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Born in Dallas
77 Years Ago,
and Still Here


John D. Beard's Father
Was Second Sheriff of
This County.


Not Much of Town

Courthouse, Jail, Store
and Saloon About All


     John D. Beard, who lives with his daughter, Mrs. W. G. Brock, at 4007 Holmes street, has been a resident of Dallas seventy-seven years.  His father, Allen Beard, settled on White Rock Creek, six miles north of town, in the early '40s, and was the second sheriff elected in the county.
     "My parents, like hundreds of others of that time, were addicted to the covered wagon," said Mr. Beard.  "Before reaching Texas, they lived successively in Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas.  Many families thus seeking homes in the West, got homesick, went back to the old State, some of them more than once, but invariably, to find things not as they fondly had pictured them in their nostalgic moments, but more proxy than ever, with the result that they packed up as speedily as possible and once more set their faces to the west, where they finally settled.
     "I do not recall what year father arrived in Texas, but it was, at all events, early enough for him to become the second sheriff of the county, which was organized in 1846.  Indians and buffaloes were still on the east side of the Trinity River, and even in my time, the ground was white with the bones and skulls of buffaloes.  But, as far as I could hear, the settlers in the vicinity of Dallas had no serious trouble with Indians after father came.

Dallas Seventy Years Ago.
     "I was born on the old place on White Rock Creek, Sept. 14, 1849.  W. W. Glover, who was born in 1846, I think, is the only person in the county who has been here longer than I have.  My recollection goes back to the time when the country was a tangle of trees and green briars, with here and there, an open space covered with tall grass. The town consisted of a courthouse, a jail, a store, a liquor house and one or two dwellings, in the midst of the woods, accessible to the surrounding settlers, over rough, winding roads or paths through the trees and briars.
     "It goes without saying, that people who would venture into such a wilderness to better their condition, were poor.  They had strayed far from the markets of the country, because they could not buy the things with which the trade centers tempted them.  They lived in houses built of logs, notched at the ends so as to hold the corners of the structure together.  The spaces between the logs were stopped with mud, and clapboards gave protection from above.  The fireplace and chimney were made of clay and sticks, and the floor, when there was a floor, was of hewn logs, but many just accepted bare mother earth as the best foundation for a home.  The logs varied in length from twelve or fourteen to twenty feet, and the number of rooms shifted to suit the size of the family.  The well-constructed log house kept away the winter's flaw better than the average dwelling of today does.

Hardships of the Pioneers.
     "The first settlers were without coffee and sugar, and even without cornmeal, since there were no mills in the country.  For several years, they used steel handmills, which looked like and were operated as coffee mills, and which were passed from one family to another.  Like the fable mills of the gods, these mills ground very slow, but not exceedingly fine.  The first real mill, hereabouts, that I knew anything of, was built by Amos McCommas on White Rock Creek.  After that, everybody who could muster the corn, had plenty of meal.
     "There were no domestic hogs, and the settlers depended on the wild hogs inhabiting the jungles for what little bacon they got.  The women did the knitting, carding, spinning and weaving, and made the wearing apparel of the family, and local shoemakers made the footwear.  Almost all the men had to have boots.  The idea of going bareheaded had not occurred to anybody at that time, and for hats, the men and boys wore coonskin or foxskin caps, likewise manufactured at home.
     "The lot of the early settlers was, no doubt, a hard one, but, like people in trouble the world over, they stuck together.  What one of them had, was at the service of any of the rest that needed it.  They trusted one another and depended on one another, and they were seldom deceived.

Lawyer Gets the Land.
     "Just before the beginning of the Civil War, father bought a tract of thirteen acres bounded on the west by Harwood street, and on the south by Elm street, built a house on it, and proceeded to clear the timber.  I do not remember what he paid for the land.  He joined a company raised by Capt. Wallace Peak, in 1861, and went to the war.  He, and many others who went at the same time, left their property in the hands of a popular lawyer, who, in their absence, forged deeds and sold it.  Years after, my brother, Jim, who now lives in Fort Worth, and I, went to law about the property, but failed to recover anything.
     "The second year of the war, I found employment at the Government corral, which was at the present intersection of Nussbaumer's Branch and Swiss avenue.  The corral was where the horses, mules and oxen rounded up in this part of the country for the Confederate Army, were concentrated and held, until they could be sent to the front.  Cavalry horses, mules and draft horse and oxen were brought in from all directions, and first and last, we handled thousands of them, without being able, at any time, to fill the demand.
     "The last year of the war, I worked at Jacob Nussbaumer's slaughter house, on Nussbaumer's Branch, not far from the corral. Nussbaumer killed and cured beef for the Confederate Army.  He first pickled and then dried the meat, forwarding it as soon as it was cured.  In rounding up and slaughtering the cattle, Nussbaumer worked a small army of men.  His plant was the biggest thing of the kind in this part of the country, until the great modern packing-houses were established.

Forgotten Indian Fight.
     "When father returned from the war, he found that his wily lawyer had beaten him out of his home.  He took fifty acres near McCommas' Bluff and proceeded to clear the timber.  By that time, I had, by the necessities of my environment, become a cow puncher and broncho buster, and I naturally sought the employment I was best fitted for.  I got work with Horn & Hodges, who, for years, bought Texas cattle and drove them North.  We went as far south as the Medina River, collected a herd of 4,000, and started to California with them, in the spring when the grass began to grow in South Texas.  We traversed a trail that ran between Dallas and Fort Worth.  My recollection is that it was known in those days as the California Trail.  We crossed Red River, north of Sherman.  That was before there were any settlers at Denison.
     "When the men of the country were in the East, engaged in settling the slavery question, the Indians became very bold all along the western frontier, and continued their depredations for several years.  We had reached a point in Kansas, between Walnut River and the Little Arkansas River, west of Abilene, when word came that the Indians had killed the men in charge of the herd next ahead of us, and stolen the cattle and horses.  The herd was owned by Hickson & Wilson.  It was said that only one of the cowboys escaped to tell the tale.  I am unable at this late day to recall the particulars of the fight, in which it is certain that several hundred Indians must have lost their lives.
     "We had forty-two men, but Horn & Hodges decided not to venture any farther into the Indian country, but to turn back and sell their cattle at Abilene.  We were armed with old muzzle-loading rifles and shotguns and six-shooters, and many of the guns were flint-locks.  We should have fared no better than Hickson & Wilson's men did in a battle against several thousand Indians, many of whom had rifles and revolvers, for as soon as we had emptied our guns, they would have rushed us and filled us with arrows before we could have reloaded.

Broncho Busters Not Fakes.
     "That was my first and last time to start over the trail, but I ran cattle for many years.  A Texas boy in those days, who could not rope a steer and ride a wild horse, was considered no boy at all, and not a few of them became expert.  But, they had nothing on the boys who ride wild horses and steers at the present day broncho busting exhibitions over the country, which are the genuine thing and not fakes, as many ignorantly pronounce them to be.  The difference, is that the old-time cowboy rode wild horses as part of his business and because he had it to do, and without reference to an assemblage of critical spectators who pay their money for a thrill and demand delivery of the goods."

- April 18, 1926, The Dallas Morning News,
Sec. III, p. 12, col. 1-4.
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