The Texas Connection


Well, the dictionery defines it as a 'hodgepodge', and that is just what this page is!

The Bumgarner Story...

"Well, Martha, you know my father had three sisters, and four brothers, the brothers' names were Milton, Abb,Ezra, Mat and dad's name was John Hubbard. He was the youngest of the family, so they tell me . The girls' names were Caroline, Eliza and Rebecca.

Aunt Caroline married a man by the name of E. P. Folly. They had severn children, five girls and two boys. The girls were; Ella, Mollie,Alice,Orpha and Nettie; the boys were John and Eddie.

Eliza married a Kaiser and there were two boys, Jim and Andrew Kaiser. He died and she married McCleskey and two were born, Green and May. May was the oldest. McCleskey was killed by the Comanche Indians, then she married a Houks. Two girls were born whose names were Nellie and Odie Houks. Eliza died and they say Houks was a mean man, drank and gambled, so Jim and Andrew Kaiser left home and went to the Black Hills. That is the last that was ever heard of them. Houks was no good, but he had a brother in Missouri and he took the two girls to this brother and wanted him to keep them. His brother was a good man and he told him he would take the girlsif he would get lost and never come around them- he would raise them right. Houks made his promise, left and he kept his bargain because he was never seen or heard from again.

When George and I went to Kansas City in 1895 with a bunch of cattle out to see George's mother. She had married a man by the name of Root. They moved from Oklahoma to Missouri and Big George living with us. We saw those two girls while we were there. You see, Big George's father was killed before George was born. George's mother's own cousin killed Mat Bumgarner(George's father). The man's name that killed Mat was Joe Christian. He was harelipped. One day Joe Christian came by Mat's place and Mat's dog rand out, barked at him and Christian cursed the dog, so uncle Mat, mocked him. Then Chistian cursed Mat and said he would go home and get his gun and kill him. So one word and another-he did get his rifle, slipped up and killed Mat. Joe Christian went to the pen for a long time and when he got out was married and had a family. When I came to Texas I went with one of his girls. He worked in the mines at Rock Creek and I have been in his home a lot of times. He told me he was young and a fool and was so sorry.

Milton Bumgarner was killed in the war. Your Aunt Rebecca Bumgarner married a man by the name of Reed. Your Uncle Ezra lived with them but was called away into the army and was gone for three years. In the meantime, your Aunt Rebecca died. Ezra had a feather bed at Reed's , so when Ezra came back from the war, he went over to get his feather bed, a few days later some one went over to Reed's house , they were gone and Ezra was dead. He had been killed by Reed and two other men with his own gun. Well, our daddy was out on the frontier with the Rangers and when he heard of it he came home. Our daddy was always fond of horses and has some of the best. He offered the best horse he had to anyone tht could tell him where Reed was or could be found. An Irish soldier left, and came back in two or three weeks and told daddy he had located the Reed bunch. Daddy then went on the hunt for Reed. They found the three camped (three men and three wormen) in a shack just across the Red River in the Indian Territory. My mother's father was a captain in the Southern Army and heard that Irish and Daddy were on the trace of Reed and his two buddies, so went to join them.

Daddy wanted Captain Miller to go back, but Miller wouldn't do it. Daddy made him and the Irish promise to take no hand in the fight as long as he was alive. Captain Miller told daddy's sister that he nor the Irish never fired a shot- our daddy got all three of them. The women ,they say were no good, ran off and Daddy pinned a note on the cabin door saying, "these men were horse thieves from Texas" this was before my daddy was married, but Grandfather Millar told this to Aunt Caroline Folly, daddy's oldest sister. She told me after the war was over Grandfather Millar drank, fought, and killed a lot of men. I think he killed 32 men, not counting those in the war. Now all of this happened before daddy was married, while the Indians were bad in this country.

