Thursday, June 30, 2011
Dad sent me a link he just found of a transcript from an interview with my great-great-great grandmother, Mrs. Phoebe Arnett, a "white pioneer" of Texas, as recorded by one Mrs. Effie Cowan, for the WPA's Federal Writer's Project, Folklore Project, Life Histories, 1936-1939.

Her daughter, Edna Arnett Hayes, was grandmother to my grandmother, Lometa Hayes Saltsman.

So this interview would have been recorded when Phoebe was between 88 and 91 years of age.

Phoebe Sommerville, born July 30, 1848, was 13 when the Civil War (to her, the War Between the States) broke out, and married a Confederate veteran when she was 18. She was widowed at 31 having lost one child and left with five to raise.

There appears to be a copyright unknown issue on this transcript and as such, I've taken the liberty of removing the distracting editing comments from the extant copy recorded in the Library of Congress under American Memory, selected and converted.

I was born in Robertson County on the 30th day of July 1848. My parents were Mark and Polly Sommerville. They came to Texas when it was under the rule of Mexico and settled near the present town of old Wheelock. They lived with the Wheelocks and a few other families in a fort the first two years. This was for protection against the Indians

This community was a small settlement situated near the town of Franklin in Robertson County. Most of these settlers came from Tenneessee with Sterling Robertson (for whom Robertson county was named). I was 13 years old when the War between the States started, and can remember when it was declared and the Southern states seceded from the Union. There was a company formed at Wheelock known as the Wheelock Company, I do not remember the other name, what company it was, but I do remember that I had a cousin who went with this company to fight for the Southern cause, or the cause of the Confederacy, and out of this company of a 100 men, only five lived to return.

There was a drought in Texas this year and only two men in the community raised any corn. The flour was shipped in by wagon train to the little store at Wheelock and we had to pay an enormous price for it. We lived out in the country after leaving the fort and attended the old Shiloh church. When my parents came to Texas they did not have any team but oxen, and so they drove them to their wagon. This made the travel slow and they were weeks getting to the Wheelock fort.

On the 10th day of Jan, 1866 I married Hansford Arnett , who had returned the year before from the service in the Confederate army. He fought in several battles , some in Missourri , and some in other places , but he came through it with only a bullet wound in his arm. He passed away in 1879. We had six children, all living but one. Those living are Mrs Mollie Tate, near Marlin; Mrs Lizzie Richardson, who lives with me. Mrs Edna Hays: Stranger;  Tom Arnett: Groesbeck;  Robert Arnett: Kosse.

I have lived with in five miles of Stranger ever since I married in 1866. I have seen the towns surrounding grow from small communities to villages and then towns. I have seen the soldiers as they passed through Wheelock as they were going and coming from fighting for the Confederate Cause. We lived on the road which ran through Wheelock to San Antonio, and also to Houston. When the soldiers passed, they would often stop and command my mother to cook them something to eat. If the women did not feed them , they helped themselves to whatever they could find, such as groceries, meat , hogs , or chickens , or cattle. They considered they were fighting for us and it was our place to feed them. Very few of the folks refused to give them what they asked for.

I have lived through the trying days of Texas during the Reconstruction period, following the days of the War between the States, the Spanish - American war, and World war. But the most trying things that we had were the days of Reconstruction and the Indians. The delegates to the first Construction Convention were elected just two days before I was married and a month from the day I was married , the convention met and was organized.

I came to the Stranger community with my husband when we married, in 1866. We traded at Bremond the nearest town at that time of any size. Marlin, over about 11 miles to the west was just a small village, as was Kosse to the east. This was long before the Houston and Texas railroad built through Kosse. To the north about fifteen miles was the little community in later years called Willow Springs, but now the town of Mart. This community sprang up about the year 1870 , I think. I know that a few of the pioneers from the Ridge moved to the Willow Spring community. Among them the Douglass, the Harlan's, Jones, Cowan's and others I do not remember.

And now let me go back in memory to the early days of The Ridge as the Stranger community was called. The Ridge takes it name from a long strip of land from a point near Steele's or Garrett's place near Limestone county and extends in a southwesterly direction almost to the Robertson county line. It is in reality a ridge and the Stranger community lies on top of an elevated section from which one can look over a large section of the Big Creek valley westward to the court-house at Marlin, even to Beans Hill which is the beginning of the Brazos.

