Because of my long residence in this section,
the editor of this paper has requested me to write
something of my recollection of early times in this part of the State.
In that section of Missouri where the James brothers became desperate,the calamities of the
Civil War fell upon us. Worldly possessions were swept away, not only a part, but all. As a final stroke, Federal soldiers took quilts,sheets and blankets from my mother's beds. Knives, forks and spoons they
also took, and all other things which they could carry away. Then they turned us out of our home and
burned it, together with the things they could not take away.
Hoping to escape further mistreatment that was being heaped upon the people of that part of the State, who were Southern in their sympathies, our family made its way to Texas, reaching this State near the
close of the year, 1864.
Soon afterward the war closed, and Father joined us, and took up the struggle for food, clothing and
shelter. This I became a citizen of Texas.
The first year, 1865, we were in Grayson county. In that year, I remember quite well, the Negroes of Texas were made free. "On June 18, General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, and the next day
he issued a proclamation declaring the slaves free. It is for this reason that the Negroes of Texas
celebrate June 19 as emancipation day." Negroes of other states do not celebrate this day. The
Negroes were allowed to take such names as they might choose. Many of them took the names of
their former owners and some selected other names.
In the autumn of that year, we removed to Ben Franklin, now Delta county.We camped at night in Ladonia, in that neighborhood where Mrs. Light, Mr.Bogan, and Mr. Howard now live. That was my
first acquaintance with Ladonia.
It is wonderful how some of the little things of our childhood stand out in our memory, while things
of some importance, in later life, are soon forgotten.
Quite well do I remember the baked chicken in camp that night and how good it was. I should like to
be a boy again just long enough to eat some chicken that would taste like that of the long ago.
During the years 1866, 1867, and 1868, we were at Ben Franklin. It had one store about where the Methodist church now stands. The storekeeper, I believe, was also the postmaster. A man on foot
brought the mail to us from Ladonia. I think he came only once a week.
While at Ben Franklin, I attended my first school, and thought nothing of walking three miles to
reach that phrontisterion (think shop). And I assure you this walking was not done on surfaced roads
or cement walks, but on a country road, sometimes rough, sometimes muddy.
Well, three miles, I believe, would now be considered too far for boys and girls to walk to school,
and I certainly do no begrudge them the luxury of riding in automobiles to reach their school. Some scientists, however, tell us that, as we leave off walking, a system of evolution will begin, the result
of which will be a legless people.
Our school building was a one room structure made of logs. The window, I believe it had only one,
was made by sawing out a piece of log, and the seats were made of split logs with the flat sides turned
up. It had a puncheon floor, a batten door, and the heating apparatus consisted of a wood fireplace
that cast its smoke, or a part of it, through a stick and dirt chimney.
My teacher, I dare say, was not as efficient as those of this good day, and so the young people of
today are, or should be, more clever than those of the long ago. Nevertheless, this teacher of mine,
quoting Carlyle, "knew that boy had a memory and that his memory could be acted upon by the
application of a birch rod to the muscular integument."