Search billions of records on



Penland Family Memories

Rhoda Loraine (Cupps) Penland

By Elisha Gene (Eugene) Penland



Rhoda Loraine (Cupps) Penland

By Elisha Gene (Eugene) Penland


To all my remaining siblings, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and all my other relatives I will relate my impression of one of our most under appreciated relatives, from my point of view, the one and only Rhoda Loraine Cupps-Penland


I also wish to acknowledge all the help on the family history and photos as supplied by my/our cousin Vivian Marie (Penland) Dorsett. She is my older double first cousin, meaning, her father Athus Penland was married to Bessie Huffhines and my father Aaron A. Penland was married to Vannie Huffhines. Brothers married sisters.

She is a sponge when it comes to information about our relatives. She is very good at it and keeps up with all our relatives.  All of the history below, from here to where I remember Grandmother living with us, was supplied by her, with information supplied to her from Aunt Callie Stewart. Aunt Callie is the younger sister of my father and Marie’s father, Uncle Athus.


A brief history of Grandmother Rhoda’s family is as follows:



John L and Margaret Cupps

Parents of Rhoda Loraine (Cupps) Penland


John Lewis Cupps is the first our family has been able to find documentation on of our Cupps line. Census reports show he was born in PA. in 1820-24. He and his first wife (name unknown) had two children Samuel in 1847 and Su Anna in 1849. His second wife was Mary ___?(believed to be Parkinson) and they had : John James 1852-1924, George Jacob or Jacob George 1854-1928, William Daniel 1856-1940, Reed Vance 1858-1934, Elizabeth Jane 1860-1909, twins, Benjamin Henry 1863-1941 and Solomon Mc 1863-1941. In August 1866 in Greene County Indiana, John Lewis Cupps married a third time to Margaret Ellen Gillson /Gilson. We have not been able to trace her parentage, but she was born 19 April 1847 in Ohio and died 27 December 1904 in Coleman County Texas. To this union were born Mary Isabell 1867-1950, Margaret Ellen 1869-1904, Joseph L. 1871-1899, Rhoda Loraine. 1873-1969, Etta Mae 1874-1932, Dessa Marcella 1878-1954, Charles Frank 1881-1967, and Louisa Josephine 1883-1938. John Lewis Cupps died in Newton County Missouri 23 December 1905, while on a journey from Texas to visit his son Daniel.

Cupps Family Siblings

The following information about Grandmother Rhoda was relayed to me be Marie-Penland-Dorsett. She is my double-first cousin Her father and My father were brothers and married to sisters. Thusly Bud and Vannie and Athus and Bessie. Most all of  this information was transmitted from her to me via e-mails over the last few years. Long before I decided to write about Grandmother Rhoda.


My Grandmother, Rhoda Loraine (Cupps) Penland, was one of 17 children sired by John L. Cupps the fourth of eight from his third wife Margaret. She was born 1873 in Newton County Missouri. The family moved to Bosque County, Texas in 1886. The Cupps family finally settled in Coleman County in 1888 where she, Grandma Rhoda, met and married my Grandpa William Catha Penland Dec, 18 1891.


They went to Cherokee County to work on his family’s farm where the first three children were born, Uncle Athus 1893, Aunt Ather 1895 and my dad, Aaron A. 1897. There was some kind of dispute between Grandpa and his half brother, George Dickey, so Grandpa packed up the family and moved to Elam Creek in Bandera Co. That is down Northwest of San Antonio. It is not known just when he made the move but Aunt Callie, my dad’s younger sister, thinks Grandma was pregnant when they made the trip as Uncle Abe was born on Elam Creek in 1899.


That must have been a very hard trip for Grandma traveling all that distance in a wagon with 3 small children and another on the way. Two more children were born there also, Aunt Jessie in 1901, and Aunt Lola in 1903.


Then for whatever reason that we will probably never know, the family moved to Concho Co. near Eden Texas. Grandma had a brother there and also one of Grandpa’s uncles in the same area.   It was here that Uncle Pete was born in 1905, Jack in1907 and Aunt Callie in 1909.


Then they moved back to Elam Creek in Bandera County. Uncle Bill was born there in 1913. Uncle Jack died in a tragic accident in 1914. Grandma was sweeping the floor, picked up the trash and threw it in the fireplace not realizing there was a bullet in with it. Jack was sitting on the floor near the fireplace and when the bullet exploded it hit him. My Dad told us kids that it hit him in the ankle but did not kill him right away. He lived several days then blood poison set in and he did not survive from that.


