Letter to the Editor
(Contributed by Jerry Flook)
"Lawson is a thriving little town in Dallas County, situated about 18 miles southeast from Dallas, and 20 miles south of Garland. It is not a town of national repute, like New York, London, or Paris, but it is a regular little gem, amidst rolling, rich prairies, surrounded by thrifty, energetic farmers. Land is worth about $30 per acre.
"Lawson, in her swaddling clothes, was christened Haught's Store, and was also known by an alias, as "Slapfoot." The latter name being a bit offensive to the more refined and sensitive ear, and "Haught's Store" sounding too much like a country crossroad place, we, the natives, seeing in the near future, a magnificent town in view, concluded to adopt a more town-like name -- hence, Lawson, in honor of one of our leading merchants.
"The city (prospective) contains, as a starter, three stores, a post office, a blacksmith shop, run by William Delk and father; two church houses, to wit, one Baptist, and one Presbyterian and Christian, with an occasional Hardshell visit.
"In conclusion, I will say that we have a fine and industrious and enterprising set of farmers, who have paid off their mortgages and have money to loan to the merchants. - REX "
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Haught's Store or "Slapfoot"
(Contributed by Jerry Flook)
Jasper Rupard, a substantial farmer, living west of Garland, came to Texas in the early days, and located with his parents in "Devil's Neck," a place near the mouth of White Rock [Creek], in the southern portion of Dallas county, in 1866. At that time, the section mentioned, was notorious for its "bad men," and deserved all the reputation it had, possibly. Scyene, the home of the Youngers, with daring and reckless friends scattered over different portions of the county, was made famous by these men for dare-devil acts and disregard of danger. Mr. Rupard carried the mail in the '70s from Dallas to Canton, Van Zandt county, on horseback, and recites many interesting experiences. He traveled the old stage road, which had relay stations at Dallas, Scyene, Slapfoot, and on east. (By the way, it might be of interest to state that the old stage barn is still  standing at Scyene, and the Slapfoot station is still partly in evidence, having been converted into a store and remodeled several times.)
This writer [William H. Holford, editor of the News] was born within a mile of the latter place in November, 1871, and remembers vividly, the scenes of experiences of early settlers in that section. Sam Haught, who married a great aunt of the writer, in Illinois, and came to that section in the '60s, was proprietor of the store, grocery and liquor house, and was one of the most widely known men in the county, at that time. He was a great big, six-foot-three man, who wore a wool shirt, open half way down his breast, and could out-curse any living man we remember to have heard. But withal, he was kindhearted and generous, and this finally led him into bankruptcy. At one time, he owned several hundred acres of good land and uncounted cattle, the range being free, but bad trades put him practically out of business, and he moved to Arizona, where he died a few years ago. His wife and two sons are still living there, and the younger son has made a fortune in the cattle and mining business. Sam Haught, Sr., once found a pair of saddle bags containing about ten thousand dollars, which a prospector had lost, and kept it for several months, until he found the rightful owner. Later, he negotiated a loan on some land, which, it is said, made the loan people lose many nights' sleep. His word was considered as a gold bond for any amount of money in those days, and he considered everybody honest. His education was meager, and he kept his books on the wall of the store, by signs. One instance of that style of bookkeeping will show that it had its unsatisfactory side. A man came in to settle his account, and finding a cheese charged, raised a kick, stating that he had never, to his knowledge, bought a whole cheese. [Haught had recorded the charge] by drawing a circle on the wall. After some thought, Uncle Sam said, "Oh, that was a grindstone you got, and I forgot to put a hole in it." With this explanation, the account was paid. But, enough of this.
while carrying the mail, stopped [at Haught's Store] to deliver
the pouch on one of his semi-weekly trips, and discovered a splotch
of blood on the floor of the post office, and asked what caused
it. A bystander replied that some man got "too d___
smart in here yesterday, and a 'friend' took a shot at him. He
was buried here yesterday evening." Going on to Canton,
he learned that three men had been killed in that burg as a result
of an old feud, and several others seriously wounded, but the
affair seemed to cause no special comment.
In those days, some of the most daring and best-nerved men in the American union inhabited Dallas county -- the Youngers, the Collinses, Sam Bass, and the James boys, frequently coming in, and many others who will be remembered by old timers making this county headquarters. While many deeds committed in those days cannot be condoned, it should be taken into consideration that Texas was just emerging from Carpetbag rule, the rottenest government under which any people were ever forced to live, and this was primarily the cause of so much desperadoism. Most of the so-called desperados of those days were mild-mannered gentlemanly men, and in the common walks of life, would have been classed as model citizens. But, they lived in "times that try men's souls," and who is there having the nerve, that would not have done as they did? Possibly, under different conditions, they would have made different reputations, altogether.
Old Uncle Arch Lanier, a quiet, God-fearing man of unquestioned integrity, was postmaster and justice of the peace at Haught's Store for years, and possibly gave more advice and averted more ruptures, than any other one man during those strenuous times. While a persistent advocate of peace, if nothing else would satisfy, he would put up a mighty good fight, and his death was mourned by possibly a more variegated class of humanity than ever occurred in that section.
The country was mostly open in those days, with just occasional small farms dotting the prairies. Grass was waist high in the summertime and cattle stayed fat all the year. About the time this writer arrived at the age of observance the owners of cattle were gathering their herds and driving to the "far West," out about Parker and Wise counties, where they could find more free range. Those herds of a thousand cattle on the trail, with their whooping, singing and seemingly carefree herders, put the cowboy spirit in us, and we decided right then, that if we ever got loose from Mammy's apron strings, a great cowboy would be born. In anticipation of that time, practice with a lariat was indulged in on every possible occasion, and one day, we accidentally roped a good-sized razor-back, and there ís where our cowboy desires ceased. That razor-back caused us more trouble than the first pipe of "homespun" we tried to smoke (only a few months later), or all the obstreperous subscribers we have had to contend with.
But alas, for boyhood's dreams. We never had a chance to make a daring cowboy, and probably never would have made good, had we been favored with the chance. The cattle had all gone too far west for us to find them when we arrived at the age of maturity, and returning friends failed to give the glowing accounts of cowboy life as we had pictured it. Possibly, a good cowboy was spoiled in the making of a poor newspaper man. Who knows?
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(Contributed by Jerry Flook)
A lady reader in a personal letter has
made some corrections in last week's article [about Slapfoot
or Haught's Store], and also gives several additional facts.
Mr. Haught helped to saw with an old whip saw, the planks that made the first plank floor in Dallas. Up to that time, people lived in log huts with dirt or puncheon floors.
One of [Mr. Haught's] sisters married Lord Duck of Vancouver Island, and many years ago, came here on a visit. Lady Duck mounted a horse with a man's saddle (but not clothes pin fashion) and rode four miles to spend the day with your grandmother Holford, who had been one of her girlhood friends.
Your great uncle, Jerry Holford, came here about that time, or soon afterward. Jerry Prairie is named for him. He hunted buffalo when there were great herds of them on all these prairies. He is buried in a little cemetery about two miles south of Mesquite."
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