Cass County

Old Letters

Submitted by: Victor O. McGilvray

Red Hill, Texas
July 10, l892

Mr. Manuel H. Lamberth
Coldville, Alabama

Dear Uncle:

We received your postal inquiry after the family of our father, WilliamLambert. We were grateful to hear from you aand take pleasure in answering your letter at once. You will be suprised to get a letter from one who never saw you and never heard your name mentioned save by your brother Col. Wm. Lambert now deceased. The Col. died five years ago the 13th day of last March. He was a devoted father and husband and admired by everyone for his intelligence and integrity.

I married his eldest daughter Aude L. ( Aury ) We are living one mile east of the Col's. old homestead that he settled in 1851. We have nine children viz V. O. , J.B. , Mattie J. , William L. , Carrie , Marie , Alexis , Joseph for Uncle Joe Lambert, and George Henderson. Col. Lambert's second child died when he was about 5 years old, his name was William. His third child a daughter Sarah E. Floyd, lives near Casseta, Texas 6 miles from here.Her husband is John D Floyd. They have three daughters, Carrie , Mollie and Rua. The oldest daughter married four or five months ago to a man in Denton, Texas by the name of Benjamin Taylor. The fourth child of Col. Lambert's is a daughter by the name of Jane, she married a man in Texarkana by the name of Behan, where they now reside. She has five children viz Lizzie , William , Joseph , Dennis and Barney. She lost two or three children. Rua the Col's. youngest child by his first marriage lives in EL Passo, Texas, she married a man by the name of Chas. Steiner, who is in the railroad business. They have one daugter Alois 8 years old.

The Col. has six children by his last wife viz Mary , W.P. , Edwin , John Percell , Joseph and Leo Lambert. Mary married Mr. W. J. McCall who is living in Atlanta, Texas, a village about 15 miles east of here on the T and P RR, they have 4 children, Phillip , James , Agnes and Frederic.

Mrs. William Lambert still lives on the old homestead with tree of her sons. We would be very glad if you would write us telling us all about the family, brothers a sisters of Col. Lambert, infact everyone of our relatives in the old country, we know very little about them.

We have a grand country here in East Texas, something like, only a good deal better than Ga. and Ala. used to be about fifty years ago. Lands are very chep here now, a man can buy land here now that sold 10 or 15 years ago at ten and twelve dollars per acre at four or five. Unimproved land can be bought for $1.50 to $2.00 per acre. We can raise anything that can be raised in this latitude. The fruit here is the finest I ever saw in any country. The principal crop here is cotton. However it is a fine wheat and gra;i;n country, and since cotton has got to be so cheap a great many farmers have commenced raising small grains of all kinds. The wheat crop here averages from 15 to 22 1/2 bushels per acre, oats from 25 kto 60 bu. per acre. This country cannot be beat for watermelons and potatoes.

I know of a well improved farm, a short distance from where I live, that sold for ten dollars per acre a few years ago that can be purchased now for five. All the depreciation in the real estate has been caused by the low price of cotton. We have four different kinds of soil here, thered, gray, mulatto andblack loam. The red is best for small grains. The mulatto best for cotton, and the black loam best for cane and corn. We have the finest water here in the word. The mountains in Va. cannot beat it. I used the water in Va. 2 years while soldiering under Stonewall Jackson, I was a member of Hood's Old Texas Brigade. The People's Party is gaining str;ength here every day and doubtless will elect all their state and County officers. I have voted the Democratic ticket for 30 years, but will vote for the Peoples Party candidates this year if I live to get to the polls. Col. Lambert predicted this reform movement of the people five years before he died. Write soon to your nephew and niece.

J.B. and Aude Lambert Henderson
Red Hill, Texas


Old Family Letter
submitted by: Richard A. Rainey


Ella Faye Riddle Spurger,Stringer, born two miles East of Cussetta, Cass County, Texas, which is situated in the north east part of Texas, known as Piney Woods, a hilly, wooded section of the State, settled by people from Georgia and Alabama just after the Civil War. My maternal grandmother's name was Mannie Saunders, born in Virginia, and the duaghter of the founder of the first cotton mill in Richmond, Virginia. She was educated in a girl's finishing school there. Her mother having died when she was young, she was cared for my her aunts and cousins. Before Mannie married, her father died, and she came to Georgia to live with relatives, being there when the battle for Atlanta was fought. It was there, also, that she met and married my grandfather, S. Ridgely Rainey, son of a plantation owner who owned about 125 slaves. The Rainey's had also come south from Virginia before the Civil War.

