Estes-Eastes Genealogy Eastes Heritage (Roy Eastes) Estes DNA Project Estes TrailsEstes Family: Stew Estes

This page is an extract from "The Estes Family" by Stewart Estes, (c) 2009






The children of Burroughs9 Estes and Martha (Patsy) Lloyd are:
  1. Elizabeth Estes, born 1793 in Orange County, North Carolina, married on 27 December 1810 in Orange County, North Carolina, died probably before her father’s will was written in August 1829, married Silas Green, born 1789 in Orange County, North Carolina, had son William, born before this will was written;

  1. Thomas10 Estes, born 11 November 1799 in Orange County, North Carolina, died 1888 in Walla Walla County, Washington Territory, married first Millie Cate, and second Irene Anne Malone, and between them had 18 children;

  1. Martha "Patsy" Estes, born in 1800 in Orange County, North Carolina, married Lemuel Morris on 1823 in Orange County, North Carolina;

  1. Susannah Estes, born 1802 in Orange County, North Carolina, married James Hastings on 8 April 1822 in Orange County, North Carolina (Orange County, North Carolina Marriage Bonds);

  1. Anne Hannah Estes, born in 1803 Orange County, North Carolina, died in 1829 in Henry County, Tennessee, married on 3 January 1823 in Orange County, North Carolina, John W. Hastings (Orange County, North Carolina Marriage Bonds);

  1. Burris Estes, Jr., born 1805 in Orange County, North Carolina, married in 1825 in Henry County, Tennessee. Martha Morris born 1804 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee;

  1. Dicey Estes, born 1812 in Orange County, North Carolina, died 1867 in Burke County, North Carolina, burial: Franklin-Estes Family Cemetery;

  1. Delilah Estes, born in 23 January 1814 [or 1813] in Orange County, North Carolina, married Jonathan Dudley Kinchelow, born 1810 in Orange County, North Carolina; and,

  1. John H. Estes, born 13 May 1814 in Orange County, North Carolina, died 15 July 1856 in Oregon Territory.


(1793-97 NC – 1810-1829 NC?)

Elizabeth Estes is variously reported as being born about 1793 to 1797 in Orange County, North Carolina. She married on 27 December 1810 in Orange County, North Carolina, Silas Green who was born 1789-91 in Orange County, North Carolina.1 She died after her marriage in 1810 but before her father’s will (dated in August 1829) which bequeathed property to her son William.

The child of Elizabeth10 Estes and Silas Green is:

1. William Green, born 1812-13 in North Carolina (1850 and 1860 US Census, Henry County, Tennessee), married Mary ---, born 1814-17 in North Carolina.

The children of William Green and Mary --- are:

a. Pinckney2 Green, born 1833-34, Tennessee;

b. Thomas R. Green, born 1836-37, Tennessee, married Mary A. ---, born 1839-40 in Tennessee. They had children: Elizabeth N. Green, born 1857-58, Tennessee; and, Matilda J. Green, born 1860, Tennessee;

c. William H. Green, born 1843-44, Tennessee;

d. Henrietta E. Green, born 1850, Tennessee;

e. Franklin G. Green, born 1853-54, Tennessee; and,

f. Mary A. Green, born 1855-56, Tennessee.


(1795 NC - aft. 1860 Tenn.?)

Susannah Estes was born about 1795 in Orange County, North Carolina, and died before 1837, or after 1860. She (“Susannah Estridge”) married James Hastings on 8 April 1822 in Orange County, North Carolina (Orange County, North Carolina Marriage Bonds, John Hastings bondsman), son of James Hastings and Hannah Crabtree, born 8 February 1792 in Orange County, North Carolina, and died 7 February 1866 in Tennessee.

The 1860 US Census for Henry County, Tennessee shows James Hastings (65, NC), living with Susan [Estes] (65, NC), James (22, Tenn.), Green? (19, Tenn.), John (15, Tenn.), Henry, (12, Tenn.), Nancy A. (10, Tenn.), and Clementia (8, Tenn.). They live next to “Thomas Cato” and his family. This is probably Thomas Cate, the grandfather of the deceased Millie Cate.3 Appendix.

Henry County, Tennessee

The children of Susannah10 Estes and James Hastings are:

  1. Nannie Hastings, born about 1825; married --- Smith, born about 1822.

  1. Thomas McGowan Hastings, born 30 June 1827-28, Tennessee (1880 US Census, Henry County, Tennessee), and died in 1906, married (1) Caroline ---, born 1825-26 in Tennessee, and married (2) Catherine Julia Horne, 1831-32 in Tennessee, and died in 1870. Thomas had a total of eleven children;

  1. Mary Ann Hastings, born 8 June 1828 in Tennessee, and died 16 July 1896;

  1. James Hastings, born 1838 in Tennessee, and died after 1860;

  1. Green? Hastings, born 1841 in Tennessee, and died after 1860;

  1. John Hastings, born 1845 in Tennessee, and died after 1860;

  1. Henry Hastings, born 1848 in Tennessee, and died after 1860;

  1. Nancy A. Hastings, born 1850 in Tennessee, and died after 1860; and,

  1. Clementia Hastings, born 1852 in Tennessee, and died after 1860. 4


(1799 NC - 1886 W.T.)

Thomas10 Estes was born in Orange County, North Carolina on 11 November 1799, and died in Walla Walla County, Washington Territory on 18 August 1886. He married first on 4 November 1820 in Orange County, North Carolina, Emilia “Millie” Cate born before 1804 (assumes at least age 16 at marriage), and likely died between May and July 1832. Thomas, age 32, married secondly on 15 April 1833, 15 year-old Irene Ann Malone, born 24 April 1817 in Tennessee, and died in Walla Walla County, Washington Territory on 15 November 1888. Between his two wives he fathered 18 children, and had at least 118 grandchildren.



Thomas’ grandson Nicholas Tarter would write over 100 years later: “Near the close of the Eighteenth Century there lived in the State of North Carolina a family by the name of Estes. The father and mother in this family later became my maternal great-grandparents. I have heard of only two sons and two daughters of this family, though there may have been several other children. The four of whom I can speak are Thomas Estes, my maternal grandfather, who was born in North Carolina on November 11, 1799, his brother, John Estes; and two sisters, Patsy and Hannah Estes.” 5

In one of his histories of Washington, Professor Lyman6 wrote in 1901 of Thomas:

“… Thomas Estes, deceased, a pioneer of 1860, was born in North Carolina, and in that state grew to manhood and was educated. On attaining his majority he removed to Tennessee, and while there he met and married his first wife. [As will be discussed below, Thomas and Millie actually married in North Carolina.] He subsequently went to Arkansas, where for a number of years he was engaged in tilling the soil. In 1860, he set out across the plains to Washington, and finally settled at Dry Creek, where he lived about eighteen years, afterwards moving to Walla Walla. After living a retired life for several years he took up his abode on a farm on Eureka Flat, and this continued to be his place of residence until August 20, 1886, when he died.”

While in Arkansas he was married the second time, the lady being Miss Irene Malone, a native of that state [actually, Tennessee]. Their union was blessed by the advent of thirteen children, ten of whom are still [in 1901] living…. Mrs. Estes died about two years after the decease of her husband."

The exact date of Thomas Estes’ departure from Orange County, North Carolina to Tennessee is not recorded. However, it may have been no earlier than 13 January 1823 when his father Burris sold 176 acres on New Hope Creek to Joseph Shaw, and no later than 1825, when a letter was written by Henry Hastings stating that “Burres Eastes and family is well.” We also know that his younger daughter Sarah Cate Estes was born 7 April 1825 in Tennessee.

Tarter wrote: “I am not informed whether the whole Estes family moved to Tennessee or not, but do know that the four of whom I have spoken settled in Henry County, Tennessee, early in the Nineteenth Century, where Grandfather married (according to my best information) early in the year 1820 [North Carolina].”


Orange County, North Carolina, late 1700’s

The Sale of the West:

Opening Up the Country

Thomas Estes took advantage of the American policy of encouraging settlement of the new country by way of land sales. He went first to western Tennessee and then down to northeast Arkansas. Relatively short distances now, but travel was not so simple then. And this simply prepared him for a very lengthy journey years later.

Under the Articles of Confederation, Congress did not have the power to raise revenue by direct taxation, and therefore did so by the sale of land in the largely unmapped territory west of the original colonies acquired at the end of the Revolutionary War. The Land Ordinance of 1785 organized these territories. The earlier Ordinance of 1784 called for the land to be divided into ten separate states. However, it did not define the mechanism by which the land would become states, or how the territories would be governed or settled before they became states. The Ordinance of 1785, along with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 addressed these political needs.

