Lincoln County New Mexico
Genealogy and History

 
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"MRS. JAB"
BY WANDA BROWNING FALK

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Chapter 4

CHAPTER FOUR
SO THIS IS TEXAS

We had no time to decide whether we liked this new country or not. We didn't have to be told that winter was hovering around the corner, and a shelter had to be built. Marion Pulled out his sharp axe and felled the first tree; Then he looked up to see a one-armed man walking up the creek.

"Halloo! Halloo! Are your neighbors come to stay?" We turned to smile at each other and wave at the stranger. This was a fine welcome to this new west.

Tom Blake had heard that axe chopping a good mile away, and he wasn't one to sit at home when his help was needed. He pitched right in, and that crude cabin was up in no time at all. Then the men went a quarter of a mile away and put up another cabin for Marion and Geriah. I heard Pa Tell Ruth that was a pack of foolishness, but Ruth insisted and Pa was too busy to argue, I think.

This was the first time in my life that I could remember Pa fretting because he was running short of cold cash. He and Marion were talking about this lack when Pa looked up at the huge pecan tree to the right of our cabin. That was the way out. Fort Bellnap, just twenty miles away could like as not use two-foot boards.

The next thing we knew we had saddled a horse, ridden to Fort and gotten a contract. When he got home, he put all of us to work in earnest. First of all, it was necessary to start cutting from the butt of this giant tree if the crosscut saw was to remain unbroken. It took Pa and Marion one full day to fell the tree; then Preston and I and that good one-armed neighbor, Mr. Blake, were told we were to work that saw. Pres and I stood high platform and worked one side of the saw handle, while Mr. Blake made good use of his one arm on the other side of that saw handle. Let 'em tell you, your arms would get tired, but Pres knew when I was giving out and would yell for rest.

The men calculated that the first four cuts averaged a thousand boards a cut: then dwindled to eighteen cuts for the remaining eleven feet of the tree.

While we were sawing away, Pa and Marion were working feverishly with frow, drawknife and jack-plane to make good looking lumber' then they were at it again, riving and stacking boards. When they had a wagon-load Pa hurried to the Fort to fulfill his contract for a thousand boards for fifteen whole dollars.

Melvin and Warwick, in the meantime, had gathered four bushels of pecans from the great tree. Pa bragged to them about their part when he showed them the money they had brought to this household. Can you beat it. Four bushels at four dollars a bushel. The boys had no trouble with their multiplication tables here!

Pa and Marion were busy for days making odd pieces of furniture from the pecan scraps, and then just to be sure there was no waste, the little boys and I piled limbs and brush on the big stump and had a big fire. Ruth said no nicer piles of ashes could be found. She and Geriah ran lye by the buckets-ful, then mixed that with antelope fat and had a year's supply of soap.

Before we knew it, that was the first hard winter was over and things looked much brighter for this McCarty family. It was time for spring planting, and already the horses were getting slick fat on the new grass. We were all in good health and waiting around for Ruth and Geriah to have their new babies. Wouldn't you know they would both have big bouncing boys. Marion and Geriah named their new son James, which didn't surprise me, for I knew how much Marion thought of his younger brother, James. Ruth and Pa settled on William for their baby's name, and of course, he never knew any other name but "Bill."

The first thing we knew there was a new family settled one mile to the north of us and another to the west. You may know we made them all welcome, and Pa and they boys helped them build cabins and put in their crops. Ruth and Geriah put forth every effort to do neighborly acts for the new women. That's the way people were in those days. We really depended on each other.

About this time Ruth remarked to me one day, "I'm glad to see that strained expression leave your Pa's face." I was very pleased to hear him laugh and tell jokes again. I think the things that surprised me most was that he took to playing with Bill every time he came around the house. I know that made our Riyadh very happy.

Seems to me, when everything in our lives seemed to be on the "ups', we should have remembered that plenty of "downs" were just around the corner.

We had no way of knowing, though, until many days afterwards that over in Indian territory the Apaches, Kiowas, Tonkawas, and Lapans saw their Comanche brothers preparing for an extensive raid on some whites. All the tribes watched with much interest as white men's horses became more and more numerous. Comanches could start the raids, but Comanches must not get all the new horses.

One beautiful spring night we, the McCarty's of Hubbard's Creek, got the rudest awakening of our lives. I sat up in my bed and yelled at the top of my lungs, "Ruthie, Pa! What is that?" Surely all the horses in the county were running around our cabin. When Pa Grabbed his gun and ran to the door, a wild, weird yell greeted him; then we heard pounding of horses feet moving away fast--then just complete silence.

Pa and Preston stood just outside the door peering into darkness. Then I heard Pres's trembling voice ask, "Pa, was... that Injuns?"

There was no need for Pa to answer. He and Pres came in quickly and barred the door. Ruth, the boys and I hovered around them; I tell you, we knew real fear! We talked excitedly, nervously until Pa cautioned us, "Hush! They may come back, and we've got to be ready for 'em. You young'uns get back to bed. Ruth, you and Pres, take the guns for that side of the cabin. I'll stay at this door! Angie, you see that the boys are quiet! Not a word, yo' hear me!"

Daylight came at last, and the unfriendly visitors did not return. Pa ventured out of the house very captiously the minute the sun was up. From all directions he could hear his neighbors yelling at him. Evidently all of us had been cursed with the same callers.

Tom Blake was running towards Pa cursing at every breath, "Them devils took my work team!" Pa whirled and ran in the opposite direction. We knew his heart was in his throat. But there in the corral, hidden by the trees, Lady Jane and Polly Hopkins waited for their breakfast. Pa looked over a small pasture in back of the house, and he had reason to feel sick. Two of his best Steeldust horses were missing. He rushed to the house and yelled at Pres, "Get a move on you! Ride out away and see if there are any more horses gone. I headed them south last night, I sure hope they drifted that way!"

The neighbors gathered at our house very soon, and each man reported he had lost two horses. This was a profitable raid for the Comanches. One of the older settlers remarked sadly, "They've found us now, and if we stay, they'll not leave a single horse."

Pa was plainly shocked. "You mean you'd leave your crops and your new homes to these devils!"

I mean we ain't got a chance, McCarty. From the tracks around here, I'd say there was over fifty Indians here last night. We've got to get near a fort before we are all scalped. If these are Comanches, we're done for. They'll be back and back until there's nothing left to show of us but our scalps hangin' from their belts.

Pa looked at all the men around him. These men had fought Indians for years; I they knew what they were talking about. He turned to Ruth and me and said, "Pack up! Let's go by and get Marion and Geriah. We're leavin' for Fort Bellnap!"

By nightfall the settlement on Hubbard's creek was no more.
 


Chapter 5

CHAPTER FIVE
THE YOUNG LADY, ANGELINA

When our little colony arrive at Fort Bellnap, Pa had no more misgiving about allowing the redskins to bluff him out, for this was the time he met John R. Bailor, a prominent rancher from Camp Cooper Colony. Mr. Bailor took it on himself to make the situation clear to all new comers in that part of Texas.

He was talking to the men of our crowd, but we were all gathered around him to listen. "It's this way, folks. The Indians have started on you people again. We just finished our turn, and let me tell you they came thick and fast for quite a spell."

"You oughta know by this time these Indians don't intend to stay on the reservation put aside for them. We've tried and tried to get Uncle Sam to send enough soldiers so we can push 'em back where they belong. It looks like we got to do the job ourselves."

Our men questioned him a lot about how to get at this problem. Mr. Bailor should have been a general; he knew how to organize. He told the men that all the ranchers around Camp Cooper had turned soldiers, and the real soldiers at the at the Fort were only too glad to provide ammunition. He showed how they dug trenches all around that Fort and put cannons on mule back to meet the Indians head on. He said the Indians didn't like to face fire that shook the ground when it hit. He sounded like a good preacher when he said, "We want to be ready for their next raid and the next, and we want you people to get organized. That's the only way we'll get these devils to stay out of Texas!

One old settler told us later, "No wonder Indians hated Ole John R. They swung around his big ranch like it had a curse on it. One thing sure, Ole John hated the smell o' Indians, and he had a mighty keen nose."

Our group decided to camp near the Fort, but in ten days there was still no sign of Indians, so the men ventured out, one by one, to take up land, build cabins and start planting again. Marion and Geriah decided to stay within calling distance of the Fort, but not Pa; he was anxious to be on the move again. He told us he heard of a man in Johnson county who wanted to rent his farm. That seemed a likely way to get ahead.

