ELIJAH FINCHER served with the Confederate Army during the Civil War, in the 62nd Ala. Regiment. He joined the army at the age of 15, too young to carry a rifle, so he served as a drummer boy until the forces were so depleted he was given a rifle, which he carried until he was captured at Bull Run on Gettysburg and sent to Ship Island off the coast of La. (From Fincher in the U.S.A. 1682 - 1900).
He married SEPTIMA ANDERSON in Sumter County, Alabama. She was a daughter of Robert Anderson,, III and Mary Barksdale Pickens; and was a granddaughter of Robert Anderson, II, who married Maria Thomas; also of Ezikiel Pickens, who married Elizabeth Barksdale. Three of her great-grandfathers fought in the American Revolution; Gen. Robert Anderson, Gen. Andrew Pickens, both in the Continental Army and Maj. George Thomas of the British Army (when his daughter, Maria, married Robert Anderson, II, he did not come to the wedding and never saw her again).
- Septima's father, Robert Anderson, III, was a school teacher, first in Clemson College in S.C. and later moved to Meridian, Miss. and founded a school for young ladies. His daughter, Maria, (mother of cousin Alice Evans Allen) taught with him. From there, they moved to Sumter County, Alabama, where he established another school. Later, they moved to Waxahachie, Texas.
In the spring of 1871, shortly after the death of his father in 1869, Elijah accompanied by his wife and two sons, his mother and his sister, left Alabama and came to Galveston, Texas by boat where he bought a team and wagon and headed for North Texas.
A heavy rain caused them to stop in Calvert, Texas. They could not cross a swollen creek. Septima was pregnant with their third child and a doctor and his wife kept them in their home for three days.
They went on to Hood County where his uncle, Hiram Steele, lived. They stayed there some time and Pick was born and was named for this uncle. Elijah was mentioned in connection with Indian raids in Weatherford, Texas about the time Cynthia Parker was returned to her family.
About 1872, they were at Silver Creek in Parker County, Texas. Their fourth child, Frank, was born in 1873. They went to Village Creek in Tarrant County (about where Lake Worth is now).
In 1874, they moved to Ellis County and rented a small farm on Onion Creek from a mean woman, Mrs. Gilley. She had a calf that she could not keep in a pen so she tied it close to a post and then built a fire under it. Septima saw it in time to make the rescue.
From Onion Creek, they bought an old settled place across from where they had been living. This was a log cabin with a wide "Dog Trot" between two large rooms with shed rooms across the back.
Eddie was born here in 1876 and Mary Annie in 1878. Frederick Luckett was born in September, 1880 and died February, 1881. Herbert was born in 1882. They lived here for about 7 years and left in August of 1886, just before Ernest was born.
They moved to a two-story house they had built while still living on Onion Creek, about 6 miles away. This house was about 3 miles from Avalon. Catherine Rosalie was born in February, 1888.
Robert Anderson, III married Mary Barksdale Pickens and had ten children. Because she was the 7th daughter, she was given the name Septima (my grandmother). She was raised in the lap of luxury in South Carolina. She had her own nurse maid and tutors. She had no practical education. She did learn to "sew a fine seam"; later, she made all the clothes for her family. In fact, she made her husband's suit by drawing off a pattern while he lay on the floor.
The Andersons lived on one side of the Seneca River. On the other side, a few miles away, lived the Pickens. Both were rich, influential families of Pendleton, S.C. and had large plantations. Each received grants of land for their part in making a treaty with the Cherokee Indians, which was never broken.
The Indians gave Gen. Pickens the name "Skyagunsta" and said "children of Skyagunsta, Red man's friend - more than welcome". Gen. Pickens later moved to the Indian land and built a beautiful home called "Tamassee". In later years, I was told this was willed to Clemson College.
Elijah Fincher was the son of Hilliard J. Fincher, who owned a tannery in Sumter County, Alabama. He [Elijah] was a mason and built chimneys for many people and the ones he made never smoked.
He was an avid reader and read all the books he could afford. He sent for a medical book and studied it. He doctored his own family and many neighbors came to him for help. He was the only "doctor" in the community until Dr. Wilson came. He was considered the best-read man in the community and was one of the leading citizens.
He loved to sing and had a good voice. He learned to play the violin without a teacher. He bought a small organ (foot powered). When he brought it home, Septima sat down and played piece after piece from memory. She had not touched an organ or piano since her girlhood. They carried it to church every Sunday and she played all the hymns from memory.
Once Grammie (Septima) saw that one of her babies (I do not know if this was in North Texas or at Avalon) had wandered out on the prairie and a wild steer was running toward him. She knew she could not get to him and asked God to save her baby. The steer turned away just before he reached the child.
