Mary Jane Crockett Hord, frontier wife, mother, and teacher, daughter of Elizabeth (White) and South Carolina State Representative Robert McClannahan Crockett, was born in Lancaster, South Carolina, on April 10, 1812. She had three brothers, including John M. Crockett, later lieutenant governor of Texas, and two sisters. She attended Franklin Academy, which her father had helped establish in Lancaster, and received a sound education that served her well in later years. She married Lewis McKenzie and had two sons. Lewis died in 1836, and Mary Jane and her sons moved to Obion County, Tennessee, where she met and married William H. Hord on January 23, 1839. Mary Jane, her children Robert and Crockett McKenzie, her husband William, their children John and Thomas Alan Hord, and a black family left Tennessee and arrived in the area of Robertson and Dallas counties on January 12, 1845. They built a home on 640 acres of high, oak-covered land on Cedar Creek and here Mary Jane and William's children Ferdinand, William, Jr., and Martha Jane were born. Mary Jane had considerable medical knowledge, a well-filled medicine chest, medicinal herbs in her garden, and a healthy family. Four of the children, Robert and Crockett McKenzie and Thomas and Ferdinand Hord, became Civil War Confederate soldiers; only Crockett failed to survive that conflict. Red-haired Mary Jane was a warm and gracious hostess, and the Hord home often provided shelter and comfort to circuit-riding ministers and was a welcome sight for California-bound Forty-niners who enjoyed the genuine hospitality of that home. Seeing the need for good, basic education for her children and other pioneer children, Mary Jane Hord opened a school at her home. This was one of the very first schools in the Dallas area. The black children on the homeplace were welcomed and learned along with the other children. The school gained a reputation for quality because of Mrs. Hord's own educational background, and students attended from as far away as Ellis County, many of them staying at the Hord home during the week. When other facilities became available, Mary Jane closed her school. She died at home in Dallas on December 30, 1876, and is now buried in the Oak Cliff Cemetery in Dallas.
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Dorothy Kendall Bracken and Maurine Whorton Redway, Early Texas Homes (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1956). Dallas Morning News, August 23, 1925, November 19, 1933. George Jackson, Sixty Years in Texas (Dallas: Wilkinson Printing, 1908; rpt., Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1975). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
John Alan Hord,
“Hord, Mary Jane Crockett,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 19, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: