Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dime Box Texas to Good Old Arizona

Dime Box is one of those names that I never forgot. I thought that it was a funny name when I first heard it years ago after finding out my friends mother was born there. Texas is a big state and has plenty of names that are intriguing.
I had a chance to dig a little to see where it was located and how the name came about.

Dime Box is a little town in lee County Texas. I am told that the name came from a local tradition before the federal post office was located there.
The small community was named Browns Mill at first and settlers deposited outgoing mail and a dime in a small box inside of Joseph Brown's office
for a weekly delivery to Giddings.

There was also a community by the name of Brownsville and mail was being mixed up between the two towns.

The post office in Browns Mill closed in 1883 and reopened a year later.
The Town so I am told was renamed Dime Box to eliminate the prior confusion regarding the mail deliveries. Old Dime Box transitioned into New Dime Box.

There was however no confusion when a little baby by the name of Christina was born in Dime Box to Homer and Ola Mae Haislip, the proud parents. Some folks spell the name Heslip.

Ma Stine is what I called her as well as everyone that knew her. I first met Ma Stine somewhere around 1956 or 57 when I went to her house in Mesa Arizona
with a couple of her children.

It was on a Monday and I went to hang out there until it was time to go skating.
Over time I met all of Ma Stine's children from the oldest sons Willie and Robert Lewis to the youngest son Arvis.
The girls were Ruth, Dorothy, Alice, Helen and Carrie.

Over the years the relationship grew, not only with the children but with the parents as well.

Ma Stine was married to a wonderful man known as "Chick" whose real name was Adolphus Hicks. He was also a character and he worked hard to feed his family. He also had a green truck and would use it to haul food scraps to feed the hogs that he raised.

From Mesa the family moved to Phoenix and so did all the laughter and good times.
In the household was Ma Price, Ma Stine's mother. She was a wonderfully spry lady who had us in stitches as well.

I do believe to this day that it was the camaraderie that the whole family had was the reason people loved being around.

I did not really know how to drive but in my haste to get over to the Hicks house,
I did the unthinkable when my mother went to sleep. I took her car!!

It was a white Chevy stick shift and I jerked all the way to Hadley street just so I could get in on the fun. When it was time for me to go back home, Carrie had to drive me back and Arvis followed in his car.

Needless to say I had stripped the gears and I can still see my mother trying to figure out what happened to her car. Did I own up? Noooo, No, Noway, not until many years later! You know how they used to say that they would knock you in to next week. Well,next week would have been to soon for me to try and make my way back to earth if I had confessed.

I gave Ma Stine my phone number just in case she needed me to take her somewhere if the kids were busy.

I got my call on several occasions when night time hit. I didn't mind one bit because I loved talking to her.
I found out later that she had me sneaking her over to the Po Keno House. I don't think she thought her daughters wanted her to go and play that poor mans bingo.
She loved going and playing even though she could not see very well later in life.
She would get her keno slips and her bottle tops and listen to the caller call them numbers out loud. B and that's a 5, or I and make that a 15. !!!

Most of the time when I would take her, I would sit back in amazement and watch the folks laugh and talk until the next time they met.

As I was thinking back and reminiscing, I decided to see if I could find them in Dime Box in the 1910. And boy did I hit pay dirt.

The 1910 Census for Dime Box Lee County lists Christina at age one enumerated with her grandparents Ruben and Mary J E Hornsby. There is another grandchild Henry who was two years old. The other children of Reuben's were Nelly,Dave,Isabella,Clinton and Henrietta Freeman. Also listed in the household was mother Christiana Mitchell who was eighty seven years old. I am not quite sure if this was Reuben's mother or Mary's mother because of a source I also found has Mary Elizabeth listed with a maiden name of Mitchell. I am wondering if this is who Ma Stine was named after.

I did not see Ola Mae and Homer in the house hold but they may have been out working somewhere.
I did find fifteen year old Homer though in the 1900 Census in the household with his parents Benjamin and Emily Heslip. Also listed were Benjamin Jr, Willie, Arther, Ida and Robert his siblings.

The next time I saw Christine was in the 1920 census. Since people traveled around for work it was no wonder that the Hornsby's were found in Fayette County Texas.

Same scenario but this time Christina is listed as nine years old, and in the household are children David, John C, Sylvia Davis and her son Willie. There is also a boarder by the name of Samuel Brazell living with them. The Hornsby's must have went looking for work in a group because there are several Hornsby families living several houses down.

When Christine's mother Ola Mae married William Price, her second husband, they moved to Arizona taking along nineteen year old Christine and her infant son William McDuffy. I found them living in Goodyear Arizona in 1930 where William J was a Laborer in a cotton camp. I was surprised, because I was thinking they would have been in Mesa.

