Category Archives: Hill Country Happenings

Hill Country Happenings

Home Improvement

About a month ago Layla and I noticed some unauthorized construction taking place at our home, in Mills County, Texas, just outside of Goldthwaite. At the time we thought it was Martins, but a careful study of the participants showed them to be Barn Swallows, Hirundo Rustica, a common visitor to Central Texas during the spring and summer. The construction site was under an eve, at the side entrance to our house.
With no luck, I tried for a week or more to get pictures of the work in progress. Not succeeding with that effort I devised a plan, using my truck, with the window rolled half way down, as a blind, I was able to get some pictures of the birds guarding their mud nest.

BarnSwallowGuardingNestThe little birds have persevered and completed the nest.

BarnSwallowGuardingNest2The female has laid eggs and if we didn’t interrupt her so much, she could complete the cycle shortly. These Barn Swallows feed on flying insects in the evening and it is fun to watch them fly around and “do” their business, but, a big BUT, the construction site will be destroyed as soon as the little ones can fly away!

I’ll keep everyone posted about the Barn Swallow’s progress.

With no luck, I tried for a week or more to get pictures of the work in progress. Not succeeding with that effort I devised a plan, using my truck, with the window rolled half way down, as a blind, I was able to get some pictures of the birds guarding their mud nest.

The little birds have persevered and completed the nest. The female has laid eggs and if we didn’t interrupt her so much, she could complete the cycle shortly. These Barn Swallows feed on flying insects in the evening and it is fun to watch them fly around and “do” their business, but, a big BUT, the construction site will be destroyed as soon as the little ones can fly away!

I’ll keep everyone posted about the Barn Swallow’s progress.

I’m Dreaming Of A White Easter

On Wednesday, April 4, the weather forecast was for a front to come in on Friday, with a low temperature in the 40’s. Thursdays forecast for Saturday was for a low of 35°, which changed on Friday to a low of 33° in Waco, with freezing temperatures in the rural areas and a chance of sleet and possibly snow in northwest, Central Texas. By Saturday this possibility became a reality!

Saturday morning, during breakfast, I looked outside and noticed sleet/snow falling. At the time I thought, snow, neat! Layla and I had to go to Copperas Cove for a Grandson’s 18th birthday party and, all the way over, sleet/snow was still falling with some sticking under the trees and on plowed ground. No big deal!

We arrived at ‘Cove at 2:15 PM and by 2:30 PM the sky was falling on us. Huge flakes, the size of silver dollars, were floating down. The festivities ended around 5:00 PM, huge flakes still falling, snow everywhere, as we headed for Goldthwaite.

Bluebonnets and Snow, April 7, 2007

It snowed on us all the way back through Lampassas and Lometa, the flakes just smaller, but a lot of snow on the ground. Getting home around 6:30 PM, it was still snowing and we decided to go out and get some pictures. The Bluebonnets, that I had never seen covered with snow, were beautiful, but the Indian Paint Brushes were bowed down with the white stuff and couldn’t be seen. I think Cactus and snow are very unusual!


Overall, at our house, we had within a half inch of the January, 2007 snow, but all of this was the day before Easter. It ran through my head, “I’m Dreaming Of A White Easter”. Wool slacks will be the order for Church tomorrow. How crazy this is!

My son, Brad, who lives in ‘Cove, lost an entire limb off of a five year old, peach tree, with hundreds of tiny peaches on it, because of the weight of the snow! And, to top it all off, this morning, I heard a noted weatherman say, “I would never had forecasted this much snow on Easter.”

So much for “Global Warming”.

Art Sheely

This is another story from the book, “Waif Of Times”, written by my Great Uncle, Lee Wallace. He was either the presiding judge or defense attorney in this case. He was know for his oratorical skills and was a self-styled poet, so I favor him being the defense attorney.