My folks were thankful to find a farm where the crops were well advanced and the cabin was clean and comfortable. We would have been very happy enough if only there was some cash handy. I was past thirteen now, and I was certainly old enough to know that Pa and Ruth worried about this lack of money. I knew Preston would have been glad to hire out, but Pa needed him on the farm. They were both working their heads off. It was up to me to make the move; so without saying a word to any of them I went down to talk to Mrs. Swank who lived on the farm next to us. It wasn't hard to talk to her. She had always spoken to me when she cam visiting, and offered to lend me any books she had, for she soon found out I was more than anxious to get some more schooling. I finally got around to asking her if I could hire out as a housekeeper's helper. She was delighted to have me, but I told her there was just one hitch-- I had to convince Pa that this was the proper thing to do. She understood perfectly and wished me all the luck in the world.

I was so excited I could hardly keep from loping my house all the way back home, but I knew I must act cool and calm and very grown-up. Wouldn't you know this would be the time Melvin and Warwick even stopped their wood-gathering to ply me with questions. "Where you been? Why didn't you tell us so's we could go along?"

"I been visiting with Mrs. Swank. You go on with your work. I'll tell you about it later." I didn't need them hanging around me then. They were getting nearly as tall as I, and right now I wanted my five feet to look seven.

I waited until I could find Pa and Ruth together. I wouldn't have the nerve to tackle Pa alone. I told them I had a job helping Mrs. Swank. She was to pay me a whole dollar a month for just morning's work.

I could feel Ruth holding her breath, but I was looking Pa right in the eye. That's how I was showing I was grown up. If I looked at Ruth, that meant I was asking for help. Pa gazed at me a whole minute, and I was expecting him to blow the roof off, but he fooled me again when he answered in his sweetest voice, "That's a big girl, Angie; I reckon we can use all the money any of us can earn right now."

Ruth and I smiled at each other. We both knew Pa was actually pleased.

This was a happy three months of my life. Mrs. Swank was so good to me. Even on our busiest days, she always called for a rest mid-morning and that was when we had our reading lesson. Then I could always take the reader home to study for the next day's lesson. She was so kind when I came to tell her that Pa had found me a better paying job, and I would have to leave her. She smiled at me and said, "I would be the first, dear Angie, to encourage you to better yourself, but come visit me when you can." I'll never forget that kind lady.

Pa explained to me that Mr. Charles Bonnard had built a mill in the district and was looking around for someone to cook for the mill hands. Pa even told me that Mr. Bonnard had heard that I was a right good hand; he had come to ask Pa if I could try the job. I was pleased that Pa thought I could handle such a job.

I left our house early enough each morning to prepare breakfast for twenty-five hungry men. I don't know or care how hard the work was; I was cooking on my first real cook stove. I remember hurrying home that first day to tell Ruth about this wonderful invention. It had "Golden Hard" written across the top, and it did look like a little harp. I could cook on the top of the stove and on the inside too. To my surprise, it was as good as any Dutch oven I'd seen. I told Ruth that some day we would have one in our house. The nicest thing about it was that it didn't blacken up all the pot-vessels.

I worked for Mr. Bonnard for seven months, and I received two whole dollars a month. About the time I was beginning to think I was a woman of wealth, Pa suggested I'd best stay home a while to help Ruth. I knew her time was near, but the very next morning I went in to greet my new baby brother. I asked Ruth and Pa if I could name him. They seemed pleased that I'd ask for such a privilege. I looked down at his little red face and played like I had a sword in my hand. "I name you Sir Richard!" I chose that name because Mrs. Swank had read me a wonderful story about a knight with that name.

Ruth was on her feet again and Richard was filling out fast all over. Pa announced suddenly that it was time to get hold of some land of our own. Surely the Indians were under control now. It wasn't long until Pa came to tell us he had some land in Erath County. This was an important more for Melvin and Warwick. They were growing up like weeds, and it looked like they might be giant men like Pa. They were so pleased when Pa let them help him and Pres build the new cabin, and even get behind the plow to put in new crops.

Everybody seemed busy and happy but me, and it wasn't long until Ruth took me aside to have a good talk. I could tell her exactly what was wrong. I was so restless because we were doing the same things, going down the same road, and we weren't getting any money ahead. Mostly though, I wanted to be out again doing something for myself. I didn't want to just sit there and rot.

I know Ruth must have been relieved when Mr. McClellan, a sheepman from Bosque County, came by our place and asked Pa if he knew anyone who could and would come help the ailing Mrs. McClellan. I was so thankful when Pa said, "Angie here is good hand at such." Mr. McClellan looked at five feet two inches of me and probably guessed I weighed all of ninety pounds. "You're so little Sis. I want a husky hand to do some good hard cleaning."

I surprised myself by retorting, "I can do anything any other woman can do, and my name is Angelina!" Mr. McClellan took another good look at me and grinned. Then he spoke in a polite manner, "You're hired, Sis.... I mean Angelina."

I am very proud, even now, when I think how many times Mrs. McClellan told me she thanked the good Lord for sending me to her. I felt the same way about her, and Mr. McClellan would never get over it when I asked him one day to show me how to shear a sheep. His best story, which he repeated many times, gave his version on the trials he had when I decided I could learn to plow.

He and I were going down a row in dead earnest, when he looked up to find some soldiers finding up to the field. He recognized an old friend, Sergeant Lott; so he turned to me and said, "You plow on out, Angelina, and I'll go see what's on Lott's mind."

Mr. Mac's story was that he had hardly shaken with Sergeant when asked who I was, and before he had time to answer, one of the other soldiers butted in with, "I heard Mac call her Susan." Mr. Mac said he just smiled knowingly and said nothing. The smart guy said, "I'll come and plow for twenty-five cents a day if you'll let Susan drive."

Another volunteered with, "I'll plow for nothing if you will board me and let Susan drive."

"I'll do better than that, Mr. Mac. I'll pay you twenty-five cents a day if you'll let Susan drive."

"That's a bargain!" laughed Mr. Mac.

I plowed on out that row and went onto the house. For it was nearing supper time. I went to the spring for a bucket of water, and when I came back to the porch, I discovered that Mr. Mac had evidently issued an invitation to the soldiers to eat supper with us.

Sergeant Lott rushed to the porch steps, took the pail of water out of my hands and placed it on the bench outside the door. It just happened that neither Mr. Mac nor his wife were there that minute to introduce me to these strange men; so I thanked Sergeant Lott for his kindness, nodded and smiled at the other soldiers and got to the kitchen as fast as I could, and there I stayed.

I could tell that the men were ready to burst out laughing, and I knew it had something to do with me, but I didn't know what the joke was, and I didn't find out until a month later.

Mr. Mac came to tell us some very stirring news. T. C. Alexander was raising a company of volunteers for the Confederate Army, and the whole countryside was gathering at the village of Meridian to attend a fare well dance for these volunteers. Glory be! The McClellans were taking me to that dance. Mrs. Mac said I was to have a new dress. It was made of dainty white swiss, ankle length with a full hooped skirt. I got very extravagant and bought a long blue sash for the waist, and I got a pair of black kid slippers. I put a beautiful red rose in my hair, and when I went in for the McClellans to look me over, Mr. Mac bowed and said, "Miss Angelina, you're a sight for sore eyes!"

We hardly gotten in the door of the dance when Sergeant Lott rushed up to Mr. McClellan and begged to be introduced properly to Susan. Mr. McClelland promptly turned to his wife and said, "This is my wife, Susan, Sergeant Lott."

The poor Sergeant was horror stricken, but recovered himself enough to bow courteously to Mrs. McClellan, who was enjoying herself immensely.

"May I have the honor for the next dance?" stammered the Sergeant.

"If you will excuse me, Sergeant, my husband has already asked for it."

Sergeant Lott escaped to the cool breezes of the outside and demanded of the first soldier he spotted in his group, "Who in the hell is that girl who stays at the McClellans?"

"Why, Sergeant, don't you know? That's Thomas McCarty's daughter. That's Miss Angelina."

"Thomas McCarty's daughter! I didn't know he had a daughter. You get in there and introduce me quick!"

The Sergeant hardly finished his bow to me when he started explaining what a blunder he had committed and how very sorry he was.

"I wish I knew what you are talking about, Sergeant. I am really very puzzled." I guess he could tell I wasn't fooling.

"Don't tell me Mr. Mac hasn't tole you about Susan! Wait until I get me hand on that man. I mean to make him suffer. He's been enjoying himself quite long enough."

This joke served it's purpose, though, for all the soldiers gathered around to have another laugh at their Sergeant, and, of course, I had to dance with each one of them. That's one way to get to be the belle of the ball. No girl in the whole world could have been more excited and happy for the whole evening.

