The Daily Tribune
Collegeport Column
May 30, 1933
 

Thoughts About The Pioneers

 

By Harry Austin Clapp

 

"There is no sense in going farther--it's the edge of cultivation."

So they said, and I believed it--broke my land and sowed by crop--

Built my barns and strung my fences in the little border station

Tucked away below the foothills where the trails run out and stop.

 

Well I know who'll take the credit--all the clever chaps that followed--

Came a dozen men together--never knew my desert fears;

 

Tracked me by the camps I'd quitted, used the water holes I'd hollowed.

They'll go back and do the talking.

They'll be called the pioneers.

--Kipling's Five Nations.

 

When I think of those who came here in 1909 as pioneers I hesitate to make such a classification. According to my dictionary a pioneer is "one who goes before preparing the way for others to follow." With this definition before me it appears that the ones who went before and prepared the way were LaSalle, the early Spanish adventurers, Stephen F. Austin and his followers. We who came in 1909 suffered no hardships for the way had been prepared. We used a Pullman car instead of an ox team. We slept in good beds instead of on the ground. We had servants serve us with good food instead of eating corn pone. Not one of us suffered from the lack of food, shelter, transportation or entertainment. But I suppose after all we may consider ourselves pioneers for we most certainly prepared the way for those who came after 1909 and 1910. We built homes, plowed the land, sowed crops, built schools, churches, harvested and plowed and sowed again. Some of us stayed because we could not go back. Some, lacking the pioneer spirit, returned from whence they came and their names are forgotten. Those who stayed no doubt emulated the example of Cortez and burned their ships behind them. These had the true pioneer spirit. Everyone had made good and are enjoying the comforts which they bought at a high price. They are the ones who have builded in a new land and to give to them we give our congratulations and high respect. But after all, as I review the past and look over the names of those who came, who stayed, who went back to their northern homes, I have a feeling that in that list we do not find the real pioneers. I find their names in the list of those who have taken the only great adventure. Theo Smith, O. B. Kone, I. M. Glasser, D. E. Hurd, E. A. Holsworth, A. J. Palmer, George Black?, W. E. Elmer, Mrs. Gussie Elmer, M. A. Nelson, George Braden, S. P. Shuey, Margaret Shuey, Minnie Corse are the real pioneers for they have "gone before, preparing the way for us to follow." It was a great ______ adventure they pioneered in. No land man to show them the way. Only faith and hope like twin stars, lighted their path. Perhaps it was with hesitating and faltering steps they sought the way. They have gone on before and dare spying out the land for us who will follow. Therefore while a taking no credit from the living pioneers let us on this day give hearty praise and honor for those who have passed into the unknown land with their banner inscribed "Adventure and Romance."

 

Some baseball scouts should watch a game played by the Palacios team. They might find Dean Merck, timber for at least a minor league and perhaps a development into the big yard. Wadsworth played Collegeport Sunday on Van Wormer Field with a score of 5-0 in favor of the visitors. Tuesday, May 23, I received from the Interstate Commerce Commission the final findings of that body in the application of the St. Louis Brownsville & Mexico Railway Company to abandon the Collegeport branch. The document contains eighteen typewritten pages and the report was proposed by J. S. Prichard, examiner. The report ends with "it is therefore recommended that the permission be granted and that an appropriate certificate should be issued." The document is in my files and may be examined by any interested person. One of the reasons for granting the permission was that there is a great probability that the state highway commission will build a viaduct across the bay bringing this territory within three miles of the Southern Pacific service. It appears that we should get busy quite soon or before, on the viaduct proposition. I read in the papers that the Southern and Northern branches of the Baptist Church meet in convention in the city of Washington. Instead of grasping hands in brotherly love they appear to be spending their time quarreling over resolutions condemning President Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt for serving beer in the White House. Why can we not allow our president and his family to live in peace and eat and drink as they wish? I am in favor of organizing the Jews in a protest against the serving of ham or bacon to White House guests. "Thoughts" have not appeared in the Tribune Daily for several weeks for reasons unknown to me. But I am beginning to receive inquiries as to why. Last night came one from a daily reader, "I miss your 'Thoughts' for I appreciate them and look for your column with eagerness."

