GREELY NO. 2 — An Interesting Account of His Observations From McKavett to Concho — Poisoned by a Bulbous Root — Wonderful Progress of Tom Green County — The Military
SAN ANGELA, TOM GREEN CO., February 24, 1882, San Antonio Express — Wishing to take things as they come, I will commence with McKavett. This is a beautiful and a healthy site for a post, on a high, rocky elevation, within two or three miles of the great springs forming the head of the San Saba river, affording about as much water as the great San Felipe or Del Rio springs, and nearly equal to the San Antonio river. Mr. Wallick, the pleasant and popular post trader, introduced me to several officers, with whom I was much pleased, especially the quartermaster, who seems to be a very popular officer. I saw he had a good lot of hay.
After proceeding a few miles from McKavett, Mr. Wallick informed me that three small boy—two of his and one of an officer’s—in visiting their fine irrigable garden, came across a bulbous-rooted plant in the garden, resembling half-grown potatoes, which they ate of, and in a short time the larger fell to the ground unconscious and was thrown into spasms of a terrible character, soon followed by a terrible cessation of all vitality. The Dr. and family worked for six hours to restore life, which appeared after the stomach had rid itself by emetics of this poisonous vegetable.
The other two children were brought home in the same condition and went through the same terrible convulsions and were finally relieved by an emetic. All the children seem now well. I secured a small root of this deadly plant, which I will enclose in a letter to you, and ask you to see Dr. Herff or some chemist and find out what this deadly plant is, and for the good of others warn them against this terrible enemy to human life.
On leaving McKavett, I took the near road through the mountains to Kickapoo Springs, in or near Menard County. I was still astonished at the winter range, it was unusually good, and the cattle are fat. It is twenty-six miles from McKavett to Kickapoo Springs.
I passed through or near a flock of fine sheep from Austin. Quite a number were lambing, and the shepherd told me he had lost only four lambs from this bad spell of weather. The proper lambing time is from the 1st to the 15th of March. These sheep seemed to be in fine condition, but being from Missouri were hard to control.From Kickapoo to Lipan Springs, some ten or twelve miles is a rolling, rocky road, running at the base or foot of the mountains and hills. All the way the grass was good. Lipan Springs is a locality, a beauty in itself, affording plenty of water, but the springs sink after going a few miles. This is an admirable stock ranch, as the water will control the stock. This fine property belongs to Erskine and John Jefferson.
Here I saw a couple of my fine rust proof oat fields, which had grazed the calves for a good while. The calves were taken off a few days before I got there.
Range for the next ten miles, and to the ten-mile water hole was just good enough. After passing the nine-mile water hole the grass gives out, and the road to Ben Ficklin—the county seat of Tom Green County. For some three or four miles, you can see the cupola of their new courthouse. I at first supposed it to be a church. It has been eight or nine years since I was in this County. There were but two or three small Mexican houses where Ben Ficklin now stands.
Ben Ficklin has now some five or six stores and a courthouse made of brown stone, two and a half stories high and costing $14,800. They have a good school and church service. I passed through on Sunday morning and was pleased to see so many children attending Sunday school. Ficklin, including the old stage stand, has some 300 inhabitants, and is a peaceable, nice, quiet place. I visited Mr. M. C. Metcalfe’s mill. This, with a two foot dam; would have power enough to run a wool factory, or a good flourmill. From Ben Ficklin to the old stage stand is about a mile.
I am informed by Ana Frary, that last year was a good crop year for these people, and the irrigable farm of live hundred acres did well, and farms without irrigation did better. Suppose one hundred acres of this farm had been sown in German or sugar millet, which should make from three to four tons per acre, and sold at $20 per ton; even good hay is worth from $35 to $40 per ton here today; it would give gross receipts of $8,000. Deducting $2,000 for expenses, leaves $6,000 for net profits. Can any stock but hogs beat that?
Yesterday I saw Mr. Wm. Elliot. He gave me a pressing invitation to visit his farm on Spring Creek, the farming portion of Tom Green County. As much as I love farming, I could not go.
From Ben Ficklin it is three miles to Fort Concho. This post is situated between or near junction of the North and South Concho rivers. It is an eight-company post, built of fine brown stone. Every house, and even the stables, can be furnished with water. It is laid off in a square, with a lofty flagstaff, band house, &c., and a beautiful, parade ground. I failed to meet Gen. Grearson, but found the Q. M., M. Maxon, 1st Lieutenant and regimental quartermaster 10th cavalry.
I was by him introduced to the captain, who informed me that he did not have THE DAILY EXPRESS on the table for the men at the reading room. I was a little astonished at this—one of the first, if not the very first paper of the state, printed at headquarters, with every order of the department inserted. It is the first and only posted that I am acquainted with that does not take THE EXPRESS. The chaplain said he would like to have the paper.
Here I heard some good music, and met my old friend Millspaugh, who is both postmaster and post trader. He owns some fine property, and has made for himself a comfortable home. He is just across the river. Near Concho, is a little town, which sprung up and is called San Angela. I drove over the river and inquired for Veck’s store. Veck is to San Angela what Jim Riddle is to Eagle Pass. As everybody in the country knows both, their place of business is general headquarters. This is the liveliest little place I know in Texas. I arrived the day after the great race, which was won by Little Casino, belonging to Deputy Sheriff C. Mullins.
Some eight years ago when I was cutting hay for the government, this was an Indian country. I had of my own men, from twenty-five to thirty, yet, I had a guard of ten men for protection. Even sentinels and a guard were kept over my animals every night and our great merchant, W. S. Veck, had gone into business, living in a mud covered house, and probably not $300 worth of goods in the house. To-day he is rich, carrying a stock, I suppose, of from forty to fifty thousand dollars. He lives in a comfortable house, well furnished, and keeps his fine carriage and horses, with a six or eight hundred dollar (illegible). He is even aspiring to be a rancher and farmer. He has 6000 acres some four or five miles up the North Concho, and he has refuse $6,000 for it.
C. Bain wants to quit staging and join the aristocratic stockmen. He owns a fine place at the head of Main Concho and some seven hundred head of cattle and yesterday refused $26,000 for his land and stock.
Yesterday J. B. Wilson, of Dallas, bought of William Childress 4,000 head of cattle as they run on the range, without land, and paid Childress in cash $50,000. I mention this to show what a poor man can do in Texas by proper management. The latter sale shows the rise in cattle, and the desirability of stock cattle with range in this country. Mr. Childress is a son-in-law to stockman L. Harris, who now lives in this place, and who has a stock ranch and some eight or ten thousand head of cattle.
I regard Tom Green County as one of the best counties for stock in Texas. All sheep men have done well here. Tom Green County contains 14,000 square miles, 4,000 inhabitants, 153,000 head of sheep, 120,000 head of cattle, 4,000 horses, 2,817 goats, and 2, 148 hogs. Can any county in Texas beat this showing?
San Angela contains two fine hotels: one run by our friend Nimitz, another by Mrs. Tankersly. The Nimitz hotel is full all the time, keeps about such a house as his father at Fredericksburg.
Angela has some 350 or 400 inhabitants, a good hall for preaching, one Catholic and one colored church. Veck wants a Baptist and a Presbyterian church built, and will give lots for both.
GREELY NO. 2