Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 8
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TEXIAN STOMPING GROUNDS
the jingle of trace chains while horses were being unharnessed
and led off to the creek to water; the tread of heavy feet through
brush; the rustle of dead leaves overhead; the crackle of the
burning wood of the great fires; the lifting showers of sparks into
the black of the overhead night; the growl of a dog standing
guard by his own wagon; the questioning bark of another farther
away; the soft voices of the older Negroes preparing the evening
meals on their side of the great fires; the shrill, excited calls of
the younger boys flocking together in a strange world. All of
these filled life full on the Jefferson Road.
That life, however, was simple. There have been those who
called it raw. But life there was young, even to the old men by
the fires, for they had come to Texas, axe in hand, to carve farms
from a forest. Each covered only the ground he stood on, but he
stood watch over what he had cleared. They had no favors to
ask. Many, who first saw the outer world on a trip along the
Jefferson Road, lived to become men of affairs. Even these, on
growing old, and after having seen the world, were likely to begin
their stories, "I remember once when we were camping on the
Each log-heap fire had two sides, one for the whites, one
for the blacks. It was on the latter side that all the cooking was
done. Old Negroes, many with only a horse-shoe of frosted hair,
but experts all, attended to the important task, the preparing of
the evening meal. Cooking utensils lined the coals on their side
of the fire in a row, like artillery at battle station, long, cast-iron
handles jutting forth in ready reach of hardened hands. Into the
tallish, black, spindled-legged pots were dumped whole all the
squirrels killed along the road, together with potatoes, onions and
peppers. The skillets sizzled with fried fresh sausage, side bacon
and last-year's hickory-cured ham, all to be later re-filled with
cold corn pone to absorb the grease and flavor. Dutch ovens,
heavy high-rim lids heaped over with live coals, held fist-sized
sour-dough biscuits, balloon-crested and light as feathers.
These foods, together with yams raked roasted from the coals,
would eventually be spread over tail gates from wagons. Then
conversation would drop to a low ebb for the evening. The
now-silent dogs would gather close, leaning and sniffing, tails
Here’s what’s next.
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/16/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.