Hiram A. McAdams

Jennie Robbins - Alice Rebecca Williamson

Newsletter - April 1998

Joe Horn McAdams
The following information was supplied mainly by Cuyler Thompson, Jr., with additions by Thomas McAdams and Jo Beth McAdams Stutts. Much of the text was transcribed from a recording of a personal interview of Cuyler by Thomas McAdams in January, 1998.

Joe Horn McAdams was a very gentle, peace-loving individual, who loved his immediate family and the larger Hiram McAdams family also. He was always willing to help any of the kin folk, and even others who needed a helping hand.

In the late 1910’s and early 1920’s, Joe, Vernon, Horace, and Floyd Roberts would ride by horseback from Grandpa’s Bedias home to the old home site, about a 3 hour trip by horseback. They would do this during the year when they were taking care of Grandfather Hiram’s cows and during the roundup also. They would stay at the old home place during the week and come into Bedias by horseback on the weekends.

During the roundup, Joe, Vernon, Horace, and Floyd Roberts would do the roping and branding. Kelly McAdams and 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.

During a lunch break at roundup, if we were at the home site, Grandpa would take a chair and turn it around 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.

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!

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.

In 1928, Joe met Sarah Elizabeth Jones of Neches, and they were married on December 24, 1928. He sold his horse, Old Dan, and retired from baseball playing and dedicated his time to his family. Joe and Beth had four children: Jo Beth in 1929, Dan in 1934, Thomas in 1938 and Susanne in 1941. An interesting story occurred as a result of their marriage. At the time of their marriage, Beth was teaching school in Batson, in the Big Thicket. They had to keep their marriage a secret until the end of the school year because the school administration and community frowned on "married" women teaching school. How times have changed!

He still lives today in our memories!

The 1998 Hiram McAdams Family Reunion will be held on the last Sunday in April (April 26). This year's reunion will be hosted by the Joe Horn McAdams family. Please mark your calendars now and plan on sharing in the rich traditions of this great Texas family.

Vernon's story - continued from a previous newsletter
From an interview with William Vernon McAdams in 1976. This interview was recorded and transcribed by Thomas Hiram McAdams and Jo Beth McAdams Stutts. The first part of this interview was published in the Fall, 1997 McAdams Newsletter and is continued here.

Opening Gates
Another episode like that occurred one time when I was riding with Horace. When we got to a gate, Horace told me to get down and open it because that was the only reason he brought me along. I told him he would have to whip me first before I would open that gate. Before the day was over, when we got to a gate, Horace would get down and open it himself, he was so tired of whipping me.

Dodging Rocks
When we lived at the Old Home Place, our post office was located over at cousin Eugene Woods’ house. The post office was called "McAdams." Joe and I would walk over there to get the mail. That was about one mile away from our house. Harold Woods, one of cousin Eugene Woods’ boys, would collect a bunch of rocks and when he saw Joe and I coming for the mail, he would throw those rocks at Joe and me. Well, when he ran out of rocks we would get him down finally and start whipping him good. Then, the Woods’ girls would come out and tell us to "get off Harold cause he’s ruptured." So, we would get off him. But, the next time we came for the mail, Harold would have another pile of rocks waiting to throw at us.

Fight Over a Wagon
Another time when we were little, Poppa brought a wagon home for Joe. When he started pulling that wagon around, I couldn’t stand it so I started fighting him for the wagon. Poppa settled that argument by whipping both of us. It seems like I was always getting into trouble.

Aunt Frank
Bedias - We had a Negro wash-woman named Aunt Frank who called me "Leonard." One day when she was washing and I walked out by her, she said, "My God, Leonard, you have more ‘rompers’ (underwear) than anybody I know of."

Running from a Cow
Old Home Place - In the spring of one year, I was playing with a neighbor, Ransom Wells, down by the spring creek behind our house. We decided we would go swimming in the creek. Well, Ransom Wells was a red-headed boy and when he started taking off his clothes and got down to his red flannel underwear, that was too much red for an old cow that was grazing nearby. That cow chased us away from the creek and up the hill till we got over the fence.

