery.

The entries on lines 19-24 of the 1870 Census cleared up the mystery by showing that Susan Mipus was the head of household, lived next door to Richmond and Louisa Battles, and Susan had three children, William, age 6, Horatio, age 4, and Hannah, age 1. In this census report, Richmond’s last name was spelled as Batterly instead of Battles, and Anna’s name was spelled as Hannah. At the time this census was taken, Richmond was 26, which if accurate, means he was born in 1844, not 1832.

Shortly after the 1870 Census was taken, Louisa made it known to Richmond that she didn’t want to have children. Richmond reportedly told her, “Then you can help me raise mine.” When Louisa asked Richmond what he meant, Richmond’s answer was, “I’ll show you.” That year, Horatio and his half-brother William Daniels moved in with Richmond and Louisa.

Louisa Battles became known as “Auntie”.

Although Susan and Richmond never married, Susan was the first lady of the Battles family. She married Anna’s father, William “Bill” Johnson, a mulatto, on February 26, 1874 and they had a total of five children.

The 1870 Census Report lists Richmond and Louisa’s race as “black.” The 1880 Census Report lists Richmond and Louisa as mulattos. The entries on lines 30-33 of the 1880 Census Report shows Horatio’s last name as ‘Williams’ and indicates he is a nephew of Richmond Battles. Reportedly, Louisa was so hateful she didn’t want to use the name Battles for Horatio, so she told the census taker his last name was Williams.

The entries on lines 34-38 of the 1880 Census Report also show that Horatio’s mother Susan was married to William Johnson with three children living at home.

Most of the 1890 Census Reports were destroyed by a fire. The entries on lines 17-21 indicate Horatio Battles was married to Lizzie with three children living at home: Edmond, Susie, and Calvin. (The census taker incorrectly spell Settie’s name as Sussie, and Calvin was actually Sam, whose middle name was Calvin.

In the 1910 Census, William Johnson is listed as “maybe widowed.” Louisa Battles, whose name was mistakenly spelled “Louizer,” was living with William and listed as his cousin.

Louisa died April 5, 1916 in Victoria County, Texas at the age of 70.

Richmond Battles died in 1932 according to notes in the family Bible. His burial place is not known.

~Written By Rodney Battles~

“William “Bill” Johnson”

William “Bill” Johnson is listed in the 1880 Census Report as black. The 1910 Census Report listed him as mulatto. According to family members, he was part black and part white with blue eyes and looked like a white man. He was known to curse prolifically. He was born in 1854 or 1855 in Texas. His father was born in South Carolina; his mother was born in Georgia.

William Johnson died September 27, 1927.

The following information is recorded in the 1880 Census Report. The information going across for each person) is: name, color/race, gender, age, relation to head of household, occupation, place of birth, place of birth of father, and place of birth of mother

Johnson, William B M 26 Head Farming TX - - Johnson, Susan B F 35 Wife Housekeeping GA - - Johnson, Anna B F 11 Daughter Farm Laborer TX - - Johnson, Theodoshius B M 7 Son - TX - - Johnson, J.H.B. B M 5 Son - TX - -

According to family members, William and Susan’s children were:

1. Anna Johnson, b. 1869 2. Theodoshius Johnson, b. 1872/73 3. John Henry Johnson, b. 1874/75 4. Susan “Susie” Johnson, b. May 1,1882, d. May 10,1974 5. Dosheres Johnson

C&C Milano

About The Census

Researching a family’s history most often begins with the U.S. Census Reports. The United StatesConstitution mandates that the census be taken at least once every 10 years, and that the number ofmembers of the United States House of Representatives from each state be determined accordingly. Inaddition, census statistics are used for apportioning Federal funding for many social and economicprograms.

The first U.S. Census was conducted in 1790 by Federal marshals. Census takers went door-to-doorand recorded the number of people in each household, along with the name of the head of thehousehold. Slaves were enumerated, but for apportionment purposes each counted as only three-fifthsof a citizen. American Indians being neither taxed nor considered during apportionment were notcounted in the census. The first census counted 3.9 million people, less than half the population of New York City in 2000. The 2000 census counted over 281 million people.In 1902, Congress established the Census Bureau as a permanent federal agency. In order to protect an individual’s privacy, the federal government enacted a law on October 5, 1978 whereby census records are sealed for 72 years. Thus, the most recent Census released to the public was the 1930 Census, released in 2002. The 1940 Census will be released to the public on Sunday, April 1, 2012.

