"James Noble Haile"
Jim and some of his neighbors castrated the calves and branded the new stock, however, Ollie and Dud were beginning to learn to rope and work cattle and were a great help to their dad. Ollie and Dud also cultivated the cotton and corn and Ada and Lola helped with the chopping.
The peaches, plums, pears and apples would soon be ready to be picked and the grapes were almost ready too. "Maw always made preserves and jellies out of the plums, pears and grapes and we dried the peaches up on the barn roof for a couple of weeks," Alma says. "We had dried peaches almost all year," Alma remembers, "and boy, they were sure good in cobblers, too."
Jim had dug a water well in the back yard and installed a pump so Lizzie would have plenty of water for washing and cooking. The livestock on the home place were also watered from this well.
When one felt mother nature call, it was necessary to make a run for the bushes or the barn, night or day, winter or summer. Jim hadn't found the time to put up a clothesline for Lizzie either, so after she and the girls washed the clothes, she hung them on the fences and bushes around the house. "When a high wind came up, it was a sight to behold, Alma recalls, "clothes, sheets and diapers blew in all directions and we had to run gather them all up."
It was June of 1891 and Jim Haile had heard from men traveling through the country that there were large numbers of wild horses200 miles west on the plains of west Texas. These horses were on land that nobody claimed and therefore anyone who could catch them would be the legal owner. West Texas was a desert and these wild horses would have to travel many miles for water. "It was desert country and people hadn't moved out there yet because they couldn't get water," Alma recalls.
Jim made a trip to Hico and bought sugar, coffee, flour, salt, spices, coal oil for the lanterns and lamps, some material for Lizzie to use to make clothes, some thread and some rock candy for the kids. He also bought bacon, potatoes and had some corn ground into meal. He bought canvas for the wagon top, Sloan's liniment to use for sprains on horse and men, rope to make lariat ropes, some powder, wadding and shot for his muzzle loading shot gun and a gallon of red whiskey to use as medicine and a once a day dram drink.
He said good-by to Lizzie and the kids and took four men besides himself, four horses to pull the chuck wagon, four extra horses to ride and started west with his wagon loaded with plenty of grub, oats for the horses and other supplies. "Maw always cooked up a bunch of food and a flour sack full of cookies for them", Alma recalls, "and Paw always took enough money so they could buy food if they ran out." Jim had traded for a glass-eyed gray-specked mare with some racing blood in her and this mare was his mount for the trip. When they camped at night they hobbled the horses to graze, the cook boiled beans, fried bacon, cut up potatoes and fried them in the bacon grease and made corn bread in a small dutch oven. After dinner they enjoyed some of Lizzie's cookies.
Jim and his crew arrived in west Texas after five or six days traveling time and set up camp at a watering hole where there were fresh horse tracks not far from the present day town of Ozona about 75 miles south west of San Angelo, a trip of about 250 miles from Hamilton, Texas. The next morning they spotted the wild horse herd grazing in a big arroyo that had been cut out hundreds of years before by flash floods. Jim stationed two of his men at one end of the arroyo and two at the other. Then they cut out five or six of the wild horses and started running them toward the opposite end of the arroyo. When they got there, two other cowboys started them running back. They ran these horses back and forth this way until they were near exhaustion. Then Jim and his men would rope them and tie them to trees and begin to gentle and break the. After a couple of weeks work they had probably three dozen horses gentle enough to lead and were rough broke.
Jim liked the looks of this land. It was part plains and part mountains, and seemed to be fairly good for grazing. He decided to go to Ozona, a settlement town of a few adobe houses and store buildings, and inquire about the possibility of buying some of it. He was told that the land could be bought for 50 cents and acre so Jim bought about 500 acres. "I think Grandpa owned that land in west Texas for about 5 or 6 years," Noble recalls. He drove cattle out thee and put them on his land and would leave Mexicans in charge of them. Then he would catch some more wild horses and drive them back to Hamilton County. He sold a lot of the horses which he brought back to the army for saddle stock and I think he got about $75 a head for the. He went to west Texas two or three times a year and he always drove some cattle out and brought horses back. I guess he sold the cattle to men out there who were thinking of starting ranches."