Poppa had a lot of hogs running loose in the woods then. Sometimes after a hog hunt, there would be as many as 20 hogs hung up on poles, being cleaned and prepared. Again, all this meat was divided among all the neighbors and Negroes who worked for us.

Sugar Cane Mill and Grist Mill
We had our own syrup mill also. We would have a mule-drawn grinding stone to crush the sugar cane and cooking vats to prepare the syrup. The syrup mill was located in different places depending on where we grew the sugar cane. We also had a grist mill down by the cotton gin back of the house where we ground the corn to make corn meal.

Rock Candy
Our sugar cane syrup was stored in barrels. At the bottom of the barrel, the syrup would crystallize and turn into "rock candy." When the older boys would go to Ft. Worth to take a load of cows to market, Momma would get them to bring her back a pint of whiskey for medicinal purposes. Remember, Poppa wouldn’t allow any drinking whiskey to be used around him. Momma would mix some of that whiskey in a container with that hard "rock candy" and use a teaspoon of it as medicine for us when we got the croup.

Pop’s Land
Old Home Place - The countryside out around the Old Place looks quite different today than it did when I was young. It was more open, with less trees than we have now. Poppa had cattle all over the open country and piney woods, from Pine creek down by Hopewell and all along the South Bedias creek to the forks of the North and South Bedias creeks on the Madisonville to Huntsville road.

A Cougar Visits Us
One day the older boys had penned a bunch of cows by the Old Home Place. During the night a cat (cougar) came close by and scared the cows so bad they stampeded right through the sides of the pen. After Carl, Edgar and Frank had chased the cows a good ways and caught up with them, they found some of the cows with parts of the pen fencing still on their backs. They carried them on in to Bedias and loaded them on railroad cars to ship them out to market.

Our Dogs
Old Home Place - We had a dog named "Old Nipper" who never would stay at the same place for long. He would alternate staying with Edgar and Mary, or with Carl or with Frank and sometimes he would come back to the Old Place. But, any day it rained, he would come back to the Old Place because he knew that Poppa was probably going hog hunting the next morning. On these hog hunts, "Old Nipper" would sniff out a bed of piglets (with the old sow usually off feeding) and start playing with those piglets to make them squeal and attract the sow back to them.

You had to have good dogs to herd both cattle and hogs in the piney woods. We had a few of the old breed of dogs helping us then. These were the dogs that were part wolf. Joe had a dog named "Jane" who was quite a cow dog. When we were herding cattle, that dog had to be in the lead and wouldn’t quit till she found the lead cow and stayed right with her. I had a part Newfoundland bull-dog named "Watch" that was a good cow dog also. When we were herding cattle, if a calf dropped out of the herd, old "Watch" wouldn’t bother it, but if a cow or bull tried to stray, that dog would chase it and grab it right by the end of the nose and back to the herd that cow would come with that dog holding it by the nose.

Bedias - Poppa had a real good milk cow when we lived in Bedias. After you milked, a good part of the top would be pure cream. Joe and Horace did most of the milking and they tried to teach me how to do it. But I wouldn’t listen to them or even try to milk while they were at home. After they left home, I finally had to do the milking. Later on, Jack Langley liked to do the milking. When the cow had a calf, Jack would hog-tie that calf flat on its side while he was milking so it wouldn’t bother him.

Sleeping at the Old Place
When the boys were staying at the Old Home Place and working the cattle, Poppa would sometimes come out there from Bedias and stay the night with us. He would wake up in the middle of the night, around 2 a.m. If anyone so much as wiggled a toe, he would be up and calling you. If you answered him, he would talk to you the rest of the night. We learned not to make any noise during the night. He went to bed early, right after dark, and woke up early.

Rope an Alligator
Old Home Place - Joe and I were hunting hogs down in the Bedias creek bottom one time. The creek had dried up into holes separated by dry spots. Each of us had a rope on our saddle that we were going to use on any hogs we found. As we crossed South Bedias creek, we saw where an alligator had dragged his tail along. We looked at each other and both said, "Let’s get him!" We followed the creek a ways and came to a shallow hole of water with a number of logs in it. I saw the alligator in it and yelled at Joe. When I started making a lot of noise, the alligator left that shallow hole of water and started for another. Joe roped that alligator and dragged him away from the creek several hundred yards across old Horse prairie. I had thought about trying to carry him on to the Old Place, but that alligator was heavy and my horse had a sore back. So, we decided to tie him to a tree near a shallow hole of water and come back for him later. When we did come back the next day, that alligator was gone. He had pulled on that rope till it frayed and broke.

