Laura Young Holcomb’s my Great Grandmother who was Cherokee and Daniel Holcomb my Great Grandfather.
This was from Steve Holcomb and tells of them and Laura’s mom Susan. It kind of gives details to Texas History.
June 3, 2007
The first Augusta Memorial was held in April 1950, 57 years ago and I was four years old. Even though I certainly do not remember, I feel assured that my mother and father, my brother David and myself were sitting in one of those benches. I do not believe my mother and father ever missed an Augusta Memorial until late in their lives when illness prevented them from attending.
My father and grandparents, Dan and Laura Holcomb, were raised in the Liberty Hill – Augusta area and my mother just across the Houston County line in Anderson County.
I would like to visit with you today on two subjects that are near and dear to me. The first of these is my love for the State of Texas, particularly East Texas. Like the large majority of you, I am a proud multiple generations Texan. The Holcomb’s moved to what is now Cherokee County near the Neches River in 1845 with Tom Holcomb, my great grandfather, moving to the Augusta-Liberty Hill area in 1879. The Young side of my family came to Texas in 1838, one of the early settlers in the Augusta –Liberty Hill area. On my mother’s side, the Bowman’s came to Texas in 1835, with my great great great grandfather, Jesse Bowman, losing his life in the Alamo in March 1836. His ancestors lived along the Red River and settled in Houston and Anderson counties in the 1880s. The late comers were the Rich side of my mother’s family, arriving in Texas and settling in Anderson County in the early 1890s from Georgia.
When I travel out of state, I am always relieved when I set foot back on Texas soil. For about a 10 year period of time, my work carried me to Puerto Rico on a quarterly basis. Puerto Rican’s are U.S. citizens so you do not have to have a passport to travel to Puerto Rico. Well, one afternoon, about my fourth of an estimated 35 to 40 trips to Puerto Rico, I was heading to the Puerto Rico airport for my flight home. Traffic was absolutely horrible, which was quite common for Puerto Rico. When I finally reached the airport, and this was before September 11th, I had about 15 minutes to make my flight, so I was literally running through the airport. About that time, a very large man in a uniform grabbed me by the arm, startling me, as I had mistakenly bypassed a customs checkpoint inquiring about fruit being taken on the flight. As I was turned around a large custom’s agent was in my face and asked me “What is your nationality?” My response, without a moment’s hesitation, was TEXAN. A big smile came on his face and he said, “And I bet you don’t have any fruit with you.” That one word summed it up completely, TEXAN.
I love the way Texan’s talk, primarily because I talk just like them. We talk slow. Jane tells me the deeper I get into East Texas, the slower I talk. I love to hear these words in a slow Texan draw, Yes Ma’m, no Ma’m, thank you Ma’m. I wish I had a dime for every time I have said those words. I have a difficult time understanding people with a foreign accent, or for matter people from the north, because they talk to fast. Jane has missed many parts of TV show or movie responding to my constant question of “What did he say?”
I love the East Texas countryside, particularly the trees: pines, oaks, pecans, elms, dogwoods, hickory, and gums. The rolling to gently rolling hills of East Texas covered in trees is a beautiful sight. I love country roads with forests on both sides. When Jane and I purchased our home on Houston County Lake, the prior owner was originally from Iowa. Jane told me not to call him a Yankee, but that was exactly what he was. Giving us a tour of the place he noted with great pleasure that he had cut down about 10 pine trees, calling them trash trees. Well today, we have about ten East Texas pines growing in our yard.
I love East Texas expressions. My father had some favorites that he expressed quite often. One of them was “It is easy at night to get up early the next morning.” Just think about that one, particularly a young person staying up late at night, but having to get up early the next morning. Another of his expressions was “Stayed out with the dry cows last night.” That was usually expressed on Saturday or Sunday morning at the breakfast table after a week-end night in Nacogdoches.
I love Texas food, particular country cooking. I don’t particularly like Italian food or Mexican, Chinese, Japanese or Greek food. I like Texas food, particularly fried foods. I would eat it every day, but for health reason I eat it about one a week. You know the Texas cookbook only has three words, “Fry that Sucker.”
About five or six years ago, Jane and I were attending a company dinner at Café Annie, an exclusive restaurant in the Houston Galleria where the cheapest thing on the menu is $30.00. Café Annie is supposedly a “Texas theme restaurant,” with everything on the menu served around grits. Well, in my book, grits is breakfast food. What they do is strategically place a pile of grits in the center of the plate, place the fish, chicken or beef on top of the grits and then strategically lean the asparagus up against the meat and then decorate the plate with some kind of food coloring. Well the first thing I have to do is separate all of that. During the desert phase of the meal, one of the gentlemen at our table stated that Café Annie was his and his wife’s favorite restaurant. Jane leaned over to me and said, “Steve, should I tell them your favorite restaurant in Vernon’s Catfish King near Lake Conroe.”
