The Harrell Family

 

  " Graciously permitted to be posted on our website by; Kathryn Sterling Herrmann, grand daughter of the author, Dr. "Dick" Harrell. "

 

 The Harrell Family

of Brown County

By Dr. Fred "Dick" Harrell

 

CONTENTS

 

Prelude

Characters

A Part of the Family History of Harrell

Missouri to Texas by Covered Wagon (1884)

Texas an Empire

When Cattle Ruled the Western Plains

The Phantom Lake

The Long Trail

The First Night in Camp

Neighbors on the Trail

The Blizzard

Indian Country

Quick Sand

Range Branding

The Roundup

The Stray Steer

The Old Chisholm Trail

The Drift Fence

Cow Chip Fuel

Feud at the Diamond Bar

The Oklahoma Run

A Stampede on the Chisholm Trail

Neighbors

The Haunted House

First Day in School

Camp Meetings

Pony Race

The Annual Dance

Texas Rangers

The Warden's Story

Conclusion

 

PRELUDE

     The pages throughout this booklet express a few of the high spots which stand out most vividly in my memories during our move from Missouri and years spent in Texas as a child and youth.  Most business in the open range country was spoken of in terms of cattle, open range, corrals, roundups, rustling, branding, up trail, chaps, spurs, boots, saddle, and bronco busting.  

     It was a great country, then came the squatters like locusts by the thousands, small patches put in cultivation here and there as more and more land was put in and more and more big pastures fenced.  The free range grew less and less as breed cattle were introduced and finally the open range passed and the country became a place of fenced ranches and large farms.  So the free range and long horns passed into history.

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Characters

     Since I am not a professional magazine writer, it is probably wise to give you each character's name lest you may become confused.

Father:                 Jerome

Mother:               Phoebe Ann

Sister:                 Alice

Sister:                 Delia

Sister:                 Ellie

Sister:                 Nannie

Brother:              Edd

Brother:              Houston   (Huse)

Half Brother:       Lafayette

Friend:                Bob Hall

 

YOURS TRULY:  Fred (nicknamed Dick)

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A PART OF THE FAMILY HISTORY OF HARRELL

     The first Harrells originally came from Ireland, landing in Boston.  Some of them moved down into Virginia and the Carolinas.  My fatherís parents came on through the Cumberland Gap, landing in Tennessee, near the town of Tazwell.  My father, Jerome Ruben, was born there in 1835.  After he became a young man, he moved on to Buffalo, Missouri, and married Phoeba Anna Hurst, also from Tazwell, Tenn., whom he had known in childhood.  They reared a family of seven children, and in 1884 the family moved to Brown County, Texas; hence from then on my native state until 1930, when my family and I moved to Kentucky, which became my adopted state.

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MISSOURI TO TEXAS BY COVERED WAGON IN 1884

Ma!  Iíve been thinking today, you know everybody says that Texas is a land of milk and honey, if there ever was one.  They say that all you got to do there to make a living and get rich is register you a cattle brand and go to branding them long horn Texas cattle.  Everybody does it and the first thing you know you own two or three thousand head of them long horn cattle, donít have to feed Ďem even during the winter, that there mesquite or buffalo grass, as some folks call it, just dries up on the prairies and makes hay right there where it growed, donít even have to gather it."

     "There is nothing out there to buy but a branding iron to start with and a little coffee and sugar.  Everybody gets them a claim.  The Government gives it to them.  Just gives it to them for nothing and builds them a dugout, or adobe, thatís a house, most of it dug out of the ground and something else, I think they call it sod out there, cut it out of the grass and use it to build higher and cover it.  Plow up and sow enough land for your bread as they say and go out on the range and brand more cattle".

     "Pa, I donít want to head anything more about such nonsense.  Some of them Harrisons has been wheedling you again.  They were out there a while or one of them was, and if itís such a fine country why didnít they stay and brand more long horn cattle and get rich?  You know you canít just begin branding cattle unless you have some cattle yourself to start with and Huse said in his letter that they were going to make it against the law to do any more of that mavericking, I think thatís what they call it, at any rate, itís just where you ride out on the range and rope and brand a calf that has not been branded already, or does not have anybodyís brand on it.  Some of them out there says itís almost the same as stealing, except custom does not look at it that way".

     "Custom of the open range, begods; brand anything you can get your rope on in your own brand, Phoeba."

     "Well, it may be the custom but it looks powerful like stealing to me, just taking someone elseís stock for nothing when you do such stuff".

     "Begods!  I had not though of it that way, Phoeba, you would have to have some cattle to start with and sure enough mavericking is the next thing to stealing them; looks to me, even if it is the custom in the open range, you just have to get a few cattle of your own and brand your own calves; but God!  They multiply fast as flies.  Just think, brand a year or two, join the big round-up, throw your cattle into the herd with other stockmen and up the trail to market.  The range is free, absolutely free.  Anybody can have a brand if itís different to everybody else's, and free range means just what it says.  The man with a few head of cattle has just as much say over the range as the one with thousands of head.  No one person is allowed, according to custom, to fence more land than he needs to cultivate for his bread or horse pasture, even if it is his own land for there is no market for anything but cattle.  Itís a cattle country, I tell you, a cattle country and itís not used for any other purposes or never will be and besides them cattle are not like Missouri cattle, have to be sheltered and fed in the winter time; they grow wild.  Just brand your calves once a year and in two or three years join the round-up and up the trail again to market, com back with a pocket full of money and go to branding again."

     "Letís go, Ma.  Huse  is out there already and he says itís fine cattle country and nothing to do but just sit around and gas with cronies and go out and brand, set around a while and go brand more cattle".  This was 17 year old Ed talking, the oldest boy in the family at home.  Huse, the oldest boy, having then already been in Texas two years.

     "Shut up, you big cowman," demanded Alice, the oldest girl.  "Ma told you would have to have a few cattle of your own to start with before you can brand and set around a while and brand again.  Iím not going, nothing out there but long horn cattle, jack rabbits, coyotes, Chaparrals, antelope, rattlesnake and a few mesquite bushes and cactus.  They donít have parties or anything; the boys all wear them big old hats and great big old spurs and high heeled boots, leather belts and pistols; they wear leather trousers, britches they call them out there."

     "Oh, they do have dances and lots of fun", replied Dick.  "Huse said in his letter, donít you know that he had been to a big dance and had a great time?  The boys moved the manís bed, stove and everything out of his dugout and they danced til midnight and then they all helped him move his things back; thatís the way they have parties out there.  And donít you remember he told about a candy pull where they boiled a lot of syrup and the girls and boys would get a lot of that and some grease or tallow on their hands and pull together on it till it made almost white hard candy.  If thatís not fun, Iíd like to know what youíd call it and what did he say about broncho-busting?"

     "Huse can do that some himself and Fate is the best broncho-buster of anybody.  What would Missouri girls car about those old bucking horses"?  

     "Not bucking horses, pitching mustangs, thatís the Texas way of talking.  Bucking, you better learn range talk if you are going to a cow country."

     That night arrayed against the proposed Texas trip were Ma (Phoeba Ann), Alice, and Delia.  Ellie and Nannie were too small to understand much about the matter.  Pa, Jerome, Ed, the oldest boy at home now 17, and Fred, better known as Dick, 5, nicknamed by his father for what reason no one knows unless it was that he reminded his father of one of his neighbors, who came up asking questions and went away asking questions, never giving you the time to answer one before asking another.  It made him fairly easy to talk with for it made no difference what your answer was, he did not wait for it.  So Dick was pretty much a competitor for the title of question asking.  Consequently he won the title "Dick", because of the similarity of Dick Johnson in the way of asking questions, the king of question askers in Missouri.  Dick was small to his age and his father teased him considerably.  Nothing pleased him more than the big trade his father would describe, and that was that Dick had traded legs with a kildee and thrown in his ass to boot.  If anyone asked his father or mentioned him being small to his age, Dick would say "Pap, tell Ďem why," which usually caused a laugh all around and a few remarks from the other children who seemed to always want to tease him and which he himself rather enjoyed.

     "Well, itís 9 oíclock Phoeba, the night is bad outside, what a great night for sleeping, guess we better all go to bed and everybody think and dream about this Texas trip.  For begods!  Iíve just about made up my mind to go if you will all join me, I mean Dick and I have."  "Come on Ellie," said Nannie, "we sleep on the trundle bed.  "Alice you and Delia sleep in the side room and get plenty of cover for itís cold in there."

     "Come on Dick, you and I sleep together in the other room," said Ed.

      "Iím not going to sleep with you", retorted Dick, "I want to sleep with Pap, we want to talk about them wild Injuns and antelope things, chaparrals, jack rabbits, coyotes and them prairie dogs and - -"

     "Oh shut up.  You know there are not any more wild Indians and them other animals are harmless, they donít eat people."

     "Well, Huse said in his letter anyone of them could outrun a mustang and if they can do that, you know they can eat people, canít they Pap?"

  

     "Well, they are hardly that ferocious Dick; run along now and donít ask too many questions."

     Next morning when all the family had gathered around the breakfast table, they had hardly taken their seats, when Dick started the subject by asking his mother why she did not want to go to Texas.

     "Donít you know, Ma, Pap said last night that I could ride old Charley and have a pistol and spurs, a quirt, lariat rope and a pair of chaps.  Alice said leather britches or trousers last night, but chaps is what cow people call them, and maybe we will shoot some injuns too and some of them other things Huse wrote about and when we get there, I could have one of them saddles.  What kind of saddle did Huse have, Ed?"

     "Stock saddle, Huse said it took a whole cowhide to make leather enough for one of them stock saddles, sometimes."

     "Begods, Dick.  I imagine old Charley would look fine under one of them stock saddles," said Pap.  "They have long strings, two belly bands, girths, stirrups, and horn strings and nickel washer looking things all over them," said Dick.

     "Couldnít see any of old Charley but the end of his tail and nose," remarked his father.  "Huse said them saddle horses have places for lariat ropes, regular pockets for pistols, a place for rolls, branding irons, slicker and blankets, even a place under the big strap for a Winchester.  Dick would have to have a hundred pound sack of sugar in the seat of his britches and a sack of bran in front so you could find him in one of those stock saddles."

     This remark brought a round of tittering and laughter which Dick enjoyed as well as the others.

     "Iíll get Pap to buy me a little stock saddle and I want him to buy me one of them little poniesópinto, paint, mustang or whatever they call them.  Huse said there was any color of them you could think of.  I want a white and black one Pap."

     "Well, weíll see about it when we get there son; now you run along and donít ask so many questions and weíll talk more about the little pony and saddle later.  Of course you will have to have a good outfit if you are going to be a cowman and help in the round-ups."

     "Huse said he would get me a lariat rope."

     "Alright, alright; now run along and feed old Sailor.  Begods!  Where does he think up all of these questions Phoeba?"

     "Must take after you folks along that line.  He can ask questions that Abe Lincoln couldnít answer.  Why donít you make him shut up sometimes?  He worries people with so many questions."

     "Well, I guess he is right, for if you donít ask a few questions as you go along, you canít expect to learn much.  He has big ideas about being a cowman."

     Several days went by and not a great deal more was said about the proposed Texas trip.  But everyone in the family knew their dad was wholeheartedly set on making the trip.  A day or two after this conversation Ma called the girls all in and said "Well, it looks as if your papa is determined to make the move westward and Iíve been thinking it over a great deal lately.  Land is not cheap here any more, and perhaps it would be a good move after all.  I rather suspect we would all like it out there.  Itís a new country and land can be homesteaded.  What do you girls say about it.  Pa has already been offered a nice price for the farm and those three Durham cows.  He says he will buy two brand new Springfield wagons, new bows and sheets for them.  And he can buy them four big, white Norman mares from John Boath.  There is Charley for Ed to ride.  Get a nice new tent and a good camp outfit and says we would just take our time and camp whenever we pleased.  There are lots of movers going either to Texas or Indian Territory.  We would meet up with and probably travel with for several days at a time.  I am bound to admit that I believe that I am taking that Western fever myself."

     "Well, it looks as if you and Pap have almost got together, very little Delia and myself can do about the matter.  In fact we have been talking things over ourselves, and have also been about to decide we would like the trip."

     "Well, we will have a surprise for Pap when he and Dick come home tonight."

     So when all had gathered around the supper table, Ma broke the news to him and asked when we could be ready to start.  

     "Whoopee!  Go on ye little doggies," shouted Dick, "Me and you are ready to start in the morning ainít we Pap?"

     "No, hardly so soon as all that son.  It will take several days to get ready but I will go in the morning and close the deal on the farm, and it wonít be a very big job to get away in about two weeks."

     So the next day, Pap went over and closed the deal and bought the mares and according to his viewpoint, a finer amount of horseflesh could not have been purchased anywhere nor at any price than both teams.

     "May, you and girls can name them, I did not think to ask Mr. Boath their names."

     "All right, we will name these two white ones "Mag and Nell" and the iron grays "Flora and Dora".  We had already picked these names.

     "Well, these are fine names and suit them, Mag, Nell, Flora and Dora, and of course Old Charley."

     The next two weeks were busy ones getting things ready for the long trip.  Every day neighbors called and offered free advice, no doubt some of them in good faith, many just talking or letting off steam.  You will all starve to death, some of them would say.  Others would say, "Them tornados, and dust storms will blow you all away."  Or, "Some of the family will be gored to death by one of them long horn steers or be run over by one of them stampedes.  They have droughts that last for a year.  Sometimes blizzards come up so suddenly that one could freeze to death in an hour."  One neighbor said, "I hear cowboys sometimes rope and shoot at their feet, make Ďem dance and sing whether they can or not and do everything.  Say they donít have laws and have Indian raids.  Why the Indian Territory is just separated from Texas by the Red River and the quick sand in it sometimes swallows up wagons and teams when they try to cross it."