Art Sheely was prosecuted on a charge of goat theft. The main witnesses for the State, two trappers running their lines on a cold morning at sunrise, from a high cliff, swore they saw Sheely catch and kill the goat with his knife far down in the canyon below them. That about this time Sheely discovered the witnesses and ran away without the goat and that they immediately reported the matter to the sheriff, who went to the scene, found the dead goat and nearby a bloody open knife. They testified they had seen Sheely a short time before the theft with just such a knife.

At the trial, these two witnesses on cross examination admitted they had lost money as trappers, that they knew there was a standing $500.00 reward offered by the Goat Raisers Association for evidence ‘sufficient and convicting’ anyone guilty of goat theft, that they knew Sheely lived three miles away, that he was a shiftless, lazy non-working kind of fellow.

Defense council placed Moss, Sheely’s nearest neighbor, on the stand who testified that on the day previous to the alleged theft, the weather being cold, he killed his hogs and as a neighborly act the same afternoon carried Sheely a flour sack full of spareribs and backbones; proved by merchants from every town in the county that the knife found near the dead goat was a standard brand and hundreds of customers bought them– that the sheriff himself owned one of the same brand then in his possession bought long before the goat was killed.

Sheely denied any knowledge of the theft, claimed he was home asleep at the time charged. In this connection Counsel for Sheely urged that with Sheely’s aversion for work, and the supply of meat then on hand, there was no occasion for him to steal the goat, especially at that time of day and so far away and in the freezing weather, and that the whole case was a frame-up by the trappers to secure the reward.

Counsel for the defense composed and in closing his argument to the jury recited the following:

The trappers stood on the mountain top,
The shades of night had fled,
They saw the goats beneath the drop,
And this is what they said:

“The skunk and coon no more we’ll trap,
The revenue’s to slow,
For the goatmen we’ll give Art Sheely the “rap”
And then we’ll grab the dough.”

“So we’ll cut the throat of that nanny goat,
And then away we’ll speed
And tell the law Art Sheely we saw
Commit the awful deed.”

“He’s one of the down and out,
He’s got no show to win,
And when we take a swear at him, no doubt,
We’ll land him in the pen.”

Sheely was acquitted!

Ham Bailey, By Lee Wallace

The following is a story by my Great Uncle, Lee Wallace, published and copyrighted in 1946. Apparently, he was involved in this case, probably the Judge.

Ham Bailey

Ham always had a tear in his voice. He was on trial charged with assault to murder one Stark by cutting him with a knife.

Placed on the stand as witness for himself and after identifications he was told by his attorney to tell the Jury everything done and said by Stark and himself to and concerning each other the day of the alleged assault. The following is Ham’s direct testimony: “Hit wuz on the 4th of July. I wuz working out at the Fair Grounds for the Fair Managers. Hit wuz just when the hosses and waggins wuz a goin’ out and the automobiles wuz a comin’ in. The hosses wuz scared of the automobiles. I wuz showin’ the folks where to put the waggins and the hosses away from the automobiles. I had never seen that feller (indicating Stark) before. He come to where I wuz and said he heard I wuz a bad man and he said he wuz a bad man, too; and we wuz a goin’ to find out right there which of us wuz the baddest. I told him somebody had told a story on me. I wuz not a bad man. I was a workin’ man trying to make a livin’ without stealin’. About that time the sheriff come along and told him to leave me alone and he left. I did not see him anymore until I went to town after the Fair broke up.”

“I worked all day. I didn’t git no dinner. When the Fair broke up I started to town on foot. When I got to Town Creek, Shell Lawrence overtuck me and I got in his hack and rode to town. I got out at the bush-arbor by the side of the saloon where George Heiman had coffee and hamburgers. I hadn’t had no dinner. I wuz blowin’ on my coffee to cool it, and Mr. Stark come and set on the bench by me with his back to the table. He didn’t say nothin’. But roostered me, (indicating with his right elbow). That sloshed the hot coffee all over my hand, scalded my hand”.

Here the witness paused and his attorney asked, “Mr. Bailey, then what did you say or do if anything?” To which the witness answered, “I didn’t say nothin’. I cut his throat. I didn’t have no pistol.”

