Bonham Daily Favorite, April 1, 1912
THE OLD SWIMMING HOLE
Bonham Citizen Tells of Early Days in Bonham. Conditions have Changed.
Fifty years ago Powder Creek, which separates North from South Bonham (there was no South Bonham then—just two or three houses) and has now about lost its identity, was quite a stream, it was heavily timbered (and there having been but little if any land broken along its course to fill it up, had considerable channel. About opposite where the round house now stands was the old swimming hole. Although too young to participate in the sport myself I frequently accompanied older boys and watched them bathe in its placid waters. It had steep banks and plenty of water for diving purposes. On the south side of the creek on the hill were camped some Confederate soldiers (for this was a government post). Near them were camped some Comanche Indians. They were certainly a dirty set, and l was told then that they were here bumming the government for a hand-out. The camp was composed of men, women and children. In company with other boys, filled with idle curiosity l frequently wandered through their camps. It happened to be a dry year, water scarce. The creek got low and boggy. There was no stock law here in those days. Some times the cattle in search of water would bog up and die. We had no Dr. Wileys in those days and these Indians actually ate those carcasses.
Many eventful years have intervened since then. Bonham from a straggling village of four or five hundred inhabitants, has become quite a city. The wheels of industry are moving near the old swimming hole and we have nothing but history to remind us of its past attractions.
Bonham Daily Favorite, June 8, 1912
Thinking that some of the readers might be interested, I shall speak briefly of Milltown. Fifty-two years ago there was quite a little town of that name situated about two miles south of Bonham where the Ladonia road crosses Bois d'Arc creek. The nucleus of the town was the mill, distillery, general store and warehouse of Mr. Tom Williams. Before this time a Mr. Gilbert had owned a rude and primitive mill at this place. At the time of which I write there were probably thirty or forty houses in the town, including negro cabins. It was quite a stirring little place. As this was the only grist mill in this part of the State people came to it from miles around. When a small boy I frequently accompanied my father, who was a physician, on some of his professional calls to this place. Sometimes while waiting I would saunter about the place and visit the mill and distillery. Mr. John Williams, Tom's brother, had charge of everything. He would permit me to help myself to the beer, or embryo whisky, which was in vats. I remember that it looked very much like buttermilk and had a very pleasant taste. I sure did enjoy it, but soon afterwards when I learned that occasionally some of the numerous hogs that roamed about the mill would fall in the vats and be taken out dead, my feelings changed somewhat regarding the wholesomeness of the beverage. Well, the corroding effects of time have wiped Milltown entirely off the map. One by one the houses disappeared until finally the last one, the old mill, was burned by an incendiary not long ago. There is nothing left to designate the place. People passing along the road there now where once was the noise of machinery and escaping steam and a general air of business, find only solitude. The owl, whippoorwill and turtledove each seem to be striving with their voices to increase the desolation of the place.
Bonham Daily Favorite, September 25, 1912
The Quicksand Of Red River
Everyone familiar with Red river is aware of its treacherous quicksands. People crossing with wagons and teams, especially at certain stages of the
river, dread it, and are very cautious in crossing. Have had some experience with it myself, but nothing very serious. Doubtless may lives have paid
tribute to its relentless and peculiar power. The Distressing incident that will relate occurred many years ago. It is true and there and people still
living who can vouch for it. A young lady, Evaline Wells by name, daughter of a shoemaker who lived in what is now known as the Dr. Hoy place on North Main street, was the unfortunate victim. She was going to school here and in company with a planter's daughter who was also attending school and who lived on the river northeast of Bonham, went home to spend Sunday, or perhaps it was during vacation. I believe the planter's daughter's name was Polly Ann Roulett. After engaging in numerous sports, these two young ladies, together with others who had dropped in, suggested that they wade in the river, it being very low. No sooner said than done. They unknowingly and unthoughtedly waded into the quicksand. Beginning to sink, they became frightened and made matters worse by struggling. All but one, however succeeded in catching solid ground and safety. That one was the visitor from Bonham. She sank rapidly out of sight in the presence of her helpless and horrified companions. The sad news spread rapidly and the community was plunged in deep grief. The poor mother her in Bonham, when notified was a pitiable sight. She rent the air with her agonizing screams, which could be heard nearly all over the little town. I talked with an old-timer recently who heard her. This terrible accident occurred so long ago that it seems almost like tradition. But to this day, because of this peculiar accident, people in the neighborhood where it happened are quick to warn stranger of Red river's treacherous quicksands.
Bonham Daily Favorite, July 31, 1912
About twenty-five or thirty years ago Eagle Lake was one of the grandest hunting and fishing resorts that Bonham sportsmen had access to. At that time the lake and magnificent forest surroundings, almost untouched by the destroying hand of man, was indeed a romantic spot - a sportsman's paradise. It lies about fourteen miles north of Bonham in Oklahoma, then Indian territory. It is said to derive its name from the fact that many eagles were found there in an early day. Being so close to Bonham we sportsmen often visited the place and nearly always with success. I believe I can safely say that I have seen more game of different kinds hung up in camp here than at any similar resort. Besides, there were plenty of fish in the lake. Upon one occasion while there an amusing incident occurred. One of my companions was out in the lake in a boat fishing. He had his trusty gun with him, because it was in the duck season. Suddenly he observed a drove of ducks coming over. He hurriedly grabbed his gun and fired just as they were overhead. Sad and amusing was the result. The gun, having an extra heavy charge, kicked him head over heels into the lake. As he arose from his watery grave and "pulled for the shore," I was certainly amused at the ludicrous sight, and I was impressed with Lincoln's favorite poem: "O why should the spirit of mortal be proud." The author of this amusing incident is an old and highly citizen of our town. I would gladly divulge his name, but I dare not. He would retaliate. He knows too many good jokes on me.
Bonham Daily Favorite, October 11, 1912
Fannin County in 1860
When my eyes for the first time looked upon the face of nature in this country in the spring of 1860 it was indeed a garden spot of beauty. The present generation can have but a slight conception of its grandeur. Farms were like angels visits, "few and far between." The farms were mostly confined in the timber, because then owners had for the most part come from the timbered States, and were accustomed to having their wood and water handy, obtaining their water generally from springs and creeks. The prairies were boundless and robed in their beautiful cloak of green - grass bedecked with innumerable flowers were a "thing of beauty and joy forever." Their fragrant odor permeated the atmosphere and was pleasant to the olfactories. Nature was certainly very kind to Texas in those days. Thousands of cattle, horses, sheep and goats roamed the prairies. Hogs were not so plentiful. There was no need of feeding stock. Fine, fat cattle were slaughtered in the midst of winter that had had nothing to eat but prairie grass in the summer, and cain in the bottoms in the fall and winter. Scarcely any attention was paid to milk and butter. It was quite common to see five or ten calves in the milk lot and no butter or cream on the table. As a general thing milking was done just once a day, about ten o'clock. Not so much attention paid to gardens. Father told me that when he first came here in 1848 people said that they could not have gardens here. "Garden truck wouldn't do any good." 'what a difference in the morning." Now there are but four States that can surpass us in that respect. Because of the many flowers both on the prairies and in the timber, this was a veritable paradise for bees and honey. Many people had hives, and bee trees were common. Many kinds of wild fruit were abundant in their season, and grapes and strawberries were especially plentiful. The thrifty housewives generally made good use of their time. And the result was an abundance of fruit, both canned and dried, to be found on the table when old mother earth was folded in the cold embrace of winter. Game of all kinds as well as fish, were very much in evidence. The followers of Nimrod and Walton were strictly in it. Because of the fact that the plow had not touched many of our flattest prairies, thus giving them drainage, we had many natural duck and geese ponds. In 52 years I have seen this county evolve from its crude primitive condition sparcely settled, to a magnificent commonwealth. The Lone Star State is advancing rapidly to the front. It will soon head the procession. I am told this is destiny. Be that as it may, truth compels me to say that I sometimes find myself regretting the change, and sighting for the good old times.
Bonham Daily Favorite, November 2, 1912
Among my many different experiences in life, the most sensational is that of getting lost. No one can have the slightest idea of the feelings of a “lost soul" unless they have been there themselves.
Many years ago in company with two good friends that have long since left the walks of life, I was camped on Sandy creek, just across the river in what was then the B. I. T., but now Oklahoma. We were having great sport killing game—turkey, quail and squirrels, when unintentionally and unthoughtedly I passed over a hill and into some dense woods and was lost, or rather the wigwam was, I wasn't, to use the Indian expression. I wandered about with great distress of mind, and "when the shades of night were falling fast," I found myself at the ferryman's house at which we had crossed in the morning. At the ferryman's invitation I was only too glad to stay all night . Giving him my squirrels we had a splendid supper. Foot-sore and weary I was soon shown my bed and informed that I was to sleep alone. Alas, the "best laid plans of mice and men oft times gang aglee.” I had scarcely "struck my downy couch" when 1 discovered that I had plenty of company. From the energy that they displayed I judge that they hadn't had a square meal in a month. Many times in the night I was strongly tempted to cast aside the hospitality of my host and plunge again into the wilderness. Actually would have felt better to have been lost, everlastingly and completely lost from my pestiferous, relentless and industrious bed fellows. After what seemed to me to be the longest night of my life, daylight began to peep into my eastern window. Without stopping to thank my landlord for his kindness (‽) I "folded my tent like the Arab, and silently stole away.”
It was no trouble to find camp as I tracked my wagon. My companions demanding an explanation. I made a clean breast of it, as I have always found honesty to be the best policy.
Bonham Daily Favorite, November 25, 1912
The Old Ox Mill
Connected with the early days of Fannin county is the Ox Mill. I wonder how many of the Favorite readers ever saw one. Not many, perhaps. They would certainly be a curiosity now. They were our principal dependence for bread in early days. For the benefit of the ignorant, I will endeavor to describe one from memory. There were seven in the vicinity of Bonham. The nearest one to town and the one that I was most familiar with, was that of Uncle Charley Lovelace. It was about two miles north of town on the Island Bayou road. Their power was derived from oxen walking upon an Inclined wheel. The wheel was about forty feet across and built around a center post. It stood at an angle of about forty degrees from the ground The wheel was held stationary by a brake. When the miller wished to grind, he would place from two to three yoke of oxen on the wheel and remove the brake. There was usually just one burrstone, and it somewhat rude. These mills, like the mills of the gods, ‘‘ground slow, but exceedingly sure." The miller thought that he was “going some*' when he ground forty bushels of wheat or fifty bushels of corn a day. Our modern machinery will grind as much or more in an hour. But is the output as good! I doubt it. When I think of the delicious corn dodger of those days, it seems to me comparison is odious. Besides, I do know one thing, there was no necessity for a pure food inspector then. The desire to acquire wealth by the adulteration process had not entered the minds of our innocent ancestors.
Bonham Daily Favorite, January 3, 1913
Chased By Wolves
In 1848 when my father first came to this county it was yet in its infancy. The Indians had been driven farther west, in fact to Cooke county, by earlier pioneers and there continued their depredations for many years. There were many wild horses here, also game in abundance. The early settler, with his trusty rifle, was seldom without wild meat. Because of the sparsely settle country physicians, “like angel’s visits, were few and far between.” I have heard father, who was a physician, say that his territory extended some seventy five miles out from Bonham. In those days doctors, and for that matter nearly all others, rode horseback. There were few roads to travel mostly trails. Father had been to see a patient across the river in the territory, now Oklahoma. It was late when he started on his return trip, fact it was dusk when he reached the river. Just as he crossed he heard a wolf howl up the river. Soon he heard another in another direction. Immediately they were howling all about him as if in answer to the first one’s call. It did not take father long to take the hint. He said he did not intend to furnish food for those hungry varmints. “if the court knew itself and he thought it did.” He was riding a fleet footed little filly that seemed to understand the situation. She did not need much encouragement, Father said that he and the wolves had the right of way for about a mile. Several times they were close enough to snap at his horse which only accelerated its speed. Father said they kept up this hilarious exercise till they got out of the timber and passed a settler’s house. He heard dogs barking which evidently stopped the chase, for he said that was the last he saw of them.
Bonham Daily Favorite, January 18, 1913
Of all the animal kingdom, the dog is said to be man's best friend. Notwithstanding all the abuse that he is subject to, he is quick to forgive and will many times stick closer than a brother. About one-half the world are fond of them, while the other half hate, and are every ready to abuse them. There are many incidents on record where they have defended and even saved human life, though often losing their own. One of the finest tributes I have ever heard paid the faithful animal was that of Senator Vest. He was council for the defense in a lawsuit concerning a dog. In his appeal to the jury on behalf of his client he was so pathetic and touching that several of them were observed wiping the moisture from their eyes. Dogs are much like men in some respects. The most noticeable one is that the noisiest ones are the least dangerous, generally. Occasionally a valuable dog will stray away or be stolen, but a worthless one, never. I was once the owner of a mild-eyes, flea-inflicted bird dog. The fiend who sold him to me represented him to me as being very valuable, in fact, a combination bird dog - both pointer and setter. He was. There was no room for litigation. He would set all day by the fire and point at the table. Some how or another I did not admire his fine qualities. I determined to shake him. Soon an emigrant wagon was passing, heading for the setting sun. I very generously presented by dog to this stranger. He was gone a week or ten days and I was congratulating myself that I was rid of him when, one morning, bright and early, he presented himself at my back door, lean, lank and hungry, and asked for a hand-out. I wonder if any of the readers of the Favorite ever had the exhilerating experience of being dogbit! I have. Been sampled several times. Back in the early sixties, when a freckled-faced, bare-footed kid - just about the stone-bruise age of childhood, I was playing a return engagement to my young friend Allie Burney. Uncle Bob had several measley curs. I don't think he was every short of a quorum. Upon this particular occasion, one of them seems to have been appointed a reception committee of one to greet Allie's guests. He met me then just the same. In a most impressive and touching manner he grabbed me by the hand and bit it through and through. Mother was present and considerably worried, fearing that the dog might be mad - have rabies. Uncle Bob convinced her that there was nothing in that. As for myself, I thought that if he wasn't made, he certainly was not in a very good humor.
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 21, 1913
By nature we are an inquisitive __ of mind. From the cradle to the grave we are seeking new fields of discovery. Generally speaking this is proper because it is one way of acquiring knowledge. I remember an amazing incident that occurred in the days of Auld Lang Syne because of the prowling, inquisitive nature of youth.