It was during the war that my grandmother, dressed in a suit of clothes belonging to her brother, went to a cousin's home to frighten her, pretending to be a Rebel. On the way, she was seized by a band of Yankees and held until proof was established that she was a girl. Such things at a time like that could have been very serious as the Yankees were shooting or taking as prisoners any man that they happened to find and capture.

After the war, my grandparents were married and lived at Ellaville, Georgia, and it was there that my mother was born. The house where she was born still stands and is in good shape, although unpainted, and is near the "Big House" where my great-grandfather, Tom Rainey, lived. It was in this same house that my mother's sister, Lizzie, was born, and with these two children, my grandparents came to Texas after the Civil War, settling in the north east part of the state at Simm, Bowie County. This was a swampy and wooded section at that time, near Sulpher River. The mosquitoes were bad, and the family soon had malaria. They left Bowie County and came to Cass County, living near Bryans Mill, later buying a home and farm near Cussetta which was the center of activity for that farming region. The first State Fair and 50th anniversary of Texas was celebrated there, featuring horse racing, giving prizes to the lady and gentleman who rode their mount with the most grace. The prize for the ladies went to Miss Irene Walker Curwrite. There were ball games, speech making, gambling, prizes for the best farm products, band playing, and evidence everywhere of refreshments kept in little brown jugs, hidden in the clumps of brush near the old log school house. Dinner was served picnic style. The revelry lasted for three days. There was plenty of excitement for everyone, for in those days, this community was the hiding place for desparados from other parts of the country, hiding here in this new settled place to evade th law, and it was here that my mother grew up and married my father.

Tom Riddle Spurger, my grandfather, is German-Dutch by birth, and I have been told Riddle Spurger is a common name in Germany today. My great-great-grandfather who came to Holland from Germany had in some way acquired the title of "Von", a title, I understand, may be bought or bestowed upon one for an act of valor. How my great-great-grandfather acquired this title is not known to me, but it was dropped from the family name after his death. My great-great-grandfather's name was Erasmus (called Ris) and my great-Grandfather's name was Milliam Harriest (?) Riddley Spurger, my grandfather's name was Tom. I don't know the year they came to America. They settled in South Carolina, all spoke Dutch and lived like Dutch, my grandmother's name was ______?

My grandfather, Tom, was too old to fight in the Civil War, but was conscripted by the Confederate Government to make salt by evaporation from the ocean water at Mobile, Alabama, for the army. Not long after the war, and while estimating timber in a forest, my grandfather died of a hart attack, leaving my grandmother, Anne, with six children - three boys, Willie R., Judge I., and my father, Ben Franklin, better known as Dock or D.C.; and three girls, Elizabeth Faye (Betty), Lulu (Lou), and Mandy. My grandmother's old maid sister, Lucindy Pickett, lived with them. Grandmother Spurger had two brothers, Luke and Tom Pickett who came to Texas and settled in Bowie County. Remanents of their families live ther today. Lucindy Pickett married after comming to Texas, she was an old maid and her husband had been married before, his name was Tommi [this could be Toni - it is hand written and fadded] and had a son named _un__? and a daughter named Laurean, she married Tom Draper and moved to Larido? Texas.

Grandmother Riddle Spurger, this old maid sister, Lucindy, and these six children came to Texas after the Civil War and settled in Robison County. They started out on this trip in a covered wagon. Finally, tiring of the jurney, and no doubt, the children were making the trip a trying one, my gradmother sold the team and wagon and came the rest of the way by train. I am not sure were they boraded the train, but I think it must have been Atlanta, Georgia, for the trains were slow and took days to make any kind of trip. It was at this railroad station that my grandmother saw her first real Looking Glass as they were known in those days. After the wagon and team were sold, the family had to pack their clotyhes and what other things they were bringing to Texas, in sacks and boxes. Naturally, when the family went into the railroad station, each one was carring some piece of baggage, and all were staying together as this was a new experience for all of them. Seeing the Looking Glass on the wall in the railroad station, the reflection of the family, my grandmother decided that there was another family just like them there and calle my aunt's attention to the fact that "Ther was another bunch that looked just like them." At this time, my father, Dock, was small, and he carried the bread tray and large sifter in a sack, it was striking his heels as he walked barefoot into the station. How long the family had to wait before a train came to take them on the remainder of the journey to Texas is not known, but, while they were waiting, the children went to sleep on the benches, to be awakened later by grandmother telling them that a storm was coming. Being a hard-shelled Baptist with a faith that sustained her through many an ordeal, she gathered the family around her knees, and there in that station asked the God in whom she had faith, to protect and guide her in all undertakings, to keep His watch and care over her and her family in this hour of peril. The "peril" turned out to be the train that they were waiting for. Naturally, ti made quite a lot of nised coming through the forest and, too, they had never seen or heard one at the time, so to be mistaken about the noise was only natural. Arrival in Texas, and settlement in Robison County, to undertake farming new ground with only a family of children, took the real spirit of a pioneer. After a year in Robison County, the family came to Cass County, and it ws here that my father met my mother, Ella Faye Rainey.

