BACK IN 1860
Mrs. Martin Came
Texas in Carriage in
OLD TIMES IN SOUTH
No Stoves, No Lamps,
None of Modern Day
By W. S. ADAIR
Eliza Jane Martin, who has been a resident of Dallas County since
1859, celebrated the ninetieth anniversary of her birth at her
home, 930 Mount Auburn avenue, Oct. 11.
Her ancestors, English and Welsh,
came to America in Colonial times and moved to Tennessee soon
after the Revolutionary War. Her father, Gen. John Brown,
took part in the Indian War, stirred up by Tecumseh at the instigation
of the British, in 1813-1814. When Gen. Jackson called
for volunteers to go against the Creek Indians after the massacre
at Fort Mimms, Gen. Brown raised and equipped, at his own expense,
a regiment which he commanded under Gen. Jackson at the Battle
of Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River, where the power of
the Creeks was broken. When Gen. Jackson became President,
he induced the Legislature of Tennessee to indemnify Gen. Brown
for his outlay on this regiment. Sam Houston, hero of San
Jacinto, served as Second Lieutenant in Col. Brown's regiment
at the Horseshoe Bend fight.
Old Times in the South.
"A great change has come over
the country and over the world in my time," said Mrs. Martin.
"When I was a girl, there were no railroads, and not
even any buggies, though, a family here and there had a carriage.
The women, as well as the men, traveled on horseback, but
used a saddle of the awkwardest possible contrivance. Good
saddle bags were in request everywhere. Cincinnati was the great
horse market; the whole South went there for both saddle and
"There were no stoves for either
heating or cooking: the open fireplace, which served for both
purposes, was full of hooks, cranes and racks to hold the pots
over the coals; and the skillets and ovens were equipped with
long handles. I can remember even before candle molds were
introduced, when candles were made by dipping the wick into hot
tallow, until enough of the grease adhered to make a candle of
the proper thickness. I was just about grown when I saw
the first kerosene lamp.
"With the exception of a little
finery for the well-to-do, the wearing apparel was all homemade.
To be dressed up in those days, a man had to have on a
broadcloth suit. The broadcloth was imported and made up
by local tailors. I think the standard price of a suit
of broadcloth was $50.
"In 1856, I was married to William
P. Martin, a veteran of the Mexican War. In 1859, we set
out for Texas. For the trip, Mr. Martin went to Cincinnati
and bought eight draft mares, the best to be had. We loaded
our belongings into three or four new wagons, topped with waterproof
canvas, and headed the procession in a new carriage, which we
bought at Knoxville, Tenn. We had ten or eleven negroes.
Mr. Martin left it to them to say whether they would come
with us to Texas, or be disposed of to our neighbors. All
but one man voted to come to Texas. This man had a free
wife and, as Texas had a law forbidding free negroes to cross
its borders, he could not bring his spouse with him. We,
accordingly, left him behind.
"We were six weeks on the way to
Texas. The road, or trail, was full of covered wagons bound
for this State. The ferry at Little Rock could not set
them across the river as fast as they came and we were delayed
there a whole day. The country was sparsely settled. We
were unable to get milk, eggs or butter after we left Memphis.
We went into camp and rested every Sunday.
Saw Dallas Burn in 1860.
"We came to Dallas County,
stopping with Capt. William McKamey at Renner. Capt. McKamey
was the father of W. C. McKamey, ex-State Senator, who still
lives at Renner.
"In July of the following
year, I made my first trip to Dallas, coming in the carriage
to do some shopping. We intended to stop over Sunday at
the Crutchfield House, but Dr. Thomas, the druggist, an old friend
of our family, would not hear of it, insisting that we put at
"Next morning, the sun came
up hot as a furnace. I remember the day, yet, as the hottest
in my experience. About noon, an alarm of fire was sounded.
