Linden Tree Leaves

Genealogy and Ancestry Explorations

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Nona’s Stories: Jack the Bulldog

When we lived in North Texas, the Henry Marshall farm was the first farm East of ours, beyond the Bottoms.

Henry Marshall was a railroad engineer. There were three children, identical twin girls—Mae and Gae, my age, and a younger boy named Crockett.

Henry Marshall and Dad went to the Dallas State Fair each September, Dad riding in the engine cab with Henry. Dallas is about 75 miles from Trenton.

One year Henry brought back a beautiful black and white Shetland pony for Crockett, and a green wagon with red trim and red wheels for Mae and Gae. The wagon was wood, with built up side boards, and large enough several of us could ride in it.

It was pulled by a matched pair of goats named Billy and Willy. They had specially made harness, and were the most beautiful goats I ever saw, with hair, curly and wavy, that reached almost to the ground, glistening white. They had long, twisting horns that were almost the length of their bodies. They were perfectly gently, but we soon discovered no-one, adult or child, dared turn their backs on Billy. He couldn’t resist butting anyone that he saw with their backs toward him. Harry found this out the first time we visited there. Billy butted him so hard he went sprawling headfirst, badly scratching his face, and getting dirt in his eyes. This enraged our Bulldog, Jack, so much Ralph could hardly hold him with his choke-collar. Jack was trained to protect us kids and he would have killed anything, animal or human, that harmed us, unless prevented from doing so.

Jack neither forgave nor forgot the goat butting Harry. So we had to chain him until we took him home.

That evening we were sitting on the front porch after supper, as we always did. We loved to listen to the night peepers and crickets, and watch the fireflies. And to hear the sort-of-sad call of the whip-poor-will that lived on the wooded hill of the farm adjoining ours on the West, toward Trenton. We called this little hill “Whip-poor-will Hill” because the bird lived there. The hill was very steep, but there was a grassy slope leading up to it. The Johnsons had four goats that were grazing on this slope that evening.

Jack sat on the porch with us, intently watching those goats. But no one thought anything about it as the goats had been on the Johnson farm a long time.

One of the grown Johnson boys worked for Dad. His name was Lawrence, and he had been married the Sunday before this incident, at the Burns Chapel.

The next morning when Dad went out to take care of the stock. Jack was on the back porch, but he had blood around his mouth and on his chest and forelegs. He was white, except for his ears, which were brown, and a coin-dot of brown between his ears. Dad examined him, thinking he had been hurt, but found no wound, so thought he must have been in a fight during the night with a stray dog.

When Lawrence Johnson came to work, he told Dad that the four goats had been killed that night. Dad figured Jack must have killed them, so he went over to the Johnson farm and paid Mr. Johnson for the four goats. Dad said he supposed Jack, in his way or thinking, thought the goats were a threat to us kids, and felt it his duty to protect us. Since that was what he was trained for, he wasn’t punished, for Jack took that duty very seriously.

Sometimes it was comical, though.

In the late Fall, Ralph, Harry and I went to the edge of the Bottoms to gather black walnuts under the big walnut trees, there were a few wild pecan trees there, too.

The Bottoms were dark and gloomy, thickly grown with tall trees that shut out the sun, and even thicker underbrush. It was almost marshy, with the little creek running along the edge.

Only small animals lived there—’coons, ‘possums, squirrels, weasels, rats, etc. And many  domestic cats that had ‘gone wild.’ Having such an abundance of food from the small animals, plus fish and crawfish from the little creek, they were quite a bit larger than the usual house cat.

They sometimes raided our chickens at night, and could easily carry off a grown chicken.

Sometimes there were blood-curdling yowls coming from the Bottoms—which were only the old Tom Cats fighting and settling their disputes but were frightening enough we wouldn’t ever have dared go into that spooky area.

However, when we went there at the edge of the Bottoms, we would tease Jack by pretending we were going on into the Bottoms. Jack would get in front of us and lean against us to try to stop us, that failing he would grab our clothes in his teeth and set back on his haunches and pull with all his might. If that failed, he ran around in front of us, jumped at us, knocking us down—and sat on us. He was determined to prevent us from going into the Bottoms by whatever drastic measures it took. We would never have gone in there anyway because of the Copper-head snakes there. They are almost as poisonous as rattlesnakes—but rattlesnakes don’t live in North Texas—it’s too cold there in the winter for them.

Fearing Jack would go back to the Marshall farm and perhaps kill the goats there because of the butting incident, Dad went over and told Henry about Jack killing the Johnson goats. They decided to build a strong pen for them using “hog-wire”, a very strong wire used to fence hog pastures, and so they built it, making it six feet tall, with outward slanting wire at the top so Jack couldn’t climb over. But, so far as we knew, Jack never went back. I guess he felt that Ralph’s “No!” meant he wasn’t to harm those two goats, but that the others were a threat to us kids.

Lawrence Johnson had married a girl named Jane Boer. The Joe Boer family lived on the road from our house to the Burns Chapel and cemetery. They were married by Grandma Burns’ brother, Rev. John Connelly.

The following Sunday they had Sunday dinner at her parents’ home, some friends came home with them for dinner. Afterward Lawrence and some of the men went for a swim in a pond on Grandma Burns’ place, Lawrence got cramps and was drowned. He is buried in the Burns Cemetery. He was a nice young man and we all liked him very much.