The primary effect of the Northwest Ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the United States out of the region falling south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River. Arguably the single most important piece of legislation passed by members of the earlier Continental Congresses other than the Declaration of Independence, it established the precedent by which the United States would expand westward across North America by the admission of new states, rather than by the expansion of existing states. It also prohibited slavery beyond the Ohio River.

The 1785 Land Ordinance laid the foundations of land policy in the US until passage of the Homestead Act in 1862, and was the basis for the Public Land Survey System, which systematically surveyed land into square "townships", six miles on a side, sub-divided into thirty-six "sections" of one square mile (640 acres). These sections could then be further subdivided for sale to settlers and land speculators.

The existence of section lines made property descriptions far more straightforward than the old metes and bounds system. The establishment of standard east-west and north-south lines ("township" and "range lines") meant that deeds could be written without regard to temporary terrain features such as trees, piles of rocks, fences, and the like. An area six sections by six sections would define a township.

The ordinance was also significant for establishing a mechanism for funding public education. Section 16 in each township was reserved for the maintenance of public schools. Many schools today are still located in section sixteen of their respective townships, although a great many of the school sections were sold to raise money for public education. Congress also reserved sections 8, 11, 26 and 29 to compensate veterans of the Revolutionary War, but examination of property abstracts in Ohio indicates that this was not uniformly practiced.


(bef. 1804 NC? – 1832 NC/Tenn.)

Emilia “Millie” Cate was probably born before 1804, probably in North Carolina. “Millie Cato” married “Thomas Estridge” on 4 November 1820 in Orange County, North Carolina.7 They had five children before she died prior to age 30 in approximately May-July 1832, in North Carolina or Tennessee.

Millie’s ancestry is somewhat unclear, and will be examined below. The evidence suggests that she was the daughter of Jesse Cate and Sarah Andrews. Jesse’s parents are Richard Cate and Emilia --- . It is possible that her ancestors arrived in Virginia as early as 1635.

Thomas Estes removed from North Carolina to Tennessee, according to Lyman when he “attained his majority.” This was no doubt after his 1820 marriage to Millie in Orange County, North Carolina. However, Professor Lyman (in 1901), and Tarter (in 1940) wrote that they met and married in Tennessee. We know this is incorrect due to the Orange County Marriage Bond.

Millie’s death date can be fixed at May to July 1832 based upon the following. First, Tarter wrote: "Grandfather and his second wife, Irania Malone, were married on April 15, 1833, according to record in her old Bible. As I recall that Mother [Susan Abigail Estes] said her father married the second time in a little less than a year after the death of his first wife. I can say that my maternal grandmother died in 1832 ….”

A letter written home to Tennessee on 19 December 1859 by James and Jerlean Patterson states "Mother I seen Mr. Estes, that married William Cates sister Millie and he had 7 children by her. She is dead and he is married again. He lives 10 miles from us.”8 [The Pattersons lived in Violet Hill, Izard County, Arkansas 40 miles from Batesville. Jerlean is a descendant of Millie Cates and George Mix.]

Millie actually had five children before her death. Tarter writes: “Grandfather had five children by his first wife; namely, Burris, born sometime in 1821; James, born in 1823; Sarah, born April 7, 1825; Mary, born March 23, 1827; and Susan, born April 7, 1829. (Note: James Madison Estes was born August 31, 1821. Census records indicate that Burris was also born about the same time. It may be they were twins. HJE.)

One of the few factual errors made by Tarter is based on incorrect information given him as to the name of Thomas’ first wife. He wrote: “His first wife's name was either Sarah Kirkland or Emily Lloyd. I have heard my mother say that her oldest sister's name was Sarah Kirkland, and I understood that she was named for her mother. To strengthen this thought is the fact that Grandfather's oldest daughter by his second wife was named Ann Malone, the name "Malone" being for her mother. I did not know any of the family differed with me in regard to the name until long after Mother's death, and after I was fifty years of age. However, sister Sarah E. Staats claims that she heard Mother say that her mother's maiden name was Emily Lloyd.

(Handwritten note on Tarter manuscript: Neither name is correct. These names may have been confused with their two grandmothers; Martha "Patsy" Lloyd and Sally Andrews. Sarah Kirkland Estes was known as "Sallie." Thomas signed marriage bond to Milly Cates on November 4, 1820, in Orange County, North Carolina. HJE.)”

We believe that Millie is the daughter of Jesse Cate. Jesse was in turn the son of Richard Cate who died 1794 in Orange County, North Carolina.

Millie’s immediate ancestry is determined as follows. Millie’s maternal grandfather, William Andrews, Sr., left her a small amount of money in his 1820 will. Andrews’ will was written on 15 February 1820, just a few months before Millie Cate married Thomas Estes, so she would still have been using her maiden name. One of the Items reads: "... I give and bequeath unto my grandchildren Milly Cate and William Cate & Polly Cate five shillings each ...." Thus, we know that Millie had a brother named William. We add to this the 1859 letter referenced above, and we know that the Millie Cate who married Thomas Estes was the sister of William Cate. (“I seen Mr. Estes, that married William Cates sister Millie….”)

Our Millie may be the daughter of Jesse Cate under ten years of age in the 1800 US Census for Orange County, North Carolina.

The children of Thomas
10 Estes and Emilia “Millie” Cate are:

1. Burris Estes III, born 1821, in Tennessee, married Susan Van Zandt;

2. James11 Estes, born 1823, in Tennessee, married Rebecca Nolan;

3. Sarah “Sallie” Cate Estes, born 1825 in Tennessee, married Hugh Faulkenbury;

4. Mary Margaret Estes, born 1827 in Tennessee married Hardy M. Long;

5. Susan Abigail Estes, born 1829 in Tennessee, married Robert Tarter


(1817 Tenn. – 1888 W.T.)

Irene (Irania) Ann Malone was born on 24 April 1817 in Tennessee, and died in Walla Walla County, Washington Territory on 15 November 1888. She married on 15 April 1833, in Tennessee, Thomas Estes when she was nine days shy of her 16th birthday, and only four years older than her eldest stepchild, Burris. She and Thomas had thirteen children, all but one before they removed to Washington Territory in 1860.

Nicholas Tarter wrote: “Grandma Estes' maiden name, as I have already indicated, was Irania Malone, and she claimed to be of Scotch-Irish descent. She became the stepmother of five children when she married at the age of sixteen years. Although so young, she strove patiently and with fortitude to do as well by them as she did by her own thirteen that came afterward. She shared with her husband in the pleasures and trials of raising a large family. She died November 15, 1888, and her remains are buried by those of her husband on Eureka Flat.”

Irene Malone

The children of Thomas10 Estes and Millie Cate are:

1. Burris Estes III, born 1821, in North Carolina, married Susan Van Zandt;

2. James Estes, born 1823, in North Carolina, married Rebecca Nolan;

3. Sarah Cate Estes, born 1825 in Tennessee, married Hugh Faulkenbury;

4. Mary Margaret Estes, born 1827 in Tennessee married Hardy M. Long;

5. Susan Abigail Estes, born 1829 in Tennessee, married Robert Tarter

The children of Thomas10 Estes and Irene Ann Malone are:

6. Ann Malone Estes, born 1836, married Jesse Cader Cope;

7. Hannah Jordan Estes, born 1837 in Tennessee, married William Ammon Cope;

8. Martha Elizabeth Estes, born 1839 in Tennessee, married David R. King;

9. Thomas W. Estes, born in Arkansas in 1840, married Louisa Paul;

10. Nancy Emily Estes, born in Arkansas in 1842, married Jonathan Tipton Wiseman;

11. Delilah C. Estes, born in Arkansas in 1844, married Dudley Kinchelow;

12. John R. Estes, born in Arkansas in 1848, bachelor;

13. William M. Estes, born in Arkansas in 1850, married unknown;

14. Irene E. Estes, born in Arkansas in 1852, married Francis M. Gibbons;

15. Hugh Pinckney Estes, born in Arkansas in 1854, married Mary Jane Woods;

16. Lycurgus Winchester Estes, born in Arkansas in 1858, married Viola Woods;

17. Cader Tipton Estes, born in Arkansas in 1859, married Sadie A. Peugh; and,

18. Sidney J. Estes, born in Washington Territory in 1862, never married.

According to Professor Lyman, the following Estes children were alive in 1901:

[3.] Sarah;

[7.] Hannah, wife of William Cope, of Arkansas;

[8.] [Martha] Elizabeth;

[9.] Thomas, at Baker City;

[10.] Nancy, wife of J.T. Wiseman;

[14.] Irene, wife of Frank Giffons, of Ritzville.”

[15.] Hugh, whose name heads this article;

[16.] L[ycurgus] W., a farmer;

[17.] C[ader].T[ipton]., a carpenter; and,

[18.] Sydney, a miner.”

