Cherished Memories

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by Frances Cox Rylander (1998)

My mother, Mattie Belle Lindholm Cox, was born on a farm near Kingsbury, a small town near Seguin, Texas in 1881. The history of the family can be found in other writings. What I hope to offer will be incidents that my Mother told me or that I experienced in my association with her. They are treasured in my memory.

She and her family moved from San Antonio to a small farm her father had bought in Frio County near the Siestadera Creek. This was near the town of Big Foot. Mattie must have been around a year old at the time of the move. In later years she told of her being so puny as a baby that an older sister insisted on her mother taking the baby to Devine to the doctor. She did take her and even stayed near Devine somehow until the baby began to recover. (And lived to the ripe old age of ninety-four.)

A few years later, Grandfather John heard of land, called School Land, being sold further south in Frio County at about $5.00 per acre. He investigated and decided to buy 200 acres and move the family there. He sold the property near Big Foot (which was just south of the old Brummett Cemetery which I have visited) to a family named Bryson. They came to live with the Lindholm family while the new house was being built on the new land.

In the Bryson family were two young girls, Ada and Mabel, that became life-long friends to my Mother. Ada married Mother's brother, Mady, and Mabel married Tom DeVilbiss. They kept in touch through the years, moving back to Pearsall in their old age where we were living. I have an artificial rose Uncle Tom, as I always called him, brought to me the year he died. Recently I found in my Christmas Treasures, a booklet from Aunt Mabel, sent the year of my Mother's death.

When Mattie was about nine years old, the Lindholm family moved to the new place. It was called Buckhorn and eventually had a two-room school house and a Methodist church. There were never any stores or businesses since it was only about 8 miles from Pearsall. Today there is only the church cemetery left. Sometime in the 1970's, Eulan became concerned about the future care of it and did some work to keep it in good condition for many years. He paved the almost square lot, setting the tomb stones into the cement. Then he put a knee high fence of wire around it. No gate was needed as one could step over the low fence. John and Christina Lindholm are buried there along with a nephew, Mett Adams, a son, Sam Lindholm, a son, Oscar Lindholm, and a number of old friends.

My mother described the move from Bigfoot to Buckhorn as very depressing to her. She had to leave her beloved friends, the large oak and hickory nut trees and the deep, white sand. Here in the new location, there was no one to play with, all the family had much work to do, there were no trees, only brush, and the hot wind blew constantly. There were trees along the rivers and Mattie delighted to go with the family to the rivers to wash clothes when water became scarce at the farm.

During times of drought, sometimes lighting would often cause brush fires which were frightening and dangerous. Mother told of one hail storm that impressed her young mind. They had gone for the milch cow, because of the threatening clouds. Before they could get the cow in the pen and get back into the house, the hail became very heavy. It was coming down through the roof. There was no ceiling at that time. Mady, who had gone along to get the cow would not get under the table as Ns mother directed, but insisted in getting under the bed where his mother and Mattie were.

A number of families came to buy the land offered by the state at such a reasonable price in the early 1890's, but after a few years of drought, only five of the first comers remained. They established a Methodist church and a school where Mother attended until she had completed all the courses offered. It was my great pleasure to become well acquainted with one of Mother's teachers, Betty Ward Parks, and enjoyed taking Mother to see her in Dilley in their later years. I came to love and admire her and appreciate what she had accomplished in teaching Mother, for she had a very adequate basic education.

The Ward family were the Lindholm's closest neighbors, only a mile or two away. The girls, Becky, Betty, and Luah, all older than my Mother, took her "under their wings" and became the very closest of friends. They taught her to sew and by ten years of age, she made all of her father's underwear. Then they taught her to read music and play their pump organ.

All of that encouraged my grandfather to order Mattie a pump organ. She had talent, a desire to learn, and enjoyed her music so very much. Years later Mattie bought a piano and was able to learn to play it, using the knowledge of reading music shared by her Ward friends.

In her life in Buckhorn, one of Mom's pleasures was horseback riding. On some of these occasions she met a boy named Joe Cox who was living with the ranching Woodward family. Joe helped John Lindholm with his cattle. That may have been one of the ways Mattie and Joe had opportunity to get acquainted. Dad used to tease Mom about riding the horse barebacked, her long legs dangling. How much Joe and Mattie were able to see one another was never clear. Yet there seemed to be a very strong attachment and an agreement very early that they were "for each other". Mom told of her insistence that Dad must have $500 saved before she would marry him. Later she commented that he got it all right, but later used it to buy land and cattle.

Dad went to San Antonio to work for the City Transit Company. He was the conductor on a Street Car. In 1900, three of Mom's best girl friends went to San Antonio to the Exposition. They talked Dad into taking them to the Exposition and had a picture with the three of them and Dad taken. They brought the picture back to Mom and it is still in the family.