I was very thankful I had been nice to all of them, for two weeks later they were all called to war, and I had no idea that I would ever see them again. This is how the Civil War that everybody was discussing became a reality to me.

As you know, this war between the north and the south barely touched Texas as far as battles were concerned, but these people of the far west begged for news from the battle front. Once a month the newspapers, Austin Courier and Galveston News, both printed on light brown paper, came to our isolated districts. That was when my reading came in handy. I read every word of those papers, and if anybody asked me, I read them to those who couldn't read them for themselves.

In 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, the Homestead Act was passed. That meant that each new settler would be allowed one hundred and sixty acres at a dollar and twenty-five cents an acre. It wasn't long until our people were talking about all the new easterners coming in to take up farm land. They made it plain that they couldn't find work in the mills and factories, and they had no yet to get mixed up in this awful war. These were people who brought the latest news from the battle fields.

Once in a while Confederate soldiers came into the fields for corn. Pa was one who always willing to let down the gate for them, but he always warned them not to waste one ear of corn. These soldiers took cattle for beef when they needed it, but there were two brands they never touched. One was the Texas (a cross with a T on the top an S off the left end and an E facing down on the right end and an A at the bottom) the other was the MES brand. The first, spelled Texas, as you see, was the war widows grand started by the cowmen in the state. There were many unbranded cattle at this time, and when roundup time came, these strays were branded this famous Texas brand. After the war the increase in cattle wearing this brand was sold and the money divided among the war widows.

The MES brand was started in honor of Brother Mel Fleming, a Methodist preacher, who rode all of west Texas and brought the word of God to the settlers. The cattle bearing the MES brand finally provided the first church in Young County, just after the war was ended.

The war was to come closer to me than all this. It just happened that McClellans decided to move to Waco, and they begged me to go with them. Mrs. Mac explained that they had a very good female seminary there, and she knew I wanted schooling more than anything else. She knew she wouldn't have to use any other argument. Ruth and Pa thought it was a wonderful opportunity. Imagine how bitterly disappointed we all were when we arrived in Waco to find everybody upset by the war, and the seminary had been closed. That was one of bitterest pills I ever had to swallow. I just felt like sitting down in the road and crying my eyes out, but the McClellans looked sad and sick, and there was no use making them feel worse.

It was a good thing for all of us that Mr. Mac came in one day to inform us that his young cousin Sam was coming to visit before he was called to war. If ever there was a fair-haired Prince Charming, that twenty-one year old soldier was it. It wasn't many days until Mrs. Mac noticed he was casting sheep's eyes at me, and she accused me on not discouraging him a bit. It was so romantic to be sending a handsome soldier boy off to war.

It was the rule then that each soldier was required to make his own tent, which must be eight feet, squared and stretched. Each evening soldiers and girls of Waco gathered to work on those tents. The men held the candles while the eager and thrilled girls plied needles to the course canvas. We were actually in a feverish contest to see which couple would finish their tent first. I was so proud when Sam and I finished first, and the others were gracious enough to admire my even stitches. (All thanks to Ruth, Mrs. Swank and Mrs. Mac, who allowed no sloppiness in needlework.)

In a few weeks the word came that these new recruits were to be shipped to Galveston. Sam, the McClellans and I were preparing to eat that farewell breakfast. Same was having trouble parting his hair and was grumbling about it so much that the Macs started laughing at him.

Mrs. Mac turned to me with, "Here, Angelina, you do it."

Not this girl! I'd been taught better than that by my Ruth. I laughed it off and kept on setting the table, but the truth was, I didn't want them to know my knees were shaking.

"Susan, you come do it. Miss Angelina is too lazy." Sam was using his most injured tone. Mrs. Mac frowned at me and said, "Don't be silly, child! Part his hair and let's get to breakfast."

While I was trying to control my trembling fingers, I was thinking, "I hope Ruth never hears about this. She had nothing but contempt for a forward girl."

Later in the day Sam said goodbye to everyone, and I hoped nobody saw him plant a hasty kiss on my cheek. It was just a peck that hit some where on my right cheek, but I knew it must be blazing red.

In February the report came to McClellans that Sam had been killed in action. These dear friends were so grief-stricken; they didn't know whether they were coming or going, and for the first time that I could remember I was homesick. I wanted to talk to Ruth; I wanted to see Pa and the boys. I was also very curious about the new place my folks had acquired on the Brazos River in Johnson County.

As soon as I saw that McClellans were getting over the shock and strain of losing poor Sam, I asked Mr. Mac if he would take me home. I guess it dawned on them that I had been grieving too, for they helped me get packed in a hurry and wished me good luck all the days of my life.

It was good to be with my folks again, good to see fair-sized house and fine crops growing. Best of all, it was good to talk to Ruth by the hour. When I wasn't talking an arm off her, I was following the boys and Pa so I could know every square foot of my new home. That is why I wasn't very long in discovering that our house was in a poor location. It shouldn't have been built a half mile back into the field. I couldn't wait to tell Pa that I had found a spring close to the front pasture. It was perfect spot for the house.

Pa was just half listening to me, but he did answer, "Yes, yes Angie. I've thought of that myself, and as soon as we catch up a little we'll move the house."

The days went by, and I could see Pa and the boys were just as busy as bees, but I did have the good sense not to grind Pa about moving the house. It just so happened, though that Pa and Pres had to be gone a week to haul salt from a salt lake. I watched them out of sight then turned to Ruth to announce, "I am going to move the house!"

"Jeanetta Angelina McCarty! It ain't enough for me to live in the midst of a cyclone most of the time. Here you go starting one all on your own!" Ruth actually threw up her hands and let me know she was washing her hands of the whole matter.

Well, she didn't say "yes" and she didn't say "no"; so I took it she would help, but her heart wouldn't be in it. When I talked to Melvin and Warwick, they were really excited. If a little squirt like Angie could tackle that job, two big hulks could certainly do their share. What's more, a great big neighbor boy evidently dropped by to see what I looked like, and my brothers enlisted him before he knew what hit him.

Now remember, we studied this job some hours before we made the first move. It contained two sixteen-foot rooms. Our first problem was to take off the roof, which was made of boards three feet long, which were laid on weight poles of logs. Each board, each log was placed carefully, for, of course, there was not a nail in the whole house.

I marked every board and log with indigo just as we took it off. I knew I must not make any mistake there. I had a real problem coming up, though. This house must be level, and it must be square. I went to talk to Ruth.

"When you're weaving, Ruthie, you lay twine strings of the same length diagonally across each other; then the sides are even. Why can't I do the same thing on this house using ropes." Ruth nodded her approval and came to help me.

Now for the leveling! It was a disgrace to have a slanting floor. We placed beer bottles nearly full of water at each corner of the house. We poured a drop of water in each bottle. If the bubble stayed in the center, that floor was level!

It took us four whole days to get this house up again. Ruth was nervous as a cat having kittens. I wasn't sleeping to well myself, but the boys were having the time of their lives.

The day was at hand when Pa and Pres would be coming in. We could see the wagon approaching very slowly, and we were all going to meet it. I made the boys promise to keep their mouths shut. I wanted to bread this news to Pa in my own way. Ruth sat in the doorway and watched us run down the road.

The minute we got to the wagon, Pa lifted me to the seat and gave me a peck on the cheek. He was all smiles until he looked up the road; then he roared in his loudest voice, "What's happened around here? Where's the house? Who did this?"

"I did it, Pa." I could hardly get it out; I was that nervous. Pa drove the horses as fast as he could breathing hard and bellowing in harshest tones what he thought about interfering women. He jumped from the wagon without greeting Ruth. He examined the house thoroughly as he roared, "Who plumbed it? Who squared it?"

I explained in a very meek voice just how I had done these. Pa turned then to put an arm around Ruth, and all of us about dropped dead when he said, "Angie, you're a wonderful girl!"

I ran around the other side of the house so nobody could see me bawling my eyes out. Pa had actually given me an out and out compliment and the shock was more than I could take.

I was soon to learn that we were in a district where there were the best kind of neighbors. In the very next field lived Mrs. Luch Jackson. She came to see us, so she said, to meet this daughter of the house. I loved her on sight, and she begged me to come see her when I had a few spare hours. I was inclined to think that the Good Lord had a hand in this meeting, for I was still upset about not getting to go to the seminary at Waco. Mrs. Lucy was just the kind of teacher I needed.