Many of the pioneers have passed on, but there are a few of us who lived in the days I have mentioned, following the War between the States. As we stand on the Ridge and gaze westward- eastward, northward and southward, our minds go back to the days of the past and once more we see in memory others who helped to build the community. We see many horses and rigs of all sorts, the roads are winding, rough and full of mud holes in the rainy season, in the summer they are dusty and bumpy.

The stage coach at first passes by on its way to Marlin and the east to Kosse. There is no hurry; everyone has plenty of time. We see once more the aristocratic Jasper Garrett, moving among his family and his neighbors, taking great pride in his family, his neighbors and his friends. Once again Harris Kay conducts Sunday School in the old church-school house or they open their home to the community for a Christmas party. We can hear in memory the chuckling voice of Arch Hodge and his quiet humor, and the voice of Mrs. Hodge in her quiet matronly way.

Then in memory one can see Jesse Brothers as he rides around his farm watching his men at work. Then it grows dark and one can see the hounds on the run. From the woods down the ravine from the Ridge one can hear the baying of the dogs on the chase. Following the dogs are Uncle Billy, brothers -Joe Sandlin, our humorist, some of the Erskines and the Garrets and some of the then younger generation. They are having a great time, when hunting was real sport and at the end of the chase they brought home the dear or the wild turkey.

Around the corner of the road near the school house and church are the family of Jim Swinnea. And in the house are Ida and Lil and Floyd, and perhaps some neighbors passing the time of day. Ida and Lil are living in that house today. A little farther to the south and west sits John Eddins in his home. He is smoking a pipe, his face is covered with long whiskers ( the style of the day ), he is meditating over the days gone by, perhaps in the service of the Lost Cause. It's warm and in the house one can hear the hum of the sewing machine as Grandma Eddins sings, "There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus: No not one-- no n-o-t o-n-e."

Once again I see beyond the old well on the south side of the road near Stranger store, just below the hills, a horse and buggy and in it sits a gentleman with an expression of peace with the world. He has a peg leg and he lets the horse have its way over the road. It is the mail carrier--Joel Roberts carrying the mail-- and he's been carrying it since Stranger got its post office and a name!

Along the pages of memory there goes Dewitt Stone-- still having a good time. He has just found a skeleton from an old Indian mound, and here comes a candidate for office where-upon Dewitt lifts up the skeleton and from thence hurriedly goes the candidate without waiting to ask him for his vote. Then there goes young doctor Poindexter in his buggy of bygone days, and once again we hear him tell the story of his first patient. For a whole month the new doctor hadn't had a patient and he didn't see how be was to pay his board bill at "Granny Williams'". About sundown he gets a call and all night long his patient lay groaning, grown pale then hot and pains in his side. The doctor tries all his remedies, but it seems his patient is going to die in spite of all his efforts. He goes out to the hen-house and rolls up a big pill and gives to the patient. Immediately he relaxes and falls into a peaceful sleep from which when he awakes the next morning, the pain is gone and he is a well man, or at least for that time, the trouble being what was later known as an attack of appendicitis, but at that time it was just plain indigestion. Later Dr Piondexter spent many years of his successful career practicing medicine in Kosse, serving his old time friends at Stranger.

Riding the winding roads a herd of cattle ahead, we see many of Strangers fathers and grand-fathers with their riding boots astride of horses rounding the cattle. There [are?] bridles and harness for the buggies, surries, wagons with spring seats, and fine teams of horses and miles,such were the modes of travel and when the new machines called automobiles come in we hear these fathers and grand-fathers saying "you won't catch me in one of those "contraptions"!

Again down memory's lane we see the neighbors meeting for a big picnic among the trees in Garrett's pasture-- plenty of well filled baskets -- a string band and all day speaking , for it is election year. The band is made up of country musicians from all sections of the county, it sounded so good despite frequent discordant notes or misplaced key. There's a lull in the enthusiasm, things are beginning to drag. The band leader knows the remedy. Shaking his fist and bringing his hand down briskly, out comes loud and clear the strains of "Dixie" --and the crowd responds with the chorus of "I wish I wuz in de lan' [of?] cotton, ole times dar am not forgotten-- Hurray-- hurray, in Dixie lan' I takes my stan' to lib an' die in Dixie"'.