What I would give to be able to set at my mother’s, Lura Holcomb, and my mother-in-laws, Margie Smith, dinner tables just one more time. My mother passed away in 1993 and Jane’s mother in 2005. Those ladies could flat cook. What I would ask them to cook for me will make the large majority of you very hungry. You vegetarians don’t even bother sitting down at their tables. After much internal debate, I would go to Grapeland and ask my mother to prepare the following: Fried chicken. I would want her to take the whole fryer and cut it up with the pulley-bone, breast, wings, legs and thigh. On the side I would ask for fresh creamed corn, fried okra, well done and almost burned, purple hull or crouter peas, and sliced tomatoes, radishes and onions from her garden, and of course corn bread. For desert I would like her fresh berry cobbler, baked to perfection, with just a touch of blue bell homemade ice cream or milk. I would hate to know how many calories were in that berry cobbler, but it was absolutely outstanding. Are ya’ll hungry yet?
After a week to recuperate, I would head to my mother-in laws house in Diboll and ask her to cook for me fried catfish. She cut her catfish up in small pieces so it would cook very crispy on the outside and done on the inside. The catfish would almost crunch when you ate it. Instead of her hushpuppies, which were might good, I would ask her to fry for me some hot water cornbread. Put some butter on that and it would melt in your mouth. Of course I would want some fresh cut fried potatoes, and the long white radishes that she grew in her flower beds. Those white radishes would almost burn your mouth. But what I would really want would be her deserts. I would really splurge and ask for three deserts, coconut pie, pound cake and fried pear pies so I could take the leftovers home with me. Her coconut pies were to die for and her pound cake was cooked in a long narrow pan and when you sliced it the center would be slightly raw. And the fried pear pies were the best I ever tasted. If ya’ll are not hungry now, there is something wrong with you.
The last thing I would like to visit with you about today is remembering the past. As I have gotten older family history has taken on a new meaning. I have found information on all sides of my family, including the Civil War records of three great grandfathers who fought for the Confederates States of America. I did not have a picture of my grandfather Dan Holcomb. Today, thank to my cousin, I have a picture of my grandfather and grandmother, Laura, taken when they were in their early 30s sitting on their porch in Liberty Hill.
My father-in-law, L.D. Smith, was an avid genealogist doing much research on his and his wife’s families, as well as my family. How I wish he was alive today to go over that information with me. How I would love to set down with my mother and father and talk to them about their early life and find out what was passed down to them by their mother and father and grandparents. My goal is to get my life down on paper. I want my grandchildren to understand what life was like in Texas in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. About living in Texas without air-conditioning. About cutting a watermelon at 9:30 o’clock in the morning at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon at my Bowman grandparent’s farm, eating the heart only and throwing the rest to the pigs. About outhouses, smoke houses and ribbon cane syrup mills. About starting the school year with one new pair of blue jeans and changing out of them when you got home for you had to wear those same blue jeans to school all week. About homemade shirts and dresses made from feed sack material. About the simple life of an East Texas high school student in the 1960s, before drugs and gangs. About the life that Jane and I have lived since marrying in 1965. My goal is to put it all on paper, as well as everything I know about the life of my mother, father, grandparents, and on and on, as far as I can go. There will come a time that one of our children or grandchildren will cherish this history just like I do. I have started this project and have made great progress, but it will be a continuing work in progress for many years.
I encourage you to write yours and your family’s history down. My grandmother’s sister aunt, Maude Young Davis, did exactly that in 1960. Aunt Maude wrote a brief hand written history about her mother, Susan Hall Young, and I cherish that paper. Shirley Cutler gave me a copy of the paper several years ago. Since that time, I have reacquainted myself with Aunt Maude’s granddaughter, Virginia Hambrick, and Susan Haase, the granddaughter of Cora Young Moore, Maude’s and Laura’s sister. We have sharing information about our great grandparents, Peter and Susan Young and their descendents. In addition to Peter and Susan Young, many of our descendents are buried at Augusta, including the three sisters, Laura, Cora and Maude, and a brother, Joshua, along with their spouses, as well as a baby brother, Grover.
I would like to read to you this history written by Maude Young Davis at the age of 72. It is dated 1960, 47 years ago.