Looking out, we saw several store buildings going up in smoke
and blaze. We all got busy in the effort to save the furniture
in Dr. Thomas' house, which seemed to be threatened. I
was not familiar enough with the village to enable to give a
circumstantial account of the fire, but I think all the buildings
on the public square were burned, including the Crutchfield House.
The courthouse, which was of brick, escaped, as did also
Dr. Thomas' dwelling, from which we were at so much pains to
remove the furniture.
"One of our negro girls, Mary,
was hired as servant to Capt. Swindells, the editor. She
was in town and knew what was going on among the negroes. She,
afterward, told me the fire was certainly started by discontented
slaves, instigated by Northern white men who had been preaching
arson to them. The Dallas News, several times, has printed
accounts of the fire from persons in a position to know much
more about it than I know.
"In 1860, Mr. Martin took
a fancy to a body of 400 acres of land, part of which, is now
occupied by the Mount Auburn addition. Land all around
it was to be had for $3 an acre, but Jack Smith, owner of this
tract, asked $12 an acre for it. Mr. Martin said it was
worth $3 an acre more than any other land in this part of the
country, and he took it. We built a dwelling at a point
now marked by the intersection of Mount Auburn avenue and Gunter
street, and, I may say in passing, that I have lived there ever
since -- not always in the same house, but, part of the time
in the more modern one on the same site. Our home was certainly
in the midst of a beautiful landscape until the city began to
encroach on it.
"We were so far from the markets
as to render farming unprofitable, and the few settlers did not
have a great deal of land in cultivation. The wealth of
the country was in cattle and horses, which subsided on the native
grass which grew rank on the prairies. It was not discovered
until later that the black-waxy lands were capable of growing
the finest cotton in the world. The country was full of
game -- deer, turkeys and prairie were to be seen in any direction
you turned your eyes.
Dallas Village Recovers.
"The village of Dallas soon
recovered from the fire. I have no idea what the loss was,
but it could not have been great, as losses are rated today.
There were only a few stores. The buildings were
cheap shacks and the stocks of goods small. It continued
to be a mere village of less importance than Lancaster until
after the Civil War. It was without a church when we settled
at Mount Auburn. The representatives of the various denominations
had occasional services, which they held in the courthouse or
at private residences, as a room in an ordinary dwelling afforded
ample room to seat the largest congregation any denomination
could muster. Later, the Methodists built a church at Commerce
and Lamar streets, and the Episcopalians, a church at Elm and
"Mr. Martin was not in favor
of starting the Civil War. He talked against secession,
for he thought war could bring disaster to both sides, and to
the entire country. War among our own people, he said,
would be very different from a war between Nations, such as that
between the United States and Mexico, in which he had served.
But, when he said it had to come, he sided with the South,
and to the front in Gen. R. M. Gano's command, and died while
in the service in Arkansas, in 1864. When he was getting
ready to go to the war, he asked if any of our negroes were willing
to accompany him as his servant, explaining to them that he was
going to fight against setting the negroes free. One of
the number, Dick, as faithful a man as ever lived, volunteered
to go, promising to stay with him. True to his word, he
remained with him, nursed him during his illness and brought
his body home.
How Slaves Were Treated.
- October 17, 1926,
The Dallas Morning News,
"As far as my observation went,
the negro slaves were not mistreated. It has been said,
that where they were worked on large plantations, away from their
masters and under overseers, they were subjected to brutal treatment.
But, this was not the case where they were worked in smaller
numbers on farms, as in Kentucky and Tennessee, and lived in
the same yard with the families of their masters. They
were well fed, warmly clad and loafed and idled away a great
deal of time.
"When we were preparing to
move from Tennessee to Texas, Mr. Martin was mindful of our negroes,
telling them they could come with us or remain there, as they
chose. After Mr. Martin had gone to the war, our negro
men came in a body to me and bade me make myself perfectly easy
on their account, assuring me that nothing could happen to me,
as long as one of them could stand up to defend me. They remained
on the place until they were set free, and after that, became
the best tenants we ever had on our lands."
Section III, p. 8.
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