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AN ADVENTURE in HISTORY
North Texas Star
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April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 2
by Jim Dillard
by Sue Seibert
12 P E A
by Wynelle Catlin
M A R C H
APRIL 3, 1913 Palo Pinto County pioneer/rancher Jere Benjamin Hart dies at his ranch house in western Palo Pinto County. He is buried in Brad Cemetery. APRIL 5, 1941 Brig. Gen. William H. Simpson assumes command at Camp Wolters. Simpson was a Weatherford native born May 18, 1888. He served in both world wars. He left Camp Wolters Oct. 14, 1941. APRIL 26, 1858 Golconda disappears from the record and the county seat of Palo Pinto County becomes known as Palo Pinto. "After the county had been organized several years the name of Golconda was arbitrarily changed to Palo Pinto to coincide with the county's name." (From "The Palo Pinto Story," by Mary Whatley Clarke. APRIL 27, 1957 First class of the U.S. Army Primary Helicopter School in Mineral Wells graduates.
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April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 3
he sound of Comanches moving above the rock overhang broke the silence as William Hittson, his brother, John, and John’s 11-year-old son, Jesse, huddled in desperation for their lives. Rocks began to rain down on the stranded cowboys as the Indians tried to crush them or force them out into the open. Just finding the overhang and escaping under it had been pure luck, but now their lives hung in the balance.
By Jim Dillard
The outcome looked bleak. What started out as a day of cow hunting near old Camp Cooper, located on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in south-central Throckmorton County, had become a fight for survival. The United States Army post had been abandoned in 1861 at the start of the Civil War. The Hittsons and other daring settlers in the region often searched the area for wild cattle despite the threat posed by roving bands of Indians. Indians. The Hittson brothers and Jesse along with Press McCarty and young ex-slave Freeman Ward had located a small herd of longhorns along Tecumseh Creek, a small tributary of the Clear Fork, to add to their growing herd. While trailing a small group of longhorns, they were attacked by a large band of screaming Comanches determined to kill them. Please see page 4
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 4
From page 3 Twenty-five-year-old John Hittson and his wife, Salena, had moved to the Pleasant Valley area of Palo Pinto County from Rusk County, Texas, in 1856 along with father Jesse and mother Mary Ann and his brother William and wife Martha. John was elected the first sheriff of Palo Pinto County during the spring of 1857 and served in that capacity for four years. In 1861 he moved further west to join his brother to build their cattle herds and avoid conscription into the Confederate Army. In 1859 William had established a cattle ranch a day’s ride to the west of Palo Pinto near a spring on Hittson Branch, a tributary of Little Cedar Creek located approximately 11 miles from the future site of Breckenridge. John and William built two picket houses there for their families and began gathering wild cattle. In 1863 the brothers started a business hauling salt and dried beef to Mexico in exchange for supplies; one brother would stay and protect the families while the other made the month-long trip south. Due to the Indian menace, William soon became concerned for the safety of his family and moved back to the security of his homestead in Palo Pinto. On Feb. 1, 1864, he was arrested by Confederate officials and drafted into the ranks of Company A, First Frontier Regiment. However, he was soon released by the regimental commander, his old friend J.H. Dillahunty, and allowed to return to Palo Pinto in time for the spring cow hunt. In the summer of 1863 John Hittson and W.C. McAdams began collecting wild longhorn cattle from the area near old Camp Cooper and branded them with three large circles. As the herd began to grow, attempts to hold the wild cattle in pens proved to be impossible so they were let go until time for gathering for a planned drive to Mexico. More and more wild cattle of mixed breeds were also being rounded up, containing both Spanish longhorn and freed British Durham blood-
lines. They were described as “dark, linebacked, mealy-nosed, round-barreled, and well-built animals of the Spanish and Southern stock.” With John Hittson’s knowledge of the route to Mexico, he combined his herd with those of William W. Cochran, William McAdams and W.C. McGough from Eastland County and illegally trailed a large herd of cattle into Mexico during 1864 where they were sold for silver pesos at $10-$18 a head. When John returned to his home he found his house burned and family missing. He learned they had retreated to Fort Davis located about 25 miles to the southeast of Camp Cooper on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. He and his family would live at Fort Davis for the next 15 months. Just days following the bloody Oct. 13, 1864, raid on Elm Creek in Young County by a large force of Comanche and Kiowa Indians, ranchers along the Clear Fork banded together to build Fort Davis, located north of present Breckenridge in Stephens County. It was built at the location where in 1863 a dozen men had constructed a stone blockhouse they named Fort Jefferson Davis in honor of president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. At this and a number of other crudely fortified civilian forts and ranch headquarters, families began to “fort up” for mutual defense against further Indian attacks. Many other families moved back to settlements such as Palo Pinto, Jacksboro and Weatherford for protection. Fort Davis consisted of nothing more than a palisade picket fence surrounding a group of dirt floor log homes. The old stone blockhouse anchored one corner of the fort and was used for defense in case of an attack. A school building was also constructed for the children of the families who sought shelter there. The fort would accommodate around 100 people during the Civil War period. During the Civil War, United States military forces stationed in the region abandoned their posts on the Texas frontier for
