Early Hays County, TX History.
Very early HAYS COUNTY TEXAS history
From Hunter's FRONTIER TIMES MAGAZINE, Feb., 1941
Part of the series "Heroines of the Hills" by T.U. Taylor
We are compelled for the sake of space to restrict ourselves to the hills of Hays County and not to trespass on the lowlands. The International and Great Northern Railroad approaches the foothills very closely and we shall not cross the track in our observations.
Ninety per cent of the county is in the hills, but the heavy voting strength lies in the black land section. The first white settlers came to the county in 1846, the same year the town of Fredericksburg was founded. Others came in 1847 in large numbers. General Edward Burleson was representing the district in the State Senate and he introduced the bill to make the district a county. The bill was passed on March 1, 1848, creating Hays County.
On August 7, 1848, the first election was held and the following officers elected: John Kirby, sheriff. E. Erherd, county clerk. W. E. Owens, district clerk. Henry Cheatem, chief justice. N. F. Owens, tax assessor. At the same election Sheppard Colbath, C. R. Johns, A. E. McDonald, and U. A. Young were elected county commissioners.
General Ed Burleson moved to the new county and built his home on the hills overlooking the valley of the San Marcos River. This house was a double log cabin on the highway between Austin and San Antonio. It was, for a long time, the stopping place of travelers. General Burleson had served his country nobly and the county of Burleson was created and named in his honor. He was born in 1798 and died in 1851. During his life he was a Senator in the Third Congress of the Republic of Texas, prominent leader throughout Texas, Vice President 1841-44 of Texas Republic, fought in the Battle of San Jacinto, and was State Senator when he died. He also led the Texans in the famous Plum Creek fight against an over-whelming number of Indians. He should be known as the father of Hays County because it was largely through his influence that the county was created. His life is a fascinating story of pioneer grit, of exalted courage, and of lofty character. He left a heritage to Texas far richer than its natural resources—its gold, silver, or oil—that of a good name. The writer is almost forced to quote the advice of old Polonius to Laertes:
"Good name in man or woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their soul... but he that robs my good name fetches from me something that not enriches him but makes me poor indeed."
In writing an article on the history of the heroines of the hills in Hays County, one would like to take up the women of the Burleson clan, limiting the whole article to their acts. In fact, a large part of any history of Hays County would have to deal with the Burlesons.
I must again remind the readers that this is a sketch primarily of the heroines of the hill part of Hays County, and incidentally, I am forced to drag in some men, because they married these women. Emma Kyle was born in Hinds County, Mississippi, April 8, 1832, and died in Hays county Texas, February 5, 1877, at the age of forty-five years. She was married to Major Edward Burleson on February 15, 1854, in Hays County, in the foothills of the hill country. I should add here that Major Edward Burleson was the son of General Edward Burleson, the man who fought with Sam Houston, thus making a clear distinction between General Ed and Major Ed. Major Edward B. Burleson was horn in Tipton, Tennessee, November 30, 1826, and died in Austin, Texas, on May 12, 1877. He died 96 days after his wife's death. The marriage of Emma Kyle and Major Edward Burleson was one of the most romantic and peculiar that has happened in Texas. At that time, however, lie was not a major, because he won this title during the Civil War. He was only Ed Burleson, a son of General Burleson. Major Ed was 28 years old, and his wife was 22, when they married. They were married late in the afternoon and rode to Bastrop the next day.
Edward Burleson was rather independent in his youth, and had been in love with Emma Kyle for seven long years. But Emma kept putting him off. Finally Ed made up his mind to end the matter one way or the other. One day he rode up to the Kyle home, near the present town of Kyle, and told the lovely Emma: "Now, you can either marry me or I am gone for good. " She knew he had the Burleson determination in his eyes. He told her he would come back the next morning and bring the marriage license from San Marcos. Next day he came to the Kyle home with the license and the Methodist preacher. Emma then went and told her mother that she intended to marry Edward Burleson. The father was away from home, and the mother put her foot down on the marriage and issued her final decree: "Emma, you can't marry at this house without your father's consent." Edward spoke up: "Let 's go over to my mother 's house and be married there. " Colonel Kyle had given his daughter Emma a splendid horse, which was her favorite riding horse, and the young couple rode to the Burleson home. Mother Burleson, who was a spitfire, inquired: "Why didn't you marry at Colonel Kyle's?" Emma answered: "Father wasn't at home." Edward said: "We just came here to be married." Grandmother Burleson issued her final decree: "If Mrs. Kyle didn't approve of it, because your father’s not here, I am not going to approve of it either." Edward said to Emma: " Come on. " It should have been said that when they left the Kyle home, Emma said to her little brothers: "Come on, boys, sister is going to be married."
