This Old Man
Table of Contents

This Old Man

By Dub Ramsel

This old man I am going to tell about was my grandfather and was born in Grimes County, Texas in 1855. He was named Carlos Clayton Cleveland. His father George William Cleveland was a Veteran of The Civil War. It was said that he attained the rank of Captain. Young Carlos lived with his two brothers and one sister on a farm near Navasota Texas.

I also heard that young Carlos was quite a dashing young man who had an eye for the ladies with trim ankles. He was Irish by decent and had red hair and beard. It is also believed that he made a few trips up the Chisholm Trail with herds of longhorn cattle. This is all hearsay, but it seems possible to me. He might have packed a six gun for all I know. The only time I recall him carrying a pistol was when he was acting as game warden in Arizona where he live and we lived near him.

Like many men of action and travel, he settled down with a wife that was sturdy and hard working. She was the type to raise him sons. So when he met Elizabeth Fannie Pierce he corralled her and they were married in 1879. She was from Limestone County, Texas and after the wedding they settled down on a farm near Kosse, which is in Limestone Co. and at the intersection of Hwy 14 and 7.

Their first two sons were born here in Limestone County. First Rufus Edgar and then Georgetown William.

Then they moved to Fisher County where the third son. Walter Clayton was born. He lived only six years and was buried in the Silverton Cemetery.

The next move was to Scurry County and there the next five children were born. The records show that Alonzo Scarborough, 0llie Dean, Carlos Carl, Joshua Lawrence and my mother Elizabeth Fannie were all born in Snyder, Texas; which was the County Seat of Scurry County.

Then they moved back north to Brisco County and Beula Ophelia was born there 'she was the last of the brood.

I do not have the history of any more moves but they were in Glascock County near Garden City in 19l5 where Elizabeth Fannie, my mother met my dad, who was William B. Ramsel Sr. He went by "Will". They were married in garden City in 1915.

Soon after my folks were married, Grand Pa and Grand Ma got into a hot argument over there, second daughter Beula, It seems that Grand Ma had the desire to educate Beula in Music and attend Texas Tech. Grand Ma said she had musical talent and Grand Pa said she did not and he was probably right. So they parted ways. Grand Ma got hauled up to Lubbock in the wagon alone with Beula. There he bought her a house and agreed to send her money each month or when she needed some. Since she balked at going to Ariz. this was the only thing to do. Grand Pa had made up his mind to go to Arizona and once he decided to do something, he did it.

Then he headed out with the wagon and two mules hitched to it. Maud was a white mule that had helped build the court house in garden City and was carrying some age. John was the other mule. Then he tied old Snip and Teddy to the tailgate and off they went. Snip was a full blood Thoroughbred and Teddy, his half brother was half Thoroughbred, and would work in the harness if necessary. Both horses could run if asked to Grand Pa did not get to Arizona the first year; he stopped over at Lincoln N.M. I think he even considered stopping there but he went on. When Grand Pa finally made it to Arizona he found a couple of homestead tracts on Black River near Alpine Arizona It was beautiful mountain country with mammoth ponderosa Pine and Aspen trees for color and poles for sorrals. A log house that had once been two separate houses about twelve feet apart .One sat on one tract and the other on the adjoining. All he needed to do was fill in the space and enclose the entire structure.

I wasn't there yet so I don't know if he finished the house first or the barns and corrals. I do know that he covered the entire house with black tar paper of extra heavy gauge. It looked bad, but was serviceable and kept out the cold in winter. It was exposed to the north and sometimes the temperature would drop to 30 below.

Our Grand Pa was not very well accepted by his Mormon Neighbors in Alpine. He made no bones about disagreeing with them in regard to their religion. Being opinionated was a trait he, passed down to some of his offspring, I have noticed. When he should have kept his remarks to himself, he let them know that he was a Baptist and did not care for their ways.

As you might have guessed, he had very little company from that area. He did mingle some with the tourists that came around in fishing season and hunting season. He was appointed Game Warden for Apache County and spent a lot of his time riding the ranges and checking licenses. I don't think he ever arrested anyone. I am sure he got a lot of free meals with the campers.

I was very young when I became aware of Grand Pa Cleveland. He dressed mostly in Corduroy pants with high topped planter’s boots with square toes. He always stuffed his pants down inside of his boots. He washed his clothes more than most bachelors and was very neat in his appearance. He also kept the cowhide on his kitchen floor swept clean and was very fussy about his milk room. It was off limits to all kids. He made good peach cobblers and always had food on hand if someone dropped in.

