Narrative by John D. Jones

The following is a narrative written by John D. Jones of his mothers family prior to his death in 1941.


My mother was Deborah Ann Hastings. My maternal grandmother was Irish. She was born in 1805; she died in the year 1885.

Grandmother Hastings remembered seeing Lafayette when he visited this country. He was in the parade after the war.

My great-grandmother remembered the Revolutionary War, they lived in Pennsylvania near enough so that they could hear the guns when the Battle of Brandywine was fought. Great Grandma told Grandma and she told me. She was a little girl at the time of that battle. She remembered standing in the yard by the side of the her mother listening to the guns and praying for the husband and father and other kindred and friends that were fighting so desperately with Washington. That is as far back as I can go. I do not know when those people came to this country, and I do not know what our great great grandpa's name was, but I do know that he fought with Washington. The last name was O'Flannagan. The little girl, who was my grandmother, was Bridgit O'Flannagan's daughter.


In the year of 1777 the Battle of Brandywine was fought. A few miles from the scene of the battle a woman by the name of O'Flannagan and her little girl Bridgit stood in their yard and listened to the sound of the guns.

The little girl grew up and married Gilbert Smith.

In eastern Pennsylvania in the year of 1805, at the age of thirty-four, she gave birth to a baby girl whom they named Nancy Priscilla. They had other children but Priscilla and her brother Henry Gilbert are all I know about.


When Priscilla was quite small her father, Gilbert Smith, deserted his family, going to Texas, at this time part of Mexico. He was gone five years, during which his family never heard from him. Great-grandmother Smith had a hard time feeding and clothing the children, but she taught each little pair of hands to work. As they grew up they were able to support themselves very well. Then Great-Grandfather Gilbert Smith came home. He did not seem to be doing so well. He was almost barefoot, while Grandmother had a new pair of shoes. In those days shoes were made by hand, sometimes at home or by a shoemaker. Both shoes were alike, no left or right, but could be worn on either foot. They were made from cowhide tanned in the community. They had heavy soles and heels. A pair of shoes could be made to last indefinitely by keeping them greased with tallow and pegging on new soles from time to time. Grandmother Smith had that kind of shoes when Grandpa Smith came home.

After supper they talked things over. Grandmother told him they did not need him as she had managed when they were small and helpless, now she could continue to do as they were ready and willing to work. She left her new shoes by the fireplace and went to bed, leaving him sitting by the fire. Next morning he was gone; so were Grandma's new shoes. In their place were his old ones.


So it was that Priscilla learned in her childhood to do work that should not fall to the lot of a child to do. But work and hardship did not discourage her, or hurt her looks or sour her disposition. She was lively as a fawn, as busy as a bee, and as sweet as the flowers. When she was nine years old her hair was a crown of red-gold curls, her eyes bright, in short she was a beauty.

Upon one occasion her mother took her to a picnic, where they spent the day. A young man there, who worked in a glass factory in Pittsburgh, noticed Priscilla and the more he saw of her the more she appealed to him. Before the day was over he had vowed he would never marry until that little girl was old enough, then he would marry her. Then he went back to his work in the glass mills and waited for the years to go by. He did not see Priscilla again for eight years, but he did not forget her. He had her picture with him, not on a card or a tinplate or canvas. It was a moving picture cast on the silver screen of memory.

Priscilla worked as all girls had to work in those days. There is an old rhyme that says:
- To spin, to weave, to know, to sew
- Was once a girl's employment;
- Now to dress and catch a beau
- Is all she calls enjoyment.

Here is another not as old as that one:
- Girls had to learn to cook, to sew,
- And make soft soap or have no beau.


Priscilla had learned to do all these things and when she was sixteen the young glass blower came courting. They were married in the year 1822 and lived at Pittsburgh, Penn.

Priscilla Hastings (for that was her name after she was married) was a devout Christian. She read her Bible, believed its teachings, and always tried to obey its commandments. She read in her Bible where it said, "Be fruitful and multiply." She had to obey, so she found time in her busy life to give birth to 13 children. Her first baby she named Jane. It died in infancy and she thought her heart would break.

- In the damp, cold earth they laid her
- When autumn cast the leaf,
- And they wept that one so lovely
- Should have a life so brief.

