Friday, May 11, 2012

The Wild, Wild West, Part VI: Why Granddad Never Remarried

Our Granddad Ed McLaughlin was 34 years old when his young wife died. Her tragic death had a profound effect on his life, and that of his two young children. The 1910 census shows the family living on their own farm in New Mexico. (The McLaughlin tribe and some of their relatives seemed to have moved back and forth between southern New Mexico and Camp San Saba in central Texas.) What I glean from my father's stories and the letters he wrote to his cousin (a descendant of Ed's brother John), Ed could not bear to  live anymore on the farm that had been his home with his wife. After her death, he and his little children became wanderers. My father wrote about it this way:
Margaret Gertrude McLaughlin's original grave stone.
After Mother died Dad loaded us kids into a covered wagon and that was our home for several years. He just worked at anything. He broke horses, picked cotton, or anything. When we first went to Texas Uncle John was foreman on the Lonesome L. They hired him because he was the toughest, meanest fighting man in that part of the country. I have a lot of true stories about his fights. None of the McLaughlin boys were pets. Dad was supposed to be the cool tempered one, but I never knew him to go six months without a fight and he always won. Maybe not so fair. When I was down in New Mexico, the old timers still argued about who was the best bronc rider--Ed or John. Dad always said Uncle John was. He got thrown more, but Dad said that was because he took chances. He was as wild as a tiger and had about the same disposition. Enough about Ed and John. They both always said if they came back they wanted to come as a horse. If they do, somebody will have a pair of outlaws on their hands. I know a lot of good things they did--anyone down and out they gave a hand, or let someone pick on some weak person and they were on the war path.
When Daddy was about seven years old, and he and his sister were hungry for a mother of their own, their father almost married a young woman from a family that was close to the McLaughlins. Red and Zudie loved her and were excited about the prospect of getting her in their family. However, it did not happen. As Daddy wrote:
A son of Zudie's kindly added this new gravestone when
the original was weathered so badly it was hard
to read.
Back to Dad and Fanny. One year Ed, John, George Teague, and families were picking cotton for Mr. McLaurine. I think it was near Aspermont, Texas. That's when Dad got to courting Fanny. Us kids really wanted her. After we left there, Dad was coming back to marry Fanny. We camped at a crossroads a few miles from their place, and he was going to drive over and get her next day. He got up and took off down the other road about 3 a.m. Years later I asked him about it and he said Mother came to him in a dream that night and broke off the romance. He went pretty heavy on dreams. Us kids always felt gypped because we did not get Fanny. 
And they never did get a stepmother. Sometimes their dad left them with relatives while he was off working a job. Those aunts were the closest thing they ever had to a mother, and Daddy held two of them in very high esteem.

(It is good to know that Fanny did marry someone else a year or two later.)

Daddy noted in his letter that the last year they traveled in a wagon was 1920-21. He would have been eleven years old. Thinking about this, I wonder how, with all the wandering, he ever got an education. He told us he finished the 11th grade, but I don't know if it was in Texas or in New Mexico. Whatever may have been lacking in his education, he was a good reader. I remember him as often having a book or magazine in his hands. His sister once commented about him that all that would be necessary to prove Red was crazy was to give him a funny story to read. That was because he would laugh out loud as he read.

Well, I do the same! How can you keep the giggles, chuckles, or guffaws in when something you read is really funny?


  1. I do the same thing...the laugh will come out before I can even try to stop it. It is sometimes when I'm reading in bed and Chad is, er, was, sound asleep...hello, bad time to read about Grandma Mazur shooting the chicken!

  2. I really enjoy reading these. I like that I was born on her birthday, too!

  3. I laugh allowed too! I am so glad Grandpa and Grandma loved to read and passed it down to their kids, etc.