I was born March 3rd,
1861 in the sunny hills of East Tennessee in McMinn County. Christened
Theresa Molina Vaughan Miller. Really, I have no recollection of my
surrounds til 1865. I’ve heard of mother speak of taking me to see my
father while he was in Knoxville, I believe in the Rebel army. She said I
wouldn’t have anything to say to him, but wanted Jim for he, like all the
soldiers in the gallant Southern Army, was unshorn and I failed to recognize him
In the fall, I believe of 1865, dad was captured and either had to take the oath of allegiance and go behind the Yankee lines or to prison. As he k new he was fighting a lost cause, and that the war was almost over, he took the oath, which nearly broke mother’s heart.
We then moved to Bedford County, Tennessee, with what few household goods we could carry. And our first home was an old house used to store hay, and the rats were so bad, dad had to swing the bed by ropes from the rafters, and as we had only one room, that helped. Mother and two or three families did their laundry at some springs near by. I really do remember the place, under a fine grove of trees where it happened.
The next year, they hired my father to teach a school for the community. The house was fairly large and had a big fireplace and puncheon seats, (a split log with legs and used to sit on), with no backs. Of course it was on a hill in the blue grass pasture. We said speeches every Friday P.M. and the big girls would decorate the house with cedars. Daddy carried me in his arms to school, and when it was cold, I would stick my fingers in his hair to keep them warm. Later, dad taught a larger school at a place called Rocky Branch. It was a bit farther from home, but father carried me, unless I was a laggard, and did not get ready in time. I remember I had to go by myself, the first morning I was late. We had to go through a deep woods and I sat down before entering the woods and almost cried, as I was afraid, but at last I decided to risk the danger and went in.
We girls had the loveliest playhouse, the limestone rocks were nearly as big as a small room and perfectly smooth, so we made walls of small stones, had beds of leaves, also bureaus of stone decorated with lovely moss. We had lots of fun, sometimes we would turn our dresses so they would button in front like our mother’s, and one day we were late when the bell rang, and had to be kept in at recess. One day, a house caught on fire and burned to the ground. It was near the school and we were so frightened. We could not study much that afternoon.
Next year, father taught in a big church house across the Duck River. We crossed in a canoe, also attended S.S. (Sunday School) and church there. I remember one morning, it had rained the night before and the canoe was wet and muddy. I was all dressed out in white with a blue ribbon sash around my waist, and as father pushed off the landing, I fell and soiled my dress.
One Sunday, we had a big singing. Sister Ella who was three years old, started to leave the room, her petticoat fell off. She picked it up and threw it out the into a bunch of men.
There was a big cemetery in the old church yard.
We moved to a settlement nearer school. We lived in a brand new one room log house, but during father’s spare time, he cut logs and smoothed them for another room. I was with him, of course, and one day I was singing and he called me Jenny Lind. Guess I was tickled, but I don’t remember being with anyone, but my father til I was several years older.
In the meantime, Uncle Berry Gillian had moved to Bedford County, and ran a grist mill not far from us. One afternoon they let us children to play with our cousins. We had so much fun. When the sun was getting low, I said we must go home. Aunt Hulda asked us to spend the night, so I agreed, of course. But about sunset, mother came for us and had a Hickory switch in her hand, so we learned to go home right then. I remember the first visit back to grandfathers Miller. We had to walk about three miles to Wartrace, and had to cross Garrison River. There was an old blockhouse still standing, where there had been fighting during the war that just ended; with two or three graves where they had buried the dead, and still blood stains on the bridge and cross ties. I remember how sad it made me feel. As we passed our home which was near the railroad, we went out on the observation platform and waved at mother who was standing in the doorway. Then everything is blank til we arrived at grandfather’s. We went in the back way and I nearly ran over the ash hopper. I was all black again til we were on our way home.