About the middle of the west side of the square was a ____ frame house in which Dr. Li__ kept a stock of drugs. Immediately behind the store was a small warehouse belonging __ only 1 opening to the building door in the east end, which was nearly always open. Because this insufficient light it was somewhat dark toward the __ end of the building. There was stored away in this building barrel, boxes almanacs, discarded pictures and various other things. One day with some other kids prowling around filled with curiosity, I entered this house. We had sauntered about, looking at first on thing and then another, until one of the boys found himself at the back end of the building alone, the other boys having left. Chancing to look back toward the door, he saw something that almost froze the marrow in his bones. Casting eyes along the way he saw, some way attached to it, a gruesome, grinning skeleton. Well, that boy agitated excited! Well I guess some. He turned white as a sheet. His knees knocked together until you could almost hear his teeth rattle. His hair stood on end like the quills of the fretful porcupine. With a whoop he shot out of there like a bullet from a rifle. There was just a sudden split in the atmosphere and he was out of sight. Maud S. Rarus, Dan Patch in fact none of the great annihilators of time would have been in a little bit in that race.
I could give the name of this lively young printer, but modesty forbids.
Bonham Daily Favorite, May 5, 1913
Few of us this day and time can possibly realize the hardships that the early settlers underwent when this country was in its swaddling clothes, and all this that we, their posterity, might sail upon a much smoother sea. From the time the May Flower landed on our eastern shore with it venturesome passengers until this day, the tendency has been to push westward and southward. I am proud to say that my father was among the early pioneers that helped to make this magnificent commonwealth out of a wilderness, assisted in making a “desert, bloom like a rose.” Sixty five years ago when he first came here, Bonham, to use a common expression, was just a broad place in the road. He and mother lived in a rented, one room log cabin, that stood where the White House now stands, just west of the First National Bank, on Fourth Street. Father informed me that their table was a dry goods box. His bed stead he made by placing a couple of upright pieces of timber on the floor and connecting them to the wall by other pieces of timber. Their cupboard, he made by placing shelves in another box and nailing it to the wall. Two or three rawhide bottom chairs completed their list of furniture. His stock in trade consisted of a diploma from a medical college, a buggy and team, and a dollar in money. This is all that he reported to me, but I will add that like all the early pioneers, he was possessed with a zealous determination to make life a success. Father obtained his drinking water from a spring nearby. It was a short distance east of his house and is now under the brick building occupied by Mr. Scruggs and the express office. I understand it is held under restraint by brick and mortar. At the time father settled here, this spring, with an abundance of timber close by
was a noted camping place. The citizens of the town also obtained much of their water there.
I will close this article with a repetition of one of the legends connected with this spring. It is to the effect that a lone family of emigrants were murdered there by the Indians many years before. They were from beyond the Mississippi river, and bound for the west. They had been duly warned about the Indians but having seen none, had relaxed their vigilance and were taken by surprise.
Bonham Daily Favorite, June 4, 1913
An Incident of the Civil War
The following incident occurred about 1865 and came to my notice at the time. If there ever lived a man of more nerve than Col. R. H. Lane in my time I have never met him. A lawyer who stood at the head of the bar in North Texas, he was firm and stubborn in his convictions when he thought he was right, gentle as a may morning when not aroused. Though but a child at the time I am proud to have numbered him among my friends. Among the many different bands of soldiers that were passing through this country then were some that were pretty independent. They seemed to own allegiance to no higher power. Apparently they seemed "fear neither Lord, man nor devil." They always went well dressed, well equipped, rode fine horses and lived on the fat of the land. They were no respectors of persons, seemingly had no politics, were just simply marauders and plunderers. Well, they struck a knot, and "reckoned without their host," when they tackled Col. Lane. One night about dusk a squad of these men rode up to this house (he lived a little over a mile north of town at what is now known as the Jim Monks or John Arledge place) and demanded supper and a night's lodging. In response to these demands the Colonel came out on the porch and informed them that he couldn't possibly take care of them, that his house was now crowded with sick confederate solders. At the same time he called their attention to five or six of them lying on the porch. These marauders wee not willing to take no for an answer and uttering some terrible oaths began to dismount. It just so happened that Bob and Jim with several of their chums were at home. Always suspicious of roving bands of soldiers these fellows hastily grabbed their guns and concealed themselves behind the woodpile. The Colonel, having failed to reason with them, stepped back in the house, secured his gun and, again coming out, told them in language not heard at Sunday school that they positively could not stay there and that they had better make themselves scarce. Abut that time the boys were discovered behind the woodpile, and, considering "discretion the better part of valor" mounted their horses and vamoused.
Bonham Daily Favorite, June 10, 1913
The Old Race Track
One of the sources of amusement of our early pioneers was the race track. It was situated about two miles north west of Bonham on the Tom Bean prairie. My recollection is that it was 1/2 mile in length. Here from time to time owners of fast horses would meet to test their speed and risk their judgment and their means. Sometimes they would come from adjoining counties. Saturdays were great days for racing. There was always a crowd. Old John Barleycorn was very much in evidence in those days and upon these occasions. Also nearly every sporting man went armed. A man with a fast horse would frequently taken great chances. Horses, money, bridles and saddles, (and some of them were costly) and various other articles were frequently staked on these races. Up on one occasion a man with a fast horse from the river country, loaded to the quarter deck with old red eye and smarting under defeat, had his passions so aroused that he made a very rough house. When the battle was over and the smoke had cleared away said individual was taken home more dead than alive. This was one of the fatalities, and there were others at the old race track. Such sport has since been relegated to the past. Now our sportsmen stake their money on motorcycles and automobiles. With prohibition in force nearly everywhere and the "obejoyful" somewhat hard to obtain there are not so many lives placed in jeapordy at the race course as in days of yore. And yet I have some old friends that sigh for the good old times and look with disfavor upon the present regime. I sometimes wonder what these old timers, long since gathered to their fathers, would think of present conditions could they see them.
Bonham Daily Favorite, October 10, 1913
Uncle Billy Brotherton and the Bear.
In an early day Uncle Billy Brotherton's family and my father's family were very intimate, in fact, quite chummy. They lived about four miles east of town on the Paris road. I thought it a great event when permitted to visit them with my parents. With childish delight I was often entertained by his many different hunting experiences. I remember upon one occasion of his telling me the following bear story, while we sat side by side on his front porch. He said that one spring when corn was in the roasting ear stage he found the squirrels destroying much of it. Early one morning with rifle in hand he proceeded to his corn field, telling his wife to prepare for a squirrel breakfast. Soon after reaching the field he killed several squirrels and was going on around the field when suddenly he stopped to inspect some tracks on the ground. They proved to be bear tracks and quite fresh, too. Now Uncle Billy was very fond of bear meat and also enjoyed hunting them. At the prospect of more exciting game, he hastened home with his squirrels, and stopping only long enough to drink a cup of coffee, he prepared for the chase. He fastened to his belt a hunting knife, a cup, some coffee, meat and salt and with his gun and ammunition he was off. It having rained recently he had no trouble in following the trail. The tracks led north down Bois d'Arc creek. Uncle billy soon found that the bear was onto the racket and didn't wish to cultivate closer acquaintance. The trail was taken up early in the morning and just about dusk the bear thinking that he had out stripped his pursurer, had stopped to eat a few post oak grapes that were very abundant in those days and of which bruin was quite fond. Uncle Billy was now about twenty miles from home and near what is commonly known as Bois d' Arc Springs. Then they were known as Brotherton's Springs. They were named after him because he first discovered their medicinal qualities. Well, the bear was soon dispatched and it was a very large one. Uncle Billy was very tired from his long days travel but he lost no time in placing the bear in a condition that he could save it. While thus engaged and wondering how he was going to get it home, some hunters that were camping at the springs, and had heard the noise of the gun, made their appearance. Uncle Billy induced them to take him and the bear home, he agreeing to give them a portion of it. They camped together that night at the springs, and reached home the next evening about two hours by sun. Uncle Billy being very generous, divided with his neighbors and they all had plenty.
Bonham Daily Favorite, August 4, 1913
Lost in Bogy Bottom
I wonder if any of the Favorite readers were ever lost in the "deep tangled wildwood?" I hope not. It is a most distressing and unpleasant experience, and one not soon forgotten.
I was camped on North Bogy, Choctaw Nation, with some other Bonham hunters many years ago. Early the first forming after striking camp I sauntered up the creek in search of game. I traveled a mile or so without any success and becoming despondent decided to return to camp. I had followed the meanderings of the creek and concluded that I could cut off considerable distance and save much walking by taking a direct course to camp, thinking that I had it located. The result was disastrous. I walked all day in the solitude of the forest without seeing a soul until nearly night. I can't begin to describe the miserableness of my feelings. Can't say that I was frightened; just a little agitated, that was all. My mind would have been relieved a little just to have seen a dog. Along about dusk when about giving up in despair and wondering what kind of a wild animal was to sample me "when Night drew it's curtain about," my heart leaped for joy when I heard the noise of firearms some distance off. Thinking that at last, after a long day's weary wandering I was nearing my camp, I was feeling fine. Imagine my surprise when I confronted two strange men shooting ducks. They were two splendid fellows from Paris, Dr. Hall and Sheriff Hammond. Their memory will ever remain green in my heart because of the kindness to me upon this occasion. Seeing my bewildered condition, have explained all to them, they warmed up to me, invited me to their camp and urged me to stay all night with them. It was a very tempting offer and one hard to refuse when I found their camp well supplied with an abundance of game and I being very tired and hungry. But knowing my companions at camp would be uneasy about me I asked to be excused. Saddleing two horses I mounted one and my guide the other. I had explained the position of my camp - on the old cut-off. Guide said he knew where it was, about four miles off. We struck a lope through the woods and had ridden some distance when my friend checked his horse and said: "Listen, do you hear that noise? That is at your camp. I will have to leave you now as it is getting dark and I may experience some difficulty in getting back to camp." Thanking him I hurried only to find myself lost again, but I found some new friends. They were a young married couple with the wife's brother, beginning "life's young dream" in the wilderness. Upon approaching their camp and seeing some one going after water I hailed them and said: "Well, I've got home at last." The mercury in my thermometer took a tumble when I heard a strange voice say: "I guess you are mistaken, this is not your camp. I think that is your camp over there," (pointing through the woods,) "I have heard some one shooting and knocking on trees over there nearly all day."
It was now dark and my new found friends insisted upon my staying all night with them and sharing their humble hospitality but I kindly refused and started on. Believing that I would get lost again they told me that in case I did I must shoot my gun twice in succession and they would answer by blowing a horn. I had heard the noise at my own camp before entering a heavy timbered bottom but now the wind rose and blowing though the trees deadened all other sounds. Seeing my predicament I discharged my gun as requested, was answered immediately by the horn and was soon at their camp again.
It is said that every man's house is his castle. These people seemed supremely happy in a little log house they called their own. For the benefit of my readers I will describe this house as it's like is not often seen now-a-days. Made of poles with clabboard roof and a dirt floor, it was about 10x12 feet square and about 8 feet high. There was just one opening a door. However, there was no lack of ventilation as not being chinks, a dog (a small one) could be thrown through most any of the cracks. There was no furniture except the table, a dry goods box. The rest of the furniture had not arrived, and in the language of Mar Twain in Roughing It, "they were not expecting it," either. Without any urging I sat down to a bountiful repast (?) My supper consisted of water corn bread, coffee without sugar or cream, and the fattest of side meat. Hunger being the best appetizer I certainly enjoyed that frugal meal.
It was now bedtime and I was shown my "downy couch," a pallet on the hard ground. No sleep for me. All night long at intervals of a few minutes I heard that knocking, knocking, knocking at my camp, and I thought "thou art so near and yet so far." I felt for my companions but could not reach them. After what seemed an unusually long night, daylight began to creep in through the cracks in the wall, and without waiting for breakfast I hastened to my camp without further mishap and received the glad hand.
Bonham Daily Favorite, August 4, 1913
Childhood Sports in Early Days.
Compared with early days, childhood sports seem very tame to me now. Of course I realize that 50 years has brought about great changes in many ways. Everything that pertains or contributes to youthful sport now costs much more than in "ye olden time." During the "late unpleasantness," the war between the States, Texas was isolated - entirely cut off from communication with the outside world. There was no way to get toys and other playthings, and had there been there was no money to pay for them. This being the case we children had to depend upon our own resources. In lieu of target rifles and air guns we had bows and arrows. We generally made the bows of bois d' arc and the arrows also of heavy wood. We had quivers hung over our shoulders to hold the arrows which were two kinds, ferruled an spiked. We ferrued our arrows but the blacksmiths made our spikes. We learned to shoot very accuraely and could kill many different kinds of game. During the holidays we were deprived of sky rockets, roman candles, fire crackers, etc., but don't think gentle reader that we were left entirely out in the cold for the lack of noise. Not much. Noise being a necessary adjunct to a child's holiday sport, necessity found a way out. Finding a smooth surficed stump we would build a fire near it. Putting some water on the stump we would place a live coal on it and then strike it with an axe. You should have heard the report. It made fully as much noise as a bull fire cracker. Having no skates, we had just about as much fun sliding on the ice.
We chased mule eared rabbits over the boundless prairies on fleet-footed ponies. But about the best sport was roping and riding yearlings, didn't matter much whose they were. Some times we rode them bare back, some times with saddles. Then we had parties which nearly always included a candy pulling. Such times we had with the girls. My mind almost refuses to pass this point while fond memory lingers around the scene. The last act would generally be dancing the "weavely wheat." Some of the older boys would dance all night 'till broad day light, and go home with the girls in the morning.
Bonham News, October 10, 1913
Bonham's First Mob
Mob law has only been enforced twice in Fannin County, I believe. Cab Witty was mobbed in the early sixties and the Dyer boys at a much later date. As nearly everybody is familiar with the latter and very few with the former event, I shall write only of that.
Cab Witty was in jail awaiting an examining trial in the charge of horse stealing, a very heinous offense here in an early day. Uncle Tom Gates was sheriff at that time. There were other men under grace suspicion besides Witty, some of whom were in the mob, but sufficient evidence had not bee secured to warrant their arrest.
Two attempts were made upon his life, the first one proving a failure. I am indebted to my father, principally,for this article, he having brought it to my notice many years ago. I was living here at the time, but was quite young and in bed, the event occurring late at night. I was talking recently with an old friend who corroborated father's statement. Father was in town when the first mob presented itself. He said the little town was aroused by the unearthy screams of Witty. The mob had taken him from the jail and gaged him. He tore the gag from his mouth and yelled at the top of his voice, "They are going t hang me!" Father, with others, hastened to the jail, overcame the mob, it being small, and rescued the prisoner.