 

I read in the papers that the Greyhound bus lines have a rate of $31.70 round trip to Chicago effective May 15 to October 31. I also notice that one railroad makes a round trip rate of $59. The latter ought to be able to haul one passenger for the same price the bus charges, but they will not do it and cry their eyes out over unfair competition. Railway coaches will trip to Chicago with room a plenty, but the Greyhound bus will be loaded.

 

If Bachman's asked forty cents per pound for ham and another store offered it for fifteen cents which store would sell ham? You're smart to guess it the first time. I wonder when railroads will learn how to sell ham. It appears that when the grading was done for the "nine foot sidewalk" that the contractors fed Johnson grass hay to their live stock. Result, a fine stand of this grass along the right of way which is creeping onto the tillable land on each side much to the annoyance of the farmers. Wonder if it is not possible for the engineering department to spray the grass with oil or some solution and kill it out.

 

Thursday came with a heavy rain which was badly needed by all crops. In spite of the rain more than 100 people assembled to observe Collegeport Day. Among those from other parts of the country I saw Mrs. Claire M. Pollard, county superintendent of schools, Mrs. T. C. Ford, Miss Katherine Ford, the two latter from Orange, Miss Eleanor Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Jeter (Merle Wainer) of Houston, Mrs. Patricia Martyn, county health nurse, Mrs. Della Braden, Will Shuey. Mrs. Burton D. Hurd was in charge of the program and after God's blessing had been asked by H. A. Clapp, she arranged that the pioneers or those who arrived during 1909 should be served first and seated at special tables. The long tables in front of the main room were loaded with chicken fried, chicken pressed, meats of other kinds, potatoes in cream and in salads, vegetables of several kinds, pies and cakes too numerous to mention and glory be to the gods three big tanks of those Famous Carrie Nelson Noodles. Golden in color, all gooey with rich gravy, big gobs of tender chicken floating around, wonder I piled my plate high and for three days went around with a satisfied tummy. Coffee was grand as it always is when made by our official coffee maker the same Carrie. After the dinner Mrs. Hurd started the regular program. Vernon Hurd gave a fine description of the first farming. He was then thirteen years old but turned the first furrow and made a crop of peanuts. I can vouch for the truthfulness of his tale for I saw him plowing, sowing and reaping. H. A. Clapp discussed the pioneer men, while Mrs. Liggett told all about the pioneer women; Mrs. Claire Pollard told about her early impressions. These talks were followed and short talks by L. E. Liggett, Roy Nelson, O. Gableman, Mrs. Robert Murry, Frank King, Mrs. Anna Crane and others. Each of these talks were real gems of briefness. Ice cream and a delicious punch served by the ladies of the clubs. The punch was a delight and the bowl was presided over by she whom I thought was my friend in the person of Emily Hurd. I had left my money at home with the miserable wretch, so when I wanted a drink of that temping punch on credit, my friend coolly informed me that she was doing a cash business, so I was forced to stand around looking at the punch bowl with dribbling lips until Mrs. Martyn came and staked me to a nickel. Boy! That was the finest punch I have ever tasted which had not been spiked. Emily made it. During the program Mrs. Hurd asked all to stand with bowed heads in silent prayer, for one minute in memory of those who had passed. I feel sure that those of the pioneers who are now spying out another country, paused in their trekking and give us their blessing. It was a good day, a fine day of friendship, a day of closer association and all departed determined that so long as they live each year will witness another celebration in memory of the past. The community canning club had arranged a program for the evening, but this because of the weather was postponed as was the game of baseball on Van Wormer Field. ____ it was a pleasant day perhaps as many as three or four hundred would have been present and there was abundant food for all. Many who lived close by were forced to return to their homes because the dirt roads were impassable. Had the viaduct been open half of Palacios would have been present, among them my old friends, the Farwells and Duncan Ruthven and family. O well, God willing there will be another day on the 25th of May, 1934. It was a grand day and we went to our homes thankful that God has blessed us with homes, shelter, food, raiment and friends. What more do we wish? I missed my old friends, Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Franzen, the Walter family, the Haisley family all among the pioneers.

 

The Daily Tribune, Thursday, May 30, 1933

 

 

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