In the fullness of life another girl was born to Priscilla. She called her Jane in memory of the one that had gone. Jane lived and grew up to be a comfort to her mother.

Priscilla's third child was also a girl. She called her Deborah Ann, who when she grew up, became m mother. Her children were Wesley, Lee, Billy, Watson, John, Maggie, Nancy, Ella.


In the year 1836 Arkansas and Texas both became states. The tide of immigration commenced to flow from the Mississippi River into the great new states that were offering free homes and free range to all. People were selling out and loading their families into wagons along with as much of their possessions as they could haul. Some of the wagons were drawn by horses, some by mules and some by oxen. Some came down the river in boats. It was not until 1850 that Mr. Hastings and his wife Priscilla sold their possessions in Pittsburgh, Pa., loaded their family on a boat and started down the Ohio River bound for Texas.

Priscilla had a brother named Henry Gilbert Smith, at Madison, Indiana. They stopped for some time at Madison. Among the people that met them at the boat was a girl named Agnes Smith, a niece of Priscilla and a daughter of Henry Gilbert Smith. When Agnes saw Ann Hastings she said to Priscilla "There is the prettiest girl I ever saw!"

Priscilla was proud of her daughters and she never forgot that remark. She told it to me many years afterward. Ann Hastings became my mother in later years. But for this remark I would never have known that Cousin Agnes was there at all. Agnes afterward married a young Dr. Scott. They settled at Black Jack Grove, a little town in Hopkins County, Texas, ten miles west of Sulphur Springs.

Grandpap Hastings loved his wife and children dearly and wanted to shield them from all the hardships that he could, so he left them at Madison and went with Henry Gilbert Smith to Texas. He selected a place for a home in Hopkins County where the little village of Dike now stands. He then returned to Madison to get his family and bring them to their new home.

A few years had passed since he had landed at Madison and the older children had married and had families of their own. When he put them on the boat to start for their new home he had four girls and two boys to bring. I am sure they were a happy family. In my mind I can see them now, the children laughing and playing, while the father and mother watch them proudly and make plans for their future happiness in their new home to which they are bound. I have no doubt they dreamed many day dreams that never came true.

They sailed down the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, then down the Mississippi River and planned to take a boat on Red River to get as near their destination as possible by water.


Before they reached Red River someone on the boat became ill, and then another, and yet another. Then one died. The doctor said it was cholera. The plague spread among them until there were not enough well people to care for the sick and dying. Priscilla Hastings and her husband worked night and day, not stopping to eat or sleep. Then the little girls were stricken. One by one they would quit their play, and in a few hours their eyes would be closed forever, and their bodies straightened for the last long sleep. They lost three of them, then the father became a victim. When the doctor came to him he was still alive but could not speak. When the doctor took him by the hand, he used the last spark of strength he had to give the Masonic sign of distress; then turning imploring eyes toward his stricken family he too passed away.

That was the darkest hour of Priscilla's life. In the sad hour of despair her faith did not falter; hope did not perish and love could hear the whispering of a still small voice, telling her in the words of Rev. 21:4, "and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall by no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away." Priscilla, heartbroken and lonely, gathered her remaining little ones, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and with the help and care of the Masonic lodge she reached her new home in Hopkins Co., Tex.


Here she met her brother Henry Gilbert Smith and family and friends whom she knew. From them she learned that her father, who had left home years before when she was a little child, had settled in that part of the count. She never forgave him, for she could not forget her mother's shoes.

The men in that sparsely settled community built her a cabin on her homestead. It was built of logs. They split and rived boards to make the roof. They made puncheons for the floor, and rived out battens to make a door. They hung the door on wooden hinges. They had no nails so they bored holes in the boards and fastened them on with wooden pegs.

When she moved into her cabin it had only one door shutter. There were two openings but only one shutter. When the wind came from the north she would door on the north side. When the wind came from the south she would lift the shutter off its wooden pegs and carry it to the south opening. The front and back door could never both be shut at the same time. Such was the home she moved into with her little ones.