     Pap said, "Me and Dick will take care of the bad cowboys and wild Indians, wonít we Dick?"

     "We wonít just hunt Ďem up though, will we Pap, to get to shoot Ďem?  Huse said they wouldnít hurt you if you let Ďem alone."

     "Maybe not."

     They all teased Dick so much about wild Indians he was almost afraid to look westward for fear he might see one in Missouri.  Of course he would say heís not afraid of them just donít want to shoot them.  This kind of talk would always cause him to stop talking and when he talked again, it was on another subject not so frightful to him.

     The two weeks passed quickly and everything needed for the long trip had been gotten together.  It was decided that a nice farewell party should be given, all of the relatives and friends were invited and the eventful night arrived.  Everything had been packed in the wagons, covers put on, and the tent made.  The only things left out were bedding and a few cooking utensils.  People came from the immediate neighborhood; Buffalo, Urbana, and Millcreek.  Several of Maís people were fiddlers, so one or two of them brought their fiddles, and the party was on.  There was plenty of music, plenty of cake, coffee and candy.  Many couples danced and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  Twelve oíclock came and it was time to go home, the goodbyes were said and plenty of free advice was given.  The parting of friends and relatives brought many tears.  Finally the goodbyes were over and the guests all took their leave.  Beds were put down, and pallets spread on the floor.  Soon all the family were asleep and perhaps some of them dreaming of the long trail ahead.

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TEXAS AN EMPIRE

     No doubt few people stop to give thought to the immense size of the lone star state.  It consists of 265,896 square miles, 254 counties, some of them as large as the state of Connecticut.  I am frequently asked the question, "Since you were reared in Texas and probably been in every part of the state, what kind of country is it?"  I often respond by asking them the question, "What part of Texas?"  Texas covers more territory than France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark combined.  A Texas editor has described the size of the state in these words, "If you tip the state up and drop it north like a tossed pancake, it would knock down the skyscrappers in St. Paul, north; El Paso would drop into the Atlantic, South; and the state would blot out most of Mexico.  If all the people in the United States were put into Texas it would then scarcely be two-thirds as crowded as England.

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WHEN CATTLE RULED THE WESTERN PLAINS

Long horn cattle, imported from Spain during the time when Texas belonged to that country, flourished and multiplied, spreading over the vast semi-arid interior.  Long before the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of long horns were grazing on the plains of West Texas, millions of acres of the best breeding grounds.  So great were the numbers that often cattle men lost track of them.  When the first settlers moved into this region, they found great bands of these cattle roaming over most of Texas, half wild, to which no one could lay claim.  There was very little market for beef, the price being so low that great numbers were slaughtered only for their hides and tallow.  Here is where the system of raising cattle on the open range developed.  Here too is where the methods of the cow country and the equipment of the cowboy were devised.  It has been stated by old timers, who knew the cattle business, that if all the cattle then living east of the Mississippi River had been driven out into the Great Plains they would hardly have made an impression on the vast prairies drained by the Arkansas, Red River, and their tributaries.  General Luther Bradley, reporting to the war department in 1868, after an extended tour of different army posts in these regions, wrote, " I believe that all the herds in the world could find ample pasturage on these level, rolling slopes where grass grows and ripens from year to year."  At this time, Texas had no way of getting its cattle to market except by forming big herds and driving over the trails to Abilene or Dodge City, Kansas, the nearest shipping points.

It was in the seventies (1870ís)  that the long horns began moving up these trails in large numbers.  With the cattle came the lure of the cow camp and the open range, which became the essential part of frontier life.

It was in the fall of 1884, the West was being settled by people from almost every eastern state.  Talk of the West was on almost every tongue, scarcely a day passed that the glamour and thrill of Texas and Indian territory was not pictured by someone who had just returned or friends who had already succumbed to the thrill and desire to become a cattleman and had gone to the cattle country and free open range.  From a short distance beyond the pine timbers in middle Texas, stretches of prairie extended west to the Rio Grande River and from the Gulf of Mexico north for hundreds of miles.  This vast domain was dotted with mesquite or buffalo grass native to the semi-arid climate.  Long horn cattle roamed these prairies by the hundreds of thousands, many were unbranded and had no owners.  These cattle were of medium stature, sturdy, hardy, and could rough it through the winter months with no food other than the cured grass from the few summer rains.

Small settlements of adobe built homes were scattered along streams and places where water could be found, for it was not known by these early cattlemen that in many places underground water was plentiful from a depth of only a few feet.  Antelope, prairie chickens, quail and plover were plentiful.  Other wild animals common to the country were coyote, badgers, skunks, prairie dogs, jackrabbit, chapperals (road runners), and rattlesnakes all by countless millions.  Portions of the country support scrub oak, low mesquite trees, cactus, sage brush, cottonwood, and greasewood.  The small streams where in most cases dry with only sand and gravel along the beds.  Past the caprock lay the great staked plains, for hundreds of miles the country was as level as a table, broken only now and then by an arroyo (dry canyon or creek).  This, in the earlier days, was the home of the buffalo and the antelope now practically extinct save only for a few domestic herds kept by ranchers for the sake of novelty.

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THE PHANTOM LAKE

On these vast, level prairies vision was deceptive.  Many a poor prospector who had lost his way, was led on and on when he and his mount were starving for water by what appeared to be a lake only to see it disappear entirely and turn out to be a reflection of dry prairie grass.  There were watering holes here and there throughout these vast prairies but unless one had previously been across the plains with someone who knew the places, it was almost impossible to find them.  Later, rough sketches or maps were made and used to guide people on their perilous journey across these great plains.  Still later, stakes were placed or driven into the ground at intervals of several miles to show one the dim trail.  This gave the name to this level body of land, Staked Plains (Llano Estauncado), and is mentioned by that name today in Texas history.  

We must now leave the remainder of the rolling country, great plains, forests and groves to your imagination and return to Buffalo, Missouri, to the home of the Harrellís who now with thrill of the trip, had agreed to exchange their densely populated country, comfortable home and friends for the trip by covered wagons to Texas, a new country and new associates.  More than 1000 miles away, through wild and rugged mountainous forests, prairies with many treacherous streams to cross and through the Indian territory.  At this time Indians were supposed to be tame or partially civilized though at times, they would form raids and cause considerable trouble.  They would steal horses, cut down wagons and once in a great while kill the emigrants.  These raids occurred occassionally for the country was now guarded by soldiers from forts scattered at great distances.  Small settlements were springing up here and there and in some places, small farms had been put into cultivation and the country had begun taking on some of the aspects of communities in the east from where the settlers had come.  This however, was in the extreme eastern part of Oklahoma and Texas.  Beyond this, it was almost like a wilderness.

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THE LONG TRAIL

The next morning before daybreak, all the family was up and the women folks prepared breakfast.  Ed and his friend, who was to accompany the family, were out early to feed the horses and have everything ready to start.  Breakfast over, everything was put in place, teams were hitched to the wagons and old Charley saddled.  Pap took the driverís seat in the big wagon, which was to be drawn by Mag and Nell, and Dick was perched behind him.  Ma and the girls were in the other wagon, drawn by Flora and Dora.  Ed mounted old Charley and his friend Bob mounted his horse.  Pap looked back to the other wagon and hollered, "Everybody ready?"  "All right, letís be going?"  "Get up Mag, come on Nell."  The big white animals leaned against their traces, the wagon began moving.  The second wagon followed, Ed and his friend galloped past the wagons to take the lead and the movers were on their way.  The family passed many familiar places the first few hours and stopped to say goodbye to neighbors and friends at several homes.  By ten oíclock the movers had passed beyond the boundaries of their immediate neighborhood and settled down to a steady gait.  Noon arrived and the wagons came to a stop at a small spring branch where lunch was prepared, the horses were fed, and after a short rest, they were on their way again.  The four big draft animals pulled their wagons with a steady gait.  Hour after hour throughout the long afternoon, the wagons moved on over rough and rocky roads, over hills and mountain curves.  In those days roads were scarcely more than trails.  There was not much travel and when the going became too rough, mud holes too deep or creeks and hills too difficult to cross or climb, one team was unhitched from its load and coupled to the wagon in front of the other team. After crossing or climbing the grade, both teams were then returned to the second wagon, which they drew across in the same manner.  Then each team was returned to its respective wagon and the procession moved on as before.

Late in the afternoon as the sun dropped low in the western horizon and the shadows lengthened, everyone felt the thrill and pleasure which comes with the experience of a new adventure.

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THE FIRST NIGHT IN CAMP

Shortly after camp was made, a big bright log fire was burning and casting its rays of flickering light into the thick trees and underbrush.  Dick had a few questions he wished to ask and began propounding them, principally to his father who was standing as near the fire as was comfortable and to be sure that the others were between him and the dark woods.  His first question was, "Pap, you think there might be some wild Injuns near in the woods?  Could we hear them if they came through the woods and do you think they would kill us if we did not bother them?"  "You know Huse said they would not.  Are you afraid?  Would old Sailor bite them and keep them scared away?"  "No, son, there are no Indians in this country and none of us are afraid."  Ed spoke up and said, "Well, there canít be any danger since Dick has been appointed the main boss of the outfit and of course he is not afraid."  Silence, with everyone watching his reactions.  He spoke meekly, "Humph!  Boss kinda fraid though."

    

After the first night or two out, everyone seemed to realize the wagons, tent and lonesome road would be their home for several weeks and camp life became as familiar as life in their Missouri home had been.  Each day took them through great forests, glades and over hills, farther and farther from their native home and no doubt they talked and wondered if any of them would ever return.

Many days passed with the same monotonous routine.  Nothing of major importance happened and within a week the procession had passed out of their native state into the northwest corner of Arkansas and headed for Indian Territory and the great western cattle country beyond, which everyone was hearing so much about.

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NEIGHBORS ON THE TRAIL

The next dayís travel was started and after going a few miles, we came to a big creek, which the crossing looked to be impossible.  While talking the matter over and trying to decide the safest way to get across, two wagons drove up and stopped.  These turned out to be two families going our way.  In those days, it was always a pleasure to have company and soon all the families were acquainted and it was decided the four wagons would travel together.  Ed and Bob mounted their horses and rode into the stream to test the depth and examine the banks on the opposite side.  It was seen that the water would be so deep as to get into the wagon beds and cause the horses to have to swim.  The far bank was very slick and steep, but it was decided to double team and place everything in the wagon on boxes and chairs in order to get them out of the reach of water.  This was arranged and the first wagon drove into the stream, the four big animals took the water quietly until about half way across, then suddenly they were seen to almost become submerged and then rear and lunge.  The water came almost to the sideboards of the wagon, water rolled up against the front end-gate, the animals kept rearing, jumping and lunging until shallow water was reached; then up the steep, slick, muddy bank, pulling with all their might, but finally reaching the top level ground.  This seemed to give the team much confidence as well as the family, and the new acquaintances.  Finally all the wagons had made the treacherous trip across.  By this time, it was noon and everyone in each family pitched in and the lunch was served together.  During the conversation, it was learned that one of the families was going to the western part of the Indian Territory and traveling the same road with us for many miles.  Each night the two families camped near each other.  The older ones would gather around one or the other camp fires and the talk was mostly of the west and just where was the most prosperous location.  However, my father knew exactly where we were bound, he did not consider for one moment changing his course.  While the parents were enjoying themselves in conversation around the fire, we children played hide and seek, ring-around-the-rosy and pussy wants a corner, but the greatest thrill came when we would see who would venture farthest out into the dark by themselves.  There was always the talk of wild Indians when this game was in progress and it would wind up by all of us closing in around the fire and usually someone had the story to relate that we had seen a shadow, at least something which very much resembled an Indian, but the more frightful things seemed, the greater the thrill and pleasure.  The family, father and mother with their two children, Ida and Joe Williamson, traveled with us for seven days and finally we came to the parting of the ways.  This was almost like breaking away from our old home and friends again, after saying the goodbyes and seeing them drive away.  We never heard of the Williamsonís again.

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THE BLIZZARD

After separating from our good traveling neighbors, a few days passed.  One day, about noon, someone noticed a low, dark, streak which resembled settling smoke reaching from the west around into the north horizon.  As the afternoon wore on, it was noticed that the cloud grew larger and darker.  The day had been exceptionally mild and balmy, almost warm, though it was in December.  By late in the afternoon, it could be seen what was in store for the movers.  It meant one of those fierce, sweeping, sudden blizzards, filled with cold sleet, rain and snow, which was common to that country.  Finally, the dense, dark, sullen cloud could be seen approaching nearer and nearer, the sun became obscure and the cloud appeared to be boiling and rolling on the ground as if pushed by some unseen monstrous power.  Soon big drops of rain began falling here and there, suddenly the wind hit with terrific force, the elements grew dark and the temperature began to drop.  Within an hour the wagons were covered with a thin sheet of ice, the grass and small shrubs began bending under this heavy load.  The big Normans began sniffling, snorting and turning their heads away from the cutting, biting wind and sleet.  It was decided to find a sheltered nook and make camp.  Soon the wagons rounded a low hill and came to stop in a grove of cottonwood near a small running brook.  The teams were hurriedly unhitched from the wagons, watered and made fast.  The tent was put up and every thing made ready for several days camp, for it was seen that the Ďnortherí would be severe and probably not clear up for several days.  Supper was served and everyone retired early since it was too cold to sit around the fire and talk.  All through the night the wind shrieked through the tall cottonwoods, through the tent and wagon covers the sleet and wind could be heard to mourn and creak.  Shortly before daybreak, the wind suddenly ceased, the sleet stopped falling, the elements grew quiet, and it was thought that the storm had probably passed.  But soon after daybreak, large flakes of snow began to fall, growing heavier and heavier and by noon the ground was covered with several inches of feathery snow.  It was again seen that several days would pass before camp could be broken and the long trail entered for the second lap of the journey.

