Moving West to the Sacramentos
- Jasper Newton Daugherty
I was born March 28, 1882 in a small Texas village called Hilton. It was located about 26 miles southeast of Sweet Water on Valley Creek near a mountain range called Church. My father, Jasper Newton Daugherty, owned a small farm there. He decided to sell out and go west to seek his fortune. So Dad "Newt", older bother "Frank", younger brother Martin, sister Elizabeth and her husband Patric Conley, mother Mary Jane Goodnight, wife Louisa (Gardner), and what family they each had, prepared to go in one wagon train.
We had one large wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen and four wagons drawn by four horses each. This large wagon held most of our food and things that we used everyday. We took a green cow hide and tied it up under the running gear of the wagon, shaping it so we could carry pots and cooking equipment. This allowed us some extra space, which we needed very much.
In my immediate family was Dad, Mother and six kids, three boys and three girls. I was six years old.
The way I remember it, we started out in May and traveled almost due west by way of old Fort Shadrick, between Sweet Water and San Angelo, Texas. This was really quite an adventure for me. The first place we came to was a small village by the name of Robert Lee, on the Colorado River. Then on west we went by Sterling City and where McCamey is now.
My Dad was quite a hunter and he always had an old hound dog he hunted with. We had not been on our way long before this old hound got snake bit. He soon became unable to travel. Dad made room for him by putting our pots and pans in the wagon and putting the hound in the green cowhide that was under the running gear of the wagon. This was were the hound stayed until he recovered. I can still see him as the wagon rambled on and on, day after day. This wagon was big and heavy.
Dad had sold our farm before we left, and got a very good price. Having so much money to finance the trip made Dad boss of the wagon train. There were about twenty wagons in all.
Our first rest stop was at Fort Stockton, which had been abandoned by the colored soldiers a few weeks before our arrival. While there we stayed in the buildings, and to us this was really a luxury.
After a few weeks rest, we started out again. We had been on our way only a few days, when we discovered to our disgust, that while living in our "luxurious hotels" at Fort Stockton we had acquired a goodly supply of "Grey Backs." Better known as body lice. This being the case, Mother knew the only way of getting rid of them was to scald all of our clothing and anything else they were in. So we camped out on the prairie, took out the big round wash pot, filled it with our "precious water", built a fire under it and started the scalding process. Almost everything we owned had to be washed and scalded. Bedding included. This took several days of hard work. We kids only had one change of clothes, and so Mother just turned us out on the prairie stark naked. How well I remember running like something wild, free of clothes and "Lice." We had the time of our lives, enjoying every minute of our freedom. Meanwhile, the women worked faithfully to get rid of the lice. I can remember running by seeing our clothes boiling away in that pot of water. This completed, we went on our way.
In crossing the desert to Fort Davis water was scarce and we went as long as two or three days without water for the stock. When the oxen are without water for "any" length of time and suddenly get a smell of water near, they take off as fast as they can and you just canít hold them. Uncle Mark was our scout and had found a lake about a half mile ahead. When the ox team reached the water, instead of them stopping to drink, they went on into the water until the wagon was stuck. We had to unhitch them from the front and hook them to the back to pull the wagon out.
Continuing on west, we followed the old "Government Route", to the Fort Davis mountains where Alpine is now. From Fort Davis we went by way of Valentine, between early-day forts. Then on further west to a silver mining town called Sierra Blanca, where we stopped for a rest.
While resting, one of our group ran into an old prospector, and during their two or three days of visiting this prospector convinced the men in our wagon train that there was a fortune to be made by working the mine dump from the silver mine. The only water available for working the mine and other purposes, had to be hauled by wagon in wooden barrels from the Rio Grande River - about twenty miles south of Sierra Blanca. My Dad, "Newt" Daugherty, being the only one with money and still the Boss, was the one elected to haul the water by ox team this twenty miles - both ways. He furnished the money and the others did the work on this big deal. This "big deal" was doomed to failure from the start, as well as using up the remainder of Dadís cash. It took the men about two months to see nothing could be made here, and they abandoned it and headed on west through Fort Hancock and into El Paso, Texas.
