Reunions, Dallas County, Texas (Part 2)
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Reunions, Dallas County, Texas (Part 1)

Added July 6, 2004:

Speech of County Judge Nash De-
livered Before the Pioneers'
Reunion at Hutchins.



The Song of a Tin Pan and a Soldier's Rug-
ged Honesty -- Pioneer Apperson's
Interesting Reminiscences.

     Following is the annual address delivered before the Pioneers' association by Hon. Thos. F. Nash, county judge of Dallas county, at their reunion at Hutchins last Wednesday:
     Ladies and gentlemen of the Pioneers' Association of Dallas county: Another year with its joys and sorrows, its trials and its triumphs has passed into history since we last assembled in annual session. We are told in the book of Ezra, when the children of Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity for the purpose of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem, that "those who had seen the first house, when the foundations were laid before their eyes, many of them wept with a loud voice and many shouted aloud for joy." So we to-day, no doubt, have abundant cause for congratulation and exhilaration upon the one hand, and for sorrow and disappointment upon the other. Those of you who were here when the foundations were laid for this goodly country, whose families have prospered and passed the ordeal of another year, without a visitation from the angel of death, are doubtless like the cheerful element of the returning Israelites, but there are others for whom we must drop a tear, because we sadly miss them on this otherwise delightful occasion.
     When we survey the field in which we have labored and contemplated the ever increasing prosperity of this great country, whose foundations were laid by the pioneer fathers and mothers of Dallas county, we have a theme for deep reflection and ample reasons to believe that great hopes have been realized and high ambitions have been gratified.
     Since 1842, when the settlement of this county began, we have had both sunshine and rain. Sometimes, the ratio of one to the other has been too great and we have thought the sunshine would blight everything, or the rains would be so copious, that a subsistence would not be made, but never yet have we been destitute or in want, and now as we are in the midst of the harvest of another year, we find ourselves again blessed with plentiful crops, and the rich resources of our soil have again testified that no other country on earth has broader smiles for its people by reason of the beautiful harvests it always yields to the labor of the husbandman. But while we indulge in these pleasing reflections, it may not be inappropriate to pause a moment and consider the fact that some of our number have fallen on the way and pay something of that tribute their virtues deserve. I do not know just how many and who of our number have joined the silent band since our last reunion, during this meeting we expect to know, and in the presence of this assembly and the God of our fathers, we will think of all of them with uncovered heads and humble hearts.
     I can not forbear to speak of our honored president, Col. John Henry Brown, whose vacant chair so forcibly reminds us that he is not here as he was wont to be, but has been gathered to his fathers -- gone on to the company of Houston, Rusk, Henderson and Hemphill. That his death makes a void in our little band which can not be filled, no one who knew him questions. He was the captain general of our little army, and we may well say that a great man has fallen among the pioneers of Texas. Judge Hemphill, in delivering a eulogy upon Thomas J. Rusk, said: "We shall not be behold his like again." So, I say to you, ladies and gentlemen, we shall not behold the like of our lamented president again. No other man will have that knowledge of early times and men, and that unselfish devotion to the pioneer cause that John Henry Brown had. He was a patriot, statesman and historian, whose patriotism was an inspiration to his countrymen, whose statesmanship was photographed upon the laws of Texas, and whose histories will be regarded as the accurate and faithful record of events in Texas until our great state shall have been blotted from the map of the world or the art of printing shall have been lost to mankind.
     "But, as our leader has fallen, so in time we must drop out from the ranks of the living. Every link in this chain of friendships must soon be broken and the death of Col. Brown should serve as a premonition to us of the coming disbandment of our association.

"A solemn murmur in the soul,
Tells of a world to be.
As travelers hear the billows roll
Before they reach the sea."

