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Lucille O'Donnell

Source: Vertical File, Herman Brown Free Library

I was born in Burnet County, April 19, 1897, five miles east of Burnet on the old Guthrie farm that my grandfather acquired in the 1870s. At the age of five, I rode in a covered wagon with my mother and brother to west Texas. My father and a brother and some cousins drove 300 head of cattle to west Texas. We lived there until 1908 when we moved back to Burnet County to the same farm we had left in 1902. I lived there and went to a country school and then to the Burnet school.

In October, 1909 I went to Virginia to school and stayed there five years, coming home every other summer. The other summers my grandfather and grandmother and some of the other family came to Virginia to see the relatives with whom I lived. I came back to Texas in 1914 in November and graduated from Burnet High School in 1915, 60 years ago this May. I attended Mary Hardin Baylor, taught school three years; then I married and raised a school of my own, 7 children.

My grandfather on my father's side came from Virginia after the Civil War, having met some of my future grandmother's relatives in Virginia when when they were at the watering places. They became interested in him and told him of the opportunities in Texas, saying that if he ever came to Texas to look them up, in Fayette County where they owned a 5000 acre plantation. Three families of his relatives lived there (Virginia ?) and were fairly self-sufficient. He met my grandmother after coming there to the plantation. She was a niece of the gentleman he had met in Virginia. She was the daughter of a Baptist minister who was also from Virginia and was ordained into the Baptist ministry in 1841. My great grandmother had twin girls and one son. My grandmother was one of those twins. Her brother graduated from Baylor and died soon afterward from malaria fever. After his death, the entire Munn and Gay (?) families decided to leave that area. Some of them went to Waco and some came to Burnet County.

My great grandfather Richard Evans was the first collector of funds for _____ University, from which he graduated. I was born into a family that loved to read and always had as much written material as they could afford. After the slaves were freed when my grandmother came to Burnet County, she said she had never so much as washed a pocket handkerchief because she'd always had someone to wait on her and do for her. After that her mother told her that she guessed poor folks ought not know how to read because they didn't have time to do a lot of reading.

My father was the oldest of the Guthrie children. He was Henry Sidney Guthrie, named after his grandfather. He was born in Fayette County, but they lived in Round Rock before they came here. He was on the street in Round Rock when Sam Bass was shot. They came here and Dad bought quite a spread of land. Later his younger brother came from Virginia and bought a spread of land that adjoined him. My grandfather had one child that had died before they came to Burnet, and then there was my father, his brother and two sisters. They were Anna Guthrie Anderson, Samuel Ellis Guthrie who was interested in Guthrie-Howell company, an establishment here hwned by him and John Guthrie, my grandfather's brother; James H. Guthrie, who owned the drug store here for 35 years; then Willie Guthrie who married Sam Taylor in Bertram.

My mother was born in Alabama. Her father was born in Mississipi. Her mother and father came to Texas from Alabama with two children. My grandfather, James W. Stamford, was a Baptist minister. His wife was Frances Rogers. My mother, Emma Stamford, married Henry Sidney Guthrie. Grandpa Stamford died young, leaving five daughters, one son having preceeded him in death. My mother was the only one who lived and died in Burnet County. Her name was Emma Stamford.

Since I had been away for five years when I went to school in Virginia, when I came back, I was the new girl in town. My husband lived about 12 miles from Burnet, but he came here to school, so we met at school. He had tried to date me for about three years, so finally I went out with him in September 1917, and we married ________. His name is Tom O'Donnell and his father, Francis O'Donnell came to the United States from Ireland.

What was on the square the first time you can remember, and who worked there?

You see, I was gone from here from the time I was 12 until I was 16,, so during that time, I don't know. At one time my father's cousin was the County Clerk. I can tell you a story about that. My father came in to get his marriage license. This cousin was a big tease. Mamma had another gentleman friend that she had gone out with the week before she was going to marry my father. pappa was one of these men who couldn't take a joke. So the clerk asked Pappa what he wanted and he said "I want to get a marriage license." "Who are you gonna marry?" "I'm going to marry Emma Stanford." "Well, I'm sorry, Henry, but we just issued a license to Emma Stanford and Will Bryson!" Well, my father was just beside himself and they tell me that he was just going to get in his buggy and leave. They almost never got him calmed down to tell him it was just a joke. That was in 1890.

The first county clerk I can remember was Mr. McLain. That was 1915-16. He signed my marriage license in 1918. The first county judge I can remember was a friend of my family, Judge Cruz. He's the man, I think, that built the house where Iva Lee Gibbs lives. I was just a little girl then. J.R. Smith was the next one I can remember. He signed my teacher's voucher. This was to get my pay. When you taught in a country school you had to do it that way.

We had teachers' institutes for a week where teachers from several counties met and we had workshops. The first one I went to was in Lampasas County. I stayed with a friend that my parents would approve of, so I could stay a week. Professor Richey, who was an outstanding educator here in Burnet County (and my father and I both had gone to school to him) was asking the different young teachers why they chose teaching as a profession. Giddy as I was, I said it was because you got three months vacation when you didn't have to do anything and could have fun.

You really had more than that in the country schools. Seven months was about as long as we ever went. Because of the crops and the kids working, we hardly ever started school until October, after the cotton was all picked. Professor thought that was really a joke that I thought I should teach so I could have a long vacation. Some of the other teachers said they were interested in the welfare of the children. Of course, I enjoyed it after I got involved in it. My strong point I guess was teaching plain old grammar. That's one thing that grates on my nerves is people using the wrong verb or the wrong pronoun. For lots of people the country school was the only education they got, and I just felt grammar was very important.

