Margaret Hall Little Lavender was born in North Carolina on September 6, 1814, to John and Elizabeth (Bateman) Little. She and William Lavender (born in South Carolina on October 15, 1815) married in Jersey County, Illinois, on June 18, 1840. Margaret traveled with her husband and young son, William Tolbert Lavender (born November 13, 1843), to Texas as part of a secondary drive to populate the Peters Colony. After a period of only marginally successful campaigns to attract—and keep—contracted quotas of settlers to the area by Peters Colony organizers, a new marketing sweep had taken in several more states, including Illinois. In 1845 Margaret and her husband William Lavender heeded this last marketing sweep and, along with members of the John Little and Archibald Lavender families, traveled to Texas.
Their journey took them to the southeast corner of Peters Colony within present-day Dallas County, situated just outside of Lancaster, Texas, near the present-day intersection of Nokomis and Beltline roads on the banks of the Keller Branch. The Lavenders’ first home was a tent, and after five weeks, they graduated into “a log cabin with puncheon floors,” according to Margaret Lavender. By 1848 the family grew to include a daughter, Mary. By this time, the family had built a dwelling. Tragedy struck when thirty-two-year-old William Lavender died on March 27, 1848, which left Margaret a widow and head of the household. William had made the family’s living farming—likely corn and/or cotton--until he met his untimely death in 1848.
There is some disagreement as to when the family secured its 640 acres. One narrative states that the family began farming upon reaching the Peters Colony. There is official documentation that shows Margaret H. Lavender signed an affidavit in 1850 to secure the property, as she had not received any land in the initial allotment. This affidavit also declared that she was a widow. The General Land Office database reflects her ownership of the land, listed in 1855.
Margaret H. Lavender was matriarch of the first Lavender family in the area. She was head of her household according to the censuses of 1850, 1860, and 1870, but members of her household changed over the years. The 1860 census recorded $5,800 in real estate and $800 in personal property in the Lavender household which included two of her children and her sister Rowena. In 1870 there were two members of the household besides her son, William Tolbert, who was listed as “farmer” while Margaret was “keeping house.” Her household included several non-familial adults, including two Irish immigrants, and the value of her land had grown to $16,200. She had 640 acres that needed tending, and her family required an income. Whether or not she took in boarders to make ends meet is not clear, but resourcefulness was a necessity.
The family was known in the community, though Margaret H. Lavender’s name is not listed in any political or community organizations. Their son, William Tolbert Lavender, became a Confederate soldier and served as a sergeant in Company I, Eighteenth Texas Cavalry, Darnell's Regiment. He eventually became a prominent member of the community and fathered eight children.
Margaret Lavender resided with her son in Dallas County in her later years. She died there on June 16, 1894, and owned an estate estimated at $10,000. She was interred in the Edgewood Cemetery in Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas.
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BIBLIOGRAPHY: History of Lancaster Texas, 1845–1945 (Lancaster, Texas: Lancaster Historical Society, 1978). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Peters Colony Papers).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Linda K. H. Ross,
“Lavender, Margaret Hall Little,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 19, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
October 15, 2018
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: