"Befo' de civil War w'en de folks from Missippi, cum to Texas, Dr. Bedwell, my mammy's Marster, decided dat he would sell his plantation in Missippi an' cum too, I does not know if he cum wid de Harrison an' Dunklin an' Speight's an' Ross's or not, but I does know dat he is one of de early settlers of Brazos bottom, for he brung my mammy who was a Chocktaw Indian, from de tribes in Missippi of friendly Indians, an' he brung about a hundred slave famblies wid him.
"He settled in de bottom near Tehuacana an' dis was called de old Bedwell place, later Captain John H. Harrison bought hit. He had a big plantation of several hundred acres an' de slave famblies, so he had a white man to oversee an' tell dem what to do. He rides up an' down de cotton an' de fields of corn, oats an' sugar cane, a seein' effn dey is workin' or not. Sometimes he has to make dem work effn he ketch dem a playin' off. I kin remember w'en I was jes a boy about nine years old w'en freedom cum's, how dat dey clear de land an' how dey has part of de field hands a plowin' de long rows of de cotton an' de corn on de plantation, an' how some of dem is clearin' de land for hit to be put in cultivation.
"Dr. Bedwell had a boy named Horace, he was about de same age as myself, we played, rode horses, went huntin' an' fishin' together. De Brazos bottom was de best place to hunt an' fish in de country dis side of Waco, de town besides de
Torrey tradin' post dat was nearest to de settlers on de Tehuacana, about ten miles from de little town of Waco. He has de quarters for de slaves made of log cabins, plastered wid clay, most of dem had de dirt floors, but dey was kept clean an' dey was jes as healthy den as dey is now, unless hit was de malaria from de waters of de Brazos an' de Tehuacana dat back up an' stand for so long dat hit caused de fevers, befo' dey has de country cleared up fer dey farmin'.
"After de war cum on an' so many goes away dat de land is not put in cultivation so much until after freedom. Den Dr. Bedwell gives de nigger's little tracts of land to work on de halves, he furnish de grub an' de money to have hit worked an' de teams, den de nigger do de work an' de land dey work dis way, dey git half, de rest of de plantation, de owner pay by de day for de work an' has de crop.
"We has all de wood, wild hogs, turkeys, an' all kind of birds to eat 'effn we jes go out in de woods an' kill dem. We had a little church dat de w'ite folks built for us, Dr. Bedwell, Dr. Dunklin, Harrison, an' de rest of de neighbors all went in an' built hit. De preacher after hit was built, (an' dey commence to have de nigger preachers), was one from Waco, den w'en he did not cum, we had old Dr. B.H. Carroll after Bayler University was moved to Waco, first hit was Dr. Burlerson, den Dr. Carroll an' a man by de name of Suttle's an' Hardwick from over across Big Creek, dey call hit "de settlement east of Big Creek", an' dis was whar de town of Mart was named later.
"I has heard my neighbor, Harrison Cole, tell 'bout how, w'en de preacher did cum den, Captain John H. Harrison would read de Bible an' preach to de niggers at dis church, an' he tell a little story 'bout how de nigger's had been givin' de Captain a lot of trouble a runnin' away, an' one day after Harrison Cole, who belonged to Cap. John Harrison, had run off an' been workin' over on Brushy Creek, he cum's back an' he meets de Cappn' one Sunday an' nobody to preach to de nigger's so Harrison Cole axes Captain John, "Is you goin' to preach for us today?" An' de Cappn' say, "Hell, no! Dey ain't no use, dey is all goin' to Hell any-how, so dey is no need for me to preach to dem!" Dis was w'en he's worried wid dem for runnin' away, jes cause dey is free, dey must try dey freedom, but dey most always cum back.
"W'en we commenced to have de nineteenth celebrations de w'ite folks, like de Old Dr. Bedwell, Dr. Dunklin, an' de Harrison's give us our hogs an' cattle to barbecue, we had de big celebrations an' everybody seem's like, w'ite an' black cum an' git some barbecue. Den after de nigger's had dey nineteenth of June celebrations for dey freedom dat was declared on dat day in 1865, de w'ite folks has dey barbecue on de fourth of July. An' we goes an' helps dem to cook de barbecue, den all de nigger's dat kin get to go an' help, goes, so dey kin have all dey wants to eat after de w'ite folks have dey dinner. We does not have de good times dese days we did in de days befo' an right after freedom.