In 1915 the family moved again. Going back to East Texas, but they first stopped off in San Antonio so Uncle Athus and one of his buddies could sign up to go into the army. He had told Marie, his daughter, once that they were having such a hard time trying to eke out a living from farming that he had decided to enlist so he could at least send a little money home each month. Aunt Callie says she can really remember taking Dad to San Antonio. They stayed in a Wagon Yard several days there. She said they had 2 wagons, a couple of cows, a coop full of chickens and one old goose. It was her job to keep up with the goose as they did not have a pen for it. Aunt Callie also remembers that Grandma was sick that whole trip. Don’t know just how long it took them to get back to Keechi, but you can well imagine in wagons, with cows, and 9 kids, it was many weeks or even months. That last baby was born in Keechi in 1916 (don’t know what month) so Aunt Callie and I (Marie) both think Grandma must have been pregnant and that was the reason she was so sick on that trip. The baby didn’t live long.


Somewhere in here is when Grandpa and Grandma went to Limestone County. Of course that’s just the next County over from Leon Co. But this is where my Mom, Vannie Huffhines and Dad, Aaron A. met.  Aunt Callie said they lived on the farm "right down the road" from the Huffhines. My mom and Dad were married in Grosbeck in Dec. 25th of 1917. Then Aunt Callie said the Penland’s, Huffhines and Bohannan’s all went back to Keechi in a wagon train. Uncle Elisha Penland owned a farm there and Grandpa was going to work it for him.


I have no idea of just when the families went back to Keechi other than it was after my Dad and Mom were married.  Aunt Callie couldn’t remember for sure but said it was probably in early 1918 and that right after they got there every one started getting sick with flu and a lot of people were dying. (Grandmother (Fitzgerald) Huffhines was one of the casualties.)


Aunt Callie said the Wilhite family lived nearby. She said they were good people and good neighbors. Mrs. Wilhite took care of grandma and the kids when they had the flu and would bring food over for the family. After they got over the flu, then Grandma Rhoda and some of the kids came down with scarlet fever. Grandmother had a miscarriage and was in bed for a long time as she hemorrhaged so bad, she came very close to dying then as she was still very weak from the bouts of flu and scarlet fever. This means she lost three of her children in her later years of marriage. Grandma had some kind of tumors on her head, like boils but were not boils, they at times would rupture and make big sores.  Aunt Callie said between the fever and the tumors began to affect grandma. She had started mumbling to herself all the time and sometimes it seemed to Aunt Callie that Grandma was just off in her own little world and just was not aware of any one around her. Then other times she could be very explosive, especially when the Wilhite’s daughter, Bess, came around.


Bess Wilhite was married to Uncle Charlie Bohannan’s stepbrother. We never knew he had a stepbrother until Aunt Callie told Marie a couple of years ago.  Aunt Callie said he was known all over the country and he was a very mean man and would beat Bess. He beat her so bad that some one told Mr. Wilhite and he went after her and brought her back to Keechi. It really angered the husband and he threatened to kill all of them if she didn’t go back home with him which she did. The next time he beat her so bad that some one told Mr. Wilhite about it. Mr. Wilhite told Grandpa about it, also said he did not know what to do, he was afraid it would cause more trouble if he went to get her so… dear old grandpa volunteered to go get her which he did. Aunt Callie did not know where they lived at the time. She said it might have been Limestone County where they had all come from. She said Grandpa knew the man and knew he was related to Bohannans somehow but she could not remember his name. It wasn’t Bohannan.


Aunt Callie said things were pretty quiet for a while but Bess had begun to make a pest of her self.  She was always coming around wanting “Billy" (Grandpa) to help her with this or that, or always wanting Billy to take her here or there. Aunt Callie said it got so bad that when grandma would see her coming she would start mumbling. “That damned woman, damned woman” over and over. It got so bad that one day when grandma saw her coming, she grabbed a shotgun saying she was going to kill that ‘damned woman’. My mom was there. She told Aunt Callie to go stop Bess from coming in, then she and either Aunt Lola or Aunt Jessie managed to get the gun away from Grandma.


It wasn’t long after that that someone shot and killed Mr. Wilhite. Everyone suspected Bess’ husband but there was no proof. But it scared Bess and her mother. After the funeral they packed up and Grandpa took them to the railhead at Teague, put them on the train for Muleshoe, Texas.  Aunt Callie said they had relatives there.


Aunt Callie said there was a lot of talk around that Grandpa had left Grandma and run off with Bess. She overheard some talk that Grandpa had killed Bess’ husband. She said it was all so confusing to her that she could not really put any of it in a time frame. All she could think about was her family was just being torn apart and she was not sure why. She was sent to live with Aunt Mandy (Grandpa’s sister) when she was barely in her teen years.


