Texas Slave Narrative
John Love , 76, was born near Croquet, Texas, a slave of John Smelly . John tells of the days of Reconstruction, and life in the river bottoms. He now lives in Marlin, Texas.
I's born on de Noches River and spends all my earlies' life right down in de river bottoms, 'cause I done live in de Brazos bottom, too. Mammy and pappy 'longed to John Smelley
and was Rose
. It was wild down in de Noches bottom den, plenty bears and panthers and deers and wolves and catamounts, and all kind birds and wild turkeys. Jes' a li'l huntin' most allus fill de pot dem days. De Indians traps de wild animals and trade de hides for supplies. We was right near to de Cherokee
and Creek res'vation. I knowed lots of Indians, and some what was Alabama Indians and done come over hare. Dey said de white people was wrong when dey thinks Alabama mean 'here we rest.' It don't mean dat a-tall. It mean "people what gathers mulberrios.' You see, dem Alabama
Indians right crazy 'bout mulberries and his a day for a feast when de mulberries gits ripe. Dat where de tribe git its name and de town named after de tribe. Massa Smelley
fit in de Mexico War and in de Freedom War, but I don't know nothin' 'bout de battles. De bigges' thing I 'members am when de soldiers come back, 'cause dey finds all dey cattle stoled or dead. De soldiers, both kinds, de 'Federates and Yankees, done took what dey want. De plantations all growed up in weeds
and all de young slaves gone, and de ones what stayed was de oldes' and faithfulles!. Times was hard and no money, and if dere wasn't plenty wild animals everybody done starve. But after 'while, new folks come in, and has some money and things picks up a li'l more'n more. We has de sugar cane and makes
sorghum, and has our own mill. He all, mammy and pappy and us chillun, done stay with Massa Smelley
long time after freedom, 'cause we ain't got nowhere to go or nothin'. I'd help in de 'lasses mill, and when we grinds dat cane to cook into syrup, dis am de song; Ain't no more cane on de Neches, Ain't no more cane on de land; Oh--ooooo--ooooo--oO! Done grind it all in 'lasses, Oh--ooooo--ooooo--oO!
After I's 'bout growed. I moves to de Brazos bottom and works for a stockman, den I works for de man what driv de first post on de Houston & Texas Central right-of-way. I helped build dat railroad from Houston to Waco, and
build de fences and lay de cross-tires. Den I broke wild hosses for Mr. Curry
. He give me my groceries and twenty-five cents a day. I was sho' proud of de job. After dis, I carries de mail from Marlin to Eddy, on hossback. De roads went through de Brezos bottom. Dey was jes' cowtrails, 'stead of roads. Dere was a road through dat bottom so bad de white men wouldn't carry dat mail, so
dey gives it to me and I ain't got no better sense dan to try it. Dat six miles through de bottom was all mudholes and when de river git out de banks dat was bad. But I helt out for eight years, till de mail sent by train. I knows why dat boll-weevil done come. Dey say he come from Mexico, but I think he
allus been here. Away back yonder a spider live in de country, 'specially in de bottoms. He live on de cotton leaves and stalks, but he don't hurt it. Dose spiders kep' de insects eat up. Dey don't plow deep den, and plants cotton in February, so it made 'fore de insects git bad. Den dey gits to plowin' deep,
and it am colder 'cause de trees all cut. and dey plows up all de spiders and de cold kill dem. Dey plants later, and dere ain't no spiders left to eat up de boll-weevil. I knows an old boll-weevil song, what us sing in de fields: De bollweevil is a li'l bug, from Mexico, dey say, He come try dis Texas soil,
and think he better stay, A-lookin' for a home jes' lookin' for a home. De farmer took de bollweevil and put him in de sand. Boll weevil said to farmer, 'I'll stand it like a man, For its jes' my home its jes' my home. First time I seed de weevil, he on de eastern train, Nex' time I seed dat
weevil, he on de Memphis train, A-lookin' for a home --jes' lookin' for a home. If anybody axes you who writ dis li'l song, Its jes' a dark-skin nigger, with old blue duckin's on.