     We meet to-day to survey the past, to contemplate the vicissitudes that have transpired from the early settlement of our county, when the Indian and the buffalo infested it, to its present proud, populous and prominent position among the progressive countries of the world.
     We meet to renew old acquaintances, to talk over the trials and triumphs of long ago, to make matters of history come up before us as if they were present and now transpiring, and cement our friendships in order that they may be perpetuated until the last pioneer of Dallas county shall have gone to that bourne whence no traveler returns.
     The true pioneer period of this county dates from the spring of 1842 to 1850. It is true many of us who belong to this association came at a later date, and even down to the war, we had privations and hardships, but prior to 1850, there was danger and doubt and true primeval times. In 1850, there were probably 400 families or 2000 people, enough for defensive and offensive purposes, and those who came subsequently were not subjected to so many trials and hardships.
     In 1842, there were not as many people in all Texas as there are in Dallas county to-day. And, what should be said of those who came at that period, 1000 miles from their old homes and associates and settled here amid the scream of the panther and the war whoop of the Indian and blazed out the path to civilization? It is true, if they would go to Jefferson or Houston, they could buy supplies, and, I believe, there was a mill at Bonham, but if you will think of the circumstances for a moment you will understand something of how much patience, courage and patriotism it required to hold a man with a family he loved in a country so environed. The pioneers of all countries deserves a mead of praise, and upon the pages of American history, no names command greater admiration than those of William Penn, Sir Walter Raleigh, Capt. John Smith and Daniel Boone; and the first settlers of Texas came from the same great Anglo-Saxon stock and brought to this country the same principles, the same virtues, the same courage and patriotism. There were no telegraphs here then or elsewhere. No railroads in Texas, away down here by the side of Mexico, whose perfidy was a constant menace to our settlers.
     But, if the man whose strong arms and brave hearts weathered the storms of pioneer life deserve honorable mention, what may be said of those noble women who came with them and shared their trials and dangers? We are told in ancient history, that when Sparta was engaged in war with some neighboring people, material for ropes became scarce and the noble matrons of that country gave up their hair to supply the deficiency. We read it, and think of it as a myth, but surely the good women who came here with their husbands, fathers and brothers, made greater sacrifices than the women of Sparta are reputed to have made. They left their homes in the old states where comforts surrounded them, where friends smiled upon them, and came to this wild country, and in every hardship and peril, they stood by the sides of the men they loved, in order to secure better homes and prospects for themselves and their posterity. The dangers they endured and the thrilling incidents they witnessed would startle the people of this day and generation, if we could tell them to you.
     Now, as we look back upon those eventful scenes, do we derive consolation, and do we realize that our labors have not been in vain! Do we appreciate the fact that you laid the foundations for the greatest superstructure that has been erected in modern times! What country on earth is superior, in all that goes to make people happy, to Dallas county? From one man in 1842, in 1896, we have 80,000 people, from a rude log hut on the banks of the Trinity and its solitary inhabitant, we have $100,000,000 of property, and where that log hut stood, the greatest city in the southwest; and instead of inferior numbers contending with savage Indians, we have more men in Dallas county than Washington ever had at one time and place.
     The productions of this county show its unlimited resources; the statistical reports of your county assessor show that our annual products of agriculture and horticulture are worth between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000. Every witness that confronts us, our varied resources, our population and wealth, attest the fact that Dallas county is in the front rank, that our pioneer fathers and mothers have whereof to glory when they contemplate this magnificent superstructure, whose foundations were their handiwork. In all essential particulars, the United States is the greatest country on earth; Texas is her greatest state, and Dallas is the greatest county. Could human ambition or avaricious greed ask for more than this?
     Now, we do not mean to say that the pioneers deserve all the credit. Noble men and women came later, and are coming yet, and in our great financial, moral and social development, they have done their share, and the old Texan is only proud that good people kept on coming to Texas.
     But, the fact remains, the old pioneers blazed the way, and like the father and mother of a numerous family who grow up and make distinguished men and noble women, in the moments of their greatest triumph in the gratitude of their hearts, they can but say, "We owe a great deal of it to the principles instilled by our fathers and mothers."
     The early settlers of Texas were not ignorant men and women. They came to this uninviting country for a purpose high and noble. Among their ranks were soldiers not afraid to die. Statesmen of highest order, and patriots of greatest devotion. In the first councils of the country, they made government practical and far-reaching. The congress of the republic gave us the homestead law. They early announced that the woman and children of this country should have a home; that the women who had followed them to these western wilds should not be driven from their shelter for debt of any kind. With some, this law is unpopular, but it is here, and it is here to stay. I believe Texas was the first state to adopt a liberal homestead law, but it was quickly followed by other states, and so the pioneers of Texas made beneficent provision for their wives and children, and by their example, lead other states of the union to do the same. It has been said, though I find no mention of it in history, that Gen. Darnell, whom you knew so well as a leading citizen of this county, and who was speaker of the Texas congress in the days of the republic, was the author of the homestead law. If this be true, we owe it to ourselves, and to his memory, to establish it as authentic, because it marks a revolution in the statutory proceedings of the United States.
     Isolated from schools and churches with but little prospect of ever being able to properly educate the children they brought with them here, they, nevertheless, proceeded to make provision for the education of successive generations, by donating public lands to the school fund, and thus gave to Texas, the best school fund of any state in the union. You may read of the large amounts of money used for school purposes in Boston, New York and the older states, generally, but their funds are chiefly raised by taxation, levied annually upon the present inhabitants, but in Texas, our school funds are chiefly derived from the interest on the permanent fund provided by our pioneer fathers when they were legislating not for the good of themselves and their children, but for future generations. I stand before you to-day, as a man brought up in Dallas county, from the time I was 4 years old, and yet, I never had the privilege of attending a public school a day in my life. We had no public schools until after I was grown. I mention this to prove that the men who made these provisions for public education, did not educate their own children thereby, but in their wisdom and patriotism, were providing for the children of the present and future ages.
     I can not recount the half our pioneer fathers and mothers have done. I can not foretell the half we may yet see in our county, before the last of you shall have gone to that unseen country. This association was organized twenty years ago -- in another score of years, most of us will be missing and the Pioneers' Association of Dallas county will have passed into history. We have had but two presidents, so far, Col. Brown and the venerable John C. McCoy, the first lawyer and the first district clerk in Dallas county. We are nearing the end of our history. Let us make to our citizens, let us be true to ourselves, true to our country and true to our God. It is said that during the late war, there was not a gun fired around Mount Vernon, the resting place of Washington, the father of our country. Federal and confederate soldiers fraternized around the sleeping dust of their great pioneer of human liberty and American independence. Every article of furniture remained in the ancient house as the immortal hero had left it. The key of the French bastille sent him by the great Lafayette still being in its place in the hall, while near it, was Washington's field glass, hung on the rack by himself and never disturbed by the soldiers in gray or the soldier in blue.
     So, to-day, as we contemplate our pioneer history, let peace and harmony prevail. As we think of the times and the friends of the past, let no unfriendly criticism or unhallowed thought mar the pleasure of this occasion. Let us go hence, invigorated and refreshed; emboldened by the proud destiny of our country, and conscious that our work has been well done. And, as the stormcloud is illuminated by the sheet lightnings from the heavens, if you have trials in the coming year, may your pathway be illumined by the lightnings of hope, faith and charity. And, when your voyage is about to end, may you be like a noble, seaworthy ship, with her rigging strong, her sails unfurled to the breezes, her good captain at the helm as she peacefully, but grandly, glides into her destined harbor. So, may you, when your voyage is ended, your work is done, safely and peacefully enter the haven of eternal rest.