While in camp, there were many things to be done, harness and ropes must be repaired, plenty of wood must be carried in, the horses fed, curried, and exercised at regular intervals, clothing and bed linen must be washed and ironed, food prepared and boiled, for all the food had been fired during the short intervals of camp during the previous two weeks.  The two boys decided to hunt, game was found to be plentiful and very seldom did they return from their hunting empty handed.  One day it would be wild duck, next day quail or prairie chicken.  The country seemed to be literally covered with an abundance of wild game and it is not at all surprising when we consider there were great distances between settlements, possibly in many places for miles and miles the report of a gun had never been heard.  Hunting in a place like this, where one was almost certain of success, kept the boys in good spirits, for where is the boy or man who does not love the feel of a good gun when in a land where he knows there is an abundance of game and no law on the bag limit.

During these days in camp, the boys kept the table replenished with different kinds of wild meat.  Games of checkers and cards were played, tales were told, occasionally good story books were read and the entire time taken up with some form of recreation.  The third morning daylight came with clear skies, the sun arose and by ten oí clock the snow and ice had begun to melt.  The roads would be muddy and the going somewhat difficult.  It was, however, decided to break camp and once more start traveling.  The temperature rose gradually and once more became pleasant.  

After a few days, they were getting pretty well down near the open prairies of Indian

Territory, every now and then an Indian hut could be sighted and occasionally a small settlement of white people.  Then there would be stretches of mile after mile when not another human being would be seen, a small herd of cattle would be passed, a deer would be seen, perhaps a prairie chicken to rise and fly.

One night, our camp was made near an Indian hut and while supper was being prepared two Indian women were noticed approaching the camp.  This caused considerable speculation as to what might be their mission.  On arrival and after much grunting and pointing at several different things, it was learned that they wished to trade a bucket of eggs for coffee, and while they could not speak a word of English, were very pleasant and made many gestures of friendship.  But we children were glad to see them take their coffee and leave for we had heard many weird stories of the Indians and could scarcely believe that they did not really want our scalp, instead of coffee.

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INDIAN COUNTRY

After many days travel in Indian Territory, one afternoon camp was made early, for the day had been strenuous for everyone including the teams.  It had rained the entire day and a level place was selected for the camp near a lake and in a pine grove.  The tent was again set up and soon another bright wood fire was burning in front and supper being prepared.  Anyone who has never really camped can hardly conceive of the beauty, coziness, and thrill of a camp in such a sparsely settled land where the beautiful forests, streams, lakes and wildlife had scarcely been touched by the so-called civilized white manís ax or gun.  There were no white settlements within many miles, and there was a slight uneasiness among the women folk, but the night passed and nothing happened to alarm anyone.

The next morning it was decided that a few days rest would be a benefit to the teams.  They had traveled two weeks without rest except when in camp at night and the two or three days camp in Arkansas and East Indian territory.  However, the horses, although tired, were well kept for my father would not allow them to be mistreated.  I can remember many times when he would see someone mistreating an animal, he invariably would remark that the poor animal, no doubt, had more sense than its master.  On the entire trip I do not remember ever having seen him abuse or strike either team in anger.  His kindness to dumb brutes is my heritage, for I never see a man abusing an animal that I am not reminded of his remark and my sympathy invariably is with the animal.  These few days in camp passed with the same routine, different games were played, the boys hunted, brought in plenty wild ducks and quail.  There was much talk of the old friends who had been left behind and of the new ones to be made, the difference in the customs of the old and new countries.  Everyone was now becoming anxious to cross the Red River and get into Texas.  After two days camp rest, they were again on their way and in due time came to Red River and the border of what was to be their adopted state and home.

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QUICK SAND

The river, like most all north and west Texas rivers, was shallow, but the river bed was filled with quick sand from bank to bank.  There were several covered wagons ready to make the treacherous crossing and everyone expressed their opinion as to the danger of trying to ford across. But there was no other way, and after one or two trips across on horseback it was decided to place two teams to each wagon to be pulled across.  Several men on horseback stood by and assured them that they would rush to their aid in case a wagon stalled.  The first wagon was driven and made the trip across with ease.  It was then seen that if the wagons kept moving and were not allowed to stop, it was safe.  After many trips with the teams across and back to double team, all the movers were safely on the Texas side.  By this time it was growing late and camp was made.  In this train of wagons, there were several men and their wives and many grownups and children.  Everyone was acquainted by now and after the supper hour most everyone gathered together and were talking, the older men and women of where they were going to make their home.  There were musical instruments and musicians, several who sang songs, solos and occasionally, old and young joined together to sing some sacred songs.  It was a grand night and a great party for everyone.  The next morning everyone was getting things ready to start the next lap of the journey.  Some were going only a short distance, others were going as far as Fort Worth, the last town of any size with a railroad.  Others were billed for the western part of the state.  My fatherís brother, who had been in Texas several years, lived near the town of Grapevine.  Of course, this is where we would make a few days camp.  We rounded the point of a small hill that afternoon and sighted Uncle Johnís home.  It was a nice lumber house, painted white, big corrals, gates, and out-buildings.  He was still near town and railroad, and could get lumber for improvements.  This part of the country was fairly densely populated for that early date.

    

We were all delighted to meet our kinfolks.  None of us except my father had ever seen any of them and he had not seen any of Uncle Johnís folks.  We stayed several days.  There were several children in the family for us to play with.  During our stay the weather was cold, the creeks and ponds froze over so the children put in much time skating and at other times playing different kinds of games.  

My uncle raised ponies which were driven out farther west and sold to ranches for cow ponies.  I had never seen so many pretty ponies.  They were just as Huse had written about, almost every color; sorrells, bays, grays, blacks, yellow, cream colored and paints. My uncle gave me my choice of the ponies and of course it was a beautiful animal, a painto, but as wild as an antelope and there was no one in my family who could have ridden him even the first jump.  So the pretty little pony had to be left with my uncle with the promise that when we were located and I had learned to bust broncos, I could return and claim the pony.  I do not remember ever parting with any animal that caused me so much grief for a few days, but there were so many new sights and thrills to occupy my mind and time, and soon I had practically forgotten about the beautiful painto.  We stayed in Fort Worth a few days.  This was grand after having been on the road about four weeks.  Fort Worth as really a boom town, it had a new railroad, street shows of every description and people of every kind.  Cattlemen, horse traders, bone haulers, gamblers, and fakers of every conceivable nature.  The town at night resembled some noted seashore pavilion, the streets and sidewalks were jammed.  There were amusements of almost every description.  Everywhere, that was before the day of radio or mechanical music, it seemed that every other door on either side of the street was aglow, and the music was mostly from fiddles, banjos and organs.  There were not many violinists but many fiddlers, dance halls, saloons, shooting galleries, and on the street, soap box orators and an occasional street preacher.  During the day, it was horses trading, cattle selling and conversations which usually included where was the best place to locate, or where are you from, and to what part of the state are you going?

    

There were big herds of cattle from the west for this now was a big shipping point.  Men with four to six horse wagons loaded with bones, others with horns and still others with only cowhides for sale.  Many of the hides were so green or fresh one could sniff the odor from them for several blocks.  One might wonder where so many bones, hides and horns could have been collected.  If you could have made a trip across western Texas during early spring at that time, you would have easily seen.  As cattle wintered themselves on the dried grass, they were always poor by spring.  As soon as the new grass began shooting, they would quit eating the dried grass. The difficulty of trying to get enough of the young tender green grass, they lost flesh and many of them would become so poor and weak when they laid down they would find themselves too weak to rise.  After a few days they would die of hunger.  At this time of year, one riding over the country would scarcely ever be out of sight of a carcass.  This loss was expected on the range and figured as an estimated loss.  Each spring every man who owned cattle, knew approximately how many he would lose each year.  Cowhides sold at about $1.00 per hide.  Many people made their living by riding the distant range and skinning dead cattle for their hide.  No doubt in many instances, where it was seen that the cow could not regain her strength, she was killed and skinned and nothing further said about the matter.  Bones and horns were gathered by wagon load, although prices were low, there was always a market for them.

 

Professional horse traders, with as many as ten or twelve horses tied together, were numerous.  There were a few ox teams, but there were, by far, more horseback riders than any others.  After staying in a wagon yard for several days and seeing the big town, we were on our way again and on our last lap and destination of the long journey, Brownwood, 140 miles west of Fort Worth.  Towns now were small and far between, Granbury, Dublin, Comanchie, Stephensville and Brownwood.  Our half-brother, Fate, and own brother, Huse, we learned, lived ten miles from Brownwood, but we did not even know in what direction.  But it did not take us long to find someone who could direct us to the Lewis ranch where my brother was living with my half-brother and his grandmother Lewis.  She had gone to Texas before the Civil War and had taken my half-brother, who was only a few weeks old, having lost his mother at birth.  After getting the information and directions, we were on our way with only ten more miles between us and our final destination.  We passed only one or two houses or adobes on our way.  Along in the afternoon, we crossed Jim Ned Creek, then went up a level valley and sighted the Lewis ranch headquarters.  What a relief, after almost six weeks on the road.  Half hidden by wild china and cottonwood trees, the main house and scattered buildings and bunk houses with the big corrals of heavy cottonwood logs, the Lewis headquarters were spread along the west bank of Jim Ned Creek.  To the west, as far as your eyes could see, the level prairie with its abundance of cured mesquite grass from the previous summer rains, an endless gray carpet.  After meeting Grandma Lewis, who none of us children had ever seen, Edís first question was, where was Huse?  They were told that he, being new and yet considered an eastern tenderfoot, was guarding a flock of sheep up the valley near the creek.  Soon they were on their way and after traveling more than a mile they topped a rise, they saw smoke and beyond that, a flock of sheep.  The boys rounded the point of the hill and came upon Huse seated at a small fire. Of course, the sheep were promptly rounded up and brought to their corral and the boys proceeded to the house to meet father, mother, brother and sisters, for Huse, as previously stated, had been away from them for more than two years.  Later in the afternoon, our half brother, Fate, who we children had never seen, arrived.  He was a grown man, married, and the father of two children.  Wesley and Frank were near the same age as myself.  The next day was a great day for all of us after having been cooped up in wagons and tent for six weeks.  We children played and romped over the level grounds, along the creek banks, through the big corrals and among the bunk houses.  These were sights which we had never seen.

     

Sunday, the third day after our arrival, was set apart as bronco busting day for our half-brother and the other cowboys to show us the ways and the skill of cowboys and their ability to ride, rope and brand.  Soon after breakfast several of the men donned their big brim hats, leather chaps and spurs, mounted their wiry ponies and rode out to drive in the herd of wild horses from which they pick their bronco.  We learned that Fate was considered the best rider of the entire number of cowhands on the Lewis ranch, and that he would be the star rider for that day.  After an hour or two of wistful watching, there appeared a cloud of dust in the distance.  Soon a herd of horses was approaching at breakneck speed, men on either side of the herd and others bringing up the rear.  There was nothing for the poor animals to do but be forced into the big, wide gate of the corral, the gate closed and was made fast.  There were many colors and among them, which attracted my attention, were two big, shapely pintos almost exactly like the one I had left at Uncle Johnís place.  The horses were as wild as caribou.  The majority of them had never been in a corral or had a hand on them.  They all crowded together and would rush one way and the other and so frightened that it was really pathetic to people like us, who had been accustomed to gentle stock.  Everybody was gathered near the corral, several of the men on the top of the fence.  After much teasing and joking, Fate picked up his lariat, stepped inside the corral, formed a loop in the rope, gathered the remaining loop of fifty feet of rope in his left hand, and suggested that the helpers cut a big bay and start him around the fence.  This was done, although several other horses followed the bay.  We could not understand how he could throw a rope over onto this bunch of horses and rope the selected one.  We were not kept in suspense very long for he gave the loop two or three whirls over his head and threw the rope into the running herd.  The rope, as graceful as the man on the flying trapeze, settled over the head end around the neck of the big bay and the fight was on.

    

After several men grabbed hold of the rope, the big bay jumping, kicking and snorting, they finally gathered in the rope until they were near his head.  They took him by each ear and his nose, holding his head low so that he could not rear and paw, the bridle was put on and a handkerchief was tied across and over his eyes as a blindfold.  He was still held in this position when Fate approached with his big, sixty-pound saddle.  Blanketed and saddled he was now ready for the supreme moment.  My mother begged him not to get on that awful horse, some of the children cried, but his wife and own children only joked and laughed.  They had seen much of this and they knew that the horse would be ridden.  Soon he mounted the animal, reached up and took his big hat by its brim and said for them to turn him loose.  The animal leaped high into the air, to the right and to the left, bawling and snorting.  Fate whipped him with his big hat first on one side then the other, holding his spurs tight against the horseís sides.  Many of the people were hollering and laughing, some standing bewildered, but most of us newcomers or tenderfoots were frightened and the women were crying.  For it looked as if nothing but a miracle could keep the brute from dislodging and killing the rider.  Once the horse paused, reared straight up and Fate slipped off gracefully as the poor horse fell backward.  The horse rolled over and as it arose, the rider stepped into the stirrup and into the saddle lightly and gracefully.  Soon the horseís strength was actually exhausted and he stopped still, panting with his head hanging almost to the ground.  This procedure in horse riding was beyond anything we had ever seen.  Bronco busting today is only a joke compared to that day, but do not allow this to cause you to believe that Fate was the only one of these Lewis ranch hands that could ride, for the boys took turns riding other ponies which were just as bad as the big bay.  This was a part of their sport and recreation and almost a daily occurrence.  During this time, outdoor picnics were common and wherever you attended one of these gatherings, you were certain to see numerous bronco ridings.  People came from miles around.  If there was a shortage of broncos, almost any horse would do.  All you had to do was give him a thumb and he could probably pitch as hard as any other.  

