Reminiscences of Colorado County

- Osage -


If you have a suppressed desire to travel the road of “yesterday”, take a drive out to Osage--the keystone community of our immediate section of Colorado county around which many prominent families settled and built their homes and established one of the finest schools, which, for a then remote and rural neighborhood surpassed many in other communities and even those of large towns.

This settlement was founded a few years after the Civil War by prominent people from the Southern States, who wished to begin life over, far from the desolated ruins of their former homes.

To mention some, were the Adkins, Burfords, Caldwells, Campbells, Fishers, Garretts, Goods, Graces, Hancocks, Hubbards, Matthews, McMillans, McLearys, Mitchells, Moores, Neals, Newsoms, Shaws, Taylors, Wilsons, Whitfields, Yorks, and many others.
There is remnant of these people still living in this community--children and grandchildren of Campbells, McMillans, Goodes, Moores and Shaws, others having moved to Weimar or to distant places, while others sleep in the Osage Cemetery, so graphically described in Gray’s “Elegy On a Country Churchyard”--
“Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The proud forefathers of the hamlet sleep”.

The people of this community showed their wisdom and sound judgment in the selection of a leader--a lodestone--a man of superior education and culture and of magnetic personality. This man was Major E. B. Carruth, a Mississippian, whose influence, both educationally and morally, is still reflected in the lives of the children and grandchildren of his former pupils. So great was his reputation as an educator and exempltnarian[sic] that pupils for several hundred miles distant, as well as the nearby towns, were attracted to the school. He was of commanding physique, six feet two inches, massive forehead, crowned with thick, dark hair, and magnetic blue-gray eyes.

The original school house was a large rectangular room with a huge fireplace at one end built of native stone from the bed of nearby Harvey’s Creek. This building was also used for religious services, there being no regular minister, but where the missionaries, evangelists and circuitriders of all denominations preached and held not only morning services but services by “early candlelight” as well.

Among the ministers was J. T. Connelly, a Presbyterian divine, who for years was formerly a missionary to Africa; Bro. Chas. H. Thomas, Methodist evangelist, a graduate of Yale University and the father of Prof. Alonzo Thomas, president of Coronal Institute, San Marcos, and later head of the Thomas School, San Antonio.

From this religious influence, the beautiful, natural setting and copious springs gushing out of the hillside in the very heart of Osage, the annual camp meeting was inaugurated. For ten days, every July, during the moonlight nights, scores of families stretched their tents and enjoyed the religious, social and recreational benefits accorded thereby. Good “eats” were not forgotten, and in the main these gatherings were a wholesome, beneficial and happy assembly looked forward to each Summer. Too, these meetings were also conducive to the forming of many “life partnerships”, the belles and beaux jogging along, allowing “Old Dobbin” whole rein, and with no steering gear or “honking’ to interrupt. One of the outstanding belles of that day was beautiful Mollie Taylor (later Mrs. Dick Garrett), mother of Roxie, Mattie, Dick, Jr. an Glenn Garrett, with reddish brown curls, peach complexion, hazel eyes, and a smile that lasted a life time. Numerous other pretty girls and handsome lads added charm and color to this romantic setting.

The school grew so rapidly that it became necessary to add to the original building and a large room was erected that was used for the advanced classes and also as an auditorium, there being a large raised platform, or rostrum, at one end where, each morning, the whole school assembled and for fifteen minutes engaged in singing led by Major Carruth, who “pitched the tune” with a tuning fork and whose deep baritone made the “welkin ring”. Many of the “beginners” learned to ”sing their A-B-C’s”, which was a diplomatic way in which to make them memorize these all important characters. One small boy wore out six primers in an effort to learn his letters and as a last resort the alphabet was transferred to a wooden paddle from which he “grasped” this difficult problem.

Every Friday afternoon was spent in declamation by the boys, whose “speeches” were chosen for their moral and instructive tendency.

The nine months’ session was climaxed by a three days’ entertainment, consisting of public examinations, spelling matches (the champion speller honored with a medal during the vacation and until “turned down” during the following term), charades, tableaux, plays, declamations and musical programs, for attached to the school were proficient music instructors, among whom were Misses Josey Viser, Anna Morris and Anna Rhodes, the latter a sister of Mrs. P. B. Faison of LaGrange. Miss Rhodes was also an artist of some note, her beautiful paintings often exhibited at these entertainments.

There are still a few of the original pupils living, whose memories are ever gladdened by the reminiscences of the old Osage school days, and the name of Carruth is perpetuated by several sons and grandsons, who are prominent in the business and social activities of our state.

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Osage of the Present Day

It was the pleasure of the senior editor of this paper to journey to the old-time community of Osage Friday afternoon of last week, in company with the writer of the foregoing description of the “Osage of Other Days”. That the pleasure of her company was enjoyed goes without saying, for she and the writer have been very good friends for many years. In soliciting her to write a description of the old-time Osage, we did so because she was far more familiar with the memories of those halcyon days when Osage was a great and growing community and when children--young men and women--were sent there to be educated by Major Carruth and his corps of teachers. In those days the Osage school rightfully held the title of being one of the foremost institutions of learning in the state of Texas, and attendants were present from almost every section of our vast domain.

Our assistant in this write-up, Miss Maud McLeary, is a very talented lady, possesses a remarkable memory, keen descriptive powers, and her article dealing with the once famous seat of learning, the Osage School, so ably managed by Major Carruth, will, we feel assured, be appreciated by our readers.

