AUTHENTIC WAGONS – Two of the wagon that will make the journey from Hico in Central Texas to Lincoln, New Mexico were restored by Bob Weaver of Goodrich. Weaver is one of the organizers of the first Billy the Kid Trail Ride which is schooled to leave Hico on April 1. (CONTRIBUTED photo)
BY GREG PEAK
GOODRICH – In the spirit of the Old West, a group of local residents will be "hitting the trail" starting on April 1 as part of the first Billy the Kid Trail Ride from Hico in Central Texas all the way to Lincoln, New Mexico.
Bob Weaver of Goodrich is one of the organizers of the trip that is expected to take several weeks to complete. He is inviting all area residents who would like to make the trek to saddle up and join him for the adventure.
The native of Colorado, Weaver grew up on a working cattle ranch and learned the ins and outs of trail riding are an early age, to the point that he served as trail boss on cattle drives involving 2,000-2,500 head of livestock while still in his teens.
Weaver will be taking two authentic trail wagons on the ride that he carefully restored to as close to their original condition as possible.
"This is something that my late brother and I started working on and after he passed, I continued," he said, noting that one of the wagons will be outfitting as a "chuck wagon."
"Everybody who goes on the ride will need to bring their own food and supplies, but we'll have the chuck wagon to help with the cooking while we're on the trail," he said.
Weaver said so far there are six wagons scheduled to make the ride, including some from their destination in Lincoln, New Mexico. All will be trucked to the starting point in Hico prior to April 1.
"Anyone interested in going can bring their own wagon or saddle up their own horse and ride with us," he said, adding those making the journey will need to bring a bed roll, their own groceries and feed for their horses. During the journey, they will be stopping in towns along the way to allow the riders to purchase supplies as needed.
The ride is meant to follow a trail allegedly followed by William "Billy the Kid" Bonney from Hico to Lincoln. Although there is some dispute that the famed outlaw was from Hico, the Texas community lays claim to his legend through Ollie "Brushy Bill" Roberts. Roberts lived in Hico in the late 1940s and claimed to have been the legendary gunfighter and outlaw known as Billy the Kid.
Billy the Kid was involved in the Lincoln County War in the late 1870s and was reportedly killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881, however, subsequently there were stories alleging his death was faked and that "The Kid" went on to a new life under a new name.
"This is the first Billy the Kid Ride but I'd like to make it an annual event," Weaver said.
The ride is scheduled to leave Hico and travel on Highway 6 to Highway 380 and then proceed west into Hondo, New Mexico.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Polk County Historical Commission is preparing to celebrate Texas Independence Day with a program set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Old City Cemetery in Livingston)
BY WANDA BOBINGER Curator, Polk County Museum
Stephen F. Austin's Colony was the first legal settlement of North American families in Mexican-owned Texas. The initial grant for 300 families in 1821 opened up Texas to a flood of immigrants, as many as 30,000 by the time of the Texas Revolution in 1835.
‘COME AND TAKE IT’ CANNON – This small, rusty cannon now on display at the Gonzales Memorial Museum fired the first artillery shot of the Texas Revolution on Oct. 2, 1835. The Polk County Historical Commission will host a program in honor of Texas Independence Day at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Old City Cemetery in Livingston.Once the land had been chosen, Austin advertised for colonists. To each man over the age of 21 he promised, in the name of the Mexican government, 640 acres of land; if married, the man received 320 more; each child brought the father 160 acres, while each slave brought his master 80 acres. The Colonists were to pay Austin 12 and one-half cents per acre.
The Mexicans, fearing the aggressive land-hungry Anglos, tried to keep them under control with laws and restrictions and in 1829, sent a military expedition to observe the actions of the colonists. The report led to a law which attempted to slow down emigration from the United States and balance these Anglos with Mexican and European settlers.
The publication of the law fueled dissent. Tension between the colonists and Mexican officials became more marked with each day.
A corporal with four men was dispatched to fetch back a six-pound brass cannon from Gonzales. The gun had been there four years for the protection of the settlers and had been a gift. The people would not give it up. Word spread and 160 Texans assembled to aid the people of Gonzales.
On the morning of Oct. 2, 1835, the Texans draped the cannon with a flag and an invitation, "Come and Take It!" There was a brief skirmish but the cannon stayed in Gonzales. The war had begun!
The little brass cannon had made a very loud roar. As Mexicans fled toward Bexar, the whole country was aroused and now realized that war was inevitable.
The Texas army had marched to Bexar and found a place to camp with a defensive position near the Mission Concepcion. Ninety men were attacked by about 400 Mexicans. The Texans prevailed and after some days slowly forced their way into San Antonio, fighting hand-to-hand and house-to-house.