This concludes Vernon’s Story

First reunion – 1935

The following is a summary of a newspaper account of the first McAdams reunion as reported in the Huntsville Item in 1935. This summary was submitted by Mary Frances Payne Murphy in 1976.

Reunion Held For McAdams Relatives

Several hundred people gathered at the old John R. McAdams home Sunday and under large oak trees near the home held a celebration of this ancestor and also observed the ninetieth birthday of Hiram McAdams, oldest living member of the family.The log house, which is still occupied, is built of logs 87 years old. More than two hundred and fifty of the family signed the guest book. Several descendants of slaves on the McAdams homestead were present and had a part in the festivities. The home stands thirteen miles west of Huntsville on the Bedias road.

About ten thirty in the morning, after the crowd had arrived, Ted and Marie Yates, great grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Wood, gave a vocal solo with piano accompaniment and Edwin Anders, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Anders, sang "An Old Spanish Custom," playing his own accompaniment on the guitar. A reading, most appropriate for the setting, "Woodsman Spare That Tree," was given by Bob McAdams. Jack Langley, son of Era McAdams Langley, read a toast written by Jud Mortimer Lewis to Mr. McAdams for this occasion. It was entitled "Your Ninetieth Birthday." The bounteous repast was spread at noon on long tables and served buffet style. A large four-tier twenty-pound birthday cake with ninety candles and holders was in the center of the table.

Ruth's story - continued from a previous newsletter
From an interview with Ruth McAdams Cole in 1976. This interview was recorded and transcribed by Thomas Hiram McAdams and Jo Beth McAdams Stutts. The first part of this interview was published in the Fall, 1997 McAdams Newsletter and is continued here.

Another Driving Escapade
I gradually learned to drive that T-model Ford well enough that Poppa would let me drive my girl friends around town on Sunday afternoon. Well, one Sunday, Joe went somewhere in the T-model Ford. He had left his car, a Buick, parked in our barn behind the house, thinking that I couldn’t drive it since it was a shift-gear car. After a while, I got to looking at that Buick and decided that I could drive it. I got it started and backed it out of the barn and started out to pick up my girl friends. About then, Poppa came out of the house and said to Era, " E., where’s Ruth?" Era said, "She’s in Joe’s car and has gone for a ride." Poppa said, "Dog-gonnit, she would drive that cistern if it had an engine!" In the meantime, my girl friends and I started out toward Singleton in that Buick. On the way we met Joe coming back to Bedias. He stopped me and made us get out of the Buick and get in the T-model. He drove his car back to Bedias wondering how on earth I got his car started and that far away from home with that shift-gear. I just thought I was the grandest thing in the world taking those girls for a ride in that Buick automobile.

Vernon in Trouble Again
When I was young, I remember one Monday when Vernon was supposed to go out to the Old Home Place with the rest of the boys. He didn’t want to go and was real aggravated about it. I happened to be playing out in the front yard with "Aunt Frank’s" daughter when Vernon picked up a buggy whip and started whipping me with it. I guess that was the way he was getting rid of his frustration at having to go out to the Old Home Place and work. Well, Horace saw him hit me with the whip and he came over and took the whip away from Vernon. Horace proceeded to give Vernon a good whipping with that whip right there in the front yard. Vernon was always getting into trouble with that whip.

Fishing in Blue Lake
There were very few times that we were able to get Poppa to go fishing with all of us. Once, we did get him to go with to Blue Lake to go fishing. Poppa didn’t know that I could swim. When we had been there for awhile, we all decided to go swimming. The women went down to one end of the lake, and the men to the other end. Poppa was sitting on the bank near the middle. I was at the end with the rest of the women when I decided I wanted to swim down to the other end where the boys were. So I started swimming down the length of Blue Lake. When I passed Poppa, he jumped up and yelled, "Boys, come get her, she can’t swim and she’s in those alligators!" He nearly had a fit trying to get the boy’s attention since he didn’t think I could swim good.