Then they all mounted their ponies, and the whole cavalcade rode to the Burleson home. Here, told by Grandma. Burleson that they couldn't marry there either, the ardent young couple, thus turned away from the Kyle home, were not permitted to marry in the Kyle home or in the Burleson home. There happened to be living between these two families an old lady by the mane of Aunt Sooky Holt. She was kind to everybody, and was worshiped by young and old. She lived in a log cabin with a dirt floor. When the bridal party rode up and announced their mission, Aunt Sooky said: "Get out and come in. I want to see you married before you leave here." Thus Edward Burleson, whose father had fought at San Jacinto, and Emma Kyle, the mother of a future member of a President's cabinet, were married in a mountain cabin in the hill country on a dirt floor. They walked out of the cabin man and wife, but when they came to the horse block, Edward said to Emma: " Don't get on that horse. " Emma replied: "Edward, this is my horse. "Edward replied: "I don't want any-thing of Colonel Kyle's but you, and I've already got you." He fixed the bridle reins on the horse, turned it loose and gave it a cut across the hips with his quirt, and started it back to the Kyle ranch. Emma's four little brothers overtook the horse and led it back to the Kyle home. Emma got up behind Ed on his horse, and they spent the night at some neighbor's house near there. The next day Ed gave Emma another horse, and they fled away on their honeymoon horseback, across, the country to Bastrop. Here they spent one or two years, and their first baby, Edward Claiborne, was born on August 25, 1855. Edward looked at his offspring and issued his decree: "Don't take. my baby to the Kyle ranch." However, time and common sense will heal all wounds. Somehow, Emma’s father or mother saw the grandchild, and it was love at first sight. That grandchild united the two families, and reconciled both sides of grandparents to the marriage.
Before the second child was born, little Edward Claiborne Burleson enjoyed what amounted to adoration from both the Kyle and Burleson families, and peace was restored completely and fully, after which some-one in the Kyle family gave little Edward a small Bible.
Major Edward Burleson had bought a tract of land at the head of the San Marcos River, about two miles above visible flowing water. Here, in 1856, Ed and Emma settled in a rock house at Sink Springs. The tourists can easily find this famous old home by traveling about 2½ miles from San Marcos on the San Marcos-Kyle road, and turning to the left on what was formerly called the Sink Springs road and is now called the Limekiln road. A more beautiful site could not have been selected. It is a natural cove, or valley, that opens up towards the southwest. It is really a prolongation of the San Marcos river, but here at the Burleson farm the river sank beneath the surface and was not visible, crossings its way through homeycomb limestone rock. The site for the Burleson home was on a natural flintrock foundation. Here Major Ed and his wife Emma built their stone house with no architect's plans, and nothing but their own. It was built by unskilled laborers who were devoted to Marse Ed and Miss Emma. When the Civil War came on, Ed Burleson and five of the Kyle boys all joined the Southern Confederacy. Grandmother Kyle, who did not permit the couple to be married without the father's consent, was intensely religious. She went into a cave on the Blanco river each day and prayed for her five boys, who were fighting for the Southern cause. Then the war was over, and the soldier boys came back. The Yankees came in and advised the young negroes to leave, and the only negroes left were the old and decrepit and those who would not desert parse Ed and Miss Emma for any freedom or emancipation that could be conferred upon them.
