Tidbits of Shelby County History
Samuel Weaver, Stealing of County Records
This week’s article will cover the life of Samuel Weaver, Shelby County surveyor, notary public, and Tax Assessor-Collector. The information for this article was taken from several newspaper articles and reports written by Mrs. C.C. Travis and an unknown author. Of course, I couldn’t share this information about the life of Sam Weaver without touching on the stealing of the courthouse records from Shelbyville.
Originally called Nashville (in the 1820s) when Tennesseans settled here, Shelbyville became the county seat of Shelby County when the county was organized. The name was changed in 1837 when the Congress of the Republic of Texas decided to honor American Revolutionary hero (and former governor of Kentucky) Isaac Shelby.
Shelbyville became the flashpoint in the Regulator-Moderator War. Most of the major battles of this famous feud were fought here or nearby. A Republic of Texas post office had been established by 1843. In 1866 in a contested fight for the county seat, county records were spirited away in the dead of night.
It was a well-planned rendezvous that dark-of the-moon night when two men, accompanied by some faithful Negroes, met to carry out a bold plan.
The ox wagon was ready. Only that day it stood unsuspectingly in the door of the busy blacksmith shop; its wheels removed while wagon grease was smeared heavily around the axels. The men secured the oxen and wagon after sundown and waited until the town of Shelbyville had settled down for the night. The deed was being carried out as planned by R.L. Parker and Sam Weaver. Now to tell you about the man, Sam Weaver.
Sam was born in 1834 in Maury County, Tennessee and came to Shelby County about 1856 settling in the Buena Vista community. Sam Weaver’s father, G.W. Weaver, was sheriff of Shelby County in 1867-1869.
After stealing the county records in August of 1866, Sam, a surveyor by that time, surveyed the land that would later become known as the town of Center. On nearly all the old documents of Shelby County appears the name of Sam Weaver. He was a tall silent fellow who had known many men who had fallen to the charm of the adventure and wealth offered in Texas.
On June 25, 1866, Sam was elected as County Surveyor of Shelby County. He and Robert Parker surveyed Shelby County and determined the spot we know as Center was in the middle of the county. His vision the town would grow and prosper was evidenced in the fact he laid out the square with wide streets for parking areas.
On July 30, 1867, at Logansport, Louisiana, Sam Weaver married Virginia Tennessee Woolwine. They had seven sons and one daughter. Sam was a private in the Civil War in the company of Jesse Amason. He enlisted on February 19, 1862, from Shelby County. The date of his discharge is unknown, but his age is listed as 27 on the discharge.
In 1872 Sam was sworn in as a Notary by John J. Stevens, Secretary of State of Texas and issued by Gov Edmund J. Davis and on September 18, 1877, he was appointed trustee of the Weavers Mill School District No.22 by Shelby County Judge D.S. Carnahan.
Weaver had obtained teaching certificates in October 1871, and he received another teaching certificate signed September 29, 1871, by the Supt. Of Public Instruction of the State of Texas and entitled him to teach these subjects in public school: orthography, reading, penmanship, geography, mental arithmetic, practical arithmetic, English grammar, history of the United States, anatomy, physiology and hygiene and Latin grammar. A third certificate was signed by O.R. Hooper, Shelby County judge and was dated November 28, 1879. The document entitled Weaver to lawfully contract with any school trustees of Shelby County to teach children of their respective community.
Before the establishment of the town of Center, a post office was located in a place called White Cottage with Benjamin Harkness as postmaster July 26, 1866. The name of the post office was changed to Center in October 1866 with Harkness again appointed postmaster.
Soon after the moving of the county seat, the town began to grow by leaps and bounds and Weaver decided he needed more room for his family. He moved them four miles west of Timpson where he built the first church and schoolhouse. (Note: The Weaver Community was originally called "Weaver's Mill," located near the Rusk County line between Highways 84 and 59.)The land he later deeded to the community which was named for its founder and continues to this day. He died in 1902 and is buried in Weaver cemetery along with other family members.
As significant as it was to be a church pioneer and a community founder, however, Sam Weaver will be forever known in Shelby County history as the surveyor who laid out the Center square and who helped determine Center as the county seat.