Hiram A. McAdams

Jennie Robbins - Alice Rebecca Williamson

Newsletter - July 1999

1999 Reunion
Written by Jim and Paul Taylor

The 1999 reunion was held on Sunday, April 25, 1999, hosted by the Vernon McAdams family. 142 people were in attendance and the weather was wonderful, so we were able to be in the pavilion and eat outside.

James Vernon Taylor, first grandchild and named after William Vernon McAdams, welcomed the family members to the reunion and conducted the roll call of families. Sharon Michalak recognized the oldest person, Kelly Edgar McAdams (age 95), and the youngest person, Clayton Alan Cole (age 7 months).

Mike McAdams acknowledged Charles Cole, Thomas McAdams, and Charles Hughes for their work in establishing and maintaining the Hiram McAdams family web site. It is a site we are all very proud of. We are thankful that we can keep informed of our past and be current with the present with photos, stories, and Email.

Since this was to be the last H. A. McAdams reunion in the 20th century, Paul Taylor and Anita Glynn thought it would be a fitting tribute to Hiram and his 12 children to assemble a 100 year timeline of significant (and sometimes fun!) family, community and world events that occurred during the 1900's.

We reviewed several history books about Bedias, Walker County and the McAdams Family and assembled events in chronological order. Paul produced a graphic of the timeline and made a brief presentation at the reunion.

Color copies were made available to all adults who wanted one. A lot has happened in our family and in our world over the last 100 years and it is exciting to wonder what the next 100 years holds in store!

After the program, we all enjoyed the traditional McAdams reunion feast. During and after the meal there was much personal interaction, laughter, and recollection.

Life in the 1500's
At the 1998 reunion, Thomas McAdams told us about the life of a McAdams cowboy in the early years of this century. What follows is a look at life, as it existed about the time our ancestors were making the trek from Scotland to Ireland – the time of William Shakespeare. The author of this story is unknown, and the historical accuracy cannot be established. It is fun reading, however.

Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare. She married at the age of 26. This is really unusual for the time. Most females married at the early age of 11 or 12. Life was not as romantic as we may picture it. Here are some examples:

Anne Hathaway's home was a three-bedroom house with a small parlor, kitchen, and no bathroom. The parlor was used only for entertaining guests.

The mother and father shared a bedroom. Anne had a queen sized bed, but did not sleep alone. She also had two other sisters and they shared the bed with six servant girls. They didn't sleep like we do lengthwise but, instead, they all lay on the bed crosswise.

At least they had a bed. Anne’s six brothers and 30 field workers shared the other bedroom. They didn't have a bed. Everyone just wrapped up in blankets and slept on the floor. They had no indoor heating so all the extra bodies kept them warm. They were small people, the men only grew to be about 5’6" and the women were 4’8".

Most people got married in June. Why? They took their annual baths in May, so they were still fairly fresh by June, although they were starting to develop the distinctive smell of body odor. So the brides carried bouquets of flowers to mask the body odor.

The yearly bath in May was just a big tub that was filled with hot water. The man of the house would get the privilege of being the first to use the clean water. Then all the other sons and men would bathe, The women and finally the children came after the men. Last of all the babies were bathed. By then the water was very dirty. Thus, the saying, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

A description of the houses is interesting. You've heard of thatched roofs, well that's all they were -- thick straw (thatch), piled high, with no wood underneath. The roof was the only place for the little animals to get warm. So all the dogs, cats, mice, rats, bugs, and other small animals lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery so sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Thus the saying, "it's raining cats and dogs." Since there was nothing to stop things from falling into the house, it was a real chore to keep the rooms clean. But this posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings from animals could really mess up a nice clean bed. So the four-poster bed was developed. Sheets were hung from the posts to prevent the droppings from falling onto the bed. This invention evolved into the popular bedroom suites of today.

Most houses had dirt floors. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, and that is where the saying, "dirt poor" came from. The wealthy might have slate floors. That was fine but in the winter slate floors got slippery when they were wet. So the homeowners spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on they would just keep adding it and adding it until when the door was opened, all the thresh slipped outside. So a piece of wood was usually installed at the entryway -- a "thresh hold."