Tarter lists Thomas and Irene’s children as follows:

Children of Thomas Estes and second wife, Ann Malone Estes:

[6.] Ann (Estes) Cope, born January 31, 1836,

[7.] Hannah (Estes) Cope, born August 10, 1837,

[8.] Martha Elizabeth (Estes) King, born February 10, 1839,

[9.] Thomas W. Estes, born December 10, 1840,

[10.] Nancy (Wiseman) Estes, born September 10, 1842,

[11.] Delila (Estes) Kinchelow, born January 23, 1844,

[12.] John R. Estes, born August 3, 1848,

[13.] William M. Estes, born April 18, 1850,

[14.] Irene (Estes) Gibbons, born June 11, 1852,

[15.] Hugh P. Estes, born December 11, 1854,

[16.] Lycurgus Winchester Estes, born January 13, 1858,

[17.] Cader Tipton Estes, born November 17, 1859,

[18.] Sidney J. Estes, born May 10, 1862.”



In 1819, the Arkansas Territory split off from the Missouri Territory and in 1836, Arkansas became a state. Three years later, in 1839 the Estes family moved to the northwest part of the state, shortly after the birth in February of daughter Mary Elizabeth Estes. Thomas was first. His brothers Burris and John settled 30 miles away, south of Pocahontas. Interestingly, Arkansas land records show a grant to Thomas Estes in 1824. ( He may have applied for land years before his move.

The following is taken from a well researched account of the family by Larry Duke. "Thomas Estes' children, by his first wife, were all born in Tennessee, on the Henry County land grant property that had been given to him by his father. [Appendix.] However, [neither] Thomas, Hannah, Martha, Burris, nor John stayed in Tennessee much longer. In 1839, all these families sold their land and went to homestead in the new State of Arkansas [admitted to the Union in 1836]. They all settled within 30 miles of one another, primarily in Fulton and Lawrence counties."9


Tarter wrote of this period: “Grandfather [Thomas] and family moved from Tennessee to Fulton County, Arkansas some time during the year of 1839. At about the same time the John Estes, Morris, and Hastings families moved to the same place. [These families married into the Estes family.] My Estes grandparents, with their children and a number of relatives near them lived in Arkansas approximately twenty years. Here Grandfather owned a farm and was also a blacksmith and gunsmith, having considerable mechanical ability. He lost the sight of an eye when a small piece of steel or iron struck the eye while blacksmithing. I do not know if this happened in Tennessee or in Arkansas.”

I am not informed as to the extent of his farm, but know that he raised a great deal to timber. The woods near Grandfather's home abounded with much wild game, affording great sport for those who liked to hunt. There were bear, deer, panther, wild turkeys, and many other such to lure the sportsman.”

People gathered hickory nuts, black walnuts, papaws, and other eatables native to the country. They manufactured soap from wood ashes and fats, spun, wove, and made almost all their clothing. Biscuit bread or corn cakes were made every day, as bread kept any length of time would mold. Quilting bees were often held, and corn-shuckings were hailed with delight every fall by both whites and slaves.”

Church services were held in the nearby schoolhouse, and my grandparents were regular attendants, as they were strict Baptists. The colored people held separate religious meetings during which they would loudly sing and shout, though it may be said that some would steal a chicken occasionally to heighten a festive repast of corn pone and possum.”

The Agnos Church of Christ is the oldest church in Fulton County. In 1858, a Campbellite revival was held at the Kinchen Tucker home. The Tuckers brought the Baptist Estes family into this faith, now known as the Church of Christ. The first church was built in the mid 1880's. The current church was built in 1948. The first burial was of James J. Tucker in 1873 in what was then a family plot.

Within ten years of their move to Arkansas, an event two thousand miles to the west profoundly changed their lives in ways they would not fully realize for yet another decade. Gold was found at Sutter’s Mill, in California. Many Estes men and in-laws made the trip west, and were gone for about two years. And, after their return, most desired to return, which they did from 1852-1874.

The census taken the fall after their departure records their absence from their family homes. The 10 October 1850 US Census for Lawrence County, Arkansas, shows many of the Estes family living in the home of Thomas (51, NC), and Rena (33, Tenn.). Efforts to locate the men in the California census were unsuccessful.

Two of Thomas and Millie Cate’s daughters are in their home:

Also in the home are Thomas and Irena’s first eight (of 13) children:

One of Thomas and Irene’s neighbors is Sara King (40, NC, marital status unstated), along with her four children. Their daughter Lizzie Estes, age 11 in 1850, would marry a David King some years later. He was about 20-22 in 1850 and perhaps had moved out of his mother’s home already.

Also nearby are Thomas’ younger brother Burrus and wife Martha Morris Estes remain, with four children. Rebecca Nolan Estes (26 Ala.), wife of James, has four children, along with a woman who is assumed to be her mother, Mary Nolan (58, NC). Next to them are Sarah Falkenbury (25, Tenn.) and her and Hugh’s four children, ages 1-8 all born in Arkansas. James and Hugh are in California.

The men mostly returned in 1852, but had whetted their appetites for western living. The moves started in 1852 and continued for the next eight years, culminating in Thomas’ 1860 move to the Washington Territory. This decision was perhaps brought on by the rumbling of a conflict that would open up into a devastating war. While the Estes’ were southerners, and one or more fought for the south, they by and large opposed to slavery. This placed them in a difficult position in the State of Arkansas. Indeed, Thomas’ son James would lose his life over this issue in 1863.

Mr. Duke writes: The first sign of the war was seen on 27 May 1861 when a meeting was called to form a Vigilance Committee and a company of home guards "to protect the people and to arrest all suspicious characters" (such as abolitionists). The first Union troops passed through in April 1862, and the only battle of consequence occurred in March 1863 near Mammoth Springs.10


Fulton County was organized in 1843, in accordance with an act of the General Assembly of the State approved 21 December 1842. The first officers under the organization head the list of county officers shown in this work. The territory composing the county formerly belonged to Izard, and was originally a portion of the old county of Lawrence. In 1855 a part of Fulton County was set off to Marion, and a part of Lawrence was attached to it. In 1873 territory from Fulton was taken off in the formation of Baxter County.11



In the Spring of 1860, 60 year-old Thomas Estes Thomas took his second wife and almost all of his then-17 children, grandchildren, and other families, and traveled the Oregon Trail across the plains to Walla Walla, Washington Territory. His second eldest, James Estes, was then 37 years old. James stayed behind with wife Rebecca Nolan Estes and their nine children. James would be killed by Confederate soldiers two years later for refusing to enlist in the army. Rebecca fled with the children to Missouri until the conclusion of the war.

What possessed a 60 year old man with 17 children (seven of whom were 16 or younger) to pick up and move across the country is unknown. It may have been the rumblings of a war that would tear the country apart. We have no account of Thomas’ political leanings, however it has been written "Mr. [Thomas] Estes was a strong Southern Democrat, but was always an opponent of slavery and never owned a slave."12

There is no known first person written account of the journey. (We have collected and set forth the accounts of five distant Estes relatives. See page 183; and, Appendix.) However, the following appears in a biographical sketch of Thomas' sixteenth child, Lycurgus Winchester Estes, who was only two when they departed. It is assumed that his story was passed down to him by his family:

"In that year [1860] they crossed the plains with ox teams to Washington. The wagon train with which they traveled had a great deal of trouble with the Indians and one man who lingered behind the others to fish was scalped, while another was shot through the leg but succeeded in eluding his pursuers and later joined the train. They arrived in Walla Walla, where they spent the hard winter of 1861 and 1862 [actually 1860 and 1861]. Mr. Estes, however, soon after reaching his destination, homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres on Dry Creek, about six miles northwest of Walla Walla, and there built a log house that he weatherboarded and made habitable." 13

Tarter wrote of the trip: “In the year 1861, (it was actually 1860 HJE.) Grandfather, with his immediate family and several families of his sons-in-law and others, moved from Arkansas to the Walla Walla country in Washington Territory. A daughter, Hannah Estes Cope, remained in Arkansas the remainder of her life. I know very little about her and nothing about her children.”

A grandson of Hugh Pinckney Estes (the 15th child of Thomas) set out the following anecdote in a letter in 1987:

Grandpa Hugh Estes told me an interesting story about their start of the trip by wagon train from Arkansas to Walla Walla. It seems that they were to leave on a certain day in early Spring of 1860. One of Hugh's sisters came down with measles and so they had to take the next wagon train about six weeks later. When they crossed the North Platte River in Nebraska, they found all of the wagon train (they were to be on) were massacred - every one. They continued on the Oregon Trail to the Paloose area near Walla Walla - where Great Grandfather Thomas Estes was to farm, mostly in wheat. It seems that the Northern Forces were preparing for war (the Civil War) and so they drew most of the soldiers out from the regions to their training centers in the East, leaving the settlers unprotected from the various war like Indian Tribes.”14

The Estes’ arrived in Walla Walla at a difficult time. The winters of 1860-61 and 1861-62 were probably “the worst two consecutive winters to hit the valley. It was cold and snowy for fours months. The five feet of snow on the ground did not melt until April 1862, but by that time most of the stock in the valley had starved or frozen to death.15 What follows is a list of the accounts of some Estes kin who took the Oregon trail west.


