Osborne Family Letter
Contributed by Nicki Osborne
Written by William Henry Osborne, 1944
Twenty-five miles southwest of Corinth, Ms., Alcorn Co., in a one room log house with a shed-room on the East side for a cook room, stick & dirt chimneys, puncheon floors & screeching doors, there was born a baby boy on July 20,1868. In place of giving him a hat, they gave him a name, and that name was “William Henry Osborn”.
So, after 2 years, we moved into a fine house — a double log with passage between, a stick and dirt chimney at each end and good sweet gum floors. This was on “Little Hatchie”. Before long we sold this fine home and moved up in the hill country near a good school called “Possum Kingdom”
This school building also was a one room log house, stick & dirt chimney & the fireplace was 6 feet wide, and we boys cut and brought in the wood. Of course, the teacher was kind enough to bring his part, and that part was a black gum switch about the length of a raw hide buggy whip, well, that wasn’t the end of it — many times a boy was at the end of it and the teacher at the other end. Yes, those were happy school days of long ago.
We had nice desks & seats in this building, split logs with pegs driven in from the bottom side, of course, and the split side up. We also used slates & pencils, and was so much scratching & fuss making that we never heard a drove of wild geese fly over. Yes, 2 months in the summer & 2 in the winter for 10 years, and if ever there was a graduate, it was kept a secret. So ended our school days, that is, in old Mississippi
At age 15 some of us BIG BOYS went out to work on a railroad grading in Alabama. We made big money — got a dollar a day & board, and we’ll never forget the boards, because we slept on some of them. From there we went back home, walked part of the way and road some.
Next, we worked for one “T.D. Eaton” — 6 months for $50.00. One day of that 6 months was too cold to work, so we went to Boonsville on foot & walked back the same day — 22 miles in this round trip. Yes, we stopped on our way back to see a young lady friend, so it wasn’t day but was in the night when we arrived home.
We must back up a little as there was a leap-year in here some were and that year we lived on a farm known as the “Grasshopper Place”. This was about 5 miles southwest of “Hightown” where “Gentry’s Hill” was located. While on this farm, as a boy we made our 1st money by working at an old horsepower gin for “Dr. Jack Gibson” at $.25 per day. That was lots of fun and good pay. With part of this money, we bought a spinning wheel for mother so she could card, spin and weave cloth and make our breeches — pants.
While here on this farm we went 2 semesters to school to what was known as the “Spillman School House”. This was only 4 miles we had to walk, or run as we liked. Well Uncle “John Rencher” lived just a mile away, and it was lots of fun to visit and see him draw honey out of a 50-gallon barrel while “Aunt Kat” was cooking those good hot biscuits, and too, there was a boy there to play with. From here we went back into the hill country again and stayed until we started to Texas. (But not all at one place.)
Now we are in the home of old “Father Eaton”. There we had all things in common & uncommon. The uncommon was that this boy had the pleasure of running one of those old horsepower gins one season, feeding the one-gin stand by hand, and by starting early and working late we could gin 2 bales in one day. Now ginning season is over, we get up the oxen & mules and get them ready for a hard trip to market with our cotton.
The day before we would grease our linchpin wagons, load each one with 2 bales of cotton, and with enough corn and fodder to last for 3 days. Some would have boiled ham, others would carry pillow slips full of biscuits & ginger cakes, and we’d stay at a camp house in the wagon yard. Next day we’d sell our cotton, buy a year’s supplies, drive out 4 miles to Tuscumbia and camp again. The third day we would drive in home, everybody happy and looking forward to another 12 months when we get to market — to Corinth, 25 miles, but something happened and we didn’t get to go.