The old man was cantankerous and somewhat mean to his animals. I recall one instance when he walked over to our house, which was a half mile up the river from him. He said to my dad "Will, lend me your horse and rope and Winchester". He was very distraught and I knew he was going to do something violent. I learned later that his mustang bronc had thrown him off and ran away with his saddle, he wanted to rope him and after doing so led the colt back to his lot and shot him between the eyes and let the hogs eat him,

Another time he got mad at his roan bull, so he threw him down and made a steer out of him and then sawed his horns off. As you might expect, the old bull walked down to the end of the pasture and died. His remark was "If he couldn't take that he wasn't any account anyway."

I always liked the old guy, since he took me for a ride on his mule. He had picked up a couple of black mules. Mules were more sure footed than horses one the mountains.

It was one of these mules he was riding the night he was coming home from the Patterson Ranch where he went on a regular basis to listen to the crystal set radio that had earphones. On this particular night, the mule got off the trail and when the old man stepped off to relieve himself, he stepped off a, twenty foot cliff.

My mother and a terrier found him the next day. He was all busted up and had been unconscious for a long time. I don't know how they got him back to our place but some how they did and a Doctor came by to patch him up.
During the process of patching him up, it was necessary to shave his beard off. This infuriated the old man. I was rushed out of the room so I couldn't hear all the profanity that came out of him. He had always done his own doctoring and probably had never had a Doctor for himself before. He also had a cast on his busted leg. When it began to heal some, it began to itch, so he got pa horse liniment and poured some down inside the cast. Then is when the fit really hit the shan. He came out of that cast as quick. as he could get his pocket knife opened, He then started fashioning himself a crutch out of a sapling and took off over the hill back to his place. One might say he was not a very good patient.

Grand Pa had learned all the medicine ways of the Indians, and believed in them. He never drank coffee or tea in the morning. He brewed his drink of a root he found in the pasture. He called it Red Root. If he couldn't have that, he drank a cup of hot water. He had plants that was used for smearing on insect bites. I could have learned a lot from him if he had stayed around long enough.

My brother Curtis had a story about Grand Pa that I was not in on, but I thought it was funny enough to mention. It seems that the old man had a tooth ache and tried to pull his own tooth. He managed to get a wire around it and still couldn't get it out, so he went over to our place and asked dad to pull it out for him. This gave Dad an opportunity to get even with grand Pa. Their relationship had been anything but harmonious for a long time. According to Curtis Dad really flew into the job and it did not let up until he had it out. There was a lot of cussing and hollering going on throughout the whole ordeal.

As I recall, it was not long after Grand Pa got over his accident that he bought himself a truck. He couldn't drive, but hired a fellow to drive for him. The plan was to leave and go back to Texas. He left his horses and mules with us and I heard that dad and Mamma made a deal to buy his place. Some money was put down and it was agreed that the balance would be mailed to him when he reached his destination.

The check was mailed to the forwarding address that he gave-but it came back address unknown. Time passed and still no word from Grand Pa. We found out later that Uncle Carl knew how to contact him, but he wouldn't tell us anything.

Meanwhile a trade was made on our other place for a farm in the Salt River Valley near Phoenix. The Depression hit and we lost the farm and Mamma too. We came back to Black River in 32 and moved into Grand Pa’s tar paper covered house.

Then in 1935, we were contacted by Carl with Quit Claim Deeds to sign off any interest in Grand Pa's Estate. Then we found out that Grand Pa had died. Carl had a will from Grand Pa, or he had concocted something claiming all of Grand Pa's Estate. I always liked Uncle Carl, and we got along great but he and Dad had a soured relationship. The next thing we knew he was suing Dad for the place he had partly bought from Grand Pa. It was our home now and we had no other place to go. It was settled in court and Dad had to get a loan on the land to pay off the remaining debt. Fortunately, President Roosevelt's New Deal included loan money for farmers and ranchers to refinance their lands with a very low interest rate. It was called Farmers Home Loan Agency or something like that. I recall it cost $30 a month and that was hard to come by in those days. Things got better.

We still did not know where Grand Pa was laid to rest for sure. Bandera County Texas was about all we had to go on. Even though Carl had gone there and supposedly put a marker on his grave he just wouldn't talk. He probably would have told me if I had really tried, I never knew why or anything that caused my folks to follow Grand Pa to Arizona. My mother seemed to love the old man in spite of how he was. I was told that he whipped mother with a buggy whip when she and Dad were late getting home from a date.

I think she might have been his favorite daughter and he might have encouraged them to follow him. She looked after him pretty well after we arrived on the scene. I recall her singing songs to him one time. It must have been after his expression a liking for some pretty lady that he had seen or met. It was entitled "get away old Man get away" One line of the lyrics was "better to marry a young man with his pockets lined with silk than an old man with a hundred cows to milk. "I doubt that he appreciated it, but it was funny.