Mom was the 6th child of 10 children. She had 5 older brothers. She grew up with the boys, enjoyed playing ball and trying to ride the calves. They pulled the old trick of sticking her tongue to the iron rim on the wagon wheel on a frosty morning.
They gathered wild cherry tomatoes and wild onions. It always fell to her lot to peel the onions. Imagine peeling enough fried onions for that bunch.
The farm work at first was done by oxen. They had Four Yoke and "Ole" Three Legs. Instead of killing him when he broke his leg, they just turned him out to pasture.
They raised geese and ducks for feathers -- for pillows and feather beds. Some mattresses were made from clean, white corn shucks and nice smelling hay. All had to be shaken every morning.
It took all day to do the washing -- no washboard -- had to use a paddle on a stump. Tubs were barrels sawed in two. " They had to make their own soap. No iron wash pot. They had to use a big tin boiler.
There was a big thicket between their home and Ennis where outlaws took refuge and made a living by robbing people. One day, they learned father was taking his cotton to Ennis to sell. It took all day to make the trip -- there and back.
Mom said she could remember how anxious they were when it got dark and father was not home. They heard shots from the thicket and were afraid it was for father. Another man was killed by mistake. About that time, father got home, he had come by the back road. He heard the shots and knew they were meant for him.
When they were living on Onion Creek, in the old log cabin, there were three little Negro girls, abandoned on the prairie, with frozen toes. One of the girls was taken by Uncle George. We took one and a neighbor took the other one. We named ours Lucy and she stayed with us until she was 16. Before the days of Avalon, there was just a prairie between our place and Waxahachie.
Uncle George Anderson and family, Aunt Katie and husband, King Jordan, and their family, along with Aunt Annie Mason and grandfather and grandmother Anderson, all moved to California, not far from San Diego.
After my father died, Uncle George advised mother to buy some land and move to California for health reasons. She and Eddie had pneumonia and neither had fully recovered. In fact, they never did.
With the help of Uncle George and father's life insurance money, she bought 90 acres near Uncle George. This was located on Big Otay Mesa, with just a barb-wire fence between them and Mexico.
The nearest neighbor was in Mexico. Their name was Tibbets. He was English and she was Mexican. They were good people.
Eddie and Pick went out first. Eddie stayed and Pick came back to the farm at Avalon. In November of 1891, mother, Herbert, Ernest and Rose and I went to California. We had trunks loaded and came back with them almost empty. Mom's clock (Shirley has it now) went to California and back.
We first lived with grandparents and Aunt Annie Mason in an old church divided into rooms by curtains. We had to live in one end -- too crowded and uninvited. We left as soon as we could and lived in a small house put up by Uncle George and Uncle King.
Here, Hub and I went to school. Eddie worked. We were very poor and had no soap to wash our clothes -- we hung them out at night so no one could see how dingy they were. Some thought we were destitute. One man offered a tub of navy beans. Mother did not accept them very graciously. She told him she was expecting a letter from her son with money. In fact, she did not have anything to cook with them. Uncle George often left groceries.
Our house was taken down and moved up on the Big Mesa. It was on the south side of the land; on the edge of a deep canyon at the foot of a high mountain. Mom was going to climb this mountain and put a piece of tin on a stick and leave it at the top. She started about 2 o'clock, got across the canyon by sundown, and she went back home.
There were many rattlers, flowers and fleas in the canyon. Hub and mom fought rattlesnakes with calla lilies on their way to school.
We had no income and no way to farm the land. We only had a team and a little wagon, one cow and six chickens. W
e had to haul water from a well in the canyon. Hub and I went for water one Saturday afternoon. We filled two barrels, but could not turn the wagon around (should have backed in). A neighbor boy hitched his team to the back of our wagon and pulled us out.
I had a pet chicken named Pettie. Mother had to kill it in order to have something to take to the big Columbus Day Celebration in 1892. She got there too late. After the dinner was over, I cried when I learned about "Pettie". I had to make a Columbus Day speech. You should have seen me in my calico dress and shoes borrowed from Aunt Annie (I had worn my shoes out on the rocks in the canyon).
The wind blew the post from under one corner of the roof of the barn. Eddie had not had time to fix it and it was propped up. One day, I went out to milk the cow; mother and the children went with me. The wind or someone knocked the prop from under the corner of the roof and it fell on mother. I was able to hold the corner up high enough for her to crawl out; then she fainted. I poured the water I had in the milk bucket on her face and sent Hub on the horse for the doctor. He ran the horse 11 miles, down the hill and through a deep uninhabited valley at night. He was only 9 or 10 years old. He ruined the horse and left it with Uncle George.
Aunt Annie and Uncle George came with the doctor and Hub (and some food). Mother thought she was going to die and had called us around her and told us all what she wanted us to do. Eddie was off working somewhere. She had two broken ribs and broken breast bone.
