Sherman Democrat Report of Picnic Aug [abbr: August 1885]
The Old Settlers.
A hearty welcome extended to the old pioneets.
A good crowd and everybody happy.
The old settlers are with us again, and we gladly welcome them. History does not
record a braver, truer or more self-sacrifing people then the Old Settlers of Texas.
Their early privations and troubles, should endear them to us forever. They came seeking
homes and have made the wilderness which they found here to blossom as the rose. They are
a noble race of man and it is a matter of unfeigned regret that they are passing away.
The world had need of such men and it has need of them yet. They came with strong hands
and willing hearts, and felled the forests and built homes--humble homes they were, but
they sheltered noble and patriotic hearts. A few, and but a few of these homes are
standing in Grayson today, and in one instance that we can call to mind, one of them is
still inhabited by the hardy pionbeer who erected it. We have reference to Uncle Johnny
Hendricks. There was a peace too, in these humble homes that is not found in the gilded
palaces of today.
Old Settlers of Grayson, this is a day for you to rejoice. It is celebrated in honor of your early trials. As has been well remarked by another, this day recalls your associations of the past, and paints anew on memory's tablet the peculiar perils of frontier life. And none but pioneers can fully appreciate the privileges this occasion affords; to them it is the sunniest, the most joyful. here they meet their old friends of 40 years ago, and reintwine the tender cords of friendship and warm threads of affectin, which bound them in the sunny days that are gone. Many happy accidents gild memory's tablet, and joys, sorrows and affections, the memory of which has slumbered for years, are recalled by these associations. The familiar faces of dear friends over whose grave the crystal dew drop has wept for many years, are repainted in living colors upon your excited imaginations.
When you came here the woff [corr: wolf] and the panther prowled in unawed freedom. The fertile soil was here, but it produced no luxuries for men. The teeming forests swayed to and fro then as now, but was not worked into beautiful cities and lovely homes. Behold what a change you have wrought. But why dwell upon this theme.
Old Settlers may this reunion prove a blessing to you, and may the few remaining days of your earthly habitation be an unbroken chain of happiness and hoy. With you the battle of life is nearly over. Many of your companions have already crossed the Murky Stream and your ranks are being rapidly thinned; still our prayers go out that your days may yet be many. But when all is done may you reach the heaven of peace at last.
The people were rather slow in assembling this morning, though by eleven o'clokc there was as large an assemblage on the grounds as is usual on the first day of the reunion.
Everything on the grounds was very nicely arranged. Plenty of good water and numerous stands where cooling drinks and everything good to eat could be procured.
The shooting hallery man, the popcorn man, the melon man, the fruit man, and the man with the flying jenny, were all there.
There was a fair attendance of the old folks, and a large number of ladies both old and young.
We noticed too, among the crowd, many old familiar faces that we had seen at similar reunions.
The exercises of the day were introduced by a welcome address from
Prof. [abbr: Professor] Kyger,
of Denison. the address of this gentleman was well conceived and well delivered , and elicited the plaudits of his hearers. Mr. Kyger commenced by saying that this was an auspicious occasion, when the old settlers could meet and mingle together and renew their old friendships. In the name of the city and the county he bid them welcome, thrice welcome, upon this occasion. you have driven the savage and the wild beast from this land of ours, said the speaker, and in their stead have come refinement and civilization. you have done your part nobly and well. Instead of the buffalo we have now the iron horse. He alluded feelingly to the early trials and privations of the old pioneers, and to the glories of San Jacinto. He compared the condition of Texas today with what it was when the old settlers first came here, and spoke of our growth and prosperity since that time. Although not a native Texan, the speaker said his heart was bound to her by a thousand ties, and his hopes, aspirations and destiny centered here, and here too, when all was done, he hoped to be buried. He also paid a beautiful tribute to the old settlers who had grown weary with the march of life and had laid down to rest. In conclusion he again welcomed the old settlers, and hoped that their days would be long upon the earth. We have not attempted to give an outline of this excellent speech and only regret that we cannot publish it entire. The Prof. deserves to be commended for the creditable manner in which he aquitted himself.
At the conclusion of Prof. Kyger's address, Marshal Holt introduced Mr. W. R. Dean, who reponded as follows:
Mr. Dean's Response.
Ladies and Gentleman--The welcome given us today, and expressed in such beautiful
language, is quite different from the first greeting extended to the first settlers of
this country. We are assembled on the border of a not inconsiderable city, surrounded by
towns and villages, and a rural population, possessing all the advantages of refined
civilized society. We see church spires pointing toward heaven, school houses dot the
land, the noise of machinery is heard, and all the arts and sciences flourish in their
happiest perfection. We behold a land of peace and ;lenty, whence gaunt Famine and
grimvisaged War have fled into the wilderness, we trust, to return no more. We are met
with music and banners, and hailed with joy and gladness, at the return of our annual and
How different is this from the greeting extended to the first settlers of this country as they crossed the Rio Roxo, into this vast terra incognita which we call Texas--a word signifying "friendship." Then it was the lonely camp fire, five deep solitude, the howling of the wild beast, perhaps the war whoop of the Indian on his wild foray of murder and raping. Too often it was a "welcome with bloody hands to an inhospitable grave." Certainly a life of hardship and deprivation--a soil unknown, the climate, an enigma political future, threatened by every crucity which savage warfare could inflict, made up the prospect offered th the early pioneers. Texas to them, was no "Valley of Bohemia, where merrily they might abide," inviting them to its peaceful bosom. But withal it was a "land of promise," held in reservation for the ever faithful. And sweet are thr fruits of their faith--for the wise king in his glory, never built a temple as magnificent as the great State, which they erected in the wilderness, and dedicated to the God of Liberty and progress.
At the beginning of this century, the primeval solitude of Texas had been broken by a few explorers, in search of a mythical fountain of youth, or the rich treasures of another Montezuma. A few zealous missionaties, inspired by the courage and ambition of Loyola, had planted themselves on our southwestern border, with a view of proselyting the native Indians. With these exceptions to civilized men, Texas was truly
Where no one comes, or hath come,
Since the making of the world,"
It was twenty years later when the genius of the elder Austin conceived the plan of briniging American colonists here and founding a future commonwealth, which was afterward accomplished by his dutiful son.
Behold it then, and behold it now! The story of its transformation is like a tale of enchantment--"a Persian poem in an Eastern epic." The wizard wand of the magician has been extended over the land and, today, the Lone Star State is the brightest and most hopeful of all the States of the earth. A population beginning to be reckoned by millions, taxable values increasing in a marvelous ratio, the largest area of territory, both developed and undeveloped, the greatest variety of soil and climate and products--what prophit [corr: prophet] or seer can say what Texas shall be in the future?
But it is not of the material resources of our state, though a legitimate and fascinationg subject of eulogy, that I wish to speak. I desired to say something of the influence of Texas and Texans upon the social and political institutions and destiny of mankind, and especially of our own country.
The history and institutions of every State are buta reflex of the characteristics of its people. This is eminently true of Texas. Her history has been peculiar and romantic, and so were the lives and fortunes of her first settlers. It has been said that the original "Texian" was sulgeueris. He was peculiar, not as the "Heathen Chinec" is peculiar, but in his love of personal freedom, his boldness and independence. It was his proud boast that his State, only, of all the States, unaided and alone, achieved her independence. This led to his implicit faith in his power to [gap: illegible] the architect of his own fortune; and "self-trust" says Emerson, "is the essence of heroism."
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 December 19, 2013.