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For 84 Years
Scott Beeman
Has Lived Here

________

Daddy of 'Em All, He
Came to Dallas in
June, 1841.

_______

Oldest Inhabitant
_______

Lived in Blockhouse, the
Only One Ever Built
in City.

BY W. S. ADAIR

     J. S. W. (Scott) Beeman, 5433 St. Charles street, Owenwood, has been a resident of the territory now embraced in Dallas County since June, 1841, and is the oldest inhabitant.  He is a son of John Beeman, head of the first family to join John Neely Bryan, the solitary pioneer, who undertook to establish a settlement at the forks of the Trinity.
     "My parents, leaving the original seat of our tribe in Illinois, in 1840, reached Bowie County, Texas, a few months later, and there pitched a crop, near the town of Old Boston, and there, I was born May 18, of the same year," said Mr. Beeman.  "The following year, father accepted an invitation from John Neely Bryan to come to the forks of the Trinity, and we arrived here in June, 1841.

Saw Indians Every Day.
     "We went into camp, at what is now known as the Beeman Cemetery, adjoining the Jewish White Rock Cemetery, on the south side of the Texas & Pacific Railroad, about a mile east of the State fair grounds.  For some time, we lived in our tents, and for three years, kept a guard day and night to keep the Indians from rushing us, unawares.  It was said that Indians would never attack a settlement that had a sentinel.  Every day, Indians would appear on the ridge north of us and survey our camp, but they never molested us.
     "Our party consisted of my parents, four brothers older than I, my sister, Margaret; James Beeman, half brother of my father, and his wife, Mr. Silkwood, and his wife, and Alex Webb, a bachelor.  I have forgotten Mr. Silkwood's initials.  My brothers were all old enough to shoot, and my mother was as good a marksman as the settlement could boast.  Thus, with nine crack riflemen to defend it, our settlement was in little danger from Indians, who always looked before they leaped.  Mother took time about with the men standing guard.  With me on her left arm, and a rifle held cross her shoulder with her right hand, she paced the beat.

Builds Blockhouse.
     "In time, father built a little log cabin, but later erected what was known on the frontier as a blockhouse, which was a two-story log cabin, with the second story projecting over the first, all round, so that the besieged could pour bullets and scalding water down on attacking Indians who came up to set fire to the house.  While our stronghold was never put to the test, who knows, but it saved us from massacre?  As far as I know, this was the only blockhouse that was ever built in Dallas County.  William Cochran came to the county a year or two after we did, but I never heard that he built a blockhouse. Our blockhouse stood for ten or twelve years after the Indians had retired, and when it began to fall in from decay, we pulled it down and made firewood of the timbers.

Buffaloes Eat First Corn Crops.
     "Father cleared a place in the woods and planted a crop of corn and pumpkins the first year.  About the time the corn was maturing, the buffaloes came along and ate it, blade, stalk and all, but left the pumpkins, from which I take it, they did not like pumpkins.  The cornfield was not fenced, but it would have been all the same if it had been, since buffaloes paid no attention to fences.  There were buffaloes all round us for several years.  At night, they came out of the bottoms and sought the open ridge above us to sleep, no doubt, to get away from the mosquitoes.  In the moonlight, we could see their grotesque forms silhouetted against the sky, all along the top of the ridge -- a weird spectacle.
     "Wild mustangs also bounded.  My brothers thought it fine sport to rope and trap them, and still finer to undertake to break them. "Undertake" is the word, for it was not every mustang that would give up.  Many of these proud creatures would buck and plunge, as long as there was a buck or plunge in them.

Indians Kill a Settler.
     "I heard John Neely Bryan, who had the knack of getting along with Indians, say that not a single Indian was ever killed by a white man in Dallas County.  And, as far as I could ever find out, Mr. Silkwood, of our party, was the only Dallas County white man killed by Indians.  Mr. Silkwood, Alex Webb and a third man, whose name has escaped me, went on a bear hunt on Elm Ford in Denton County in 1848.  Father represented to them the danger of invading the Indian country, telling them there were bears to be found everywhere around the camp.  But, they hankered for adventure, and would not listen.  The Indians surprised the three men in camp, and killed Silkwood with their arrows.  Long after the Indians had retired to the west of the Trinity River, settlers here kept out guards in the light of the moon -- that being the time the redskins picked for their raids.