I have a copy of a letter Grand Pa wrote to the Sheriff in Clifton about a horse that was stolen out of the Slaughter Cattle Companies pasture. At one time the Slaughters ran cattle over the mountain and had thousands of them. They even included the Apache Indian Reservation. This letter was dated of 1922 and was mailed with a two cent stamp. He offered to help the sheriff hang the devil if they caught him. The old man had a fair hand at writing. I don't know how much schooling he had, but he was not illiterate by any means.

I also recall seeing Grand Pa put in a full day work in the field. He had oat fields and barley planted for his livestock. He cut it with a binder type reaper and it left bundles on the ground. These bundles were then shocked and when dried out good were loaded on hay wagons and hauled to the barns or stacked in the open. His hours began about two hours before daylight and went to dark. He always milked his cow by lantern light.

I also have a photo of him sitting on the binder with Maud, John and Teddy pulling the contraption. He wore a hat that had such a wide brim one could never see his face.

He had a mark chiseled out on a big flat rock that was used as a stepping stone. When the sun reached this mark with a shadow it was noon. I doubt he ever carried a watch. He could also take a squint at the sun and tell pretty close to what time it was.

I don't know how he ever got the logs stacked for his corral, but he had two foot logs stacked on top of each other three high. I had never seen such a stout corral before or since. He must have had some engineering training from somewhere.

I was told that Grand Pa Cleveland weaned his boys at an early age - like fifteen with a five dollar bill and a kick in the pants. Boys went to work at an early age in those times and were expected to be able to fend for themselves from that point on. In spite of their early weaning, some of the Cleveland boys did quite well for themselves. If they were not interested in going to school, they were out on their own.

According to Virginia, Turner my cousin, Grand Pa came to her rescue when she wanted to go to high school and her dad, Rufus felt that she was needed at home. He sent her a check for one hundred twenty five dollars along with a note saying that if her daddy would not let her go to school, he would "horse whip" him. She finished high school and got a teaching certificate to teach in Mountainair, NM. A lot of girls were teaching with high school diplomas then. Virginia is now in her nineties and going strong.

I recall one time Uncle Carl went to visit Grand Pa with his entire family. Wife Ruth, daughters Effie, Beula, Elaine and Clayton. Clayton was about my size and we wandered down to the hog pen. We arrived at dinner time for the piglets. When Clayton saw them nursing, he leaped over the fence and got down and pushed a pig aside and began nursing the old sow. Years later I would mention this scene and it would always bring on a fist fight.
Some time in the eighties, Curtis went to Bandera and did some checking and found - that he was buried somewhere in that County under the name of "Cap Clayton". Since Pipe Creek was mentioned, he and Dean spent a lot of time checking it out and found nothing except that the cemetery at Pipe Creek had partly washed away in a flood. So they had to stop there.

Then a little later I had an occasion to go there and asked if anyone there had ever known him. I was directed to an old man who was ninety five named Lawrence Edwards. I was told that if anyone ever knew him this gentleman would. Sure enough, he knew all about him and where he was laid to rest. I went there and found the grave with the Cross on the limestone rock.

I also met an old lady who also knew him. She was Mrs. Langford. She lived close by and told me a Mexican Family looked after him for some time before he died. She said she thought the cause of death was prostate cancer. The records list reason for death as senility. They also had him to be ninety five instead of eighty also a single man.

Mrs. Langford tied me she thought he was an old "bandit" or someone running from the law. I assured her that was not right, but he might have been running from his wife and seven kids. I remembered what Beula told me one time and that was" He liked Grand Ma al right, but couldn't stand her damn kids" .

Since finding the grave, Dean Cleveland (my cousin) and I put a foot marker on his grave. It is at the Polly Peak Cemetery on Privilege Creek.

The only reason I can think of why he chose that part of the state to end up was that he might have bee there in early years gathering longhorns for some cattle drive. I was told that he went on a few drives but I have no proof. Or he might have just picked it at random. Anyway, it is pretty country with rolling hills and lots of trees and water;

I mentioned earlier that Grand Pa might have been a ladies’ man. When he was in Arizona he became so infatuated by a movie actress named Roxy Risrion, that he named his mustang horse Roxy. He was a dark brown with a blazed face and could single-foot like crazy. The picture of him sitting on a rock beside a horse in the forest is Rozy. We kept him until he died of old age. He was good and gentle and I rode him when I was big enough to get aboard.

It is hard to understand how some people became what they are, but in the case of Grand Pa he grew up in the most horrible time in the history of America. The reconstruction years after the Civil war made people have to do a lot of things that they wouldn’t have done normally. I heard of one man who had a crib of corn and had to guard it with a shot gun to keep the hungry folks from stealing it. I sure am glad I missed that time. Texas was a long way from Vicksburg, but the affects reached Texas in so many ways.

Cowboy Joe

You might also like to listen to Ragtime cowboy Joe from the LIbrary of Congress National Jukebox

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