Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dan - A Son of the Republic of Texas

After a lengthy process of providing stringent documentation, based upon my genealogical research, Dan received his card and certificate today, naming him a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT). The SRT consists of members who are direct lineal descendants of those that settled the Republic of Texas prior to February 19, 1846, when Texas merged with the United States as the 28th state.

Dan's membership is based on his great-grandfather, John Henry Short, born in Washington County, Texas, on July 4, 1844. 

A Day Out with "The Bag Ladies"

My dear friend, Wynn, who used to live here, contacted me on Monday, asking if I'd join her and her three friends from Huntsville (they call themselves "The Bag Ladies") for a couple of days of fun in Waco and McGregor. Sadly, I already had a dentist appointment scheduled for Tuesday, but happily agreed to join them for the McGregor portion of the adventure, on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, while I was in the dentist's chair :-( they went to Magnolia Market - the marvelous shop owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, from HGTV's Fixer Upper. I've been wanting to visit there, so was really disappointed to miss out on that part of the trip. Here's a photo of Wynn and the Bag Ladies at Magnolia Market. Wynn is on the far right.

Left to right: Jenene, Yuka, Dorothy and Wynn

But Wednesday turned out to be tons of fun. We met at The Cedar Chest Antique Mall. It's huge, and we spent a couple hours there before heading an eighth-mile down the road to check out The Cedar Chest Too. Yes, as big as the Cedar Chest is, it has had to expand into a second building.

After a morning filled with nostalgia - "My Grandma had one of those"; "Did you have a poodle skirt when you were in grade school?"; "Oh, look, I had a doll just like this!"; "Don't you think this would be perfect in my kitchen?"; "How cute! I could make this!" - we went to lunch at The Coffee Shop Cafe, also in McGregor.

Dan and I have eaten at this wonderful cafe for breakfast a couple of times, but this was my first time to try lunch. It was really, really good. Too bad we were all too full for dessert, because they are known for their amazing pies. McGregor is less than 10 miles from Crawford, Texas, which is where George W and Laura Bush have their Texas ranch. The Bushes have dined often at the Coffee Shop Cafe, and there are photos and memorabilia of George W and Laura all over the shop, including a check they used to pay for one of their meals.

After lunch we went over to the Magnolia House. This 1800's house was restored by Chip and Joanna Gaines (of Fixer Upper fame), and converted into a bed and breakfast.

Wynn and me
Behind the house is another Gaines fixer upper, where the bed and breakfast managers/caretakers live. While we were standing there, gawking at Magnolia House, dreaming of what it would be like to spend a night or two there and taking lots of pictures, a man came out of the caretakers' house. He was trying to get some yard work done, but it was pretty hard to ignore the five of us. Dorothy was the bravest and she called to him and started asking questions. His name is Rob, and he and his wife are the caretakers. He is such a nice fellow, and before we let him get back to his work, we twisted his arm and convinced him to join us for a picture. What a good sport!

Now I might have called it a day at this point, but these ladies are DEDICATED shoppers, and headed to yet another antique store. After spending 45-minutes-or-so there, I told everyone good-bye and thanked them the wonderful day, then headed south on HWY 317, for home.

It was so nice of these ladies to let me crash their "party". It was a special treat to spend the day with Wynn, but it was also great getting to know her friends - the fun-loving Bag Ladies. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Finishing Up an Old Painting

Over a year ago I worked, in my art class, on a painting of a Santa Fe window with flower boxes (you can see it here). I really struggled with it, changing out what was in the lower part of the windows multiple times, and eventually leaving the windows bare. At that time my teacher suggested some lace curtains or something like that, but I had HAD IT with that painting, and called it done. Ever since, though, it's been calling to me, from its corner of the closet, saying, "Finish me!" So I finally pulled it out last week and started putting some loose weave curtains in the window. Now I feel better about calling it finished. I think adding the curtains helped the reflections and the inside details of the upper windows pop a little, too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spring Rains

The heavy rains started on Sunday. There were flash flood warnings and thunder storm warnings throughout the day. Over Sunday and Monday, we totaled about 4.5 inches. But, on late Sunday afternoon there was a temporary break. The sun peeked through and gave us this promise-sign in the sky.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Two More Finished Paintings

Here are my latest finished paintings from art class. I like the boat - not so fond of the lilies-of-the-valley. But it was a fun exercise.

