Front Street 1890





  Stories and Tales
  Pioneer Recipes
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P.O. Box 118826
Carrollton, TX  75011-8826



Mrs TP Paine, Nocona, Montague county TX

Columbia Elizabeth McWilliams Paine

( Mrs. T.P.  Paine Sr.)


Capt. Thomas Paine And his family lived North of Nocona, just South of Prairie Valley school, where they raised 12 children on about 2000 acres.



By Mary Weeks McCall 

Born in Rusk County, Texas.

If it were within my power to confer sainthood on anyone I would certainly do so for my darling grandmother. I truly believe she was as nearly perfect as mere mortal could be. She seemed to me to be the perfect blend of a deeply religious person and the very understanding, tolerant person who understood but never condemned the short-comings of us lesser human beings.

My grandmother was a native Texas, born in Rusk County near Henderson,, Texas. She loved East Texas and yearned to hear the wind in the tall pine-trees as long as she lived. She painted fascinating word pictures for me about the beautiful dogwood, sweet gum and red oak trees of her childhood home. There were stories of her and her sister, Callie, taking a picnic lunch into the deep woods to spend the day picking the wild violets, blackberries, wild strawberries and muskidine grapes. She often spoke of how good the sweetgum tasted when chewed like chewing gum. One one occasion when she was making one of her in­frequent visits to East Texas, she promised faithfully to bring me lots and lots

of sweetgum because I was not being allowed to accompany her. She kept her promise but it was certainly one of life's greatest disillusionments. I expected it to be better than "Juicy Fruit" and it had almost no taste at all. I would have felt betrayed had I not known my grandmother would not stoop to such a thing.

Much of the time I was alone with my grandparents and therefore a very lonely child at times. I'm sure my grandmother sensed this and perhaps for that reason she entertained me by relating stories of her earlier life. And then per­haps she had reached an age when she liked to recall these things for herself.

I do wish I had listened more carefully. I'm sure I remember a great deal more about my grandparents than other members of the family because I was with them all of the time until they died. My two brothers were there part of the time, and my many, many cousins only occasionally.

Some of the more vivid stories related by my grandmother centered around the time of the Civil War, probably because this was a hard time in life. My Great-grandfather McWilliams was an early day lawyer and judge. He lived on land now occupied by my cousin, Bob McWilliams. His sons were not trained to be planters as they had blacks for this type of work Great-grandfather was ill during most of the war years and died soon after. My grandmother had great

respect for the blacks and for their ability to survive. She told me this story, which I consider rather dramatic in retrospect. When the south was forced to


surrender and the slaves were freed, my great-grandfather called the ones who were left on the place to his bedside and told them they were free to go or stay, whichever they chose but that he would not be able to pay them as the Confederate money no longer had any value. But, if they wanted to stay,

they would all try to survive together. Some stayed, I don't know how many. Shortly after this he died, and my grandmother often said she was convinced that they would have starved to death if some of the more intelligent Negroes had not stayed on as they knew how to raise vegetables and also how to preserve them. They knew where to hide the few head of live stock left, in the deep piney woods. They were not in the part of the country where the actual fight­ing took place but there were foragers roaming about. The blacks knew how

to dig pits underground to store the yams, irish potatoes, cabbage and turnips to keep them during the winter. During the Civil War there was almost no salt in the south, but near Grand Saline, Texas there were out-croppings of salt. The Negroes knew of this and would take the mules and bring back large bags

of salt. It was scooped up off the top of the ground. This was used to preserve the meat. When I visited the Bob McWilliams, who still lives on this land, there was a black man living near their home who was a descendent of some of those who had remained after the war. When my grandmother told me these stories, I had never in my life even seen a black person.

The story I shall recount now is one Grandmother told me about her grand­father who came to Texas in 1819 and was said to be the first white man in Rusk County. This may or may not be true--communications being what they were at that early date, it's possible there could have been others but I think there is no doubt that he was the first to establish a business. It was a Trading Post and although he had some business from travelers, most of his

business was with the Indians. He learned to speak their language and got along fine with them most of the time, but occasionally they would go on a rampage