A barn had burned while we were at grandfather’s. As Father had taken the oath of allegiance, the Ku Klux Klan accused father of it, so Uncle Berry Gillian, mother’s brother, came at night and we went to another station to board the train as the Ku Klux Klan were waiting at the other station. It seems a long trip to me. I rode on the front of dad’s saddle in front of him and can hear in my mind today, the noise the insects and birds made as we went through a creek bottom. Strange, but I don’t remember arriving at the station or anything more of the trip. Don’t even remember getting home. We moved to Haley’s Station on the railroad a year later. The town consisted of one store and a Post Office. Dad bought five acres of land and built a 2 room house with a fireplace. We felt rich and it was a lovely place – such nice shade trees and we had lovely flowers, and there was a small thicket near by, where I could bury my kittens when I had loved them to death.
Early in the spring, while the mornings were still cold and frosty, I’d go with dad to get the pails he had put out to get sugar maple water during the night, and it made delicious syrup. In the autumn, we children gathered nuts, Hazel, Walnut, and Hickory nuts and it was fun sitting around the open fireplace on winter nights, eating them.
We had a fine cow, that gave five gallons of milk a day, and it was my job to drive her to the same blue grass pasture where I attended my first school. There was a deep hole called a “sink hole” on the way and I was afraid to pass it and was always thinking the “bad man” was after me with a chain.
Dad took a notion, he and Uncle John Miller, his brother, also Uncle Marion Gillian, mother’s brother, to go to west Tennessee and work on the railroad, so mother and we children were left alone. Of course, I had to get sick. I had fever and when recovering remember writing my first letter. It was to dad of course, and mother held my hand and helped me. I don’t know whether I was so weak or whether I just did not know to write. Later, dad wrote for us to come to him. We wanted to go to Grandpa Miller’s to get him to pack and get us to the station, so we walked over. He lived on a hill just beyond Duck River and they kept the canoe on that side. Mother could not make them hear her so she pulled off her shoes, etc. and waded across. Then water came nearly to her waist and we children were frightened. Grandpa helped us on the train and we arrived in west Tennessee okay. The trainman put us off at the station house and dad was station boss. It was the biggest and best home we had ever had. Five rooms and a hall and porch, the steps nearly reached the cross-ties of the track. We had a big garden and there was the loveliest spring just below the house, with water bubbling in the white sand. In that sand we buried the chairs down and scrubbed then when they were dirty and yes we scrubbed the floors with it also. We cooked on the fireplace, and I remember when the fire would go out, we would call on our neighbors to borrow fire. Mother had a big range to cook on, but we used the fireplace most.
Well, dad let Uncle John and Uncle Marion have a dance. The first I had ever seen and last one ever in our house. We had fine violin music.
We had no school near us so I stayed with Uncle Berry and Aunt Huldah who had a daughter a few years older than I. The train would stop at our door for me. I’d go on freight or passenger, which ever was most convenient. Sometimes riding in the engine, in the firemen’s seat. That was what I liked best.
After school was out, mother had fever, sister Minnie was a little baby and the neighbors all were sick with fever and I was nurse and had the care of the other children, Elle, Ola, and Minnie. I was only ten years old and I worried. Mother was unconscious part of the time, and one night I thought a dog was in bed and threw the baby out, but did not hurt it. So, I made a pallet by the bed and kept the little thing with me. One day, the other children ran off and I was afraid they would get run over by the trains as there was a bridge and a sharp curve nearby. At one time, I pushed them off the bridge just in time to save them. This time they had gone up the hill where an old homestead stood years before, where the roses and other flowers had grown so long together til the roses were variegated and striped with red and yellow. Of course, I was uneasy about mother and Minnie, but found them all right when I got home. The runaways home.
Mother recovered in a short while, and grandfather Miller came by from Bedford County on his way to Texas in a covered wagon. They stayed with us long enough for dad to catch a germ of “Texas Fever,” so in a couple of years, we went back to Bedford County. From there to Georgia near Ringgold to visit mother’s folks. Had a nice visit with them. Grandfather had family prayer both morning and night, and you had to cook Saturday or no eats. He was a very good man.
