BISCUITS ACROSS THE BRAZOS
Recollections of a Memorable Horseback and Covered Wagon Journey
This story is about two family journeys across Texas. Both journeys were by covered wagons and horses. Both covered an approximate distance of 325 miles in fourteen days. The first took place in 1918, the second in 1998. Travelers on the first journey included Hiram Griffin Ainsworth (1879-1962), his wife Eva Catherine Lowe Ainsworth (1881-1939) and their five children: Mabel (age fourteen), Ola (age twelve), Arch (age nine), Richard (Teadon) (age seven), and Exle (age two). They made the journey in search of a better life. Hiram had been an engineer for the Texas & Pacific Railroad, but wanted to work for himself as a farmer and rancher. Conditions around Baird and Ranger in Central West Texas were harsh with sparse rainfall. Oil had been discovered in Ranger and the population had quadrupled. Too crowded for the Ainsworths. To farm or ranch successfully required a lot of land. Stories from his brother Rance had attracted Hiram to the ample rainfall, fertile black soil, and large oak trees in Northeast Texas. He made a courageous decision to take his family east with only a covered wagon pulled by two horses with one young colt riding along side. Imagine the gravity of that decision. He left a well-paying job to travel across a country with five small children and a hand-drawn map.
The second journey took place eighty years later with the sons of Arch and Teadon-- Marion (Shep) Ainsworth (age fifty-seven), and Jim Ainsworth (age fifty-three)-- trying to recreate both the circumstances and the spirit of their ancestors’ trip. They were joined on the trip by Charles Horchem as cook and wagon driver and Jordan Brown as assistant cocinero. Jerald Thomas, a close friend, was also along for a major part of the trip. Other family members joined the wagon and horsemen at various times so that the whole family could be part of the adventure. This is their story.