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2 Outdoors Along the Brazos 2 A sticky story 2 & more inside!
Chasing Our Tales
North Texas Star
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October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 2
3 OUTDOORS ALONG THE BRAZOS
CHASING OUR TALES
10 OF THE SAGA
ROBERT SIMPSON NEIGHBORS
A STICKY STORY . . .
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 3
Outdoors Along the Brazos
Three Days on the River in October
By Don Price
Three whole days to float the river brings one in rapport with nature, a kind of cadence, in step with peace. (It’s better than text messaging.) The gift of inner peace is yours if you go with a friend or even alone, but you mustn’t hurry or you’ll miss the river’s quintessence. Mighty sweet to your ear is the melody of purling water; you’ll discover a song by reposing your ear toward chert a score of miles northwest, with ancient coils slowing the river’s cadence to a rhythm Bach would envy. A river offers relief to anyone who will immerse himself in its coolness, but the difficulty is the slowing down to appreciate it, to feel its power, but contemporary man seems to yearn for superficial pleasure; he’s already planning to leave before he even gets there. Slowing down nowadays brings about the almost lost trait of patience, the pause to recognize nature’s harmony. (It would be shocking to know how many are still reading this essay; one’s cell phone keeps ringing, and one’s missing his favorite TV soap.) While warmed by a small campfire, lean your tired back against a cut bank of driftwood, perhaps to puff a good briar while filling your lungs with the aroma of black river coffee. Allow your muscles and mind to relax. After grasping a few sublime thoughts, the truth will emerge that you are satisfied with what you’ve got and where you are. Entrepreneurship shouldn’t be found around the next bend of the river either: Nary a hot dog stand, we hope. Just give me the rugged and rolling Palo Pinto country, this upper middle Brazos, so that I might be allowed to rusticate an hour or so. I yearn to trundle the sandbanks of Los Brazos de Dios until my boots are full of river sand; I yearn to set a trotline in its belly for a big yeller, and I want to stand in its heart waist deep where the current has force. Yea, this brings the catharsis. Bring it on! I yearn to loll under the shade of a majestic live oak on the second bank; I want to shade my eyes with sunburned hands to search the landscape as the Comanche warrior did. And I even yearn to do such a simple thing as hack the heart from a cedar with a three-pound Kelly, the favorite tool used by cutters in Brad country seventy-five years ago; just to hear the ring of ax ricocheting off a limestone canyon wall in early sun would tend to satisfy that portion of my life. An aside: In a way our U.S. Constitution seems to be coming apart. We’ve lost our gyroscope in a stormy sea. It’s disturbing to see inflation evaporate the savings we’ve worked a lifetime to earn. Interest on CDs is an embarrassment, even to a neighborhood banker. Justice seems to be a farce, an amorphous data dragon clinging to contradicting statutes. Perhaps each of us has been the victim of a crime; seemingly the criminal has a better chance in the courtroom than we do. Because many laws are ambiguous, criminal lawyers seem to be having a field day. Whoever has the deepest pockets oftentimes wins, and this is seemingly no accident. See page 4
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 4
From page 3 Hurray for the telemarketing shysters and the subprime loan sharks, you know, the glib guys who tell you it’s a good deal, almost too good to be true. Maybe they’ll take over the entire country. But do we want this to happen? It’s comforting to know we’re a stone’s throw from the river, yet a wilderness of quietude, God’s gift to mankind. To drink its strength, to shore up our philosophies, to clear our minds, the mosaic on which our culture has been built, all of which will hopefully give us a balance to know what’s right and what’s wrong. And we must live accordingly. I stopped at a little fishing camp on the west side of Dark Valley Bridge, owned or rented by the Rogers’ family, for gas and oil mix, having used my last in the now thirsty three-horse Evinrude, most of which was consumed by running up and down the Ioni rapids after schooling sand bass. Harris Bend was next, holding Square Rock Hole in its bosom, down south and up north again the seemingly elongated Post Oak Bend, with my finally camping on a level bank under heavy foliage for a night of bull frog repertoire. Next morning my reliable camp stove