« PreviousContinue »
FOUR BANDERA PIONEERS
Bandera county has become noted for its extremely old people. Living in that county are many pioneers who came when that region was a wilderness, among those we mention Amasa Clark, now 96 years of age; George A. Hay, aged 87; W. D. (Seco) Smith, aged 87;
and Ben Batot, aged 83. All of these pioneers are actively engaged in some calling and are able to attend to their own affairs. Amasa Clark was born in New York State in 1828, and enlisted in the United States Army when just a lad seventeen years old. He saw service with General Scott in the invasion of Mexico, marched from Vera Cruz to Mexico City and was in all the desperate en
gagements that occurred AMASA CLARK
along the way. Coming
out of Mexico in 1848, he came to Texas, and to Bandera county in 1852, where he has resided ever since. His life story is full of thrills and reads like a romance. He owns a nice little farm five miles from the town of Bandera, and recently marketed a thousand bushels of pears which he sold at $1.00
George Hay was born in Scotland in 1836, and came to America while yet a small boy. He located in Bandera in 1854, and for many years was engaged in the mercantile business. He sent a number of herds up the trail during trail driving days, and is well known to all the old timers of southwest Texas. For the past few years he has held the office of Justice of the Peace at Bandera, and only recently retired from that office.
W. D. (Seco) Smith was born in Mississippi in 1836, and located in the Bandera region in 1857. He was a noted scout and Indian fighter during the early days, and was a warm friend and admirer of Big Foot Wallace. He now resides on a pretty farm near Medina City, in Bandera
county, and looks after his crops and
GEORGE HAY live stock personally.
Ben Batot was born in Germany in 1841, and came with his parents to Texas to the Castro Colony on the Medina River in 1843. He lived in Medina county many years, but later moved to Bandera county, and now lives on his farm near the town of Bandera.
All of these old pioneers have raised large families, Amasa Clark being the father of nineteen children and Seco Smith being the father of fifteen.
It has been a pleasing task to compile this wonderful book, and I feel that something should be said of the efforts of Mr. George W. Saunders to “round up” all of the old boys and get their history in print so that the coming generations may read of the hardships and dangers they encountered and the splendid achievements of his comrades of days gone by. For years Mr. Saunders endeavored to interest men in the publication of this kind of a book. At the Old Trail Drivers' convention held at San Antonio in 1917 the first steps were taken in this direction when the cowboys there present each volunteered to write a sketch of his life and send to Mr. Saunders for publication in the Trail Drivers' Book. Some of them sent in the sketches in due time but some of them failed to respond promptly, and then the “round-up” started. Letters were sent out, phone and telegraph requests were made, and finally a sufficient number had been corraled to make an interesting book. Arrangements were made to have it printed. An editor was employed to compile the sketches and get them in shape, and the editor and printer were going to get them out for Mr. Saunders. Suddenly the editor “went all to pieces" with a nervous breakdown, and the printer closed shop and departed for parts unknown, taking along all of the manuscripts and letters that had been sent in. But nothing daunted, Mr. Saunders, set about again to roundup the old boys, and after two years' effort the first volume of the “Trail Drivers of Texas" was brought out, but it was incomplete, although it contained 500 pages. The old trail drivers were delighted with the book and decided to have an additional volume. It was my happy privilege to write, compile and edit the first volume, at the behest of Mr. Saunders, and when it was decided to get out a second volume he insisted that I take charge of the work.
I have been handicapped in several ways, chiefly because I never was a cowboy, never put a rope on anything larger than a milk calf, never rode a yearling, forked a bronco or adorned my boot with a pair of “cornbread” spurs, and only by accident am I entitled to membership in the Old Trail Drivers' Association. Some time in the remote past my father, John Warren Hunter, helped to keep up the drags with a herd going north, and thereby made me a son of a trail driver. My father was born in Alabama, but came to Texas when he was about nine years old. His father was a Methodist preacher, and settled near Sulphur Bluff, in Hopkins county, where he was living when the Civil War broke out. My father, being about fifteen years old at the time, was employed as a teamster to haul cotton to Brownsville, the only port open to the Confederacy. He spent the term of the war on the Rio Grande, where he became well known for certain daring feats. After the war he spent awhile in Lavaca county and returned to his home in Hopkins county to find that home broken up, his father dead and his brothers and sisters scattered to different parts of the country. He went to Tennessee where he was happily married to my mother, Mary Ann Calhoun, and went to Arkansas where he farmed for a season, but he longed to get back to Texas, and returned in 1878, and became a school teacher. For many years he taught school in Gillespie, Mason, Menard and McCulloch counties, being one of the pioneer teachers of that section. In 1891 he quit the school room to take up newspaper work, having purchased the Menardville Record, later moving the plant to Mason and establishing the Mason Herald. He was one of the fearless editors of that time and the Herald became known as an outspoken weekly. Oftentimes he had to back up his assertions with muscle and brawn, but he was of Irish descent and really enjoyed a fisticuff, and when the match had been pulled off he was ready to shake hands and make friends. He removed to
San Angelo in 1907, and for several years was connected with the San Angelo Standard. His death occurred January 12, 1915. For many years prior to his death he had been engaged in collecting historical data and manuscript pertaining to the early history of Texas, and became recognized as one of the leading historians of the state. Naturally I became interested in this kind of work and have tried to follow the same line, with the result that I fell right in when Mr. Saunders announced that he was going to print a book of reminiscence sketches of the early cowmen. I realized then that it would be a wonderful contribution to the historical annals of Texas, and that the time was ripe for its publication, as the older fellows are passing off the stage of action at an alarming rate and that within a few years not many would be left to tell the tale. I realized then, which fact has been made apparent since, that I was not qualified for the task that has been assigned me, but I have done my best, and that is all anyone can do. It has been a great pleasure to perform this task under the direction of Mr. Saunders, for he has been very considerate and patient, and left matters very much in my hands. The Old Time Trail Drivers, as well as the youth of Texas, owe him a debt that can never be paid for thus rescuing from oblivion and preserving this important link in the chain of Texas history.
J. MARVIN HUNTER.