There are no known first person accounts of the 1860 crossing by the Thomas Estes party, or the other crossings by direct relatives. However, we do have published accounts from the following distant relatives, which are reproduced in the Appendix:

  1. Crossing The Plains In 1846, As told by Mrs. Elizabeth Munkers Estes while sitting by her fireside, Christmas Eve, 1916. Reprinted in Martha Alice (Turnidge) Hamot, The Trail Blazers, (1935: Portland Metropolitan Publ’g Co., Portland, Oregon); and, David Klausmeyer, Oregon Trail Stories: True Accounts of Life in a Covered Wagon (2003: The Globe Pequot Press), at 39-43. Elizabeth is the second wife of John Estes (1827 Me.- 18?? Ore. -- relationship to our line unknown), and the daughter of Benjamin Munkers and Mary Elizabeth Crowley;

  1. Morning Estes’ 1847 crossing from Missouri to the Pudding River in Marion County Oregon is recounted in a WPA Interview of her son John P. Huffman in 1938-39. Morning Estes (1810-1893) married in 1836 in Missouri, James George Huffman (1812-1893); both are buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Benton County, Oregon. She is the daughter of Elisha E. Estes, born 22 June 1771, Goochland, Virginia, and Nancy Harris born 6 May 1772 in Orange County, Virginia. Elisha is the son of Joel Estes and Nancy Ann Harris. Joel is a grandson of Abraham Estes (1647-1720) (Abraham/Elisha/Joel/Elisha E.);

  1. Sarah Melinda McCormick, Oregon or Bust -- A Pioneer Epic, appeared in the Magazine section of the Sunday Oregonian, August 10, 17 & 24 1941. Reprinted in The Oregon Trail and Other Family Tales, By Two Sisters - Sarah McCormick Otis and Amanda McCormick Eisele, (Virginia K. McCormick October, 2001) . This recounts the 1862 journey of the McCormick and Rose families. Sarah Melinda McCormick, the daughter of Nancy Ann Rose McCormick. Nancy and Calvin Elija Rose are the children of Sara Leona and Abraham Rose. Calvin married Wincy Drucilla Estes, the eighth child of (Thomas’ brother) John H. Estes and Nancy Jackson;

  1. Reminisces of Mrs. Louisa J. Estes at Age 75, Her Trip Across the Plains Over the Old Oregon Trail by Ox Team in 1862, The Blue Mountain Heritage, Vol. 31, No. 1, March 2004 (Walla Walla Valley Genealogical Society), at 8-10. Louisa J. Paul would later marry Thomas’s son Thomas W. Estes;

  1. Esta R. Perryman, Cross-Country in 1878. Arkansas Sunday Gazette, 6 June 1943 (reprinted in Estes, Descendants of Archibald Burris Estes, Note 76) Esta recounts the 1878 journey from Arkansas to Idaho of the family of David Granville Estes and Isabelle Moore. David is the son of Archibald Burris Estes, the son of Burris Estes, Jr., who was the brother of our Thomas.

The Oregon Trail was much more than a pathway to the state of Oregon; it was the only practical corridor to the entire western United States. The first emigrants to go to Oregon in a covered wagon were Marcus and Narcissa Whitman who made the trip in 1836. But the big wave of western migration did not start until 1843, when about a thousand pioneers made the journey. That 1843 wagon train, dubbed "the great migration" kicked off a massive move west on the Oregon Trail. According to an act of Congress, it began in Independence, Missouri, and ended in Oregon City, Oregon (2,040 miles).

Over the next 25 years more than a half million people went west on the Trail. Some went all the way to Oregon's Willamette Valley in search of farmland--many more split off for California in search of gold. The glory years of the Oregon Trail finally ended in 1869, when the transcontinental railroad was completed. Wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail still exist today in many parts of the American West; and many groups are working hard to preserve this national historic treasure.

The journey west on the Oregon Trail was exceptionally difficult by today's standards. One in 10 died along the way; many walked the entire two-thousand miles barefoot. The common misperception is that Native Americans were the emigrant's biggest problem en route. Quite the contrary, most native tribes were quite helpful to the emigrants. The real enemies of the pioneers were cholera, poor sanitation and--surprisingly--accidental gunshots.

Jumping Off Cities. The Missouri River heads due west from St. Louis; so most emigrants loaded their wagons onto steamships for the upstream journey. It was easy traveling, but it didn't last long. Two-hundred miles from St. Louis, the Missouri takes a turn to the north. The pioneers unloaded their wagons at any one of several small towns along the Missouri river which they called "jumping off" places.

Independence was the first option. Further upstream were Westport, St. Joseph, Omaha and Council Bluffs. The economies of these frontier towns depended on emigrants passing through, so many hired agents to go east and badmouth the competing cities. Emigrant William Rothwell: "I have never in my life heard as many false statements as were told us in coming up here. We were frequently told that at least 15 to 20 cases of cholera were dying daily in St. Joseph." In reality, no one died of cholera in St. Joseph that year.

Each spring these small hamlets became raucous boomtowns--as thousands of emigrants camped for days, or weeks while getting ready to begin the journey. Independence was by far the most popular point of departure in the Trail's early years.

Emigrant/author Francis Parkman: "A multitude of shops had sprung up to furnish emigrants with necessaries for the journey. The streets were thronged with men, horses and mules. There was an incessant hammering and banging from a dozen blacksmiths' sheds, where the heavy wagons were being repaired, and the horses and oxen shod. While I was in the town, a train of emigrant wagons from Illinois passed through--a multitude of healthy children's faces were peeking out from under the covers of the wagons."

By mid April, the prairie outside Independence was packed with emigrant campers-- often over three square miles worth. It was so crowded, one emigrant spent four days just trying to find his friends. This entire mass of humanity was waiting for the grass to grow. Heading west too early meant the grass wouldn't be long enough for the animals to graze along the way--a mistake that could be fatal.

Emigrant Lansford Hastings: "In procuring supplies for this journey, the emigrant should provide himself with, at least, 200 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon; ten pounds of coffee; twenty pounds of sugar; and ten pounds of salt." A family of four would need over a thousand pounds of food to sustain them on the 2000 mile journey to Oregon. The only practical way to haul that much food was a wagon.

Huge Conestoga wagons were never used by the pioneers--they were too unwieldy. Instead, the emigrants used small farm wagons. Wide wheels were more effective in soft, sandy soil. Narrow wheels worked better on hard surfaces. The cotton covers were typically drawn shut at both ends to keep out the incessant dust. To keep out the rain, the covers were treated with linseed oil, but most eventually leaked anyway. The wagon box measured only four feet by ten feet. Most emigrants loaded them to the brim with food, farm implements and furniture--often over a ton of cargo. All this was supported by massive axles. Most wagons had several handy options: a toolbox on the side, a water barrel, and most importantly, hardwood brakes. By late April or early May the grass was long enough--and the journey began.

It is difficult to estimate the numbers of immigrants. People on the move, in sometimes large groups, with varying destinations are difficult to count. The emigration lasted over several decades. People were born and people died during the typical five month journey. Some historians have made estimates based on diary accounts, newspapers reports from the time, and from registers and wagon counts kept at Fort Laramie and Fort Kearney. Historian John Unruh estimated 296,000 traveled to Oregon, California, and Utah from 1840 to 1860. Merrill Mattes estimated 350,000 overland travelers from 1841 through 1866, and later expanded his estimate closer to 500,000 for all travelers on western trails during that time period.

To Washington in 1860 or 1861?

There is minor, and easily resolved, dispute in the record as to whether the Thomas Estes family left Arkansas in the Spring of 1860 or the following year. (One source even states that the year was 1859.16) While there is no contemporaneous first-hand account of the trip west to resolve the debate, we do have good evidence that in happened in 1860. First, we examine the conflicting evidence.

Nicholas Tarter’s otherwise accurate family sketch – not written until 1940 -- states the journey happened in 1861. Professor Lyman gives the year as both 1860 and 1861. In an account of Thomas’ son Hugh Pinckney Estes, he wrote that Hugh’s father Thomas Estes was “a pioneer of 1860.” “In 1860, he set out across the plains to Washington, and finally settled at Dry Creek….”17 However, writing 16 years later about Thomas’ son Lycurgus W. Estes, Lyman stated that his parents Thomas and Renie were married in Tennessee “and subsequently removed to Arkansas, where they resided until 1861. In that year they crossed the plains with ox teams to Washington.”18

We do know that -- regardless of the actual year of departure -- they were in Walla Walla by winter. Tarter wrote: “They arrived in Walla Walla, where they spent the hard winter of 1861 and 1862.”