coughed flame to bring fourth hearty vittles; there was even a can of chilled tomato juice in the small ice box; I felt like a king. Collecting my staples once again, I loaded the plywood and mahogany 12-foot Skeeter boat to cast off once more, and the fresh morning’s chop lapped at its wooden side painted marine green. There is nothing on this river any mightier than a rising sun – unless it be a sunset – when one is alone or with a friend to absorb every ray that he possibly can of its energy, its beauty, its salvation. But you’ve got to leave knickknacks behind to study what’s at hand the instant the orange wafer clears the treeline or you’ve wasted the crux of your time. The Back Forty “What are we going to do today?” four young boys wondered outloud. Excitedly a picnic lunch was packed, hoes and shovels and burlap sacks, a water jug, a scoped .22 rifle. Soon with supplies collected we were a motley crew heading for the back forty. It took not more than ten minutes to drive from town to reach the almost hidden vegetable garden on the “back forty.” We started rolling up our sleeves but the four towheads, ranging from five to twelve years old, would have none of it. A big hoe handle didn’t seem to fit their small hands. “Those old garden tools are way too big and heavy for us,” they pleaded. The boys wound up cavorting in the nearby woods, while my wife and I weeded the garden and dug some late potatoes. At times I had trouble finding the rows; why are the grass burrs so popular? There’s, I think, a tomato plant in the broomweeds. Man is it hot! Those aren’t raindrops on my glasses either. Time for a break for the boys, whew! A few potato chips and cookies and iced tea under an elm. What’s that? In the fork of a crooked live oak next to the garden fence, well, I’ll be doggoned, a monkey! No, it’s just one of the boys. “Hey, be careful there. Want to crack your skull?” The tot acted as if he were deaf; come to think of it, the rest of them didn’t hear me either. I had already figured it out. I loaded the .22 rifle to amble over to the nearby stock tank to act as if I were going to pop a few bull frogs. That’d lure the youngsters out of the oaks. Two rifle shots, it just took two, and there they were. “Let me shoot!” a nine-year-old said. “I asked you and you promised,” said the twelve-year-old. “No, let me!” pleaded the five-year-old. Carefully I instructed one of the boys to place the crosshair of the four power scope on an empty .22 cartridge box (a bright yellow Winchester Super X cardboard box) at the back of the dam and squeeze from a good steady rest... no sooner had he squeezed than there were loud splashes. As I looked around the others had already shucked socks, shoes and shirts to dive into the tank, all but the five year old, who stuck in a toe only to retreat up the bank. The magic was too much and the five year old soon braved it clean to his armpits; the depth was from 2 to 4 feet, rock bottomed. Shooting frogs wasn’t such a good idea. While sitting under a shade tree, my wife and I took in the joy of seeing and hearing the noisy antics of boys agog in a stock tank. We never did finish digging the late potatoes that day. City Lake - 90 years old. Let’s venture out to the old city lake, 3 miles east of town, the dam of which was completed in 1922, now part of a beautiful state park. Back in the 1950s I’d slip out of the boathouse with a small wooden Skeeter powered by a 6 h.p. Wizard and aimed the bow toward the Firemen’s Club on the hill. I’d slip away, had the small city lake all to myself, to fish the big boulders near the Firemen’s Club in the grayness a good hour before sun. Easy with the waxed paddle, quietlike, after shutting off the six horse. Then I’d feed out a right good cast against those big shoreline boulders to tax the nine foot fly rod to make its fibers work. Its cork grip felt nice and smooth. I’d waxed the GBF bug tapered line the night before so it’d float high. My choice bug that morning was a corkbodied Peck’s Bad Boy with red body and gray mottled wings, #2 hook. That bass bug smacked the surface so hard to lie there stunned just like a big locust. And I couldn’t hear any sound but that of a gray fox’s bark around the dogleg. Suddenly with great energy the red sun would appear at treeline, the post oaks, the old growth forest, the Cast Iron Forest, and it would take your breath away. You’d just have to stop, to lay down your rod in the bottom of the boat, even if it were for only a moment. And then to be thankful your heart is still beating. Wilderness is a state of mind. One single tree, one living thing, is a link to your whole world. •
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 5