duty back east. Consequently, the Texas frontier had become a dangerous region unprotected from more and more raiding bands of Comanche and Kiowa. Freeranging cattle flourished and multiplied as ranchers and cattlemen abandoned much of frontier Texas. Lucrative markets for Texas cattle in New Mexico near Fort Sumner where the Navajo Indians had been relocated and hungry miners in Colorado proved to be a tantalizing prize for those who could deliver beef on the hoof to feed them. Since the route to drive cattle into Mexico had become too dangerous due to the presence of Kickapoo Indians that had moved into the Rio Grande and Pecos River country, the Hittsons and other determined cowmen turned their herds westward. Despite knowing hostiles were on the prowl and likely to continue their raids across the vast Texas frontier, John Hittson and his brother were determined to make their fortune by gathering wild cattle wherever they could be found. On March 12, 1865, Indians chased a young man named McCarthy into Fort Davis. John Hittson and other men at Fort Davis pursued them for two hours but were unable to overtake them. Nine days later William Hittson and a man named “Negro Bill” walked into the fort after having lost their horses in a scrape with Indians. Even with the end of the Civil War during April 1865 it would be several years before federal troops would return and reestablish a presence in the region. In the mean time, raids continued and cattlemen like John and William Hittson literally risked their lives on a daily basis gathering cattle. On June 30, 1866, John Hittson moved his family out to old Camp Cooper on the Clear Fork to live in the old officer’s headquarters. His brother William soon followed. The following year John moved his headquarters to the unoccupied rangelands in northeastern Callahan County and grazed his cattle over an eight-county area. Please see page 6
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 5
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From page 4 Only a few days before being attacked by the band of Comanches that now surrounded them, a raiding party of Kiowas and Comanches had taken a pair of horses from William Hittson and Henry Belding, a neighbor at Fort Davis who had helped gather cattle for the Hittsons in the country around Camp Cooper during the previous two years. Hittson and several other men followed the Indian’s tracks and found the captured horses along with two Indian ponies at a waterhole several dozen miles west of Camp Cooper. They also spotted Indians on the distant horizon and gave chase but were unable to overtake them. On their way home, the men stopped by the Ledbetter Salt Works on Hubbard Creek (south of present Albany in Shackelford County) and discovered Indians had just killed one the employees who worked there. Belding and a fellow cowman returned to Ioni Creek in Palo Pinto County while the Hittsons went back to Camp Cooper to resume their cow hunting the following day. It was while hunting for wild cattle along Tecumseh Creek 3 miles north of Camp Cooper that William, John and his son, Jesse, Freeman Ward and Press McCarty ran into the large party of Indians. They had spotted a small herd of longhorn cattle and followed them as they filed down into the creek. Suddenly, at least two dozen Indians exploded out of the brush and attacked the cowmen. John raced his horse alongside his son’s mount and pulled onto his horse. As Ward raced toward John, his hat flew off. It was a tightly woven fur hat John Hittson’s daughter, Martha Jane, had made for him. Despite warnings from Hittson to leave the hat, Ward returned to pick it up and was immediately struck in the back and skull by arrows. Mortally wounded, he fell from his horse as John raced down the creek with his son. McCarty turned his fleet horse down the creek and escaped back to Fort Davis where he reported that all the others had surely been killed. John and William were both hit by arrows as they raced down the tree-lined creek bottom. One hit John in the thigh with such force it passed through his leg, saddle and into his horse. Several yards down Tecumseh Creek they rode their horses into a hollow depression below a high bluff. As John dropped Jesse
from his horse, William broke the arrow shaft in John’s leg and drug him under the overhang. There William pulled an arrow from his own side and now both men were bleeding profusely from their wounds. Both horses had also been badly wounded and a number of arrows stuck from their flesh. John’s horse, being more severely wounded, was killed at the front of the depression for cover and the other horse hobbled and pushed as far back into the depression as possible. Other than the sound of their own hearts beating in their chests, everything went silent. Then rocks and boulders began to rain down on them from above as the Indians attempted to finish them.
out of the brush and
at least two dozen Indians
attacked the cowmen.
William crawled to the dead horse and attempted to shoot his rifle up at the Indians but a rock crashed down on its barrel, smashing the site and bending it. Now the only weapon they had was John’s revolver and two rounds of ammunition. After an hour or so of rolling boulders and rocks down on the Texans, the Indians regrouped across the creek to an elevated position above the stranded men. From that vantage point, they rained more arrows directly into the overhang striking both William and John again. The dead horse and boulders the Indians had dropped around the overhang entrance now gave them added protection. Just as darkness began to fall, John fired his last shot at a warrior. William waited until the pitch dark of midnight and led his badly wounded brother,
nephew and horse from the overhang. Because John could not walk in his wounded condition, he was put on the horse which was led by his son. The cowmen made their way back to the safety of old Camp Cooper where their loved ones rejoiced that they had survived. Doc Lindsay, who lived at Fort Hubbard, another nearby civilian fort, was sent to treat the men’s wounds. It took several weeks for them to recover, but both healed without permanent disability. Because of the wounds he had received on Tecumseh Creek, John Hittson was unable to drive his cattle to Mexico during 1865. Due to the delay, however, he was able to gather more cattle that would be driven to New Mexico in 1866 that helped rescue thousands of starving Navaho Indians being held at the Redondo Reservation near Fort Sumner, N.M. John Hittson was instrumental in opening up the Pecos Trail (Goodnight-Loving Trail) for many other Palo Pinto cattlemen to drive their herds to New Mexico and Colorado. John Hittson is believed to have trailed more than 20,000 cattle to the railheads in Colorado each year in the mid-1870s. In 1872 he organized a small army of gunmen and swept through New Mexico recapturing 12,000 head of cattle stolen in Texas by Comancheros. He established his ranch at Deer Trail, Colo., located 55 miles east of Denver, and would go on to become one of the great cattle kings in Colorado where he became known as “Cattle Jack Hittson.” He died of injuries he sustained in an accident near his home on Christmas Day 1880 when a wheel came off the small wagon he was driving over the railroad tracks that bisected his Deer Trail Ranch. Hittson’s Bluff, with an elevation of 1,335 feet, is located on private property in Throckmorton County along Tecumseh Creek 6.6 miles southwest of Throckmorton, Texas. w Sources: “John Hittson: Cattle King on the Texas and Colorado Frontier,” by Vernon R. Maddux; “Lambshead Before Interwoven: A Texas Range Chronicle 1848-1878,” by Frances Holden; “The Texas Frontier: The Clear Fork Country and Fort Griffin, 1849-1887,” by Ty Cashion; Handbook of Texas Online and several other internet sites.