The second attempt upon Witty's was successful, but the mob used trickery to accomplish their purpose. While a majority of the mob concealed themselves, two or three of the leaders, lying to the jailer to gain entrance were permitted to interview the prisoner. They informed him that they were thoroughly organized to grant him freedom, providing that he would sign an agreement to join the Confederate army. ______ and eager to get out of jail and escape further punishment for the crime of which he was charged, he signed the document. This proved to be his death warrant.
As he left the jail the mob gathered about him, threw a rope around his neck and conveying him to the outskirts of the town, about where Berry Stone now lives, they hanged him to an oak tree. This most effectually disposed of any further court proceedings, for the main witness against the gang failed to show up at the next term of Court.
Bonham News, October 14, 1913
I notice in last week's News an article from out good friend, Locke Penwell, in which he describes the first handing by a mob in Bonham - the hanging of "Dab" Witty in the early sixties. I lived in Bonham in 1860 and saw the mob hang him, which occurred on a large post oak tree in the edge of town between R. A. Burney's brick yard and the square. There was no politics mixed up in the affair - just horse-stealing and plenty of it, which was made a capital offense in the early days of Texas, more heinous and certain of punishment than murder. Witty had been arrested on the charge of horsetheft and put in jail, the Justice of the Peace fixing his bond at $3000. The mob made this bond, carried him to the edge of Bois d'Arc bottom and hung him, first giving him time to pray and confess to his numerous thefts. The war between the States had not yet begun, and I hardly think that Witty was given the choice to volunteer as a Confederate soldier.
I volunteered in Al Johnson's Spy Company in April, 1961 and I know that Witty was hung before I went to the front, and was transferred to (or allowed to rejoin) Howell's 11th Texas Battery later on. I was 15 years and 5 months od when I enlisted, and my good friend Locke was a boy in knickerbockers only 9 or 10 years old, and his memory of what his father told him may not be exactly correct, for 50 years have elapsed since those dark years of war and blood. Yours truly, W. T. Gass
Bonham News, December 2, 1913
The Old Persimmon Pond
A few weeks ago a lady friend writing to the News about the early times in Bonham, incidently mentioned the old Persimmon Pond. This aroused sleeping memories. The old pond will doubtless be pleasantly remembered by many of the old citizens. It was on North Center Street about half way between Steger Opera House and the Baptist Church. It covered about one-half acre of ground. There were quite a number of persimmon trees around it. In fact, in those days there was an abundance of wild fruit, such as grapes, black berries, haws, plums, etc., within the village limits and just a short distance out in nearly every direction, oh, you highly flavored, delicious wild strawberry.
We school children frequently passed the persimmon pond on our way to school. In those days (1860-1961) Bonham's two schools were held in the old Baptist Church and the old brick school building that was torn down to make room for the Bailey Inglish Institute. "In the good old summer time" we children would wade in the mud and water and catch frogs and crawfish, and in the winder time, when old mother earth was robed i a mantle of snow and ice, we would slide on its frozen surface.
But the most important feature of the old pond was its frog orchestra. Of a muddy rainy night they undoubtedly furnished some soul inspiring music to the denizens of this little burg. At times they seemed as numerous as the sands up on the seashore. They were all ages and sizes from the mild-eyed youthful littl tenor to the old grizzly grand daddy frog that, with a voice like a fog horn, sang the basest of bass. Their entertainments were not very classical, not much harmony, but there was a super abundance of volume. Well, the old persimmon pond with its varied attractions, most especially its primitive orchestra, has long since disappeared, given way to advanced civilization, but such is destiny.
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 11, 1914
Bonham Bull Pen
Bonham was a Government Post during the war between the states. A regiment of soldiers was stationed here, Gen. McCullough in command. A bull pen being a necessary adjunct to a Government Post, there was one here. They are places to confine prisoners charged with various offenses. The one here covered about one acre of ground, was surrounded by a high puncheon fence, and was located east of the public square, about where Mrs. J. T. Kennedy lives. Many of the prisoners were splendid fellows and some of them entirely innocent of the charges preferred against them. Also there were some tough cases. We boys would frequently loiter about the enclosure and talk with the prisoners through the cracks in the fence. They would frequently electrify us with some wonderful stories and endeavor to impress upon our young minds the idea that they were a lot of injured innocents. There were guards around the stockade to prevent their escape and yet now and then some of them would take French leave. Judge Ben Blair informed me years afterward that he connived at the escape of one prisoner while acting as a guard. Said he was well acquainted with him and was absolutely certain that he was as innocent man. The judge was a true Southern man and with a heart in him as big as a mule, to use a rather rough expression, and had a fellow feeling for a fellow man. He considered that he was not injuring the cause in the course pursued.
There is much more history connected with this bull pen, but I will only mention one more incident. Mr. Ellis Tucker, with whom all old citizens are acquainted was incarcerated here awhile for some trivial offence. His wife, accompanied by two other ladies, applied to Maj. Jim Record, the quartermaster who had charge of the pen, for the release of her husband. After listening politely to her “tale of woe” he promptly but firmly refused her request. Anticipating this she had armed herself with a pistol which she had skillfully concealed under her apron. Quicker than I can tell it she had the firearm pointed at the Major’s head. She informed him in a manner not to be misunderstood that if he did not sign a release immediately for her husband she would make an angel of him. He came across, and relating the incident a little later to some friends said that when he looked into the muzzle of that pistol it looked large enough to chamber a minie ball.
Honey Grove Signal, June 12, 1914
Good Old Times
Thinking of early times in Fannin county, there is nothing that impresses me more than the changes that have taken place in the mode of traveling and the manner of farming here. Railroad trains, street cars, automobiles, motorcycles, traction engines and horses and mules have taken the place of oxen and pestie-tail ponies. The virgin sod being tougher than it is now, it required the strength of two or three yoke of oxen to turn it. Afterwards the ground was cultivated with one or two ponies and a bull-tongue plow. Notwithstanding this manner of farming, old Mother Earth, in the vigor of youth, responded with abundant crops. I heard Uncle Andy Beal say that in those days he simply scratched the ground and made thirty bushels of wheat to the acre.
Heavy hauling was done mostly with oxen and tar-pole wagons. The surplus products, consisting mostly of cotton, were hauled to Jefferson, then the head of navigation on Red river, and the wagons were loaded for the return trip with groceries, hardware, house furnishing goods, etc. As a general thing, the only feed the oxen got on the way was grass that they got when they were turned out at night. The trip was made in about a month, and notwithstanding the heavy loads the oxen frequently fattened on the way. There were not many carriages and buggies in those days, but horse-back riding was much more common with both sexes than now. The fact of the business is there were few worked roads, most of them being only trails. Although crudeness and simplicity was in evidence on every hand, people seemed to enjoy life fully as well or better than now.
Their wants were few and easily supplied. There was not the opportunity for spending money that there is now. Imaginary wants are what we are suffering from nowadays. There were not so many grades of society then as now. There was just one and that was aristocracy, and it was not shoddy either. Everybody had money, and people were not money-mad as now.
Many are the changes that have taken place in the last fifty years, and doubtless many more marvelous ones are yet to come, but when my mind reverts to the people of the older times and their habits and manner of living I sometimes think theirs was a more happy life. — L. C. Penwell in Bonham Favorite.
The Bonham News, July 17, 1914
In the southeastern part of the county in an early day were several large thickets. Some of them covered considerable territory and were almost impenetrable. They have all disappeared, given way to the ax of the sturdy pioneer. In fact some of the best improved and most valuable farms near Ladonia were hewed out of the wilderness that the toil of such land as this is very rich and almost inexhaustable. In certain places there was good grazing for stock in these thickets. Also at times people would get lost while hunting on a cloudy day, no sun to give you your bearing. There is very much of a sameness about the landscape. I know whereof I speak for I have been there. I am indebted to my father for the following true incident connected with the Jarnagin thicket. Many years ago a man in search of lost stock penetrated this thicket a little too far and became lost. Failing to return home at the proper time his folks became alarmed, aroused the sparsely settled neighborhood and began searching for him. After wandering aimlessly about for several days and nights in the lonely forest, in constant fear of wild animals, especially at night, though he climbed trees then for protection, almost exhausted for the want of food and sleep came face to face with a life time enemy, a man that he had not spoken to in years. Thoughts of past troubles crossed immediately in his mind. With an expression of anger, hatred and scorn on his countenance he turned upon his heels, plunged back into the solitude of the deep tangled wildwood, declaring that he would be d—d if he would be found by any such a man. - L. C. Penwell
The Bonham News, July 17, 1914
ALL OF THE WILD STRONG WITH HIM. MUSES OVER AUTUMN AND THE GOOD TIMES TO BE HAD THIS WEATHER HUNTING.
These cool, bracing, invigorating autumn days strongly appeal to the hunter. He bears "the call of the wild", and has the "all-overs" until the time arrives for his annual fall hunt. A few days before that epoch in his life he can be found overhauling and cleaning his gun and preparing his ammunition.
The best and most favorable hunting grounds for North Texas sportsmen will be found in the Kiamichi mountains, of Eastern Oklahoma. A few years ago, before statehood, it was a veritable sportsmen’s paradise, and is yet pretty good. Sportsmen of much experience in other parts of the United States are partial to these hunting grounds. I have found them there from as far away as Pennsylvania. Nature has done much for this locality. These mountains are heavily timbered, much of it pine, which sends forth an odor, which is very pleasant to the olfactories, and healing to the lungs.
There are many rivers, creeks and springs there but they are highly charged with medicinal properties. Game and fish are in reasonable abundance. Because of its rough and rugged nature, almost inaccessable in places, thousands of acres will doubtless always remain in their present wild state. Men of wealth have endeavored to corner this beauty spot, but so far have failed, doubtless this is best; because it would forever exclude men of moderate means who also love to rub up against nature occasionally.
I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life in these mountains; and yet these pleasant memories are tinged with sadness. Several of my hunting companions have crossed the Divide. Feelings of emotion well up within me when I think of the times gone, never to return when we swapped yarns around the camp-fire and enjoyed our humble meal together, or were lulled to sleep under the same covering by the noise of the babling brook, or the moanings of the pines, as the wind swept through their branches, and the sharp and continuous call of the night birds, most noticeable of which were the hoot owl and the whippoorwill.
I regret that I am sad at times, thinking of other days, but am consoled with the thought that perhaps “we may meet by the side of the River, Some Sweet Day.”
Bonham Daily Favorite, December 4, 1914
Burning Up Satan at a Camp Meeting
How a Mechievous Boy Stopped the Ceremonies, Another Boyish Prank
The following amusing incidents, not on the program, occurred at a camp meeting near Bonham in an early day. The principal actors have long since been gathered to their fathers, and out of respect to their living relatives I will mention no names.
At one of the night services the devil was to be burned. In preparation for this somewhat peculiar and startling event a quantity of dead brush, hay and other combustible material was heaped in a pile. A bonfire was to be made of it at the opportune time. The congregation had reached that point in the services where many were singing and shouting, and evidently enjoying their religion. The time having arrived, as old Brother _ thought, when the bonfire would be most impressive, and most likely to warn sinners of the wrath to come, he secretly touched a lighted match to the "devil." The result was startling, as the sequel shows. A devilish Bonham boy, unobserved, had thrown a bunch of firecrackers in the pile of rubbish. For a moment there was a stampede, a few of the more excitable taking to tall timber.
Another time at the same place the same fellow who "delivered the goods," as above related, was the moving spirit in the following episode: A buggy, from which the horse had been removed, was standing on a hillside, facing and leading down toward the audience. A young fellow and his best girl were sitting in the buggy enjoying each other's company, and probably utterly oblivious to all their surroundings. Suddenly a propelling force from behind started the vehicle down grade. It struck the center aisle and checked up about the center of the congregation, much to the consternation of all.
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 17, 1915
Night Riders in Bonham
"Can such things be, and overcome us like a summer cloud."
We hear of Night Riders in many places - in Kentucky and Tennessee destroying the tobacco beds of farmers that have engaged their crops to the trusts. We hear of them in Arkansas and Texas, burning gins. They threatened and intimidated cotton raisers in Oklahoma because they refused to hold their cotton for ten cents. Very recently in Southeast Missouri they drove negro renters from their farms because they would not unite with them and demand a reduction of rents.
This is anarchy, pure and simple and cannot and will not be tolerated to any great extent in a country that is known far and wide as "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
But I pass on now to a different kind of Night Rider. It remains for Bonham, enjoying the reputation of being the cleanest town in Texas, both from a moral as well as a sanitary standpoint, to produce a very unique and peculiar style of Night Rider.
A lady friend informs me that not long since, desiring to take a buggy ride, she applied to one of our livery stables for a horse and buggy. She was shown several ancient and somewhat dilapidated buggies, and horses that were hard lookers, and was politely informed that was the best they could do for her. She protested against such service and calling attention to some nicely groomed, shapely horses and attractive buggies, asked why she could not be supplied with something of that kind. To her utter astonishment she was informed that they were used only at night, and that the horses must rest during the day. The man told her that they were well paid for these rigs by men who used them the greater part of the night joy-riding with their sweethearts. As my friend turned away without getting the desired rig, she said: "Well, that beats all. I have heard of Night Riders elsewhere but I did not dream that we had them in our midst."
My reflections are these: That this kind of night riding is questionable at least. If there is no wrong doing, it belies the brand. It looks wrong, and the Good Book warns us to avoid the appearance of evil.
Mothers, where are your girls of nights? Staying all night with girl friends? Maybe so.
I am quite bold in thus writing, because if there be any guilty ones, they will say: "You never touched me."
Bonham Daily Favorite, April 8, 1915
Civil War Times Are Duplicated, Says L. C. Penwell of This City, Who Was Here on the Ground At Time.
We are experiencing some very hard times just now, because of a partial failure crops, together with the low price of cotton and the great European war. A feeling of uneasiness and doubt seems to prevail, but I believe we have crossed the Rubicon, that the worst is over and that the bright sunlight of prosperity will soon shine again. God's chosen people can not be kept down long.
We are partly to blame ourselves for these hard times, because of our extravagance. Besides, I think sometimes that our imaginary wants bother us more than our real ones. We are living in an advanced age, and all, whether able or not, are trying to keep up with the procession. I think it is about time to call a halt and take a retrospective view of the situation and profit by our experiences. As I can scarcely write an article without referring to the past, this will be no exception.
The present hard times remind me of the sixties, the dark days of the Civil War. We were cut off from the outside world and forced a rely almost entirely upon our own resources. People lived pretty hard, but you did not hear half the complaining that you do now. We dressed in home-spun and home-made clothing and lived at home and boarded at the same place. Our victuals was plain but wholesome and not much of a variety, and consisted in many instances of corn bread, mast-fed pork and beef killed off the range any time of the year, and far sweeter and more tender than meat we have now. We had sorghum molasses and many raised fruit. Never since a boy have I tasted anything that will compare with the large, blood-red, juicy Indian peach of early days.