"Befo' de Houston an' Texas Central railroad was built to Waco, Dr. Bedwell run a wagon train to haul freight from Millican to Waco, my daddy was one of de teamsters, in de winter sometimes hit would take dem six weeks to make de trip, de rivers would be up an' sometime dey had to wait for dem to run down, an' de bad spell's of cold weather would make dem have to stop an' camp on de way, dey had plenty of wood for de camp fires, an' dey has de supplies wid dem. Hit is not so bad for dey kin go huntin' while dey is waitin' for de roads to be so dey kin travel. To make de trip from Millican to Waco, dey go thro' de town's of Franklin Texas, de Hearne, Bryan, an' Marlin, so dey has some rivers an' creeks to cross. After de Houston an' Texas Central railroad cum, den dey ship de cotton down to Houston an' Galveston to de Markets untill dey has de markets at de town of Waco. I 'members how, w'en de rail-road cum, how all de nigger's quit work an' for a week de boss couldn't git dem to do anythin' but go to de tracks an' watch de train's cum in. Dey had most of dem never seen a train befo'.
"Yes, mam, I has heard dem talk 'bout how de Indians pass thro' de Brazos an' de Tehuacana bottom an' camp, on dey migratin' in de winter an' de spring from one huntin' ground to another. I kin 'member seein' dem myself. Dey was de East Texas Indians mostly, an' most of dem was friendly Indians dat camp near whar we lived. I kin 'member how dey marked de trees to leave dey trail an' de same ones would cum back dat way w'en dey pass thro' again. As well as I kin 'member dey was de Caddo'es, Nacodoches, Cherokees, Chocktaws, Creeks, de Waco Indians pass by here too, de ones dat Waco takes hit's name from.
"My gran-mammy being a Chocktaw Indian could talk to some of dem, an' dey would take her to talk for de w'ite folks w'en dey goes down to whar de Indians is camped, I kin 'member de old Mistis callin' her, 'Liddy' dey bring dey moccasons, beads, blankets, an' sometimes horses to trade for corn an' flour, an' things like dat. Dey was a grove called de old Bedwell Grove, whar dey camp. De Dr. let dem camp in hit, whar dey kin have de water from de spring. Us boys would go down w'en dey cum, to watch dem. Effn de w'ite men cum to trade wid dem, dey sometimes are eatin' de corn, (dey parches hit) den dey has a long handle spoon dey each one takes a bite, den he passes hit to de next one, for dey sit around de fire in a circle, if any of de w'ite men are cum to talk to dem dey pass hit to him, an' he must eat too, or dey will git angry wid him. Den dey passes de pipe aroun' in de same way, an' dis is called de "pipe of peace", den sometimes dey would dance for de w'ite folks, but w'en dey dance dis way dey does not have on de war paint. Dey jest puts hit on w'en dey is goin' on de war path.
"Den I kin 'member how w'en dey was drivin' de herds of cattle up de trails, how de w'ite folks was so glad w'en dey commences to have de markets for dey cattle. I hear dem talk 'bout drives up de Old Chisholm trail, an' how de cattle swim de rivers, an' how w'en de herds cum thro' dis country an' pass somewhar above Waco, on de Bosque dat some of de folks from Waco put dey herds in wid de ones from South Texas to drive up de trail to Kansas an' to de markets up North. Dey was a Mrs. Cluck who was a livin' in Waco last year who was de first woman dat went up de trail, she was Mrs. Harriet Cluck an' was about ninety years old in 1937.
"We was all raised to hear about de man de Chisholm trail was named after, Jesse Chisholm. He was born in Tennessee an' his mammy was a Cherokee an' dey moved to Arkansas, his mother was a sister to Tiana, de Indian wife of Sam Houston w'en he lived wid de Indians in Arkansas, befo' cum to Texas. He was de one dat started de Chisholm Trail in 1865, w'en made a route wid his wagon's an' pack animals from his camp near de Wichita thro' Caldwell, Pond Creek, Enid, Kingfisher, an' Concho to de Washita valley, hit was handed down to my mammy an' de w'ite folks dat de first herd went over de trail in 1865.