I was born in East Texas near de Neches river an' near de town of Crockett, my early boyhood was spent near dis river an' town, den I moved on the Brazos bottom an' lived on a place dat was part ranch an' part plantation. I will try ter tell yer how we lived on both dese places as near as I kin. I was born in 1861, my mammy was named Rose Smelley , an' my daddy was named John Davenport . Dey was slaves of John Smelley altho' my daddy had belonged ter some other man befo Mr. Smelley bought him. Dey Master, Mr. Smelley , served in de war fer Texas wid Mexico, an' de Confederate war both. As a very small child, I has a dim 'membrance of de soljers passin' by our house goin' home from de war. De first thing dat I will try ter tell yer about is de things dat I 'member, an' de things dat has been handed down ter me about East Texas, dey is so many things, but I will do de best I kin. At de time I was born, de country 'round Crockett was very thinly settled; dey was lots of wild animals, bears, panthers, deer, wolves, catamount's an' all kind of birds from wild turkeys to de smaller birds. De people had ter depend on dey guns an' traps ter protect demselves. De Indians would trap de wild animals an' eat de meat, an' sell de hides, or trade dem for supplies. We lived near de Cherokee an' Creek reservation, an' not far away was de town of Woodville, I fergit if dey call hit dat now or not, so many names of de towns has changed. Governor Sam Houston was de governor w'en I was born, an' dey say dat he was friendly wid dese tribes of Indians an' smoked de pipe of peace wid dem, an' visited dem. I has heard de tales of de Alabama Indians de most; dey had a history dat as a boy, we chillun used ter like ter listen to; dey claimed dat dey had a great battle wid De Soto an' his men in Alabama befo' De Soto discovered de Mississippi river; dey claim dat from dare tribe of Indians de state of Alabama was named. De Indians claimed dat de word Alabama means 'people dat gather mulberries'; dey said dat de white folks meaning of 'here we rest' was wrong, fer every tribe took hits name from some particular peculiarity of dat tribe; an' de Alabama Indians had a special liking fer de mulberry, an' dey had a day set aside ter hold a feast w'en dey gits ripe befo' eating dem. W'en dey first cum ter Texas dey cums ter a place dey call Peach Tree Village, a little community in de northern part of dis country near de old Kirby homestead; later, dey moved near de town of Woodville an' General Houston give de tribe several thousand acres of land. De story was dat several of dem was soldiers in de Confederacy, I kin 'member as a boy, us chillun visiting dem. W'en Dr. T. Ward White I thinks his name was, (a missionary ter dem,) would preach an' he would have some one ter tell de Indians in dey language w'at he say; he was de one dat started de plan ter give de Indians, on dis reservation, a Christmas tree. Hit was advertised in de papers, an' people from every whar sent presents. I has heard dat de government has built new homes for dem an' dey has churches an' schools. Dey also had de knowledge of oil in Texas, but dey jes used de springs, whar hit seeped out, fer dey medicine springs, dey thought dat de Great Spirit meant dem fer de people's medicine w'en dey is sick. Dis is de part of de country too dat Mr. Kirby built his tram-road thro' fer his lumber mills, but dey did not take care ob de trees an' lots of hit, dat was de lumber country, is now jes fruit an' farming land. Dey has started, fer good many years, ter raisin' tomatoes, pecans, as well as other fruit an' vegetables. On de T. & N. O. Railroad, dey used ter be more lumber made dan on any other railroad in de country. Hit was said dat at one time dey was a sawmill fer every three or four miles, an' dat as many as five hundred people lived at each one of dese mill towns, but dey all gone dey say now. Dey was a Col. Joe Rice , dat used ter have a mill, in de later years, (his wife was a Ross ), I s'pose a sister ter Gov. Ross , an' dey used ter have Governor Ross an' his friends ter visit dem on de big deer hunts.
