restricted access 10. Frontier’s End
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10 Frontier's End That is the land oflost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways whereI went And cannot come again. A. E. Housman, "Yon Far Country" In 1905 Corbett's father, Pa Graham, got the itch. Uncle Hardy Parker's letters set it off. It festered, and Pa grew so restless that his wife, MaryJane, orJennie, knew he'd have to scratch it. Uncle Hardy was the brother of Pa's long-dead mother, Lavina. Years earlier, he had moved from Mississippi and settled down in the Angelina country near the Grahams' home in De Zavala. Eventually he had moved on farther west, "for his health." He ended up in Rising Star, in a drier land beyond the woodlands, three hundred miles west ofDe Zavala and two days past Comanche. As is common for a folk newly settled in a land thought satisfactory, he wrote letters home about the wondrous country he had found. Pa Graham read the letters. All his thirty-seven years of life Pa Graham had spent living in the Angelina country. He had seen the dusty cowboys bring the herds in from the west, smelling of a land with far horizons. He had watched newcomers from farther east push into the countryside about the Angelina . Married couples added ten where two had been before. Oflate it seemed he bumped into a person everywhere he turned. Worst ofall, a railroad line had just been laid through the Angelina country; he could hear the whistle as the train approached De Zavala. One-hundred-sixty-acre homesteads could be had near Rising Star, Uncle Parker said. All you had to do to own the land was stay on it for three years. The soil was good for farming and the settlers scarce. Pa Graham bought a canvas cover for the wagon. He patched the harnesses and fattened up the mules. He helped the other Grahams plow their fields one last time, sold his land, and in a barn belonging to a relative packed the furniture and other heavy things that he and Jennie owned. As summer neared its end, they headed out for Rising Star. Two mules pulled the wagon. Corbett and the other children slept each night on a mattress in the wagon bed. Pa Graham and Mama Jennie slept on pallets on the ground. First, the family went northwest to Lufkin. From there they traveled west to ford the Neches River, smaller than it was straight west of De Zavala. Dutch oven biscuits from the sack of flour in the wagon fed them morning, noon, and night. Cookies, preserves, and salt bacon from home, and probably rabbits and squirrels shot along the road, added to the fare. They bought milk from farmers on the way. "Risin' Star, you say? Well, if I was you, I'd head west to Crockett, then to Waco. Ask along the way." Beyond Crockett, they crossed the Trinity River on a wooden bridge. Wagons moving westward had multiplied in recent years, and a road above the water could handle much more traffic than a ferry. When they reached Waco, they could hardly believe their eyes - an iron bridge spanned the Brazos. Corbett's eyes grew even larger at the many buildings packed along the streets of Waco. Seeing all the horses, buggies, wagons, and crowds ofpeople kept his bare feet rooted to the street. An unfamiliar sound pulled the mules' ears like a magnet. The animals shuffled nervously in their harnesses. Corbett climbed up on the wagon seat to get a look. A shiny black contraption puttered past, without a horse to pull it, and everybody stared. 83 Frontier's End One more river to cross. Bohler's Ferry on the Angelina about 1922, near the present-day crossing ofState Highway 63, afew miles downstream from Corbett's birthplace. Donated to the Jasper County Historical Commission by Jimmy Tanner. "Must be one of them automobiles," Pa Graham said. Corbett rubbed his eyes. Waco fell behind. At Valley Mills, the mules pulled the wagon through the shallow Bosque River. Farther on, they crossed the Leon River on a wooden bridge. Finally they reached Comanche. The country had grown more open. It hadn't been too long, people said, since the Indians had made travel risky in these parts. By the time the Grahams pulled into the tiny town of Rising Star, they had been two weeks on the road. Uncle Parker's family lived two miles out in a...


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Subject Headings

  • Truett, Joe C. (Joe Clyde), 1941- -- Childhood and youth.
  • Angelina River Valley (Tex.) -- Biography.
  • Ecologists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Natural history -- Texas -- Angelina River Valley.
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