Etta Carroll Newman
Etta Carroll was my grandmother on my father’s side of the family. She was born Feb. 12, 1874 in Tennessee. She grew up with my grandfather, John Newman who was born Aug. 30, 1870 also in Tennessee. They were married on Jan.10, 1894 in Tullahoma, Tennessee. My grandparents came to Texas in 1897. That move is the reason for this story. I will relate to you the story of how she made that move. I will use “Her” words as I remember them while we sat on her couch. This was back in the late fifties or early sixties. The house was located on Holmes Street in Trenton. It was only a few yards from the Katy Depot. I don’t know how they slept living that close to those railroad tracks. These railroad tracks will soon become a very important part of this story. Now the story that my grandmother told me about the move was very detailed as to how rough the trip was and how hot and dry the country was along the way. I don’t remember exactly how many months she said it took to make that journey but I remember that it lasted more than one. “We walked behind the wagons. Women and children were not allowed to ride, only the driver. The men did not want to put added weight on the teams pulling those wagons. Those teams would need to be in good health when we reached Texas. They would be used to clear the land and plow the fields.” I recall to this day hearing her voice telling me how difficult it was for them. It was something right out of an episode of “Little House on the Prairie”. Walking behind a wagon and trying to keep an eye on the children who would at times wonder off exploring the new area. I remember hearing about the wagons being stuck in the mud and how everyone had a job. Even the kids had their share of work. They had to gather firewood for the nightly campfires. It was a rough trip for everyone. Granny told me this story many times; I was always amazed that anyone, especially her, would walk all the way to Texas. Many times when we would be talking about “the old days” my grandmother’s neighbor, Mrs. Florence Gentry, joined us. Mrs. Gentry would tell her story of coming to Texas from Tennessee and it was pretty close to what my grandmother had told. Mrs. Gentry also told me how she knew Ernest Tubb and his family. She added that she knitted the first pair of long pants that Earnest Tubb ever wore. I don’t know if that is the truth or not but it was her story and she stuck to it! Who was I to say what was true, I was only nine years old.

I have told this story to my children many times over the years. We have been to Trenton several times in the past to visit my Aunt Effie who moved into my grandmother’s house sometime in the middle sixties. I taught my daughter, Jennifer to drive using the back roads around Trenton as our course. We would stop and visit Aunt Effie for a while and we would always leave with some fresh veggies from her garden. I know that we talked a lot about the old house and how many years it had been there. That old house where my grandparents lived had a lot of history. It is now long gone. Torn down by a distant cousin that didn’t care for the house or about Trenton. He just wanted to get back to California. I don’t know why anyone would ever be in a hurry to get to California but that is another story. As I said, for many years I believed my grandmother’s story of how she came to Texas. The story was always the same, walking behind the wagon. Only the women and children had to walk. I have told this story many times and now I have a different story to tell. On a day in May, 2009 I would have a new and improved version of how my grandparents came to live in the great state of Texas! Thanks to the World Wide Web and the kindness of one of the readers of my web site, I would be enlightened. Thanks to my internet friend Mr. Bob Atkins and his generous gift of a newspaper clipping, carefully folded and tucked away for years in a family scrapbook, I now have the true story. I will not take the time to tell you the story. I will attach the clipping to this page. It seems to me that my grandmother was quite a storyteller. The “Story” that she told me years ago was just that, “A Story.” It may have been a story told for the amusement of the children who would hear her tale of hardship of a journey to a new state in the 1890s. It was a good story and as she told that story, I bet she never thought that it would take me a half a century to find out the true story. I often miss that old house and all the buildings that surrounded it, the storm cellar, the washhouse and the smokehouse. I miss the large garden filled with corn and vegetables of all sorts. I miss them but most of all; I miss “The Storyteller.” ETTA CARROLL NEWMAN Feb.12, 1872 – May 18, 1968

Note: The difference in the birth dates are from two different sources. The clipping that is attached to this story and the other date is from the obituary printed in “The Trenton Tribune.” She was 96 years old when she passed.

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