In the kitchen the people cooked over the single fire. There was usually a fireplace in the parlor, also, but it was seldom used. Occasionally there would be a fireplace in the master bedroom.

A big kettle always hung over the fire in the kitchen, and every day the cook would light the fire and start adding things to the pot. These people age mostly vegetables. They didn't get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner then leave the leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew would have food in it that had been in there for a month! Thus the rhyme, "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes, but not very often, the people had some pork. They really felt special when that happened and when company came over they even had a rack in the parlor where they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. That was a sign of wealth and that a man could "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and they would all sit around and "chew the fat."

The plates of the wealthy were made out of pewter. Food that had a high acid content caused the lead from the pewter to leach out into the food. Tomatoes were very bad about causing the lead to leach.. So the people of the 1500’s simply stopped eating tomatoes – for several generations! They thought that tomatoes were poisonous.

Most people didn't have pewter plates. Instead, they used trenchers, which were pieces of wood scooped out in the middle. They never washed these boards, and worms would get into the wood. The result of eating from a worm-infested trencher was "trench mouth."

Bread was divided according to status. The workers would get the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family would get the middle and guests would get the top, or the "upper crust".

Lead cups were used for ale and whisky. Like tomatoes and pewter, the combination of lead and spirits could be disastrous.

It was not uncommon to find a person passed out on the side of the road due to the lead and whisky combination. The unfortunate drunks appeared to be dead. So the presumed dead were picked up and prepared for burial. Burials were rapid in the 1500’s for obvious reasons, but occasionally delays were encountered. After these delays, the drunks might wake up, and the people realized that probably not all of the corpses they had been burying were really corpses. So the corrective action was for the family to gather around the corpse for a period of time to see if the dead person would wake up. That is where the custom of holding a "wake" came from.

England began running out of grave space in the 1500’s. As a result, many coffins were exhumed, and the bones were buried in common areas to conserve space. It was fairly common to find scratch marks on the interior of the exhumed coffins.

An additional step to prevent burying someone alive was to tie a string on the wrist of the corpse and lead it out through the top of the coffin and up through the ground. A bell was tied onto the end of the string. A guard was posted for several nights to listen for the bell. That is where our "graveyard shift" came from. And the lucky person mistakenly buried was "saved by the bell." If after an appropriate time the bell did not ring, the corpse was considered to be a "dead ringer."

Kert GilpinKert Gilpin Receives Degree
Submitted by Sue Wafer Gilpin

Kert Gilpin, son of Max and Sue Wafer Gilpin, grandson of Ira D. and Alete Thompson Wafer, great-grandson of Cuyler and Alice McAdams Thompson, received his M.S. degree in Information Systems, January, 1999, from Golden State University, San Francisco, Ca.

Kert is currently working in Silicon Valley for Proamics Corp., a computer software development firm poised to go public in February, 2000. Although deliriously smitten for the past four years with the charms of San Francisco, his ultimate goal is to ease back down south. As a consultant with Proamics, this will be possible within a year.

Romance at the Reunion
Information Provided by Billy James McAdams, son of J. F. and Joann Cox McAdams, Jr., and grandson of J. F. and Mary Baldwin McAdams, Sr.

The Hiram McAdams family gathered for a family reunion in June 1931, on Bedias creek. Mary McAdams Payne had sent word earlier that she was coming to the reunion and was bringing a pretty young girl from Carthage along with her. All the young men and boys were swimming in the creek when Mary and the young lady arrived. J. F. McAdams, Jr., waded out of the creek and told the others that he was finished swimming and intended to go see his future bride. J. F. and the young girl, Joann Cox of Carthage, spent most of the afternoon together talking and walking around. It was obvious to the others that they were quite taken with each other.

After the reunion, J. F. and Joann corresponded over the next few weeks.

The romance blossomed and on August 1, 1931, they were married in Mansfield, Louisiana. They had a wonderful life together all those years since that fateful day of the first Hiram McAdams family reunion.