Poppa’s Breakfast
Do you remember what Poppa used to have for breakfast? A cup of hot water!

The Road to College
When Alete and I went to college in Huntsville, Joe and Mr. Thompson would alternate coming to Huntsville to get us. One time, I remember the dirt roads were so bad that they couldn’t come in the T-model Ford to get us. Alete and I had to ride the train to Conroe, change trains and ride it to Navasota. We had to stay in a hotel in Navasota that night and then catch the train to Bedias the next day.

Wake-Up Ruth
At our old house in Bedias, Poppa wouldn’t call me or come in my room in the morning when he wanted me to get up. He would put on his heavy boots and walk up and down the hall in front of my room until the noise woke me up. If that didn’t get me up, he would go and get Era and say, "E., go and get Ruth up!"

Mariah and the Dentist
I remember a funny episode that occurred when all the boys were married except Joe, who was still living here with Poppa, Era and me. Joe had a young dentist friend who went out on double dates with him. Well, one night they came in late from a date and the dentist stayed at our house for the night. Joe got up early because he had to go to work, but the dentist didn’t get up when he did. Mariah fixed breakfast for Joe and his friend. After Joe had left for work and the breakfast she had fixed began to get cold, Mariah got agitated at the dentist for still sleeping. Finally, she went in there and knocked on the door of the bedroom where the young man was sleeping and said, "Ain’t you that tooth fiddler? Well, what time do you start fiddling teeth?"

Ruth Embarrasses Joe
Soon after I started to college, Poppa divided up the cows among the children and he offered me a choice of part of the cows or a car. Well, I wanted a car, so Poppa bought me a Ford roadster with a rumble seat in the back. I used that roadster to get back and forth to college at Huntsville. I remember one time when, for some reason or another, I had left my car in Bedias for Joe to use that week. One night during the week, some girl friends of mine and I were walking back to where we stayed in Huntsville after seeing a picture show downtown. We had always been told not to accept a ride with strange men. As we were walking home, I noticed my car drive up next to us and I heard a voice say, "Girls, do you’all want a ride home?" I recognized Joe’s voice. He couldn’t see us well because it was dark. So I said yes, we would ride with them. The other girls got in the car before me and when I got in the car, Joe finally recognized me and said, "My God, Ruth, what are you doing here?"

Saturday in Bedias
When we lived in Bedias, on Saturday all of the people that lived out in the country would come to town. Poppa would go to town and visit with all the Negro families that used to work for him at the Old Place. He would invite them to our house to eat dinner. Momma would never know on Saturday how many people she would be cooking for. Poppa always tried to take care of the people who worked for him. At one time, when we lived at the Old Home Place, Poppa had about 25 Negro families living around there and working for him.

This concludes Ruth’s story

Alice Rebecca Williamson McAdams
This biographical sketch of Alice Rebecca Williamson McAdams was written by Mary Frances Payne Murphy in April, 1988.

My album is a garden spot
Where all my friends may sow
Where thorns and thistles flourish not
But flowers alone may grow
With smiles for sunshine, tears for showers
I'll water, watch and guard my flowers.
Bedias, Texas

Nov 1890 -- Alice Williamson

Once when I was a child my mother and I were visiting in Bedias. All the cousins were scattered and with no one to play with, boredom soon set in. In an effort to entertain me, Aunt Era allowed me to go through an old trunk. In it were the few belongings of Alice Williamson McAdams preserved by her daughter from the time of her death twenty years previously.