Our daddy had some cattle and some good horses. He lived near where Gardner now stands. One day he had come in from a cow hunt and turned his horse loose, the horse was going to roll in a sandy place. Daddy looked up just in time to see an Indian fixing to rope his horse. He stepped in the house , got his gun and killed the Indian. He never roped the horse, but the horse took him away. Daddy got a bunch of the settlers together (at that time it was thinly settled) but they all got away. Several weeks later, grandad Bumgarner, McCleskey (May's father) and daddy were at Grandad's. It had been raining. They had just stepped out of the log house, where Grandad lived, and was planning a cow hunt. That was when the Indians killed McCleskey. He was shot and daddy and Grandad drug him in the house, the Indians shooting at them, but no one else was hit. They drug McCleskey inside, punched the chinking out between the logs and gave him a shot gun and he helped. Grandad Bumgrner couldn't do much so our dad had to do the best he could. There were two big oat stacks west of the house and that is where the Reds were bad. They would run from one stack to the other,so daddy got a good bead on the open and finally one crossed and Daddy got him. As he fell, Daddy run out making as much racket as a bunch of cowboys. They got their dead and left, but left his blanket and rifle. Where they had their horses tied, they didn't take time to untie the ropes, just cut them, I think Aunt Caroline said he got 18 ropes. McCleskey died.

Our Father and Uncle Abb Bumgarner (Gus' father) are the only ones of the Bumgarner boys that died a natural death. The other three were killed.After all this happened,our Daddy married my Mother and they had three children before I was born. None of them lived to be over six months old.-two girls and one boy. When I was born, they all said I was the ugliest kid they ever saw and it pleased my mother for the others were so pretty she said that maybe I would live and I did. She died when I was a few months old. May and Green were being raised by dad, so May took charge of me, and was a mother to me until daddy married your mother. I think I was about 4 when they married, Daddy passed away when I was 14. Well, our grandmother Bumgarner passed away and my grandad Millar went to the pen, so our grandad Bumgarner married my grandmother Millar. My mother only had one sister, her name was Nina. She married S. T. Lindsay. Grandad Millar came home from the pen on a furlough but never went back,in fact, they made a guard out of him. They never cut his hair or his beard while there. After he got out of the pen he married again and had two boys and two girls by his last wife. Their names were Issac and Barnes Millar and the girls, Ledar and Jossie. The last I heard Barnes lived in California. Well, Grandfather Bumgarner died and Grandfather Millar was killed. My Grandmother Millar(she was also my grandmother Bumgarner) went crazy and died in the insame asylm. She also had a brother what went insane so I guess you can see now why I am crazy- ha ha.

Oh, Well, you all didn't inherit any of my faults, Matha, you had better not show this to Anna, I told her of Daddy following those three men to the Indian Territory and killing them, She said she wished I hadn't told her and maybe I shouldn't have told you. There is a lot more I can tell that has been told tome and if we meet again I'll tell you more. This will do for now. Back in those days the best friend a man had was his horse and his gun, or rather two of them."

The source of this story has not yet been positively identified. Can you provide any clues? See "Landmarks" for more on George McCleskey and the Indian depredations.

Patillo: A Quite Country Town

"Many times a person may ask another where they are from and a few might reply,"Oh, I am from a small town in West Texas." Then they will continue, "The town is so small that if you blink your eyes you will miss it." This statement is all too true when speaking of Patillo, an exceptionally small country town 19 miles north of Stephenvill on U.S. Highway 281 and then 2 miles north on Farm Road 2803.

People passing through the area sometimes stop at the Patillo Grocery and Feed Store seeking out its unique outward appearance and to curiously browse around inside. Community members , however come for a different reason which may include everything from purchasing potatoes, planting seeds, or an ice cream bar- to just making a social call on the owners, James and Thelma McPherson.

According to Thelma, Patillo's main activity hub is the community center which is located across from McPherson's store. Thelma said on every second Tuesday the Home Extension Club gathers there for their meeting, and the center is also rented out for family reunions and birthday parties as well.

"When someone dies in the community, we serve lunch for the family at the center," she said. "That's real nice because then the family doen't have to prepare lunch for them." She said, the community center used to be the Church of Christ, but "when they disbanded the church, they donated the center to the community."

Other than the various activities named- said Thelma, nothing much more than that goes on in the quiet little community of Patillo.

However, interestingly enough, a book was written about Patillo, which, in it's roughest form, still manages to capture the quiet little town's history.

Apparently Patillo was once a boom town, and the story begins with former Parillo resident Charles S. McCleskey, who lived there for the better part of his young life. He was a professor of emeritus at Louisiana State University. amd as he became more curious about the history of the town and his family. He eventually collaborated with some other Patillo residents and compiled a book, "The Patillo Community" which depicts the towns history.

