For 84 Years
Has Lived Here
Daddy of 'Em All,
Came to Dallas in
Lived in Blockhouse,
Only One Ever Built
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
"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
"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.
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.
- October 11, 1925,
The Dallas Morning News,
"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."
Sec. 5, p. 12, col. 1-5.
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