Jett Trails West

by: Lois M. Jett and Ernest C. Jett

Published in 1996 by the authors listed above, this book primarily deals with the Jett family history. From what I have read the book is the result of a superior and outstanding effort of over 40 years work and research, and it has more than earned its place as a most significant work relevant to several familiy histories. The book is of interest to Tarkington researchers for it's pages on Burton B. Tarkington, the founder of Tarkington Prairie and a prominent figure within the Texas branch of the Tarkington family. Jett Trails West covers the story of Burton Tarkington's journey from Indiana to Texas, and goes on to discuss Burton's parents, and siblings, who can be tied to several other “branches” of Tarkingtons. The quantity of Tarkington information relative to the size of the book is rather small, but in the context of a book dealing primarily with Jett history, is an amazing gift to those wanting to know more about Texas Tarkingtons. The book is not sold in stores, and information for those wishing to obtain a copy is listed below.

Those interested in obtaining a copy of the book should send an inquiry to Mr. Ernest C. Jett at


By: Jett, Lois M. and Ernest C. Jett (1996)

PAGES 177 thru 181


A GENEALOGY OF OUR JETT FAMILY would be incomplete without a brief history of the founding of Tarkington Prairie and more about Burton B. Tarkington, its founder. Tarkington is a small community located between Dayton and Cleveland, Texas located off State Hiway 321, about 50 mites N.E. of Houston.

Of the six children of Stephen and Sarah Cole Jett, at least three of them were pioneer settlers at Tarkington Prairie and connect by marriage to many of these Liberty County families who settled the area. The families of Berry, Boothe, Gaper, Cherry, Donahue, Gibson, Isaacks, Hazard, Jackson, Knowlen, Mathews, Pruett, Rhodes, Sharman, Tanner, Tarkington, Wells, White, West, Williamson and Young are some of the well known families who intermarried. Three Jett children of Stephen and Sarah Cole Jett lived on Tarkington Prairie and helped settle the area. The following Jett families lived on the Prairie:

1. James Jett and Susan Noland (Knowlen) had a son Barnabus ?Barney? (called in error Barclay on Census) who married Sarah Tarkington, daughter of Burton and his wife Sarah Berry Tarkington. They are buried in McGinnis Cemetery.

2. Jane Swan Jett, wife of John, moved with her son Ransom Ferguson Jett and his wife Mary Winfree to Tarkington sometime in the late 1800s. Mary Ann and Ransom Jetts children, while not born in Liberty County, lived at Tarkington, and Jane is buried in Ryan cemetery along with her grandson, John A. Jett. Rance's father John Jett, husband of Jane Swan died on a cattle drive in 1849 and the location of his grave has never been found. Our father, Willis Warren Jett, Sr. was living on the Prairie when he married our mother Laura Frazier in 1908 and three of their five children were born there before they moved in 1917 to Dayton where Emest and Lois were born in 1920 and 1924. We all remember well going to visit the folks at Tarkington and eating ?dinner on the ground? at Rural Shade Baptist Church. The Willis Jett family moved to Liberty in 1935.

3. Susan Jett Young was in Liberty County before 1857 when she was a founding member of Oak Shade Baptist Church. Her son Traville ?Bud? Young and his wife Mary Caruthers lived at Tarkington and have numerous descendants there. Descendants are buried primarily in Ryan Cemetery. Susan may be buried in Oak Shade but Bud and Mary Louise are buried in Ryan Cemetery as are most of their children.

We have never found the grave of Susan Young, nor for that matter, Joseph Young.

BURTON B. TARKINGTON Founder of Tarkington Prairie

Burton Tarkington (now believed born 6 Nov 1793) was the son of Jesse Tarkington, b. 21 Feb 1767, d. 1850 ca. His father Jesse Tarkington m. 28 Aug 1792 Mary “Po11y” Tarkington, d/o Zebulon Tarkington and Mary Hassell. Mary ?Pol1y? was born 21 Dec 1773 and d. 2 Apr 1859. Jesse and Polly were cousins born in Tyrrell County, North Carolina and both died in Stanford, Monroe Co, Indiana. Polly had a sister, Pricilla who married John Tarkington, a brother of Jesse Tarkington. Burton is shown below as the second born child of Jesse and Mary Polly Tarkington along with his siblings.


