The Sechrist Move
from Missouri to Texas
Written by Mary Jane "Mollie" Sechrist
September 1, 1952
When I was a very small child, seven years old, my grandfather, Andrew Sechrist, and Mr. Billy Brown decided to come to Texas as Uncle Sol Sechrist and Uncle Elias Sechrist had made the move the year before and were well pleased with the new country. I believe they came in 1878. And as the Sechrists and Browns had intermarried, all the children of both old men agreed to the move. We children heard them talking about that a paradise this county was until we decided money grew on trees in Texas and use up quite a lot of material making money sacks.
Finally the day was set for the trip. So, in April, 1879, twenty-one wagons were loaded and each family piled in a wagon. Even the family dog was brought along. I imagine they felt as the children of Israel felt when they left Egypt, but they didn't have a leader like Moses. The roads were terrible, and there were no bridges across the rivers, so the [wagons were loaded on a] ferry boat and ferried with paddles […] across streams that were too large to wade across.
The day we started from Cabool, we made it to Mountain Grove for the night camp. Some of the families that lived in an adjoining county met us there, Everyone seemed very happy, but I imagine now there were some sad hearts among the ones who were leaving their fathers and mothers, for Texas was very far away in those days.
When nothing happened in the next few days to cause any alarm, al was secure and bright in the vision of white cotton [patches] and their money sacks filled with dollars and dimes. Some of the children had never seen money, but they knew they could buy candy with it. Finally, in a few days, they had to go down a long mountain or hill that was extremely rough. Their wagons had no brakes except ropes or chains, which they fastened around the rear wheel. [Once they] got down safely, they stopped in a little valley at the foot of the mountain to see if all was safe. My Uncle Bill remarked that the mountain is the Devil's backbone, and I thought he must be a tough old fellow with that many rocks sticking out his back.
Nothing happened worth relating for the next few weeks. Occasionally, a dog would jump out of a wagon and scare a team, but the teams were tired and footsore from travelling over the rocks. Sometimes the teams would run. Sometimes they would break a wagon tongue or a double tree. Then we would camp, and the men would all work at replacing the tongue or double tree from a sapling that stood nearby.
We children were always happy when we would camp for a few days; we could play then. I don't remember how much it rained while we were on the road, but we were in the Indian Nation (Rita Fincannon Dickinson note: now OK), I would guess. It was June, and we came to a river that was bank full and big logs and even trees were floating down. I believe it was the Washita. The ferryman told us we couldn't cross until the next morning. We camped for the rest of the day and night and, my, how scared we were of Indians. We had heard so many bad things about them. The next morning, the sun was shining bright and the river was more calm. The ferryman told the men of the camp that we would first carry the women and children across in the boat, so we sat flat down in the bottom of the boat. When we arrived on the opposite side, Mother missed my brother, P. H. She was afraid he might have fallen in the river and, of course, she was almost frantick (Rita Fincannon Dickinson note: Mollie's spelling). But when they brought the wagons over (the boat was large enough for two wagons), my brother raised his head to we could see it from under Grandpa Sechrist's spring seat. We children had always thought that Grandfather could protect us from all harm. Then all were happy again.
Then the talk was of getting to Uncle Sol's, and after a few more weeks, we arrived at his house. It had been so long since we had been in a house it looked like a mansion to us children. It was in Tarrant County near Fort Worth. We camped there some three or four weeks and the men got some work. We saw the first well with a pulley to draw the water out of the well, but we hadn't found any cheap land, so we started out west. We came to Weatherford, which seems out of the way now.
I don't think there had been anyone sick from the time we left MO until then, and this was in July, I imagine. We had eaten dinner somewhere close to Lipan and were moving on toward Stephenville, and I was sitting by Grandmother Sechrist behind the seat on a bed when Grandmother dropped her head back and was dead before Grandfather could get to her. We were strangers in a strange land, and all we could do was camp and have a funeral. There were no funeral homes then to put them in, so we buried her the next day and moved on to Stephenville.
We camped on the Bosque River for some ten days and found some land over on Armstrong Creek that suited our pocketbooks. Then the work began to cut logs and build houses and dig wells. So, by cold weather, everyone was comfortable. But there were many disappointments for some years. It didn't rain. And many [of those who had traveled with us to TX] went back to their old homes. But my father and mother stayed through all the droughts. And many of the ones who went back to MO finally returned to settle in Texas.
Rita Fincannon Dickinson's additional information:
Mary Jane "Mollie" Sechrist Jones, born June 1, 1872
Married Mason Overstreet Jones July 4, 1889.
9 Children were born to this couple:
Henry Vincent Jones, who married Amanda Fincannon
Clarence Edgar Jones, who married Lillie Myrtle Young
Pearl Truman Jones, who married John Alexander Fincannon
and later marry Frank Cunyus
Mary Rhoda "May" Jones, who married Ernest Corbell
Lindsey Mason Jones, who married Robbie Wilcoxson
Jewell Gladys Jones, who married John Columbus Short
Burnice Overstreet "Dick" Jones, who married Wilma Reeves
Reecie Ray Jones, who married Opal Auten
Verba Christine Jones, who married Vern O. Pendleton