Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Joseph Blackston Leach

Joseph Blackston Leach (1856-1925)

by Shelby Leach (1894-1981)

I would like to begin the story of my father's life with the Pre-Civil War days.

Joseph Blackston (Note: sometimes spelled Blackstone) Leach was born February 2, 1856, the son of John and Susan Leach, who were married in Beaver Dam, Kentucky. Soon after their marriage they came to Missouri and settled near Harrisonville, about twenty miles south of Kansas City; their four sons were born there. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, Grandfather enlisted in the Confederate Army from Missouri.

As their farm was located on the main-traveled road between Fort Scott, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, and also near the invisible line between the North and South, troubled and dangerous times came to the mother and her small sons. Grandmother's father became so concerned about them that he went after them and brought them back to Kentucky with him. After the war ended, Grandfather joined them in Kentucky and never returned to Missouri.

Father came to Texas in the early part of 1878 with an uncle, from his home near Beaver Dam, Kentucky. Nine years later he came to Hale County. He and his brother, Dee, owned a farm in Denton County, and also had a herd of cattle, which they brought with them. Father heard of a large pumpkin that was raised in Swisher County, and so started to move to Swisher County. Their younger brother, John, had come to Texas from Kentucky and made the move with them; a cousin also went with them, Byron Taylor, who was about fourteen. He was an orphan, and Father was his guardian.

One day while they were traveling, some Indians came by their camp and asked for some meat; Uncle John said, "Give them salty meat and they won't bother us anymore." He said he learned that while working on a railroad grade.

My Father told me that they came up on the Cap Rock on the fourth or fifth of July, and camped a few miles east of what is now South Plains. From there they went northwest to a large, deep lake, near the corner of Swisher County, where they made a permanent camp. As other lakes dried up, other cattle men came and camped at this lake. This lake was known as the "55" lake for a number of years, as that was the brand that the Leach brothers used. The cattle they brought from Denton County is the foundation stock of the Hereford cattle now owned by me and my sons, Joe and Paul, and we still use the "55" brand.

Father filed on a 160 acre homestead about six miles north of Plainview In the fall of 1887, he had a well drilled on the homestead, they struck water forty-seven feet and drilled the well to sixty. The Star windmill they put up at the well was the third windmill in Hale County.

There was a saying among the early settlers that the wind pumped the water and the cows cut the wood. When the well was finished, they moved their tent and stock to the homestead and began to build their sod house. They dug about two feet in the ground, and made a wall of sod about five feet high. The house was fourteen by twenty-eight feet, and had a sod chimney in the north end; a makeshift door was made by putting salt sacks on a frame made of poles.

They moved into the sod house in January 1888. Uncle Dee went to see about the cattle that afternoon. He came back and said, "We are going to have the worst storm of the season, I need some help to get the cattle in." They put the cattle in a trap, that had been made by building a fence on the south and west sides of the pasture. At that time the herd consisted of about sixty head.

My father said that was the worst storm that he had ever seen on the Plains; there was thunder, lightning, rain, sleet, snow, and a hard wind. Almost all of the cattle in this part of the country drifted with the storm and went south, below the Texas Pacific Railroad. The Leach Brothers only had one cow to drift away in the storm. The next spring, ranchers rounded up the cattle that had drifted away, someone saw a cow with the Leach brand and put her in the herd, and brought her back.

The Leach Brothers made occasional trips to the Tule Canyon where they would cut some cedars for posts and firewood. When Father got to the creek on his first trip to the canyon, he saw what looked like bear tracks, and in a short time he looked down the canyon and saw a black bear; but the bear disappeared in the cedars and that was the only bear that he ever saw in the canyon.

On one of Father's trips to the canyon to get wood, he bad cut short and loaded the wood and started home when a blizzard hit. In a short time, he met some men from Plainview with three or four wagons, who were coming after wood; they stopped and discussed what they should do. Father told them that he had wood and was going back to the canyon and stay until the storm was over, and invited them to go with him. They all went and found a place on the north side of the canyon where a rock extended a few feet from the wall of the canyon and high enough for them to go under the rock. They built a fire in front of the rock and stayed until the storm was over. One of the men had a Negro with him. The Negro's feet were so large that he couldn't get shoes for him, so his feet were wrapped in sacks, but they still got cold.

Father helped build the Amarillo Hotel in Amarillo, and also worked on the Hale County Court House in 1890; he worked on other buildings in Amarillo and built some homes in this area. Uncle John worked on ranches, including the Circle and X. I. T. Uncle Dee stayed at home and looked after things.

On March 30, 1892, Father married Pyrena Parks, she came with her parents to Hale County from Crawford, Texas, in July 1888. They settled on the Running Water Draw, about five miles west of Plainview. They were married in her parents home, and Father took his bride to the sod house, but by that time they had windows, a real door, a floor, and a partition. We are living at the same place now, but in quite a different house.

