Central Texas Storybooks

Central Texas Stories and Legends

Caroline Childers Tyler
Pioneer Settler of Bell County, Texas

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Caroline Childers Tyler lived the events recorded in this story. Therefore, this narrative is told in the first person. Most of her story was recorded by her son, George W. Tyler, in his book, History of Bell County. Other parts of the story were recorded by other family members.

Part 3 of 3: Early Texas Settlers Move Family from Burleson to Bell County

Move to Burleson County, 1838

In 1838, the Captain Childers family moved to Burleson County where Papa bought land about eight miles below Caldwell. He built a good, strong double log cabin and life was good until Mama died. First, my younger sister Elizabeth had died about the time we arrived in Burleson County, and now Mama.

My mother Elizabeth Thomas Childers died in Burleson County, Texas about 1840.1 With the loss of another daughter and his faithful, devoted wife, the family circle was truly broken. There had been five deaths in our immediate family since coming to Texas. Little sister Mary Jane who died in childhood on September 30, 1835 at our Little River home; brother Thomas, who died at Falls of the Brazos in April 1836; brother J. Franklin (Frank) who was killed by Indians in the Elm Creek battle on January 7, 1837; little sister Elizabeth who died in childhood about 1837 in Burleson County; and now Mama.2

Papa sold our Burleson County home and again set off toward our cabin on Little River. However, it was not until 1843 that he and my brothers Robert, Prior, and William Presley returned to our old deserted cabin. In 1844 Robert married a young lady named Adaline Moore. Robert was the first of my brothers to marry and it was refreshing to have another woman in the house.3

In December 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar became President of the Republic of Texas. Lamar dealt more sternly with the Indians than his predecessor, General Sam Houston. Even though Lamar’s get-tough policies created even more hostilities, fights, and battles with the Indians, the Indians began to realize that they were dealing with a force greater than themselves. They were dealing with the rapidly growing power of the government of the Republic of Texas. Texas would be more active in defending its citizens than the former government of Mexico.

When General Sam Houston became President for the second time in December 1841, he reversed Lamar’s Indian policies in favor of more conciliatory, peacemaking measures.4 Houston was successful in securing two peace treaties with the Indians that greatly improved the relationship between the Indians and the white settlers. While these two treaties did not stop all hostilities, they made it possible for a gradual opening for the colonists to return to their settlements without fear of Indian raids or attacks.

Two events that sealed the fate of Indian attacks were the annexation of Texas to the United States in 1845 and the 1848 war with Mexico that determined once and for all the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Again, while these two events did not completely stop isolated attacks by renegade Indians, the annexation of Texas and the victorious war with Mexico, drew more attention to Texas and gave prospective immigrants greater confidence in the future of the country.

In 1846 Papa and brother Prior left our home on Little River and went up among the hills of the Lampasas River. They brought livestock from our Little River home and turned them loose on the unlimited, unoccupied range where the grass and the forest floor had never been grazed. They built a log cabin and “batched it” for quite a while. Theirs was the first settlement on the Lampasas River.5

From 1847 to 1849 several of the original colonists of Little River returned to their former homes. Among those were my oldest sister Catherine who had married E. Lawrence Stickney, a lawyer from Mobile, Alabama, and myself as I made my home with them. Also returning were my sister Amanda who had married Capt. John R. Craddock. The three remaining Childers sisters were living once again in their old home at Little River. All together there were about ten families, including some single men, among those was Orville Tyler, who had returned to their Little River homes.

Around 1848 brother Robert purchased 23 acres of land from E.S.C. Robertson fronting on the south bank of the Lampasas River and he and his brother-in-law, Thomas W. Walden, built a little tub-mill. This little mill, known as Childers Mill, became a center around which people gathered for protection against the Indians and got information about the possibility of relocating to this area of Texas. The mill exchanged hands several times until Gordon W. Shanklin purchased it in 1856. Since then, it has been known as Shanklin Mill.6

Move to Fort Gates, 1849

Caroline Childers Tyler
The life story of Caroline Childers Tyler is the story of the early day Texas, settled by rugged families that faced loss, dangers, and struggles.

