Elizabeth Leary/Hart

Elizabeth Leary/Hart was born in Ballymoney, Wexford County, Ireland. Her father, James Leary, was a farmer.

She married Tom Hart in 1823 (possibly June 1 or 2). See Chapter 3 of Rosalie Hart/Prior's autobiography for details of their courtship and marriage.

Their children were: (still researching)

(?) Hart (male, died prior to Rosalie's birth)
Bridget Rosalie Hart/Priour (born August 1, 1825)
Elisabeth Hart (died at sea, May 7, 1834)
Mary Ann Hart
(?) Hart
(?) Hart (female)
(?) Hart (female)
(?) Hart (female)
(?) Hart (female)

According to Rosalie Hart Priour's autobiography, she had 9 siblings including 7 sisters "two of whom I cannot remember"

They were all strong, healthy children and very handsome, but I was unlike them, always delicate. Yet God called them home, and I was the only one left out of a family of nine children. -- Rosalie Hart/Priour, autobiography.

Three of Rosalie's sisters apparently died at once.

In winter, the whooping cough was very bad, and I took it at school. My sisters took it from me, and my dear mother had a dreadful time nursing us through the winter. It only affected me like a slight cold, but was very severe on the other children; in the spring they appeared to be entirely well, when those who were getting better took something resembling croup. They would be playing around apparently well, and in about fifteen minutes they would be dead. Three of my sisters died with it in one week. -- Rosalie Hart/Priour, autobiography.

In 1933 Colonel James Powers, a fellow native of Wexford County, began recruiting emmigrants to join a Mexican Colony in Texas.

Col. Powers held meetings at his sister's house and made speeches to large assemblies. He represented Texas as one of the richest countries in the world, and the most delightful climate. Gold was so plentiful according to his account, you could pick it up under the trees and a great many believed him. -- Rosalie Hart/Priour, autobiography. -- Rosalie Hart/Priour, autobiography.

The Harts immigrated to the United States with the Powers Colony in 1834. The trip to Texas was difficult. Little Elisabeth died during the voyage and was buried at sea May 7th, 1834.

The Captain [Russell] mourned for her as if she were his own child. He would sit by her an hour at a time without moving. He would get a comb and curl her hair, and talk to her as if she could understand him. He wanted to take her to New Orleans for internment, but we were becalmed, and the porpoises followed the vessel in such numbers, the sailors told him he would have to bury her at sea, or we would never arrive at port so long as a corpse was on board. To please them, she had to be sewn in some new canvas with weights to sink her, and with love and sorrow lowered to her last home on earth [7 May, 1834] -- Rosalie Hart/Priour, autobiography.

As luck would have it the immigrants arrived in New Orleans during an outbreak of cholera. Upon their arrival in Texas the disease broke out on the ship. Tom Hart became ill and died leaving his wife and daughters alone in a strange new land. They buried him in a blanket on the beach at Copano Bay.

Oh! The horror of our situation, my dear good mother must have been a woman of iron nerve to bear up against such trouble as she had to go through. We were in a strange country, thousands of miles from our friends and relations, on a sand beach exposed to the burning heat of summer or drenched by rain through the day and at night surrounded by wild animals, not knowing the minute we would be drowned. Then there were thousands of naked savages even more to be dreaded than the wild beasts, and a company of Mexican soldiers on guard for the purpose of preventing us from moving from that place under two weeks time, for fear we would spread the cholera. -- Rosalie Hart/Priour, autobiography.

Elizabeth and her two remaining daughters, Rosalie and Mary Ann, moved in with a family named Robinson who had one of the few log cabins in the area. Rosalie remembered her time there fondly.

The situation is one of the finest in Texas. The house was built on the bank of the creek and shaded by live-oaks with tops in the shape of umbrellas. The wild grapevines covered the trees and formed a nice, cool arbor the sun could not penetrate. Wild flowers of every variety and in the greatest profusion covered the plains as far as the eye could reach. To me it seemed like a miniature paradise. That summer was a very happy one, and the remembrance makes me love it better than anything on earth.