After much correspondence and rare visits during the six years, Joe came to the farm in Buckhorn to claim Mattie as his bride. Friends and pastor helped have a wedding on November 26, 1901 that began a marriage of 61 years.

Joe, after the marriage, took Mattie to San Antonio to live. Mattie loved life in San Antonio. She went to Church at Travis Park Methodist, riding the streetcar. She and Joe rented an apartment from a family that became lifelong friends. Otis was born September 16, 1902

Then in 1903(?) Moro's Dad, John Lindholm, got word to Joe that he had a tremendous cotton crop to be picked. If Joe would come and supervise the work, he would reimburse him liberally. Joe went to Laredo and got hands to help pick and haul cotton to gin in Pearsall. What John Lindholm gave Joe was never discussed in my hearing but he got enough to make a down payment on the Alvin Place, a ranch near the area later named Goldfinch. Joe's interest in cattle and farming became a reality.

Mattie was reluctant to leave San Antonio and friends to live on an out of way ranch, but she accepted the change the best she could. I do remember her saying how she took Otis and just walked up and down the little road in front of the house to help overcome loneliness.

Mexican families finally came to share ranch/farm life. That was a big help. Mom had a large room built just back of house and stocked every day needs such as flour, sugar, etc.., to sell to the Mexicans.

In March, 1910, Mom went to Pearsall to have me delivered. She rented a room with kitchen privileges from Mrs. Pickford. This was because of the distance, the terrible roads, and cars were not common at this time. She felt the need of being where a Dr. would be available. Doctor Neeley, who delivered me had a car and gave Otis, 7 1/2 years old, rides to downtown Pearsall. After several weeks we were back at the Alvin Place Ranch. An interesting sidenote to this memory was my birth certificate. Birth certificates were just beginning to be used and were filed by the Dr. who attended the birth. Dr. Neeley asked Otis what the baby was going to be named and Otis told him that the name would be Neely Josephine Cox. It was later when I went to college to get my teaching degree that the mistake was found. Morn had to go and get it corrected to Frances Josephine Cox, the name I had been called all of my life.

After my grandfather's death in 1907, my grandmother came to live with my Mother. At her death, in 1910, Mother received enough money to order a piano from Wing and Son, New York, N.Y. I was about 2 1/2 years old when it came to the ranch on a wagon from the train station in Pearsall. I clearly recall their tearing down my yard fence and taking the screen wire off the end of the porch to get the piano into the house.

With early help from the Wards, Mother learned to play that piano using music. She played with such verve: "Listen to the Mockingbird", going to a higher key for the bird's song. Also I remember her playing Sousa's Grand March with such energy that I had to find a drum to beat and march as she played. She loved hymns and it was a joy to hear her play and sing

Eulan was born July 20, 1915 at the ranch. Dad had managed to get a telephone that he got to work the one time it was needed to get the Doctor. Dad had used barbed wire fence part of the way for wiring. Later they finished proper wiring. It seemed a miracle it worked to call as the baby announced its decision to be born. Otherwise, a horseman would have had to ride some 20+ miles to get the Doctor. The Doctor came by buggy, driven by Walter Thompson, who quietly spent the night sleeping in the horse feed trough, because More was "busy" and neither she or Dad realized the young boy was on the place.

Dad was always an entrepreneur in his business adventures and had courage to try new ideas. While on the Alvin Place, he became interested in having a "goat ranch." He took the train to East Texas after renting pasture land near Orelia, and brought back a "train load" of goats. Well, it may have been a train car-load but it was a lot of goats! At about 2 1/2 years of age, I was fascinated by the kids. A number of kids had become separated from their moms and my mom had the interesting job of supervising the feeding of these kids. She had bottles of some kind and lots of milk.

The kids were most entertaining. Otis and I had a fallen tree in the back yard where we played train, choo-chooing down the trunk and onto the branches. The kids sooned learned the game and could "choo-choo" better than we could. In fact, we got butted off the choo-choo tracks. When I had a chance, I let the kids into the house where they delighted me by jumping from beds to dressers to whatever was near. Mom did not really enjoy that game!

Mom told of my waking up and crying one night. When questioned, I told her my little kids had fallen in the cistern. The cistern, located on the porch, caught rainwater from the roof. I was often cautioned about the danger of climbing up on it, as it might have the "door" opened and I could fall in.

It is not known how long Dad continued raising the goats, but not too long. I do not know how he disposed of the business. This was before the time of trucks and Orelia was some twenty miles from the Alvin Place. So my fun and happy memories may be the most profitable part of the deal.

Though screens were used, flies were always a problem. People used a poison saturated into a piece of paper and put in a saucer with water to kill the flies. When Eulan, just crawling well, found a saucer of this poisoned paper, he ate it--or at least some of it. I distinctly remember my mother making him vomit it up, by sticking fingers down his throat. If Eulan had any after affects of his "adventure" I do not remember that.

