Lincoln County New Mexico
Genealogy and History

 
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EARLY LINCOLN COUNTY FAMILIES
MRS. JAB

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BY WANDA BROWNING FALK
 the daughter of
Jack Browning and Hettie Belle McNatt
from interviews and stories as told by Jeanette Angela Browning, covering the time period of 1802 through 1931.

Wanda was born 1902 in New Mexico - died 1986 in Arizona - wife of Clarance G. Falk
 

Transcribed and submitted by Mary Lafferty Wilson
All Photos: From personal family collection of submitter, to be used for personal family research only and not to be use for profit or added to any other website without authorization of submitter.

Table Of Contents 

Foreward
Chapter 1 - Early Childhood
Chapter 2 - Growing Pains
Chapter 3 - Looking Farther West
Chapter 4 - So This Is Texas
Chapter 5 - The Young Lady, Angelina
Chapter 6 - A Knight Come Riding
Chapter 7 - Enter Mrs. JAB
Chapter 8 - Mrs. JAB, The Mother
Chapter 9 - Two Good Men With Guns
Chapter 10 - The JAB Ranch
Chapter 11 - The Only Way Is Up
Chapter 12 - Ways And Means
Chapter 13 - Don't Fence Me In
Chapter 14 - Mrs. JAB In New Mexico
Chapter 15 - Some Happy Times and Some Not So Happy
Chapter 16 - Danger Signals
Chapter 17 - These Changing Times
Chapter 18 - I'd Rather Be Dead
Chapter 19 - The JABS As City Folks
Chapter 20 - Every Year Gets Shorter
Epilogue and Addendum
Index
Timeline





Mrs. JAB Quilt
Presented to W. C. Browning
on December 25th, 1899

Mrs. JAB Biography of a True Pioneer Woman

Everybody loved to hear my Grandma Angelna's stories of pioneer days in Missouri, Texas, and New Mexico. We children always begged for stories of the Indians, the cowboys and the trailblazers. We knew her stories so well we could prompt her when her throat was tired or she happened to sneeze.

We all adored this tiny lady, who stood five feet two inches tall and weighed all of a hundred pounds. She could spin such good yarns and tell the best jokes and sing the happiest songs. It never dawned on any of us that she had suffered a living hell for twenty years.

I was seven years old when Grandma Angelina (my father's mother) came to our home in Roswell, New Mexico. My mother warned me that grandma was very ill, and that the doctor would be coming to our house often. We were not to be noisy, and above, all we were to be very kind to Grandma.
 
Not until I was twelve years old did my parents tell me the horrifying truth about the Grandma's illness, but my the time she was in good health, the curse had been lifted, and I looked forward to her visits. I do remember feeling embarrassed when I saw her for the first time after my parents confession, but her ready smile, her good humor and sincere interest won me again.

When I was older and a bit wiser, I realized that I could honestly say my grandmother was a heroine of the first order, and I was determined that some day I would get to tell her story. One night I interviewed Grandma Angelina for twenty years, jotting down certain important dates, gathering the few pictures available, and using the favorite stores when I had English compositions due at school.

When I was married and had two children of my own, it came to me suddenly, that Grandma and I had better get together to finish this story of her life. After all she was past eighty.

In 1929 we invited her to our home in Tucson, Arizona and we set to work. She went over all my notes, checked our history books, gathered, family pictures and reviewed my favorite stories. This meeting had to be different than all other. There were some important questions I was to ask, and I was to receive some very candid answers.

When we finished this last long interview, Grandmother Angelina remarked good humoredly," I feel naked as a jay-bird."


Chapter 1

CHAPTER ONE
EARLY CHILDHOOD

When you are up in years as I am, folks are likely to ask, "Grandma what is the first thing you can remember?"

Gracious me! How far back can a child remember? We hear something told over and over again by older members of our family, and we aren't sure whether we really remember or not. Anyway, I do not remember some things that happened when I was close to three years old.

It was 1849 and we were living on the White River in Southern Missouri. We were at the supper table when my brother Allen (just turned eighteen) announced that he was going to join the gold hunters in California. He said a caravan from our colony would be leaving in ten days. 

I was heart-broken, for Allen was my oldest brother who took mighty good care of me. I remember bursting into tears and yelling "Don't leave me, Allen! Don't leave me!" and my Pa hushing me in one hurry by demanding, "Dry your tears, Angie, or leave the table."

My mother looked very sad, and my Pa looked as sour as green apples, but my other five brothers went hog -wild with excitement and talked of nothing else for the next ten days.

I remember the big girls in the settlement bringing tree branches to put on the wheels of the wagons and gathering wild flowers to hang around the oxen's necks.

The morning the caravan was to move out, Allen came to me with a package, and he said, "Angie, this is for a big girl who never cries." I opened the package and there were two pretty side combs and a pair of knitting needles. I looked over my mother and she had the identical presents. I was prouder than a peacock, and I did try not to cry, but when the teams started up the tears rolled down my cheeks; but at least I didn't make any noise or fuss, and I just hoped Allen was to far away to see my tears.

The part I didn't know about until years later, when my brother Preston told me, was that Allen had had a real argument with Pa that evening when he first announced his plans. It seems that Ma and all the boys were some surprised that Allan had the grit to cross Pa and actually make a move to leave the nest.

Pres said he would never forget that evening as long as he lived. After supper, Allen and Pa sat down under the big tee to the right of our door. Pres and John didn't dare go near the tree (John was sixteen and Pres nine). They sat out to the side of the house and stretched their ears to listen. They were to scared to move and to interested to keep whittling, which was what they were supposed to be doing.
 
Pres said it was like two big bulls eyeing each other. That's a good likeness, come to think about it, for both Pa and Allen were big men. Both were over six feet, but Pa filled out all over and weighed a lot more. Some neighbors said that my father, Thomas McCarty, was a brawny, friendly happy Irishman, but others call him hard-bargaining, strait-laced, tight-lipped Scotchman. All agreed that Allen was the "spittin' image" of his Pa; and they were mighty good- looking men with dark curls and Irish blue eyes.

Pres said Pa seemed calm and peaceful enough when he asked Allen about this uproar in California, and Allen answered him cool as a cucumber.

"Pa, it is rumored that gold has been found in Californy that a man can grow rich in a day by simply picking up rocks on top o' the ground."

Allen was heating up a little. "Charles Lucas brought word from the east that President Polk vowed this was no rumor. There is gold there, all right! Plenty of it!"

Then every rakshell in the country will be headed west by sun-up. You're to young for such a trip among robbers and thieves and worse!"

"I'm eighteen, pa and I'm not the youngest in our colony who expects to head west soon." Pres and the other boys nearly swallowed their tongues when Allen went on, halfway poking fun at Pa. "I do remember being told there was one Thomas McCarty, who at the ripe age of eighteen took for his wife one Rebecca Comstock, who traveled with him from Kentucky to the wilds of Indiana."

"Are you thinking of taking a wife on this journey?"

Allen roared with laughter at the shocked look on Pa's face. "That I am not. There are maidens about, but I'm doing my traveling first; make my pile, then settle down."

"You are wise there, Son Many women are poor travelers." But Pa wasn't giving in this easy. "You know nothing of your country to the east and less of this barren land to the west. That is not all; you know so little of your forekin, where they came from, what they did! I tell you, Son, you are not ready to fly out of the nest."

"So!" retorted Allen, "I haven't listened to you to tell all of us again about your up-bringin'."

John winked at all the boys scrunched down at the side of the house; then he sauntered around lazy-like to the tree. The rest followed a few at a time and waited to see if Pa would wave them away, but he didn't.

Pres said Ma let me out of the house about then, and I crept into Pa's arms and fell fast asleep in a few minutes. Wouldn't you know it! But Pa's strong, melodious voice could lull and charm far older women than I. When he read the Bible to us, it would give you goose pimples. If he had been a calmer man, he would have been a wonderful preacher.

Pres said Pa let out all the stops that evening and repeated all his best stories. He didn't hesitate to tell his sons that the Scotchman had been driven out of England because they didn't see eye to eye on religious questions. They moved over into Ireland and taught the Irish a few things about thrift and orderliness, but the thanks they got for that was to be invited out of their adopted home and told to move out fast. What did that Irish period contribute to the family? ( I can see Pa's eyes crinkling at the corners when he's tickled about something.) "Oh, a bit o' the brogue that will last for generations!"

