Tuesday, December 11, 2012

LUMINARIES is coming.  Are you ready?   Check out the St. Nicholas Center.

The Real Santa Claus   www.stnicholascenter.org
Santa & St. Nicholas

Santa Claus is round and plump;
St. Nicholas is tall and thin.
Santa Claus wears a stocking cap;
St. Nicholas wears a bishop's hat.
Santa Claus comes December 25th;
St. Nicholas comes December 6th.
Santa Claus is often seen in stores;
St. Nicholas is often seen in churches.
Santa Claus flies through the air—from the North Pole;
St. Nicholas walked the earth, caring for those in need.
Santa Claus, for some, replaces Jesus at Christmas;
St. Nicholas, for all, points to Jesus at Christmas.
Santa Claus isn't bad;
St. Nicholas is just better!

—C. Myers & J. Rosenthal


FIRST Family Tour with Zac Egan (left) and T. Brian (right)

September 15th 2-4 p.m. 



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CODE OF THE WEST-ten principles to live by

 While reading the Wall Street Journal, I was delighted to learn about the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership in Austin. You can also check out the article posted in Cowboys & Indians Magazine (cowboyindians.com)and click on the photograph of Roy Rogers to reach the website. When I was five years old, I was in love with Roy Rogers; he's still my favorite actor. He is one of the most trusted Americans who ever lived. What a perfect person to illustrate this article. When I think of "cowboy ethics," I recall watching Roy Rogers on my black and white television. What a wonderful model he was for American children of my generation. To quote the magazine article, "He was as good as they come. He was a straight shooter and could sit on  horse as if he were born in the saddle. He could yodel like nobody's business. He walked the straight and narrow in his hand-tooled boots and lived by a code worthy of his white Stetson."

James P. Owen and the Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership focus on the values that are part of our heritage, "values all Americans can share, no matter what our politics, our religion, or our station in life." Cowboys are heroic - not just because they do a dangerous job, but because they stand for something. Principles like honor, loyalty and courage lie at the heart of the Cowboy Way.  Mr. Owen has written a best seller called The Try and has developed a program about cowboy ethics and how kids who use the ten guiding principles called the Code of the West actually can raise their GPA.

The Center for Cowboy Ethics and Leadership promotes the following ten principles to live by - good for students, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

1.  Live each day with courage.
2.  Take pride in your work.
3.  Always finish what you start
4.  Do what has to be done.
5.  Be tough, but fair.
6.  When you make a promise, keep it.
7.  Ride for the brand.
8.  Talk less and say more.
9.  Remember that some things aren't for sale.
10. Know where to draw the line.  

You can check out his website: http://www.cowboyethics.org/ 
Let's put America back on the right track.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Gault Family History Find



Do you have information about Gaults?  Please contact me.

John McCain GAULT Travis Co., Texas

Post Date:
January 05, 2010 at 05:24:12

Message URL:
Gault Family Genealogy Forum

Forum URL:

John McCain GAULT moved just north of Austin, Travis Co., TX. His log cabin is still standing and has a historical marker. You can see pictures of the cabin here:



According to the marker, John M. GAULT died here in Travis Co. and was buried at the Merrilltown Cemetery nearby. The cemetery was vandalized and some markers taken in the 90s and John GAULT's stone is assumed to be one of the stolen stones.

One of John M. GAULT's great-grandsons (maybe grandson) was Manny GAULT. Manny was a Texas Ranger and good friend of Frank HAMER and was one of the party that killed Bonnie and Clyde. Manny and Frank are buried next to each other.
 Gahagan, Mrs. R. E.: Gaddis, Eliza: Gaddis, Virgil: Gaddis, Wm. Gault, Effie: Gault , Fannie: Gault, Herbert: Gault, John M. Gault, Sarah I. Gebhart, Austin Gebhart ...