I found that she had just lost her husband in a flash flood, and of course I had to tell her all about my Sam. I felt we had much in common, and it was oh, so romantic! But Mrs. Lucy wasn't about to dwell on the loss of a loved one. She had so many things to show me. There was a real silver thimble, a whole set of china dishes, beautiful embroidered, pieces of tapestry, and rolls of silk and lace. I was in wonderland; I had never seen such beautiful things.

You may know I went down to Mrs. Lucy every day if I could, and she always had things for me to learn. She taught me to read the Psalms' she saw to it that I memorized the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes. I heard her read many Bible stories and interpret them in a way which might have pained the preachers of our time, and my Pa, Thomas McCarty, would have denounced them as femalish and new-fangled.

One day after Mrs. Lucy was fully convinced that I was one eager student, she suggested that it might be well if she corrected my speech and taught me to write. She also thought it would be profitable if we were to take up one point on etiquette daily.

I couldn't get home fast enough to tell Ruth of my daily lessons, and it was Ruth who absorbed everything like a sponge. She tole me when I was really grown up some years later, that she had to keep up with me or she would have lost all control over me. She could smile about it in later years, but she wasn't smiling now. I hope I made her job easier when I suddenly "got religion."

Brother Fleming was one of the circuit riders who traveled many weary miles on horseback to bring the word of God to our isolated settlements. On one of his visits through Johnson County, Pa decided to take the whole family to hear this preacher. It was an all-day meeting and was held under a grove of trees near Squaw Creek.

Brother Fleming read the story of Peter and Cornelius. "Then Peter opened his mouth and said, 'of truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons' but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him'"

The preacher was at the pleading stage of the service when he was asking people to come up front and declare themselves. "All those believing in God, all those wanting to feel His great love must confess their sins and be baptized."

I was sure I believed in God, but I didn't think I had big enough sins worth telling folks about. I wasn't objecting to a little water sprinkled on my head, but I didn't want to go up front all by myself. If somebody else would start, I'd be right behind them. Not another soul was in the mood that day. Then I listened to the preacher as he was getting wound up. "It's up to you, my brethren, whether you spend eternity in the bottomless pit of living fire, called Hell, or in the celestial real, called Heaven."

That made me defiant, and I was thinking to myself, "You are not going to scare me into this, Mister! Mrs. Lucy says that hell-fire, brimstone stuff is the wrong way to think about religion." Then the preacher looked saint-like as he raised his arms and sang out joyfully, "What a day that will be when His children gather around His golden throne. Don't you want to be one of that number?"

"Well, I certainly don't want to miss anything." I was really wrestling with myself, now. I was actually surprised when I found myself walking hurriedly up the way, and before I could turn and run, I was a new member of the Methodist Church, South. I've had no cause to regret that step, but Ruth said I really surprised my whole family.

It must have been just a few months after this camp meeting that tragedy hit the whole settlement. The Indians swooped down one night and left but a few horses in the whole district. Pa and Pres came in to tell us they had lost twenty head, but the bitter pill was that both Lady Jane and Polly Hopkins were in the herd that had been taken. Our people couldn't feel too sorry for themselves, though when the news came that the next settlement had worse disaster.

The Rangers had found the Indians, and there was a bloody battle costing the lives of five Rangers, but that wasn't all. Susan Dugan, her three children and her mother had been kidnapped by the marauders. The next report came in that Nancy Britt, a negro woman and her four children had been taken.

Word came in from friendly Indians that the Britts were being held for ransom. Jake Britt followed Comanches to Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where he was told what ransom the Indians were asking. The white people in two settlements helped him gather the demands made by Indians. These included ten ponies, ten sacks of flour, ten yards of calico and ten sacks of sugar.

Britt's family came home, but Susan Dugan didn't see her people for four years. You can bet Pa didn't have to be persuaded this time to get to the fort. Of course, the corn in our field was just ready for harvest; so Pa called all of us out to the field, and soon neighbors were out there helping, too.

Pa had to use oxen to draw the wagons, for the Indians had stolen all the work teams. When we came to the Brazos River, we found it a raging torrent due to rains up above. All the settlers waited nervously for the water to lower. In two days and a half, Pa and the men could tell that the water had lowered belly deep to a horses; so it was worth taking a chance.

Our big wagon was driven by Ruth. She took little Richard, Melvin, and Warwick in with her. That wagon held our household goods. We waited nervously, while Ruth went into the river and across to the other side without any trouble at all. Then Pa nodded to me. I was to drive five yoke of Oxen hitched to the wagon of precious corn. Pa and Pres, on horseback, tied roped at each side of the wagon and rode along pulling at the ropes to prevent the heavy wagon from sinking in the quicksand.

I slowed the oxen into that now sluggish stream and all went well until we were about half-way across. One of the "wheelers" balked and was being dragged by the rest of the oxen. I had to do something in one hurry to make that sullen oxen move. I reached back of the seat for the ramrod of Pa's gun, and I really punched that stubborn animal. He jumped like he's been shot, and in a moment we were safe on the other bank.

The next job was to get our little herd of cattle across. Pa and Pres had driven them mid-stream when a large pile of brush came floating down the river. That was all that was needed to make these nervous cattle start milling around in the water. We all knew they could all be drowned before our very eyes. I started unyoking one team of oxen, and Pres knew exactly what to do. He brought his pony to me and drove the oxen toward the cattle. Pres and I both yelling our heads off to attract the attention of the cattle. When Pres came along side the cattle, he wheeled the oxen slowly toward my wagon, and the crazy cattle, obedient to any leader in such a crisis, followed the oxen to safety. When Pres came up to me, he grinned and said, "You're sure a help, Sis." There is nothing like a big brother who appreciated you and it's nice enough to inform you of the fact.
 


Chapter 6

CHAPTER SIX
A KNIGHT COME RIDING


When we McCartys arrived at Fort Davis, we found that several other families had already found cabins in or near the fort walls, and of course there was a shortage of houses. Pa and Pres, with plenty of help from all of us had a crude cabin up very quickly, giving us a feeling of security because it stood just outside the fort wall.

I had the nicest surprise when I found my newest and best girl friend, Deborah Kane, was to be my next door neighbor. She was just my age, sweet sixteen, and we had the best times together. Ruth approved of this friendship, because she said Mrs. Kane and Deborah acted like perfect ladies.

While the women around the fort were trying to get their new homes in order, our men had a far harder task, for all their cattle and houses were turned out to range, and they had to watch over them constantly. They knew the Indians would come near the fort and even creep in at night to nibble at the edges of the herds, but Mr. Indian suddenly turned very cautious for riding into the fort came members of the Home Guard, who were to take over the defense problem.

You don't have to convince early settlers that this Texas Home Guard wrote indelible pages in history of the Lone Star State. We were and are grateful to these men, on the outposts of civilization, who took solemn oaths to protect and defend their people from Indians and outlaws. They kept these oaths at the sacrifice of many hundreds of their members.

You must remember that during the Civil War, all Confederate soldiers were taken out of Texas; then when the war was over, it was years before Union men were sent to man the forts. If it had not been for the Texas Home guard, the Indians would have finished off the settlers in one hurry.

These guards or "rangers" as we called them, were pleased and excited to see settlers rushing toward Fort Davis, for it meant that the Indians were closing in, and that would mean some action for them. When things quieted down, there would be time for get-togethers such as big picnics and dances.

Deborah and I were all atwitter, for we had noticed that Ellie Clark 's band of rangers were all good looking and mostly unmarried. No wonder the prospect of the first dance had us floating on air. The big night was at hand, and Deborah and I spent hours primping and giggling. Ruth tried to be patient with us, but finally had to come in and warn us, "Hurry up girls. Thomas is ready to go and, you know he can't wait for nobody. You're both pretty as pictures, and you can't improve it none by messin' with your hair."

Soon we were whirling from one partner to another to the strains of two fiddles and a guitar. It so happened that my partner of the moment finished our dance just in front of the musicians. I glanced over at them and clapped my hands, along with all the dancers. To show appreciation for the very good dance music and the excellent caller.

One fiddler, tall, dark and really handsome, smiled back at me as I stood within ten feet of him. I lower my eyelids discreetly; after all this man was a perfect stranger. I did notice out of the corner of my eye that the fiddler suddenly handed his fiddle to a new volunteer. Before the next set was ready, one of Pa's friend came up to me and said, "Miss Angelina this is Joe Browning. He's been pesterin' the life out o' me to be introduced to you, but I feel it me duty to warn you; he has hearts hanin' to his belt from girls all over west Texas!"