In 1920, Dad bought a cotton gin at the area named Goldfinch. Dad owned many acres of land on the same side of the road as the gin. Across the road there was a store eventually bought and managed by John Nations, who moved his family from Miguel to Goldfinch. The Cox family became very close friends to the Nations. By 1922, there was a school about 1 1/2 miles away, but no other businesses and no church.

Sometimes the Baptists had services in the school building and we attended, though we were Methodists. In the summer, the Baptists had interesting, lively "meetings" on the banks of the San Miguel River. We enjoyed those, too. Cars were becoming rather common by now, but it was a long way on poor roads to Pearsall or Charlotte where there were Methodist Churches.

Dad got the gin going with help from Uncle John Lindholm. The youngsters of the neighborhood found excitement and fun jumping on the cotton bales that became numerous over the gin yard. Many games were made up to play and remarkably, no one was ever seriously hurt by such daring play. At other times, there were fires which were always a real challenge and made things come alive! Luckily, none of them was ever really bad. The cotton gin was a successful venture, money-wise.

Mom became a rural route postmistress and the first year we were in Goldfinch we had school in our house for the Coxes and the Ricks girls. Fanny Ricks, in her teens was the "teacher" overseeing our lessons with Mom supervising.

Mom proved her ability to manage things by helping get a 2-room school going the next year. Two teachers were hired to teach the neighborhood children. Jewel Carter, a fabulous teacher, taught me sixth and seventh grades. (She also taught my children, Kay and Mary, when they went to school in Pearsall.) Maurine Arnold taught me eighth and ninth grades.

In the meantime, Mom was learning Spanish and helping older Mexicans to learn to read and write Spanish. She also bought an Underwood typewriter and learned to type by the touch method. She became very efficient.

She not only served as postmaster for many years, she also took over keeping books for Dad's businesses. At age 75 she was consulting an income-tax man about some complaint the tax people had. She explained to them that the lawyer she consulted couldn't explain it and the tax people couldn't seem to explain it so who could? Also, she remembered that she forgot to report some expense when she filed. She walked away from the meeting with a check and waved it happily under the noses of the men at home who had sent her off to the meeting, promising to visit her in jail.

MEMORIES OF LIFE AT THE ALVIN PLACE

One of my memories of life at the Alvin Place concerns the arrival of an army truck, something like a jeep. It was hunting season and some friends from San Antonio came in it to hunt. How the army truck was connected with hunting, I am not sure, But it was the first such vehicle that I had ever seen. Indeed, I doubt that a motor vehicle had ever been to the ranch before that truck.

A young girl, named Imo Tallmarge, came to live with us at the ranch during the time Eulan was a baby. Morn needed help with ranch life and with me, I suspect. Anyway, we grew to love Miss Imo and Mom kept in touch with her many years. One of Imo's daughters came to see Mom some forty years after Miss Imo lived with us.

Mom was my teacher for my early education. When she finally enrolled me in school, I was placed at an advanced grade for my age because of my reading ability. Since the White family had come to be with us, Mom decided the older children needed to be in school. So she rented a house which is still in use at the south end of Oak Street in Pearsall. We lived there for about a year before Dad bought a home on Trinity Street.

During that year there were many happy times. The John DeVilbiss family lived across the street and the daughters were very friendly. The mother had died and two daughters had married, but the three still at home became life-long friends. Helen married Ernest Youngblood and I taught a number of her family. She was my third grade Sunday School teacher. She lived to be in her 90's and died in 1994, a loved and deeply appreciated friend.

Mom enjoyed the Laxson and Curtis families. Dad and Mr. George Curtis began business together in a Pearsall Feed Store buying and selling crops of feed that the people of Frio County needed. They were in business many years.

Dad was adventuresome and had courage to try new ideas. In addition to the feed store, and being involved in full-time activity in in farming and ranching, he supervised the 50,000 acre Keystone Ranch for the Oppeninheimers of San Antonio for many years. He also went into the honey business in a big way, sharing his equipment with the Rankins and the Newsomes. It was fun to go with Dad to the bee apiaries and see him don the big head net and "rob" the bee hives.

After the move to Trinity Street, the Cudes became close friends. Almarine Cude often would come over and spend the night when Dad was at the ranch. She was in school, but old enough to be a comfort to Morn. I still get love messages from the youngest of that family-Allie Mac in San Antonio.

Other neighbors that were deeply loved were the Durenbergers. Irene, my age, came to Tyler from Houston to see me recently. And the Kimballs. Rev. Kimball gave me my first Bible, a red-letter testament. I treasured it for years. I think Mom stored it in a closet afer I left home and it got damp from a leaky roof.

