Archiver > TNWEAKLE > 2002-12 > 1039662441

From: "Dalton Holland Baptista" <>
Subject: Re: [TnWeakle] About me and my Ancestors- part 2 a
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2002 01:07:21 -0200
References: <> <024401c2a189$f4f40720$c480cfc8@NOVO>

This was written by a true "Weakleyan". It is a quite interesting story
about how the early times were down there in Weakley and in Gonzales Co.
Texas. I hope you enjoy.


Rich Memories of a Long Life, by Martha (Pattie) Temperance Steagall Norris
Brazilian-American Magazine, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil - August 11th, 1928.

As Mr. Brown has honored me by a request to write my life-story
his valuable magazine (why, I do not know), I will make the attempt, though
I doubt if it will interest any other than my own family.

To begin with my earliest recollections, which are of a
two-storied framed house situated in a large enclosure of many trees, among
them a wild cherry and a sweet gum of my father's tobacco fields, barn and
press, of his going to Hickman, Kentucky, to ship his tobacco, often taking
me with him, for he adored me, his first-born; of going on the road to our
church with my nurse to gather hazel-nuts; of visiting my aunt who lived
near us with my grandmother - and many other incidents of little importance
or interest to any one - the only thing worthy of interest being that all
these occurrences are vividly impressed upon my memory , although I was only
five years old, when my father , Henry Farrar Steagall, decided to move to

My memory dates from the age of three years, which is considered
remarkable by some, who have told me they had no recollection of what took
place when they were five years of age.

In 1855 we left the old home in Weakley County, Tennessee, to
make an overland trip to far-away Texas, which was then considered a new
country, having been but recently received into the Union and a little
earlier having been freed from Mexico by Sam Houston's victory over Sant'
Anna, at the Battle of San Jacinto. My father first went out there to look
around and returned to Tennessee much pleased with Texas and immediately
began making preparations to move there.

He had made to order a comfortable carriage for the family
("Barouch" it was called), the family at that time consisting of my mother
and two little brothers, younger than myself.

My father was an excellent mechanic and he, with the aid of an
uncle of my mother, made two fine large wagons, each being drawn by six of
those famous (or were famous at that time) Tennessee mules. For the carriage
there was a par of beautiful black mules.

We had a few slaves, and they with provisions and provider for
the animals, with some of our household effects occupied the two wagons. One
other family, besides several young men accompanied us on this long and most
delightful trip of three months!

There were few railroads in those days, the rivers furnishing
facilities for the major part of the traffic, hence the necessity for making
this move by land, as it would have been very expensive to take such a
number of individuals down the Mississippi by steamer to New Orleans, from
there to Galveston or Indianola across the Gulf of Mexico, and then got to
Gonzales - our objective - 100 miles by stage coach. But my father wished to
take his mules and other property with him; consequently this route was not
to be thought of.

I wish it were possible to impart to others the thrills that
stirred my childish heart as every incident occurred on this long journey
from Tennessee to West Texas.

We had the "covered wagons" like the "forty-niners"- think of
it! We crossed the Mississippi and went up into the lower corner of Missouri
to get into the main highway. I remember the first night we camped; there
rode up on horseback a young man of our acquaintance to join our cavalcade.
He had been on the eve of getting married when his girl jilted him, so he
was seeking a panacea for his troubles by going out to Texas.

It was in the days when those who were guilty of crime ran away
to Texas to escape the law. Some of these men were our neighbors after we
settled, and fine men they were. They were mostly justified in breaking the
law, and were highly respectable and good neighbors.

To return to my subject - I well remember crossing the
Mississippi, that "Father of Waters". I recall watching the men skin an
enormous catfish my father had bought of a fisherman. It was hanging on a
tree, and was no longer than the tallest of the men, and the entire company
had all they could eat - both whites and blacks.

We traversed the State of Arkansas from corner to corner,
entering at the Northeast and leaving the State at the Southwest corner,
crossing the Arkansas River at Little Rock on a steam ferryboat, and I
thought the puffing of the steam gave me an earache I had.

The delight of camping-out feeling remains with me to this day.
I love it, despite ticks, bugs and discomforts.

In the late afternoons on this trip, my father who was a
tireless walker, would walk on ahead of the caravan, often taking me with
him, to select a good camping place and what lovely spots he would find,
with trees and grass, and a rippling little stream. And what a stir when the
train came up - all as busy as bees, each one to his own duty; the mules to
unharness and feed, the tents to set up, bedding to be arranged, wood and
water to get, some of the men going into the woods with guns, to kill birds
or squirrels, my father taking me and my little brother by the hands and
going to the nearest house to buy milk or molasses, and the black women
cooking supper. Yes - those were good old days of Breakfast, Dinner and
Supper, with them with capitals, because the good old custom has passed
away! No lunch in those days excepting for school children and travelers.

I feel like exclaiming like the old lady whose college-bred
nephew was explaining to her how "to disencumber an egg of its contents."
"Lawks a massy, how things have changed since I was a gal! "

For the enlightenment of the readers who will no doubt be "alf
at sea" as to my opinions, etc., I will say that I was born, brought up, and
lived in the country all my life till fifteen years ago, when we sold our
little farm at Villa Americana, and since that time my life has been passed
in cities, so up to that time I knew little of the city life and customs.

We arrived at Gonzales, Texas after three months on the road. I
regret that I do not know the dates, but I was too young to note them. We
found the people most hospitable, bringing in fresh meat, vegetables, etc.,
which were very acceptable after living on dry food so long.

Texas being a new place, and very different to the old states in
many ways, we needed the advice these kind people so readily accorded us.
Indian and Mexican wars were fresh on their minds, and they told us many
thrilling and blood curdling stories of their experiences.

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