Sam Houston sues John McAdams, Jr.
In a court case in March 1855, Sam Houston sued John McAdams, Jr. for failure to pay a debt. John McAdams had incurred the debt when he hired two slaves from Sam Houston. Sam Houston and John were great friends for many years. In fact family tradition has it that the reason our Hiram McAdams hated liquor of any form was because he had to sleep with a drunk Sam Houston when old Sam came out to John’s place to drink himself under the table.

Mary Frances Payne Murphy provided the transcription of the original court records:

Walker Co., Tx.
District Court records
No. 528
Sam Houston and wife
Daniel B. Guerrant & John McAdams
Filed March 21st 1855
W. Willson, Clk
Recorded in Book (C) pages 365 to 66
March 24th 1854
W. Willson clk
By H. M. Crabb dep

To the judge of the 7th Jud. Dist. Of the State of Texas, this petition of Sam Houston & Margaret Houston his wife, resident in Walker County Texas, shows that Daniel B. Guerrant and John McAdams, resident in the same county by their certain promissory note, made and noted the 19 November 1851 and then delivered to petitioners promised on or before the 25 Dec. 1852 that they or either of them would pay to Margaret Houston two hundred dollars, for the hire of the Negroes Prince and Mary for the period between the date and maturity of said note; Yet the said Guerrant and McAdams, well knowing the promises have not though requested, paid the said sum of money, so due, or any part thereof except the sum of 57 31/100 dollars paid on the 6th of January 1853. Whereupon petitioners sue and ask that said Guerrant & McAdams be cited to appear at yours the next time of your court for Walker County, and answer & that you will hear proof and (unknown word) that they pay said balance & interest etc.

/s/ Yoakum

(Henderson Yoakum, attorney for Houstons)

The following is John McAdams’ promise to pay:
On or before the 25th day of December 1852 we or either of us promise to pay to Margaret Houston two hundred dollars for the hire of the negroes Prince and Mary for the period from this time to the said 25 Decr 1852, and we further promise to furnish each of said negroes with two summer suits, and one winter suit of clothing, and shoes, and a wool hat for the boy, & also to take care of Mary’s children & furnish them with suitable clothing & return them if alive at the end of the term. This 19 November 1851.

/s/ B. Guerrant

/s/ John McAdams

The 65th John McAdams, Jr. Reunion
Summary by Thomas McAdams

On Sunday, June 6, 1999, a number of descendants of John McAdams, Jr., gathered at the McAdams reunion grounds to visit, discuss association business, view a program and enjoy a noon meal.

Dale Sibley, Vice-President of the McAdams Cemetery Association board of trustees, presided over the meeting. The adults present at the meeting elected three board members. John Hughes, son of Robbie Lee and Leon Hughes, was one of the new board members elected. Board member terms are three years in duration. The seven current members of the board of trustees of the McAdams Cemetery Association are: Dale Sibley, Vice-President and acting President, Carl Luther McAdams, President, John Hughes, Eddie McAdams (son of Lewis and Evelyn McAdams), Gus Schultz, Jerry Woods, Frankie Davis.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Dale Sibley congratulated Carl Luther McAdams for his many years of service on the board and presented him with a plaque of appreciation. The inscription on the plaque read:

"Carl Luther McAdams – In grateful appreciation for many years of faithful service to the McAdams Cemetery Association. Made lifetime board member, April 1999."

In addition, Dale Sibley recognized Kelly McAdams, also present at the reunion, for his and Ina Mae’s generous contributions and support of the McAdams Cemetery Association and the McAdams family of Walker County.

Shelli Clary Shepperd, daughter of Janice Ann McAdams, presented a special audiovisual program commemorating the life and achievements of her grandfather, Carl Luther McAdams.

Bare-body Roundup
Information Provided by Billy James McAdams, son of J. F. and Joann Cox McAdams, Jr., and grandson of J. F. and Mary Baldwin McAdams, Sr.