The heartbreaker bowed deeply and laughed heartily. Then he spoke in that warm southern drawl, "Don't you mind him, Miss McCarty; he's just jealous. I had to bribe him somethin' awful to get this introduction. Will you honor me with the next set?"

The next set happened to be a waltz, and I knew that fiddler had left instructions with the musicians before he came over to me. Joe Browning was a fast worker; he didn't intend to share this dance with anybody else.

We waltzed around the room once; then Joe said, "My! My! Miss McCarty, you're the best waltzer I ever danced with!"

"Have all the girls in the west heart that, Mr. Browning?"

I could see Joe blink, and then he burst out laughing. "Now, Miss McCarty, don't you listen to that skunk. He was just trying to plague me. I don't really know many girls in these parts, honest! Besides, you do dance very well."

I smiled up at him in my most lady like manner. "You are a nice dancer yourself."

I knew this was going to be an usually long waltz because I had seen Joe wink at the musicians as we passed by. He did know all the tricks. When we walked back to where Deborah was sitting, that southern drawl caused my heart to skip a beat. "Thank you for this dance, Miss... Angelina."

My eyes blazed up at this daring young man, but I cooled down immediately. I could see he was begging permission.

"You're quite welcome..."

"Joe," he prompted, but I just smiled, for Ruth had warned me often about these "forward" girls.

It wasn't very long after the dance until Pres came in to tell Ruth that the whole fort neighborhood was gossiping about Joe Browning sparking Miss Angelina McCarty. Pres and the Rangers were betting high stakes among themselves that Joe would or would not win out. There were those who said Thomas McCarty would hang Joe's scalp to his belt if he ever got on to the fact that Joe was hanging around.

Pres was having the best time bringing in all this gossip, and I had a feeling he was adding a lot of stories on his own just to tease me, but Ruth shut him up good; she knew I wasn't laughing. I was plain worried that Pa might take a dislike to Joe and tell me to send him scooting.

Joe was just twenty-two then, and I must say he was smart enough to play his hand carefully. It doesn't seem possible, but two whole years, when Joe could find time from cow-works and Indian fighting, he managed to come by to our house to visit. I was relieved when he made many of these calls when Pa wasn't home.

Ruth, bless her heart, watched this romance flower; so she had the good sense to welcome Joe and get to know him very well. I could see they were getting to be very good friends, and that made me enjoy Joe all the more.

It took him no time at all to win over Pres and the younger brothers, but when Pa found him around, Joe was a perfect stranger. Pa was polite to him, but never friendly.

One day Joe came by to find I had gone visiting; so he waited for my return. This was his chance to beg a little sympathy from Ruth. She told me later that he was mighty blue and discouraged, and he spoke some very plain words. "How much longer do you think I'm gonna have to hang around here, Mrs. McCarty? Seems to me I'm making no headway at all!"

"Now Joe! Haven't I told you! Don't crowd her and don't bed her either. She's a McCarty, you know. They're a strange breed."

"What's really wrong, Mrs. McCarty? Sometimes I'm just as sure as Angie love me, but she won't admit it."

"The truth is... she's afraid of what her Pa will do."

"You mean....she's really afraid of him?"

"Not real fear, like you men mean, but afraid of his opinion... whether you'll live up to his proud ways, or maybe what he'd say if he took a dislike to you. Thomas makes a lot of to-do about family stock."

"Well! Hell! I ask your pardon, ma'am, I forgot, but who does he think he is? My family can match his anytime, and I can prove it!"

"I know, Joe, it's just that Thomas, like any other father, doesn't think there is a man alive who is good enough to marry his daughter." Well, I'm havin' it out with Angie tonight. Either we get married this month or not at all! I've fooled around all I'm going to. She's eighteen in a couple of weeks, and she's old enough to make up her own mind. It's me or her Pa. She can decide that. I offered to go talk to her Pa a long time ago, but she made me promise I wouldn't approach him. Now, she can do it!"

Ruth said Joe dashed out the door, got on his horse and was out of sight in a minute. She could tell by the set of his straight back that he was seething. Something was going to pop.

He came back to our house just after supper and asked me to go for a walk outside the fort wall. It didn't take him very long to tell me, in no uncertain terms, what he thought of this one-sided romance. I just stared at him, and all of a sudden tears were rolling down my face, and I was rushing into his arms. "Joe, oh Joe! I thought you were never going to ask me again!"

"Well I'll be damned!" Said my flabbergasted southern gentleman as he leaned weakly against the fort wall for support.

The next morning I bustled around the house singing at the top of my voice. Ruth didn't have to be told that Joe and I had an understanding. Near noon when Pa was due for dinner, I quit singing and started worrying. I thought Pa would never come in sight.

Wasn't it strange that I was suddenly thinking of what one of my brothers said to the other, those many years ago, "When you're ready to go... go!" I was also remembering that Pa raised Cain when they left home, but they went on just the same. I was talking to myself now, "Maybe they were just as afraid as I am now, but they spoke their mind... just like I'm going to!"

I met Pa quite away from the house and asked him to rest under the shade of a tree for a minute, for I wanted to tell him something. I had made up my mind and I was going to get everything said before he could start talking or arguing. Yes, I remember very well exactly what I said. After all, I'd been rehearsing most of the morning.

"Pa, I want to tell you that Joe and I want to get married. He wanted to come to you to ask for my hand, but I asked him not to, for I wanted to tell you in my own way."

"I know you don't know much of anything about Joe's people, but old man Anderson at Waco has known the Brownings all his life. You go see him and find out about Joe... and Pa, if he hasn't the right kind of family I .... I promise I won't marry him."

I looked Pa right in the eye, and He looked right through me for the longest minute; then he said, "I'll go tomorrow. Is dinner ready?"

Pa was up and on his way to Waco by day break that next morning, but he wasn't out of sight until I was moaning to Ruth, "I'm sorry I made that promise to Pa. What if Joe's folks are trash? I's not marry them; I'm marrying Joe!"

"Now, Angie. That's no way to talk. You've no cause to worry; Joe's folks are all right. I can tell you that. Goodness knows, I oughta know about them; I've plied him with questions for over two years!"

I found out from Ruth later when Pa arrived at Waco and hunted up Mr. Anderson, it didn't take him long to realize he had come to the right man. Not only did Mr. Anderson know all the Brownings, but he was mighty proud of the opportunity to talk about these old friends.

Pa found out that my Joe, was really Joseph Alansing, was the son of Frederick Browning, a wealthy plantation owner of North Carolina. His mother was Mary Lucas Burke of a distinguished family of Georgia.

Joe's father died some years before the Civil War, but there were four sons to carry on the Browning name. Some years later, Joe's mother married a Mr. Stegall. Joe was fifteen at the time and he decided it was about time for him to be moving out. It just happened that an aunt and uncle were moving west, and Joe asked to travel with them. He had one idea, and that was to become a real cowboy.

He got a job with Bob Sloan, and that paid him twenty dollars a month during that first summer. In the fall Mr. Anderson said he encouraged Joe to join the Texas Rangers, and that's when his salary raised to five more dollars a month. It was Sull Ross and his forty Rangers who needed a horse-wrangler; so young Joe started at the bottom job and was mighty glad to get it.

It was this Sull Ross and his men who finally killed the infamous Indian chief, Pete Nacoma. This was the chief who twenty-five years before had captured a little white girl, Cynthia Ann Parker. She was nine years old. When she was of suitable age, the chief made her his wife, and she bore him three children.

As Mr. Anderson explained to Pa, this didn't make white people very happy, and any Ranger would have given his eye teeth to get a shot at Pete Nacoma. It was Ross who killed him in one of the bloodiest battles in the war with the prairie Indians.

Joe told Mr. Anderson that when Ross and his Rangers rode into the Indian camp after battle, a squaw held her baby above her head and cried, "Don't shoot! Me Cynthia Ann Parker."

On the way home young Joe, the lowly horse wrangler, got to ride along and talk with Cynthia Ann. He said she looked like any other squaw, all brown from sun burn, but her eyes betrayed her. They were bluer that the sky above.

She was a real Indian mother, though. Her baby had been crying the whole trip, but when she and Joe came to a creek full of water, Cynthia Ann took her little papoose out of his bag and ducked him in the cold water. That baby quit bawling right now!

Joe stayed with Ross a few months, then asked to be transferred to Ellie Clark's band, and he had been riding the Texas range ever since.

Mr. Anderson concluded with his report with, "Joe's a good shot, good company and a good worker. Sometimes I think he's too good-natured for his own good. He'd give you his best horse and throw in the bridle to boot.

