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Penland Family Memories


Aaron A. Penland when living at
Jenkins Farm

Picture courtesy of Susie Genck

Part One
The Migration


I (Elisha Gene Penland) have been requested by some of my younger kin to tell about the life of our family in the early days. I will commence with our move from Keechi in east Texas to Collegeport in south Texas. First letís not refer to them as the ĎGood Old Daysí just yet.


We moved from the Piney Woods of East Texas in the early spring of 1927 to Collegeport Texas. I was less than two years old at the time, but I do remember some of it. There was Mom (Vannie), Dad (Bud), grandmother (Rhoda Cupps) Penland, aunt Tressie Huffines, motherís sister, and Penland brothers Aaron, Glenn, Clyde, Ray Lee and myself in that order.



We arrived by train with the Ford truck and other rolling stock, wagon etc. on a flat bed railroad car and the animals in a cattle car. As well as I remember the wagon was loaded with farm stuff. Most of the family was in another freight car with household goods that was not loaded on the truck. I do not remember there being a railroad passenger car.  


We arrived at the end of the rail line at the Missouri Pacific Depot (MOPAC) in Collegeport in early afternoon. We unloaded everything except the livestock at the depot. All the live stock was unloaded at the stock yard about a mile south. I remember sitting on grandmotherís lap in the truck as we went to the Jenkins Place where we were to live.


I have to assume that the rest of the stuff came in later days. I remember the wagon, pulled by two mules leading two horses and two cows, being driven by my older brother Aaron with aunt Tressie by his side into the barnyard. The truck driven by my dad following loaded with a lot of stuff. There was a wooden crate with a pig on the rear of the truck. It was quiet an ordeal unloading the pig. They finally broke open the crate and made the sow jump off the truck.


Let me regress a little. Most people do not, or cannot, believe that I can remember these things at such a young age. I really do remember these things. When I talked to Glenn, my older brother, a few years ago and described what I remember he confirmed what I remembered was pretty accurate, although he did not want believe it, he admitted that he had to believe it because I was correct.


We arrived with two mules, two horses, two milk cows, one sow, and one dog, Fingo. I do not remember chickens or geese. But I remember there being chickens and geese there on the farm that summer. We could have gotten them after we got there. I do not really know. I do know that we had geese in east Texas because I have photos of some of my family members in the barn yard with these critters.


The things that I remember, not necessarily in any order sequence are:


1. I remember Ray Lee and myself being picked up by Mr. Welsby on the road and taken to Collegeport and delivered to the Fig Cannery where my folks were working. We had wondered away from home and grandma or aunt Tressie did not know it. He did not know who we were at that time. He just took us where some one might know who we were. My folks worked at the fig cannery in Collegeport as a lot of other people did. There were many acres of figs in the area that people hoped would be a big boom to the farmers that moved in from the north. It did not pan out and during the depression it kind of went bust.


2. I remember picking up a hatchet and striking Ray Lee between the eyes on his forehead and a lot of blood. Getting my butt paddled by grandma and her taking care of him with what ever medicine that she had. I donít know why I did it. The hatchet was on a stump where they split kindling and it was handy I guess. He had a part in the middle of his hair line the rest of his life.


3. I remember during a real summer rainy session that the road ditches were running full with rain water and aunt Tressie and us kids were swimming in the bar ditches and having a real good time in the hot summer.


4. I remember going down the road between our house and the Mercks, next door, of an old guinea hen busting out of the grass and jumping right in my face and chasing me for a while. Ray Lee was with me at the time. The old hen had a nest in the weeds by the fence that I did not know of. The neighbors, Mercks, had guineas that ran loose around the barnyard and roosted on the barn at night. Thereafter I was not fond of guineas.


5. There were two things that happened in one day that I will always remember. They were two firsts in my life. Our cotton field was south of the house one the road toward where Corporons lived at the junction of the road that ran west toward where the Carricks lived. I donít know how many acres there were but the rows were so long that you could hardly see a person at the other end. To a child standing on the back of the truck it seemed really far away.