Here at this home Emma Kyle brought into the world ten children, as follows: Edward Claiborne, born August 26, 1855, died January 24, 1863; John William, born August 29, 1857, died July 1, 1927; James Glenn, born August 1, 1859, died September 10, 1915 ; Ford McCulliver, born June 19, 1861, died May 21, 1887; Albert Sydney, born June 7, 1863, died November 24, 1937; Kyle, born August 8, 1865, died November 5, 1866; Edward, born July 17, 1867, died September 1, 1873 ; Emma Kyle, born August 2, 1869 ; Lily Kyle, born August 2, 1871; Mary Kyle, born December 14, 1873, died April 3, 1923. At the Burleson home the couple lived in complete happiness, and here the wayfarer found plenty to eat and a bed to sleep on. Nuns and priests of the Catholic Church, old Texans, tramps, and any white traveler found a place to stay all night at the Burleson home. One peddler by the name of old Melaski dealt in pots and pans and bought hides. He was a great friend of Colonel Burleson, and stayed the night whenever he was in that section of the country. He amassed a fortune in buying hides that were cured and handling them. Naturally, the smell was not always conducive to good society. When they would see old Melaski coming in his wagon, someone would call out to Ed's old body servant by the name of Pappy : "Pappy, if you and Big Bob let Mother smell old Melaski tonight, I'll shut you up in the cotton-seed house." The darkies were very skillful. When the wind changed so that it would convey the smell to the house, the big negroes would move the wagon around to the other side of the house. There were few newspapers, and old Melaski gathered all the news and gossip in the country, and the family would gather around after supper and make him talk until late at night, telling the gossip and news of the day, and the happenings in the other neighborhoods.
Major Ed Burleson kept a book of accounts and a list of those to whom he had loaned money. An iron chest served as a bank, and one entry reads as follows: "B. Melaski—not a scratch of pen between us. $10,000. gold. Paid. “By another name appeared these words : "Too much white in his eyes. " After another name : "White wheat eyes too close together. " Others were called by such names as "Bad Egg, " "Bad Injun," etc., showing that Ed Burleson was a good judge of human nature.
When they lived at the old home, Mrs. Ed Burleson would often go into San Marcos to do her trading and shopping, and would take some of her children with her. When she would take Emma, the negro servants always took along an extra outfit of clothes. Emma's personal body servant was named Hester, and she was supposed to look after the child while her mother was making purchases. But Hester got into a conversation with some negroes from other plantations on the streets of San Marcos, and forgot about little Emma. She was about six years old, and all dolled up within an inch of her life. She heard a negro man ask the store-keeper : "What shall I do with that sugar in the bottom of my barrel of molasses? " Emma went out, saw a scoop in the barrel of dry pans, took the scoop and passed out "molasses candy.” Emma's mother inquired of her whereabouts of Hester and Mr. Johnson, the storekeeper, who replied that they did not know. When they fond little Emma, she was covered in molasses from head to foot. They rolled her up in some unbleached domestic, like a mummy, until they got her home. Mrs. Burleson had a new buggy, and didn't want to get it sticky with molasses. Big Bob, who kept the hides wagon of old man Melaski out of smelling distance of the house, was the driver of her hack. Major Burleson never let his wife drive horses, but he furnished her with two spans of carriage mules.
Then came that fateful day when Emma Kyle Burleson sickened and died on February 5, 1877. She had replenished the earth with ten children. Little Emma was only eight years old when her mother died. Major Ed Burleson took no interest in anything— business, farm, stock—but said to his friends that he didn't want to live any longer. And in 96 days after Emma's body was buried in flays county soil, her husband went into the great beyond. The youngest child was only four years old. It will be noted that the first seven children were boys, and then came three girls, two years apart.
Tom Sneed, a brilliant lawyer, had married a daughter of old General Ed and was therefore a brother-in-law of Ed Burleson. He immediately took charge of the estate and became guardian of the children. He placed Emma in the St. Mary's school at Austin, where she stayed for thirteen years, until she was twenty-one years old. She is living today, hale and hearty, and takes great interest in public affairs. When the route of the International and Great Southern railroad was discussed, Major Burleson bought a large tract of land, and tried to induce the railroad to come through this land; but failed.
To illustrate the devotion of Major Ed Burleson to his wife, Emma, it is related that on one of his visits to town he bought three pieces of silk for the three women in the household, and told his wife she could have her choice. The three women got into a disagreement about the pieces of silk, and when Major Burleson came home, the story was told to him. He called to his brother-in-law: "Get your horse and Lou's horse and go. Mother is cock of this walk. She bosses me and everybody that crosses this threshold. Get your horse and never enter this door again."