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 7
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By Sue Seibert
have the strangest memory. When I was a small child I lived in Jacksboro, Texas, right in the middle of Indian country. It was about 1880. We had a small farm a few miles west of town, but we went to meetin’ Sunday at the Methodist Church. One Sunday when I was, oh, about 5, I recall settin’ quietly as the circuit rider talked from the pulpit when suddenly there was a noise from the back. Now, that preacher didn’t allow no noise, so I jerked ‘round jest in time to see a man ridin’ his horse through the church house door. He was a rangy man with a big blond mustache, and he had a rope in his hands. Very quick he rode that horse up to the pulpit and roped that preacher-man before any of the men in the church house could do a thing. And then he drug him down the center aisle and out the door. We all run out to see what would happen next when the feller got off his horse, grabbed a bull whip from somewhere on his saddle, and beganst to beat the living daylights outten that preacher man. He done horse-whipped him all over the place. This all happened real fast, and all the men stood around and didn’t do a thing. There was whisperin’ all about but not loud ‘nough for the feller to hear. “That there’s Uncle Bob Routh the Texas Ranger,” someone said. “I’d rather tangle with a mess a rattlers than ole Bob Routh,” said another. Within a couple of minutes, the whippin’ stopped. That Ranger Routh got back on his horse, tipped his hat to the huddled crowd, and rode out toward Fort Richardson,
leavin’ the preacher a bloody mess in the dusty street. That was the first time I ever saw one of the Routh family until they moved down Brown County way after we left our farm and moved there. Mary Routh and me are great friends. We have known each other since her family moved to Brown County from Jacksboro after her mother died. Now we are gettin’ ready for her weddin’. We’re both 16, but if I don’t find a suitor before long, my family will consider me an old maid, and I’ll probably be forced to stay and take care of Ma and Papa for the rest of my life rather than have a family of my own. That seems funny because Mary’s big sister Bee ain’t married yet, and she’s over 20. But Bee is turned funny. Mental really, so I guess that don’t count. Or maybe I need to act like Bee. Then they won’t rush me into some sort of arrangement. Me and Mary got to go to town with her big brother, Kaiser, and his wife, Hattie, so we could get cloth, new cloth, for her weddin’ dress. Can you imagine? Her Pa is goin’ a let her buy new cloth and not use no hand-me-down. He’s such a mean ole cuss, I can’t hardly believe it, but, after all, Mary is his favorite child in all the world. I’m ain’t my papa’s favorite. Not a’tall. As we’re ridin’ in to town, Mary and I was sittin’ in the back of the wagon, and Mary’s dozin’, so I can hear Kaiser and Hattie jest fine. “Do you think that Bowden boy will actually marry our Bee?” asked Hattie. “‘course he will,” Kaiser told her. “After all he don’t want no law after him for all that drinkin’ he does.” Laughing, he went on, “He is a fine, up-standin’ man, after all, Please see page 10
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 9
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in a superior voice. From page 8 “Not no more she won’t be,” Mary smiled broadly. with a store and money. And his fine, up-standin’ family don’t want any part of Pa or the police, ‘specially the Rangers. So they’ll let him marry “Why she’s a marryin’ Mr. Bowden over to the furniture store.” There were gasps all ‘round. Then, jest like that, those women, her. And even though she’s my sister, gotta say, she’s a looker, and and what men was sittin’ ‘round the cheese barrel, turned and acted Bowden sees it!” like me and Mary was lungers, and I could tell they’s all down on the “Yes, those Bowdens really do think highly of themselves, don’t Routh family but without ‘nough gumption to say nothin’. they,” smiled Hattie. “All that money and all those preachers. They So, that Mz. Smith wrapped up the cloth and such in brown paper don’t bear thinkin’ ‘bout, do they?” And she laughed right out loud. and handed it to Mary with nary another word. We would of loved a “Nope,” replied Kaiser, “no, they surely don’t. But, anyway, it’s betsarsaparilla, but I didn’t have no money, and we knowed Mr. Routh ter not to mention preachers nor money around Bee or Pa. You know wouldn’t stand for that on his bill. Mary picked up her package, and we perfectly well...”, but his voice trailed off then as a rider approached us went to wait outside fer Kaiser and Hattie to come back from the feed from the rear and howdied to us all. I pushed on Mary to wake her up store. so she could see it was her future husband’s cousin who lived two Jest then that Mr. Bowden done come ‘round the corner. He was counties over in Dublin. I thought he might rein in and stop to talk, but walkin’ a little bit sidewise, but