and decide to celebrate. Of course for these occasions they needed Great-great-grandfather's whiskey. They made no attempt to harm my grandfather--merely wanted the whiskey and bits of red cloth to drape around themselves. My grandfather, being a prudent man, certainly made no attempt to interfere in their fun. When this began, he usually departed for his supply market to replentish his wares for the Trading Post. But one time there arose an oc­casion where he would tell that the Indians were much more hostile than usual and were really on the warpath. Somehow he was able to escape from them by going out a back door. He went into the woods but he realized they were




following him. He came upon a place where someone had had a campfire and he stopped long enough to scrape the black soot off the logs and cover his face, hands, and arms with it--thus covering his white skin to make it less visable to the Indians. He stayed away from his post for more than a week until the Indians had settled down again. They had really wrecked his store but seemed to be ashamed of their actions. They were very subdued and anxious to make friends again. That was the last of his Indian trouble. If my memory is correct on this next story, although it's entirely possible that it may not be, my Great-great-grandfather's courtship may be the shortest on record although no less romantic. It seems that the family of my great-great-grandmother came by Great-great-grandfather's trading post with a wagon train on their way deeper into Texas. They spent the night there, bought provisions and continued on their way. My great-great-grandfather had fallen in love at first sight and as soon as he was able to get away, he tracked the wagon train to its destina­tion, found my great-great-grandmother, asked for her hand in marriage, and they were married then and there. He took her back to Rusk County where she lived until her death, on the land I spoke of earlier as still being in the possession of Bob McWilliams.

I do not know where & haw my grandparents met, but their marriage took place in Rusk County in 1865 and according to the family Bible, was witnessed by:

{ This was left blank in the original document} 

My grandmother said they felt quite affluent because my grandfather owned his own wagon and team, she had her hope chest and her parents gave her a feather bed! What more could anyone ask? But from this rather meager beginning (accord­ing to our standards) they managed to amass a rather good size fortune in land, cattle, horses and mules. They did this I'm sure by saving every possible penny and working as hard as any two people ever could. They lived abundantly but

it was mostly off the produce raised on the land. The unforgivable sin was to waste anything. One of my grandmother's many adages was "willful waste makes woeful want" and another, "waste not, want not".

After their marriage, my grandparents spent a good many more years in Rusk County where several of my aunts and uncles were born. Their next move was to Denton County near the town of Pilot Point. Several members of the Paine family and at least one other member of the McWilliams family were in Denton County at that time. I'm not sure whether they all arrived there at the same time or not. My grandmother related stories of many wagons traveling together. It was my grandfather's lot to go ahead of the wagons and scout out a suitable camp sight for the next stop, thus leaving my grandmother and the older children to cope


with a wagon full of children and the responsibility of managing the wagon and team. My grandmother expressed the opinion that a wagon train on the move was the signal for the heavens to open up and fill every river and stream to over­flowing. There was nothing to do but wait until the water ran down. One time they were held up for days and days as it continued to rain. I'm not sure

whether this was on the move from Rusk County to Denton County or from Denton County to Montague County. It must have been terrible to try to cope with cold, wet children cooped up in an area as small as a wagon, with the added chore of cooking wet food with wet wood. Besides I don't think my grandmother was ever without two babies from the time she married until she was passed the age-‑

one toddler and one on her lap.

After my grandfather retired he planned a long trip to be taken by covered wagon. Although many, many years had passed since her first experiences with

a covered wagon, she had not the slightest enthusiasm for a trip by wagon and said as much to my grandfather. But Grandfather like he was, he went right ahead with his plans, had a large dray type wagon bed built with a large square frame above on which was tacked canvas. He also included shelves, drawers, bed frames and

a work surface to be used as a table. He was still making plans and getting things ready to go even though Grandmother was still taking a very dim view of the entire project. Granddad never got to take his trip. Before they were ready to leave, the First National Bank failed, and it was then impossible. The wagon was sold

but the old canvas frame sat in the back lot for years. I used it for a play house for a very long time, and it made a dandy.

