4/19/12

Families Are Like Quilts...

...Stitched Together One Piece at a Time.
AtoZ Family Tree...Letter 'Q'

When the wind mixes with a driving sleet in West Texas, a cow, a calf and a young girl should be someplace out of the bitter cold. Preferably someplace warm.  Stella's thoughts about someplace warm kept her going in the driving sleet. 

The cow was having a hard time of it, too.  Stella could tell by the tension on the rope that kept the mother as close to her newborn as she could get.  The calf, barely four hours old, was draped across her saddle sharing the slicker that was doing a passable job of keeping the rain and ice from soaking them both.

Stella looked up just before her horse crossed the road through the gate where the sign was covered in snow and dripping with ice sickles.  Just able to make out Wristen Ranch through the blowing sleet and snow, she peered beyond the sign to make out the house and barn  down the snow covered  wagon rutted tracks.  Holding back on the horse so the cow could keep up, she spoke softly to the shivering calf, "Hang on little one, we'll get you warm and fed real soon.  Dear god, let there be somebody here who will take us in for the night.
The answer to her prayer was standing beside the barn swinging a lantern.  As she neared the barn door, Stella allowed the cowboy to take the reins and lead them inside.  For the first time in what seemed like hours, she took a full breath of air without the wool scarf filtering the cold and ice. 

Numb and shivering, she handed the calf to the out stretched arms who quickly rubbed the calf down with a toesack, laid it beside it's mother and returned to the girl as she nearly fell from the saddle.

"I bet yore Stella Carroll," said the cowboy as he helped her to the pot bellied stove in the tack room of the barn.  "I'm Bob Offield.  I met yore Mother, brothers and sister today when they was stuck in a mudhole jesta mile or two down the road from here.  Can't say I'm surprised to see you.  Yore Mama said you were jest a few hours behind with a cow and a newborn calf.  Looks like you did a right fine job of getting all of you this far.  Now let's get you unfroze a bit before we git on up to the main house where Miz Wristen will fix you somethin' to warm you up".

With her chattering teeth, Stella was having a hard time saying her thanks, but managed to nod her head in agreement as Bob motioned her to the stool in front of the fire.  He threw in another log and stoked the embers as Stella pulled off her gloves and hat, and unwrapped the shawl she had covering her head and shoulders.  Bob noticed that she had the same color hair as her Mama, and the young girl seemed to have that same proud stance and determination that he had witnessed earlier in the day.
The following day dawned with the sun shining on the snow drifts that had piled on the window sill of the room Mrs. Wristen had insisted Stella take for the night.  Stella hadn't had the luxury and comfort of a real bed since leaving Grandpa and Grandma Marleys place.  It seemed like a long time ago, but it had been less than three weeks since she had left Borden County to travel to Grandfalls in the covered wagon she watched roll out of sight so many hours ago.  Now she would have to catch up with her Mama...oh how she wanted to stay under the warm scrap quilts, eat hot food and wait for warmer weather before venturing out again.

"My Daddy died nearly thirteen years ago.  Mama, my brothers and sister and I have been living with my Grandpa and Grandma Marley on their farm in Gail.  Mama heard that Ward County was offering homesteads to farmers who could make it for two years.  So we started off and when we got to Monahans, the storm hit and the cow decided to have her calf.  I'm very grateful to you, Miz Wristen, for your hospitality.  I couldn't have gone much further.  "Stella found herself telling Mrs. Wristen, who was busy making a pan of biscuits and stirring gravy for the ranch hands that would be sitting down to the long oak table for breakfast.

"Your Mother must be a determined woman to take on homesteading in this part of West Texas without a husband.  It's a tough life, and God knows, it takes a mighty strong will and strong back to make it work.  I wish you and your Mama well.  Stella, I can see that you are strong, young Texas woman.  You'll make it."
I am a 'Scrap Quilt Maker' and collector of Vintage Quilts and Scraps.

Stella Carroll was my Grandmother, and this story is one of the 'Scraps' pieced into my 'Family Quilt'. 

I hope you have enjoyed this story and the others of my Pioneer Family in Grandfalls, Ward County, Texas.  They are all based on real folks, and real events in the Lives and Tracks of My Texas Ancestors.

Sue
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8 comments:

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Good Morning Sue Sweetie...
OMG how I enjoyed this piece of your family quilt. I love hearing the stories and this one about your beautiful Grandma just kept me reading and brought sadness when you stopped writing. Couldn't you write a little longer?

In my mind I could see Stella hanging on to that calf, steering that horse and tugging gently to move the cow forward. I could feel the cold sting on my face as Stella crept forward, alone in the world searching for a place of warmth somewhere up ahead.

Such a beautiful write dear one. Thank you for sharing with me this beautiful morning. Have a glorious day and I anxiously await for another write coming.

Many hugs and much love, Sherry

Wendy said...

Those look like cozy quilts -- especially the ones in the last photo.

Ann said...

A beautiful retelling of a touching story of determination. So glad it was saved through the generations. Well you have inspired me to start an ancestry blog. I've only done one post-not sure how I will continue on different people. I have so much more to post on my grandma. Hop over to http://lestweforget-ann.blogspot.com
Ann

LV said...

A great story on the vintage quilts.

Pondside said...

I love your stories - you're lucky to have them, and so good to be writing them down for the rest of your family.

Little Susie Home Maker said...

What a wonderful piece of history you are sharing here. I just think that is so wonderful!
Blessings,
Susie

Ames said...

This was great Sue. I love to read stories about woman homesteaders. I was extremely hard back then and women were different too. Either they were frail and kept or strong and determined. And I too love quilts.~Ames

Rosewalk Cottage said...

I love your story. I am a quilter myself. Thank you for sharing.
~Clara

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