The conflict appears to be conclusively resolved by this fact. Thomas' homestead papers say that he "...entered upon and made settlement on said land on the first day of October, 1860, and has built a house thereon and has lived in the said house and made it his exclusive home from the first day of October, 1860 to the present time...."

Additionally, his daughter Delilah Estes married Jonathan Dudley Kincheloe in Walla Walla on 27 October 1860. (Information from Oregon Historical Society Library, extracted from early Walla Walla newspapers.)

Thomas Estes is not found in the 1860 US Census for Walla Walla County, or anywhere in Washington Territory. The enumeration of the county took place in July of that year. Nor does Thomas Estes appear in the Arkansas US Census in 1860, or that of any other state. The last record we have of this family in Arkansas is when son Cader Tipton Estes was born on 17 November 1859. If the census enumerations took place in May, June or July, of 1860 the family would have already been on the trail.

The average trip of 2,000 miles by ox cart from Missouri to the Northwest took at least four months, sometimes five. Assuming the wagon train left Arkansas in late April or early May after the snows had melted and enough grass had grown to support the livestock, they would have been on the plains in July. The Estes clan may itself have left late in the Spring. Thomas and Irene’s grandson Edward H. Callow (son of Hugh Pinckney Estes), told a story that the family left Arkansas late due to a sibling’s illness. “One of Hugh's sisters came down with measles and so they had to take the next wagon train about six weeks later.”

In conclusion, the best construction of the evidence is that the family left Arkansas in the late Spring of 1860 (perhaps April) and arrived in Washington Territory sometime in September or even October, the journey lasting about five months. This would explain their absence from any census record, and is consistent with Mr. Callow’s story, the dates of son Cader’s birth, Thomas’ homestead application, and daughter Delilah’s marriage.



In 1846, Britain and the US resolved the “54-40” dispute by dividing the nations along the 49th parallel. The Oregon Territory is organized in 1848, and in 1859 was admitted to the union. In 1853, the Washington Territory was organized, and admitted to the union in 1889. The Idaho Territory was organized in 1863.19 Walla Walla County was formed from the eastern portion of Clark County in 1854, and reduced to its present state in 1875.

In 1825 the Hudson's Bay Co. established a central trading post at what is now known as Vancouver, Washington, across the river from the Oregon metropolis, Portland, called Fort Vancouver. It was situated a little more than 100 miles up the river from Astoria, and continued supreme there and in the tributary territory of the Oregon River until the treaty of 1846 finally determined American sovereignty over all territory south of the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, except that the treaty specified a diversion southwestward from the western continental terminus of the forty-ninth parallel along the center of the main channel separating Vancouver island from the mainland and the center of the strait of Juan de Fuca. The British interpreted this as indicating Rosario strait, the Americans maintained the De Haro strait was the separating channel, thus giving the many islands of the San Juan archipelago to the United States. Emperor William I of Germany, as arbitrator, decided in favor of the claims of the United States in 1872.20

To Rev. Jason Lee, pioneer Methodist missionary of great courage and resourcefulness, and Marcus Whitman, who soon followed him as missionary of the Congregational church organization, are largely due the credit for initiating the permanent settlement of the Oregon country, Lee in the Willamette and Columbia River valleys, and Whitman in establishing his original colony of 1838 in the vicinity of the present city of Walla Walla. To these should be added Captain Nathaniel J. Wyeth of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who in 1831 headed a major settlement and exploration expedition to the Oregon country, and of whose party eleven members reached Fort Vancouver on October 29, 1832.

Invariably, as the new American people arrived on the Columbia, they were hospitably received by the then governor for the Hudson's Bay co., Dr. John McLoughlin, but were uniformly advised to settle south of the Columbia River, as the country north of there would remain British. This advice was little heeded by the Yankees, for, after the signing of the historic forty-ninth parallel treaty of June 15, 1846, the American settlers were able to organize the new territory of Oregon, created by act of Congress, approved August 14, 1848, at which time Abraham Lincoln declined an offer of appointment as governor of the new Far West territory.

General Joseph Lane, Mexican war veteran, became the pioneer governor, arriving at Oregon City, March 3, 1849, when he immediately issued a proclamation placing the new government in actual operation. Meantime the permanent settlement of what is now Washington state progressed rapidly, especially in the Olympia region, but the demands of these settlers were little understood and scantily recognized by the Oregon territorial legislature. This brought about much dissatisfaction, and ultimately territorial division, and the territory of Washington, embracing what is now the state of Washington, was created by act of Congress approved March 2, 1853, and Isaac I. Stevens became the first territorial governor.

At the time of the separation of Oregon and Washington, all the territory now embraced in the state of Washington was organized into eight vast counties all of whose names are still retained in the present state-Lewis, Clarke, Pacific, Thurston, Jefferson, Pierce, King and Island counties, and these with what is now known as Eastern Washington formed the provisional government of the baby territory of Washington in 1853.

During the 1855-58 Indian wars, a small fort was built on Mill Creek on the present-day site of the City of Walla Walla as protection against hostile Indians. A small settlement grew up around the fort which, for a time, was called Steptoeville after U.S. Army Colonel Steptoe who made the fort his headquarters in 1856. In 1858 the town was platted and incorporated in 1862. For a time during the territorial period, Walla Walla was the largest town in Washington.

Walla Walla, Washington Territory, 1876

Fort Walla Walla (detail), 1862
UW Special Collections (UW13507)

Another fort had been established many years earlier. Established in the fall of 1817 at the confluence of the Walla Walla River and the Columbia, Fort Nez Perce was the North West Company’s major fur post east of the Cascades. Later it was renamed as Fort Walla Walla. The post served a necessary function for many Oregon Trail emigrants. Here they were able to acquire boats and supplies for a river voyage down the Columbia, and frequently were able to trade their trail-weary livestock for fresh animals.

The Post Offices of Walla Walla County in the late 1880’s included: Clyde (1891-1934); Dixie (1881-Date); Estes (1882-1891); Eureka (1889-1964); Prescott (1881-Date); Touchet (1883-Date); Waitsburg (1893-Date); Waitsburgh (1871-1893); and, Walla Walla (1862-Date).21 See, The History of Estes, Washington, at p. 200.

Fourth of July parade, Walla Walla, 1892
UW Special Collections (Neg. UW5458)


After their arrival, the Estes family lived at Dry Creek, where they spent approximately twenty years. There were seven children at home in 1866. John, the oldest, was eighteen years of age and Sidney, the youngest, who was born on Dry Creek, was four years old. Later in life, they discovered Eureka Flats. That farm (near what became Estes, Washington but is now known as Clyde) Thomas ultimately turned over to three of his youngest sons, and retired with Irene to town. They are buried here, with their son John, who died at age 34.

Tarter discusses the Estes’ life at Dry Creek. "I will now speak of their elderly lives, and as I knew them at their home on Dry Creek, Walla Walla, when my parents were sojourning nearby in the fall of 1865 and the spring of 1866. As I have already indicated, they moved to the above mentioned location in the fall of 1861 and acquired their Dry Creek property.” They owned 160 acres in 1865, increasing to 480 by 1877.

Thomas’ family lived near him at Dry Creek. ”When my parents and family lived, temporarily, in the vicinity of Walla Walla, Washington, during the winter of 1865-66, Grandfather and family were living on Dry Creek, about six miles from the town of Walla Walla. About a mile below there lived Uncle Thomas Estes and his young wife. Next below lived Uncle Tipton Wiseman and family, and below this lived Uncle David King and family. On a small stream called Spring Creek, which flows into Dry Creek, there lived Uncle Dudley Kinchelow. These farms all were consecutive except that the Zaring farm lay between Grandfather's farm and Uncle Thomas Estes' farm.”

Estes’ Eureka Flats Farm, near Estes (now Clyde), Washington

(Photograph by author, 2007)

“The valley of Dry Creek is about twenty-five miles long, more or less, and on an average one-half-mile wide, being wider in some places and narrower in others. It is intersected by Dry Creek, which flows into Walla Walla River, and skirted on both sides by low rolling hills, covered with bunch grass, and which were the habitat of numerous flocks of prairie chickens that lived there all year except during snow, when these birds would come to the valley, feed about the hay stacks, and eat buds and berries from the small trees and brush that lined the creek for a few yards on either side.