For awhile biscuit were a rarity, and you would often see a cow-lot full of calves and not enough cream could be gotten from the cows for coffee. For coffee we used barley or rye, toned up with a little okra. Sure-enough coffee cost $8.00 a pound in United States or $16.00 in Confederate money. It was, therefore, just about as scarce as hen's teeth. We made our own candles, and quite a number had honey. Many raised barley and the bees lived on that and the sweet prairie flowers that bedecked the earth like Joseph's coat of many colors.
As I have said before, times were hard here, but not as hard as they were further east, near the war zone. For an eye-opener I will quote the rules and regulations of the Confederate Hotel at Withville, Virginia, November 14, 1864. This is authentic, and was given me by a neighbor who was living there at the time. Of course Confederate money was used in this transaction:
Board and lodging per day $30.00
Single meal 10.00.
Lodging per day 5.00
Keeping a horse per day 15.00
Single horse feed 5.00
Extra charge for fire in room 10.00
How is that for high?
The Bonham News, June 22, 1915
Many years ago fire hunting was frequently indulged in by some hunters, There is a kind of charm about it that fasinates the sportsman. Because of the liability of killing stock, there is, and should be a very stringent law against it. As a general thing sportsmen are law abiding, but I would love to see the color of the hunters eyes that has not crossed the line in some of his experiences.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with this kind of sport I will describe it. A tin band was fitted around the head, holding a torch above. Behind this was a reflector throwing a bright light ahead some forty or fifty yards, permitting the hunter to see very distinctly anything within space on the ground. The darker the night the better. Of course deer was the object most commonly sought but it must be home in mind that there were various other kinds of game at that time, even to a few scattering bear. Old time hunters claim that a horse or a dog has eyes very similar to a deer. In fact they have deceived many a reasonably careful hunter.
About thirty-five or forty years ago my old country school mate Isreal Journey was fire-hunting near Eagle Lake, just across the river from the Sowell's Bluff. By the way this was a veritable hunter's paradise at that time. Some Indians sleeping in a wagon near its bank with their inseparable companion, a dog, beneath, not knowing-that they were there and intently looking upon the ground for game, he failed to see the wagon, but did see the dog and shot it. And of course the noise of the gun and the howling of the dog aroused the sleepers and they at once got busy because an Indian sure loves his dog, just I have been told . . . about as well as he does his children. At once detecting the cause of the trouble they took the shortest route to the ferry expecting to catch the culprit, but he was too wise a guy for that, being perfectly familiar with the country he sought another crossing and reached home on Timber Creek in a jiffy. No doubt the Indians just at that particular time being highly incensed would have put the kibosh on Isreal had they caught him. It was many years after that before he would even go back into that part of the Indian Territory,
Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, September 3, 1915
An Amusing Incident of Early Days.
"I do not know what the truth may be;
I tell the tale as it was told to me."
While on a pleasure trip on the river some time ago the following somewhat amusing package was handed me by an old residenter. In the early days of Fannin county, while there were a few Indians lingering about, a little boy, son of a sturdy pioneer, was gathering wild strawberries (and they were delicious, for I was here in time to sample them) near their humble cabin. Carelessly and unthoughtedly he passed over a hill and out of sight of home. While thus engaged and in blissful ignorance of his surroundings, an Indian, in pursuit of a deer, seeing him, quit the chase and captured him. The Indian, with the rest of his little band, was camped a few miles away on a hill. To this place the little fellow, crying with fear, was taken. His captor abused him shamefully and tried to make him understand that he would never see home and mother again. Having failed to return in due time, the parents became alarmed and sought him in vain. Early the next morning, to their surprise and delight, he returned, explaining his absence and singular escape.
He said that the Indians, desiring to make a raid on a nearby settlement and not wishing to be bothered with him, placed him in an upturned barrel, weighted it down and went off. Along late in the night the solitude was broken by a pack of wolves that had sneaked into camp and were fighting over the scraps always to be found around a camp. By mere accident, I suppose, one of them thrust his tail through the bung hole in the barrel. The little captive grabbed it and hung on for dear life. The wolf, evidently scared into forty fits at the unusual proceedings, lit out down the hill at a two-forty gait. Bumping up against the rocks, the barrel bursted, the wold was out of sight in an instant, and the boy, considerably bruised, was released from prison. Daylight was approaching, the boy got his bearings, probably by accident, and was soon home. L. C. Penwell, in Bonham News.
Bonham Daily Favorite, September 17, 1915
Burned At The Stake.
About the year 1866 Mr. Hurd of McKinney and Messrs. Foster and Basham of this county, having business in Fort Smith, Ark., made the trip with a wagon and team. Having accomplished their purpose, they were on the eve of returning home, when two Fannin county negroes sought an opportunity to return with them, offering to do the cooking and attend to the stock for the privilege. Their names were Rufe Wafford and Jerry Pope, and their homes were near Red River, in the northern part of the county.
Believing that the negroes would easily earn their passage and relieve them of much labor, and not thinking of any danger, the men granted the request of the negroes. Everything moved along smoothly until they arrived at Carriage Point, in the Indian Territory. Here after their benefactors had retired for the night and fallen asleep without any thought of danger, the negroes, seemingly by a prearranged plan, arose and knocked them in the head with an axe, killing all three of them. They then robbed them of clothing and money, and taking two mules and a buggy they proceeded on towards home, leaving a wagon and team. A Choctaw Indian passing the camp early next morning discovered the murder and notified others. Possibly by letters found on their persons, I know not, their identity was established, as well as the place of their destination. This same Indian took up the trail and followed the negroes on towards Texas. Near the river the negroes separated, Wafford remaining on the Territory side and hiding out in the bottom, while Pope came on to Bonham with the buggy and team, and also wearing a hat and overcoat of one of the murdered men. The pursuing Indian came on to Bonham and notified the officers, who soon found the negro, who was trying to dispose of the buggy and team, and placed him in the little old log jail which stood where the present large and commodious brick one stands. For greater safety his legs were chained together by one of our blacksmiths. A crowd set out to find Wafford, but Charley Shico, an Indian, forestalled them and found the negro first. Wafford ran, but Shico overtook him and killed him by stabbing him in the back with a butcher knife.
Mr. Lydston was sheriff at the time this happened. Mr. Foster, son of one of the murdered men, accompanied by some friends, together with a negro that had belonged to the murdered Foster, came to Bonham, secured the keys to the jail from Mr. Lydston, and took the negro out, still chained. He was placed on a horse sideways and taken about eight miles north of town near what is now known as the Charles Burton place. The negro was fastened to a tree, wood and brush piled about him and set on fire.
A friend of mine, who was a boy at the time, and who accompanied the mob through curiosity, and to whom I am indebted for this article, informed me that he heard the negro who led the horse upon which Pope rode say: "Nigger, you sure killed the best friend I ever had, and I am going to fix you." And, sure enough, he made the fire that did the deadly work.
—L. C. Penwell.
Bonham News, November 12, 1915
The Killing of Mr. Daugherty By Indians
To the News: -
We of this day and time little realize the hardships, difficulties and dangers that our forefathers experienced here in early days. If we did I believe that we would be more grateful for present conditions and surroundings. Indians committed many depredations in this county up to about 1845. Of one of these I shall write hoping that it will be appreciated by the readers of The News. I am indebted to my old time friend, Uncle Rafe Connelly, for this item. Though a negro, no one stands higher in the Randolph community. Being quite old he is a link between the past and the present. Uncle Rafe is above the average of his race in intelligence and in conversation - very entertaining.
A Mr. Daugherty and Mr. Thomas, who were brothers-in-law lived in the neighbors they both obtained water from the same spring. By the way, springs were generally the chief source of the water supply of the early pioneers.
Mr. Daugherty, accompanied by his ten-year-old son, went to the spring one morning for water, not knowing that there were Indians concealed nearby. While stooping over to get water, an Indian brained him with a tomahawk. The child ran, yelling, with the Indians in pursuit. Mr. Thomas hearing the noise, and fearing the worst, grabbed his faithful rifle and hastened to the spring. Approaching cautiously, he was horrified to find Mr. Daugherty dead and a number of red skins chasing the boy. Getting busy,he killed some of them, the others making their get-a-way.
Not knowing how many more of the murderous scoundrels were in the neighborhood, Mr. Thomas with his family and that of his brother-in-law hastened to Fort Inglish, about 25 miles away, where he was welcomed and given protection.
Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, December 3, 1915
A Lonely Grave
L. C. Penwell, in Bonham Favorite.
"There is a grave, a lonely grave.
Deep in the woodland glade,
No friendly hand has placed it there,
By strangers was it made."
There is a lonely grave on the east side of North Center street, just a short distance beyond Simpson Park. People in passing doubtless have often wondered about its origin. There is a history connected with it which I confess is mostly tradition and which I believe is worth repeating. The story runs like this: The Alamo had fallen and the red blood of the martyrs shed there was calling for vengeance. In response many people from all parts of our country, doubtless imbued with the spirit of adventure and retaliation, were hastening towards our Southern border, “Remember the Alamo" was the crv heard on every hand. A man from one of the northern states was journeying alone to eastern Texas to join some friends who were preparing to go to the front. He had reached this point on his long and lonesome journey without accident of any kind and was flattering himself that three or four days more would put him in the house of his friends. But the "best laid plans of mice and men oftimes gang aglee." After a long and fatiguing day's ride night overtook him near the struggling little frontier village of Bonham. Having lariated his horse on the grass, prepared and eaten his frugal meal, he placed his blanket upon the ground beneath the far-reaching branches of a stately oak and was soon in dreamland. While doubtless dreaming of the loved ones at home and the prospects of mixing it with the treacherous greasers soon, one of those sudden and severe thunder storms arose, such as we experience occasionally now, a heavy bolt of lightning struck the tree beneath which he was sleeping, passed on down and killed him. The next day some hunters from the village in passing discovered the tragedy, summoned help and buried him on the spot, which was then a heavy timber. Letters found upon the body bore out the above statements.
Bonham Daily Favorite, January 20, 1916
A CANDY PULLING OF YE OLDEN TIME; HOW AN EVENING OF MERRIMENT WAS BROUGHT TO AN INGLORIOUS ENDING.
While sitting: by a cozy fire one cold day recently, I happened to look, out of the window and saw the “old woman picking her geese.” It was snowing, and I was reminded of a cold winter I spent in Michigan when a child. Passing many other pleasant memories by my mind centered upon a sleigh ride and a candy pulling in the country. And by the way, candy pullings without the sleigh ride was a kind of sport frequently indulged in here in an early day, but now I believe almost obsolete.
With plenty of hay in the bottom of the sleigh bed, and nice warm buffalo robes to wrap up in, we were certainly a jolly crowd as our happy voices, mingled in song, floated out upon the crisp night air, accompanied by the merry jingle, jingle of the sleigh bells.
Generally our host, by a prearranged plan, would have the molases candy about done and ready to pour out into saucers to cool by the time we arrived. As a general thing a boy and his best girl would pull their candy together. Much more fun, believe me, besides having a mutual admiration society all to ourselves.
After pulling your candy until it was almost white, we would frequently eat it, taking a bite about. Oh, those puppy love days of our childhood -- that period in each of our lives that we will fondly remember even down to the sunset of our lives.
At one of those early day candy pullings the following amusing incident occurred, but l want it distinctly understood that it was not “my funeral." The candy in saucers had been placed on benches under the eaves of the kitchen roof to cool. A young fellow not feeling very well, had probably eaten too much candy, had retired early, occupying an upstairs room near a window that looked out upon the kitchen roof. Soon after retiring a couple of cats mounted the roof and at once began cussing and abusing each other in a most shameful manner. The young man could not sleep, so he arose and began throwing different articles that he found in the room at them. Of course he missed them. Did you ever try to hit a cat? I have It can’t be did. The cats apparently paid no attention to him and the boy became desperate. While they were sparring for an opening and about to make the fur fly, he picked up a bootjack and thought that he would get a little closer by stepping upon the kitchen roof. As he raised his arm to throw the weapon, his feet slipped out from under him, and this “September Morn” he was clothed only in a nightshirt, so with his alabaster legs glistening in the moonlight and his shirt-tail waving in the evening breeze, he scooted down that roof with the velocity of an Alpine avalanche and landed ker-plunk in those saucers of hot candy.
Well, the other boys and the girls, just a short distance off, not expecting company from that direction and in that manner and costume, were thoroughly shocked, and the giggling girls immediately stampeded, vamoosed. The misguided boy, poor fellow, suffering from the hot, blistering candy and broken china which stuck to him: “like grim death to a dead negro," was surely a ridiculous sight as he at once sought refuge and seclusion in the house. Some of the larger boys followed him and rendered all the assistance possible. However, the festivities of the occasion were brought to a sudden close and the children returned to their respective homes.
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 6, 1916
Another Old-Timer Gone
In the passing away of Uncle Mitch Leach another old settler is gone, and although a negro I deem it not inappropriate to give him a write-up, since I have known him for so many years. It seems to me a sad reflection to know that the ranks of the old-timers are so rapidly thinning out. Soon they will all be gone, leaving only a pleasant memory of those who, coming here when the country was in its infancy, by their industry, toil and many times sacrifice, hewed out of a wilderness what has proven to be a great commonwealth. I some times think that we do not properly appreciate the true worth of the early pioneers and in our onward progress of civilization give them but a passing notice.
Born a slave in Tennessee long before the Civil War, Uncle Mitch was brought to Bonham by his master, James Christian, in 1859. He died where he had lived since 1868, on an acre lot that he bought from Tom Williams, an old-time Bonham merchant, for $25.00. Like a majority of the old negroes he didn’t know his age, but was doubtless somewhere around eighty. When I was quite a child he was a grown man. He was one of those good old-time darkies whom all respected, because he recognized his station in life and was always respectful to those he met.
In an early day he worked for my father and later on myself, helping to make of the virgin soil habitable homes. I was with him much and always found him faithful to every trust. Though a negro as black as the ace of spades, I cherish his memory, furthermore because he was especially kind and accommodating to my parents during the dark days of the war, ‘‘the time that tried men's souls.” He conveyed information from parent to parent when, had he been caught in the act, it would doubtless have been a sad day for him. I have had many conversations with him and although he had a very limited education, it was always a pleasure to talk to him.
In a somewhat rambling way I will relate a few instances of his life as he gave them to me from time to time.