There were wolves, catamounts (cougars) and panthers in those days. One day she heard a noise in the yard. She went to the door and saw six large wolves in the yard. When they saw Priscilla they were frightened and ran away. That night she put the children to sleep next to the wall, and placed herself between them and the open door. She lay with eyes open and ancious heart, listening to the calling of the night birds, and now and then the shrill, almost human scream of a panther, passing by in the night. The next day she had some neighbor men split boards and make another door shutter.

Priscilla's cabin stood at the edge of the prairie. They had a living at home. Cattle grew on the prairie without cost and hogs grew wild in the woods. There were prairie chickens, wild turkey and deer. Priscilla soon had the spinning wheel going. There were lots of sheep, and she knew how to turn the wool into thread and cloth. She planted cotton seed, and grew some cotton. There were no gins at that time, so she picked the seed out with her fingers. She then carded the lint into rolls and spun it into thread and cloth. She knit some of the thread into stockings. In a few years she was well fixed in her new home.

Her oldest girl Jane who had married Simon Bare; Ann who had married Charles W. Jones; Agnes who married James Wood; Nancy who had married Mr. Houghton; and her sons, Flannagan, John and Smith Hastings had all come to Texas. It looked to Priscilla like she was to spend her declining years surrounded by her children and grandchildren, and thus round out a happy ripe old age. She lived to learned the truth in the lines some poet has written.

- Our dearest hopes are first to fade,
- Our sweetest bliss our poor hearts know
- Seems but the pledge of coming woe.

The Civil War broke out and spread sorrow and desolations throughout the land.

THE CIVIL WAR YEARS: 1860 to 1865

When Priscilla left Madison, Indiana, she left two daughters there: Jane, who had married Simon Bare, and Ann who had married Charles W. Jones. After the Hastings family left, these girls went about their daily tasks, without any fear or foreboding concerning the Mississippi River. News in that time traveled so slow it was a long time before they heard the sad news of their misfortunes. When the news did come and they learned that their mother was alone in a cabin with her little ones they were frantic to go to her. Their means were small and their families large, for they too were obeying the scripture's mandate, "Be fruitful and multiply," so could not go down at once. Charlie told his wife Ann, "I will work for brother John this year. I will run his mill and we will save and get ready. I will rig up a good wagon and team and next fall we will go to Texas where our mother is."

It was a year to wait before she could go to her mother, who they thought was exposed to danger and in distress. It was a weary time to wait, but they worked so hard and kept so busy that they barely had time to have another baby. They named her Nancy but they always called her Nannie (one of John D. Jones' older sisters). She grew into a fine woman in later years and taught school in Illinois, also in Texas. She married Henry Poff at Emblem, Texas, and they had two boys, Johnnie and Charles Henry.

It was in the year 1860 they left Indiana for Texas. Political affairs were causing great excitement. If two men differed in political opinions the were bound to be deadly enemies. No prudent man in a strange crowd would express an opinion unless he knew exactly who he was talking to. This was the condition of things when Charles Jones and family left Madison, Indiana, and crossed the southern part of Illinois, and the Mississippi River. We next see them in Chillicothe, Missouri.

They were traveling in a while covered wagon. Charlie had left it at a street corner and gone to get some supplies and ask about the road. Ann was in the wagon with Nannie on her lap and three-year-old Watson peeping out from under the wagon sheet. Two mean stopped at the corner. "We got news today that Lincoln was elected," said one, "and that mean war."

Then to Ann's consternation, little Watson raised up and yelled, "Hurrah for Lincoln!" The man on the corner gave him a dark look and walked away. When Charles came back and heard what Watson had done he lost no time in getting out of that town. This incident shows how tense the political situation was.

They traveled south across the Ozarks. They crossed the Arkansas River at Fort Smith and drove out into Indian Territory, then across the Red River into Texas. Then in a few more days they pulled up in Priscilla Hastings' yard at her homestead in Hopkins County. There was a happy meeting. It seemed that all of Priscilla's children and grandchildren were there. I do not know how they came or when.

Simon Bare, who married Jane, had a homestead south of Birthright. Priscilla's homestead joined it on the south. Her daughter Nancy, who married Houghton, lived southwest of them. Flanagan Hastings lived west of Sulphur Springs near Blackjack Grove, a town that is now called Amthy?. Agnes, Smith and John still lived with Priscilla, as Agnes had not yet married and John never did.

