All posts by Jon Bryan

We Got Him

On November 6th, in my post “More Outdoor Pictures, November 6, 2009”, there were two pictures sent to me by one of my softball teammates, Everett Sims, of a ten point, buck. In July the buck was still in velvet.


The other picture showed the ten pointer with another nice buck, an eight pointer.

Last month while we were playing softball in Phoenix, he told me about this buck and that he and his son were going to get it when the season opened and, sure enough, his boast became a true statement this past weekend. When I received the pictures of the deer, I e-mailed him for confirmation that this was the ten pointer and his reply was, “We got him!”

Ev’s Son poses with his very nice, buck. A definite high fiver.

Linnie Ross (Sanders) Wallace

Sometime back on my blog I posted stories about my great grandfather’s, Brinson Bryan and Shaw Wallace. No reminiscence of my youth would be complete without a mention of my grandmother, Linnie Ross (Sanders) Wallace.

My first memories of my grandmother Wallace, Linnie Ross Sanders Wallace, were of her singing to me and telling me the story of the following song, author unknown:

“Backward turn backward o time in thy flight,
Make me a child again, just for tonight.
The tears on my pillow, thy loving watch keep’
Rock me to sleep Mother, rock me to sleep”.

Her mother, Susan Collins Sanders, died in 1877 and at the time Linnie was 11 years old.

Linnie’s Father, Levi L. Sanders, spent 3½ years fighting with the 6th Texas Cavalry during our Civil War. Being born in 1866, she was a “Civil War Baby Boomer”. She was a Texan and a “Rebel’s Daughter” and taught me the First verse of Bonnie Blue Flag”. It was first the Regimental song of the 8th Texas Cavalry, Terry’s Rangers, and later the anthem of the Southern States.

“Bonnie Blue Flag”, by Harry McCarthy

“We 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.”

She also made sure that I knew what “Decoration Day”, now known as our Memorial Day, was and how it started. Before the end of the Civil War, during the spring, Southern ladies began placing red, white and blue “bunting” on the graves of the Confederate dead. This practice spread all over the South and also to the North and in 1868, 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. This event caused Levi to say that he would name his next child after him and Sul replied that he would pay that child’s way through college. Legend doesn’t say what the event was, but my grandmother, Linnie Ross Sanders, born in 1866, was named Linnie Ross, and she told me the story and that Sul Ross paid her way through college at Baylor, located ,then, at Independence, Texas.

Another very interesting story that she told me several times, and was recently verified by another of her grandson’s, George Pyland, my cousin, was that when she was 5 years old, of her seeing Cynthia Ann Parker. In 1836, Cynthia Ann was captured by Comanche’s, lived as an Indian for 24 years until she was re-captured in 1860, by Sul Ross, who, at the time, was leading a company of Texas Rangers. Cynthia Ann’s Brother, Issac Parker, was a neighbor in Van Zandt County, Texas, of Levi Sanders, Lennie Ross’ Dad and she tells of seeing Cynthia Ann several times and how she scared her. Cynthia Ann Parker died of a broken heart in 1871

Linnie taught school in East Texas for several years before marrying Dr. Harmon Elliott Wallace, my maternal Grandfather. After the turn of the 20th century, Linnie and Harmon moved to west Texas where he practiced medicine for over 10, years, then moved his practice to Regan, Texas. They had 8 children, 7 surviving to adulthood, including my mother, Ruth Wallace Bryan.

She was a fine Christian lady, a good Grandmother to me and a credit to our State!

Two Weddings And A Hanging

Two hundred and thirty-five years ago, July 4, 1776, our country proclaimed its freedom from England and I thought it fitting to relate another family story about my 5G Grandfather, William Murrill and his slave, Tony and an action they were involved in during our Revolutionary War.

This event was passed down through the family and recorded in the diary of my 3G Uncle, James Buckner “Buck” Barry, and later copyrighted and published as “Buck Barry, Texas Ranger And Frontiersman”. I have used family history and this book as my references.