1. Sylvania H. Tarkington, b. ca 1793, m. (1) Martha ?Fatsy? Alexander and (2) Mary Ann Woodall.

2. Burton B. Tarkington, b 6 Nov 1793, d. 2 Feb 1 1861, m. Sarah Berry. b. 1792 ca, d. 12 Aug 1865. (8 children.)

3. Jesse Tarkington, Jr. no info

4. Rev. Joseph Tarkington m. Maria Slauson and they had John, Dr. Joseph, William, M.S., Martha and Mary.

5. John S. Tarkington m. (1) Martha P. Whatley and (2) about 1850 Mary Ann Thorn. He had 11 children: Joseph Simpson, William Oscar, Charles, Mary Emma, Nellie, Edith, Laura, Lida, George, Arthur, and Harry Kern.

6. Ellsberry Tarkington, b. 1807, m. Lucinda Legg and they had Joseph, William, James O, Sarah E., Jonathan A., Mildred, and George S. Tarkington.

7. Mary Polly Reese Tarkington, m. John D. Whaley and they had Mary, Martha and William H. Whaley.

8. Eli Pope Tarkington m. Martha Gay and they had 11 children: William Burton, John Ellsberry, Horance, Harriet Ann, Mary, Martha, Maria Louise, Celesta Clemintine, Jess, James Heil and Frances Maria Tarkington.

9. George D. Tarkington (1813-1817) No other info.

10. William Claiborne Tarkington, b. 1816, m. Eliza K. Foster and they had 7 children: Mary Kate, Sarah Helen ?Lena?, William, Cornelia, Joseph, Robert, Jesse C. Tarkington.

11. Harrison Tarkington b 1818. No other information known.


Jesse Tarkington's father (Burton's Paternal Grandfather) was Joshua Tarkington, b. ca 1730, d. 1800, m. Zelphia Alexander. Joshua had a brother Zebulon Tarkington who m. Mary Hassell. Zebulon and Mary Hassell had daughter Mary ?Po11y? Tarkington who m. Jesse Tarkington and daughter Pricilla who married Jesse's brother, John Tarkington.


1 Jesse Tarkington, b. 21 Feb 1767, d. 1850 ca, m. 1792 ca Mary ?Po11y? Tarkington, b. 21 Dec 1773, d. 1 Apr 1859. Polly was d/o Zebulon Tarkington and cousin of Jesse.

2. Richard Tarkington, no other info.

3. Joseph Tarkington, no other info.

4. Isaac Tarkington, no other info.

5. John Tarkington, m. Pricilla Tarkington, his cousin.

6. William Tarkington, no other info.

7. Elizabeth Tarkington, no other info.


1. Mary 'Polly' Tarkington, b. 21 Dec 1773, d. 1 Apr 1859. ?Po11y? was a first cousin of Jesse Tarkington who she married around 1792. She and Jessie Tarkington had the same descendants shown above as listed for Jesse.

2. Pricilla Tarkington m. John Tarkington, a first cousin, the son of Joshua and Zelphia Alexander Tarkington.


Joshua Tarkington's father (Burton's Paternal GGrandfather) was William Tarkington. We have no info on his children other than that Joshua and Zebulon were his sons. Zebulon would be Burton's Maternal GGrandfather.


Williams's father was John Tarkington, Jr. who was Burton's GGGrandfather and we have no info on his child other than that William was his son.


John Tarkington, Jr., father was John Tarkington, Sr. (GGGGrandfather of Burton), making Burton and his siblings sixth generation Americans insofar as we know.


Gen. Relationship Ancestor and Basic Genealogical Data



3 GGFather WILLIAM TARKINGTON (1) No info.

4 PGFather *JOSHUA TARKINGTON m. Zelphia Alexander

4 Uncle/MGF *ZEBULON TARKINGTON m. Mary Hassell

5 Father & Mother JESSE TARKINGTON m Mary Tarkington

6 Self BURTON B. TARKINGTON m. Sarah Berry

note: Joshua is Paternal GF and Zebulon Maternal GF of Burton.