     Dear friends, and especially, my old pioneer friends: It is a very pleasant thing to meet with you to-day. Some of you I have known from your infancy, and as far back as fifty years ago. But, when we consider the few that are left, how sad the picture. Our joy is mingled with melancholy and sadness. I would like to know how many are here that were here between the years of 1845 and 1850? Will you please stand up and remain until you are counted and your names taken? This is the sad part of the picture. There are but few semi-centenarian pioneers now. They have passed over the river. The most of them fought a good fight and died well. How happy the condition of the old pioneers from the '40s to the '60s. This region of country was certainly the Egypt of the United States of America. Were it possible, I believe I would like to be transported back to the fleshpots of Egypt again. What a panorama was spread out before us as we traversed those prairies of Dallas and Ellis counties.
     They were carpeted with the most luxuriant growth of grass that I ever saw; no noxious weeds, as we have now. And, the wild animals that luxuriated on those prairies! Ah, they were in Egypt! How it did make my young heart pulsate with joy and delight to pursue the buffalo, the wild horse, the deer and the fleet-footed antelope.
     I could probably give you many incidents that would interest you. I will give you my first adventure with the buffalo. On the 14th day of June, 1846, I espied a herd of buffaloes between Mustang creek and Grove creek, in Ellis county. I had an inordinate desire to kill one, but I had heard that they were very ferocious when wounded, and I hesitated to approach them. But, I got my consent, and proceeded to the task. They were on the level prairie and I thought the grass very short for such an occasion. I got down in a crawling attitude, bare-headed, and, oh, my, how hot! The thermometer appeared to be up to about 150 down where I was. I continued for about a quarter of a mile in this attitude, which brought me in range of my game. I took a good rest, and would occasionally raise my head just high enough to see them. O, what huge, ugly monsters they appeared to a 16-year-old boy. I got somewhat rested and told the negro boy to crawl before me and I would shoot from his back. I was afraid to rise, for fear the buffaloes would see me. If they had, I do not know what would have become of me. I fired, and to my great surprise, down came my buffalo. The herd ran off and left their wounded companion. We were still lying very close to the ground. The negro boy was a bigger dunce than I was, for he would not shoot at all. My buffalo was now getting very sick, as manifested by his frequent gettings up and down. I finally got my old flint-lock gun loaded. It took me a long time, as this was the first time I had ever loaded a gun lying prostrate upon my back. I gave him another shot, which ended our adventure with him, greatly to our satisfaction and relief. He was a fine, fat animal and we stood greatly in need of him, as we had been out of meat for some time. We had not acquired the art of killing game up to this time, and the killing of game was our only source for meat.
     The early settlers of this country enjoyed themselves wonderfully, considering the privations and disadvantages under which they had to labor. A young country and a young person fit very nicely. To use the language of the poet, it is more nearly the eternal fitness of things than anything I ever saw. We were an honest, happy people. No stealing of any character. Why, we didn't even rope railroad trains here then. I do not think I saw a lock and key here for twenty years.
     This brings to mind an incident in point. Brother Anse Dawdy, an old pioneer, and myself, were in conversation, contrasting the past with the present. We mutually agreed that the people had vastly degenerated, so far as honesty was concerned. He will, no doubt, enjoy the joke. He said that he had passed through two wars and never stole anything; but while in the confederate army, their command was camped near an old, rich, miserly, planter, and he would not let them have anything for neither love nor money. He saw a washpan and they needed one very bad and told his mess that he was going to have that pan. So, after dark, he got the pan and went to bed, and the first thing that he hard was something whispering in his ears, "You have stolen a washpan." He said he lay there until midnight and that washpan kept up such a singing in his ears, that he could not sleep a wink. He got up and took the pan back and went to sleep and never had a more refreshing sleep in all his life. Nevertheless, we had a hearty laugh over his adventure with the washpan.
     I tell you, the old pioneers are made of the right kind of metal. No alloy in their composition. They underwent many hardships and privations, and when they met, they met as brethren. So, the old patriarch Abraham said to those who were traveling to the land of Caanan with him, when they were about to get up a dispute in regard to the occupancy of the country: "You go to the right, and I will go to the left, or you go to the left, and I will go to the right. I pray thee that we have no strife." We had no strife. When we met, we met as brethren. And, as Abraham Lincoln said to those two men that presented him with a hat, each at the same time and wishing to compliment them both: "Well, these hats mutually surpass each other." Now, we used to try to surpass each other in kindness, benevolence and generosity. I almost shudder when I consider the exposed condition of this country to our wild savage foe, the Indians. There had been some trading posts established on our frontier, and there had been some treaties made with them, and they were still regarding those treaties. I met with them several times, but I made myself so agreeable with them, that we had no strife.
     I will relate an incident that I will hold Brother Dod Rawlings responsible for. While Capt. Harwood was living at Dallas at a very early day here, he had a friend to visit him and he was also anxious to kill a buffalo. So, they went out a short distance from town and saw a herd of buffalo. The captain's friend fired, and down came a fine buffalo. He drew his jacknife and slapped it down on his buffalo, and he made for his adversary (I will call his name John Smith). Smith whirled and ran with the buffalo horning him and the blood flying from the nose of the buffalo at every jump. Capt. Harwood said: "Run, Smith." Smith said: "Run, the mischief. Do you suppose I would throw off in this race?"
     One more incident, and I am done. There was a little house stood on the bank of the river in Dallas, 10x10, made of clapboard and puncheons. There was the picture of a yellow dog and the letters, "R." "Y." in close proximity to the picture. It was a business house. They meant business. Now, I am done.
     When I consider the [climate?] and productions of this country, after a residence of fifty years, I have come to the conclusion that we have the best country in America. I hope we will meet again. Farewell, farewell.
                                                               J. P. A