"Joe's accumulated a nice herd of cattle and some pretty good horses. I guess that's about all I can tell you except all my people were powerfully fond of Frederick Browning, and we sure like his son Joe a lot, maybe because he looked just like his father with that black hair and the honest-to-God green eyes."

Pa couldn't have been gone more than a couple of three days, but as far as I was concerned, it was months and months. When he did come in sight, Ruth suggested that we stay in the house and go on with our knitting and give him his own sweet time to tell us what he had leaned. We both knew there was no use trying to rush Pa' he'd keep us on a hot skillet as long as he could.

Pres and the boys came in from the field to greet Pa. He gave strict attention to each one, then led them into the house where he came over to Ruth to kiss her with unusual ardor, then turned to me as if he was asking the time of day and said casually, "When's the wedding, Angie."

On the twenty-fifth of January, 1865, the people of Fort Davis and the neighboring forts were invited to our wedding. Of course it was a glorious affair. Folks were glad enough for any excuse to get together, and a wedding was the best excuse in the world. What if we did have snow on the ground, and it was cold enough to freeze your bones solid! The men built a big brush fire in our yard, and those who couldn't get in the house could stand around the fire in perfect comfort.

There were thirty gallons of molasses boiling in a washtub so the children could have all the candy they could eat. There were cakes and pies all the coffee the grownups could want. My friend Deborah and a whole slew of young people served that crowd until daybreak.

We decided the last minute to have ceremony preformed in the yard so everybody could see. Just at eight o'clock Pa signaled for me to come out the door. I hope I was as pretty as I felt in my new white swiss dress with long, flowing sleeves, basque waist, and full skirt with tiny tucks from the waist to the knee. Joseph Alansing Browning was very handsome in homespun.

While firelight cast a rosy glow over the whole scene, Probate Judge Gadis E. Miller pronounced us man and wife. Everybody rushed toward us to shake hands or hug and kiss us, but I remember one old with-looking granny, who wheezed as she cackled, "Land sakes, Angie, you sure look purty tonight, but I hate to think what you'll look like a year from now! "
 


Chapter 7

CHAPTER SEVEN
ENTER MRS. JAB


The old west that my people knew is gone, and with it are the old brands and earmarks. Once in a while I can find a son or a grandson of a west Texas pioneer who can identify or even draw these strange markings of ownership.

The most hated brand among cowmen is gone. That long arrow extending from shoulder to hip on a horse proved that the owner was an Indian. The slit ears, which infuriated any horseman, are also gone. A "four-eared" was positive proof that a redskin rode him.

Some beloved old brands are also gone, including John R. Bailor, the PEP of the great Pepper Ranch; the JS of the famous Sillman ranch, but the JAB brand and earmark still lives, though it is far removed from the Texas range where it was first coined from the initials of Joseph Alansing Browning.

Joe was just like a little boy showing me his toys when he took me out to show me his herd of cattle bearing his brand. He explained that there were only seven hundred head, which I gathered was a modest herd in his language, but it seemed to me that I had unknowingly married a man of means.

Always the tease, Joe explained that the reason he was so anxious to have me marry him so he wouldn't have to carry two brands, for we had the same initials. "Jeanetta Angelina Browning, you are Mrs. JAB now, and I hope I can plant that brand on a thousand head of cattle for you some of these days."

I felt that my new husband had just placed a mantle of purest gold around my shoulders and decked my coal-black hair with a crown of jewels, for nowhere in the whole world was there a more beautiful brand. This was placed on the left side of the cattle, not so large that it seemed showy, yet big enough to be identified with ease. The earmark was a little more difficult for me to master, but it wasn't long until a head bobbing out of a head with under crop the left ear and half crop the right told me that was Mrs. JAB's calf. I was so proud!

Now it was time for us to get settled in our own home. Joe had already looked over the newly evacuated fort, Camp Cooper. The surrounding range was in good condition, and there was plenty of water. That seemed Ideal for the seven hundred head of cattle and twelve horses. Joe asked me to inspect several of the small rock houses which were built around the large ammunition house. I thought the second one on the right was just the house for the Brownings.

While Joe was busy gathering his cattle and "throwing" them south to this new range, I had myself a good time putting my new home in order. Joe had bought a Seth Thomas clock, a bedstead with home made cords for slats, a four raw-bottomed chars of elm and pecan wood, but the prize was a little trunk. It was all of a yard long and maybe half a yard high, but such a pretty little thing to place near a window so everybody could admire it.

Pa and Ruth gave us six tin plates, six wooden-handled knives and forks, a skillet, four quilts, two blankets and a feather mattress.

I walked all over that fort gathering discarded canteens. They were just perfect to melt and shape into extra dishes. I was lucky enough to find at least a dozen quart beer bottles that hadn't been nicked or cracked. I got a whole set of glasses from these by breaking the neck off the bottles very carefully. You take a good stout string and dip it in turpentine; then you rub the string across the bottle where you want the top to be.

Now, mind, you have to rub hard, and every now and then you pour water on that hot string. Before you know it, the top of the bottle will fall off, and the glass will be left with a smooth even edge.

I was busy at this one day when Joe came in laughingly remarked, "You made me all tuckered out just watching you, Angie. Don't you ever stop working?"

He was teasing, as usual, but I was in dead earnest when I answered, "I have to keep busy, Joe; I'm the restless kind."

What my new husband didn't know was that I was heeding Ruth's advice given to me just a few days before I was a bride. You must remember in those days women, even women as close and congenial as Ruth and I talked little of marriage and less of marriage relations. After all, pure young maidens couldn't be told things they hadn't yet experienced. It wasn't decent for married women to talk to future brides; it just was not decent. But ever since I could remember, Ruth had always given me an answer when I asked her a question.

I guess I was bragging a little when I remarked to Ruth, "You know Ruthie, my marriage is going to be different. I am only going to have one, and I want to keep it as exciting and interesting as it seems to me right now!"

Ruth just smiled at me, and her face took on that patient look which was louder than any words. You could see she was saying. "Oh, I'll just let this scatter-brain rattle on. She'll run down sometime." That was all the encouragement I needed.

"Now that I'm grown and in love, I know a lot about you and Pa that I never realized before. I know now that you are the only woman Pa ever really loved, and I know why. It's because you understand him better than anybody else, just like Joe understands me."

"I want you to know, Ruth, that I don't have to be told that Pa has been hard to live with at times, but I know why... he's so restless, and I take after him; I'm restless too.... and if you want to know the truth, that's what worried me a little."

"Angie, girl, I been meanin' to have a talk with you for several days. This is as good a time as any. One thing you got to get straight in your head --- a woman can't live in this world like a man. Women can't act like men or think like ‘em, or the world would just blow up into little bits, and it wouldn't take long for it to happen."

"You and your Pa are a lot alike, Angie, more alike than you can ever imagine, but you can't do things the way he does. A man might get away with it but a woman would only destroy herself. I want you to remember that, Angie."

"You know yourself, and you think there is nothin' too big for you to tackle. I know you could do it and do it well, but Angie, women can't afford to be too smart. That's what you are, and it's going to cause you a heap of trouble if you don't watch out. You got to lean on your husband, to depend on him and let him know you’re leaning and depending."

"You are right, Angie, you're both restless, and maybe there is no cure for it, but you can keep busy and pretty soon you do find more contentment. When you feel these spells comin' on, get up and do something. No use just settin'; get up and move!"

I was just setting drinking in every word my Ruthie was saying. Actually, she wasn't a very talkative woman, and I guess I was a little surprised to hear her actually preaching to me, pointing out things I had never even thought of. Then she really did turn preacher on me.

"Now, Angie, you joined the church, and I was right proud of you for doing it, but joining is a long ways from getting the religion a woman needs. You got to have it as a sort of guide or leaning post when the going gets tough, and you have to travel over some mighty rough roads. Maybe it's religion that makes a woman have such faith in her man. Anyway, it seems all kinda mixed up together, somehow or another. The thing I'm trying to say to you, Angie, is that I want you to keep your Bible handy and learn to read it as much as your Pa does. It's helped him a lot, and I know it can do the same for you."

Ruth had had her say and she was ready to get back to her weaving but I had some other things on my mind; so I plunged in.

"Ruthie, I guess I ought to be ashamed to mention it, but honest, I'm scared stiff of my first married night!"

I knew then, and I know now, if only a hole had opened in that nice clean cabin floor, Ruth would have thanked her God and disappeared willingly, but she was trapped. She turned a little white, but after a long minute she spoke very softly, "I'm sorry to hear you say that, Angie. There's nothin' to be afraid of. Just look at all the men and women who have been married, and they got through that first night all right. Don't let that fret you. Joe's a good boy, and thats what counts."

