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Pioneer Settler Recalls Hardships Encountered By Early Settler

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Date: 28 Oct 1866 [unknown]
Location: Lindale, Smith, Texas, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Boaz Thompson Oden
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Pioneer Settler Recalls Hardships Encountered By Early Settler

Published in the Lindale News (Lindale, Texas) on 30 May 1940

Writing with a style that reveals a keen insight into what is going on around him, as well as a clarity of memory not acquired in these days and times, Gene Boaz, pioneer Lindale citizen, reminisces at length by special request of the editors on early-day happenings in Lindale and adjoining territory. May interesting details, hitherto hid in the dim and distant past, have been dug up and recorded by Mr. Boaz, whose card-index memory has faithfully preserved the highlights of the years that have passed since Lindale first became a town. Mr. Boaz writes:

Settlers Sought Peace
The enjoyment of peace, happiness and prosperity has been the aim, object and purpose of mankind from the foundation of this universe. How to attain these wonderful blessings with equality and justice to every one, has employed the greatest minds, the highest intellects and the united wisdom of past ages, and with a degree of success. Let pages of history answer.

At the close of the Civil War, with the Negroes freed, the country rocked. My father and mother, E. R. and Susan Boaz: Uncle and Aunt J. R. and Maggie Thompson, and some others whom I do not now recall, commended planning and made preparations to emigrate to Texas. So, on the 28th day of October, 1866, with one ox team, two 2-mule teams, one horse and buggy, a good tent and the necessary camping equipment, they started toward the setting sun.

Tearful Farewell
Naturally tears were shed when we left what was once the abode of our fathers, and much emotion was expressed when the red hills of old Talladega County, Alabama grew dim. Many were the hardships and privations endured thru the jungles of the wildest country man has ever travelled over. There were swollen streams to swim or cross on makeshift ferries. Blue northers and snow storms halted the caravan for days. Fear of wild beasts that lurked in every swamp. Horse thieves and “jayhawkers” that threatened to deprive them of their money and stock, and worst of all the dread of the scalping knives of a remnant of renegade Indians.

Finally, after six weeks on the road, camp was struck fro the last time in the southern portion of the Smith County near a little town called Edner, now Bullard. Father had started to Collins County, but an uncle, the late T. J. Oden’s father had settled at Edner about a year before this and he persuaded him to buy the farm about two miles south of town. Here on the 15th day of October, 1868, the writer first say the light of day.

Gold ‘Talked’ Then
A new existence began here for our family. Father bought a two story hotel, tore it down and build a five room box house with stick and dirt chimneys, and commenced to live again, so to speak. He had been torn up ever since the end of the Civil War, but a man by the name of Jim Matthews came out from Georgia and wanted the place so badly he offered him about twice what it cost, so father took the money (all in gold), made a leather belt, put the money in it and buckled it around his waist, oiled up his old cap and ball pistol, and put a few clothes and supplies in a pack and started out again for the West.

He rode over thirty-eight counties bordering on the Trinity and Brazos rivers. After four weeks in the saddle he started home without making any trade. On his way home he came through the town of Mt. Sylvan and a merchant there by the name of Henry Blew told him a man by the name of Joe Pool had a place down on Prairie Creek for sale, so he went by to see him and made a trade for the place for himself and Bill Hendley, the father of the late Blake Hendley. We stayed there three years. This place was between two creeks, the country around fresh cleared, and there was no end of the chills and fever we had. The last two years he lived where the lights were never out, for there was some one to sit up with all night.

The I. & G. N. Railroad was under construction, and was finished in 1871.

Tells of Old Mill
In December, 1882, Father rented our place on the creek and moved to Love’s Mill. This mill was about three-quarters of a mile northeast of Lindale. There was a man by the name of Joe Chatman who tended the mill the first year we lived there, one Sid Henderson who tended it the second year. The mill ran [e]very day in the week and ground corn and wheat from Van Zandt, Wood and several nearby counties. When the millers caught up with the grinding they would hang a horn on the outside and pull out for town. “Uncle” Andy Harper ran a saloon there, and they would spend more time shooting high dice, playing checkers, etc., for the drinks than they would in the mill. Cotton was hauled from far and near to the Love gin. Of course, there were other gins in the country, but they were driven by horse power, and could only turn out about a bale a day. With his water power, Mr. Love could gin the astounding total of three or four bales a day when he had a good head of water.

Riparian Rights Involved
“Uncle” Frank Odom ran the mill and gin down the creek about a mile below the Love mill, but he had to close it down when Mr. Love stopped his mill, for the water supply that turned the big wheel was automatically shut off.