Ella Faye Rainey was born March 6, 1868, at Ellaville, Georgia. She Was oldest child of Ridgely and Mannie Rainey. She was of slight build, soft spoken and refined, with that quiet and compelling disposition that enabled her to be master of her emotions in all situations, and commanded the respect, fonfidence, and admiration of all who knew her. It was her steady hand and level head that my father needed to off-set his nervous and high-strung, but genial disposition. To this union was born eleven children. William, the first born, died as an infant, Henry Grady, Stephen Herbert, Nellie Virginia, Rainey, Minnie Lizzie, Annie mannie, Ella Faye, Johnnie Berry, who died of diptheria when about one year old, Emma Kate, and Ben Franklin.

I, being forth from the younbgest, recall my earliest memories of my father and mother. She had silver gray hair, a quiet manner, and went about her duties of managing a large household in a way that only a master could do; her voice was never raised in corresting we children; she never argued; but, she was always firm in her decisiion, and they were made in such a way there was never an question in our mind of her not being right. Papa always let mother make the decisions when we asked to go places.

My father was superintendent of the little Sunday School, and my mother was a teacher of a class. They were affectionately called "Uncle Dock and Aunt Ella" by all who knew them.

I was born at Cussetta, near a community and church called Floyd Hill, and it was at this house that I stood on the proch when the snow was on the ground, watching the birds eat crumbs from the table, and yelling "Lucindy Rainwater" to the top of my voice, listening to the echo ..... Lucindy Rainwater was a writer for the Semi-Weekly Farm News, the only paper that our limited mail service and limited publications had at the time. ..... I can remember Nellie who was ironing, wrapping my hands in the warm ironing cloths. My hands hurt so badly it made that episode a vivid memory. Then, too, it was here that Johnnie Berry died of diptheria. I remember the little white casket, the still from inside, and crying, no doubt because the others did, and being taken out of the house before his body was carried away to be placed beside that of William at Floyd Hill.

Floyd Hill was a hard-shell Baptist Church with a cemetery beside it where most of the early settlers were buried in those days. My Grandmother Spurger was one of the first to be buried there, and her tomb was placed just inside the cemetery, next to the church, as she had requested, so she might hear the songs sung and the preaching service throughout the time to come. The charter members of this chruch included some of the slaves who had clung to the old master and had come to Texas to live.

At the time of Johnnie Berry's death, I was about three years old, and some time after Christmas my father was hired by Munz and Heimer to supervise the building of a railroad from Redwater in Bowie County to Flat Creek in Cass County, for the purpose of hauling logs to a big sawmill at Redwater; therefore, the family moved from the farm near Floyd Hill to Cussetta and rented a house from Mr. Clay Fulcher who had a big store, grist mill, and a barber shop in the back of the store. At this place of business, one could outfit the family and farm without too much trouble with everything from castor oil, big head liniment, not to mention Grove's Chill Tonic, a necessity, as well as all the dry goods, plow stocks, harness, etc., that a farmer needed in those days to survive.

In November of 1905, Emma Kate was born. We children were sent to spend the night with Mrs. Clarence Fulcher ......... In the spring of the following year, 1906, my father fought a piece of land from Jim Barker and built a new home for this growing family. This land was located near White Sulphur Springs, on a public road, naples and Atlanta, near Marietta, and at a little stop on the railroad that my father was building, called Munz, so named for the men who were having the railroad built. Munz consisted of two stores, a boarding house, telephone office, barber shop, and a commissary. The real show place was the railroad station.

