Life in Hopkins County, Texas

 

The following interesting matter has been gathered here and there over the country and can be relied upon as historical facts without exaggeration. Robert Hargrave built the first blacksmith shop in the county. It was built at old Sulphur Bluff. He made the first plow, it was called "cary plow" the only plow used at that time. A bar share, a long iron share and a wooden moldboard. When it struck a root or stump or other solid substance, the handles would fly up with a quick jerk and drop back with a vigorous punch. When it came to a root, it gave you no warning at all, but slowly sneaked under the thing so far that you had to back your team to get it out. If the root was weak and yielding enough it would break and both ends of the broken root would come at your defense-less shins with force sufficient to skin them from ankles to knees. This old time plow tested the piety of the old time settler. Corn was plowed five times and about five furrows to the row.

A very small amount of cotton was raised in Hopkins County in an early day. The people did a great deal of unnecessary work and in the very hardest way possible. Wheat was raised to a limited extent and cut with a cradle, and then threshed with flails. The way of making flails was simply to cut a hickory sapling long enough for both the handle and the club. At the place where the handle was to end and the club to begin, they beat a section of the sapling a few inches long, with the back of an axe, till it was a mere withe and perfectly flexible. They laid the wheat on the floor of the barn or on a covered pen of rails and pounded it to a mass of chaff, broken straw and wheat. This work was always done in the hottest days of summer. When the wheat was threshed, they sifted through a riddle made for the purpose to separate the wheat from the straw and coarse particles of chaff. In sifting the wheat, all the finer chaff that was small enough to go through the holes in the homemade sieve or riddle would remain in the wheat. To separate it from the wheat one man would pour wheat and chaff together, in a small stream, from a vessel held high above his head, while two other men fanned vigorously, with a sheet or bed quilt, as it fell. Within a few years the flail was dispensed with and oxen were used to tramp the wheat. Horses or oxen walked around in a circle upon the wheat, till the wheat straw was thoroughly tramped to pieces and wheat completely threshed. The wheat was then cleaned in a manner as above described. Times have changed since then sure enough.

There were no large slaveholders in Hopkins County. There were a great many who owned a few slaves they were always fed and clothed well. A few of the old time Negroes are here now. They were the happiest people on earth, never had the blues or gave way to despondency. All the world was indeed a stage to them and life was but a comic farce. The old time slave Negro has no patience with the partially educated "smart Elick" Negro of to day. The simple customs of these old pioneers began gradually to pass away with the introduction of modern machinery which has wrought a great. Revolution in our county, but its introduction has not decreased the expense of living. Gallantry among the old pioneers was a leading characteristic, there were no women in the eyes of such men, all females of human kind were ladies. Hospitality was another leading trait in the old timer. The traveler found a hearty welcome in every home, and the wealth of the host was always lavished upon the traveler with a delicacy of taste and sincerity of hospitality such as would insure his comfort and enjoyment. No remuneration was expected, or would be accepted, for such hospitality. The whole social atmosphere was redolent with this generous spirit.

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