How did you teach it?

We had a textbook, and you had to conjugate verbs and learn which verb went with which pronoun.

Where did you teach?

The first year at Pebble Mound, the community on the old San Saba Road. Some of my students out there were John Frazier, and the mother of Jimsey Shelburn, Mrs. Jewel Keenan, that worked in the drug store for such a long time. The next year, I taught at Shell Rock, near where the Glimps live. Arlen Glimp went to school to me the first year out there.

Why is it called Shell Rock?

It's up on top of a hill with that kind of formation.

They had a Mexican school about a mile away. The teacher who taught at the Mexican school and I boarded at the same place. In that day and age, we had to board with some of your patrons and usually you had to know how to hitch and unhitch a horse. The little children couldn't do that. Every year I drove the children from where I stayed. So you stayed where the younger children wouldn't have an opportunity to go to school if there wasn't someone to drive them there, or they were too young to walk.

The last year that I taught at Providence, I was close enought so I lived at home and rode my horse to school. It's near where the old Bertram Road and Shady Grove Communities came together. The Carsons used to live near there, and the Rogers, and Bartons. The Providence school was right on the Russell Gabriel Creek. Our property was along there. We had to carry water from the creek.

What about the Fairland school? Did you have school programs?

Yes, and people from all over the area came to them.

Did you go to elementary school there?

No, Tom did, but I went to elementary school in West Texas.

What kind of programs did you have?

Every holiday we'd have something. There used to be skits in farm magazines and in Holland's magazine was a complete skit about Seeing Nellie Home. There was one about a quilting bee. We'd have them outside sometimes and the whole area would be full. Old man Cotton, the county agent and Mertice Pogue's father, and his brothers Jess and Cecil Humphries played the fiddle and guitar. They would do the musical part and we just had the best time. We just had model T's and a horse and buggy, so we didn't get out much, but we had all kinds of programs. We'd have suppers. Thanksgiving everyone would bring a lot of food and we'd have community supper. One Thanksgiving when Mr. Cotton was there, it came the ungodliest rain you ever saw. There was a big ditch there, I guess it was a dry creek, part of Backbone Creek, and it rained so much that we couldn't get home, just 1/4 mile away, and people that were just a few hundred yards away didn't get home until 4:00 in the morning. My kids, all 6 of them, were there. And it was 4:00 before we could wade out of there.

I don't know of any other community that did things like we did at Fairland. Double Horn did, but they were out of date when we came along. Later we organized a Fairland-Toby club and had a little building down a little bit from the school--about 2 miles from the old Fairland school, but it didn't last very long.

Who were some of the teachers at the Fairland School?

Mrs. Pete Elliott; Dr. Nora Craddock, Mrs. Elliott's sister, Mrs. Stevens over at Lometa, and the Holland girl who is now Mrs. Heinz and lives in west Texas; Bessie Mae Humphries, and the one that stayed the longest and I guess we loved the most was Lucille Love, Bill Love's sister. She stayed with us. She taught there 4 or 5 years. My kids got half their elementary education under her, in one room school, a rock building. Tom went there and I heard him talk about his teachers. One of them was Miss Dorothy Jones (or Georgia Jones) a sister to Mrs. Herman Schnabel. I heard him talk about his teacher that was named Miss Alma Lord who later became the wife of Mr. Elmer Smith. She used to keep Tom (Mrs. O'Donnell's husband) in a lot because he was so cantankerous. The kids would call inside the schoolhouse and say, "What's going on in there?" and he'd answer, "Me and the Lord are going round and round." Mae Lowe, winifred Edgar's sister taught there for a while. I guess she was the last teacher we had there.

I was always for consolidation of the schools, but I was never for consolidation below the fifth grade. I fell the same way about the bussing today. It's just bad to send those young kids far away from their homes and have to get up so early. I think doing away with the country schools is what did away with the communities. We had a cotton gin and post office, filling station, blacksmith shop, general store at Fairland, and now there's not even any houses. There's one house on the old Matern place that was on her husband's ancestral home place but I don't know what will happen to that house, since she died not too long ago.

Who are some of the other people from the Fairland-Toby Community who are still living?

Mrs. Ed Wood Daugherty, the Materns, the Edwards - it was Hardy Edwards, and Mrs. Ellis Zimmerman was his daughter-in-law (she was married to their son Wilie Edwards). There were several families of Clarks, the Ernest Moores, and one of the most outstanding men was Colonel F.H. Holloway.

I guess Mr. O'Donnell had more land acreage-wise than anyone else in the Fairland community, and Col. Holloway had quite a bit too, that was next to the O'Donnell place. Col. Holloway had some land next to the railroad track and he had laid it off and surveyed it and put up markers to sell it in lots. This must have been in the early 1900s.

We lived in a long house with a porch all across the front of it, and we had nice barns, but now there's not a smidgen of anything where you can tell what was there. Col. Holloway's grandson, Frederick used to teach school here. Mr. O'Donnell bought bought his land there in the 70's and lived and died there. His name was William Francis O'Donnell. He died before I ever knew Tom. He was from a family of 12 in Ireland. He and one brother were the only ones who married. All the others were nuns or priests or sisters, and only one of his sisters ever came to the United States.

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