O. T. Tyler
Orville Thomas Tyler came to Texas as a young man during its earliest days. He was one of the first to own property in Bell County. He was known as Judge Tyler.

Fort Gates had been established on the upper Leon by the United States Army in 1849. The Army supply department awarded a contract to Orville T. Tyler, Colonel Wm. C. Dalrymple, and Henry McKay to furnish corn and hay for the Post, and brother Robert to supply the beef.

This prompted my entire family, the Captain Goldsby Childers family, to move to Fort Gates. The military built comfortable houses for all and, as some new immigrants also came, the fort became somewhat of a civilian settlement as well as a military garrison. We were all living there when Bell County was organized in 1850.7

Orville Thomas Tyler, my husband, was born August 28, 1810 in West Brookfield, Worcester County, Massachusetts. He came to Texas from Massachusetts in 1834 and joined our family at our settlement on the Little River. He was 24 years old when he, like us, became one of the first colonists in the Bell County area.

Orville and I were married at Fort Gates on December 26, 1850, fourteen years after our horseback ride through the night to escape the Indian attack on our settlement. Ours was the first marriage license ever issued in the newly established Bell County. It is dated October 1850. The Hon. John Danley, Chief Justice of McLennan County, performed the marriage ceremony.8

After our marriage, we built a beautiful home on the banks of the Leon River near Oglesby, some six or seven miles below Fort Gates. The house was started in 1859 and completed in 1861. If people were looking for it today, they would find the crumbling walls made of home-made concrete buried in a growth of mesquite and cactus in the overgrown area it occupied on the bank of the river.9

My father, Capt. Goldsby Childers, died in 1851, the year after our marriage. He is remembered as an adventurous frontiersman, an experienced Indian fighter, and one of Bell County’s first pioneers. He died at the age of 60 at Fort Gates and was buried at the Fort Gates Cemetery, Coryell County, Texas.10

Mr. Tyler and I had five children while living in Coryell County. Our first was a boy we named George W. Tyler, born in 1851. Then we had Frances Minnie Tyler who was born in 1853. Frances was only 9 years old when she died in 1862. Our next child was a boy we named William Worth Tyler. Most people called him Willie. Willie was born in 1855 and he also died at the age of 9 in 1864. Our next child, James Albert Tyler, was born in 1856 and he lived only a year. After losing three children, we were excited when Orville Thomas Tyler, Jr. was born in 1861.11

Move to Salado, 1864

Tyler home in Salado
The O. T. and Caroline Tyler home in Salado, Texas.

After an active life in Coryell County, we decided to move our family to the village of Salado, Texas. We had heard of the excellent education that Salado College offered so in 1864 we moved to Salado. After enduring so many hardships, we found that the beauty and tranquility of Salado was a soothing balm to our souls. We purchased one of the finest homes in Salado, one that had been built by Col. John T. Flint who was associated with several business enterprises in Belton and Waco.12 The house was located on Main Street near the north bank of the peaceful flowing waters of Salado Creek. The house was spacious and well built. It was surrounded by a beautiful yard, an orchard, and a garden. There were two or three outbuildings and a large pasture full of lush, green grass.13

After we moved to Salado, our family was blessed with three more children. Annie Caroline Tyler was born in 1864, the year we moved to Salado. Two years later we had a set of twins, a boy, Louis Hodges Tyler, and a girl, Lorine Childers Tyler who were born September 15, 1866.14

Both Annie and I were members of the “Amasavourian” society, a reading club formed by and for the young ladies of the College and of the village. The reading club was the beginning of the first circulating library in Texas under the management of women.15

When we moved to Salado our family united with the Salado Baptist of Church of Christ, now First Baptist Church. My mother, Elizabeth Childers, was a Baptist and I remember her saying that the first sermon in Bell County was preached in her parent’s home by the Rev. Z.N. Morrell.16

Rev. Morrell was a traveling minister in the early settlement days of Texas. One day Rev. Morrell and friends traveling with him came upon a cabin on Little River. Rev. Morrell wrote of that experience in his book Flowers and Fruits of 46 Years in Texas. He wrote, “Mr. Childers, whose wife was a Baptist, was the occupant and owner of that little lone cabin in the wilderness and the family and land-hunters decided that they must have a sermon after supper; and accordingly, I preached my first sermon in Texas, in camp, on the thirtieth of December, 1835.”17

Move to Belton, 1884

Tyler home in Belton
The Belton home of the O. T. and Caroline Tyler Family.

