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MCCORMICK, MARGARET

MCCORMICK, MARGARET (ca. 1788–1854). Margaret (Peggy) McCormick, early settler and cattlewoman, was born in Ireland around 1788 and moved to Texas with her husband, Arthur McCormick, and her two sons, Michael and John, in 1823–24. The family received a league of land on the south side of Buffalo Bayou at its junction with the San Jacinto River on August 10, 1824. They built a log cabin on the southwest shore of a small bay on the San Jacinto. Arthur drowned in late 1824. The widow and her young sons became cattle raisers and sold their stock to Louisiana buyers for the Opelousas market. In April 1836 the family was forced to flee across the river when Antonio López de Santa Anna's troops approached the San Jacinto. Their abandoned livestock was consumed by the Texas and Mexican armies. A few days after the battle of San Jacinto, Mrs. McCormick returned to find her home ransacked and her land strewn with the bodies of Mexican soldiers. She made her way three miles across the abandoned battlefield to Sam Houston's camp, where she demanded that he bury the dead. He refused, as did Santa Anna, so Peggy and her sons buried the corpses themselves. With the aid of one slave, Peggy became the owner of one of the largest cattle herds in Harris County between 1840 and 1850. Her herd grew from 200 to 400 head during the decade. Avaricious neighbors and county officials cheated the illiterate woman out of almost half of her league by ordering a resurvey that moved her eastern boundary onto the swampy San Jacinto shore, thereby producing unowned land on the west that was assigned to a veteran and then bought by George M. Patrick, the county surveyor. The family did not learn about the resurvey until after Peggy McCormick's death. Nor did the family know that, at an 1845 auction, the sheriff had sold 3,968 acres-all of her land except her fifty-acre homesite-to pay her debts. The land was bought by the county clerk. "Aunt Peggy," as she was called by the neighborhood, died in her home in 1854 when a fire consumed the building. Some believed the fire was set by thieves. Michael, the only living heir, discovered the boundary changes when he tried to settle the estate. He sued Patrick in 1869 but lost.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Robert R. Cartier and Frank Hole, History of the McCormick League and Areas Adjoining the San Jacinto Battleground (MS, McCormick File, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston). Robert Hancock Hunter, Narrative of Robert Hancock Hunter (Austin: Cook Printing, 1936; 2d ed., Austin: Encino, 1966). C. Anson Jones, "Extracts from an Historical Sketch of Harris County," in James Burke, Jr., Burke's Texas Almanac and Immigrant's Handbook for 1879 (Houston, 1879; facsimile, Austin: Steck-Warlick, 1969).

Margaret Swett Henson

Citation

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

Margaret Swett Henson, "MCCORMICK, MARGARET," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmcbs), accessed October 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.