The little poem at the beginning of this was copied by Alice in her autograph book and stored in the trunk. It was, obviously, a prized possession filled with messages from her friends, her sister Louvenia, her suitors including some very brief words from H. A. McAdams and even a rhyme to "Dear Momma" from "Your baby Ruth" written for Ruth by my mother who was Alice's oldest child. Besides the autograph book, the contents, of the trunk were relatively few. There were several articles of clothing and a thin packet of letters written by Hiram McAdams to Alice before their marriage. The discovery which excited me the most was her wedding dress packed away in tissue paper. To me, it was so beautiful and I immediately began to fantasize about wearing it at my own wedding. This garment was actually a suit of white wool closed in the front with tiny buttons and with a collar and cuffs of white lace. Unfortunately, the moths had also found it and it was riddled with holes so no one was able to wear it. I don't know what became of the dress and if there was a picture made of Alice wearing it, it has not been located.

Grandmother Alice had thirteen grandchildren but all were born after her death. Mary was the only one of her children married at that time and when Mary was expecting her first child, Grandmother Alice crocheted a beautiful lace cap for the baby. It was packed away, unworn, however, after the death of the premature infant. Pop McAdams, fortunately, had a number of grandchildren, the offspring of his older children. These youngsters were considered Grandmother Alice's grandchildren too. Alete Thompson Wafer tells many stories of her early life in Bedias and how Grandma was a big part of that life.

It is obvious there was little free time in the McAdams house down in Walker County. With a large family and much company, often unexpected, food preparation was the first order of business. Grandmother Alice cooked and baked great quantities of food. She canned the vegetables and fruits grown in the family garden and baked bread and desserts for the growing youngsters. Before Pop and Grandmother moved to Bedias it was a long wagon trip to church on the Sundays worship was held. There was always a flour sack of tea cakes (sugar cookies) to pacify the restless children during the long service and ride home. A bag of these same tea cakes was stored in the farm house kitchen to add to lunches packed for the boys. A typical lunch consisted of cold fried chicken, biscuits, a bottle of syrup and baked sweet potatoes. It took hardy food to provide energy for overseeing the cattle and raising the crops. Aunt Ruth says that after the move to Bedias, she never knew Grandmother Alice to attend the morning church service. Sunday morning was spent in the kitchen across the street from the church. As soon as the service was over she had the dining table loaded with a bounty of hot food for the family and any other people Pop could talk into sharing the meal. Sunday nights were another matter; then she was one of the first worshipers in the church.

The number of school teachers in our family has always been a matter of pride but it was only recently learned that Grandmother Alice was the first. The Williamson family lived in the Cotton community in northeast Grimes County. There the young Alice studied and learned as much as she could in the country school. She was not able to attend college but she did share her knowledge and love of reading with the children in the small community school. This story was verified by her niece, Retha Callender Hassell. Family tradition tells of Alice loving to read so much she would hold a book in one hand while churning butter with the other. It was her belief in the value of a good education that encouraged her sons and daughters to pursue college studies. One of the last things that she did before her death was to remind the family that she had put $100 to pay for Ruth's music lessons in a safe place.

Living as the family did in isolated Walker County it was necessary that Grandmother Alice serve as nurse for a good number of people. Whether the skills came naturally to her or because of necessity we do not know but she took care of those who needed her. Vernon McAdams related the story of her prescription for a cough. The crystals formed in the bottom of the barrel used to store sugar cane syrup were mixed with whiskey to make a cough syrup. Since her husband refused to have any alcohol about the place she would get the older boys to purchase a pint of whiskey for her use when they took the cattle to be sold. In spring time she dosed everyone with her special blend of sulfur and molasses to keep them healthy. After the move to Bedias she continued her role as nurse for the family in her house and the other McAdams families who lived near-by. According to Alete Thompson Wafer there were many nights when Grandmother Alice was called to tend a sick child.

Since shopping in Bedias had its limitations it was necessary for Grandmother Alice to use another of her skills to provide clothing for the family. She sewed on her old pedal machine making dresses and shirts for her daughters and sons from material purchased at Williamson & McAdams Store. In the winter months when there was more time she practiced more creative needlework in the form of knitting, crochet and embroidery as well as quilt making.

The dread influenza epidemic of World War I spread through the area and Grandmother Alice contracted the disease. Her kidneys suffered damage and, as antibiotics were yet to be discovered, the effects took their toll. On December 18, 1918 she died at the age of fifty years. Just a month before, she wrote her last letter to her daughter, Mary, who was living in Flynn and unable to travel because of pregnancy problems. Pearl, who is mentioned in the letter, is the wife of Carl McAdams. Pearl had traveled with her small children from her Walker County home by wagon to help take care of her step-mother-in-law during her last weeks.