William and Tony had participated in the capture of three Tory, (Colonials who supported the British), soldiers who had been guilty of killing two Whig troops, (North Carolina Militia), namely Franks and Blackshear. The Tories had killed the two just before peace was made, were then captured, court-martialed and sentenced to hang. Some of the Militia soldiers thought it wrong to hang them after peace was declared, so an express was sent to Gen. Nathaniel Green, commander of the district. His reply was to hang them if they could not get a Whig girl to marry them under the gallows!

Two of the three captured Tories were engaged to Whig girls and just before the hanging, the two girls stepped out and saved their betrothed’s necks. The third Tory couldn’t get a Whig girl to marry him, and as the story is told, was hanged on the same gallows that his two friends were married under.

The two Tories, married under the gallows, happened to live on a farm adjoining Buck Barry’s father’s farm and Buck reports that, on occasion, when he was young, he saw these two lucky men.

Times were tough back then, when you had to fight your neighbors and your own countrymen!

The Big Country – A Record On Doves

In the late 1990’s, the town of Millersview, Texas consisted of a one pump, gas station/feed store, a Post Office and a WW II memorial.  Millersview is in the part of west Texas known as “The Big Country”. It’s on Farm/Market Road 765, in Concho County, 55 miles west of Goldthwaite and 40 miles east of San Angelo and the closest town, Eden, is 20 miles away.

Back then, 3 miles outside of Millersview, I was on a 2,000 acre, quail/deer lease with plenty of mesquite and prickly pear cactus.  Lease rules were positively no shooting of turkeys and a minimum of 10 points on a buck. There was a nice camp house with running water and indoor facilities and the place was loaded with game, including big deer and “mucho” quail.

Having just signed up on a the new hunting lease near Millersview, the opening of dove season found me standing by myself, in the shade of a mesquite tree, the sun on my right and a 1/2 acre stock tank to my front.  The banks of the tank were sandy/gravelly, just right for doves to use.

Arriving at the tank around 4:00 PM, too early for the birds to water, I sat real still and watched the songbirds and, of all things, the deer, eight or ten doe came into the water.  There was a lot of shooting that I guessed was about a mile away on a bordering ranch and I was hoping that the birds would come into the tank that I was guarding.

One hour later, here came the doves!  Beginning with a trickle, I knocked down the first two and they both fell just in front of me, right on the tank damn,.  Picking my shots, being careful not to splash one into the water, the doves kept falling and I stopped for a minute and counted up.  Eleven birds, then I counted my empty shells, eleven shots.  Counting the empty shells was easy, because we always picked up the fired hulls for 1, reloading and 2, because the cows would try to eat them.

Thinking back, I had never having gone straight on a limit of doves, I had run over a hundred and fifty straight on clay birds in trap and downed twenty straight Mearns quail, but not the diving, twisting and turning doves.

Here came number twelve, right at me, and easy head on shot.  Covering the bird, for some reason, I raised my head and missed!  The dove veered to the right and pow, my second shot dropped it right into the tank.  Chunking rocks and cow chips at the bird, the waves brought it to the bank and then it was in my bag.

Twelve for thirteen is still not bad and the new lease got only got better.



Shortly after our first meeting, we, me and my ex, had Bob Baugh, one of my customers and his wife out to dinner and were enjoying a pleasant evening, when the phone rang.   It was Randy, now a Baptist Pastor, and he was calling to let us know he was going to be late for supper, and that he was stuck on our new duck and goose lease and needed help extricating the truck.

Part of the reason Randy was calling had been caused by a low pressure, system that came ashore between Galveston and Freeport, hesitated over Alvin and dumped over 24” of rain in a 24 hours on that small town.  This remains a contiguous states record for a 24 hour, period!  The low pressure, system also soaked the Katy Prairie and any dirt road travel was limited and additional rains had kept the roads “sticky” for a month or more.

The other reason the truck was stuck was because he and his friend Doug would try to see how much mud it would take to get stuck in.  Most times, Doug would have his truck and they would alternate pulling each other out of the mire.  Not this time because he and Doug had taken advantage of the early Teal season and gone hunting together in my truck!

Randy told me where he was stuck and the call ended.  I sat down and filled Bob in on the details and he said, “Let’s go get him!”

