She traced a quick sketch of her prize race horse on a misty living room window out of the condensation buildup from the moisture in the room. Reflecting back when Old Black could run as fast as lightning across fields separated by only farmhouses and no barbed wire, instantly her daydreams became shattered with the crackling electrical storm hovering straight over their heads. Another fresh deluge of flooding rain pounded the tin roof as lightening split a nearby Mimosa tree in half and then instantly thundered again.
Two months of continuous Texas thunderstorms flooded the red clay road leading to the small church where the old country doctor lived in a house built for him next door to the parish. It looked as if the main artery through the town of Thelma had fallen into the nearby frothy Medina River. Sixty days of downpours had turned the main artery going back and forth into town into a slippery clay mudslide, wreaking havoc for the residents of the small, central Texas farming community.
Bebe’s great-great grandparents bought a “league and a labor” of rich farmland via the Spanish Land Grants. They would join hundreds more immigrants as they trod here on oxen and horseback, wagons and by foot, to venture east of the Sabine River to the Oak Island Settlement near Somerset, Texas and onward to San Antonio.
European settlers and the children of The American Revolution came to Texas under the capable leadership of Stephen F. Austin from North and South Carolina in order to populate Texas with an influx of law, order, and prosperity. These established businessmen brought opportunity and jobs, civics, inventions and clever ingenuities. Some became lawmen, some were doctors, judges, cattlemen and store owners, but all of them had one goal in mind. Their dream was to procure for themselves and their descendants land and citizenship in the Republic of Texas.
Stephen F. Applewhite’s ten children and their surviving mother, “Eliza” Elizabeth Thompson Applewhite, built a huge plantation off the Neal Road near the Medina River, not far from Oak Island Methodist Church which seconded as a schoolhouse during the week. Two generations grew up there.
Their eldest and most responsible son was Thomas Carroll Applewhite who was wed in 1853 to eighteen year-old Josephine Cinderella Desmuke-Applewhite. Thomas’ genealogy can be traced all the way back to the American Revolution but Josephine had her own genuine line to the heros of the Alamo, The Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Texas Revolution. Josephine’s mother was Mary Lucinda Dever, who in turn, was Phillip and Catharine Coleman Dever’s daughter and Josephine’s grandmother. Josephine’s Great-grandfather Philip Peyton Dever was fatally shot in an ambush by Santa Anna’s men on the way to join up with Sam Houston’s army to fight the Battle of San Jacinto. His sons took him back to Liberty, Texas where early the next morning he died in the arms of his wife, Catharine, and was buried under an oak tree in the back yard,They had no time to waste because the Runaway Scrape was in full heat and Catharine had to escape with her and her children’s lives to the borders of Louisiana. Our Grandfather, Frank Applewhite, Sr., was the child of their old age, born in San Antonio on December 14, 1887 but was buried at Oak Island Cemetery in 1967.
Bebe heard her father proclaim, even amidst this rain-soaked April afternoon “We are descendants of rugged frontiersmen who were cut from the cloth of tenacity and purpose. They learned how to take next to nothing into the middle of nowhere and make something out of it. “ Bebe’s grandfather Stephen left behind a thriving business in the United States with security and a good reputation in order to tame his little piece of paradise, including the snakes, insects, wild animals and long horn steer without the use of fences at first. They exchanged comfort for disease, criminals and cheaters, and overcame all of them in order to raise their children to become teachers, businessmen and follow after the medical profession of four prominent physicians. They forsook security and wealth in a homeland they had inherited from their own fathers in order to think outside the box and build a new sovereign nation. They taught their sons to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. In Texas we have boots and we did!
But this day was too busy to think about our ancestors. They have to deal with the rain and the roads. Bebe’s mother was expecting her fourth and final child (her only brother) and as the time drew near, she realized that it would be just a matter of time before the baby came.
Looking out the west window from her small farm house, Beatrice gazed upon her garden in the front yard. Her plants were taking a pounding but they would return after the rain stopped. She remembered Frank’s “dream” while in college and the “7AL” branding iron which he made himself while at college and still uses today to brand his new cows. To focus on the positive and not sink into despair, she remembered all the good reasons why she moved out here in the first place. She will have this baby today and somehow her husband will bring the country doctor.
Frank’s twenty-eight tan Jerseys produced the sweetest cream, milk, and butter in Bexar County, San Antonio, Texas. Things were prospering and they had just opened their biggest new account on the north side of San Antonio with the new owners of The Argyle Hotel in Alamo Heights. At seventeen, Bebe drove the car and ran supplies and accounts all over the city, even as far south as Jourdanton and Pleasanton. Frank, Sr. always dressed like he was going to church whenever he walked out of the house. Bebe said, “Dad used to say, ‘You never know who your gonna meet!” and he always had his three pieced suit with cowboy boots and Stetson Hat.
Grandmother (Beatrice) recorded in her log book the birth weights and genders of two new calves born the night before, then caressed her huge belly, hoping this child would be a son and her husband’s namesake. Immediately, she felt a series of long, hard contractions coming closer together.
(To Be Continued in Part 2)
Jacqueline M. Applewhite ©