We stopped in El Paso to rest our families and stock for awhile, and look around some more. We camped in an mesquite flat where there was an old lumber shack without anything over the windows. This was near were the courthouse now stands in El Paso, Texas.
In El Paso the only fuel was either kerosene or mesquite roots hauled in on the backs of burros by Mexicans. Sometimes they would have as many as twenty burros loaded with roots. That was quite a sight.
While we were there, a smallpox epidemic broke out among the Mexicans. There was no shots or cure then. It was quite a killer and the Mexicans died by the hundreds. This was considered "sure death" and was very contagious, but we never did get it.
After we had been there about two weeks we discovered a flat with plenty of good green grass, we moved there on the west side of El Paso about where the smelter now stands. Back then the United States had no treaty with Mexico and we could not cross the river to apprehend thieves and smugglers. So while camped in this new spot, Mexicans came across the river one night and stole three of our best horses which we never could recover.
At this point, our little group decided to split up and go our separate ways. Which we did. Uncle Frank and his family returned to Nolen County, Texas. Uncle "Pat" Conley, Aunt Lizzy and the children went on to Deming, New Mexico. That was were they lived their lives and raised their children. Mark Daugherty, his Mother Mary Jane Goodnight, and a partner started a freight line, which is another story in itself.
My Dad, Mother and us kids went east to Waco Tank, about 30 miles from El Paso. Here my Mother became ill with what they called "slow fever." She was real sick, and it was about a month before we could go any farther. After her recovery, we went on east to Crow Springs or Salt Flats near where todayís Dell City is. Here we stopped for the winter. A man by the name of John Brooks gave us permission to camp here. Crow Springs was a spring-fed lake about 10 or 15 miles north of Salt Lake, from which later ranchers would haul salt for their livestock.
When spring came again, it was about the year 1890, we loaded our wagons and went on our way to a settlement called Pinon, New Mexico. We went through Pinon to a canyon north of Weed New Mexico, Hay Canyon. Following the Agua Chiquita at the mouth of Hay Canyon there were four families that lived within a distance of about six miles. Pendergrass at the mouth, Widow Barringer, Tom Dauthett family, and the Riley Baker family.
In our travels we had heard "buggy stories" about "sleepy grass", which we knew nothing about, not even what it looked like. On the way up Hay Canyon, we stopped at the Dauthettís place in a flat where there was beautiful grass in abundance. My Father went back to talk to Dauthett about the country. Mr. Dauthett asked where we had camped and dad said "in that beautiful flat of grass." Mr. Dauthett said "you better get back and move that stock, quick, because that is "sleepy grass" and will put them to sleep." Sure enough, by the time Dad got back, the stock was standing with their heads down, asleep. It was two days before they woke up enough to move out of the flat. We learned in a hurry about "sleep grass." After stock had eaten "sleepy grass" it left then kinda doppy for a few days, but in time they recovered.
Dad took up a "homestead" just above Riley Baker, joining him on the west at the headwaters on Hay Canyon. We built a log cabin and prepared the land for farming.
Log houses were built by neighbors coming, cutting trees, trimming and shaping them (called log rolling). We built a large room called a smoke house at the same time. After the logs were put up, they took thick mud and filled in the cracks - which they called "chink and dobbed." Before the cracks were "chinked and dobbed" I remember birds would fly in and out the cracks. We kids would try and catch them, but they would fly out and be gone. I used to wish we had a house they couldnít get out of, never giving a thought as to how they would get in if the cracks were not there.
