Raiders and Horse Thieves: Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer

Raiders and Horse Thieves: Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer

Raiders and Horse Thieves: Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer

Raiders and Horse Thieves: Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer


"All the more desirable coastal land of the New World had been acquired by the 1840s and '50s. The Scots-Irish entered this country through the Mid-Atlantic States rather than New England. They settled first in Virginia and Maryland and then moved on to Kentucky and Virginia. Some went further south from there, while others moved west. Raiders and Horse Thieves is the story of my early childhood in Cedar Creek, Texas (Bastrop County), during the final days of World War II. Due to Reconstruction and the Great Depression, economic growth in this central Texas County had been severely restricted. The residents maintained the pioneer values and lived the lifestyle of a much earlier period. This is a true story of the human will to persevere, against Nature and against one another. I describe growing up in a ramshackle old house called The Holcomb Place, in Cedar Creek, Bastrop County. All the elements of life in rural Texas are there: drought; storms; rattlesnakes; religion; guns...."--Jackie Ellis Stewart

From the book:

"It was Judy who found the family plot hidden among a clump of young mesquites. The larger headstone was broken; lying face down and embedded in the earth. A number of smaller markers had once surrounded it, but time and the weather, as well as grazing animals and invasive vegetation, had worn them down to indecipherable sandstone lumps. The men were able to pull the larger marker free; they used Joe's handkerchief to clean off the inscription. Sure enough: Absalom Ellis."


We met about dawn at Joe and Judy’s. My brother Joe and his wife are the last of our branch of the family still residing within the boundaries of our old home place. Early in their marriage, they bought five acres from our paternal grandmother. It’s hard to believe, but Granny had never liked her eldest grandson. She thought he looked and acted too much like his maternal grandfather. the men from our father and grandmother’s generation made Granny agree to the sale. They used simple, almost brutal words of one and two syllables to point out the necessity of having a family member close at hand in her dotage.

A second cousin instigated this expedition to Gonzales, in south-central Texas, in search of our ancestor, Absalom Ellis. He and his wife arrived almost on our heels. Although I hadn’t seen him in over thirty years, his greeting was casual, with a one-armed hug as though he’d recently run into me at the grocery. a great-aunt and her daughter, another Ellis cousin, were the last to arrive.

It had rained during the night, and we watched the mist give way to the rising sun as we caravanned to our destination. I had flown in from Memphis the day before and was riding with my sister Joy. On these trips back home, I’m accustomed to riding from one place in the middle of nowhere to another. I’m not blessed with a sense of direction, and am always amazed when my brother and sister make their way intuitively along remote, unmarked country roads. This was no exception.

After an hour or so of driving, we finally reached our destination: an unremarkable wooden gate opening onto a cleared pasture. This was supposedly where Absalom Ellis, who came to Texas from Scotland, had lived and was buried.

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