Their time with the Robinsons was cut short by increased indian activity in the area and they were forced to return to "the settlement" leaving the crops unharvested. There, Elizabeth met John James and they were married in San Patricio in 1835.

Less than a year later John James was captured by the Mexican while attempting to save the Refugio Archives by taking them to Goliad. He was placed with the men of James Fannin's company and executed in the famous "Fannin Massacre" in 1836.

The following Bill Walraven story from the Corpus Christi Callers-Times offers a summary of the history of Elizabeth Hart and her daughter Rosalie Priour.


Irish settlers found much hardship in Texas.

Corpus Christi Caller-Times, by Bill Walraven

The history of the Irish is sad, melancholy and often bloody and tragic. Of necessity, they had to laugh, sing and dance and play to keep from crying. Certainly the Irish colonists who settled South Texas before the Texas Revolution found little respite from their travails in their homeland. At home they only had starvation and hostile Englishmen to worry about. In the Texas Irish colonies, those who had survived storms at sea and shipwrecks on the coast found hostile indians and plagues of cholera and dysentery. They also found themselves caught between the Mexican army and Texans in revolt. Some chose Mexico, a Catholic nation as was their own. But most sided with Texans demanding freedoms under a liberal constitution. Many of them were to die in that cause.

The saga of the Irish during this period is preserved in a manuscript autobiography by Rosalie Hart Priour, entitled, "The Adventures of a Family of Emigrants Who Emigrated to Texas in 1834." Her grandfather was an Englishman who was disinherited by his family for embracing Catholicism. He was the first man put to death by the English in the revolt of 1798 in Dublin. Her father, who had been a customs officer, was failing as a farmer when Col. James Powers came to Ireland in 1833 to recruit settlers for his colony in Mexican Texas. "He represented Texas as one of the richest countries in the world, and a most delightful climate," Priour wrote. "Gold was so plentiful, according to his account, you could pick it up under the trees." The Hart family and their neighbors sold their property and sailed with farming implements and provisions for a year.

The ship survived a storm and arrived at New Orleans during a severe cholera epidemic. Two schooners taking the emigrants to Texas wrecked on St. Joseph's Island. Cholera broke out on the wreck and"the passengers died so fast that they could hardly throw them overboard as fast as they died." Her father nursed the sick. He made it to land an he, too, became ill and died. The survivors walked to the primitive settlement at Refugio, where many more died of dysentery.

The widow and her two daughters moved in with a family on Papalote Creek and were successful in raising a good crop. But Indians attacked and the crops were left in the fields unharvested. Her mother married John James, who enlisted in the Texas forces and helped capture La Bahia. Wagons came to move women and children from Refugio before the Mexican army arrived in March 1836. They made it to Victoria. James carried a message to Goliad only to find that Col. James Fannin's men had been captured. The Mexicans offered to spare his life since he had not been in the battle. However, he insisted on sharing Fannin's fate. He was shot with the rest of the prisoners. After much hardship in cold and rain, the family made it to Matagorda, where they were picked up by a schooner and taken to Galveston. They traveled on to New Orleans.

Her mother returned to Texas in 1839. Rosalie remained in New Orleans where she was educated and married. Her mother opened a store in Corpus Christi in 1848. Rosalie and her husband moved here in 1853, when there were only 25 Anglo families here. The family was to undergo other misfortunes. Her mother survived a steamship sinking in Galveston, but lost $6,000 in gold. They were swindled out of $4,000 by a crooked New Orleans merchant, and they underwent many other hardships during the Civil War when the city was blockaded and crops failed. There were deaths from yellow fever and a long drought.

It was not an easy life the Irish cut out for themselves. They can be proud of their own pilgrims in South Texas in the settlement of the New World.

--------"The Adventures of a Family of Emigrants who Emigrated to Texas in 1834" can be viewed (in-library-only) at the Corpus Christi Public Library downtown branch.