Now we find ourselves at “Mr. John Gray’s” near Hightown again. We lived about one mile from home, that is, his steam gin and mill was about a mile from his residence. There something new happened. About 9 P.M. we were all sitting around the family fireplace and “Mr. Gray” reached and picked up his bible, read a chapter and said “Let’s pray,” and among other things, he prayed for the young boy that had come to in their home. For the first time thought: We’d rather have Jesus, live in a little shack by the road, than to own all earths treasures with no title to a future abode. From here we went to the home that was very nice indeed, “Mr. Lewis Sadler’s”. But that old saying came true, while there we traded our bed off for a lantern– supper at 9, bed at 10, up at 4. But it was just the making of a boy if he could stand it and stay awake? From there we spent a month with “Flunk Eaton”. He had some brothers — “Plunk, Hood, Chub, and others”. They were a jolly set of boys.
On or about Jan. 1, 1884 we found our way into another good home. This was another double log house with a hall between, a shed room on the north made the kitchen, dining room and our bedroom. Yes, there was a stick & dirt chimney at each end of this building (and a stump-tailed dog in the yard). Uncle “Frank Nix” was the owner of this home, and he knew a great deal about boys, so he said you can’t make the best hand unless you stay home and rest at night, so we learned something there that was good for a 16-year-old boy, and we still remember it to this good day. He raised our salary to $11.00 per month, that was tops.
About days out of each month we’d go to the bottom hunting — 3 trips, 15 each equal 45 squirrels. But we had one sad trip, we shot and killed 6 tame turkeys thinking they were wild. We’ll they just cost us $3.00 in all and would have been cheap for half the money. We thought so well of this home that we were there 2 years. So, in July 1886 we started to Texas. (But we cried all the way to Memphis, which was 90 miles from Corinth.)
We packed 1 little trunk that was about the size of a nice lady’s handbag of these days, then we got in a two-horse wagon and rode out to “Old Rienzi” 10 miles. There we got a train up to Corinth where we bought our ticket to “Wolfe City Texas”. Somehow in making change we had about $20.00 silver. Well, that was too heavy for our pocket, so what should we do? This is what we did. We untied that little trunk, put the silver in our plow shoes, stuffed our yard socks in to keep it for rattling and checked the trunk for Wolfe City.
The rest of the letter is about Texas. We were on the road the road 3 days, and when they would stop 20 mins. for dinner, we’d go to the baggage car to see if our trunk was there. Finally, we both landed in Wolfe City. The town was about 800 yards from the depot, so we put our little trunk on our shoulder and walked up town. The first man we met was a “Wolfe”, he asked where are you going? I said out to one “W.M. Nix’s” so he found a wagon for us to ride in — 7 miles, trunk and all, for $.50.
We had the pleasure of staying in this “W.M. Nix home 4 years, down near Greenville the last year, then he moved to Alvord, Wise Co., Texas, so it fell to our lot to drive a team of mules that 125 miles, 5 days on the road, lots of fun, with a dog on the spring seat by our side. On the way this dog saw one he thought he might whip? So off he went and we were delayed 10 mins. until he could get loose from what he’d caught. Finally, we got there and stayed 2 weeks to help “Mr. Nix” get up his winter wood and haul in some corn for that team of mules. The last we saw of that dog; he was trying to catch the train that we left on.
So now we are in the home of one “Mr. R. Carter” at old “Hickory Creek, Hunt Co., Texas” This was another good place for an untrained boy. There reformation set in again in our life, certainly our lot was cast among a goodly people and our path was one of roses while at old Hickory Creek. Our friends there were too many to mention, and they all had a job trying to tame a wild boy — all worked at it. While at old Hickory our hobby was singing, and we worked to pay expenses, and we attended every singing school that was within 5 miles of us, about 60 days in all. Our choir there had 62 young people and a few lame ducks in it, and believe you me, when we all sang you could hear a rustling in the mulberry trees. We were there 10 years, and in the summer of ’99 we came to Eddy, Texas through the country in a wagon with our brother “Tom Osborne” & one cousin “J.T. Miracle” — 5 days on the road again and now you can drive in a car 5 hours. So you see, we are getting along way ahead of time. (But Germany has more intelligence to the Square Head than any other country on the globe.)
So now we are down on “Deer Creek” in the home of “Uncle C.T. Miracle”. Everything went well there and the stove flew in every direction. While there we did all the inside work of a new ground and some field work, such as chopping and picking cotton, and we found a jolly set of boys here as well as all others in the home, (This was “99 & 1900.)
