Chapter I

By Joy Langdon Tilley



This is written for those of  my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who would like to read it.  I was born September 11, 1886 in a one and a half story frame building facing what is now Missouri Pacific Tracks.  Now this is hearsay with me: I was there, my mother was there, as was my great-grandmother, EMILY LINCECUM MOORE.  No doctor was present, but this was not unusual for my great-grandmother was a practical widwife.  Doctors were scarce and were seldom called unless there were complications.  My father had contracted to go "Up Trail" with a heard of cattle, thinking I would arrive before he had to leave.  But I was two weeks late, so he reluctantly started with the herd for Kansas.

          My father was not a superstitious man, nor a strong believer in signs and omens, yet he could not entirely break away from the infulence of his "Old Black Mammy."  when the herd neared Red River, a terrific blizzard accompanied by lightening and thunder stampeded the herd.  He tried to stay in lead of the herd, but when difficulties became insurmountable and he had to stop, he found himself miles from the chuck wagon.  Rain was freezing as it fell.  He would proably have frozen but for precautions he took.  He filled his mouth with tobacco, looped his bridle reigns over his arms, and sat down in front of his horse to await dawn.  Regardless of his precautions, he fell asleep.  He dreamed he was drinking buttermilk at his grandmother's and awoke deathly sick: he had been swalloing the tobacco juice (ambeer or amber is the right word; my dictionary does not have it.)  These things he took to be a warning for him to go home.  Arriving home he found me a little red-faced piece of humanity five days old.

          My great Aunt Hettie told me that my great-grandmother, Old Nother to us, named me Joy because she was so happy that I had arrived and she could go home to her family.  That may be, but peice goods used to be shipped in great wooden boxes; a bolt of cloth would be wrapped and bound with a strip of paper on which was printed the name of the maker.  I recall seeing one of these labels with letters "Joy Langdon & Company" in gold.  So what?

          My first recollection is of a visit the family made to my great-grandmother MOORE.  I was about two.  My parents could hardly believe that I remembered the trip, but I could tell enough about it to convince them.  Then when I was not yet four, my brother HAL fell off of a load of corn and hurt himself badly.  That picture is still vivid to me-the wagon loaded level to it's sideboards with ear corn-Hal's pinafore and his heels as he toppled off the front of the wagon.  This is the last incident that I can recall for quite sometime.  Threre was a period in my life that seems unreal-dark like- as if I were wading in dark water at twilight.  I often wonder what it was.  My mother said that I had a prolonged sick spell about this time.  My father said that he threw a whole hatfull of medicine in the fire and after that I got well.

          One of the very few times I ever saw my mother angry occurred about this time.  I walked between my Uncle VOL (VALENTINE HARRIS TILLEY) and a wood heater; he gave me a shove; I fell against the heater; I squalled; my mother ran to me and found, branded against my buttock, BEST (name of the heater).  She was furious.

          When I was about four until I was six, we lived next door to Old AUNT HETTIE - no fence between.  If I saw that Mama was about to whip me, I would break for AUNT HETTIE.  If I could get to her before Mama caught me, AUNT HETTIE would talk her out of it. 

          I must have been mean and had a uncontrollable temper.  Mama once did something to anger me when I had a round rock about as big as a marble in my hand.  I threw it at her, and broke for AUNT HETTIE.  Mama came after me.  When she came in, I saw a great knot on her forehead.  I can't describe my feelings - I was so sorry and so contrite.  I don't recall whether I got a whipping or not, but I do recall how desperately I tried to make amends.  I never again attempted to strike her.  And this reminds me, when I was going to a private school taught by MARY HALE COX and ETTA ONEAL LINDSEY, something triggered my temper and I acted very naughty.  I don't recall what caused it, or what I did, but I do recal how contrite I was afterward.

          From the time I was four until 1910, with the exception of parts of two years that we lived on the Sally Jones farm, I lived in DEVINE, TEXAS.  I don't know how old I was when I began going to town, probably five or six.  Previous to that, we stayed at home.  Every year mama would take the wagon and team and we would go to the woods and pick up hickory nuts, enough to last us until spring.  We kept them in a barrel.  We had a wooden stump we cracked them on.  It seems we never had a hammer but used a railroad spike or anything else we could find.  Eating hickory nuts used up quite a bit of our time.  A favorite amusement was branding cattle - corn cobs were our cattle.  We would build a fire and heat a wire for our branding iron.  We played "Hide and Seek."  We rode stick horses also.  Sometimes we did not get home until noon.  Folks never seemed to worry about us.  The oldest of the group would not be over 10.  Why worry?  There were no vicious animals, no automobiles, snakes; yes, but we never encoutered a rattler.

