Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chapter 99 Barn Raisin'

We had a really interesting old barn on our farm which was built in 1876 by some Pennsylvania barn builders that came through North Texas at that time. It was a “timber-peg’ barn built without any nails. The timbers were hauled by wagon from Jefferson, Texas and the pegs were hand made on the job. A few square nails were used to build a door into the tack room and they too were hand made. 

Our land was originally settled by a man named Daniel Jarvis Franklin who came to Texas in the 1850’s. When he was crossing the Red River near Fort Inglish (later called Bonham) the river was on rise and their wagon started floating off. It turned over and his wife drowned but Daniel and his nine year old son survived.

Despite that tragedy, the two of them pushed on and settled the land we now own where they built a log cabin. It had no windows and the door was covered by a tarp or skin. The floor was hand hewn with an adz and was one inch thick in some places and three inches in others. 
I know all these details about the cabin because it was perfectly preserved inside the barn that was built around it in 1876. The cabin was used as a corncrib after the barn was completed. When we bought the farm, some 100 years later, the barn’s outer skin was in poor shape but the framework was sound and as true as the day it was built.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chapter 98 We're Having Cows

Our Charolais cattle business continued to expand.  I sold a 418 acre irrigated coastal Bermuda grass farm between Devine and Jourdanton, southwest of San Antonio. I formed a partnership with the buyer in the Charolais business. We sold a bull and a heifer to the Rollins kids that did well in the Stock Show. We had another heifer that took a ribbon at the Texas State Fair in October of that year.

From time to time I would buy some more Charolais cattle. I heard about a small bunch an elderly man had down at Terrell, Texas that he wanted to sell. I went down and looked the cattle over and they were nice. We struck a deal at $20,000 for the bunch. This was on a Friday and I told the man I would come back on Saturday with a check and pick the cows up. He said why not just give him a check and load the cows up, as he did not want to find any more feed for them.

I said I don't have $20,000 in my account at the bank and I would have to go up there and make arrangements for the money. He said "No problem. I will just hold your check until Tuesday, and that will give you plenty of time." I said okay and called Jessie to bring the other trailer. I loaded 14 of the cows in my gooseneck trailer and about the same number in Jessie's trailer. I gave the seller a check and I told him to just hold on to it and I would call him when it was okay to deposit it.

Monday was so busy I barely made it to the bank a little after three. We regular customers could get into the bank through the back door after hours. As I passed through the break room and into the lobby Charlie stood up and took his handkerchief out and started wiping his face. He said, "Am I glad to see you! That guy you bought cattle from down at Terrell was in here Saturday morning and demanded cash for your check. I gave him the cash, and I figured you would show up, but I had begun to worry." That was the kind of trust between long-term customers and bankers in those days. Today's banker would bounce a check like that higher than a kite.