The Howard County, Texas History Project


If your family missed being in the big book called Howard County 1882-1982 you are invited
to post your family history here. Please use the book as a guide but your contribution can be
much different—more text and photos if you wish.
(Phillips sample below is from the book.)

If you don’t have access to Howard County 1882-1992 ask me
and I will check to see whether your family is in the book.

Please contact me for instructions on how to compose your story.
--Doyle Phillips


Contributed by James R. Tamsitt (Austin, Texas)

I am grateful to the late Robert Coyner for giving me access to his exhaustive

research on the genealogy of the Tamsitt family.


My great grandfather, Stephen Tamsitt (1850-1923), was born in Ashford, Kent,

England, and, as a young man, immigrated to the U. S. In 1874 he married Martha

Wheatley (1849-1929), a young woman he had known in England in his youth. He and

Martha lived in Illinois, where my grandfather James Oliver "Pop" (1875-1932) and

great aunt Edith May Tamsitt (1880-1933) were born. Steve Tamsitt rode the first train

into Big Spring in May 1881, and the family moved to this small town where shops and a

station of the Texas & Pacific Railway Company offered employment for Machinists and

men of other trades. Steven and Martha owned several pieces of property in Big Spring

and were members of the Episcopal Church.

     When he was 21, my grandfather J. O. Tamsitt married May Powell

(1879-1953), the daughter of Thomas Buchanan "Can" (1846-1939) and Eva L. Powell

(1853-1935). Eva was a niece of the abolitionist John Brown, who, with armed

followers, raided Harpers Ferry in 1859. May Powell came to Big Spring when "sweet

sixteen." The family came from Sweetwater, having originated in Ohio. Can

Powell was the oldest World War I veteran and the last Union Army veteran in the

country at the time of his death in 1939 (Big Spring Herald, 1939). The young couple

built a house at 307 Johnson St. and had two children, my father Guy James (1898-1944)

and Lillian Alice Tamsitt (1903-1997). My grandparents were active in civic affairs and

attended the First Presbyterian Church. J. O. Tamsitt belonged to the Big Spring

Volunteer Fire Department, for a time was County Tax Collector, and was Financial

Secretary of the local Machinists Lodge (Machinists’ Monthly Journal, vol. 33, no. 2, p.

157, 1921). May Tamsitt was an early member of the Big Spring Home and School

Club, which later became the Parent Teacher Association (History of Howard Count,

Howard County Historical Commission, p. 22, 1982). Of Big Spring, May Tamsitt said,

"I have lived here a good many years and still love the old town as I did when I first came

here." (Big Spring Herald, 1939).

     Edith May Tamsitt (1880 –1933) married Edward E. Brindley in 1896, but the

marriage did not last, and in 1911 she married W. G. Nabors. They had two daughters,

Minnie Belle and Edith May, who settled in Dallas. Minnie Belle married Harvey

Williamson, and Edith May married John Seymore. Aunt Edith is buried near the

Tamsitt plot in New Mt. Olive Cemetery, Big Spring.

     After graduation from Big Spring High School, Lillian Alice married Aubrey

Lynn Kent (1902 – 1972), and they moved to Louisiana, where their only child, James

William "Billy" Kent (1923-2005), was born. As a young man Bill enlisted in the U. S.

Air Force and retired as a Senior Master Sergeant after 23 years. He married Thelma

Walker of Crockett, Texas, and the family was stationed in Ft. Worth and Wichita Falls,

Texas; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Bill served overseas

during World War II, was shot down twice, and lived to tell about it. He was interned

for a while in Turkey.

     Bill and Thelma had two children, Jimmy Michael (1947 - ) and Sherry Lee (1954

- ). Jimmy "Mike" graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and lives in

Austin, where he owns a home security business. A graduate of California State

University at Sacramento, Sherry married James R. Burgeson (USAF Ret.) (1948 - )

They lived in Guam, Rapid City, South Dakota, Sacramento, and Omaha, Nebraska,

before retiring to Austin. Their son James Michael (1981 - ) graduated from Texas State

University in San Marcos, Texas, and is a law enforcement Officer with the Austin

Police Department.