When we bade them goodbye, it was the last time we ever saw any of them as grandfather and grandmother died, but my aunt Molly and Tina visited us in Texas. Uncle George moved to Alabama and is still living. We returned to Bedford County, dad sold his property for $500.00, put it in his wallet and we started for Texas. There had been snow on the ground for several weeks, so mother dressed us in our home woven lindsey dresses, putting all the undies we could carry on so as to save trunk space and we were off for the wild west. Our trip was uneventful til we neared New Orleans. There it was so warm, flowers and vegetables growing in profusion and were we hot, but had to grin and endure it. Of course, dad knew nothing about New Orleans, but when we arrived he told the cabby to drive us to the best hotel in the city. He drove around a while and stopped before a dimly lighted building. But Father said, “This is not the city hotel”, but he assured him it was, so we went in the lobby, where a few men were gambling. We started up the rickety stairs. Father had the lead, and had gotten halfway up when he stopped and told us to go back as he knew we were in a trap. The same cabby was still there and he told him to drive us to the City Hotel and that he would call the police if he did not. When we arrived, it was the most beautiful building I’d ever seen, all lighted up and even seven stories high. Expensive, yes, but we spent the rest of the night in peace and rest. Horrible to think what would have happened had we stayed in the first place.
The next morning, we boarded the train and when we got to the Mississippi River our train crossed on barges. Arriving at Brazirin City, I believe, we embarked on a big steamer at 11 o’clock, New Years Day, 1872. Had a lovely trip til a storm came up then all but dad, too seasick for words, we’d stayed on deck too long. Next morning, about 9 o’clock we reached Galveston. First thing, dad had to take off his pistol and put it in our lunch basket, as it was a $25.00 fine to wear one on your person.
I’ll never forget the trip to Corsicana the terminus of the railroad, such great stretches of country; so bare of trees. When we saw mesquite trees, we thought they were old peach orchards. Arriving at Corsicana, at night, we went to the best hotel, which was lined with canvas and very common, but served good eats. I believe it was the Molly Hotel. Next morning, grandfather came for us in a covered wagon. In the meantime, a blue norther had blown up and our warm clothes were very comfortable. We stayed at grandfather’s til dad bought 25 acres of land and built a home, then we moved in. Hadn’t dug a well and drank water from low places under the mesquite trees, during the rains. All had chills and fever nearly a year.
Father was employed to teach public school at Cryer Creek. There were so many pupils, as all could attend no matter what their age. He could not manage by himself, so he took me (I was about 13 years old) to Corsicana to attend examination, so I could help him teach. Well, I received the proper credentials and helped him that year, and liked it. At the close of school we always had examinations public, anyone in the audience could question us. I remember one time, I was asked who the present governor of Texas was. It was Hubbard, but I could not recall the name, and a lady from Tehuacana formed the name with her lips and I caught it. At night, we’d have songs, essays, and speeches. I remember singing, “I’ll remember you in my Prayers”.
And guess what I wore on my waist, – a corset cover with ruching on the sleeves and around the low neck, with flowers in my hair. I was in school til I was 18 years old and enjoyed every minute of it. We studied Latin, Familiar Science, Astronomy, and of course History, Ancient and Modern, Geography and Mathematics and Clarks Grammar. How I hated math, but just loved all other subjects. I had two old maid aunts, father’s sisters, the sweetest and best women I ever knew. They were not old, but if a woman did not get married before 25 or 30 years old, they were counted old maids. So, I thought I should get married as soon as soon as I was out of school. I had always been popular with the swains, too popular for my own good, but to pick one for a husband was something else. It seemed like the ones I liked best, mother and father disliked, and as it did not make much difference with me, I accepted the one they liked best – a young farmer, by the name of Callie Garretson, 2 or 3 years my senior.
Father took me to Corsicana to buy my wedding outfit. I stayed a couple of weeks at Uncle G. W. Millers, who was editor of the Corsicana paper at that time. Aunt Molina went with me to the dressmakers and shopping generally.
By the way, my dear Uncle, who was a Methodist Protestant preacher, was the cause of my always loving the M.P. church, though I was happily converted at 13 years old and joined the other Methodist church. Was converted under the ministry of Brother Armstrong and have been happily in the Lord’s services ever since. Though I confess an unworthy servant, I failed Him so many times and grieved His Holy spirit, but thank God I never lost faith in Him.