    

We stayed several days at Grandma Lewisí ranch, but my father was anxious to get settled in his own home.  Neither he nor any of the family relished the idea of having to live out a homestead and live in an adobe, though we all liked the country very much.  He was told that a man living out his homestead wished to sell the place, so Father lost no time in getting in touch with the man and had soon bought the place, putting in the two fine teams as partial payment.  We were all delighted, for the house was considered an extra nice one for that time, five rooms built of lumber, which had been hauled from Fort Worth, 140 miles away.  Also corrals, sheds and other outbuildings situated 200 yards from the creek and surrounded on the sides by live oaks, north and east by small clearing or farm, west by the Walker farm.  We were all delighted to live in such a nice home and surroundings.  There was quite a settlement in this valley, six families down the valley in as many miles.  All had fairly good houses, but north and south, neighbors were many miles from us.  After getting settled and acquainted with all neighbors, we soon found the ways and customs of the country were easy to model and soon we were western folks ourselves and felt at home in the new country.  My father registered a brand and soon we owned several hundred cattle, but he had been a farmer all his life and could not be satisfied in the cattle business.  Soon he had cleared a nice farm and turned his attention to raising cotton instead of cattle, for by now one could fence his own land if used for a farming purpose.  A few handfuls of cottonseed given to a cow on the lift, many times gave them strength to get on their feet again and finally grow fat and ready for the herd.

MILCH COWS.  Long horn cows were wild and poor milk givers.  It was estimated that one cow to each of the family gave fairly an adequate amount of milk.  When a family needed a milch cow, they paid no attention or cared to whom it belonged or whose brand she bore.  They rode out on the range and found a cow with a calf and drove her in and penned her.  She always had to be roped and tied to be milked.  They hardly ever became gentle and most of them had to be done this way regardless of how long she gave milk.  After a few years, a few of the better milk stock cattle were brought in and, after three or four years, most every family in the neighborhood owned a few fairly good milch cows.  I am reminded of the boy whose family lived in New York City and owned a cattle ranch in Texas.  The boy was very fond of milk and decided that he would go out to his fatherís ranch where he could have plenty of milk and become a cowboy.  After he had been there a few weeks and had not yet had a taste of milk, he was becoming very much discouraged and one morning after breakfast, he joined some of the other boys on the front porch, not taking part in the conversation.  He walked to the edge of the porch and gazed across the prairie for several minutes, finally yawned, stretched his arms and said, "Iíll be damned if you canít see further and see more cattle and less milk than any other country Iíve visited."  He did not stay and become a cowboy.

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RANGE BRANDING

With thousands of cattle belonging to so many different ranches scattered over the wide prairies, branding was necessary.  Each owner selected a letter, number, or sign, which was registered according to the law, and stamped upon the animal with a hot branding iron.  This was permanent proof that the animal was his.  No coat of arms was ever more zealously guarded by ancient noblemen that a cattlemanís brand.  It was usually found stamped upon his corral gates, sheds, saddle, chuck wagon, Winchester, six-shooter, spurs, and other equipment.  To alter anotherís brand was the gravest crime of the range.

    

Every spring a roundup was staged and cattlemen for miles and miles around would round-up their stock, throw them into one big herd and brand calves with the same brand which was on their mothers.  This way everything was fair.  Many calves or yearlings were found frequently which had been separated or lost from their mothers and had not been branded.  In such cases, the animal was considered a maverick and belonged to the man who put his brand on first.  Many men began their cattle career by branding mavericks, later to own thousands of head of long horns.  Finally, this began being looked upon as a kind of racketeering and according to range law, which is unwritten, became a crime.  Then, if a stray animal was found without a brand, one could post a description of it in a paper or circular twice and if no owner called to claim the animal, could go ahead and place his brand on it and the animal was his.

    

A few of the famous brands of that day were: a large letter "R" placed upon the left side of the animal.  That always meant a road brand, and that the animal belonged on the trail.   The Triangle, Three Bar, Lazy Y, Seven L, B Bar, and others too numerous to mention, were also brand in use at that time.  Brands were known by cattlemen for hundreds of miles away.  Most ranches kept a book which showed all registered brands throughout the entire state as well as adjoining ones.  So in the place of one looking for a specific lost steer, he really looked for his brand.

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THE ROUNDUP

In the spring of 1892, there was a roundup near our home and thousands of cattle brought together.  This took many days as these cattle which were brought in, had to be herded on grazing ground away from the main camp.  I was large enough at the time to get a big thrill when, on many occasions, I was allowed to go to the camp with my father.  From our house we could hear cowboys hollering and singing and cattle lowing from early in the morning and all through the day.  It was a constant roar until they were bedded down for the night.  Each day there were roping and branding by some of the hands while others were out on the range gathering more cattle.  Finally, when the cattle were all rounded up and the roundup was over, the cattle were all branded with their respective brands and everything was put in order.  Many local cattle, which were caught in the roundup, were cut out and the herd was started on the trail.  Cowboys seemed to always be happy and enjoying their work.  It was a thrilling sight to see them lope across the prairie on their different missions, singing or whistling.  One of the songs, which was popular when getting ready for uptrail, as it was called, was:

                "I have bartered my sheets for a star-lit bed,

                 I have traded my suit for chaps and I have swapped

                 Old roan for a mustang male,

                 And am heading for the end of the Chisholm Trail."

Often times, the next morning after a herd of cattle had passed or left from the roundup grounds, it would be noticed that some of our cattle and probably some of our neighbors cattle were missing.  We knew, of course, that they had gotten into the big herd.  It seemed to be their nature to go in droves.  Even milch cows would leave their calves and stray into the herd.  When found to be missing, my father and other men would saddle their horses and overtake the herd, find the main boss and after explaining the matter of the missing cattle, he would have his hands ride through the herd and find our brand, cut them out and get them started back.  Most all men who held the honor of being boss of a big trail herd could be trusted, but if the boss was not so honest, his men knew to not look so carefully to find your brand, and your cattle were driven on and marketed with the others.  This was finally made unlawful and the buyers at the end of the trail would not buy a cow unless she showed the letter "R" on the left side, meaning road brand, and the animal really belonged to the herd.  However, the value of one or two animals in that day meant little and sometimes the owners would not waste their time in overtaking the herd and making the search for the lost animals.  I remember one incident which happened during the roundup just mentioned.  During the previous winter we had noticed a four year old blue roan steer, which had never been branded, constantly with our cattle.  My father intended to post, as it was called, a notice in the newspaper with its description, and if no owner showed up to claim it, we were going to put our brand on him.

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THE STRAY STEER

With many of the boys who were working in the roundup, one of them, a sub-boss (Sheb Byrd), was a cousin of my half-brother.  He was at our home one afternoon and my father called his attention to a big roan steer, which was a stray, and told him what he intended to do about branding the steer after he had been advertised in a newspaper according to law.  Sheb looked the animal over and promised to keep a lookout for him, but with a twinkle, stated that the steer would make good beef.  The matter was forgotten and a day or two after the herd had started on, my father came home one afternoon to find a nice quarter of beef hanging in a tree in our yard.  Of course we knew that it came from the roundup, for such was customary at the time.  The next day or two passed, the herd had gone on when it was noticed that the fat roan steer was not with our cattle anymore.  My father said, "I wonder if that boy has butchered my roan steer.  Probably we are eating our own beef."  He decided to saddle his horse and ride over to the roundup grounds.  Before he had ridden many miles, he rounded a sharp corner in a canyon and a bunch of shrubs and cactus, his horse shied to one side.  He rode up a little nearer and behold!  There lay the head of our roan steer.  It was passed as a joke and when the boys returned from the up trail, they all had a hearty laugh at my fatherís expense.  However, there were no hard feelings as the joke was on my father.

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THE OLD CHISHOLM TRAIL

I have heard old timers tell of how and when the Chisholm Trail was established in 1870.  A young man only seventeen years old by the name of Chisholm decided to find his way alone from Abilene, Kansas to San Antonio, Texas through wilderness and desert fraught with loneliness and danger.  He was warned by his friends of the dangers which might befall him, but he had fully made up his mind and could not be persuaded to change it.

    

He left Abilene in the early spring and rode horseback.  He made rough maps and drawings of the lay of the land, marked water holes, and other landmarks along the route.  He finally arrived at San Antonio several weeks later, after nearly a one thousand miles journey.  How he escaped so many dangers and came through intact, both he and his mount, was considered almost miraculous.  Thus the Chisholm Trail was established and used for many years.  Thousands and thousands of cattle went up the trail every year. Today a few old timers can point out scattered land marks of the famous old trail which were shown them by their fathers or friends, and no doubt there yet may be a few who remember, as a small boy, some of these marks, especially near fords, water holes and places which were of a hazardous nature at that time.

    

The Chisholm trail began at San Antonio, Texas and extended north through Texas, Indian Territory, and across Brazos, Red, Arkansas, Canadian and Cimeron rivers to Abilene and Dodge City.   Herds were gathered numbering from 2000 to 5000 head.  After they were rounded up and branded with each owners specific brand, together with a road brand "R", which was to show these cattle belonged on the trail, they were ready for the long, dusty trail.

    

Before setting out on their journey, there was much to be done.  After getting a road crew and everything ready, the first to start the trail would be the chuck wagon, usually drawn by four horses.  This was covered and loaded with extra saddles, ropes, cooking equipment, grub, and bedding.  In the back end of the wagon was the chuck box, made as a part of the wagon bed with shelves and drawers for food and utensils.   A door when let down, extended outside the wagon and made the table on which the cook prepared his food.  The driver was always the cook.  Then there were the extra cow ponies, which were required for the cowboys, usually four ponies to each cowboy.  The horse wrangler was in charge of these horses.  It was his duty to see after all cow ponies, round them up each morning, and assist in roping and saddling them for the boys.  After the wagon and extra cow ponies came the herd.  At the head of the herd rode the foreman or boss of the outfit.  Across from him, his best cowboy or top hand as he was called.  Looking back down the long line of cattle came two other riders, one on either side of the herd.  Behind them, still others at intervals, then still farther back were two more bringing up the rear.  These were called the drags.  This was the most unpleasant part of the job.   A long herd of cattle, no matter how slow it travels, leaves a cloud of dust so dense it can hardly be seen through and besides the slowest and laziest cattle have to be kept in line and up with the herd.  When noon came, the chuck wagon, which was always considerably ahead, would stop and lunch would be prepared.  The cattle were allowed to stop and graze while the men came to the call of the cookís "Come and get it."

     After an hour or two of rest, the men roped and saddled fresh mounts and the long line of cattle began their journey again.  Toward sundown the herd was brought to the bedding ground which had been selected for the night.  The average days travel was about ten miles.  A stream or watering place would be selected, and the cattle, after drinking were allowed to graze and finally bed down for the night.  After supper those who had been selected to take the first guard watch were off and took their places. The guards were used in shifts of about three hour intervals and at the campfire were the boys who were to take the later shifts.  They usually talked, joked or played a game or two of cards before finally spreading their blankets on the grass for their part of the nights sleep.  

     In mentioning the Chisholm Trail no doubt you wonder why I did not mention something about the Santa Fe or the old Santa Fe or the San Antonio trails.  This was because these trails were not cattle trails and had little to do in settling the country.  They were used by soldiers of fortune, gold seekers, prospectors and for early passage into Mexico from the East before the day of the Chisholm Trail.

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THE DRIFT FENCE

The first use for barbed wire came when several of the cattle kings came together and decided to build a long fence through the country for the purpose of saving labor by reducing the number of cowhands.  These were called drift fences.  Then, at roundup time, the cattle could be gathered from many miles away, thrown in against one side of the fence, which left only one side to be guarded, and later the other part of the country could be worked in the same manner.  Thus, the name "drift fence".  In some instances a drift fence would extend probably fifteen miles or more.  When the roundup was over, usually in the spring, the fence would be opened in many places to allow the cattle to graze at will from either side.  It would be repaired again before next roundup time.

At the far end of the fence there would be a cabin, or usually an adobe, stocked with coarse food such as beans, bacon, onions, flour, etc.  There was no objection to anyone who happened to be in the region staying overnight or longer in the hut.  This was a custom of the range.  Other purposes for which the fence served were land marks, as there werenít any roads or trails at this date.  This, of course, was the earliest fence used when the entire country was open.  Like the Chisholm Trail, drift fences were known by name, usually the man who had the most to do in having built it, for instance, the Babb drift fence, or the Lewis drift fence.  These are the most noted ones I can think of at this writing.

After ranch fencing became common, some of these drift fences became land marks, and for many years old posts at scattered intervals could be found here and there.  Many years later these scattered posts, half-rotten and down, still went by the old names and even later were marked on early maps.  I now doubt seriously that there is a single sign left of any of the old drift fences.  Probably no one even knows of the exact location of a single one or even where a single post once stood.

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COW CHIP FUEL

Fuel, in those days, before the railroad came, was very difficult to obtain.  Especially further west on the prairies where no timber grew.  Fuel for cooking, and in many cases heating, was obtained from dried cow chips (dung).  After laying put in the hot, dry summer weather, it became very dry and hard and burned quite intensely when lighted.  We did not use this kind of fuel for there was some timber in our area of the country.  I have visited numerous places, however, where cow chips have been used entirely for fuel.  Some of the best biscuits and steak I have ever tasted were cooked over the fire made with this kind of fuel.  People would haul great loads and stack them for winter use.  Many times I have seen piles twice as high as ones head and probably fifty feet long.  

Most all campfires on roundups were of cow chips, which were called by some people, cow coal.

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FEUD AT THE DIAMOND BAR

I am reminded here of a tale told me by my half-brother, Fayette, who was present at the time the incident occurred.  Most all big ranches kept a small stock of groceries, whiskey, canned goods, salmons, etc., at their headquarters.  On this occasion, an argument arose between two of the cowhands.  After a few harsh statements from the men, the brewing of real trouble could be seen.  The other men and the range boss decided to get the matter settled before a killing occurred.  They got the men separated, talked to them showing them the folly of a shooting scrape, and finally getting them to agree to drop the matter and be friends again, since both men were employed on the same ranch.