He said that when a child back in Tennessee he found a school book in the road that someone had lost. He was trying to read it when a man happened to see him, took it from him and slapped him, telling him that he must not learn to read. At another time his master found him and his young mistress looking at a book, took it away from them and chastized them both. At the age of 17 his master refused $1,700 for him, far more than many men, regardless of color, are worth now.
Early in the sixties his master gave him to Jim Leach, who had married one of the master’s daughter[s]. This changed his name from Christian to Leach, for the negroes almost invariably took their names from their masters. About this time his now master and another man, whose name I will not call, deserted from the Confederate Army, were captured and incarcerated in the Bonham bull-pen. Some friends slipped them a saw. One watched while the other worked. The night that they made their escape they stole a gun from a sleeping guard and also swiped a couple of horses from General McCullough’s barn. They went out to Jim Christian's, south of town, where Mitch was living. Mr. Leach still wearing his chains. Uncle Mitch said that he filed them off. The two escaped prisoners concealed themselves in the bottom near the Boutwell lake for several weeks, Mitch helping to provide for them. Then a little later on they made their escape to Mexico, the mecca of many others.
During slavery times negroes were expected to be in their quarters by 9 p.m. As they had to work all day. the temptation to roam at night was hard to overcome. Each night different white men would assume the duty of patrols. It was their duty to look after these run-about darkies. They carried paddles and if they caught any of them they made it pretty interesting for the culprit. As soon as they sighted one of them they would yell, “Patrol, patrol” thus summoning aid. Many times have I heard them in the dead hours of night giving this call, and it rings in my ears to this day. I also call to mind that there was some wonderful printing done in those days. Of course Uncle Mitch got mixed up with the patrols. I will just relate one instance. Two of them caught him and three other negroes playing cards in a cabin here in town one night. They were all caught and paddled except Uncle Mitch. He made his get-away by going through a window, taking sash and all.
He also had some exciting experiences with the Ku-Klux. He said that he saw Tom Ingram shoot one of them off his horse near the place that later on became his home. He said that he also took a shot at one of them but his gun was too heavily loaded and knocked him flat off his back. At another time he and another Bonham negro were hunting on the river. They stopped at a negro cabin. Several Ku-Klux were seen approaching. All the negroes took to the brush but Uncle Mitch and his companion. The unwelcome visitors approached the house and began firing into it. Mitch and his friend returned the fire. For some reason or other the battle ended and the Ku-Klux passed on.
I will close by mentioning the fact that like many of his race he was very superstitious. He believed in “hants” and other things along that line. He could be run all over town with a rabbit’s foot. Upon one occasion a groceryman sent him some goods in a box that had a picture of a rabbit's foot on it. He was completely horrified and nearly threw a fit, ordering the grocery boy to get out with the groceries.
Although I have not exhausted my subject, I will desist, fearing that I have already become wearisome.
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 6, 1916
Bois D'Arc Springs
These springs are closely connected with the early history of Fannin County. The Indians were familiar with them and recognized these medicinal qualities and a generation of our own race long since gathered to its fathers, found health and pleasure there. They are situated on Bois d'Arc creek about twenty-five miles northeast of Bonham and four or five miles east of Telephone. It is well worth any ones' time to visit this Fannin County pleasure resort, drink the cool invigorating health restoring water, and commune with nature in the quiet solititude of the wild woods. I believe that it is calculated to give one a new lease on life.
Sometimes these springs are called Brotheron Springs, after Uncle Billy Brotherton, a sturdy old pioneer long since gone to his reward. He was one among the first to discover these medicinal qualities, when camping there on a bear hunt in an early day. And right here I will digress long enough to say that I consider it quite fortunate to have known this splendid good man, and to have listened with childish delight and eager ear to his early day experiences here, when it was a vast wilderness abounding in all kinds of game, as well as the treacherous, sneaking, blood-thirsty red-skin. He camped at these springs many times during one of which cut his initials on a black gum tree, which stands about 30 yards down the creek from the springs. This was in 1846, I believe. I readily found them there though, made many years ago.
The principal springs are located at the foot of a high bluff that contains the names of numerous people, who from time to time have visited the place. They are very near the bank of the creek and when it overflows, are underwater. There are several other springs about one hundred yards off and away from the creek. Each spring furnished a different kind of mineral water, but those first mentioned are the most popular, for they are especially adapted to stomach troubles. I know this to be a fact. While these springs have been popular for years with people who for the most part live in the vicinity, they would be much more in demand if they were more accessible. During much of the year the roads leading to them are terrible. With the coming of good roads all over the country, and one already leading far out in that direction, the time is not far distant in my humble judgment, when they will be one of this counties greatest attractions. I am quite sure they will if a rail road every penetrates that country. As there is no rose without a thorn and generally a little bitter with the sweet, there is no exception in this case.
The gay and festive mosquito always with an eye to business, is very much in evidence. During their open-season, which seems to be quite lengthy, they are very annoying. But this difficulty can be easily overcome by a little precaution, by using mosquito bars. Without waiting for an invitation, they sweep down upon you like a mighty army just about dusk, and immediately present there bills for collection long before they are due. I know from personal experience, having been in close touch with them many times and some of them are whoppers. To use an old saying, "A good many of them will weigh a pound." And then there [are] these musical concerts. The evening air fairly reverberates with their melodious (!) voices, not much harmony, but plenty of noise. Reminding one very forcibly of an amateur concert company. But as I remarked before, prepare for these pests and you will never regret a trip to Bois d'Arc Springs.
Bonham Daily Favorite, February 15, 1916
Reminiscences of Drunkard's Whim
Whiskey has a effect upon different people. Some under its peculiar influence will segregate themselves from their companions, find a quiet place and sleep off their inebiety. That is evidently their conception of happiness. Another gets mad and raises a rough house, and would fight his best friend. Still another is jovial, happy and devilish. Of the latter class I will write from personal observation, but will say by way of unsolicited advice beginning that "Wine is a mocker, stone drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." One of the greatest courses of the age, it plays no favorites. From the man of wealth and influence, and very frequently most exalted station in life, to the poor man whose cabin is his castle - each and all may come under its baneful, blighting influence.
Many years ago I knew a man who was a high official of this county. He was a graduate of West Point and a polished gentleman ordinarily. In fact he was a perfect Chesterfield in is bearing when sober, but a holly terror when drunk. I lived at his house when a child and together with his children would hide out when he would come home full.
I remember that he came home for dinner in that condition once. Everything was ready for that important occasion, when he stepped up to the table, caught hold of and jerked the table cloth from the table, making a regular "Duke's Mixture" of the victuals and dishes as they fell to the floor. The wife, a most devoted, patient and lovable character, took him gently by the arm and without one word of reproach led him into another room and put him to bed, just as though nothing unusual had happened. She then returned and prepared another meal. What sacrifices and humiliations some women must undergo for "mere man."
Upon another occasion, while sitting in the shade of the house in a drunken stupor, someone informed him that cows were in the yard destroying the flowers, and he was asked whose they were. He said that hic-he did not know, and hic-not being interested he did not car a damn. It just so happened that they were his own cows.
The house was one of those old time double log houses now quite rare, with a broad hall through the center. The floor was about two feet from the ground. While playing about the house one evening we children decided to pass from one side to the other. The "lord of the manor" in an intoxicated condition, was sitting in the hall. Not wishing him to see us, we got down on our all fours and attempted to crawl across. The other children "crossed the Rubicon" in safety, but he happened to see my back, and attempting to rise as though he would come to me, and pointing his finer at me he said, somewhat sarcastically "What d___d little thing is that crawling along there?" I didn't stand on the order of my going but just simply went - disappeared like a midnight dream.
I could write of other incidents in the life of this very prominent early day citizen but will desist with the kindly admonition that "wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
Bonham News, August 25, 1916
Reflections About the Perilous Times of the '60s.
All wars are demoraling, in fact, a great General declared that "war is hell." The war between the States was no exception. If there is anything low down or mean in a man it is sure to be brought out in some way or another.
Although but a child in the sixties, I distinctly remember much of the devilment going on here then. Among other things I remember how the names of Bob Lee, Jim Bolin and Jim Long and others sank terror and consternation in the hearts of many when their approach into this country was heralded. If there was any need of proof of this statement I could easily get it. The above mentioned free booters were not much respectors of persons or factions either, but claimed allegiance to the South because that gave them more prestige. They would rob and steal from all alike and if it required murder to accomplish their purpose they would not hesitate a moment to do so. Sometimes though they would meet their Jonah. There were instances in which they themselves furnished the victim for a necktie sociable. Good people of all parties would put up with them until "forbearance would cease to be a virtue" then the worm would turn. Some of these desperadoes came near putting the kibish on my father once, but I will treat of that in another article.
One bitter cold night in winter a number of them met at Uncle Milt Jackson's and around a coy cheerful fire planned to take the life of Col. Bob Taylor, a noted lawyer here at that time, but their host put up such a vigorous protest that they desisted. About that time General McCullough, who was in command of this Government post office, took a fancy to Uncle Jim Russell's fine horse, and by the way fine horses have always been and are to this day Uncle Jim's "long suit." Well, Jim Long was sent after the horse, but his mission was in vain. Uncle Jim positively refused to give it up and said that he would fight first. McCullough sent for Mr. Russell and informed him that he must have the horse, that he needed him. Well, Uncle Jim said, "Never." And being so firm he was told to keep it, that he was an old fool any way.
Down near Ladonia a band of Gorillas stole a fine horse from a farmer's barn. Having been warned, he was not "asleep at the switch" but shot one or two of the visitors and recovered his horse.
Near where Dod City now makes itself conspicuous on the map a lonely traveler was put a foot and his noble steed confiscated by a band of marauders. There are other instances along these lines that I will leave for a future article and will close by saying that all ought to be thankful to God that the perilous ties of which I write have long since in the language of President Cleveland,sank into "inocuousdusitude" and peace and order brought about by the enforcement of the law renders this a most admirable country in which to live.
Bonham News, January 23, 1917
From the beginning of time there have been cave-dwellers - people who lived in caves. We read of them in ancient history and learn of their varied and oft-times startling experiences. In this article I shall discuss modern cave dwellers, and by the way, will say that I was acquainted with some of the dwellers of whom I write. The great Civil War was a breeder of this class of people. Many men who were opposed to the "late unpleasantness" in the beginning and were forced into it against their will and others who though patriotic enough later on became convinced that it was a hopeless cause, deserted and in many instances found a home and refuge in caves.
One of the McFarlins, I think it was Joe, and Levi Kerr were among the former class. Their cave home was about ten mile south of Bonham near what is known now as Taylortown. They were "in the houses of their friends" for these homes were near there. They were aided and assisted by relatives and friends who had to sneak things to them at night but they were always in a nervous strain because they knew that they were being hunted and that their lives might pay the penalty should they be discovered. I was reliably informed shortly after the war that at least one of them almost because a nervous wreck. I have seen this cave in an early day and it was sure in a desolate as well as a very secluded place.
A man by the name of Gilbreath escaped from the Bonham Bull Pen, a stockade to confine prisoners, a short distance east of the square. He proceeded immediately to a cave just across Bois d'Arc creek. He lived a haunted life, but occasionally visited friends, among whom was Uncle Bob Rusell who lived in an early day about two miles northeast of town. He was there upon one occasion when a squad of soldiers from the Bonham Post were hunting him. Greatly to his surprise and relief they passed by without stopping to investigate.
When General Pap Price came out of Missouri on a raid into Arkansas about 1864 two of his men who had fought from the beginning of the war and had been in many a bloody encounter and had made splendid brave soldiers, now became thoroughly convinced that their cause was hopeless, that the struggle was in vain. They therefore deserted one dark dismal, dreary rainy night and fled to Texas where they lived in early days. They traveled mostly by night guided solely by the stars and underwent many hardships with starvation staring them in the face much of the time. They were about "all in" when they reached their destination and sought shelter and seclusion in a large cave in the "deep tangle wild woods" which they had been familiar with when children. They were just in the nick of time too, because the most severe cold spell of the winter accompanied by a very heavy snow storm settled down upon them. Being afraid to use their guns because the noise might betray them, they made bows and arrows with which they very readily killed a variety of game which was then quite abundant, and that together with acorns, persimmons, plums and other wild fruit constitute their commissary. The above mentioned people pulled through all right there there were numerous instances where they did not fare so well. Some were captured and returned to their different commands while others more desperate in their resistance were killed.
Bonham Daily Favorite, February 27, 1917
An Incident of Early Days
When the great Civil war closed, suffering the humiliation of defeat, it was hard for some of our people to reconcile themselves to the changed conditions. In the heat of passion things are often done that would not be attempted in calmer moments. It requires time to cool our tempers and soften our passions, to forget the real or imaginary wrongs. Soon after the surrender a detachment of United States soldiers were stationed at Sherman. Occasionally some of them would pass through Bonham and it was like flaunting a red rag in a bull’s face for some of our returned soldiers to see the blue coats.
The climax was reached, however, when some of them came over and hoisted the stars and stripes on the court house. Some hot headed young fellows, unable to stand the pressure, climbed to the cupola of the temple of justice and tore “old glory" down. Not yet satisfied, one of them tied it to his horse's tail and drug it through the mud and up and down some of the principal streets and around the square to the great amusement of some of the onlookers. Some of the crowd might have been drinking, at any rate in their zeal and enthusiasm for the lost cause they evidently did not realize the enormity of the offense. A runner was sent to Sherman and the soldiers notified Some of them were at once sent here and another flag replaced the one torn down which was never afterwards disturbed. But this did not end the matter. The principal participants of this affair were arrested and prosecuted. Col. Bob Taylor, a leading lawyer here at the time defended and cleared them. He was paid for his services in black land about two miles a little southeast of town. I am indebted mostly for this article to one of the participants.
Bonham Daily Favorite, February 27, 1917
Some Incidents in the Life of Dr. Penwell
I have been thinking for some time of writing a short sketch of my father's pioneer days in Fannin county as well as his unfortunate experience during the war of the sixties. Mentioning the subject to some of his old friends, and by the way they are growing fewer and fewer as time passes, I was encouraged to proceed. I shall furnish manuscript in homeopathic doses thinking that it will better satisfy my readers. I would have written upon this subject sooner but hesitated fearing that I could not do the subject justice. Hope that my friends will bear with me in my feeble efforts.