Pa pointed out that by 1789 thousands of these Scotch-Irish had arrived in Pennsylvania. There were a lot of other immigrants there, and they were going to stay, for the Allegheny mountains discouraged movement westward. But don't think these stopped the Scotch-Irish. They just up and found a passageway to the north, traveled around the mountains and south again until they reached the edge of Virginia.
 
There the Garrett s, Penergrass es, Haig s, Grey s, Blake s, McGrath s, and McCarty s built homes, tilled the soil, worshiped God as good Presbyterians. Sure they had to fight Indians! Sure they had to conquer the wilderness!

In 1802 the McCarty couple had a son and they named him Thomas. Pa said it was no concern of his that President Jefferson the next year acquired the Louisiana Territory. He had no more reason to be concerned about western expansion when he was eight years old, for his own little world collapsed. His parents died of a strange and vicious fever, apparently malaria. A lot of folks in that settlement died of the same ailment.

Pa said he would be forever grateful to the Blakes and the McGraths who looked after him, and when the Blakes moved the next year they took your Thomas with them.

Pa grew up near the Cumberland Gap where he watched the emigrant wagons travel through this natural gateway in a never ending line. He listened a lot around the campfires at night, and he learned more and more about the country west of Kentucky and Tennessee and the Mississippi River.

Pa let the boys know he was taking care of himself by the time he was twelve, and when he was eighteen, he was full-grown and ready to strike out for himself. 

He married Rebecca Comstock of the Kentucky Comstock s, and a new wife was reason enough to hit the for the new country. The McCarty s joined a caravan heading toward Indiana and Ohio. Then the news came that New York State had, at last, started the Erie Canal. Thomas and Rebecca rushed to the scene of this exciting enterprise, and there Thomas worked as a subcontractor until the canal was finished in 1825.
 
The MaCarty s settled down at Terre Haute, Indiana, and watched an Indian stockade blossom into a thriving city. Pa admitted that he loved the excitement of road and canal building, and he decided that it was the right place and the right time to start the family. He reminded the boys they were born at Terre Hauteù all six of them, and three sisters besides. 

Then the excitement was over. Indiana was bankrupt because she had invested too heavily in highways and byways. Pa said he had a feeling in his bones that hard times were coming, and he felt restless and uneasy. He knew they should get out while the getting was good, but he couldn't persuade Rebecca. She kept putting him off week after week, and finally she just said she was going to stay in civilized country among civilized people. So Thomas said he would take the six boys along with him, and she could look after the girls.

That was about all I ever did find out about this split-up. My brother John, the solemn, quiet boy of the bunch, told me when I was too curious one day, that his mother, Rebecca, knew Pa would never come back, so she sued for divorce and got it in less than a year. Pa never opened his mouth about it again, and you can bet I never questioned him.

Pa had told all the history he was going to say that evening. He turned to Allen with, "The rest you can remember well: you were twelve by then."

Allen wasn't quite ready to close the discussion. He answered, "Yes I do remember. We traveled to Missouri, and we went through St. Louis and St. Genevieve. You told us that people there were French, and we looked them over hard, because we never heard of such. You took one look at the White River country and told us we were going to start a saw mill. We did just that and we never worked any harder in our lives, but I liked it."

Allen had to get in a little teasing, though, which is something none of the rest of us ever had the nerve to do with Pa. "I keep thinking, though, that it seems a mite strange that you chose this particular spot to build a saw mill. It couldn't have been that a certain pretty little French girl, Salle LaFource, had something to do with sudden decision to stay in these parts."

The other boys, Pres said, held their breaths at Allen's daring. But Pa just brushed him off. "That's no concern of yours, Son. Marion, go look after the horses, and I'll put this young lady to bed. She is getting heavier than a ton of led."

Allen chuckled, but then said very seriously, "Sallie is pretty, she's good, and she's my friend."

That was the opinion echoed by all the boys' I can tell you that for sure. When Pa married Sallie LaForce in 1844, the boys were nightly surprised, but they soon found out this young girl knew how to make a house a home.
 
Sallie's first baby was a boy who died after birth; then I came along, Jeanette Angelina. Imagine one baby girl among all those boys! I guess they set out to spoil me rotten, but Pa made it plain that he didn't like spoiled children around. My three older half-brothers, Allen, John, Thaddeus, were my guardians, while Marion, James, Preston were my playmates. 

I remember that Ma worked night and day to finish a coat for Allen to take to California. Of course she had to weave and sew by hand.

Ma actually made two coats in one; the inside was plaid material and the outside was a plain color. I know how much Allen appreciated it; he was the kind who would make a lot over it if you handed him a pretty wildflower.

Pa and Allen parted friends, but they never saw each other again. We heard from Allen once or twice a year, but the mail didn't get to us often, and there was no pony express until 1860.

This next episode is one that I remember very distinctly, although I must have been about three and a half years old. It was Sunday morning and we were at the breakfast table when Pa announced suddenly, "Marion, get the horses; your Ma and I are going to church this morning."

"What will I do with Angie?" asked Ma gently.

"Well, I guess Marion and Preston are big enough to take care of her!" and Pa left the room.
 
"Oh, Ma," Pres whined, "Marion and I wanted to go down the land and climb trees."

" You can take Angie with you."

"With them fat, short legs taggin' along!"

"Take her or stay at the house all day."

The folks weren't out of sight until we were down the wide lane looking for the tallest tree to climb. Suddenly Marion yelled, "There's the red bull coming! Quick, Angie, we gotta climb a tree!"

Sure enough, the big bull that belonged to our neighbor was coming right down the lane toward us. We hoped he hadn't seen us yet. Each boy grabbed one of my fat hands and ran to the nearest tree. Marion swung up first to a lower limb, then he reached for me. " Lift her up quick, Pres, and you get yourself up in one hurry!"

There we sat, awaiting the approach of one of the meanest bulls around. He lumbered along slowly, lowing softly; lowing softly then he would stop long enough to shake his head in vain attempt to rid himself of the pesky flies, that buzzed about him. Maybe you think our hearts weren't beating fast! He came right under the tree where we were perched, and there we stopped. He flung his head over his own shoulder and then the other, wile the slobber flew from his head over his own shoulder and then the other, while the slobber flew from his mouth in all directions, some of it actually reaching Pres's big toe clinched like a vise to the limb of the tree. It seemed like hours, but it couldn't have been many minutes until Mr. Bull ambled on up the lane absolutely unconscious of the terror he was spreading.

"Well, we're in the same fix we wuz. He's ætween us and the house." Marion was always the pessimist.

As we were figuring out what to do, we heard the sharp clickety-clack of a loping horse down the road, and a rider came into view. He spied us crouched in the tree and raced up shouting at the top of his lungs.

"Git to the house, all of you. Yer pa's been shot." Then he was past us, rushing our enemy, the bull away off to the side of the lane. We didn't even think about the bull any more as we ran after the horse and rider, crying as we went.

"Who did it?" gasped Marion to John, who stood at the yard gate waiting for us.

"Ole Sully," he answered in a tired voice. Marion turned and looked at Pres and said bitterly, "Yeah! He's been spoilin' for a fight for a long time."

Then a neighbor man came out to tell us, "Your pa and ma took a short cut to church over one o' Sully's pastures just like they've done a heep o' times but Sully was in a bad mood, I guess, and ordered them offen his land. Yer pa isn't one to take orders like that without explanation, so he had words with him; and the next thing, according to y'r ma, Sully had out his gun and shot your pa right through the belly. Yer ma sez the bullet went through him and out his back clean as a whistle but he sur is bleedin'!" 

I remember running into the house to find my mother kneeling over my Pa who was white as a bed sheet. I was scared silly, of course, and started crying out aloud. Thaddeaus grabbed me up and ran out of the room, whispering, "Angie! You can't be a cry-baby. You gotte be big. Ma's got no time to pay you mind now. Pa is awful bad."

Sometime that afternoon Ma called us to the door and said very quietly, "John, you are to take Allen's place her now. While I doctor your pa, you take care of Angie and the boys. See that they mind you. I won't have time to look after any of you." 