"Dey had more trails from dis time on, one was de one to California, one of de trail drivers dat drove de herds to California was a man by de name of James Walker, I 'member hearing de story 'bout how he had been a camel herder for de rebel army durin' de war w'en dey had a herd of camels down in Southwest Texas, he took a herd to California for a man by de name of Slater from Llano, by de way of de Concho-Horse-Head Crossing dat is now de Goodnight-Loving Trail, den across de Sacramento mountains by de Tularosa valley to de Rio Grand, den by de Emigrant Trail.
"De story of de Camels is dis way, de country aroun' in Kerr county Texas is hilly so de rebel officers thought dat dey would try de camels for carrin' de supplies to de army posts. Dey built de post as much like de places in Asia whar dey cum from, as dey could, den dey had about eighty shipped to Texas from de old country, dey landed at a Texas place on de Gulf dey called Indianola on Matagorda Bay, whar hit was used all durin' de war for one of de shippin' ports.
"A Major Wayne drove a pair of dese camels to a hack from de Gulf to de camp, so in a little while hit was de style for de ladies from de post to go drivin' to de other towns, (like San Antonia) to see dey friends at de Army Post wid camels to dey buggy or hack dey ride in.
"Dey was a Lieutenant Beale dat used de camels for de wagon train's from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, across northern
Arizona into California in de year 1857. Some of dis herd's decendents was still in Arizona in de year 1931. Dey was some drivers dat cum wid de herd from de old country, one was named Hadji Ali, he lived until de year 1902.
"I went wid some cattle dat Dr. Bedwell sold to a ranchman out in Arizona, so I went to see dis old Army Post at Camp Verde. I jes must tell yer 'bout de lumber hit was built wid. De timber in de walls was brought from Pensacola, Florida, at a cost of $125 a thousand feet, w'en fine cypress, was growin' right on de spot de fort was built, I thought 'bout how much better, seems like, hit would be if de government had jes built a saw-mill an' made hit up, like General Harrison did w'en he built his house right after de war.
"Dey had trouble out in dis part of Texas up until 'bout de year 1882, de reason I 'members is because 'dey Lipans kept makin' raids a killin' an' robbin', den goin' back across de Rio Grande into Mexico, because de soljers was not supposed to follow dem w'en dey git to Mexico, dey was a young Lieutenant by de name of Bullis dat followed dis tribe of Indians wid de help of some Seminole scouts de army had, an' he went right on into Mexico after dem an' attack dey camp, de ones dat escaped never did give any more trouble.
"Hit seemed dat after de war was over dat de Government would not pay any attention to de Indians until dey finally sent one of dey Generals an' he most got killed in a battle wid dem so he had de Government to put dem on a reservation in Oklahoma, de Indian Territory den.
"I forgot to tell you 'bout how de Texas folks down on de border give dis Lieutenant Bullis a fine sword, an' yer know dat his name was given to de camp at San Antonia dey call Camp Bullis. De Indian trails was used for cattle trails after de Indians was put on de reservation an' de big cypress trees dat was so thick in de Hill country, dey call above San Antonia, dey has cleaned hit all out for lumber. Den dey took de open cattle country an' fenced hit up into pastures, an' some of de ranch-men went to raisin' sheep an' goats in de hilly country, for dey paid better an' did'nt take so much grass for dem, dey used to say dat goats could live on de rocks an' de bushes.
"Well dis is things dat happen in 'nuther part of Texas from whar I lived on de Brazos bottom, but yer know dat Texas news dat happen anywhar in de State was news to all de old settlers, an' dis is de most dey talk 'bout, what is happenin', for dey did not git de news from for de rest of de States until hit would be some-times two an' three months old.
"I will tell yer some more 'bout de Indians for I has heard Captain Shapley Ross tell 'bout hit, for dis was all in de fambly history of Ross's. De government, befo' de war had what dey called de Brazos Reserve dis was a league, or four league to be exact, of land de State had let de government use for de Indians, an' was located in Young County. Most of dese Indians was friendly an' dey say was learnin' to cultivate de land, fer dis Reserve De Comanches was located on de Clear Fork of de Brasos, 'bout sixty miles from de Brazos Reserve.