he surely smiled when he seed Mary. I guess he was in a hurry to get to town. “Howdy-do, Miss Mary,” he said. “How are you and your family?” The cousin’s a fine lookin’ man. Wish he had stopped. He’s ‘bout the “We’re all jest fine. Mr. Bowden. Thank you very much.” Mary best catch in all of Erath County, I hear. Anyway, after that Mary stayed awake, and we talked about cloth and answered. “What brings you to town this lovely day?” he asked. buttons and such. Her sister Bee is a skilled seamstress and has told “Why I’m here gettin’ cloth so Bee can make me a weddin’ dress. Mary she’ll make her a fine dress. She told Mary how much cloth to You know George Gilliam and me is gettin’ married next month.” get and what notions she needed. Bee could make almost any kind of “Why, yes, I do believe your sister mentioned that to me.” He smiled dress a person needed, and a weddin’ dress don’t appear to be a stumbat that point, and continued, “Bee has invited me to come to the wedlin’ block. It is a wonder what Bee can do. She can cook like anything ding. In fact, my brother Charles has agreed to perform the ceremony. when she’s a mind to, but, on the other hand, how Bee acts most of the time, that’s a wonder, too. Sometimes she jest takes to her bed for days, He’s the new minister in Blanket. He is looking forward to meeting you and George. and Mr. Routh don’t do nothin’ but let her. “And, by the way,” he continued, “you and George are to come to the When the Rouths first moved to Brown County, Bee was sort of the store very soon. I would like to give you a suite of furniture for your mama because old Mz. Routh jest had died after having her last baby, new home.” Lil’ Fred. That’s the way it is here, when the mama dies a givin’ birth, Mary blushed and blustered, but she thanked Mr. Bowden, and jest the oldest daughter becomes the housekeeper and home maker. Heaven then Kaiser pulled the wagon up. help those families who don’t have no girls. “Bowden,” Kaiser said. After ‘bout another half hour the wagon got us into town. We saw “Why hello, Kaiser,” Mr. Bowden replied. “It’s certainly good to see Mary’s cousin George’s horse tied up by the saloon right near that you and Mz. Hattie on such a fine day.” Bowden furniture store, jest ‘cross the street from the jail where Mr. Kaiser nodded to Mr. Bowden, while, in a gruff voice, he told me and Routh works. Mary to get on the wagon right now. With that he nodded to Mr. Our wagon kept on going ‘round the bend in the road to the mercanBowden and we were off back to the ranch. tile, where Kaiser let us off to go look for cloth while he and Hattie Late that night, as Mary and me lay in her bed listening to Bee sewwent on to the feed store by the creek. ing on the treadle machine Mr. Routh had bought for her, I asked Mary We went inside the store, and the lady what owned the place came a question I had been a savin’ up for the 10 years we’d knowed each over to show us her goods. Mary picked a sorta creamy gingham cloth. other. She found some little pearly but“Mary,” I asked, “why did your tons and a tad of lace just the color pa horse whip that preacher back of the cloth. in Jacksboro?” And I told her how We walked to the counter, and I asked Mary a question I had been a I’d seed it all happen and had Mary, in as mature a voice as she always wondered. could muster, said, “Could you put savin’ up for the 10 years we’d knowed Mary was real startled at first, this on Bob Routh’s account, each other. but then she sighed deeply. please, Mz. Smith?” “Why, Mary?” I coaxed. The lady, who I’d never met, “Why?” asked, “Are you one of Uncle “Well, I ain’t goin’ say much, Bob’s kids?” but after Mama died, well, that preacher man done come to visit our “Yes ‘um,” Mary replied. “You know he’s workin’ over to the jail house a whole lot. Mainly he come when Papa and Kaiser was in town right now, if you have questions.” or out lookin’ for some Injun or some criminal. And that preacher, well, “Oh, no, Miss,” the woman said in quite a shaky voice. “I believe he seemed awful fond of Bee, and he’d send me and the little ‘uns you’re the younger daughter, ain’t ya? Marryin’ that Gilliam boy?” By this time, there was several ladies who had stopped their gossipin’ down to the creek when he come. “The last time he come, well, we got home and found Bee a starin’ at to listen. the fire and Papa loadin’ his gun. And that’s the last time I saw or heard “Yes ‘um,” Mary smiled shyly, “this here’s gonna be my weddin’ nothin’ about the preacher. He was just done and gone.” dress. My sister Bee’s goin’ a make it. She can sew like a dream.” And, again, I asked. “Why?” w “Your sister is maiden lady, is she not?” one of the bystanders asked
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 11
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e marchers with the Great Peace March reached Chicago in August of 1986. We had walked 15 to 20 miles each day, protesting the use of nuclear missiles. And had begun in Los Angeles in March, planned to reach Washington, D.C. in November.