- August 11, 1895, The Dallas Morning News, p. 12, col. 1-5.
- o o o -



Hutchins is the Place Chosen
For the Annual


Executive Committee of Dallas
County Pioneers' Association
Met Here Yesterday

     The executive committee of the Dallas County Pioneers' association met Saturday afternoon at the court house for the purpose of selecting a meeting place for the annual picnic, which will beheld July 29, and to renew old acquaintanceships. After some discussion, it was decided to hold the annual gathering at Hutchins, although several favored Oak Lawn park in North Dallas.
     Capt. R. A. Rawlins of Lancaster presided and Senator W. C. McKamy kept the minutes. The following members of the executive committee were present: John T. Witt, Elisha McCommas, Lee Hughes, E. A. Gracey, J. H. Cole, W. T. Lavender, W. H. Beeman, G. W. Clark and E. Cumby.
     Capt. Rawlins made an address of welcome and outlined the work of the meeting. He said that he had an invitation from the residents of Hutchins asking the pioneers to hold their annual picnic in their town. He stated that it had been the usual custom for the picnic to be held there every fourth year.
     On motion of Lee Hughes, Hutchins was accepted as the next meeting place.
     J. H. Cole made a speech, in which he suggested that in the future, the picnic and reunion be held two days in succession, and all the other members of the committee favored the change. It was decided to bring the matter up at the reunion with the executive committee's endorsement.
     The program of speeches was outlined and Dr. Carnes of Hutchins was selected to deliver the address of welcome. Senator McKamy was chosen to make the response and Judge Thomas F. Nash will be asked to deliver the annual address. W. H. Hughes, the chaplain of the association, was chosen to deliver the memorial address.
     On motion of Lee Hughes, it was recommended that a historian of the association be appointed.
     C. B. Gillespie and Superintendent Ed Moore, of the street railways, were presented to the committee, and Mr. Gillespie made an address asking the pioneers to hold their picnic at Oak Lawn park. A motion was made to reconsider the selection of Hutchins, but it was withdrawn.
     Superintendent Moore extended an invitation to the committee to take a ride to Oak Lawn park and take a look at the grounds, which was accepted, Senator McKamy moving a resolution of thanks to Mr. Moore for his courtesy, which was carried.
     The meting then adjourned, the majority of the committee availing themselves of Mr. Moore's invitation.
     The following is a list of the executive committee of the association, and other interesting information regarding them:
     Capt. R. A. Rawlins, moved to Texas from Illinois in 1844 and resided at Lancaster since that time.
     John C. Witt, born in Lamar county, 1845, moved to Dallas county in 1848, lived in Dallas since 1871.
     Elisha McCommas, born in Ohio, 1830, moved to Texas in 1844, lives four miles northeast of Dallas.
     Lee Hughes, born in Dallas in 1856.
     E. A. Gracey, came to Dallas county from Illinois in 1849, lives six miles south of Dallas.
     J. H. Cole, born in Tennessee, 1827, came to Texas in 1843, lived in county since it was organized, resides in Oak Lawn.
     W. T. Lavender, born in Illinois in 1843, came to Texas in 1845, and resided in Dallas county since that time, resides at Lancaster.
     W. H. Beeman, born in Illinois, May 11, 1827, lived in Texas since 1840, and resided in Dallas county since it was organized as a county. Mr. Beeman was the man who rode along across the country to Franklin, Robinson [Robertson] county, to get the judge there to issue an order for forming Dallas county.
     G. W. Clark, born in Kentucky, 1828, came to Texas, Dallas county, in 1855, resides in Dallas.
     E. Cumby, born in Illinois, 1858, son of Elizabeth Beeman, who kept the first hotel in the city of Dallas. The hotel was just north of the present location of the court house.
     State Senator W. C. McKamy, born in Dallas county in 1861, resides at Frankford, Dallas county.
     The following are the officers of the association:
     Capt. R. A. Rawlins, president; Wm. H. Hord, vice president; Elisha McCommas, vice president; Mrs. C. B. Durgin, vice president; Rev. W. H. Hughes, chaplain; Emory Gracey, treasurer; Wm. C. McKamy, secretary; Miss Adda Rawlins, assistant secretary.
     Executive committee -- M. D. L. Gracey, Wm. H. Beeman, Mrs. Emily Guy, John Neely Bryan, Jr., Mrs. Rhoda Ann McCommas, Mrs. Martha Beeman, Tolbert Lavender, John H. Cole, Mrs. Mary Greene, Elisha Halsell.
     Entertainment committee: W. T. Lavender, Capt. R. A. Rawlins, B. W. McCarty, J. W. Curry, J. I. Lavender, H. E. White, M. M. Miller, Will A. Strain, W. R. Greene, W. P. White, F. M. Hammond, R%. P. Henry, S. H. Attebery, W. G. Howell, J. S. Rawlins, D. M. Waters, T. F. Ferguson, J. H. Stoker, , M. A. Durrett, R. E. Taylor, C. M. Lyon, E. M. Hulbert.
     Marshal -- J. H. Peacock.
     Senator McKamy requests all old settlers who know of Dallas county pioneers who have died during the past twelve months, to report their deaths to him or Capt. Rawlins.

