Courier Report of Picnic Aug. [abbr: August] 1885
OLD SETTLER'S PICNIC.
Only the intoductory exercises of this gathering of veterans could be obtained when our
last issue went to press and we therefore take up the thread of events after the dinner
hour on the 20th. During the entire afternoon other visitors continued to arrive and the
time was devoted to hunting up old acquaintances and talking over the events that have
transpired since they assembled in this same beautiful grove one year ago. Many were the
hearty hand shakes and many were the tears of joy that flowed when these old friends would
grasp each others hands.
Time, with its strong hand has, year by year lead [corr: led] some of the company over the border of time to the unexplored region that lies beyond, and there is always a look of expectancy on every face when the gretting comes. After several hours spent in social converse and the somber shades of evening were relieved by the beautiful beams of the moon above and the ruddy glare of the camp fire about the grave, [corr: grove] the company were again called to the grand stand to listen to the addresses of Dr. [abbr: Doctor] Rogers and Dr. Miller who had been announced to speak, but neither of these reverend gentlemen appeared, and others were called to supply their places. Capt. [abbr: Captain] J. D. Woods, Dr. Edwards, Prof. [abbr: Professor] J. C. Edmonds, Parson McComb and W.S. Holt, were called upon in turn to contribute short speeches and these gentlemen were so successful in pleasing the audience that no dissappointment was felt at the absence of the chosen orators.
When the hour to adjourn arrived the large company dispersed to take the needed rest to prepare them for the pleasures of the following day.
On Friday morning at an early hour the roads and streets leading to the grounds were thronged with visitors and by 10 o'clock such a multitude had gathered as was never seen together before in all the eight years since the old settlers organized.
Before the chosen orator of the day arrived, the audience became impatient for a speech, and Maj. [abbr: Major] W. D. Reynold was called. This gentleman entertained them for half an hour, and at the conclusion of his remarks loud calls brought Rev. [abbr: Reverend] Jarrett Finney to the stand, who also made a very instructive and pleasing talk.
Hon. John E. McComb, of Montgomery county the orator of the day, was then introduced. This gentleman's fame as orator has gone out the great state of Texas, and it was no small tast to meet the expectations of the friends of his boyhood in this, his native country, but the gentleman acquited himself adnirably, and his remarks were highly complimented by all who heard him.
The company then adjourned for dinner, and dispersed in small groups about the grove to talk over old times and tell over old yarns of the days of long ago.
The elders contented themselves in this way, while the young folds enjoyed a spirited game of base ball, in front of the Grand Stand, or strolled about the ample lawns talking of the delightful present or the sweet bye-and-bye, as best suited their several tastes.
During the promiscuous intermingling of the afternoon one noticeable fact impressed itself on the mind of our reporter, that escaped the observation of every speaker, and perhaps was not observed by many others. There were more good looking women and a greater number of fine looking babies of the past years crop than we ever saw before in any crowd of equal size, and this element of prosperity and national strength, counts for more in our mind than all the others enumerated by the eloquent speakers from the stand.
During the afternoon the younger element amoung the Old Settlers ascertained that the two notable characters who has contributed so much to their happiness in old times were on the ground and they were again brought together. Giles Porter with his same old time-worn fiddle, and Jim Fitch with a banjo borrowed for the occasion, sat down together and begun the tunig process, preparatory to a night of pleasure, just as they did thirty years ago when those two instruments made up the only orchestra known to this frontier settlemen [corr: settlement]. We watched the bronzed features of these veterans with eager anxiety to see when the music would strike up, but that old fiddle appeared to be incorrigable. A lady who had often danced to the time of Giles' fiddle in her girlhood days, remarked to her husband: "Jim, get him a dram, you know he never could tune that fiddle when he was dry." Jim replied that there was no bottle about the camp, and the lady said, "I'll start him," so she picked up a bottle of ketchup and said, "here Giles this is the best we have to offer you." He shook his head with a significant smile and [gap: illegible]
During the afternoon the annual election of officers of the organization took place at the stand. Capt. [abbr: Captain] J. D. Woods was elected president. J. W. Steward, vice president, J. P. Loving, secretary, and W. S. Hold was chosen chief marshal.
The executive committee are J. C. Maples, of Whitesboro, B. F. Mattex, of Sister Grove; Judge James Porter, of Preston, J. H. Lea, of Sherman, J. W. Sivills, of Bells, J. W. Stewart, vice pres., and J. P. Loving, sec., were added to make a working quorum that can be got together on short notice. The time for holding the meeting was fixed for Thursday and Friday before the full moon in August, 1886.
The business being ended, sociability reigned until after the supper hour, when all gathered again at the stand to hear the address of Col. S. H. Russell, who was announced to speak at night. The excellent music of the band held the audience together for an hour, and when the speaker arrived the surrounding grove was packed with a dense mass of auditors as far out as the stentorian voice of the speaker could reach. Col. [abbr: Colonel] Russell excused himself for not having prepared oration to meet the expectations of the intelligent people before him, but being a native Texan, fully inspired with all pride of a true son of the soil would trust to the inspiration of his subject and the magnitude of the occasion for his utterance. His remarks were appropriate and eloquent, but no brief summary can do them justice, so we forbear.
Uncle Ben Christian, who has delivered the valedictory address at every former metting of the old settlers, was again called upon to discharge that duty. On this occasion he was more than usually felicitous in his remarks, and related some old time anecdotes that brought down the woods with applause and laughter.
Old Settlers Association (Grayson County, Tex.). Old Settler's Association of Grayson County, Vol. 1.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth11279/. Accessed April 26, 2015.