          Before proceeding further with this story, it might be well for me to say a little about my ancestry.  Beginning with the Tilley side, I can go back only 900 years.  About 1066 A.D. England had no direct heir to the throne.  The English parliament chose Harold.  When William of Normandy, a small Mark in Northern France, heard this he was furious.  He claimed he was the rightful heir.  He gathered his army, crossed the Channel, invaded England and defeated Harold decisively at the Battle of Hastings.  (See English history)  The leading general in his, now William the Conqueror, army was a Tilley.  It seems an important part of his army were Tilleys.  He awarded them estates in various Shires.  I have nothing further about them until the founding of America.  Some of them came to America before, some after, Edward and John came on the Mayflower.  History does not bear this out, but my Grandfather claimed that the John who came over in the Mayflower was his pogenitor.  All of Grandfather's family records were destroyed in a fire.  Knowing Grandfather and knowing of the inaccuracies and erasures in Governor Bradford's History, I believe my Grandfather.  My Grandfather's name was GIP ERASMUS.  His Civil War records list him as Gib or Gibson.  In naming his ancestors he called all John except two.  They were Erasmus.  Grandfather had several brothers, but I know nothing of their families.  I never heard Grandfather say anything about his mother.

          My father's name was ERASMUS GORRILLAS TILLEY.  He never used this name.  He signed his name E.G. TILLEY.  An uncle a year older than he called him Beeby.  The family shrotened this to BEE and that was the name everybody used.  BEE TILLEY was well known and respected.  He was noted for his sterling honesty.  He reared eleven children by the sweat of his brow.  He never held a major public office.  He never sought publicity, in fact, he avoided it.  He was a strong suporter of public schools - at one time he gave a month's work toward a school improvement project.  He did his part and more toward any civic improvement project, but his name does not appear on any of these records.  I think this instance marks the esteem of his fellows.  At his death, business and professional men and associates dug his grave.  They would allow no hired hand touch it.  (The custom then was to hire Mexicans to dig graves.)

          The MOORE side of my ancestry also goes back to Egland. My Father's mother was, before she married Grandpa, ZELDA MOORE.  She was a daughter of DANIEL BOONE MOORE and EMILY LINCECUM Moore.  The Moores were pioneers.  They wre blood relatives of the famous DANIEL BOONE.  They wre also related to Colonel BOWIE of ALAMO Fame.  The LINCECUM strain of my ancestry were famous Medical Doctors.  I know little of my mother's people.  My Old AUNT HETTIE said her father was Pennsylvania Dutch.  He came to CASTROVILLE, TEXAS in 1850's.  I don't know his occupation.  My mother's grandmother was a SOUTHERLAND.  She first maried an ARNOLD; her second husband was a PATTERSON.  My great grandmother was proprietor of a stage Inn at CASTROVILLE, TEXAS.  Her family, and possible she, were slave owners.  One of their slaves, ANN SOUTHERLAND, stayed with them long after slaves were freed.  Mother had two brothers, CHARLES and NAPOLEON (Mike).  Mother was born at CASTROVILLE and lived there until her mother died.*

          * You girls are eligible to become Daughters of the Republic through Arnolds.  Mother's Uncle, HENDRIK ARNOLD was a compaion scout of "DEAF SMITH." 1  You are elible to Dauthers of the Confederacy through Grandpa Tilley.

          My father had five brothers grow to manhood.  They all married and reared families.

          My immediate family cohists of my mother and father (both deceased), GIP ZELDA (desceased), HETTIE VIOLA, CHARLES NAPOLEON (desceased), JOY LANGDON, HALBERT LEE, LOYD L. (desceased), DONALD McIAN (he uses A), ELLIS P. BEAN (he drops the P), LESLIE LAWTON(desceased), MANON ELOISE (NONNIE), and HARRIS WOLFE.  When Leslie was born Papa said he was "short stop" but it did not turn out so.