In the 1920’s, Frank McAdams was working for Gibbs Brothers. He took care of their cows, including rounding them up and driving them to the railroad and then on to market. In a previous article on information provided by Cuyler Thompson, Jr., about the Hiram McAdams roundup of 1924, we learned that at the end of roundup the McAdams cattle in late spring of each year, they were joined by a herd of Gibbs Brothers cattle driven by Frank McAdams and his son J. F. McAdams, Jr. Together, the two herds were driven down the road from the old home place to the railroad in Bedias.

In the fall of 1925, Frank and his son J. F. were moving some of the Gibbs Brothers cows from the a low-lying pasture on Bedias creek to higher ground due to excessive rainfall during the past several days. They needed to drive some of the cows across the creek to higher ground. As they gathered and drove those cows across the creek, the rain continued to pour down. The creek started to rise and on one of those trips driving cows across, they decided to take off their clothes to keep them dry while swimming their horses across the fast rising creek. They took off their clothes and put them in a dry place, remounted, and proceeded to drive the cows they had gathered across the swollen creek. There they were herding cows, naked on horseback. After getting that group of cows across the creek, a wall of water coming down the creek caused the creek to overflow its banks and spread out on the surrounding ground. Frank and J. F. were forced to drive the cattle on to higher ground and on returning to the creek they realized that it was too dangerous to try to cross on their horses due to swift flowing water.

They suddenly realized that their clothes were on the other side. As evening approached, they were cold and wet. They had no choice but to wait until the creek level receded in order to cross and recover their clothes. They spent the night under some trees, covering themselves as best they could with leaves to try to stay warm. Needless to say, they spent a cold, miserable night. During the night the rain ceased and the next morning the level of water in the creek has receded sufficiently that they were able to swim their horses back across the other side and retrieve their clothes.

That was quite a cowboy experience.

David Sibley
Editorial in The Dallas Morning News, June 6, 1999:

David SibleyThe success of a Texas Legislature often depends on the work of a few political titans. They pull the session along by sheer force of will, talent and vision. Six lawmakers qualified for that distinction during the 1999 Legislature.

One of them is Sen. David Sibley, R-Waco. He worked well with Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas, in making the state’s electricity industry more competitive. Senator Sibley studied the issue thoroughly before January and then crafted a successful bill.

As the Senate Economics Development Committee chairman, he also helped pass key investment and jobs tax credits. They contain a special provision aimed at low-income areas. Mr. Sibley included those elements as part of his effort to develop South Texas.

The doctor-turned-lawyer’s sense of detachment keeps him from personalizing disagreements. That asset benefited him when he tried to negotiate a compromise on a hate crime bill. One Austin lobbyist says the senator may have "the best combination of mind and deal-making skills" in the state capital.

This article appeared in the June 19, 1999 issue of the Brazosport Facts:

Gov. George W. Bush ushered in a new era for Texas utilities Friday by signing a bill that will allow most electric customers to begin shopping for lower rates by 2002.

"Electric customers who take the time to comparison shop between providers should be able to save even more on their monthly bills, possibly as much as 15%," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. David Sibley, R-Waco. "While restructuring has had mixed results in other states, I believe Texas has adopted a plan that will be good for the consumers, good for the environment and good for business," Sibley said. "Senate Bill 7 will revolutionize the way electricity is provided and sold in Texas."

Life on Edgar’s Place (1920—1938)
Written by Robert Franklin McAdams

I am the youngest son of Edgar and Mary McAdams and a grandson of Hiram McAdams. I grew up with blacks in my early years (1920-1938) in the McAdams community. My father, Edgar, was surrounded by blacks at the farm and at work in Huntsville as Walker County Tax-Assessor Collector. We always had blacks around us.

MEdgar's Placey strongest recollection of the oldest black associated with the family was Uncle Henry Merchant. He was in his 90’s but was a very strong and vibrant individual. He had a young wife, his fourth. Somehow he was given a little piece of land on which to build a house for his wife and him. It was located near the Frank McAdams home place.

