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
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
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
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
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
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
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