Memoirs of Fannie Bell Arledge McClellan of Montague County, Texas


Written and compiled in memory of Fannie Bell Arledge McClellan 1988

I, Fannie Bell Arledge McClellan, was born in the Lone Star community near Montague, Texas, May 6, 1885. My parents were Garrett Longmar Arledge and Martha Bernice Chapman Arledge. They had lived in Louisiana before coming to Texas after their marriage. My father was first married to my mother's sister. When she died, my grandmother "gave" my mother (who was sixteen years old at the time) to my father to wed.

My father fought in the Civil War at age 13. When he was still in his teens, he lost his right leg in a farm accident. He was working in the field and the mules ran away driving the plow through his leg. One story I remember hearing quite well . . . when his leg was severed, it was buried lying down; my father was feverish and unable to sleep because he kept saying ants were crawling over his leg. The leg was dug up and reburied standing up. My father became quiet and was asleep when those that had reburied the leg returned to the house.

The Indians had just left the area around Forestburg, Texas, when my parents moved there and many people were living in houses together for protection. My father and another many ran cattle for awhile. He later bought up a lot of land around Montague paying $2.50 an acre for it. He had to go 75 miles away to get lumber to build a house leaving my mother out in the country along with two small children.

I remember hearing her tell about several frightening experiences she had while she was alone. A neighbor came by and told her not to burn lights at night because Indians were still around. One night someone put his hand on the quilt covering the doorway, and mama had an axe ready to chop off the hand if it happened again. She would have done so for she was a fearless woman. She washed clothes for some people to get milk for the children.

I grew up on a farm in Montague County. I had five brothers-Ed, Newt, Doc, Jim, and John (two others died) and two sisters-Lora and Iva. We all worked hard out in the fields as well as in the house. We cut down trees to make logs for the fireplace. I couldn't carry them so I rolled them. I was as strong as any of the boys. We had to hoe cotton and pick cotton until it was all out and it sure hurt my back. No such thing s a cotton picker or dishwasher in those days! We had only the bare necessities of life. I was 12 years old before I ever went to town. My mother went to town once a year to sell cotton and get the things we needed. Sometimes on Saturday my daddy would bring candy-which had cost 5 cents and would give it to us for watering the hogs. Lora and I shared the candy all week - I took a bite and then she would take a bite. Somehow she seemed to take the biggest bite of it! We rode tree saplings for horses and they grew just as we sat on them.

I was a cry baby. My father was a tax collector. The courthouse burned down and daddy moved his work out of our house. I cried so much mama had to take me out to the barn and I stayed there until a new courthouse was built. I was getting really too old to be just starting to school but I didn't get to go because I had sore eyes and the earache so much. I finally started to school and had to walk three miles to get to the nearest school. Sometimes it was very cold and I didn't get to go all of the time. A new school was build out in the country and we went to school out there. We had school during the summer as we had to work in the fields during the fall and spring. After the new school was built, a church was organized. My father and mother were good church members. My daddy was a song leader and he always took my sister Lora with him to church to sing with him. We all liked to sing and we sang every night. We used to go to church at Bellnap, that is where I first saw Hugh. He was the prettiest little boy I had ever seen. The McClellan family (James C. McClellan and Mary Elizabeth Flynt McClellan) lived two miles north of us. There were three boys . . . John, Fent, and Hugh . . . and one daughter Lula. They had moved to Texas from Tennessee where Pappy (Hugh's father) and Uncle Bill ran a saloon. Hugh had gone to school in Montague until the school was build in the country. I had an awful crush on him from the start . . . but he didn't know it. I started going with him when I was 15.

We were married when we were both 19 years old. We lived in the country, and we were very happy; however, farm life was not for Hugh as he developed stomach ulcers and we had to move to Bowie. Hugh went to business school and also worked in a grocery store. He later ran for the job as Tax Collector of Montague County. He was elected and held the job for two terms.

In 1923 we moved to Lubbock so the children could go to better schools. At first he had a grocery store but sold out and opened a meat market with a partner, Mr. Ainesworth. In 1925 there was a small pox epidemic . . Mr. Ainesworth died and Hugh had the worst case in town according to the doctor. We were quarantined for three weeks. All of the children stayed out in a room in the garage and the neighbors brought groceries to the edge of the yard where they were picked up.

The meat market was located in downtown Lubbock on Broadway in Hunt's Grocery. A delicatessen was opened in connection with the meat market; however, I didn't like the delicatessen from the start.

A new store was built on Avenue K, but the "depression" hit in 1929. The grocery store and meat market were kept open as long as possible but finally had to be closed. Our home on 15th street was also lost as it was used to pay debts to a partner in the meat business.

After the loss of the meat market, Hugh went to work in the office of Lubbock County Tax Assessor-Collector. He worked there several years but also took over a great part of the Masonic business as Mr. Moore (the secretary) was sick much of the time. Mr. Moore died and Hugh was elected as Secretary of the masonic Bodies in Lubbock, a position he held until his death on June 24, 1963, after 25 years of service. This was a job he liked very much. He was also an instructor at the School of Instruction for Masons held in Waco every year during the fall.

When I was 12 years old I gave my heart to God. My mother and father never discussed churches and I was raised in three churches. I didn't know anything about the differences in denominations, but I knew when God came into my life. I have always tried to do the right thing and tried to raise my children right. I love my children and I pray for them every day. I have tried to live right and I know that God has been good to me. I have heard people talking about when was the best time to commence training children. My experience with babies when they get old enough to notice things. You will have to slap their hands and they will soon know. You do that . . . they learn fast. I have raised seven children and they all love me and I love them.

I also pray for our Country and for our President that he might do the right thing about our land and our soldiers.

Here is a prayer to say at breakfast: "Thank you, dear Lord, For this lovely morning. Thank you For this new day. Thank you For every blessing Be with us As we pray. Be with us When we pray."

I don't think we can pray too much. We should thank God for all of His blessings, leadership, and guidance each day.

I was sick during many years that Hugh and I were married, but I prayed that God would let me live until all of the children were old enough to look after themselves. I have lived to see this wish come true.

Note from her pastor at the time of her death, it was like unto the childhood prayer Mama taught her children, Grandchildren, and Great Grandchildren.

Now, I lay me down to sleep . . . I pray the Lord my soul to keep If I should die before I wake .. .I pray the Lord My soul to take.

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