Uncle Henry Merchant cut his own trees and built a log house. We were living at the farm (near the current residence of Robbie Lee McAdams Hughes on Fm 1696) during my growing-up years. I would visit Uncle Henry often, watch him build his log house and ask him innumerable questions. He was always very patient in answering my questions. I discovered that he was a former slave, as his father was, a slave of one of the McAdams families living in the area. I asked him some stupid questions – like "How were you treated as a slave?" He responded by saying the McAdams family treated him very well, but that not all black slaves were treated as well during those times in the state. I loved to sit around and ask him questions about the old days and watch him work. He was a wonderful worker.

My dad, mom, Margaret, and I lived on the farm and had to have some help with the crops. My dad, Edgar, remembered the old days when they had to use oxen to do some of the heavy work. One of the things he wanted to do was to revert back to his childhood and use oxen for cultivation. Dad bought a pair of oxen. He had to find someone who knew how to plow with oxen and he had heard about a black named Hankton Garrett who knew how to handle oxen. So Dad put Hankton on the payroll – not much money but food and a place to sleep. Hankton would take those oxen and make them "gee" and "haw" and plow a plot of ground about 30 acres in size. The oxen moved so slowly that by the time Hankton and the oxen had plowed the 30 acres, the grass would have already started to grow on the first plowed ground. It was a lot of fun to watch those oxen pulling the plow and to watch the black man, Hankton, work those oxen.

Luby Merchant was the number one black among those who worked for the McAdams family. He seemed like my dad’s best friend when he was growing up. He was sort of like his shadow from what I have heard and what I saw as a young boy. Luby was kind to all the kids, especially to me since I was treated like the heir to the throne – Dad’s position – since everyone of those blacks loved my dad.

Luby had a middle son named Allen. He was a little older than I was, and we became best friends. We did a number of things together. One was to go possum hunting. I was twelve years old and he was about 18. Sometimes we would walk all night on possum hunts. The dogs would tree the animal and we would kill and skin it. They would get about 25 cents for the skin as they would for other animals they killed and skinned. They would put the fresh skin in a sack and guess who got to carry the sack- I did! That was one of my jobs. It was a "smelly" job but I enjoyed it. Allen was a good friend and everyone knew that wherever Allen was, Bob would not be far behind him.

I went to a black church with Allen one Sunday. It was about three miles away from our home. My dad would probably have prevented me from going if he had known about it, thinking that we would be "over-stepping" our position to visit a black church. But, Allen talked me into going with him to church. It was a wonderful experience for me. They treated me like royalty. The black minister introduced me to everyone and told everyone about the wonderful Edgar McAdams family. They started singing and shouting and having a wonderful spiritual revival. That was quite an experience for me. We never did tell Dad that I had visited the black church. Mother knew and she helped keep the secret.

We had a black cook named Bettie Garrett, Hankton’s wife, who helped Mother in the kitchen. She was slow and deliberate but very kind. We built her and Hankton a small house in the back of our farmhouse. We had a garden that Hankton, Bettie, and I took care of.
When Dad was the Tax-Assessor Collector of Walker County for some 20 years, he would visit places to assess the value of property. When he visited the black farms and property, he would assess their value very low in order to reduce their tax burden. This was his way of taking care of the black families.

When Dad died, we had a situation where the blacks wanted to come to Dad’s funeral to pay their respect for his fair treatment of them. Someone, probably Kelly or Robbie Lee, asked for permission from the family to let the blacks attend his funeral. Word got around and a large number of the blacks showed up and sat in the back of the Baptist church in Huntsville in order to pay homage to Dad because they loved him so much. This was probably the first time any blacks had been in the First Baptist church of Huntsville.

When I was in the Navy during World War II, an interesting thing happened to me. My ship was docked in Honolulu for repairs. I was on my way back from shore leave on a bus in Honolulu when I saw a black soldier walking beside the road and he looked sort of familiar. As the bus passed the man, I looked back at him and recognized my childhood friend and shadow, Allen Merchant. So, I pulled the stop cord on the bus, left the bus and ran back and hugged that black soldier. Now that was an unusual occurrence at that time in our history. Allen was in the U. S. Army and was temporarily in Honolulu prior to being shipped out to some other destination. We had a reunion right there beside that street in Honolulu. It was a strange experience when thousands of miles away from home in the middle of a war, I would meet my childhood friend. In later years after the war, when I would return to Huntsville to visit my mother and father, I would visit with Allen Merchant.