Friday, April 8, 2016

William Short and His Gang - Dan's Great-Great Grandfather

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog about one of our ancestors. You may recall my piece about Dan’s heroic ancestors, the Short brothers, John and Michael, John being Dan’s third great-grandfather. At that time I mentioned that the Shorts had both heroes and scoundrels. Now I’ll tell you about one of the scoundrels, Dan’s second great-grandfather, William M Short.

It’s hard to understand how a fellow like William could come from such good parents as John and Dicy Short, but so it was.

William started out young, with petty thievery, such as when he broke into a store and stole items, including a pair of ladies’ stockings to give to his intended bride, Christiana Harrel. It was about this time that he also enlisted the aid of his younger brother, Thomas, in hiding stolen goods.

Before long, William had gathered together a large gang of men, forming a chain that extended from Missouri to Mexico. One of the gang members was his brother-in-law, William Sansom. Their specialties were horse thievery; counterfeiting money and land certificates; and repeatedly stealing and reselling slaves at intervals along the way north and thereafter assisting with their escapes, thus profiting from their altruism.

Such escapades soon led to murder, the first of several being the murder of James Crook, after Crook and William Short argued about the division of some land and Crook threatened to go to the authorities. 

Much of what is known about this gang of men was made public when William Short’s younger brother, Thomas, who had been captured and convicted, confessed everything he knew in order to seek leniency from the court. Here is what he had to say about his brother, William (from the State Gazette, Austin, Texas, August 25, 1849):

“Wm. Short, my poor unfortunate brother, has engaged in every species of crime, led a miserable life, died a disgraceful death, and thus far I learn his body has been exposed a prey to the wild wolves and vultures. He it was that first led me into stealing and after I had commenced could not withdraw for fear of my own life, as death was the penalty for disclosure.”

From what I have found in my research, William’s death was, in deed, disgraceful. He was apparently publicly hanged by a mob, leaving a wife, Christiana Harrel, and 5-year-old son, John Henry Short (Dan's great-grandfather).

John Henry Short, son of William - Dan's great-grandfather.

At the end of Thomas’ confession, he pled for mercy for himself:

“ . . . and now, reader, I am in irons in Brenham jail, guilty and depending on the sympathies of the community from whom I deserve none. Let my fate warn young men from keeping evil company. Parents, control your sons, or they may fail as I have done. I have no father and mother in sympathise (sic) with me; no brother to aid; poor and pennyless, without a decent supply of raiment; an orphan boy, 18 years, who, from keeping bad company, and that of an older brother, is now destined for the State prison, and perhaps for life. Ye that have sons I ask your sympathy; those who have young brothers I caution; Jurors, (citizens of the county I have injured,) in inflicting the laws of your country, the laws I have trampled under my feet, I beseech you spare me — I ask, I beg, I pray, you act with all that lenity (sic) consistent with your oath, your honor and your country’s cause, and let come what may, from this time forward, I will lead the life of an honest man.”

Thomas and the brother-in-law, William Sansom, were both incarcerated at the Texas State Prison in Huntsville, in 1849 - when it first opened its doors. In fact, they are in the record book as Prisoner #1 (Sansom) and Prisoner #3 (Short) at this facility. Sansom served just under one year of his three-year sentence, then was pardoned by Governor Bell, on September 14, 1850. Thomas Short served one year of his two-year sentence, and was discharged in November of 1850. 

History indicates that Thomas lived up to his promise of leading “the life of an honest man” after his imprisonment. From 1864 to 1865 he served in the Union Army, Co., C, First TX Cavalry, during the Civil War. This was a risky undertaking since most of Texas was Confederate. He participated in the last battle of the Civil War on May 13, 1865 at Palmito Ranch, Texas. He lived to the age of 78, and died, while visiting relatives, in New Mexico.

Thomas (younger brother of William) and Margaret Short.