Out Of Our Past
Tracing Our Bosque County Roots
By LaDawn Garland
11 July 2001
In response to current interest about World War II and to events leading up to that great war, Dr. Gloria Hewlett of Dallas and Meridian is collecting information on World War II Veterans and men who served in the Civilian Conservation Corp.  If you would like to share your experiences leave your name telephone number at 254-435-2533. Hewlett will interview you and write your story for inclusion in her upcoming book.

This is such an important part of our history and should be preserved for generations to come, so if you are a World War II veteran or a family member of one,and you would like to have your story included, please contact Dr. Hewlett.

William J. Alsup
contributed by Dr. Gloria Hewlett
hewlettjrbob@cs.com


William J. Alsup, son of Mr. and Mrs. Dave Alsup, of Kopperl, Texas graduated from Kopperl High School in 1938. That summer he went to Fort Worth and found a job cutting reinforcement and windmill rods with Texas Steel. After a short time he was laid off. The reason given to employees was that the Japanese were no longer buying scrap metal from the United States.  Alsup then decided to join the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) sometimes known as Roosevelt's Tree Army.

Alsup enlisted in the CCC for six months and was sent to Carlsbad, New Mexico where he was classified as a laborer. The work crews cleared trails, built firebreaks and built railings on the walk down to the caverns. The men were given sack lunches each day and were required to eat the contents.  Alsup remembers the food being good and wholesome. During this tour of duty Alsup was given his first ambulance ride when he was taken to Fort Bliss in EL Paso Texas for hernia repair.

While stationed in Carlsbad Alsup had the pleasure of meeting Jim White the discoverer of Carlsbad Caverns. Alsup witnessed several important improvements to the Carlsbad Caverns. They were installation of an elevator, indirect lighting and metal rails along the cavern walls for security purposes.

Alsup's pay was $30.00 a month. He sent $22.00 home to his parents and kept $8.00 for spending money. He remembers supplementing his income by rolling dice with his buddies. These buddies were Bosque County natives Leonard Cottle (who was later killed in a train accident moving U.S. Army troops.), Cliff Gardener and Wendell Bynum of Kopperl.

Alsup's second hitch in the CCC was spent at the Grand Canyon, Arizona.  When
enrolled he was described as being 20 years old, and by occupation a grocery clerk. He had gray eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion. He stood 5 ft. 9 in. tall and his color was white. He was discharged from this enlistment on March 4, 1941 and was drafted within days into the U.S. Army.

At Grand Canyon Alsup was promoted to 1st Sgt. and paid $45.00. During this time he had several duties. He was in charge of conditioning, a canteen steward and a senior leader. As a Senior Leader he was in charge of administrative details for 250 "homesick" men. These men stood inspection every morning and were assigned to work crews that walked or rode into the Grand Canyon. Those walking cleared trails as they went. Alsup states the men spent their leisure time going to the movies, meeting local young women, taking tours of the surrounding area and trips to Flagstaff.  Alsup has noting but praise for the CCC program. He felt that the experience made a man out of boys, taught them how to get along with their fellow man and held them responsible for their actions. The CCC experience taught men a trade and that was a wonderful opportunity.

I wanted to include a little more history on the early towns of Bosque County this week starting with Valley Mills, the first homesteads of Ewell Everett and Lowry Scrutchfield first show up in the 1850's. Searsville, The Old Rock Church on Hog Creek and Valley Mills were the first settlements in that area. Dr. E. P. Booth and Mr. A. H. Stegall, both of Waco, built a combination flour, grist, and saw mill on land purchased from James Sadler.
The mill was located on the north side of the Bosque River in 1867.

With the mill bringing a large amount of people into the new town, the first Post Office was established on April 19, 1867 and Moses Isenhower became the first Postmaster.  It didn't take long for the town to grow to include the general merchandise store of C. L. McGee, E. A. Mc Neill's blacksmith shop, Henry Saddler's grocery store, Bill Nichols shoe shop and the drug store of Dr. E. P. Booth and to the east of Valley Mills cattle herds began traveling north on the Chisolm Trail.

Cranfills Gap was named for George Eaton Cranfill who arrived in Texas from Illinois in the 1850's and for the "Gap" between the two mountains located about a half mile from the present townsite.