          Now that I have pretty well established my identity, I will resume my narritive.

          On one of our stick horse expeditions, we came upon a patch of sorghum that was just right to eat.  Someone suggested we get us a stalk.  Some of us were in and some out when the owner saw us.  He unloosed a tirade and started toward us.  It scared us half to death.  We broke to run.  Somebody started crying -- I guess we all did, but I was pretty hard to make cry, I thought it was girlish.  When we neared home we thought "What if our mothers saw we had been crying?"  That would mean embarrassing questions.  We examined each other's eyes and if any vestige of red remained we had to go to the horse trough and bathe it away.

          Then there was the time that smallpox threatened.  Papa loaded us and Mama in a wagon and tok us to UNCLE POLEON'S.  They were living in a log house with a dirt floor, one bedstead, and deep loose sand all around.  We stayed one night.  When UNCLE POLEON went to town the next day, Mama said, "You tell BEE to come get us this very evening.  I can stand smallpox, yellow fever and Choleramorbus better that I can stand this."

Papa rented the SALLY JONES FARM and moved us out there.  The well was about 200 yards from the house.  Mama was scared to death that we would fall in it.  They told us "Raw Head and Bloody Bones" stayed in it.  We were afraid to go near it.  FRANCISCO CREEK was near the farm.  It had a hole of water about two feet deep.  We had big times playing in it.  I would crawl along the bottom with my head immerced; I thought I was diving.  I would also splash with my hands, touch bottom with my feet and think I was swimming.  And that thinking almost caused my early demise.  I slipped off from home and went swimming with JESSE IVEY, a good swimmer some two or three years older than I.  I told him I could swim, so he towed me out to an invertd horse trough and settled me on it.  The water was up to my chin.  He swam off and left me.  I slipped off the trough.  He looked back and saw me go under, and knew I was in trouble.  He swam back, caught me by the hair and towed me to safety.  You almost not had a daddy, grandaddy or great grandaddy

          JESSE liked to have me for a companion and I liked to be with him.  He possessed a 22 rifle, a rarity in those days.  My parents forbade me to go hunting with him.  They were afraid of the 22.  He would give me the rabbits he killed and I would take them home, although I knew I would get a whipping.  That was one thing mama could not break me from.

          I was about 6 when we moved to the SALLY JONES FARM.  Odd, but it was there that I have my first remembrance of my oldest brother, GIP.  He was then 14 and had returned from work somewhere.  My next remembrance of him was two years later, when he was brought home critically injured from lascerations recieved when he ran into a wire fence.  He and a companion, CRIT MOORE, were following hounds.  GIP was riding a half-broke horse.  He suddenly realized he was right at a new barbed wire fence and that CRIT did not know about it.  He yelled at CRIT and tried to stop his own horse, but the horse turned sidewise instead of stopping.  The horse and GIP were terribly lascerated.  CRIT did not hear GIP's call, and his horse hit the fence abreast.  Neither was seriously injured.  Anticeptics were not known then.  GIP's wounds were cleansed with gasoline.  Antitetanous serum had not been discovered.  All medical care was given him, but tetanus, lock jaw, set in and he passed away.  He was born on the HAY MOORE RANCH Located between BLACK CREEK and FRANCISCO CREEK, January 14, 1870.  He died December of 1894, lacking one month of being 16.

          This might be a good place to insert some pertinent data:  E.G. TILLEY and CASSIE G. HARR  were married April 5, 1878, by JNO L. NIX, J.P., on FRANCISCO CREEK in MECINA COUNTY, TEXAS.  E.G. TILLEY bought the J.E. BAILEY Preemtion near BLACK CREEK Jan., 1880.  HETTIE VIOLA TILLEY was born there September 4, 1881, CHARLES NAPOLEON TILLEY was born February 27, 1884, on a Seap Hollow place bought in July 1883.  JOY LANGDON TILLEY was born in the town of DEVINE September 11, 1886.  HAL LEE GOSLING TILLEY was born March 15, 1889, on a 64 acre ranch east of CHACON, bought from TOM TILLEY for $500.00  Odd - the record shows SAM SLICK TILLEY was born March 15, 1889.  A line was drawn through the SAM SLICK and HAL L. was written above it thus: HAL    L.              

