Monday, November 10, 2014

GONE TO TEXAS IS PERSONAL FOR CARRA COPELIN





The Thanksgiving celebrations are coming up real soon. We've started to talk about who in our family will be able to get together and how can we accommodate everyone's schedule. Planning the festivities got me to thinking about -- you guessed it -- Family. I thought I'd share a bit of Texas that I posted a while back on the phrase, Gone To Texas, and a brief story on my family's beginnings in this great state.

Gone to Texas, often abbreviated GTT, was a phrase used by Americans immigrating to Texas in the mid-1800's. They moved to Texas for many reasons, often to escape debt incurred during the Panic of 1819, to start over again or to begin for the first time, to get land or to look for adventure as well as for new fortunes. Obtaining "land" seemed to be the driving force for most of those who came to Texas. People became so obsessed with the hopes promised and the romance of Texas that "Gone to Texas" or "G.T.T." was often written on the doors of abandoned houses or posted as a sign on fences.

After Davy Crockett was narrowly defeated for re-election in Tennessee, he famously said, 





My ancestor, Amon McCommas, was one so obsessed. He came to Peter's Colony in December 1844 from Virginia, stopping for repairs successively in Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri. Accompanying him in his journey was his wife, Mary, their grown children, James B., John (my g-g-grandfather and a soldier in the Mexican war), Elisha, William M., Amon, Jr., Stephen B. (died a soldier in the city of Mexico, December 24, 1847), Rosa, Armilda, and Mary E.

Also along for the adventure were Amon's two brothers, Stephen B. and John C., and a sister-in-law Mrs. Lavinia McCommas and her children. 

Circulars printed for distribution and posted in public places advertising the rich lands of the Red River and Trinity Colony in Texas lured many to this area of North Central Texas. One advertisement stated that the Peters Colony was “peculiarly adapted to the successful growth of cotton and tobacco,” and, “Indian corn, rye, barley, oats, sweet and Irish potatoes, peas, beans, melons, figs, garden vegetables and all the fruits.” Circulars further claimed that “the country abounds in wild game, such as buffalo, deer wild turkies, prairie hens, quails, and grey squirrels, and the forest with wild honey.” With advertisements such as this, it is easy to see why so many families decided to emigrate to Texas.
Every family settling in Texas during this period was to receive 640 acres of land and each single man 320 acres, provided they lived on and work the land for three years.
I'm in awe of so many families, not just my own, starting out with their meager belongings to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles to a complete unknown. When the McCommas' reached their destination, Peter's Colony, they set up camp on the banks of the Trinity River, where Elder Amon McCommas preached the first Sermon.

 Amon settled, with his family, five miles northeast of where the city of Dallas now stands. At that time, Dallas contained only five or six families, settled along the banks of the river.  He was a Campbellite preacher (Deciples of Christ Minister) and he founded the Christian Church of Dallas in 1845 with twelve members. In 1846, Amon chaired the meeting that formed Dallas County and was later elected as the first Chief Justice of the Dallas County Commissioners Court. He was a farmer who owned the first "tread - mill "(grist mill powered by mules) in Dallas. He served as president of the first county fair, which later became the State Fair of Texas.



We all have family traditions. Some of these are developed with new families, some are carried down through generations. We lean toward a more Southern menu when it comes to dinner I think. Starting with the oven roasted turkey, we add mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, kernel corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy and dressing -- not stuffing -- cornbread dressing. Dessert includes pumpkin and pecan pies. In the last few years, my daughter has been making cheesecakes that would give any one's efforts a run for their money.

 As it turns out, due to work schedules, I believe we'll have at least two Thanksgiving get togethers in order to be with everyone. Over the course of a few days, immediate family will be coming to our house, including our daughter and her husband, our son and his wife and our three grandchildren. Each family will contribute to the meal. The atmosphere will be chaotic and tremendous fun.
Family.

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you are able to enjoy good food and your families. If you care to share your traditions, I'd love to hear them.

Love always,
Carra

3 comments:

  1. Your family traditions sound like mine. I'm a native Texan and I grew up on cornbread dressing. I have never called it stuffing. I had to ask what stuffing was. I know better today but it still makes a difference to me.

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  2. I enjoyed reading about your family going to Texas. How wonderful you have the information through the generations. My Mom did ours the last ten years of her life and I consider it a treasure. It is also a great source for information for my stories. Thank you for sharing and a happy and joyous Thanksgiving to you.

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  3. I've often thought to write a post about Gone to Texas, for it truly is a grand call for so many back in those days to pack up, leave much of their possessions and friends behind, take what they could, and go to Texas.
    I had an ancestor--for DRT membership--to come from Virginia, too, at age 12. I wonder what there was about Virginia that made so many want to get to Texas. My ancestor did own land, and joined the Texian Army to fight Santa Anna for the liberation of Texas. A True Texan.
    Yes, Davy Crockett said that quote, while during the Civil War, Gen. Sherman had to travel through Texas for some battle. He said, "If I owned Texas and Hell, I'd rent out Texas and live in Hell." He thought it was the hottest place he'd ever been in!
    Oh, thanks for you family history, too.
    We ate cornbread dressing, too. Native Texas, yes, Connie Brown, grew up on cornbread dressings. And we didn't have to wait until Thanksgiving to have it, either!

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