We loaded up in Bob’s 4WD, truck and headed out for the short drive to the new lease.  Waiting for us at the main entrance was Randy.  He and Doug had found the rice farmer and he had pulled them out with his tractor.

Randy, Doug and the new truck were safe and we didn’t have to wade in the mud to get them out.  Our evening was interrupted but Bob’s and my friendship was sealed and lasts till this day!

One more note about Randy and Doug.  The owner of the local car wash, a nice man and a Deacon in our Baptist Church, banned both boys from using his facility to wash their trucks, because of all the mud they collected.  He said that he knew when they had been there because his main drain was always stopped up, with mud, Katy Prairie mud, of course!


The Falls Of The Brazos

During the mid 1950’s, summer found me in Falls County, Texas working for my Uncle, Shelton Gafford.  There he owned and leased thousands of acres of farm and ranch land, a dairy and some grain storage sheds that he leased from Billy Sol Estes, who was a famous crook/politician of the 40’s and 50s’ in Texas.

Each day, part of my job, if the Brazos River wasn’t “up”, was to cross it on a low water crossing at The Falls and take the short drive, 5 miles, to his Perry Creek place, check his cattle for screw worms, a terrible pestilence that hounded our State’s cattle industry until millions of sterile, male screw worm flies were released in the 1960’s.  This procedure, developed by Texas A&M saved our cattle industry and spawned the terrific deer herds that we now have across our State!

If untreated, screw worms would kill a grown Cow in 5 to 7 days and a calf in 2 or 3.  If the river was up, I had to drive into Marlin and around to Perry Creek, 20 miles.  I always carried my fishing tackle because there were 2 stock tanks on the Perry Creek place that were full of bass.

The river also offered some very good fishing.  One night we caught a mess of yellow cats trot lining and another time my dad and I waded out below the low water crossing, just hoping, something would be there.  We ended up with 20 nice white bass.  Below the crossing and the falls, all the way to the Gulf, there was no damn on the Brazos, and there still isn’t, so I guess, the whites came up as far as they could before spawning.

I visited The Falls Of The Brazos, State Park, last year.  The low water crossing is still visible, but I don’t think it’s in use anymore.

Not knowing it at the time, one of my relatives, a 3 G Uncle, Buck Barry, crossed the Brazos here over one hundred years before on a trip from Sulphur Springs to the new capital of the State, Austin.  Between the two towns that were over 100 miles apart, the one settler, and then the only survivor, at the falls, had just lived through a Comanche Indian raid losing everything, his slaves, cattle and women, to the Indians.

The Spring Run 1978

Winter was loosening its grip on the mid Georgia area, the dogwood trees were blooming, a sure sign of spring, and farther south, along the Florida coast, the fishing was warming up too! Stories of some fantastic catches had reached us all the way up in Atlanta and one of my friends, Jerry O’Neil, owned a condo in Destin, Florida and he invited me to bring my boat, and my ex-wife, down and we’d try and get in on the early run of king mackerel.

We, my ex and I, left Atlanta early in the morning and driving south we ran into spring just before we crossed under I-10 and everything really greened up the closer we got to Destin.  We arrived, unloaded the truck at the condo and then drove to the launch ramp.  There we launched the boat, bought some bait, cigar minnows, and cruised out under the bridge, into the Gulf of Mexico.  After about 2 miles, we put out 3 lines.  Our baits were colored jigs, because these fish had teeth they were attached to wire leaders with good sized, hooks, with a cigar minnow threaded on to the hook.  Our tackle was medium weight, rods, heavy duty red reels, reels, loaded with 20, pound line.

Trolling at 1,000 RPM’s, not over 30 minutes after we had started, simultaneously we had strikes.   Each of us grabbed a rod, set to enjoy the kings first blazing run, but as the king struck my exe’s bait, before it took off, it arced up out of the water.  Kings jump like this occasionally, their eyes being above their mid line, they lay in wait for prey, looking up, many feet below the surface, then attack the bait with force on an upward angle and their momentum carries them above the surface in spectacular leaps, but once they have the bait, off they go!

