or "Freight hauler with a sense of humor"
I made the observation that not many feature stories were written in the small-town
newspapers back in the early 1900s. As fate would have it, after making that remark,
I came across several articles in the old Hallettsville Herald that I found
to be very interesting, if not downright hilarious.
Take for example the
one about a fellow known simply as "Hazel" - back in 1902 it seems he had several
adventures that were quite humorous and I would like to share them with you this
week. Squire Townsend, a well-known Hallettsville judge, told the story to the
The following article is printed just as it appeared when first
Hallettsville Herald - February 6, 1902
the early days of Hallettsville
before the whistle of the iron horse was heard, and freighting between this place
and Port Lavaca and
Houston was engaged in extensively,"
said Squire Townsend while in a reminiscent mood. "There lived a man named Hazel
in the northern edge of the county, who engaged in the business.
was a big, rough fellow with a streak of humor in his composition and who was
one of the most expert men with the bull whip I ever saw. His power was the pride
of his comrade freighters.
"I remember an incident that happened in Houston
which will illustrate Hazel's deft handling of the whip. Hazel had stopped his
team of six mules in front of a hotel and
was conversing with a friend. A drummer - one of the first of that profession
in Texas - hailing from New York, was standing near
"A big horse fly lit on the ear of a mule leader. Hazel, without moving
from his lounging attitude, swung his black snake [whip] through the air, nipping
the fly from the ear, with the end of the curling lash, without touching the ear.
"The astonished drummer could not believe but what was an accident, and Hazel
offered to wager a dollar that he could pin another fly to the drummer's pants
and repeat the trick.
"The wager was accepted, a fly caught and pinned
to the drummer's pants above the knee. Hazel carefully stepped back the requisite
distance and balanced his whip. There was a twinkle in his eye and his friends
waited expectantly. Again the lash swished through the air, and mingled with the
pistol like clap, came an agonized yell from the drummer that could have been
heard half a mile.
"The lash made a keen slit in the fellow's pants and
flesh like a knife cut. Hazel paid his wager, but contended that he was due another
chance as he had slightly miscalculated the distance. Needless to say the drummer
"The same Hazel had a voice half bass and half tenor. When speaking
he would start with the base, and then break into a finer tone which made it sound
as if two distinct persons were talking.
"One evening just about dark,
while in Houston, and under the influence
of liquor, he went out walking. An abandoned well lay in his path, and it was
his luck to fall in. The well was just deep enough to make it impossible to climb
"He yelled for help and an Irish laborer came along. 'Help me out
of here,' called Hazel, his voice breaking from base to tenor. The Irishman turned
away in disgust saying, 'Faith there be two of yez, why the devil don't yez help
each other out,' and left Hazel in his uncomfortable position."
Star Diary February
13, 2009 Column
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