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 6
Chasing Our Tales
By Sue Seibert
I know that you have heard me talk about my great-grandfather, Robert Devon “Uncle Bob” Routh, who served in the Texas Rangers in Brown County in the late part of the 19th Century. I remember Uncle Bob. He was sort of a scary man, and when I met him he was quite old. He died in 1944, when he was 90, and he was still the jailer of the Brown County Jail. He and Aunt Jennie, his wife (one of his several wives, I understand), lived in the jail, and I believe she prepared the meals for the prisoners. I remember her being quite a bit younger than he and very large. They also had a general store of some sort in Brownwood. Anyway, to get on with it, Larry Jones, a devoted reader of the North Texas Star and columnist for the Weatherford Democrat, wrote me requesting some information about his great-grandfather who was also a Ranger during the Indian wars. I am going to tell you what he asked, what I answered, and what he had to share about his Ranger ancestor. Larry’s ancestor was John Westmoreland Jones, and according to his family’s lore John Wes Jones, like my Bob Routh, served about six months in the Texas Rangers in its Frontier Regiment. He was supposedly assigned to a fort near Abilene, probably Fort Griffin. His family had arrived in southwest Parker County in December of 1861, and he was a school teacher in the Consolation School near Brock. As a Ranger he was exempted from the military service of the time (Civil War). He also ran a general store and post office in Olive Branch which is now Brock. John and his wife are buried in the Jones Cemetery near Brock in Parker County. The Consolation School was built on what is today Grindstone Road, about three miles from the present Brock Middle School. When Olive Branch built a new school in 1880, Jones became its first teacher, with many of his students following him from the Consolation School. The Olive Branch school was a small structure located in the area where the elementary pavilion is today. The original playground was just inside the rock wall south of the building. In 1888 an application for a post office was
submitted to the U.S. Postal Service. The application was for the “Brock” post office. The reason the name of Brock instead of Olive Branch was used is a bit of a mystery but the post office was approved on April 23, 1888. By 1890 the community was known as Brock on official government maps, and Brock, Texas, showed a population of 10 people for census purposes. From what Larry was able to discover online, The Frontier Regiment of the Rangers was formed about the time John Jones came to Texas. He was 21 years old at the time and recently married when his family left Kentucky. Later the Rangers didn’t take married men, but they did take Jones. See page 8
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 7
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 8
From page 6 One of the family stories, told to Larry by his grandfather, Roy Jones, was that John Wes fired on a Comanche raiding party that was taking down the rails to their horse and mule corral one night. He killed two, so the story goes, and wounded several others, and Larry cited “A Cry Unheard” by Doyle Marshall as documentation regarding several raiding parties and the outcomes of those raids. (As an aside, if you don’t own a copy of “A Cry Unheard” and you’re interested in local history, find it and buy it.) So here is some other information about John Westmoreland Jones. He was born on Nov. 2, 1840, in Christian, Ky., to Henry Coxton Jones and Elizabeth Ann Simpson Jones. He married Sophronia Elizabeth Renshaw on Oct. 3, 1961, in Christian, Ky. John and Sophronia had nine children: Johnnie Reid, 18621886; William Henry, 1864-1951; Joseph Balford, 1866-1947; James Leroy (Larry’s grandfather), 1868-1958; Augustus, 18701950; George Milton, 1874-1969; Charlie Wilson, 1876-1956; Finis Woodson, 1876-1960; and Addison Byron, 1879-1932. Sophronia was the daughter of Reid Renshaw and Lucetta Clark. When John Wes and Sophronia traveled to Texas, they did it with his family. His father, Henry, was the son on Lewis Westmoreland Jones , born April 14, 1784, in Virginia, Sr., and Francis Bobbitt, born Nov. 6, 1787, in Guilford County, N.C. (where my people were from), or in South Carolina, depending on what story you believe. Lewis’ father was Samuel Jones, a native of Virginia and a veteran and pensioner of the Revolutionary War. This is particularly important if you are a relative and interested in joining the Daughters or Sons of the American Revolution. When the family arrived in Texas, having traveled from