I am proud of the fact that my father was one of the early pioneers of this county, having come here with my mother in the year of 1848. With others who were imbued with a similar spirit of adventure he assisted in making a desert bloom like the rose. Helped to hew out a vast wilderness this magnificent commonwealth - an empire within itself the blessings of which the present generation is enjoying with scarcely a thought of the trials, hardships and difficulties undergone in their behalf. And just at this point I will digress just long enough to say that I overheard a man state recently that our forefathers didn't experience such a hard time after all that they doubtless enjoyed a life so close to nature and so full of adventure. Now my idea about it is this: If there was any pleasure in these early day hardships, particularly that of dodging the sneaking, treacherous redskin, I certainly fail to see it. The wild Indians had been driven out of this country a little previous to father's arrival by such sturdy old pioneers as the Inglishes, Cowarts, Simpsons, and other who had come here at a still earlier date. But they were still in adjoining counties frequently making trouble for the hated paleface. However, game of all kinds was to be found in abundance, in fact it was a hunter's paradise. There was bear, panther, Mexican lion, several kinds of deer, turkey and prairie chickens. Besides wolves ran in great droves and were very aggressive sometimes of a severe winter. My father had rather an exciting experience with them once and I will tell it as he told it to me. He was paying a professional visit to a patient in the river country. It was in the winter time with snow all over the ground and the hungry brutes could get but little to eat.
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 14, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. S. Penwell
In closing my first article concerning my father's early day experiences here I left him in a wolf race and with him as the leading feature. At any rate he headed the procession in this marathon. It occurred on one disagreeably cold night in midwinter with a deep snow covering the ground which had fallen the previous week, rendering it almost impossible for the wolves to find anything to eat. Father was returning from a professional call to a patient in the river country. It was late in the night but he had the benefit of a full moon. It was nothing out of the ordinary to see wolves here then but it must be admitted that father was a little uneasy at this time, because of the surrounding circumstances. However, he placed a great deal of confidence in a fleet footed little horse that he was riding. It was a little brown mare named Dolly. He had not proceeded far on his journal, riding at a pretty good gate as he nearly always did anyway, and had just emerged from a skirt of timber when he heard wolves barking behind him. The noble little mare seemed alive to the occasion, evidently "smelled the smoke of the battle from afar," for at the touch of the quirt she sprang forward with something like the velocity of a rifle ball. The wolves put forth all their speed evidently anticipating a sumptuous feast from both rider and horse, but they were "reckoning without their host." They were being outdistanced when a farm house was passed with the front yard full of hounds. That probably had something to do with the "cessation of hostilities" for they gave up the chase and hastily decamped, followed by the hounds.
For a while father thought that he was a goner sure, and ever afterwards felt thankful for his faithful little mount for sparing him from a horrible death. Father frequently encountered Mexican lions, panthers and bears in his travels about the country, but he was never molested by them. At the time of which I write wild horses were found here in large droves. In fact there were a few here when i came in 1860.
In my next number I will write upon the subject of wild horses as they were found here in 1848. In conclusion will say for the benefit of inquiring friends that I will furnish copy upon the subject that heads this article about every 10 or 12 days for perhaps year, if the editor don't stop me.
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 30, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. S. Penwell
I stated in my last article that I would discuss the subject of wild horses in my next number. This is digressing somewhat from my subject, but is an incident of those early days and will interest I trust, at least the younger readers of the Favorite.
These wild horses ran in great droves and were invariably led and controlled by a stallion. This horse was in nearly every instance a fine, noble and commanding specimen of the equine species. With long waving mane and tail and heavy forelock he was certainly a proud creature with plenty of sense and he certainly acted as though he felt his importance. He was always on guard looking after the welfare and safety of his companions. On the move he was at the head of the herd, and while grazing he would take a position on some eminence, an elevated place on the prairie and "view the landscape o'er," always anticipating trouble. In case that he saw something that did not look just right to him he would sound an alarm, making a loud noise with his mouth and then the herd would be off with the speed of the wind. These horses would live on prairie grass and it was nearly as high as their backs at certain seasons of the year in the "good old summer time," and keep fat in the winter on corn that could be found in abundance on the creek bottoms. There were two ways of catching them - by running them into corrals or by creasing them. The former was accomplished in this manner: A large stout pen would be made in a suitable place. The horse hunters would take their stands mounted on their fastest horses. They ran after theses horses in relays generally. While some were resting others were running. In this manner they would sometimes but not always by any means, pen them. Moreover, the leader would sometimes have to be killed. This would have a tendency to demoralize the rest of them.
Creasing was done in this manner: A good shot with a rifle, and they were quite numerous in those days, would mount a fast horse, and selecting a horse from the drove that suited him he would ride close enough to it to shoot it in the neck. It was absolutely necessary to shoot it very high up on the neck. The idea was to stun it and then lasso it while in this condition. They were sometimes, though very seldom, killed by shooting too low. When first caught they were vicious, didn't yield very readily to kind treatment. There were hardy, tough animals, capable of enduring much hardship. The first pony my father bought me was of this wild stock, represented to be perfectly safe. It not only threw me off but turned around and bit me before I could get up from the ground.
In my next I will describe the home of an early pioneer.
Bonham Daily Favorite, April 10, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. S. Penwell
I stated in my last article that I would describe in the next the home of an early pioneer. As some have already guessed it was that of my parents, It was doubtless very similar to that of many other old settlers, possibly better than some, notwithstanding its crudeness. People of this day and time would think it a great misfortune, indeed quite a hardship to begin life as many of our ancestors did. And yet there was this satisfaction, all were on an equal footing. No one could boost of better surroundings than his neighbor, as I have known of some doing in my time. There was no aristocracy, especially of the contemptible shoddy kind, that sometimes confronts us now. Let us, their progeny, over revere their memory for the sacrifices they made for us in the formulative period of this State's history. They were certainly digging deep and laying well the foundation of a great Empire. I sometimes wonder if they ever dreamed of the future, of our present prosperity and greatness.
My parents' first home in Bonham was a small one-room log cabin which they rented for a nominal sum and which stood where the Gross house now stands on West Fourth street. Not a street then however ,not much more than a trail. An abundance of sparkling pure water was obtained from a spring near by. This spring is now under the Ocean to Ocean Highway garage, brick and cement confining it. This spring, together with several others some of which I knew, furnished much of the water supply of this town at that time, numbering about 200 people. It was also a very popular camping place for travelers, as there was also an abundance of wood near by. In fact Bonham was built mostly in the timber. My parents’ house furnishings were quite meager—wouldn't cut much of a figure nowadays. I will briefly describe them: Their table was a dry goods box, their bed a very simple, cheap affair that father made out of poles. Another box attached to the wall with calico curtains in front was dignified with the name of cupboard. Their chairs were also boxes.
I have about described all of their household effects. How does this specimen of pioneer homes strike you my friends? And yet a home as above described even now, "where love shines in" and where unstifled ambition and zeal are the guiding stars of their life, must certainly be a happy one. My father told me that after establishing his home he took an inventory of his resources and in addition to the above described property his earthly possessions consisted of two horses, a buggy and one silver dollar. I will add that he also had an education that he had acquired by his own indomitable efforts, being thrown upon his own resources when a mere child.
Bonham at that time doubtless little dreamed of her present magnificent condition.
Bonham Daily Favorite, April 20, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. S. Penwell
My father continued the practice of medicine here for several years. It was somewhat extensive - covered considerable territory, as there were but few physicians here then. In fact it was not uncommon to go into adjoining counties and still farther at times. The condition of the country for traveling was very unfavorable. A very few roads, mostly trails. Just now and then a bridge and then made mostly of poles and dirt. Our forefathers little dreamed of our present good roads system. The county was sparsely populated. Houses and farms like honest politicians, "few and far between." Notwithstanding many rude and unfavorable conditions, and that the people labored under so many disadvantages and inconveniences, there is said to have been much more sociability and strong friendships at that time than is found here now. That is doubtless the case in all new countries. As a new country is populated by people from all parts of the world and in many instances are forced to band together for mutual protection, if of course stands them in hand to be congenial and friendly. As an illustration of the chumminess of the times people would borrow money from each other without says a word about time, interest or security. Is it possible that people were more honest then? "What a difference in the morning!" We find it quite different now. As civilization has advanced times and customs have changed. In fact we are living under an entirely different dispensation.
A somewhat amusing incident occurred here about that time which I believe will bear repeating. It was related to me in later years by my father. Southeast of Bonham about eighteen or twenty miles near the present pretty and prosperous little city of Ladonia were several immense thickets, the largest of which was called Jarnagin thicket. It was named after an early settler who lived near it. These thickets have long since disappeared, having been felled by the ax of the sturdy old pioneer. The land has been fences and put under cultivation and some of the most highly improved as well as most valuable farms in this country are to be found there. These thickets were an almost impenetrable jungle or wilderness, and by the way was the rendesvous or hiding place of many deserters during the unpleasantness of the sixties. A man became lost in the Jarnagin thicket and as men were a little scarce in those days they were sooner missed than now. With a population of something like 60,000 in the county sometimes it is scarcely noticable when one disappears. But as I fear this article is already becoming tedious I will tell of the "lost sheep" in my next.
Bonham Daily Favorite, May 2, 1917
Reminiscencies of L. C. Penwell. Another Chapter in the Life of His Father. - Man Lost in Thicket.
Some of my friends are criticizing me and complaining that my articles are too short; that just about the time they get interested in them I bring them to a close. With the editor's permission I will lengthen them a little.
In the early day there lived near the Jarnigan thicket a man bearing the same name as the thicket - in fact the jungle was named for him. Upon a certain occasion he lost some stock and failing to find them elsewhere concluded that they must be in the big thicket. Not having been here long he knew but little about the country, and therefore did not realize what he was up against when he entered the copse. Going into it a little too far he soon became hopelessly lost. A dark, moonless night soon closed down upon him and he was forced to resign himself to this fate and make the best of the situation.
Nothing unusual occurred during the seemingly extraordinary long and tedious night except the incessant hoot of the owls as they called to their companions, and the lonesome songs of numerous other night birds, most prominent of which was the whippoorwill. Of course under these very unfavorable and distressing conditions he sought in vain "balmy sleep, nature's sweet restorer," and morning found him as badly bewildered as ever.
Failing to show up at his home next morning his family, of course, became alarmed, and at once got in touch with the few scattering neighbors and they began hunting for him. Some of the party at once proceeded to search the thicket, as he was last seen going in that direction.
Now, it so happened that an unfriendly neighbor was prevailed upon to join in the man-hunt, in fact it seems from the sequel that these two men must have been bitter enemies, and to make matters worse, it fell to the lot of these two men to be the first ones to meet in the thicket. As they suddenly and somewhat unexpected faced each other, the "lost sheep," Mr. Jarnigan, with anger depicted in every feature, turned on his heel and plunged into the dark and almost impenetrable forest, declaring in most emphatic terms that he would be damned if he would be found by any such man. If he finally succeeded in making his escape from the thicket, "depondent sayeth not." It is to be hoped that he did not, because a man who will thus give way to his passions ought, perhaps to be hopelessly lost.
But to resume the narrative of my father: From 1848 to 1852 he pursued his calling here, and was quite successful financially, besides being very much in love with the country and its very hospitable and friendly people.
My mother's health failing, possibly because of the hardships and exposures peculiar to a new country (she was never strong) my father, very much against his will, was forced to relinquish a lucrative practice and devote his time and attention to her. They traveled extensively by private conveyance, the only way of transportation at the time, and I think even now about the healthiest. They lead this nomadic life for several years and mother's health having very materially improved, they returned to their first love, the Lone Star State, in the spring of 1860, accomplished by yours truly, who born during the sojourn out of the state.
Bonham Daily Favorite, May 11, 1917
A Look Backward in Days of Yore. L. C. Penwell Writes Again of the War Period of This Historic City.
I shall, just as much as possible, keep out of the limelight in writing these articles about my father, but will of necessity bob up once in awhile.
After a long, wearisome journey by private conveyance from Shreveport to the head of navigation of Red River, father and I were delighted on evening early in May 1860, "just as the sun went down," to get our first view of Bonham from the hills east of town. We at once proceeded to the Burney House, the principal hotel here then, and put up for the night. My parents were cordially welcomed by their old friends, and father at once resumed the practice of medicine. His office was in one of the three frame buildings on the south side of the square, just about the middle of the block. On the southwest corner, where we now find the First State Bank, was a tin shop, and near the east corner was the Clutter House, father of our respected townsman, William Clutter.
As I write there lies before me one of my father's professional cards announcing his return to Bonham, and it reads thusly:
E. S. Penwell, M.D.,
Physician, Surgeon and Obstetrician.
Permanently Located in
Offers His Services to His Old Friends
and the Public Generally.
Office South Side of the Court House
on the Public Square, Where He
May be Found When Not Pro-
As there were very few physicians here at that time, he at once launched into a splendid practice. If my memory serves me right there were three other doctors here at the time, Dr. Trimble, Dr. McKee and Dr. Lively. Each one had about all he could do, as their practice extended far and wide.
My father was delighted with the prospects, but "the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes gang aglee," and this was no exception. It was full of adventure and perilous situations. As another has very truthfully said, "it was dark, gloomy and peculiar." It also very forcibly demonstrated to what length some people will go for opinion's sake. I shall pen these lines without one thought of passion in my heart. I certainly ought to, since my father buried his animosities many years before he crossed the Great Divide. I am referring now to his Civil War experiences. No one not here at the time of that great fratricidal struggle can begin to realize the height of passion that can be aroused in the human heart, but I am writing history just as my father and other reliable parties gave it to me. Besides I was a small part of it myself.
There was a little uneasiness about political matters about the time of our arrival here. The distant rumblings of the great struggle between North and South, which was soon to burst like a mighty storm upon this country could be heard faintly. Notwithstanding that fact a majority of the American people were strongly of the opinion that our great statesmen would continue to ward off trouble in the future, just as they had in the past, but like Banquo's ghost, it would not down. Passions rose higher and higher, and the political pot soon boiled over. (To be continued.)
Bonham News, June 12, 1917
An Old time Letter With SOme Comments Thereon (By L. C. Pennell.)
To the News:
BOnham was a Confederate Military Post During the great Civil War. General Henry E. McCulloch was in command of the troops stationed here, his office in the old court house upstairs. He was probably an able and efficient officer, but often labored under many disadvantages. His command was composed for the most part of men who had enlisted in this portion of the state. North Texas was called by some people, at that time, a hot bed of Unionism. The fact of the business is, that if all of Texas had been as this of the state was it is somewhat doubtful if the Lone Star State would have seceeded with this Union influence together with Quantrill and other Gorrillas to contend with, life was certainly not just "one sweet dream" with General McCulloch. The following old letter, which I assure my readers is absolutely authentic, shows the condition of those times. I will state in this connection that it was currently reported at that time that General McCulloch was afraid of Quantrill, but he was not the only one. Quantrill did just about as he pleased wherever he sent. At one time General McCulloch had Quantrill under just a few minutes. He told him to take off his pistols and lay them on the table and consider himself under arrest. After a somewhat animated conversation of a few minutes Quantrill arose, buckled on his weapons and hastily departed, though putting his fingers to his mouth gave several long keen whistles. His men assembled from all directions and mounting his horse he joined them and rapidly hastened out of town in a northwesterly direction. Some of McCulloch's troops were soon in pursuit. About a mile and a half out on the prairie Quantrill discovered that he was pursued, halted, right about faced and anxiously awaited his pursuers. Seeing this the brave (?) Confeds suddenly stopped, turned about and hastened back to town followed only a short distance by the Quantrill band. But I must proceed with the letter, only having room for a part of it.
