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Tuesday, February 26. 2008
The following story, one of my favorite family stories, has been handed down in my family since, I imagine, these events took place. On one occasion, I also saw a version of the story in print in the "Texas Co-op Power" magazine.
When the Southern soldiers returned from the War Of Northern Agression, they found a serious situation, carpetbaggers, crooked politicians and a general lack of law enforcement. The returning Van Zandt County soldiers gathered together and formed The Free State of Van Zandt. The Unionist quickly responded by sending Colored Federal Cavalry to suppress the "revolt". Shots were exchanged and the Federal troops were driven off which ignited a party by the victors, causing most of them to become very drunk.
The Federals returned, and without a shot being fired, captured the entire lot of the revelers, hand cuffed them all and put them in a hastily built stockade. Big trouble for the former Confederates! However, during the first night, a violent rainstorm hit the stockade, causing the hastily built facility to, literally, come apart. Since the Federal troops had sought shelter from the storm and weren't guarding it, and the stockade came apart, the Confederate prisoners simply walked out and went back to their homes. There were no further arrests and the matter was dropped, so ended The Free State of Van Zandt.
My Great Grandfathers, Levi Lindsey Sanders and Shaw Wallace, were former comfederate soldiers from Van Zandt County, and since another of my Great Grandfathers, Brinson Murrill Bryan, also a Confederate, was from directly across the Trinity River from Van Zandt County, and family legend has he never missed a fight or party. My family history doesn't say if my Great-Grandfathers were involved or not.
These 3 were ardent Confederates and two of them from Van Zandt County, so the reader will have to draw his own conclusions.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, February 17. 2008
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.
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 and noticeably absent was law and order. 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, butter milk.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, October 15. 2007
Bow season has started in most places and those of us that only hunt Deer with firearms are busy getting ready for the season opener, I thought we all needed a break.Â The following is a story that has come down through my family and I hope it brings a smile to everyone.
"The Free State Of Van Zandt"
The following story was handed down in my family. On one occasion, I also saw a version of the story in print in the "Texas Co-op Power" magazine.
Across the south, when the southern soldiers returned home from the â€œWar Of Northern Aggressionâ€ they found a serious situation; carpetbaggers, crooked politicians and a general lack of law enforcement. The returning Van Zandt County, Texas soldiers gathered at Grand Saline and together formed The Free State of Van Zandt. The Unionist quickly responded by sending Colored Federal Cavalry to suppress the "revolt". Shots were exchanged and the Federal troops were driven off which ignited a party by the victors, causing most of them to become very drunk.
The Federals returned, and without a shot being fired, captured the entire lot of the revelers, hand cuffed them all and put them in a hastily built stockade. Big trouble for the former Confederates! However, during the first night of incarceration, a violent rainstorm hit the stockade, causing the hastily built facility to, literally, come apart. Since the Federal troops had sought shelter from the storm and hadnâ€™t posted guards, and the stockade came apart, the Confederate prisoners simply walked out and went back to their homes. There were no further arrests and the matter was dropped, so ended The Free State of Van Zandt.
My Great Grandfathers, Levi Lindsey Sanders and Shaw Wallace, were each from Van Zandt County, and since another of my Great Grandfathers, Brinson Murrill Bryan was from directly across the Trinity River from Van Zandt County, and family legend has it that he never missed a fight or party, my family history doesn't say if my Great Grandfathers were involved or not. They were ardent Confederates and two of them being from Van Zandt County, so the reader will have to draw his own conclusions.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 27. 2007
I recently posted stories on my blog about my Great Grandfatherâ€™s, Brinson Bryan and Shaw Wallace. No reminiscence of my youth would be complete without a mention of my Grandmother, Linnie Ross (Sanders) Wallace.
Pictured in 1946, is my Grandmother, Linnie Ross (Sanders) Wallace, 1866-1953, my Mother, Ruth (Wallace) Bryan, 1895-1979, my Sister, Helen Ruth Anthony 1923-2003 and my Niece, Cheryl Anthony 1944-1964. Four generations of Wallace women. Because of at least 2 house fires, this is one of the very few pictures of my Grandmother Wallace.
My first memories of her were singing to me and telling me the story of the following song, author unknown:
â€œBackward turn backward o time in thy flight,
Make me a child again, just for tonight.
The tears on my pillow, thy loving watch keepâ€™
Rock me to sleep Mother, rock me to sleepâ€.
Her mother died in 1877 when she was 11 years old.
Linnieâ€™s Father, Levi L. Sanders, spent 3Â½ years fighting with the 6th Texas Cavalry during our Civil War. Being born in 1866, she was a â€œCivil War Baby Boomerâ€. She was a Texan and a â€œRebelâ€™s Daughterâ€ and taught me the First verse of Bonnie Blue Flagâ€. It was first the Regimental song of the 8th Texas Cavalry, Terryâ€™s Rangers, and later the anthem of the Southern States.
â€œBonnie Blue Flagâ€, by Harry McCarthy
â€œWe are a band of brothers and native to the soil,
Fighting for our liberty, with treasure, blood and toil.
And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far,
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.
For southern rights hurrah,
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star.â€
She also made sure that I knew what â€œDecoration Dayâ€, now known as our Memorial Day, was and how it started. Before the end of the Civil War, in the Spring, Southern ladies began placing red, white and blue â€œbuntingâ€ on the graves of the Confederate dead. This practice spread all over the South and in 1868, in the North, May 5, was officially designated Memorial Day.