We crept around that house for seventeen days, and we didn't cross patient, solem John once. We were just that scared. I didn't know until I was older what kind of doctoring Ma was doing, but she told me later she probed the wound each day with a narrow piece of silk, using slippery elm bark for a tube to keep the wound open and draining properly. She also made a slippery, sticky mucilage by boiling the elm bark and water together. This was used to draw inflamation from the wound. Imagine what doctors would say about all this nowadays!

I know the neighbors gathered in the yard at different times, and they shook their heads and looked very sad. None of them expected Pa to live. On the seventeenth day, word got around that his bowels finally moved. Folks seemed so relieved and wore such happy faces! I didn't see why that was so important, but twenty years later when I was doctoring my own, I often thought of this very important event.

It was just a month afterwards that Ole Sully heard that Thomas McCarty was up and about and ending fast. Much to the amusement of the whole community, Sully suddenly sold out and moved to some other district. John brought the word to us that Sully was gone, and he remarked in his slow, solem way, "Know, maybe we can have peace for quiet a spell."

Of course I had to know later on what caused this shooting, and as usual it was good old Pres who tried to explain it to me. He told me it was all harkened back to a long time ago when our Pa got interested in the Regulator and Moderator feud.(1) Pres said he was sure the whole thing was past and gone except maybe in that little corner of Missouri. In thinking it was over years later, Pres thought Pa and Sully were just trying to taunt each other. Anyway, the neighbor men told our boys that Pa was proud of his Moderator stock of seventy years back, while Ole Sully swore by his Regulator stock. They just seemed to like to argue over this every time they met, but election time care around and the argument got pretty heated, Sully bragging that he was the only real Democrat in the whole settlement. It seemed he didn't take to our Pa's ideas about Free-Soilers (2)

You might know I didn't understand any of this until many years later when I studied some of my grandchildren's history books. Maybe me brothers were right when they said the whole mess would have died out early if the people in the settlement hadn't kept egging Pa and Sully on, just for the lack of something better to do.

Pres remembered John and Ma trying to figure out what the feud was really about, and John drawling out in his slow way, "Don't men find the damndest things to go shootin' over!"

For once Ma didn't scold him, even if he did use a swear word before a lady.

Footnote:1. Collier Encyclopedia. 1765-1771 Regulator Moment started in Carolinas. The back country farmers took government in their own hands to drive out law country grasping tax collectors. They opposed armed force with force. Moderators took side of army, which finally subdued Regulators in Battle of Alamanac.

Footnote: 2. The Record of America, Adams and Vannest. By 1848 the northern Democrats were insisting on a more definite stand as to slavery. They held a convention in Buffalo and called themselves "Free-Soil, Free labor and Free Men." The split in Democratic party caused Van Buren, a Wig, to be elected.


Chapter 2

CHAPTER TWO
GROWING PAINS

It seems to me, as I look back, that the McCarty s lived peacefully and comfortably for the next five years. We had a big house, made of logs like all frontier houses. It had a great fire place at one end to warm us and cook our food. (I can never forget the smell of clean pine knots burning.) We used tallow candles, although I also remember Ma Sallie making pretty green candles out of waxy berries she gathered from bayberry bushes.

We had plenty of food, for Pa was a good farmer. We had corn, beans, turnips, and plenty of other vegetables. We gathered wild berries for jams jellies, and we had good apple cider to drink. I never saw coffee until after the Civil War, and come to think of it, very little tea.

The most important event in those five years were when Ma Sallie presented us with two big, bouncing boys, Farwick and Melvin. I really enjoyed taking care of them. They were like big dolls to me.

It was spring again, and we all wondered why Pa spent long hours walking over his fields or riding far from his land. We might have known that Pa had stayed put long enough. He announced suddenly that he had bought a farm near McDonald County and we'd be moving pretty soon.

I suppose Ma Sallie was comforted by the thought that at least we were not leaving the state, and when we got to the new farm in Newton County, it was just as prosperous looking and well kept as the one we left. As for me, I was a happy girl, for we fund friendly neighbors only a half-mile away, and there was a little girl in the family who was just my age. She was to teach me how to play girl's games and encourage me to talk girl's talk. Ma was pleased that little Evelyn Barkley came over to our house often. I guess Ma brooked over the fact that from the time I was seven, I would try to run as fast, climb as high, and ride as far as Pres, James, Marion. It was high time I started to be more ladylike.

Looking back now, I can see Pa was spreading out a bit. He had turned the farm over to John and Thaddeus and had become a manager of a grist and lumber mill in the nearly village of Neosho. This was the time, too when he became interested in horses, particularly blooded racing stock. We heard horse talk at every meal, and the brothers and I loved it. If Pa heard of a new race horse in the district, he could always find time to go have a look at the newcomer.

It was a time when everybody in the McCarty household was very busy and very happy. But it wasn't to be that way for very long.

I guess the trouble started the day Granny Lewis [not her real name] came by to visit with ma-- her first and only visit. I wouldn't have been half so curious about her if I hadn't overheard my big brothers say she was the worst gossip in Neosho-- in fact, they used to say she was a cranky old crone and mean as a bat!

I happened to be in the front bedroom putting Melvin and Warwick down for a nap when I heard somebody call, "Anybody home?" I peeked into the front room just as Ma was letting her visitor through the door. She was an old witch if I ever saw one. All she needed was a peaked hat and a broom stick!

After a lot of palaver about the weather and everybody's health, I got the idea that old Granny Lewis was mighty busy running down a newcomer named Faith. Granny declared she wouldn't trust her as far as she could throw a full grown steer. She did admit this Faith was pretty in a sort of simpering way. From what I could gather, Faith was causing an awful stir among the men of the settlement.

Old Granny confessed she had stayed up all hours of the night and had seen with her own eyes just.

Plenty of men coming and going from Faith's house. She let it be known then and there that if she had a good-looking husband, she's see that Faith didn't get her claws on him.

I don't remember Ma saying a single word, but she wasn't long showing Granny Lewis to the door. I remember running out a side door to open the front gate for Granny. I was just being friendly, but I admit I was overly curious. She glanced at me and snapped, "Your ma is the untalkingest, unfeelingest woman I ever met!"

I ran back into the house as fast as I could and yelled at Ma, "What's she so mad about?"

Ma said sweetly enough, "Never mind, Angie, get the boys up and I'll ring the supper bell. Your Pa will be ready to eat the minute he comes in."

I shut my mouth then, but I exploded at the table. I was just in the midst of telling the whole world about our visitor when Ma touched me gently on the shoulder and said, "Never mind, Angie. Finish your supper."

A lot of good it did for Little Curiosity Cat to repeat a bit of Gossip. I tried to tell my brothers in private about old Granny's visit, but they just shrugged and didn't even look at me. Even Pres failed me when I repeated what I'd heard. I asked him why the old crone was so nasty to me, and he just yawned and said, "Why don't you talk it over with Ma. Iffen there's something you orta know, she'll tell you."

It was some two weeks later that Ma called all her children and step children to her and told us she was going to see her parents. She remarked that they were getting up in years, and she's like to see how they were getting along. I remember her leaving explicit order for each of us. I was to run the kitchen with Marion and James to help me. "Just be sure the meals are ready when Pa comes in. Angie, you look after Farwick and Melvin. You can manage them all right."

"Pres, you see that there is plenty of wood and water at the house. That's your job. Angie you see that the house is kept in order. Don't let things get messed up."

Actually, we were all excited over Ma's trip, and nobody could have felt more important than Jeanetta Angelina. I was big boss, and I knew it, and I was all of eight years old!

Somebody asked Ma how long she would be gone, and she said she'd be back as soon as she could, for us all to do our part to keep things going until she could return.

I stood at the gate as Ma mounted her beautiful mare. She had seen Pa, who appeared suddenly from the back of the house. Ma waited cool enough as he walked toward her very quickly and burst out in an angry voice, "Sallie, I don't like this. I don't see why you pick this time of year to visit your folks. There's fruit ripenin' here, and it will be rotten in another week."

I felt a little sick with disappointment for my mother. That nice visit was spoiled, for of course she wouldn't go unless Pa gave his consent.

