Susan Emily Bartholomew, diarist, daughter of Barber Watkins and Anne Maria Reynolds, was born on September 27, 1848, on a cotton farm in Shelby County, Texas. The family, including Susan's brothers George Thomas and William David Reynolds, were pioneer West Texans who moved to Palo Pinto in 1859 and then later to Buchanan (now Stephens) County. In 1862 Susan married Samuel P. Newcomb, and in 1865 the couple "forted up" with neighbors at Fort Davis on the Clear Fork of the Brazos in Stephens County. In 1866, after the Civil War ended and the threat of Indian raids diminished, the Newcombs moved to Stone Ranch, established by Susan's father. In 1867 the Newcombs moved to a home of their own on Collins Creek, one mile west of Stone Ranch. Newcomb died of measles in 1870.
In 1872 Susan married Nathan L. Bartholomew, a Connecticut man and former Union soldier. The couple moved that year to a ranch near Merriman in Eastland County, but returned to Stephens County in 1876 to build a stone house near Susan's father's place. Later the Bartholomews moved to a farm near Albany. They adopted Nathan's daughter from his first marriage.
Like her first husband, Mrs. Bartholomew kept a diary of daily events. Diaries from 1865 to 1869, 1871 to 1873, and 1884 to 1896 record her perceptions of aspects of the Texas frontier, including life at Fort Davis during the Civil War, frontier schools, buffalo hunting, and homemaking. At times she expressed the dismay that must have haunted most pioneer households: "Such a country as this I almost wish I had never seen it, if I had wings to fly I would abandon it forever, it is surely the last place on earth for a woman to live, or anyone else. I don't believe it was ever intended for civilized people, it was made for wild Indians and buffalo." Susan Bartholomew's diaries have been valuable historical resources for scholars and for Texas history enthusiasts. Directors of the Fort Griffin Fandangle, an annual outdoor pageant held near Albany, have often used Susan Bartholomew's and Samuel Newcomb's diaries in productions about the history of the region. Susan Bartholomew died at Fort Worth on June 5, 1921.
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Anne Watts Baker Collection, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University. Frances M. Holden, Chronology of the Reynolds and Matthews Families (MS, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University, 1982). Frances Mayhugh Holden, Lambshead Before Interwoven: A Texas Range Chronicle, 1848–1878 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). Sallie Reynolds Matthews, Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Houston: Anson Jones, 1936; 4th ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982).
Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
William R. Hunt,
“Bartholomew, Susan Emily Reynolds,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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