De last dat I has been told about de people was dat dey was more interested in canneries an' de agriculture dan any other way of makin' dey livin. W'en I was a boy I kin remember how we went down on de river ter gather de hickory nuts, de walnuts, pecans, an' go 'possum an' coon huntin'. W'en de Mexican war was on, our Master went, but I does not know noddin' 'bout who he fought wid, or enything about hit. Dey talks about de Civil war w'en I was growin' up. I can't tell yer enything 'bout de Mexican war; I 'member dat dey say dat East Texas had most of de population durin' de Civil War, but dey call down ter de Gulf, East Texas den, an' clear up ter de Red River country. What dey call cities now, dey would not call a city den, fer de bigges' city was San Antonio an' hit was jes 'bout nine thousand folks, den, dat seemed big city tho' ter us. Houston had 'bout five thousand folks, an' Dallas, an' Fort Worth was jes little villages, mos' any town in de country now would be big as dey was den. So de way I has hit, East Texas was de part of Texas dat was de boss. Hit was dem dat caused Texas ter secede, fer hit was in East Texas dat de slave plantations was, an' so hit was dis part of de state dat de hard time cums ter de folks w'en dey went ter de war. I has heard my folks say dat after dey had won dey independence from Mexico dat de people was gittin along fine.
De Indians was not as troublesome out in de West, whar dey had been so bad ter kill de settlers, de folks was er plantin dey patches which dey was gradually turnin into big plantations; dey was growin' bigger an' more crops; de land was rich an dey has lots of stock as well as de cotton; an' grain, dey has cattle, hogs, sheep, goats; an' dey was wild horses in de country too; an' fer dey wood, all dey had ter do, was ter go out an' cut hit w'en dey needed hit. Dey was er buildin' schools, churches, an' startin on makin' better mail service an' roads. Den cum's de Civil War, an' de men had ter quit all dis, an' go ter hit. My Master an' my daddy went, but I was so little dat I does not 'member much about dis. I kin 'member w'en dey cum home; how de ole Misses had such a hard time er keepin' de work up, an' how de slaves stayed an helped. How, w'en de Master set dem free, hit was 'bout de same as befo', only dey work on de halves an' he furnish dem, or he pays dem, an' dey buys de 'visions. De biggest thing dat I was impressed wid, was w'en de soljers cum's back from de war. Dis is w'at I 'members de most, mos' of dem cum back ter find dey cattle all gone, stolen or dead, for w'en de soljers pass thro', rebels or Yankees either, dey would take what corn or anything dey needed; de plantations all grown up in weeds, if dey did'nt have slaves dat stay an' see ter things; horses maybe runnin' wild again; mos' of de young slaves gone; de ones dat stay are de oldest ones dat was faithful, an' dese are de ones dat kept de homes from bein' broken up, an' de land all gone ter waste; dey is de ones dat folks knows stood true ter de trust de Master put in dem. Den I 'member how de fellows, dat say dey from de government, cum's an' takes de little cotton dat dese slaves had raised, an' kept fer de Master, an' say dat dey has orders ter take all de cotton whar de men fought agin de Union; an' ter make things still wuss, dey makes de planters pay a tax on ebbery new bale dey raise. I 'pose all dat saved dem, dey make big crops after dey git started again, an' de price is good. De railroads was all run down, an' not safe ter use; de factories an' de mills was most of dem closed. Bimeby, new families wid money cum's in, an' dey raise more crops an' git good prices, an' so times begin ter git little better. Dey commences ter have better farmin' tools an' better markets, den dey commence ter build more cotton gins, an' lumber mills, an' dey has other factories. Dey had flour mills at Jefferson, Pittsburgh, an' Mt. Pleasant, whar dey took de wheat, an' had hit made into flour, an' bring hit back home jes like dey would de corn into meal, an' have enough ter last all de winter. De saw-mills had cut de timber off so much dat dey commence ter use hit fer cotton because cotton made good an' was so high, dis was de cut-over land. Sometimes dey let de timber grow up again five or six times. I mos' forgot ter tell yer 'bout de sugar cane, an' de ribbon cane, dat dey make de sorghum an' de ribbon cane syrup. Dis was one of de best crops dey had, an' dey had de mills whar dey made de syrup. As de nigger works at de mills ter make de 'lasses, w'en de mills was grindin' de cane up ter go in de vat whar hit is cooked into de syrup dey sing, Ain't no mo' cane on de Nechiz, Ain't no mo' cane on de lan', Oh--oooo--ooo--oo, Done groun' hit all in molazzis, Oh--ooooo--ooo, Better git yo' overcoat ready, Well, hits cumin' up a norther, One 'o dese mornin's, an' hit won't be long, Yo' gonna call me, an' I'll be gone.