When Jim and his crew got back to Hamilton with the horses they had captured, he told Lizzie about his land purchase and she seemed glad. The kids had the cotton and corn laid by, the sweet and Irish potatoes had been dug and stored, the bean vines had been pulled and stacked to dry. When they were good and dry they would be piled on a wagon sheet, the kids would beat them with sticks to knock the beans out of the shells. Then the beans would be tossed up into the air on a windy day and the hulls would be blown out of the beans. The beans would then be stored for use all year long.
Jim Haile decided it was time to make another trip to Collin county to see his dad and mother and brother Oliver and sister Susan and their kids. "I don't want to go," Lizzie said, "it's a long hard trip and Alma is only a few months old. You go and tell your folks that maybe I can come next trip." Jim had been making a trip every year or two to see his folks, so he decided he would go by himself again. He hitched up his team and made the trip up and back in about 10 days and told Lizzie that all the folks were well and everything looked good up there.
It was fall now of 1891 and Jim had a good crop of calves to sell so he organized a drive with his neighbors and dove the herd to Ft. Worth stock yards since the railroad had now been built. When he got back home it was time to gather cotton and corn. Ollie, Ada, Dud and Lola picked most of the cotton and Jim hauled it to Hico to the Gin. With the money he got from his calves and cotton he was able to make a sizeable payment on his land. Jim always brought the cottonseed back to feed his cattle during the winter.
It was the first of November of 1891, and Lizzie knew her father J.J. Atkinson would not live thru the winter for he was bad sick with TB. He had raised a family. Jim, John, Nannie, Lizzie, and Bud in Tennessee and had buried his first wife there. In 1873 he moved his family to Texas and settled on a farm just a mile from where the Haile ranch was to be. He married again and raised another family, Phillip, Frank, Henry, Mary and Fannie. He rode with the Texas rangers and had a big part in helping to establish law and order out of the lawlessness and disorder that existed in Texas after the Civil War.
On November 23, 1891, J.J. Atkinson passed from this life and was buried in the Preachers cemetery near his farm. Frank, Henry and Fannie all died young with TB and were buried by their father. Mary married Will Bircham and raised two children. Mr. Atkinson's second wife and son Phillip continued to live on the farm until she died in 1924 and was buried by her husband. Phillip never married and died in 1958 and was also buried in Preachers cemetery.
Springtime was beautiful in 1892. Ollie, Ada and Dud had almost finished another year of school at Gum Branch. Lola was a bright-eyed child who was big enough to help her mother with her chores and especially to help look after Allie who was three and Alma who was almost one.
Jim and Lizzie were so proud of their family. They decided it was time to have a family picture made so early one Saturday morning they all got into the wagon and drove to Mr. Wiseman's studio in Hico. Ollie and Ada watched the other kids while Mr. Wiseman made a picture of Jim and Lizzie. Then all the family was posed together. Jim was 38, Lizzie was 30, Ollie was 12, Ada was 9, Dud was 7, Lola was 5, Allie was 3 and Alma was 1.
Jim Haile decided to sell all the cattle in his herd that were not Herefords. He made a deal to deliver about 300 head of mixed cattle to a contractor in Langtry, Texas who was building the Southern Pacific Railroad across the unsettled desolate part of southwest Texas. The beef was needed to feed the workers who were building the railroad. Langtry is located where the Pecos River empties into the Rio Grande River on the border between Texas and Old Mexico, a distance of about 300 miles. "I want to go on this drive Paw," Ollie said to his dad. Jim thought on it and decided to let him go. After all, Ollie was 12 years old and would be quite a lot of help since he was already a pretty good man on a horse.