Aunt Callie said she was grown and married before she began to find out about some of the things she had heard as a girl. She asked Uncle Charlie Bohannan if her daddy really did kill a man and run off with Bess so Uncle Charlie told her how things really happened as he was there for part of it.


This is the story that Uncle Charlie told Aunt Callie. I really believe he told her the truth as he knew it. The Uncle Charlie Bohannan that I knew was a very honorable man. Honest and trustworthy.


When Aunt Callie asked if her ‘Pap’ had run off with  Bess, as she had heard people talking about when she was a young girl, he told her that he did not, that Grandpa had only took them to the railhead in Teague and had come back that night. He said he had helped Grandpa load the wagon with the women’s belongings. His stepbrother found out that Grandpa had taken them there and it made him very angry. I have no idea as to how long it was before Bess’ husband learned that the women were gone or where he was at the time. Aunt Callie didn’t know but said she didn’t think he was in Keechi at the time. She did not think he attended Mr. Wilhite’s funeral. He told Uncle Charlie that he "was going to get even with Billy Penland."  Uncle Charlie said he talked to him for a good long while to try to calm him down and thought he had as they went on back to the Bohannan home, ate supper and went to bed.  This was before Aunt Jessie and Charlie were married Aunt Callie said.

When Uncle Charlie woke up the next morning, the stepbrother was gone and he had taken Uncle Charlie’s rifle. Uncle Charlie figured he had gone to carry out his threat so he went to warn Grandpa. He said when he got close to the house, he saw Grandpa out on the porch washing up and about the same time saw his stepbrother step out from behind some bushes, taking aim at Grandpa. Uncle Charlie yelled, the stepbrother fired but missed, Grandpa grabbed his gun, (Aunt Callie said Grandpa always kept his rifle just inside the door) fired a shot, hitting the man. Uncle Charlie said he told Grandpa to “take my horse and get out of here, I’ll take care of this.” Grandpa thought he had killed the man.


Aunt Callie said all she just knew was that grandpa was gone. She did not understand why but she would hear adults talking about somebody being killed, about grandpa running off with Bess and it was so confusing to her. However Uncle Charlie said the man wasn’t dead then. Some one helped get him to the hospital in Buffalo where he spent several weeks before he took pneumonia and died.


Uncle Charlie said he learned later that Grandpa had gone to  Uncle Elisha’s where he had left the horse, then took a train to Muleshoe. According to Uncle Charlie, while Grandpa did not actually run off with Bess as the gossip said he had, later events were proof positive that he did indeed leave Grandma for Bess. I wish there was a way we could find out for sure what year that was. I am inclined to think it was sometime in 1920.  I base that on something I overheard Dad and Uncle Pete talking about. I had no idea at the time what it was about.


My husband, Marson, and I had taken Dad out to Ft. Sumner to see Uncle Pete. It had been years since they had seen one another and they spent the whole time we were there talking about bygone days and people that did not mean a thing to me so I really did not pay that much attention. I wish I had now. I do remember overhearing Uncle Pete say he left home when he was 14 and Dad remarking that Pete was gone when he got home. I remember that Dad said once that he got out of the army in 1920. Aunt Callie says Dad told her Grandpa wrote and asked him not to reenlist but to go home and take care of Grandma, that he had gotten into some trouble and had to leave that part of the country. (Dad spent a lot of time with Aunt Callie in his later years.)


Therefore I got to thinking about the bit I had overheard, putting it together with what dad had told Aunt Callie and said to me about the year he got out of the army, the figuring the year Pete left home by adding his age to year he was born,,, well I have come up with the idea that Grandpa must have left in 1920. Someone else may have a different idea of course but none of us knows for sure.


Mom never spoke of Grandpa to us. In fact I did not know I had a Grandpa until Ruby and I spent the summer of 1934 on his farm at Encino, New Mexico. Dad and Uncle Pete were working the farm as Grandpa had been crippled by a gunshot. Mom never spoke of Grandma either until after we were grown, But all she would ever say was that she was not in her right mind, I think Mom was a bit afraid of her as she, grandma, would have temper-fits as mom called them. And… when I was born Mom said grandma would hardly let mom take care of me. Mom said she had to hide away when she needed to nurse me. I don’t recall ever hearing Mom say if she and Dad had their own place or if they lived with Grandma. I have wondered about that. Mom and Dad were married in April of 1922 before her 17th birthday in Nov.