Kentucky by wagon, they settled in the Lazy Bend area of Parker County. Elizabeth Simpson Jones’ father, John Walsh Simpson, had come to Texas about two years earlier and had built some Virginia, and Margaret Delia. Now the Frontier Regiment of the Texas Rangers was made up of nine companies of volunteers. The regiment established patrols from sixteen forts from the Red River to the Rio Grande. By this time, 1861, the Indians realized how lightly guarded the frontier was and increased the boldness and frequency of their raids. Eventually, the Frontier Regiment was transferred to Confederate rather than state control and was used less often to fight Indians than to enforce the draft, track down deserters, and combat renegades and outlaws. Many of the men who joined the Rangers only stayed for about six months. And after John Wes Jones’ contract would have been up, he would have returned to his home in Parker County and to his job teaching children. As I had done several years ago, I suggested to Larry that he contact the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas, http://www.texasranger. org/ReCenter/resource1.htm, and for $25 they would do research and give him all the information on John Westmoreland Jones and his time in the Rangers. I was surprised by the information they sent me on my greatgrandfather, and I hope Larry will be as fortunate. If any of you Jones kin out there have anything to add or take away from this story, please feel free to let me hear from you. Until next time! •
small family cabins and dug a well. Henry and his wife, Elizabeth, had nine children. They were John Wes, William Franklin, Francis Elizabeth, Mary Adeline, Thomas Wilson, Matilda, Susan Jane, Louise
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 9
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October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 10
The Saga of Robert Simpson Neighbors – part 4
reputation and knowledge of the western frontier Texas would once again prove pivotal to the westward expansion of the state. After the defeat of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna of Mexico at San Jacinto in 1836 and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Valasco, the newly formed Republic of Texas had claimed the Rio Grande River as its southern and western boundary extending far north to its source in present-day Colorado. In the absence of civil authority on the upper reaches of the Rio Grande by Texas during and following the Mexican War (1846-1848), the United States had established a temporary civil government under the jurisdiction of the military. The boundary issue of Texas that Neighbors now found himself embroiled in had become a national topic that led to threats of civil war and secession by Texas. On Jan. 3, 1850, Gov. Hansbrough Bell nominated Robert S. Neighbors as commissioner to help organize the western counties of Texas and along the upper Rio Grande. The legislature passed a joint resolution to pay the meager amount of $550 for his salary but nothing for an expense account. His task would require travel through a vast and mostly unexplored region to negotiate with people prejudiced against Texas’ rule. In addition, the United States government also claimed military jurisdiction to much of the land currently claimed by Texas in present New Mexico. Texas had established counties along the
By Jim Dillard
(This is Part 4 in a series of articles on the life of Robert Simpson Neighbors who was a soldier in the army of the Republic of Texas, Texas Ranger, prisoner of war, legislator, and Indian agent for the Republic of Texas and State of Texas.) When Robert Neighbors arrived in Washington, D.C., toward the end of 1849 to carry out his mission to help formulate a proper Indian policy for Texas, he was shocked to learn from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs that he had been superseded in the Indian service by John H. Rollins, of Mississippi. The political climate in Washington at the time had changed and did not favor appointments to anyone in the Democratic Party, of which Neighbors was affiliated. Rollins was a member of the Whig Party that dominated the Washington scene. Although his service in the capacity as Indian agent in Texas had been admirable, Neighbors found himself being replaced by someone from another state who had no knowledge or understanding of the Texas Indian situation. Even Texas’ United States Sen. Sam Houston lobbied against the appointment of Rollins but to no avail. Upon his return to Texas, Neighbors’