- July 12, 1903, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 4, col. 1-3.
- o o o -



Twenty-Sixth Annual Reunion of the Dallas County Old
Settlers' Association at Hutchins--The Orators,
the Dinner and the Guests.

     The pioneer is the man who blazes the way for others in new countries, new thought and new fields of endeavor. After blazing the way and bearing the brunt of the battle, he passes on to his reward, and those who come after him, enjoy the blessings which his sacrifices made possible. Dallas is the first county in the first state in a union of states which form the greatest government that has ever had an existence since man was born. Adam was the first pioneer. He had to hustle in a new country when the Lord banished him from Paradise. And, since the Paradise incident, man has had a weakness for forbidden fruit and a new country. He is the same old Adam to-day that he was in the Garden away back in the morning of civilization when the apple crop was bountiful and the serpent sought Eve and tempted her to stray from her moorings and set at defiance the injunction of the Lord. Man is a pilgrim, ever on his journey, which begins with the cradle and ends with the grave. John Neeley Bryan was a pioneer. He was the first white man to pitch his tent in Dallas county and to declare it an earthly Paradise. No monument has been reared to perpetuate his memory; no brass tablet to honor his name. A street was named after him by a Dallas city council and his good deeds and patriotic motives have been dwelt upon tenderly and lovingly by the men who knew him and the children of the patriarchs who conquered a wilderness and made it blossom as the rose. "In the days that have fled, men were cast in a heroic mold and women were something more than dummies for modistes and walking delegates for milliners," remarked a pioneer in the hearing of the writer the other day. He was old and bent. He lived in the past, that past made glorious by trials and tribulations, daily sacrifice and sublime deeds. He didn't know the present, he didn't care for it and he wouldn't want to know it, if he could. His race was nearly run and he was willing to join the companions of his early days who had gone before. He was a rust-eaten link that connected the Old and the New, a voice of the past speaking a strange tongue.
     Dallas had its pioneers, rugged men and magnificent women, who came into a land of promise to carve out new homes, rear large families and lay the mudsills for a new civilization. Their weapons were the rifle, the axe and the plow. And, they carved out all that they had planned in the beginning and builded wiser than they knew. Wednesday, the Dallas County Pioneers' association held its twenty-sixth annual reunion at Hutchins. This organization was founded July 13, 1875, in the days of the McCoys, the McCommas', the Graceys, John Henry Brown and others who had left the impress of pioneer deeds upon the tablets of the people's hearts. They are gone now, but a small remnant of the old guard remain, and a whole host of the sons and daughters of the early settlers of historic Dallas remain. It was fitting that he pioneers should meet at Hutchins. It is a pretty spot, with its green fields, beautiful groves, substantial buildings of brick, well-kept lawns and comfortable homes.Not a mile away, are the lakes of the fishing clubs, where the fur, fin and feather enthusiasts of Dallas pass their leisure moments. Hutchins is an old town, and a small town. thirty-one years ago, the Central built a passenger station there and "in the good old times," two saloons flourished, horse racing was a recognized sport, and now and then, men came to blows. This was long ago. Hutchins is a local option precinct now, and artesian water is the only intoxicant to be found by the thirsty in the village. It's a beautiful country, as fertile as the Mississippi delta and dotted here and there with homes of prosperous tillers of the soil. Four miles away is the thrifty town of Lancaster, "the best town in Dallas county" its admirers say, and this alone, tells the story why Hutchins has never spread out. More than sixty years ago, settlers from Illinois and Tennessee poured into the country where the town of Lancaster now stands. The Puritan and the Cavalier met on equal grounds and pulled together. Among those who had come from Illinois was Ellis, the strong man of the settlement, who located his headright on Bear creek. He had four daughters and three sons. These married and took up headrights. To-day, the children and grandchildren of the patriarch, own no less than forty fine farms in Dallas county. Captain R. A. Rawlins, of Lancaster, the venerable president of the association, came from Illinois, too, with his parents, more than sixty years ago. When the war between the States came, the men from Illinois and the men from Tennessee stood shoulder to shoulder for the Stars and Bars and fought side by side till their flag went down. There is no community between the two oceans more prosperous then one finds in this section of Dallas county. And, the survivors of the early days, and their children and children's children, attended the twenty-sixth annual reunion of the Old Pioneers' association.