The Mercuryman has felt that it would not be amiss to tell of the present-day Osage, for so many memories still lie clustered round that community, known to him better through the campmeeting days, when he “would a-wooing go”, as did many of the young people of that day and time,when Osage and the campmeeting furnished the “inspiration”, if we can so call it.

Well, on that particular Friday afternoon we wended our way to those hallowed grounds. Of the original community the first place to greet our eyes was the former Estes farm, once owned by the late Mrs. D. M. Estes of this city, mother of Mrs. L. V. Maigne, one time milliner of this city. This place is now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John Knebel, Sr., who recently sold their place in the southern part of town to “Bill” Barta. The next place coming into view was the Eugene Newsom place, at present occupied by Mrs. Dora Shaw and sons. Next place was the W. T. Burford home place, owned by John Knebel, Sr., and being farmed by Steve Urban and family. The residence here is just as it was in the Burford days, but the large barn has been torn down and rebuilt.

The old church building that has been there in the western part of the campmeeting grounds from time immemorial is just as it was fifty years ago. Naturally, looking at it revived many memories of the past.

Across to the north was the old Chas. Colquest place, with its famous spring of water still gurgling forth. This place is now occupied by Willie Harrell and family.

To the east of the old George Chapman farm and gin property, everything looks changed. This is the original Dr. John Harris property. This place is now owned by Oscar Addicks and wife, and they have a very neat and pretty home. Mrs. Addicks is the former Antonie Pokorny, daughter of the late B. Pokorny, and she was born on the farm of the writer of these lines, on Clear Creek, southwest of Weimar.

To the northeast is the former Major Carruth home, now converted into a home for Chas. Stokes and family. Originally, if our memory does not fail us, this was a two-story residence.

A few of the old-time settlers still live in that community--Mrs. Dora Shaw, Jack, Charles and Obe Goode and their families.

The Eugene Newsom place was the original Mrs. Lyt Hubbard-Grace home.

The old community of Osage has changed to a great extend, and to many of us old-timers it’s a case of “The old home ain’t what it used to be”. However, those hallowed days of the past are gone forever, and only sweet memories are left.

A visit through the old cemetery at Osage was the last of our mission. There we spent a half hour scanning the last resting places of many of our friends of other days, who have gone to join the great majority, to wait the coming of those left behind. Many familiar names were scanned, with a silent tear dropping here and there as we called to memory those loved ones who were so dear to us in the dim, distant past. God’s blessings rest upon them. J.H.B.

Weimar Mercury, February 11, 1938, pages 1 and 8


A good friend who read the article in last issue about the Osage of former days and the Osage of today, dropped in after the paper was out and vouchsafed additional information regarding the community of olden days.

He stated that the community was established about 1854 and 1855, and that it was on the north bank of the creek, across from the present location. Members of the Methodist Church and Masonic Lodge went together and erected a two-story structure there, which was used jointly by these two oraganizations[sic]. The town was originally laid out in streets and lots. Chas. Moore, still living in the Osage settlement, who was overlooked in our write-up last week, is still living on the original tract of land purchased by the Moore family when they came out to Texas. This tract of land has never changed ownership.

It was in the early fifties that the Hubbards, Moores, Garretts, Joneses, McLearys and other old-time families settled there. We are told that these families lived in tents for awhile until they could construct houses in which to live.

Regarding Major Carruth’s famous school the friend at our elbow stated it was established about the time Weimar was created--in the year 1874. At one time Prof. H. C. Quin, famed educator who came out from Mississippi and located here--father of Mayor Chas. K. Quin of San Antonio--was called upon to assist in the conduct of the school. Afterward Prof. Quin established a private school a short distance northwest of the present site of Weimar, on the banks of the creek near the Victor Slavik place.

Weimar Mercury, February 18, 1938, page 1


Mr. Mike Stapleton, well known farmer of the Borden community, dropped by Saturday morning to renew his subscription to the Mercury, and incidentally to remark on how much he enjoyed the recent article in this paper telling of the Osage of other days. He enjoyed it all the more because of the fact that he was there at that time, a student of Major Carruth’s famous school, and the article in question revived a flood of old-time memories.

We are going to risk friend Stapleton’s displeasure by telling on him and some of the incidents of those days so far as it concerned him.

He says he was impressed by Major Carruth, regarded him as an outstanding man and teacher, but, honestly, he was afraid of him. Said he lost his temper one day and struck one of Major Carruth’s hogs with a stick, knocking out the animal completely, and there it lay kicking just as the major walked up. Nobody ever accused Mike Stapleton of being a coward, so stifling his fear, he walked up to the major and confessed that he did it. The major in a kindly manner excused him and said maybe he was justified in doing it. And thus the incident was closed. But the kindly manner in which the major treated the incident made an impression on Mr. Stapleton and he never forgot it.

Another time he confesses that he was chewing tobacco in school, a violation of school rules. Just as it happened Major Carruth walked toward Mr. Stapleton, and his conscience making him believe the major knew what he was guilty of, friend Mike acknowledges that he swallowed the quid of tobacco. Just how sick it made him he failed to relate, but we imagine it was a plenty.

We could tell of his sweetheart of boyhood days, while at Major Carruth’s school, but for fear of stirring up trouble we refrain.

Weimar Mercury, March 11, 1938, page 2

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