After I was about grown, I cum's ter de Brazos bottom ter live an' works fer a Mr. Taylor who was a stock man. Dis was a good stock country an' was 'bout twenty-five miles from Waco on de river. I worked awhile fer Mr. Taylor , an' den I worked fer de man dat was de first man ter drive de first post on de Houston an' Texas Central right of way, I fergit his name. I helped ter build dis railroad from Houston ter Waco; helped ter build de fences an ter lay de cross-tires; dey was no homes or fences on dis right of way. I kin 'member too, how proud de people at de towns from Houston ter Waco was w'en dey run into Waco, an' how Waco made a big time of hit. I worked fer Mr. Curry , de county clerk of Falls County, about de year eighteen an' seventy eight, I think hit was. I was jes a big over-grown boy, an' I broke wild horses fer him ter be used on his farm. I does not know how de groceries prices was, fer he gave me my groceries an' twenty-five cents a day, ter do dis work, an' I was proud of my job. Dis was w'en I first went ter work fer myself. After dis, I commenced ter carry de mail from Marlin ter Eddy on horseback. De roads went thro' a little prairie an' de Brazos bottom. Dey was jes cowtrails, stid of roads. W'en I git ter de river, I has ter cross hit on a ferry-boat. Dis was such a bad road thro' de bottom and de crossin' so bad dat de white men would not carry de mail, so dey give hit ter me, an' I jes did'nt have any better sense dan ter try hit. I had 'bout six miles thro de bottom ter go an' de roads was full of mudholes. I held out fer eight years tho', until de mail was sent by train over de Houston an' Texas Central ter Waco, an' from Waco ter Eddy over de San Antonio an' 'Ransas Pass railroad. Yer ask about de overflow's in de Brazos bottom, well Miss; I kin tell yer plenty 'bout dem. W'en de Brazos river on a rise, 'specially in de spring befo' dey makes ditches an' has de highways dat help ter keep hit from spreadin, w'en hit starts ter creepin over de banks an' dey send de word dat a big rise on de way, den is de time ter move de folks from de bottom out ter de higher land. But den dey did not always know dat hit was a cumin. I knows de times dat hit cum up suddenly in de night an' by mornin de folks dat live on de higher ground has ter git de boats, an' if hit not too high de wagons, an' go an' bring de bottom folks out. I kin 'member one time dat hit cum up sudden dis way an' de nex' mornin' w'en we wakes up an' goes ter see how de river is, we see de nigger cabins a floatin' down de stream, an' hit way out over de banks maybe five or ten miles, an further down, hit gits out further dan dat. I kin tell yer dat we git busy, an' we git de boats ter go after dem dat is caught, maybe dey be in trees. Dis time I is thinkin' 'bout, dey was some women an' chillun caught in de house, an' w'en we git dar dey is up sittin on de rafters, an' dey callin' wid all dey might fer someone ter cum an' git dem. I pulls dem off an' takes dem ter de boat an' takes dem away from de river.
Dis time I mos' nearly drown, I risk my life ter git dem, but hit all in de work an nobody think anything about hit. Yer could see de big trees, an' de big trees, an' de bales of hay, an' hogs goin' down der river. Does I know any river songs, an' did we use de river for boats yer want ter know? A long time de Congressmen tried ter have de river opened up fer de ships, but up dis way on account of de sand fillin it up wid de overflow's, dey has never succeeded in makin' hit fit fer de steamboats, but we has always gone up an' down in hit wid de row boats. We goes fishin' dat way now, but de old ferry boat yer know has made way fer de big bridges. I 'members one little song dat went like dis we sing, De river is up, de channel is deep, De winds blow high an' strong, De flash of de oars, de stroke we keep, As we row de old boat along. An' speakin of floods, in our own day yer kin remember de time dat de river was on one of hits rises an' de folks from de town of Marlin went out ter see hit. De banks on de West side was washed out some, an' dey had de heavy trucks on de bridge ter help ter hold hit, an' don't yer 'member how de folks went out on de bridge, an' all of a sudden de bridge gave way, an' part of hit wid some of de folks went down de river, an' what a time we all had er savin' dem, some we did not save, our own Dr. Allen was one dat we could not git until he was drowned; den dey was one or two of de visitors fer de hot water baths was drowned. I kin 'member how we all got in de cars, an' drove ter de bend down below de town, an threw out ropes, an roped some of de folks dat was holding ter planks an pulled dem in. Dis was de most 'citin' times of all de rises, an de times dat I has helped ter rescue de people.