Last stop Phoenix! The journey has been well worth it. Ms Christine Hicks sure caught my attention. She started off making a mark in Texas and ended up leaving a legacy in Phoenix Arizona. Well done Ma Stine, well done.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Gorgeous George and Aunt Carmena

I am hard pressed to see what drives people to look at the World Wide Entertainment(WWE) wresting shows much less go to the more than expensive matches.
My daughter saved her money so that the thrill could be enjoyed by her son Tyler and daughter Taylor. My daughter did not tell Tyler that she had tickets and I missed the look of joy on his face when they pulled up to the arena and saw where they were going.

For some reason the other night wrestling came into my mind and my thoughts went back years ago when I was in Marshall Texas and staying with my Aunt Carmena Morton whom everyone called "Sister" and her husband my Uncle John.

The ritual at the house was, after dinner, we would retire to the living room, watch TV, read, or my aunt would sew, until it was time to go to bed.
I remember in the winter in order to save the heat, all the rooms were closed off and the space heater was turned on for us to keep warm.

First off, my uncle and aunt would get their section of the newspaper and when they were through I would get the entire paper.
This went on nightly except when Saturday night wrestling came on. Then the world stopped and the bustling noise of the fans and the announcers filled the room.
My aunt clapped and yay-ed all through the show. When the wrestler Gorgeous George came on my aunt would have a fit. He was her hero!!

I do believe that he would win most of the matches because it seemed to me all I heard was Gorgeous George, Gorgeous George!
I think my aunt was the main reason he would win because I am sure he heard her all the way through TV land calling," that's right Gorgeous, get him' or ' One,Two,Three" as she slapped the opponents out along with the referee.

Well me and my short lived enthusiasm asked one night if I could read the Marshall News Messenger newspaper first since they were tuned in to the TV. The TV was one of those old blond Hoffman's minus the red,blue and green filler paper to see the match in color.
Of course the answer was yes because they were too engrossed in the goings on and they could read the paper later.

I spread out down on the floor and read and read to my hearts content, story by story line by line. I have always loved to read be it newspapers or books.
When I had finished reading, I folded up the paper just like I got it so that when the wrestling match was over my aunt and uncle could pick up and read the news of the day.

Finally the match was over. My aunt picked up the paper, opened up to her section and I heard her say "what is wrong with this paper!!."
My uncle took a look at his section and looked down at me. My aunt asked me why in the world would I go through and mark out words in the paper.
I remember telling her,(I was crying and all I could envision was a spanking) that I could not pronounce the words that I blackened out,they were to big and to hard and I did not know what they meant.

She told me never ever ever to do that again. If I did not know what a word meant or how to pronounce it to ask her or Uncle John. Boy was I relieved!

That Monday when I came home from Dogan Elementary School,I had waiting for me a brand new Dictionary which I prized for many years.

I don't even know why I even thought that I would get a spanking anyway.
She nor Uncle John had ever given me a spanking. Not even that time in church when that man gave me the bowl full of crackers and all those little glass bottles of grape juice.

He handed it to me and walked away so I thought they were all mine. I had even shared with my friend Rosemary who was sitting next to me. How was I to know that something was wrong until I could not hear my aunts distinct singing voice in the choir. Her voice had gone silent and that man came running back and took the tray from me.
I bet those people at New Bethel Baptist Church thought I was starving for food.

Shoot, me and Rosemary Richardson were loving the taste. Rosemary lived across the street from my aunt and uncle on Whetstone Street and happened to come to church with us that night.

I just love my Aunt and Uncle John. My Aunt is the daughter of Joseph and Frances Taylor from Marshall, Harrison County, Texas and my uncle John Morton is the son of Robert and Mollie Huff Morton,Pittsburgh, Camp County Texas.

I can say now that I may have gotten that line by line streak many years ago when reading that newspaper because that is one of the ways I use to look up those who I have a hard time finding in the Federal Census.
Who would have thought that the very people that I look for that way just happen to be in Marshall Texas.
And who would have thought it that Gorgeous George may be the reason that I stopped marking out words I could not understand in the newspapers.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Field Of Dreams, Knee Pads And All:

Its Football Season and with that said, I got to thinking!! Field Of Dreams

Thinking about the equipment they had back in the day when some of our ancestors may have played.
Back in the day when there were no lights, the teams had to play in the heat of the day or the blustery cold.

What about water! Did they get enough to quench their thirst as they ran around huffing and puffing for their team and their fans.

How was the water stored to keep them cool.
I wonder if they were in number two tubs with a block of ice or in one of those galvanized ones. Did they drink out of tin cups or cans or one of those huge ladles.

The colleges especially the HBCU's were not equipped with the best of uniforms, helmets and other gear that was needed to protect these men as they played the rough and tumble game of Football.

I would imagine though that the uniform condition did not matter too much when playing the schools in the towns in their vicinity as they were in the same shape.