At the end of the Civil War came a few luxuries. Lincoln coffee came in. The Burleson family was the first in Hays county to have a bath tub. The bath tub was hauled from old Indianola, and that bath tub is now in existence, used for a horse trough, It was placed in the front yard, and a form of bath house was erected around it. The dairy was under the same roof, with a partition between them. The major raised many hogs and cattle, and when the hog-killing time came after the war, the kids had a vacation and everyone wanted to help.
The stage from Austin to San Antonio passed right by the Burleson home, and nearly always there was somebody stopping and staying all night. There was a company bedroom, and the furniture of that bedroom is still in existence. The father died in May, 1877, and different kin came to the house, and naturally relics disappeared. The three youngest children were girls. Silver and jewels were in the great safe, and Tom Sneed took charge. Until the girls were 21, they didn't have a dime ready cash, but could charge anything at the stores. When they divided the trinkets of the old Burleson household, Emma drew the silver.
When Emma was a student at St. Mary's Academy, the best girls had the place of honor in the front line, and the naughty girls were in the rear, followed by the nuns. Emma relates that she was always by the nuns. She would never wear a hat. At the Burleson home, she had always had a negro servant to dress her and comb her hair, and when she got to the academy, she had to dress herself and comb her own hair, and even make her own bed. In a few days after entering the school, Emma got tired of the job 'of combing her hair. She got hold of some scissors, cut off the braids, and threw them away. The nuns were horrified, and 'they sent for Uncle Tom Sneed. He came in, took one look at Emma, and inquired in a judicial tone: "Did you cut off that hair?" Emma very tartly replied : "Yes, sir." Judge Sneed replied: "Go down to Bob's and have him cut your hair.” Bob was a famous negro barber, and he had quite a reputation for cutting hair. In addition to combing her hair, Emma had to lace her own shoes, and she solved that problem by throwing away her shoelaces. A Mrs. Brown saw Emma, without a hat, marching in the rear of the line of children, and concluded that she was a charity ward of the school. Mrs. Brown was telling another lady about this poor little girl—that she had to walk in the rear of the line without any hat. The friend said: "Is it that little cotton-headed girl? She is a niece of Tom Sneed, and a granddaughter of General Ed Burleson, the hero of San Jacinto."
About the time that Emma Burleson became twenty-one years old, and after she had been in St. Mary's Academy for thirteen years, she was walking through the streets one day and met her friend, Miss Maud Moore of Austin. After the greeting, Emma asked Maud where she was going to spend the winter. She promptly replied that she was going to attend Mary Baldwin seminary in Stanton, Virginia, a dyed-in-the-wool Presbyterian school. For thirteen years Emma had been in a Catholic school, but she suddenly made up her mind that she was going to Mary Baldwin, and go she went. She went to the house of her guardian, Tom Sneed, who was very sick at the time. She walked in and told her Uncle Tom that she was going to Mary Baldwin, and he signed the papers and gave her permission. Miss Emma Burleson has been a factor in public affairs of Texas for over fifty years.
AUNT SOOKEY BREEDLOVE
Mountain City was a small town or community a few miles northwest of Kyle. Some relics of the town can be seen to this day on a country road leading out of Kyle, but the modern highways have passed it by and it remains a memory. Near this little town lived a remarkable character by the name of Aunt Sookey Breedlove. She was relatively poor in this world's goods. She had a husband that carried the rural mail and two or three daughters, all living in a little log cabin, happy, cheerful, and contented. It is with "Aunt Sookey" that we shall spend a few moments. She was that rare combination of the Good Samaritan and of Dorcas. She was full of good works and good deeds and many a lonely heart did she make glad and many a. broken heart was healed by the kind words and acts of Aunt Sookey Breedlove. She not only let Emma Kyle and young Edward Burleson be married in her cabin on a dirt floor, but she was daily doing some good. On the day that "Aunt Sookey " Dorcas let Emma Kyle and young Ed Burleson cement their holy vows, she did a• deed that (lid not bear fruit for nearly fifty years later. The offspring of that marriage sat in the cabinet of Woodrow Wilson as Post Master General of the whole United States.