Aunt Callie  cannot remember how long after grandpa left that she was sent to Aunt Mandy’s, or why,  but she remembers that Uncle Pete had  ran away and remembers that Uncle Abe,  Aunt Lola,  Aunt Jessie and Uncle Bill were still at home. She remembers that Dad came home from the Army right after that, too.  She thinks Ather had gotten married to Otis Crawford before they left Bandera, Co. because she cannot remember her being with them on the trip back to Keechi.    I have been figuring up how old the kids at home were when Grandpa left. In 1920 Abe was 21, Jessie 19, and Lola 17, Callie was 11 and Bill was 7. So Grandpa did not leave Grandma with a "bunch of little kids," did he? Aunt Callie cannot remember when Grandma went to live with your parents but she and I have sort of figured it was after Aunt Jess, Aunt Lola and Uncle Abe had gotten married. I don’t have the wedding date of the girls but they got married before Abe.  I know Uncle Abe and Aunt Nettie were married in 1926 so we are inclined to think perhaps she went to live with them after Abe got married in July but before you were born in Dec. And that was probably when Aunt Callie went to live with Aunt Mandy. She knew she was in her teens. She can’t remember about Uncle Bill. He would have been 13 in 1926. Did he live with your parents?


According to the copies of deeds that I have Uncle Elisha sold the farm to our Dads in 1922.  Dad sold his half to your Dad in 1925. Dad had gotten a job in the oil fields and he and Mom were in Giarard then. That is where Ruby was born. I do not know just when they moved there other than sometime in 1924 probably. Ruby was born in Feb. of ’25.


I don’t know just when Grandma & Grandpa got the divorce. Aunt Callie said either Aunt Jess or Dad (she couldn’t remember which) had told her that Grandpa had sent divorce papers to Grandma but she would not sign them so he came back to Keechi and they went to the courthouse in Centerville and got the final decree. Aunt Callie does not remember him coming back so she must have already been with Aunt Mandy. There would be a record of it, but the court house was destroyed by fire in the 30’s.


Aunt Callie does not know just when or where Grandpa and Bess got married but she thinks it was after Grandpa got his homestead. She cannot remember what year that was. She says she has Grandpa’s homestead papers there somewhere but she just doesn’t know where to look for them. But she did tell me that according to Aunt Jessie and Uncle Charlie, Bess and Mrs. Wilhite had a homestead too, across the road from Grandpa. They went out there after Dad had to go back to the hospital in Albuquerque. Uncle Pete had put in for game warden and was sent to the Ft. Sumner area so Uncle Charlie took his family out there to work the farm for Grandpa.  They lived in the Wilhite’s little house. She had moved into Grandpa’s house to take care of him after he was shot and Bess was killed.   Aunt Jess had told me that they had tried to farm the land but it was so dry with no rain that they could not make a crop so they came back to Texas brought Grandpa and Mrs. Wilhite with them. She said Grandpa was so crippled up that there was no way he could make a go of it by himself


I know this is rather lengthy and some of it is pure speculation on my part. Some Aunt Callie and I sort of figured out together, but there is no one we can check with or tell us any different. Last couple of times I have talked with her I could tell that she is beginning to slip. Some of the things she told me several years ago she doesn’t remember now until I bring them up and then she’ll start to recall them. I am really glad I made all these notes back then. She rambles a lot too, tells the same thing over and over.                                                                                        


Gene, I hope I have answered all your questions. If not… just let me know. Our Grandmother was a strong woman to have lived as long as she did and endured the hardships she went through. To have given birth to that many children, no hospital deliveries or medications to ease the pains of childbirth, long trips in wagons while expecting some of them and traveling with little ones. No permanent home, losing a child in a tragic accident, another in infancy, another by miscarriage and a long siege of illness and her husband leaving her. Is it any wonder that she was addled? Statistics say that even at the turn of the century, the life expectancy for a woman was 48 years. Grandmother was 96 she passed away.  By the same token, our mothers did not have an easy life, did they? While Mom did not have as many kids, it was no picnic being solely responsible for 4 little ones during depression years. And you know how it was with your Mom, You might say she has had kids most of her life! They were strong women, too.


On that note I will send this on and hope you can wade thru it to get what you need for Grandma’s story.


All the above information was supplied by Marie Penland-Dorsett and there is no way that we can thank her enough for keeping records and information about the family. Now comes my part.