     The union with Aubrey Kent was short lived, and Aunt Lill married William

Hugh Dugan (1892 – 1974), a Brakeman and Conductor with the Texas and Pacific

Railroad. They lived many years in Ft. Worth, Texas, and had two children, Jackson

Raymond Dugan (1940 - ) and Evelyn Olivia Dugan (1945 - ). Jack attended The

University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in Accounting and played varsity

basketball. He became a tax lawyer and settled in Dallas, Texas. Jack married

Adrianna Klentos (1937 - ), and they have one daughter, Cristina Elaine Dugan. Cristina

married Eric Schmidt, and they have a son, Hunter William Schmidt.

     Evelyn studied Journalism at The University of Texas at Austin, where she

met her future husband, John Paul Sommers (1945 - ). John obtained his Ph. D. in

Statistics, and for a time they lived in Dallas, where Evelyn obtained her M. B. A. from

Southern Methodist University. They moved to Washington, D. C., where John worked

for the U. S. Government and Evelyn was Director of a national nursing association for

many years. They make Bethesda, Maryland, their retirement home.

     My father Guy became an apprentice at the railroad shops when he was a lad and

rode his donkey "Dobbin" to work. His training served him well, and for many years

he ran a sheet metal shop with T. B. McGinnis near Third and Johnson Streets. In 1924

Guy married Steva May Kavanaugh (1905-1997), daughter of Alfred Rigsby (1881-1960)

and Della Viola Kavanaugh (1881-1965). They built a house at 712 Goliad Street,

where I was born in 1928. My sister Lillian Nell (1931-2006) was born in the Bivings

and Barcus Hospital in July 1931. After graduating from Big Spring High School Lill

married William Milton Condra (1930-2006) of Austin in 1953, and they lived

for a time in Big Spring before moving to Austin and then retiring in Kerrville. Lillian

worked for the State National Bank for many years when they lived in Big Spring. They

had two sons, Guy (1955 - ) and Phil (1961 - ).

     After graduation from Crockett High School in Austin, Guy Condra (1955- )

Attended Texas A & M University, where he graduated with a B. S. degree in Biology

and met his first wife, Debra Stallings. They had four daughters. Christi Lynn Condra

(1978 - ) obtained her degree in Nursing from Emory University and is an Emergency

Room nurse in Atlanta, Georgia. Fraternal twins Marsha Lee (1980 - ) and Shelly Marie

(1980 - ) graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio and live in Boerne.

Marsha teaches school, and Shelly is an Architectural Designer. Marsha divorced Nat

Pendleton after several years of marriage and has two children, Keith (2000 - ) and

Addison (2004 - ). Marsha is now married to Ken Guidry. Shelley married Victor

Garza, and they have a girl, Marisa Joy (2005 - ). Kimberly Joy (1983 - ) graduated

from Texas A & M University and teaches Mathematics in Boerne. Kimberly married

Ryan McGinnis of Boerne in 2008.

     Guy has been in construction as a Contractor for much of his adult life and lives in

Boerne with his second wife, Lisa Rodawalt (1960 - ). They have one daughter, Katelyn

(1989 - ), who attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock and now attends college in

San Marcos, Texas.

     Phil graduated from Texas A & M with a degree in Civil Engineering and, after

several years in commercial construction, is employed by The University of Texas

System in Austin. He married Sarah "Sally" Hagan (1964 - ) in 1985, and their children

are Philip Condra II (1990 - ), a student at Austin Community College, Mary Catherine

(1992 - ), a student at Austin High School, and Patrick (1996 - ), a student at O’Henry

Middle School in Austin, Texas.

     After graduating from Big Spring High School, I attended The University of

Texas at Austin, where I was awarded the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Zoology.

I was on staff at the University of the Andes, Bogotá, Colombia (1959-1963), the

University of Manitoba (1957-1958), the University of Toronto and the Royal

Ontario Museum (1967-1985), Canada, and was a National Science Foundation

Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Medicine in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1965-1967).

Twice (1975, 1982) I was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in Colombia, and my research was

supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Research Council of

Canada, and other granting entities. I was listed in American Men and Women of

Science, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who in Science and

Engineering, and I am a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of

Science and of Sigma Xi, the Honorary Research Society of America. I was an Adjunct

Professor at The University of Texas at Austin (1986-1988) and at Austin Community

College (1988- 1998) before retiring in 1998. An intrepid traveler, I am on my ninth

passport.                     29 October 2009

Sample page from Howard County 1882-1982

                                                         1939: List of Residents (Posted 28 July 2009)