"Dese Comanches an' other tribes dat was not friendly would go out on dey raids, until de new settlers would think hit was de ones from de Brazos reservation, an' so dey demanded de Indians to be sent to de Indian Territory, out of Texas. I 'members dat dey tell how Captain Ross was de sub-agent to de Indians an' dat Richard Coke an' a man by de name of James Smith of Waco wid three or four other men was appointed by de Governor Runnels to try to help keep peace wid dem until de government did move dem out of Texas. Dey was finally moved out of Texas 'bout de time dat Houston was elected de Governor jes befo' de Civil war broke out.
"After de war broke out den Richard Coke raised a company of infantry an' Colonel Speight raised one dat was called de 15th Texas wid de Colonel de commander. After dey was stationed near Millican on de Central Railroad so dey would be close to de centeral part of de State or to Galveston if dey was needed, den in June dey had de orders to march east to Tyler whar dey was put in some of de companies of Louisiana or Arkansas. Hit seems dat dey was sent on up in Louisiana to join de rebels in de battles of Mansfield, or Yellow Bayou. I hear dem tell 'bout how dey had de fever an' so many died wid hit in camp.
"I kin 'member too, how some of de Texas soljers was wid de Hoods Texas Brigade, for some of de boys from our part of de Brazos was in hit, Dr. Dunklin, one of de Mullins, an' most all of dem was from Waco or de Central part of Texas in de companies dat Dr. Dunklin was in. I does not know for sure, jes whar all dey went or de battles dey was in, but I hear dem tellin' 'bout fightin' in his brigade w'en dey cum home. An'. I kin 'member dem singin' de war songs.
"W'en dey cum home I hear dem tell 'bout how Hood's Men was camped at Nashville Tennessee 'bout Christmas, an' how w'en dey had to retreat across de Tennessee river back into Georgia an' how cold hit was, de ice an' snow was everywhar, an' dey shoes was worn out, an' how de wagons picked dem up w'en dey feet was frozen, how if dey see a mule or cow dead by de road dey would skin hit to make moccasons for dey shoes, dis was how de soljers had to do, de stories dat dey tell 'bout de ones in de infantry. Dey tell 'bout how dey cross de Tennessee river jes three days after Christmas.
"Den dey tell 'bout how happy de soljers was to git back to Georgia an' how dey sing as dey is gittin' near de line or de river, dey cross de Tennessee. Dey sing all de old Georgia songs an' some of dem went like dis
"And now I'm goin' southward, For my heart is full of woe, I'm goin' back to Georgia, To find my Uncle Joe,
Dis Uncle Joe was Joe Johnston, one of de rebel officers dey loved de best. Den dey sing de rest of de song,
"You may sing about your pretty gal, An' sing of Rosalie, But de gallant Hood of Texas, Played Hell in Tennessee.
"Yer may jes imagine how de boys dat lived to cum back liked to tell all 'bout dese battles whether dey was in dem or not.
"I is gittin' old an' near de end of my row, de faces of de ole Massa an' de others in de fambly connections, de Rosa's, de Dunklins, an' de others in de fambly of de Harrisons, all cum befo' me as I talk to you, I wonder if w'en I cross over Jordan if dey faces I will see, for you see dey has all gone on, de old Massa's an' Missus, an' jes one or two of us ole slaves is left to tell yer 'bout dem days.
"I am still livin' on one of de Missus Shapley Ross farm, but de days I has been tellin' you 'bout is way back yonder, so far away dat dey mos' like a dream, I thinks of dis song mos' every day,
"Deep River, my home is over Jordan, Lord, I wants to cross over into camp-groun',
an' w'en I does dis I will feel like singin' de song 'bout hard times,
"Tis de song of de weary, Hard times, hard times, cum agin no mo', Many days has you lingered, 'round my cabin door, Oh, hard times cum agin no mo'.
"W'en I tell yer 'bout de hard times I does not mean de times in slavery days, why dem was de days of good times! everybody happy 'ceptin w'en de boys went to de war, plenty to eat, plenty to wear, an' never thinkin' 'bout de tomorrow, every day took keer of hitself. De hard time has been in dis day, but den maybe w'en I cross over Jordan, den de ole days will cum back.
Foreman, Heloise M. Dallas, Texas (3-8-38 (Yes))