A gentleman in St. Louis by the name Robert Battle kindly volunteered to help me obtain access to the U.S. Census Reports that were taken between 1790 and 1930. Having searched the reports himself,Robert informed me that many of the early black citizens of the United States were remarkably adeptat avoiding all official documentation. Many took the attitude: “Here comes that census guy!” Theydidn’t answer the door. Fortunately, some information for our ancestors was found in the 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 Census Reports. A fire destroyed most of the 1890 Census Reports.The names, ages, and birthplaces of individuals counted in the early census reports vary widely from year to year, usually due to two factors: the person giving the information—and more importantly—the person recording the information. Many times, if no one were home, the census taker would obtain information from a neighbor.

There are inconsistencies, misspelled names, and other incorrect information listed in the censusreports for our family. For example, the 1880 Census Report shows William Daniels’ (Horatio Battles’ half-brother) mother’s and father’s place of birth as Alabama. Later census reports indicate William Daniels’ mother and father were born in Georgia. The 1880 Census Report shows that Horatio Battles’ father was born in Georgia and his mother in Alabama. Later census reports show that Horatio’s mother and father were born in Georgia.

Family members cleared up many of the errors contained in census reports. Another key part of researching a family’s history is to examine the birth and death records available to the public by some, but not all states. Birth and death records for Texas residents are available from 4The Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, but only if a birth or death certificate was issued.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, children were often born at home with the assistance of amidwife and no birth certificate was ever issued. Likewise, many people were buried in the 19th andearly 20th centuries without a death certificate being issued. In these cases, there is no public record of the births or deaths.

Several members of the third and fourth generations of our family were Masons or members of theHeroines of Jericho, the Order of the Easter Star, or the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Heroines of Jericho is an androgynous degree conferred in America on Royal Arch Masons, theirwives, mothers, widows, sisters, and daughters. It is intended to instruct its female recipients in the high and noble principles inculcated in the degrees which will appeal to the better instincts of the human mind and to make known to them the claims which they have upon the protection of their husbands, fathers and companions and to communicate to them an effectual method of proving those claims.

“An instance of friendship extended to the whole family of a benefactress by those whom she hadbenefited, and of the influence of a solemn contract in averting danger, is referred to in the case of Rahab, the harlot in Jericho, from whom the degree derives its name (see Joshua 2:1 and James 2:25). When the degree is received by a male, he is called a Knight of Jericho; and when by a female, she is termed a Heroine. The degree is a side or honorary degree of Royal Arch Masonry.The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world that both men andwomen can join. It was established in 1850 by Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston,Massachusetts who had been an official with the Freemasons. It is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all monotheistic faiths. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries and approximately one million members under its General Grand Chapter. Members of the Order are aged 18 and older; men must be Master Masons and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a master Mason, but the Order now allows other relatives to become members when they become of age.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows began as a secret, fraternal, benefit society, founded inEngland sometime during the second quarter of the 18th century. A grand lodge of Odd Fellows forEngland was formed at London in 1803. In 1809 a subordinate lodge at Manchester successfullydeclared itself independent of the grand lodge, and as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows,Manchester Unity, constitutes the largest English branch of the order today. The principal Odd Fellows emblem is the three links, standing for the virtues of friendship, love, and truth. The duties enjoined upon Odd Fellows are to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead,and educate the orphaned.

Several explanations have been given for the society’s strange name. One old and apparentlyauthoritative history of Odd Fellowship gives the explanation: “Common laboring men shouldassociate themselves together and form a fraternity for social unity, fellowship, and for mutual help.” This belief was such a marked violation of the trends of the times in England in the 1700’s, the men subscribing to this belief became known as peculiar or odd. Because of the appropriateness of the name, those engaged in forming these unions accepted it. When legally incorporated, the title “Odd Fellows” was adopted.”

Another similar explanation is that the original Odd Fellows were men who were engaged in various or odd trades, as there were organizations for some of the larger trades.

Modern references state that the true reason for the name Odd Fellows isn’t known or documented.Whatever the reason may have been, the unusual name has been the object of public curiosity (and onoccasion derision or mirth) for well over 200 years.

~Written By Rodney Battles~

Census Report 1870

In the 1870 Census Report, Richmond’s name is incorrectly spelled as Richmond Batterley. His age isincorrectly listed as 26. His wife Louisa’s age is incorrectly listed as 28. Based on the dates of birth provided by the family and on the 1880 Census Report, Richmond would have been 38 years old in 1870; Louisa would have been between 24 and 26 years old. Someone other than Richmond or Louisaobviously provided the erroneous information recorded in the 1870 Census Report.

The 1870 Census Report also lists Richmond and Louisa’s race as “black.” The 1880 Census Reportlists Richmond and Louisa as mulattos.

According to family members, Richmond was part black and part Creek Indian and was a good lookingman.