Grandfather's farm reached the entire width of the valley and a short distance on the upland of the side nearest Walla Walla. The large log dwelling was built on the above mentioned side at the edge of the valley and on a very gentle incline. The house consisted of three rooms. There was a large sitting room, and bedroom combined, with fireplace, and a kitchen which also served as dining room - downstairs. The whole upstairs was one large bedroom. There was a well of water about twenty feet from the kitchen. It supplied plenty of water for home use and was not overly deep, as it was at the edge of the valley. Horses and cattle subsisted on bunch grass most of the year, it being good feed after it dried in the fall, but they had to be brought to the hay stacks when snow covered the ground.”

About a mile-and-a-half below Grandfather's house, and on the same edge of the valley, was a school house in which school was kept and church services were held. Christian ministers, or Campbell's ministers as we then called them, established a class there. As there was no Baptist church near, Grandpa and Grandma joined this church.

The valley was quite fertile. “The greater part of Grandfather's valley land produced a different kind of native grass that grew tall and made fine hay. I remember of his having long stacks of hay in the fall of 1865. While serving for feeding during the winter, much of it was sold in the town of Walla Walla. I remember of Grandpa taking loads of it to town on hayrack and wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen. Although his hair and beard were white, and he was sixty-six years of age, he was as alert, straight, and had the endurance of men much younger. He walked beside the oxen, driving them six miles to Walla Walla, sold the hay, and drove the oxen home - riding on the rack on the return.”

While the rolling prairies, consisting of thousands of acres, were vacant and free for anyone to use for grazing, the valley lands owned by homesteaders had to be inclosed to preserve the crops. Fences were made by digging ditches about two-and-a-half feet wide at the surface, two feet deep, and sloping down so the bottom was bout eighteen inches side. The sod at the surface was cut into squares convenient for handling, and stacked along the top inner edge of the ditch, making a wall with turf next to the ditch. The dirt was thrown over and against the wall, stakes were set along the tip, and slender poles were fastened to them, making an adequate fence.

Mule team at Harvest Time, Walla Walla

(FWWM # 80.16.170.RP)

But, toward Thomas’ 80th year, his sons discovered Eureka Flats. “Late in the 1870's or early in the 1880's two of Grandfather's sons [John and Lycurgus] went to Eureka Flat in the spring of the year, broke some soil, and planted garden seeds. Returning in the fall, they found the plantings had grown and matured beyond expectation. Not long after this my grandparents disposed of their farm on Dry Creek and with several sons and the Tip Wiseman family acquired farms on this flat.”

Duke writes in Estes Family: “During the time that Thomas lived at Dry Creek, his sons roamed the hills and countryside in search of other good farming land. John and Lycurgus were out one day, when they came to a stretch of flat land laying between the Touchet Hills and the Snake River Hills. On seeing this land and imitating the California 49'ers, they cried out "Eureka, we have found it." John and Lycurgus were the first men to plow a furrow on this ground and homesteaded the first piece of land claimed by a white man. John named the area Eureka Flat. It is still so known today. Thomas soon followed, moving there sometime around 1882. Eureka Flat is approximately thirty miles from Walla Walla, in the high country. The land was well suited to wheat and the Estes' soon began to grow hundreds of acres of it. Eventually the family would have more than 1,200 acres of prime wheat land. It is still in wheat today.”

Returning to Tarter’s text, we see that “Eureka Flat, about thirty miles from Dry Creek, contains thousands of acres of comparatively level land and is a very elevated section of the country. On account of its elevation and distance from water, it had previously been considered unfit for cultivation, but proved to be one of the finest wheat sections of the state. The rent of Grandfather's farm was sufficient to amply provide far all the family needs.”

About this time it was learned that the rolling hills of eastern Washington were excellent wheat land. Consequently there was a great rush for this great expanse of vacant land, although the sides of some of the hills were quite steep for harvesting. It is marvelous that the number of farms in Washington in the year of 1920 was ten times the number in 1880. The price of land increased rapidly, and farms on Eureka Flat soon became valuable.

My mother, Mrs. Susan Tarter, and her sister, Mrs. Sarah Sebring, visited their father and stepmother in the 1884. In order to provide them with a chicken dinner, Grandfather took his rifle (and) shot off a chicken's head to show them what he could do. He had not seen these daughters for years."

Sunny Bank” Farm of C.N. Babcock, Walla Walla, W.T.

History of Clarke County, at 200

Clyde, Washington

The 1870 US Census for Walla Walla, Walla Walla County, Washington shows Thomas Estes (70, Ark.) a farmer, and Irene Estes (55, Tenn.) who can read but not write. The value of their real estate is $3,000 and personal property $3,000. They live with their youngest five children: John (21, Ark.); Hugh (16, Ark.); Winchester (12, Ark.); Tipton (10, Ark.); Sidney (8, W.T.). Also in the home is Sarah Kincheloe (9, W.T.); and Thos. Henderson (16, Tenn.), a farmhand who attends school.

Five of Thomas and Irene’s older children also lived nearby. Their eldest child Ann Malone Estes married Cader Cope (who died in 1869) and is shown as Ann Cope (34, Tenn.) in this census, living with her children Amanda (16, Ark.); Wm (15, Ark.); Becky (11, Ark.); Octavia (5, Ore.); John (3, Ore.); and Cader [Jr.] (9 mos., Ore.).

Next is Thomas and Irene’s eldest son (and fourth child) Thomas W. Estes who would marry the daughter of their neighbor Thomas Paul. The 1870 census shows Thos. Estes (29, Ark.) and Louisa [Paul] Estes (20, Iowa), owning $4,000 in real estate and $1,100 in personalty. They reside with their young son Joseph (1, WT), and a boarder W.J. Waters (26, Ohio).

Also nearby is David R. King (40, Ark.) who is living with their daughter [Martha] Elizabeth [Estes] (28, Tenn.), and Wm [William] (12, Ark.); Marshall (9, WT); Wm [William] (6, WT); Laura (4, WT); Sarah (2, WT); and John (1, WT).

Next in the 1870 Census is daughter Nancy Emiline Estes, who married Jonathan Tipton Wiseman. They are shown as J.T. Wiseman (35, Tenn.) and Nancy Wiseman (27, Ark.), living with their six children Wm (9, WT); Jefferson (8, WT); Josephine (6, WT); Charles (4, WT); Francis (2, WT); and, Mary (3 mos., WT). They would have five more children by 1884. Appendix.

Last in the 1870 Census is Thomas and Irene’s youngest daughter Irene E. Estes who married a man more than twice her young age, Francis M. Gibbons. They are shown as F.M. (37, Ala.) and Irene (19, Ark.) “Gibbins,” living with Dixie (2., WT); and John (1, WT). As with her mother and namesake, she married early and had many children – 16 in all. Appendix.

The 1880 US Census for Walla Walla, Walla Walla County, Washington (dated 4 June) shows Thomas Estes (80, NC; NC; NC) a married farmer, and his sons who are farmers, John R. (32 Ark.; NC; NC); Hugh (25, Ark.; NC; NC); Winchester (22, Ark.; NC; NC), and Cader T. (20, Ark.; NC; NC). All the boys are single. Appendix.

A second 1880 US Census for Walla Walla City, Walla Walla County, Washington (dated 5 June) shows Thomas Estes (80, NC; NC; NC) living with Irene (63, Tenn.; NC; Virg.), and their youngest child Sidney J. (18, WT). Also in the home are the Kincheloe orphans, Sarah J. (18, WT; Ark.; Ark.), and Jas. B. [James] (17, Ore.; Ark.; Ark.); their daughter Martha [Elizabeth Estes] King (40, Tenn.; NC; Tenn.), and her daughter Sarah Ann King (12, WT; Ark.; Tenn.). The duplication is likely due to the fact that Thomas owned the farm on which his four sons worked, but lived in town with Irene, who was still alive, and shown as married to Thomas.

Thomas Estes died in 1886. Tarter states: “While seemingly about as well as usual, Grandfather had a stroke or heart attack, dying suddenly at the home of his son, Tipton, on August 18, 1886. (This is not entirely correct, since his will was dated August 17, 1886. HJE) He was almost eighty-seven years of age and had lived a long, active, and upright life. His remains rest in the cemetery on Eureka Flat, Washington.” The local newspaper wrote:

Death of Thomas Estes,

Walla Walla, Washington Territory.22

At his home on Eureka Flat, at 8 o'clock this morning, Thomas Estes, a pioneer of Tennessee, Arkansas and Washington territory, peacefully passed away. He was 87 years of age.

The Short History of

Estes, Washington Territory: 1882-1891

Local historian Linda Parsley has described the decade-long existence of a town named Estes in Walla Walla County, during the transition from territorial days to statehood. It was renamed Clyde in 1891, the name it presently uses. Most of the postmasters were Estes kin, several were Thomas’ grandsons.

