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Monday, April 30. 2012
So, in 1842, Shaw Wallace, one of my great grandfathers, found his way to Texas!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, April 27. 2012
My dad told me the following story about him and about my familyâ€™s past association with the Klan, yes the Ku Klux Klan. It all began on the hot, dusty, smoke covered battlefield of Chickamauga, where our Southern, Army of Tennessee, routed the Union forces, driving them out of Georgia, back across the Tennessee River and into Chattanooga.
In early 1862, my Great Grandfather, Brinson Murrill Bryan, had been in Sumpter County, Alabama, visiting relatives when he enlisted in the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment. He was a sharpshooter and was attached to and later permanently assigned to the 10th Texas Cavalry Regiment (Dismounted), and finished the war with them.
During the opening morning of the battle of Chickamauga, Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, became separated from his cavalry division and assumed command of Ectorsâ€™ Brigade (Texas), the 10th Texas Cavalry, Brinsonâ€™s unit, being part of this Brigade. They held a key bridge over a creek and prevented Union reinforcements from reaching the main breach in the Union lines. The tenacity and courage of the Texans excited Forrest, who later said, â€œWhen the Texans charged at Chickamauga, it excited my admiration.â€
One year later, during Gen. Hoodâ€™s disastrous retreat from Nashville, Forrest was assigned to command the rear guard. His choice of troops for this grinding, week long battle was a Texas Cavalry Brigade and two Texas regiments of dismounted cavalry, the10th being one. The Texans won each battle and skirmish and was even recognized by Union Gen. Thomas, who said, â€œHoodâ€™s Army on the retreat from Tennessee was a bunch of disorganized rabble. But the rear guard, however, was undaunted and firm, and did its work bravely to the last.â€
After the war ended, the South was in chaos, Reconstruction was beginning, noticeably absent was law and order and influential Southern leaders, Forrest being one, joined together and formed a protective association that grew into the Ku Klux Klan. Brinson, who had "Rode With Forrest", returned to Alabama to marry, and, if Bedford Forrest was a founder, that was all Brinson needed, and he joined this new association and for a time was an active member. My dad told me that my grandfather, Peyton Bryan, had also been a member.
When my dad was 19, he joined the Klan in Falls County, Texas, and his first assignment was to take part in a Klan rally and march in a parade through the town of Marlin. My Dad put on his sheet and joined in the rally and parade. After the parade was over, the Klansmen removed their hoods and sheets and retired to the local saloon.
Soon the Sheriff entered the saloon and said, â€œThere was no parade permit issued so Iâ€™m arresting everyone who took part in it! Everybody line up against the wall!â€ My Dad, being smart, said, â€œSheriff, I have been standing at this bar during the parade, drinking this cold glass of butter milk and Iâ€™m not guilty of anything.â€
Grabbing him by the arm, the Sheriff escorted him bodily to the wall and said to him, â€œJohnny, my boy, your boots are dusty. They didnâ€™t get that way from standing at the bar! Youâ€™re under arrest!â€
After spending the night in the Falls County Jail, the â€œparadersâ€ were released and my Dad resigned from the Klan. He didnâ€™t even get to finish his cold, buttermilk.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 20:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, April 24. 2012
One Sunday afternoon in late April of 1970, we were down at our beach house in Jamaica Beach, on the west end of Galveston Island, and, Norman Shelter and I decided to take a run out to the Galveston Jetties to try and hook up with some white, sea trout or sand trout, Cynoscion arenarius. These are fine eating fish, but because of their soft texture they are difficult to freeze. The best way to try and keep them for any length of time is to freeze them in water and be sure to squeeze the air out.
With a light wind out of the southeast and big, 10, foot swells rolling over both the north and south jetties, it was a strange day and I had never seen anything remotely resembling it before. Both jetties served their purpose well and broke the big swells, but as Norman and I rounded the end of the north jetty, it was gut check time. We should have gone through the boat cut in the north jetty, but decided that the shortest way to the fish was to go around the end. So, at an angle, I raced up the side of 2 big swells got my timing, then sped down the front of the next one and, just like that, we were safely into the calm water.
Anchoring up, we bated our lines with fresh, dead shrimp and cast back toward the rocks. We were fishing on the bottom, right among the rocks, about 35 feet down, with 6-1/2 foot, popping rods, red, Ambassaduer reels, loaded with 15 pound line. Both of our casts were met with solid strikes and after short battles, we boated a couple of nice, sand trout, 2 pounders. Good fish, since the bigger ones like this were usually caught miles, off shore. Both fish had a mouth full of small teeth, no spots like speckled trout and a pretty, a bluish hue covering their heads.