Finally on Dec. 9, 1835, the Mexicans ran up a white flag and terms of surrender were written. Of 780 Texans, between 30 and 35 were wounded, with five or six killed. Approximately 150 Mexican soldiers were killed or wounded.
After the war, those who could prove they had participated were granted 320 acres of land.
Eventually, 504 claims were certified. At least 79 later died fighting at the Battle of the Alamo or at the Goliad Massacre.
In less than three months after the Siege of Bexar, the Mexicans would return under the command of Santa Anna for the slaughter at the Alamo.
Filled with rage, Santa Anna vowed never to rest until the Texans be humbled in the dust. Toward the last of February, he led an army of 3,000 into San Antonio. As they got closer to the garrison, the numbers increased to perhaps 5,000.
William Barrett Travis had sent out a most pitiful plea, "To the People of Texas and all Americans in the World, in the name of Liberty, of patriotism and everything dear, come to our aid, with haste." This death cry brought no response to the 182 men, including the sick and wounded. It was still dark on March 6, 1836, when the Mexicans sounded the bugle for attack. Our Texans were literally cut to pieces and the court ran with blood. This had taken only about one hour. It was then ordered that the bodies of Texans be collected into a huge pile and burned. As the Sabbath sun set in the west, the smoke from the funeral pyre continued to rise toward the heavens.
Several weeks later, Colonel Fannin and his army were rounded up and imprisoned at Goliad in the old fort. On March 27, Palm Sunday, the troops were awakened and marched out of the fort. They numbered between three and four hundred. After marching one half a mile, the Mexicans commanded a halt. In the next moment, a volley of balls hailed upon the unarmed men till not one was left standing. The bodies were burned.
Word of the Goliad Massacre quickly spread not only in Texas, but in the United States. Recruitment soared for the "Texas Cause", as rage built up. Cries of "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliadl" would be heard around the world and at the Battle of San Jacinto, just one short month later.
There will be a Celebration of the Declaration of Independence at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, at the Old City Cemetery. Everyone is invited.
LIVINGSTON -- The fourth annual Childrenz Haven Blue Jean Ball Dinner and Gala packed in a crowd of 306 Thursday night at Buster McNutty's near Livingston.
GALA ENTERTAINMENT — Laci Booth performed for the large crowd at Thursday’s Blue Jean Gala fundraiser. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY GREG PEAK)The fundraising event had the feel of a party to celebrate work that the child advocacy center puts into protecting the children of Polk County. A line outside the door to get in showed the support citizens were happy to give.
Though Executive Director Susie Adams said room for approximately 250 would be made available this year, demand for the occasion pushed attendance to a new high.
A silent auction, live auction and cake auction kept prizes going to winning bids. For the night, Adams estimates around $80,000 will go to toward three therapists, a forensic and backup forensic interviewer, and a family advocate. Grants partially pay for other salaries, but the remainder is made up with fundraising.
Dinners of steak, fish and chicken were followed by desserts that were auctioned during the meal. A total of $13,000 was raised in desserts alone. Singer Laci Kay Booth provided entertainment throughout the night.
Among the big items in the live auction were two helicopter hog hunts sold for a total of $7,000, while a luxury hunt in Mexico went for $10,000.
Award recipients for their dedication to Childrenz Haven went to Marty Drake, Clarke and Linda Evans, Gene and Judi Matthews, and John Saxon.
"The response and generosity from the people of Polk County is overwhelming," Adams said. "It is something that we could not do without them."
Childrenz Haven opened in September of 2009 and provides a child-friendly environment for its child clients and is a member of Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, a statewide membership association representing all local children's advocacy centers in the Lone Star state. Children are referred to Childrenz Haven by law enforcement officials, CPS investigators and medical professionals.
Childrenz Haven is a neutral entity, making no recommendations in any case. It provides a supportive and nurturing environment, in which a child victim can interact with the necessary agencies.
LIVINGSTON -- Pedigo Park became the site for a runaway criminal Tuesday afternoon, as police dogs were called upon to detain the person.
Several dogs had the opportunity to capture the man, in a training session held behind the Angelina College Polk County Center, where officers had received classroom education that morning.
TRAINING SESSION -- Livingston Officer Paul Benfer (right) has his K-9 detain a “suspect” in a training session on Tuesday at Pedigo Park. Officers from several East Texas police departments are currently taking a course to get K-9 certification. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY ALBERT TREVINO)"It depends on which police officer you ask and what K-9 organization you belong to, as to what training and certification is the best method," Livingston Officer Paul Benfer said. "There has never been a standard certification and no one way is better than another."
With the help of Marcelo Rosario of Angelina College, the class is trying to standardize K-9 certification through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). The instructor, Norm Garner, has been training police K-9s for over 30 years.
One of the main points stressed by the organization is that dogs are safety conscious that others can be around. The dogs are trained to bite and come back to the handler off the leash. The dogs training on Tuesday were able to accomplish this and obeyed when called off of a chase.
