August 22, 2001

Tracing Our Bosque County Roots
By LaDawn Garland
22 August 2001

Well it’s been a very hectic and busy month which left little time to devote to this column. Thank you to everyone who emailed me or stopped me around town to ask about the column when it didn’t appear in the newspaper. It was so great to see the support and interest so many have for keeping our Bosque County history alive. So now that we are back on track I encourage you all to send in your stories, memories, queries, or anything else you would like to share concerning your Bosque County families.

A very special welcome to the thousands of visitors who will be in the county this next weekend for the National Championship Barbecue Cookoff, who knows maybe a few might just find some family connections here they never even knew about.

Once again I’d like to share some of the wonderful memories included in the stories from Rev. H. W. Estrem, who served the parish of St. Olaf Rock Church near Cranfills Gap in the early 1900’s. This collection of his stories compiled and edited by his granddaughter was given to me by Bro. Bill Schibler.

In a section the Reverend calls  “Fishing Tales” he tells us that below the church was a large sandstone ledge along the bank of the river. Picnics were held here and members bathed and fished.

“On that ledge” Rev Estrem tells us ” we often sat and fished for goggle eyes, a southern cousin of the blue gill. There were supposed to be a few trout in the rapids above the pool, but they always looked like black bass to me. Once in a while we could see a water moccasin slither across the surface of the water. One day two of our neighbors had been down to the ledge fishing, and on the way home, dumped their fish on the road to divide
them, when out came a water moccasin that either Mr. John Dahl or Mr. Bryn had carried on his shoulder from the river.”

It seems that Bosque County was enjoying neighborhood fish frys back then as well. ” The men seined the fish and the ladies fried them and set bounteous picnic tables.” continues the Reverend ” I still have, on the wall of our lake cottage, a mounted gar fish caught at such a fish fry below the parsonage. The gar is an armored fish of the pickerel family. Instead of scales it had jointed hard plates. I never saw one, but I was told that there was one variety in some southern waters that had legs instead of front fins and could drag itself up on shore for short periods.”

It seems that catfish in the river sometimes grew to great size and that shortly before the Estrems had arrived in Texas a neighbor had caught one weighing ninety pounds. The Reverend tells of one particular morning, during a semi-annual meeting of the congregation, when towards noon the gathering began to get restless and were looking at their watches. He thought they were getting hungry, as he was himself, so closed the meeting. That was not the case though, it seems the men had an appointment with someone at the river at 12:30 p.m., a monster catfish had been discovered in the pool and this man was going to try to take it with his bare hands.

The plan was for the men to stand in the river side by side and block the way so the fish could not escape, while this gentleman, who had a reputation for catching large fish this way, would swim under the ledge and grab the fish by the tail or fins and pull him out.
According to the Reverend it didn’t exactly work out this way. ” When all was ready and all in place, and with a short warning “Don’t let him through boys” the gentleman dove under the bank. Some air bubbles showed where he was, then a churning and agitation of the water put us all agog with excitement. Suddenly, about six men to my left, there was a mighty yell and one man fell down. Behind him went a billowing wake as of some living
submarine streaking down the river to safety. A record-breaking old cat had eluded his nervy enemy and broken through the determined cordon with ease.” These stories of the Reverend are wonderful glimpses of life here in Bosque County years ago.

I can remember as a child my great Uncle “Shell”, (H. L. Price) telling me tales of giant catfish he had seen in this area while diving. He always said there were some old “monster” catfish that were big enough to swallow a person. Now there was someone who always had some “tall”  tales to tell, I wish  now I had thought to write down all of those wonderful stories of his.


I am interested in any family stories of the following families that lived in Bosque Co.
JUSTICE (Levi, Appleton, Marion, William, Samuel & many others) TIPTON (Pleasant, Samuel, & Margaret & others) My line I am searching is Margaret Tipton married Marion Justice 1876 in Bosque Co. If anyone has any info on these 2 families or any connections, please let me know. Thanks in advance.
Susan Fletcher

I’m looking for info on Victor J. Hampton (DOB: 8 December 1889 and DOD: 16, April 1973). I had thought he had died in Waco, but the Waco Public Library informed me that he died in Bosque County. Hampton was a mining engineer who worked in South America (Bolivia and Brazil) and North America (Mexico and the western U.S.) from the early 1900s through perhaps the 1950s. I’m looking for his descendants, in connection with a research project about mining in Bolivia in the 1920s.
Dan Buck

Old News Items From Around The County – Meridian Tribune

June 27, 1913
Local News & Personals
Roy L Sherill was in Valley Mills Sunday looking after his interests(?)
C. W. Tidwell and family visited in Iredell the first of the week.
Earl White left today for Amarillo where he will spend several days on business.
T O Goains of Arkansas and Miss Eva Chaffin of near Meridian, were married in this city on last Saturday afternoon at 4 o’clock, Squire A. J. Childress officiating.

July 4, 1913
Charles C Porter assumed charge as postmaster of the Meridian office today.
Merrell Turner left last week for Memphis where he will visit relatives for several weeks.
A. H. Murchison of Eulogy was transacting business here Wednesday.
W. C. Barnett and wife left Tuesday for Eastern Texas, where they will spend a few months with their daughters Mesdames Stringfellow and Noel.
Lewis H King, the land man has returned from a business trip to western Texas.

July 18, 1913
Miss Fannie Price of Antlers Oklahoma is visiting her sister Mrs. A D Roach.
Fred Owens and sister of near Iredell spent Saturday in the city guests of W. H. Simpson and family.
Hodges Hughes was in Galveston the first of the week.
Mr and Mrs T H Minor returned Wednesday from a visit to relatives in Ft Worth.
Miss Willie Cowan has returned from an extended visit to Ft. Worth.
Pope Odle visited in Walnut Springs Monday.
Roy Sherill of Meridian and Antone Peterson of Clifton are somnambulists.
In their wanderings they range out of their territory and call on fair maidens here in Valley Mills. If the boys here would be more sociable and do their duty there would be no necessity for such a state of affairs.

A large collection of old newspapers from Bosque County dating back to the late 1800’s are available for research at the Bosque County Collection in Meridian as well as an amazing assortment of items recording the history of our county. Don’t forget that the Bosque County Collection is now open on Saturdays for research . For information and a look at some of the wonderful research items available visit their website at

If you are researching your Bosque County families online be sure to visit Bosque Co. TXGenWeb site at  you’ll find a wonderful collection of information provided by other researchers, it’s quite possible you might just find other researchers there researching your same family lines. This column will also be available weekly at this site.

If you would like to submit a story or query about your Bosque County family, as well as information on reunions, to this column please mail them to:
LaDawn Garland
c/o The Bosque County News
P.O. Box 343
Meridian, TX
76665, fax to (254) 435-6335
or email me at