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Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

Myths, truths about tidbits

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

In devouring books and hearing the old stories on many subjects, I am amazed at the tidbits of information on which my mind seems to focus. Why certain items interest me while others are passed over I can't explain. Here are a few examples of this strange interest.

Almost every old-time cash register I have seen in museums during my lifetime have a small narrow marble top located just below the keys and above the cash drawer. Recently I learned the reason for this attractive addition. The small marble slab is actually a coin quality tester. Friend Bill Marquis of Old Stoney and a fellow historian demonstrated the test.

First he tossed some of today's pennies, nickels and quarters onto the marble slab revealing only a dull "thunk" as they struck the hard surface. Then he pulled out his lucky old-time silver dollar and tossed it onto the marble. There was a distinct bell-like ring signifying the difference in the amount of silver in the coins. It seems there were a lot of slugs and diluted coins way back when. The tester was cheap, and the sound beyond question. This is a long way from the technical pen used by today's clerks to detect counterfeit bills. The same purpose but a different technology altogether.


Many times history has written how the Burnett family, owners of the famous 6666 ranches, took the brand and name from an incident where property was won with a poker hand holding four sixes. According to sources close to the earliest Burnett owners and employees who worked for them on the original ranch in Denton County, this story is not true.

Jeremiah Burnett sent his first trail herd to Kansas and with his profit bought a another ranch adjoining his home ranch. He realized the 6666 brand would be hard for cattle rustlers to change so he bought the brand along with the land, and it's been used to this day.


I was reading the story of Lewis Clinton "Judge" Hawes, an early resident who arrived in No Man's Land in the Oklahoma Panhandle in 1883 and paid his first taxes in 1884. Like most early settlers of the area, Hawes lived in a dugout for years, building corrals and barns and planting trees to protect his livestock from the Panhandle blizzards before finally building a frame house for his family.

As his brood grew in number, he kept adding shed-type rooms around the outside walls until he ran out of house sides. When this easy building option offered no further expansion, he had carpenters saw the original house in half, with hand saws, of course, at that time.

With foundations built, teams of horses and mules were attached to one-half of the house and it was skidded outward to fit the new foundations, allowing for a large living room and more attic bedrooms to be built between the old original halves.

I have heard of most every building option imaginable except this one. Mr. Hawes must have had a lot of common sense in his makeup.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" September 1 , 2009 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.

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