Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 23
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ON THE JEFFERSON ROAD
pay five dollars, in cash, to anyone who would break the Negroes
from crossing his place.
Unknown to each other, two groups of young men entered
the contest. The Barkley boys, from down the branch, decided
to lie in wait in the bottom of the branch with sheets and some
tin pans to bang. Theirs was a simple and time-tried plan. But
over at town Tom Whatley had a more up-to-date plan; it drew
eager allies from around the store. He borrowed the doctor's
skeleton and hung it to a persimmon limb over the trail so that
it would be swinging in the moonlight to welcome the worship-
ers just as they left the timber and entered the lower end of
The mental pictures of the reaction of the blacks at the instant
they debouched from the branch bottom and looked upon the
swinging skeleton was too good to keep. The plotters invited
some close friends to come along and sit with them by the back
lot gate and watch what would happen. Among them was a
certain Mister Prock, lately moved over from Bowie County.
As usual with such extraordinary events, the stage was set
hours too soon. While the unworried worshipers lingered in
the grip of the throb and beat of a great sermon, the selected
group slouched in a hunkered line along the lot fence. Down
at the foot of the slope, the bright moonlight revealed as a
slight swinging blot all that remained of a mortal man. Most
of those present had never seen a skeleton before. After the
long wait, some were beginning to wish they had not come.
But the instant they heard singing across the branch, the old
enthusiasm for a practical joke lighted their eyes with eager
anticipation. The first of the homeward-bound worshipers to
appear at the end of the lane was a certain Aunt Rhody, two
hundred and fifty pounds on the hoof, and two slim, beauless
girls. Aunt Rhody paused. They heard her catch her breath all
the way up to the lot gate. They heard her exhale at town, five
miles away. It was what is defined as an ear-piercing scream.
Aunt Rhody became instantly a body in motion, outstripping
both the girls by her side.
The lot gate was closed, but that meant nothing to Aunt
Rhody. She couldn't climb it, and she didn't have time to open it.
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/m1/31/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.