The Reilly Springs Community is basking in the sunshine this week, as everyone is enjoying some warmer temperatures and the wonderful weather. I observed several out doing yard work that they had “put off” during the rainy and cold days of the previous week.
“It’s great to get out in the sunshine and do some yard work,” revealed one community resident. “The temperatures are pleasant and finally warm enough that you can think about growing something!”
The past week has been a real whirlwind. Several of you have heard me mention my great-grandfather, Luther McDonald’s sister, Elizabeth “Lizzie” McDonald Hendricks. Lizzie and her family left Reilly Springs in the late 1880s after selling the place that is now occupied by Artie Mae Bailey. They pulled up stakes and moved West, along with several other families from Reilly Springs. I had managed to find a couple of letters in an old family trunk, that offered some clues to what had happened to the family, but really had no solid information. It just seemed that after leaving Reilly Springs, they fell off the face of the earth.
Credit the Internet with finally offering a connection with members of this family. I typed the name of one of Lizzie’s grandson’s into a search engine last week, and I found a match to an obituary in Idaho. It seems the grandson, Doyle Hendrix Morris, passed away in February 2008 at the age of 93. However, his widow is still living and offered me an update on the family and missing links to completing their line of family members. Thanks to Amy Morris in Nampa, Idaho, for all of the information.
Then, last Saturday, I heard from another distant relative in Pampa, Texas, who was a great-granddaughter of Lizzie, from her daughter, Sallie’s line. By Sunday afternoon, I heard from a couple more great-grandsons in Rocky Ford, Colo., and Los Alamos, N.M. They were just as excited to learn about the family history in Reilly Springs as I was in completing what had happened to Lizzie’s family, since they left. A number of phone calls and e-mails have ensued and we are beginning to piece together the family after they left our community.
It seems Lizzie and her husband, William Hendricks, first moved to the Brownwood area of Texas. Then, they moved to Roscoe, Texas, and later to Chillicothe before making a more permanent home in Oakwood, Okla. Members of the family moved to Kenna, N.M., Truth or Consequences, N. M, and Lubbock and Abernathy, Texas, before practically scattering across the globe. Family members are now in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho and Washington state, to name just a few places. It’s been an interesting trip through this branch of history, and it all began on a poor, East Texas farm, in the 1880s, in Reilly Springs.
Additionally, I’ve been introduced to another colorful character from Hopkins County’s past. I attended the 13th Annual Cotton Conference in Greenville Saturday hosted at the Audie Murphy/Cotton Museum. Fellow Reilly Springs native, Kyle Wilkison, was one of the organizers and featured speakers. Kyle has just completed a new book, “Yeomen, Sharecroppers, and Socialists.”
While researching his book, Kyle met with a Hopkins County farmer of the 1880s by the name of Joshua Louis Hicks. I suspect he may be related to the Reilly Springs and Greenpond Hicks. Hicks farmed in the Forest Academy Community and was an early day Socialist. He campaigned heavily against the passage of “Fence Laws” in Hopkins County, and managed to get the laws defeated at least for one election.
Hicks, although a landowner himself, felt that the fence laws would prevent the landless people in Hopkins County from running livestock in the woods and feeding their families. He campaigned throughout the Eastern and Southeastern parts of Hopkins County to encourage the laws to be defeated.
Later, Hicks moved to Abilene, and was the publisher of the Socialist newspaper, “The Farm Journal.” He and his son, J.L. Hicks, were prominent in the organized labor circles in the state of Texas. Both, devout Baptists, wrote a number of articles connecting the Socialist party to religious principles and thwarting the capitalism way of treating sharecroppers and the landless farmers of Texas.
Joshua Hicks has presented a different light on the turbulent times in Hopkins County and all across the state of Texas, during the sharecropper days of the cotton culture.
Kyle’s book is available from Texas A&M Press and a true joy to read, if you are interested in early Northeast Texas history and agricultural history in the area.
The Reilly Springs Supper Club failed to meet on Monday night as Bryant Fisher was at a DFA meeting in Tampa, Fla. He was expecting to return to Hopkins County soon.
Then, Blake and Kendra were busy moving into their newly refurbished home. They’ve practically redone the entire Lucille Fisher home, and now they must begin on the yard. Every time you go by, Blake has dozed down some more brush and trees, so before long he’s going to have a yard bigger than Kendra can mow. He better be careful.
Meanwhile, J.R. Fisher is still selling fresh brown eggs and making plans to finally get to move some of his plants from the greenhouse to the field.
Marilee Fisher joined her friend, Brenda Allen, for a trip to Muenster, Texas, on Saturday, where they had an enjoyable day of shopping and learning about the German culture of that area.
I purchased some goat cheese at the Farmer’s Market, which was made from the Fisher’s goat milk. The cheese was really good, so you need to make certain that you get some. It has a mild flavor and is made by SW Farms of Pine Forest, using milk produced by the Fisher’s on their farm in Reilly Springs.
In other community news, you’ll want to watch for Brittney Crawford, as she and her fellow Lady Wildcats advance in the playoffs for Girl’s Softball. The Lady Wildcats are ranked second in district and will finish their regular season on Friday, against Mt. Pleasant.
You’ll also want to follow Cole Cable as he and the cast of “Alice in Wonderland” compete for the Regional One-Act-Play title, at Highland Park, on Thursday. The play has already won district and regional competition, and keep your fingers crossed that they will be advancing to state competition. If you haven’t seen the play, you’ve certainly missed a treat. It is certainly one of the best productions the local theater department has produced and is expertly done. Congratulations to director Dawn Doyle, Cole, and other members of the cast.
Additionally, you will want to attend the Democratic Women’s Candidates’ forum, tonight at the SSISD Board Room. This will give you the opportunity to hear the candidates for the upcoming elections voice their platforms and concerns. Vera Harrington is active in the Democratic Women’s Organization and will be on hand to help sponsor the event.
And, speaking of Vera, I visited with her a few moments as she was in Sulphur Springs running a few errands. She related that the warmer temperatures had allowed her to get out and get some much needed work done on her hay meadows. They had been busy spraying for weeds and getting prepared for hay season.
While you have your calendar out, mark it for Saturday, April 25. Saturday will be the 37th Annual Sulphur Springs FFA Project Show and Auction. It all began back in 1972, in the “Old Show Barn” in Buford Park with just a few pots of stew and a few items collected for the auction. Today, it has grown to a major fund raising effort for the local FFA chapter, and it spotlights the many ag mechanics projects that the chapter builds, along with homemade ice cream, livestock projects, and a number of horticulture plants available for purchase. The project show will begin at 10 a.m. in the Civic Center. Ice cream will be served at 5 p.m. and the auction will begin at 6 p.m. Come out and support the FFA Chapter in this important event.
Roy and Yvonne King have just returned from what they described as a wonderful trip to the Big Bend Country. They stayed in the historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas, and visited all along the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park, and the Ft. Davis area. Yvonne was most impressed by the scenic drive near Presidio, Texas, that is termed “one of the 10 most beautiful drives in the nation!”
“And, I can certainly, see why!” allowed Yvonne. “We hiked a little and rested a lot on this trip!”
Until next week, continue to enjoy the beautiful spring weather and remember our troops, who defend our freedoms and make all of our enjoyment possible. Ask for them an extra measure of safety and safe return home. Pray for love in our hearts, harmony in our community, and peace in our land. God bless Reilly Springs, Hopkins County and America.
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