Family History by Robert Monroe Fleming (Sr.)

Notes on Fanily History by Iva Causey Fleming
(Part 20)

Transcribed by Robert M. Fleming Jr.

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study for entering the legal profession quit teaching school as Mr Sayles had done three years earlier and became a practicing lawyer. Early in March my sister and I took passage on the steamship "Brazos" at the town of Washington and were carried to Columbia which was the first steamsboat travel we had enjoyed since our "Runaway Scrap " voyage to and from Galveston on the "Yellowstone" in 1836. Of which neither of us retained any recollection. The day after we got home I observed by Father was engaged making a new handle for a hoe out of a suitable seasoned timber which he kept always on hand. And that when he had completed it he adjusted and securely fashioned it in a new one of the old fashioned weeding hoes made with a heavy eye to receive the handle. Like a pick and with a blade that measured twelve inches on the edge. It was in the press of cotton scapping season. The men except Sampson were all engaged giving the corn a close, deep ploughing. Sampson was leading his hoe gang to quick music, scapping cotton. My suspicions were aroused but I said nothing. After evening family worship as the family were taking leave of each other to retire my Father said, "Andrew, you have not done any field work for a year past. You are going away to college in a couple of months and may not be at home again until you are twenty one years old. Today I fixed a hoe which I want you to take in the morning and go with Sampson's squad and do a man's work scrapping cotton." There was a pause but no reply was in order except the cheerful assent. In the morning I went and did"a man's work" during all of the forenoon. At the noon recess while at dinner I was attacked with a spell of bleeding at the nose. Which was with difficulty arrested. I returned to my hoe work which was kept well up the rest of the day. Although interrupted with a return of the bleeding at the nose. The next day the work continued and the hemorrhages became more frequent and severe. On the morning of the third day when I had come in from my work to the house to breakfast ( for we went out at dawn). And having finished that meal within the required, (regulation), twenty minutes rose from the table to return to my place in the field my Father said, "My son, I think you had best not work any more today". Before noon my whole was blooming with red measles. On the steamboat I had occupied a berth just above a young man in the fever stage with measles. I was confined to my room only a few days. But after a spell of that kind should a Spring shower of rain catch me in the field it might produce a state like that of a man who had recovered from being possessed of an evil spirit. Whose misconduct invited a troop of evil spritis with the well known fearful results. I did not scap cotton after that or do other field work before starting for college. I was to go in June. All the needed preparations were made and the day of my departure was at hand. The steamboat "Ogden", Captain Webb master, was making weekly trips between Galveston and Columbia. Sometimes going further up river. The boat was to leave Columbia at 6AM the day I was to go. We live seven miles away and must make an early start to get to the boat by that hour. The weather was fine and we slept with open doors. The moon had gone down. Day had not yet come. When my Father brought a lighted candle to my room waked me up and said, "It is time to get up". I rose and dressed quickly. The only door to my room opened on a narrow porch on which the front door to our sitting room (we had no parlour) also opened. When I stepped out of my room my Father was sitting on the narrow porch between the doors of the sitting room and the door of my room. I drew a chair out of my room and seated myself near him. We were both a little solemn and were silent fo some minutes. My Father spoke first, and his words were, "My son, you are going to a state that has been long settled. Where you will be thrown with many young men who have been reared and enjoyed the best social advantages in communites that have long been settled. And they will be apt to twit you on your looks. But don't you mind it". No advice he ever gave me was more timely or bore good fruit more abundantly.

That year Rev John McCollough aided by his sisters, veteran teachers of emminence, trained by active service in Phildelphia established a high grade females school in Galveston. To which my sister went in the fall. We returned home to spend our summer vacation in 1851 and 1852. And during July and August of each of those years we had full holiday at our Father's house. In 1853 my parents with their daughter visited Kentucky as mentioned in a preceding chapter. The daughter entered the senior class in De Stewart's(Stuart's) school in Shelbyville, Kentucky. We graduated in June 1854 and coming home to gether were welcomed there the 12th day of July. Our parents work in giving their children aschool education was finished. Within two months the son received the portion of goods coming to him. And went to the county seat town to enter the office of James Bell and prepare for practicing the legal profession. Within two years the daughter married Abner S. Lathrop, Esqr. A lawyer who was a member of theBrazoria bar and she came to that town to be one of the heads of her own family. And to preside in her own home. Her only brother boarded with her. And the children as guests of their childhood home. And the parents as guests at their daughter's house brought the family more together than it had been for fifteen years. On San Jacinto day in 1859 my sister died. A month later her only child died. And I was left the sole surviving descendent of our parents. In the fall of that year this sole surviving child married. The grandchildren came on apace. The first born, a son, was given his grandfather's McCormick's full name. The lawyer was now in full practice and besides his ordinary work as an attorney and counsellor-at-law was sole executor of Charles Teller Reese's estate.Testamentary guardian of his seven orphaned children. And as such the legal owner in trust and charged with the managemant of an active plantation. His parents were more frequently the guests. Every alternate Saturday the carriage came with Grandpa" and "Grandma" and was always loaded with commisary stores and product of the farm. No such butter, poultry, or fresh products of the garden (according to the season) ever came to that lawyer's home then or since from any other source.

The name sake grandson as soon as he could walk went with them on every alternate visit to revive in their home thememories of their early married life. And to recall to their recollection of the image of his father at this age. Five generations in the direct line of my Father's blood had been born in the South and still lived or slept on or in her soil. His ancestors of European birth had resisted Philip in the LowCountries. Charles and James in Scotland and Ireland. And George the third in N Carolina. He had been in Texas in time to see and feel the first impulse of the ride of resistance to Mexico and Velasco in 1832. He had helped to form the top most crest of that flood of resistance in the campaign of 1836. He was in the charge on San Jacinto field. The Southern heart had now been fully fired. A Nation had been born in a day. Her flag was the emblem of supreme authority throughout a large and fruitful land of his love, his native land, in which his lot was cast. Her armies were much in evidence of her power. And their prowess from BullRun to Bowling Green. Those who had been his fellow citizens but who in fact were not then his countrymen, now pressed his country acre. His heart went out in Lee's classic words, "We must keep these people back".

