The old house on the homestead.
Settling The Homestead
The year was 1855 and my great grandfather, Sam White, and his new wife Sophie, along
with the Hart family, left Alabama headed for Texas. They had Colonel Charles
Goodnight as their guide, as he had already made several trips to Texas and knew the way.
The first stop was a spot on the prairie just east of the present day town of Rio Vista, near
the Nolan River, in Johnson County. This was the spot that the Harts picked to
homestead. Everyone helped the Hart family erect a log cabin for shelter. By the time
the house was finished it was getting on into the fall of the year and too late to look for
another place and build another cabin. Sam and Sophie spent their first winter in Texas
with the Hart family. Colonel Goodnight had a dugout in a mountain near the Brazos
River where he was staying.
The next spring, 1856, Sam and Sophie headed farther west and settled on a spot of land
east of the present town of Glen Rose, in Somervel County, near the Brazos River.
Colonel Goodnight helped Sam build his log cabin as the homestead wasn’t very far from
the mountainside dugout where he was staying. The cabin they built consisted of two
rooms with an open walkway between them. This cabin is still on the homeplace and is
used as a barn today.
Colonel Goodnight later moved on west to the panhandle of Texas and started ranching
next to the XIT ranch. He also helped to establish the Goodnight - Loving Cattle Trail
from the panhandle of Texas to Wyoming. Some of the early ranchers would drive their
cattle to Wyoming to finish fattening them out in a cooler climate before sending them to market.
Sam and Sophie lived in the log cabin until they got the ranch established. By 1878 they
had done well enough that they decided they could build a regular ranch house. They
went to the settlement of Fort Worth, about 50 miles away, and purchased the lumber for
the house and had it freighted in by wagon.
They built a large two story home atop a rise overlooking Buck Creek. The house had
two large fireplaces to heat it in the winter. It also had a large front and back porch to
shade it and keep it cool in the summer. The house caught fire in 1966 and burned to the ground.
Sam and Sophie raised 4 children, Sam Jr, (Bullie as he was better known), Gid, Fannie
and Edna. Fannie, my grandmother, passed on before dad married and I never knew her.
Bullie and Gid I got to know but did not ever discuss any of the early family life with
them as the were gone by the time I was a teenager. Edna married and moved to
Colorado City, Texas. During the last few years of her life, after I was grown, I made
several trips to visit with her. The following are some of the stories she told me.
One thing she remembered about her childhood was playing in the large clearing between
the ranch house and the creek with her brothers and sister. Whenever they were playing
one of them would always have to be on the lookout for indians. It seems that the indians
liked to follow the waterways on their hunting trips, and if any were in the area they
would usually ride by between the house and the creek. The indians were known to pick
up young children and take back to camp with them. Whenever indians were spotted
whoever was on lookout would call to the others and they would duck down in the
broom weeds and hide until the indians got out of sight.
Edna also said that her father always carried a colt 45 revolver with him. The gun was
never out of his reach at anytime. During the day he always wore his gunbelt and at night
he hung the gunbelt on the bedpost by his head. Besides the indians being on the prowl
there were also cattle rustlers to watch out for. At this time, in this area,
you were your own law.
The children were taught how to shoot by the time they were old enough to handle a gun.
Edna said that by the time she was a teenager she could take a colt 45 and hit a jackrabbit
on the run at 50 yards. The guns were not only for protection, but also for putting dinner
on the table.
Times are quite different now. Instead of a rwo day buggy ride to Fort Worth, with a stop
over in Cleburne, you can drive it now in an hour. You only need to carry a gun now for
protection from rattle snakes.
Sam (Bully) White, Fannie White Watson, Edna White Jordan and Gid White.
Picture taken about 1935 in front of homeplace.
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