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 12
Being from Texas, with a rural country upbringing, I had never liked big cities. To me, they were large bustling places with too many people and too many cars going too fast in too many directions. I loved Chicago, perhaps from seeing it through the eyes of a friend who lived in Oak Park. He was back home after leaving the March because of ill health. He invited several of us to dinner and took me sightseeing the next day. We saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and the homes he designed were noticeably different from earlier ones. I marveled at the multiple architectural styles manifested in Chicago. And Lake Michigan as seen from the drive along its shoreline was awesome. To me, it was a sea-I had never before seen a lake I couldn’t see across. We ended our four days in Chicago with a rally in Grant Park, where we had speakers and bands and had up booths explaining our protest efforts. My tentmate and I set up our merchandising booth and sold T-shirts and other memorabilia. Leaving Chicago, we walked around the south end of Lake Michigan into Indiana, 15 days in that state, then 15 days into Ohio before we reached Cleveland, the next large city. Please see page 14
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 13
From page 12 We had special permission to camp in beautiful Edgewater Park on the shore of Lake Erie. A huge crowd attended the rally there and when we left 5000 supporters paid to walk with us for one day. I walked that day, then went back with a group of marchers into Cleveland to canvas. As with every enterprise money is a necessity. The march had to have money to buy gas for the semis that pulled our trailers from one campsite to the next, to purchase parts to keep those vehicles running, to purchase food for our large group, for numerous permits and fees encountered along the way. The March never had more than enough money for three days of walking. Upon reflection, I think a large amount of money might have ended the March because there would have been dissension about how to spend it. As it was, we kept walking, trusting the money would come. Rallies provided money as did our merchandising. Canvassing was another source of income. We would go in pairs into a section of the city and go doorto-door handing out literature and answering questions about the purpose of the March. We didn’t ask for money, but everyone knew we needed it. I had also canvassed in Omaha. The door to door was not much fun, but we were offered places to stay, and there would be kitchen facilities and a BATH. In Cleveland, we spread out sleeping bags in the upstairs of a youth recreational center. In Omaha, in a rent house next door owned by a delightful black woman peace activist. At one house, a conservatively dressed business man opened the door, listened to my presentation, took the literature, handed me a $20 bill, then said, “I disagree with your policy. I think it’s essential that we have nuclear weapons to protect ourselves. But I admire you for what you’re doing.” I thanked him, but left wondering how anyone could think nuclear weapons would keep us from ending up as greasy spots on sidewalks as people in Hiroshima did. I rejoined the March at Pittsburg where our camp was on a hillside overlooking the city where the Alleghany and Ohio Rivers met in the center of downtown. We continued on through Pennsylvania, camping once near Hershey where the tantalizing smell of chocolate permeated the camp. Soviet reporters and photographers had joined us in Cleveland, and they remained with us the rest of the March. In Russia six million people stayed home from work one day demanding an end to the arms race. After our March
was completed some of our group joined Russian protesters in a walk from Leningrad to Moscow. Some Marchers wanted to go directly to Washington, but others wanted to go on to New York City as originally planned, then down to Washington. I don’t remember voting on this issue, but we just kept walking, going through New Jersey to New York, reaching there Oct. 23. All across the country various marchers had friends and relatives in different localities. They could visit, sometimes spend a night or two with them. When in Iowa, I went with my tentmate to visit some of her relatives in a nearby town. But I had relatives in New York--a nephew had lived and worked in New York City for a number of years. The company headquarters was in one of the Twin Towers but he had transferred to an office in the suburbs before 9/11. He and his friend met me at our campsite and his friend walked with us across the George Washington Bridge into the city where we were greeted with enthusiasm by school children who came out on the school steps to cheer us on. Members of an artists’ group handed each of us a red apple. Members of other peace activist groups and churches welcomed the March, as did a band and a representative of the city. . That evening we gathered at beautiful St. John the Divine, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world for an interfaith prayer celebration. Religious leaders from all over the city spoke. Some marchers were allowed to camp on the grounds. My nephew had to work the day the March arrived, but I got to see the city as their guest and as a tourist. The Statue of Liberty, going to the top of the World Trade Center, walking in Central Park. We walked through Greenwich Village past the brownstone where my nephew lived before he moved to a suburb. And ate in a restaurant there. And they took me through the countryside outside the city. While I was being a tourist, some of the marchers were guests on the Phil Donahue Show. There was a rally with well-known persons speaking, including Yoko Ono, John Lennon‘s widow. And Betty Thomas of Hill Street Blues who had walked with us for a week. I went back to the March in time to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for lunch in a park, then walk across, in rain, across another bridge to our camp in Staten Island, my first experience at a seashore. We were 18 days away from our goal, Washington, D.C. w
...we just kept walking, going through New Jersey to New York...
N E W
Y O R K
C I T Y
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 14
The following essay appeared in the Feb. 5, 1964, issue of the Mineral Wells Index. It has been paraphrased.
by Don Price
kept hearing the same story. There was a lot of talk in the cafes, in the guys’ favorite coffee shops, even in Snoddy’s (Brad, Texas), all about an outdoorsman who had hunted, fished and trapped more than any other man alive.
(But this story carried no bragging rights amongst today’s males, those cubicle-loving, those iPoding, those cell-phoning, sedentary moon chasers of 2012.) A century ago, even as recently as 60 years ago, a man who could claim to have hunted, fished and trapped more than anyone else was certainly looked up to, even in a place as famous as Snoddy’s Cafe, the cedar cutters’ favorite hang out. This mysterious man, whoever he was, was king of the mountain. While hanging around these watering places for several years, plus slurping a swimming pool full of coffee, I found out who he was – Joe Taylor of Palo Pinto town. Joe had “already been there and done that” before most of us were born. Late one evening, and with my not being very far from the Palo Pinto County Courthouse, I knocked on Joe Taylor’s door. We wound up drinking another cup of coffee at his kitchen table, and here are his thoughts about the good Please see page 16
