Although I would have preferred to link directly from my web page to this oral history at the WPA's web page, this was not possible.  Their pages are not set up to accommodate such links.  I was able to copy the text exactly as it appears on their site.  What follows is an exact copy of the document found at the WPA's web page with one exception.  I deleted a bit of information on viewing  the document that is not relevant for this site.  The references to "Page image" below refer to links of images of  the original type written page.

This project is online thanks to the:
Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA General Writer's Project Collection.



Miss Mattie Mather - 2nd version


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Range-Lore

Ruby Mosley

Continuity

Page one

RANGE-LORE

"My father (Mr. Mather ) came from England with his wife and four children, settled in
Louisiana, where two more children were born", says, Miss Mattie (Babe) Mather of San
Angelo, Texas. "This wife died and he married Miss Sarah Parker Smith, who was twenty-one
years of age and had lived in Louisiana since the age of twelve, when she came from Millageville,
Georgia. My mother and father had two children in Louisiana, then moving to Texas where ten
more children were added to the family while pioneering the wilderness and suffering hardships
of that area.

"My oldest brother Andrew was born in a tent/ {Begin inserted text} in {End inserted text}
1851, and was the second white child born in Williamson County. He died at the age of 78 and
was delivered back to his birthplace for {Begin handwritten} C.12 - 2/11/41 - Texas {End
handwritten}

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burial. That track of land had been converted into a cemetary/ {Begin inserted text} and {End
inserted text} the same location of the tent was chosen for the grave.

"Our family became very prosperous, my father was a good manager with family as well as
business. Father soon owned and operated a grist mill, flour mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop, post
office and general village store.

"When the Civil War broke out my father went to enlist but was not permitted but requested to
stay at home where he could care for the little town, provide for the citizens, serve his country
better at home than in the army.

"In the early days Texas was some what made up of outlaws evading punishment in their own
state. Their children would say, 'What did your father do that he had to come to Texas?' Then
they would relate murder and criminal stories that had brought their fathers to Texas.

"In those days Indians were still pilfering and pillageing the wooded sections of Texas. I
remember one particular tragedy that happened to our friends that lived in Lampasas County
near Williamson County.

"Marcus Skaggs 16, Benton Skaggs 12 and a kid friend about the same age put their oxen to
the wagon and went to my father's mill to have the corn ground into meal. On the return some
Indians stopped them, the kids had no protection except the large forest on one side of the road
and a small one on the other. The boys chose the large forest knowing the customs of Indians.
The Indians emptied meal out of the sacks, killed the oxen but did not enter the forest. The

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Indians disappeared and the boys wanting to see what had happened to the ox wagon, went
across the road to the small forest. People were often fooled by the Indians imitating barking
dogs and other familiar animals. They watched the boys enter the small wooded section and
followed; here's where trouble began. The little friend was shot through the temple, and Marcus
in the hip. It was left to Benton the 12 year old boy to get aid. Night was drawing near, the two
boys shot and the oxen killed, Benton started home. He [chose?] the nearest route possible; ran
up the river where he came to the bodies of two neighbors. The Indians had killed them and
taken their guns and that's what they used to shoot the boys. This gave Benton encouragement
to run for life, soon he came to one of the dead {Begin deleted text} men {End deleted text}
{Begin inserted text} men's {End inserted text} home; he was so tired that he drank a cup of
coffee to give him strength to get home. He kept all of the trouble to himself, did not tell the lady
of the house that her husband lay dead in the river bottom. Benton ran home, got the men and a
wagon to go after Marcus and friend to bring them home. The friend died and Marcus soon
recovered. The next morning they told the women of their husbands and brought their bodies
home for burial.