We were residents of Salado for twenty years when we decided to move to Belton. In 1884 we sold our home in Salado and purchased a large two-story house at 703 Penelope Street. We intended for this home to be the family home for the remainder of our lives. This home was the setting for the wedding of daughter Annie when she married Andrew J. Embree, a young man whom we all loved, in March of 1886.18 A couple of months after her marriage, her father died and a deep sadness fell over the entire house.

O. T. Tyler, my husband of thirty-six years, succumbed to a short illness on April 17, 1886 at the age of 76. Someone once said of my husband that, “He was a sturdy pioneer, a practical and successful business man, noted for his generous hospitality and liberal public spirit, with the enthusiasm of youth. His name was a synonym of integrity and honor. He was a Baptist, a Mason, a Democrat, and strong believer in States’ Rights.”19

Soon after my husband’s death daughter Annie and her new husband moved into the house with me and it became their home also. Joy filled our home on several occasions. On two of those occasions, we celebrated the marriage of our twin daughter and son. We celebrated the marriage of daughter Louine to Robert L. Henry on March 30, 1888,20 and then the marriage of son Louis and his bride, Lela Erwin on April 21, 1895.21

During the past few years, and as I am nearing my 80th birthday, I have thought back to the time when my parents brought me to Texas as a young seven-year-old child. I have thought of the struggles we have had; the disappointments and heartaches; the loss of family members and friends; and the many hardships we have endured. But it all dims when I think of the many ways that my family has been blessed and with the Lord’s help, we have accomplished our purpose of starting a new life in the promised land of Texas.

Author's Note:

After the death of her husband, Caroline Childers Tyler and her daughter’s family continued to live in the family home on Penelope Street in Belton. Caroline Tyler was a widow of twenty-six years before her death on March 7, 1912 at the age of 85. She was buried next to her husband in the North Belton Cemetery, Bell County, Belton, Texas. She was survived by three sons, Hon. George W. Tyler of Belton; O. T. Tyler, Jr. of New Mexico; Louis H. Tyler of Dallas; and two daughters, Mrs. Andrew J. (Annie) Embree; and Mrs. Robert (Louine) Henry, wife of Congressman Henry.22

She is remembered for being a Bell County pioneer settler since the age of seven years; for surviving life on the untamed Texas frontier; for being a dutiful daughter, a devoted wife, and the mother of eight children, one of whom recorded her story in his book, History of Bell County.

By Charlene Ochsner Carson
Page last updated: April 11, 2024


  1Story of Bell County, Texas, Volume 1, Bell County Historical Commission, Eakin Press, Austin, 1988, p. 393.
  2Ibid, p. 393.
  3Tyler, George W., History of Bell County, edited by Charles W. Ramsdell, The Naylor Company, San Antonio, 1936, p. 77.
  4Ibid, p. 74.
  5Ibid, 82-83.
  6Ibid, p. 85.
  7Ibid, p. 87.
  8Ibid, pp. 122-123.
  9Kelley, Dayton, George W. Tyler of Texas and Some of His Achievements DK Brand, Belton, 1969, p. 10.
  12Kelly, p. 10.
  13Wilson, Carol, "John Thompson Flint," Salado Village Voice, February 7, 2019, p. 6.
  15Tyler, p. 335.
  16Ibid, p. 17.
  17Ibid, p. 18.
  18Genealogy Bank, Friday, March 19, 1986, Fort Worth Gazette, vol. 11, p. 5.
  19Shanklin, Felda Davis, Salado, Texas: Its History and People, Peter Hansbrough Bell Press, Belton, 1960.
  20The Temple Weekly Times, vol. 7, no. 7, ed. 1, Saturday, March 31, 1988.
  21Fort Worth Gazette, vol. 19, no. 148, ed. 1, Monday, April 22, 1895, p. 7.
  22Daily Bulletin (Brownwood, Texas), vol. 12, no. 117, ed. 1, Friday, March 8, 1912, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu.

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