Ma looked down at Pa and her black eyes were flashing as she said firmly, "Thomas McCarty, when you get your house in order, I'll be back." She wheeled the mare quickly, waved at all of us, then road off at a fast lope.

You could have knocked me over with a feather and I turned to question Pa, but one look at his face and I skedaddled into the house as fast as my legs would take me. The rest of the day I walked about the house repeating to myself what Ma had sead: "House in order!" Every copper kettle shining both Dutch ovens in their place right on the fireplace; the spinning wheel in its corner on the left; stacks of tallow candles ready for use; the feather beds high and smooth; the floors sweet-smelling for hard soap scrubbings. Never was there a house in more order. What ever in the world did my Ma mean?

I didn't have to much time to ponder over this, for I was running in a high trot trying to keep things in apple-pie order until my Ma would be home again. The bossing part of my job was to get me into trouble. I yelled at Melvin and Warwick from daylight to dark, and ordered my big brothers around so much that Pa set his foot down. "Angie, Quit being so bossy! Everybody hates a bossy woman!" That settled my puffing feathers for a bit, and I had it coming to me.

Ma returned in two weeks, and I was the happiest girl in the world. I talked an arm off her and she took over the washing, ironing and the dreaded mending. She never stopped working that whole day! Then about sundown she told me things weren't right yet, and she would have to go back to her parents for a spell. I took it that her parents were ailing and still needed her help. I know she left because Pa never once came to the house that whole day.

I remember taking Melvin and Warwick to the barn so they couldn't see Ma leave. I wanted to cry in the worst way, but I knew if the little boys saw me they would tune up, and I'd have real trouble on my hand to get them to stop.

It was about that time that we had unexpected company one evening. I had fixed corn as one of the vegetables. When I passed it to Pa, he saw that I had put too much milk, and it was a little soupy. He turned to our guest, a man I'd never seen before, and said pleasantly, "You'll have to excuse Angie's corn. She's just learning to cook real well." You can bet I never made soupy corn again!

Ma came again in two weeks, but found that Pa had hired a Negro boy to help with the washing and scrubbing, so she didn't have to work so hard that time. She baked up a lot of pies and helped me snap beans for supper.

We talked and talked, and when the brothers came in from the field they were so happy to see her. Everything was fine when Ma Sallie was home. But she left again at sundown, and though I didn't know it then, this was her last visit. Pa didn't come home until way in the night.

My Memory of the next months was a blur. The Negro boy didn't last long. Others, white and Negro, came and went, and before I knew it a whole year had gone by. There was one sunshinny spot for me in that time, for news came to Pa that his daughter Jane (By Rebecca) was visiting Webster county.

Pa sent Marion to talk to the girl and beg her to come and keep house for us. Bless Jane's heart! She came for a few months, but then hurried on home to prepare for her own wedding. She was good to me, and I hated to see her go; but when she was out of sight I realized my Pa was depending on me more and more, and that was a great comfort to me.

By the next year, both John and Thaddeus were married and lived on farms many miles away. James and Marion took over the heavy farm work with Pa, and Preston was a busy boy learning to ride and manage Pa's fine race horses. Melvin and Warwick depended on me for everything. And I loved being their little mother, and when I couldn't manage them I could always turn to Pa for help.

In the midst of all these changes and confusing incidents, I knew my Pa would never leave me. Handsome, fourty-threee-year-old Thomas McCarty might have seemed a shifting and unsteady anchor, but he was all I had, and I was sticking to him through thick and thin.

It was Mrs. Wakefield, our nearest neighbor, who finally came to my rescue. She knew what a load I was carrying; so she persuaded her oldest daughter to come over to our home twice a week and help me with ironing and baking. How I appreciated Ruth Wakefield! She was blue-eyed, black haired and as Irish as ever lived. She was twenty-four years old but there were times she could and did act my age.

It wasn't long until it was routine, when the day's work was done, for Mrs. Wakefield to watch over Melvin and Warwick while Ruth and I went horseback riding.

Neither Preston nor I would ever have dared ask permission to ride Pa's race horses on a pleasure trip. But Ruth felt no timidity toward any man, not even Thomas McCarty. In the cool of this particular afternoon, Ruth announced that she and Preston wanted to ride the two prize-race mares! Pa's mouth dropped, but he owned a lot to this neighbor girl who had helped all of us for many weeks. Maybe he saw Pres and me pleading with our eyes. Anyway, he suddenly nodded, and before he could swallow twice, his fine animals were bridled and saddled and going out the gate.

Ruth turned to yell at me, "Come on, Angie, you can ride behind me!"

Pa choked, but he nodded again, and I ran like a streak of lightning. Pa did yell out a warning as we waved at him. "Pres, see that you don't race those mares."

"Oh, we won't, Pa," yelled Pres as he proudly sat the pace for us. We were gone longer than we planned, and Pres knew he just hurry back to take care of all the horses before dark. We were in sight of the house when Pres yelled, "I can beat you to the house, Ruth."

Down that lane we raced, and with me glued to the back of Ruth's saddle like a silly monkey, urging her to beat Mr. Smarty. Suddenly our mare shied at something, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground with Ruth and Pres leaning over me. As I started to get up, a sharp pain hit my shoulder, Press looked sick and turned to Ruth with, "I reckon she's gone and broken a shoulder." As they helped me to the horses, I could think of just one thing, "We can't tell Pa! He'll skin Pres alive!"

Ruth was all set to go straight to Pa with the whole truth, but she had second thoughts. She wasn't about to give Pa a chance to get at Pres, who had deliberately disobeyed. She would go scot-free for the same crime, but Pres would be in real trouble.

"Come on, Honey, we'll get you in the house. We can strap your arm to your side and you keep you out of your Pa's sight as much as possible. I'd hate to think what he'd do to Pres if he found out."

Pa came in from his work tired and hungry, and the minute he hit the door he called out, "Angie, is supper ready?"

"In a minute, Pa." I tried to sound hale and hardy, but I was aching all over.

Ruth and Preston, looking like criminals, hurried to get the meal of the table. Luch for them, Pa was in a reading mood and did not look up until supper was ready. "Where's Angie?" he demanded the minute he noticed that I wasn't at my place at the table.

Ruth hastened to reply, "She's got a little stomach upset; she's stayin' out in the cool for awhile."

"Reckon you rode too far in the sun?" Pa seemed a little put out, but Ruth was changing the subject very quickly. Is there anything I can help you to, Mr. McCarty?"

Ruth later claimed that was the first time Pa ever really looked at her and he spoke very kindly. "We sure do appreciate your Ma letting you come over here to help Angie. It's mighty neighborly of you. Seems like nobody want to work these days. I've tried for two solid months to get steady help.

I felt feverish for several days, but that didn't keep me from enjoying all the attention given me by Ruth and Pres, or they were at my side at the smallest signal for help. About a week later, were beginning to relax, a little and congratulating ourselves for fooling Pa so well when he arrived for supper in a gay mood. He had just heard that there was to be a magic lantern show in Neosho.

"Get your dishes done in a hurry, girl, and well go see this new invention. They say it makes the pictures come to life."

Ruth turned to look at me and I nodded, and before Pa and Pres had the team hitched to the spring wagon, Ruth and little Melvin and Warwick had the dishes out of the way, she had the boys all spruced up, and out of the door we went. Pres was very careful to seat me in the easiest riding part of the wagon and I was actually very comfortable.

The show was on the second floor of a building, so I let the little boys go ahead and climb the stairs as fast as they could scramble. I was holding back, for I wanted to go as slow and easy as I could. I might have known that Pa would mess up my plan. He saw I was lagging a little, so ever the gallant gentleman, he caught my arm to help me along. I felt hot fire shoot through my arm and shoulder, and my stomach turned over, I stumbled on the next step and Pa cautioned me with "Careful now, Angie!" But he didn't know I had broken out in a cold sweat, nor did he notice that Ruth and Press stood stiff as pokers until I fell into the first chair I could find.

I guess a magic lantern show wouldn't mean much to children of today, what with all the good movies we got to see, but this show was the highlight of my childhood. The man who told the story of Noah and his Ark- just as Pa had read it to us so many times--and right there before us were the animals moving up into the ark, two by two. Of course, we could imagine the cows flipping the flies with their tails, or the horses kicking at each other, but we just had a good imagination. It was enough to see them appear on the white sheet hung up on the wall. We talked about it for days, and even the little boys never forgot this first show.

