"THEM GOOD OLE DAYS" WHEN OXEN DID THE JOB
Every now and then yon hear some! fellow who is getting along in years say he or his daddy freighted from Jefferson to Bonham and beyond. That was a long time ago—“hardly a man is now alive'” who remembers it.
Then you will hear somebody ask where the road ran. The road, in those days, leading to Jefferson, went down approximately what is East Ninth street, on past the Smith Lipscomb place, and crossing Bois d’ Arc creek due east of the Lipscomb homestead, which was once the site of where Bailey Inglish settled.
There was a toll bridge over Bois d'' Arc, and a nominal sum was charged for travelers going over it. The bridge was much over a half-mile long, extending from hill to hill, as the creek had a way then of getting out of banks and taking in the whole bottom. Even after the creek ran down it was impossible to cross, except on the bridge, on account of the black stickey mud.
It. was on this road, and across this bridge that freighters came with their ox teams, and their wagons loaded down with merchandise— goods that had been sent up from that famous mercantile Mecca, New Orleans, to the mouth of Red River, on the Mississippi, and then by boat to Jefferson, where the wagoners got it.
Those teams were picturesque. There would be as many as eight yoke of steers bitched to a wagon—sixteen oxen, and there were few manholes these steers could not get through, the mud often being up to their bodies.
Then there were horse teams and mule teams, both of them faster than oxen, but neither of them able to cope with the same number of oxen, when it comes to moving the load.
Those were the ox wagon days you have heard the old settlers speak of. Things were not done in a hurry then, but what they did do was definitely done right.
The following article is from the
Bonham Herald, March 10, 1938
Photo to the right is an ox team with a load of cotton on Main Street of Nacogoches, hauled from San Augustine, 1892.
Photo from the Ralph W. Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University.