 First I will relate what I know about Grandpa’s and Grandma’s split-up. A few years ago, (1985 or 1986), Aunt Bessie, Marie’s mother, came to visit me for a few days. She and I talked a lot about the family folks and I ask her about their separation as she knew it. She told me about the Wilhite family and that Mr. Wilhite was killed. She said that she thought that he had been shot by a local fellow who was a cowardly fellow and ambushed him off his wagon along the road through the woods because of a previous argument. She said that Grandpa did run off with Mrs. Wilhite and daughter Bess. They went to New Mexico and homesteaded. She said that she believed that Grandpa was more interested in the younger of the two. There was some dispute between the Wilhites and neighbors there over water and a shoot out occurred. Bess Wilhite was killed and the neighbor was also killed. That might have been when Grandpa received his gunshot wound. I do not know.  Aunt Bessie did not mention about him ever being shot but did say that he never did come back to east Texas where they all lived. She told me about the 1918 flu and Grandma’s fever and her becoming a kind of recluse or at least drawing into her shell.

She said that before I was born my mom and dad had a ready made family to start with. They took in Aunt Tressie Huffhines, Uncle Bill Penland and Uncle Arvin Huffhines when we lived in Keechi Texas before I was born. 


The following was related to me from Cousin Marie as the correct situation in the shoot out in New Mexico over the water predicament.


Grandpa and Bess had taken a wagon load of barrels down to the river to get water as the stream on their place had dried up. In order to get to the river, they had to cross a part of the neighbor’s property. On the way back they were confronted by the neighbor and his son. One of them fired, knocking Bess off the wagon seat.


Grandpa turned around to help Bess, the horses bolted, causing grandpa to fall just as 2nd shot was fired. Otherwise the shot may have gotten him square in the back, instead of in the shoulder area. According to the newspaper article about the trial. The son got a life sentence but neither were killed because grandpa never fired a shot. Uncle Pete and Aunt Tine have told me the story several times also Aunt Jess and in later years Aunt Callie. While neither of them said, I am sure Grandpa or Uncle Pete told them. But I have never known if Bess was killed instantly or if she died later; It just never occurred to me to ask. I  just assumed it was instant. Uncle Pete and Aunt Tine were living with Grandpa and Bess at the time…





The following photo is the only one we, my family, ever had of Grandmother Penland. It is a photo of Grandma holding me, Elisha Gene, when we live in Keechi Texas where I was born. All other photos of Grandma were supplied by Cousin Marie.

You can see in the photograph of Grandma holding me that she surely would be my favorite grandmother. Just between all of us she was our only grandparent. We, as children, were never told of why she lived with us nor were we ever told that we had a grandfather out there somewhere. We did not know when we were small that we had as many relatives as we had, other than Aunt Tressie, Uncle Arvin Huffhines, who lived with us and Grandpa Huffhines who came and picked cotton in the summer some years. He was professional cotton picker and came to our place for the first pickings then moved on to other parts of the country where the pickings were more favorable. My mother’s uncle, Hiram Fitzgerald, visited us a couple of times and in later years his son H C stayed a few days in the summer. Once we visited Uncle Elisha, dad’s uncle, when we were in east Texas and an Aunt Mandy once but not on the same trip. That’s about all we knew of relatives.


My earliest remembrance of Grandma was after we moved from Keechi in east Texas to the Jenkins farm in Collegeport in 1928. I do vaguely remember the move there but just vaguely. By middle of that summer I remember a lot of things that happened from then to the time she left us.


Our grandmother was a very mild mannered and gentle sole. Now days when one takes on a position of employment there is usually a job description of that position. If one were to produce a job description of her task at that time the following job descriptions would have to be written:  Slave, chambermaid, nursemaid, nursery maid, midwife, kitchen maid, food pantry maid, food preparation expert, vegetable garden supervisor, washerwoman, soap and candle maker, and the list could go on and on.


Something that always bewildered and bothered me is the way she was treated by my mother and of course it rubbed off on us kids.  Mother did not treat grandmother very kindly as I look back on it in later life. She addressed her as Mrs. Penland. When she referred to her to us kids it was “your grandma” and to dad it was “your mother." Grandma referred to her as Vannie, Dad as Buster and us kids by name or younguns. She, mother, seemed to grudgingly accept that she was living with us. It never changed while she lived with us.

The only rationalization that I can come up with is that it went back to the flue epidemic of 1918 when she lost her mother. Our Grandmother Rhoda survived the flu and also survived the scarlet fever but lost some of her facilities. This must have been a very unsettling time for mother and dad. They got married at the end of the year (1917). She had to take in her smaller brother and sister. Shortly after that is when Grandpa and Grandma got separated and I think they had to take in dad’s younger brother. What she did not need was a mother-in-law to put up with. I don’t know what else to think on the subject. I know that us kids did not treat grandma with as much respect she deserved either. When mom and dad were away from home and we were left with grandma in the house we middle kids teased and tormented her. When I say middle kids I mean Ray Lee, myself and Ralph. Aaron and Glenn never harassed her that I remember. We would do mean things like pull open her apron strings, crawl under her chair and yank down her stockings. All kinds of little mean things like that. She did not fight back much. Once she took out the long hairpin and threatened to jab us. She never told mother about us but once she told dad that we were real naughty. He took her aside and when he came out he rounded up the three of us. He took us to the back porch where he kept that big razor strap and whaled the devil out of us. That did seem to have some effect for a while but we would tease her when we had a chance but not enough for her to tell on us.