lower Rio Grande during the Mexican War while captain of Texas forces and former Republic of Texas president Mirabeau B. Lamar was stationed in the region. These included Nueces, Webb, Starr and Cameron. Establishment of counties along the upper Rio Grande in present-day New Mexico was another matter, complicated by the presence of the United State’s military jurisdiction in Santa Fe. In 1848 the Texas Legislature authorized the establishment of counties in the region from El Paso to Santa Fe and the coexisting Eleventh Judicial District but initial attempts to organize the region had failed. Neighbors was charged with organizing the counties of Presidio, El Paso, Worth and Santa Fe. He left Austin on Jan. 8, 1850, for El Paso but his mules broke down on the way, forcing him to abandon valuable papers and other equipment to complete the journey. On Feb. 3rd he arrived at St. Elizario, a presidio south of El Paso on the Rio Grande River. Maj. William S. Henry, who commanded a United States military garrison at that place, furnished Neighbors 80 quarts of corn to feed his animals and restore them to their health. Having been to El Paso the previous year to locate a road between there and Austin, Neighbors was well known and found good cooperation with the local citizens of the communities in the area to establish a county. On Feb. 23, 1850, he notified Col. John Munroe, military governor at Santa Fe whose jurisdiction also included the region around El Paso, of his intentions to extend Texas’ civil jurisdiction in the area and hold elections for county officials. No objections were made. The county would See page 11
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From page 10 “extend for 60 miles below El Paso to 20 miles above San Diego and due east from each point to the Pecos River.” His next destination was Santa Fe where he would be met with opposition from citizens and the military government established there. The leader of opposition was Judge Joab Houghton, who was appointed to the superior court of the military government of the region. He questioned the claim Texas had on the region and sought to sway public opinion against the establishment of Texas counties by Neighbors. With no support from the majority of Mexican citizen and the campaign waged by government officials to discredit his efforts, Neighbors decided not to pursue organizing the county at that time. There was also a movement being promoted by President Zachary Taylor through his emissary George A. McCall who had recently arrived in Santa Fe to organize a state government. Although Neighbors strongly protested such activity on behalf of the State of Texas, it became apparent that the United States would continue its efforts to form a state or territory from this vast region acquired by treaty following the Mexican War. Maj. Neighbors returned to Texas on June 3, 1850, and presented his report on the matter to Gov. Bell. Word of Neighbor’s report on the United States’ actions to discredit Texas’ claim to the region soon spread throughout the state. Mass meetings were held to rally public opinion and support assembling a military force to send to Santa Fe to put down the insurrection. Talk of outright succession from the Union was See page 12
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October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 12
From page 11 proposed by some and a special session of the Legislature was called by the governor on Aug. 12, 1850. Gov. Bell asked that two regiments of mounted troops be authorized to put down the insurrection in Santa Fe. A unanimous resolution was passed: “Resolved, That Texas will maintain the integrity of her Territory at all hazards and to the last extremity.” The deafening roar of cannons roared throughout that night in Austin. When Millard Fillmore came into office after the death of President Taylor, he threatened to call out militia, the Army and the Navy to uphold the military government in Santa Fe and sent reinforcement to the region. However, after masterful defenses of the Texas claim in the United States Senate by Texas senators Houston and Rusk and David S. Kaufman and Volney E. Howard in the House of Representatives, the Compromise of 1850 was passed to settle the issue. Texas would be paid $10 million for its territory outside of a line beginning at the 100th meridian, running west along latitude 30 degrees 30 minutes (the Missouri Compromise line) to the 103rd meridian, thence south to the 32nd parallel, thence west to the Rio Grande. The sum of money received by Texas would be sufficient to pay off the public debt of the former Republic of Texas. Neighbors was eventually awarded a sum of $1,256.51 by the Legislature as reimbursement for expenses he accrued above the modest salary he had been provided