This is the 52nd article in the genealogy project, “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”
John Ross “Jack” Everett is a paternal second great-grandfather, 1822-1864. He is the holy grail of all ancestors and was saved as the 52nd ancestor in this series for a reason. As the progenitor of the south Texas Everett family, this ancestor is known to Everett descendants simply as “Captain Jack.” Everyone grows up knowing they are descended from Captain Jack.
Jack’s short life, when put on paper, reads like a movie script. He was a teenage explorer, Comanche fighter, Texas Ranger, rancher, military officer, business owner, politician, husband, and father – all in 42 years.
Until recently, his death remained a mystery to all except those who were with him, and this factor added to the larger-than-life mystique that keeps Captain Jack’s name on the lips of his descendants 150 years later. This article still has gaps that represent times in Jack’s life not accounted for in research, and so the research will continue.
John Ross Everett was born March 10, 1822 in Washington County, Ala. to John Fagan Everett and Sarah Britton Hand. He was likely named for his father’s business partner, Jack F. Ross. Young Jack grew up in a prosperous family. His father was a career politician who had served in the War of 1812. Both of his grandfathers served in the American Revolution, and his paternal great-grandfather was in the North Carolina militia in 1747, so no doubt Jack grew up listening to stories of war, expeditions, and adventures.
In March 1839, Jack obtained 320 acres of land in what today is Aransas County, just outside of Corpus Christi. He was 17 years old. There is no information on how long he had been in Texas or how he obtained the land grant. The grant was issued out of Galveston, and it is likely Jack lived there upon his arrival from Alabama before exploring the rest of south Texas.
That same year, Jack served with Captain JW Cleveland’s mounted company of Texas Rangers. Later in 1839 he was a third sergeant in Captain William Wilson’s Company of Galveston Mounted Volunteers commanded by Col. HW Karnes, a Texas Rangers Comanche expedition in service to the Republic of Texas.
By April 1842, Jack was back in Alabama. He was named Captain of the Mobile Greys, left for Galveston, and then sailed to Corpus Christi. Texas had been a republic since 1836, but there was still palpable tension with Mexico, and life on the frontier was dangerous. There was a former Mexican fort outside Corpus Christi called Lipantitlan, named for Lipan Apaches. Captain Jack and other volunteers established a camp there. The book, “Corpus Christi and Lipantitlan: A Story of the Army of Texas Volunteers, 1842,” notes that Captain Jack transported at least one group of Mexican prisoners to their homes near the Rio Grande. He would eventually make his home there, and the name Captain Jack would stick with him forever.
Records from the 1850s indicate Jack paid for supplies during his 1842 service out of his own pocket. He was finally paid $555.61 in 1851 for his service as captain in 1842. He was also paid $3,905 in 1856 for supplying his own rifles, gun powder, lead, clothing, and six months’ worth of food for the entire company in 1842.
War with Mexico
In February 1845, Jack enlisted again with the Texas Rangers, this time under the command of Capt. Peter H. Bell and the Corpus Christi Ranger Company. Once the Mexican-American War began, Jack went back and forth from Mexico to Texas. He served in the US Quartermaster office of the Army and then served with McCulloch’s Texas Rangers in the Battle of Monterrey. He also ran a sutler’s store (civilian merchant) to serve the needs of Gen. Zachary Taylor’s army in Corpus Christi.
Jack’s adventures were written about in newspapers around the country. During the Mexican War, one newspaper reported:
“A party of Mexicans and Americans under the command of the daring Capt. Jack Everett, formerly of Mobile, had gone in pursuit of the Comanche Indians who had been committing depredations upon the property of and murdered several Mexicans.”
In 1847, Jack helped stop a robbery in Mier, Mexico. About 40 robbers attacked the town and killed a guard while another group of 30 robbers attempted to steal a wagon full of supplies in a nearby location. This prompted the company of soldiers and volunteers into action. They killed the robbers and recaptured the stolen goods. This event was reported to the US House of Representatives and Jack is listed as a citizen who “contributed much to the success of the expedition.”
In 1848, famed war reporter George Wilkins Kendall sought Jack out in Camargo, Mexico, for an interview with the “notorious Indian fighter and border Ranger.” In the article he is described as a personal friend of Col. Kinney, founder of the City of Corpus Christi, and as a member of McCulloch’s Texas Rangers. Jack placed Kendall on his gray horse and jumped on behind him, and the two galloped off together, much to Kendall’s fright. Kendall repeatedly asked to be let off the horse, but Jack, who is described as both “a little deaf as well as drunk,” kept yelling, “he’s a d__d good horse!” The only reason they stopped is because they crashed into a pile of adobe bricks, sending Jack, Kendall, and the horse flying in all directions. Jack then exclaimed, “I told you he was a d__d good horse!” Kendall was never to ride with Jack again.
