My grandfather, Joseph R. Beaver, Jr., was born in Bates County, Missouri, near the town of Butler, in l848. He was the youngest of seven children born to Joseph R. Beaver, Sr., and Jamima Beaver. When he was eighteen years of age he married the widow, Nancy Jane Wilson Myers, in Bates County, Missouri. She was thirty-three years old and the mother of seven children by her first husband, Joseph C. Myers, to whom she had married when she was sixteen. Her oldest son was just two years younger than Grandpa Joseph, and she had a daughter of marriageable age by the standard of marriageable ages for women of that day and era. Some of the family told him that he should court Nancy’s daughter instead of Nancy; but he said it was Nancy he wanted. The preceding chapter gives the names of her children by Joseph C. Myers. Joseph R. Beaver, Sr., Grandpa’s father, had already married Grandma’s younger sister, Catherine, the year before.
I remember hearing my dad relate the story to one of our visiting preachers. He said, “Brother Black, my grandfather Beaver married my mother’s younger sister. He was my dad’s father. Now tell me what kin am I to my grandfather’s children.” Brother Black pondered the question a moment, then grinning, said, “Why didn’t you just ask me who made God?”
Grandma and Grandpa Beaver were married in 1865, by James Harvey, minister of the gospel. It proved to be a good marriage, and she outlived him by nine years. They had four children, making a total of eleven children born to Grandma. The four were:
- Mikiel, born February 12, 1867, in Missouri. (Our dad).
- Kitty Lee, born February 23, 1869, in Missouri.
- William Kelly, born July 31, 1871, in Missouri. He died October 13, 1887, and is buried at Millerville.
- Mary Ann, born November 19, 1874, Williamson County, Texas.
It is noted that Grandma had a daughter by her first husband named Kitty also. She died as a young child, and Aunt Lee was given her name. This happened often among large families.
Grandma and Grandpa Beaver and children were in the caravan that migrated to Texas from Bates County Missouri that was described in the Joseph R. Beaver, Sr. chapter. My dad was only seven years old, but he remembered a lot about the long trip in covered wagons. He told us that his mother was heavy with child at the time of their departure from Missouri, and after the long, hard trek, she gave birth to a baby girl the night they arrived in Williamson County, Texas, November 19, 1874. This was my Aunt Mary, delivered by Grandma’s sister, Aunt Ebaline Ramfield, who was a noted midwife.
Can we women of today find any identity with those hardy pioneer women? Is it beyond the confines of our imagination to think of spending the last six weeks of a pregnancy riding in a covered wagon every day from sunup to sundown, and with several other children to feed and take care of? And to think, Grandma lived to the ripe old age of 95. An old doctor once said, “The secret to long life is simple: Get plenty of exer cise, eat right, avoid bad habits, and pick your ancestors very carefully.”
Most of the families who had come to Texas together and settled in Williamson and Travis Counties, eventually moved to Erath County, bought land, built houses, raised their families and lived out their lives there. We left Erath County in the summer of 1912 and moved to West Texas. Ten of the Beaver children were born in Erath County, and the last one, Jane, was born in Kent County. I was almost four years old when we left Erath, therefore I remember very little of the relatives we left behind. I remember that when we would go to Grandma’s we kids would play in their big yard and pick up Peach Plug tobacco rags. They both smoked clay pipes.
Sometime in the year of 1916 Dad and Mama took the four of us youngest girls and went, on the train, back to see Grandpa, who was very ill. Our sister, Elizabeth and her family were still living in Erath County, too, and Mama was anxious to see them. It was an exciting trip for us, our first train ride. We were a little scared when the big, black porter would come through the coach yelling out the name of each town as .ve approached one. I remember the name of one was Brandenburg, a German settlement. After the War was over we went back on the train, and when we neared that little town, the porter came in the coach yelling, “Old Glory.” Patriotism had ruled out that German name.