Mother had to have help around the house in Huntsville after Dad died. We found a black lady in Huntsville to come and help her. Her name was Alene Phillips. She told me that she had promised my Dad that she would take care of "Miss Mary" if anything happened to him. She would come every day and cook and clean the house for Mother.

I had a good relationship with the black people during my early years. That was probably due to the influence of my father. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about some of the black people we have known during our life, especially during those early years in the McAdams community.

Joe Dan Coleman
Joe Dan Coleman, son of Jim and Rosemary Coleman, grandson of Alvin and Jo Beth Stutts, great-grandson of Joe and Elizabeth McAdams, graduated from North Zulch high school on May 29, 1999. He was president of the student council during his senior year. Joe Dan plans to attend Sam Houston State and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and major in Marine Biology.

William Rufus Taylor 1921 – 1999
Obituary from the Houston Chronicle

Reverend William Rufus Taylor, 77, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, May 20, 1999. He was born on December 1, 1921, in Wartrace, Tennessee. He honorably served his nation as a Staff Sergeant in the U. S. Army, serving over 3 years in the Pacific Theater during WWII. He graduated from Baylor University in 1949, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1952. He pastored Union Hill Baptist Church in Alvord, Texas; Glendale Baptist Church in Houston; Golf Drive Baptist in Houston; and Bedias Baptist Church in Bedias, Texas. Later in his career, he was an educator in the North Forest I.S.D. for 11 years. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Anita Glynn; son, James V. Taylor and wife Terri, and their children, Sarah Anne, William Samuel, and John Wesley; son, Paul F. Taylor and wife Becky, and their children, Emily Glynn, Lauren Elizabeth, Claire Elaine, and Anne Louise; sisters, Celia Locke and Martha Helen Adcox; and brother, Dr. Robert F. Taylor. Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Friday, May 21, 1999, at Earthman Resthaven Chapel, 13102 North Freeway. Funeral Service 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 22, 1999, at Memorial Baptist Church, 9101 Airline, with Rev. James Godwin officiating. Graveside Service and Interment will follow at McAdams Cemetery on FM 1696 between Huntsville and Bedias, with Rev. Ernest McCollum officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to Memorial Baptist Church; or to the charity of your choice.

The following poem was included in the funeral service brochure.

Bill TaylorSafely Home

I am now at home in heaven;
All’s so happy, all so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty
In this everlasting light.

All the pain and grief are over,
Every restless tossing past;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in heaven at last.

Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the Valley of the Shade?
Oh! But Jesus’ love illumined
Every dark and fearful glade.

And He came Himself to meet me
In that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus’ arm to lean on
Could I have one doubt or dread?

Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,
Pray to trust our Father’s will.

There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idle stand;
Do your work while life remaineth;
You shall rest in Jesus’ land.

When that work is all completed
He will gently call you home;
Oh, the rapture of the meeting!
Oh, the joy to see you come!

Kathleen SchulteKathleen McAdams Schulte receives degree
Information provided by Thomas McAdams

Kathleen McAdams Schulte, daughter of Thomas and Carla McAdams, and granddaughter of Joe and Elizabeth McAdams, received a Masters of Science degree in Molecular Biology, May, 1999, from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Kathleen obtained her Masters degree while working full time in the DNA transplantation matching laboratory at Baylor College Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. She currently works for Immunological Associates of Denver, Colorado, in their R&D DNA laboratory for bone marrow transplantation. Her husband, Jason Schulte, graduated from the University of North Texas in May, 1998, with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology in Construction Management. Jason works for M. A. Mortenson Construction Company as a construction engineer. After completing assignments in Dallas and Seattle, Jason is working on projects in Denver.

Kathleen McAdams Schulte is the great grand daughter of Hiram and Alice Williamson McAdams.