"Headquarters Northern Sub-District, Bonham, Texas, April the 16, 1864, Captain E. P. Turner,Assistant General, Houston.
Captain: I enclose herewith copies of letters from Colonel Bourland the Captain Scott, Assistant Adjutant General on General Maxey's staff, from which it will be seen that while our friends are contending against the enemy in Louisianna and Arkansas, we must expect to meet them in the Indian Territory, on Red River, or Northern Texas, aided by a strong disloyal faction among our own people which is doubtless among our troops in this section of the country, which renders them more or less unreliable in operating against the Yankees or any of our disloyal citizens or soldiers. I may have occasion to handle, and will show my general the great necessity of sending me some troops, that are reliable, and for which I have so long and earnestly begged. Many robberies, thefts, and murders have been committed in the country principally by men with Federal overcoats on, some of which have been traced to Captain Quantrill's company proper, and others to some of the men who came here with him last fall, and to renigade Missourians and Arkansans, who have left our army in Arkansas and Missouri, and have been lurking about the country all the winder, inspite of my best efforts to rid the country of them; and I assume you that Captain Quantrill's command has been a terror to the country and a cure to our land and cause in this section, and I never have been able to control them, because I have not had troops that had the moral and physiclly courage to arrest and disarm them, less than which never would have been any good.
Most respectfully your obedient servant, HENRY McCULLOCH, Brigadier General, Commanding North Sub-District.
Bonham Daily Favorite, June 13, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. S. Penwell
In the spring of 1861 the smoldering embers of a great, and as many often declared, uncalled-for war between kindred and friends broke out in all its fury. The firing upon Fort Sumpter by the Confederacy aroused the whole country to action and pandemonium reigned supreme for about four years. As a matter of history the Lone Star state was slow to draw the sword against the stars and stripes, though it did so after much wrangling and after several other states had set the example. The fact of the business is that north Texas by a considerable majority opposed secession. Some of our leading statesmen, chief of whom was Gen. Sam Houston, then governor of the state and who was at the zenith of his power and prestige, with much force and firery eloquence declared that in his opinion it was a great blunder and mistake that would be obvious to all alter on when too late. At this time the late Col. R. H. Taylor represented Fannin county in the state Legislature an din a very able speech opposed the withdrawal of this state from the Union. I have a copy of that speech which was given my mother many years ago. It was certainly a splendid effort, a gem of logic and oratory and chock full of prophecy. As one reads it they are bound to be impressed with the thought that he must have had a vision almost equal to some of the prophets of old. He pictures in glowing terms events of the oncoming struggle just as they afterwards came to pass. Had his advice and admonition as well as that of many other, north and south, been heeded, then there might have been no great civil war.
My father is a Whig in politics up to this time and as all the older people know they were divided upon the question of succession. There were Whigs living in the north whose sympathies were with the south while on the other hand there were Whigs here whose every pulse beat was for old glory. I do not offer this as an apology for the position that my father took upon this great issue. No apology is necessary for the expression of honest convictions but in numerous instances there was oceans of trouble for those who steadfastly maintained them, it mattered not upon which side of Mason's and Dixon's line their lot was cast.
My father having been born, raised and educated in the North, with all his kinfolks there, and believing from his infancy that slavery was wrong, in fact almost a crime, he positively refused to secede. And very soon his troubles began. His ambition and most earnest desire was to remain in peaceful pursuit of his calling. He was what was called at that time a non-combatant, one who would take part on neither side of the momentous question. Father could have gone north at the breaking out of the war had he so desired. He certainly would have done so had he realized what was before him. This emphasizes the old saying, "that one's foresights are never as good as his hind sights." But he remained, his friends maintaining that he would not be molested. (To be continued.)
Bonham Daily Favorite, July 4, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. S. Penwell
The great Civil War of the sixties had been in progress but a very short time when some who were extremists, who from their viewpoint believed in the right to secede from the Union, permitted their passions to control them - to overcome better judgment. They would go about over the country arousing passion by appealing to the prejudice of the people. Consequently it soon come to pass that he who was not for you was against you. No one not personally familiar with those perilous times can in the remotest degree have any conception of some of the people's wrought up feelings. This class of people, who were soon in the majority, and made it very unpleasant, indeed at times dangerous, for my father and other Union men. My father was blessed with many true friends who while they were strong secessionists, respected his political proclivities and in numerous instances came to his relief. But such were in the minority and to a great extent helpless. In numerous instances children reflected their parents sentiments. It is a fact that children think that whatever their parents do is all right. I will just relate one instance in confirmity with this statement: At one of our school exhibitions here in 1861, Jimmie Carter, now of Whitewright, delivered a speech expressive of the sentiment of the times, one verse of which was as follows: "Oh God, in mercy help the South and give to her her right, to whip Old Abe the Northern king, and the hellist Lincolnites." He was applauded to the echo. What a different feeling has "come over the spirit of our dreams" since then. The soothing, mellowing influence of time, together with education, has long since, thank God, dampened the ardor and cooled the passions of the people. Now the name of Lincoln, our first martyred President, with scarcely an exception North or South, is honored and revered by all. it is hard to consider at this date, more than fifty years after the war, that some folks would give away to passion as they did them. It very frequently happened right here in this country that father would be arrayed against son and brother against brother. I personally know of several such instances and will mention one: Adam and Columbus Yoakum were two brothers who lived near Honey Grove. They were prominent citizens and well to do farmers. They were on opposite sides of the great issue and I was informed at the time were deadly enemies.
My father being a prominent man here then because of his calling and politics, soon became a target, a marked man. He did not want to fight on either side and to use the rather rough expression, he soon found himself "between the devil and the deep blue sea." He was asked to join the Confederate army. His much esteemed friend Calvin Fuller in command of a regiment camped on Red river at Sowell's Bluff north of Bonham was anxious for this to joint his commend. He even went so far as to offer him the honorable position of surgeon of the regiment. But he very respectfully declined the honor. My father was a creature of conscience and as the sequel shows paid the penalty for his convictions. (To be continued.)
Bonham Daily Favorite, August 16, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. S. Penwell
Dr. Penwell continued the practice of medicine here for several months after the civil war began supported by the best citizenship of the country regardless of party ties, who declared that they would stand by him through weal or woe. There were a few people here of lesser note, mostly irresponsible parties, who dogged his footsteps and persecuted him for opinion's sake. Even one of the women was imbided with a spirit of prejudiced political hatred that she publicly declared that she would be pleased to tie the rope around my father's neck and help hang him. Strange to say though it is nevertheless true, my father afterwards practiced in her family. Furthermore, she had very near relatives in the North during the war that were uncompromising Union people. Well, a few wild enthusiasts together with gorilla bands that were roaming over the country robbing, stealing and killing almost indiscriminately, very soon made it pretty disagreeable for father - kept his mind on a strain all the time. Overheard threats were brought to him from time to time by friends. And I will digress right here long enough to pay a just though long deferred tribute to those devoted friends who, regardless of party ties were always on guard and caring for his safety. Without them he certainly would never have lived through it all. As it was he was in constant dread fearing that he would be killed, leaving mother and I hundreds of miles from our people in a country torn by the passions of war and with a strong probability of us suffering in consequence.
Referring to overheard threats I will say that I have before me a little slip of foolscap paper somewhat faded and weather stained, indicative of age, which was sent my mother by Aunt Sally Lovelace, a good old mother in Israel, who like nearly all others who were associates of my parents, have gone to their long home. It reads as follows: "Mrs. Penwell, stay at home and keep the doctor there. Mr. Carter (papa, we we all knew him,) heard some one talking. One of them said: "the doctor won't live three days.' I expect Dr. Kennedy (the father of Henry now living at Chillicothe,) will be to see you soon." In connection with this I will say that it was a little risky, this sending notes to my parents, but it only goes to prove what true friendship means. And by the way of parenthesis I want to say that true friends in my humble opinion are jewels. Without them I think sometimes that life is hardly worth the living. The persecution of my father didn't stop there. Children, reflecting their parents' sentiments made it a little unpleasant at times for me. Among other tokens of affection they would call me a little "yankee" because I was the son of a Union man. The fact of the business is that every one who had come from north of Red river was considered a yankee. I remember very well though many somewhat eventful years have dragged their weary length along since then, how solicitous mother was about me when she would send me on an errand or after the mail. She was very uneasy fearing that some of the overzealous kids would in the exhuberance of their enthusiasm do me bodily harm. (To be continued.)
Bonham News, September 4, 1917
Pioneer Days of Dr. Penwell
It almost makes me shudder yet, when I call to mind the troublesome times of the sixties and I have not to this good day ceased thanking God for sparing my father's life, though he had many narrow escapes, some of which I will mention later on in my story. I am also proud of the fact that political prejudice and passion have long "sunk into inocuous duesitude" to use a favorite expression of President Cleveland and all now honor the same flag.
Poor mother, I can see her now in my mind, see her careworn, troubled features as she patiently waited and watched for my father's return from a professional visit, fearing that he might never return. About this time 75 Union men, at least they were so designated, were hung upon one tree in Gainesville. These men were by a desperate mob, a band of ruffians, murdered for opinion's sake. Some of these people were mere boys cut off in the bloom of youth, which others were old and decrepid with one foot in the grave and the frost of many winters upon their heads. A Confederate solder, who witnessed the sad affair informed me in after years that it was just a simple case of cold-blooded murder, that they were harmless, inoffensive people, noncombatives, and far from deserving such a fate. This affair was merely a case of zealous fanaticism which no one ever attempted to defend. It might not be out of place just at this time to insert a few lines touching upon this subject, taken from a letter written to my mother by a Mrs. Carmichael, whose husband was among those hung at Gainesville. She was a relative of Mrs. Col. R. W. Lee, with whom we were living at the time. She had visited at the home of the Lee's just a short time previous to the incident. The letter is certainly touching and pathetic and brings to view a sad and bleeding heart. It is as follows:
"I often think of you and wonder if you are in trouble and suffering with fear as I have done. But God forbid that your lot should be like mine. You have something to live for. I have not. I have nothing left. My children dead, my husband murdered, my kindred and friends in the North and I am alone in this unfriendly world. But I will try and bear my troubles, crush back the spirit of revenge that is consuming me and not let it be seen."
How is that for a Spartan?
"I feel sometimes as if it would kill me, but he asked me to be brave. I will try to be worthy to be the widow of one of the bravest of men. It is hard to be sick and have no one but strangers around your bed."
They had been in Gainesville but a short time when Mr. Carmichael was slain. I might not have published this letter but for the bearing it has on my next article. (To be continued)
Bonham News, September 7, 1917
I note in the letters of L. C. Penwell an article about the hanging of 75 men in Gainesville by a mob.
I love Lock, he and I were playmates and our fathers were both Union men during the '60's and also intimate friends, but Lock is mistaken, as to it being a mob. I will here give some facts from page 130 of Pioneer History of Wise County by Cliff D. Cates.
Some miles east of Gainesville there was a colony of Northern sympathizers who organized themselves into a peace party so called, with intent to be in readiness upon the arrival of a large Federal force fro Kansas and capture the Confederate stores and forces and burn and plunder.
This scheme was betrayed by one Newton Chance,whom the peace party sough to enlist as a member. Fifty-five of said party were tried by Court Marshal by General Hudson and convicted of treason to the Confederate government and hung. Others of the party were so convicted and hung at Decatur in Wise County.
This history can be verified by A. G. Tytus now living at White Rock, Texas. This man, Newton Chance, was then living with Mr. Tytus in Cooke County, Texas. I met Mr. Tytus at the Old Settlers meeting at Dodd City and talked over these matters with him. The hanging occurred in 1862. H. W. Hunt.
Bonham Daily Favorite, February 8, 1922
The Early Days in Fannin County
I propose, in this article to shift the scenes for a while and cross Red River, just a short distance from Bonham, and endeavor to interest my readers with scenes, incidents, and actual experiences found there in an early day. This treacherous stream meanders along the north boundary of Fannin County separating it from Brian County, Okla. At the time of which I write it was many years before Statehood; it was then known as the Indian Territory, the home of the Choctaw Indian. For short, we called it the B. I. T.
In those days it was certainly a paradise on earth for sportsmen, for the woods abounded in wild game of all kinds and the lakes and streams which were quite numerous afforded an abundance of fish. Being so close many sportsmen from this side of the River frequented those “deep tangled wildwoods” during the sporting season and among the number was ye humble scribe.
Most of my companions of those early days have long since crossed the “Great Divide”, but I have lived to see that wilderness swept away by the industrious and civilized hand of man, and in its place fine farms and stately homes are to be found on every hand. I have spent many happy hours over there and have had quite a variety of experiences some of which I will mention.
Our hunting grounds being a vast expanse of solitude and looking just about the same everywhere you went, it was no trouble whatever, at least for me, to get lost. In fact, it became a habit with me. I have walked myself down and laid out of nights away from camps more than once. Besides the lonesomeness, there was at times a little fear attached to the experience because there were bear, panther, cougar and other dangerous varmints to reckon with sometimes. A crowd of us were about to pitch camp one gloomy, rainy evening when just in the nick ___ ____ discovered that we were __ _____ proximity to a den of ____ rats. Of course it was our ____ ___nd we soon found a genial camping place. At ____ time also late in the day and _____ the uninitiated should un_____ takes both wood, ____ grass convenient to make ____ camp sight and some times ____ to get the combination. At this camp ground ____there was something doing for ___. We had stopped to camp in the edge of some heavy timber. Each of us __ were customary for ___ perform, at _____ _____ _____ ____ and headed ___ Of course I was not ____ .
____ numerous springs to be found over there. We frequently stopped for dinner here. This spring was an unusually cold one—would nearly freeze our teeth, as the old saying goes. To our surprise and amazement an Indian mother was bathing a little baby in a tub of this water. The little papoose was naturally very rebellious, in fact, was just raising the mischief with its infantile war whoop. Our curiosity was amuse and we asked the mother why such severe and drastic treatment? In broken English she said she was curing her child of the chills. Mothers, what do you think of that?