There was a salt lick near where Grandfather Parks lived. Antelopes would come there for salt, and Grandfather could go there early most any morning and kill an antelope for fresh meat.

When Father or his brothers went to Amarillo for supplies, they would also bring freight for merchants in Plainview. They would take two wagons trailed together and pulled by six horses or mules. The team next to the wagon was known as the wheel team, next was the swing team, and the team in front was called the leaders.

On November 16, 1893, Father and Byron Taylor started to Amarillo. A little north of Happy Hollow, a stage station about two miles northeast of Happy, at about sunset, Father had an accident which almost cost him his life. He stepped on the tongue of the moving wagon to mount the wheel mule. The mule began to pitch, and he fell and was pushed forward by the wheel axle. After the wagons passed over him, he could only move his left arm and hand, but by morning he could not do that. Two other men helped Byron put him in the wagon, and Byron brought him back to Tulia where they spent the rest of the night at Mr. Conner's. The next morning Byron brought the wagons and teams home and went back with a spring wagon and mattress to bring Father home.

Father sent word to Mother to ask Dr. Dye to come and see him at nine o'clock that night. Neighbor men came (two each night) to sit up with Father all winter, and were still coming when I was born, in the sod house, on March 29. My first remembrance of my Father was seeing him walk on crutches; he always dragged his right foot, and as his right hand was paralyzed, he learned to write with his left hand.

In 1898, Father was elected to the office of tax assessor of Hale County, and served two terms. By that time, he was able to travel in a buggy with a gentle horse. Father never kept an office in the courthouse, but went to Plainview and sat in his buggy, on what is now Broadway, and people would come to him there, so his buggy was really his office. It was necessary to make some trips over the County to complete his assessments. He would hire a boy to go with him to open the gates.

The tax rolls were completed here at home with some hired help and Mother's help. At that time, all the work was done without typewriters and adding machines.

Father would drive out quite often in his buggy to look after the cattle. He was a good judge of cattle and knew many of them individually. We also raised horses and mules, some were used for farm work and others were sold. At one time, before we used tractors, we had twenty-two head of work stock. Father knew the mules and their mothers, and the week that he died, he wanted me to work a certain young mule for the first time. We hitched the mule to a wagon, where he could see it from his bedroom window. He passed away on September 20, 1925, almost thirty-two years after his accident, which indirectly may have caused his death.

Source: Hale County History, Plainview, TX; Aug 1976, Vol 6, Issue 3.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014



By Lyman G. Barrett

It has often been remarked that more Ohio countians have been named for Rev. Ignatius Pigman pioneer Methodist minister than for any other person This is evidently not due altogether to his prominence as a preacher and real estate agent but also to the fact that he performed more of the marriage ceremonies than any other minister in the early days of the county. These couples frequently named their first born for him and the name was handed down through subsequent generations.

It seems that he came to this section from Maryland in about 1788 and being enthralled with the prospects in the new country he returned to his native state and persuaded scores of his fellow citizens to return with him. To most of these immigrants from the East he sold farms as is indicated by the large number of deeds on record in the office of County Clerk Clifton Black. His name is even more frequently mentioned in the record of marriages which are now being cross indexed by WPA clerks and typists. As an example, one of his certificates is as follows:

"I certify that I solemnized the right of marriage between Joseph Barnett and Jean Barnett on the 21st of July, 1799.
"Also Philip Turpin and Mary Shayne on the - day of February, 1800.
"Also John Shayne and Mary Turpin, the 9th day of December, 1800.
“Also Michael Raymer and Precious Brown, the 10th day of December, 1800.
"Also Charles Hogan and Sarah Hocker, the 25th day of December, 1800.
"Also Joseph Gentry and Rhoda Thomas, the 8th day of January, 1801.     
first performed after Ohio became Pigman, the 13th day of January, 1801.
"Also Charles Tarlton and Margery Taylor, the 18th day January, 1801.
"Also John Ferguson and Nancy Rocker in February, 1801.
"Also Levi Pigrnan and Jane Taylor, the 6th day of August, 1801.
"Also Simon Tay1or and Elizabeth North on the 9th of December, 1801.
“Also Robert Render, Jr. and Charlotte Barnes on the 21st of December, 1801.
“Also Elijah Myers and Hannah Barnett, the 24th of June, 1802.
“Also  Ephraim Garner and Nancy Fowler, July 1, 1802.
“Also Jesse Cravens and Rebecca Tarlton, Sep. 7, 1802.
“Also Thomas Sprigg and Rachel Barnett, Jan 20, 1803.
                                    “Ignatius Pigman”

This, of course, is only a partial list of the ceremonies he performed but it includes the progenitors of many of the county’s a leading families. For instance, Joseph and Jean Barnett, whose marriage was the first to be formed after Ohio became a county in 1799, have many decendents among the leading citizens of Ohio county and in other parts of the nation. They were the children of the two pioneer Barnetts who established Barnett’s Fort near this city.