Back to preparations for the wedding. I had a beautiful white dress and a lovely gray dress trimmed with pink ribbon and lace, and yes, my wedding dress had a train half a yard long or longer, and a hat, veil and everything to match. While I was in Corsicana I began to think about the future and wished I had not given my promise to this young man, but went home and through the rush of preparations thought no more about it.
As the hour arrived, the whole community were invited and in attendance, a big wedding supper was ready, the ceremony began. My future husband had answered the questions in the affirmative. When my time came, instead of answering, I fell in a dead faint, and knew no more til the doctor arrived and revived me. I said in my heart I would not go through with it, but Callie’s old grayheaded father came next morning and pled with me and like a goose I consented and was married in bed and on Friday.
Well, I went home and dad gave me a cow and a calf. Mother some bedding. We went to live in the same house with Collie’s oldest sister, a sweet good woman. We had a room just big enough to hold our bedstead, and one trunk. We did all our work together, washing included, so I had quite a bit more work than my share, but then the corn was big enough to thin, I began working in the field and sister Harriet did all the cooking. There was a severe drought that year and farmers finished gathering their meager crops by the last of September.
It was the year the Narrow Gauge Railway was built through Corsicana. The Garretsons decided to take their teams, camp out and work on the road, but I was pregnant and usually had rheumatism during bad weather so I didn’t go, but told my husband and he agreed to send $5 per month to help out and I’d stay with my parents. He went, but never sent a penny. I sold my yearling to buy clothes for my baby as I was expecting early in April of next year. My husband came home broke at Christmas, but dad had land for him to work so we stayed on. Sure enough, my baby came the 6th of April, 1880. Mother’s baby, Oscar, was born a few hours before on the 5th. I named my pretty blue-eyed boy, Charlie, but I took fever and didn’t get to enjoy him till he was three months old. I came near passing out, but had the best of care and finally was able to get out in God’s sunshine some more. That reminds me, father always called me Sunshine, but sometimes I fear it was a misname.
Next year, father moved to Wortham to take charge of the school. He disposed of the larger farm where we all lived, but kept the 25 acres he bought when he first came to Texas, and told my husband he could have all he made on it, if he’d stay on it. It had a nice house and out buildings, but he would not stay, but moved to Wortham too. Father built a nice story and a half home on 5 acres where Mr. Owens now lives. My husband rented a negro house from Uncle Tommy Longbotham back a few hundred yards from the Longbotham home. It had only one window with a plank shutter and a smoky chimney, but we did the best we could. We began a crop, but before we got it laid, my husband’s father wrote him to come to Camp County where he was located; sent money for our tickets. My husband wanted to go leave the crop, but I told him I’d help chop the cotton, so he stayed till we finished. We stayed 6 weeks with them then came back, but in the meantime my husband had to go back in the fall and help run a gin. When we came home, I told him to sell the crop to Mr. Longbotham as we were owing him. He said he would, but never even saw him, as I learned later. He was to send money for my ticket and I would go later. When I found he had left without any settlement it made me mad and I told him to come back and settle up. He didn’t do it, so I wouldn’t go. I knew I’d have to live with his folks if I did, so that was the end. In a couple of years, he sued for a divorce. I paid a lawyer to go out and see about it. The baby was all I wanted so I assured he was mine, and I was relieved, but back for my dad to support again.
He got me in as assistant teacher in the school, so I was happy. Taught 2 years in the same school in Wortham then obtained the Bethel school. Then another year at Wortham and fell in love with the handsomest man I ever saw, named George Washington Bounds – a young Methodist preacher. We were married the 12th of December, 1884 and have lived happily ever since. My husband owned a 50 acre farm across Cedar Creek about 4 miles from town. He had been living alone there since the death of his wife. He had a small daughter living with his mother. We had a good orchard, hogs, and cows and a nice herd of sheep, but no money. In the early spring, we sheared the sheep and paid our bills and some left over.
I was going to town (Wortham) to pay up and buy garden seeds, etc. so my husband handed me more than $50.00, but stipulated I should buy only what we needed. I didn’t have a rocking chair so I raised a lot of chickens and sold them to Charlie Turner, one of the most progressive merchants in Wortham. Had we had more like him, Wortham would have been a larger town.