for his expedition to El Paso and Santa Fe. Neighbor’s next involvement was as a stockholder in the San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railroad, for which the Legislature had passed an act to incorporate. It would run between Lavaca on the gulf coast and San Antonio. The company acquired the entire right-of-way and grants of public land to begin construction. Neighbors also established a stock farm on Salado Creek in Bexar County six miles from San Antonio where he lived along with 14-year-old Ignacio Serna, a Mexican boy he had rescued from the Comanches in 1847, another 14-year-old German boy by the name of Emil F. Wurzbach, and two laborers, A. H. Wallhouse, of Pennsylvania, and Frederick Snider, of Germany. His sister, Mary, and her husband, Lee Hughes, lived nearby with their laborer, James Romines, of Arkansas. Thirty-six-year-old Robert S. Neighbors met his bride to be, 18-year-old Miss Elizabeth Ann Mays, during the summer of 1851 in Seguin and, after a whirlwind courtship, married her on July 15, 1851. Services were performed at her home near Seguin by Reverend Dr. James W. Hollansbee of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Three children would be born to the couple and all baptized in the Methodist Episcopal Church south of Seguin. The brief break from the demands of state duty and Indian agent service for Neighbors would be short lived at his peaceful home along Salado Creek as other opportunities loomed on the horizon and drew him back into public service. Neighbors, who had contemplated entering politics earlier that year, was elected to represent the Bexar and Medina District in the Texas House of Representatives during the fall election of 1851. When he went to Austin to take his seat in the Legislature, he took his new bride with him. Sixty-one members took the oath of office on Nov. 3, 1851. He was put on several committees, including the Committee on Indian Affairs. On his motion to the committee, he was authorized to act and report in conjunction with the Committee on Indian Affairs in the Senate, which was chaired by his old friend and associate John S. Ford. Important measures Neighbors dealt with during this session of the Legislature included construction of a new capitol building, establishing a penitentiary, repair of Stephen F. Austin’s portrait, married women’s rights, incorporation of Austin College, pay for presidential electors, moving of the bones of the men killed in the 1842 Dawson massacre at LaGrange (now interred there at Monument Hill), payment to Jim Shaw for the ransom of Mrs. Tidwell See page 13
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From page 12 and three children from the Comanches, and fighting a proposal to divide Texas into two states along the Brazos River. It was during this session he hoped to promote his interest in settling the Indians of Texas on lands where they could be taught to subsist by farming. Despite considerable wrangling over the prejudicial Indian issue in Texas, a joint resolution was finally passed on the last day of the session between the house and senate authorizing the governor to negotiate with the United States for the relocation of Texas Indians to lands in northern Texas. Neighbors was soon elected as one of four presidential elector representatives for the Democratic National Party Convention in Baltimore, Md., but records indicate he did not attend the convention there during June 1852. Rather, he had more important business at home with the birth of his first child, Mary Beatrice, on Aug. 10, 1852. The Whig Party nominated former general Winfield Scott but the Texas Democratic electors cast their vote in Austin during early December for Franklin Pierce, who became the next president. State representatives were called to Austin for a special session of the Legislature on Jan. 8, 1853, by Gov. Bell to address the employment of a state force to protect the frontier from further Indian depredations and to consider other important issues. They also elected Sam Houston to the office of United States senator. Before the session closed, a bill presented by E.H. Tarrant approved the appropriation of $91,264.92 to pay the expenses of three state companies for frontier defense. Another bill was passed asking the United States government to reimburse Texas for these expenditures. After the special session of the Texas Legislature adjourned, Neighbors was employed by the Texas Emigration and Land Company to locate and survey lands in the Peters Colony in North Texas along the upper Brazos River region. He employed a party of Delaware and Shawnee Indians to accompany him and traveled to Pecan Bayou in present