My grandmother was a marvelous cook and she must have cooked tons of food. Our home seemed to be the place everyone always gathered to eat. Saturdays and sometimes even Fridays were spent cooking for the hords of people caning for Sunday dinner and sometimes stayed for supper. My grandparents home was almost two miles from the little Prairie Mound church where we always attended church. Many times when the first buggies, surreys and wagons were arriving at their home, the last ones were just leaving the church. My husband's mother, Mrs. Nell McCall, told me of this incredible signt--she had come to Nocona from Whitesboro at the same time my Aunt Berta, Uncle Jim's wife, came to teach in the school. Miss Nell

came out to the country with Aunt Berta. Aunt Berta and Uncle Jim were not married at this time, but she was very interested in Uncle Jim and for that reason she

was in regular attendance at the church. Back to the abundance of foods--there were baked hams, turkey and dressing in summer, roast beef and roast pork in the winter, and often large platters of fried chicken, fried ham and sausage. All of these


things were produced on their farm. There were wonderful fruit pies made from dried fruit grown in their orchards, also homemade mincemeat, along with cakes of all kinds. I have heard my grandmother say many times that they seldom had to buy anything but flour, meal, coffee and sugar. And, most of the time,

Granddad took his own wheat and corn to town to be ground into meal and flour. Of course there was always milk, butter, cream and eggs. No one in the family has ever been able to duplicate my grandmother's teacakes, gingerbread or corn bread dumplings.

Another cause for a flurry of cooking was the "thrasher". Granddad said

he could always have gotten his grain cut in half the time if my grandmother had not fed the thrasher crew so well. They always managed to get the trasher broken down while they were on his land and stayed until they almost ate them out of house and ihome. One time in exasperation my granddad said "Betty, don't you dare make another lemon pie, if you do I'll never get rid of this bunch:"

Grandmother had the marvelous capacity to make everyone feel not only wel­come but wanted in her home. For that reason, there was a constant stream of company and no matter how many came there always seemed to be room for one more. Haw my poor grandmother stood up to the tremendous amount of work this required

I don't know. I'm sure everyone pitched in and helped and she also had daughters who knew how to do everything.

We not only had suitcase company, we had trunk company. Two guests who were everybody's favorites were Cousin Ada and Cousin Berta Fitch from Pilot Point. They were so lively and such fun. Cousin Ade (as she was called) laughed all

the time and kept everyone else laughing. I was simply goggle-eyed over their trunks. They held the most fascinating things; bits of ribbon and lace, beads to sew on things, fans with feathers on the ends, just everything to fascinate a child. There was a great amount of scurring about in preparation for their

visit. Grandma always used this as an excuse to get Granddad to take down the stoves in the bedrooms, take up the wool rugs (art squares) and put down the straw matting so the rooms would be cooler. Invariably Granddad lost his temper at this unnecessary activity, at least to his way of thinking it was just a bunch of foolishness. But when they arrived you would have thought the whole thing had been his idea--even to the fresh white, stiffly starched curtains blowing in the summer breeze. My grandfather's sister, Aunt Paralee Leath and her very spoiled baby son of some sixteen or eighteen summers were frequent visitors. They arrived in the fall about the time the Fitches left. They were quite the extreme opposite sort of guests. The entire household was expected to cater to Clifford's wishes.


These guests were only a few of the many, many guests who enjoyed my grandparents hospitality. My grandmother's gentle, serene nature seemed to charm every baby and little child she came in contact with. In her arms they felt warmth and security. I was less than a year old when I was brought by my father to my grandmother's home, along with one brother three and one six. Our mother, Carrie May Paine Weeks had died. Although our grandmother was nearing her 60th year

at this time, she did not hesitate to take us into her heart and home, and did her very best to take the place of our mother. I know this would have seemed like a monumental task to a lesser person. Many stories have been told about Grand­mother's methods of child care. A stunt that I think both ingenious and funny was her way of restraining a baby and still allow him the freedom to move about.

When it became necessary for her to be out of the roan or out of the house for a few minutes, she simply picked up the bedpost and put it on his dress tail, remember babies wore very long dresses then, and this was her version of a play

pen I suppose. Her way of amusing me for long periods of time brought forth peals of laughter and many scathing remarks about the stupidity of their mother from

my daughters when I related this bit of wisdom of hers. She simply put honey on my thumbs and forefingers and handed me a feather, which I busily picked off of one finger only to have it stick to the other.

My mother's birth and the fact that she lived is a testimony of my grand­mother's great wisdom. My mother was premature by several weeks and was so ex­tremely small that her head fit easily into a teacup. Grandmother realized that if her baby lived, she must receive very special treatment. No one on the place with the exception of my grandfather even knew a baby had been born. Grandmother firmly closed her door and allowed only Granddad to enter her room. She had Granddad bring her a shoe box and lots and lots of rolls of absorbent cotton.

