Henderson P. Biffle
In the mid 1890s a salesman called upon families throughout Central Texas offering for a sale, a book to be published containing Texas history and the stories of those families who were willing to spend $20 to be included. The 830 page book was published in 1896. In addition to a thorough history of Texas, dozens of family histories from communities basically west of Fort Worth and north of Austin were included. The History of Texas was published by the Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago.
While the family stories were perhaps a little self indulgent by today’s standards, those same stories usually provide an outstanding starting point for genealogist researching a family tree. Only a few families have been lucky enough to retain a copy of this book. Today the book sells at book shows for about $450 if you can find one. All capitalization, spelling and punctuation has been retained but additions are in italics.
This is one of the sketches from a De Leon area family included in the book. Additional information, if available has been included at the end of the sketch. There are numerous sketches from other parts of Comanche County that are not included here.
Henderson P. Biffle
Comanche (county) has many well-to-do and successful farmers, who have accumulated what they have of this world’s goods through individual effort. Among this class the name of the subject of this notice is entitled to a place. His desirable farm joins the corporation limits of De Leon, where he is industriously engaged in the prosecution of his noble calling, and is meeting with far more than ordinary success.
Mr. Biffle was born in Wayne county, (Wayne county is along the southern border of Tennessee just above Alabama. The county seat is Waynesboro) Tennessee, February 19, 1835 (d. March 27, 1912), upon a farm where he was reared, and was educated in the district schools of the neighborhood. His parents were Valentine and Margaret (Payton) Biffle, the former a native of Tennessee and the latter of Kentucky. They were married in the former state, and to them were born ten children. William the oldest, became a prominent and wealthy planter, owning a large number of slaves, but was a Union man, and on the breaking out of the Civil War moved north and freed all his slaves. On the close of that struggle he returned to his Tennessee home and died there. Maria is the widow of T.T. Christian, who was a captain in the Confederate army. Mary wedded John Nichols, a merchant of Tennessee. Catherine married R.A. Nichols, also a merchant. Susan is the wife of Samuel Cressno. Johnson died leaving a number of children, three of his sons being Methodist ministers. Wilson resides in Missouri. Nathan is a Methodist minister of Jack county, Texas. Ursula first wedded William Wilson, and after his death James Stockard; she also is now deceased. Margaret died at the age of sixteen years. Henderson P. , of this review is next in order of birth. John came to Texas in 1865, and was assassinated in Titus County. The entire family held their religious membership in the Methodist church, in which the father was a most active worker and served as class-leader for many years. He was a prominent slave-owner, and was well and favorably known throughout the community where he made his home. His death occurred in 1855.
Jacob Biffle, the paternal grandfather of our subject, was born in Germany, and after his emigration to the New World aided the colonies in their struggle for independence. Later he became one of the pioneer settlers of Maury county, Tennessee, but previous to that time lived upon rented land in South Carolina. He became a wealthy farmer and large slave-owner of Maury county, and one of the leading members of the Methodist church. He passed away in Tennessee, in 1847. In his family were eight children namely: Valentine, John, Elizabeth, Millie, Katie, William, Jacob and one that died in infancy.
On attaining his majority, Henderson P. Biffle went to Missouri, locating first in Newton county, but later removed to McDonald county, where he was married and began his domestic life upon a farm which he owned there. In 1866 he became a resident of Kimball, Bosque county, Texas, where he rented land for three years and then purchased a tract of wild land, which he continued to improve and cultivate until 1875, when he sold out and came to Comanche county. Here he bought one hundred and sixty acres of timber land, which has all been been fenced, and now one hundred and ten acres are under cultivation and yield a ready return for the care and labor extended them. All of the buildings and improvements are such as can be found upon the model farms of the state.
In 1862, Mr. Biffle enlisted in the Sixth Missouri Cavalry, under General Joe Shelby and in the regiment commanded by Colonel (John T.) Coffee, and took part in many hotly contested engagements. At the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, he was captured with many others and taken to Springfield, Missouri, where after a short time he was paroled but was never exchanged. When the war was over he resumed farming and came to Texas, as before stated. Mr. Biffle led to the marriage altar Miss Mary W. Brewer (1841-1928), a lady of a most excellent family, who was born in Tennessee, September 12, 1841, and is the daughter of George and Eliza (Sims) Brewer, also natives of Tennessee, where their deaths occurred when Mrs. Biffle was very small. She was reared by her grandparents, George and Martha Brewer, who took her to Arkansas. They were members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church.
To our subject and his wife were born ten children: John W., a farmer of Baylor county, Texas; Mary, wife of Wilson Allen a Methodist minister of the same county; William (P.), an agriculturist of Comanche county; Emily, wife of H. Huffman, a blacksmith of De Leon; George I., who obtained a good common-school education through his own perseverance, and is now engaged in school-teaching and the work of the Methodist ministry; Charles, a farmer; Frances and Marvin, both at home; and Elizabeth and Margaret Lee, who are still attending school.
For three or four generations the Biffle family have been prominently identified with the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and or subject devotedly adheres to that faith. He has for many years served as a steward of the church, and has also been class-leader and trustee of the church property. Mr. and Mrs. Biffle can look with pride upon their interesting family of children, who have closely followed in their footsteps and are all faithful members to the same denomination. Politically, our subject affiliates with the Democratic party, but has never tan any active part in political affairs.