Both fish, 12 pounders, quickly succumbed to the rods pressure, we gaffed and boxed them, rebaited and resumed trolling.  Another strike, this time, no acrobatics, just a long run, then a couple of short ones, then into the box.  We caught 2 more kings all were smokers, not over 15 pounds and as the sun was going down, the wind, now cooler, started blowing a little harder.  Our jackets felt good as we picked up the lines and headed back in.

Not a bad haul for just under, 3 hours of fishing and once ashore, I cleaned the kings, filleting one and taking care to completely cut out the bloodline.  We cooked the fillets that night with crab boil and surprisingly they tasted like lobster.

We went to bed thinking that according to tomorrow’s weather forecast, Saturday would be a great day to fish, but, as usually happens, when we got up the next morning, we were greeted by winds howling over 20 and white caps stretching out to the horizon.  Unfavorable conditions for an 18, foot boat, our fishing day was cut short, so we headed back north, but, at least, we caught some fish.

Growing Up – First Trip Offshore 1952

During the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, 1952, one of my friends, Walter, invited me on a two day, one night fishing trip out into the Gulf of Mexico.  His dad was taking his boat out and I was asked to come along.  This was a “huge deal” for me, my dad thought it was a great idea, my mom worried that I’d be lost at sea, but my dad prevailed and off we went the following Friday morning to meet Walter and his dad at the Houston Yacht Club.

Formalities behind us, we loaded their forty-five foot Mathews, cruiser with provisions for the trip and chugged out into Galveston Bay.  The plan was to motor down the bay in the Houston Ship Channel and just past Texas City turn right at the Intercoastal Waterway, then head west to Freeport and anchor for the night in New River.  The next morning we’d head out into the Gulf, troll back to Galveston, then head up the Ship Channel and arrive back at the Yacht Club.  This was over a hundred mile trip, would take us two full days and for the time, 1952, a real adventure!

A little history about the New River, in 1929 New River was completed and is a channelized mouth for the Brazos River.  Over the years, commerce in the Freeport/Velasco area was damaged almost yearly by floods raging down the river, then the summer hurricanes would bring their flooding rain, so by 1929 the river was diverted to a new channel – New River, and the Port of Freeport has flourished since then, rising to sixteenth in tonnage for the U.S.

Just before nightfall, we pulled into the New River, anchored and prepared supper.  Walter and I put our lines out, baited with dead shrimp and began catching, hard heads, salt water catfish.  Not our main targets for the trip but these were big ones, two pounders and kept us busy ‘till bedtime.

Up with the sun, we headed down New River and entered the Gulf for our trip back.  As soon as we entered the Gulf we put out two lines, one with a red jig and one with a green one.  We were just out of sight of land, trolling along and I was sitting up on a cooler, dozing and ZZZZZ, the clicker on my reel let out a squawk as the fish pulled line off.  Grabbing my rod all I could do was hold on as the fish made its first run.  Soon the pressure of the rod and reel’s drag allowed me to get the fish up to the boat and Walter identified it as a kingfish, the first of the hundreds that I caught in my fishing life.

Before we iced the king, I admired it and stroked the shiny sides and Walter told me they were good to eat, especially when grilled.  We plowed on through the Gulf, more nodding and dozing, then another ZZZZZ, another reel let out a squawk, mine again.  Another long run and an unyielding fight all the way to the gaff, my second king, that proved to be the last one of the trip.

We continued eastward, soon on the horizon we saw the old light house at the end of Galveston’s South Jetty, shortly we turned into the Ship Channel and headed north back to the Yacht Club.  What I didn’t know then; what good navigation without Loran or no GPS, what dependable equipment, what a trip, what an exposure to offshore fishing, wow! And, me being only 15, wow!

When I got back home, my mom and dad admired the fish and with no freezer we really didn’t have a way to keep the second one, so we gave it to our neighbor, Dub.  The next night we had a small party in our back yard, steaks and the feature of the night, grilled kingfish.  Not knowing how to prepare kings, we filleted both sides of the fish, but we didn’t skin it, nor did we cut out the bloodline.  The fish was tasty, but when we touched the bloodline, whew, it was uneatable.  We correctly figured, that cleaning kings you should take off the skin, remove the bloodline, then grill the strips.  You live and learn!

