It Is The Second Anniversary Of My OTC Freedom

For over 35 years one of the defining events of each year was the opening of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. During much of that time, OTC was the largest tradeshow we did each year. Pre-production would begin toward the end of each year as initial contacts with clients would begin in November and December. By March, client contacts would be coming in fast and furious. The month of April would entail late days running into very late nights. Seven day weeks would become the norm right up until the show was over and out of the centers by the second week in May.

Last year was the first year when I thought about OTC not at all. It was actually after the show was over that it even impinged on my conscious. It felt kind of strange at that time. The end of a major portion of my life. The end of a great number of yearly contacts that had become friends. Friends from all over the world. Many had already reached retirement over the years, many had left the industry with the major consolidations that had happened. Many have been missed…

This year I had a little more of a feeling of being on the edge of the planned chaos that is a major tradeshow of the size and complexity of OTC. It was through following some of my old friends at Freeman through Facebook that I at least was kept aware that OTC was happening again.

For most of this week, if I followed the local TV News, I am sure I would see multiple stories each day talking about the Conference and the impact it has on the Houston economy. I am sure with the news coming in from the Gulf off the coast of Louisiana, that a lot of the news will be talking to the experts about what happened and what can be done to prevent this kind of disaster happening again.

On another note…We woke up this morning to temperatures in the upper 50’s. And from the morning emails I see that today will be one of those topsy turvy days where that Texas Gulf Coast is actually cooler than the Blue Ridge Mountains of my dreams…Both Boone and Floyd are pushing 70 already this morning. Believe me the change is welcome after the high here hit 87 yesterday afternoon.

Late Spring In SE Texas

The afternoon temperatures are closing in on the 90’s most days here for the last week. A cool afternoon is one that just tops 80. At least the nights are cool…And that means the mornings are really nice. Only in the late afternoon when the sun moves into that area of the sky that pre-Ike we never saw does the temperature in the house rise enough to force the AC on.

Starting last week though, another aspect of late spring and early summer came to the fore. The honeysuckle started it with the barely sweet scent wafting around on the breeze. Then, almost immediately, the Texas privet went into full scale sensory overload…If you want to have your brain kick you back 45 years into your past, walk around with the smell of privet completely overwhelming every other smell in your world…

Last week, when the bushes began to burst forth, I kept having flashbacks to those summers as a preteen growing up in a small town in the south. I would see mayo jars, honeybees, holes in lids…The neighborhood kids all gathered around the privet bush next door catching bees. Catch and release…

Dewberries have been turning black too. So walking with grandson #2 tends to be a sweet affair…the taste of the berries, the smell of the honeysuckle mixing with the privet.

I so love this time of year.

Continuing The Visit

Just to give you an idea of the area of the state we were covering here is an image of the page in The Roads of Texas – 5th Edition map book I use to travel our state…

So, now that we have visited Friendship and Bryant Station it’s time to try and find McCann Cemetery. McCann is the only one of the cemeteries on our list that is not marked at the road. Since it’s been over a decade since we last visited it, I was worried we might have trouble finding the cemetery. Once we got close though, my memories from that earlier visit snapped into focus on the landscape of the day and I new where we were.

McCann Cemetery

The drive into McCann is actually across a private field. It’s nothing more than two dirt tracks through some very high grass. It makes you hope you aren’t mistaken and trespassing on someones private land. Through two unmarked field gates, across a dry creek and around a stand of trees you travel before you actually see the cemetery…

Doing some research on this cemetery I have discovered that it is thought to have once been in Bell County before the borders of the counties shifted. It is said most of the folks buried here are thought to have lived around Rogers, Texas in that county.

There are five graves here that interest us. Two belong to Sherry’s Great Great Grandparents Louis and Betti Tippit. Louis was killed while breaking horses at Bryant Station in 1885. Betti died nine years later and their three daughters went to live with Bettie’s brother Redden Johnson who was running a hotel in Buckholts at the time.

The third grave we are sure of is where Josie Bell Bales was laid to rest in 1914 at the age of two. She was Sherry’s Grandaunt. The story is that she ate a green pecan and died of the poison.