Grandma always had her own room, her own chamber pot, a blue granite water pitcher and wash basin plus her little kerosene lamp.  When Aunt Tressie was with us she slept with grandma. Sometimes one of the weanlings would sleep with her until they got big enough to be nudged out and another weanling came along. I don’t remember ever sleeping with her. I do remember Ralph and myself sleeping on a pallet on the floor when we had company once and the bigger boys had to double up.


She would sit it a straight back rocking chair and comb out her hair. She would have been as tall as my dad except of being kind of stooped. Not a hunchback but stooped. Her straight black hair hung down her back to the floor when she was standing up. It took her many strokes to comb and brush it out and somehow wad it up on the back of her head held with a couple of long hair pins, not unlike a BBQ eschewer, just not quite as big. I don’t know when and how she took a bath and other personal hygiene items. She was always clean and fresh. I have to assume that her being a pioneering woman and many kids to take care of that she could cope with her own personal hygiene. Grandma dipped snuff. Garret Snuff in the square brown bottle with a cork in it.  She used the snuff also to brush her teeth. There was a particular tree (scrub brush as we did not have trees) that she would dig up the small roots, skin them, and chew a bristle on one end. She would dip the bristle in the snuff and brush her teeth. It must have been some more of the pioneer woman thing. 


The daily activity was different for the different seasons but the day always started the same way. Dad would arise, start a fire in the kitchen cook stove, put on the coffee and yell upstairs for the boys to get up. If he did not hear feet hit the floor the second calling was the sound of his footsteps coming up the stairs. The boys were sent to the barn to do the morning chores and grandma would come down and go in to help mother get her two newest ones washed and changed etc. There was always one little one nursing, needing diaper change and a bigger one in diapers who may or may not be sucking on a bottle. By the time dad got breakfast ready the boys were in from the barnyard chores and sitting around the table. Grandma would start serving up breakfast to the table from the kitchen while the rest ate. Grandmother never sat at the table and ate with us. She always ate in the kitchen and waited the table at the same time.  After everyone had eaten she cleared the table and washed the dishes. Often she would already have the pots and pans washed and stacked on the counter while we were still eating. She never missed a beat. After breakfast, yesterday’s milk, if there was any, was skimmed of cream and something done with the skimmed milk and today’s morning milk was strained and put in the window cooler.  We had no refrigerator, ice box or other methods of keeping fresh things cool. What little cooling we had was done in a screened window cooler on the north side of the house.


What ever it was on the farm grandmother knew how to do it. One of her greatest attributes was the ability, with my mother, to prepare food for all of us in all seasons. I do not ever remember my mother and grandmother discussing what we were going to eat today. Somehow it just happened.  The summer season was the most taxing for them I suppose. Men working on the farm needed nourishment. The winter meat was not available anymore and most meat was from the can or fresh chicken and such. We had lots of vegetables as soon as the garden and field stuff began to produce. We ate lots of fresh farm products. It  was not uncommon for grandma to hand Ralph and me a peck (1/4 bushel) basket and send us to pick it full of black-eyed peas or any other pod stuff that we had ready in the field.

Grandma did not till in the garden but she spent a lot of time there checking the status of all veggies there. Hoeing and weeding the garden was relegated to a couple of us mid size rowdy boys as punishment. When we got out of hand, too noisy or something like that, dad would assign us to the garden until it was weed and grass free.

It was not uncommon to see grandma coming to the house with that apron lifted up and full of something from the garden or field. Once she took Ralph and myself to the garden and taught us how to get new potatoes. The method was to take a regular kitchen fork and scratch under a potato plant until you felt it kind of grit into something. Then you would gently remove the dirt to see how big the potato was. If it was as big as an egg you gently removed and pushed the dirt back.

It took a water bucket or more of a food item to set on our table. Beans and peas were cooked by the gallons and spuds were prepared by the peck. Mustard turnip greens were by the pecks also. It was not uncommon to see two to three small cabbage heads go into the pot also. We just had lots of food. Of course there were a lot of us to feed.