Clyde or Estes is located 15 miles northwest of Prescott. It was a station on the Northern Pacific spur line from Eureka to Pleasant View, which was also called Hammer.

On March 17, 1882, the Estes Post Office was established with Louisa J. Estes [Louisa Paul, wife of Thomas’ son Thomas W. Estes] as postmaster. The next postmaster was T.P. Wiseman [uncertain of relationship to Wiseman family], who began on December 12, 1884. He was followed by Jonathan Tipton Wiseman [husband of Thomas’ daughter Nancy Emily Estes] on January 26, 1885, and William A. Atkins on October 6, 1890.

Estes was changed to Clyde when the Clyde Post Office was established on July 8, 1891. George W. Wiseman, the first Clyde postmaster, was followed by Charles Wiseman [from 1893-1896. (Thomas’s grandson, Charles W. was the son of Jonathan and Nancy Estes Wiseman.) The post office was eliminated from 1896-1898, when Arthur T. Wiseman was appointed through 1900 (Thomas Arthur Wiseman was also a son of Jonathan and Nancy) when Andy T. Cope (Thomas10’s grandson, Andrew Thomas Cope, 1864-1955, son of Hannah Jordan Estes and William Ammon Cope. Ash Flat History, at 398) served for several months. (Thomas’ daughters Hannah and Ann each married Cope brothers, whose father was Andrew. Only Ann came west, but did not have a known son named Andrew.) The post office was closed for good in 1934].”23


Thomas Estes and his sons purchased a good deal of land in Walla Walla. The following is a summary of the transactions found in the Walla Walla County Court records, as extracted by Margaret Strickland on 14 November 2005.






Thomas Estes

W.B. Atterbury & wife

24 Sept. 1868

Deed, Book F, 207


Thomas Estes

J.H. Lasater & wife

18 Nov. 1868

Deed, Book F, 252

(22-1) 23-7-34

Tho Estes

J.H. Lasater & wife

17 Sept. 1870

Deed, Book 46, 271


Thomas Estes

United States

10 Nov. 1877

Patent, Book P, 45-48

Land in 31. 4-7-35

Thomas Estes

United States

10 Nov. 1877

Patent, Book P, 46


Thomas Estes

John A. McNeil & wife

2 Feb. 1878

Deed, Book P, 318

Longards Add. H2 35

Thomas Estes

United States

5 May 1881


Book V, 414


Ref. rept.

Thomas Estes, Sen.

No. Pac. RR

24 May 1881

Deed Book V, 496


Thos. Estes

United States

25 Jan. 1886

Patent, Book A, 134


Thomas’ sons Cader T., Hugh P., Lycurgus W. (four transactions, 1883-1888), Sidney J., Thomas W. (15 transactions, 1870-1886), and William M. (three transactions in 1870), all purchased or patented land in Walla Walla.

Thomas Estes held Homestead Certificate No. 58, Walla Walla County Deed Book P. He also held a Patent dated 2 May 1879 covering the western ½ of the northern ¼ section 3; and the eastern ½ of the northeast ¼ of section 3, Twsp 7 north Range 35 east. General Lands Office Volume 1, p. 77, 10 November 1870.24


17 August 188625

In the name of God amen.

I, Thomas ESTES of Wall Walla County, Washington Territory, do make and declare this to be my last will and testament...

I give to my beloved wife, Irena Estes, all my effects both real and personal to have and to hold during her natural life, and after her death to be disposed of in the following manner.

To my children Sarah Sebring and Mary M. Long I give to each five dollars and

to my children Thomas W. Estes, Hugh P. Estes, Lycurgus W. Estes, Cater T. Estes, Sidney J. Estes, Nancy E. WISEMAN, Irena E. Gibbons, Hannah J. Cope and Martha E. King, I give the remainder in equal ... share and share alike and

I appoint Hugh P. Estes my executor without bond or the intervention of Probate.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal.

Thomas Estes (his X mark)

The following "Petition for Distribution" was signed in 1890 by son Hugh P. Estes:

In the Probate Court in and for

the County of Walla Walla,

in the State of Washington.

In the Matter of the Estate of Thomas and Irene Estes, deceased.

Petition for Distribution

The petition of Hugh P. Estes, Executor of the estate of Thomas Estes, Deceased, and Administrator of the Estate of Irene Estes, deceased, respectfully shows to this Court:

That he was appointed such Executor by the order of this Court on the 12th day of February A. D. 1889, and on the same day he was appointed such Administrator by the order of this Court, and on the same day he duly qualified as such Executor, and as such Administrator, and then entered upon the administration of the said estates, and ever since has continued in the administration of said estates;

That on the 27th day of February A. D. 1889, he duly filed his inventory of the property of said estates, real and personal, which had come to his hands, with the appraisement thereof made by the appraisers duly appointed by this Court;

That on the 1st day of March A. D. 1889, he duly published the notice to creditors to present their claims against the deceased in the manner and for the period prescribed by this Court.

That more than one year has elapsed since his appointment as said executor and administrator, and more than one year has elapsed since the first publication of said notice to creditors, and on this day he filed in this Court the final account of his administration of the said estates, showing that said estates are now in a condition to be finally closed;

That the residue of said estates now in the hands of your petitioner, consists wholly of personal estate, as follows, to-wit: the sum of eleven hundred and twenty dollars and sixty-two cents, balance left in the hands of your petitioner as the executor and administrator of said estates, as shown by the final account of your petitioner this day filed in this Court;

That the whole of said estate was the community property of the said decedents, the same having been acquired after the marriage of the said decedents, and during their life-time;

That the said Thomas Estes died testate, in the County of Walla Walla, on the 18th day of August 1886, being at the time of his death a resident of said county in the then Territory of Washington, now the State of Washington, and leaving him surviving, his lawful wife, the said Irene Estes, now deceased, and two daughters by a former wife, Sarah Sebring, nee Estes, and now residing at Independence, Oregon, and Mary M. Long, nee Estes, and now residing at Ashland, Oregon, and five sons and three daughters, Thomas W. Estes, residing at Independence, Oregon, Irene E. Gibbons, nee Estes, residing at Sprague, Washington, Martha E. King, nee Estes, residing at Salem, Oregon, Lycurgus W. Estes, Cater T. Estes, Sidney J. Estes, Nancy E. Wiseman, nee Estes, and Hugh P. Estes, all residing at Estes, Washington, children of said decedents; and Hannah J. Cope, residing at Ashland, Oregon, grandchild of said decedents by a daughter deceased at the time of the death of said decedents;

That all the said children and said grandchild are the only descendants of the said Thomas Estes, deceased, and said last named children and said grandchild are the only descendants of said Irene Estes, deceased;

That under and by virtue of the provisions of the said will of said Thomas Estes, deceased, said Irene Estes, deceased, became the devisee of all the estate of said deceased, both real and personal for and during her lifetime, and after her death, the said children and grandchild became the devisees of said deceased, as follows, to-wit: Sarah Sebring and Mary M. Long each the sum of five dollars, Thomas W. Estes, Hugh P. Estes, Lycurgus W. Estes, Cater T. Estes, Sidney J. Estes, Nancy E. Wiseman, Irene E. Gibbons, Martha E. King and Hannah J. Cope the remainder of his estate, share and share alike;

That afterwards and on the 15th day of November 1888, said Irene Estes, deceased, surviving widow of said Thomas Estes, deceased, died intestate, in the County of Walla Walla, in the then Territory of Washington, now the State of Washington and leaving her surviving the children and grandchild hereinbefore mentioned;

Wherefore, your petitioner prays that the administration of said estates may be brought to a close, and that he may be discharged from his trust as such executor and administrator as aforesaid;

That the estate remaining in his hands undistributed may be distributed to the parties entitled thereto, and any further and different order may be made as may be meet in the premises; and that a day may be sat for the hearing of this petition, and that an order to show cause may be made, and any and all other orders may be made as may be necessary and proper in the premises.

Brent A. Clark

Attorneys for Petitioner

Hugh P. Estes, being first duly sworn, on oath, deposes and says: That he has read the above and foregoing petition, knows the contents thereof, and that the same is true as he verily believes.

/Hugh P. Estes/

Subscribed and Sworn to before me this

26th day of April A. D. 1890

Wellington Clark

Notary Public

Thomas and Irene’s daughter, Hannah Jordan Cope, was incorrectly identified as a “grandchild” in the petition. She was correctly identified in Thomas' will. The receipt for her inheritance was signed by H. M. Cope, most likely her oldest son, Harve Monroe Cope.