Mom was a helpful, friendly neighbor to them all-and others who lived away from us. I particularly remember the Dallas Rankins that we knew from the Goldfinch/Miguel days. They had a daughter, Freda, who helped my try to play the piano. Another daughter, Winnie Mac, was a favorite playmate. And it was Dallas who had a new car and took us to San Antonio to have Dr. Kinney check my appendix. Dallas had a nephew that had a satisfactory surgery at the Kinney Hospital, ahd he encouraged Mom and Dad to see what was needed. Dr. Kinney, after testing, said the condition was not critical, but that the pain would likely continue. I cried, saying, "I want to run and play like the other children." At five years of age, that was important. So Mom and Dad decided to have the surgery done. There has never been any problem since.

Dad bought his first car in 1915-an open body with curtains to be used if it rained. Roads were still not paved and travel was usually very close to home. A rare trip to San Antonio was a real adventure.

As was Dad's usual attitude, he was not easily fazed! For example, I remember one trip to Goldfinch from Pearsall where we had too many flats and the car could not be driven. We abandoned the car in the area called Salt Creek and walked toward the ranch while Otis hurried on to get a team and wagon to "rescue" us. We got as far as the San Miguel River bridge and lay down on the boards that were the floor of the bridge. Mosquitoes were very pesky. Sometime during the night we could hear Otis coming, Loudly urging the horses to get them to go as fast as possible. As usual, Mom accepted the situation calmly. She had told Otis to bring bedding So we snuggled down and slept the three or four miles on to the ranch.

Dad kept his first car several years; then bought a second car. He removed the body of the first car and had it made into a kind of jeep-truck. It was very handy on the ranch to "ride the range", not staying with the road. The children of the neighborhood in Pearsall all enjoyed sharing the body of the old car as a playhouse.

It was about 1927 before Dad bought a closed-in sedan. It was very fancy with oval windows in the rear area of the top. In some kind of deal, he let the Sharbers get that car and went on to something else.

Going to town from the ranch continued to be a challenge, especially when we got to "Rocky Hill", our name for a very steep down hill area that was indeed rocky. I personally dreaded Rocky Hill each mile of the way, asking Dad every now and then if he would let us walk down while he drove the car down. He was always agreeable and we usually got to walk down or run, for it was very steep. At one such time, I remember Morn got out, too, carrying the baby, Clyde. She got to running and could not stop! She began laughing and managed to get to the bottom without falling or dropping the baby who was laughing, too.

There was another time when Clyde was older and he and Mom were going up the steep side of Rocky Hill. It had ruts for only one car so some had to wait for others to "make" the hill. More lost control, hit a fence post and the car spun around. Park Scott, a Miguel friend, came along in a wagon and helped get the car turned properly. Clyde had a cut knee--not too bad.

Dad always bought apples and oranges to give to children on or near the ranch at Christmas time. In fact, the family got this fruit only at Christmas! Mary remembers going with her Grandfather to deliver fruit in later years. He did not always stay with the road, but took off across the pasture or field, usually driving in second gear.

The family moved to Goldfinch in the summer of 1920. The house, built by the Johnsons who had also built the gin, was indeed small for so many. Mom managed! I do not remember ever hearing her complain.

Mom was always very innovative. A very abundant weed in the ranch area was called Careless Weed. I do not know its biological name, but somehow Mom heard of its value as food. She picked the tender green leaves and cooked them as she cooked spinach. They were delicious. She offered some to her daughter-in-law, Gladys, who just laughed and remarked that she was not that hard up for food, yet. Sometime later Gladys dropped by the ranch at supper time and at Mom's urging, sat with the family to eat. Gladys helped her plate to food on the table and began eating, pausing to say, "This sure is good spinach", and then realizing that it was Mom's Careless Weeds, she began to laugh. Morn apologized for not telling her, but we all had a good laugh.

Dad always had cow dogs and Mom was able to take two of them, named Ike and Mike, and teach them to catch and hold down any chicken that she pointed out to them. They would help her catch a fryer when unexpected company arrived. Mom would ring the chichen's neck and have it fried and on the table in short time.

Dad enjoyed pecans and was delighted when he was able to buy some ranch property that had a grove of pecan trees. It was a real asset when he planted three pecan trees in our yard at Pearsall. He used this grove to give a big barbecue at one time when the oil industry became active on his property.

Dad and Mom were always very active. In his later years Dad raised peanuts and watermelons. He also had his own special breed of Brahman Cattle. Mom was always cooking or taking care of bus'ness. Dad and Mom continued to live at the ranch until Dad's death in 1962. Mom then moved into Pearsall and lived there until her death in 1975.

TXGenWeb, Frio County - Cherished Memories updated on 08/10/2005

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