Bonham Daily Favorite, March 9, 1922
Early Days in Fannin County
In this article I will endeavor briefly to entertain my readers with my first introduction to Texas, Fannin County and Bonham. I am frequently greeted on the streets by my friends as an old timer. I never "deny this soft impeachment." In fact I am proud of it. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the new comer of the last forty years, but oh you SURE ENOUGH old timer. I was here in Bailey Inglish's time, one of the founders of Bonham, and by the way a grand old man.
In an early day when a disreputable character disappeared from a northern or eastern state it was facetiously said by his neighbors that he had gone either to hell or Texas. But there were others, many many others in fact, and among that number were my parents and myself. My parents had lived here at a much earlier date, but because of my mother’s frailty and the hardships she endured which are common to all new countries, her health gave way and she and father returned to the north where I was born. A little later my mother’s health much improved, we returned to the Lone Star State in the spring of 1860. We came with our own private conveyance from central Illinois to St. Louis, where we took a Mississippi steamboat for New Orleans, where we reshipped on a Red River packet for Jefferson, Texas, which at that time was the head of navigation on the river. Red river at times is a treacherous old stream with many sandbars and snags. We were pretty lucky in dodging the snags but several times hung up on sand bars, in which case we would back out and try it again. We found Jefferson quite a flourishing little city as it was a distributing point for a vast, territory surrounding it. Remaining here but a short time we proceeded on our journey toward Bonham with our own carriage and team. About two-thirds of our way was through the timber mostly heavy pine, and when we did strike the boundless prairies it was a great relief. We met many wagons mostly drawn by ox teams and loaded with cotton, hides and various other products bound for Jefferson, and passed probably as many of the same kind going west with groceries and other articles. Nothing unusual occurring we made the trip to Bonham in about four days, stopping at private houses over night.
Our last day out a beautiful sunshiny day in the “merry month of May" made a lasting impression on my youthful mind. Nature had fully aroused herself from her winter’s slumber and had put on the habiliments of spring. Old mother earth had robed herself in a beautiful green mantle interspersed with millions of pretty flowers of many different kinds. Many trees along the roadside were in bloom, such as the peach, plum, red bud, haw and others. From all these sources the air was fragrant with their sweet odor. No wonder the early settler was in love with Texas. It is said that about this time an old man was on his death bed though not realising it perhaps. One of the few men of God living at the time was at his bedside. Said he, “my good friend, in case this is your last sickness are you prepared for the change’’ Do you want to go to heaven?" With the death dew gathering on his brow and the grim ferryman awaiting his demise he whispered in words scarcely audible, “No, not now, Texas is good enough for me."
Bonham Daily Favorite, July 3, 1922
The Early Days in Fannin County
I shall describe the old square and the old court house in Bonham as I first saw them. I would like for my readers to follow the description close so that they may note the striking comparison of things as they were in 1860 and as they are in 1922. This article is a faithful description and deserves your notice.
Beginning at the southwest corner of the square we now find the First National bank occupying the ground where another brick stood in 1860 in which Sim D. Nunnellee and John Hoffer conducted a grocery store. Just across the street east where the First State Bank building now presents such a and some apperarance stood a house in which our only tinner worker. The house was owned by my father, Dr. Penwell. At this point my memory
fails me a little but I think the next house was the old postoffice. A little further east my father had his office. The only other building on the south side of the square was the Clutter House, conducted by Grandpa Grant Clutteer. He was the grandfather of our present Grant Clutter. The house was two stories with porches above and below the entire width of the building.
On the east side of the square there were just two buildings. About the middle of the block was Dr. A. B. Hoy's dental office, and where Chas. Davis Hardware House is was the Christian House, a building very similar to the Clutter House.
On the northeast corner of the square, where the Elks club room is, stood Nathan brick store house. It has since been remodeled, but much of the original biulding remains. Mr. Nathan was one of our first Jew merchants.
On the opposite side of the street west stood the store of J. R. Russell & Co. They did a very extensive business in those days. In fact, they and the Alexanders had the largest business in the county, and had customers over a wide range of territory, many coming for miles to trade here. Next to this on the west was Dan Coulters bowling alley. Adjoining it was Sam Roberts law office, a small drab colored brick. Then came Wes Newman's saddle shop. then the drygoods store of Oliphint & Smith. The last building on the block stood where Brannon's jewelry store now is and was Wash Doss' saloon, one of the two here at that time, and which were considered indispensable factors in the town's business.
Across Main street on the corner was the Alexander brick building, while across the street south of it stood the Alexander brick warehouses. Near those stood the office of Drs. Smith & Lively. Next to this was the Harvey Fletcher saloon, and last on the corner where the Fannin County Bank stands was a frame house in which Papa Dick Alderson sold ginger bread and beer. This gives you a picture of the buildings on the square as they stood then. They were not such buildings as are there now, for most of them were frame and not much for looks.
In the center of the square stood the old court house. On the east side of this were the bill boards where legal notices and such things were posted. I have a picture of this old house with a number of our citizens, long since gathered to their fathers, standing in the doorway. All round the court house were the hitch racks where the early settlers tied their horses when they rode into town. There were a few wagons and buggies, but the great majority of the people rode horseback. On many of these horses were sidesaddles, for the good old Mothers in Israel didn't ride clothes pin fashion as many of the women do now in these degenerate days.
This being many years before there was any street paving, during rainy periods the square was a sight to behold. It got so muddy that it was a common thing for teams hitched to empty wagons to bog up on the square, making fun for the bystanders but trouble for the drivers.
On the northeast corner of the court house yard opposite the Christian House stood the meat market of Uncle Peter Maddrey, father of the chief butcher was a negro slave, Ben Smith by name. Ben was as original a character as Bonham ever saw, but Maddrey boys now here, Luther and Will. I remember that one pecularity of Uncle Pete was that of a morning he would have the meat for his regular customers wrapped up waiting for them when
they came. He never weighed his finger, either, and nobody questioned his weights. He killed the fattest cattle right off the range, and the beef was
juicy and tender, far more so than we usually get now. Choice cuts in those days sold at about four pounds for a quarter.
Uncle Pete's right hand bower and he was not much when it came to counting, as an incident which occurred one day showed. Uncle Pete was penning some cattle, and placed Ben at the gate to count them as they went in. This is the way he proceed. When the first one went in he said; "Dars one," then "dars another, dars another---O, hell, Pete, I can't count so many of 'em." They were probably coming too fast for him.
This is where I close for this time.
Bonham Daily Favorite, February 15, 1923
Old Times in Fannin County
In a former article I described the Court House square and surrounding business houses as I found them upon my arrival here in the spring of 1860. In this article I will endeavor to present a bird’s eye view of the resident part of the town, or rather begin it because it would consume too much space for one article.
There were about 300 people living here then including negroes, 70. About three-fourths of the town was in the woods and east of Main street. I can’t well avoid being a little monotonous but I hope my readers will bear with me as I proceed. Going south from the square on Center street there were no houses except the Alexander residence on the left hand close to the square. This was a large frame house, the material for which was mostly brought from Eastern Texas. In fact quite a number of our houses at that time came from the same source. A little farther on and on the west side of the street was Uncle Alf Pace’s horse lot and barn. That was the last improvement on that side of the street. Next and on the east side of the street was the Pace graveyard, a small part of which still remains, but much of it was destroyed in making the Katy depot and its necessary trackage. This was a very lamentable desecration of the resting place of some of our oldest inhabitants, yet advancing civilization pays very little respect to our forefathers. Powder creek was the South boundary of town.
We will next follow out South Main street. After leaving the square the first house on the east side was the residence of Uncle Alf Pace. The Magnolia Gasoline station now occupies that space. Just across the street and on the Lyon-Gray Lumber Co. corner was an old house and this was the last house on this side of the street. Returning to the square and following out the west side of this street, the first house we came to was the home of Uncle Tony Allen. He sold ginger cakes and beer. Sid Smith is now on that corner. The only other house on that side of the street so far as I can remember was the home of General Green. It was a short distance off the street and surrounded by a beautiful oak grave.
I will digress just long enough here to say that the General was one of the leading citizens and quite a polished gentleman, but he let his enthusiasm and what proved to be bad judgment run wild when in the beginning of the great war between the States, he declared in a public address here that the war wouldn’t amount to much, and that'll would not last long. He declared that the Yankees wouldn’t fight and that he could drink all the blood that would be shed. The General was a very poor prophet, for he lived to see quite a scrap.
We will now proceed down West Fourth street, taking the south side. After leaving the corner of the square the first house was the home of Henry Fletcher, standing where we now find the Gross house. Next was large double log house, the residence of Col R. H. Lee who was County Clerk at that time. Then was no other house on that side of the street then but the home of Dr. Jim McKee. This house stood at the present residence of Felix Burnett.
I can’t leave this side of the street without briefly mentioning the hanging of Caroline. Perhaps I am the only living witness. Near where Sam Dulaney now lives was considerable timber on a branch that emptied into Powder Creek. Right here and near the street on a large oak tree, the hanging bee was pulled off. Together with some other children through idle curiosity I witnessed the hanging. This negro, a house servant of Alf Pace, had maliciously and premeditatedly murdered little Pikey Pace, the youngest child at that time of Uncle Alf. A wagon in which the victim was riding was driven under the tree, a rope around her neck was tied to a limb and she was left suspended between heaven and earth. As the negro swung back and forth with her limbs bound around with rope and a white hood pulled down over her head she certainly was a gruesome sight and one that has never been erased from my memory. Pikey was one of my little playmates. We were together just about every day. Though but a small child myself, I was very perceptibly affected. In fact, his untimely and cruel death cast a heavy dark shadow over the whole town.
Bonham Daily Favorite, January 8, 1927
Pioneer Days of Dr. E. L. Penwell
Continuing the story of my father's early days here during the great Civil War, will say that he had been at the Sloan home about three or four days when the same squad of men who had paid him a previous visit called the second time. I will pause right here to say that an old friend told me after reading my last article that this same body of men would have killed him though a boy had an older brother not come to his rescue and he was a Southern sympathizer, too.
It seems that they were not satisfied with their former visit but were still anxious for a close acquaintance with him. While he had many close friends here who were very helpful to him he also had some enemies. His home people were not seeking his life but some of them who were over jealous would put wandering bands of desperadoes on his trail. This class of men would sometimes attack Southern sympathizers as I have said before in fact they did so right here. But they were generally a little more partial to Union men because it was much more popular.
Near the present site of Denison one of Uncle Tom Freeman's brothers, quite a young man, was killed by a body of reckless men. All old settlers here know that there were no more patriotic Southern men than the Freemans. But to resume my narrative. It was just about dark and was pouring down rain when father's unwelcome visitors paid their return call. Some one had evidently put them next. Hunted like a wild animal, he must of necessity be very cautious. Some one has said that an inward monitor sometimes guards and guides our destinies. At any rate something prompted him at this particular time to be on his guard. He had left the house and was in an out house. Hearing an unusual noise it was the men surrounding and entering the house he made a rush for a nearby cornfield. By this time the rain was pouring in torrents. Heaven's heaviest artillery was in full force, the lightning was terrific. Notwithstanding all this father's pursuers with an enthusiasm, I think worthy a better cause, plunged out into the terrible storm. It was a fine field of corn, about twenty acres, and some of it as high as a horse's back and higher. Failing to find him about the house they rode out into the cornfield after their victim. They gave the field a thorough overhauling riding up and down the rows. Father said that they were close enough several times for him to hear them talking about him and what they were going to do for him in case they found him was a gentle sufficiency. They kept him on the hop, skip and jump, but he was fortunate enough to evade them.
Failing to find him they quit the chase and left the field. However, he did not return to the house that night, but sought "green fields and pastures new" elsewhere. This manhunt in which father was playing a leading part was getting awful monotonous besides more and more dangerous. He was liable to be killed most any time and possibly some of his friends that were sheltering him. I will tell all about his get-away next time.
Bonham Daily Favorite, October 1, 1928
Stories of Ex-Confederates
In our last article we left our Old Confederate friend experiencing his first Texas norther, and it sure was a severe one, a regular hum-dinger. When the cold, piercing rain began to fall, accompanied by a severe wind, the frightened team lit out down the hill with the loaded wagon, the driver jumping off. A little shocked by the fall, my old friend sprang from the ground and hastily followed the outfit down the hill and found it hung up on a blackjack tree with one wheel totally demolished. While in this dilemma the freighter returned and taking in the situation became a little angry at first, but soon quieted down when told the cause of the trouble. Remembering that they had seen several wagons on Uncle Billy Brotherton's lot, they thought that he might loan them a wheel. Well, like the Good Samaritan that he always was, he readily granted the favor, the travelers promising to return it as soon as they reached Bonham.
Soon they were on their way, glad that it was no worse. Arriving here they stopped at the blacksmith shop of Papa Carter, one of our earliest pioneers in that line. They were still very cold from the effects of the norther, which had not subsided, and while warming by a comfortable fire they made a trade for an other wheel, and also found an opportunity to return the borrowed one. They were also informed where my friend's uncle lived. There were so few people here then that the majority of the old timers were acquainted. He was also informed that he had a cousin here in business. With just $1.40 in money left and his ten pistols he found his kinsman and was heartily welcomed and invited to stay all night with him and share his bed and board. It just so happened that his cousin wanted to send a mule to his father who lived on Red River and was a large planter. Mounting the animal the next morning he was not long in reaching his destination where he was joyfully received by his relatives, and many questions were asked and answered about the kinfolks back there, for all kinds of news was scarce and eagerly sought in those days. After a short rest he was glad to find work with his uncle. He needed it and was not an idler. He made good, and his uncle recognizing his ability, gave him a position in his store here in town where he made a success, as he always did. Here he arose to the occasion and in a few years, by thrift and frugality, he went into business himself. He was a success from the start and was going well until some friends induced him to make the race for a county office. He was easily elected, held the office for two terms and made good as usual. Running a third term he retired and found other fields of usefulness. His was a busy life. About the only recreation was that of hunting with such convenient companions as Uncle Wash Doss, Joe Oliphant, Henry Taylor and others, all of whom have passed away. Full of good deeds and the frost of many winters covering his head, he, too, has gone to his long home, and henceforth his memory will only be a cherished memory.
The subject of this poorly written tribute furnished me the data for this article, but because of his honesty I am restrained from mentioning his name. I will therefore leave my readers guessing "who's who."
Locke C. Penwell (1853-1928), the son of Dr. E. S. Penwell, wrote a large number of articles on the early history of Fannin County. We have transcribed a number of these articles below.