This was repeated over and over until out 88, quart cooler was full of fish (and ice). Then, Norman said the famous last words, â€œIâ€™ll just make one more cast.â€ He cast out toward the open gulf, the bait had no more hit the water and he was greeted with a savage, strike! The fury of the strike identified the fish, hurling the king mackerel 10 feet or more out of the water then the king ran, stopped, but on the light tackle, began another run! Rasslinâ€™ with the anchor, it finally pulled loose and I started the motor. As I came about, the king, a nice one, 40 pounds or more, spooled Norman, hit the end of the line and the line gave a popping sound as it separated from the reel.
Since our cooler was full and our anchor was up, we decided to go on back in, we headed back to the yacht basin to take the boat out, but this time we smartly chose to use the boat cut! Anyway, we didnâ€™t have room for the kingfish!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, April 21. 2012
No turkey hunting Wednesday afternoon, having just driven to northeast Texas from my place in Goldthwaite, however, Wesley, my grandson, was playing Pony League baseball that evening, heâ€™s 13 now and one of the stars on his team (and in the league too)! The team is blessed with good coaches, young guys that really know their stuff, they put this all together for a win Wednesday and Wesley was scheduled to pitch on Friday night, but thatâ€™s another story.
Thursday morning, a very beautiful morning, Paul Culbertson and I went out to his place for a try at an eastern turkey, â€œa tryâ€ was the key words. We arrived about 5 minutes late, the sun was just peeking over the horizon and the big birds had already left their roosts. Hurriedly we built a ground blind, settled in it and even though we were a tad late, let out 3 crow caws, but no turkey response!
We saw, nor heard a turkey and sat in the blind until around 9:30 AM, then went back to his cabin for a bite of breakfast. Our hunger satisfied, at 11:30 we went back out to the ground blind, the turkeys usually coming to the feeder around noon, but again, no turkeys, they picked this morning not to come around. However all was not lost, we still had Friday morning and our plans were to be out before sun up, improve our blind a little, then entice a bird to come in.
Thursday afternoon and evening were spent watching my grandson, Will, play Little League baseball, Willâ€™s 9, really just learning, but he has a lot of fun and he will be a good one too! Friday morning, 5:30 AM, thunder blaring, Suzanne woke me with, â€œDad, itâ€™s raining, thundering and lightning. What about todayâ€™s hunt?â€ â€œWake me at 6:30 and weâ€™ll seeâ€, was my sleepy reply. The thunder rumbled, rain poured down, then down came dime size hail, this ended our mornings hunt, north wind blowing 15-20 MPH, almost 2 inches of rain, this also rained out Wesleyâ€™s game.
All was not lost, because Suzanne, Paul and I, ate Mexican food for lunch, spent Friday afternoon shopping and the boys and I packed up and headed for Plano, where Layla was running a Senior Softball tournament. Both boys will work and help her with the tournament and Sunday afternoon Suzanne will pick them up.
No turkeys Thursday, rain, hail and lightning Friday, a definite bust, but thereâ€™ll be other chances too!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 10:37 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Tuesday, April 17. 2012
â€œWalkinâ€™ the dogâ€ is the term used for a specific type of fishing lure retrieval â€“ twitch the rod tip and then reel one turn of the reel handle, then twitch and reel, twitch and reel, for the entire retrieve. The lure is moved along slowly, twitching to each side, resembling a small, injured fish. My dad taught me this long ago and it is still a most favored retrieve for almost all types of fishing!
This was the technique used by my dad and our neighbor and fishing partner, Dub Middleton the past weekend when they had caught and released 2 big tarpon, probably 75 to 80 pounders! Both fish were caught on red and white Zara Spooks, wooden, top water plugs â€œwalkedâ€ past schools of surfacing, rolling fish.
One more point, these monster fish were caught on light, split Calcutta, cane, popping rods and Shakespeare Criterion reels, loaded with 15 or 17 pound, braided line. On the left is Dadâ€™s old, circa 1933, reel with the original braided line still on it! The reel had no drag system, but to control the fish pressure was applied by using the anglerâ€™s thumb and among fishermen, blisters were common!
The next weekend, in the spring of 1953, was my first encounter with a tarpon. Dad took Bobby Baldwin, and me to fish for them near the mouth of the New River, near Freeport, Texas. The New River channel of the Brazos was manmade to create a safe harbor for Freeport. What this created was a 5, mile long fish haven, frequented by tarpon in the spring prior to their beach runs of the summer.
Right after sun up we arrived at the fishing spot, then walked about 100 yards to the riverâ€™s bank. The walk, smells and all, seemed like a walk through a garbage dump! The area was littered with the remains of tarpon, the big fish scattered about in various stages of decomposition. Back then, I knew that tarpon werenâ€™t a food fish and common sense said they should be returned live to the water, but these fish were caught, killed, Iâ€™m sure pictures were taken, smiles and all, and then simply left to rot. What a waste of a fine fishing resource!
After passing through the stench of rotting fish, we started fishing, casting to rolling schools of tarpon. They were everywhere along the river and, up and down you could hear folks holler when a fish was hooked. Being teenagers, we watched the show and then my dad, under his breath, let out a â€œHmmpfâ€, his rod bowed and a silvery/green tarpon cleared the water, then haded upstream toward Rosenberg! â€œDid you see that? Wowâ€, we shouted as Dad fought the fish and all at once, the hook pulled out, leaving my dad with a sore thumb!