“Ohio County Kentucky In the Olden Days,” by Harrison D. Taylor, devotes considerable space to a biography of Rev. Ignatius Pigman, whose death occurred in New Orleans shortly after Andrew Jackson's successful defense of that city, in the preparation of which Pigman had a part.

Source:  Ohio County News 16 Feb 1940

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Floating Studio

This photo is a postcard that advertises the photography "Floating Studio" owned and operated by H. O. Schroeter, which operated on the Green River and Rough River from 1890 till 1920.

In “Green River of Kentucky” Helen Bartter Crocker wrote, “one of the most colorful characters on the river was a successful photographer named H. O. Schroeter.  He was called the Artist of the Emerald Wave.  He and his family lived on his floating studio which had a parlor, sitting room, dining room, bedrooms, kitchen and artist’s studio.”  Schroeter claimed the reason his prints did not fade was that he washed them in the mineral-rich Green River.  He placed them in a fish box alongside the studio.  He and his sons, Emory and Clifford, did most of the photography on the boat but occasionally went ashore to a customer’s home.

Below is another photo of the Schroeter floating studio. It appears that a second story had been added to the boat.  Henry O'Neil Schroeter was born to Swiss immigrants in Evansville, IN and settled in Hartford.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


GEORGE W. BARNARD was born in Ohio County, Ky., August 10, 1832, and is a son of Loyd and Nancy (Hawker) (sic Hocker) Barnard, both of whom are natives of Kentucky, and of English descent. Loyd Barnard was employed on his father's farm until he attained his majority. Soon after his marriage he bought wild land, near Hogg's Falls, and subsequently improved a farm, upon which he resided until his death, which occurred, in 1843, in his forty-fifth year. He continued to add to his possessions from time to time, owning at his death about 100 acres. He and wife were from early life members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, in which he officiated for many years as a class leader. George W. Barnard received a fair common school education at the early schools of Ohio County. He has always resided on the old homestead, near Hogg's Falls, where he was born and which he now owns. The farm consists of 100 acres and is well improved. Mr. Barnard is successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits, making the culture of tobacco a specialty. He was married in September, 1854, to Mary J. Bennett, also a native of Ohio County, and a daughter of James and Julia A. (Igleheart) Bennett. Six children — three sons and three daughters — have been left to them, viz.: James S., Semiramis, Emma, Jacob H., Annie and Herman W. The two eldest daughters are married. Mr. Barnard and wife have been from early life church members, he of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and she of the United Baptist Church. In politics he is a Democrat.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Saturday, November 8, 2014


AUGUSTUS BAKER, Ohio County, is a native of Tennessee, born in Wilson County, January 1, 1839; his father was also a native of Tennessee, born in 1812. The latter, when a young man, went to North Carolina, where he married Cynthia Robinson in 1838, and removed to Wilson County, Tenn., where he resided until 1852, then removed to Muhlenburgh County, Ky., where his wife, Cynthia, died, leaving six children. He subsequently married Elizabeth, daughter of James Hall, and in 1872 removed to Henderson County, where he resided until his death, which occurred October 3, 1879. Augustus Baker remained with his parents until the age of seventeen, at which time he began to make his own way in the world; worked by the month for about three years; then mined coal, farmed and ran a flat-boat on Green River for several years. In 1882 he bought 140 acres of land, where he now lives, and gives all his attention to farming. March 27, 1859, he was united in marriage with Paulina M., daughter of John E. Steele. Twelve children are the result of this union: Caledonia (deceased), Sophia, Edward, George, Robert, William, Nancy (deceased), Lina, Martha, John (deceased), Richard and an infant son unnamed. In September, 1861, Mr. Baker joined the Federal army; was a member of Company F, Eleventh Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, and served in the command of Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden until September 18, 1862, when he received an honorable discharge. Mrs. Baker is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Mr. Baker takes no active part in politics, but in principle is a Republican. His religious views are founded on the principle of charity to all and the fulfillment of personal obligations.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Thursday, November 6, 2014


JASPER WARREN BAKER, Ohio County. Among the most prominent and respected of the first settlers of Ohio County were the ancestors of this gentleman, whose father is the Hon. I. H. Baker, a sketch of whose life is given elsewhere. Mr. Baker is the only son, and was born April 21, 1846, in Beaver Dam Precinct. He has given his attention to farming, and now owns a good farm with substantial buildings near Mercer's Mine. He also owns a coal mine, which is worked by the Mercers, and has proven very remunerative. Mr. Baker was married June 19, 1867, to Ann Eliza, the seventh child of Thomas O. and Amelia Austin. They have seven children; John H., Amelia Belle (deceased), Thomas O., Robert Luther, William Cloud, Charlotte and Floris Owen. Mrs. Baker is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and an earnest Christian lady.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895