There are few photographs of Grandmother Alice for us to see so for many of us she has been only a name. This is one of the reasons this small collection of stories has been put together with love. Despite her early death this quiet, blue eyed lady has had an influence on all our lives. Her name lives with her grand daughter, Marilyn Alice McAdams Sibley, and her common sense philosophy and fundamental beliefs in a good education were passed on through her children to their children and grandchildren.

Mary Frances Payne Murphy
April, 1988

Recollections of my grandfather, H. A. McAdams
By Kelly Edgar McAdams - Age 91 - as told to his daughter, Martha McAdams Vertrees for the H. A. McAdams Family Reunion, April 30, 1995 at the request of Mary Frances Payne Murphy.

Grandpa - H. A. McAdams
Grandpa was tall, maybe six feet and he never wore glasses, that I remember. He died on Dec. 28, 1935, of pneumonia when he was 90 and if penicillin had been discovered at the time, he probably would have lived to be 100. He always carried his newspaper around with him and I can remember going to visit on Sunday afternoons and finding Grandma and Grandpa sitting on the back porch. Grandma would read every line of the newspaper to Grandpa, so maybe he did need glasses, but she had been a school teacher and reading out loud came natural to her.

Now Grandpa liked to drink a cup of hot water, that's right, hot water for breakfast! And Grandpa certainly didn't like liquor or those who drank it. During the time of prohibition, there was a lot of making of "moonshine" in the backwoods and this did not sit well with Grandpa, at all!

You see, my great, great, grandfather, who was Grandpa's grandfather, Rev. John McAdams, Sr., came to Texas in 1834, from Tennessee. As I remember hearing about it, he was a great friend of Sam Houston, who urged him to bring his family to Texas. He was a minister and his son, John Jr., helped him bring the word of the Lord to this new territory. So Grandpa came by these feelings rightly and those who broke the law were bad people! And those who bought that "moonshine" were sinners!

Grandpa's family lived on a 13 acre piece of land that Grandpa had bought in Bedias. They all went to the Baptist Church in Bedias regularly and Grandpa is buried there in the church cemetery along side of his second wife, the only grandma that I ever knew (actually, my step-grandmother), Alice Rebecca Williamson.

The year was 1935...he lived form 1845-1935, that was his life. Ina May, Kelly Roy, Martha and I were living in Caldwell and I remember that it was during the Christmas holidays from school when we went to his funeral.

Grandpa's first wife, my real grandmother, Jennie Robbins, is buried in the McAdams cemetery. Grandpa has a head stone there, too, because Ruth McAdams Cole, his daughter, sent a letter around and we all sent in money to get this nice head stone for our grandfather to be placed in the McAdams cemetery which is in Walker county, but Grandpa is really buried in Grimes county in the Baptist Church cemetery in Bedias.

Did I ever tell you how the McAdams cemetery got started? Well, Grandpas' mother, Hester White McAdams, my great, grandmother, was the first person to be buried in the McAdams cemetery. She was quite young when she died in 1849, but she had picked the spot where she wanted to be buried. I believe that they were out walking on a sunny afternoon and she said, "John, when I die, I wan t to be buried under this huge hickory tree." Her words were inscribed on her head stone.

John McAdams, Jr., was Grandpa's father and Grandpa was the next to the youngest of their five children and only 4 years old when their mother died. Later, Grandpa's father remarried Mary Francis Bankhead and together they had eight children, giving Grandpa's father two sets of children.

Now Grandpa also had two sets of children. He and Jennie were married on Feb. 19, 1874. They had six children: Clara, Alice, Carl, Edgar, John Robin (who died by accident at the age of 3), and Frank, who was only 4 months old when their mother, Jennie, died on Oct. 24, 1886 at the young age of 33. Clara was 12 and Alice was 10, so they took over the care of the little boys with the help of Jennie's brother, William Edgar Robbins (Uncle Edgar) and his wife, Judy Elizabeth (Aunt Betty), until Grandpa remarried 6 years later.

