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GREER, NATHANIEL HUNT

GREER, NATHANIEL HUNT (1802–1855). Nathaniel Hunt (Nat, Nathan) Greer, legislator and patriarch of an extensive pioneering family, was born to John D. Greer and Sarah Hunt in present Hancock County, Georgia, on October 26, 1802. His brother, Gilbert Dunlap Greer, an officer in the War of 1812, had a prominent career in Coweta County, Georgia, as railroad commissioner, justice, and state representative. After growing to manhood in Jasper County, Georgia, Nathaniel married Nancy Ann Terry Roberts in October 1821. They eventually had fourteen children, nine of whom survived childhood.

On January 30, 1825, he became a justice of the peace of DeKalb County, Georgia, where he worked as a real estate agent. Moving west with the frontier, he established a trading post in the portion of Creek territory that became Chambers County, Alabama. He was a founding elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Lafayette and served as the county's first sheriff, its first state representative, and as a U.S. Senate commissioner to investigate land fraud. After helping suppress the Creek uprising of 1836, he led a party of twenty to Texas, landing at Velasco on March 4, 1837, and later settling in Washington County along the East Fork of Mill Creek.

Three of Nathaniel's ten siblings followed him to Texas: James Alexander Greer, Sarah Hunt Greer, and Nancy Reddick Greer. In 1840 James was slain by Indians in Montgomery County; his widow took her children back to Alabama. Sarah and her husband Absalom Irvin settled in Washington County. Nancy and her husband Willis Johnson had pioneered in DeWitt's Colony prior to independence from Mexico, but after the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, Willis moved his family back to Alabama for safety. He returned to fight for Texas and subsequently resettled his family in Washington County in 1838.

On September 6, 1838, Nathaniel was granted a second class conditional certificate for 1,280 acres of land which he eventually patented in Navarro (now Hill) County on December 20, 1850. He again became a justice of the peace and in 1839 represented Washington County in the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas. On December 2, 1839, he spoke to the House in support of a proposal to move the capital from Austin to the Falls of the Brazos. The following spring, in response to complaints of poor mail delivery, he briefly assumed his last public duty—that of postal contractor between San Felipe and La Grange—before retiring to a life of farming and real estate speculation.

In the late summer of 1849, Nathaniel was driven from his home by a mob which believed him to be a member of a gang of thieves. No evidence of his guilt—nor that of many others similarly implicated—was ever produced. Some of the accused were lynched; only two were tried and convicted. Several members of the gang had East Texas connections and it appears the events of 1849 involved feuding left over from the Regulator-Moderator War.

Eventually the controversy subsided, and Nathaniel returned home and lived in relative peace until the fall of 1851 when he was indicted for the murder of a local man. Nathaniel, feeling persecuted by feudists and despairing of a fair trial, left Washington County and petitioned the State of Texas for a change of venue, but no trial ever took place.

The Greers lived for several months in DeWitt County on land obtained from Jonathan York, son of the celebrated Indian fighter John Yorkqv, before relocating to Milam County in 1852. Near Port Sullivan Nathaniel built a sawmill and grew prosperous. There the entire family converted to Mormonism and in 1855 they and many others embarked for Utah. During the trek, on June 24, 1855, Nathaniel died of cholera. His unmarked grave is on a hill in Kansas a half-mile east of the Nemaha River.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin State Gazette, August 25, 1849; December 22, 1849. John Martin Brockman, Port Sullivan, Texas: Ghost Town (M.A. thesis, Texas A&M University, 1968). Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register, September 27, 1849. Malcolm D. McLean, comp. and ed., Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas (19 vols., Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington Press, 1974–93).

William N. Greer

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

William N. Greer, "GREER, NATHANIEL HUNT," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgr45), accessed December 27, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.