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Monday, January 25, 2010

Argyle William Tucker- Midlothian's Genius

When I walk among grave stones I can't help but wonder, "What were these people like?" Surely, if they were exceptional people I would have heard about them or at least they would have a special marker by their grave. But the truth is many exceptional people are often forgotten. Yet even though the public forgets, sometimes family members pass on their story. Such is the case of Argyle William Tucker. A man of his times and a man before his time.

Thanks to Bob Bigham's articles published in the Weatherford Democrat, his great-great grandfather, Argyle William Tucker, has his place in Texas History. A set of articles written by Mr. Bigham, circa 1992, documents his family ancestry in Texas. Bob was influenced by his childhood memories of his Grandfather sitting around telling stories about their Texas pioneer family. You can imagine the impression made on a 7 year old Bob when his Grandfather, Albert Hall Bigham, placed a Winchester model 1873 45-60cal rifle in his hands. Especially after Bob heard the stories of how the owner of the rifle had fought indians in the pioneer days of Texas. The fact that the original owner of the rifle, A. W. Tucker, was Bob's great-great grandfather just enhanced the mystique.

Argyle William Tucker was born on September 9, 1832 in Davison County, Tennessee. His parents were Labon Epps Tucker and Nancy N. Turney. Labon's father ,Gabriel Tucker, was from a wealthy southern family from Georgia. Labon's grandfather ,Rev. Daniel Tucker, of Elbert County Georgia is believed to be the main character in the folk song "Old Dan Tucker." In the lyrics Old Dan dies from a "toothache in his heel."

"Daniel Tucker was buried in Elbert County in 1818.[51] The Elbert County Chamber of Commerce today promotes his grave as a tourist attraction due to his possible connection with the character from the song"-Wikipedia.
[Argyle Tucker in photo right]

Argyle with his parents and siblings moved from Lincoln County, Tennessee to Texas in 1854. They settled in Ellis County in the town of Waxahachie. Labon purchased a two and a half acre lot near the town square from Emory W. Rogers an original founder of Waxahachie. Here Argyle met and ,a couple years later, married Marinda Jane Stewart on November 14, 1856. In 1857 the whole family moved to 160 acres of land near a fort in Parker County that was eight miles west of Weatherford, Texas . A rough and tumble land with constant attacks by Indians, the Tucker family all being great machinist, began making guns to protect the pioneers. The Tucker's were men of rare ability and it was said they were so gifted that they could build a watch from scrap metal.
Argyle,"his father, and his brother Elihu established a gunsmith shop in Weatherford, L. E. Tucker and Sons.">-Handbook of Texas online
Argyle wanted to do more than build the firearms and joined the Texas Rangers under John Robert Baylor. Argyle became known as an Indian fighter as he fought in many battles. The approaching storm called the Civil War changed the fight from the Indians to the northerners. The Tuckers were proud to be from the South and Argyle and Elihu quickly joined the Texas State Troops. But the Tuckers were in great demand for their gunsmith skills and Labon and his sons main focus was making guns. They made as many firearms as they could for the Southern cause. Argyle also delivered supplies to military camps in the area.

The Military Board of Texas headed up by Governor , Richard Lubbock, was looking for people with gunsmith skills. The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, John Crockett, was give instruction to find folks with these skills. The Tuckers being well known for their talents were contacted. The Tuckers were convinced to form a partnership and come to Lancaster, Texas to set up a gun factory. Their business was called Tucker Sherrod & Co. of Lancaster, Dallas County, Texas. Their contract required them to manufacture 3,000 pistols in the likeness of the Colt.
"Tucker and his father created a gun known today as the Tucker or the Tucker and Sherrard-a .44-caliber pistol with a 7½-inch barrel, a copy of the famous Colt Dragoon, prized by collectors."
- Texas Handbook online

The partners of the company were as follows Labon E. Tucker, J.H. Sherrard, W.L. Killen, Pleasant Taylor, A. W. Tucker and John M. Crockett. The Gun Factory was set up on West Main Street in Lancaster. The Tucker's quit the business because as the war progressed supplies were hard to come by. The Tucker's were convinced to stay on as employees because there was such a need for their talent. Due to lack of materials the factory was unable to fulfill it's contract and was released from it's obligation. Since so few firearms were made the Tucker and Sherrard Colt became very rare and collectible. Argyle and Labon went back to Weatherford and reopened their gun shop. Again the gunshop is called L.E. Tucker & Sons.

