Hiram A. McAdams

Jennie Robbins - Alice Rebecca Williamson

Cuyler Thompson's Story

Thomas McAdams recorded a conversation with Cuyler Thompson on January 30, 1998. What follows is a transcription of that recording.

Cuyler Family Info
Cuyler Jr. was born in 1911 at the old Thompson home. Cuyler Thompson Sr. bought this house in 1904. Mrs. Thompson (Cuyler’s mother) lived in a house just back from this house. Freeman Heath, Cuyler Sr.’s nephew, lived with Mrs. Thompson for 4 - 5 years and when she got very ill, they both moved in with the Cuyler Thompson family. Freeman lived with the Thompsons until he was about 20.

Cuyler Thompson Sr. moved to Bedias in 1902. Old town Bedias used to be over on the west side of the Madisonville to Navasota road (FM 90) on the Iola road, near where Robert Lee Upchurch’s house is located now. When the railroad came to Bedias, all the merchants moved their businesses to the current town location to be near the railroad. This is where Cuyler Sr., Tobe Williamson, and Roger McAdams built their stores in 1902.

Cuyler and Alice were married on Sept. 24, 1904 and were part of a double wedding with another couple. They moved into their home in 1904. This old house was finally torn down in 1974 by Cuyler, Jr., and he and Pearl built a new home on the site.

Joe and Edgar both worked in Cuyler Thompson’s drug store at different times during their youth.

We had a regular gang of cousins to play with here in Bedias. Aunt Clara lived across the street from us just back of Grandpa Hiram’s house. The road in front of the Cuyler Thompson Sr. home dead-ended right at Clara’s home. Grandpa Hiram had about 40 acres of property for his home site and pasture behind the house. Aunt Clara always had a milk cow and an old horse.

Roundup
Floyd Roberts would ride a horse all the way from Aunt Clara’s house in Bedias to Grandpa’s old home site to help the other boys take care of Grandpa’s cows. As a matter of fact, Joe, Vernon, and Horace also rode horseback from Grandpa’s Bedias home to the old home site.

At roundup time, even I and my cousins, John Gayle and Carl Luther, would ride out to the old home site with them to help with the cattle roundup. When Grandpa would want to round up his cattle, the roundup started in Walker county, off the Hopewell road, and we would drive the cows through the woods to Grandpa’s home place. It would take us 3 - 5 days to get all those cattle gathered. Joe, Vernon, Horace, Floyd, Cuyler, John Gayle, Carl Luther and Kelly would help with the roundup. This occurred in the 1920’s. The roundup was conducted each year, mainly in the month of June or July. Some of the cows were driven to Grandpa’s home site and others were collected in pens over on the edge of Walker county. We had to gather cows from over near the Madison county line on the Casillas tract of land and bring them back to Grandpa’s home place. There would usually be 400 - 500 cows collected during the roundup.

Grandpa Hiram would give orders on who was to go where and when they were to meet with the cows they found. He would tell each individual where they would likely find the cows. He knew their range and distribution very well. Each day we would divide up and go in certain directions, gathering the cows, and driving them back to Grandpa’s place or to pens late in the afternoon. We would start out the next day to another area to collect another bunch of cattle. It was hot work and the ticks were a problem. Joe, Horace, and Vernon each had several cow dogs that went with us out on the roundup and we used them to flush the cows out of the dense brush and to help keep the herd together.

During the roundup, Joe, Vernon, Horace, and Floyd Roberts would do the roping and branding. the young boys of the family - Cuyler, John Gayle, Carl Luther- would help. Their job was to keep the fire going and branding irons hot. Grandpa Hiram would brand sometimes. Joe was real good at roping the cows. It was hard work. Grandpa Hiram kept a knife in the clock on the mantle on the fire place in his Bedias home. That was the knife that the boys used in castrating the calves and hogs. He would keep it cleaned and sharpened and stored in that clock until he needed it again. I can remember that just as vividly as if it was yesterday.

The cattle buyers would come to these places, buy the cows and drive them to market. There was no cattle hauling in those days since there were few cars available.

