Beer Had Hard
Row to Hoe in
Came in With Railroads,
But Whisky Had Inside
Track on It.
Old Farming Days
George P. Jackson
of Early Settlers in
BY W. S. ADAIR
in the '70s, the railroads, land companies and land agents, began
to advertise North and West Texas, broadcasting their pamphlets
and maps over the old States, north and south," said George
P. Jackson, of 4517 Cabell Drive. "These boosters,
in most instances, exaggerated the importance of the towns, but
fell far short of telling half the facts in regard to the value
of the lands. Towns that were hardly to be found on the
official maps made a brave showing in these publicity booklets,
being represented as the advertisers hoped they one day might
be, rather than as they actually were. But, as the towns
since have grown beyond the wildest dreams of the pioneer boomers,
no great harm resulted from the enterprise of those visionaries.
"Some of this literature got
as far as Fulton County, Illinois, where we were, at the time,
toiling and moiling, early and late, to make a living on a reluctant
farm. My father, Moses J. Jackson, being a farmer, was
not interested in towns. He was attracted by what the literature
said of the lands of Dallas and Kaufman Counties. He read
the booklets every night and every Sunday, and took them to the
field with him to read during his intervals of rest on week days.
Dallas was the big town of Dallas County, and Lawrence,
of Kaufman County. By the time father got his crop laid
by, he was ready to set out for Texas. He arrived here
late in the summer of 1875, and looked Dallas and Lawrence over,
but was not impressed with either.
"Fortunately, however, he
was interested in towns merely as markets. As for the land,
he soon realized that the fertility of it had not been exaggerated.
He purchased a tract at $10 an acre between Dallas and
Oakland Cemetery, which was then some miles from the village
of Dallas, and a larger tract near Lawrence in Kaufman County.
Returning to Illinois, he began to wind up his affairs,
preparatory to moving to Texas. We were two days and a
night on the way from St. Louis to Dallas, and landed here on
Christmas Eve, 1875.
"Dallas was a hard-looking
town, claiming a population of 3,500, and actually having 1,500
or 1,800. The courthouse square was the business center.
The courthouse was a two or three-story stone structure,
in the midst of a grove of locust and chinaberry trees, which
served to shade a series of hitching racks. The streets
were jammed with wagons, and the people seemed prosperous.
Lawrence on a Boom.
"We spent Christmas in Dallas,
and then proceeded to our farm near Lawrence, where we settled.
While Lawrence was not the city the boomers had represented
it to be, it was a bustling village of 700 or 800, and had a
flourishing trade. New people were landing at Lawrence
at the rate of about 100 a day, and at Dallas, at the rate of
perhaps 200 or 300 a day. But most of them, finding nothing
to do, moved on, and eventually got a foothold somewhere else
in the State, and almost without exception, found in the end,
that they had done well to come to Texas.
"In those days, the drawback
to farming was lack of rain, and to the towns' lack of wholesome
drinking water. Dallas had to put up with the water of
the Trinity River, or the water from shallow wells, which was
little better than the river water. All the water in the
neighborhood of Lawrence was charged to saturation with salt
or sulphur, or both. It was not fit to drink, nor could
the women cook or wash with it. Until they could construct
cisterns, the people of Lawrence had to depend on Landrey's Lake,
four miles away, and it cost them 50¢ a barrel to get water
from there. Imagine the people of Dallas and Lawrence drinking
such water as they had, particularly in the summer! As
for ice, it had not come into general use in Texas, even in the
saloons. People even drank beer without ice. Beer
made its appearance in North Texas with the coming of the railroads,
and at first, was not much in demand. Whisky had so long
been the regulation drink, that beer was slow in coming into
"In 1876, Lawrence had twice
the population of Terrell, four miles away. But, Terrell
had two things Lawrence lacked -- good water and a brick business
house. Jack Webb was the builder and owner of the brick
house. The people of Lawrence began to resort to the brickmakers
and to construct cisterns, but Terrell somehow got the lead,
and has held it ever since.
Kills His First Deer.