The playing fields were straight out bare. (No artificial grass there) Running, banging, crashing to the ground!!! Pick themselves up, sometimes with a grunt here and there and do it all over again.

Those boys had to be really hurting and full of pain when getting hit on the field.
Then after a hard day of playing the game they loved so well, they had to go home and relax after pouring a nice hot bath.

I can also imagine though that they played their hearts out with as much enthusiasm as they do in these days except they were not getting paid.

I ran across this Picture of these football players who went to Bishop College in Marshall Texas. This was the football class of 1930.

I wish the squad had names of all the players. I was trying to get as close to the computer to see if any of these guys resembled any one in my family. There were a couple of names like Nellums, fullback, Flournoy, guard who was the captain of the team and Watkins played halfback.

Not a Texan, but worthy anyway LOL is The Black Cyclone of Wooster as Charles Follis(1879 - 1910)is know was reportedly the first African American to play football. Charles W. Follis,born February 3, 1879, in Cloverdale, Virginia moved to Wooster Ohio

In 1904, Follis signed a contract with the Shelby Athletic Club, later the Shelby Blues. With that contract, he became the first professional African American football player. Follis played on the team with Branch Rickey, the Ohio Wesleyan University student and future Brooklyn Dodger owner who would sign Jackie Robinson to integrate major league baseball in 1947.

As the 2010 football season rolls around, my brother Bruce, my two nephews Brian and Bryan are no doubt getting ready to rag on me, my daughter Latisha,and grands Taylor and Tyler.

Don't be surprised if the Arizona Cardinals come looking for a good fight in the town near you.

Me, I am going to go bird watching. GO CARDINALS!!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: The Man Who Crossed The Brazos

Houston Texas July 8,1899. The Brazos River had reached its peak after flood waters put numerous towns under water. Negroes who lived between Brookshire and Fulshire were stranded. Relief parties were sent to pick them up and take them to dry land that was located in Brookshire.

In Navasota the water had receded about 7 ft and the tale of the ruined crops were evident. Crops teetering to the brink as they were choked by the rushing water. People were scrambling to the plantations where they worked because most were on higher ground and many of the Negroes lived on the bottoms.

In Hempsted there was an appeal to the governor and cities to send out food to the more than three thousand Negroes who also lived on the bottoms and were starving, because they had been without food for days. The same thing was happening in Richmond, and Calvert. The Railroads that served all these areas were washed out and under water, making life miserable for those who depended on them for various services.

While reading the story of the flood I ran across this amazing sketch of this rather handsome man.
The Houston daily post. (Houston, Tex.) 1886-1903, July 08, 1899

The old man was rescued from his little cabin out on Peach Ridge near Brookshire. He had been water bound for three days. He claims that he is 106 years old and his appearance indicates the truthfulness of the assertion. This sketch was made by the post artist while the old man was being taken to Brookshire.

I went to the census to see if I could find him and also to compare the age that he claimed to be if possible. Even though the artist had a different view of the man whom he thought was every bit his age of 106. I thought that he looked more like a man in his late eighties.

I am pretty sure this is a distinct possible for the Frank in the paper. The age fits plus the area where he said he was rescued from and where he was living. The only different is the spelling of his last name and as we know " Spelling doesn't count" especially in those days.

1870 census
Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Precinct 3, Fort Bend, Texas; Roll M593_1585; Page: 598A; Image: 591; Family History Library Film: 553084.

Name: Frank Spates
Birth Year: abt 1790
Age in 1870: 80
Birthplace: Louisiana
Home in 1870: Precinct 3, Fort Bend, Texas
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Post Office: Richmond
Household Members: Name Age
Frank Spates 80
Margaret Spates 50

Here is also another census that fits in with the areas that was under water and all located near each other but this is in Waller County. Spelling is off again but the age on the original census record fits whereas the index is off.

Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Justice Precinct 5, Waller, Texas; Roll T623_1676; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 52.
Name: Frank Sperght
[Frank Speight]
Home in 1900: Justice Precinct 5, Waller, Texas
Age: 1
Birth Date: 1798
Birthplace: Virginia
Race: Black
Gender: Male
Relationship to Head of House: Father
Father's Birthplace: Virginia
Mother's Birthplace: Virginia
Marital Status: Widowed
Household Members: Name Age
Caesar Sperght 50
Laura Sperght 51
Eda Sperght 19
Delia Sperght 18
Elisabeth Sperght 13
Wealthy Sperght 11
Frank Sperght 1
Frank Sperght 1

It is rather amazing how and when you cross the path of an intriguing subject or article even though you know very little about them. But as we live and breathe we all have a story. No matter how insignificant it is to you, there is always someone else that can capture that story and be blessed.
Mr Frank lived to a wonderful age if his years on earth through this article told the truth. And whats more amazing is that his life was spared again through this horrible flood. I would love to have listened to all he had to share along his travels.