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 Martha Mather


{Page image}
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{Begin handwritten} Folk Stuff Range Lore {End handwritten}

Range-lore

Ruby Mosley -- San Angelo, Texas

RANGE-LORE

Living in Williamson County when Texas was hardly more than a wilderness, Miss Martha
Mather recalls some of the excitement of pioneer days:

"My father was a good manager and became very prosperous. He owned and operated a grist
mill, flour mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop, post office, and general store in the village in which we
lived.

"When the Civil War broke out he went to enlist but government officials realizing that he would
be of greater service at home, refused to enlist him in the army.

"In those days Texas was somewhat made up of outlaws, evading punishment in some other
state. Their children would say to other children, "What did your father do that he had to come
to Texas?"  Then they would relate criminal stories that had brought their fathers to this state.

"In those days, Indians were still pilfering in the wooded sections of Texas. I remember one
particular tragedy that happened to some of our friends in Lampasas County. Marcus Skaggs,
Benton Skaggs and a friend of theirs put their oxen to the wagon and went to my father's mill to
have some corn ground into meal. They were young boys, Marcus was 16, Benton 12, and their
friend was about the same age. On their return they were stopped on the way, by some Indians.
Having no protection except the forest on each side of the road, they ran into the densest part of
the forest. The Indians emptied the meal out of the sacks and killed the oxen but didnot follow
the boys into the woods. From their hiding place, the boys had watched until the Indians
disappeared, then went across the road for a better view. They entered the more thinly wooded
section of the forest and were followed by the Indians and that was when the trouble began. The
little friend was shot through the temple and Marcus was shot in the hip. It was left to Benton the
12 year old lad to get aid. Night was drawing near, the two boys wounded and the oxen dead,
and realizing something must be done he started home. Choosing the nearest route possible, he ran up the river, and came to the dead bodies of two of his neighbors. The Indians had killed them and taken their guns. It was these guns which had been used in wounding the Skaggs boy and his friend. This frightened the boy still more and he ran to the home of one of the dead men. Here he stopped long enough to drink a cup of coffee, but didnot tell the woman of her husband being dead. He rushed home as fast as he could and {Begin deleted text} and {End deleted text} obtained help to go after the wounded boys. Marcus recovered but his little friend died. The day following the tragedy, the bodies of the dead men were carried to their homes for burial.

"Fort Croghan was an Indian trading post; they came to that post from all parts of the wilderness
to do their trading and begging. They would venture down to our tents and each day a different
Indian did the talking, pretending that the others could not talk. They were very fond of my
father, mother, and the baby. They would beg mother to let the baby go riding with them, but
were always refused. They would give her anything they possessed, and when she died, at the
age of two years, she had collected about two yards of Indian beads. Knowing that mother liked
honey they insisted that she must have some of theirs. When she went after it she saw a green
bag hanging from a limb of a tree, and as she drew nearer she decided that it must be a swarm of bees, she could see something flying around, but to her amazement she found that it was a bag of honey put up in a deer hide and was covered with green flies.

"Father often went hunting with the Indians. He said he wasn't afraid of their scalping him,
because he was baldheaded. Father had a grind-stone which caused much excitement among
them. They couldnot understand its use. They would watch my father grind his axe, then they
would turn the stone with their fingers pressed against it until they would bleed. Sometimes they
ground their fingers to the bone, just to see what it was all about.

"Mexicans would often come over and take the Indian squaws into Mexico. Then the Indians
would go over and get their wives; some were Indians and some were Mexicans, and this
caused a mixture of the two races. There was a big Comanche Chief named Yellow Wolf. They
called him that because he was half Mexican. Old Yellow Wolf had a big sore on the side of his
stomach and he would say, 'This side no bueno, Mexican---this side mas bueno, Indian.'

"When I was a little girl no woman's dress was complete without hoops, and at the age of eight I
decided that I, too, must wear them. My desire became so strong that I consulted mother and she sent me to the store to consult my uncle who was working in the store. I had to beg and cry before he would let me have them. I put them on and went prancing up the street before my little friends. They were much to large and I was teased by the observers, which brought more tears to my eyes. Old Granny, our negro nurse, made them over to fit me and then I strutted some more. But when I decided to sit down the hoops flew up and gave me a lick on the nose that knocked me over. 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 came to San Angelo, school land could be procured by paying a small fee. Guides
were located in San Angelo and 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 for.
In order to get the usual $100.00 for the location, the guides often located new-comers on
another man's property. Of course this caused much trouble and many killings, so I decided to
buy my land, and that was just what I did."

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Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.
http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/wpaintro/wpahome.html