"We settled on our farm and
took no interest in the ups and downs of the towns. We
hauled our cotton to Dallas, and here bought our supplies. The
route we traversed could not be called a road. It was in
such condition when it rained, that a team could not draw an
empty wagon over it. Even in good weather, we usually hitched
four or five yokes of oxen to a wagon, and were five or six days
making the round trip from Lawrence to Dallas. We came
to Dallas two or three times a year.
"I liked Texas from the day
I set foot in it, for there was plenty of game. I killed
my first deer at Landrey's Lake, Jan. 1, 1876, using an old single-barreled
pot-metal pistol. The deer was coming to the lake to drink.
The wind was blowing in the wrong direction for it to scent
me, and it came within a few yards of me, and even turned its
side to me. I fired, and had the luck to shoot it through
the heart -- I say luck, because I was not a marksman, nor did
the pistol shoot straight. I threw the carcass over my shoulder
and started to carry it to Lawrence. On the way, I overtook
Bill Waldrup, who was hauling a load of wood to town, and he
gave me a lift. He didn't seem to think much of my exploit
-- nor did anyone else. Killing a deer was nothing to those
"The country east of the Trinity
was still open range when we settled at Lawrence, but the railroads
were bringing in settlers in such numbers, that the cattlemen
were beginning to move their herds west, in order to make room
for the man with the hoe.
"In the spring of 1876, I
went to work as a cowboy for Frank Houston of Rockwall County.
He was rounding up his cattle and moving them to points
west of the Brazos River, where the grass was tall enough to
hide a cow. The sheepmen began to invade the West about
the same time. Cattlemen objected to the presence of sheep
on the range, because cattle will not eat grass that has once
been nibbled over by sheep. But, as the sheepmen had as
much right on the range as the cattlemen, the latter could not
help themselves. Things come, however, when they are badly wanted
on the spur of necessity, and about that time, barbed wire for
fencing came on the market. The big cattlemen bought public
lands in contiguous sections and fenced them to keep the sheepmen
off the grass. This was resented by the small cattlemen,
who were without sufficient capital to purchase and fence large
bodies of land. Then, the fence-cutters appeared on the
scene, and the fence-cutters war, which lasted several years.
Ran Cattle Seven Years.
- February 5, 1928,
The Dallas Morning News,
"I ran cattle seven years,
working all the way to the Rio Grande and making two trips over
the Chisholm Trail, in 1877 and 1878. With about 5,000
cattle in the herd, we started North in the spring, when the
grass had reached a growth to support them, and moved through
Texas and Oklahoma into Kansas at the rate of eight or ten miles
a day, the cattle fattening as we went. It usually took
ninety days to make the trip. Twenty cowboys were considered
enough to handle a drove of 5,000 cattle and to protect it from
Indians. We saw hundreds of Indians, but never had any
trouble with them.
"Buffalo were to be seen by
the thousand in Oklahoma and the Panhandle of Texas. The
war on them began in Iowa and Nebraska back in the '60s, and
they had retired, before the hunters, to Western Kansas, Oklahoma
and Texas. We killed a young buffalo, whenever we wished
a change from beef. I have heard it said that the buffalo
continued their course south, through Texas, Mexico and Central
America, and are now flourishing somewhere in the wilds of South
America, but it is a matter I know nothing about. The last
herd of buffalo I saw was just east of Amarillo. There
were about 5,000 in the bunch, and they were cleaning up all
vegetation they found in their path, passing up, nothing but
the thorny cactus, and packing the ground so hard, that the trail
they left could be followed for years afterward.
"The life of a cowboy is a
hard life, but there is something so fascinating about it, that
nothing short of the failure of the business itself, could ever
induce a cowboy to try something else.
"I came to Dallas in 1882,
and have been here ever since. I have seen lots in the
business district increase in value from $100 to $100,000, skyscrapers
take the place of shacks, and a four-page newspaper grow to the
bulk of the Sunday edition of The Dallas News, which is a heavy
Editorial & Amusements Section, p. 7, col. 1.
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