Scanning the contents of the book, information apparently was gathered from many sources, but the text is quite vague about some subjects due to the loss of written documents. In the book's introduction, McCleskey explains that the book was written for a specific reason.

"This sketch of our community has been prepared in haste because of the need to have it ready for the 1969 Patillo reunion." "Every year on the Sunday before Labor Day the community has a homecoming, we have a lot of people who use to live here then come back during the summer. Many of them come back for the homecoming, it is a big event. Some interestin notations are made by McCleskey,about the lives and the people who lived in Patillo. For instance he tells of Nathaniel Turk McCleskey who moved his family from Alabama to the area near the south of the Paluxy Valley in Erath County in 1870. By 1873 he had moved from the valley area an settled in the area of Buck Creek, which is now know as Patillo.

Buck Creek runs through Patillo, and during the days when McCleskey settled, the creek was strong, now all but a little trickle runs through the rocks and the trees.

By 1880, several families has settled in the Buck Creek community, "The census for Erath County lists 37 families in the Buck Creek community" said McCleskey, "only eight of there were certainly in what we may call the Patillo Community.

Interestingly enough, he points out that all but two people were born outside of Texas." Most of them came from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina", said McCleskey.

As the turn of the century drew near more and more families settled the Buck Creek area. By 1894 or 1895, the date is not definite. Pharaoh Johnson and his son , George built and operated the first business, a cotton gin. It was located just above the cross-roads." said McCleskey.

John Tarleton, whom Tarleton State University was named for, was forced to forclose on the Johnson's business, when they were not able to pay the note. Much of this was due to the failure of crops because of bad weather. But according to McCleskey's book, Tarleton gave 200 acres to the Johnson's to compensate for the improvements made on the land.

In 1889 or 1900, the first store opened at Patillo. Mr. Napolean Bonapart (Boney) Ator has the honor of being the first merchant to operate a business in the new town,: said McCleskey, "It was located just near the town well." In 1900 Armour Hunt opened the town's first small drug store located southeast of the well." J.M. Hunt enlarged the store and sold merchandise," said McCleskey.

The items that Hunt sold included hardware, coffee, molasses, clothing and patent medicines, such as Vine of Cardui and Groves Tasteless Chili Tonic and Bull Durham. In 1903, a man by the name of J.D. Cromer had opened a small general store as well.

"By 1905, Patillo had a cotton gin, three general stores, a lodge hall, barber shop, cold drink stand or bar,a blacksmith shop and a post office in one of the stores."Said McCleskey. The book describes many individuals recollections, including McCleskey's about growing up in the Buck Creek area as young kids. He explained that the summers were filled with playing games. Being recognized as a horse rider was a real honor in the community. They had contests to see who could pick up a red scarf off the ground while galloping by on a horse without falling off.

He also remembers the first automobile that was seen in Patillo. It was 1908 and the driver was coming from the direction of Lipan. "He stopped and asked how far it was to Patillo," recalls McCleskey. The group was so excited about seeing a car they chased the car all the way to town.

"The first Patillo citizen to own an automobile was George Williams," remembers McCleskey, this was in 1914 or 1915. McCleskey said that due to the infestion of the boll weevil in the early 1900's , the town began to decrease in population and in agricultural production. By 1918, only Hunt's general store remained in business.

Within McCleskey's book is the explanation of how the Buck Creek area got the name Patillo."In the early days, mail was addressed to a person or a ranch giving the nearest post office,"said McCleskey. In this case the nearest ranch was owned by a man named Patillo. "Patillo had probably been living on what later was know as the George Williams place," said McCleskey, "to avoid confusion, the new Post office was called to Patillo to distinguish it from the earlier Patillo ranch."

In 1882, George Johnson became the first postmaster of the new community. McPherson explained that Patillo at one time had a school, but it disbanded and the children started going to the Santo Schools. In fact, McPherson used to drive the school bus for Patillo school children. "I used to drive the bus for 22 years then quit." she said. I really enjoyed it. You'd get attached to the kids."

The earliest record of a school system dated back only to 1888 and 1889. McCleskey knows that they had a school before 1800 , but he cannot find any records of it.

Stephenville News Plus, written on Tuesday, April 25, 1989; story and text by Wendy Brown.