Born in Dallas
77 Years Ago,
and Still Here
John D. Beard's
Was Second Sheriff of
Not Much of Town
and Saloon About All
BY W. S. ADAIR
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.
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.
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
"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
Lawyer Gets the Land.
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
Forgotten Indian Fight.
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.
- April 18, 1926, The
Dallas Morning News,
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."
Sec. III, p. 12, col. 1-4.
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