The days went by, and my shoulder healed with Pa none the wiser. Did we ever tell him? We did not. We know when we were well off.

But now we had another problems. Mrs. Wakefield arrived nearly one morning to tell us that Ruth had gone to visit an aunt, who lived in another county.

I don't know to this day what caused Pa to hire Faith, the same Faith of Granny Lewis's conversation, to help us. Maybe he did it for spite, or maybe he just couldn't find anybody else. Anyhow, he did so--then his troubles really began.

With in a few days he received a notice from Ma Sallie that she was suing for divorce and was demanding her children because she did not intend to have them under the influence of a harlot.

We could tell Pa was really alarmed by Ma Sallie's threat, for he sent that simpering Faith back to her home in a hurry. Two nights later he packed us into the spring wagon and headed for Arkansas. He had hardly crossed the state line when he was warned that Sallie had sworn out a warrant for him at Bentonville. Pa was not one to give up easily. And there he told us of his plan.

"We're going' horseback from here on. We've got to travel faster through the Ozarks. Preston, you will take Warwick in the saddle in front of you. Melvin will ride with me. Angie, you will ride back of James. Marion you will be ridin' alone so you can drive the horses." (There were forty head.)

Do you think I could ever forget this wild chase? Here we were riding fast in the dead of night, and Marion holding all those horses in good order over bad mountain trails. We did have a bright moon to help light the way. I couldn't keep my teeth from chattering, for it was bitting cold. The horses, breathing into that frosty air, caused a mist to rise all around and over us. I leaned over to speak to Melvin. "See, Mel, we're ridin' on the clouds!"

Pa's voice was tern, "No talking', Angie!"

Marion had the horses ahead of us now, and he was climbing fast, when he stopped suddenly and signaled Pa to look back. Far down the canyon we could see a misty cloud moving nearer every minute. Pa caught up with Marion and gave a sharp order. "Turn into this side canyon quick, and not a sound out of any of you. That's officers following us."

A half-hour later the posse went hurrying up the trail, never dreaming that we were nearby, hidden by heavy trees. Actually, they could have hit us with a rock.

We didn't know it, but Pa had turned and was heading north toward Linden, Missouri. He had found out that his daughter Elizabeth (by Rebecca) was married and living in Linden. Pa knew she would take in his other children until he could make other plans.

Several days later we stopped in front of a neat looking place and Pa lifted me from James's horse. I took Melvin and Warwick by the hand and walked just back of Pa. Suddenly he stopped dead still and stared at a woman in the doorway. In a moment Pa said in a kind of a choked voice, "Angie, this is Rebecca McCarty."

I looked up into the kindest, sweetest face I had ever seen. This woman bent over me and put her arms around me and said very softly, "Angie, would you like to call me Aunt Becky? So many young'uns do." Then, just to make all of this really confusing, here come James and Marion running to hug and kiss this woman like they had known her forever. I had a whole lot of questions to ask, and as soon as I could I pulled Preston away from the crowd.

"Is she really my Aunt Becky?"

"No, she's your stepmother and my real mother, Just like Ma Sallie is your own mother and my stepmother. Both of em is Pa's wives."

"Sakes alive! Where does Pa get all these wives? Nobody else seems to get so many."

"You have to get a divorce from the government to get a new wife."

"What's a divorce?"

"It's a piece of paper says men and women don't have to stay married together if they don't get along."

"Well, that's nice. If you find you don't like a husband, then you don't have to put up with him."

Before I knew what was going on, Pres, who was thirteen then, grabbed me by both shoulders and looked me right in the eyes as he scolded me hard, "Angie, folks don't talk about divorces. They ain't nice so don't mention them to nobody. Do you hear?"

"Well, if Pa had them, they can't be so bad."

"You'll see when you grow up, young lady! They are mighty, awful wrong."

I was a little anxious to change the subject, for I didn't like to be scolded by Preston. "You don't think we will be stayin' here long, do you Pres? Pa seems kinda squirmy to me."

" I guess maybe he was a little surprised--hidin' out from one wife , then runnin' smack dab into another'n, " Pre's eyes were almost twinkling at the corners. He was finding something funny about all this.

My sense of humor was not that well developed yet. " I wish we'd get to our own house. I don't want'a be mixed up like this. Other folks don't do it."

"Now, Angie, don't start frettin', I heard Pa say he's going on from here by himself so's he can find us a place pretty quick."

"It can't be too soon for me!"

Pa did leave that very day on a long horse back ride. He must have known that Ma Sallie's divorce had been granted, and his job was to find a home for his children far enough away that Ma couldn't hear about it, Pa had some other important business on this trip, but we didn't know about that until his return in two weeks. He rode up to tell us he had a new farm and a new wife. We didn't know what the grownups thought, but Pres and I and the little boys were thrilled pink for the new wife was our best helper, our good friend and playmate, Ruth Wakefield.

If there was stinging or bitter remarks by these various women attached to Pa at one time or another, I never heard them. All I can remember was how kind they were to a bewildered little girl.

My own children and now my grandchildren have asked me why Ma Sallie deserted her children, and whether I felt resentment. You must consider how tiny and shy Sallie was, and how big and over powering Pa was. No, I never blamed her for leaving. I'm just sorry she didn't stand up to Pa and fight it out with him, but she wasn't brought up that way. Now can I be resentful when I have only sweet memories of her?

As for Pa , I know he was sinfully proud and stubborn, but one thing is sure, he took might good care of me and my brothers, I worshiped him, though sometimes I was afraid of him.

In no time Pa and Ruth had us settled in at Finley Creek, in Webster County, Missouri, and it didn't take Ruth long to discover a school house within a half-mile of our new home. I might have known she would start a campaign to get me into that school house. "It's time you got a lot o' learnin', Angie. You're smart as a whip anyway, and you can get a whole good start in three months of schoolin'."

"But Ruthie, you need me here at home. You know I can help you a lot. I know what hard work is."

"Now, Angie, I can make out all right. I am used to hard work, too, you know. You plan on going to school just as soon as the weather cleans up a bit."

I couldn't help but to be excited, but I was so far behind and so hopelessly ignorant, I felt shy about starting. I let Ruth know about my uneasiness; "They say there's some starting at five years old, and here I am going on ten. I don't really remember my ABC's right good."

"Then we'll talk to your Pa; he can start you to reading again." "Oh, don't bother Pa. I can make out, I reckon."

But Ruth wasn't the modest, retiring wife. She walked right up to Pa without a moment's hesitation "Thomas, I know that you read well aloud from the Bible, and the boys say you are a good hand at figurin'."

Pa cocked a suspicious eye at this bold female who spoke her mind plain enough. "You would be flatterin's me, Mrs. McCarty," and Pa bowed to his waist as he mocked Ruth, "but what is it you want?"

Ruth gave him the benefit of her loveliest Irish smile. "I would be havin' you teach your daughter her letters again. She's goin' to school."

"Angie? School?" Pa's eyes were popping out of his head. "What does Angie need with schoolin."

"Your boys know how to read. You taught them how, didn't you?"

"Yes, but they need to know how to read for business--man's business."

Pa was giving Ruth his most charming smile, but she wasn't taking the bait.

"Angie needs learnin' for woman's business," Ruth spoke firmly. "Pa throw back his head and roared, "You're the peppery thing, young lady. T wouldn't do for you to have to much learnin'."

"I'll make out, Thomas McCarty, but Angie is different. Times are changin', and it ain't proper to grow up without learnin', it shows people are trashy when they won't go to school when they have a chance."

Nobody could say it and live, that any McCarty, male or female, was trashy. That settled it. I was going to school.

"Angie! Angie! " roared my Pa, "come here to me. Your new Ma is rasing' an awful fit for you to have some learnin', guess it won't harm you none."

When school opened in the early spring, I had relearned my ABC's and would even read well in the first reader, I was looking forward now to the first day of school. Ruth saw to it that I had a brand new dress, hoops, ruffles and all, with matching gloves and bonnet.