The gun shop continued to make firearms as the war was coming to it's end. It was apparent the South was loosing and the Tuckers, who usually only accepted gold for their services anyway, decided to turn away Confederate money. At this time people of the South were very suspicious of anything they perceived as anti-confederate. The Tuckers fell under suspicion. To add to the suspicion, Argyle had served in the Confederate Army for a spell under a fella named Luckey who was under investigation for treason. Somehow the Tuckers and Luckey were arrested and tried in Houston for treason but all charges were dropped. Luckey was arrested again in Bell County ordered by a Judge Hunter in Weatherford. As the men were escorting him back to Weatherford they were headed off by a group of fellas who hung Luckey from a tree. Not very lucky was Luckey.

Argyle continued his service for the Confederacy and reported for duty in Galveston. After that Argyle was sent to Waco to build a cotton mill to make uniforms for the Confederate Army. He got the mill operating but the war soon ended. Elihu was serving in Marshall, Texas where he built a powder mill. He traveled to Waco after the war and all the Tuckers reunited in Waco. The Tuckers eventually moved back to Ellis County and Elihu and his family to Parker County.

Argyle settled in Midlothian and began the first Black Smith shop in Midlothian. He also opened a Grocery store and a Hardware store. Argyle opened the first photography studio and art gallery in Midlothian. Argyle would end up with 11 patents with the US patent office. Many patents involved farming equipment. In photography he designed a way to make electric gold pictures. Other patents involved a suspension bridge , a calculator and a railway switching device. [Blueprint of Tucker calculator in picture left]

Argyle and his brother also owned and worked on a gold mine in North Carolina in the 1880's. Argyle and Elihu in another venture built and ran a boat on the Paluxy River. Their boat was called the "Floating Palace." People would travel miles to Glen Rose and ride the "Floating Palace" enjoying music and dancing.

In 1910 Argyle William Tucker died at his daughter's home in Midlothian. He is buried in the Midlothian Cemetery. His youngest son Hughes H. Tucker carried on the his family's gifts of intelligence and ability. Hughes became a renowned geologist and was the head geologist on the Santa Rita #1 well in Reagan County, Texas. I'm guessing he marked the spot for the well to be drilled. It produced oil from May 28, 1923 until it was plugged 1990 . Santa Rita #1 oil well was on property leased by the University of Texas. This well made the University of Texas one of the richest colleges in the World!

Argyle Tucker's Patent for Gold Pictures

Resources:The Weatherford Democrat circa 1992, Handbook of Texas Online,, Searchers Waxahachie Library


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I have wondered what happened to the Tucker family. The Lancaster library has an extensive folder on the Confederate Gun Factory that the Tuckers were involved with. There is at least one small article about the Tuckers involvement from the Lancaster Herald, along with an article from the Weatherford paper.
Lela Evans

The Lancaster Genealogical Society had an article about them in one of their newsletters which can also be seen at the Lancaster Library.
Lela Evans
former Genealogy Librarian at Lancaster

オテモヤン said...
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Anonymous said...
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Creeker said...

Thanks Lela,

It's nice to get somebody that actually post about the subject. Yeah think I found out about Argyle in the Midlothian Library. They have a room for local history and genealogy. I like to dig through it. Found his grave in the Midlothian Cemetery and other family memebers. I need to go by the Library in Lancaster. They have a marker for the gun factory I beleive

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