Saturday, September 1, 2012

NEW: Homestead Family Tour on third weekend

Are you ready for September? Are you ready for family tours at the Homestead?  That's right! On the third weekend of the cooler months starting this month,  Saturday, September 15th, my husband Brian and I invite you to come to the Homestead from 2-4 p.m to explore what life was like in the 19th century in central Texas.                Registration is required.   
                                                                Contact:      Matt Fuller, Recreation Manager

                                                                Wells Branch Municipal Utility District
                                                               3000 Shoreline Drive, Austin Texas, 78728
                                                               512.251.9814, ext. 107   www.wellsbranchmud.com

At this time of the year in the 1850's, pioneer Texans might be asking:

                                         What's the Fun of September 
"What's the fun September bringeth?                    Granaries almost filled to bursting;
Nature's treasures wide she flingeth!                     By the hill the cider-mill
Pumpkins round and ripe and yellow,                   Turns its wheels and sets us thirsting;
Appples sound and sweet and mellow;                 Corn and beans from far afield;
Stacks of grain, safe from rain,                              Lavish hoards abroad she flingeth---
                                      That's the fun September bringeth!

Did you notice the exclamation points in the poem?   SIDE NOTE: On tour in the Holy Land in June, like pioneers  we would sit on the terrace of the Mount of Beatitudes Hotel next to the Sea of Galilee each night and enjoy the evening sky . On June 7th, we saw a small light from a meteor expand and create a giant exclamation point in the sky.  The moving light first made a horizontal golden straight line then drop from both ends  to make a huge bright, gold triangle.  The movement slowed, then spiraled into a celestial white circle below the triangle completing the Latin word io - which means fullness of joy. We learned the monks of old who transcribed the Bible saved manuscript space by placing letters on top of each other;  the "i" and "o" went vertical to create the exclamation point.

But, what do you think life was like in 1850? What do you know? We know that Merrelltown, Duval, McNeil and Waters Park, the small communities in the area, did not have electricity at this time.  So the pioneers and the Indians would often come out of their hot homes or tepees at night to enjoy the cool evening air under the stars. 

Captain Nelson Merrell founded Merrelltown in 1837 and erected a log cabin at the headspring of a creek branch that flows into Walnut Creek near Waters Park .  By 1851, a post office had been established to serve the town.  Merrilltown was the center of a small farming community that offered residents a steam gristmill, a cotton gin, a general store, and a church (which doubled as a schoolhouse) to serve a population of 35 residents in the 1880s. Merrelltown and Waters Park were the Anglo-American communities in the immediate area.  Merrelltown Cemetery is located along FM1325, adjacent to the Loop 1 extension route. Graves are dated from 1845.Waters Park, located at the junction of Loop 1, FM 1325 and the Union Pacific Railroad, began selling its lots in June, 1882, and had a population of around 30. The small town supported a church, schoolhouse, saloon, store and cotton gin.  Waters Park was viewed as a popular vacation spot.

The predominately African-American community of Duval, settled in 1875,  had about 75 residents and supported a district school, three churches and three stores.  After 1890, the population dropped to around 35.

McNeil, the predominately Hispanic community was named in honor of George McNeil, the section foreman for the Austin and Northwestern Railroad companies; it opened a post office in 1888. The  town became the base of operations for the Austin White Lime Company which was still in business in 1990. By 1890, the community had a a hotel, a general store and a population of 200. McNeil High School was built for the Round Rock district in 1991.

How would you get to these communities in 1850's?  You might ride in a Studebaker.  Do you know what a Studebaker is?  What would you eat, where would you sleep, what would you wear, what chores would you do, what games would you play?  Remember, there was no electricity; no television, no radio, no game boys, no vacuum cleaner, no refrigerator, no air conditioning.  Do you have stories from distant relatives to share about life before electricity?  We would love to learn your story. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Summer Round-Up Homestead Camp

Tomorrow, 8/16/2012, the Homestead will host a summer camp with activities using the letters R and S.   The campers will be divided into two groups: the Redskins and the Rangers.  Then they will proceed with R & S activities such as coloring the  rare, rodent rat seen below.  Have you ever seen one?  Probably not.  The Rangers and Redskins might also sing in rounds,  roll down the hill, do a sack race, walk on stilts, shell some corn seed, find cotton seeds, and learn about the recluse spider...and much more.  It really is fun to pretend to be a kid in the 1850's.  But we know it also was work, work, work from sunrise to sunset: sewing, raking, rolling, racing, running, singing, riding, rocking, sowing scurrying, seeing, doing riddles ...and sometimes... be silent... listening. What would you hear? 