Uncle King had filed on a homestead. One day, Aunt Katie and her children with grandmother and our family went out to see him. We stayed about a week.
On the way home, we came to a pond of water. Mother wanted to go swimming so she took off all her clothes, but her chemise and hat. She looked so funny with that hat on her head. I climbed a tree to get some grapes and got covered with poison ivy. On our way down the mountain in our little wagon with poor harness and no brakes, we met a man coming up. I could not stop so he backed down to a pull off so we could pass. The road was on the very edge of a deep canyon (I was about 13 years old).
Another episode with the little wagon with our team of a horse and a mule was when Aunt Katie and children and grandmother, plus all of us, decided to go to Tiajuana. When we got there, someone saw us and started to count us in that little wagon. I was so embarrassed and mad, I hit the mule and he kicked over the trace. I hit him again and he kicked back in place.
On February 8, 1892, Grandmother Anderson's birthday. We went down to see her. No one was at home or at Aunt Katie's, so we went or started to the beach. We did not know the way and got lost and wound up in a man's barn yard through a narrow lane. Here I "cussed" and said "g_ damnit". Mother was so shocked. We went back to grandmother's house and found them all at home. The wind was blowing so hard, they did not hear us when we came by the first time. It was almost sundown when we left for home -- eleven miles to go through Otay Valley to Little Mesa, then to Big Mesa. Mother got scared and made me put Hub's hat on and whistle to make people think a man was driving.
In the spring of 1893, we came home. One of the last things I saw when we left was my little pet goat, straining on the leash, trying to follow me.
We had a footlocker full of food for the long journey home. We missed connections with our train in Dallas (or Ft. Worth) and did not get to Waxahachie until dark. We stayed with Aunt Lizzie and Uncle (Pickins Anderson) that night and Pick came for us the next day and took us home to Avalon. He had rented the home place so we had to stay with Rob and Mattie at the gin for a while. They had just lost their second child.
We came back May 3, 1893 from California. Eddie came back with us. He had pneumonia before he went to California and was never strong after that. There was only two years difference in our ages and he was always my champion and helped me in so many ways. I loved him very much. He died August 13, 1893 from typhoid fever, 17 years old in May. How I loved him. I went out behind the house and prayed to die also. Something went out of me when he died.
Mother and Eddie had pneumonia at the same time. It was a miracle that they survived for very few people lived through a siege of pneumonia at that day and time. Father died from this at the age of 45 in 1891.
After Joe and I were married in 1897, we lived with mother. Joe helped to work the farm. Barksdale and Frank were in College. Pick later bought a ranch near Albany, Texas and moved out there. Rob had a gin in Avalon. Herbert, Ernest and Rose were still at home.
Mother was literally worn out. She had been sick for over a month and we knew she was dying. It was cold and we were trying to get her warm. She weighed less than 98 pounds and I had her in my arms sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace when I felt her pressure leave my arms. She died December 7, 1900 in Avalon, Texas.
I believe mom was psychic -- she knew what I was thinking before I could say anything.
Sis was with mom the day Pete died, 2/19/74. When mom realized there was no hope for him to get well, she started to grieve -- she just could not stop her tears. She would say "I feel like something is coming from the north - what is it?" She said this many times -- "Who is coming? What are we waiting for? I see a dark cloud in the north." A
bout the same hour, Pete quietly passed away -- she said "I saw that dark cloud again and this time there was a hand held up." We did not know until later that it was at the time Pete died. Later, we recalled what she had said and told her Pete was telling her goodbye.
I made a tape for Dorothy and after playing it, I decided to write what was on it. The tape was awful! So here goes ------
These are happenings in our family from about the turn of the century to about 1926 when we moved to Sparks:
We moved from Avalon in 1906 and lived on a farm outside of Waxahachie, Ellis County, Texas. Just before I was 4 years old, we moved to town and lived on Ross Avenue, where Shirley was born in February, 1908.
At that time, there was no plumbing, no electricity (we used oil lamps), very few telephones and a car was a rarity. Mr. Hancock, our neighbor, had one and when we heard him coming, we would run up to the corner to see him in his chain-driven car. We loved the horn (the Marx Bros. type) and he would always honk at us.
There were several boys in the neighborhood about the age of Jack and Pete and they were usually at our house, including Sunday afternoon when mom started to read to us from _The Youths Companion_ and _Christian Observer_. These boys would go home at first, then they joined us and enjoyed it as much as we did.
One day, they decided the long metal roof on our barn was ideal for sliding. They told me I was too young and had me posted in the front yard so I could warn them when mom got to the corner above our house on her way home from town (horse and buggy). She never knew this until we told her years later.
Dad came rushing in one morning and said he had heard in town that Halley's comet would hit the earth and we would all be killed. Mom, being a staunch Presbyterian, told him she did not believe this would happen. So we wound up watching for it every evening (I have lived to see its return).