We made a good crop, raised spuds to last till next year and the 28th of October, a beautiful brown eyed girl was born to us. We named her Nellie and her father thought she was a perfect beauty. I did too, but didn’t brag about her and try to show her off like he did. She was kind of delicate and our doctor said I was too particular with her. Said to take her with me to the garden and put her down on the ground and let her play in the dirt.
Well, my husband swapped our 50 acres for a place up on Pisgah Ridge – had 135 acres. We moved on New Years Day, into a 2 room shack with only a board window and dirt hearth, but a chimney that didn’t smoke, thank God.
Well, Nell sure played in that dirt and thrived, for the time passed and on March 14, 1887, Frank was born. I wouldn’t let dad get any of the women to stay with me and he went in a buggy and led a horse, woke his mother who lived a mile nearer us, then rode to town, caught Dr. Ransom’s horse, harnessed it for him and beat his mother home and found the baby had arrived not long after he left. He was scared to death, but his mother came in the meantime, had the baby bathed and dressed by the time the old doctor arrived. Mrs. Bledsoe, one of our dear friends who lived about 2 miles from us gave the baby whom we named, William Frank, his next bath. She came over often, would bake bread, and such bread, the best in the world. Summer came and we moved our shack up on the hill. It had been down on the ravine near the spring and plum orchard before mentioned.
We built a nice house (1887) – used the shack for the kitchen and storeroom. The sills and studs of the new house were made of hand cut square cedar logs and nailed together with square nails. All of the house was made with square nails. It was a roomy house with a fireplace and a long open hall through the center from front to back. We put out a good orchard of pears, peaches, and apples. Also a berry patch and had a nice garden plot, had a good well dug right at the back porch, so I could draw water easily. Also a well at the barn. We raised chickens, geese, guineas, and turkeys also hogs, milked several cows and were really living at home.
The ENDThe story you have read was written by my mother, Mrs. G.W. Bounds, I do not know why she did not complete the story, but probably never had time. I found this much after her death, in her own handwriting, and will pass a few facts about the children born to her and my dad. As you have read, they had a girl and boy of their own, and each had a child when they were married. I will begin with Rosa. She belonged to dad. Then Charlie, born April 6, 1880 — February 3, 1961 belonging to the other.
These are their children. Nellie – October 28, 1885; Frank – March 14, 1887 to March 3, 1962; Olive – July 25, 1889 to 1967; Floy – June 3, 1891;
Beryl – April 7, 1893 to December 16, 1956; Violet – February 19, 1895;
Vera – December 13, 1896; Thelma – April 9, 1898; and Bernice – March 20, 1900.
In about 1902, George and Thyrza Bounds moved their family to west Texas near a small town named, Merkle. They went by covered wagon and drove their cattle with them. It was a very dry two years, so they moved back to the farm north of Wortham.
In 1905, they moved to Wortham, rented the Methodist parsonage on what is now called Ave. D. Later, in 1907, they bought a house from Mr. Proctor, who was moving to Teague. They lived in this house till their deaths.
In the meantime, they sold their farm to Jim Longbotham, and bought the farm owned by my father’s father, about 1 1/8 miles north of town.
At their death Floy, Violet, and Thelma bought the house in town. Later Thelma sold her part to Floy and Violet. They remodeled the house and are living there at the present time. Beryl bought the farm and at his death, his stepdaughter and husband bought it from his wife. Later, Vera and Press bought papa’s garden spot and built a brick home and are living there now. Thelma lives in Houston and I live a block from the old home on San Marcus Street.
These dates may not be exactly correct, but as near as I can determine they are.
The house built by George and Thyrza Bounds on the farm north of Wortham was occupied from 1887, with some improvements, until June 1968. It was then torn down and replaced by a new brick, by Lola and Buddie Longbotham.
I have some square nails that had been used in the old house.
Copied by Bernice Bounds Moody
Copied by Terri Lynn Higgins Test
Submitted by Hugh Higgins, August 26, 2008