                                                                           SAM SLICK

(The lines were drawn through the letters S, m, S, c,& k with the words Hal L. written above.)                 


(HAL LEE GOSLING was a notorious character; I do not recall why).  LOYD L. TILLEY was born in a house directly across the street from where I was born.  It faced east on BRIGHT STREET.  He was born in 1892 until about 1900.  There was no fence between it and the SALLY GODWIN RANCH which Papa aferwards bought.  The houses were less than 10 feet apart.  Old AUNT HETTIE lived in the GOODWIN PLACE.  She, or rather, her husband GEO. W. BROWN probably rented the house from us.  More about this situation later.  DONALD McIAN TILLEY was also born in this house December 6, 1894.  (He was named to please me.  I was enamored of a story "Donald of the Eagles Nest."  In this sotry Donald McIan, a young Scotch lad, scaled the heights of a mountain peek to get an eaglet which, when sold, would procure funds to cure his mother of an illness which would otherwise lead to her death.  It was a difficult task; he was severly bruised and almost killed by the mother eagle.  Don was the only part of the name ever used, so in later years, when Don became enamored of a certain young lady whose name was shortened to "Dat", Don assumed "A" for his middle initial so that his initials would spell DAT.  (The affair broke up, but Don kept the A.)

          ELLIS P. BEAN TILLEY was also born in this house ___________.  Papa and I were both concerened in this naming.  He was named for ELLIS P. BEAN of Texas History.  The P was never used except to tease ELLIS.  LESLIE LAWTON TILLEY was born ____________ in the same house I was born in.  Papa named him for Judge LESLIE THOMPSON and GENERAL LAWTON killed in the Phillipines during the Spanish American War.  Papa always said he named him for a live scoundrel and a dead hero.  MANON ELOISE TILLEY was next.  She was also born in the same house I was born in.  This little Ground Hog was born February 2, 1903.  She was named for Charlie's girl friend or friends, I forget which.  Anyhow this romace ended.  HARRIS WOLFE TILLEY, the last, was born in this house also.  Papa always said he was named for a saloon keeper and a school teacher, both scoundrels.  He was born ____________.

          Now, I said there would be more about the house on Bright Street.  This was where we lived when I ran to Old AUNT HETTIE for refuge.  Before AUNT HETTIE moved there SALLY GOODWIN lived there.  With her lived a little Irish boy, JOHNNY.  In a little cabin an old faithful Negro servant, Jess lived.  I could tell some interesting things about him, but I will forego.  However, SALLY GOODWIN had a parrot whose mysterious demise I must record. HAL used to slip off and go up town where the older men and boys taught him to chew tobacco and fight.  If mama saw him leaving, she would call him and he would come back.  The pleasure he recieved in town was over balanced by the anti-pleasure Mama gave him if he did not come when she called.  Mama had a peculiar call: Ha le-e-e.  That parrot could mimic her exactly.  It was more vigilant than Mama and when it saw Hal leaving, it would call out "Hal-e-e."  HAL could not tell wheter it was the parrot or Mama calling.  He did not apreciate it when he found he was called by the parrot.  Well, the parrot disappeared.  Mrs. GOODWIN looked the country out for it, to no avail.  It had been gone a week when someone found its sad remains in an alley.  Mrs. GOODWIN suspected that HAL had had a hand in its sudden dimise, but HAL vehemently denied any connection with it.  I think now he was concerned.

          Now when we moved to the SALLY JONES PLACE, a favorite pastime with the older boys was "Fighting Wasps."  They would arm themselves with paddles, surround the wasp nest, chunk it, then kill the wasps with the paddles as they came out.  Everybody had to be alert for a precipitous retreat.  Mrs. GOODWIN brought JOHNNY out to visit us.  The older boys were gone and it fell to me to entertain him.  He had heard of the Wasp Fights and nothing would do him but a wasp fight.  Against my better judgement, I agreed.  I cautioned him that we had to stand; we could not run.  He said, "An Irishman never runs."  We chunked a nest and those wasps just boiled out.  That Irishman did not run.  He flew.  He got a few stings on his exposed ear, but they stung me all over.  I was not as fleet of foot as he.  Do you know it caused me to distrust the Irish and I havn't got over it yet?