The task for the day was to poison the leaf worms in the cotton field. Leaf worms are a little green worm like an inch worm. Dad, Clyde, Ray Lee and my self went to the field in the truck and Aaron and Glenn came behind riding the two horses. The method of applying the poison was to shake it through a flower sack and dust the cotton with. Dad took two sacks, one in each hand and shook them as he walked along between the rows. Aaron and Glenn had two sacks each suspended from a pole across the horses shoulders and jogged along shaking the pole and dusting the cotton. Cotton is usually poisoned in the early morning when the dew is on the leaves and the powder sticks better.


The poison was a Calcium Arsenic mixture that was in a tin container about three feet tall by 18 inches in diameter. The dust was a pinkish white powder that covered them thoroughly when they finished before noon. From the field we went down to the swimming hole. The swimming hole was a wide pool in the creek west of the road to Oyster Lake road just south of Collegeport. Everyone stripped off their clothes and with a bar of lye soap washed the cloths and took a bath. I remember daddy sitting close the bank in his union suit. I ran down the bank at a full stumbling run next to him and went right into the pool. I remember going down and down until it became dark and finally coming back to where it was not so dark anymore and daddy reaching in and pulling me out and sat me on the bank. That was my first first of that day, going into the water over my head. I do not remember if they took extra cloths or not. Dad did have a towel. I was in diapers and night shirt.

From the swimming hole we went through Collegeport and daddy bought a big box of Post Toasties (corn flakes) at Batchlers store. When we got home we all had a bowl of Post Toasties with cream and sugar. My dad loved Post Toasties all his life. That was the second of my first that day. I had never seen corn flakes before.


6. There are other memories of that first year on the Jenkins place. A lot of farm activities. Field crops were brought in. There was chicken feeding, egg gathering and all the chores around the barnyard.  The butchering of hogs was a big operation. John and Dean Merck and Joe Frank Jenkins were on hand to help daddy butcher a couple of hogs. This consisted of a big black pot of boiling water, a barrel slanted into the ground in which was filled with the hot water and the pig slid into the barrel,  rolled over and pulled out and the hair scratched off. The other end was slid into the barrel and pulled out and the hair scratched off. It was then hung up on a tri-pod, gutted and finished cleaning out from there.


7. The other most memorable event was when little brother Ralph was born. He was born December 12, 1928. It was a cold and rainy day and Dr. Wagner arrived in a Model T Ford coupe. The first I remember seeing. He went into the house and disappeared into the bedroom. All of us kids were kept out of the way. Daddy had already heated a big pot of hot water in the big black kettle in the yard. Only the doctor and Grandmother were allowed in the room with mother. The call for more hot water was handled by daddy. Finally the Doctor Wagner came out and told daddy that he had another son. Grandmother cleaned up the baby and brought him out wrapped in a blanket and showed him to us. Little wrinkled fellow as I remember. Ralphís middle name was Wagner, named after Dr. Wagner.

                                                                        Glenn & Ralph


Part Two

Move to the big house on the bay.



In the spring of 1929 we moved from the Jenkins Farm on the highway east of Collegeport to the old Pierce house on the bay southwest of Collegeport. I have to assume it was spring for that is when farmers usually move to a new farm so as to be able to plant the next year's crops. My first recollection of the big old house was when we all went there to clean the house and prepare for the move.



There was no road to the farm. There was only a wagon trail through the ranch to the north of the property. To get to the house we went through a gate on the ranch property about a mile south of Collegeport on the Oyster Lake road. Then followed  a wagon trail southwest to the north boundary of the farm about a quarter mile from the bay. From there you went through a wire gate in the fence and proceeded to the house on the wagon trail. About half way through the ranch there was a slough that ran south to and through the farm that we were renting. The water in the slough was several feet wide. This is where I first learned that a Model T truck could not jump over nor walk on water. We all went in the truck on that first trip with all the cleaning stuff, brooms, buckets, mops, tools and some outside stuff. When we came to the slough my dad stopped the truck and had Brother Aaron wade through the slough to see how deep it was. When he got to the other side his pants were wet up to about his knees. Daddy backed the truck up a ways and said to everyone, ďhold on we are going to jump itĒ. He revved up the engine real high, released that big hand brake out on the side and got going real fast toward the water. I fully expected for it to go airborne and jump clear over the water. It didnít, it just hit the water going full bore splashing, spinning and kicking out muddy water behind until we were on dry land on the other side. What a ride.