Our family legends say that during the latter part of our Civil War, some type of significant event occurred between her Dad, Levi Sanders and Sul Ross, the Brigade Commander of the Texas Cavalry Brigade and future Governor of the State of Texas, causing Levi to say that he would name his next child after him and Sul replying he would pay that childâ€™s way through college. Legend doesnâ€™t say what the event was, but my Grandmother, Linnie Ross Sanders, born in 1866, was named Linnie Ross, and she told me that Sul Ross paid her way through college at Baylor, then located at Independence, Texas.
Another very interesting story that she told me several times, and was recently verified by another of her Grandsonâ€™s, George Pyland, my Cousin, was that when she was 5 years old, of her seeing Cynthia Ann Parker. Cynthia Ann was captured by Comanches in 1836, lived as an Indian for 24 years until she was re-captured in 1860 by Sul Ross leading a company of Texas Rangers. Cynthia Ann had 3 children, her oldest son being Quannah Parker, the last War Chief of the Commanches. Quannah surrendered to Col. Ranald McKenzie, "Three Fingered Kenzie" being his Indian nickname, and then Quannah led his people to the reservation in Oklahoma and later became and extremely successful businessman.
Cynthia Annâ€™s Brother, Issac Parker, was a neighbor in Van Zandt County, Texas, of Levi Sanders, Lennie Rossâ€™ Dad, and she tells of seeing Cynthia Ann several times and how she â€œscaredâ€ her. Never re-adapting to civilized life, Cynthia Ann Parker died of a â€œbroken heartâ€ in 1871.
Linnie taught school in East Texas for several years before marrying Dr. Harmon Elliott Wallace, my maternal Grandfather. Before the turn of the 20th century, Linnie and Harmon moved to west Texas where he practiced medicine for over 20 years. They had 8 children, 7 surviving to adulthood, including my Mother, Ruth Wallace Bryan. Their oldest son, Horace Harmon, was not in this 1915 era picture. He was away playing professional baseball. I visited the house in the background in 1949 in Ovalo, Texas, west of Abilene and at the foot of Bald Eagle Mountain.
Linnie Ross was a fine Christian lady, a good Grandmother to me and a credit to our state!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 08:10 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, April 22. 2007
This story has been passed down through my family for well over 100 years. I have heard it from my Dad and his Brothers and Sisters. Brinson and Fannie Bryan, who were living near Riesel, Texas, McLennan County, were my paternal Great Grandparents and their son, Peyton Bryan, was my paternal Grandfather.
The Dogs were raising a racket outside, waking Brinson Bryan and his wife, Fannie, up from a sound sleep. He figured they had a Possum or â€˜Coon treed in the large oak tree near the Hen house. Next thing he knew all eight of his kids were awake and asking him â€œPapa, what is all the racket with the Dogs.â€ Fannie was expecting their ninth, and she hoped the last, child the next month, December 1889.
Brinson slipped on his heavy clothes, it was cold for mid November, and lit a coal oil lantern. He was going to â€œchunkâ€ the â€œcoon out of the tree and not even mess with loading his .44 pistol. With all these kids around, it didnâ€™t pay to leave the old pistol loaded. He handed the lantern to his oldest son, Peyton, slipped on his boots and said to him, â€œLetâ€™s go run that varmint off.â€
Stepping outside and heading the 100 feet to the old, oak tree with the Dogs furiously barking, Peyton held the light up towards the tree and he and his Papa were rewarded by seeing two of the biggest, yellow eyes staring back at them. â€œPapa, thatâ€™s no â€˜Coon,â€ he exclaimed, as he and Brinson edged closer to the tree, plainly making out a very large cat, rather a very large Mountain Lion, crouched on a branch about eight feet off the ground.
This looked like another â€œtight spotâ€ shaping up. Brinson had had his share of â€œtight spotsâ€ in his life. Joining the Texas Rangers in 1845 he had fought Mexicans and Indians during the Mexican War. After that war he guided wagon trains to California facing more Indians, wild animals and thieves. Next was his three and a half years of service with the Confederate Army of Tennessee and experiencing some of the fiercest battles of that war. He had married Fannie in 1867 and settled into a life of farming, mule trading and raising his family.
Now, he is being stared down by a big Cat and knowing the Dogs will keep the Cat treed, he tells Peyton, â€œBoy, hold the light on the Cat while I get something to finish it off with!â€ That â€œsomethingâ€ happened to be his old Bowie knife, almost two feet of it, which he tied onto a walking stick, or Moses stick. Counting the knife and stick, his â€œlanceâ€ was nearly 6 foot long. He knew if he shot the Cat with his pistol that it would die, but not before it would leap down on he and Peyton.
As Peyton held the light, Brinson shinnied up into the tree and with one thrust shoved the knife into the Catâ€™s throat and then, with both hands, held tight to the stick as the animal thrashed about, impaled on the knife. After it was over and the Cat lay still on the ground, Brinson thought it funny that his three Dogs could tree the Lion and keep it treed, while the Lion could easily kill the Dogs and also how the light from a coal oil lantern had kept the Cat off of them.
The Dogs had apparently intercepted the Cat before it had gotten into the Hen house. It ended up a very lop sided victory for Brinson and Peyton, no Dogs or Chickens injured, just a little lost sleep.
This may have been the last Mountain Lion killed in McLennan County, Texas.
Continue reading "Treed"
Posted by Jon Bryan in Ancestry at 09:08 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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