Stirpes, Volume 34, Number 1, March 1994 Page: 25
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ST - AR 4W
Recollections of Early Yorktown
By: Samuel Whitsett Williams
Samuel Whitsett Williams, son of William L. and Mary Sedgwick Williams, celebrated his 95th birthday on March 2,
1994. He lives in a nursing home since his wife, Gladys Ellard Williams, died on February 14, 1987. He is able to get around in a
wheelchair and his mind is alert, but he cannot see to read.
About 1906 his parents moved to the Yorktown area where his dad worked on a dairy for Richard Eckhardtfor a while,
then for others before they left there in 1916. After Samuel Whitsett married in 1924, they lived in Cuero for about two years
where he worked at the cotton mill and where his daughter Joyce was born. then he moved to a farm four miles from Yorktown.
The family left there in early 1933.
Williams tells many stories of live in his early years as well as later years. The following is one he told recently about
when his family lived on one of Mr. Eckhardt's farms.
"We lived on the dairy we called the Catholic dairy because we drove past the Catholic
church going between Yorktown and the dairy. Mr. Richard Echkardt owned it, about 100
acres, which he later offered to sell to Papa, but Papa didn't buy it. It had a good house on it,
built of lx12s finished on one side which was on the outside of the house so it could be
"I helped Mama a lot. She raised geese, ducks, turkeys and chickens. I built some
chicken coops for her out of the old car hoods which were not permanently attached to the
cars--they were lifted off easily. I would measure the size needed to make the front and the
back of the coop from sheet tin and cut two pieces. I used wire to fasten these pieces on, then
cut a door in one so the chickens could get in and out. A dirt floor was made by piling soil
about 3 inches high, and the coop was placed on this; this kept water from running under it.
the animals could not gnaw into these.
"Mama had about 20 Peking Geese, about a hundred ducks, about 200-300 chickens,
including Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns, and some turkeys. She sold the duck and goose
feathers for $1.25 a pound.
"Papa fenced off a patch on the west side of the house and planted for the geese. He
planted Rape (greens), oats, wheat, and peanuts, according to the season. The geese would
feed on the green plants except the peanuts. They knew when to dig the peanuts and dug them
up to eat. In the spring, Mama picked the geese and ducks. Mama watched and tested the
feathers by pulling one from under the wing; if it had any blood on it, the feathers were not
ready to pick. When they were ready to pick, before the geese started shedding them, I caught
them for her and held their heads while she picked them so they wouldn't peck her and bruise
"One day Mama asked me if I had every watched the geese at night and I told her I
hadn't. She said they were real interesting to watch, but to stay hidden so they wouldn't see
me, so I watched from inside the house, looking out a window. Around six o'clock they
bedded down for the night on bare ground; they didn't like to bed down on vegetation. They
would all settle down on the ground but one female. This goose would stay on guard, walking
around the others and watching for stray animals. These geese knew our cats and dogs and
were not alarmed by them, but any stray cat, dog, wild animal, horse, or cow that got into
their area would immediately start the geese all honking. The dogs learned to go see what was
wrong as soon as the geese got their attention and often killed rate, etc. or barked and chased
animals away or woke us up to see about things. At exactly two hours later, the goose on
guard would wake another goose by rubbing her head against the other's head and "talking" to
her. As soon as she was awake and on guard, the first guard settled down to sleep. This went
on all night, changing every two hours.
"We lived there two years, then we moved into Yorktown where Papa worked at the
oil mill, so Mama had to sell her fowls."
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Texas State Genealogical Society. Stirpes, Volume 34, Number 1, March 1994, periodical, March 1994; San Antonio, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth39868/m1/27/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Genealogical Society.