 The other cowboys asked the cook to open a can of oysters, pour the contents into a bowl and have the two quarrelsome men eat together, to which they reluctantly agreed.  However, their anger had not cooled as their friends had thought.  After a drink all around by the boss, they both took their seats for their oyster dinner and cast sullen glances at each other.  Finally one of them, Bob Rogers, who was considered a bad character, drew an eight inch dirk and took an oyster on the point of his knife and stated, "By God, this is what I eat Ďem with."  Everyone held his breath, for it was known that Bill Williams would not let this dare pass unchallenged.  He was considered just as bad and he pulled a 45-caliber pistol and stated, "By God, this is what I eat them with."  He struck the bowl with all his might and it shattered it into a thousand pieces.

It is useless to state that they again had to be caught and held apart and finally taken to their separate bunkhouses.  There was no killing.  After a few days the men left the Diamond Bar for different parts to later meet one Saturday afternoon.  At a remote race track they exchanged a few words in low tones not distinctly understood by others, whirled, and shot it out.  Bill Williams was killed instantly.  Bob Rogers lived two hours, and seemed conscious through the whole time, but made no statement.

Bob Rogers had relatives at Fort Worth, one hundred and forty miles away.  They came and hauled his body back to Fort Worth, crumpled up in a buckboard and not embalmed.  You can imagine the gruesome site and horrid odor by the time it reached its destination.  Bill Williams had no relatives that anyone knew of.  He was crated out on the desolate prairie and buried with his saddle, bridle, pistol, spurs and chaps, nothing ever to molest his peace and quiet but the tramping of long horn cattle and, occasionally, the howl of a coyote or the sing of a rattlesnake.

I have visited the grave many times when young.  The only sign then was a few rocks covered with mesquite (buffalo grass).  Today, the grave is in a field cultivated and grown over by wheat.  No one at this time knows the exact location; probably the owner of the farm does not know that a grave exists anywhere on his land.  This is only a small instance in which time makes its changes.  I have never visited this lonely grave that I was not reminded of the old cowboy song "Oh Bury Me There on the Lone Prairie."

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THE OKLAHOMA RUN

Until 1889, Oklahoma was known as the Indian Territory, a country reserved as a last home for the Indian who had been driven from the southern and eastern states.  He did not hold this glorious hunting ground long, for against this portion of the Indianís domain, the white man was casting his covetous eyes.  Congress set April 22, 1889 as the day upon which white settlers might enter and stake out claims.

For weeks, home seekers had been gathering, and on the great day, thousands of human beings were massed along the border being held back by troops of the United States Army.  For this April 22, 1889 was announced as the day for the first Oklahoma Run.  If you could get to the place you had staked out first, the 160 acres of land would be yours.  

Fayette was not in the first Oklahoma Run but was in the 1899 run, which was carried on in the same manner.  My brother had selected an excellent horse.  At the report of the gun shot, which was to start the race, they were off, some on horseback, some in carriages, and others in wagons.  My brother was one of the lucky persons and arrived at the place he had chosen before anyone else.  Many were not so fortunate and found that someone had beaten them to it and they had made the trip in vain.  To increase the land for available for settlement, the federal government bought other land from the Indians, some of it for as low as $0.15 an acre.  

My brother settled with his family on this fine piece of land but was overtaken by misfortune.  While on his way back from Vernon, Texas with a load of lumber with which to build his own adobe, he had the misfortune to be caught in one of those fierce, sleety blizzards, and his wagon broke down.  No one lived near, but he was found many hours later, almost frozen, by some cowboys who took him to camp.  He contracted pneumonia from exposure and, after a few days, died, leaving a wife, three boys, and one girl.   There were no cemeteries near at that early date and his body was buried on the land he had earned in the Oklahoma Run.  Thirty years later, his body was exhumed and reinterred in Davis, Oklahomaís Cemetery, now the family hometown.  Today, one of his descendents lives on his farm.

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A STAMPEDE ON THE CHISHOLM TRAIL

On the Chisholm Trail, as told to me by my half-brother, Fayette, a boy of sixteen at the time the stampede occurred.

It was May 1876.  All afternoon the heat had been terrific, low hanging clouds banking in the northwest warned of an approaching storm.  Finally, the sun dropped swiftly behind the bleak barrier of the low hills.  Twilight deepened into dusk and settled over the arroyos and canyons of the prairie.  Many cattle near the outside of the big herd had been restless all afternoon and frequently broke away to be ridden against by cowboys and returned to the herd.  Men of the range know that great herds of cattle seem to have some premonition or natural instinct of approaching danger.  Night had set in, the cattle were bedded, supper at the camp was prepared and eaten.  Soon guards took their respective places for the first shift.  The others, after a few jokes and possibly a game or two of cards, laid down for their rest.  Everything seemed exceptionally quiet.  The breeze, which had been blowing strong, calmed at intervals.  Bright flashes of lightening played zig-zag across the western horizon.  Occasionally, low distant thunder could be heard; a coyote howled in the distance.  Now and then the sing of a rattlesnake or the screeching of a prairie dog owl could be heard.

Suddenly, for some reason, which was never learned, a few cattle near the outside of the herd of six thousand head were on their feet running at breakneck speed.  Anyone who has never been near or seen a cattle stampede can hardly conceive of the danger to cowboys, horses, and even the cattle themselves.  Almost in an instant, every cowhand was on his horse to aid in the circling and controlling the runaway cattle, for circling it is.  The men bear down against the outside ones, pushing their mounts against them, hollering, shouting, cursing and whipping or frequently shooting, anything to get the outside ones to change their course and begin circling.  After the outside cattle start running in this manner, others, which are crowded against them, have to follow.  The entire herd is running in a circle and held together.  They tire, slow their pace and finally, after completely exerting themselves, calm down, and in course of a few hours, bed down again, and the stampede is over.  

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Many times they pour in between the guards and scatter to the four winds.  In this case the camp is kept intact for several days, the range is searched, the lost cattle rounded up and returned to the original herd.  Many cattle may be entirely lost and never recovered.  Others may be killed by falling and being trampled by the on rush of the frightened herd.  There is no way in which a stampede can be controlled except by circling, and this was true in this stampede.

Another great danger and hardship to the cowhands was in the horses and cattle fording the several rivers, which crossed the trail.  Most of the rivers were broad and the water shallow.  This was more dangerous than if filled with deep water, for they were filled with quick sand from bank to bank.  To ford the quick sand it was always necessary to keep moving.  Should a steer or horse stop after he had once started across, within a minute they usually found it impossible to extract their feet from the sand.  The harder they tried, the faster they sank.  There were always a few cattle or horses lost in crossing these rivers.  Once in a great while a wagon and team would be lost in this manner, or even a man.

It took many weeks to deliver a big herd of cattle gathered in southern Texas to Abilene or Dodge City, Kansas.  After the herd was within 25 or 30 miles of its destination, it still took several days yet before they could be delivered and sold.  Cowboys would take time off and lope on into town to spend their money, have a good time, then return to camp and allow others to ride into town.  Cowboys were free with their money, when the herd was finally driven in, sold and delivered, then the payoff came and the sights of the town were seen.

These towns, at that time, were so-called open towns.  Saloons, medicine shows, theaters, dance halls, and hotels were numerous.  The boys spent their money as if there were no limit to its source.  After several days of fun and frolic, the time arrived to return and many would have to borrow money from the boss to get back down the trail.  There were most always a few boys who did not care to go back the lonesome trail and drifted out to some other section to begin work of the same nature.  It has been estimated by some of the old cattlemen of that day that from 1870 to 1880 there were seven million head of cattle driven over this famous old trail from Texas to Oklahoma.  By 1880 railroads were beginning to traverse many sections of these regions and the old Chisholm Trail began to lose its fame and glamour.  Within a few years the trail was abandoned except for short distances.  The only thing now left to remind one of the trail is a few scattered land marks through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  

After 1880, squatters had begun to come in and land, which had been used so long as free range, began to be homesteaded.  A few small farms were scattered here and there and the cattlemen could see the handwriting on the wall.  Consequently, homesteading became the order of the day.  Men who used free range would hire cowboys to homestead a claim, allow their salary to go on with the understanding that the land would be deeded them when lived out.  There was not much required of a homesteader.  He built a dugout, put in a stove and a few cooking utensils.  A few old shirts, pants and possibly a worn out pair of boots were left in the place.  He returned occasionally, stayed a night or two, and at the end of three years, the land was deeded to him, which was in turn handed over to the man with whom he had made the deal.  After a few years of using this method, and purchasing land from so-called squatters who had lived out their claims, there began to be many land kings.  Thousands and thousands of acres of this wonderful natural grassland would belong to one man or a few individuals.   The little men, with only a few thousand head of cattle, slowly but surely began to be squeezed out.  After a while, these cattle kings undertook to fence immense pastures.  The barbed wire was beginning to be manufactured by this time and, of course,  these first fences were undertaken by only a few of the greatest landowners.  Everyone had been accustomed to the open, free range for so long.  This custom was so firmly established that it was very unsatisfactory to the majority and wire cutting became prevalent.  A cattle king might hire his men to stretch miles of fence one day to find it literally cut almost between every post the next day by a mob of nightriders.  While legally it was his right to fence his own land, it was against the unwritten law of the range.  These conditions grew worse and worse.  Finally the land kings began calling on the state for protection and Texas Rangers were sent in to guard the long lines of fences.  This was resented by the smaller cattlemen and soon the war was on between the small cattle owner and the cattle barons.  It was common news, every few weeks, from different sections of the state, one would hear of night battles between rangers and wire cutters.  Men on both sides were killed.  

After a few years, the small cattle owner could also see the handwriting on the wall and the disappearing of the free range.  To my mind, this semi-arid country would have been better to remain a cattle country and free range.  But advancing prices and fertile soil turned the squatters on in full and the many big pastures were finally sold out in small tracts.  Farming began taking the place of the herds.  The cattlemen of this once great cattle country had to stand by and gradually watch the once cattle paradise and open range pass.  Of course, many big ranches are yet scattered over Texas, but most of the long horn glamour and custom of the real western cow country has gone the way of the buffalo and the antelope.

My half-brother, Fayette, was reared from infancy in the cattle country and knew nothing about other kinds of work.  By the time he became a grown man, the great country had begun making many changes.  It seemed difficult for him to be able to adjust himself to other kinds of work, which he knew nothing at all about.  He, like many others, moved to New Mexico, but found the same change taking place there.  He came back to Texas for one or two years, trying to farm, being almost a complete failure.  Finally, the Oklahoma land run was advertised and he entered and won.

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NEIGHBORS

It would hardly be fair to the readers of this narrative, nor to Uncle Jake and Aunt Jessie Miller themselves, who lived just across the creek from us, unless something is said of their quaint ways and superstitions.  They were both originally from Georgia and had no doubt lived all their lives in a remote region and among superstitious Negroes, for they pronounced many words like them, such as DAT, ids, si-si-sa-sa, and other words that did not give much credit to the English dictionary.  Uncle Jake was short, with a dark complected small face, and he had the shiniest, sleekest, bald head I have ever seen.  Aunt Jessie, his wife, was rather corpulent, also dark, very beady black eyes and snow white hair.  They lived on a homestead just a short distance from us, across the creek in a small log house.  To get to the place you must go through the creek bottom trail and through a dense forest of live oak timber.  

Once almost every week just before dark, you could see Uncle Jake and Aunt Jessie coming to sit until bedtime.  Nothing before, nor since that time, has given more thrill, gladness and fear to us children.  We knew we were in for a ghost story.  I do not believe they should be told to children, however, they get more thrill and pleasure from them than any other form of entertainment and are left in a state of fear that is almost close to panic.  Neither did our father want such stories told to us, yet he did not like to hurt the old coupleís feelings.

Many a time my sister and myself have slipped off in the afternoon and gone to Aunt Jennieís and asked them to come over that night, knowing full well that after they left we would be too afraid to step into the other room for a drink of water or even sleep by ourselves.  Aunt Jessie always took the lead in telling most tales, but frequently asked Uncle Jake for exact dates and sanction.  Even her voice had a sound of weirdness which caused chilly sensations to creep up and down our spines.  Always, soon after their arrival to sit until bedtime, and after the regular routine of welcoming and how her back was getting on, her pipe lighted, her conversation soon drifted toward a ghost story for that was the only kind of conversation that she, herself, enjoyed.  Most of the stories were of her own experiences, which had, of course, more interest for us.  I would become so nervous when the story was being told I would squeeze in between my fatherís knees, sit on one knee and actually have to turn to the other one frequently for it seemed that something would certainly take hold of my back, if not grab and carry me away.  My sister was not quite so frightened, but she too, would change place around the fire frequently.  There never was another individual who could put a more blood curdling chill into a ghost story than Aunt Jessie.

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THE HAUNTED HOUSE

One of Aunt Jessieís ghost stories was that near them was a discarded farm with its dilapidated buildings and fences.  No one had lived there for several years and the half-rotten doors and windows hung on rusty hinges, both dwelling and barns.  The fence was down and the field had grown up in brush, weeds, and grass.  She said that late one afternoon on a cold, wet, dreary evening in November, a traveler in a covered wagon drove up where she and Jake lived and asked to spend the night.  They told him they were sorry to have to turn him away on such a night, but did not have room for travelers.  They told him of this haunted, vacant house and that the heirs of the place had offered to give the farm to anyone who would spend the night there.

