Reminiscences of Colorado County

Oakland & Clear Creek

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Letter No. 1 from H. S. Carson

From Hill County.
Bynum, Texas, April 23, ‘10

Editor Mercury: Since you have so kindly invited me to contribute other letter to the columns of the Mercury, for which please accept thanks. I am really at a loss to decide what subject would be of most interest to the readers. To write of local matters up here would (of course) be of no interest. Therefore, I will indulge in a reminisence[sic] of the early days in Colorado co., especially around Oakland, Weimar and vicinity. My parents moved from Tennessee to Hill Co., in 1856, then to Colorado Co. in Nov. 1857. Father bought the Dave Tooke farm, also the Allen and Joe Tooke places at $10 per acre, all cash. I lived in that section 'till Dec. '92. I was 9 years old when we arrived there, but those days are as fresh in my memory as if it were but yesterday.

Where Weimar now stands was a vast expanse of waving grass and beautiful flowers, over which roamed herds of deer, fat cattle and horses, not a house to be seen. There was down on Clear creek, near Oakland, a settlement of the noblest people that ever came together any where, which was fast being added to from other states-,(Tenn. and Va.) a class of the same high type of refined and cultured families. Their like and character were never excelled, nor seldom equalled[sic] anywhere.

I embrace in this circle, all in a radius of about 1 miles from Oakland, or old Clear creek school house, and those who attended school there.

As memory glides gently back over the vista of those happy years, now past and gone, I am forcibly reminded that this section was blessed with the best of citizenship. Among those that attended school at Clear creek and Oakland, were the McCormick's, Crenshaw's, Simpson's, Tooke's, Paines, Arnold's, Harrison, J. H. McLeary and sister, Holt, T. M. Insall and sister, Mercer, Townsend, Woolsey, Sargents, Nunn, Andrews, Walter, and Doss Morrow, Foulkes' McKinnon, Footes, Carson, and others whom I cannot mention for want of space. The Germans were: Knipsher girls, H. Bock, later on came the Schott's, Laas, Strunk, Grobe. and others, as I write all these names, I am reminded that many are the changes since last we met. Many of us can say: l’ve stood in yon chamber but One was not there, hushed was the lute string,
Vacant the chair!
Lips of loves melody,
Where, were you born?
Never to smile again,
Never to morn!

The first teacher I went to in 1857, was John Kindred brother to Hon. J. C. Kindred. Our next teacher was Gideon B. McLeary, brother to the late beloved, Dr. Will T. McLeary. It was at this time that the Clear creek school was at its zenith. It was there that I learned to conjugate that Latin verb, Amo, Amas, Amat and to write on a piece of paper, Amo te, (I love thee) and throw it across the aisle to my sweetheart, (when the teacher was not looking) and then see the lifeblood tint her cheek. Oh, it was heaven on earth to see her, and I can but exclaim now, out of the fullness. of my heart, (O, formose puella!)

Yes, there were in that school some of the brightest and most intellectual girls and boys that ever graced the recitation bench of any college in Texas, or any other state. I make this assertion without fear of successful contradiction, that our teacher, G. B. McLeary, has no equal now, in any of our universities, as to scholarship and erudition of learning in any and every branch of literature. Then later on we had at Oakland, Prof. Riley of Columbus, who was also an erudite schollar, and had for his pupils some of those same bright girls and boys. Then Prof. John Shearer of Columbus also an eminent scholar. Then High Hill had that eminent and refined old gentleman, Prof. H. Heyer, [where the editor of the Mercury received his schooling,]

Getting back to the early days of Colorado Co., will say that those were prosperous and happy days in which everybody loved one another, yes, as the poet says: "So sweet, so sad, the days that are no more." I am reminded now of Moores poem:
Oft in the stilly nights,
Ere slumbers chain has bound me,
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood's years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimmed and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken.

When I remember all
The friends so linked together,
I've seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather,
I feel like one, who treads alone,
Some banquet hail deserted!
Whose lights are fled,
Whose Garlands dead,
And all but me departed.
Thus in the stilly night.
Ere slumbers chain has bound me
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

Well, my letter is already too long I fear, and I have not said the half of all that I desire. Many amusing, and some pathetic incidents occurred in those happy days, all of which are fresh in my memory, yet, that would cause us all to shed a tear, (that I haven't time to mention here.) Mr. editor, you must bear with the disposition I have of drifting into poetry, as I am a dear lover of the poetical nature. My friends up here pay me a high compliment, when they call me the walking encyclopedia, and library of poems, some of them laugh and tell it on me, that I can lean back in my chair, close my eyes and recite poetry for an hour without a break. I am thankful that all of this has been the property of my mind since I was 14 or 15 years old. What would we do without that devine faculty, memory? Verily, homo memoriam habet. I will probably, (with your permission) take up these reminiscences at some future time, and treat them more compactly. [Alright, your letters are always interesting. Ed.]
H. S. Carson

Weimar Mercury, May 6, 1910, page 3

Letter No. 2 from H. S. Carson

Editor Mercury.