Jim got his chuck wagon outfitted and he and Ollie and several hired hands started the drive. The cattle were delivered and Jim collected his money. Jim had heard of Judge Roy Bean who had boasted that he was the only "law west of the Pecos." Bean capitalized on the building of the railroad by setting up a saloon in the end-of-track town of Langtry, where about 8,000 workers and gamblers, rustlers, and thieves congregated. Bean had a busy time as barkeeper, justice of the peace, and coroner. His version of "Law West of the Pecos" was often odd and sometimes unfair. Once he fined a corpse $40 for carrying a concealed weapon. "Since we're this close, I think we ought to drop in and see the Judge," Jim decided.
"Did you have any trouble with the Indians on your way here, Mr. Haile," Judge Bean asked Jim. "Didn't see a sign of any Indians," Jim told him. "You was might lucky cause just last week a raiding party of Apache bucks jumped a wagon train just a few miles east of here and massacred and slaughtered all eighteen people and ran their stock off," Judge Bean exclaimed. "They tied the men to the wagon wheels, shot them full of arrows, scalped them, and then roasted them upside down over a slow fire," Judge continued. "They killed the babies and young children right there in front of their mothers and ended up throwing them all into the fire along with the men. People around here are getting all worked up about it and are thinking about getting up a trailing party to hunt them bucks down and kill them," the Judge exclaimed getting a little louder and madder as he told the story. "If you'll turn off the road about a couple of miles after you cross Little Devil River you will see the place where we buried them" Judge Bean continued, "and mind ye, be mighty kerful cause them mangy devils might still be holed up around here somewheres close," he warned.
"We went by the burial site on our way back home," Ollie explains, "but we sure were awful careful and didn't stay around too long."
"Maw! Maw! Come quick!" Ada screamed, "Bascum Burney has hurt Ollie's eye." Lizzie was making bread when she heard Ada's Scream. Bascum was almost carrying Ollie who was crying and screaming and holding his hands to his head. Blood covered Ollie's face and hands and was running down his shirtfront. Lizzie almost fainted when she pulled Ollie's hands away from his head. Where Ollie's lift eye should have been was a mass of blood and bleeding tissue. Lizzie tried to calm all the kids who were all crying, some almost hysterically. She washed the blood away and saw a gaping hole and began to cry also because she realized that Ollie's eye was gone.
"Ollie had just been telling me about seeing the grave where all those folks got killed by the Indians," Bascum told Jim who had just returned from town. "We decided to play Indians ourselves and I put a nail in the end of my arrow and shot it at Ollie," Bascum cried! "I didn't mean to hurt him," sobbed Bascum, "I didn't mean to hurt him!"
Jim told Lizzie to keep Ollie calm while he went back to Hico for a doctor. "There's nothing I can do, Mrs. Haile," the doctor said as he cleaned the wound and inspected the eyeball that had been punctured. He had lost the sight of this eye. Ollie was 12 years old. This was summertime of 1892.
Jim made another trip to west Texas to catch wild horses. He also made a good cotton and corn crop and after the kids had picked the cotton and gathered the corn, Jim realized a nice profit from the 30 bales of cotton and 400 bushels of corn.
It was Christmas and Lizzie knew that in a few months she would be bringing into this world another baby. The Haile's had had a big community party at their house and passed out oranges, apples, candy, cake and cookies to their guests. "We always had lots of fun at those parties," Alma recalls. "Paw and Maw always bought us kids one gift each maybe a doll for the girls and maybe some socks or something for the boys. We always hung our stockings on the mantle and the next morning when we got up our stockings would have the gifts and some fruit in them. We talked about Santa Claus a lot but us kids were afraid that he was going to jump out from behind a tree and grab us," Alma laughs.
Rain had been falling for several days this March of 1893 and Jim and some of his neighbors had been wolf hunting. "Take the kids to the neighbors and go get Dr. Young," Lizzie told Jim as he came into the house. "It's another girl," Dr. Young told Jim. "What are you going to call this one?" "Let's call her Kate Leona after your sister Susan's daughter," Lizzie said to Jim. It was March 19, 1893.