Falls County took hits name from de Falls of de Brazos, dis is 'bout five miles from de town of Marlin, an 'bout twenty or twenty-five from Waco an' de town of Mart, 'bout ten or twelve from de town's of Chilton, an Lott, so hit makes a nice drive fer campers an' fishermen ter go ter camp. De ole falls was 'bout half mile from de falls now, dey was 'bout six feet high an' w'en de river was risin' yer could hear dem roar fer miles. A concrete road has been built over dese falls, I mean de present falls dat is shallow 'nuff fer wagons an cars ter ford. Befo de river changed hits course, near de western bluff, hit had a bed-bending the bed of the river bent its course almost ter de east side of de valley, but now hit follows de western bluff, an' crossin' hit ter de south runs a ledge of rock er 'bout a mile wide in places an' tumblin' over dis near de western bluff was de falls of de early days, dey was a small creek, by de name of Gleason creek, dat run across de valley an' flows into de Brazos below de falls an' bends back an' above, near hits upper course, ter de river again, so de legend is, dat de river got on a big rise an' cut across, an' newer falls was made, jes a bout five or six miles from de town of Marlin. An' de folk-tales has hit dat dey was no Indian settlement here like dey was on de river at Waco. Dey jes roamed an' hunted up an' down de Brazos, an' if dey used hit at all, 'twas fer er campin groun' on dey hunts. Dey was a few friendly Indians, dey camped at a place called Blue-Shoals on de Brazos. De white folks would go down ter dey camp an' buy cured pork hams fer twenty-five cents apiece. De Indians traded wid dem all de time. Yes Mam, I kin tell yer 'bout what a time de Brazos-bottom farmer had wid de boll-weevil, but first I will have ter explain de way dat he lives. Away back yonder befo' yer ever heard of de boll-weevil, de country, 'specially in de bottom had a spider dat lived on de cotton leaves an' stalks, an' bolls, but he made a web fer his house, an' w'en de little spiders hatched out dey would be millions in maybe one web. Dese spiders kept de insects eat up an' we did'nt hear anything of de boll-weevil den. Dey claim dat he cum from Mexico, but I thinks dat dis boll-weevil has always been here. An' I think dat dese little spiders eat him up befo' anybody knew he was here, den too, dey plant de cotton in Febuary den, an' dey has hit made befo' de insects cum, de winters was milder den dan now, maybe because of de being more timber in de country befo' hit was plowed up an put in cultivation. Dey used ter plow de land shallow, an' so dey did not plow up dis spider fer he made his home in de ground in de winter, but after awhile dey goes ter plowin' de land deep an' dey plows up dis spider an' de freezes kill him, so dey don't have any more spiders hardly ter eat de boll weevil up. Den dey goes ter plantin de cotton late, from April ter June, dat is because de freezes cum later 'count of de timber cleared up an' de cold hits harder. So after dey plow de land so deep dat dey kill de spider, an' de freezes git him, den dey plant hit jes in time fer de boll weevil ter cum along an' live on de cotton. But folks is learnin' by dey mistakes, dey don't plow de land so deep fer de cotton, an' dey plantin' little earlier, an' de hot dry summers help; an' den effn dey cum, anyhow dey use de poison' an' all dis helps ter git rid of de boll weevil. In de early days, w'en I cum ter dis country, one ox an' one plow would raise as much cotton as four men could work. An' I wants ter tell yer how de wimmen helped us. Our wimmen folks, dey walk behind de plow all day, cook three meals, an' w'en dey not workin in de fiel; dey helps ter cut de wood an' work right along wid de men. Let me tell yer de boll weevil song, dey used ter sing hit in de field w'en dey workin de times de boll weevil so