At the end of that first day, I ran about half of the way home, then I saw Ruth coming to meet me. I started yelling my head off, "Hurry, Ruthie, I got so much to tell you I'm about to bust." You'd have thought I had been gone a whole month.

"Now begin at the beginning, Angie and don't leave nothing out," was Ruth's greeting while she hugged me tight.

"First of all, our teacher--he's a preacher, I think--read from the Bible, and he sounded as good as Pa. Then we sang hymns; you know both of them:

"Approach my soul, the mercy seat, where Jesus answers prayer, and humbly bow before his feet, for none can perish there,"

"And there's the other one you like so much."

"We're out on the ocean sailing, Homeward bound we swiftly glide, We're out on the ocean sailing, To a home beyond the tide."

My! I did enjoy the singin'. Seems like it's the best part of school."

"Go on, Angie, what else happened?" Ruth was having as much fun as I was.

Nothing impressed her as much though, as my teacher's story of the spreading of the school in our country. He said we had lots of schools as far west as the Mississippi. He even predicted that one fine day there would be schools in every settlement in Missouri. Ruth pondered over this for a bit, then said, "There's no call for young'uns to grow up ignorant--like now is there?"

I think Ruth got as much out of the next tree months schooling as I did, and it was the happiest, most carefree summer I had ever known. I can remember dozens of happenings. There was the day our kind teacher brought strawberry candy for each of us. We had never tasted anything like it. There was a show at school, when grown folks came from miles around to see a ventriloquist who made a puppet talk, and a magician who made coins fall from his handkerchief and hens fly out of his hat. There was a big party for grownups, and I got to see my first hoe-down. Right there I decided that if I ever got big enough to go to a dance and whirl around like that, I wouldn't ask for any other favors.

It was good I had some months of pure job, for there were some less happy days ahead.

Pa saw better farms and faster horses in Greene County, and he was talking a lot about both. Marion, in the mean time, had been courting Geriah Lee, and suddenly he asked Pa if he would consider letting the young couple take over this present farm. Marion said he and Geriah wanted to get married and settle down right there.

Pa was pleased, but he had his plans postponed for a bit, for our dear Ruth had lost her first born son, and wasn't gaining her strength as she should. It was pitiful to see how Ruth and Pa grieved over this lost baby. Pa sais we would all be better if we'd just get to a new neighborhood. Summer come again, and we were in a new home in Greene County, but there wasn't a school with in miles of it. Anyway, Ruth needed me at home, so I didn't have time to mourn over the lack of a school house.

Poor Ruth had to spend a lot of time lying on the bed: so she could watch closely every day. She said later she really was worrying over me, for I didn't sing and laugh and talk any more. She must have talked to Pa and the boys. She finally figured out that Miss. Jeanetta Angelina McCarty was just suffering from growing pains. She had the good sense not to nag at me and she promised me that as soon as she was on her feet again, she would see that Pa started a petition for a school in this very district. She would have, too, but by the time she had taken over in the house we were getting ready for a real shocker.
 


Chapter 3

CHAPTER THREE
LOOKING FARTHER WEST

The boys said Pa was troubled; he talked a lot about the world crowding in too much. He and his neighbors seemed to think local affairs, ordinary life and business under the control of the State of Missouri were coming along fairly well, but it was the Federal Government that needed to put its house in order.

The summer of 1858 men sat at our table and talked "tariff." Some argued that the tariff was a real necessity, while other said it was a protection for just one part of the country. You might know I hadn't the remotest idea what they were talking about, but I listened anyway until Pa signaled for me to take Melvin and Warwick outside, or, if it was after supper, put them to bed.

One subject I could understand was the awful slavery question. Pa hated it with his whole heart, but he gave a strange reason. It seemed this problems was splitting his beloved Democratic Party! That the arrogant new Republican Party was gaining too many recruits from Northern Wigs, Northern Democrats, and even Free Soiler. (3)

Pa slammed his first down hard on the dining table when he roared that politics was getting more and more confusing, and he couldn't honestly say he was a Democrat and a Free Soiler too!

It was my brother James, though, who sensed what was really bothering Pa. I heard James talking to Ruth, and you bet Pres and I were right there listening. He said Pa was really getting crowded out by farmers when he started raising stock. It took a lot more land to feed cattle and horses.

"What'll he do?" Ruth was asking for all of us.

James said Pa had talked to him lately about the out-west country called Texas. James said he had heard Pa talking to men in caravans heading west. They told him there was room for everybody, that it was a stock-raiser's paradise; that grass was belly height to cattle that spring gushed from the ground every mile or two: and that the colonies were springing up every where. The most important things of all was that the Federal government had stationed soldiers at forts just ten miles apart to protect the whites from the prairie Indians.

James had started to walk away from us as we stood in the yard, then he turned to Ruth to say, "I guess I better tell you the real reason that Pa is worried sick. He's heard from some friends that Ma Sallie has found where we are, and she is comin' after the little boys and Angie."

How did I feel? Like a little scared rabbit with somebody pulling at my front legs and somebody else jerking at my hind legs. Ruth was a Godsend to me right there and then. I don't remember talking very much to me, but she started piecing a beautiful quilt which was to be my very own.

Maybe the Lord had a hand in the next event, for in just a few days Marion and Geriah came by to spend the night with us. We were at the supper table when Marion announced, "I guess we'll be leavin' for Texas sometime tomorrow, Pa."

Pa questioned Marion back and forth, up and down; then he said suddenly, "Where's your first stop, Marion?

"Elm Springs, I reckon."

"Take Ruth and the young'uns with you, and wait for me there."

If Pa had shot off a gun right in the middle of the table, we couldn't have acted any more surprised. I don't remember what any of us really said. I do remember Pres letting out his best Indian yell as he stood up to grunt. "Me scalp palefaces!" We all laughed at him, and that helped all of us for the moment.

Then Marion answered, "there won't be Indians to fight, Pres. Uncle Sam has 'em under control now. They live just like white folks. But there as thick as flies. You'll get all the shootin' you want."

Pa sat right there at the table and made all the plans before you could count to a hundred. There would be three wagons, one to be filled with provisions. He told Ruth and me to get packing in a hurry. We would not take any furniture--just clothes, bedding and pot-vessels. Then Pa moved to the door and announced, "I'm going to Webster County to sell some property and bring back a few more head of horses."

That's when brother James, who had just turned eighteen, spoke up, "Have you sold this place yet, Pa?"

"No, but that won't be hard. Ol' man Baker has had his eye on it ever since we moved here."

"Leave me have it, Pa. I'm stayin' here."

"That you are not. I need you to help drive the horses."

"I'm stayin', Pa."

There was a long silence; then Ruth smiled sweetly and said, "They do grow up fast, Thomas!."

Pa matched her smile and shrugged. "All right, Son! But help us get ready as fast as you can. We mustn't hold Marion and Geriah up." Out the door he went, but Ruth walked beside him to the corral.

It was many years later that I found out what passed between them out there at the corral. (Goodness knows, I had a hard enough time worming it out of her.) Pa said tenderly, "Ruth, girl! You are rightly named, for you are like the Ruth in the Bible--'whither thou goest I will go; thy people shall be my people; thy God my God.'"

Ruth didn't swallow all that right at first, and she gave it to Pa with both barrels: "Yes, I'm going with you because I'm not the quittin' kind, but if you ever do this to me again, you'll wish I hadn't come along!"

Pa was surprised and downright puzzled, but Ruth made it very plain to him. " I need a little advance notice of your plans, Thomas McCarty! I am not one of your children; I'm your wife, and I want to make plans with you--not have yours thrown at me without getting any warning or having any say-so!"

I can imagine how really shocked Pa was; but he had the good sense to sooth Ruth by declaring he hadn't meant to be insulting--he was just in the habit of making decisions all alone all his life; he'd never asked help from anybody.

"It's time you changed y our ways, Thomas McCarty. And while you're about it, you better spread some o' your blarney near your daughter Angie. She's too quiet these days, and she wasn't finding anything to laugh about tonight. If you want my honest opinion, she's not happy about moving out there to the ends of the earth."

Pa reacted like she had slapped him in the face; then he whiled suddenly with, "Let's get back to the house."

