Life as I Remember It

By Rosabelle Calliham

My grandparents, J.T. and Sarah Calliham, with four other families, came to McMullen county about the year 1866. The land was covered with prickly pear, mesquite bush and some Indian camps on the Frio River. There were wild horses all over the land which the settlers captured, tamed and used to their own advantage. The Indians that were left in the territory were harmless but would streal the settlers horses whenever they could. The following incident was told to my by my Grandfather.

One night the Indians sneaked up to his pen of horses and took them to their camp. Grampa waited until dark the next night and while the Indians slept he went to their camp and found his horses tied to a tree. He untied the horses and they went home.

Another time at night, Grampa woke up to see an Indian brave riding off with his horses, he got his gun, shot the Indian, rolled him into a ditch nearby and buried him. There were no problems resulting from this incident.

Grampa and Grama had eight children. The oldest was a girl who died and was buried on their land. Hers was the first grave on what was the old Calliham cemetary. It was later moved to New Calliham. Two boys, David and James were born and grew to be teen-agers. They were sent to Mineral City to stay with one of Grampa's sisters, to go to school. Both boys contracted a fever that at that time was called break bone fever. It probably was Typhus. They did not survive.

The other five children lived to grew up and have families of their own.

One of the five was Henry Thomas, or Harry, as he was called. He was seventh of the Calliham children.

As Harry became a man he went looking for a wife. He met and married a beautiful daughter of S.S. Bates in Pettus, Texas. Her name was Daulcy Jane. Harry and Daulcy were married Sept 6 1906 and began their long years together. Their first home was in Tilden, Texas. Their first child was still-born. On June 7, 1908, another baby was born to them. It was a girl with a lot of red hair. This five pound infant was me, Rosabelle. My parents were real proud of me.

My parents moved to what is or was Calliham when I was very young. One of the many things I remember when I was growing up was the shortage of water. We lived close to the Frio river, but as it seldom rained in that area, the river had very little water. Papa dug an under ground cistern to catch the rainwater. Gutters were attached to the house to catch water for the cistern. This precious rainwater was a lifewaver, even though it picked up trash and bird droppings from the gutters. When the cistern water got low, Papa would hitch up his old horse to a sled with barrels on it and go to the river for water. To get down to the river one had to go down a steep hill. One one of these trips Papa told about getting his barrels filled, the old horse hugged and pugged dragging the heavy sled up the hill. When he reafhed the top, the horse stopped, turned around in his harness and got a drink from one of the barrels. Papa said the "Old Jake" was really smart.

It was a very hard time for the Callihams as Harry had the misfortune of being born near-sighted. There were no public jobs for any-one, especially one nearly blind. But for a hard working and strong willed mother and help from Papa's parents J.T. and Sarah Calliham, this family could not have existed.

After a few years, two more children were born to our family, Dave and Georgia. Our family struggled on as best it could in spite of ups and downs and broken dreams, moving around a trying to better ourselves. One move was to Three Rivers Tx. Papa traded some horses for an old hotel. Mama tried to make a go of hotel business, but it was a failure. They traded the hotel for a lot with two empty buildings on it in Normanna Tx. It was an old pool hall and dance hall. There was no money for anyone. This was about the year 1915. As I remember well, my mother Daulcy managed to get some flour somehwere. She baked some bread and sold it for 5 cents a loaf. Papa found a job cutting stove wood for 75 cents a day. They were glad to get it.

Durng this period, while in Normanna, a Mexican bandit (Pancho Villa) was making rounds over the country robbing and killing. Normanna residents were alerted that he was headed in that direction. The women and children were crowded into a building behind the depot for the night while the men stood watch with guns outside, waiting for the bandit to appear. For some reason, he never showed up.

Our stay in Normanna was a bad time, be we survived the measles with relapses and other illnesses. Mama's sister Georgia, who lived in Normanna also, died at the age of 35 from pneumonia leaving 5 boys and a three year old girl to be raised by mama's parents and here brother (Uncle Sam Bates) who lived between Pettus and Mineral. When Aunt Georgia died, Uncle Sam brought his team and wagon from Pettus to pick up the body. As many as could of us rode in the wagon to the Dahl Cemetary between Pettus and Mineral, where she was buried.