The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Texas Kangaroo Rat
Order Rodentia : Family Heteromyidae : Dipodomys elator Merriam
Texas Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys elator).  Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife.Description. A rather large, four-toed kangaroo rat with conspicuous white "banner" on tip of tail; tail long, relatively thick, and about 162% of length of head and body; body large (about 121 mm in length); upperparts buffy, washed with blackish; underparts white. This species superficially resembles Dipodomys spectabilis, but cranial differences readily separate them, and their distributions are disjunct. External measurements average: total length, 317 mm; tail, 196 mm; hind foot, 46 mm. Dental formula as in Perognathus flavescens.
Species distribution mapDistribution in Texas. Occurs in north-central Texas from Cottle and Motley counties in the west to Montague County in the east.
Habits. The Texas kangaroo rat is a rare rodent with habitat preferences unusual for a kangaroo rat. It lives on clay soils supporting sparse, short grasses and small, scattered mesquite bushes. The rats make trails leading to their burrows, which invariably enter the ground at the base of a small mesquite, often in such fashion that one root of the mesquite forms the top or side of the opening. Scratching and dusting places, so characteristic of other species of kangaroo rats, are inconspicuous. The burrow is similar to that of the Ord’s kangaroo rat, but usually it is shorter and the animal does not plug the entrances during the daytime. Highly nocturnal, these kangaroo rats do not become active until complete darkness and reportedly cease activity on moonlit nights.
D. elator feeds on the seeds, stems, and leaves of grasses, forbs, and some perennials. Analysis of material recovered from the cheek pouches of 52 kangaroo rats showed that the seeds of cultivated oats (Avena) and Johnson grass (Sorghum) were the most important food items, followed by annual forbs such as stork’s bill (Erodium), broomweed (Xanthocephalum), and bladderpod (Lesquerella). Shrubs and insects were not greatly utilized for food. They store food to carry them over periods of scarcity, as do most other kangaroo rats.
D. elator may breed year round. Pregnant females have been collected in February, June, July, and September. The young appear to develop rapidly as subadult females collected in late summer have also been pregnant. Two peaks in reproductive activity — in early spring and again in late summer — may occur as mature females give birth early in the year, and their rapidly developing young become reproductively active in late summer. Average number of embryos is three.
Remarks. The Texas kangaroo rat is listed as "threatened" by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The primary threat is the clearing of the mesquite brush to which it is restricted.
Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What's the fun of August?

As our beloved curator Bill Todd used to say:

"Who's ready to have some fun?"

"What's the fun of August burning?
Weary folks are seaward turning.
In the streets torrid heats
Quiver where the fierce sun beats.

By the ocean, coolness, motion,
Beauty's found, and waves' commotion;
Breakers roaring, swimmers swimming,
Spray and foam and bubbles brimming.

Dainty crafts their white wings trimming;
Vanished health and heart returning, ---
That's the fun of August burning!"

(from St. Nicholas Illuntrated February 1874)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Two Quilts in Time

This red and white Split Rail patterned quilt was given to me by Linda Moore with Estate Mates when I first started working at the Homestead in 2003. Using this quilt, I have been singing the praises of pioneer women, men, and children who made handmade quilts for their families and friends.

Then in 2010 after a landscaper read the Wells Branch historical marker, he realized that his family lived in the Homestead many years ago. Dean Blackwell of the Gault family invited his relatives to see the Homestead.  What a surprise to everyone when Mr. Blackwell's mother brought an heirloom quilt, shown below, along with its written history.  Do we have a link in time or what!  The Gault family retains their heirloom quilt while the Gault Homestead gratefully displays a similar one today.

This is one of the many quilts at the Wells Branch (Gault) Homestead that are on display during tours.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Site Under Construction

March 13, 2012
 Two friends of the Homestead met
 To begin the Homestead blog.
What is it we need to do?
We set the goals right now.
Dianne Koehler and I set the "when,"
And then she showed me the "how."
Now, is the only time, later is for bums.
Tomorrow isn't even promised
and someday never comes.
See you again soon.