Taking up the thread of reminiscence where I left off. anent the school and various teachers. I desire to mention some that I omitted in my last letter. One of the eminent teachers at Clear Creek was General A. P. Bagby (now of Halletsville), a graduate of West Point Military academy, N.Y. He was one of the best instructors in the higher branches of mathematics. trigonometry, civil engineering (surveying) etc. that it was ever my pleasure to meet.

I rented to him my old home place after the war, and boarded with and went to school to him. He ought to be now in some of our universities as an instructor. He was equally proficient in the languages and sciences as in mathematics. Then later on Oakland had Prof. Jas. A. McNeill of Osage and the Profs. E. D. and W. A. Pitts and Prof. J. R. Harris.

No doubt it was due in a great part to those early educators that there came from the walls of Clear Creek school house some boys who took high places in Texas affairs. It furnished two attorneys-general for Texas in the persons of our late beloved Judge George McCormick and Judge J. H. McLeary of Osage. Also others who have been leaders in local affairs and society. But, oh. my! the brightest star in that galaxy I have not mentioned yet. I refer to those bright-eyed girls (for I love still to call them by that familiar name-girls). Some half dozen or more of Weimar’s most dignified ladies, who are now leaders in society there were among that number of Clear Creek school girls. And how shall I write of them? I feel myself not equal to the occasion.

I once made the assertion that a thought. never arose within the human brain beyond the power of utterance of the human tongue, and now as if in mockery of that proud boast, I fin myself powerless. The pen falls from my shivering hand, and with all of their dear names as a text. I cannot write, I cannot speak or think--alas, I cannot feel, for 'tis no feeling, this standing motionless, upon the golden threshold of the wide open gate of dreams, gazing entranced a down the gorgeous vista, and thrilling as I see (in my mind) upon the right and upon the left, all the way where memory reminds me of their superior intellect, graces and virtues. May the sweet angel of peace, happiness and love hover over each and every one of them wherever they may be today. It suffices to say of them, “Vere dignus qui ametur.” (Verily, they were worthy of all love), and this brings me back from where I strayed--those Latin verbs, you remember, etc.

I desire space to mention the members of the Latin class that were contemporaneous with the writer. They were Harvey McLeary, Jim Holt, Jas. and Tom Sargent, Henry, Ben and Tyler Terrell, Will and Joe Simpson, Pem Andrews, Jesse Green, Friench Simpson, Torn Paine, George McCormick, Zack Windrow, Charlie and Lon Barnett, Isam Tooke, Nat and Phil Howard and several others. The girls in same class were Misses Sallie Crenshaw, Annie Sargent Annie and Donie McCormick, Fannie and Carrie Arnold, Hattie, Fannie, Emma and Helen Simpson, Fannie Tooke, Ninnie McLeary, Sallie andJemima Green, Julia and Mattie Foote, Mattie Simpson, Maggie Mercer, Mary and Mira Carson, and several others. I was the youngest one in that class when it was first started under Prof. G. B. McLeary. There were some girls who were younger, that came in later on. Many a night Harvey McLeary and myself sat at the same table till I and 2 o'clock, digging out Latin root words and translating whole pages of Latin, long after every one else was asleep. Harvey McLeary and sister boarded at our house. So did Tom Insall and sister, also Sallie and Jemima Green, Christian Eason, Tom Smith and sister and several others. As memory glides back upon those young years, I feel like exclaiming; “Backward, turn backward, oh, Time, in your flight. Make me a child again just for tonight.” But I cannot follow the poet when he says: “i am tired of earth and tired of life, its unfilled hopes and profitless strife," for I am not. But I am in harmony with him when he says, “Still must I press onward
wherever destiny calls or danger appalls," for my motto has ever been "Nil desperandum." "Go preach to the rock on the long ocean shore, and tell it to battle with the billows no more. While there is life there is hope. Before death to prepare, it is glorious to battle, 'tis base to despair.”

For what will it matter by and by whether my way below was brighter, whether it wound through dark or light, under a gray or golden sky, when I look back on it by and by. Neither will matter by and by, if but the way I have trod, gloomy or gladdened, though it leads to God. Questioning not how or why, if I but reach Him by and by.

I was sadly reminded yesterday (when the Weimar Mercury came) of one of my old Clear Creek friends, Captain J. D. Roberdeau, a man I always loved. I knew him and his wife before they were married. Of all the magnanimous, high-toned gentlemen that I ever knew, he was “facile princeps." We are reminded in his death that part of that host of old Clear Creek friends have crossed the shore, and part are crossing now.

Yes, many of them are today on the other side of Jordan, where the tree of life is blooming. They are happy now, and we. if we live right, soon their happiness shall see.

Well, I could write on and on, but my letter is already too long. But I love to speak of those old friends, and so will think of them till their last trump dies out in the faraway and the bright silver bugles in heaven begin to play, and the roll is called at the judgment day. Perhaps more anon.

H. S. Carson,
Bynum, Hill Co., Texas.

Weimar Mercury, June 3, 1910, page 2

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Clear Creek

Clear Creek School District #29


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