Wood County 1850-1900 Still Available

Another request has been received for the place to purchase a copy of “Wood County 1850-1900.” Members Shirley Patrick and Lou Mallory have supplied the request and answer for inclusion here.

They are available at several locations including from the Wood County Historical Commission (gmallory@suddenlink.net) the front desk at the Quitman Public Library, The Mineola Chamber of Commerce, and the City Hall in Mineola. The price quoted by Lou Mallory (chairman of the historical commission) last year was $15 per book and $4.00 for postage for each copy mailed.

Wood County Feels the Tug of War

Life in the Piney Woods
By Ona Wood
Chapter 3
Wood County Feels the Tug of War

The everyday affairs of life went on as usual in the deep eastern section of Wood County.

Mary and Peter Gunstream and their neighbors always arose long before the dawn and prepared breakfast. They ate by the light of candles which they had molded with their own hands from the tallow dried from the fat of the beeves that they had butchered on their own range.
Their breakfast was no meager affair; even if they did live in the woods of a sparsely settled country, food was in abundance: quail fried to a golden brown, ham from their smokehouse, sausage, red gravy and hominy, hot corn pone and butter.

As soon as the first rays of the sunlight dispelled the rosy tinted dawn, Peter went to the fields or to the mill. Everything seemed peaceful in the deep forest.

Far off in the distance a turtle dove cooed to its mate… Continued on the Member’s Only pages accessible from the link at the top right of this page.

County Native Learned It Here

Quitman and Wood County’s Sissy Spacek “says she learned all the truths that are most important to her before she left that little town in Texas,” according to an article in USA Today. The story is about the book which she has written which is to be published in Spring 2012. It will include “non-fiction short stories” about events in her life including those during her early years in Quitman.

Life in the Pineywoods – Chapter 2

Ona Wood writes about life in Wood County in the early 1850’s reflecting the life of Peter Gunstream and especially the Holly Springs community of eastern Wood County in Chapter 2 of the story of her ancestor’s coming to the county. This chapter is available on the members only site by going to the link at the top right of this page. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter:

It was not until the year 1857 that the first school house was built in the settlement of the deep eastern part of Wood County. The little log school house was located about one half mile southwest of the Gunstream home. The principal patrons were P. M. Gunstream, Mr. Isham Burnett, and Mr. B. L. Robbins.
The first school that was taught in the log structure was under the tutelage of Miss Emily Smith, a very young girl. She had an enrollment of fifteen pupils.
The school term was very short. That was the case of all the school terms throughout the entire county, and in many other places of the state for the next half century. The school usually ran for a term of three or four months; and in some instances two months in the summer time after crops were “laid by.”
The children had to walk long distances to reach the school house, even as much as four miles or more. By the time a youngster reached the school building, ate his lunch, and returned home, most of the day was gone.
The only school books were those that parents might have brought from the old states or , perchance, some father had been lucky enough to find during a trip to Jefferson or Marshall when going for supplies for the family.

Life In The Piney Woods – Chapter One

We have begun the serial publication of Life In The Piney Woods by Ona WOOD. It is available to members on the members-only page which you can access at the top right column of this page. It will also appear in the second quarter (June, 2010) newsletter.

The foreword (by Mrs. Ona Wood) was previously published here. If you would like to read it again before going to Chapter one, click here.

Thanks to member Mark Reid who digitized the first chapters of Mrs. Wood’s book.

———————–

Life In The Piney Woods – Chapter One

A YOUNG SWEDE COMES TO AMERICA

The day dawned beautiful. The sun projected its rays across the waters of the northern seas in an effort, it seemed, to hold in check the restless beating of the waves.

On the deck of a ship lying at anchor in Baltic waters in the harbor of Copenhagen, Denmark stood a young man, well groomed and handsome.
The long locks of his light wavy hair sweeping loosely around his neck were tousled by the wind; the tangy sea breeze upon his face, caused his eyes to turn occasionally from their far-distant gaze; within their depths, like a mirror to his soul; shone a spirit of courage and strength, supported by an abiding peace.

Inside the iron-bound chest, bearing the name of P. M. Gunstream, that had just been placed on board were many tools that were to be used to ply his trade in a new world. To read the remainder of Chapter One, go to the member-only page.

FREE Genealogy Guide

Thanks to member Scott Fitzgerald in a posting to tx-etgs@rootsweb.com for this tip: a free downloadable .pdf copy of William Dollarhide’s “Getting Started in Genealogy Online.”

It’s a 60-plus page book with the basics of starting (and re-starting and getting back on track) your genealogical search with a large number of online clickable web links. You can go buy the hardbound book or get this one for free by downloading it.

There are a few ads on the first pages (three) one for a book by Scott Drew, one for the Genealogical.com website where you can — if you wish — sign up for a free genealogy newsletter by email, and one for WorldVitalRecords.com which is offering the Dollarhide book download for NOTHING. As a courtesy I looked at the ads and as a way of thanking them, I browsed those three ad pages, but it’s not required.

For me, this download was a must have. After looking at it, I saved a copy (perfectly legal by their terms of use) to my computer. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
This is the download link: http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/download-ebook.aspx

Scott Fitzgerald is the editor of “East Texas Family Records, a quarterly publication of the East Texas Genealogical Society which covers the counties of Anderson, Gregg, Henderson, Panola, Rusk and Smith.” and the “Treasurer (2008-2011) of the Texas State Genealogical Society” among other things in the genealogical world of Texas. He has also presented programs at our Wood County society meetings.

A Real “Rootin’, Tootin” Pioneer Hero

It’s a wonder that no one has made a novel, movie, or television series about the life of Wood County’s Martin Varner. It’s all there in black and white in Don Raney‘s recent history of Varner, “Martin Varner: Texas Pioneer, His Life Story and His Descendants.” And, there’s a whole lot of Wood County history there through tracing the many family connections of the Varner family.

Don was born here himself in the Hoard community and not very far from the area that Varner and his family (the first White settlers in the Wood County area) lived just south of present-day Hainesville. Connections to other historic pioneer families of Wood County are also in the book.

Don made all this come alive in his presentation to the April meeting of the society at the library in Quitman. If you want a story about a man who traveled across the United States to Texas with conflicts along the way with Indians, the United States government, and, oh, yes, the Mexican government and ultimately Santa Anna’s army, Don Raney is a man you should see (or at least read his book). Varner’s ultimate death at the hands of a neighbor over what seems to us a trivial matter (tools of the neighbor’s trade) qualifies as a true heroic tragedy.

I am so happy I didn’t miss the April meeting and, thus, miss hearing Don tell the story. I knew he was a good teacher from a previous visit he made to the society and from workshops I attended which he taught at a genealogical conference in Lufkin several years ago.

If you missed the meeting and have not seen his book, society Vice-president Dororthy Harbin has some copies of the book for sale at a very reasonable price (and a part of the purchase price will go as a donation to the society). You can contact her at 903-571-4965 or at P.O. Box 794, Quitman, TX 75783 or by email at Reddot77@aol.com.

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