The man, she stated, thought the situation over carefully, and said, "Well I do not believe in ghosts and I think I will drive down there and spend the night.  It looks to me as if it would be a good bargain."  He moved on down the road, unhitched his team, watered and fed them, made them fast for the night, got his camping outfit and entered the house.  Sitting on either side of the fireplace, where a small fire glowered, two old women sat dressed in long black garments.  On their heads were bonnets of the same material and each one was smoking a clay pipe.  Each held in her right hand a long butcher knife.  He spoke but neither woman looked up or spoke.  He said, in a casual tone, "Well, I am going to spend the night with you, ghosts or no ghosts."

He replenished the fire and cooked his supper.  Every now and then he would say something to the old women.  He received no answer and got no further look at their faces.  He ate his supper, cleaned the dishes and prepared his bed on a pallet in front of the now burned-down glowing embers. He lay his gun beside him, and pulling up the cover said "Good-night" to them.  Instead of a reply, they both seemed to rise, cutting at each other with all their strength and at the same time, went gliding slowly up through an opening into the loft, while not a word was spoken.  This, of course, frightened the man but he had thoroughly made up his mind and was going to stay the entire night, and win the farm, ghosts or no ghosts, so he lay back down.  By this time the rain was beating against the windowpanes and falling in torrents.  The wind was howling like some lost monster and only a very dim glow now came from the embers in the fireplace.  After what seemed like hours to him, he felt something fall across his body with a thud.  He lay there too frightened to move, but finally, with a trembling hand, he reached out and seized an object.  It felt cold, moist, and like lead, it was an arm!  He laid it off on the floor gently and tried once more to calm himself and stay the night out.  Finally, after a few more hours, another object of the same cold, dreadful feeling fell as before.  He lay this one off, also, it was a leg.  Then again, and again, with the same horrible feeling, other objects of the same cold, clammy touch fell from the loft.  At last, he reached out his hand and found a head with long, wet, bloody hair.  He was now frightened beyond words and could not rise.  He stayed the miserable night all the way through.  Finally dawn came and he arose, looking carefully around.  There were the two empty chairs.  He prepared breakfast, packed his camp, hitched his team to the wagon, and prepared to leave and go claim the farm when he saw two shadows cross the threshold.  Startled again beyond speaking, he walked to the door.  Behold!  There stood the two same old women he had seen cut each other apart and fall through the loft in many pieces.  He asked them in a trembling tone what they wished.  One of them spoke up and said, "Many years ago, there was a whole family murdered here for their money, $10,000 in gold.  The killers were afraid to carry away the money and buried three feet it under the doorstep.  We are the ghosts of that family.  If you wish to own the farm, after being so brave, dig and find the money.  It and the farm will be yours.  You may live here in peace hereafter and there will be no more ghosts to frighten you".  The man lived there many years, there were never any more ghosts or sounds of screaky hinges.

After a story, around 10 oíclock Aunt Jessie and Uncle Jake would take their leave.  I could not see for my life how they could walk back on that dark trail by themselves without being afraid.  Sometimes, I yet believe they were.

There were other odd neighbors as well as Uncle Jake and Aunt Jessie.  There was Uncle Lydge Martin, tall, gaunt, and frail who lived at the back of our field in a two-room log house with his wife and son.  His wife was also frail, stooped, and suffered with palsy.  I never could feel at ease around her.  Every time she looked my way, her head would be wagging negatively as if she was correcting me for some misdeed.  Jim, the son, was an old bachelor and looked almost as odd as his father and mother.  Neither he nor his mother visited our place frequently, but Uncle Lydge came often and stayed late.  His visits were usually in the afternoon of cold, or wet, dreary days when he knew my father would be home.  You would see him coming down through the field several hundred yards away and it frequently took him thirty minutes or more to arrive at our gate.  He would stop and look out over the field and back the way he had come.  He would then move on a short distance, and repeat the same procedure again, only he would be looking in some other direction.  Finally he would arrive at the yard gate and almost invariably stop, turn his face the other direction, lean on arm on the gate for a while and whistle a weird tune.  After several minutes he would turn around, raise the latch, and come into the yard and repeat the same thing again.  After a while he would come about half way down the walk, make another stop, turn his back, and begin to whistle another tune, then to the porch.  There, a long pause, then to the door, another long pause, finally he would give three loud, sharp raps upon the door.  He never knocked twice, nor did he ever knock four times, it was always three, as carefully and precisely as if he were knocking at a lodge hall door for admittance.  When the door was opened and he was invited in, he invariably took his chair, turned it around, sat down, crossed his legs and stared out the window, all this time asking how all the folks were and whistling while being answered.  Occasionally, he would turn around and face the fire only to whirl around again, cross his legs and begin whistling in a low tone.  He would keep these odd movements going as long as he was there.  Another odd thing about Uncle Lydge was that we could always tell when he was about ready to take his departure.  He would become very quiet for a minute or two and suddenly jump up exclaiming, "I think I gotta go".  No persuasion of any kind could stop him for he would walk right on out and on his way regardless of anything that might be said to him.  It was fun to watch him on his way home for his actions were the same as when coming to our house.

Then there was Nip and Vina who lived two miles away.  Nip was very short, but stout and his belly prominent only from his navel down.  His face resembled an egg in shape, complexion as red as an Indian and bald headed.  He talked with a lisp and, when telling you something, usually stopped four or five words before finishing the sentence, grinning and nodding his head, and the listener usually finished the sentence for him.  Vina, his wife, hardly ever talked on any subject except Nip, and that was invariably about what a hard time she had and how little aid Nip gave her.  It was an apparent quarrel with them all the time when they were together, but it always ended up in a joke.  They were really a good couple and no better neighbors could have been found.

Another odd neighbor was old Uncle Zebedee Thompson, a peculiar individual indeed. Zebedee was of normal stature with a long, gray beard and hair.  He smoked his pipe incessantly.  He always came to our place alone and rode in an old screaking buggy that barely hung together pulled by two small, thin ponies.  He lived fifteen miles away in what was known as the Halleway Mountains.  His family consisted of a wife, two children and twelve black and tan wolfhounds.  His hobby was chasing wolves with his "pack" as he called it.  He would often stay away all night long when he was seventy years old and listen to the baying of his hounds, the sweetest music he could say that ever made a sound.  

Of course, his conversation was always about his "pack".  I have spent nights with him and his family.  Though I was only a small boy, I really enjoyed his talk and antique ways as much as that of his son John, who was about my age.  Uncle Zebedee played the fiddle and possibly this had more to do in causing my visits than anything else.  I like the fiddle music better than any other and learned to play myself when I was about ten years old.  Usually after supper had been served, and a grand supper it was, for Aunt Bettie, his wife, was an excellent cook, Uncle Zeb would take his fiddle from a nail on the wall, where he always kept it, sit back down and begin to tune up.  I would be so thrilled and anxious for him to begin I could hardly wait.  Finally, after much thumping the strings, twisting the keys and tightening the bow, he would still delay the music by telling a joke or two.  After a hearty laugh, he would take hold of his long, white, whiskers with his right hand (also the one which held the bow) and pull them over to the right side. He then tucked his fiddle in under his chin, pulled the bow over the strings a time or two and then tells you what tune he would play.  About five tunes was his limit and these were "Buffalo Gals", "Cotton Eyed Joe", "Turkey in the Straw", "Black Eyed Susan", and "Tom and Jerry".  Each one would be played about four or five times with jokes in between.  Finally, he would hang up his fiddle and then tell a good story of a wolf chase and how old Bloomer, his favorite hound, had handled the chase.  Bloomer out-trailed, stayed in the chase longer and, if the wolf were caught, old Bloomer took the lead in the kill.  He loved all his pack but gave old Bloomer all the credit for finding the trail, following and chasing the wolf till he was caught and killed.  

Then to bed into a soft feather mattress and sound asleep until awakened by the pleasant odor of frying ham, eggs, soft fluffy biscuits and coffee by Bettie, his wife.  I can think of no family with whom I ever stayed where I enjoyed a night so much as at Uncle Zebedeeís.

There was Ike Smith, who had worked on a ranch all his life as a cook but bragged constantly about his expert bronco busting.  He could tell the biggest yarns about some outlaw horse that no one was able to ride until he was found.  Of course, his bad horse riding was always at some ranch way over in New Mexico or Arizona, so far away that no one here knew of the incident, so they could not dispute it.  However, he finally bragged once too often.  He had offered to gamble most any amount that there wasnít a horse living that he couldnít ride.  This was a mistake, for we happened to know of an outlaw horse that had been brought in from the Sellman ranch.  Apparently, the animal was gentle, but had been spoiled or taught to pitch.  And pitch he could, which was found out when the day came for Ike to ride him.  Someone had called his hand.  They went him one better by not betting, just offering him ten dollars outright to ride the horse the next Saturday afternoon at a remote ball ground and race track.  Saturday arrived, also the outlaw horse and Ike as well.  Everyone in the settlement had learned of the horse and that Ike was to ride him.  Everybody was there to see the horse ridden, men and women and children for miles around.  When the horse was led out, it was blindfolded and saddled with  Ikeís big nice saddle.  So many had learned of the outlaw horse being even worse than they had first heard and Ike began weakening.  First he did not feel as well as usual and second he did not have his regular boots or spurs.  But the matter had gone so far that it was now too late for Ike to change his mind.  Finally, everything was in readiness for the outlaw to be mounted, with everyone hollering and shouting for Ike to get going.  He meekly walked up to the big sorrel, hesitated, but a few catcalls forced him to a showdown.  He reached, took hold of the horn of the saddle with his left hand, grabbed the cantle with his right, raised his trembling left foot and placed it gently and took his seat in the saddle.  He was careful to get his feet placed properly in the stirrups and with a weak shout, reached up and took his big, white hat by the brim and said to the wranglers, "let him go."  For a moment, the big brute stood motionless, but only for a moment, for the animal knew what was expected of him.  He suddenly seemed to double himself into a Spanish knot and with a leap and swiftness of a cannonball, shot into the air jumping, snorting, kicking, and bawling.  Only the first jump was needed to unseat Ike for he left the saddle in mid-air and sailed off onto space with his legs and arms spread out like the wings of a crippled buzzard and, with terrific speed, crashed to earth.  The horse, by this time, had made several jumps high into the air, whirled and circled right back over Ike, still kicking and bawling.  The crowd rushed up to Ike wondering if he had been trampled to death or his legs or arms broken.  Ike was knocked out, but, after being helped to his feet, he looked at first one, then the other.  He was stunned, barely conscious, therefore, was picked up and carried to a wagon and crated off home.  He was not seriously hurt save for a few bruises and a pretty badly strained back.  After a few days, Ike had recovered sufficiently to come out again.  He had many excuses why he had been thrown, but was laughed at and teased so harshly he could not face the humiliation and, within a few days he left the country and was not heard of any more.

It did not pay one to brag about his bronco riding in that country unless he was fully prepared to back it up.  Such horses as the one Ike failed to ride, were numerous and if a fellow made a brag like Ike did, someone knew exactly where he could find an outlaw horse, as they were called.  

Most cow ponies were gentle if you knew just how to handle them, but a pinch on the neck or slap with a quirt, unless placed correctly, would start many of them to pitching for they had been taught what these signs meant when being broken.  There were professional horse breakers who did not pretend to work at anything else and they invariably taught the cow ponies some touch or sign meant for them to pitch.  In a cow country, like this was at that time, many horses were required.  For a cow ponyís life was a hard one and he usually stove-up within a few years and a new one took his place.  It is interesting to watch a good cow pony when being used in handling cattle, herding, rounding up or being roped from.  They soon learn exactly what is expected.  What little guiding is needed when running yearling, cutting out or returning it to the herd, is mostly from slight touch with the reins from the opposite side to which you wish him to go and, in roping and branding, he knows exactly what to do.  He sees the rope leap through the air and when it settles over the steer, does not have to be reined to a stop, but sets his feet firmly with his head always toward the animal and in a slight squatting position.  When the animal reaches the end of the rope, many times, the steer may be thrown into a somersault or upon his side but the pony always keeps his head toward the steer.  All cow ponies were taught to stay as if they were hitched or tied by only dropping the reigns to the ground.  No matter how skittish or wild the horse apparently is, he can always be trusted to stand where you leave him with reins hanging to the ground.

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FIRST DAY IN SCHOOL

I was only five years old when we landed, but by the next year, I was old enough to attend school.  The school house was three miles down the creek and I was carried on horseback to school by my older brother and was left to walk home when school was out in the afternoon.  But this was fun, for several other children did the same thing and came the same road.  Many times, when creeks and ponds were frozen over, we would stop and play on the ice until almost dark and occasionally some of our parents would become alarmed and come to see after us.

I shall never forget my first day in school.  Before school was to begin, I was nervous.  I feared the teacher and thought if anyone happened to break any rules, no matter how small, the teacher always whipped.  Older children told us that day, that the teacher came around and asked our names, and also that of our father.  I was scared and nervous when I saw him coming toward me, but I told him my name.  When he asked my fatherís name, I replied, "Pap".  Of course, everyone laughed, and I did not understand why.  I cried, thought I had done something I would be whipped for, but Mr. Towns, the teacher, was a kindly old man and only patted me on the head and said, "Thatís alright son, we will be friends, donít be afraid for I like little boys."  So the next day, I was not so nervous and we got along fine.  

A few days of the school week, we children were all assembled after the noon hour.  The teacher decided to have a few speeches and also a spelling match by the older ones.  He asked if there was anyone who knew a speech, if so to step upon the stage and recite it.  I had learned a little rhyme from some of my older brothers and thought that I had to do what the teacher said, so with much fear and trembling, I arose and rushed to the stage in great haste.  I whirled around and said this quotation, "Lightening flashed and thunder rolled, Daddy opened his tater hole".  Of course, everyone laughed.  My first laugh from giving my teacher my fatherís name as Pap, compared nothing to the laughs and applause I then received.  These were only a few of my early experiences in school and I soon learned that I was not the only one in the first year, who happened to create laughs.  I do not yet understand just why older people laugh so much at childrenís innocent expressions.