Maybe you think I wasn't surprised when they appeared in the doorway and Pa roared, "Angie! Angie! Come here, I want to talk to you!."

I could see he was in a good mood, so I got to him in a hurry.

"How old are you, Angie?! He was teasing me; of course he knew how old I was, but I'd play this gave with him. "I'm eleven, going on twelve."

"Do you think you're old enough to ride Lady Jane to Texas?"

If he'd asked me if I could jump over the moon, I couldn't have been any more flabbergasted. Me? Ride his best race mare all by myself! For once, I couldn't think of a word to say; then I heard Pa chuckling, and I looked up at his smiling face. "Speak up, girl!"

I glanced at Ruth, who was all smiles as she nodded her head to encourage me to find my voice. " I can ride her, Pa!" I finally got it out and ran to Ruth, who knelt with open arms to brag and hug me hard, hard! Pa turned to press then and said, "You'll ride Polly Hopkins."

Most of Pa's horses could be worked to wagons or driven in a herd but no Lady Jane and Polly Hopkins. They would have to be ridden every step of the way to Texas; they couldn't even be led back of a wagon, because they would break the gait of any good race horse.

Pa was especially proud of these pares, for they were of the famous Steeldust strain--colts of a proud purebred Arabian mare and the famed steel colored bastard stallion named Steeldust. Though he was never listed in the "Who's Who" of the horse world, he became very famous because he bequeathed to his sons and daughters not only fine conformation, but very often beautiful coats flecked with shiny steel.

No wonder the whole family gasped when Pa gave me the privilege of riding his most prized possession. They were just as uneasy as I was, and the minute Pa got off to Webster County, Ruth and Pres started giving me instructions. Ruth said at the start, "Now, Angie, you know you can ride her, but you have to be calm about it. She feels you take a breath, and if you're nervous, she'll be nervous."

Pres admitted he was all in a sweat. "I sure wish you could ride astride; Lady Jane would do better for you that way, but then, Ruthie's ridden her enough that she is used to a woman. I guess it will be all right."

I just up and asked then why I couldn't ride astride. There'd be no harm in it. Pres grinned sympathetically, knowing Ruth would give all the explanation necessary. "Angie, young ladies ride sideways. You know that as well as I do." Then she smiled and softened the blow, as she always did. "You can sit several ways in a side saddle if you get tired, but wait until Lady Jane settles down, and don't try it the first day out."

Preston told me later that Pa had instructed Marion to get out of Missouri as fast as he could. It seemed he wanted as many state lines between Ma Sallie and him as he could manage. By noon the following day, Marion had the caravan ready. He would be in the lead wagon, followed by Geriah, then Ruth. Pres and I would rive the rest of the horses.

I was holding James's hand when Marion came up to tell him Goodbye. I felt my throat tighten when my two big brothers were shaking hands, and Marion said, "We sure do need you, Bud, but I'm glad you stood up to Pa. Do you remember what Allen told all of us? When we were ready to--just go. I guess he meant for us to stay, too--if that's what we wanted."

We all turned to see Pres leading Lady Jane and Polly Hopkins to the roadway. As we walked toward the mares, Pres mounted quickly and calmly like the experienced jockey he was. Marion lifted me into the saddle while Pres talked to me in a quiet voice. "Keep your hand still, Angie, so she won't start pawin' in the air."

Then Ruth called out from her wagon, "Ride her around a little, Angie, so she'll know you know what you're doing."

It was just as easy as that, but I was several miles down that road before I could take a good, deep breath to the fullest another big thrill of my life.

Two days later our caravan waited for Pa at Elm Springs. He rode up at sundown driving three more beautiful horses. None of us could ever remember seeing Pa in such high spirits. It was wonderful to see him laughing and teasing everybody. He sat at the camp-fire and explained to the boys all the fine points of these horses he had just added to the herd. He teased Geriah about a new poke bonnet which she had so carefully hung on a tree nearby.

"You'll be leavin' it tomorrow morning, and poor Marion will have to walk miles back to get it!" Gentle Geriah was pleased attention and smiling made her so pretty.

Pa looked at everybody but me and remarked in a sad tone, "There's no doubt about it, but Angie has ruined my finest race mare by this time."

This was no joking matter to me, and Preston saw me stiffen up. Maybe he was going to defend me, but he didn't get to open his mouth, for Ruth intervened with, "Too true! Too true! Angie's that heavy that poor lady Jane is a sway-back already!" Since I was nearing about eighty pounds, this brought a good laugh from all. I was so grateful for Ruth's remark. Even I could see something funny about that.

A little later Pa swung his youngest, Melvin, over his shoulder and put him down on his bed in the wagon; then he yelled at Warwick, "Come on Trail-Blazer. Up to bed with you. We got a long trail ahead." But Pa was smiling all the while.

I lay on my pallet in the wagon bed, along with Melvin and Warwick and listened to the camp fold up for the night. I could hear Marion and Geriah laughing over something as they made their bed down on the ground near their wagon. When they were quiet, I could hear Ruth and Pa talking softly as they lay on the ground not far from our wagon. Everything was so peaceful and the night so calm, but I was a little restless. I was thinking, "I'm glad I've had two days to get used to Lady Jane. The first day I got awfully tired, but I was better the next day. I'll be better every day from now on. I'll show Pa how well I can ride tomorrow......... I wish tomorrow was over, though!"

Early the next morning Pa broke camp and took the lead wagon, while Geriah and then Marion would follow. Ruth sat in Pa's wagon waiting for him to take the lines. I had a feeling she and Pres were watching me like a hawk as Pa lifted me into the saddle. I was trying to be as cool as a cucumber, but my heart was beating a little fast. Lady Jane was helping me out today; she seemed glad to have me near. She was all right, she was! I smiled at Ruth and Pres to let them know Lady Jane and I were learning to know each other real well.

Only one incident marred our first week of travel. The wagons had stopped at a blacksmith shop while Pa went in to inquire the best roads south. While he ws gone, three dirty looking loungers sauntered over to look at our horses. I had ridden Lady Jane close to Ruth's wagon and was chatting with her, so I didn't see the men approach. They were within ten feet of Lady Jane when they started talking. "I'd sure like to have that animal."

The other one drawled, "I'd like that gun tied on that saddle, myself."

The last man sniggered and looked up into my face and said, "You-all take the horse, saddle and the gun. I'll take the gal!"

I don't know what came over me, but I wheeled Lady Jane directly toward the men and flashed around to the other side of the wagon. The men scattered in all directions, then gathered near the blacksmith shop to lean on each other and slap their thighs as they roared with laughter.

Pa had turned to see the men running and rushed out to see what was wrong. "What's happened here?" He demanded.

The men took one look at my giant Pa and sobered up plenty fast, but before they could speak Ruth called out, "Lady Jane got a little nervous when the men came close, Thomas. She's all right now!"

Later that day, when Pa had saddled a horse and ridden ahead a little to look over the wagon roads, I rode close to Ruth to talk over that nasty incident at the shop.

"Ruthie, I was so mad, I thought I would die! I could just tell them men were just plain scum, and I didn't want then near Lady Jane."

"I want to tell you something, young lady. You did wrong to lose your temper that way. You could have ridden the men down and killed one of them. You should have paid them no mind at all. A lady never sees a strange man, and she never hears anything they say. Besides, do you want to see your Pa grind them into the ground with his bare hands? Watch yourself after this. You're gettin' old enough to save your temper for something useful. We don't want any low-down, trashy fights on this trip!"

The next day was exciting because the wagons had traveled just a short distance out of Washington County, Arkansas, when Pa thought he spied fresh wagon tracks ahead. He yelled at me to ride in the wagon a spell and let him see what was ahead. He changed saddles in a hurry and told all the drivers to whip up the teams a bit. It would be good to travel with another caravan even for a few days.

We made good time until sundown; then we could see smoke and light of a campfire ahead. Pa told Marion to camp where we were; he meant to ride over and see if the people wanted new comers in their caravan.

All of us waited hopefully. Ruth and Geriah would welcome the change to talk to other women. I was so in hopes there would be a few "young ladies" my age maybe some little boys for Melvin and Warwick.