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From page 14 old days, the best times of his life. (Unfortunately, it looks as if you and I were born a shade too late.) “The biggest joy was a Brazos River trip with my family, uncles and aunts and cousins, close friends, to spend a week or two catching channel cats, sometimes a big yellow cat or blue, to cook it right where you caught it, a shady, big cottonwood bank on the river, leaving your troubles back home during the Great Depression. Look here, there was no depression on the river if you knew how to survive.” Highlights of Taylor Family History Joe, the youngest son of Ham G. Taylor, was born in Palo Pinto in 1891. He has two older brothers, Garve and Irving, and an older sister, Doll Watson; but they didn’t take to the outdoors like Joe. All of them (in 1964) lived in Palo Pinto except Irving, who lived in Mineral Wells, and ages ranged from 73 to 85 years. Joe began by telling about his father, Ham Taylor, and the skirmishes he had had with Indians; Ham settled in Palo Pinto County in 1857 and built the first house in Palo Pinto town. Palo Pinto was a frontier town with four saloons running wide open; the sheriff has several busy nights; however, the town had a strong majority of good folk with churchgoing habits. Hardly a stone’s throw from the courthouse, the frequent skirmishes with Comanches gave the townspeople reason to rebuild, with the settlement soon resembling a fort-like appearance. Most able-bodied men had left the area to aid Robert E. Lee during the Civil War, leaving this small outpost vulnerable to Indian depredations. For a period of several months the Comanches had stopped raiding, even at night during the full moon, normally their favorite time to attack the settlement, stealing horses and killing women and children. Everything seemed peaceful until some cowboys rode into Palo Pinto from the south, perhaps Erath or Hood county, to complain of recent depredations, of the Comanches stealing every rancher’s horse they could get their hands on. These cowboys said they were looking for the horse thieves; then they left in a cloud of
dust, riding north to the Brazos River, to the confluence of Elm Creek. They found some Indians camped at the river, peaceful, killing seven of them. The spot where the slaughter took place was later called Indian Hole, a mile or so from the D.C. Harris ranch house. Up until this time there had been very little trouble with Indians. “This little uprising started a war so fierce the women folk spent the night, my mother too, in the Palo Pinto Courthouse, while the men stood guard all night long,” Joe Taylor told me in this 1964 interview. Joe told of the first man killed in the county by Indians, a Black man, felled where Tilley’s Cafe was later built. Many were felled by the guns and bows belonging to Comanches. “The Red Man became angry and brought fear into the hearts of everyone.” However, there were other tribes in the county besides the hostile Comanches and occasional Kiowas. Friendly people they were, the Ioni, Keechi, Caddo, Waco, Anadarko, Tawaconi tribes, perhaps others. Several creeks in this county are named for these tribes. When he was just a boy, Joe Taylor hung around the camp fires, listening to his daddy and neighbors, to learn about the cattlemen who went up the dusty trail, including the legendary partnership of Charles Goodnight / Oliver Loving. During this time the great Civil War ended. Shock and disbelief numbed the Confederate’s brain; perhaps he’d hobbled on crutches all the way home from Appomattox, to see the destruction of his log cabin in the valley of peace, a paradise of natural springs. The farm though was hardly recognizable in Palo Pinto County, only the knoll and the creek; the cedar cabin had burned, leaving a few charred rails in the cow lot. Silence was overpowering. The family, where was the family? During the height of the hostile depredations, 80-percent fled to nearby Weatherford for safety. The families who survived the war and Indians were now in abject poverty; all dignity was lost; Confederate money was worthless. A man’s wife lost her dignity when she had no money, only worthless paper money she had. Ranchers had no choice. They turned into
drovers, trailing almost worthless longhorn cattle to northern markets to restore the economy and dignity to loved ones. These drovers brought home leather saddlebags filled with gold coins; a $4 steer in Texas brought as much as $40 in Boston. As many other cattle trails were born, the Goodnight-Loving Trail was blazed, a necessity of the times. This income gave Texans dignity, a sizable boost to this state’s flagging economy, putting her ahead of sister states of the Deep South who weren’t so fortunate. Ranching, of course, was the main interest in the early days; the open range was lush with strong grass in the limestone hills, sprinkled with strong natural springs; the major creeks- Ioni, Keechi, the Palo Pinto and Caddo, all were feeding the Brazos River (The Arms of God). Perhaps this Palo Pinto region produced more noted cowmen than any other frontier region of like size in America: the Cowdens, C. Goodnight, the Lovings and Slaughters, Daltons and Curetons, Hittsons, Stuarts and Strawns; the Carters, Beldings and Harts, the Reynolds and Matthews, Costellos, Harrises, Metcalfes, many others. Running out of elbow room, C.C. Slaughter moved to West Texas to establish the largest land holdings in the state, but he started, like all the rest, in Palo Pinto County. Finally Joe Taylor was persuaded to talk about some of his own experiences: “Trapping was mighty good business during the Great Depression of the ‘30s, when nobody seemed to have a nickel in his pocket. “The ranchers would give me $15 for a wolf, plus the county paid $5 for the ears of that same wolf, and then I’d sell the hide for $5, a total of $25. You could high-step with $25 in your purse. “A one-gallon Ovaltine can full-to-the-brim of arrowheads was only bringing $25 during the depression of the ‘30s. Times were awfully hard then, and it nearly broke my heart to sell ‘em. There was just no loose change lying around.” Joe Taylor was proud he blazed a trail for the founding of the Boy Scout Camp north of Palo Pinto on the Brazos River; he knew every foot of that rugged tract, and he selected the original site for the famous Worth Ranch, giving thousands of young boys an outdoor experience in survival skills. The year was 1929. w
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 17
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Chasing Our Tales
The Furniture Business
By Sue Seibert
began to write this piece thinking about the connection to the families about whom I wrote last month. Many of my Bowden and Routh families owned furniture stores, and I believed this would be a topic that might be of interest to my readers. It has turned into much, much more.