Callahan, Coleman, Brown and Mills counties. He connected the line from there to Fort Belknap, but found just five other previous surveys made in that vast region. Neighbors noted that in this region were some of the finest farming lands he had ever seen in Texas. With the shift of political winds in Washington after the election of Democratic President Franklin Pierce in 1853, senators Sam Houston, Thomas Rusk and the rest of the Texas delegation lobbied for the reappointment of Neighbors as Indian agent of Texas. On May 9, 1853, Commissioner of Indian Affairs George W. Maypenny notified senators Rusk and Houston that Neighbors had received the appointment as supervising agent of the Indian service in Texas to replace Agent Howard Capron. He would now assume duties previously assigned to George T. Howard. Once again Robert S. Neighbors was in a position to implement some of his plans to help solve the Indian problem in Texas. Neighbors began duties of his newly appointed office on Aug. 6, 1853. During his absence from the Indian service in Texas, conditions for the Indians had deteriorated. Only a small number of intruding Kickapoo, Quapaw, Delaware and Shawnee Indians from the United States had been removed by agent Howard. Neighbors assigned George T. Hill to replace Agent Jesse Stemn to attend the agrarian tribes that were settled on the upper Brazos River and put Howard in charge of the Lipans, Mescaleros and Tonkawas in southwest Texas. Neighbors took responsibility for the Comanches and other tribes on the central frontier. Their numbers had declined considerably since Neighbors had met with them in 1849 due to outbreaks of cholera, smallpox, venereal disease and the introduction of whiskey that found its way into their camps. Neighbors now renewed his push for acquiring reservations and farming lands by the general government of the United States for the Indians in Texas so they could become self-sustaining and establish permanent homes. Otherwise, they would continue their raids against settlers and become wards of the government. He recommended that part of the appropriations for the Indian service in Texas be applied to the purchase of lands. He envisioned the See page 15
A Sticky Story A Sticky Story
By Wynelle Caitlin
In our family, we delight in telling tales of family antics. One of my favorites, from long ago, concerns my father and his sister, Callie – and molasses. My dad was one of nine children. They, with Grandma and Grandpa Smith, lived in a double log cabin at Squaw Mountain in Jack County. Daddy and his brothers were all great to tease. One day, during their teenage years, Aunt Callie was working at the kitchen table filling syrup containers. After molasses was cooked (more about that later) the syrup was stored outside the cabin in a wooden cask, which had a stoppered hole near the bottom. Aunt Callie had taken a metal pitcher outside and filled it from the wooden cask. She was pouring syrup from the large pitcher into spouted glass dispensers, which were kept on the table for use at mealtimes. Daddy came into the kitchen and began teasing her by acting as if he were going to tip over a glass dispenser as she started to pour syrup into it from the large metal pitcher. She told him to stop, but he persisted. Finally, she said, “If you don’t stop, I’m going to throw this pitcher at you!” He didn’t. She did – just as Grandpa walked through the kitchen door! Daddy ducked. The pitcher full of molasses syrup hit Grandpa full force. In all the years I heard the story, I never thought to ask what the consequences were. I imagine that Daddy got a visit with Grandpa behind the toolshed. And Aunt Callie had to clean up a pitcher full of sticky syrup, which was punishment enough. Molasses was a staple in their diet, as it was in my younger years, too. For years we lived in that same doublelog cabin. The dog trot had been closed in to make a wide hall and a kitchen was added to the back. To one side, a sleeping porch was tacked on. My older sister and I shared the bedroom that was once was my five aunts’ room. Our three brothers shared the sleeping porch that my dad and his three brothers had used. Mama and Daddy had the fireplace room. In addition to being their bedroom, it was also the parlor, or sitting room, when there were visitors during cold weather. In the summertime, the men all congregated on the wide front porch. The women tended to gather in the kitchen and we kids played outside or in the barn. Because we lived at the “homeplace” our home remained the gathering place after the nine siblings grew up, married and had families. On special occasions it was a beehive swarming with aunts, uncles and