Pa came back in a short time, we could feel the smile in his voice. He must have a happy surprise for us. Leave it to Pa to keep us in a stew until every member gathered; then he acted and talked like this was all as ordinary as night coming on.

We're going to travel as far as Van Buren with a caravan of Mormons."

Ruth looked disappointed and Marion looked worried. He came up with, "How many wagons have they, Pa?"

"Seven, I think."

"How many people in the bunch?"

"I didn't count 'em, but I'd say about forty with the women and children."

"Were there more women than men?" ventured Geriah timidly.

Pa shouted with laughter. "Holy Goshens! I didn't count 'em! I didn't talk to a single woman. The men made me welcome and asked us to travel with them, and that we'll be glad to do." Pa was using his most empathic tone now.

"How did you know they wuz Mormons, Pa?" Preston was frankly puzzled.

"They told me. Let's eat." That settled that. Pa had the last word, as usual, but I wanted my turn. I went to the campfire to remove a pot of smothered meat, and there I stood with a long fire-hook in my hand. Suddenly I just couldn't keep still any longer. I found myself waving that fire-hook and shouting, "Mormons! Mormons! What on earth are Mormons?"

Nobody thought that was funny but Pa. He grinned at me and looked over at Ruth. Then he teased her with, "Ask your Ruthie. She can tell you all about 'em. One was sweet on her, and she woulda gotten hitched up with him if I hadn't drug her away from him."

I was fascinated by this tale. "Did he, Ruthie? Did he take you away from a Mormon?"

"Angie! To think you'd believe such a yarn!." Then she turned on Pa, "Same on you, Thomas McCarty for spinnin' such a tale!" I could see Ruth was actually pleased and a little flattered, but she covered up with, "Let's dish up the food, Angie. Fill the boys's plates to the brim. They're half starved!" Then remembering that she hadn't answered my outburst, she came to me and said in her very sweet way, "I'll tell you all I know about Mormons after supper. I lived in a Mormon community for a few months, that's all. Let's eat, now"

Supper was over. Melvin and Warwick were gathering stick-horses which they would throw away come morning. Marion and Geriah wandered off to talk by themselves. Pa found a grassy spot hear his wagon, sat down and leaned against the wagon wheel. This was his first time of day to enjoy a peaceful pipe. Pres and I sat on the other side of the campfire so we could be near Ruth. We were ready to hear all about these Mormons.

Ruth told us the story about Joseph Smith, his revelations, his discovery of plates of gold and stones of crystal. Pres spoke up then, "Sounds as good as some of the Bible stories Pa tells us. Do you believe that fellar Smith really found them things?"

Ruth shook her head, but conceded that it didn't make any difference what she believed. "You can bet your life the Mormons certainly do!"

"They say," offered Pres in an important air, "that they're the most hated people on the face of the earth."

"Do you hate 'em, Ruthie?" I asked worriedly.

"That I do not. They seemed a God-fearin' people to me, and if folks would leave them be, I reckon they'd do not harm. O' course, the Federal government did have to force the men to see they can't have more'n one wife."

I perked up my ears. This was interesting. "Is that wrong, Ruthie?" Pres was disgusted with me. "Angie, you ninny, o'course it is!"

"It is not so," I snapped at him, "Pa has had three wives, and all of them are nice women. There wasn't a thing wrong about it at all!"

"Listen to Miss Know-It-All! Honestly Angie! You do beat all! Pa has had his wives one at a time--not all to once. Some o' these Mormons had four or five wives, or maybe a hundred for all I know, but all at one time! See!"

Pa broke this one up by getting up and yelling, "Time to turn in! We got a long ways to go!"

I never could leave well enough alone, so when Ruth walked away from the camp. I took her hand. When we were out of hearing, I asked her a question that I had no business asking, but I wasn't being mean. I was just curious. "Ruthie, does it bother you because Pa had two other wives?"

"Angie, girl! Why don't you wait until you're grown up to ask such questions? But you're the kind that always has to have an answer. It bothered me a little at first, but I was pretty young. I always felt sorry for those Mormon women who had to live in the same community and share the same man."

"Whew! Suposin' Pa was livin' with three wives at the same time!" My head whirled at the thought.

Ruth actually laughed when she said, "Right there is where the Mormon church would a lost a mighty fine member! But don't you spend much time worrying over all this. Just remember I'm your Ma now!" With that she started running toward camp, and it was up to me to beat her if I could.

I remember we really did enjoy our days with the Mormon caravan, and we said our goodbye regretfully some days later at Van Buran, Arkansas. Pa shook hands with every man in the group and thanked them heartily for being so kind to his family.

The women gathered around Ruth, Geriah and me and smiled their goodbyes with scarcely a word being spoken. What sweet, patient faces they had!

I got around to some of the older girls and begged them to deliver a message for me if they ever ran onto my brother Allen McCarty, who was still in California. "If you ever meet him, tell him I still have the side-combs and the knitting needles he gave me."

Then the Mormon caravan headed north and west, while we turned south and west. The days went by fast enough, and I wasn't even stiff anymore after a day's ride. We all noticed that Pa no longer crowded his wagons to top speed, just kept a steady pace, and before a month had passed we found we were well into Indian territory of Oklahoma.

Except for a few trading posts and fewer settlements and forts we saw no signs of civilization until we came to Boggy Depot deep in Indian territory. We would never forget this stop, for our men had hardly unhitched the horses when a swarm of horse flies swooped down from nowhere and covered our horses from head to foot. Pres and I were shocked to see blood spurting from lady Jane and Polly Hopkins each time a fly took a bite. All of us waved our arms and swung our hats and bonnets as fast as we could, but the minute we brushed one hungry swarm away, another came in to start biting.

Pa took over with swift commands. "Ruth, Geriah! Bring all your blankets and sheets. Boys! Lead your horses to the creek and get 'em in up to their necks if you can find water deep enough. Cover their backs with the blankets and sheets.

These were Geriah's best new bed sheets, but she was only too glad to have them ready in such an emergency. Pa turned to look at this strange sight all the horses decked out in strange horse blankets, with only their heads showing. Suddenly he was laughing right out loud. "The Egyptians weren't the only ones! We sure hit a plague ourselves!" That made us all feel better, if Pa could joke at a time like this, we weren't in too much trouble.

The flies nested in the trees at dark, and the family ate supper and rested a few hours, but Pa was not about to wait until daylight when these pesky pest would start eating again. He awoke camp with a shot and yelled in his loudest voice, "Up with you! We want out o' this land of depredation!"

There was a chill in the air when we crossed the Red River and Entered Texas at Fort Preston. Our Pres was so pleased and taunted us all about having a fort named after him, but he was the only one having any fun and teasing us a lot. Pa, Ruth and Marion were looking worried. They could see there was grass and water and plenty of game but they couldn't understand why there were but a few settlements and these were far between.

Pa and Marion stopped at the Fort to talk to an officer and some soldiers. When they came back to the wagons they were not joking and laughing. They learned that they had provided posts throughout Texas for the protection of the whites, but those posts were miles apart, and the Indians numbered in the thousands. The officer had spoken very plainly to Pa, "It is best for you and your family, Mr. McCarthy, to take up land near a fort, else these red devils will run you out in no time. We have forts at Bellnap, Camp Cooper, Cobb, Phantom and Cranbourne. I'd head close to one of these if I were you. Go a little to the west to. The Indians have not hit there for a long time."

Pa didn't need to hear any more. He and Marion got into their wagons and drove them faster and faster; we didn't even stop at the little village called Fort Worth. There seemed to be plenty of colony land, but still no sign of that great horde of colonists that we had heard about back home.

The nights were getting colder now, and we heard Pa tell Marion that they must be picking out a place soon now, before winter was really upon us. We traveled due west to Buchanan county, which was later called Stephens. Right at the extreme western county line we crossed Hubbard's creek. There all wagons trails vanished' all tracks stopped. Pa jumped from his wagon, looked in all directions, waited for all of us to come to him. He sounded very cheerful when he finally spoke to us. "I guess we're the first white people to bring a wagon here. Here's where we stop."

Footnote: 3. Outline from The Record of America, Adams and Vannest. Compromise of 1850 was passed, and by 1852 it seemed the question of slavery was settled. The Democrats in their convention in June of 1852 unqualifiedly approved.


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