Henry Gilbert Smith's place was near Dike, and now belongs to Addie Argenbright. Henry Gilbert had a mill. Charlie Jones went straight to him and got a job running the mill.


Texas was cattle country. Its broad prairies of rich, sweet grass made it an ideal grazing ground and its mild climate made it possible for cattle to care for themselves the year around. But strange as it ma seem where there were so many cattle very few cattle owners had milk and butter. A Texas cowboy just would not milk a cow. Priscilla was not satisfied with that condition of things. She arranged to have some cows with young calves brought in to be used as milk cows. The calves were placed in small pastures and the cows turned in twice a day and milked, the calves being allowed a good portion of the milk.

They had lots of fun taming those cows. The first one they turned in was a young red cow, wild and long horned. They put her in the corral and Flanagan got down off his horse. One thing about those wild cows, they were not afraid of a man as long as he was on a pony, but for a man to go among them on foot would cause a stampede. Flangan not only dismounted but picked up the calf. The calf opened its mouth and sent out a call for help to its mother. Flangan saw the cow charging down upon him, head down and her two long horns set like bayonets.

I cannot write as fast as things happened for the next few minutes. Flanagan sprang to one side. As the cow passed she barely missed him with her horns. He knew then if he wanted to live he must stay away from in front of that cow. AS she went by he seized her by the tail. The cow was whirling around and around. Flanagan was taking long strides and jumps, keeping his position right well until the third round his suspenders broke and his trousers dropped about his feet, completely hobbling him. He went the last round jumping both feet at once. The tail of his white cotton shirt was waving in the air like a flag of truce. Then John Hastings put a stop to the show by throwing a rope over her horns and snubbing her to a post; then the ceremony of milking took place. When she was milked the milk was poured on top of the cow's back so that half ran down each side. Priscilla assured them if they would do that the cow would be gentle at the next milking. So they did and the cow was.

Smith Hastings had an adventure with a wild steer that had broken away from the herd. Smith was walking when the steer saw him and charged. When he saw the steer coming, he knew there was no use for him to run as the speed of the brute was equal to the speed of a common horse. If he ran he would be overtaken and killed. Also running is hard work and that was something Smith did not like to do so he stood his ground. He had on a wide-brim hat or sombrero, and when the steer got near enough he threw the hat in the steer's face. The steer jumped on the hat and stamped it in the ground; he tossed it in the air, he tore it with his horns. He did not quit fighting that hat until he had thoroughly demolished it. By that time Smith was in a place of safety. Such was life in the early days of Texas.


While the cattle grew wild on the prairie, the hogs grew wild in the woods. Have heard an old man tell of a wild hog that used to be in east Texas and Arkansas that had hoofs like a mule and wattles on its jaws. I never saw a mule-footed hog, but have seen hogs with wattles. Priscilla and her son-in-law had a bunch of hogs in the woods. They tried to keep them earmarked, but sometimes they could not find them and the pigs grew up unmarked, wild, and with no owner. Sometimes the hogs grew to be very large and fierce and very dangerous when cornered. Two of Priscilla's grandsons had an adventure with such a wild hog.

They were hunting in the Sulphur bottoms when their dogs rallied a bunch of hogs in a thicket of cane and brush. The dogs held them at bay in a fallen tree top. There was one old unmarked boar that was the leader. He stood in front facing the dogs. He had tusks sticking out from the sides of his mouth as long as a man's finger and sharp as bayonets. One stroke of them could disembowel a horse. The dogs approached them by way of a narrow path through the cane. They had to go single file. John Bare carried the gun, Charlie carried a hunting knife. John would shoot the game, Charles would stick it. John shot the hog but did not kill it. The hog charged straight at him. There was no place for him to go, so he dropped the empty gun and sprang up and caught a limb as the mad beast passed under him. Charles was just behind him with his knife in his hand. When the hog got to him, he jumped high, but there was no limb to catch and he came down on the hog's back. The hog dashed into the cane thicket with Charles on his back, John and dogs in hot pursuit. They did not go far, for the hog was shot and Charles finished him with his knife.


Since writing about the little boy saying it rained so hard it washed the water all away, makes me think of a song brother Watson used to sing when he was a boy.