bad, an' hit tell yer more 'bout him maybe dan I kin, I jes remember part of hit, De boll weevil is a little bug, from Mexico dey say, He cum ter try dis Texas soil, an' thought he better stay, A-lookin fer a home, jes a-lookin fer a home. De farmer took de boll weevil an' put him in de san', An' de boll weevil said ter de farmer, "I'll stan' hit like a man, Fer hit is my home, fer hit is my home. First time I saw Mr. Boll Weevil, he was on de western train, De nex' time I saw him he was ridin a Memphis train, A-lookin fer a home, jes a lookin fer a home. If anybody axes yer, who was hit writ dis song, Tell him twas a dark-skinned nigger, wid a pair blue duckins on, A-lookin fer a home, jes a lookin fer a home. Yes sir de boll-weevil like ter have 'et us out o house an' home, de song tells hit like hit really was, only I has not tole yer half de song like we used ter sing hit in de fiel's, an' we made up a lot more 'bout him. "When the hill of toil was steepest, When the forest frown was deepest, Poor but young you hastened here, Came when solid hope was cheapest- Came a pioneer; Made the western jungles view, Civilizations charms; Snatched a home for you and yours, From the lean tree arms, Toil had never ceased to doubt you, Progress path you helped to clear; But Today forgets about you, And the world rides on without you- Sleep--old pioneer.
Yer wants ter know more about de history handed down ter us 'bout whar I was born in East Texas, an' whar I cum later on an' lived in de Brazos bottom country, befo' dey was much of a town called Marlin, or de country north towards Waco or south, east or west. I has told yer a little 'bout de town of Woodville in East Texas an' whar I lived near de Nechez river in East Texas; dis was a community a long time befo' Dallas had becum' a town. Dis country was first called de municipality of Nacodoches. De oldest folks dat lived in dis country used ter claim dat de explorer La Salle was killed by his men near de town of Rockland in de northern part of dis country. Dey claim dat his diary dat his men kept after he was killed say dat he was killed in a days journey ter de Neches an' de Angelina rivers, so dis would put his grave somewhar near de town of Rockland. In later years a place called Fort Teran was built on de banks of de Neches river near Rockland, an' de earliest marks of dis country show dat a trail from de City of Mexico to New Orleans passed dis way. Dey is no doubt but dat de Indians followed dis trail long time befo' de white man ever saw hit. So de town of Woodville becum de center of de piney woods territory long time befo' de railroads was builded here. Dey had a lot of folks from de old states to cum here in de early days, dey was a Hanks fambly dat was claimed he was one of de signers of de Texas declaration of Independence, an' dat dey was soldiers in de Civil war. Den dey was some of de bigges' Jedges in Texas dat lived in dis part of East Texas; dey was Jedge Sam Wilson , who studied under Jedge Priest , an' who named his son, Priest Wilson , an' dis son was one of de members of de Higher courts, I think dey call hit de Happellate Court. Yer may be interested ter know de way dey went to de court's. W'en I was a boy I has seen de Jedges an de Lawyers on dey horses wid de saddle bags an' dey skillets a startin on dey rounds over de district whar dey hold de court. what did dey take skillets for? Why, dey camp out an' kill de wild game an' cook hit in dey skillets! I kin remember old Jedge Hobby , de father of de Hobby dat was de Governor, one time; he used to ride aroun dis way an' he wore a Prince Albert coat, a big black slouch hat an' de high heel boots. De reason dat I kin remember him so well is bekase he was a little man an' we boys used ter think dat he look funny in dis long coat an' de high heel boots. Dey kin all remember how he walked from one court