By Norris Chambers

            Since the Old Timer Tales have been on the Internet I have received letters from many relatives that I never knew. Recently a distant cousin sent me a hand written copy of an ancient uncle’s life story. The story has many pages and is too long to print here but I will quote enough of it with his own words and spelling for you to see how life in north Texas was before the civil war.

            “Here I am in my 81st year, 1933, fat and healthy and happy as a flower in the May sunshine. And I want to tell you of the things I love and of the things that I remember when I was a child. I can’t remember the day that I was born, but I found a record that on Jan. 22, 1852 there was a big fat fine boy and Papa and Mama called me Francis Marion.

            I love children and old folks because I was a child and now I am Grandfather of 12 children, 65 Grandchildren, 55 Great Grandchildren, 4 Great Great Grandchildren – all told, 136 - 125 living. That is the reason I love children, and I had a dear old father and mother that I loved so well and I remember running to mama and calling for some sweet cakes and when dada would come home I would run to meet him and get my candy. My old home was 12 miles north of Whitesborough and about 18 miles west of Sherman in Grayson County , Texas and about three miles from Red River .

            This house was the old and new house made of hewed logs and a gallery running on the south side of both houses and the oak and the ash and the binding elm. You could see the little fox squirrel as he hid behind the trees and would peep around to see you, and the beautiful quail as they fluttered in the air. Yes, yes, dear children and Grandpa and Grandma there was so much beautiful things to see…the old gobbler as he strutted and you could hear him gobble, gobble. Yes, they were seen in great droves.

            Oh. How much fun was in finding a full nest of eggs after father would kill a turkey and mama would have a baked turkey for dinner. My choice piece was the back and the best and all the rest.

            Yes, there were lots of deer and they could be found at any time, 10, 25, 50 or more in a bunch with their heads lifted high as they stood looking at you and the little fawn was such a pretty sight. He was speckled. O, Dewey, did you ever see one of these beautiful little animals?

            And there was the fat opossums. My dear mama could bake a fat opossum until it was good enough for the President and there was so many other things to tell you that was free to all and there was plenty for all. Yes, Ila, I will tell you about the grapes and berries and other good things to eat and to gather.

            There was two kinds of grapes, the mustang and the little winter grapes. They growed in clusters. I well remember gathering grapes and mama would make a grape pie and oh! what a time we would have drinking grape juice.  Then we would go berry hunting and mama would sure make a black or strawberry pie. And there was the dew berry and plums and the red haw and black haw, And we was sure to have a big pie because mama could cook pies and bake a turkey to perfection. Then in the fall we had a time gathering hickory nuts and walnuts and pecans. There were plenty for all.


            Our big farm was about 15 acres and our other farm was 5 acres, but we could raise all the corn and pumpkins that we could use and all the garden that we needed and all the watermelons we could eat. Yes, we raised all the sweet potatoes and pork as fine eating for a boy or anyone else. I was next to the oldest of 7 children. Brother Dave was the oldest. Some one of you may ask if I went to school. Yes, I went about three months in all my days. I was about nine years old when I got my first pair of shoes and my clothes was a long shirt. I platted some oat straws together and daddy sewed them together and made me a straw hat. Yes, I learned at school to say my speech. It was how big was Alexandria , Pa and Old Rover Was The Finest Dog. That Ever Run a Race and lots of others. When I come to see you I will say them for you.

            Well, the war came and my dear mother died and left us seven children and the youngest boy Jim was 10 or 15 days old and I was taken in the house to spin. The war was in 1861 to 1865 called the civil war. My father was too old to serve. We raised our cotton and picked the seeds out of the cotton then I spun it to thread and mother, while she lived, wove it in to cloth and then made my long tail shirt. My newest shirt was my Sunday shirt. Yes sir, I spun three years. Every day I made my hank of thread except Sunday we would gather berries or ride the year old calves. You see I was nine years old when mama died and when I was twelve I could ride anything that wore hair. Yes, the bay mare throwed me but the girts busted and me and the saddle went together.”

            There are many more pages of this story but I think you will agree that from the start this old fellow had fun! Remember that FUN is everywhere and it is your job to find it!