Munz was a thickly settled community. Children came for miles to the school, called White Sulphur Springs High School, named for the springs, near the buildings, which was the source of water supply for the students. There were about 150 pupils enrolled, and classes were held six moths of each year. The faculty consisted of two teachers. One called the assistant teacher was needed for only about four months of the schoold term. ......

Grandmother Riddlespurger had died before I was born, and Aunt Lucindy made her home with us after the death of Mr. Willis.

......she was about eighty years old and did not live long after that, she was ill for about six months before she died. ...... we smaller children were sent away from home to my mother's brother's home (Uncle Henry and Aunt Carrie Rainey). We were there at Christmas time,. and it was Aunt Carrie who told us there was no Santa Claus. I am sure it was because there was such a little for our stockings. I remember getting a little blue vase that I treasured for years. Aunt Cindy died the next summer, but our family's health was never the same


Here is a letter for your Old Letters page on the Cass County Texas web page. My great aunt Mattie McDuffie gave me her copy before she passed away. She got it from her mother Mary Ann Frances "Fanny" McDuffie who was a daughter of John and Elizabeth Hall.

This letter was written March 17, 1867. To Johnson and Elizabeth Hall in Rome, Floyd Co., GA. From John and Elizabeth Hall. The letter was sent back to Texas by Johnson Hall’s grandson ASJ Hall in 1923. ASJ Hall lived in Anderson Co., SC. He asked that it be passed around. Each person made a handwritten copy. I do not know what happened to the original.

Wynell Simpson
Received by Mary Ann Fannie Hall McDuffie, 3 Jun 1923, Linden, Cass Co., TX.

Dear Father and Mother,

I once more take the opportunity of dropping you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive and in the land of the living. Hoping that these lines will find you in the same. Enjoying good health. These lines leave me and family in tolerable health. Though my shoulder is out of place and has been for three years last June and never could be pulled back. I had it pulled back ten times. My second son is a cripple and has been for seven years. He has no use of his hands. And my third son has the white swelling and is not able to do any work. My first son went to the war and got wounded at Juca and started home and that is the last that I ever heard of him. We have eight sons and eight daughters. One son and two daughters died when little. I have one daughter married. I’ve had a hard time to keep up though thank God I’ve always had plenty though I do not know how we will come out next year for we are backward this season in cropping. We have had three snows and two sleets this month. We have had more rain in fifteen months and more high waters than we have had for three years together since I have been in TX. Brother Martin lives in one mile and a half of me. He and family is well though he has been in very bad health. I have not heard from one of the HALL family since the war till last Sunday I say! Dr. Tehune. He told me he saw Father and Fenton not very long since. He told me Sidney was dead. I wonder if you know anything of brother Johnson to let me know and brother Linzy. As to the wars we know nothing of hard times like some of the states. Though it was bad enough here. I would be glad to see you all and then we could talk all about it. I have to wear my specktickles every day to do my work not withstanding. Its my right shoulder, that is out of place. I can write so as you can read it I have not wrote four sheets of paper since it was out of place. I work with it chop and hammer in the shop plow though I have but half the use of it that I had before it was out of place. If it was so that you all could move to TX I would be glad for I never expect to see GA again. My children my first, second fifth sixth, seventh, eighth, tenth, and twelfth are sons. My third, forth., ninth, eleventh, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth are daughters. Their names Linzy Berneas, he is missing, Ritchard Martin, John James, William Griffin, Albert, Archabald Johnson., Sidney Monroe. My third boy died without a name. My daughters names, Mary Ann Elizabeth died, Martha Jain, Parolee, she is married, Margaret Elizabeth, Luana, Sally Allace, Caroline, she died and my baby Mary Ann Fanny she is named in part after one that died. She was two years old last December. My father-in-law and mother-in-law is both dead. Our fruit is all killed with the sleet and snow this week past. I have not plowed but two days this year tho if it do not change before tomorrow night I will plow again. Corn is worth from one dollar twenty five cents to fifty cents per bushell wheat one dollar and fifty cents per bushell flour is worth six cents a pound. I now Come to a close. Give my love to all inquiring friends. Read this letter and hand to Fenton and family tell me if you know where John Kelly is and family. Direct your letter to Linden, Davis County Texas.