A sudden gleam shines in the eyes of Jasper Garrett, John Eddins, George Barnes, Jesse Cornelison, Bill Clawson, Ed Vann, Dr Shaw and other old Confed's, including Dave Boyles of Reagan, (later Judge Boyles,) the spirit of "Dixie" is catching sons, and daughters, grand-sons and grand daughters alike join in the chorus of hurrahs and there's new life in the crowd after the band plays Dixie, and the platform is cleared for and old time square dance.

Another look into memory's pages and we see the old school house and church building which served for both, during the week for school and on Sundays the different denominations took their turn about holding services. It is a school day and Mr. J.A.Dunkam is teaching school. There are big boys and little boys. Big girls and little girls, and today these boys and girls are fathers and mothers of the younger generation. Professor Dunkam has passed on, after having led a successful teaching career and afterward made a success as a banker and farmer in the Marlin community.

But look ! there are other teachers who pass on the stage of life's memory and leave their footprints on the sands of Time. There is John Lattimore whose father was a teacher too. Professor Stout , Blair , and others. All took their turn in the old church and school house combined. Then comes the Sunday services. One incident stands out clearly in my mind. The Baptists are having services. Through the audience the deacons are passing the plate around with the "bread and wine" for communion. Down near the rear of the church is a young man who has imbibed of wine of the grapes a little too freely. He rises and remarks, "I want some of that"! The deacon returns "You can't have it, You're not a Baptist". He comes back with "Well I'm a Methodist. Besides this church belongs to us all". The deacon replied "It may be your church, but this is our time to hold service". It was then that the argument grew stronger and stronger until there sprang up two factions , one for, the other against "closed Communion" and the outcome was the Baptists built their own church in the year 1902.

The Stranger Baptist Church still stands today

Following the long procession down Memory's Lane comes "Granny Moffett" -- quiet, kindly, Old- timey, typical of the pioneer women in which she lived and spent her youth. Typical of the days of San Jacinto. She could tell you lots of things about the days when Texas was fighting for her freedom from Mexico. She ran with the other settlers in the Run- away Scrape as people fled from Santa Anna-- before General Sam Houston turned the States destiny at San Jacinto. She could tell all about when Texas won her independence, and also the days of the Reconstruction when Texas also won her independence all over again, and her fight for the vote, after the men who were soldiers during the War between the States had the vote taken from them. She saw the transformation from a Republic to a state.

This reminds me that in the month of February after I was married in January of 1866 that the Reconstruction convention met and was organized, with Throckmorton for President and did not adjourn until April , and at a general election the constitution was adopted and the legislature met at Austin. On the 13th day of August , Throckmorton was inaugurated governor and Wash Jones Lieutenant Governor. It was in March of the next year 1867 that Congress was displeased with President Johnson's plan of reconstruction and declared the governments of Texas and Louisiana provisional only. And in April of 1867 General Griffin, the military commander at Galveston prohibited all elections in Texas. Then on the 17th day of April he put the negroes on the rise with an order issued preparing for the registration of the voters. The best of my memory the voting strength was about equal, around 56,000 Whites to 47,500 Negroes.

Looking down Memory's Lane there unfolds a panorama of Texas history with the incidents politically, socially and economically that has made Texas what it is today, but the picture that I like the best is the simple life of neighborliness and the companionship of the pioneers as they met in social gatherings, church, schools, all-day singings, picnics, celebrations and in some years, the political meetings.

Entertainment came from fellowship, conversation, music, and stunts for the young, instead of picture shows on fine Sunday afternoons the young men and women rode their horses, played and enjoyed the simple sports. Unlike today-where the young people go to the movies and to the professional entertainments with no contact with their neighbors.

Yes! Things are different! The old Ridge itself is the same. The birds still sing merrily as they fly from tree to tree, just as they did in the fifties and sixties when I married and came to the Ridge. The old Big Creek flows or stands still just as in the days gone by. It is we who are different, and we are different because the progress of civilization has made us so.


All of my life I've been searching
for the words to say how I feel.
I've spent my time thinking too much
and leave too little to say what I mean
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

6-29-11 a very Brady visitor

Evan and Katy aren't quite sure what to make of Brady, Lindsay's puppy who came for a play visit tonight. He's just a ball of super cute puppy fluff.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

6-28-11 The Slumberjack Has Arrived!

Super-comfy pillowy flannel!