to another, 'stid of ridin'; in de spring an' summer. Den dey was Jedge Hightower , one of de bigges' Jedges dat East Texas ever had. He lived in what dey called de "Big Thicket", some say so he could have plenty time to hunt an' study, w'en he not in court an' not be bothered wid people. Jedge Hightower had a son dat went to de big court at Austin too. Den dey was Bronson Cooper an' Henry Kirby dat was in dis East Texas bar too. Mr. Cooper was de Congressmen from dis part of Texas an' dis Kirby was de Kirby dat quit his law business an' made his fortune a buyin de cheap piney woods, an' started de lumber business. But de lumber business was not all dat dis man Kirby did not East Texas, he was a great man ter help de boys an' girls in gettin' dey education; an dey start in life. Den he got de Santa Fe railroad ter build from Beaumont ter Longview Texas an' dat opened up a big part of dis country dat had been shut off from de markets 'ceptin' w'en dey float de logs down de river, w'en hit was on a rise to Beaumont, but so much of de time hit was not high enough an' dey had to wait for de rise, so de railroad fixed hit so dey could ship de logs all de time. De government did not have de money to put soljers to protect de settlers at de falls, so de town of Viesca was deserted an' w'en some of de settlers cum's back, later on, dey settled on de east side of de river, an' w'en Empreasio Robertson cum's back wid more settlers an' finds dat all dat is left of his colony has moved over to de east side of de river, he organizes a company of rangers an' hopes dat dis will help de folks to not be afraid to stay in dis country an' keep dey land de Mexican government had given him for them.
Dis company was organized January 17, 1836 wid Robertson for de Captain. Captain Joseph Daniels built Fort Milam on de Viesca site, an 'many of de most noted Indian fighters an' Texas Rangers worked in an' out of dis old Fort. Dese men watched de movements of de Indians while de settlers on de east side worked dey land. All de old settlers will remember dat Major Erath , Captain Bryant an' Captain John Bird , Colonel Jack Hays an Z. N. Morrell was called on time an' a gain to fight de Comanches, de Cherokees, Tehuacanes an' Waco's an' other tribes dat kept robbin' de settlers horses an' cattle. Waco's an' other tribes dat kept robbin' dey cattle an' horses. Den 'bout dis time John Marlin , one of de Viesca settlers dat had left cum back, an settled a few miles south of de town of Marlin is now. Hit seems dat dey all afraid to settle on de west side whar de first settlement was so de ones dat cum's back an de ones dat Robertson finally brings on de last trip to Tennessee all decides to settle whar John Marlin did, so w'en dey think hit safe to cum back an claim dey land dey starts dis new settlement. Several built saloons an stores, a man be de name of Cowan from Tennessee built a blacksmith shop, an a drunk give de place de name of Bucksnort, so dis was de second settlement of Robertsons colony. De Morgans , Menefees , Smiths Serviers , Bartons , Jones , Langs , Billingsleys , Killebrows , Perrys an Cowan's an a good many others dat I does not think of now was de first families of dis settlement. Dis place den was de supply station for de surroundin' country, 'bout dis time war was declared wid Mexico an Colonel Jack Hays begun his organizin' de Texas Rangers, an some from dis community went wid him. De bes dat I kin 'member one other settlement was made wid some of dese same families movin' to hit an some from other places cumin' in and dat was de Blue Ridge settlement. De names of de famblies dat cum to dis settlement which was 'bout six or eight miles south east of Bucksnort was de Flowers , Robinsons , Honnicutts , Harlan's , Ike Smith , Fountain , Jones , Higgins , Forbes , an Cowan who was a descendent of de Cowan at Bucksnort.