I grew up in the furniture business in Stephenville. My father had Ficke Furniture Store from about a year after the war was over (World War II) until 1958 when we moved to Mineral Wells. We had a farm between Stephenville and Hico, and on the side of a hill facing Highway 281, he wrote in rocks “Ficke Furniture Store.” Daddy, who was a cowboy and banker, didn’t mean to be in the furniture business, I don’t think, but my grandfather, Marvin Tilden (Doc) Bowden had been in the furniture business most of his life, and I guess he sold Daddy on the idea. I have googled Bowden Furniture and have discovered a lot of Bowden stores and Bowden-style furniture all around the country. I remember that when we first moved to Mineral Wells in 1958 there was a Bowden Furniture store in Weatherford, and I believe, when Raf and I moved back here in 1980, it was still there. It’s gone now, and I think the building
is, as well. (Someone correct me on this, please!) I have even found a furniture repair store in Great Bowden in Leicestershire, England, from where some of our Bowden family came! They advertised on Facebook! In a history book about Missouri, I found the story of Richard N. Bowden who was born in Montreal, Canada, the son of Lorenzo Bowden who was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, 1838. In 1865 the Bowden family came to America for better prospects and settled in Brookfield, Missouri, where first Lorenzo was a carpenter and cabinet maker for three years, then opened a furniture store until 1892 when he sold it to his son Richard. Richard married Vina B. Ives, daughter of Homer D. and Mary Eastman Ives. The Bowdens were quite successful, both in business and in society, and Richard became mayor of the city of Brookfield. The Bowdens had three children, Lorenzo Ives, an aviator in World War I, Homer Ives, a graduate of Missouri University in 1916, and Mary Elizabeth. Richard was a Mason, and Vina was a member of the P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization). However, before I can talk about local, or family owned, furniture stores, I want to look at the furniture business in Texas in general. When pioneers began to come to Texas, if there were families, they mostly brought their household furnishings; and until about 1870 most furniture purchased in Texas was made by local cabinetmakers. Please see page 20
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From page 18 Censuses and other records indicate that there were about 1,000 cabinetmakers making furniture in Texas between 1839 and 1880. The first recorded Texas cabinetmaker was William P. Lang in Houston. By 1880, however, locally made furniture was being replaced at a high rate of speed by imported, factory-made furnishing. In the early years there was at least one cabinet shop in each Texas county, and most towns had several. The areas where most of the cabinet makers worked were the Piney Woods of East Texas, the Blackland Prairie south of the Red River in North Texas, and the German settlements between the Brazos and the Colorado rivers in Central Texas; and the majority of the cabinet makers in Texas were Southerners with a significant minority being of German extraction. In 1860, while only 6 percent of the state’s population were German Americans, 33 percent of the cabinetmakers were German. Early furniture makers were also trained as builders of houses, cotton gins, wagons, and coffins, and many were, indeed, undertakers. They used hand tools and foot-powered lathes and produced such things as chairs, tables, beds, wardrobes, bureaus, settees, day beds, desks, and cupboards; but little upholstered furniture was made until around 1870 when Will Howe and William Patch of Galveston began making day beds upholstered with horsehair stuffed with Spanish moss. Wood, of course, was obtained locally from pine forests or from the hardwood forests along rivers and creeks, the primary varieties being pine, cedar and walnut. Pine furniture was painted with an oilbased paint or grained to imitate the more expensive woods, and it was often finished with glossy varnish made of copal. Texas furniture copied Plain Grecian or Restoration styles, and the German cabinet makers often worked in the Biedermeier style or in the German peasant form, Brettstuhl. Mexican cabinet makers copied styles developed along the Rio
Grande valley. In the 1880s Wenzel Friedrich established a furniture factory in San Antonio where he use animal horns for a rustic style which was popular in Europe and the Far East. Nineteenth Century Texas cabinet makers were often chair makers who used a turning lathe and a draw knife to make light ladder-backed chairs with rawhide or woven corn shuck bottoms. Anderson Dorris, a Tennessean who immigrated to Lockhart, Texas, along with his son, John, made 450 hide-bottomed chairs and sold them for $1.50 each. There were at least 40 other men who, between 1850 and 1880, styled themselves chair makers on the Census. Another chair maker, Henry Journey, established a cabinet shop in Galveston in 1850. He employed 20 men. Not only did he make chairs, he made case furniture and operated a blacksmith shop, a livery stable and a lumber yard, and built wooden buildings. H.H. Ward opened a similar establishment in Austin in 1840, and by the 1860s and 1870s Texas cabinet makers were competing with importers by employing more workers and by adding animal- and steam-powered machines to their shops. William Sheppard opened a shop in Tyler. He came from Kentucky in the mid-1850s. At first he used hand tools, but by 1860 he was in partnership with J. C. Rogers and they had a horse-powered lathe and three employees who made bedsteads, wardrobes and bureaus. They also had a retail department, or furniture store. By 1870 they had moved to Mechanicsville outside Tyler, where they had a 15-horse-powered steam engine, four lathes, two boring machines, a tennoning machine, and 10 employees. They retailed $5,500 a year, but by 1880 they had gone out of business. Other leading East Texas cabinetmakers, and the approximate dates during which they worked, were Abner Stith, Henderson, 1848-52; George W. Blake, San Augustine, 1850-70; J. George Woldert, San Augustine, 1842-55; Ransom Horn, San Augustine, 1850-60; Frederick Wolz, Marshall, 1851-71; W.J. Foster, Crockett, 1860-70; Hugh Hopkins,