"Fort Croghan was an Indian trading post; they would come here from all parts of the wilderness
to do their trading and begging. These Indians would venture down to our tents, a different
Indian would do the talking and managing each day, pretending the others could not talk. The
Indians

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were very fond of my father, mother and baby sister. They would beg mother to let the baby go
riding with them but were always refused, they would give her anything they possessed, she died
at the age of two and had already collected about two yards of Indian beads. Mother was crazy
about honey, they wanted to give her some, when she went after it she saw a green bag hanging
on a limb of a tree, as she drew nearer she decided that it must be a swarm of bees, she could
see something flying around, but was amazed when she found it to be a bag of honey put up in a
deer hide and was covered by green flies. Father often went hunting with them and wasn't afraid
he was bald headed and said, 'They wont scalp me I don't have any hair on my head. My father
had a grind stone which caused much excitement among the Indians. They could not understand
its use. They would watch my father grind his ax, then they would turn the stone with their fingers
pressed against it until their fingers would bleed and a few times grind to the bone just to see
what it was all about.

"The Mexicans would often come over and take the Indian squaws and rush back to Mexico,
then the Indians would go over and get their wives some Indians and some Mexicans, this
caused a mixture of the two races. There was a big old Comanche Chief named Yellow Wolf,
they called him this because he was half Mexican. Old Yellow Wolf had a big sore on the side of
his stomach he would say, 'This side 'No bueno' Mexican, this side 'Mas bueno', Indian.

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"When I was a little girl no womans dress was complete without hoops. At eight years of age I
decided that I too must wear hoops. My desire became so strong that I consulted mother, she
sent me to the store I had to beg and cry before my uncle, salesman in fathers store would agree
with me. I put them on, pranced up the street and struted before my little friends. They were
much too long and I was teased by the observers which brought tears again. Old Granny our
nurse negro slave cut them off to fit, I dried my tears and strutted until I became tired then
decided to sit down and when I did the hoops flew up and gave me a lick on the nose that
knocked me over and again I cried. Old Granny came to my rescue as usual and taught me how
to pull the hoops up in the back before seating myself.

"When I was a little school girl 11 years of age paralysis struck an optic nerve which caused me
to be blind. I suffered and worried until we found that I could continue my education by entering
the Institute for the Blind, Austin, Texas. I entered this institute in 1873 and received my diploma
in 1881. I remained there a year longer continuing my music which proved to be helpful and
entertaining throughout these many years.

"In October, 1900 I came to San Angelo. My sister and brother kept insisting that I come out
and claim some school land by paying a small fee. Guides were located in San Angelo, as new
comers arrived these guides would help them get located for $100.00. The confusion began
when more people came than land was available. In order to get the usual $100.00 [?]

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for location they would locate a new comer on another man's property and go on the next. Of
course this confusion caused much trouble many times killing. I decided to buy my land.

"My sister Ada and I each bought twenty acres of the old Jim Farr Ranch where we now live.
She lives over there in the next house, she only has two acres of land left she traded eighteen
acres of this city land for two-hundred acres out on Grape Creek where they are expecting an
oil boom, they have some oil near her place.

"You go over and let Ada show you her two acre farm, she is an old maid also, you know I am
80 years old and she is a few years younger. We don't live together it takes the entire house for
each of us as you know I'm blind and when I place something I want it to stay there until I move
it.

"If I were to go over she would start the chicken feud again. She is really sold on Barred Rock
chickens and white turkeys. She will also show you a shoe box full of prize ribbons that she has
won at different fairs. I always liked the game chickens something that will stand up for its own
rights, they caused so much confusion that I sold them.

"I read and write for most of my past time. I use the paint and braille system to read and
correspond with my blind friends. I bought a typewriter and learned to write to my seeing
friends.

"I am very independent even though some people say I'm handicaped. I do not get a pension, I
didn't ask for it, and don't want it. I am not like those people begging for relief.

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>"It is about time for my exercise, (reaching up to touch her braille clock. You see I have the
chicken wire all the way around the porch, I walk up and down for exercise. (She walked
briskly up and down the porch still reminiscent of the corset and bustle days of long ago).

"My real name is Mattie or Martha. When I was a child about three years of age I took a
sudden dislike to my name because so many people called me (Marthie) instead of Martha. I
like the name of Babe and would not answer when called otherwise, so you must call me Babe
instead of Miss Mattie.