Remembers Mexican War.
     "I remember distinctly when the men were getting ready to go to fight the Mexicans in 1845.  You may well believe that the settlers were greatly excited over the prospect of a Mexican invasion.  My oldest brother, Sam, made all preparation to go to the front, and even sold his place at Slap Foot to Sam Haught, but for some reason, he did not go.
     "I remember when John Neely Bryan's cabin was not only the only house in Dallas, but the only house in the county.  John Neely Bryan and my sister, Margaret, were married in 1843, and went to live in the cabin.  I often visited my sister in her home.  The cabin, which is still preserved within the walls of a larger building at the Buckner Orphans' Home, was exhibited at the State Fair of Texas a few years ago, along with the rocking chair which Bryan carved with his pocket knife.  My sister, Margaret, died in 1893.

John Neely Shows Rangers.
    
 [glitch in printing -- approximately five words missing] as a member of a company of rangers, which was preparing for an expedition against the Indians in the Wichita Mountains.  N. H. Darnell was Captain of the company, and Bryan was First Lieutenant.  I was 19, but small for my age.  One hundred men made a company of rangers. This company was shy one man.  The rangers laughed when Bryan offered such a kid as myself for the vacant place.  But, having trained me in marksmanship from the time I could lift a gun, Bryan offered to shoot me against the entire ninety-nine of them.  For the showdown, he proposed that we shoot at a tree which had a tree on each side of it, at a distance of 250 yards.  Only one of the ninety-nine men hit a tree, and that was not the center tree, but the one on the left.  Then came my time.  I fired once and hit the tree on the right.  John Neely Bryan claimed, that while I had not beaten them, I had tied them, and that as a marksman, I was equal to the entire ninety-nine.  My brother-in-law knew to begin with, that there was but one gun in the company that would carry 250 yards, and that he was really not shoooting me against the whole company, but merely against the man who happened to have this long range rifle.
     "After this target practice, the rangers thought better of me, and offered no further objection.  I was enrolled as a member, and we set out for Fort Belknap.  While there, I was wounded in the leg by the accidental discharge of my gun, but went on with the company to the Wichita Mountains.  A few weeks later, I came home on a furlough, and before I was sufficiently recovered to return to service, the company was disbanded.
     "I left the Wichita Mountains for home in July, 1860.  When our party reached Denton, we found the town in ashes.  We found Dallas, likewise, in ashes when we reached home the following day.  Both towns had been burned about noon on the Sunday before.  Negro slaves were accused of firing the two towns, but whether justly, or not, I can not say.  Three negroes, supposed to have been leaders in [the] burning of Dallas, were executed under color of law.
     "I served three years in the Civil War.  I was a member of Company B, Nineteenth Cavalry, Parson's Brigade.  Our command went forward to stop Gen. Banks, who undertook to invade Texas through Louisiana.  After twenty-nine days of continuous fighting, we drove him out of Louisiana.  We turned him back at the battle of Mansfield, and followed him to Yellow Bayou, where he received 30,000 reinforcements, and where he made a desperate stand, but was again forced to resume his retreat.  His army would have been captured or annihilated if the gunboats had not covered his passage of the Mississippi River.  Mansfield was, no doubt, the decisive battle of this campaign, but the fighting at Yellow Bayou was even fiercer than at Mansfield.  Many of the Yankees killed at Mansfield had on their caps, the printed words: 'To Texas or hell.' It is certain they did not reach the Texas destination.

Pays Double Price for Choice Land.
     "When father picked a place to settle at Beeman's Cemetery, he was not aware that the had planted himself right in the center of the Thomas Lagow league.  As soon as he made this discovery, he wrote to Mr. Lagow, offering to buy a section of the land.  Mr. Lagow replied, that if he wanted a section in the middle of the league, he would charge him $1 an acre for it, but if he would take it on the edge of the league, he might have it for 50¢ an acre.  But, father insisted on taking the land he had already occupied, and he, accordingly, had to pay $640 for the section.

Eighty-Four Years in Dallas.
     "When I married in 1865, I built a log house, a few yards north of the site of my present residence.  A few years later, I substituted a frame house, getting part of the lumber from the White Rock mill, and part from East Texas.  When Owenwood addition was opened three years ago, it was necessary to set my house back in order to make room for St. Charles street.  Some of the pine lumber used in my first frame house was used in the building of the house I now occupy.  I have been living practically in the same place since 1865.  I have four children living: Cleve and Ira Beeman, and Mrs. Katie Herrin, of Dallas, and Melton Beeman, of Arkansas."

- October 11, 1925, The Dallas Morning News,
Sec. 5, p. 12, col. 1-5.
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