Grandma and mother also canned a lot of food during the summer. Each day when they got the food cooking for the noon meal, it was called dinner, they would prepare some vegetable, peas, bean or any other item that was ready to be harvested for canning. They canned all their stuff in jars. All jars were a quart or half gallon. They canned stuff by using the boiling water bath method. We had two of those big blue granite canners that held the seven quarts or five half gallon jars.

When it came to canning with the pressure cooker it was done with all the family at work at it. Everyone was scared of the pressure cooker except dad and he was in charge of it. Corn was brought in by the wagon load when we canned. It was stripped off the stalk, shucked, silk removed and cut off the cob. After it was cooked and spiced to taste it was put in the quart cans, sealed and ready for the pressure cooker. Dad would load them in the pressure cooker and screw down those handles that held the lid on tight then put it on the stove and watch the pressure gage and regulate the fire. Everyone was scared to get within ten feet of that monster. This was usually a two or three day job because the corn was ready for canning just a few days. We did not use sweet corn. We used field corn and they were big ears. That is the same big ears that we ate at the table also.

We canned everything that you will find on a grocery shelf today and some things that you cannot find. Did you ever see any fried wild goose breast on the store shelf? We canned it. If we did not can it grandma knew how to dry it.


While we are on the food subject here is another. Grandma could make hominy. She would send us boys to the corn crib to get a half bushel of the biggest best ears of corn. She would pick them over and select the best and shell off the first few rows of the little end where the kernels were not the same size as the others and discard them, then shell the ears in a big pan until she had what she thought the right amount.  This is going to frost your mind. She put the corn in the big black cast iron pot, covered with water and poured in a couple cans of lye. Yep lye. It would soak in lye for a day or more until it swelled up and the husk would rupture. Then the cleansing would commence. The corn was rinsed in fresh water until all the lye was gone then grandma would scrub the corn, by the handful, on the clothes rub board until the husks were gone. It was rinsed in fresh clean water some more just to be sure. It was then put in a clean bag and hung up to drip dry. After that it was fried in butter in the big black skillet and served as one of the side dishes for supper. Believe it or not we would eat it all at one meal. Can you believe that all that work was done just to be gobbled up in one meal.  If you failed to get a serving the first time around you probably would not get any at all.


Grandma had other traits with food stuff. She would save seeds from all the garden fleshy stuff from cucumber seed to pumpkin seed and all things in between. She would take a good vegetable specimen scrape out the seeds and spread them on paper and put them up on the back porch roof. There was a door leading from her room to the gentle slopped roof. Us kids were forbidden to go out on it. She kept it locked. In fact it was the only locked door we ever had. On this roof she dried all her seeds. I remember her having dad to get some window/door screen stuff to put over the seeds so the birds did not get them.  Remember now that you had to keep track of the seeds. It’s hard to tell a cucumber seed from a cantaloupe seed, squash seed from a pumpkin or other seeds that are similar in shape and size. Grandmother knew. These were planting next year.


Grandma did the washing (laundry) like all other folks on Monday. This meant that a fire would be built under the big black kettle and when it was hot she put the clothes in with soap and lye if necessary and punch the up and down with the “wash stick” until she felt it necessary to take them out with the stick and put in a tub of cold water to rinse and wring out by hand. Those that were soiled or had soiled spots were scrubbed on the washboard until clean then rinsed. That was an all day job because there were so many of us and the amount of cloths would be an overwhelming task in today’s world. I never did understand that pouring in ‘bluing’ would make white clothes whiter.  

Can you imagine wringing out all those big denim overalls and jumpers by hand?


Grandma was also good with the frontier medicines. She always had something handy made up for bandages. She sewed thumb/finger stalls and had them ready. She used horse liniment and other medicines for live stock such as wool fat, lanoline, and mixtures of pine tar. One of her favorite concoctions was liniment in milk for stomach problems and a few drops of kerosene in a teaspoon of sugar for sore throat and honey and pine tar for coughs. Sweet cream was used for sunburns. Castor oil was for constipation and nasty words from your mouth. She knew all kind of cures for all kinds of ailments.


Grandma did not make candles as I stated in her job descriptions but she did make soap. Two kinds, a white soap and the regular brown lye soap that was used for everything that needed to be cleaned. The white soap was for washing the body and was made with white lard and lye. The lye soap was made with cracklings, left over sediments when making lard. You rendered down all the left over parts of a hog that was not used for regular cuts of meats such as any kind of fat or skin including stripping the fat off the entrails and this liquid became lard for the home use and the remainder was used to make soap. The lye was added to the sediments with a little water, heated and constantly stirred with the soap paddle until it became the right consistency then poured out in trays to harden and to be cut into bars and stored in a cool place. That old black kettle and paddle sure were used for everything.

