Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 79
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HONOR THE FIDDLER!
come into the room with boots shined clear up to the tops and
grinning like a 'possum up a 'simmon tree with the hound dogs
a mile off. The fiddle that he carried had its scroll broken off
the finger board. "Just look at this here fiddle," he would whine
out. "It's beheaded just like Jesus Christ was." Really, though,
Duff had read the Bible, at least as far as the account of feeding
the multitude with a few loaves and fishes. "Then I quit," he
said. "Nobody can stuff that kind of thing down me."
Hugh Hubbard, Parker County pioneer who came to Texas
about 1870 with a fiddle instead of a six-shooter, gives a some-
what contradictory picture. A good fiddler, he comments, en-
joyed a unique social position in the community, was usually
prosperous, and was not expected to participate in fights to any
large extent. Also, a music-loving ranch-owner would make
work comparatively easy on a violinist who would entertain him
Fiddlers have never confined their playing to dances, of
course. In trail driving days, Lake Porter of Falfurrias used to
take his instrument out to the herd at night, and while another
cowboy led his horse, he would sit in the saddle and soothe the
bedded-down cattle. Many of the ranching pioneers who heard
such informal concerts on the prairies, together with the tunes
of the dance hall, came to be very, very fond of fiddle music.
One of these was William McKee, who, as told of by Mary Dag-
gett Lake, could not bear the noises of a city and had a burial
vault built for his body out in the corner of a cow pasture seven
miles from the confines of Fort Worth so that it could rest in
peace. In his declining years he used to have fiddlers come to his
house and play away the evening. One man who was a fiddler
borrowed from McKee a considerable sum of money, which later
he could not pay back. McKee was nearing the end of his life;
so he made a contract with the man to come to his house and
play every night for a certain length of time, with the under-
standing that if McKee died before the period expired, the fiddler
was to play on at the vault. McKee did die soon after the con-
tract was made, and for a good while his favorite tunes could
be heard nightly across the Texas prairie.
But at the dance the thumping of strings and the twisting
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/m1/87/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.