     Hutchins had made elaborate arrangements for the reception and entertainment of its guests. Clark's grove is an ideal spot for a picnic or reunion. It is a short distance from town and overlooks a stretch of meadow, and in the distance, is a beautiful lake. At 10 o'clock, a goodly crowd had assembled, Dallas and Lancaster sending the largest delegations. It was, point of number, the largest reunion held in recent years, and in point of hospitality, equal to any reunion held since the birth of the organization. Rev. W. H. Hughes, who came in the early 50's from Tennessee and preached to the pioneers, is the chaplain of the organization and made the opening prayer, a simple, yet eloquent, petition to the Throne of Grace, such as ascended to the Master in the early days of a young commonwealth. Dr. A. W. Carnes made the address of welcome. It was not of the perfunctory sort, but a genuine and well-worded welcome to one and all present, and closed with a splendid tribute to the pioneers and their works. The Carnes' are among the builders of Dallas county. Of course, the elders came from Tennessee and had touched elbows with John Sevier. State Senator W. C. McKamy made the response. Senator McKamy is a gallant bachelor of uncertain age. His locks are tinged with grey, whilst his face is fresh and rosy. At any rate, he is to the manner born and his father was one of the pioneer settlers of the good old county. Senator McKamy was present at the birth of the association twenty-six years ago, but he might have been a small boy then. His response was exceedingly appropriate. He mourned the absence of dear old faces, eulogized the men and women who came to Dallas when the Indian, the buffalo and the panther were in possession of the country and narrated many interesting tales of the border days and times and border heroes and heroines. He did not fancy the idea of holding these reunions in the city of Dallas, in the noisy tumult caused by the maddening crowd. Spots sacred to the men of other days, towns throughout the county, where they toiled and wrought, were fitting places for these annual reunions. Hutchins was one of these. Hutchins had entertained the pioneers in 1895, and in response to this sentiment, and at the request of citizens of Hutchins, it was decided to hold it there again this year. The senator was warmly applauded. He is a pioneer who first saw the light here and grew up with the country. And, then came the tearful feature of these reunions, the reminder that all things must pass away, and men with them. There were only four deaths reported during the year--Mr. and Mrs. James Robinson, the venerable Perry Overton and that giant of the legal world, Captain James M. Hurt, for eighteen years a judge of the court of criminal appeals of Texas. He was a native of Tennessee, but passed fifty years of his busy life in Texas. There are honored names on the death roll of the Dallas County Pioneers' association.