Joe was the cook for the cowhands during the roundup and even during the other times of the year when they were just taking care of the cattle. He made these big, delicious biscuits for us at meal times. We always had meat of some kind during the roundup. If need be, they would butcher a calf, hang it up and eat it at the evening meals. We had milk also at the meals. One of the older boys would milk one of the cows to provide the milk for the meals. Joe would cook for us and he thoroughly enjoyed it. If you ate two of his biscuits, you would have had plenty to eat! Joe ended up cooking because, I imagine, he was the cleanest one of the bunch.

During a lunch break at roundup, if we were at the home site, Grandpa would take a chair and turn it over and upside down so he could lean back against it. He would lean against that chair and take a 30 minute nap. Boy, you could hear him snore! Joe would say, "You boys had better go to the barn or go somewhere, because if you wake him I will be in trouble the rest of the day."

In the evenings at the roundup, we would come back to the old home place to eat and sleep. There were two great big bedrooms in the old home with a large hall (dog trot) down the center of the building. Some of us would sleep in one of the bedrooms and the rest would throw their blankets down in the hallway or on the porch where it was cool and sleep. There was a water well beside the house. The family joke was "you better not drink too much of that well water or your wife will get pregnant real quick, for sure"!

They had a smoke house out beside the kitchen in the back of the house. A large barn was located on the other side and behind the house (near the Bishop road). A cotton gin was located west of the home on the other side of the Bishop road near the spring creek. Grandpa also had a gristmill located down near the spring creek close to the gin. In addition, he had a ribbon cane syrup mill on the place. Old Luby Merchant, a colored man who worked for Grandpa for over 50 years, was in charge of the syrup mill operation. We enjoyed that syrup on our biscuits at meal time. We had honey also. Luby would rob a wild bee hive from a tree and bring honey back for us. Grandpa Hiram provided plenty of food for his family.

One time I remember some man asked Grandpa Hiram if any of his boys chewed tobacco or smoked. His response was "No, they don’t!" Yet, when we were going to roundup, either Joe, Horace or Vernon rode one on each side of Grandpa while the rest of us would string along behind them. And Joe, Vernon, and Horace would have a chew of tobacco in their cheek, on the side facing away from Grandpa. Still, Grandpa claimed they didn’t smoke or chew. There is a story told in the family about Grandpa Hiram walking into his Bedias home parlor one night while Era, Ruth and Vernon were sitting there. Vernon happened to be smoking a cigarette when he came in. They say that Vernon practically swallowed that cigarette so Grandpa wouldn’t see him smoking.

One afternoon, the boys decided they would go down to the Bedias creek and go fishing. One of them got a sack and rode over to an old walnut tree and filled that sack half full of those green walnuts. Then, one of them tied the sack of green walnuts to the saddle horn on his horse and rode off into a fishing hole in the creek. They rode that horse round and round, dragging that sack of green walnuts through the water.
The husks of those green walnuts would "poison" the water. Every now and then a fish would come to the surface and stick his head out for air, and then one of us would grab the fish. That’s the way we went fishing that day. Horace really did enjoy fishing.

Frank McAdams was working for Gibbs Brothers in the cattle business about this time. He was the real cowboy in the family. He bought and sold cattle for Gibbs Bros. He would gather the Gibbs Bros. cows and drive them down what is now FM1696 to the McAdams cemetery. All of us would meet him there and help him drive the cows all the way to Bedias to the railroad pens. It wasn’t too difficult to drive them since most of the road was fenced. They would load them into railroad cars and ship them to market. At this time, Frank and his family lived in a home just west of the spring creek, off the Bedias road on what is called the Frank place now. It is located between the old home place and Edgar’s home. Frank rode a mule called "Old Kate" instead of a horse. That mule could do anything a horse could do and better. Frank would rope from that mule. If any cows broke away from the herd, we would send Frank and Old Kate to get them. He would really bring them back in a hurry. Frank was the smallest of the McAdams boys.

Luby Merchant’s family lived in a house down by the spring creek, west of the home place on the other side of 1696, behind where Dorothy and Ray Sparks’ house is currently located. Luby had twin boys about my age. John Gayle and I would play together with those twin boys. When Grandpa Hiram got off to a late start from Bedias going to the old home place, he would stop by Luby’s house and Luby’s wife would fix him a meal to eat.

Also in those early days, about three hundred yards east from the old home place (toward Huntsville), there was an old store that belonged to the Eugene Woods family and a post office located next to the store. The post office was called McAdams.