          This house on BRIGHT STREET was our home during my 4th to 14th years.  About 100 feet north of us was another house.  This house was the home of my first love, mentioned earlier.  This family did not live there long.  J.A., ACE, KERCHIVILLE bought it and moved in.  He had two boys, one a year older, the other a year younger than I.  They, with the BOWMAN family who lived just across the street, were our main playmates. 

          An episode happened here that might have been indicative of my character.  Papa had some carpenters adding a porch to the house (gallery then).  I found a piece of board just right a swing board.  All it lacked was the two notches for the rope.  The carpenters promised to make it for me, but they would put me off.  I saw him put it up over the plate of the porch where he thought it would be out of reach of the children.  I eyed it closely and thought it would be just the thing to hack those places for the rope.  When I went to bed I had make up my mind to beat the folks up, get that drawing knife down, and hack the knotches; then put the knife back.  I got up when it was still dark, pulled a chair up to get the knife.  The chair was not high enough, so I rustled up a box and put it in the chair, clambered up and got the knife.  I placed the board in the proper postion, and put my foot on it to hold it in position.  I drew back and let go, but I missed the board; the knife went between my little toe and the one next to it and half the way up my foot.  When Papa arose about daylight, he found me in the yard with a grease sack wrapper around my foot trying to stop the blood.  Draw your own conclusions about its indicating traits in my character, but the parents and the teachers among my readers need to realize that you never know what is going on in a childs mind.  It might be a little embarrassing to show you the brand mentioned earlier in my story, but I can show you this scar if you will help lme pull my boots off.  I was about 4 or 5 when this happened.

          How my father made a living might be properly designated by "Hook or Crook."  That pretty well answers it.  He dug water wells by hand.  In earlier days he recieved $1.00 per foot.  With the assistance of a 50 cents a day hand, he could dig five or six feet in a day.  Back in 1887 the drought in this country was so severe that people were given corn meal free.  Papa got a contract to dig a well for DR. J.R. EVANS.  When completed, the well was an even 100 feet.  When Papa completed the well and was drawn out the good doctor was at the well.  He paid for it with ten $10.00 gold coins.  With this $100.00 Papa was able to keep himself and his brother from having to draw the free meal.

          As soon as his boys got big enough, they helped him.  When I was about 14, I contracted measles, but could not get them to "break out."  My parents tried all the old gimmics to no avail.  Papa was digging a well.  He said, "Let him help me today; maybe he will sweat 'em out."  Mama did not like the idea, but it worked; I broke out profusely.  HAL was lying in the bed next to me.  I said, "Mama, my face doesn't look like HAL's, does it?"  She did not reeply - just brought a mirror.  Wow!  HAL's face wasn't a circumstance.

          Another source of revenue was Papa's horse trading.  He would buy or trade for a horse that was poor and balky; in a short time he would fatten the horse and make him a true puller.  He would then sell him at a good profit.  One such horse I recall he bought from ED IVEY.  ED would get drunk, buckle on his sixshooter, get on Old Pat, put him at full speed, and begin firing that sixshooter.  When Old Pat slowed down, ED would beat him over the head with the sixshooter.  When Papa bought him the horse was thin as a rail and as nervous as a sick cat.  With decent treatment and feed, he became as tame as a dog.  We were sitting at the dining table one noon when Mama said, "BEE, look at that boy."  LOYD, about 3, had a horse whip and was hitting Old Pat on the heels.  Just as Papa loked, Old Pat licked at the whip, but hit LOYD in the mouth.  LOYD swallowed one toothe and had two or three others knocked loose.  At another time Papa was unloading flour from a wagon wich Old Pat and Dick were drawing, when there was a clicking noise and a gun fired.  Old Pat was off like a flash taking Old Dick and the wagon with him.  They ran over a pile of goods boxes, a wood pile, crossed the railroad, ran through two yard fences, and got hopelessly entangled in the third.  There was little damage to the wagon or the horses.

