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The Historical Story
of Bee County Texas By Camp Ezell
In spite of strong Union feeling in some sections of Texas, the Lone Star State seceded from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America in March 1861. Governor Sam Houston refused to take an oath to support the constitution of the Confederate States, and he was forced to resign.
My grandfather, Colonel L. B. Camp, was a member of the Texas Legislature at the time Texas withdrew from the Union, and when Governor Sam Houston resigned, my grandfather and twelve other legislators walked out of the Capitol with him.
Hobart Huson wrote: “Colonel Camp was one of the few Unionists who had the courage of their convictions. In I 860 he had been a member of the Legislature from Atascosa County and had signed the address to the people, along with James W. Throckmorton and others, calling on Texans to remain loyal to the Union. He had made public speeches to the same end, with the result that he became unpopular and his life was endangered. He therefore moved to Saint Marys and went into retirement on a little farm on Quo Warranto Bayou. Upon the fall of the Confederacy, Colonel Camp became one of the most influential men of the state. He held the patronage of West Texas, and while a few months before he had been an object of scorn, he was now courted and sought after. He was immediately elected to represent Refugio County in the Legislature and also held the office of Health Officer during the yellow fever scare of 1867-1868.”
At the time of secession there were seventy Negro slaves in Bee County. Robert Graham of Beeville rode to Austin on a horse to give his endorsement to the secession movement, and many Bee Countians enlisted to fight for the Southern States in the Civil War, or the War Between the States. (Although most encyclopedias call that conflict the Civil War, when one travels through the Deep South and speaks of the Civil War, he is hurriedly corrected: ‘You mean the War Between the States!”)
C. C. Jones, half-brother of Captain A. C. Jones, was elected Captain of the Home Guards of Precinct One in Bee County at an election held in Beeville on July 4, 1861, according to muster roll records in Austin, a copy of which was furnished this writer by Miss Ida Campbell, former president of the Bee County Historical Society. Other officers named that day were: Dave Fuller, First Lieutenant; W. A. Pettus, Second Lieutenant; R. A. Jordan, Orderly Sergeant; J. B. Canfield, Second Sergeant; Jonathan McLea, Third Sergeant; T. Fuller, Fourth Sergeant; F. P. Scoff, Corporal; C. B. Palmer, Second Corporal; W. Parchman, Third Corporal; and I. F. Wright, Fourth Corporal.
Members of the Precinct One Home Guards included: Henry Clare, James Ryan, Henry Ryan, H. C. Ryan, Patrick Ryan, F. W. Marlow, B. R. David, Thomas H. AlIsup, 0. D. McFall, James Wilson, A. Odem, Jesus Quaries, Thomas Dewees, J. A. Dewees, Patrick Fadden, John Fadden, James Bullock, L L Ray, W. M. Peppers, R. H. Jones, John W. Boon, J. F. Kerr, David A. Kerr, James F. Pruitt, F. G. Newcomer J. M. Foster, Giles Carter, D. Fuller, William Hales, H. N. Bradshaw, Fred Theme, G. W. S. Wright, Allen Kuykendall, J. W. Shive, W. A. Scott, W. A. Roberts, T. J. Smith, K. S. Caraway, J. L. Wilson, Josiah Turner, N. Swancy, George W. McClanahan, Berry Merchant, Mitchel Bettes, William R. Davis, H. L Bays, R. C. Wright, J. S. Wright, John Onell, J. G. Cleary, Thomas Martin, John Wallace, M. N. Bettes, Abram Werstheimer, H. J. Stephenson, W. C. Wright, H. J. Dawson, Leander Hayden, G. B. McColIom, F. W. Dudley, Rev. Ivy H. Cox, John Atkins, L. D. Atkins, Berry B. Atkins, Proctor Graham, Frank Edwards, Henry Bodton, Pat Burke, W. H. Sikes, Henry Sikes, Ed Hall, A. Stillwell, W. C. Phelps, J. F. Wright, Joseph Wooten, John Young, N. C. Webster, W. Chylton Sr., Otty Thieme, G. M. Bays, A. Dudley, Jonathan M. Sea, C. B. Palmer, F. P. Scoff, Jones Canfield, W. A. Bettes, W. M. Parchinan, J. T. Eckols, Thomas J. Neeley, and Wiley Caraeaz. Signed: George C. Kibbe, enrolling officer, and Brigadier General H. P. Bee. A Home Guard for Papalote Precinct Four, Bee County, was organized July 8, 1861, and the following officers were elected: William Miller, Captain; Patrick Quinn, First Lieutenant; Albut Odom, Second Lieutenant; Charles Megguly, First Sergeant; C. L Williams, Second Sergeant; R. F. Sewell, Third Sergeant; A. Hitchcock, Fourth Sergeant; James Toomy, First Corporal; Thomas Reeves, Second Corporal; B. M. Fleming, Third Corporal; and F. M. Mayers, Fourth Corporal. Men serving in the guard were: I. L. Billingsley, I. I. Callaham, C. Doudy, un Hart, Luke Hart, C. Kukner, James Ewing, Sam Everhart, Benjamin Fleming, J. W. Asbury, G. D. Gay, G. W. Hart, P. F. Latting, F. M. Daniels, D. Rillay, John Kennedy, J. H. Loony, J. E. Ledwill, Martin Toole, George Craven, James Williams, John Sweeny, William Miller, B. F. Ballard, Young Calliham, John W. Burdett, P. Reftitchell, R. Carlisle, James A. Boales, B. P. McCurly, William Beasley, and William Glenn. Signed: Captain William Miller; Brigadier General H. P. Bee.