Grandpa died of cancer in 1918, at the age of 70. Dad went for the funeral and brought Grandma home with him. This was an exciting time for us kids. Clay was in Germany with the Army of Occupation, mama was morbid with worry about him, so Grandma kept us entertained with funny, and sometimes scary, tales of the Civil War days. She was a good story teller, so dramatic that you almost felt like you had been there and seen it all.
One true story she told has stayed in my memory. She was a widow living on a farm with her children. Her first husband, Joseph C. Myers had been killed in battle. Her brother, Uncle Andy Wilson, was also a soldier in the Confederate Army, and his battalion was camped in the vicinity of Grandma’s farm. He got permission to leave his camp long enough to go and say hello to her and the children. Shortly after he arrived they heard loud chattering, laughing and singing, and they knew immediately that a group of Union soldiers was approaching. Grandma rushed Uncle Andy out to hide in the barn just before the soldiers burst into her house demanding something to eat. Luckily she had a fire in the cookstove and was able to cook them a hot meal. About the time they were about finisned with the meal, she heard one of them say, “We’ll take her two horses, set fire to the barn, then we’ll be on our way”. Frantically she began pleading, “Take the horses if you must, but please don’t burn my barn. It contains the winter’s supply of feed for my cow, and my children desperately need milk and butter.” They talked it over in undertones then thanked her for the food and left, leaving Uncle Andy safely hiding in the barn. This is a classic example of the many hardships that women suffered while their men fought in the Civil War.
Grandma had more remedies for ailments than most doctors. She had concocted a formula for making an ointment she called, “healing salve”, Mama learned how to make it and she always had a supply made up ready to use as a drawing salve for boils, cuts, bruises, splinters, thorns and all sorts of infections. I wish I had written down the formula.
The notorious flu epidemic that spread following WWI, hit our family, too. I remember that everyone in our house came down with it except Grandma and me. She had to be the doctor, and she kept me (11 years old), busy helping her. We went from bed to bed (two occupants to the bed), taking temperatures, applying poultices, giving doses of calomel followed by epsom salts, carrying out slopjars and making and serving potato soup. They all survived, which was more than most big families could say, and Grandma and I escaped the flu completely.
After that incident Grandma and I seemed to have a kindred spirit, and I felt that she showed some favoritism toward me above the other girls. She had a few relics in her trunk, and when she was getting ready to leave our home gave me one I still have. It is a heavy stemmed water or iced tea glass. After I moved to Albuquercue, in 1949, a friend told me that if it is really antique glass it will turn pink if left in the sun for a period of time. I fixed a square box with sand in the bottom to give it weight, set the glass on the sand, put it on our patio roof and forgot about it. Several months later I took it down, and sure enough it is a delicate pink. I treasure it for its sentimental value to me.
Another example of Grandma’s skill at doctoring was a story she told us about Dad when he was about nine years old. He had an accident that resulted in a deep laceration on his knee from a rusty barbed wire. Almost immediacely an infection set in that Grandma’s healing salve would not faze. His knee began to swell, turning a bluish-green color, and he started running a high fever. They put him in the wagon and went to Hico. The doctor took a look at his knee and told them gangrene had set in and if he didn’t amputate the leg it would spread all over and kill him. Grandma was horrified and she told him so in no uncertain terms… She said, “You just give me 24 hours to doctor him myself. If I can’t get the swelling down, then we might talk about amputating.” They got home late that after noon, she put Dad to bed, took a bucket and shovel and hurried to the cow pen. She filled the bucket with the freshest pile of cow manure she could find, rushed to the house, made a poultice of it and wrapped it around his knee. Every hour, on the hour, all through the night, she removed the poultice and put a fresh one on, until her bucket was empty. By morning the swelling was down, his fever nearly normal, and he was asking for something to eat.