The house had four rooms on the main floor and four bedrooms upstairs with a wide hallway with a big closet at each end. The attic was just a big room with double curved windows in each side of the house. The basement was wet and damp with water standing on the floor. Apparently the house had been vacant for some time because it was a mess. There were papers, bottles, tin cans, snuff bottles and other junk throughout the house. Every one began to clean up things. I remember someone taking a tin can and punching the ashes down through the grates in the fireplace then shoveling them into a little tub and carrying them out the back door and dumping them. There were fireplaces on every floor in the house. There were three floors and a basement. All the time that the cleaning was going on Ray Lee, myself and Ralph in his diaper ran up and down the stairs, around the house and had a merry old time. Everyone worked hard cleaning up. Mother swept the floors, grandma mopped behind her, aunt Tressie and Clyde cleaned the fire places. Glenn and Aaron carried out stuff from the upstairs and attic while daddy worked on doors, windows and the kitchen stovepipes. I remember us all sitting in what was to be the dinning room and having lunch of fried chicken and biscuits with butter and jelly. I remember daddy eating a big pickle with black soot on his hands. I went to sleep on the way home in aunt Tressieís lap.


We, mother, daddy, grandma and us kids that were not in school made a couple more trips down to the place to make things ready for the real move. The real move came on the weekend with help from neighbors Dean and John Merck, Joe Frank and Julian Jenkins. There were three trucks and two wagons. Things were hauled for two days to get all the stuff there including the barnyard stuff and the animals. I remember two cows tied behind a wagon driven by Aaron and Glenn riding on a horse driving a couple cows and some calves behind the second wagon. I donít think that he had much driving to do because the cows would have followed anyway. We slept on mattresses on the floor that night because they did not have time to get all the beds put together. On the second day mother and grandma did not go back to the Jenkins house, only the older boys and Daddy in the truck. They made several trips the second day to bring the rest of the barnyard stuff, pigs, chickens, geese, and other stuff. John and Dean Merck helped haul all the feed and seeds from the barn. Joe Frank and Julian Jenkins hauled plows and other farm equipment plus the blacksmith equipment. Daddy had a complete blacksmith setup. Other neighbors who lived close, Mr. and Mrs. Ackerman and family plus the Adams family came on the weekend to get acquainted and the women helped mother and grandma put stuff away and set up the beds. The men and big boys helped put away the outside stuff and carry things into the house and barn. There were lots to do in just a few days and we kids had a lot of exploring to do. 


There was no place to put the pigs so daddy kept them locked in the barn until he built a pigpen. The feathered critters we just turned loose in the barn yard as were the livestock. We did have a pen to put the calves away from their mothers until after they were milked. Things kind of worked themselves out. Of course daddy had to start plowing right away to get the crops planted. Our main crops were to be cotton to sell and corn for feed and sell if there was any extra. I donít ever remember selling any corn. That was not really corn country. We were Share Cropping with terms of what was known and thirds and fourths. This meant that we were to pay the land lord one third of what we received for the cotton and one fourth for the grain. No other rent was due and what ever we got for other crops or animals was ours to keep.


We were finally moved into a farm. It was really an experience to learn all about the farm, the bay and all other aspects of where we were to live for many years. That was the last move that we made before I went into the service during WWII. 

Article and pictures courtesy of Eugene Penland.

Memories Part 1     Memories Part 2     Memories Part 3     Memories Part 4

Memories Part 5     Memories Part 6     Keechi Scrapbook     Old House on the Bay

Penland Veterans     Penland-Huffhines 2007 Reunion


Copyright 2006 - Present by the Penland Family
All rights reserved

Dec. 15, 2006
Mar. 26, 2009