Grandpa
Grandpa had an old horse called "Old Frank". He was getting old just like Grandpa, but that horse would walk along all day long with a different gait than most horses. Grandpa would saddle that horse here at his home in Bedias and about twice a week ride him out to the old home place. It would take him about 3 hours on horseback to ride there. He would stay there all day and check on what the boys were doing out on the ranch. He would ride with us all during the roundup also. Grandpa was in good physical shape until the last 3 or 4 years of his life and rode his horse up until that time.

He was a good Christian man. He was very smart and thought a lot about his family, eventually giving his land and possessions to his children. He didn’t make any distinction between the first and second set of children. They were all the same to him - his children - one big family!

Dog Story
Vernon and Horace always kept a couple of dogs around the house. Around 1929-1930, one day Vernon was sitting on the bench in front of Ross Williamson’s grocery store in Bedias talking to some of the locals when Horace came by. Horace said to Vernon, "Vernon, my dog is having the running fits lately. I heard you say that your dog was having the running fits also. What did you give him for that? Did you give him some of that screw worm killer. Vernon said, " I sure did." That was all that was said and Horace went home and gave his dog some of that screw worm killer medicine also. Well, it killed the dog. The next time they got together at the grocery store, Horace said, " Hey Vernon, that blamed screw worm medicine killed that dog of mine." Vernon said, "It killed my dog also." Vernon hadn’t bothered to tell Horace that fact the previous time.

Joe
Joe was with Grandpa Hiram more time than any of the others. I don’t know why but he was always near Grandpa. I guess it was because Edgar, Frank, Carl were living elsewhere and Horace and Vernon were married and with their families.

Joe, Vernon, Horace and Willie Harrison went fishing a lot over on the Trinity river during the 1935 - 1940 period. They would stay over there and fish for several days, sleeping out on cots by the river.

Ball Playing
Bedias had a baseball team in the 1920’s. Joe played on the team in the mid 20’s. He was quite a ball player. The team played over in a field near the Bedias Baptist cemetery. They had built a back stop out of wire. Bedias had some good baseball teams in those years. Ray Benge, later a major league pitcher, played with the team some. Joe was a pitcher and was tall and slender, weighing about 165 pounds. He pitched under-armed rather over-armed like they do now. The team played on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Teams from Crockett, Cameron, and all around came to play the Bedias team. Kelly and G. B. played on the team. I (Cuyler) was playing high school ball then and the Bedias team had only one catcher. One weekend, the catcher was unable to play with the team and they invited me to catch for them on a weekend trip to Cameron. That was quite a trip in those days. There was enough money in the club fund for meals and an overnight stay at Cameron. Joe would pitch one game and Ray Benge would pitch the next game. Joe thoroughly enjoyed playing the game of baseball.

Several times Joe would get a bunch of the kin folks and friends to go over to Red Hill, a colored community near the Cotton community, to play a baseball game with a Negro team there. Kelly, G. B, Gayle, Joe, and I would go and play. Joe would pitch and I would catch. Kelly would usually play third base and G. B. would play shortstop. Sometimes we wouldn’t have enough players, so a couple of the colored boys would play on our team. We would start after lunch and play until it was dark. Remember, there were no electric lights then. People still used kerosene lamps for lighting. When dark came, the game was over. Joe just enjoyed those games so much. He knew all the colored boys since most of their families had worked for the McAdams families over the years. After the ball game, we would usually have a goat bar-b-que with the other team. (Cuyler was quite a good ball player also)
G. B. probably had more baseball talent than any of us. He was fast and a good fielder at shortstop. He came close to playing in the Texas League of those days. We almost had our own family baseball team!

Old Dan
About the time he got married (1928), Joe sold his horse. He was called "Old Dan" and was quite a good cutting horse. That horse was real "salty". The only way you could get a saddle on him was to come up from behind him, ease your way along the side of him, talk to him, and hope you could get a hold on him. There were usually 4 or 5 horses in the corral. Joe would walk right up behind him, call his name, put his hand on his back, and then saddle him. He was the only one of the boys who could handle that horse. No one else wanted to fool with him. Boy, he was a good horse. Joe sold him to Mike Hall in Bedias.