Fort Donaldson, Shiloh, No 10, the passage of the forts on the lower River. And the consequent occupation of New Orleans were not encouraging. But the bulletins from Richmond and the Army of Virginia more than balanced the account until the day of Gettysburg. Coincident with the fall of Vicksburg crushed all hope of full success. Even then honor was not lost. Was never lost. And the wage for honorable terms went stoutly on. The earth was never more fruitful than in Texas in 1863. The channel of export and import traffic through Brownville on the Rio Grande was closed that winter. But that through Eagle Pass and the upper ports were kept secure. And cotton went out and supplies of goods and species flowed in abundantly. Immense areas in North Texas had been converted into wheat fields yielding from twenty five to fourty bushels to the acre. Many flouring mills and a few cotton mills and woolen mills were in active operations, diversifying industry.In the lower Brazos and Colorado country gold and silver were coming back in to circulation. Cotton was beginning to bring a higher price in specie than it had touched before the war. Large numbers of experienced and enterprising men with much substance pressed by the stress in other states had come and were continuing to come into Texas. Opening new farms and organizing new industries. The war had not hurt Texas. The would-be invaders had been repulsed by Dick Dowling's guns at Sabine Pass. They had been met beyond the border and hurled back, at Mansfield. General Grant taking all the summer to fight it out on his line was no nearer Richmond at the close of 1864 than McClellan had been three years earlier. The true condition of the confederate Camp wa a cabinet secret. The heroic chief maintained his attitude of resolute insistance that this nation's being must be acknowledged. The great leiutant acted his part to the admiration of the world and of all coming ages.

On the McCormick plantation the crops had been fully harvested, the surplus sold. And the needed supply garnered by the first of December. Preparations of the land for receiving the seed to be planted in the coming season began at once. And was well forwarded by the 20th day of January 1865. Noticably in advance was was and had long been customary on that plantation. Of the like preparation on other fields in that neighborhood of pushing planters. On January 21, about 9AM I was on horseback in the fields of the Reese place plantation, twenty miles from my Father's, directing the work. When I observed the colored man Joe, Prince's assistant on the McCormick place, mounted on my Father's fine stallion, Saladin, riding toward me. He bore a note from Rev W C Sommerville, pastor of the Columbia Church saying that my Father was seriously ill. That the writer of the note and the family physician were with him. And the doctor thought this, his symptoms were not necessarily fatal and there was ground to hope they might be speedily relieved. But suggested that it was best that I should be advised of the situation. I went at once. Arriving at the bedside by noon. When he was told that I was there my Father roused, opened his eyes, recognized me, said,"I am very sick". Closed his eyes and never spoke again. With the fading light of that day he passed away. His body had been growing feeble for several years. He had duly considered his latter end and was taken by surprise. But his indominable mind and spirit had so animated his failing flesh that only he was aware of the nearness of the end. Happy in the instant of his death. He had known that the war was near it's close. That the cup of blood had been drained. But he had no fore taste of it's bitter dregs.

In 1846 a young gentleman who had recently married a handsome young woman raised on the Bernard near my Father's house had acquired possession of and was residing on, the Milburn place. Just across the Braxos River from Columbia. He was fond of sport and was at that time was quite convivial in his taste.There was at that time no place in Columbia where drinks were de- [It appears that a line at the very bottom of the page is not visible because the first line of the next page does not logicaslly follow the preceding last visible line] entertain his company, companion,imported a saloon artist and a stock of suitable goods and had opened the lacking resort. One day in the Spring he with the assistance of three or four others all mounted brought in from the Bernard a bunch of cattle, the property of his wife. And attempted to have them swim across the Brazos to his home. The cattle were unwilling to take to the river, ginned around at the top of the shute leading down the bank and furst one and then another would break from the herd. And have to be rounded to and brought back by the mounted men. Soon a few passers on the street and the nearer of the merchants with their clerks gathered to aid, on foot, the holding and urging foward of the now excited herd. Gradually all the men of the little village gathered to help the work and enjoy the fun. The small boy was there. And I with him. While this play held the boards my Father rode up from his farm, hitched his horse in front of the store where he chiefly, looked in and finding no one there, turned to the group not far away.And joined it. I soon saw him and got by his side. In a little while after this the leaders of the herd gave up and took to the river. The others followed. Men in row boats guided their course through the stream to the prepared landing on the other side. The mounted men and most of the volunteers watched the movement until the last one of the cattle was safely landed on the firm bank and then of the herd and of the only saloon in town said, "Gentlemen I thank you. Come all and drink with me". All started that way for their places of business were in the same direction. My Father and I lingered a little in the rear which this gentleman observed and riding back said, "Mr McCormick, I believe you do not drink?" No, sir, That is not very often"."Won't you join us now""If you will excuse me I would prefer not to drink this evening". The gentleman with a pleasant smile, word and wave of the hand parted with us and led his guests to the saloon. I had never seen my Father take strong drink. Nor taste wine except from the sacramental cup as the Holy Communion was being administered. And I said,"Why Pa, you answer Mr W' as though you did sometimes drink". He replied,"the invitation was extended as a courtesy and in a courteous manner.And though Mr W' doubtless thought as his words implied that I would decline it I was as much bound to answer him courteously as I was to deline drinking with him".

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©2009 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last revised on 23 October 2009.