In those distant days, most every man one met was an artisan of some kind. Jacks of all trades were numerous. For instance, a deaf and dumb man by the name of Harris Harvel ran a saw mill and turn-lathe in connection with the mill and made all kinds of furniture. This fellow made a tool chest that took premiums at the Philadelphia Exposition in 1876.

“Uncle” Henry York ran a treadmill gin on the Tyler and Lindale road near Hopewell church. “Uncle” Terrell Copeland had a horse driven gin near Carmel church. Cal Pierce had the first steam gin.

Then the same thing happened to the gin industry that has occurred to many similar lines of endeavor. Mechanically turned wheels superseded crude makeshifts that had endeavored to fill the needs of the settlers. Of course most of the ginning went to the newfangled steam powered gin. Soon the horse and water power equipment were things of the past.

Lindale Named
The town of Lindale was named for Lige Lindsey, one of the first merchants. The flourishing little city boasted of three other enterprising merchants, namely: Cane & Davis, Miller Johnson and (at that time not considered a merchant as in these modern days of package liquor stores) Andy Harper’s saloon. Uncle Andy thought he had the world by the tail, and in this connection we usher ourselves into what might be termed the transition stage from a widely scattered settlement (people liked their neighbors, but who wanted them far and wide in those days) and at the present style of stepping across an imaginary fence and visiting with so-and-so for a moment.

High Jinks in ’75
It seemed that the whole world was prostrated — flat upon its back — those few years immediately following the War. Cotton was selling cheap, and provisions of all kinds were high. Slow to recover were the backwoods folks of East Texas, but sturdy stock imbued with the determination to “get ahead” aided and abetted the pioneers (any other description of them would be abstruse) in making a far speedier recovery than has been evidenced following the first World War, the effects of which are not over yet as this is written in the year of our Lord, 1940.

Well, Uncle Andy ran a saloon.

Also he ran a hotel and livery stable. The hotel stood where the M. H. York store now stands, and his livery stable was where the Morris Drug Company is located. Uncle Andy would give a free supper and an all-night dance three or four times during the fall and winter months, and the dancers would come from miles around and trip the light fantastic through Friday night and up into the day Saturday.

Powerful Urge to Learn
The first school house stood where the Limerick hotel now is located. The building was a two-story structure, about 40x120 feet. The upper story was used for the Grange and Masonic lodges, and the lower story for school, church and all community gatherings, such as spelling matches, debating societies and “kangaroo” courts. The debating societies and kangaroo courts were more conducive to oratory than all the law schools in the land. A. M. Duke, J. F. Onion and several others that turned out to be prominent lawyers got their first experience in these debating societies.

Miss Mary Drawn was the first school teacher. She had about 75 pupils under her wing, and what an unruly set some of them proved to be. She taught the rudiments of the Anglo-Saxon culture of that day and time — reading, writing and arithmetic, and the wiseacres that dubbed it the three R’s were not far from right. However, most of the time was put in on the old Blue Back Speller. Ability to correctly spell was placed far higher than the study of Homer and Virgil, and analytical delving into phschology [sic].

Gov. Hubbard Participated
In this day of radio, fast automobiles and snappy repartee, such entertainment becomes tame by comparison. But a governor of our great state participated in and thoroughly enjoyed those spelling bees, and came back time and again for more. Every Friday night the whole town and country would gather in and select respective champions, and spell until all the available material on one side was exhausted. At the close there would be one speller par-excellent, though just what benefits would accrue to one holding this honor, none would have but the vaguest surmises.

Governor Hubbard and his children, Serena and Bennie would take part in these spelling bees and their presence lent tone to the affairs. Serena and Bennie attended the first school in Lindale, and __re their illustrious father con[sid]ered it home. Soon, however __e Death Angel was to enter their [ho]me and take Bennie. He was [bu]ried on the old Hubbard farm [ne]ar Lindale.

Of the several who attended the [fir]st school in Lindale, there are [on]ly two surviving — Mrs. J. C. _e and the writer.

Second Teacher Was ‘Peculiar’
C. C. Peters was the second [te]acher. He had a classical educa[tio]n but he would not rank very [hi]gh now as a teach, for the rea[so]n that he lacked the punctuality __w demanded of tutors. Some [ti]mes he would go off to town and [st]ay an hour or so. One can im[ag]ine the “studying” that ensued [du]ring such interims. Some times [he] would fold up his coat, put it [un]der his head for a pillow, lie [do]wn and take an afternoon nap.

The town had a new teacher most [ev]ery year in those days. As I best [ca]n remember, I will name

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