George G. Kibbe, enrolling officer of Precinct One in Bee County, under order of Brigadier General H. P. Bee, certified that the following “is a true and correct roll of officers and men of the active service of Precinct One in Bee County, organized on July 2, 1861 at Beeville: Officers: Robert Graham, Captain; Joseph P. Wilson, First Lieutenant; George G. Kibbe, Second Lieutenant; Henry M. Lane, Orderly Sergeant; Charles B. Kibbe, Second Sergeant; James M. McCollom, Third Sergeant; James C. Wright, Corporal; Edward C. Tatum, Second Corporal; Robert H. Bloomfield, Third Corporal, and Frost T. Allen, Fourth Corporal. Men enrolled: Charles Bradley, E. Clare, David F. Dunlap, J. L Eliff, John F. Wilson, F. C. Tatum, William Black, James E. Little, Levi Wright. Rafel Baleras, Eldridge T. Fuller, John I. Pile, John Porter, William Chilton Jr., John Porter, A. W. Turman, F. H. Trout, E. M. Fuller, Eli Wright, M. V. Wright, T. F. Boling, C. B. Hill, W. R. Hayes, D. J. Fuller, R. W. Robenson, J. M. Sikes, William Finch, Peter Wardroper, Stephen H. Fuller, Archibald Martin, J. T. Rupe, A. F. Fuller, W. S. Fuller, and D. A. T. Walton. The muster roll of Lieutenant John Hynes, dated Bee Country, February 22, 1864, follows. The officers were: John Hynes, First Lieutenant, age 39, private Company A, 29th Batallion, 3rd Regiment, State Troops; C. B. Palmer, Second Lieutenant, 38, stock-raiser; William Park, First Sergeant, 36, private Company B, 29th Battalion, 3rd Regiment, State Troops; P. F. Letting, Second Sergeant, 46, merchant; N. C. Webster, First Corporal, 45, machinist; James Wilson, Second Corporal, 38, stock-raiser. The enlisted men were: Charles Bradley, 42, Company A, 29th Battalion, 3rd Regiment, State Troops; Rafel Balderas, 24, rancher; Henry I. Clare, 36, rancher; Giles Carter, 39, Company A, 29th Battalion, 3rd Regiment, State Troops; J. M. Dunlap, 49, surveyor; Calvin Drody, 38, stock-raiser; D. R. David, 38, stock-raiser; John H. Fox, 22, stock-raiser; Frank Frandoledge, 40, wine-maker; D. C. Grover, 39, holds surgeon’s certificate of exemption; James W. Hayden, 17, volunteer; Tim Hart, 38, stock-raiser; Luke Hart, 37, stock-raiser; William Hynes, 3 I, stock-raiser; D. S. Kerr, 19, stock-raiser; Thomas Irvine, 29, shepherd; G. B. McCollom, 48, stock-raiser; Ross Morris, 48, stock-raiser; D. R. May, 37, stock-raiser; C. Meggerly, 35, stock-raiser; Walter 0. Nicholson, 48, stock-raiser; D. J. Page, 43, farmer, holds surgeon’s cerlificate; W. M. Parchman, 38, discharged soldier; Henry Ryan, 39, stock-raiser; William B. Roberts, 39, private Company B, 29th Battalion, 3rd Regiment, State Iroops; Joshua D. Stuart, 43, slightly deaf; John Swinney, 45, farmer; J. C. Steen, 47, stock-raiser; James C. Tyson, 39, stock-raiser; C. W. R. Vance, 43, not able-bodied.
I certify the above to be a true and correct list of the names of all the male citizens between the ages of I 8 and 50 years of that portion of Bee County lying west of the Medio Creek, enrolled and mustered into service this day under the provisions of an act entitled “An act to provide for the protection of the Frontier,” approved December 15, 1863.
