top concern for settlers
by Delbert Trew
1840 to the late 1930s, an early Texas settlement operated on the
Trinity River serving as a prosperous steamboat landing and ferry
crossing. The settlement was named Swartout
after a New York financier who helped finance the New Republic of
Texas in its early days.
Progress and "New Deal" programs in the 1930s saw a dam built on the
Trinity River creating Lake Livingston. Sadly, the once-prosperous
town of Swartout
became a watery ghost town lying on the bottom of the lake.
The term "hoedown" is believed to have originated in the South, where
generations had to chop weeds from King Cotton with a garden hoe.
Most communities presented Saturday night dances and choppers worked
until late Saturday evening, then said, "Put your hoe down and let's
go dancing." Later, this was shortened to, "Let's quit and go to the
The word "Cajun" comes from Arcadian the name of the French Canadian
exiles who settled in Louisiana after the British conquest of Canada
refrigeration arrived in rural areas, a system called "meat clubs"
allowed families to keep fresh meat all year. An example recorded
in Temple tells how the system worked.
One community family became butchers for processing meat.
They killed and processed one beef or more a week all year, serving
some 30 to 40 families organized in a meat club. Each Saturday, the
families came to pick up a portion of the fresh meat.
Since each family fed and kept beeves all year, they were expected
to furnish one beef per year to the meat club. Detailed accounting
and scheduling was kept on beef taken and beef supplied. Fresh meat
kept well for about a week before spoiling. The meat club system kept
all in fresh beef the full year.
meat called jerky, pemmican meat dried with other ingredients added,
and different forms of barbecue were all devised to preserve meat
from spoiling. Canned meat preserved in cans and jars by cooking in
a steam pressure cooker was developed by Napoleon Bonaparte in France
to preserve meat for his soldiers in warfare. This system is still
widely used today commercially.
domestic or wild animals can compete with the wily coyote when it
comes to brains and survival traits. Here is a true story observed
by beach combers living on the Barrier Islands along the Texas coast.
At certain times of the year when a certain species of fish are running,
the island people set baited trot lines across bayous and inlets to
catch fish for the commercial markets. Strange happenings began occurring
with the trot lines, so fishermen hid nearby to observe.
Once the fresh lines sat for a while and when the coast was clear,
coyotes came from the dunes and took the trot lines in mouth, pulling
them ashore. There they stripped the catch of fish along with the
unused bait and carried it back to their litters in the dunes. This
was a common occurrence, forcing the fishermen to guard and protect
their lines from coyote theft.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" July 3, 2008 Column
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