One of the wonderful surprise joys of blogging has been ‘meeting’ like-minded (often homeschooling) mums. I LOVE it when I get messages, or when another mum shares her thoughts and experiences. Tonyia had left a message on one of my ‘Little House’ posts:
“We had a pioneer or two in my family and we have some family tales that will never make it into the history books! It’s a wonder that I am here!”
Of course, anyone who knows me, would know I would never let that pass without asking for more information! I asked if she would be willing to share some stories for me to post on my blog and she very kindly did. Thank you so much Tonyia, our family really enjoyed reading them!
These are some of the stories from my Grandmother-her family came west on the “Trail of Tears” and settled, or re-settled (depends on your point of view) in Oklahoma-She was Cherokee on from her Mother’s side, she was born in the Indian Territory 100 years ago…………
My Great Grandfather’s family settled in Texas from Missouri, he was born under a covered wagon. The wagons carried all of their belongings and there wasn’t really much room for passengers. They slept under them for protection from the elements and the Indians and in my families case, they gave birth under them! It was at least a small amount of shade-NOT my idea of a good time…..labour pains under a wagon-UGH.
Anyhoo, my Great Grandfather’s name was Charles Evans, he was a rough and tough wild thing. His family settled in South Texas and they have been living and dying there ever since. He had a brother named Miriam-he hated that name so, he went by “Jess Evans “and rode with Billy the Kid on occasion (so the family says!) He was the real deal cowboy/bad guy. Well, unless you were family. He was known for stealing horses, gun-slinging and bank robbing. There is a town called ‘Hondo” south of San Antonio. He was there and had his horse in the corral. After he had finished his business he went out to
saddle up and he was ambushed – (some say by Texas Rangers, some say a Posse) and “shot him all full of holes!” BUT-he was still alive, the men were still afraid of him, even though he was laying there in mud and blood they wouldn’t come out. Then he said “It’s alright boys, I can’t get ya now.” So they eased up to him and put him in the back of a wagon-My Great Grandfather rode two horses to death trying to get to him before he died (He rode them from the tiny town of Medina.) And they made sure he did die-they hung him after they shot him and then gave him a proper “bad guy” burial and buried him backwards-so he would not face the sunrise.
Now, my Great Grandfather had a ranch along the Atascosa River. He also had a government contract to drive cattle up the Indian territory for the Indians to have for food. Most of the Bison had been killed off by this time. There used to be a giant herd with millions of bison in it. They followed the west wind across the plains and grazed in a circle that was thousands of miles across. But, white people got greedy and just wanted their hides, the bison were killed off ,this took away a large part of the Native American food source. They used all of the Bison, not just the meat, or the hides, it was special to their religions, they made tools from bones and horns, the bison helped to keep them alive.
He and his cousin (Cute was his name, he had a twin named Cole) they delivered their cattle and were very excited about getting a bath and a big steak-not every cattle drive had a “Chuck Wagon”-sometimes the cowboys were given dried beans to eat , raw, and they would swell in their stomach and make them feel full.
So, they stopped in Dallas for their dinner. They had a wonderful meal, they got cleaned up and rented a real room-well, they got in there and couldn’t sleep! They blew and blew and blew on the light and it wouldn’t go out-so they took off their socks and put them on over the LIGHTBULB and went to sleep!
Cole, Cute’s brother – didn’t like to bath. Now, I think that bath’s were few and far between to start with. But, other cowhands complained of his stink – You know it had to be bad-so he got the bright idea to get some soap and get all lathered up (now, remember this is lye soap, no perfumes or dyes here.) and to let it dry on him and THAT way, when he started sweating while he was doing his chores it would “wash” off and he would be clean. Well, it is very hot in Texas, and remember he was wearing pants, long sleeves (they protect against thorns and sunburn) and his chaps – his skin peeled off! He was more willing to bath after that. Everyone said he didn’t complain, not one time, no matter how chafe and raw he was!
My Great grandfather met my Great grandmother in Oklahoma and they had 13 children. This always astounded people because my Grandfather was an Indian fighter and no one could understand why he married one when he was always fighting Comanches. He had two big scars from fighting Comanches, one on his abdomen where he was shot and one down his arm from a knife. When you see a great big yellow moon in the sky some people call it a Comanche Moon as the raiding parties had good light to see. I have heard it called a Cornbread Moon too since it looks like a pan of cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet.
Half on their children stayed in Oklahoma on the Indian territory and the rest came to South Texas. There they hunted, you had to be a good shot because you couldn’t waste your bullets or else you went hungry. AND you used all of the animal. I remember my Grandma talking about how Bear meat was very greasy and always upset her stomach and how they would render the fat from the bear to make soap.She also said they made a stew with bear meat and they put would put a bit of the cooking ashes in it for flavor. She did like to eat squirrel and dumplings and fried rabbit, when she fried any sort of fowl she fried the feet too . She had all of her children wear leather necklaces with a hog tooth on it so they would have straight teeth (they did too!!) and her babies were teethed on jerky or a strip of leather. She made corn husk dolls to play with when she was young and for all of us to play with too. I remember her telling me how they would pick up the cow-patties(dung) that was dried out to burn at night so they could sleep outside and the mosquito’s wouldn’t bother them. Horse poop worked too. It would smoke a lot and keep the insects away when it was too hot to sleep under the blankets.
Sounds like they were living the dream doesn’t it?? Remember, everything in this part of the country bites, or stings and is venomous. You had to shake out your bedroll, and shoes to check for scorpions, centipedes(they are very pretty!) and of course snakes. She told me of her cousin who got bit by a rattlesnake and died. The fang marks were 6 inches apart! They were best friends. She told me of how their horse saved her little brother’s life-the horse started bucking like crazy and he was a toddler and was under the horse, between it’s legs, they thought the horse was trying to kill him. Horses can be funny creatures-they got close enough to see it had trampled a rattle snake without harming the baby. Just as Great-grandpa was aiming his gun at the horse to shoot it-the baby and horse had a close call that day.
It truly was another world, so different to the one in which we live today. Thank you so much Tonyia, our family LOVED reading your family tales. So much fun!