     And, now Kentucky had an inning. Hon. Thomas F. Nash delivered the annual oration. Judge Nash is a pioneer, but he doesn't look it. Forty-nine years ago, his parents and their children made the trip over land from Kentucky in wagons and pitched their tent in the White Rock bottoms. The judge was four years old then, and his memory never fails him. His father came here with his stock and chattels and negroes to make a new home in the wilds of Texas. In his boyhood, he knew all the pioneers, including that marvelous conqueror of Santa Anna. The address, from first to last, was most interesting and humorous anecdotes and touching incidents were sandwiched in with a deftness that kept the crowd midway between a laugh and a tear. After complimenting his venerable young friend, Flem G. Bledsoe, who came to Texas more than seventy years ago, the judge poke considerable fun at the Tennesseans and Missourians, who claimed the honor of wrestling the country from the Indians. As a son of Kentucky, he was positive that the Kentuckians had won the glory, as they would fight, knew how to fight and did fight. He complimented the old-timers and declared that the pioneers of every age and in every clime stood out in bold relief as the kings of their kind, giving special credit to John Wesley, Alexander Campbell, Roger Williams and John Knox, apostles of new crusades who were more mighty than any who came after them. Abraham Lincoln was another pioneer, who stood head and shoulders above those around him, and who took up the work where he laid it down. Speaking of the early settlers of Texas, the judge said that cavaliers and Puritans had divided the honors and glories as they had together shared the dangers, hardships and privations of frontier life. Sam Houston, Albert Sidney Johnston and Henry G. Burnet were of the cavalier type who fought for Texas and Stephen F. Austin, Anson Jones and Rusk were splendid specimens of the Puritan who came from New England and cast their lot with their fellow adventurers from the slave states. A blending of the cavalier and Puritan had produced a magnificent type of citizenship and has made Texas what it is today. The judge devoted some time to the heroism of the pioneers, their hospitality, regard for the Spartan virtues and their unflinching loyalty to country, family and friends. He spoke of the ingenuity of the Yankee of those early days, for all Northern men were Yankees then and they were numerous, too. Mr. George Jackson and a crowd of kindred spirits visited Jefferson for goods. This was before the railroad, before the mule team, in fact. The ponderous and slow-going ox was the beast of burden then. Well, one of the animals became tender-footed on the return trip, about ten miles this side of Jefferson, and Jackson and his companions were in sore dismay. Provisions were scarce at home, and it would never do to loiter on the way. "Let's shoe the ox," said a Northern man. "We put shoes on hosses; why not on oxen?" This was agreed to, but where were the shoes to come from? Again, the inventive mind of the Yankee came to the rescue. He solved the problem. He cut strips of tough bacon rind, the ox was thrown down, and for the first time in history, bacon-rind shoes were placed on the hoofs of a docile brute of the bullock persuasion. Among the groceries in the wagons were three barrels of Kentucky whiskey. The inventor of the new horse-shoe tapped a barrel, drew a quart, poured it down the throat of the ox, and all was well. The effect produced by shoe and drink was electrical. The ox set the pace for his companions, and the home trip was made in less than the scheduled time. But, the stimulant had its evil effect. Thereafter, whenever he saw a barrel, the ox made for it and bellowed for a drink. the judge said that the time had come for the association to appoint a historian in order that the early fragments of history of Dallas county and its pioneers should be put together and errors corrected. "I have no fight with the Times Herald," said the speaker, "it is a splendid newspaper and every Sunday, it contains well-written article anent early pioneers and early days. However, the story recently told of the fire in 1860, and the whipping of every negro in Dallas county, was a mistake. I was here at the time, or rather ten miles north of Dallas. The negroes were never whipped in my section of the county. I am not criticizing The Times Herald. They printed the story as they received it, but the whipping part of it was without foundation. To whip all the negroes because one was suspected of having applied the torch to the town, would have justified the charges made against Southern slave-owners by Harriet Beecher Stowe, in Uncle Tom's Cabin. The pioneers were humane and God-fearing men, just the reverse of blood-thirsty and tyrannical in their conduct toward the slaves. And, there is the great preacher and author, Edward Everett Hale. In one of his books, he states that when men fled for crome [crime?] or debt from the old states, 'G. T. T.' were placed on the door and 'G. T. T.' meant 'Gone to Texas.' This is a gross libel upon the pioneers of this commonwealth who were liberty-loving, conscientious and upright men." Judge Nash referred to Colonel Darnell, who, in the days of the Republic, resigned the office of lieutenant governor because he had discovered that belated returns had elected his rival by one hundred majority, and of the sterling manhood of Colonel A. Bledsoe, who was comptroller of state under the reign of E. J. Davis. The legislature had voted $6,000,000 in bonds to the International and Great Northern railroad. Comptroller Bledsoe, a citizen of Dallas county, who had been a Union man and was a Republican, refused to sign the bonds, defied his governor and his party and saved the people from the despoilers. Darnell and Bledsoe were types of the pioneers who made Texas glorious, and for that reason, he insisted that the services of a historian was needed to weed out fictitious and gather and perpetuate the truth concerning the early settlers and the early history of Dallas county. After a very eloquent tribute to the pioneer mothers of Texas, the judge exhibited the first mail sack ever seen in Dallas county, made in Lowell, Mass., for Charles H. Durgin, the first postmaster, and now owned by Will Cochran. A description of the sack and a biographical sketch of Postmaster Durgin appeared in The Times Herald a year or more ago. It is a small sack, but it held all the mail in those days and wasn't a bit crowded.