Thomas, Irene and son John are buried in a wheat field near Clyde, Walla Walla County. The Clyde Cemetery is on the corner of what was the Timber Culture claim of Jonathan Tipton Wiseman. It is described in a local cemetery inventory text26 as follows: “Abandoned, covers about 1 acre. Many lost graves with wooden markers.” The earliest burial was in 1882 (Thomas’ son John), the last in 1907. The cemetery now lies on a farm operated by Wayne and Klara Walthew (509) 749-2392. Klara is the stepdaughter of Win C. Estes. Other graves include last names Harkins (1), LaClair (2), Tonseth (1) and five McCullough children who died 1887-1889.

Estes Cemetery at Dry Creek Farm, Clyde, Washington,

(Photograph by author, June 2007)

Headstones of Thomas Estes and Irene Malone Estes,

And son John Estes


1799: Born in North Carolina.
1820: Married Millie Cates in North Carolina.

1821-1823: Burris and James born in North Carolina.

1823-25: Moved to Henry County, Tennessee.

1825-1829: Sarah, Mary and Susan born in Tennessee.

1829: Father Burris Estes, Sr. died in Tennessee.

1832: Millie Cate Estes died in Tennessee.

1833: Thomas married Irene Malone in Tennessee.

1836-1839: Ann, Hannah, and Martha born in Tennessee.

1839: Moved to Fulton County, Arkansas.

1840-1859: Next nine children born in Arkansas.

1860: Moved to Walla Walla, Washington Territory.

1862: Last child Sydney born in Washington Territory.

1861: Homesteaded 160 acres on Dry Creek.

1879: Moved to Eureka Flats, ultimately owning 1,200 acres.

1882: Son John died at Eureka Flats.

1886: Thomas died.

1888: Irene died.




In 1849, a large party of Estes kin went to California during the Gold rush; they stayed for approximately two years:


In 1852, Hardy Long (31) came home from the gold fields, but soon returned with his wife Mary Margaret Estes (25) and their first three children back to California on the Oregon Trail. Lucinda was six years old, Matthew five; and Simon two. Six more children were born in California. After Hardy died near Chico, Mary would move north to Polk County, Oregon.


In 1853, Thomas’ 39 year-old brother John H. Estes brought his wife Nancy Jackson and their nine children over the Oregon Trail to Eola, Polk County, Oregon (near Salem). “This John Estes family came west in the fall of 1853 with a large family including one married daughter, her husband, and small daughter.” 27 These would be Emeline Estes, born 1835 in Tennessee, husband John H. Orr (1831) and daughter Pearl Orr, born in Arkansas in the spring of 1853. They arrived in Oregon on 29 September 1853. They settled near Robert Tarter and Susan Abigail Estes, 24 year old daughter of Thomas.

Greenbury Simpson and his wife Lana were also in the party. (Nancy Jackson Estes would marry Green after John was killed by Indians in 1856, and Lana died in Oregon.)

Also accompanying John H. Estes were his niece Sarah “Sallie” Cate Estes, Thomas’ 29 year-old daughter, her husband Hugh Faulkenbury and their five children. Hugh would die “on the plains,” likely in Nebraska or Wyoming.

Several of Thomas’ grandson’s were in the party as well. Nicholas Tarter (son of Susan Abigail Estes and Robert Tarter) wrote that Thomas’ sister “Hannah Estes married a Mr. [John] Hastings. They were the parents of five sons …. The three [sons], Archibald, Burris, and John, came to Oregon with my parents in 1853, when Archibald was twenty-four years old, Burris twenty-two, and John twenty, and settled in Polk County, Oregon, living there the remainder of their lives.”


Thomas’ daughter Nancy Estes Wiseman and husband Jonathan Tipton Wiseman came west to homestead in Walla Walla the year prior to her parents. It was Tip’s third trip west. They farmed the Sudbury area northwest of town for almost 20 years.


In 1860, Thomas’ 19 year old son Thomas W. Estes left for California. It is not known with whom he traveled. Tarter writes: “When twenty years of age, or in 1860, he came to California and made his home with his brother-in-law and half-sister, Hardy and Mary Long, for a period of almost two years. In 1862, he came to Oregon and visited his half-sister, Susan Tarter and family; also he visited his Aunt Nancy Estes, widow of his Uncle John Estes, and family. * * * In 1863, he went to Walla Walla County, Washington ….”

And of course in 1860, Thomas Estes would bring 13 of his then-17 children along with others, on ox carts from northern Arkansas.


Archibald Burris Estes, son of Thomas’ brother Burris Jr., born in 1828, brought his family to Moscow, Idaho in 1874.

1 Descendant Reports, Estes Yahoo Group. This site contains reports for five of the ten children of Burroughs Estes and Martha Lloyd.

2 The name Pinckney is confirmatory of the purported connection to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney that is discussed in the section on Hugh Pinckney Estes, at 481.

3 Thomas Estes’ wife Millie Cate (possibly the granddaughter of Thomas Cates discussed 106) is listed as “Cato” in Marriages of Orange County, North Carolina 1779-1868 (Genealogical Publishing Co. Baltimore, Md 1983), at 99.

4 Note the gap between children 3 and 4, which also includes one death date for Susannah -- 1837. Children 1-3 are taken from Jim Estes’ Estes Yahoo Group Website; Generations two through five may be also found on this site. Children 4-8 are taken from 1860 US Census, which lists his wife’s name as Susan despite her purported death years earlier.

5 Much of this section is taken from grandson Nicholas Tartar’s lengthy “sketch” of the family. Nicholas Tarter, Sketch of the Thomas Estes Family, 7 January 1940. Estes Group, Yahoo, Files, Thomas Estes (Estridge), Burroughs Estes, Thomas Estes, Tarter provided the following disclaimer of his fairly accurate work: “In writing the foregoing historical sketch of the Estes family or clan, I have been very careful not to make any statement that I did not know to be true, or strongly believed to be true, from the best information obtainable. Those in whose hands this sketch may fall may extend it as time goes by, at their pleasure.” Italicized words are the notes made by HJE. This is assumedly, Hugh Pinckney Estes’ son, Hugh J. Estes.

6 W.D. Lyman, An Illustrated History of Walla Walla County (1901), Biographical Sketch, at 335-36.

7 The bondsman for marriage was Robert Cheek – perhaps a contemporary of Thomas’ grandfather, Thomas Estes II, but more likely the son of Burroughs Estes’ sister, Martha9 Estes and James Cheek, born in 1799. Marriages of Orange County, North Carolina 1779-1868 (Genealogical Publ’g Co. Baltimore, Md 1983), at 99 ("Estridge, Thomas & Milley Cato”).

8 Estes Yahoo Group, Files/Thomas Estes (Estridge)/Burroughs Estes/Thomas Estes, Jerlean Mix Patterson Letter. Original letter in the possession of descendant Jake Mix of Arlington, Kentucky.

9 Larry D. Duke, Agnos Arkansas, Home of our Ancestors, (July 9, 2006, for the Estes Cousins Reunion: Broken Arrow, OK), at 1-12.

10 Duke, Agnos Arkansas, Note 103, at 1-12; and, Duke, Estes Family History, Note 15.

11 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Western Arkansas: Fulton County - Part One (Goodspeed Publishers, Chicago: 1891),

12 Lyman, History of Walla Walla County, Note 100, at 410 (found in Biography of Jonathan Wiseman).

13 W.D. Lyman, History of Old Walla Walla County, Volume I (S.J. Clarke Publ’g Co., Chicago, Ill. 1918),

14 Letter of Edward H. Callow to Kathleen Wendland, Undated (c.1987). Estes Groups, Yahoo. See, letter infra.

15 Beach, Harvey Ancestors, Note 87, at 48.

16 Lindley M. Hull, A History of Central Washington (Press of Shaw & Borden Co., Spokane, Wash.: 1929), at 162.

17 Lyman, History of Walla Walla County, Note 100, Biographical Sketch of Hugh P. Estes, at 335-36.

18 Lyman, Old Walla Walla County, Note 107, at 658-61.

19 Duke, Estes Family History, Note 15.

20 Lottie Roeder Roth, A Brief History of Washington State from a History of Whatcom County, Volume 1 (Seattle: Pioneer Historical Publishing Co., 1926).

21 Genealogy Trails,

22 Walla Walla Daily Journal, 18 August 1886.

23 Linda Flathers Parsley, Dances with Mules, A History of Northern Walla Walla County, Washington, 1858-2000 (Alpensee Publishing, Leavenworth, WA: 2001), at 355 (citing information from Eula Phelps).

24 Harvey Ancestors, Beach, Note 87, at 48.

25 Estes Files, Estes Group, Yahoo,

26 Jean Winters, Tombstone Inscriptions of Walla Walla County, Washington, Volume 1, (1971)(Seattle Public Library R929.3797), at 4.

27 John Estes and Nancy Jackson Family. Estes Yahoo Group. See, also, Tarter’s Sketch, Note 99; Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Arkansas, at 942, Note 104; and, Archibald B. Estes Obituary.