Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Is for Mothers: Nannie Freeman (1857-1934) Writes a Letter to Mrs Abernathy

From an issue of the Finders Keepers publication, page 90.
Page 91.

As more things are digitized and put online, more cool stuff pops up.  My 2nd great grandmother Nannie (Freeman) Warren's letter to a Mrs. Abernathy is an example.  I found it at The Portal to Texas History, under the search term "Nannie Warren" and located in the Johnson County Genealogical Society's publication, "Finders KeepersVolume VIII No. 3 and 4, starting on page 90 of the publication.

Nannie discusses her frontier experience, moving from a comfortable existence in the Cotton Valley, Alabama area to the rustic Johnson County, Texas in 1870:

South Bend Texas
August 24 1931
Dear Mrs. Abernathy
I'm very much afraid you will be disappointed in what I can write of our frontier experience of the long ago.  My Father and Mother Henry Hill Freeman and Elizabeth Turner Freeman were born in Ga. where they were married in 1840.  A few years later they moved to Tuskegee Alabama where they lived until they moved to Texas.
They arrived in Johnson County Texas Sandflat community in Feb. 1870. situated about equally distant from Cleburne Alvarado and Grandview.  Father Mother and daughters made the trip on train and boat--spending one night on the gulf.  The sons, J.C. and W.W. Freeman, came in a wagon in company with five other wagons.  We left the train at Calvert to complete the way in wagons as that was as far as the rail road extended.  There I heard my first cursing--the driver of the freight wagon cursing his mules.  We left a community of cultured people with lovely homes, fine churches and excellent schools--said to be an exceptionally good neighborhood.  At Sandflat we found few neighbors, primitive social companionship, inferior schools, poor church facilities, log cabins and many other provoking or laughable surprises according as one took them.  The country was being changed from a cattle range to homes and farms--some very small farms had been made a? log cabin with an enormous fireplace served both for church and school at Sandflat during winter, and brush arbors, or church services during summer.  Really the schools were very inferior often the teachers incapable and terms short.  The houses were open the seats uncomfortable.  It was not until time brought changes that our community produced some very fine people--none that I can recall that have achieved high honors but many good substantial citizens.  The farm wagons were the only conveyance for travel. At church everybody met, the people generally were helpful and kind--a custom I'm told always present in new settlements.  We got our mail from Cleburne until years later Cuba post office was established in the Millican and Donevant surveys.  Improving it was a task indeed--wire fencing had not come, rails from the trees had to be made for fencing, wells dug--land plowed with ox teams etc etc but the country was every new and healthy and every body was suffering almost the same inconveniences.  Our cotton had to be carried to the nearest railroad station at first over one hundred miles, which moved and got nearer as the years went.  When it was marketed supplies for family use were brought back.  Our family was always given somewhat to reading--news papers even taken and read and the church paper always.  We also had a lot of books.  Oh yes we had plenty singing schools where the young people met and sang and planned to get married.
I recall some of the people are found on arrival--The Laramores-Boatwright Boyd, Byars, Harrison, Powel and others.
My father was an intelligent christian gentleman and his influence for good was felt in the upbuilding of the community.  He attended faithfully to his church obligations and I think a church was hardly built in an adjoining neighborhood during his life there without a contribution from him--regardless of the denomin[ation].  I surely believe that if your own fine father was present he would bear me out in what I've said as my Father and he were each very appreciative of the other.  Mrs Abernathy Mary (my daughter) suggests that I tell you that our school seats were puncheons (I don't know how to spell it) and how we entertained our beaux in such small houses but we got married any way.
 I think you will be tired of this and will close, with kindest regards,
Mrs. Nannie Warren
(nee Miss Nannie Freeman)
When Nannie wrote this she was a widow (husband James Chappell Warren Sr had died in 1924) and lived with her youngest child, Mary (Warren) Nance (1899-1973) and her family.  Her first child, Mattie Lizzie Warren, had died in 1889 and her son James Chappell Warren Jr (my great grandfather) had died in 1923 (his child Tracy Warren, my biological grandfather, was living with his mother Letta Estella Porter and her family in Dallas, Texas).  Nannie's other son, Hill Freeman Warren (1891-1956), was a physician in New London, Connecticut.

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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