Lee’s Note:

Just another case of where a fellow was hunting rabbits and squirrels and jumped a twelve-foot mountain lion.

Inquiry, By Lee Wallace

Before the turn of the 20th century, Lee Was looking for a location to open up his legal practice. This response is a funny!

“Early in 1896, as a young attorney, I was casting about for a new location somewhere in the great southwest. Among other inquiries made by letter, one was directed to the Justice Of the Peace At Hondo, Texas, giving some details about myself and asking some. I told him I was a young attorney, unmarried, somewhat nervous because of temporary health impairment, asking the price of board, number of local attorneys, number of population of the County, and expressing my preference to board with some quiet family without children, if suitable place could be found.

The following is copy of reply to my inquiry:

Hondo City, Jan’y 30th, 1896

Lee Wallace, Esq.

Canton, Texas

Dear Sir:

Your letter of inquiry of date Jan’y 24th has been duly rec’d and contents prayerfully and carefully considered. You say you are a young attorney, but neglected to state how young. All our attorneys consider themselves young, though there is not one who has passed the half-century post. You say you are unmarried. Bless you, my boy, come here and we can so soon marry you off. Our female population is largely in excess of the male.

You won’t be unmarried long. Come right off.

Board can be had from $25.00 per week to $2.50 per month, according to where you board and how you can chaw hash.

We have no quiet families here. Every family is well provided with howling, yelling kids, and besides the head of the family gets home about 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., well tanked up, and the old woman and he have a hell of a time until day. But come and marry and establish a quiet family of your own.

There are five regular attorneys here, but about 45 curbstone lawyers, the latter get the business and the former are engaged in hunting lost mines. But come here, we’ll marry you off and you can help us in the way of increasing the population and looking dignified. The population of this county is about 5000, but this being an election year, it will run up to about 7500.

Hoping to see you soon,
I am very truly yours,

A. M. Lamm
J. P. Pr. 1, Medina Co.
Hondo City, Texas.”

Lee choose Kerrville!

Stories By My Great Uncle

When I created this Blog I had mentioned in “About The Author” that this past summer I edited a collection of short stories, “Waif Of The Times”, by Lee Wallace, a Great Uncle of mine. Lee was my Grandfather, Dr. Harmon Wallace’s, younger brother.

I just finished re-reading the stories, for I don’t know how many times, and still found them enjoyable, and they fit well in my “Hill Country Happenings”. Kerrville, Texas, where many of these stories took place, is one of the many beautiful areas in our Texas Hill Country!

From time to time I plan on posting a story of Lee’s. They were copyrighted in 1946 and published by the author. So, I believe it is fitting to offer a brief bio of Lee Wallace.

Lee Wallace was born in Van Zandt County in “deep” East Texas in 1868, a Civil War baby boomer. The 1880 census lists Lee as “working on farm”. He was all of 12. His father, Shaw Wallace, was my Maternal Great-Grandfather. Shaw, was a Confederate veteran, born in Northern Ireland in 1819 and died of pneumonia in Ben Wheeler, Texas, in 1906 . Shaw’s life and times are another good story.

I met Lee Wallace one time in 1950 when I was 14. Lee had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer and since he was my Mom’s favorite Uncle. She wanted to visit him before he became too ill. Lee died July 2, 1953.

He was a lawyer and judge. He attended Sam Houston College in Huntsville, Texas. but did not attend law school. He was twice married but had no children. Lee came to Kerrville in 1896 and he told me he arrived there with “a bull whip and a Bible”. A number of years ago, a friend of mine from Kerrville told me that Judge Wallace was “a tough old guy”. I have been told he was a Protégé of Captain Charles Schreiner, a very prominent resident of Kerr County and Kerrville and that later in his career was appointed a District Judge and served in that position until he retired, due to poor health, in 1936.

Lee was known for his wit and oratorical skill and his most famous quote was “I have never forgotten a friend nor forgiven an enemy.” In later years he modified this as follows, “It is too much trouble to have an enemy, since you have to work to dislike someone and you have to keep remembering a grudge.”