We have Lela Mae Jones Catchings, former County Clerk of Liberty County and her sister, Loeta Jones Carroll (now deceased), to thank for the following story about their famous ancestor, Burton B. Tarkington, founder of Tarkington. We also acknowledge and thank Lela Mae for the generous use of her personal genealogy records concerning the Tarkington, Tanner, Isaacks and other allied families, which records form the greater part of the genealogy on several early Tarkington families which follow. We also thank Deborah Gaines Veryzer for her help in sharing information on the Tarkington, West Boothe, and other allied families. We also reviewed Norine Boothe Clements' bound manuscript on the Tarkington family which is located in the Charles O. Austin Memorial Library in Cleveland, Texas.

We quote from the story about Burton Tarkington written by Lela Mae and Loeta:

“Burton B. Tarkington was a native of Indiana, having been born there in 1790. Little is known of his boyhood or early lady named Sarah Berry, daughter of illustrious Judge Joseph Berry (…native of Virginia…who, while young went with his parents to Tennessee, and there married Mary Campbell… He served in the Indian wars and was once captured by Indians in Ohio. He was in Captain Price's Company in the command of General Wayne)”

“Sarah Berry was born in 1793, presumably in Tennessee. Her father was an adventurous man and in 1812 moved his family and settled in Illinois, near Vincennes, the home of young Burton Tarkington. Later Judge Berry and his family (excluding daughter Sarah who was left in Vincennes as the bride of Tarkington) moved to Monroe County, Indiana He was a lawyer and was elected judge of Monroe County. His first court was held in a log cabin.”

“On May 3 1821, the Tarkington couple became the parents of a baby girl, whom they named Martha, and shortly thereafter set out on trip that was to end months later in the Mexican state of Coahuila (Texas today). Before starting out on this pioneering adventure, they disposed of … their possessions except two horses and the barest of necessities. These… were placed on sled-like contraptions made with 2 long poles placed parallel and connected from about half way down to one set of ends by woven rope or hides from animals such as buffaloes.”

“The loose ends of the poles were attached to the horses and the device was drug behind. This mode of travel was copied from the Indians. Mrs. Tarkington and the baby rode on one horse and presumably Mr. Tarkington rode on the other… one of his descendants (third generation) contends that he walked all of the way ahead of his family - so likely the second horse was used only as a pack horse.”

“The route that these pioneers took is vague. It is known that they arrived at the Trinity River, 4 miles north of Liberty. They crossed the river at this point and pitched camp. A campsite had been established earlier there and Mr. Tarkington decided to leave his family with other campers there and do some scouting. He felt that he had almost reached his destination. He engaged the service of an Indian guide and then set out to find a spot to establish a home. After a number of miles of woodland they emerged into a vast prairie, covered with wind-blown grass as far as the eyes could see in any direction. Wild cattle and prairie ponies were everywhere. They continued on northward, veering slightly to the west. After having traveled about 20 or 25 miles from the river, they came to a marsh. Just past it was a knell. Mr. Tarkington stopped and dismounted and viewed the spot more closely. The soil was sandy and fine, ideal for corn and feed crops as well as cane and cotton. Towards the north and west were scattered woodlands, necessary for hog range. And the prairie! With its grasslands for grazing and its multiple swamplands for watering, it was a cattle raiser?s paradise.

“He knew that here was the spot. He drove some stakes and then set off back to the camp on the Trinity and got his family,

“This was the Spring of 1822 and he and his family became the first white settlers on what was to become known as Tarkington Prairie.”

Mr. Tarkington was a leader in his community. He organized a religious group in 1847 and this group consisted of twenty

PAGE 185

d. 25 July 1963, m. in 1948 Lillian Vincent Crawford in datum, TX. He is buried in Tatum.

(3) William Dixon Bootee, b. 23 Oct 1904 in Cleveland and d. 8 June 1927 in Houston, TX unmarried. Buried City Cemetery in Cleveland.

(4) Frank Haynes soothe, b. 3 Sept 1906 in Cleveland, d. 17 May 1927, unmarried. Buried Cleveland City Gem.

(5) Viera Boothe, b. 5 Sept 1908 in Cleveland, m' Clark Wright Hubert 28 Aug 1932 in Humble, Tx.

(6) Norine Boothe, b. 1 Jun 1910 in Cleveland, d. 13 May 1988 in Columbus, GA, buried in Parkhill Memorial Cemetery. Norine m. 5 Nov 1933 Thos Calhoun Clements and they had two daughters, one we know was Nanette Clements, b 11 Sept 1934, m. 20 Mar 1959 Joe Floyd Johnson, b. 26 Nov 1929.