It is related that the elder Dorcas sickened and died near the coast in the holy land near Joppa., and Peter came and knowing of her good deeds commanded her to rise and she sat up. Aunt Sookey died years ago in Hays county, and went to her reward, followed by hundreds of weeping eyes and aching hearts. No Peter came and raised her from the dead. But in the hearts of pioneer men and frontier women, Aunt Sookey still lives and many men and many women in Hays county are better men and better women to good ninety years after she witnessed the marriage of Emma Kyle and young Ed Burleson, on account of some recollections of Aunt Sookey, the Dorcas of Hays county.
THE TABITHA OF HAYS COUNTY
Dorcas was also known as "Tabitha." The writer for several months has been peering into the valleys and hills of Hays County, along the Blanco, Onion Creek, and along Stringtown, and at Driftwood. Everywhere he met with some old settlers who, when relaxed, will tell you tales of God-fearing and God-obeying women like Aunt Sookey that lived and wrought in Hays county iii the hills. The writer has been bitten by the history bug and it has given him an incurable malady and he will never die satisfied till he pays just tribute to these women of the hills of old Hays fro m Stringtown to the Pedernales. There was not only the good Samaritan women of Stringtown, but over in the northern part of the county Emma Johnson, wife to Thomas Johnson of Hays, Blanco, and Travis and other counties. There was Mother Kyle, the mother of Emma Kyle, who sent five sons to the Southern armies. Every clay from the time they left until they returned, she went to a certain tree near the Kyle home and there she knelt on her knees on Texas soil and prayed to the God of Battles that the Lord would let her sons return home safe and sound. Five Kyle sons and one son-in-law, Ed Burleson, were in that war and the sun never set on the hills of old Hays county that did not witness this God-like woman on her knees praying for the return of her boys from the battle fields. Her prayers were answered and all of her sons became leading citizens of the State of Texas. And there came the time when Mrs. Roundsavill came to Coronal Institute and wielded an influence that has marked the civilization of Hays County for over sixty years and the writer wished that he had space to pay a just tribute to her memory and services. Her life still lives in the lives of the grand children of her former pupils.
OLD TIMER'S DINNER
On October 18, 1940, the venerable Sam R. Kone, whose people came to Hays when it was Bastrop, gave a small dinner to a few old timers of Texas. There sat down at his table 429 years of age of experience in Texas. divided as follows : R. M. Alexander, who had his 91st birthday on October 19, 1940; Samuel Reid Kone, 8 5 years; C. W. Moore, 87 years; T. U. Taylor, 83 on January 2, 1941; and Pete Woods 83— a, total of 429. All five had spent nearly their whole lives in the counties around the capitol. For three hours the conversation was free and unrestrained, with no formality, no program. We went from Sam Houston to Jesse James, from Ferg Kyle to Johnson Institute. The whole history of the county be-fore Hays was created, before the Civil War, the return of the soldiers, the birth of the cattle drivers, the birth of different schools, the growth and de-cline of towns and neighborhoods— all these came up in passing remarks. It soon developed that a town was known in the early days long before San Marcos and Kyle were anything but spots on the landscape, and that this town was a factor in the growth of Hays county. This town was five miles long and a furlong wide and known from Austin to San Antonio as STRINGTOWN. It extended from a point two miles west of the court house in San Marcos to the town of Hunter, or from the present western city limits along the highway. The houses were dotted along this highway that skirted the foothills for five miles. It was a settlement of pioneers, many of them kinfolks, all of them neighbors. All had had their rifles in the wood forks above the door; all had their six shooters ready. There were no cook stoves. Every house cooked on the old fire place with its back log, and old Dutch oven called by us a "baker. "Every family had its ash hopper, piggin, churn, and many had their looms —linsey-woolsey was a household term and the men wore “homespun." Shoes were made by a member of the family or by some neighbor. The leather came from the hides of the cattle raised on the ranch and it was tanned at some neighbor's by the old bark process. Every pioneer soon learned the trees in the neighborhood that gave the best available tan bark for the conversion of the raw hide into leather pliable and strong. It is strange that modern science with' al l its electric tanned leather cannot make a product to compare with the old time barked tanned leather. The people of Stringtown not only produced their own clothes and shoes, but raised nearly everything they ate. Stringtown had one street and it was one side of the town. It had no mayor, no marshal, for the simple reason that none was needed. It was one big family from one end of town to the other over a stretch of five miles. They helped each other in time of trouble, and many of the good wives were good doctors for the frontier ailments. In time of death the men dug the grave for their neighbor's dead and acted as pallbearers. There were no undertakers, no hearses, but there was one thing that civilization had not ruined. The minister preached a funeral sermon that referred to the late departed friend. He did not read from a printed book something that would apply to a man in South Africa. as well as to the one in Hays county. It was an individual tribute and he did not refer to the Amelikites.