Grandma sewed a lot. She patched all the heavy denim overall, jumpers and other work cloths. She sewed on knee and elbow patches as well as sew up rips and tears. This was usually hand needle work with matching material. I don’t think any cloth of any kind ever went to waste. She did embroidery and crocheting lacy things but she did not knit. She cut out and sewed quilting pieces and worked a lot on making quilts. There was almost always a quilting frame set up in the big attic and she and mother or either of them alone would work on the quilts when there was time.


Grandma and mother never worked in the fields. Once in a while they would go to the field to take the noon meal (dinner) and fresh water. Sometimes they took home some corn or something for the supper table. Once we all we all went in the truck to an old rice field where dad had planted some melons, pumpkins and squash in an old rotted down rice straw stack. This was a real fertile place and off the ground and things grew without rotting on the ground. We picked a truck load of all that stuff.


Grandma stayed with us until the early 1930s. I don’t know the year but it was around 1933 to 1935.  Uncle Tom Stewart, Aunt Lola and family came to visit and she went back with them including her rocking chair. I really and truly think they came because she was ready to draw an old age pension. Fifty dollars as a matter of fact the way I remember it.  They came to visit the next year, I think, and we were all glad to see her. I asked her how she liked it there in San Antonio with Aunt Lola and she said that San Antonio was not like she remembered it and the kids were lots better. That’s all she said and I have never seen her since they left on that trip. According to Marie she lived with Uncle Tom and Aunt Lola for a year and then with Uncle Clarence and Aunt Callie Stewart at Boerne, Texas until she died. She only lived with Aunt Lola about a year after she left Bud and Vannie.  


Grandmother died August 28, 1969. Her birth date was November 4, 1873 so she died 2 months plus a few days before her 96th birthday.


Grandpa lived with Uncle Charlie and Aunt Jessie Bohannan at Hubbard Texas the last few years of his life. I wish that I could have known him a little bit. The only time I ever saw him was once while on leave from the navy and he was there on a visit. He was a short heavyset man, bald as a billiard ball and deafer than a gourd.


I am sure that I could write many more good things about Grandmother Rhoda Cupps-Penland because I have been assembling this story for quiet a while and I often wake in the night and something comes to mind.


Grandpa and Grandma in later years


Children of William Catha and Rhoda Loraine Penland

 1. Elisha Athus Penland-b, Feb. 3 1893-Cherokee Co, Tx- d. Mar.1,1976-Lubbock.Tx 

         m. Bessie Mae Huffhines -Aug, 1922-Keechi, Tx 

 2. Elizabeth (Eliza) Ather  Penland- b. Aug,10,1895- Cherokee Co, Tx - d. ????

         m. Otis Crawford

 3. Althea  Aaron Penland-b.Mar.28, 1897-Cherokee Co, Tx – d. Feb. 1980 - Collegeport, Tx

         m. Vannie Allene Huffhines

 4. Abraham Sidney Penland.-b. Feb 1, 1899-Elam Creek, Bandera , Co, Tx –d. Oct. 27, 1956-Uvalde.Tx

         m. Nettie Woodards

 5. Jessie Lelar Penland-b. Mar. 18, 1901-Elam Creek, Bandera Co, Tx –d. Dec. 1995, Hubbard, Tx

         m Charlie T. Bohannan

 6. Lola Penland-b Aug, 6, 1903-Elam Creek, Bandera Co, Tx. - d. July 24, 1963, Houston, Tx - buried July 25, 1963, Bergheim, Kendall Co., Tx  

         m. Tom Stewart

 7 . Albert Pete Penland-b. Aug. 11, 1905-Eden, Concho Co, Tx – d. Mar., 1990  Ft Sumner, N. Mex. [SSDI - last residence,  Ellsworth Afb, Meade, South Dakota]

         m. Tina ????? 

 8 . Jack Penland-b. 1907 Eden, Concho Co, Tx – d. 1914 Bandera, Co, Tx.


 9. Callie Purney Penland – b. Oct 11, 1909 - Eden, Concho, Co, Tx. 

        m. Clarence Stewart 

10. Baby Kooch- b.1912 – Bandera Co, Tx.  d. 1914 - Bandera Co, Tx.


11. William (Bill) Catha Penland, Jr.  b, Mar. 5, 1913-Bandera Co, Tx – July 1, 1973, Galveston, Tx


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 2009 - Present by the Penland Family
All rights reserved

Mar. 24, 2009
Mar. 26, 2009