Grandma left our home sometime in the latter part of 1919, and went to Eldorado, Oklahoma to live with a favorite grandson and family. I never saw her but once after that. Dad had bought a 1921 Maxwell car (our first car), and he took Hub, Lee Ella, Samintha, Jane, Mama and me to Oklahoma to see her. She was 89, and still alert and agile.
In 1926, Dad went again to see her and took Elizabeth, her baby boy, Joe Beaver, age 3, and Clay’s son. Merle, age with him. Elizabeth had told Joe Beaver that she named him after his grandpa Joe Beaver, that he was dead, and that they were going to see Grandma. He was excited about that, and asked a Lot of Questions about her as they traveled. He said, “I can’t wait to see Grandma and I’m going to kiss and kiss her.” Then they arrived at the home where Grandma was living, Joe Beaver ran ahead of the others and went in. There, in a corner chair sat Grandma, 95 years old, wearing a long, dark dress, her usual black bonnet and smoking a pipe. He took one look at her and stopped in his tracks, until Elizabeth took his hand and said, ’’Come on now, you said you wanted to kiss Grandma.” She practically dragged him over to where Grandma could reach and take his face between her hands and kiss him. He backed away and said to his mother, “Now, I’ve kissed her my last time.” How we envy the candor of small children who can speak their mind and get away with it.
Grandma died May 4, 1927. I was in school at Denton, Lee Ella was teaching near Denton, and we didn’t get to go to the funeral. Dad went to Oklahoma where she died, then went on with the corpse to Hico where she was laid to rest beside Grandpa in the Millerville cemetery. My cousin, Mallie Hukel Ellis gave me a copy of a newspaper clipping written by one of Grandma’s nephews, and I am including a copy of it here:
“Mrs. Nancy Wilson Beaver was born August 26, 1832, in Kentucky and died May , 1927 at 1 a.m. in the home of her grand son, Willis Myers, of Eldorado, Oklahoma. She was laid to rest in the Millerville cemetery at 2:50 p.m.. May 5. 1927, Elder J.C. White officiating. She was twice married. The first to Mr. Joe Myers in 1848. In 1858 they moved to Bates County, Missouri. To them were born two boys, both deceased, and three girls, Mrs. Nan Manning, Willow, Oklahoma; Mrs. C. Franklin, Baylor County; and Mrs. J. Franklin, New Mexico.
Mr. Myers was a Confederate soldier, and was killed in line of battle. In the year 1865 she was married to J.R. Beaver in Missouri. They moved to Austin, Texas in 1874, finally settling in the Millerville community the latter part of the year 1876. He died in April 1918. To this union were born two boys, one who died several years ago, the other is M.E. Beaver of Girard, Texas; two girls, Mrs. S.S. McCollum, Hico, and Mrs D. Hukel of Sweetwater; about one hundred grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.
Aunt Nance obeyed the gospel at or about the age of 15, and lived a faithful Christian life. She and her husband were charter members of the Church of Christ of Millerville, which was organized the first Lord’s Day in June, 1877. Uncle Joe was one of the first deacons of the congregation, which office he held until his death. We will miss Aunt very much, but we have the comforting word of the Apostle Paul that we will meet her again if we live faithfully, as she did.Her nephew, John Wilson, Son of Andy Wilson
GRANDMA’S “RECEET” FOR WASHING CLOTHES
- Bild fire in back yard to het kettle of water.
- Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert.
- Shave one hole cake of lie soap in bilin water.
- Sort things. Make three piles. 1 pile white, 1 pile cullord, 1 pile work britches and rags.
- Stir flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water to make starch.
- Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then bile. Rub cullord but don’t bile – just rench and starch.
- Take white things out of kettle with broom handel, then rench, blue, and starch.
- Spread tee towels on grass to dry. Hang old rags on fence.
- Pore rench water on flowerbed. Scrub porch with hot sopy water. Turn tubs upside down.
- Put on clean dress – smooth hair with side combs, brew cup of tee – set and rest, and rock a spell, and COUNT BLESSINGS!