This was the happy hunting ground my Dad started from Texas to find. And it truly was, as there was an abundance of game - deer, bear, elk, turkey, all kinds of wild animals, - such as coyote, bobcat, wildcat, lobo, panther, fox, and the like. During the winter Dad would go out and kill the deer, elk and turkey, butchering and hanging them in the smokehouse where they would freeze. When he had enough for a house-wagon load, he would fill the wagon and cover the meat with a tarp. He would then go into El Paso and sell the meat for 10 cents a pound. It took him four days to go into El Paso and it was cold enough that the meat would stay pretty well frozen. He would then buy food, such as 100 pound sacks of flour, sugar (brown and white), corn meal, beans, coffee (green, which had to be roasted and ground), syrup, sargun in large buckets, and sometimes we could get honey in the cone. We bought dried peaches, apples, prunes, raisins, and occasionally apricots. These were packed in a wooden box. Kerosene was bought in 5 gallon cans for lamps, so we could have light. Everyone bought enough groceries and supplies of all kinds to last at least six to eight months.
Evenings were spent "sawing on the fiddle," picking the guitar, singing, or pumping and playing the old organ. Dances, after harvest or roundups and brandings, were held in someoneís home. Sometimes weeks would pass and your family would never be alone. Any place night came on you, is where you would spend the night.
My youngest brother Jason was born in the log house on Hay Canyon. At the time of this writing, the house is still standing. It has been re-built several times, but the original house is still "as built" in 1892.
Schools then were two or three months during the summer. A teacher was paid by the parents. They were called subscription schools. The small log house used for school was also built by the parents and centrally located. My first teacher, I remember, was Mr. Knapp. It lasted two months and was on Hay Canyon. Next summer we attended a school on Wills Canyon, three miles from where we lived - and we walked it morning and night, carrying our lunch in a bucket.
About 1896, Dad traded the place in Hay Canyon for a place about five miles from Weed, West. The man he traded with was a Mr. Truxal. The new place was located near the Elkhorn School house and we attended school there for the next three or four summers. All eight grades were taught in the same room. After eighth grade some pupils were fortunate enough to be able to go to Weed for "higher" learning.
We stayed on this Truxel place about 5 years. During this time my Dad had become a big Angora Goat rancher, and we needed to go to a warmer climate. So we got a ranch called Chimney Lake, on a tributary canyon that ran into the Quavo. We stayed here until 1908. This was a very prosperous time. Range got short and we had too many goats for the size of this ranch, so that fall we went hunting about 20 miles south to a place known as the south slope of the Sacramento Mountains. We camped on a south canyon that runs into the Sacramento River, before it empties out onto the flats. We looked around and came upon a wet spot in the bottom of the creek. We dug down and got enough water for our horses in just a couple of minutes. Father decided that this was his next home as there was plenty of open range, water, and lots of brush for his goats. We had good luck hunting also, killing several deer, so we had big prospects for this new country.
That night Dad decided I should stay and hold down our claim and he would take the meat home, get tools, and come back and see how much water there really was in this seep. It was late in the year when he left me there. Before he had been gone long, it started to snow. We had made a temporary tent, or shelter for me, under some trees. I had some food - coffee, meat, potatoes, bacon, a coffee pot, and a frying pan. Dad only expected to be gone two or three days. However, the storm was bad and he was gone close to two weeks.
Next morning when I awoke, the snow was about a foot deep and still coming down. Before long a man in a wagon drawn by four red mules came along. He sure looked good to me, and as he asked to stay out the storm, I welcomed him. This man, Mr. Musgrove, had some food, and he stayed with me about five or six days. He was full of stories and the kid that I was, I "lapped them up." He was known as an Infidel. He kept a diary and was a constant talker. When the storm broke, Mr. Musgrove went on his way and Iíve never seen him again.
When Dad came back we dug out the spring and found a good flow of water, which we later developed. Here we established a ranch which was known as the Daugherty Ranch, and is now called "Daugherty Wells" (Carissa Springs). After we built a house there, Dad sold the property on Chimney Lake and moved to the south slope of the Sacramento River. We stayed there until about 1910 and prospered. We had sold our goats and replaced them with white-faced cattle. About this time my brother Benton and myself wanted to get out on our own, so Dad sold the ranch and we split the profits three ways - each going our separate ways.
This is basically the end of the story as it applies to the journey and the Sacramento Mountains. The writer was Hansford Daugherty. This manuscript was preserved by the Sacramento Mountains Museum, however, the name of the writer was not on the folder in the archives. If you know, please call this paper.