Riled and Bud Ford established the first store in 1882 and were joined soon after by Dr. Whitlock and a Blacksmith shop owned by A.A. Anderson. Ras Cranfill opened a store with a saloon in 1884, G. O. Bronstad and Morris Weil established the first general store in 1887 and in 1891 A. G. Grimland opened the first law practice in the community.

The Old Rock Church was erected four miles west of Cranfills Gap in 1886. Native limestone, dug from the mountainside two miles west of Meridian, was used for the construction of the Church.

The Cranfills Gap Telephone Company was incorporated in 1906 and served about 300 customers. J. W. Butler of Clifton, secured a charter for the First Guaranty Bank of Cranfills Gap, now known as First Security State Bank, in 1910. In the early days since roads were almost non-existent, freight was transported by a six mule team and wagon form Clifton.

Originally called Hollis Prairie, and consisting of a school and a church set in a farming community, Lane's Chapel was located a few miles northeast of Mosheim.  In 1876 the first one-room log cabin school house was built. The school was moved in 1905 to a four acre site donated by Elzie Lane. A new brick building was built in 1915 consisting of two rooms to replace the old frame school.

In 1878 the first community church was built by John R. Lane and sons, the land was donated by Joshua McCuiston. Once the church was completed the name of the settlement was changed to Lane's Chapel in honor of the Lanes.  Adjoining the church are a cemetery and tabernacle. In 1930 the church was replaced by a smaller building.



Queries

According to some family records my grandfather's parents - Joseph Benjamin Howard and wife Susan Whitworth Howard settled in Bosque County. Later brother Homer Howard and sister Alice Howard Lucas settled in this area and died there. Is there any family or record of these people living/dying there? Do you know where their  gravestones may be?
Bobsey Franks (Roberta Howard Franks) Bobzlar@aol.com

The Peoples Tribune

Bosque County, Texas
May 21, 1897

Walnut Springs News
Mrs. P. M. Crow is visiting in Terell this week.
Mrs. John Caraway attended the Waco Carnival this week.
Mrs. L. K. Johnson is visiting relatives at Chalk Mountain this week.
Mrs. James Day returned home Friday from a visit to her parents near
Princeton, Texas.

Iredell News
Mrs. Eldridge of Walnut Springs is visiting her parents here.
J. C. Lane of Iredell is selling seven pounds of best roasted coffee for $1
Mrs. Hays left for Alexander after a weeks stay with her daughter Mrs. C.C. Corley.
H. A. Turner has knocked the bottom out in groceries if you don't believe it just come and see.
Mr. Surcy's little boy of Spring Creek was bitten by a snake last Friday, from the effects of which he died Saturday evening. We extend heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved parents.

Willow Springs News
Last Saturday C. C. Williams was thrown from his buggy, striking the wheel and seriously injuring his leg and ankle.

Clifton News
Mrs. J. M. Brooks was right sick the first of the week.
Mrs P. Olson has been very sick for several days past.
Mrs. Nettie Anderson of Norse was in Clifton visiting friends.
Mrs/ H. C. Mills, of McGregor, mother of Mrs. T. P. Isbell spent a pleasant week in the city.
J. H. Jenson was in the city Thursday, he had in his possession the skin of a large gray wolf, from tip to tip the hide was about seven feet long.

This old newspaper and many more from Bosque County dating back to the late 1800's are available for research at the Bosque County Collection in Meridian. Don't forget that the Bosque County Collection is now open on Saturdays for research . You'll be amazed at the vast collection of Bosque County history preserved there. For information and a look at some of the wonderful research items available visit their website at
http://www.htcmp.net/bcc.

Here's my reminder to everyone, talk with your relatives, remember to take the time to record you family history and memories, someday, somewhere some descendant will surely thank you for not letting the past slip away.

If you are researching your Bosque County families online be sure to visit Bosque Co. TXGenWeb site at  http://www.rootsweb.com/~txbosqu2/  you'll find a wonderful collection of information provided by other researchers, it's quite possible you might just find other researchers there researching your same family lines. This column will also be available weekly at this site.

If you would like to submit a story or query about your Bosque County family, as well as information on reunions, to this column please mail them to:
LaDawn Garland c/o The Bosque County News
P.O. Box 343
Meridian, TX 76665
fax to (254) 435-6335
or email me at garland@htcomp.net