Although her last name cannot be deciphered in the 1870 Census Report, Susan was listed as the headof her household and a farm laborer with three children: William, age 6; Horatio, age 4; and Hannah, age 1. Whoever provided the information to the census taker mistakenly thought Susan’s youngest child was a girl named Hannah—when, in fact, the girl was named Anna.

Anna’s father was a man named William “Bill” Johnson.

Richmond and Louisa’s house was the 611th dwelling visited by the census taker in 1870. Susan’shouse was the 612th dwelling visited. From this information, it is assumed that Richmond and Susanlived in adjacent houses. At the time the 1870 Census was taken, Louisa did not know that Horatio was Richmond’s son.

~Written By Rodney Battles~

Census Report 1880

The 1880 Census Report also includes the following information for Richmond and Louisa Battles.The information going across for each person is: name; color/race; gender; age; relation to head ofhousehold; occupation; place of birth; place of birth of father; and place of birth of mother.

Battles, Richmond - Mu M 48 Head Farming MS - -

Battles, Louisa - Mu F 36 Wife Housekeeping GA GAGA

Daniels, William - B M 16 Nephew Farm Laborer TX AL AL

Williams, Horatio - B M 11 Nephew TX GA AL

In the report, William Daniels and Horatio “Williams” are listed as nephews of Richmond Battles.

Louisa reportedly was so hateful, she didn’t want to use the name Battles for Horatio, so she told the census taker his last name was Williams.

Sometime after 1880, according to family members, Susie Johnson, John Johnson, Anna Johnson, andDosheres Johnson also came to live with Richmond and Louisa Battles. As mentioned earlier, most ofthe 1890 Census Reports were destroyed by fire, so the members of Richmond’s household cannot beverified.

All hell must have broken loose after the Johnson children moved in with Richmond and Louisa. Whenthe next census was taken in 1900, neither Richmond’s nor Louisa’s names were listed. Horatio Battles and his half-brother, William Daniels, were heads of households.

The 1900 Census Report contains the following information:

Name Age Relationship

Horacio Battles 30 Head

Lizzie Battles 25 Wife

Edmond Battles 3 Son

Sussie Battles 2 Daughter

Calvin Battles 2 Months Son

The census taker incorrectly spell Settie’s name as Sussie.

Name Age Relationship

William Daniels 35 Head

Carrie Daniels 25 Wife

Nora Daniels 11 Daughter

Salisie Daniels 10 Daughter

Oscar Daniels 8 Son

Clara Daniels 6 Daughter

Achsah Daniels 5 Daughter

Joe Daniels 13 Son

~Written By Rodney Battles~

Census Report 1900

William Daniels’ son, Joe Daniels, reportedly cut a white man down to the ground on Wall Street indowntown Tyler in 1925 when he was 28 and had to leave town. After the incident, Joe and Luther“Chap” Battles spent some time in Oklahoma. Luther was 17 at the time. Joe Daniels was never caughtor tried for the incident. Luther returned to Tyler.

Richmond Battles’ name is not listed in the 1910 Census Report, but Louisa’s is, although it wasmisspelled as Louizer. According to the family bible, Richmond Battles died in 1909 at age 76 or 77.

The 1910 Census bears this out, as Louisa is listed as a widow,

Remember William “Bill” Johnson? He was the man Horatio and Cheris’s mother Susan married afterHoratio and Cheris were born. When the 1910 Census was taken, Louisa was living with WilliamJohnson and listed as his cousin.

The 1910 Census Report contains the following information. The information in the report goingacross for each person is: name, relation to head of household, gender, color/race, age, marital status, years married (only if currently married), number of children born (only for currently married women), number of children living (only for currently married women), place of birth, place of birth of father, and place of birth of mother.

Johnson, William - Head M Mu 56 Married (maybe widowed) TX SC GA

Battles, Louizer - Cousin F B 64 Widow GA GAGA

Sarr, Willie - Grandson M B 10 S TX TXTX

Since William Johnson is listed as “maybe widowed” in the report, it is presumed that his wife

Susan (Horatio and Cheris’s mother) died that year.

Louisa Battles died April 5, 1916 in Victoria County, Texas at age 70.

John Johnson, Horatio’s half-brother, also appears in the 1910 Census Report, where the following information is recorded:

Johnson, John - Head M B 34 1st Marriage 8 TX TX GA

Johnson, Kate - Wife F B 26 1st Marriage 8 1 1 TX TXTX

Johnson, Lillian - Daughter F B 6 S TX TXTX

~Written By Rodney Battles~

Garfield School, Tyler, Texas

Garfield School, Tyler, Texas
Garfield School, Tyler, Texas
Garfield School, Tyler, Texas
Garfield School, Tyler, Texas

Horatio & Lizzie Battles' Family Bible

Horatio & Lizzie Battles' Family Bible

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