The instructor from Shreveport, Louisiana said similar courses could be as much as $12,000 and include a trained dog. Garner has offered this group training for $5.
The decision to carry a K-9 is up to each individual department and the funds available to have a dog on the staff.
For an officer and his K-9 to pass the 64-hour class, the K-9 and officer have to show the ability to detect narcotics, and track a person over paved streets and through wooded areas.
They must also pass a patrol certification. Attending this first class is officers from many East Texas departments representing Corrigan, Alto, Groveton, Lufkin and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
"SCIENCE ROCKS" — This Trailblazer traveling science bus sponsored by The Brown Foundation, Inc. and T.L.L. Temple Foundation stopped at the Livingston Municipal Library on Thursday. The bus contained seven hands-on exhibits designed to engage students with projects in science and math. Above, Patricia Snook explains and demonstrates a static electricity generator to students.
CRAPPIE FISHING -- Simon Cosper (left), a Lake Livingston fishing guide, presented a program on crappie fishing techniques to the Polk County Hookers fishing club. On the table is the traditional payment for speakers at the club, a snickers bar and bottle of water. Seated at right is the club’s head “hooker,” George Hollenbeck. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY LEW VAIL)
LIVINGSTON -- "Get the Net" sounds like a good name for a fishing guide service and that is the name Simon Cosper choose for his business as a professional fishing guide on Lake Livingston.
During a presentation last week to the Polk County Hookers fishing club, Cosper said he always wanted to be a guide when growing up and traveled to several states in his early career, guiding in New Mexico, Colorado, New York and even on the Great Lakes. He has been back on Livingston for the past eight years, almost exclusively.
Cosper told the club members that knowing their quarry is very important, adding that while many people think crappie appear in creeks in the early part of the year, they have been congregating in the creeks like White Rock, Kickapoo and several in-between since the first October cold snap.
Another mistake fishermen make is "memory" fishing -- going to the lake and going to an area where they caught fish before and sitting, waiting for the fish to come to them. Instead, they need to move and try new water if they don't get a bit in a reasonable amount of time.
When asked what type rods he uses, he told the large audience he likes an eight to 10-foot graphite, medium action, such as those made by B&M and available at Academy and some Walmart's. He said most fiberglass rods are too stiff and have no feel for the bite of a fish. He likes the eight-pound test hi-vis green line made by Wally Marshall; it allows you to track your jigs action when it is picked up by a fish before you feel the tap of a bite.
The rod and line questions led into what baits he prefers -- jigs, one-sixteenth ounce in either black and chartreuse or pink and black. Sometimes a solid pink will really attract fish in slightly off color water. He noted crappie do not like muddy water and they will sit on the bottom when the lake turns after a rain, but then the catfishing is good.
If a little more weight is needed, add a piece of shot just above the jig. Rarely does he go to a larger jig. He also uses a bait called Crappie Nibbles made by Berkley right on the hook tip. He warned anglers not to use the jigs with the sparkle glitter because it gets all over clothes and gear.
Cosper said some times you can add a small minnow to a jig, hooking it through the lips so it does not swim too much and scare the crappie. If a small minnow is not available, just go with a plain jig.
How does he work a jig? He called it "dead stick"; letting the jig drop to the bottom in 15 feet of water and then just raising it about six or eight inches and swimming it because jigging up and down seems counterproductive.
He also works brush tops in the same manner because contrary to popular tales, on Livingston crappie do not stage at different depths, since the lake does not have real deep areas. They start to spawn at about 55 to 62 degree water temperature and then can be found in as little as one foot of water.
Fishing is best between 8 a.m. until around noon or late in the afternoon. In the heat of the day they can be found under boat sheds in the shade. When fishermen start to catch too many small ones, they should consider crushing the barb on the hook for easier release. There is a 10-inch minimum size to keep Crappie, so he recommends making a mark on the boat and catch and release those you that cannot be cooked.
When asked about structure, Cosper detailed how he makes "trees" out of eight inch PVC pipe with one inch branches randomly drilled and cemented in place. He then adds a large soda bottle capped shut as a buoy and a base filled with sakrete. These start to acquire algae attracting small baitfish in a couple of weeks. He uses white but has used black and even gray pipe.
Cosper reported that the white bass are already coming down river into the White Lake area and that this March and April should be a good time to catch a limit in a short time.
Hookers will have a program on an Alaskan fishing lodge that has been visited by one of the members. It is owned by an Austin resident and he will drop by in February on his way to visit relatives in Nacogdoches.
They are planning a women's Fishing 101 and no one who fishes will be allowed. They will have two experienced women anglers presenting the information to just 15 participants, sometime in early spring. Hookers meet on the third Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at First National Bank building at FM 350 and Highway 190. Everyone is welcome to attend.