Huntsville, 1856-68; and Frank Creager, Huntsville, 1860-74. The HYPERLINK “http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/jjt01”Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville also manufactured furniture, using convict labor. By 1870 Paris, Texas, in Lamar County, was the cabinet-making center of Texas. Willet Babcock’s shop there used horse-powered machinery and employed 12 men and three women and made $7,990 a year making furniture that included 400 bedsteads. In 1875 Babcock set up an 18-horse-powered steam engine, and by 1880 he employed 32 in Paris, as well as owning a smaller factory in Clarksville. However, he died in 1881 and both factories closed. James W. Rodgers, also in Paris, had four employees and produced $2,600 worth of furniture in 1870. He added steam power in 1879 and had a lumber planing mill as well as a furniture factory. He died in 1891, but his business continued under the name Rodgers Wade Furniture Company and is still in business today as a manufacturing facility. Other leading Blackland Prairie cabinetmakers, and the approximate dates during which they worked, were James B. Shanahan, Clarksville, 184457; Jasper Longe, Clarksville, 1860-83; W.T. Skinner, Carter (Denton County), 1858-62; H.P. Davis, Fairfield, 1858-62; William W. Smith, White Oak (Hopkins County), 1850-60; W.B. Crawford, Mesquite (Navarro County), 1858-62; Peter Wetsel, McKinney, 1849-70; Isaac Crouch, McKinney, 1866-71; James Foster, Mantua (Collins County), 1868-72; John H. Spading, Waxahachie, 1860-78; Moses Mock, Hillsboro, 1868-72; James R. Manning, Sulphur Springs, 1868-72; and William Anderson, Waco, 1860-82. Leading cabinetmakers in the Brazos-Colorado region, and the approximate dates during which they worked, were Heinrich Umland, Bellville, 1850-69; Johann Umland, Chappell Hill, 1854-81; Helmut Conrad Kroll, Chappell Hill, 1858-60; Please see page 22
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April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 22
From page 20 Caspar Witteborg, Chappell Hill, 1854-66, and Brenham, 1866-77; Charles Blank, Brenham, 1858-82; Joseph Massanari, Brenham, 186872; Heinrich Harigel, La Grange, 1851-92; Frederick Buntzel, Cat Spring, 1854-72; Gottfried Buescher, Industry, 1859-76; and H. Spencer Huby, Hempstead, 1855-62. Galveston was a prosperous cabinetmaking center between 1840 and 1850, as well as a major furniture importing center where showrooms were set up with furniture from New York and sold to wealthy customers in San Antonio, Gonzales, and Austin. Leading Galveston cabinetmakers, and the approximate dates during which they worked, were Daniel Lochied, 1848-52; Helmut Conrad Kroll, 1848-58; Johann Friedrich Ahrens, 1845-70; and Ernest Beck, 1868-72. Because of the availability of imported furniture, cabinetmaking in Galveston declined in the mid-1850s. In Austin there was a small cabinet-making industry from its founding in 1839, and by 1860 there were 10 cabinet shops. By 1870 there were two large shops in Austin, still using hand tools but making $9,000 worth of furniture a year. The railroad arrived in 1871, and by 1880 there was no one in Austin who described himself as a cabinet maker. Austin’s leading cabinetmakers, and the approximate dates during which they worked, were Thomas Bostick, 1854-58; J.W. England, 1858-68; W.W. Evans, 1866-72; and Joseph Hannig, 1865-72. Hannig was the husband of HYPERLINK “http://www.tshaonline.org/ handbook/online/articles/fdi06”Susanna W. Dickinson, one of the survivors of the HYPERLINK “http://www.tshaonline.org/ handbook/online/articles/uqa01”Alamo. Aesthetically, the finest of Texas furniture was made by the German-born cabinet makers of the Hill Country. They usually employed only one person and did not use power machinery. They had been trained, for the most part, in the guild system of Europe and held master cabinetmaker’s papers. For example, HYPERLINK “http://www.tshaonline. org/handbook/online/articles/fjana”Johann Michael Jahn, who had a shop in New Braunfels from 1844 until his death in 1883, served as an apprentice in Prague and received his Tischlermeister’s (master tablemaker’s) papers in Switzerland. Franz Stautzenberger, who made furniture at Clear Spring in Guadalupe County, was employed as a cabinetmaker at the court of the Duke of Nassau before coming to Texas in 1845.The Hill Country cabinetmakers often made highly
sophisticated furniture, working largely in walnut and pine. They developed a distinct regional style, and their furniture is easily recognizable. The leading Fredericksburg cabinetmakers and the approximate dates during which they worked were Frederick Winkel, 1845-52; Friedrich Gentmann, 1860-70; Johann Adam Kunz, 1845-61; William Leilich, 1845-70; Johann Martin Loeffler, 1859-92; John Petri, 1858-62; Christof Shaeper, 184572; Jacob Schneider, 1853-72; Christian Staats, 1845-85; HYPERLINK “http://www. tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ fta13”John Peter Tatsch, 1852-85; and Carl Wendler, 1858-62. Other leading Hill Country cabinetmakers outside of Fredericksburg, in addition to Jahn and Stautzenberger, were Eugen Ebensberger, New Braunfels, 1860-70, and Heinrich Scholl, New Braunfels, 1846-80. By 1930 there was a nationwide interest in the collection of Texas furniture. The Winedale Historical Center, San Antonio Museum Association in Fayette County, and the Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg have excellent collections of Texas furniture making. Now back to my family’s furniture business. My father, grandfather and various great grandparents and uncles sold furniture. However, so far as I can tell, none of them made any of the furniture they sold. However, this continues the furniture business in my family. The 1938 City Directory of Brownwood, Texas, shows that M.T. Bowden and his wife, Lora, my grandparents, owned a furniture store in Brownwood. Shortly after that, however, they retired to Stephenville where my mother and father lived. Daddy had worked in the Brownwood store before moving to Stephenville to work in the bank. My grandfather’s building in downtown Brownwood is still there, although it certainly doesn’t operate as a furniture store any longer. He built it just west of the jail house where his father-in-law, RD Routh lived as the jailer until he died at age 90 in 1944. And my father’s building is still in Stephenville, and it is now used as a deli. I’m proud that my family was a part of the history of Texas furniture makers and furniture sellers, and I hope you have enjoyed reading a part of this history. w If you have more information about furniture in Texas, please email me at HYPERLINK “mailto:sue_seibert@att. net”email@example.com.
April 2012 • NORTH TEXAS STAR STORYTELLER & RAMBLER • Page 23
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