As more an more people cum in dey decides dey need a court house an dey had been goin to Camerson an Springfield to tend to de court business. De settlers had cum in around Waco too an dey wanted a county. Hit was through de efforts of a man name Isaac Parker an' J. Davis in eighteen hundred an fifty, but de old Viesca Community had dey land yet an dey an de Blue Ridge community puts up a fight over de boundary lines, so de county was not organized until de first of January 1851. A Dr. Adams lived jes north of de present courthouse an' square, an' dey first called de town Adams. De settlers begun to want to vote on de name of de town, an' a Mr. Churchill Jones suggested dat dey do dis, an' w'en dey take de vote dey vote for hit to be called Marlin after John Marlin de first of de settlers dat cum's back after dey deserted de old town of Viesca. A man by de name of Hanrick gave a square mile for de courthouse an' de town lots. In May de streets was surveyed to be sixty feet wide an' a court yard a hundred an' twenty yards square. A son of de pioneer Baptist preacher, Morrell , was ordered to sell de lots. De first district court was called by Judge Robert E. Baylor , in April 1857, in de one room log court house. A. H. Morrell , de man dat sold de town lots, built de first store out of cedar logs, an' opened de first business in Marlin. Dis was later rebuilt into de first brick building. While de Marlin fambly was among de first to cum back after dey had run off an' deserted de town of Viesca, for fear of de Indians , hit is a sad thing to record but one of de Marlin famblies was de first to be massacred by de Indians. John Marlin had a brother named James . This fambly was his wife an' little boy about ten years old, an' two girls, one was married to a young fellow by de name of Morgan , his pappy an mammy lived wid dem, an' dey all lived together in de house wid James Marlin an' his wife. Dey lived 'bout seven miles north of Marlin on de Rock Dam road, in a log house wid a big hall between. De man had gone off for de night as de roads was bad an' dey had to go 'bout twenty miles, an' hit took long time to make de trip in de winter wid de bad roads. Dis was de January 1, 1839 effn I member de story right. De old man Morgan an' his wife, an' James Marlin's wife, an' de daughter dat had married young George Morgan , dey had finished de night work an' was sittin roun de fire w'en dey heard de Indians yells, an' befo' dey could hide or lock de door dey was in de house a hackin' dem up wid dey tomahawks. Dey scalped de young woman, an' left her for dead, an' killed de other sister, an' de older folks. De little boy slips out w'en dey is cumin in, an' hides by de fence until dey is gone. Den he goes back an' finds de Indians has killed all de folks an' so he goes to de settlement for help. De young woman dat had married young George Morgan , dat dey call Stacy-Ann rolls under de floor, an w'en de Indians leave an' she cum's to, she crawls towards de spring. Hit is de nex' mornin', an' she sees de old bell cow goin to de spring for water, an' she hangs on to her an' de cow drags her to de spring whar she drinks, an' den she feels better an' starts to de house when she meets de men who has had de alarm an' cumin' to see what dey kin do. Dey takes her to de settlement whar she is taken care of until she gets well, while dey buries de folks dat de Indians killed. W'en de settlers followed de Indians dey was a family by de name of Powers dat lived in de community close to de Marlins an one de Powers men was wounded in de fight wid de Indians, an one of de men stopped to help him on his horse, de horse was so skeered dat de man could not hold him still long enough to git de wounded man on de horse, so dis man Powers told him to go on an' dat he was done for, an save his own life, so de man had to leave him an flee from de Indians, an de man Powers died.
De story is dat after de Indians had killed dis fambly in a few days dey attack de house of John Marlin , but his son Benjamin , a Mr. Garrett , an' Thomas Menefee , was there an' dey kills seven or eight of de Indians an' de rest run away. De settlers organize a crowd to follow dem an' overtook de Indians near de town of Perry, dis side of Marlin, on de Waco road, in de post-oak woods, an' dey has a fight. After de fight, James Marlin makes a treaty wid dem dat dey is to leave an' not bother any more an' dey went further west. Dis is de way de story was handed down, an' hit was 'bout dis way. After dis, dey was not so troublesome an' effn dey was any more massacres den I never heard of hit. Isaac Marlin , de boy dat escaped, never married, an' went to de Civil War an' was killed somewhar in a battle. Because dese two famblies was de first to be massacred in dis country dat dey know of, dey has built a monument to dem at de old home place on de Rock Dam road, near de town of Perry Texas. Sterling Robertson died in Robertson county Texas in 1842, but de work he started of settlin' up de country has kept on, his dream of de bottom an' de prairies growin into de settlers homes has cum true. Dey is many a person whose ancestors cum to dis part of Texas thro' Empreasior Robertson an' his colony, an dey decendents are here to fulfill his dream of a prosperous country.
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