Eliza Jane "Porter" Bennett was my great grandmother and though not technically within the specific era of our board, her surroundings and life outside of Gainesville Texas, could have easily fit 30-40 years earlier. Great grandmother Bennett whom I never met, was my grandfather William Young Bennett's Sr. mother. She was of mixed Cherokee and Anglo decent. Her husband (my great grandfather died in his 50's of "mysterious" circumstances, leaving "Eliza Jane" to raise 8 children. My Grandfather being the eldest.
Now some of what I know is a bit sketchy, but I have been to the old homestead, which was a simple log cabin, that had fallen in by the time I saw it as a teenager, although the spring was still active. Everything had grown over so much that you wouldn't have known a family had lived there except for a few rotten logs. We did go to an old graveyard which was part of the community and found my Great Grandfather Bennett's tombstone had fallen over and we reset it....again the grave yard was so old and completely grown over with weeds and briers and such.
Now as to the actual stories I wanted to share..............both of which were told to me by my Granddad Bennett or as we grandkids referred to him"Dad Dad". After Dad Dad's mother had been widowed, a strange man on a black horse showed up one day outside the cabin. He was dressed all in black and carried two revolvers on his hips with ivory grips......I know sounds like Hollywood but I am certain this was before my grandfather ever saw a "Western" motion picture show. GG mother Bennett, offered the stranger to water his horse as well as fix him breakfast, if he would get off his horse and come in. He did so without a word. "Dad Dad" said he watered the horse and gave it some hay, went into the house where the stranger sat alone at the table eating biscuits and eggs. When he finished, he simply got up, left the cabin, mounted his horse and rode off. There were a lot of "bad men" who came in and out of the old "Indian Territory" in those days and it was always assumed this was one of them......never heard or saw of him again.
On another occasion when Dad Dad was in his late teens, he and two of his friends rode horseback across the Red River, which much of the time is dried up enough to cross.....so they could "court" some young ladies over in what by now was Oklahoma. Apparently the girl's boyfriends discovered the Texas interlopers and chased the two friends and my grandfather back into Texas firing pistols while in hot pursuit.
I can't remember the name of the local creek that flowed into the Red, but he said it was full enough flowing into the river that huge Alligator Gar would swim up stream. Men used to climb up into the huge trees that had limbs that hang out over the creek and with long wire nooses would catch the Gar when their heads would enter the loops. He said one time there were two big fish laying in the back of a wagon with their snouts touching the front of the bed and tails hanging out over the tail gate............average farm wagons of the day had a bed of 10' 6".
I was just reminiscing about my grandfather and how close to the era we are interested in....even though he was born in 1901, not much had changed in certain parts of south especially, for all of the 19th century into the first couple decades of the 20th. I put it down here in memory of a brave widow who raised 8 kids on her own in the still wilds of north Texas in the early 20th!
Not the best stories I ever told but I didn't want to embellish too much in respect to family as well as my own faltering memory.