To Johnson and Elizabeth HALL I still remain your son till death. Farewell
Elizabeth HALL


Wm M. Crow
To David and Frances Young
from: Betty Johnson, Memphis, TN

Letter received from Cass County 1855

(Letter from William M. Crow, sent to my family in McNairy Co. TN, trying to locate members of this family)
Cass County Texas June the 19, 1855
Mr. David & Frances Young
Dear Uncle & Aunt

I received your kind letter dated May 15th at whitch I learn that all was well. We are all well at this time also. Nat & Wm Perkins you requested of me in your letter to write to you what had become of Wilson, he is here and he says that he will write to you in a few days. Brother Martin is now teaching School six miles from Linden he comenced yestarday he will teach a five month session and Franklin is going to school at Clarksville to McKinny. It is a bout 80 miles from hear Franklin started the midle of Aprile last and I am living with mother. I have got 22 acres of corn and 14 of cotten in. Crops is tolerable good here especily in the Praries corn is better in the praries than it has bin for a number of years, corn has bin selling here for $2.50 cts per bush though it has come down to $1.00 per bushel, coffee is worth 30 cts Salt $8.00 per sack Flour is worth $20 per bbil. Beacon is wort 25 cts and beef 5 and 6 and every thing else in proportion. Uncle William Gillespie sayes that he will come out and see us this summber and if he does I hope that he will like our country well enough to move here. I will bring my scatering letter to a close by asking you to write to me of time and I will do the same and tell all your children to write to me and give my love to all of them and except the same to your Selves. I remain as ever yours in bonds of kindred love.


Submitted by: Phyllis Gale Doss, daughter of Margaret Elizabeth Peek and Aulin Pernon Doss who were both born in Cass County.

Subj: Thomas Washington Peek letter

This letter was written to my grandparents, Benjamin Franklin Peek and Sarah Lou Tishie Smith-Peek, by Thomas Washington Peek, Benjamin's father. The letter is a testimony of the changing times of an aging man, farmer and father. Shortly after the writing of this letter my grandparents gave up their farm and returned to Cass County to help Thomas. Thomas lived just outside Naples and regularly hitched up his horse, Old Bess, to his red and green wagon, gathered up his umbrella to shade him from the sun and rode into town. Great Grandpa wanted Old Bess to carry him to his grave. I don't know if she ever did.

April 13, 1921

Dear Children,

I will try to answer your welcome letter that came to hand in good time. I have but little to write. We are glad that you have a good prospect for a good wheat crop. I am sure glad you all are having such good health up there.
I would love to see you all but for that one reason I do not want you to come back to this old sand, I mean move back. If I live this will be the the last time I will try to cultivate a crop. I am going to sell the place at some price or other if I can. There is a great difference in this sand than when you left. I never wanted to become a burden to anyone, but it looks like I will have to submit to that or go to Austin one, for I can't rent it and get enough to support us and keep a roof on the houses. ( illegible)
So you see there is no living in renting land.
Tell "Boy" (Carl Peek) I am sure proud to hear he was learning so fast in school. Hoorah Boy, go to it, you may be Governor someday.
Tish I want you to squeeze all the children good and tight for me. And do you ever hear from your papa? He wrote one time to Ettie since Christmas. Have some good pictures of the children made and send me all four of them. We can't get a picture made that any account papa.
(illegible) doesn't cut much and that you can still make a good living. Cotton is selling 4 to 8 cents and hard to sell at that.
I was in town and was weighed on my birthday, 180 lbs. If I am a little slow to write do not become uneasy. Should anything happen I will let you know at once. We are having another wet year. It rained part of yesterday and the most of last night. I have only plowed a part of two days in a week. I have half my cotton seed planted and my corn is needing work. Sure am proud of the birthday presents you and Boy sent, I got them the day before my birthday.
Edward and Adelia (Hampton) let Kate get the names of their ancestors and take care of them for the benefit of their children in their older days. And Ben I want Tish to copy them off for the benefit of their children in their old days. Put them away where they will be taken care of.
It is no use to say I wish I could see you all, for it would be (illegible) wish, but will say I would be glad to see you all. I do not believe if I live I can ever undertake another crop, it is all together to much for me this year, but I now got it and will stay with it til I finish it.
Tell me what Allen (Smith) is doing and how he is getting along. Tell him that Ettie is planning to have a bank account. So tell Allen I said for him to put one dollor in the bank and keep it and then add 10 or 25 cents every week and in the course of time he would be (the rest of the letter is missing).

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