Both Clara and Alice were old enough to know what was happening when Grandpa went "courting"! He would write a "love note" to Miss Alice to ask if he could ride the 8 or 10 miles over to see her, for she was teaching school in Grimes county and his ranch was in Walker county. She agreed to marry Grandpa with his 5 children and they were married on Jan. 22, 1892. All Grandpa's first children called her, "Miss Alice". She was a kind and wonderful lady and they all loved her and got along well together. Miss Alice and Grandpa had 6 children who were: Mary, Horace, Era, Joe, Vernon, and Ruth.

Grandma Alice died of pneumonia when I was about 15, and by then, we all were living very close together in Bedias. So she must have been about 50 years old then and she had lived through the 1914 influenza epidemic that killed so many people. Ina May lost two of her uncles during that awful time.

Grandpa was born and grew up in the John McAdams house. This was the house that Ina May and I gave to Marilyn, which she and Sibley have restored beautifully for their home. Living out in the country, grandpa's schooling consisted of very little more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. So, in turn, Grandpa's first set of children who also lived on the ranch in Walker county, went through the fifth or sixth grade in the little one teacher school nearby. But, Grandpa wanted Edgar, my father, to have a better education, so he sent him to Madisonville to school. Papa lived with one of our kinfolk, Uncle Bud Price, who had a saddle shop and a nice house. After 2 or 3 months, Papa talked Grandpa into letting him take his horse back to school. I don't remember what happened, but Papa decided to leave school, so he rode his horse home! And Grandpa didn't make him go back!

As I recall, all of Grandpa's children, both the first and second set, were born on the ranch. But, because Grandma had been a teacher, she wanted her children to have more education than the little one teacher school could provide. So, Grandpa moved the family into Bedias, which is in Grimes county, when the older ones of the second set of children needed more schooling.

Some of my uncles were not much older than I was, and after we moved to Bedias, we were always together. Grandpa was their father, but he was my grandfather and I always respected him. I don't ever remember him telling a joke and I knew that he was the "head" of the family.

The Ranch
There were several Negro families who lived in little houses and worked on the ranch. I remember that for several years, my dad, Edgar, was in charge of their work with the cotton crop. Grandpa had a syrup mill to make syrup and there was one of the Negro men who was an expert at making syrup. That good sugar cane syrup was a favorite of my brother, G. B. When he was so little that he couldn't even say biscuit...he would say, "want a bicket with a hole in the middle", which meant taking one of Mama's delicious biscuits, poking a hole in the center with your finger and filling the hole with that wonderful syrup!

Grandpa also had a cotton gin and a grist meal. On certain days of the week, they would do the ginning for his cotton and that of the neighbors. Corn would be brought to the grist mill to be made into cornmeal for that wonderful cornbread which we all loved.

After Grandma Alice died, Grandpa would often come to the ranch to stay with us, just to get away from town. During the hog roundup, all the boys would gather the wild hogs, who were fat from the big acorn crop and put them on the train to ship to Ft. Worth. Hogs were one of our cash crops and Grandpa and the boys would kill and scald 15-20 hogs in the fall. I can remember how Grandpa would say..."this one is yours and this one is yours"... to all the men. Cattle were also shipped on the train to Ft. Worth and it was necessary for someone to go with the livestock to see about them on the trip to market. After Grandpa no longer wanted to make the trip, my uncles would take turns going to see about the cows and hogs and to bring the money back to Grandpa. So they all knew where Ft. Worth was!

When I was about 20 years old and I had finished teaching school in Lynn Grove near Navasota, I was home helping Papa finish the cotton crop. Grandpa came for a visit. He had sold some of his land, so he had a little money and he asked me what I wanted to do with myself? I said that if I had about $100, I would go to West Texas to school for six weeks. I had completed two years of school at Sam Houston and I had my teaching certificate. But I didn't want to teach school and I was at loose ends. Grandpa asked, "Kelly, how much do you think it would take?" and I thought I could do it on $100. So Grandpa replied, "You get ready and I'll lend you that $100!"