Nona’s Stories: Little One the Fawn


Ray feeding the orphan fawn. We fed it the “mash” we fed the calves, first soaking it with milk. This plus the bottle feeding. It thrived on it.

One day when Ray and a neighbor were riding in the “big pasture” – it was a 4000 acre track—they discovered a nearly starved fawn in some brush where its mother had hid it. A doe will hide a fawn before going off to graze or for water, and the fawn will not leave its hiding place.

Its mother never returned. No doubt she was killed by poachers—those that trespass and hunt on posted land—both Milam ranches were posted at all times—or by “headlighters” – hunters that hunted at night—which was against the law– with powerful searchlights which blinded the deer—and livestock—and so were easy prey. Often we found calves, goats and sheep that had been killed and left, but usually they were taken by the hunters. We never found the bones of the fawn’s mother as would be the case if coyotes or panthers had killed her. Deer never abandon their fawns, so we were sure hunters had killed her, although it was not deer season. Deer season is in the Fall or Winter, and at this time it was early Spring.

Ray put the fawn over the saddle in front of him and brought it back to the ranch house. We kept a big wooden box just outside the kitchen door for a “nursery” for the bottle-fed baby animals that every ranch has to take care of. We brought it into the kitchen near the big iron cookstove, padded it well with old soft, clean blankets, and put the fawn in it.

We knew the rich milk from the Jersey milk cows would make it sick, so Ray brought a Red Pole cow, named Mabel, that had a calf, in from the pasture, and we bottle-fed the fawn on her milk.


We named it “Little One” and found an extra dog  collar and sheep bell for it. We had had it about a month when the above picture was taken.

Kazan and Scotty took a great interest in the fawn, which we named “Little One”. They had just “graduated” from bottle-feeding and could just barely stand on tip-toe, with their paws on the top edge of the box, and watch with rapt attention the feeding of Little One. I didn’t know what Kazan’s attitude would be toward the fawn, but it was no different from Scotty’s.

It two or three days Little One began to gain strength, and surprised me, and delighted Kazan and Scotty, by climbing out of the box. After that it spent most of its time jumping out of the box, and I spent most of my time putting it back again. It had the run of the house, and wherever I went, it followed, along with Kazan, with Scotty bringing up the rear.

Soon I could take it out into the yard. Buff and Duff accepted it without question—they were used to all sorts of animals on the ranch—lambs and kids, and sometimes calves, had to be bottle-fed and, as they grew older, were kept in the yard.


Ray tying a red ribbon around Little One’s neck for protection from hunters, and others.

We hunted up a spare dog collar and sheep bell for Little One.

When we had had it about a month, Ray built it a pen next to the yard, with a high chicken wire fence. It was getting too large to keep in the house.

I often brought it into the yard to pl


Me and Mabel, the cow that supplied the milk for Little One. Mabel was a Red Pole Cow.

ay with Kazan and Scotty. But it usually made a beeline for the kitchen door, and could open the screen door with it’s foot. It loved to be in the house.

We  had its pen next to the yard, so the dogs could keep an eye on it—to protect it from coyotes.

We decided to tie a ribbon round its neck, just so everyone would know it belonged to someone in case it should get out of its pen. Not so much to protect it from hunters, but to prevent anyone thinking it was “lost” and carry it home with them.

Years later the Milams had another fawn. When it was about half grown it would graze with the milk cows in the “trap.” The highway ran by  this trap, near the ranch house.

One day the fawn failed to return with the cows in the evening. So they went looking for it, and found it dead.

Someone shot it from the highway, although it had been wearing a red collar and bell.

After Ray and I went to Lareda to live, the Milams gave Little One to a friend near Del Rio that had a herd of pet deer in a large twelve-foot high fenced pen, where it could be happy with its own kind.


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Nona’s Stories: Alonzo the Bull


Me and Alonzo, the Registered Herford Bull

Alonzo was gentle as a kitten-and a perfect pest! He just loved to have someone scratch between his horns– and never wanted you to stop.

Notice in the picture the hair between his horns is roughed up where I had been scratching it for him. I had to hold his horn to turn his head to face the camera.

He would lower his head and press it against you and close his eyes and fairly purr when his head was being scratched. He had great dark eyes, and long, thick white eyelashes.

He was kept in the “trap,” and when we were working in that area, we often had to tie him up– notice the rope in the picture– because he wanted us to scratch his head all the time, and we couldn’t get any work done.
On Sundays we often had friends visit us. No one was a stranger to Alonzo—to him they were all prospective head-scratchers.

Under the live oak trees was deep, soft leaf humus, so people didn’t hear him walk up behind them—he was so lazy he walked slowly and softly. He would lower his head—the better position for head scratching—press it against the person and shake his head gently—to get their attention—when the person– those who didn’t’ know him—looked around and say that big bull with lowered head—they were sure they wore in imminent danger of being gored to death, and scream so they could be heard a mile.

This didn’t deter Alonzo, he just headed for the next closest person, in hopes of better luck. He was so gentle and such a pet he wouldn’t hurt anyone.

But he certainly got their attention when he pushed his head against them, and shook his head –he didn’t seem to know he was scaring the daylights out of them!