And it is HUGE. One of the reviews said "if you're short, you'll need a map to get around in this thing." They weren't kidding. My feet are not quite in the center, but there's a whole lot of bag to go to get to the end.

Room to share!

Evan approves

Oh, yeah, and another amazing sunset. What? I live in Colorado :)

Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011

6-26-11 Alter Egos

Bob is plotting his first Comic Con, including his alter egos, which at this point are planned as The Heckler and Dead Man, both pretty obscure characters that will doubtless thrill all the other fanboys who actually know who these characters are and will be excited to see them "in person." The con isn't until February, but he's been socking some money away to finally realize this dream of his. 

In the meantime, I get to be the model for some costume ideas that wouldn't quite . . . suit Bob too well.

Kevin's color work on Bob's sketches make me look pretty good, I have to say.  

Next up will probably be Catwoman. Or Batgirl. Just for the record I prefer the '66 Purple version. ;)


Whew. One more project down. The garage has been reclaimed. 
Saturday, June 25, 2011

6-25-11 Colorado Renaissance Festival

Living in Navasota from 1994 until 2007, we were less than half an hour from the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville each October and November.

We moved to Highlands Ranch and found ourselves again, just half an hour from the state's annual Ren Fest, held in Larkspur every June through July.

The thought of ever trying to attend the TX one in the middle of summer is laughable. Even in late fall it can get sweltering in the Texas heat. 

Today the high was in the mid-80°s with little breeze, so it was plenty warm, at least enough for Colorado people to keep remarking to each other how hot it was and marvel that tomorrow it is supposed to get to 90°. This makes me smile.

After morning coffee on the deck with the dogs, we headed out for Larkspur. We met Mom and Dad there and picked up Sammi who had stayed with them this past week.

The royal court lines up above the front entrance to open the park.

And musicians of all ages and instruments line the walkway.

I got pulled over to try on horns early on. It was probably the all-black thing. Plenty of horny cracks all around.

At the shows we'd stake out whatever territory we could find that had the least bit of shade. Thanks to the side effects of Sammi's meds, she turns into a lobster without a whole lot of precautions. One more month and we're done with it. yay!

Oh, and I'm slobbering all over the Strawberry Frozen Ice they pack on top of an orange. It's really quite tasty.

First show of the day we caught was the German Brothers.

Then we caught the tail end of Celtic Legacy.

The guys afterwards

They share the Rose stage with the new Endangered Cat Show, run by the Great Cats World Park out of Oregon.

First up was a very scaredy cat, the quite young and inexperience black leopard. This was as much as he wanted to do with the audience this morning. They bring him out for just a few minutes to begin to teach him to be comfortable with groups.

Next up was Ciro, age 9, a little known species called a Serval. 

Servals don't make the best climbers. . .

But Ocelots do!

The beautiful boy is Meiki, a 15 years old Amur Leopard, a highly endangered species.  In the wild, these leopards' life expectancy is only 7 or 8 years.

This is one of my favorite shots. There's just something about Meiki's face here that cracks me up.

Their largest cat in the show is one of their newest tigers who is still learning the ropes. That dazed look on his handler's face is because he just got seriously head-butted in play.

He also had a hard time focusing. This treat was given to get his attention of of chewing up his handlers' boots.

Or arm, as the case may be. . .

Noshing on Mac and Cheese on a Stick. There isn't much to eat at the Fest that doesn't come on a stick.

And then, at the Pirates' Pub, we caught the Charming and Dashing show, where Bob was swept up in the action.

The reaction to the revelation that "throw back your hair" wasn't going to work too well with their newly conscripted hero:

The Strapping Damsel -- they did a role reversal and had Bob in the female lead.

Sammi captured the moment of shock on Charming's face after being set back on his feet.

Charming, Strapping, and Dashing pose post-show.

One of the rare moments of Sammi in the sun.

Bob's favorite: Steak on a Stake time.

The requisite water wheel picture

The sign over the Gaian Forge and Foundry:

Sammi and I with our cashew turtle treat from the Fudge Shoppe.

Next up was the parade . . . 

And our last show of the day was Johnny Fox, sword swallower.

and balloons . . . which he doesn't bring back up.

Bob and Sammi and the ravaged turkey leg after the show.


Sammi picks out a necklace before we leave.

And one last look back as we head home. Nothing like a blue Colorado sky and those mountains as a backdrop to make every day spectacular.