- It rained all night the day I left;
- The weather it was dry;
- The sun so hot I froze to death'
- Oh, Susannah, don't you cry

Now for my story.

Priscilla's oldest grandson was about twelve years old. When the war (Civil War) started all able bodied men left to join the army. The government took over all mills and tanyards and ran them for the Army. Charlie Jones was detailed to run the Smith mill for the Confederacy, which he did through the whole time of the war.

As the war went on and all able bodied men left for the army, there was hardly anyone left except women, children, and real old men. Then it was that Priscilla displayed great ingenuity in substituting what she had for what she needed and did not have. They needed sugar, sorghum molasses was used as a substitute. Coffee could not be had, so she parched corn and ground it in the coffee mill, made it into a drink in the place of coffee. There was no oil or gas. She dipped tallow candles for light. There were no brooms; she gathered sage grass and made brooms. They could not get hinges for the doors, so they made them out of wood. They could not buy harnesses for horses so made them out of rawhide. In short, if anyone wanted anything he was nearly sure to make out with something else.

Along in the midst of those dark days of doubt and fear, Priscilla made up her mind to get married again. I don't think she took him as a substitute as she took molasses for sugar.


Uncle Billy Chapman must have been sixty or else he would have been in the war. He was short and stout and good natured. Priscilla was about the same age. They were both orphans, so did not have to ask anyone's consent. Uncle Billy was sort of a preacher. That is to say he was used as a substitute when there was no regular preacher around. One night after they had been married by a short time they heard a noise in the house. They listened. Uncle Billy said, "It's a rat making that noise." Priscilla said, "It's not a rat, it's a mouse." He said, "I say no, it's a rat."

So they commenced to quarrel and got mad at each other and used words that maybe should not have been used. That was the first quarrel. The next day they were heartily ashamed of themselves and both said so…

Next morning Priscilla said, "How silly it was of us to lose our tempers over as little a thing as a mouse." Uncle Billy said, "Yes, we were foolish. But it was not a mouse. It was a rat."

The argument started all over again. It ended in Uncle Billy taking his hat and leaving. They never lived together again. Afterwards, there came a young preacher, who told he had stopped on his way and performed a marriage ceremony for a couple in the next neighborhood. The man was called Uncle Billy. When told that Uncle Billy had not been divorced, the preacher, whose name was Shook, mounted his pony and hastened back to inform the bride and groom their marriage was illegal and must not be looked upon as a marriage at all.

Brother Shook must have been their preacher for quite some time. Fannie Short, who was then Fannie Houghton, Priscilla's granddaughter, told of an incident connected with Shook. The family was getting ready to move. They had a big Bible containing the family records, of births, deaths, etc. They had two smaller Bibles they used in their daily readings and devotions. They had just taken the big Bible down and put it on a table to dust off and pack when the preacher came. When he saw the Bible, he stepped over and wrote his name in the dust on it, saying, "I see you do not read your Bible." Fannie was a young girl and it hurt her to hear that young preacher rebuke her mother in that way.

In 1862 another boy was born to Charlie and Ann Jones. They named him Leander Forbes. Lee he was called. A boy also was born to Simon and Jane Bare, they named him George. Then there was born a girl to James and Nancy Houghton. She was named Florence. All were grandchildren of Priscilla.


Henry Gilbert Smith, Priscilla's brother, and his wife Lemira had a daughter, Agnes, who married a young doctor, Hugh Scott, from Kentucky. They settled at Black Jack Grove in Hopkins County, Texas, ten mils west of Sulphur Springs. Their children were Will, Lola, Ida, Frank, Laura and Charlie. Will Scott married Ellen Jenkins. Their children were Frank, Minnie (who married Fred Poff at Centralia, Illinois), Mary Farr, Lily Belle, Ethel Belle, Ethel Lena (who married Mark Cunningham) and Bernice Evangeline. Will Scott and family lived at Centralia, Illinois until 1908. Charlie married Zoe Jenkins. They had two children, Agnes and Summer. They moved to Yakima, Washington, on a large ranch, raising apples and cherries. Dr. Frank Scott became head of a veterans hospital near Chicago, Illinois. Hugh Scott worked at a publishing house in Boston. Gil Smith's grandson, Bill Smith, died at Texarkana in 1930.