STORIES FROM THE PAST


PIONEER DAYS IN TEXAS AND NEW MEXICO
(As written by Lee R. York Oct. 19, 1882 -Nov. 1964)


The writer was born in West Texas, at Coon Hollow, near Buffalo Gap in Taylor County near Abilene, Texas. Abilene was a small community just beginning as a pioneer town. I was born October 19, 1882. My parents were Jefferson Davis York and Matilda Beaver York. He was born in Van Zant County and she was born in Stephens County, in the State of Texas. He was English and she was Scottish.

I was two years old when my parents moved to Valverde County, Texas and camped on the Devilís River. We stretched our tent under a rock cliff about fifty feet high. Of course, I was too young to remember what happened there, but my mother told me many times of the events that took place.

Around the area where we camped the country was hilly and covered with brush and contained many wild animals, such as deer, turkeys, bears and mountain lions. One night while my father was away a panther began to growl and scream on the top of the cliff over our tent. My mother said she was terribly scared and excited. The panther kept up the noise until around midnight. My mother did not sleep any that night and she became very much dissatisfied about our location under the cliff.

My father was a cowboy and that was all he ever wanted to be. They told this story about him. A neighbor was digging a well and came to ask father to help him. My father told him, "Yes, I can help you if I can do it on horseback." He also had visions of finding a gold mine just over the mountain, an idea that kept him moving all his life. (I often wonder if we all should not have some vision of something good to keep us moving in life).

So my father turned his attentions to the Sacramento Mountains in Southern New Mexico where he thought he might find his gold mine. In late 1886 he loaded his possessions, which were few, and his family on a wagon drawn by four small Spanish mules and headed for the mountains. We traveled along the Rio Grande River until we came to its junction with the Pecos River, then up the Pecos to Horsehead crossing where we crossed over and headed for Pecos, Texas. From there we went into New Mexico and on to the Sacramento Mountains. We stopped a day or two at Weed which was located on the Agua Chiquita stream.

I was sitting in my office one day when the Mayor of Abilene walked in and told me they were going to employ a new judge as they not satisfied with the one they had. He said they felt I could fill this office and asked me if I would take the place if offered it. I told him I would and at the next board meeting I was appointed, with the understanding that I would hold court once a day and take care of my own business the rest of the time. The pay was $150.00 per month, which would just about pay my grocery bill. In a few days I got a letter from the Braniff Investment Company of Oklahoma City asking me if I would be interested in representing them in Abilene. They had appointed an agent to make loans and they wanted an Attorney to handle the titles and loan papers. I found that a man by the name of Clark, who was in the insurance business, had made a deal with the company to make loans for home building in Abilene, and he had recommended me as the attorney. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." I have always believed that God had come to my rescue under this wonderful promise.

Earlier in this account of my life I told of the beginning of my Fatherís and Motherís life, but failed to complete the descendants. As I have related, I was born in 1882. Then a child was born oractically every two years until seven children were born. They consisted of five boys: Lee Roy (myself), Fred, James, Floyd and Dave. Another baby boy was born and lived only a few days, but I do not remember his name. The two daughters, Etta and Bessie were the last of children. All the other boys lived to be teen-agers. Fred was the first to die. He died from blood poisoning caused by arsnag in his foot. James died from pneumonia. Floyd died from an injury, and Dave died of pneumonia. Dave was the only one of the boys who had a family. One of my sisters, Etta was married to Bill Etheridge, and had no family. Bessie married Harry Howe and reared a family of four girls and a boy. Etta now lives in Prescott, Arizona and Bessie lives in Oregon.

Several years after I left home for an education for $3,000 and moved to Old Mexico where my father put the money in a bank and never was able to get it out. He then went to Arizona where he died around 1912. My mother later came to live with my family in Abilene; where she died and was buried.

I presume it is always true that the mother-housewife has to bear most responsibilities in rearing a family. My father made several trips to Wichita, Kansas with a herd of cattle and was gone about three months each time. He always had a long beard when he returned. All the responsibilities of the family were on my mother during these trips. I am sure she suffered, but she never complained. All of her children were born without a doctor, and when they got sick, there was no doctor to call for help.

In the early 1890ís we had a terrible epidemic of diphtheria which wiped out entire families of children. One of our neighbors had five children and all of them died during the epidemic. It almost caused a panic among mountain people. Many of . . .

This is the biography of the grandfather of a friend. The biography continued, but this is all she sent.  If you find you are related, please contact me as she would like to know more about her ancestors.


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