After a few months of near starvation, Papa decided to take his family back to McMullen county where Grampa Calliham had land to share with his children.

In the year 1923 and 1924, some oil men leased up most of the land and started drilling gas wells, and later shallow oil wells. The country was on a boom for awhile. People came from all over the country to work in the oil field. Among these new-comers was a handsome young man from Pawhuska, Oklamona. His name was Roy Crumrine. He soon found work as well as interest in a sixteen year old girl. I was that sixteen year old girl. After a few months we were married and left there to make a life of our own.

While we were in Dale, Texas, a small oil Field near Lockhart Texas, we had our first child, a baby girl and we named her Rosalie. After a time, just before our second child was due, we settled in Aransas Pass Texas where Roy went to work for Humble Oil co. Our second child was born Sept. 14, 1927, a boy named Glennie. On Dec 11 1929 a third child was born. R.D. was his name. The children took colds in that very cold winter of 1929. Little R.D. developed pneumonia andpassed away at the age of one month and 22 days.

A year later another baby arrived (another girl) Trevia Lois. Years passed and the children gew up as normal children. Many problems surfaced between Roy and I. In 1943 I decided to leave. Glennie and Rosalie stayed in Aransas Pass to finish school, so I took Trevia Lois and went to Calliham.

Rosalie graduated in 1943 and was married that same year to Lloyd Semar, from Orange Texas, who was in the navy, stationed at Port Aransas. Glennie fnished school and went into the service. He was stationed on Guam.

I found work at the hospital in Three Rivers, Texas. This was my first step to becoming a licensed LVN. Lots of harrowing experiences occurred during this part of my nursing career.

I went from three Rivers hospital to the Beeville hospital, and when Trevia finished school she came to work at the Beeville Hospital for nurses traiining.

Beeville at that time was ruled by the notorious Vale Ennis who was sheriff. He would not hesitate to shoot a person down if he was crossed. He was feared by most people in the county for taking part in family disputes, even if he had to use a gun. Vale Ennis is still a legend in Bee County.

Trevia worked for a short time as a nurses aide and then she met a dashing young man from Three Rivers (Ecil Harris). They were married and had 5 children (4 girls and a boy).

When Glennie was discharged from the service, he returned to Aransas Pass and went to work for Exxon. He met and married Patsy Griffis. They made their home in Aransas Pass and raised two boys and two girls.

Rosalie and Lloyd settled in Tuleta Texas after moving around several places in Texas and they raised four boys.

Years passed with the usual ups and downs. Some evens in my life are as bad dreams to be forgotten. Some good things to remember are my children and grand-children.

I was working at the Three Rivers Hospital when my first grand-child ws born. It was a joyous feeling but hard to realize that I was a grand-mother at the age of 35. While I was working at the Beeville Hospital in 1951 I met a man from George West (J.D. Ginn). He was a patient in the hospital with a broken leg. We married in 1955, but divorced later that same year.

Later I moved back to McMullen county to be close to my parents. They had divided their land between their three children with the understanding that they would be allowed to remain there the rest of their lives. Dave, Georgia, and I were all fortunate to be able to live close to our parents for the remainder of their days.

Around the year 1970 the Bureau of Reclamation began buying up all the Calliham land for Choke Canyon Dam and state park. We did not want to give up our land, but were told that the land would be condemned and taken at a lesser price. We had no choice but to sell.

I moved to Normanna Texas and bougt a small grocery store. I enjoyed my life in the store and I made a lot of new friends. It did not take long for me to realize that I was not a business woman. I sold the store to Cecil Fox who lived nearby and I moved my mobile home to Tuleta near Rosalie. Lloyd passed away in november, 1981.

Other than my loss of Glennia several years ago, I know that I am very fortunate to have my girls, grandchildren and great grandchildren. On occasion when I drive out to Choke Canyon Lake and gaze at the vast waters the cover the land I called my home, I think of all the memories and am saddened. But I am glad for all the pleasure the lake has given to others.

Go Back