cousins. One of the special occasions was syrupmaking time. A day was set, and everyone who grew sugar cane would cut their cane and bring it to our house. Daddy’s Uncle Steve was the “molasses expert.” He supervised all the syrup making. The mill was set up in the corner of our cane field, and a gentle old horse hooked up to it. The horse walked around and around the mill, turning the gears that ground the cane as it was fed in. The juice ran out into long metal troughs. At the proper time, fires were built under the troughs to cook the juice into molasses syrup. Uncle Steve stirred and tasted, stirred and tasted until he decided the syrup was the right taste and consistency. Cooked too long, it tasted burned. Not cooked long enough, it was thin and watery with little taste. The fires were allowed to go out and the coals raked from underneath the troughs. The syrup cooled and the froth was skimmed off the top. The syrup was funneled into wooden
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 14
casks for everyone to take their alloted share home with them. Our cask was set up on a short stand beside the cabin just outside the kitchen door just as it had when Daddy and Aunt Callie were teens. Molasses was a staple in our diet. Hot biscuits were split open and spread liberally with butter churned from milk from our cows, and molasses poured over. Molasses was used in baking gingerbread or cookies, which were special treats. White sugar was used for baking only on very special occasions. One year some pigs got out of their pen and were scuffling outside the cabin and knocked the stopper out of the cask. All the syrup drained into the yard. A major disaster as we had to wait an entire year for the next syrupmaking time! •
October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 15
From page 13 Comanches could be settled on the prairies and the agrarian tribes along the upper Brazos. Since the Tonkawa were now located on the Colorado River and the Lipans on the headwaters of the Nueces River, lands could be purchased for them near the military stations in southwest Texas. Neighbors first decided to visit the Comanches who were then assembled somewhere along the upper Colorado River. He left San Antonio on Aug. 16, 1853, for Fort Chadbourne, located in present northeastern Coke County, and arrived there on Aug. 24. There he found the whole bands of Southern Comanches under chiefs Sanaco, Buffalo Hump, Ketumse, Yellow Knife and others camped nearby. He spent 10 days in a general consultation with them and listened to their concerns. Events began to unfold during the last months of 1853 that would finally give Neighbors hope of achieving his dream of settling the Indians of Texas on reservations. Not everyone shared his dream and soon he became enmeshed in a bitter confrontation with frontier citizens and Texas officials over the issue that would escalate to violence and bloodshed during the next six years. • To be continued ... (Sources: Robert Simpson Neighbors and the Texas Frontier 1836-1859 by Kenneth F. Neighbours; Rip Ford’s Texas by John Salmon Ford; The Handbook of Texas Online and other Internet sources.)
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October 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 16
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OCTOBER 11, 1878 Kiowa Chief Satanta, incarcerated in the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, leaps to his death from a prison window. The chief had been convicted in the Warren Wagontrain incident in North Texas. He and fellow chieftain Big Tree were convicted and sentenced to hang; but the Texas governor, fearing Kiowa reprisals and humanitarian ak commuted the sentences. After being pardoned, Satanta fell back in with raiding parties and was rearrested and returned to Huntsville. Learning he would never again be free, he chose suicide. OCTOBER 13,1824 Palo Pinto County pioneer Simpson Crawford is born near Bear Creek in Breathitt County, Ky. In 1854 he built a home three-quarters of a mile northwest of Graford in the Keechi Valley. He was a successful rancher, owning some 3,100 acres. He also served in the Mexican War and as a Texas Ranger. He died Aug. 17, 1908, and is buried in Crawford Cemetery near Graford. OCTOBER 13, 1940 Announcement is made that Mineral Wells has been selected for location of Infantry Replacement Training Center (Camp Wolters). OCTOBER 15, 1861 Author Fannie Davis Veale Beck is born in Dresden, Texas. Her family relocated to the center of Palo Pinto County in 1863. "On the Texas Frontier" is a rsthand account of her life in Texas, published in 1937.
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