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Tales from the Big Thicket

Edited by Francis E. Abernethy

Publication Year: 2002

The secretive beauty and mystery of the Big Thicket of East Texas would inevitably inspire tales—and the pioneers who came to terms with this land were an individualistic and legend-creating lot. In Tales from the Big Thicket, Francis E. Abernethy presents a collection of stories about the Big Thicket and its people. He begins with a brief survey history of the region and then presents anecdotes and tales that introduce us to the people of the Big Thicket and to the land. The reader will find herein the history and folklore of the area, including a collection of Alabama-Coushatta tales, a Civil War episode involving a search for hidden Jayhawkers, a travel account from the nineteenth century, and a history of one of the region's legendary families, the Hooks. "An enjoyable escape to the wood-culture of the past, to the thrill of the bear hunt of yesterday, to the quiet, natural retreat in the middle of an increasingly urban world."—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Temple Big Thicket Series


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pp. ix-5

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Preface to North Texas Edition, List of Illustrations and Maps

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pp. vii-xii

Tales from the Big Thicket is dedicated to the people of Kountze and of Hardin County and to Cecil Overstreet (1908-1997), who introduced me to these woods and who, to me, best represented the Thicket, past and present. The Overstreets came to the Big Thicket in 1852 and settled near Honey Island. Since then they have scattered their bones and blood all through this part of the country. ...

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The Big Thicket: An Introduction

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pp. 3-15

I guess the Big Thicket is as much a product of the imagination and wishful thinking as it is a geographical area. It represents the Great Unknown to the mind cluttered with trade names in a society labeled and categorized. It is a happy hunting ground for the mind, and in man's fancy the cool ...

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A Sketch of the Geology and Soils of the Big Thicket

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pp. 16-21

The Big Thicket, which occupies a major part of Hardin County and portions of the adjoining Polk, Liberty, and Jefferson Counties (see map facing p. 12), is very young as the geologist measures time. The clays and sands that support the extensive forest of the Thicket are perhaps less than a ...

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Folklore in the Big Thicket

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pp. 22-32

I live in Kountze, Hardin County, Texas, which advertises itself on billboards, on chamber-of-commerce literature, and in The Kountze News as "The Town with a Sense of Humor" and "The Big Light in the Big Thicket." Kountze consciously tries to live up to the first slogan, though, as a matter of ...

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Tales of the Alabama-Coushatta Indians

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pp. 33-57

A small group of armed settlers moved quietly across the prairie to form a tight circle around an Indian camp on the Lower Brazos Reserve in Central Texas. Clouds obscured the moon and accentuated the darkness of that December night in 1858. ...

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Settling the Old Poplar-Tree Place

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pp. 58-68

It was said to be about five hundred miles from Jones County, Mississippi, to Hardin County, Texas, and they had to make this trip in ox wagons. Stacey Collins, Jr., had a wagon and a yoke of oxen to carry his family, and Stacey, Sr., and Sara Anderson Collins went with their three sons, Newton, ...

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Grandma Harrison: A Day at Drew's Landing

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pp. 69-74

The Trinity River was rolling along like nobody's business on a bright fall day way back in 1860, but judging from the bustle and excitement along the river route, the business of the settlers was picking up in a big way. Laden with produce, they came on foot and by horseback and ox cart, ...

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The Battle at Bad Luck Creek

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pp. 75-92

Pungent ashen-blue smoke from the remnants of a threatening woods fire floated across the handhewn picket fences of the Sutton clearing. An old yellow dog, lame in the "near hind leg," flopped with a thud, as though strength had suddenly fled him, to the bare sandy ground at the foot of worn pine stems. The nearest neighbor was four miles distant. Only a trail, pretty dim in places, led to the clearing. The thicket was ...

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Buckshot and Blue Whistler: An Interview with Frank Herrington

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pp. 93-106

I will tell you how people hunted when I was a small boy. They would go out in the woods and find deer in herds of from three to fifteen. While the deer were feeding, the hunter would walk very slowly until he was a right distance to make a kill; he would pick out the one he wanted, bang ...

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Camp Big Thicket: Life in the Piney Woods, 1887

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pp. 107-113

I have been in the heart of the "Big Thicket" in Polk and Hardin counties, Texas, for ten days. Nothing can be seen except the tangled underbrush and tall trees. In a ride of 150 miles through these two counties, there is one continuous dense growth of tall pines-oaks, magnolias, and numerous other forest trees. As far as the eye can see, it is the same; ...

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We Trailed Them through the Marshes

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pp. 114-122

A fter nearly all of the cattle were trailed out of Middle and West Texas to Wyoming and Montana, there was a mad scramble to get cattle to restock the range. As a result, stock cattle went sky high. This was in the early 'eighties. Up to that time stock cattle had been selling in East Texas ...

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Texas Bear Hunt, 1906

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pp. 123-136

The Big Thicket of Texas is known throughout the South wherever there is a man who enjoys the chase of big game. It is now recognized as one of the few refuges for the black bear, and its dense thickets and open glades furnish places and feeding grounds for the white-tail deer. There are also ...

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Boom-Town Tales

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pp. 137-154

People came and went in and out of the Thicket long before the Civil War, but permanent settlements were few, and roads were even fewer. The best traveling was done on horseback, and there were times when the traveler was compelled to dismount and lead his horse through sloughs and ...

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Tales from Uncle Owen

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pp. 155-168

Uncle Owen was the depot agent at Honey Island in the Big Thicket; he was also deputy sheriff and district representative to the state legislature. Besides that, he was the justice of the peace and notary public, a Baptist, and a Mason. A good percentage of the Hardin County population were his ...

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Sour Lake: Spa of the Big Thicket

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pp. 169-180

The Big Thicket is full of things that do not follow designated patterns but take surprising turns. Sour Lake is an example. Located in Hardin County at the southern tip of the Thicket where the forest opens out on a small ...

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A Family Full of Legends

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pp. 181-198

The Big Thicket attracted a strange type of people to its abundance of timber and game. It abounded with mosquitoes, poisonous snakes, wildcats, bears, and wolves, and the people who came there were of necessity the hardiest of their species, a fact which they and their descendants were very ...

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Big Thicket Balladry

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pp. 199-214

The Big Thicket is both a fact and a fantasy, with no definable overlapping of the two, geographically or otherwise, for the boundaries, like heat waves, shift with the viewer. Nearly any Texan will say the Big Thicket is down in the southeast part, somewhere close to Louisiana. No one, Texan or not, can tell exactly where it begins or ends, or how to trace its lines north, south, east, west. For thirty years now, off and on, I ...

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From Moss Hill

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pp. 215-226

... He told me old man Whaley was a big fat man, and rode a very high spirited horse in fact a Stallion, he was always trying to pitch, we had the dogs after a bunch of hogs three or four years old i would judge, for they had long tushes, we was running through the brush as fast as we could, but the Hogs would circle back ever ...

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The Saratoga Light

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pp. 227-233

The Old Bragg Road with its mysterious Light turns left off Farm Road 1293 about seven miles west of Honey Island and heads straight for Saratoga, in the heart of the Big Thicket. The road itself is sandy, graded, and pretty well ditched, and is wide enough for two cars to pass. It is seven miles ...


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pp. 235-244

E-ISBN-13: 9781574414981
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574411423

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 89 b&w illus. 3 maps.
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: Temple Big Thicket Series