For a long time, we thought Rose and Uncle Ernest were our older brother and sister. Rose was married in our home in 1910. We moved back to the farm about a year later. That fall, Jack and Pete took the wagon and went for a load of coal. It was cold and misting rain. On the way home, a Negro man asked for a ride. He was sick and lay on the coal until they reached home. When he left them, he also left the smallpox germ. All of us, but mom, had it in varying degrees. Dad and Jack had it the worst. Dad would not give up and sowed the wheat by hand in the cold and rain.
Uncle Rob had a steam engine and ran a thrasher. He went all over the county thrashing grain. When it came our time, we would watch for its smoke. It looked and sounded like a train coming.
The thrasher was run by a lonq belt from the engine. Neighbors would come in their wagons and haul the grain to the thrasher. The women would all help with the dinner and a "good time was had by all."
Living in the country, we had to think of our own amusements. There was a creek (dry-wash in the summer). When it rained, water drained from the fields and there was some water in it which was ideal for building dams. One was pretty wide and had about 2 feet of water behind it. Jack and Pete tied a rope to a tub and one stood up in it while the other pulled him across. This lasted until mom came down to see why the boys came in with wet clothes.
The little creek that ran through the pasture was dry in the summer and filled with sunflowers. Mom made Indian suits for sis, Shirley and me. We cut trails and camps among the sunflowers. Now, when I smell sunflowers, it brings back fond memories of the fun we had up and down that creek.
We had a back pasture where Buck (our buggy-horse) would always go when we wanted him. In this pasture was a big wild plum thicket. Mom sent the boys down to get some plums to make jelly. Pete and Jack decided, because Shirley was the smallest, that he should go into the thicket and gather the plums. When he came out, he was literally covered with chiggers. I felt so sorry for him. You can only imagine how miserable he felt if you have had just one chigger to bite you.
The interurban from Dallas to Waco went through this pasture - Highway I-35 followed this route later -- and crossed South Prong Creek, which was later dammed up to make Waxahachie Lake. While they were working on the interurban line, Jack and Pete saw an eagle across the right-of-way. They tried to follow it and got lost for half a day. They finally made it home tired and hungry and no eagle!
We had moved to the "Wise Place" in 1917. United States had entered World War I. Mom had gone with Jack and Pete to Sherman, Texas to enter Austin College in the SATC program (Student Army Training Corps). Before she got home, sis, Shirley and I started to town. The road was graveled, but rough after a rain. A man pulled up beside us, I was driving and asked directions. I was trying to tell him and lost control of the car and we wound up in the ditch on our side. Shirley was riding in the back; sis and I crawled out the door that was up and Shirley crawled out through the windshield (which was in 2 sections then). No one was hurt and the only damage to the car was a cracked spoke (wooden wheel) on one rear wheel. The man started to take us to town to find dad and we met him on his way home.
On Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, a notice came ordering Jack to Officer's Training Camp in San Antonio.
An airplane landed outside of Waxahachie and I think everyone in town went out to see it (the first time for a lot of us). Jack wanted to take his girlfriend out and wanted to use our car. Mom told him he could with one condition -- that he take the three of us, sis, Shirley and myself, with him. We really embarrassed him when we tried to suck the bottom out of our chocolate creme soda glass.
Then the radio came. We had a friend who was trying to learn all about the radio (he helped Shirley make a small crystal set which really worked). One afternoon, he called us to come down to his shop in his backyard for he wanted us to hear something. We heard "The Hired Hand" announcing on the Dallas Radio Station. Just think! 30 miles away!!
In 1926, when we moved to Bell County (the farm at Sparks), mom, Shirley and I drove down and dad came on the train. In the box car, he had the cow, my pony, "Dan", and "Dickens", my dog, in one end and our furniture, some hay and feed in the other end. Both doors were left open. Dad spent the night in between. When they wound up on the siding at Sparks, we went down to meet him. Dickens was up on top of the hay and when he saw me, he jumped to my arms (almost knocked me over). He was so glad to see me and we had a mutual admiration session of face licking and hugging right there.
Our house was an old ranch-style house that had been added on to several times. One time when Uncle Ern and Aunt Minnie spent the night with us, we were sitting around the dining table talking until late. Uncle Ern wanted to go to bed so we told him he would sleep in the front bedroom. After some time, we thought he was in bed, sleeping. We heard him coming back, he got lost and could not find the room. I can still see that sheepish grin of his when he said, "I GOT LOST!"
After World War I, Jack went to A&M and made a name for himself as a baseball pitcher. He did not continue there. He and Jessie Lea got married.
Pete made letters in football and baseball at Trinity University and went on to play professional baseball in Greenville, S.C. (right in the middle of "Old Pendleton" where our ancestors had lived). Wouldn't you say that was "Full Circle"?