Marriage and Family
Sometime in the middle of his adventures, Jack met and married Antonia Flores, who was from Mier, Mexico. Antonia’s grandfather and great-grandfather had the original Spanish land grant to establish San Diego, Texas, when it was still under Spanish rule. The Flores family brought the first settlers to San Diego in the early 1800s. But Antonia was raised in Mier, just on the other side of the Rio Grande, and it was there that she met the young, handsome, daring Captain Jack. The family story is that Jack rescued an old man who had been beaten and robbed in Mexico. To show his gratitude, the man (probably Antonia’s father) took him to his hacienda and Jack met the 15-year-old Antonia. Jack was 25.
They were married April 19, 1847, one day after Jack converted to Catholicism. The marriage announcement ran in newspapers in Mexico and around the United States, including the Matamoros Flag and the Baltimore Sun. Jack and Antonia had 10 children, and eight of them lived to adulthood. One son was named Ben McCulloch after the Texas Ranger with whom Jack served during the Mexican-American War.
Business and Politics in Starr County
In 1849, Jack went into business with famous Texas Ranger Jack Hays. They operated a ferryboat along the Rio Grande. Several newspaper accounts mention this partnership.
Jack continued his military expeditions even while being married and conducting business in Texas. He briefly supported an effort to create a separate US territory between the Nueces River and Rio Grande. The group behind this effort was known as the Brownsville Separatists. By 1850 Jack had distanced himself from this group and all activities died shortly thereafter.
Jack is listed as a merchant living in Rio Grande City in the 1850 US Census. The value of his real estate was $5,000. He founded the town of Everettsville, which was centered around a sulphur spring in the Rio Grande Valley that was going to be a spa to provide a healthy getaway. The town didn’t last, and today it is listed in a book about Texas ghost towns.
Then Jack did what probably came naturally and began a political career in Starr County, Texas. Between 1852 and his death in 1864, he was a county commissioner, district clerk, tax assessor, and assistant marshal and census enumerator for the 1860 federal census.
Sometime after 1856, he sold the land in Aransas County, Texas. Jack and Antonia conducted many land deals during their marriage. Antonia owned land in Mier and in Texas.
- February 1851 – Antonia and Jack sold land in Alamo to Emeline Lund
- June 1851 – Jack sold land to “messrs. Davis and Durst”
- August 1853 – Antonia and Jack sold land in Roma, Starr County to AN Norton
- November 1857 – Antonia sold land to Tamislado Gonzalez
Later Years, Civil War, and Death
In 1862, Jack registered his allegiance to the Confederate States of America. Then he disappeared in April 1864, or so everyone believed, until 2013.
On April 1, 1864, Antonia filed a death document in Mier. The document simply listed Jack’s name, his age, and Antonia’s name. There was nothing else on the page.
Antonia does not appear on the 1870 census. She appears in San Diego, Texas on the 1880 census living with four of her children. There is no accounting for the time between 1864 and 1880. Descendants wondered where Antonia lived after Jack died, where Jack was buried, how he died. Rumors of Jack’s murder, of his moving back to Alabama, and other stories took hold and everyone was left to wonder about Jack. Antonia died in 1911 and is buried in San Diego, but Jack is not buried with her. Where was he? Did he serve in the Civil War? Is that how he died?
In 2013, another death document for Jack surfaced in Mier records after an update by Family Search. This document was filed with the Catholic Church and had more details. Jack died in Mier on March 31, 1864. He was in a home with Antonia (perhaps a home they owned in Mier) and several other witnesses who are listed on the document. The document, written in Spanish, is damaged and no one can read what Jack died of, and that remains a huge mystery. He may have died of a communicable illness because the record states, when translated, “nor did he receive the holy sacraments because of the worry during of his illness.” He was buried in the Mier cemetery. Another civil document also surfaced in 2013 that states Jack died at 1 p.m., March 31, 1864.
After Jack’s death, Antonia gave her son, Jack Ross Everett, Jr., power of attorney to handle her legal affairs. There is a document filed in Starr County in May 1884 stating that Antonia, now a resident of San Diego, made Jack her attorney to deal with property matters. In June 1884, Antonia and her son Jack sold land located in Starr County that was originally an old land grant under the jurisdiction of Mier, Mexico to Marciano Garza Gonzalez. Nowhere in these land documents is mention of the ranch Jack owned and that had been the family homestead. There is no way to know for certain if this land sale in 1884 was a sale of the ranch because the deed makes no specific descriptions of the land and it does not even indicate how many acres were sold.
Was the ranch sold and nothing filed? Did squatters take the ranch? That will take much more research to track down a 150-year-old mystery.
The legend of Jack Ross Everett lives on and no amount of new evidence and documents will separate the myth from the man. They are one and the same now.
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