There being no examining board of physicians convenient, those holding exemptions and discharges were enrolled; also those reported as being members of the 29th Battalion, 3rd Regiment, State Troops, were on furlough at home and present at the organization, and it being their wish as well as that of the people present, they were permitted to participate in the organization. Signed: Lieutenant John Hynes.
At the outbreak of the war, Captain A. C. Jones, who later was to play a leading role in the development of Bee County, was sheriff of Goliad County. The following excerpts from the Beeville Bee’s obituary of Captain Jones following his death in 1905 relates some of his activities in the Civil War:
“In 1861, Captain Jones enlisted as a private in Company F, Wailer’s Battalion, in General Dick Taylor’s command. After eighteen months service the qualities that characterized him in private life brought him from the ranks to captaincy and orders to report for duty in West Texas. He remained on duty in that section until the close of the war.
“A part of the time he was under command of Colonel Santos Benavides and at other times under Colonel John S. Ford. In his service on the Rio Grande he was severely wounded while scouting with a small body of his men near Rio Grande City, a charge of leaden slugs having been fired into his face at close range by a Mexican ranchero who mistook his men for marauders. To his splendid physique, tempered by a life of activity, was his recovery due.
“At one time during his service on the Rio Grande he was commandant of Fort Brown. From his window he watched. the Baffle of Matamoros across the river between republicans and adherents of Maximillian. The day before he had received an offer of $3000 in gold from the imperial general, Mexia, for the loan of Confederate troops. The men desired to go, knowing the long range at which the Mexicans fought and their general inefficiency as warriors, but he would not consent. His sympathies were with the liberals, even if they did evince such poor marksmanship as to fire upon Matamoros for three days without harming anyone.
“On the advent of superior forces of federals from the coast, the Confederate forces, including those under Captain Jones, retired from Brownsville. This was the last year of the war and was after all the other forces of the Confederacy had laid down their arms. Captain Jones’ company constituted the rear guard. Pursued, it wheeled about face on the old Palo Alto battleground, fired upon its pursuers, and caused them to halt. This was the last fight of the Confederacy. The command divided property upon reaching Beeville and disbanded. It never surrendered.”
John Nathan Lee was taken prisoner by the Union soldiers at Galveston and was placed in prison there. After being released at the close of the war, Mr. Lee walked all the way to Beeville. He was practically exhausted when H arrived home. He served Bee County as sheriff from March I 870 until August of the same year, when he died.
Bee County was only three years old when the Civil War started, and while there was no actual invasion of the territory of the new county, the people experienced many hardships. Texas was called upon to help feed the Confederate Armies, since the Deep South States were pillaged and burned and the people there were unable to provide food for the soldiers.
Another contributor to hardships for the people of the area was the severe drought that started in I 863 and continued through the following year. There was not enough corn to supply local needs. Coffee was not available at any price most of the time. Since Texans loved their coffee then (as well as now), they found substitutes in parched corn, rye, okra, beans, and even potatoes. There was practically no sugar. Calico was worth $50 a yard in Confederate money, the value of which deteriorated when it became evident that the Confederacy was on the brink of defeat. For soda the people burned corn cobs and used the ashes. For medicine, those who were ill had only the herbs and roots and bark of certain frees to help regain good health.
Women carded cotton into fluffy wads, spun it on spinning wheels info thread, and wove the thread into coarse cloth. For a while, there were no uniforms for the Men in Gray except for officers. Texas furnished 75,000 men for the Confederate Armies.
Salt was taken from a lake near the Rio Grande Valley, and there were salt factories in several Texas towns, including Beeville’s neighbor, Refugio.
When the war ended and the men came home, those who had owned cattle found a general mix-up of their livestock. A reconstruction period ~for the stockmen ensued, and ranchmen and their vaqueros, with lassos and branding irons, began reclaiming and branding their cattle.
It was around 1865 or 1866 that the ranchmen realized the need for fences. John Wilson, uncle of Turner Wilson and John F. Wilson, enclosed six hundred acres of land at his home on the Aransas, with three strings of rough heart planks hauled over “washboard” roads, sand roads, and in wet weather baggy roads with ox teams hitched to wagons, from Saint Marys.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were said to be among the first to improve property in Bee County. They had Negro workmen, including Bill Williams, who later worked for most of the prominent cattlemen in the county. When he was sober, he couldn’t be excelled as a cow-hand. But when he was inebriated . . . Everybody kept out of his way! I remember him very well. C. P. Eidson once said that if he were to leave town for a few weeks and would have to employ someone to look after his family, he would sooner trust Bill Williams than anyone else. When you left Bill in charge, he knew what to do.
Then came a new kind of fencing that was not so expensive and was easier to install. It was called barbed-wire fencing, with sharp-pointed little wire prongs spaced about three inches apart to pierce the skin of horses and cattle so that they would not attempt to break through. Postswere cut in the Brasadas Thicket in San Patricio County and hauled to the ranches in horse-drawn wagons.