I saw Ruth had recovered from one shock; so I thought I might as well try her out again. "Here's another thing, Ruthie. I don't want to start right off and have babies every year. I like babies, but I don't see any need to have a dozen to prove it. You know what I have a mind to do....I think I'll get some cotton or soft wool and stuff it ‘way inside of me' then maybe I could have my babies just when I want them."

Goodness gracious. I had really upset ruth. I couldn't tell whether she was just plain mad or scared pea green. Did she ever light into me!

"Angie McCarty, you listen to me and listen good. Don't you ever try a thing like that! You crazy young'un, you'd get cotton rammed clean to your stomach and it could kill you! If you don't want to have babies, you're not old enough to be married, and you better be tellin' Joe right now! Babies is part of this bargain..... whether you like it or not' so you better make up your mind!"

"Heavenly days, Ruthie! Don't get so het up! I want babies all right, all right, but I don't want twelve or thirteen.... and I'm gonna do something about it.... you just wait and see!"

"Well, I can't help you there. Seems the Lord is the only one that has any say, and I can't figure him out in this matter. Now come on, Angie let's get busy. When you start talking, you never seem to know when to stop."

I was determined to heed Ruth's warning about this restlessness. At first I could find dozens of things that had to be done to make our new home comfortable, but after a bit I found I was through with my housework by mid morning. That's when I begged Joe to let me ride with him as he rode among his herd. Joe was so pleased to have me around, and the days flew by. After supper I always took Joe's fiddle off its peg on the wall and asked him to play for me. Joe actually relieved to find I had a good ear for music and could stay on key. I heard him bragging while he chuckled, "When Angie really gets into a song, you can hear her a mile away, if the wind's blown' in the right direction."

We had been married just four short months when Joe and I looked out the door in the late afternoon to see a caravan approaching. It did not take us long to find we were going to have five families moving into Camp Cooper. There were the two Hitson families, Dalla Wilder, and joy of joys, my own Ruth and Pa and my five brothers, Pres, Melvin, Warwick, Bill and Dick. But the big surprise came when we found Marion and Geriah and their two little children brought up the rear wagon of the caravan.

Such back-slapping, hand shaking and hugging you never saw! You'd thought we hadn't seen each other for ten years. I just said it right out loud. "We're so glad to see all of you!"

Ruth hugged me hard and turned laughingly to Pa with "See! She's tired of Joe already!"

Joe felt just like I did. Our honeymoon had been perfect, and all you couples should have ‘em so they can get used to each other, but women need women folks and men need men folks; then you couples can appreciate each other that much more.

Now that the Civil War was over, we took for granted that the forts would be manned in a short time, but here was Camp Cooper without a single soldier. However, Camp David wasn't so far away, and it was getting to look like a strong hold-- not that we were expecting to need help from these soldiers. After all, it had been many months since we had seen or heard of an Indian. Why can't people smell trouble coming?

We had just settled down to a peaceful little community, and one month went by; then our men in camp arose early as usual to wrangle horses to find they had visitors during the night. Many of the horses were gone. My Joe rounded up his herd to find he had just four horses left. He was the leader of the men who went out to hunt the Indians.

As the men traveled north, they came to a deserted freight wagon and discovered the freighter, Phil Randall, had been killed by the Indians. Joe and Bill Hitson buried the freighter by the side of the road; then Joe took a kitchen knife from the wagon and scratched "Randall" on a sand stone and placed it at the head of the grave. We have been told that the stone remains there today, and though worn and faded by weather, it is still plain to read.

Our men rode on until late afternoon; then Joe realized the Indians had too good a start to ever catch up so he persuaded the others to come on in home. There wasn't any laughing or teasing around our house that day.

The very next day John and Bill Hitson and John's little son Jess, who was just ten years old, Jim Wilson, a fourteen year old negro boy who had attached himself to Hitsons, and my brother Preston decided to round up part of their herds and brand calves. When noontime came they found a shady spot under some huckleberry bushes and decided they would eat a bite and then stretch out for a little rest. The Hitsons had dozed off for a minute, but Pres and the negro boy looked up to find a band of Indians closing in on them. The negro boy's yell brought everybody to their feet, and John Hitson took one look and gave a quick order to Preston, "Quick, Pres! Get to your horse and hit for camp. You can outrun any Indian you ever saw. We'll shoot ‘em off until you get goin', and you hurry back with all the men you can gather. We are goin' to need ‘em bad!"

My Pres never hesitated a minute, but ran his horse through the only opening in the slowly closing circle of redskins. The men said later, as Pres dashed through, five Indians turned to follow him, while arrows darted all around him. Pres never looked back once.

He raced towards the clear forks on the Brazos to find the heavy rains above had again filled the river from Bank to bank. There was no time to wait; Pres guided his horse carefully, letting him swim with the current. Two Indians plunged after Pres, but they saw their horses were being washed too far downstream; so they got back in a hurry to the companions waiting on the bank.

Pres knew he was safe now, but he had a mile and a half to race to the fort. Nobody had to tell him that he had to win this race.

I happened to be standing in the door of Ruth's house when I saw Pres dash though the fort gate. He was yelling his head off, "Where's the men, Angie? Indian! John and Bill can't hold ‘em off long."

I told him as fast as I could that Pa was the only man left in the fort; the others were out hunting.

"Go find Pa!" Bad news does spread fast, and in just a few minutes Pa and all the women were gathered around Pres to hear this dreadful news. Pres said that the last glance he had told him the negro boy had been killed while he tried to mount his horse. We found out later that the poor boy tried to pick up his straw hat that had blown off his head. That all hurt us because we all knew how proud he was of that hat.

Pres said he was afraid young Jess's horse had been killed and that John Hitson was trying to get the boy up behind him. His voice trembled when he said, "I guess the Injuns got them all by this time. There wuz just too many Injuns."

"How many Indians are there, Son?" asked Pa.

"About seventy-five, I guess."

Pa turned to the group and calmly, "Come, folks. We must prepare for an attack. These Indians are going to be awful brave with that many of them. Gather all the pitchforks and guns you have and bring them to the ammunition house. Fill all you buckets and pans with water and bring ‘em in a hurry."

We were all working feverishly, and in an hour we were gathered in the large center house and had bolted the door. We were ready. We had plenty of pitchforks to throw off burning shingles if the Indians set fire to the roof. Every gun was loaded. All we had to do is wait for the attack.

About five o'clock Pa saw Joe, Marion and the boys riding leisurely into the fort gate, absolutely unconscious of the excitement all around them. I ran past Pa and stood waiting for Joe to get off his horse. I must have been white-faced, for he rushed over to me with, "What's happened, Angie?"

"I thought you had run into Indians, too."

"Indian! Whata you mean, Indians?" But for once in my life I couldn't get my tongue untangled, and it took Pa to tell my men what had happened.

Joe didn't hesitate a minute. "Come on Marion, we've got to get to fort Davis and get some soldiers. The Indians won't cross that high water yet." We just stood there watching them go until Pa said sternly, "Let's get back inside."

Now we were to wait the hours out wondering how soon the Brazos would run down so the Indians would cross it.

In meantime Bill Hitson, with a muzzle-loading rifle, and John Hitson, with a cap and ball six-shooter, were attempting to defend themselves. They dared not shoot their guns in open range since dozen of arrows would find them before they could re-load. They had to get to a nearby bluff for protection; so John yelled, "Get to that bluff while I hold them off for a minute."

He raised his gun and took aim, and the Indians, knowing these shooting-fire weapons, rode slowly and cautiously while the gun was raised. The next minute John turned to follow his companions, and arrows rained down on all sides. It was at this time that young Jess's horse was arrowed from under him and the poor negro boy, trying to recover his hat, killed.

John Hitson saw Jess was in serious trouble and rushed to drag him back off his saddle. An arrow grazed John's leg just above the ankle, but he had no time to think about that. Bill Hitson paused for a moment to see if his brother and nephew were going to make it to the bluff when an arrow landed in his thigh and pinned him to his saddle. He did manage to get to the bluff, and in a moment John and Jess ran to him. John stood guard while Bill cut the feathered end of the arrow as near to his leg as possible then raised himself up and eased the leg off the arrow, leaving the poisoned dart standing upright in his saddle.

The Indians would not draw closer than fifty yards from the face of the bluff, but clambered quickly above and rolled rocks and threw spears at the horses until one pony fell dead and the other was pitifully wounded. One rock bounced on John's gun, causing it to fire. Those were anxious moments until he could get that clumsy weapon re-loaded.

