1895-Christmas for

The Bernice C. Claunch story is one that encompasses many counties of South Texas. This one of his early life until 1985, however, begins in Live Oak and ends in McMullen. To read about Mr. Claunch's later life which covers numerous South Texas counties and an incident with Pancho Villa in Mexico refer to pages 3 and 4 of the McMullen County History book from which this story comes.

     I was born September 30, 1890 at Oakville, Texas. My mother's health was very bad and so she could not nurse me. There were six ladies living near us who had babies about my age; one of them would come every two hours to let me nurse until mother could get a goat to provide milk for me.
     When I was six weeks old my parents sold their property in Oakville and moved to the ranch in Loma Alta. My mother with six children started out
alone in a covered wagon drawn by two mules. When we left Oakville she tied the goat to the wagon and away she went. Quite a task for a little lady who never weighed over ninety pounds.

     The oldest child with her on the trip was twelve years of age, the eldest boy was with my father. When night overtook her, she would strike camp, hobble the mules and crawl into the wagon with the children and sleep as if no danger existed.

     It took her eight days to make the trip. When she arrived at the Shiner Ranch, rain had fallen, and the Nueces River was at flood stage. She waited for the water to run down, so we could get across by ferry boat.
     The foreman of the Shiner Ranch swam the river horseback. After talking with my mother about her situation, he decided to send one of his men to bring my father. The man rode all night, a distance of about twenty miles, found my father, and they immediately came to my mother.

Bernice C. Claunch

The next morning the river had run down, enough so we could cross. One of the mules didn't like the boat, so both mules swam the river. A rope was tied around the neck of each mule so they
could be caught when they came out on the other side. We were all very tired, Mr. Shiner invited us to stay at his ranch so we could rest before starting on our journey to the ranch.
     I and my nannie goat got along fine while we were en route to our new home. If I became restless and wanted to eat, my mother would stop the wagon, get out, milk the goat and feed me; then
on we would go. I was fed goat's milk until I was three years of age.

     After we arrived at our new home, the goat was allowed to roam any where
she wanted to go. Four times a day she would come in and lie down beside my cradle. I often wonder if the goat's milk was the reason my teeth have been good all my life.
     My dad and oldest brother were away most of the time, looking after the livestock and rounding up the strays. There were times when they would
have to travel seventy to eighty miles to bring them back home.
     In 1895 my father and uncle sold six hundred head of horses to the English for twenty five dollars a head. They bought them for cavalry purposes, paying for them with gold and silver

     My father and uncle were gone four
months in making the delivery to New Orleans, Louisiana. They got the horses loaded on the ship bound for England and returned home, arriving on
Christmas Eve day in 1895.

Oral History related byBernice C. Claunch for McMullen County History  Book, self-published by the McMullen County Historical Commission, Tilden, Texas. 1981. 3-4.


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