In I 869 there were 7,980 head of horses, 60,320 cattle and 10,020 sheep in Bee County. During the drought of 1871-1872 more than half of the cattle died for lack of water and grass. Dead cattle were skinned and their hides brought three dollars each.
Cattle sold from $8 to $30 a head after they had been driven up the trail to Kansas markets. Horses brought from $10 to $35 each, and sheep sold for $1 per head. At this time John Hynes owned more horses than any one ranchman with a total of 750, and J. A. Pettus was the leader in the cattle business with 4,000 head. John King owned around 4,000 sheep.
And while this new-fangled barbed-wire fencing (which most of the cow-punchers called “bob-wire”) proved to be a great benefaction to the ranchmen, as well as a labor-saving device for the vaqueros, it put an end to the cattle being driven up the Chisholm Trail to the Kansas markets. This brought on the urgent need for a railroad through Bee County, and how this was achieved will be told in the next chapter.
Many cattlemen and cowboys from this area drove thousands of heads of cattle “up the trail” to markets in Kansas before the coming of the railroads to Bee County, and several trips were made a few years after the railroads came.
One Bee County vaquero—Lymas Langley Sr., a highly respected Negro who lived most of his life in Beeville—made the hazardous trip five times, and fortunately he wrote a story of the last trail drive he made and the Beeville Bee-Picayune published it in the Centennial Edition on October 6, 1958. Mr. Langley died January 8, 1958.
The article describes some of the hardships that were experienced by these pioneer cattlemen and deserves space in this history of Bee County. It follows:
By LYMAS LANGLEY SR.
In 1890, we left Beeville on the 28th day of January. This was the crowd:
The boss’s name was James Miles, and the others were Thomas Wells, Joney Brew, Will Whitby, Henry Killbrew, Seb Gardner, Lymas Langley (myself), John Garner, Ed Clark, Bill McKenzie, and the cook, Mac McCarty.
When we arrived at Alice we met the boys from the ranch with the horses and the covered wagon. Then we went to the Santa Rosa Randh. There we rounded up fifteen thousand head of cattle and put the road brand on them, which was Half Moon on the ribs, and bobbed their tails.
We had five herds with three thousand head in each herd. Then we pulled out on the trail.
When we got to Encinal we watered the herd. From there on there was no more water for one hundred miles. When we got within three miles of the next water the cattle smelled the water and ran to the stream and fell over each other in the water, and fifty drowned. From there on there was no grass anywhere until we came to a flat which had stem grass. They called it Sacahuista grass. It was stemmy and green.
There we stopped and stayed until one day one of the boys lit a cigarette and the head of the match set that grass on fire. It burned just like paper. The cattle were poor and we had a hard time getting out of that flat. We lost several head there. The wind was high and the cattle were so poor we could not move them out fast. And the horses got poor and all had sore backs. The crows would light on the horses’ backs and pick on the sores. So, we had a time of it.
After that we drifted along slowly. Some days we made five miles and some days ten miles, and when we got in the Plains we drifted along almost like camping in one spot.
The cattle began to pick up then, until one night about II o’clock there came a norther, and before daylight it was sleeting and freezing. The cattle drifted back about four miles. Next day none of us could unbutton our slickers because they were covered with ice. The cook had to break the ice and pull our coats off. So we pitched camp and stayed there two weeks until the weather cleared off. Then we pulled out again. When we got to Red River, it was up, but we went in and crossed it at a place close to Doan’s Store.
Then we hollowed “Goodbye Texas,” for we were in the state they called Indian Territory (which later became the State of Oklahoma). There we met with wild Indians. We had to watch them just like a hawk watches chickens. They looked savage and they were as bad as they looked. They would all get in a bunch and say, “Heap warha,’ which meant “Give us a lot of beef cattle.”
Well, we went on to a place they called Anadarko, where the herds stopped. It appeared that Mr. Fant had contracted with the government to feed the Indians beef in that area, and each family would come and get a supply of beef. They acted just as if they were going to a picnic. The men would cut one steer out of the herd, then the fun would begin— running that steer and shooting him with a bow and arrow. When he fell, the men would throw him, and then the women’s work would start. They called the women squaws.
Some would skin the beef while others started the fire. As soon as they could get a piece of meat cut off, they would throw it in the fire. And then all would get around and commence eating the meat before it was one. Blood would be running down their jaws, and they looked like buzzards eating a cow. They came once a week to get beef until that herd was all gone.
We started back home in November, and that was the end of the trip for that year.
The Historical Story
of Bee County Texas By Camp Ezell
Updated Thursday, December 21, 2006 21:02
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