An hour passed, and both wounded men complained of being thirsty. Little Jess lay on the ground and listened carefully. He believed he could hear water trickling in the gully to the right. This little ten-year-old took a cap box (about the size of a modern vanity case) and crawled on his stomach toward that pleasant sound. Sure enough, a small spring flowed from the bank. Jess filled his cap box and crept to his father with the precious water. He repeated this trip at least a down times so his father and uncle could quench agonizing thirst.

Finally the sun did go down, and kindly darkness hovered over them. The Indians pulled away headed south. They must have figured out that Pres would bring men as soon as he could, and their mood for battle was over. Indians never fought after dark if they could help it.

The moon came out just as the last wounded horse lay down quietly and breathed his last. The hours drugged on, and at four o'clock the moon went down. That's when Bill Hitson decided they'd better try to get to the fort. Jess could help them, and the fort was only three miles away. Within the fort I sat by Pa and strained my ears to hear any strange sound. Once I heard a faint call, and I grabbed Pa's arm and whispered, "Listen, Pa! I hear Indians!"

Pa strained to listen. After a long pause we heard that call again, and Pa jumped to his feet shouting, "That's not Indians! That's the Hitson s!"

The women screamed and ran to the door. There stood their men--wounded to be sure, but very much alive. Mary Hitson fell into her husband's arms, and I grabbed him around the knees. Everybody was covered with blood, but the blood would wash off.

"You're yelling like a bunch of crazy people," laughed Pa. "Wait a minute. I think I hear soldiers comin'." Sure enough, Joe and Marion and sixty soldiers raced into the gate. Now, you never saw a better celebration.

When daylight came, the mounted soldiers spent the morning going over the ground that the three Hitson s had traveled so painfully on foot the few hours before. None of them nor any of us had to be told how brave these Hitson s were. It was no surprise, after Bill had moved to Colorado sometime later, to hear that he was a famous pioneer of those parts. A number of us, well up in years, visited the museum in Denver where Bill Hitson's picture greeted us. It was good to look at a likeness of a dear old friend.

When the soldiers had finished their inspection, the Captain called all our men together and suggested that the whole camp move back to Fort Davis, where soldiers would be stationed for an indefinite time.

There was no argument from anyone after this trying experience.

 


Chapter 8

CHAPTER EIGHT
MRS. JAB, THE MOTHER


It was lucky for us this time that Fort Davis afforded enough houses for this group from Camp Cooper, and in a short time we were settled in our respective homes and the horrors of the Indian attack were soon forgotten.

Pa and Ruth lingered with us for a few days, then told us they were on their way to Fort Worth to make a new home. It was about five months later that Joe suggested we pay them a visit. I was so thankful that he suggested this, for I needed to visit with my Ruth. I knew it would be about four months until my baby was due, and I needed advice and comfort from my very good friend. You know, I wouldn't have dreamed of saying anything to my men folks. Gracious, no! Bother them with such trifles! Besides, it would embarrassed them to death.

It was nice, though, to be the center of attention on this visit. Of course Pa and the boys would never have mentioned that they knew I was pregnant, but they were just more attentive, and did little things to please me. I was mighty glad, though, that I had Ruth as a solid rock to lean on. I told her so.

"Honestly, Ruthie! You must be one woman in a thousand. Here I've had my wits scared out of me by all the talk the women give me at the first, and now you come along and make havin' a baby as easy as walking down the road."

We visited for a month; then Joe announced that it was time to go home, as Marion was probably worked down taking care of two bunches of cattle. When I started to get into the wagon, to my horror and disgust I burst out crying. "Oh, please excuse me! I'm such a little fool. I didn't mean to cry."

Joe came over and put his arm around me. "You're just nervous, Honey. I know I am, myself, a little. Don't you think it would be nice for Pa and Ruth to go home with us for a visit?" I looked over at Pa to find him gazing far out in the fields. He was having no part of this discussion. Ruth winked at Joe and went in to start packing. Pa went to the corral to hitch up his team, when we're in our wagon, Joe started chuckling to himself, and then he let forth with, "That Ruth! She sure knows your Pa!"

On our way home we stopped at Weatherford, where I bought the necessary things for our new baby. There was white Canton flannel to make shirts and gowns, red flannel for petticoats, and calico for dresses especially calico with tiny blue dots in it.

As soon as we were home, Ruth and I spent every sparing minute knitting woolen shawls and stockings. When my time was at hand, Joe went after the best midwife at the fort, who charged us thirty dollars in wool. She delivered a little baby girl who was named Diane.

I would have been up on the third day, but Ruth demanded that I stay in bed a whole week. Naturally, all the Camp flocked in to see this new baby. They thought she was the prettiest baby around, but one elderly grandmother had to take us down a notch or two when she peered at little Diane and commented, "She looks normal to me--maybe a mite to little, but I guess you warn't so big yourself, were you, Angie?"

Since there were several women around, this old blatherskite felt she had to deep the center of the state. "One's nice, Honey, and you'd love a dozen, but women oughter not have to bear them all. I guess you-all have heard the story my Ma said her Ma told her. She said if men had to bear half the young'uns in the world, there'd be just three in every family. The man, te be perlite, would allow woman to have the first one; then he'd have the second; then it would be the woman's turn again, and that would settle it. No man on earth would go through such a thing twice."

Old granny laughed the loudest at her story, and the rest of the women laughed politely at this old saw which most of them had heard a hundred times. I grinned with the rest, but I was really thinking, "Crazy old goose! Makin' so much to-do about havin' babies. Why, babies are nice....actually the nicest creatures in the world!"

When Diane was nine months old, Joe and Pa decided that Indians had quieted down enough for them to try their luck in Miller valley which lay west of Fort Griffin.

I wasn't paying too much attention to their plans these days for I had some news of my own that I could only share with Ruth.

"Ruthie, I'm in a family way again."

"Well, Angie, you can have your family close together, and then the young'us will be up and out of the way in a little while."

"Oh, Ruthie! I'd have no more back bone than a rope if you didn't give me courage. What'll I ever do without you!"

"Well, I'm right here, Honey. Now, let's get ourselves moved and settled so you can rest a lot before this next baby is due."

About the time my second baby was due, Joe received word that his mother and stepfather, Mr. Stegall, had moved into Cooke County, Texas. This was the first time I saw Joe really restless, and he talked constantly about his boyhood days. One day I asked just as innocently as I could, "How far is Cooke County from here, Joe?"

"About a hundred and fifty miles, straight through."

"How long would it take you to ride that?"

"Silver could make it in sixteen hours, I reckon."

"Pa and Ruth are coming over tomorrow; why don't you go see your mother?"

Joe's green eyes said plain enough, "I love you for that," but a minute later he remarked, "Suppose you have my boy before I get back?"

"Gracious sakes! I don't expect you to be gone all winter! You better get started right away and you do hurry back. I keep thinking how anxious your Ma must be to see you after all these years."

Don't you think, sometimes, all women enjoy being martyrs? I was certainly feeling noble until I saw Joe ride out of sight; then I could have bawled my eyes out, but I wasn't going to let Ruth and Pa see any red eyes on me, and what's more, when they came, I made it very plain that I had forced Joe to go see his mother, and he would be back in less than a week.

I remember Ruth's impish grin when she said, "That's fine, Angie. You're going to have company for a week. How do you like that?"

When Joe returned home, he brought his seventeen year old brother, Jim Browning, with him. Jim told me later that Joe talked about his Angie all the way home. He vowed his wife was the prettiest gal in west Texas, and all that stuff and nonsense. Just think how Jim felt when he saw me the first time, heavy with child and weary of waiting. But I looked at this tall, rawboned farmer boy and thought he was no bargain himself. His pants were much too short and were held up by one suspender. He did have a nice smile, though.

I wasn't permitted to peer into the future and know that the time would come when I would be so very proud of this country hick who lived with us for seven years.

Jim Browning became one of the fine lawyers of Texas, a member of the state legislature, Judge of Forty-seventh Judicial District, a Regent of the state university, and Lieutenant Governor for two terms.

Just at this moment, though, he was trying to cover his embarrassment at meeting all these strangers, while I was gritting my teeth and trying to look pleasant, fully aware that the first pains has started.

When the second girl was born, our little Della, I felt a little put out. After all, I had asked for a boy, and if you went to all this trouble to have them, seemed to me you out to get your choice. To Joe's undying credit, he never showed the least disappointment, and Ruth and I could have hugged him for that. Little Della was one of his favorites all the days of her father's life.
 


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