Community Life in King, Texas

Sunday, June 15, 2014

King is on the intersection of Farm Road 1783 and Cowhouse Creek twelve miles southwest of Gatesville in west central Coryell County. It was once known as Stringtown because settlers built their homes in a line along the creek.

When the community applied for a post office in 1882, the postal service rejected the name Stringtown. Residents then submitted the name King, in honor of Henry King, a local storeowner. John W. Seay was the first postmaster. By the mid-1880s King had a population of eighty as well as a steam gristmill and cotton gin, three churches, and a district school,

 

A photograph of the King school is hanging on the wall in the Schoolroom Exhibit at Coryell Museum. There are 30 or 40 photographs of other schools as well that were once operating in Coryell County. A few, like the King School, were still operating as late as the 1950’s.

The town reached its peak in the 1890s, when it had 100 residents. Amazingly enough by 1909 all the homes in King were connected by telephone. Miss Hallie Nobles directed both the local and long distance connections for these telephones.

The farmers of this community raised a little of everything from king cotton to cattle, sheep, corn, wheat, oats and hay. They produced a very large crop of eggs and chickens. They shipped six or eight hundred cases of eggs alone annually.  The internet information varied on how many eggs were in a case. Most answers claimed 30 dozen to a case which would make a total of 216,000 eggs shipped each year!        

King and the surrounding community had its own physician in 1909, Dr. M.A. McBride. The blacksmith shop was run by Green Peevy, keeping the horses feet ready for travel.  

The King area holds many good memories for me. I remember going to Uncle Dink and Aunt Jo Dyer’s house in the 1950’s for the threshing.  Betty Ann Dyer Pruett, is their daughter and she and her husband still live and ranch on this property today.

One especially memorable event occurred, at least to my child’s mind. Uncle Dink’s brother said he would bring a pony for me to ride while I was visiting. He pulled up in a large  1940’s car, with no horse trailer behind it. I was so disappointed and asked when he was going to bring the horse. He said he had!! I was only about 8, but thought I was talking to an impaired adult. Clearly there was no horse. He called me to the back of the car, opened the trunk and there was a tiny fully grown pony with her legs tied together! He leaned over, carefully picked up the pony, laid her on the ground. He untied her and she calmly stood up and looked around. I was so surprised I cannot even remember if we rode the pony or not.

In the 1950’s many of the men near the community of King would come to Uncle Dink’s farm and bring their threshers and either a team of horses or tractors to pull them. They would work hard all morning to thresh a field of wheat or oats. Coryell Museum has one of these threshers outdoors in the fenced area, as well as many other farming implements.

The women would cook all morning and most had made pies or cakes the day before.  Aunt Jo had a wood burning stove and it was covered with pots and pans loaded with every kind of food, including the upper warming racks.

Two tables were pushed together and set for about 16 with beautiful table cloths and probably every plate Aunt Jo owned. Several gallon jugs of sweet tea were made and nearby ready to serve.

Then the men would come in from threshing, hot and sweaty and stop at the well pump that was outside and wash their faces and arms.  Every man respectfully took off his hat to come inside and I remember how hot they still looked.  They had been working hard all morning and their shirts were sweated thru in many places.

All the food was in bowls on the table and the men passed them around in an orderly way. If a bowl became empty, the women refilled it. The women did not sit down, but watched the table for anything that was needed. Most of the men ate two plates of food, plus dessert!  They did not rest but a few minutes after they ate and were soon back in the field.

The women cleared the men’s plates, helped the children, filled their own plates and sat down to eat.  When the women were finished eating they all began clearing, stacking, washing, and drying the dishes.

These women were grateful to do the cooking. They did not have to go to the field and work for this crop to be harvested. They put on their nice dresses and had time to visit and laugh.  My grandmother Fannie Bradford, Aunt Jo and most of her neighbor women helped their husbands pick cotton. This went on for weeks at a time in the heat of summer and fall, dragging that long cotton sack behind them. Life then was mostly physical work and after supper just to be able to sit in a rocking chair on the shady porch and drink a glass of tea was a sincere pleasure.

This information on King was found in Coryell County, Texas, Families, 1854-1985 and in the Gatesville Messenger 1909 Reprint.

Come and see our Pioneer Exhibit at Coryell Museum with a wood burning stove and kitchen complete with utensils, pie safe, aprons, and ice boxes.

 

Coryell Museum and Historical Center is open Tuesday thru Saturday as is our gift shop. Yearly Coryell Museum memberships are $20 for singles, $30 for families, and $40 for businesses and include free admission to the museum plus 4 newsletters.  Of course, large and small donations are welcome at all times.

 

Coryell Museum offers area schools and tour groups a delightful guided tour thru the museum with docents at many exhibits. Call the museum at 865-5007 to plan a visit.