The history of the Irish settlers in South Texas is also documented on many of the area historical markers


Irish Immigrants in Refugio -- Historical Marker, Refugio County Texas, Corner of Purisima and Osage Streets, King's Park, Refugio.

The history of settlement in Refugio is closely associated with Ballygarrett, County Wexford, Ireland. Irish natives James Power (c. 1788-1852) and James Hewetson (1796-1870), both of whom immigrated to the United States in the early 19th Century and later became citizens of Mexico, obtained permission from the Mexican government to oversee the immigration of more than 200 Irish families to Texas in the 1830s. The first group of Irish settlers arrived on the Texas Gulf Coast in 1834. A cholera epidemic and the loss of provisions and equipment in rough waters as the immigrants reached the shore delayed their arrival in Refugio, where they were to settle near the former Spanish mission of Nuestra Senora del Refugio. The colony soon was established, however, and almost immediately the new settlers were embroiled in the cause of Texas independence from Mexico. Many Irishmen fought in the Texas Army and later served in the Republic of Texas Congress. The Irish people established a lasting presence in the Refugio area. Many descendants of the early immigrants still reside in the area, some on land granted to their ancestors in the 1830s.



Just two of the many books that make reference to the Hart family and their journey from Ireland to Texas with the Powers Colony.


Elizabeth returned to Texas in 1839 and opened a store in 1848. She must have experienced problems claiming the land promised to her late husband by the Powers Colony. The following letter from Benjamin Neal appears to offer a solution to her dilemna.



Austin Jan. 28, 1850.

Dear Madam, I have after a long and tedious time succeeded in getting a (?) for your relief. I have procured the certificate for one League and Labor of Land which you can locate upon any vacant or unappropriated domain. This will forever put to rest all future difficulty and troubles. If you do not wish to locate the land you can sell the certificate. It was the only alternative left you and I think I have done the best for you. I consider the certificate of more value to you now than the land situated where it was and under the circumstances and uncertainties. I shall bring the certificate down with me or send it by the next safe opportunity.

Yours Respectfully, B.F. Neal


Benjamin Franklin Neal ,Texas pioneer, judge and newspaper publisher was born between 1792 and1796, probably in Virginia... He moved to Texas in 1838 and in a short time settled in Refugio County... - Frank Wagoner


Elizabeth's daughter Rosalie was living in Mobile, Alabama in 1850 and it appears that Elizabeth was caring for Rosalie's son Julian at the time. Elizabeth apparently offered the land as an incentive for her daughter and son-in-law to return to Texas


Corpus Christi, Mar 10th 1850

Mrs R. B. Priour Mobile Ala

Dear child,

We are all well and in good health, and Julian is continually talking of you and his Papa, and often wishes to see his sister and cousin, and says it would give him great pleasure to have a walk along the Corpus Christi Bay with them.

My dear Children do not think there is any deception in me, and for danger is there not any, in this vicinity of Corpus, we feel fully protected here, between the Nueces River and the Aransas is the most explored part of the Coast near here and Captain Grumbles of one Company of Rangers is ordered to a point that will protect that region. I think from what I can learn, that such measures will soon be taken as will entirely relieve this region of country from the presence of the Indians.

Col Kinney told me the other day that Judge Neil would be here in a few days with all my papers complete the surveyor hearing that I had the certificate for one league and labor of land says he has a location of fine land, well timbered and above(?) water on the Nueces River and I think it is best for Mr. Priour himself to see about it, and if he thinks he cannot come soon let me know what I am to do about it.

I received the goods which you sent by the Schooner Slan(?) in good order, and also one hundred dollars worth of groceries, which I gave Captain Parker an order for. I shall be able in the course of four or five days (?) sending you a draft for four or five hundred dollars. I do not think well to remit any more by the Schooner as he charged so high for carrying the last I sent which was one (?) or $3 dollars for carrying $300 and disobeying my orders beside for I instructed him to hold the $300 subject to your order, and bring me the groceries and I would pay him here for them, but he used one hundred of the $300 in the purchase of the groceries.

