Additional information for Rhoda Caroline "Kate" Lawhon' profile.
Translated from the THE ELGIN COURIER, Thursday, December 1, 1910
“A STORY OF THE CIVIL WAR” by Kate Lawhon
I have been asked by some of my friends to write a rea1 story of the Confederate war and as I thought of many that I tell, I have decided to give this one, as there are some still living that are concerned with my story. I often think of those dark days and the horror of that war and the loved ones it took from me. Three noble brothers – one died at Little Rock, Ark., one was shot in the battle of Shiloh and was buried by the Yankees, and the third was wounded in the battle of Milligan’s Bend in Louisiana and came home a cripple for life. Robert Weekes, my husband, was sent home on a furlough and died in 1863.
In ‘59 or ‘60, I believe, Mr. F. S. Wade came to Texas and in this part of the State. He taught school for a livelihood and made success of it. He made many friends as a teacher and a lover of good order. In ‘61 the war broke out and here in Texas they had formed companies and were drilling our young men for soldiers so they would be ready for the army. Mr. Fred Wade had a brother, Jim, back in the north, and Mr. Wade who had come to Texas to make his home, did not want to fight against his brother, so he said he was going back after him. Some folks believed what he said was true, some did not. They said he had gone back to join the northern army and fight against us. But did he do it? No. He came back, brought his brother with him, and fought thru the war, made his horne among us, married and has a family of sons and daughters living here in the same country where their father located after the war was over.
Now everybody had to make cloth in those days and every one learned to cord, spin and weave cloth. We did not only make clothes for the family at home but for the boys in the war. Along ________________southern soldiers were hard up for clothes. Waggons were detailed and sent home to get the clothes we had made for the boys. There are some folks living in and near Elgin that will remember Rev. Rucker, a Baptist preacher. Well, he was the first man detailed to come with a wagon for the clothes. Our boys were in Louisianna at that time, in win¬ter quarters. I often think of how everybody was rushing themselves to get things ready for the time Rev. Rucker was to leave. There was three of us girls grown, and two small sisters, who could help some and a mother who was as fine a weaver as ever sat down at a loom. We had blankets to make, underwear, socks, over shirts, pants, and in fact everything. These were about the last days in November and we had finished all the things and marked them. We put each boys things in a cloth wrapper, sewed it up tight and wrote their names on the packages. How proud we all were to know that it would not be long until they would all have good warm clothes and of how proud they would be to know that loving hands had made them.
While sitting there, our conversation drifted to other boys and we wondered who would make clothes for them. Finally we spoke of Fred and Jim Wade – we knew they had no one near to help them. Mr. Rucker had to start in two days but we decided to make them each a suit and knit them some socks, if we had time. My father was sitting by, making shoes and listening to our talk. He said, “Noble southern girls, you shall make the clothes. I will go and see Mr. Rucker and get him to wait until the clothes are finished.” He asked us how long it would take to do the work. We knew how much we could spin in a day, we knew how many yards a day mother could weave, and how long it would take us to get the thread, etc., so we told him five or six days.
There was one Sunday in the five days that we did not count as we had never worked on Sunday. I decided I would go over to the Westbrooks girls and see if they would help us get the work done in less time. I will never forget that evening at my home and at Mr. Westbrooks. It was bitter cold. I had given myself just one half hour to see them and be back home to begin work. I told my sisters to start the work while I was gone. When I ran in on the Westbrooks, they cried in one voice, “What is the matter with you?!” I told them I was a recruiting officer hunting recruits to help make the Wade boys some clothes. We all had a hardy laugh, for folks laugh in war times. I then explained and Mr. Westbrooks said, “Yes, we will all help,” and they did. We all worked until after dark and before it got light in the morning. We worked on that Sunday. We went to the woods, got the bark, colored the thread, got it all ready for the loom and mother went to weaving Monday and in four days the clothes were woven and made into clothes and the fifth day delivered to Mr. Rucker.
When he reached camp, you can imagine how he was met by those poor ragged soldiers. One man took up the bundles, handed them to a second man who called off the names and the owner would take the package. This went on until the wagon was unloaded. Now help me draw a picture of two young men, standing there ragged and cold, with no mother nor sister here in the land of Dixie to give them raiment. How and they must have been when they saw other boys ripping open their bundles and taking out their warm clothes. Finally Fred and Jim Wade’s names were called and they were called a second time before they would believe it was true. When they got their bundles, they stepped to one side and ripped them open. On top of the clothes was a short letter from my father telling them we had made the clothes. Fred read it and handed it to Jim. By that time there was a crowd gathered around. I have been told that three strong men wept like boys and others did the same. When you see strong men weep, their hearts are full. All of this is why there is friendship between the Wade family and myself.
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