The final two graves here are not known to be of her family, but the name of the two boys buried here is the same as a family name that is rare in this part of the country, so they are probably related, just unproven at this point.

As with the other cemeteries we visited, the wildflowers were in magnificent bloom here. Since we were here the last time someone has been busy cleaning and clearing. When we were last here Josie Bell was almost covered with overgrown bushes. I was almost not able to find the grave up against the fence…Today the cemetery is clear and cleaned…Peaceful and beautiful…

The shot above isn’t of Sherry’s relatives, just a general shot of some of the early graves at McCann Cemetery.

McCann Cemetery Listing

Minerva Community Cemetery

It was time to head for the Minerva Cemetery and Sherry’s Grandparents and Step-Father’s resting place. All of the cemeteries we had visited so far had been on Sherry’s Dad’s side of the family, now we were switching over to her Mom’s side. Sherry’s Uncle Jackie take care of the upkeep on this one so after our visit we were planning to swing by and visit for a while before heading toward Brenham for the night.

Minerva, Texas is where Sherry spent a bit of time growing up. Minerva is like a whole lot of small towns in Texas…It once was larger than it is now…

MINERVA, TEXAS. Minerva is on U.S. Highway 77 six miles south of Cameron in central Milam County. It was named for Minerva Adeline Sanders, who donated land for a railroad station when the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway built through the area in 1891. A post office opened in 1892. A shallow oilfield was discovered near Minerva in 1921, prompting a small boom; oil production peaked in 1927, with a gross yield of 455,985 barrels for the year. Though the oilfield continued to support a small refining operation, Minerva remained a largely agricultural community. The town lost its rail service in 1959, when the Texas and New Orleans abandoned the section of track between Cameron and Giddings. The Minerva post office was discontinued in the mid-1960s. Two churches and three businesses marked the community on county highway maps in the 1980s, when the population was reported as sixty. It was still reported as sixty through 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lelia M. Batte, History of Milam County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956). Margaret Eleanor Lengert, The History of Milam County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1949). Milam County Heritage and Preservation Society, Matchless Milam: History of Milam County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984).

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/MM/hnm48.html (accessed April 28, 2010).

The shadows were beginning to get long when we pulled up here…

But, again, the peaceful setting, the freshly painted fences, the wildflowers blooming…All demanded we spend time wandering through the whole cemetery and not just visiting Sherry’s family. After a bit of walking the heat of the day was starting to become a bit much so we headed for the car. I had to stop and snap a shot that I first snapped over thirty years ago when I was first here for Sherry’s Step-fathers funeral before we were married…

We headed for Sherry’s Uncle’s house for a visit. That is when we heard that Sherry’s cousin had been up in Milam County that day doing the same thing we were. Visiting cemeteries…Visiting ancestors…We also were told about the last cemetery…One we didn’t know about before that point where Sherry’s Great Grandparents were buried…Since it was getting late and we really wanted to see this cemetery we had been unaware of, we said our goodbyes, received directions, and hit the road one more time…

San Andres Cemetery

On the map this cemetery is called San Andres. Sherry’s Uncle called it Lebanon. No mater what it’s called it looks as though it’s just been found and is being reclaimed from the woods that grew up around it. But find it we did…And it was before the light was completely gone…

So The trip was a success all around. We found all of the places we were looking for, added a new site to our list of places to visit whenever we are in the area, and enjoyed a beautiful late spring day in the country. Blue skies, wildflowers and spring greenery…What more could a person ask for on a road trip?

Visiting The Past

This past week my wife expressed a desire to visit the cemeteries where ancestors are resting up around Milam County in central Texas. Since the weekend was one of the few our daughter was off (thus no need for babysitter Paw-paw), I suggested we enjoy the the last of the wildflowers and a beautiful late spring/early summer day in the country. So Saturday morning I shut down the computer, loaded the car and we hit the road.