Please tell Mr. Priour to send me shoes at different numbers for gentlemen and ladies, of a good and reasonable quality, also boys and misses(?) Brogans also of a good quality and also childrens shoes so much as he can conveniently send as there is good demand for them. Send me 4 dozen Chip(?) hats, of different sizes and different qualities, one dozen Palmetto hats different sizes. Send me a few boxes of such tobacco as Mr. Priour (?) me himself, also 4 pounds of such Snuff as he brought, 4 bottles of Scotch Snuff.

Do not forget the hominy which I sent for before, please to send me some summer clothing for Julian and let them be large enough, the clothes you left are too small for him, do not think he is the little delicate thing you left, he grows so fast and fat you would be astounded to see him.

Let me know how Lizzy and John are, and if John is walking yet. Does Lizzy ever mention (?) speak of me.

I also repeat again what I must do about (?)ing my land. Something should be done at once, there is no time to lose and I know Mr. Priour can do much better here than he can in Mobile. I have also got my deeds from the Mission(?) and now there is a fair prospect of having all my affair settled at once.

Yours Truly, E. Hart

P.S. Remember me to Mrs. Lyons and tell her I hope to see her again. E.H.


The 1850 Texas Census, taken the same year the letters above were written, record Elizabeth Hart's age as 62. Her personal property was valued at $1,000.

Elizabeth continued to encourage her daughter to come to Texas.



Salurea, Texas July 15,
Mr John Priour, care of Lyons Walkingten,
Mobile Ala. Corpus Christi,

July 8th 1851

Dear Daughter,

Yours of the 15th was secured a few days since, and would have been answered at an earlier period, but I waited for the arrival of the next mail, expecting to hear further from you. But receiving nothing more I thought it best to reply at this time.

I regret much to hear of the loss your baby and you know my sympathies and grief are with you in every particular, but we should reflect upon the advantages and benefits that would a come to dear William (?) by his untimely death. His loss to us will be his eternal gain. Yes it is hard to bear with it still "Gods will be done".

This visitation of (?) has created more excitement is my mind, since reflectioning over it than I ever ever anticipated. The unhealthiness of your place I fear may cause others of your family to go the same way. Then why not come here immediately where I believe not only your health but that of your children will be more certain and secure (?) Never to place property in comparison with your health I am satisfied that you could do as well here (?) I feel fully convinced that you would improve in health by it.

Another is the comparison of health to wealth. Say to Mr Priour, I say to come with his family as I believe he can make more in six months here than he can in twelve there.

There is a place three miles from town belonging to Mr. Neal who is willing to sell upon very reasonable terms, and I am told it is well located and a desirable spot - the lands are good and the other improvements are new and substantial. It could be secured on good terms. His neighbors have all done well on the adjoining land, but this is the first year that he has done any thing, consequently he does not expect much this year. Yet the lands are good and will (?) beyond question.

I have commenced building and everything goes on well so far. Julian and myself are in good health. Kiss your children for me and give my respect to all eng(?)ring(?) freinds (?) me yours sincerely and affectionately,

E.G. Hart



Corpus Christi, Aug 4 1851

Dear Daughter

I have remitted pr (?) Baps Parker of the Schooner Star eight hundred dollars (?) to the credit of Lyons Walkingten. Consigned to (?) Letchford (?) of New Orleans which I instructed then to hand over to (?) Lyons Walkinten of Mobile and hope the same may arrive safe.

I wrote a few days ago and at the time I wrote I did not think that I could come over but I find since that I will be able to go over by the 1st of September and desire very much that you and Mr Priour shall be ready to return with me to Corpus Christi.

I want you to send me the few things I sent for in my last letter if possible. We are well and Julius and myself desire that you shall not forget us. Kiss the young one for me and believe me you mother affectionately,

Eliz. Hart


Rosalie Priour eventually joined her mother in Texas in 1853.

Elizabeth died December 20, 1863 and was buried on the family ranch near the Aransas River.


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