The people were all honest, traded and bartered, rarely gave a note. In fact, a note was not asked. The asking of a note was to mark a. man as newcomer and not one of the soil. The wayfarer from Austin to San Antonio could always find a place to stay all night. No traveler was turned away or refused food for himself and horse. The horse was part of the man's family. He was at once a luxury and a necessity. The old family horse lived on and became a bread-winner and a means of transportation to the church, the mill, and the market.
Along the one street of Stringtown passed some of the notable men of the west. Sam Houston, General Edward Burleson, Ben Thompson—the noted gun-man, O. M. Roberts, George W. Brackenridge, Jesse James, Frank James and Big Foot Wallace traveled it. At one house in Stringtown they would spend the night, partake of the good home cooking of a pioneer wife and mother, sleep in a feather bed, and the only charge for providing for horse and man was the command: "All we charge is to come again when you are passing this way." The present venerable Sam R. Kone tells of a unique experience. Two young men on the way to Mexico appeared at his father's gate late one evening and asked politely for shelter for the night. They were gladly welcomed. The strangers took supper; stayed all night; ate break-fast : and when leaving offered payment for their entertainment. They were met with the command: "Stop again when you are passing this way." The travelers left on their very fine horses. Young Sam Kone had the honor of taking care of the horses and feeding them. After a few months the travelers returned from their trip to Mexico, but it was noticed that they were riding small mules instead of fine horses. They were entertained as before and later it was found that the Kone family had had the honor of entertaining Frank and Jesse James. The venerable Sam R. Kone has the credit of currying the horse of Jesse James.
The people of Stringtown were Godfearing people, worshiped God, paid their debts, never turned a traveler away, always came to the aid ofa neighbor in distress, and let each worship his Creator according to his own conscience. In the neighborhood were some hardshell Baptists, honest, brave, and true men and women. On one occasion in pioneer days, this denomination had a foot-washing in the little creek that courses its way by the town of Hunter, and the whole town of Stringtown attended. Here in the hole of water in sight of the modern highway from San Marcos to San Antonio each member solemnly washed the feet of his neighbor or brother in the church as a token of humility and devotion. It was a very solemn occasion and made a profound impression on the spectators.
During the summer of 1940 the writer visited the reunion of the old Confeds and pioneers at Camp Ben McCulloch near Driftwood. Here he found a large shed well constructed many camps, many campers, and a well organized community almost on a military basis. A glance at the pro-gram showed him that he was there on the day when the Jennie Burleson unit was in charge of the program. His mind went back to the frail little woman that he had met some quarter of a century before as Jennie Burleson, and he soon realized that it was this little woman of Hays County that was a patron spirit of the pioneer and old Confeds at Camp Ben McCulloch. He was thereby inspired to trace the history of Jennie Burleson. She was the grand-daughter of Gen. Edward Burleson a who was one of Sam Houston's men at San Jacinto and was the leader of the pioneers in the battle of Plum Creek during the clays of the Republic. Her father was David Crockett Burleson, son of Genera] Ed Burleson. IIe served with the old Confeds during the Civil War; had married Louisa Ware and settled near the town of Buda in Hays County. Here they raised a family of several children. While Jennie was in her teens, the wife sickened and died and little Jennie became the mother, the manager, and the head of the household. In the course of events the family fortune had not fared well, and the father and his children were left with a few acres of land that came from the Ware estate. There was no house and no shelter. The father was not strong, and they had no money to hire carpenters or buy lumber for a house. But somehow Jennie secured the lumber, and she told her father that they would build their own house. The father thought the job was impossible, but here little Jennie showed the Burleson grit. She ordered her father to hold one end of the weather boarding in place, while she marked off its proper length, and marked the line to guide the saw. She sawed off the outer to fit the joint and then with her own hands she drove the nails through the weather-boarding into the studding and from this on to the roof, the flooring, the doors, the windows, and soon it was ready for the Burleson family. Neighbors passed by and saw the brave little woman acting as carpenter, joiner, builder; while her father, Crock Burleson, acted as assistant in holding one end of the plank while his daughter Jennie did the carpenter work.