Decoration Day

Today we take time to honor and recognize our troops who have died while defending our way of life.  In the North, tradition was that Decoration Day began in New York in 1868, but, in reality, it really started in Virginia soon after the end of the Civil War.  The
following, is one of my favorite stories!

Now, enter my grandmother, Linnie Ross Sanders Wallace, born in 1866, who I wrote about on May, 27, 2007, in “A True Texan“.  She was a Civil War baby boomer, and a rebel’s daughter.  Her Father, Levi Sanders, had spent four years fighting with the 6th Texas Cavalry across Indian Territory, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.  She made sure that I knew what “Decoration Day”, now known as our Memorial Day, was and just what it meant.

Within a month after the end of the Civil War, May 1865, ladies in Winchester, Virginia, formed a Ladies Memorial Association, (LMA), with the single purpose to gather fallen Confederate soldiers within a fifteen mile radius of their town and provide them burial in a single graveyard.  Once that task had been done they hoped to establish an annual tradition of placing flowers and evergreens on the graves.  There were Federal troops buried along with the Confederates and they received the decorations also.  Within a year, ladies across the South had established over 70, LMA’s.

In the first year, these LMA’s had assisted in the recovery of over 70,000 Confederate dead!  The ladies of Lynchburg chose May 10 as their Decoration Day.  This was the day that Lt. General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson had succumbed to wounds.  The Richmond LMA had chosen May 31 because that was the day the populace of that town had first heard the guns of war in 1861.

Vicious Reconstruction laws not withstanding, by 1867, Decoration Day flourished across the South and it was a day that southern spirit and pride surfaced. Alabama, Florida and Mississippi celebrated it on April 30; North and South Carolina on May 10 and Virginia finally compromised on May 27.

Then in 1868, in the North, May 5 was officially designated Memorial Day.  This was later changed to May 30, because no significant battle was fought on that day.  In May 1968, at Waterloo, New York, Pres. Lyndon Johnson “officially” recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day.  Still later, our government intruded and made the last the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, a Federal holiday.

LBJ should have studied his history better!  He began his career as a history teacher at San Jacinto High School in Houston, and taught Linnie Ross’s youngest, daughter, Hazel.  He soon switched to teaching civics, government studies.  Maybe he was deficient in American history?

Whatever Floats Your Boat

During the spring of 1994, Carl Parkinson and I had been out to the Galveston Jetties trying to catch some gulf trout, white trout or sand trout, Cynoscion arenarius, and after filling up our 88, quart cooler with the early arrivals, were cruising back in. We headed back through Galveston harbor, under the bridge to Pelican Island and followed the channel out to the Intercoastal Waterway, when we thought we’d see if any speckled trout were around Swan Lake.

Cutting across the bay, as we approached Swan Lake, we saw, what appeared to be a boat up close to the bank.  The closer we came to the boat, we saw a woman sitting in it and we saw that a man was pulling it with a rope.  Pulling up to the boat, we saw that the man was a friend of ours, Danny Bourgeois, not only a friend but he was one of my employees and one of Carl’s coworkers!

Speaking to Danny’s wife and almost shouting over the motor’s idling, I asked, “Danny, what in the world are you doing pulling the boat?”  His response was what we expected from someone from south Louisiana, “It broke down back along the Intercoastal, the float stuck closed, I couldn’t fix it and was pulling it back to the launch ramp,” and he’d already pulled the boat almost two miles!  This particular ramp was between the railroad bridge and the Galveston Causeway, over a mile away, as the crow pulled!

Offering Danny a motorized pull back to the ramp, he declined our offer and said, “It’s no problem me pulling the boat back because the water’s shallow, not over 3 feet deep and we don’t have anything else to do this afternoon.”  “Danny, do you want us to go on to the ramp and wait and help you load the boat,” I asked and “No thanks I can handle it,” he replied?

This story really happened, but you had to know Danny, if he couldn’t fix it, he wasn’t going to let the motor beat him, he’d just pull it back in, then fix it!  Pulling away, we weren’t surprised at his refusal of aid, anyway, one time a real smart guy said, “Whatever floats your boat!”