(7) Gladys Juliet Bootee, b. 3 Sept 1912, in Cleveland and m. 7 Nov 1932 Winston Roger Warr in Logansport, LA. They have one son and three daughters.

(8) Thomas Abram Bootee, Jr., b. 20 Feb 1914, Cleveland, d. Sept 1984 in Houston, m. 22 Feb 1947, Sydney Faye Cayton Stanford. Buried in Cleveland City Cemetery.

(9) Lucille Booths, b. 14 Feb 1916 in Cleveland and m. 10 May 1936 in Monroe, Montgomery Co, TX to Edmond Earl Barker. Had two sons by first marriage.

(10) Mary Elizabeth Boothe, b. 4 Dec 1918 in Cleveland, and m. 13 Sept 1947 Sam Howell Gingles in Cleveland. Mary Elizabeth and Sam H. Gingles had three sons.

3. William Tarkington. If this is Willie, b. Nov 1876.

4. Leonora Tarkington. Date of birth unknown.

5. Mamie Tarkington, b. Aug 1882 according to 1900 Census for Liberty County (this would make her d/o Elizabeth Brantley, m. Samuel Young and they had Viva who m. Mason Dear; Guy Young; Eddie Young; and Iva Young.

6. Vira Rebecca Tarkington, b. Nov 1886 according to the 1900 Census. This would make her daughter of John Lewis' second wife, Elizabeth Brantley. She married Willie Edward “Buck” Jackson and they had 10 Children shown below:

(1) Infant Jackson dob unknown

(2) Ira Spencer Jackson b. Jan. 4, 1909 in Tarkington Prairie, Liberty, TX. m. 1942 Thelma Ellington (no children) deceased date unknown d. February 19, 1962 in Houston, Harris, TX. (buried in the Cleveland Cemetery, Cleveland, Liberty Cow TX.)

(3) Roland Jackson b. Oct. 28, 1910 in Tarkington Prairie, TX. m. date unknown 1st Margie Dennis (?) and they had son Ronnie Roland Jackson (now deceased) Wife #2 Melba??? no other info d. date unknown in MS. (Living at Quitman, MS. at time of death)

(4) Mildred Jackson b. July 9, 1913 in Tarkington Prairie, TX. m. Sept. 14, 1937 to Robert Keith Scott (Keith dod Aug 24, 1993 and buried at Ryan Cemetery in Tarkington Prairie, TX land they had a son Robert Andrew “Andy” Jackson b. Feb 2, 1948 in Houston, Harris, TX.

(5) Lela Mae Jackson b. Aug. 5, 1915 in Tarkington Prairie, TX. m. Horace Joel Wright and they had daughter Elizabeth Alliene Wright.

(6) Ruby Jackson b. Aug. 17, 1917 in Tarkington Prairie, Liberty, TX. m. Luther C. Havard and had daughter Mary Elizabeth Havard. d. 1994 in TX.

(7) Charles Nicholas Jackson b. Aug. 21, 1920 in Tarkington Prairie, Liberty, TX. m. never married

(8) Allen Jackson b. Sept. 13, 1924 in Tarkington Prairie, Liberty, TX. m. Never married d. March 5, 1950 in TX. (auto accidentlBuried in the Ryan Cemetery in Tarkington Prairie, TX.

(9) Vira Agnes Jackson b. June 9, 1928 m. Charles B.(CB) Tinner and had two sons Charles Randall Tinner and Drew Alien Tinner. d. Dec. 24, 1985 in TX. (buried at the Ryan Cemetery in Tarkington Prairie)

(10) Clarice Evelyn Jackson b. Aug. 27, 1931 in Tarkington Prairie, Liberty, TX. m. Date unknown to Leonard Earl Welch and they had Michael, Edward, Debra Jean, and Mark Lee Clarice and Leonard Earl Welch live in Rusk, TX.


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Just an update on the paragraph stating Burton came to Texas in 1822.

I have a copy of the petition for a Mexican Land Title dated 4-10-1830

where he had applied for a Mexican Title. (This title was for some reason never

completed- he did however get title but later). The petition is in Spanish and bears his

signature. In it Burton states they emigrated to Texas in 1827_

I'm sure the writers had passed down information, but I just wanted to let

you know of the correct date.

Mary Ann Tarkington

Burton is my GGG Grandfather, thru his oldest son Jesse Harrison TArkington

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