Finally the school term closed and by the time I began my second year, I was anxious to attend and thereafter enjoyed it.  Near our neighborhood, the schoolhouse was soon enlarged and most every pupil was riding horseback to attend school.  At that time, as soon as they were large enough to ride, every child was given a pony.  I remember very distinctly the first pony my father gave me.  It was a beautiful, small, brown pony, nice and gentle, and I thought a great deal of him.  A homesteader, who settled a piece near us, fenced his land with barbed wire and one line of his fence crossed the trail to a water hole.  The first night I owned my pony, while he was romping and playing with the other horses we owned ran into the fence.  The next morning he was found dead, the barbed wire having severed his jugular vein.  This was sad news indeed but the man gave me another pony instead and there were no hard feelings toward our neighbor.

The country by this time was settling up and customs changing rapidly.  Land was being homesteaded, adobes built, farms were put into cultivation and children growing up ready for school.  Most everyone rode horseback to school, horses would be tied all around the school ground.

The family of Tom Williams, better known as Greasy Williams, lived about three miles up the creek and his occupation was raising mules.  He owned considerable pastureland and raised Spanish mules by the hundreds.  Every Williams child, and there were eight, rode a mule to school and these mules were taught to pitch or buck by certain signs or touches.  At recess one afternoon, long in the late spring, John told several of us boys that he was going to ride his mule pitching up the steps and into the school house when school was out for the day.  We all waited anxiously for the time to arrive.  Finally, when about half of the pupils had come out of the building, John appeared in front of the door mounted upon his mule.  He gave him a thumb, as it was called, and right up the steps into the schoolroom and down the aisles pitching, snorting and kicking went the mule.  Children poured out of the windows and were followed closely by the teacher.  The mule pitched and kicked all over, up and down the aisles, turning over desks by the dozens and finally out of the door, running and kicking until John brought him to a stop in front of the building.  The teacher could not understand why the mule pitched into the school.  By the next morning word had leaked out through the grapevine system that the whole thing was done on purpose and John was ordered upon the carpet.  I believe that was the most angry teacher I had ever seen, but John had been planning his alibi.  He looked and spoke very meekly, apparently with tears in his eyes, told the teacher of the animalís disposition and that he would not have had it to happen for anything.  This cooled the teacherís anger and he stated that he was sorry of having been so angry since of course he could see that it could not have been avoided.  He advised John to tie the mule out of distance and be sure to have him headed the other way when being mounted thereafter.

John was a bad boy indeed, but all the boys thought he was a hero.  He or some of his brothers or, once in a while, one of his sisters were always doing something to create excitement and it was a daily occurrence for some of the Williams to get a whipping.  They usually took it with a smile, but not every time.  John, especially, would brag to the boys that he was going to break a rule which, he knew good and well would cause him to be whipped.  All the rest of us waited the time with anxiety.

I remember one time distinctly, John told me that he was going to whip the teacher some time during the day.  Along in the afternoon of a warm drowsy day, everything was quiet.  The teacher was at the blackboard with a few pupils.  John worked a pin through the thick part of the skin of his big toe and set his foot upon the back part of the seat ahead of him.  There was a tall, pale, scarlet faced, redheaded boy occupying this seat.  When everything was all set and ready, John gave a big punch with his foot.  The pin shot into the boyís hip muscles like a stab of lightening and he screamed and began crying.  John quickly removed the pin from his toe and took on the look of astonishment.  The teacher came back to find out about all the excitement.  The boy knew John was the one who had caused him all the pain and promptly stated so.  This was denied by John.  The teacher, being wise in the ways of bad schoolboys, asked to see Johnís toe.  There was the proof, the torn, dead skin where the pin had been placed.  "All right John," he handed John his pocket knife and told him to walk down to the creek and bring him a real good switch.  John took the knife, and with the pompous air of a brigadier general, walked out after the switch.  Soon he returned with a limb larger than a thumb and about eight feet long.  He handed it over gracefully to the teacher, then pulled off his coat calmly hanging it on a nail, waved a salute with a smile to the other children, and said in a sarcastic tone "Letís begin, Professor."  Everyone thought he could be whipped to death but, at the first lick, the switch broke into a dozen pieces.  He had cut, with a sharp knife, around and almost through the switch in more than a dozen places.  This angered the teacher more than ever so he slapped John in the face with his open hand and the fight was on.  First one was on top and then the other, soon blood was streaming from the teacherís face and he gave up.  John had torn his watch and chain from his pocket, then deliberately walked to the stove, jerked the chain into several pieces, opened the stove door, and threw them into the fire.  He tossed the watch to the professor, brushed his hands together, and saluted the professor, took a chew of tobacco and sat down, stating to everybody, "I guess I will be the teacher from now on.  Sit down professor and get to studying your lessons."  The teacher realized he was licked and was much humiliated and told John he would have the Trustees expel him from school.  The next day, at a Trustees meeting, all the evidence was brought forward, and, after talking the matter over, it was decided if the professor could not keep order in his school, he best resign, which he did and left the country.  Everyone knew John was bad but the teacher in that day was hired to teach and control his school and if he failed there was nothing to do but give up the school.  There were other large boys that fought the teacher occasionally, but usually the teacher came out the better man.

After the big fight, which won John much fame and made him a hero to the rest of the boys and girls, he went by the name of "Dangerous Dan McGrew" and a few verses of the poem was quoted when John would appear.  It goes:

    "A bunch of boys were whooping

    It in a male mute saloon.

    The kid that was handling the music

    Was playing a rag time tune,

    When out of the night, which was

    Forty below, into the glim and

    Glare,

    There staggered a stranger from out

    Of the reeks, dog dirty and loaded

    For bear."

John carried on for a few more years in school, with a teacher fight now and then.  But finally, public sentiment decreed that John could not attend school.  He was expelled and never attended school again.

One of the big event in the school in those days, was school exhibition at its close.  For weeks we children would rehearse for the big event, and when the final night arrived, everyone in the settlement was there.  A stage had been erected outside, connected with the building, which could be used from the anterooms.  Curtains were stretched across the front and what gay colors, usually red and white or some other gaudy colors, parted in the middle and a boy was selected for either side to pull back his curtain at the proper time, which was the tap of a table bell.  Fiddle and banjo music was played behind the curtains, continuously, while the curtains were closed.  Different colored tableaus were burned for certain acts.  This was as exciting and glamorous for people of those days as Technicolor pictures are on the screen today.

I do not believe that children of today get the fun and excitement that they did of that day and time.   I yet entertain an honored feeling for the little red schoolhouse, which spot was the center of all gathering places for people of the community.  Everyone knew everyone else and if a stranger did happen to attend, it was only a short time until he was known by everybody and considered one of them.

After a few years, most of us boys who were in school together began having so called growing pains and before we were considered large enough to take part in dances and parties, we attended just the same.  In most of the houses where dances and parties were given, the room was only large enough for the four couples who danced and the fiddlers.  There was usually a big fire burning outside in the yard.  Boys came into the house to dance when their names were called.  Outside, gathered around the fire, were boys awaiting their turn, and we who were considered too small to take active part.  There was conservation around the fire of most every nature, always a few drunks, in many instances resembling clowns in a circus.  I remember very distinctly one tall, dark, lanky fellow, with piercing eyes, black hair, and extra long mustache.  He was mean looking and was considered an outlaw since he had drifted into the country from no one knew where.  Nor did they have any knowledge of his mission.  As that was still the day of cattle rustling, it was thought by most everyone that this probably was his profession and though he was peaceful most everyone feared him.  He rode the meanest outlaw horse in the settlement and always carried pistol cartridges in his pocket.  On one occasion at a dance and outside by the fire, we younger boys decided to tease him a bit.  He was drunk as usual.  His name was Bill McClain (probably an alias).  I decided to be smart and brave before the other boys.  I came up to him and said "Your name McClain?"  I grasped his hand and shook it in an outward show of bravery, inside I was fearful and trembling.  "Seems that Iíve met you somewhere."  He answered back in a belligerent, coarse tone while stroking his long mustache, "You may have, by God, I have been there!"  This took all the show out of me.  I eased out of the situation as tactfully as I could and never tried again to show off before Bill McClain.  I was teased often about my introduction.  No one ever learned what his mission was and he left after a few months, but no cattle were missing and no one was murdered so probably Bill was not a real outlaw after all.

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CAMP MEETINGS

The Old Windham campground was situated in a beautiful spot at the junction of Hog Creek and the Pecan Bayou.  The ground was covered with gravel, dotted with a dense forest of big pecan and elm trees, with no underbrush and shaded throughout.  Wagons, buggies and saddle horses were tied everywhere by the dozens.  Hog Creek was a small stream but the bayou was wide and deep.  There could not have been a more beautiful place selected anywhere and was used for summer camp meeting for many years.  People would come from great distances, as well as near, bring their camping equipment, food, beds, tent and cooking stoves.  Others would come in wagons which were used for places to sleep, put their stove under trees, set up their tables, and were ready for the big camp meetings.  An arbor would be built and covered with small tree and brush tops, making a dense, shady, cool place.  The ground would be covered with straw.  Long benches were placed under the arbor, a small platform built for the preacher and the meeting began.  Night meetings were the most glamorous for it was customary for many women and some men to become immensely happy and express their happiness by loud shouting.  Many times I have seen as many as thirty people shouting all at the same time, at the top of their voices.  I have seen most of the congregation stay with the shouters until one or two oíclock in the morning and until the happy ones would wear themselves absolutely out, in many cases, and have to be carried outside for several hours.  This kind of worship never appealed to me as being genuine.  There were many odd characters in these exciting meeting, usually the ringleaders.

I am here reminded of one old gentleman in particular, who always created a laugh for us youngsters and many times practically the entire group.  The ones who really led the services, preacher and all, would be on their knees in the straw all praying at the same time and absolutely rolling in the straw, and seeing who could pray the loudest seemingly, and calling out all in different words.  This old gentlemen, whom I have just mentioned, Uncle John McPeeters, with long, gray hair and beard which covered his entire face except for a small portion around his cheeks, eyes and nostrils.  He was the main actor and did the most and loudest praying.  The reason he caused so many laughs was the attitude he would assume on his knees.  He would have his face turned straight up, eyes and mouth closed just as tightly as could be and with all the other men and women mumbling and praying, he would groan and moan and shake his head in a quiver.  Every little while his mouth and eyes would fly open and he no doubt meant to say "My God," but his lips opened so quickly and his voice came with such force it sounded exactly as I he said "By God, Oh By God."  He was referred to as Old By God by most of the youngsters.  One of the regular shouters and one who could be absolutely depended on to do her part of the shouting was old lady Malone.  She always had a baby in her arms, and when the time came to get happy, she looked for someone to take the baby, just tossed it to them as if it were a rag doll, jumped up, clasped her hands tightly in front of her body and began going round and round, jumping up and down hollering one scream after another with the most staring, simple look.  She always wore a long black dress and looked almost like a ghost.  The youngsters were really afraid of her.  She always danced and spun around until she was completely exhausted and then sheíd stop, straighten up, and fall backward into someoneís arms.  Then they would lay her out on a long bench or probably down in the straw, fan and bathe her forehead and feel her pulse.  After and hour or two, while the others sang through the act, she would finally begin to clap her hands slowly, roll her head, and, in the course of a few minutes, open her eyes and raise up.  Then she would tell of her vision while in this so-called trance, that she had been away and talked in person with God.  I never did hear her tell what the Lord told her in words that could be understood clearly.  She was just one of many others that carried on in this manner.

A camp meeting was considered an almost failure if there was not plenty of shouting.  Such carrying on in the place of  worship is hard for one to believe now days when shouting is not the custom.  Probably a few of them were in earnest, through excitement.  But perhaps most of it was for show and notoriety.  But as for me, I could not have much faith in this carrying on.  After the meeting was over, such people, I learned were no more to be trusted than others and in many cases not so much.  Such camp meetings would last for three or four weeks many times.  There were other protracted meetings conducted under brush arbor from time to time in other places and carried on in the same manner with plenty of shouting.  Strange customs indeed to ones who did not believe in such.  Shouting always began after mourners came up and gave the preacher their hands with a request to be prayed for, took their seats on the mournerís bench, bent over and began crying.  Some of them came to be up on the mournerís bench every night for weeks and them probably failed to come through, as it was called.

I must tell one more incident which took place at one of these meetings.  The preacher had begged and pleaded for mourners night after night with none coming forward so he hit on a new scheme.  He told the congregation, the sinners in particular, they might get religion in other ways and places.  He stated that he preached in places where many of them went into seclusion, and prayed and prayed until the Lord forgave them of their sins and they might try this procedure for a night or two and if no one got religion that way the meeting would close.  So within a night or two, some of the sinners became converted on their way home from the meeting, shouting and hollering, others leaving heard the commotion and whirled their wagons, buggies and horses and rushed to the scene.  Probably several would be converted at this gathering, in some cases spend the entire night and the next night at the experience meeting.  They would tell of just how they had been forgiven of their sins and exactly what the Lord had said to them.  One boy, a pretty bad fellow considered so by the shouting group, although his worst sins were only that he liked to dance and play the fiddle for dances, raised up at one of those experience meetings and gave his version.  Which was that after he had gotten home from the meeting the night before, he walked out into the bushes, got down upon his knees and right there he and the old fellow had it out and after almost two hours he came through.  Of course many laughed at this simple way of expressing his experience.  The preacher knew him well and knew he had been sprinkled as a child.  So, the next evening there were several converts called up to the mournerís bench for the purpose of being baptized (sprinkled).  The preacher had them all to state that the Lord had forgiven them and would sprinkle water over their heads.  When he came to Jim he hesitated and said to them in low tones, "I believe Brother Jimmy, that you have been baptized."  Jim looked up meekly and said in a low tone, "Yes, I have been but I believe I will take a little more, Brother Morgan."  There was considerable sniggering all through the congregation but the preacher quieted them by reprimand.  Jim lived a true Christian life for exactly one week after the preacher had closed his meeting, and then one day he broke the religious rules by dancing at a picnic dancehall, so he was ready for a new case of religion again the next summer, and he came through again.