          This episode is illustrative of another occupation, "Drawing."  Flour was shipped in car loads from NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS in 24 and 48 pund sacks and 196 pound wooden barrels.  Papa hauled it to the stores.  Similarly, barbed wire was shipped in 110 to 130 pound spools.  Then when cotton was ginned, the lent was put in 500 pound bales.  The bale was branded with the owners initials, numbered, then rolled off into the the gin yard.  The farmer would get a "sample" 1/4 to 1/2 illegible word out of the bale.  The buyer would grade the sample Middling, low middling, high middling and good middling.  He would accept the weight of the gin and pay according to grade.  It brought from 4 to 5 cents per pound.  Papa would be paid for hauling the cotton to the shipping platform.

          Twice a year stockmen gathered their cattle, branded the calves and usually sold the calves.  There were two roundup - sping and fall.  They all wanted BEE to help.  He was considered the best.  Often the cattle were brought to the railroad stock pens for shipment, it was easy for a mother to find her boy.  He would be watching cattle shipping.  My brothers, my cousins, and I used to help find cotton bales when they were shipped.  Cattle cars were the same size now, but a train load was 16 cars.  One time a cotton buyer gave us a full box (about a cubic foot) of fire crackers.  Each of us got from 10 to 30 packages according to age.  My, we had a Christmas.  We had been getting maybe 2 or 3 packages.

          One of the grandchildren has suggested that I quote some prices.  LAURIE seems most interested in this story.  Most dolls had head and shoulders made of chinaware.  Hair was painted on the head, the shoulder was concave so it could be attached to the sawdust body.  These dolls sold from 15 to 35 or even 50 cents.  The head rangd in size from sewing thread spool to a golf ball.  Candy was 10 cents a pound.  Apples were 3 to 4 for a nickel.  I recall Papa once bought us a barrel, 4 bushels, for Christmas.  They cost him $3.50.  Poor folks did not buy oranges and bananas.  They were 5 to 10 cents each.  Peloncillos were quite a treat and fairly reasonable in price.  They were cone shaped (with the top off).  They were made of cane sugar, darker than our dark brown sugar, and weighed about a pound.  They were so hard that they had to be chipped off with a hatchet.  They were imported from Mexico, and sold for 10 or 15 cents.

          Now I know that MONICA is most interested in our athletic equipment.  Our base ball was home made; a sock was unraveled and wrapped around a small rock or marble.  When completed, it was spherical in shape.  Numerous stitches with coarse thread and a darning needle kept it from unraveling.  A rareity was a black rubber ball about the size of a golf ball.  We played "Hot Ball" with it.  We would join hands and form a circle.  "It" would be in the center with the ball.  When we started circling, "It" would throw and hit one of us.  Whoever was hit would then be "It."  "It" did not pull illegible word and when that ball hit, Wow!

          Pop Jacket was another game.  A long keen switch about the size of a pencil at the big end was used.  A couple armed with switches would join hands and strike each other across the buttock until one cried or broke loose.  Footballs, basketballs, volley balls were unheard of.

          I think that earlier in my story I mentioned the going wage was 50 cents to a dollar per day for a man and $1.50 for a man and team, but I have not told what a farmer recieved for his products.  Cotton was the "money crop."  If cotton yielded 1/2 lint, it was supposed to be a good yield.  Farmers usually hauled 1600 to 1800 pounds of seed cotton to the gin; it yielded from 500 to 560 pounds.  The Ginner charged $3.50 per bale, or he would take the seed for the ginning.  A farmer usually kept the seed from his first two bales for his milk cow.  (The cotton seed bin was a wonderful place to play in)  If a farm yielded 1/2 bale to the acre, it was a bumper crop.  For his bale of lint cotton, he received 41/2 cents per pound.  Now I am not "hep" on this new arithmetic but we figured that a 520 pound bale brought the farmer the magnificient sum of $23.40, but they were big old dollars.  One of them would buy the farmer a pair of work shoes, or the material for his wife a Sunday dress (It took ten yards).  If he had 4 daughters, he could buy each of them a doll.  The owners would make the dresses.  Little girls like MISSY and MONICA made the dresses for their dolls.  Most of the food for the family was grown on the farm, but not all.  He could take one of those dollars and buy 20 pounds of sugar.



The End


Note: I think that there may be more that Joy wrote, but this was the only copy that was among the genealogy information that I obtained from my aunt Jewel Tilley Walker.



This webpage is part of Renee's Family Genealogy


This page was last updated on June 13, 2001