For six weeks she remained in this roam and gave her baby the careful treatment required for her well-being. When she reached five pounds in weight, my grand­mother allowed the other children to see her for the first time. Not even the hired help knew there was a new baby on the place. What a wise, wise person she was!

My grandmother had a very strong family commitment. She believed that families should love each other but above all respect each other. She believed that families drew strength from each other and should take pride in their roots. She saw that the children had many opportunities to know and appreciate each other and also the older members as well. In retrospect, I think this must have been the reason that she got down the family group picture so often and went over the name and age of each of her children for me. For some unknown reason,


none of my aunts or my mother were called the lovely names she gave them, nor were they recorded in the Bible as such. As she talked to me of each one she would emphasize their real names. At the time of the picture, all of her thir­teen children were alive with the exception of little Alton, who died at the age of two. He was not in the picture but she never failed to mention him. I shall not record the names of the children here as they are recorded in many

other places, but I will tell the correct names of the Paine girls--Eudora called Dora, Caroline called Carrie, Margret called Maggie, Martha Belle called Mattie, Anna Lou called Annie. Carrie was my mother. She was named for my grandmother's sister Callie, also named Caroline. I'm sure that because my mother was dead, she was more emphatic about drilling me on her brothers and sisters. One time when we were looking at the picture, I remarked that she was not wearing her usually smiling face. She said "No, I was vexed at Mr. Paine (Granddad), he is

a very stubborn man. After all of my work to get all of the family here at the same time, and seeing that each one had something nice to wear, your grandfather positively refused to wear a tie. It just spoiled the whole picture. He just did it to be contrary. He always wore a tie when dressed." Well, so much for the family picture. My granddad really didn't have on a tie.

I suppose I learned to read at my grandmother's knee. She loved to read. Perhaps that's where my love for reading began. I knew how to read when I started to school but I don't know when or where I learned. I'm not even sure whether Grandma knew I could read or not. I had a few children's books but not too many. I probably learned to read on The Texas Christian Advocate and the Acts of the Apostles. The Advocate and the Bible were Grandma's favorite reading material.

I think my grandmother would have been the most surprised person in the world to know that anyone might ever think she was snobbish. But she certainly made it very plain and in no uncertain terms that she expected us to associate with only very decent people. She would never have been unkind to anyone but she had certain standards that she expected to be maintained at all times. One of her characteristic ways of teaching was to quote a verse or adage to bring home every point she wished to stress. One of her favorites was "associate with only the best, then if you behave yourself you will always be in good company". Others were "birds of a feather flock together" and "water seeks its own level". My grandmother despised gossip in any form and refused to listen to it. Her answer to the carrier of tales was usually "Well, there is good in everyone

and I'm sure the person you speak of has more good about them than bad". This remark usually stopped any further discussion of the subject but on one


occasion the tale carrier would not be stopped. Finally when she paused for breath, Grandma said, "My friend, I have always said that a dog that will bring a bone will carry one, now what will you take away from here about us?". This must have stopped her.

Patience was another of my grandmother's many virtues. She was invariably patient with children and with older people who from time to time lived in her home. She was also patient with my highly volatile grandfather and handled him with as little fuss as possible. I never, even one time, saw my grandmother really lose her temper. Occasionally she said something or someone "vexed" her. When she was really exasperated the only visible sign of it was an "ah shaw" followed by a rather shamed-faced expression.

Although steadfastness seldom allowed her to show it, her later years were not happy. After the failure of the First National Bank the financial condition of my grandparents changed drastically. To have accepted charity would have been worse than death. My grandfather was broken in health and spirit and was much too old to begin again. He worried himself into an early grave but not before my grandmother's health was broken down from taking care of him. Had it not been for Aunt Annie and her husband, Dr. Bill Davis moving back into the

house with us and assuming full responsibility of my grandparents and me, I simply don't know how we would have survived. They also helped my brothers when they needed it.

I cannot write about my grandmother dispassionately. I loved her too much. She was the very best part of my early life. Neither can I recount the things that happened to her in her later years. They are simply too painful, but suffice it to say she was moved out of her spacious hone into a tiny house in a foreign land (to her). Through it all she kept the characteristics that were her, what she really was, her deep, abiding faith in God, her love for people both old

and young, her calm, serent nature and her dignity, and her wonderful ability to not only look for the best in everyone, but to find it.




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