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A Tribute to Joseph & Emiline Bracewell
By: Ruby Bracewell Dooley
June 5, 1960
Mt. Pleasant Church
A sketch from memory of the lives of Grandfather and Grandmother Bracewell, whose descendants, with their friends, constitute this reunion; the purple of which is to remember and renew the ties and relationships of the family.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century the parents and grandparents of this family, among other immigrants, landed in Texas from Alabama; after which must have been an arduous and apprehensive journey, considering the mode of transportation and the many inconveniences they must have borne.
Other than two years spent near Anderson, the county seat of Grimes County, they settled permanently three miles east of what became the town of Bedias on a site that had once been an Indian village. Though by this time it was the home of earlier settlers and contained a post office and general store.
The location they chose was near a small community of Texans but in a virgin forest on the outer edge of the settlement. Here Grandfather and Grandmother Bracewell set out to build a home for their family. How well they succeeded is remembered by some of us here today.
Here in this new country, unmarred by the hand of man, the progenitors of this generation grew up, seven sons and two daughters; one son and daughter having died in infancy.
It would be interesting, encouraging, and inspiring if we had some way of reviewing the happenings connected with this pioneer family because almost every aspect of family life is different; so far removed from the quiet, peaceful surroundings, the habitat of God's creatures undisturbed, surviving on the elements provided by the architect of nature.
The great amount of labor required to establish and improve a farm home in that era is unimaginable in this mechanical age where hard manual labor has been replaced by machines. Working from sun to sun through heat and cold was indeed the order of the day; which seemed necessary to get the innumerable things done that must be done. To mention a few, the clearing away of the timber and brush in order to have a place to build, the assembling of the material that had to be hauled many miles over unimproved roads by mule or ox teams. To provide drinking water cisterns were dug, walled, arched, and cemented which required a great deal of time, patience and hard work. This information was handed down the following generation by word of mouth.
My earliest recollection of this homestead and its occupants is that it was perfect. It was an ideal place to play and explore, with plum, apple and peach orchards, huge fig trees, and had besides, a hayloft that was filled with peanuts. Memorable too was the plentiful supply of sweet juicy watermelons pulled in the cool of the morning and stored in the shade.
Grandfather was a frail man, physically; who suffered a great deal with asthma and never participated in strenuous activities to my knowledge. I don't remember that he ever went fishing, squirrel or bee-tree hunting that some of his sons, including my father, practiced with great zest and satisfaction.
He was faithful in his religious convictions, and took an active part in the affairs of his church. He and Grandmother traveled to distant communities to attend various meetings connected with their church which at that time must have been a great sacrifice for people of their age. Sometimes it required several hours to make the drive.
When special meetings were held at his church they entertained a houseful of guests without being ruffled or upset. Grandmother was up early to prepare breakfast for all of them. After getting them fed and out of the way she would prepare lunch to carry to the church. What stamina and determination these faithful ancestors of ours possessed, along with a peculiar ability and tact for getting things done without becoming nervous and frustrated.
Back in those days the whole family could and would help. Everyone had a task to perform at the proper time, and without urging or reminding, were up and stirring. Without cooperation and mutual assistance it would have been impossible to have engaged in the activities this family did.
I would like to say here, as most of his progeny surviving are great and great-great grandchildren who never knew him, that he was one of the most esteemed, honest, and conscientious citizens of his community. I was around him a great deal of the time as I grew up, and never do I remember seeing him angry or impatient. I recall my mother saying many times that he was the best natured person she had ever known.
Time will not permit relating the many incidents and happenings connected with the home and lives of our grandparents. However, they are cherished memories, and I thank God for them.
To my mind Grandmother was a source of knowledge and understanding, exercising great patience with her children and grandchildren. Undisturbed by emergencies and completely without fear she was a bulwark of comfort and satisfaction to anyone in trouble, especially in cases of serious illness. She had an abundance of experience, was capable and willing to use it for the benefit of the suffering.
She believed in and practiced discipline, would not tolerate misbehavior or disrespect from the swarm of grandchildren who frequently played all over the place.
The burden and hardship entailed in the rearing of a big family in those pioneer years, in the wilderness of a new country where modern conveniences were unknown, required stamina, industry, intelligence, and the fear of God to constantly live in a way that expressed the importance of high moral standards in order that their offspring might appreciate the value of good citizenship; a legacy to be prized above riches that perish with the using.
The moral and spiritual ideals we have received from our grandparents, which they in turn received from theirs, is indeed a heritage to be cherished and nourished by practice and application.
As I scan the past there are so many things, little things, simple things, that were not appreciated by my youthful and inexperienced mind. They have been brought to mind, as the years passed, in time of stress and difficulty, in the uncertainties and insecurities of this life. What I would have given for a few words of encouragement and assurance such as our forebears could have given from their wealth of wisdom and experience.
I have written this from memory and no doubt it contains some mistakes. I have only tried to portray the lives and characteristics of our grandparents as I remember them. However, I am aware of the fact that I have not expressed and cannot express the reverence and credit due them.
About the Author:
Ruby Dooley was the First Child of Barto and Fannie (Shanks) Bracewell, First Grandchild of Joseph Marion and Emiline Bracewell Born Ruby Estella Bracewell October 13, 1883
Cousin Ruby was almost 23 years of age when Joseph Marian passed away and 42 when Grandmother Emiline died. She had the wisdom at age 76 to realize that she alone held memories of Joseph Marion and Emiline as they lived. She set these memories down for her children, who have been kind enough to contribute her writings to the Reunion collection. A little over two years after delivering this tribute. Cousin Ruby passed away on December 10, 1962, leaving us only memories of her as well.