By Maude Young Davis, sister of Laura Young Holcomb
Dated 1960, at the age of 72
Susan “Mother”, born to Robert and Nancy Price Hall, was born in Alabama. Two other children were in this family, Mary and Henry. Her childhood and young adulthood was spent back and forth in Alabama and Mississippi. When Mother was 18 years old, she married Sam Turner of Mississippi. Two children were born from this marriage, Mary and Billie Turner. Sam Turner died while in Civil War service during the Union’s siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Mother’s brother, Henry, also died in service at the age of 17.
Mother’s parent, Robert and Nancy, along with her sister Mary who also was a war widow, came to Texas around 1863. In the fall of 1865, Mother and her two small children came to Texas. She prayed day and night that she might be able to some way get to Texas to her family. A friend who lived a distance of 10 or 16 miles knew the condition of Mother and took it upon herself to ride at night to tell Mother of this old crippled man and his wife who wanted someone to drive one of his wagons. With a feather bed, two pillows, some quilts, few clothes, oven and dinner pot, Mother and her two children started out to Texas to be reunited once again with her parents and sister.
They were on the road many weeks, suffering many hardships, cold and hunger. Had it not been for kind people along the road who gave them milk and sometimes a little other stuff such as turnip greens and sweet potatoes they would have gone hungry many times. She said one time and one time only, she was tempted to steal. They passed a field of sweet potatoes. She saw no house. She thought of her hungry children. She climbed over the rail fence and was filling her apron full of the nice sweet potatoes. A man spoke near her and it gave her such a fright she let go of her apron, dropping the potatoes, and started to run when she saw the man was from the wagon train. He had found the owner of the field and had been given permission to help themselves to the potatoes. When they would camp at night, the men would take to the woods for wild game and the women would milk and prepare the meal with whatever the folks had to divide.
In the late fall, the company landed in Leon County, three miles this side of the little sandy town of Jewett. On finding that it was only three miles on to her fathers she took her little ones, carrying the baby in her arms, and took off (I was showed the exact spot some years ago). She walked up and set her little boy baby on the porch and waited. The little fellow toddled in at the door. Grandmother said that she recognized the baby at once. She grabbed him up in her arms and began to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. This account was also given me by our only Aunt. Aunt Mary was helping her father with some farm work. She heard the commotion and said to her father, “Pa, sister has come. Nothing else could cause mother to rejoice like that.” It was generally known our grandparents had Indian blood. They were third cousins.
The International & Great Northern Railroad Company (which later became the Missouri Pacific Railroad) was built while our people lived in Jewett. Mother and Aunt Mary cooked for the railroad hands. Grandmother died. Aunt Mary married and that roving Indian’s disposition got the upper hand of the old man. He sold out and he and Mother started back east, maybe to Alabama, his home state. They got as far as Houston County, San Pedro Creek, and had trouble crossing it because of bad roads and decided to stop over a while. They liked the country, the people, and settled in the Bobbitt settlement. At the time there was a gin, grindmill, a little building used for church and school, a right lively settlement.
Just across San Pedro Creek was the home of Peter Young and his five little girls. In time this bold gentlemen wrote the pretty widow Turner a note and sent it to her by little Bittie Bobbitt.
Now as to dates I can’t be sure. Your guess is as good as mine. All I have to go by is the year of deaths, their ages and when they died. My parents must have lived together about 16 or 17 years. Papa died December 3, 1887 and I was born June 1, 1888. Brother was about 16 when Papa died. Mother died July 16, 1904.
There were 7 little Young’s born to this family, 5 girls and two boys.
This is poorly written and I wonder if you can tell heads or tails. The truth of the matter is we put it off entirely too long. I find many things are a bit clouded in my mind. You told me to take all the time I needed but really I find I am slipping in a lot of things and my eyesight is failing some. So is my handwriting. So decided I best go on and jot these little things down. If you can get anything out of this that makes sense you are pretty good. Mother was 64 and Papa was 65 when they died.
Did she not do a great job? This three page hand-written history paper tells me a great deal about my great grandmother, the strength, drive and determination it took to survive after losing her husband in the Civil War, driving a wagon from Georgia to Texas with two small children, and starting over in Texas. Susan Young, my great grandmother, was quite a woman. I am honored to be her great grandson and I know that Virginia and Susan are honored to be her great daughters.
I certainly have enjoyed visiting with you today and may God Bless Texas.
Tagged: , Daniel Holcomb , Laura Holcomb , circa 1900 , Cherokee , Great Grandmother , Laura Young