By the early 1960â€™s the tarpon had left New River. Iâ€™m sure useless killing of fish played a role in their disappearance, but the main culprit, thought by most fisherman, were the huge chemical complexes sprouting up around Freeport.
I have my Dadâ€™s scarred up, Zara Spook in a picture box display, along with all of his fishing plugs. The old plug must be almost 90 years old! No more tarpon that day and not another one until 1998.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, April 14. 2012
After a successful hunt with Mickey Donahoo at his hunting lease, I returned to Goldthwaite and, I guess because of the shots in each knee, was able to resume my morning walks. My first walk was this past Monday, nothing showed up unusual or picture worthy, but as I was walking back to the house, I noticed, on the other side of the road, turkey tracks and I took this picture. Turkey movement around here was exciting to me!
Somehow, the date and time on the game camera has messed up and it reset, maybe lightning hit it? Anyway, the camera was working and on the afternoon of April 9th, this nice gobbler was feeding.
The next day a gobbler and an unidentified turkey, maybe a jake, more likely a hen, but last year was so bad I donâ€™t think any broods were successful! Around here, bucks have lost their horns and these 2 young ones were feeding and paying no attention the turkeys walking along and browsing.
Eastern gobbler season opens in east Texas this Sunday, April 15th see my post â€œTurkey Huntingâ€ on March 21, 2012. Weather forecasts are horrible for northeast Texas, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, clearing on Monday, but hopefully, Monday or Tuesday morning Iâ€™ll be opening this season too!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, April 11. 2012
After shooting the turkey, Mickey and I decided, even though it was after 4:30 PM, that weâ€™d go to another feeder and try for a javelina. We went back to the ranch house, picked up his .204, rifle, stuck the turkey into the fridge, drove back to the new spot and hurriedly built us a spacious ground blind.
Not long after completion, out walked a gobbler displaying his fan, not strutting, just showing off.
The first gobbler was still walking around showing off his fan, shortly he was joined by another gobbler, this one more wary.
The second bird, more wary, barely nibbled at the corn and protein, then walked toward our ground blind. Mickey, softly calling with a box call, had this oneâ€™s interest and as the big bird moved close to us, I snapped this picture.
Hereâ€™s a picture of an unusual bird, a bearded hen, only 10 to 20% of hens will have beards, and yes, they can lay eggs and raise poults.
We stayed around until dark seeing lots of turkeys, gobblers and hens, but no javelinas even though we were sure weâ€™d see some. Up before the sun on Friday morning and back to the spacious ground blind. We could hear the gobblers coming down from the roost, gobble, gobble, gobble and knew they would head our way, but first up was this young doe. She spent several minutes trying to figure out who, and what, we were.
Finally the doe eased off, then the turkeys showed up. This picture shows a gobbler and a hen feeding, while another gobbler stands guard.
We came home, back to Goldthwaite, Friday afternoon celebrating a real good turkey hunt and some real good pictures!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Pictures at 09:55 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, April 8. 2012
This past Thursday, Mickey Donahoo and I drove out to his hunting lease 35 miles south of Sonora, Texas and as soon as we got there, we ate a sandwich, unloaded our gear, changed into our camo and headed out for a go at a turkey, all of this by 12:30 PM! We used a ground blind that Mickey had made the week before, the turkey hunting season opened a week before ours, north zone, south zone you see, then we set up our decoy, got into the blind and proceeded to wait for some action.
The blind was under a cedar tree, it was almost hot except when a breeze came through, it was hard to keep our eyes open, we each nodded several times, but about 1:00 PM a hen showed up, just nibbling along, walking toward the decoy. She passed up the water trough shown in the picture and came on toward the decoy.
Another hour, nothing, this blind, made for Doris, Mickeyâ€™s wife, her being all of 4 foot 11, at the most, was really uncomfortable to me, no way to stretch my legs out and yesterday I had gotten a shot in each knee, really uncomfortable! Around 4:00 PM, 2 gobblers came up to get water, since they were both shooters, no pictures. Right away I hefted my shotgun to my shoulder, ready for a shot, but the 2 big birds were more interested in getting a drink. It seemed like an hour, my shotgun ready, then I started getting the shakes, never having had them before shooting, the more I held the gun, the more my heart started beating, faster, faster, I thought I would hyperventilate, finally the one with the best beard separated from the other. Boom and down the gobbler went!
The picture shows me with the Rio Grande gobbler, my shotgun and a big smile. Right after this picture, we went back to the camp, got my rifle and headed out to the blind where I shot the javalina in January, see my post â€œThe Shortest Huntâ€ on January 17, 2012. At this spot, we had the opportunity to take some great pictures that Iâ€™ll post on April 11th.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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