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PONY RACE

My sister, Ellie, who was three years my senior owned a beautiful black pony named Wadd.  My pony was brown, and named Barney.  Much jealously existed between us over the ponies, especially over their speed.  We had run them many times in a slack, careless way but had never singled them out side by side in their very best speed.  Our father had bought each of us a new saddle, bridle, and blanket, her a riding whip (quirt), and me a bright, glittering pair of O.K. spurs.  I had gotten an idea that I wanted to gamble on a race between Wadd and Barney as I had seen bets on pony races at the baseball grounds, which were just across the creek from our house.  This was an every Saturday occurance.  We had been taught it was sinful to gamble, but the older boys did, and I thought it big to talk of betting on a horse race.  I had teased my sister for days, bragged of the speed of my pony and the slow speed of hers.  This could not be tolerated very long by children of those days, for their ponies were prided more than any earthly possession.  She had finally stood all the boasting and braggadocio from me that she cared to, and one afternoon she and her chum, Willie Spalding, a half Mexican girl who owned a pretty little dapple gray, rode up to me down near the creek.  I am sure they had talked the matter over privately.  She said, "How much do you want to bet that Barney can outrun Wadd?  Iíll bet you my quirt against those pretty bright spurs that my pony can outrun yours and we will let Willie hold the stakes."  Well, everything was made ready.  Willie rode to the upper end of the track, Ellie and I rode down to the starting points.  I never felt bigger in all my life betting on a horse race just like grown boys did.  We finally arrived at the starting point and after much arguing and several uneven starts, the ponies finally hit the trail at an even break and the race was on.  The race was pretty close for the first half of the distance and looked as if I might get to keep my pretty spurs and take her quirt but soon I began realizing that the racing distance for Barney was only about 150 yards.  I felt him begin weakening and soon the black shot by like a comet and at the end of the track came out about four lengths ahead.  We circled our ponies and came back down to where the Mexican girl was.  I was very much humiliated because of my pony being beaten but the worst feeling came when I saw the Mexican girl hand over to my sister the bright shiny spurs.  She kept them for several days but finally gave them back with the advice that I was yet a kid, and had not betting judgement and that my pony was only a cayuse, which meant a scrub horse.  This was all very hard to take but it quieted my ambition for betting on horses and races forever.

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THE ANNUAL DANCE

Old Uncle Tom Williams (nicknamed Greasy), the father of the children whom I have mentioned previously in this narrative, lived in a big house which was situated several miles out in his immense pasture.  He owned thousands of acres of grass land and did not like to have close neighbors.  In telling someone where he lived he would say his front yard fence was three miles away, his back yard fence ten miles from the house.  As selfish as this may seem he yet liked to have people visit him and one of his greatest pleasures was to give the young folks a dance each Christmas.  This was an annual event and what a grand time he made it for everyone.  There were no formal invitations sent out, but everybody was invited on Christmas Eve.  It was just known by everybody far and near.  By four and five oíclock in the afternoon, boys and girls began gathering.  His dining room was immense in size, long tables reached almost the entire length of the room and were stacked with roast pork, beef, turkey, pies and cakes of many kinds and plenty of coffee.  By dark, supper was called by Uncle Tom himself, who stood in the big double doors and called out in cow camp terms, "Come and get it."  The music was made by fiddlers and an organ or banjo.  Many would start eating, the music started up and the big dance was on.  A set of square dancers in two different rooms shared the same music and the same caller who stood near the door between.  Eat, drink, and be merry, for it was Christmas night and the expense was on Uncle Tom, for he never allowed anyone to pay for any part of it.  He hired the fiddlers, furnished the eats, looked after the behavior and if any boy became too boisterous or belligerent from imbibing a little too freely, he called his friends and sent him home.  A few of the boys would do this occasionally but everyone liked Uncle Tom and respected him, his annual dances, and free suppers.  There was never any drunken trouble to speak of.  Once in a great while Uncle Tom would imbibe a little too freely himself, get unusually happy and, between sets, decide to dance a solo for his friends.  He was comical indeed with the special alertness which had come over him so suddenly.  Turkey-in-the-Straw was his favorite tune.  With all the antic contortions and bobbing up and down and the loud noise from his heavy boots, it was a show all by itself and created much laughter, for everyone rushed to see him cut the pigeon wing from Turkey-in-the-Straw.  The dancing and eating was usually carried on all through the night.  The guests would begin leaving anywhere from two oíclock until dawn.  Uncle Tomís annual dances were so popular that girls and boys came from distances, in some cases as far as fifteen or twenty miles on horseback.  Many were total strangers, but "everybody welcome" was the old manís slogan.  When the dances were over probably many of the dancers went away with tired aching heads, feet and legs, but a full stomach for the parties were always a success.  There were many dances throughout the winter months but nothing of the kind ever compared to Uncle Tomís annual dances.

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TEXAS RANGERS

When we consider the immense size of the lone star state and the small number of inhabitants at the time it was an independent state, we can easily see the great need of law enforcement agency to guard its borders.  For ten troublesome years after General Sam Houston defeated and captured the Mexican Santa Anna at San Jacinto on April 1, 1836, Texas held her own and was an independent republic recognized by foreign countries and the United States.  Her first national flag was azure (the blue of the sky) with a central golden star (the lone star, its nickname).  It was hemmed in by the Indian frontier over the prairies from the Gulf of Mexico to Red River and by the Mexican border along the shifting Rio Grande thus outlying settlements were points of attack.  This emergency gave rise to the famous Texas Rangers, of whom it is said, could ride like Mexicans, trail like Indians, shoot like Kentuckians and fight like the devil.  The first ranger force was organized in 1835 and its purpose was to guard Texas borders and hunt down cattle rustlers.  Just one hundred years later in 1935 it was made branch of public safety department and charged with enforcement of the criminal laws.

In the old days before the automobile, the rangers way of traveling was on horseback.  He was furnished with the very best, his regalia was similar to that of the cowboy.  His saddle was of the heavy stock type made of dark red leather, studded with gaudy, brass metal rosettes, fastened on with long heavy lace leather strings; large saddle pockets and in many instances the pockets were covered with the skin or the fur of the antelope, goat, or steer, colored in black, tan or brown.  His saddle was equipped with leather slings to hold a 44 caliber Winchester, which fit in under the stirrup strap and could be withdrawn at a momentís notice.  His dress was not so gaudy as that of the cowboy, but was of such that he could easily recognized anywhere.  His hat was usually white (Stetson) of the so called 10 gallon type, dark coat and trousers.  The most distinguished feature of the ranger was his nice, high heeled boots, O.K. spurs and the broad leather belt studded in places with many glass sets and bright metal rivets.  Half around on either side were rows of brass shelled cartridges.  The belt was held together with a large bright shiny buckle, and swinging from his belt in easy reach of his right hand was his constant companion, a 44 caliber pistol of the early frontier type and in many instances equipped with pearl handles or some other gaudy material.  The holster was made of heavy leather and also studded with many gaudy rivets and glass settings.  He really looked to the outlaw or even the boy who might have thought at some time of putting his brand on a stray steer, to be a real tough hombre and one to be feared.  Many of them wore long handled bar mustaches, their skin tanned to almost the color of a Mexican.  They were the real outdoor hard riding, straight shooting, brave men of the border.  Many times my father would keep one or more of them overnight and how I envied their belts and pistols, after they had taken them off and hung them near their beds, and longed for the time when I would large and brave enough to be a state ranger and wear pistols and belts full of cartridges like theirs.  I finally grew up large enough but not brave enough, at any rate I did not become a Texas Ranger but turned my thoughts to the study of medicine instead.

The automobile and motorcycle, buses, and railroads have changed the old time rangers force now to where there is very little resemblance to that of the early west.

The ways and customs of the once wild and wooly west has practically disappeared.  However, there is one small remote section on may visit which yet, to some extent, resembles early days and that is along the Mexican border toward the southwest and along the treacherous Rio Grande, the Davis Mountains.  Mountains, yes one could hardly conceive of mountains peaks that far toward the coast reaching their peaks into the sky to an elevation of the 2,000 feet above sea level.  There is, however, rugged country in many places which probably has never been visited by a human being.  I believe this immense body of land with its mountains, creeks and forests has now been made a state of wild life preserve and is guarded by full time state wardens who must make their journeys through the forest on horseback and lonesome trails for miles and miles where no one lives or is a single sign of human habitation.  I am told that many kinds of wild life exists in these forests, the wolf, coyote and loafer, mountain lion, a few bear and antelope, but no buffalo, once the greatest game of them all.  Then the smaller population of wild things, the diamond rattler, skunks, mountain boomers (a large lizard), the horned frog, the chapperell and the bald eagle and most all other wildlife that once roamed the state during its wilderness days.

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THE WARDEN'S STORY

To give one some idea of the remoteness and isolation of this section from the outside world, I shall quote a game wardenís story of his own experience in this section.

He was on duty not many years back and he was riding through the mountains one day when he looked across a deep canyon and saw smoke.  This was unusual as he knew no one had business there for it was not in hunting season, so he left the trail and wound his way through the brush and scenery and stopped his horse upon a small rise.  Looking through his field glasses he saw four men, their horses, a small tent, and hanging from different trees, two deer and a wild turkey.  The men were hardly through skinning the deer when he rode up and introduced himself as a game warden.  The men were tough looking and cast sullen glances.  One of them sat on a stump, two were standing and the other still dressing his deer.  The one on the stump called out in sarcastic tones, "Bill this is the game warden.  See, meet the game warden."  To which Bill replied, with an exaggerated bow and in sarcastic tones, "Delighted, Warden, delighted indeed to meet you".  The Warden saw that he was in a rather perilous position since the man on the stump held beside him a 44 caliber Winchester and two or three more guns stood propped against a tree nearby.  They talked to him in a rather belligerent tone of voice, sometimes laughing and winking to one another.  He saw that he could not arrest them because he was outnumbered four to one, so he realized the best thing to do was to ease out of the situation the best possible way he could.  He told them they were hunting out of season and there would be a small fine and if one of them would accompany him to the nearest town the others might remain until the man returned.  They all laughed, the stump man we shall call him, said, "Bill, the Warden has invited me to ride over to town with him, ainít he nice?  Itís only thirty miles by trail, you know."  Bill replied, "By all means accompany the Warden, itís possible he may be afraid to go alone and the trail is so desolate and lonesome for just one man, or perhaps the Warden had rather spend the night with us, or probably longer than just one night.  He seems to be so nice."  One of the other men spoke up and said, "Perhaps the Warden would like a cool shady place to lie down and sleep, where no one would disturb him and he could rest for quite a while".  They all laughed.  Bill said, "Warden, this is a very secluded place here, or shall I say just over the rim of the canyon there.  By golly!  That is a deep spooky looking place isnít it, Warden?  You know I was just thinking if one were to lose his balance and topple over the cliff there might be years before his carcass would be found, probably never."  One of them said, " I heard one time of a game Warden losing his balance in just such a place.  The report is he was not found for more than a year and it seems that no one ever did know how it happened or who he was with at the time.  Some said he was making an arrest for out of season game killing.  At any rate the poor devilís carcass was found and mourned by friends just like he was a respectful citizen."  The Warden stated that he saw what he was up against, and playing for further time to ease out of the situation he said, "Iíll tell you gentlemen, it is a long way to town and if you will all chip in and pay a small fine, we will call it quits and there will be nothing further said of the matter."  "Well," the stumpman said more sarcastically than ever, "Letís get down to business, Warden.  Here is the lowdown on the matter.  If you are going to fine us, or arrest us, which of course, is your duty," all laughing, "It looks to us like you should have brought somebody else with you just in case you might need them."  Now they all stood up near their guns.  Bill was the spokesman, again.  He said, "Well, Warden, we are not going with you and we are not going to be arrested, neither are we going to pay a fine.  We all live at Pecos City, only about two hundred miles away and we want to be nice, as you can see, so we will make you this proposition:  We will give you our names and as soon as we get home and through eating our deer and turkey; and of course we will be very busy with our other work for a few days, we will then ride down and pay our fines.  Now Warden, isnít that a fair way to do business with you?  Our opinion is, that this would be a good deal for you.  You can look at us and see for yourself that we are good pious, law-abiding citizens and surely you would not distrust us since we have all gotten acquainted and I now make a motion that we adjourn.  Do I hear anything to the contrary?  If not, here are our names, and we declare the meeting adjourned.  It has been a pleasure Warden, I assure you, to thus have met you."  So waving his hand down the trail, he said, "Now vamoose."  He took the names knowing full well they were aliases and he would never see or hear of them again, but he left (vamoosed) and after getting back to his office, he telephoned the officers at Pecos but was informed there was no one lived there by any of the names he held.  So says the Warden, "I am through as game warden for the Big Bend country," as it was called.  "I think too much of my life to take any more chances."

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CONCLUSION

In having written this short narrative of some of the earlier days in western Texas, I have done so, trusting that it may prove interesting especially to those individuals who may be inclined like myself; who love the open spaces as this country was at that time.  It now scarcely resembles that of the old days, neither are the customs the same.

Cattlemen of the open range at that time bitterly advised against plowing under the grass for farmland.  In my mind, no doubt they were correct, for the mesquite grass, which was everywhere, densely matted over the broad prairies, was of a semi-arid nature adapted to that country and when plowed under, does not ever replenish itself.  There never has yet, nor ever will be another grass introduced which can take its place for grazing purposes.

So we bid a farewell to once one of the greatest cattle countries in the world, for this is a changing part of the laws according to nature, which we ever see taking place daily.

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THE END













 

 

 © 2009 Pecan Valley Genealogical Society