There is a beautiful story about the house "That Jack Built” but in the town of Buda, on its northern border, is a small frame house that is known by old timers in the neighborhood as " the house that Jennie built."
The building of the house was not all. Into the house moved the Crock Burleson family and to provide bread and meat Jennie took a job as clerk in the Birdwell store. Here she learned the arts and technique of a sales-woman. Old timers say that she took to it like a duck to water. She was mother to a small brood, and she did not neglect the amenities of life. A musical club was organized in Buda that suet once a week. Each one was supposed to play something, aid Sister Mary took to the piano and Jennie got hold of an old fiddle and she went at it with all the fire and determination of her grandfather. She made that old fiddle bow fly across thee string and its companions till she could wield the fiddle bow that would make Cotton-Eyed-Joe proud of himself. She took the family, including her father, to the Old Settlers Reunion and the old Confeds at Camp Ben McCulloch. Her father always wore his Confederate grey on these occasions. Not to be outdone or outshone, Jennie got hold of some Confederate grey and made her a complete military outfit of Confederate grey. In this she became the darling of the old Confeds at the camp. This, with her fiddle, completed the conquest. It was this suit of Confederate grey and her fiddle and her skill that made the old Confeds adopt her as a mascot or sponsor. After this she went everywhere with the old Confeds and to all their meetings. After the girls grew up, Mary and Jennie moved to Austin and lived near the Suton Infirmary. Jennie secured a position as saleswoman with Scarborough and Hicks, and her former experience with her natural ability soon made her one of the most effective saleswomen of the staff. Here she worked as she had a way of doing, only asking a chalice to earn her bread by the sweat of her brow.
Many years ago she was made superintendent of the State school in Waco for unfortunate children and here she worked and labored for the unfortunate. It is well here to glance backwards During the month of October, 1940, the writer had a curiosity to see the "house that Jennie built." He made a. trip to Buda and old settlers pointed out to him that neat little cottage on the brow of a email gently sloping hill. Here he gazed at the very identical weatherboarding that was nailed in place by this frail person of indomitable grit and perseverance. He was informed that after Jennie took her family to Austin, the house stood vacant for awhile and a very wise old Queen Bee was mothering a hive on a nearby hill. She saw the vacant house and promptly moved her family in the " house that Jennie built," and went to work to store honey for the winter. She succeeded beyond imagination and had all the sweetness of the flowers of the surrounding hills concentrated in the bee-hive in the former abode of the grand-daughter of a hero of San Jacinto. Then came the day when the house was sold and a family of human beings was to move in. Here they found a peculiar situation. The warm weather of the next summer had melted some of the honey and it had flowed over the floor. Nothing but a sharp scraper could dislodge it, and the family to this day remembers the floor that was varnished with honey.
The writer cannot forbear to call attention that the only thing that could have entered the "house that Jennie built" with any degree of appropriateness was a bee. There is a striking similarity between little Jennie and a queen bee. She had everybody at work; she generated sweetness; she built her own house; she was independent; asked no favors; worshiped her God and the old Confeds. A Texas frontier native recently stood by the, "house that Jennie built " and he thought these lines :
THE HOUSE THAT JENNIE BUILT
Sing to me your sonnets And let your phrases lilt ;
But hold your sweetest notes For the house that Jennie 'built.
Come with me to Buda,
And if thou wilt, I'll show you the modest cottage
The house that Jennie built.
It is no cathedral,
Nor covered with gaudy gilt,
It was once a happy home
The house that Jennie built.
It is upright and modest With silver, gold and gilt,
It has no leaning tilt But none are as sweet to me,
It was home, sweet and happy, As the house that Jennie built.
The house that Jennie built.
Jennie Burleson died in Waco, Texas. Their father fought for Texas, with knife to the hilt, died December 12, 1938, and was buried in the Live Oak cemetery north of the body of this heroic little woman.