     A pioneer reunion without a bid dinner would be as barren as the play Hamlet with Hamlet omitted. After feasting upon oratory, the large crowd was invited to feast upon the substantials. Eight of the leading families of Hutchins prepared the dinner and General R. M. Gano, pioneer preacher and solider, pronounced it one of the best he had ever encountered in his travels, and the general has been about a good bit in his time. The entertainment committee was composed of Messrs. B. D. Atwell, Sam Ayers, W. W. Cook, H. C. Whisand, E. C. Hill, E. S. Wood, E. W. Hawley, J. V. Rawlins and E. R. Mosler. The reception committee: W. H. Taylor, Sam Ayers, Will Whisand, James Sears, James Choyce, J. T. Erwin, W. H. Gaston and Claude Rawlins. Dr. Carnes, Flem Bledsoe and Captain Dee Burgess served as members of all the committees. The wives and daughters and sisters of the gentlemen named did the honors and carried off the honors. It was a big day for the pioneers and their friends. Judge Ed S. Lauderdale, remarking to a companion: "It's up to Kimbrough and Mesquite again. We had barbecued beef and mutton here to-day, pies and cakes like mother use to make and all the dainties that go with a Waldorf-Astoria dinner." Then, the rain came down, at the hour of 1:30 p. m., and broke up the most successful reunion held since 1890. The association held a short business session in the afternoon and finished the routine business. The old officers were re-elected, as follows: President, R. A. Rawlins; vice president, Elisha McCommas; secretary, W. C. McKamy; chaplain, rev. W. H. Hughes; treasurer, Emory Gracey; assistant secretary, Miss Ada Rawlins. Executive committee: M. D. L. Gracey, William H. Beeman, Mrs. Emily Guy, John Neely Bryan, Jr., Mrs. Rhoda Ann McCommas, Mrs. Martha Beeman, Tolbert Lavender, John H. Cole, Mrs. Mary Greene, Elisha Halsell, A. S. Clark, Lee Hughes and John T. Witt. It was voted to give two days to business and pleasure next year, and the executive committee was empowered to select the place of meeting and name the dates.
     Among those who participated were: Wm. Winniford, Capt. R. A. Rawlins and family, R. C. J. Barry, P. G. Halbert, Jos. Hadlins, W. A. West, W. H., M. A. and Luke Durrett, C. M. Lyon, Harvey Taylor and wife, John Rawlins, J. M. Roddy, W. M. Weatherall, W. E. Murphy and wife, L. W. Savage, Alex Cockrell and wife, Judge T. F. Nash, George Jackson, H. H. Smith, G. D. Moffett, A. C. and Mrs. Carnes, C. D. Kennedy and wife, T. G. T. Kendall and wife, Gen. R. M. Gano, Dr. J. C. Adams, H. B. Johnson, W. R. Hughes, Frank R. Shanks, J. Roll Johnson, R. H. Gaston, John L. Young, J. M. Gaston, Capt. W. H. Gaston, Sam Peterman and family, Mrs. D. Nussbaumer, Mrs. Elizabeth Martin, Dr. W. G. Langley, Mr. Reinhardt, H. N. Fitzgerald, G. A. Knight and wife, Dr. B. M. Campbell,, Dr. C. M. Rosser and son, Dick Naylor, Miss Lillian Gano, George W. Neeley, Judge Cooper, David Davis, H. P. Moore and wife, C. R. Brotherton and family, H. K. Brotherton and family, B. Wilmost, Eph. Wilmot, W. A. Renfro, J. B. Lowery, John I. Smith and wife, W. B. Lester and family, J. J. Swinney and daughter, Emory A. Gracey, Dr. A. W. Carnes, F. G. Bledsoe, A. S. Clark, R. F. Green, B. D. Atwell, John Rawlins and family, Ham Taylor, H. Bussey, Sam Ayers, Henry Williams, T. H. Bibb; W. H. Wroten and wife, Terrell; Miss Ivy Carnes, Bryan; M. M. Fondren, Maypearl; Col. C. W. Potter, Bowling Green, Ky.; Mrs. J. I. Kooken, J. H. and Mrs. Holloway, Ferris; J. C. Cole, Jones, Ok.; Hon. W. M. C. Hill of Waxahachie, and many others, whose names could not be procured by The Times Herald representative. Mr. H. H. Smith came to Dallas county in 1860. He was a clerk in the postoffice when "Billee" Jones held the office in 1868-69. "I attended to the mails and ran the postoffice with the assistance of a young chap of my own age," said Mr. Smith, "and it was the easiest job I've ever held. Now, there is a small army of men employed in the Dallas postoffice. It is wonderful, the development of Texas since 1870." Two veterans are living to-day on the original headrights located by them away back in the early pioneer days. Alex Berry, whose farm is not far from Carrollton, and Thomas Bernard, who pitched his tent on the banks of Ten-Mile creek. The latter is very old and feeble now. He was unable to attend the reunion at Hutchins. Alex Berry was another absentee. Commissioner George Neely came to Texas in 1864, and is not a pioneer. June Peak, Ben Brandenberg and Frank Shanks are natives of Dallas county and are classed with old-timers or sons of old-timers.

- August 2, 1903, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 16, col. 1-4.
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