It was a gorgeous Texas day of blue skies and greenery everywhere. The bluebonnets of a few weeks ago in Austin County were mostly gone by now. The same could be said of Washington County. But the further north we went, the more flowers we were seeing in the fields and meadows. By the time we made Milam county we were back in the flowers of spring.

One of the things that we both noticed was how green the entire area looked. All of our trips in the past have been later in the season and the predominate color we both remembered was the brown of seared grasses. This year, with the decade long drought having broken, the green of the grass was almost blinding in it’s brightness.

Friendship Methodist Cemetery

Our first stop was to visit the little church cemetery where her father and his family are buried, Friendship Methodist Church Cemetery (FM 1915).

FRIENDSHIP, TEXAS (Milam County). Friendship is on Farm Road 1915 eight miles east of Davilla in western Milam County. W. T. Walker established a Methodist church at Friendship in 1872. Its congregation met in a log schoolhouse until 1884, when a church building was constructed on land donated by Edward Wesley Graham. The Friendship schools were consolidated with the Sharp school district in 1948. In 1988 the church and cemetery marked the Friendship community on county highway maps.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Milam County Heritage Preservation Society, Matchless Milam: History of Milam County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984).

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/FF/htf8.html (accessed April 27, 2010).

As we wandered around visiting the graves of Sherry’s various relatives here, I was taken with the peaceful beauty of the setting here. It always hit me the same way whenever we visit this cemetery. Waling in the gate, this is the view that we saw…

After spending our time here, it was time to go exploring. Our first stop was to be Bryant Station Cemetery.

Bryant Station Cemetery

BRYANT STATION, TEXAS. Bryant Station was on the Little River twelve miles west of the site of present Cameron in northwestern Milam County. It was established by Benjamin F. Bryant in 1840 as a fort to protect settlers from Indians. The village that grew up around the fort thrived because of its location on the Marlin-to-Austin stage line and gradually became a commercial center for the region. The post office at Bryant Station was established and discontinued several times between 1848 and 1876; it was known as the Blackland post office from 1874 to 1876. When the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway was built through the area in 1881, it missed the community by three miles. Bryant Station faded, and Buckholts became the new social and commercial center. A historical marker was erected at the Bryant Station site in 1936. By the 1940s two cemeteries and a few scattered houses were all that marked the community on county highway maps. The Bryant Station school was consolidated with the Buckholts district in 1941.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lelia M. Batte, History of Milam County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956). Milam County Heritage Preservation Society, Matchless Milam: History of Milam County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984).

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/BB/hvb98.html (accessed April 27, 2010).

The last time we went hunting for this cemetery we couldn’t find it. So as we drove the gravel roads of the area  decided to do a very un-Gary thing and ask directions. We pulled up to a farm house well back off the road and questioned the young farm wife planting flowers in the yard as her farmer husband was riding a tractor in the field behind the house. She kindly directed us down the road to the gate where we found the small sigh marking the drive back to the cemetery. Along the way we bypassed the old suspension bridge across the Little River. The last time we were in the area, this was the bridge we used to cross the river…

This time there is a new modern bridge to the upstream side of the old 1909 bridge. Though the very fact that they left the old bridge standing says something about the Counties historical mindset. Both ends of the bridge are now blocked to allow for pedestrians only. Even then it is hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago that automobiles and trucks still used this as their means of crossing the river.

To the best of our knowledge at the time, none of Sherry’s relatives are buried there. Though Bryant Station was settled and named for the brother of her Great-Great Grandmother.

The Bryant Station Cemetery is located down a dirt track off a gravel road just north of the Little River (CR 106). Much of the cemetery is overgrown with tombstones poking above the greenery. When we parked in the tall grass we were greeted with this site…

Here is another peaceful site. Butterflies, wildflowers, old roses and birdsong were all around you. The warmth of the day was moderated by the cool breeze blowing through the trees around the site. We spent most of an hour wandering through the flowers as we read the inscriptions on the stones  that were still legible. It was a great way to spend a spring afternoon.

Bryant Station Cemetery Listing

I”ll leave our weekend here and continue the story tomorrow…

Cross posted at Boyd-Family.net

the ramblings of my brain over that first cup… and other meanders