Pioneers Around Brushy Creek
as told by George Douglas and contributed by Sharon Beck
In 1849 my father build a log cabin on historic Brushy which was the third family in this area.
At this time, on Bear Creek, were Allen Lemmons, Harmon P. Crum, John Mullican, and perhaps one or two more nearer the Trinity River. On Red Oak, beginning a mile or so above the present town of that name was Joel Davis, Col. Patton, Robt.Bell, a family or two of Billingslys, Henry Rountree, Mr. Mitchell (first postmaster at Red Oak), Judge Younger, Hodge, Greathouse, Rickets, and Hans Smith, who built the first cotton gin in this part of the country. There may have been some families below Smith at this time, but I do not remember them. For milling purposes, we had to go to Coombe's mill near Dallas, or Spurlin's mill at Chatfield point in Navarro County. The cattle ate the grass on the prairie and we ate the cattle. Steak was fried tallow, and bread shortened in tallow when we could get it. As yet lard was an unheard of commodity. Mr. Cross, who moved from Illinois in ox wagons, thought lard would be scarce in Texas and brought a barrel with him to tide over until he could raise some hogs. When this thing "became noised abroad" as the Scriptures say, his neighbors would come in to borrow a little lard in case of sickness and other extreme cases, until the contents of the barrel began to sink very alarmingly. To have refused to "loan" a little would have been to give mortal offense in those days, and yet Crum must do something to save his lard, which he knew could never be returned. He rose to the occasion. Attending a house raising on a hot summer day, with a face as solemn as a graveyard, he remarked, "Gentlemen, I had a little bad luck at my house last night." "Oh, Mr. Crum, what was it?" was the eager inquiry. "Well, you know that I keep my barrel of lard in the shed room at the side of the house. In the night I waked up and heard a noise in there. I said to my wife, "Henrietta! Henrietta! I tell you there's something after that lard." We got a light and went in, the top of the barrel was knocked off but we couldn't see anything. I looked into the barrel and there was my pup Tige, swimming around in the lard - he had gotten up on top and fallen in. "That was too bad and so you've lost your lard," the crowd replied sympathetically. "Oh, no, gentlemen! I just took that pup by the nape of the neck with one hand and stripped the lard off him with the other. I did not lose much."
Game was abundant. The buffalo did not return after 1849, but antelope, deer and wild turkeys were plentiful for the civil sportsman, while bears, panthers and wolves abounded for the more warlike. Often at night I would lie and listen to the wild musical howling of the wolves and to this day I like it better than a brass band. The feminine screaming of the panther was not so pleasant and their cries have been taken for a woman in distress.
The young people loved and courted and married then as now. About the first wedding in this neighborhood (neighborhoods were eight and ten miles across then) was that of Robt. Smith and Lavicia Greathouse. The happy couple are still living in Palmer in a ripe old age.
Yes, we had Indian wars then. On one occasion the report came that five thousand hostile Indians were this side the Cross Timbers, killing everybody. Every available man grabbed his gun and mounted his horse to rondevous at Mayfield's up the mountain. At this time the Red Cross idea was born and put in effect when an anxious mother gathered up some good bandage material and gave it to her son to bind up the wounded. Arriving at Mayfield's he was surprised at the armed display, not having heard of the Indians.
We had our preachers then as now who went horseback with saddle bags and lariat, fared with the people and slept on the floor.
Those pioneer days are gone forever. Where the green grass waved and wild flowers bloomed, and warbling birds sang into woody bowers, an iron civilization has stamped them down and planted patches of grass and fields of cotton.
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