So I bought a trunk, took my letter sweater that I had earned from playing baseball at Sam Houston and got on the train to go to Canyon in northwest Texas for school. It wasn't long before I knew the $100 would soon play out, so I got me a little job shoveling coal at 25 cents per hour. They didn't have any wood in the area, so coal was used to heat the boilers. That got me through the six weeks of school. Then I got a job at the Schaffer Ranch. It was a big ranch on 23 sections of land. Mr. Schaffer had made his money in Oklahoma selling liquor, so he came down to Texas and bought him a ranch and now he was building a fine house even with a "flush bath" instead of a toilet! I lived in the bunkhouse with the 24 other workers. I was always up by daylight and I was a good worker. Mr. Schaffer liked me and wanted me to stay on after the house was finished, and to continue to work for him. He let all the others go, but he needed one man to stay and he wanted me! While I was working for Mr. Schaffer, I had my 21st birthday! As I recall, I was so sure of myself on that day that I challenged every man on the crew to try to whip me. I guess that since it was my birthday, they must have liked me enough to let me get away with it because not one of them took me up on my challenge!

Well, it was beginning to get cold and snow and Papa wrote that Mama missed me and wanted me to come home. Gayle was 16, Robbie Lee was 12, Bob was little, and Papa said that Mama was going into menopause and wasn't feeling good. She wanted me to come home! But Papa wasn't right about Mama, because Margaret was born after that!

So I came home and got a teaching job at a three teacher school at Liberty Springs. Grandpa had shown that he had faith in me and I sure wasn't going to let him down. I paid Grandpa back $25 each month from my teaching salary. I think that I was the only grandchild that Grandpa ever loaned any money to. And I paid him back!

My next job was as superintendent in Shepherd at $175 per month, where I met and married Ina May. When Kelly Roy was born, I was again teaching at Liberty Springs. I stayed at that salary until I went to teach Vocational Agriculture at Caldwell, where I received $200 per month. By then, both Ina May and I had our degrees and Caldwell could pay $100 and through the Smith-Hughes Act, I would receive another $100 from the government.

In Search of Better Land
Grandpa inherited land from his father and added to that land many times over because Grandpa did a lot of looking around for better land. He always hoped for a more healthy location for his family. Mosquitoes were always a problem, causing malaria. And Grandpa was always worried about the rough and lawless people who lived in this backwoods area. I remember him talking about a murderer who had killed two men in their warehouse, right behind their store. Well, there was a lot of controversy about the whole matter and the trial was moved out of the county to Caldwell. There, the accursed man had been set free!

Grandpa had heard that the Sinton area had a better climate. I think that his sister lived there and he thought about moving his entire family out of Walker county. So he went to Sinton to look for some good farm land. But, he returned with the story that the bugs were so bad that they ate the legs right off of the tables! He must have been referring to termites!

He did find some land to his liking in Blue Ridge, near Houston, which he bought, but he did not move the family there. And, this land he later sold, but when oil and gas was found on it he was very upset for he had not been aware of the value of its minerals, so after that, he always held on to his minerals. With the exception of his giving tracts of his land to his children, the children received both the land and minerals.

I can remember when I was about 10, riding our horses with Grandpa, Papa and my uncles to look for cattle. We came to an area where there was little vegetation and Grandpa wanted us to see a gas seep. He had an old cone shaped object, probably part of an old gramophone, with him and said, "Boys, make a little mound out of the earth and place the cone over it". He said gas was leaking out of the ground. Well, he lighted a match at the small end of the cone...and it burned...not a lot, but it did burn! So, Grandpa always knew that there was gas and oil on his land!

During Grandpa's lifetime, he accumulated 5,151 acres of land. These lands were divided equally among his 13 children. Grandpa made his wishes known that the 13 acre tract along with his home, he wanted to go to his daughter, Era, for living with him and taking care of him in his old age.

Grandpa knew the value of holding on to your minerals and he passed this knowledge on to his family. Because of his vision, the present owners have enjoyed the fruits of his wisdom and labor.


Kelly Edgar McAdams
January 16, 1998.