But now we must pick up the down row, fill up the loopholes and cross a few more bridges. Yes, while at Hickory Creek we rode 1200 miles on horseback to and from “Bailey” to see a young lady, for 5 years, 2 Sundays out of each month. We missed 3 Sundays, went back on the 4th and that young lady had set up housekeeping with another man. Then and there we decided that a bachelor’s life surely was the best, be drunk or be sober, lie down at your rest, no wife to grumble, no children to squall, and happy is the man that keeps Bachelors’ Hall. So, we went on what was known then to us as a home vacation. That was much easier on both the horse and rider and less vexation of the spirit.
So right along now we visited our good friend “Mr. Nix” at Alvord, went out on the train, and while there bought a $40.00 pony &a $40.00 saddle for the price of one and rode back over that lonesome trail that we drove that team of mules over. So now we are entering the evangelistic song service. Our first revival was at “Jonah, Williamson Co., Texas, on the banks of the “San Gabriel” in 1903. Here in this revival at Jonah, our Dear Beloved “Rev. D.C. Hardin” was instrumental in digging us up out of the pit and out of the miry clay, he placed our feet on a rock and established our way. He put a new song on our lips, our God to glory be, but now he is living in that home on high. So, from Jonah we went to the “Bosqueville Church”, we stopped in Eddy for the 11 o’clock service and the church was kind enough to vote us into its membership. 40 years and they haven’t turned us out yet (good folks.) Some of the Churches that we visited were “Regan, Durango, Marlin (in a tent), Clifton, Dawson, Hickory Creek, Old Oakville, Mathis, and Hot Springs, Arkansas, and many others. For 15 seasons we sang for this great preacher of the Gospel. In all, we have helped and been helped (mostly), in 40 years was in 80 revivals in “Eddy, Texas” 40 years among the roses, and still going strong, not tired yet, but sometimes weary. But we hope to press along for a few more years to come.
So, from “Deer Creek” farm we came up to “Eddy”, went to work for a short while in a dry goods store, with room & board at the “Eddy Hotel”. Along here somewhere we went to school a few months, then back on the farm another year. In the fall of 1902, we worked at a gin in Eddy. Here we traded our bed off for a lantern again — had breakfast, dinner and supper at the gin for 2 months. When this was over, we went into the paint and wallpaper business, sorry to say, but we have been at it ever since. Now and then we’d stop long enough to sing for a revival at “Hosheim, The Valley ” or elsewhere.
About now we visited friends at “Moran, Texas” and there we bought a 160-acre tract of land. The same developed into an oil field later, but as usual we sold too soon and lost a 9- & 1/2-million-dollar oil well. That wasn’t too bad, we still kept our friends and they are better and outlast any oilwell.
In the summer of 1908, a revival was in progress at the Tabernacle, conducted by “Bro. E.M. Lewis, and there we met a very nice young lady (a teacher from Alamogordo, New Mexico.) It was there at first sight that the Bachelors Hall began to fade out, and we could see brighter days ahead and not too far away. But there were 2 more years of agony, extreme pain & anguish. But finally, the old account was settled, and settled long ago. So, on May 6th,1910, the 1st Decoration Day for Eddy Cemetery, at 8 p.m., this beautiful young lady, whose name was “Miss Ethel Gordon” of “Chulahoma, Mississippi, and this 42 year old boy were united in Holy Bonds of matrimony at the home of her uncle, “T.B. Morton”, by “Rev. D.C. Hardin”, our pastor at this time was “Rev. R.J. Fletcher” and he was also present, and they said a few others, we ourselves don’t remember very much about what was going on, but we do remember that the 2 of us were present.
