grew up when Texas was a real pioneer state. Life at that time was unlike anything that my children or grandchildren can imagine.
My grandfather, John M. [sic] McEwen… grew up in Tennessee and there was married to Nancy Oldham. When my father, William Jasper McEwen was two years old, grandfather died. Two years later grandmother married Earl Thorp. Soon after this marriage she and Mr. Thorp sold the small plantation in Tennessee and, with my father and three slaves, came to Texas.
At that time land in Texas could be bought for $1.25 per acre, and the head of a family was allowed a "head right" of 600 acres. This fact, together with the money received from the holdings in Tennessee enabled them to secure large tracts of land near the Brazos river in Hood County, 40 miles southeast of the U.S.Army fort on the Trinity River, Fort Worth.
They selected as their home-site a beautiful valley surrounded by rolling hills that were covered with live oak trees. Near by there was a never-failing creek of clear, cold water (later called Stroud's Creek) and also a sulfur spring, the water of which was supposed to be a cure for many ills.
Ten miles away was a lofty peak called Comanche Peak. It was named after the Comanche Indians who had used the valley for so many years before they were driven further west.
Grandfather built a nine-room, two-story home out of native stone. Downstairs were two master bedrooms with fireplaces, two smaller bedrooms, dining room and kitchen. Upstairs there were four bedrooms, two of which had fireplaces. Slave quarters were in the back. There were three log cabins to take care of the two families and two single men.
The dining room and kitchen were combined into one unusually large room. A big fireplace covered one end of the room, and all the cooking was done there. Pot hooks were built into the fireplace, and pots for cooking vegetables were hung on them. Meats and breads were cooked in what were called Dutch Ovens. They were like the skillets of today only with tightly fitted lids and legs which stood about four inches high. Live coals were put under and over these Dutch Ovens when there was baking to be done.
Soon other families settled near grandfather's home. The place became known as Thorp Springs, for grandfather had land certificates for nearly all the land in that region.
More land and more slaves were purchased, and when my father became of age, he was made overseer on the plantation. He believed in ruling by kindness rather than by force. "Mars Willum", as the Negro's called him, was loved by young and old alike.
Then came the war. Father went into the service and served full time without being wounded or taken prisoner.
In 1867 he was married to Margaret Agnes Hall of Weatherford, Texas. He built their home a few miles from Thorp Springs near a fresh water stream which was afterward known as McEwen Creek. I was born there in 1869.