So now it’s in order to establish a home, not a house, but a home; anywhere is Home Sweet Home if Christ is only there. But before we establish this home, we stayed at the Eddy Hotel for 3 months. During this time, we went out to Moran and sang in a “Brush-Arber Revival”. On Saturday the pastor said “I go fishing” 40 of us said “We go with thee.” We’ll this is just another fish story, but we caught 75 pounds at 3 drags, cooked them in a wash pot. This was on “Hubbard Creek” near “Sedwick Switch” Yes and we dug a tank on that 160-acre tract while out there. So now we are back in Eddy, riding on the Texas Central (better known as the Tin Can). That train was always on time, its schedule was 18 miles per hour, so it was never late. That was a joyful trip. I guess we might call it our honeymoon, if there is such a moon? We had several friends and some new ones out there.
So now we are selecting our housekeeping outfit, which was very expensive, all told $42.50 — that bought everything that was needed and some over. So now we are in the paint and paper business right, our shirtsleeves cut off to our elbows, a white cap on and working 10 hours every day and singing home sweet home every night. We were out of the music business for about a year, then we went to singing at home in a rocking chair and kept it up for 6 years. We sang every song from Bonaparts’s Retreat to the Little Brown Church in the Wildwood and occasionally Old Joe Clark. We moved to “Moody” for 1 school term, that was 1915, then 1916 back to Eddy. On October 12th of that year, we went into the music business again, just of an evening after supper, in that same old rocking chair. This time we had to sing The Old Lonesome Cowboy, or something on that order, but it was lots of good fun & joy beyond expression.
So, we are in Eddy for 2 years more, but on Jan.1,1918 we moved on a farm & ranch 9 miles west of Moody. This was a twice double log house with 4 fireplaces, a large hall, an ell, 3 porches, and all out in the yard, in the back yard was a hollow stump for the hens to lay in. We had 100 hens, but they didn’t all lay in that stump. There were 1 guinea in the bunch, but it wasn’t a lay number. So, we lived there for 2 years, then moved over to “Old Eagle Springs” for 1 year, and there we made so much cotton that we went broke, then what? In 1921 found us back in Eddy with a sign on our door —“I Shall Never Move Again” So nothing new is happening now, just doing whatsoever our hands find to do. O, yes, in 1925 we bought a Model T Ford and in 1926 with our family and one other boy we drove over to “Holly Springs” to visit our people. That was a joyful trip. The family came back in August and we stayed and did some paint and paper work. About this time the Depression hit and kept knocking for long time.
But right now we must go back to “Fannin & Hunt Co.,Texas” and pick up a few drop stitches; Long about 1889 40 passengers(counting the conductor) from “Corinth” got off the train at “Wolfe City”. Our parents, ( Frances Marion & Mary Miracle Osborne) 1 brother ( Lee A. Osborne) & sister (Martha E. Osborne) were in that goodly number. Since 1896 our parents have been sleeping in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery near Wolfe City. So far as we know there are only 3 out of that number living today. (Brother Thomas F. Osborne, was killed by a wagon in 1911 in Eddy Texas) After we had been in Texas about 3 years, we made a visit back to our old home on one of these Christmas excursions — 7 days & nights on the road, going & coming.
When we came to Texas in ’86 we crossed “The Big River” on a boat. On the visit we crossed on the new bridge, it was new then. Our last visit to Old Hickory Creek was May 24,1942. But they were scattered abroad, most of them had gone the Old Glory Way. About 6 living there of our old friends. Others in Greenville, Paris, Leonard, Wolfe City, and Dallas. How long must we wait until we enter that beautiful gate?
Yes, there is never a day so sunny but a little cloud appears, and there is never a life so happy but what has some falling tears. So, on Nov.13,1937 this dear companion that had walked so faithfully by our side for 27 years, was promoted from Earth to Glory.
Yes, just a few more years to be filled with tears, then our weeping will be over. Then we’ll sing his praise throughout endless days in that land beyond the river. When the loved ones of our home have been called from earth to go, we can only hope to meet on that bright and happy shore.
Yes, she died in beauty like a rose blown from its parent stem. She died in beauty like a pearl dropped from some diadem. She’s gone, gone to rest from every care and pain. What a happy time ’twill be when we all shall meet again. I am weary, let me rest, Jesus, on thy loving breast.
Oh, how long shall I here stay pinning these sad years away?
March 1,1944, William Henry Osborn