San Angelo Standard Times
September 11, 1964
- People in McCulloch County just aren't what they used to be, or at least
that's the way the W. N. Whites see it.
The husband and wife have seen Brady and McCulloch County grow from a couple of ranches, a store here and there and a generous supply of saloons to the industry-hungry city it is today. They sat on the couch in the den of their home and talked about the old days.
"It was kinda rough here at times, but it wasn't ever what you would call a rough place," said White, who at 85, as far as anyone can tell, is the oldest living native of McCulloch County.
"At one time I think there were more saloons than grocery stores in Brady," he said. "But we didn't have too much trouble with bad people coming in. If people didn't fit into the community, they passed on."
"There were the good fellows and the ones who weren't and they didn't stay," said Mrs. White, whose father had settled in the Old Rochelle Community in 1883.
"Early settlers in McCulloch County were a fine class of people," White said. "Of course we had a few horse and cow thieves. Now San Saba County, well, that was a different story, but I guess I shouldn't say anything about them."
"Times were hard then and if a person couldn't stand the work it took to live out here then he soon left," she said.
"A person had to be strong to come out West," White said. "I don't think the young people of today could put up with the hard times."
When they married in 1903, they lived out on the ranch.
"We had no lights and had to carry water up from the creek," he said. "Now the people who live out in the country have the same conveniences of those who live in the city. They don't know they're living in the country."
"It took us half a day to go to town in a horse and buggy, but time didn't mean much to people then," she said.
"We came to town once every two weeks then," she said. "Now they get in an automobile and go to to the ranch and back in half an hour."
People are in too much of a hurry now, White said. They used to live more calmly.
"Today they are busy, just too busy with other things," he said. "There are so few people you are glad to see sometimes."
"People were friendlier then," She said. "They would come by the ranch, stay for a meal, probably stay all night. And too, we went to visit each other without an invitation."
"I used to think I knew everybody in the country. Now I don't know half of them," he said.
White said that it was the pioneers, such as his father, who made McCulloch County what it was today.
"Father died in his forties. I really don't see how he got all the things he did done in that time," White said.
His father came to McCulloch County in the fall of 1876, White was born three years later.
The family lived six miles from town on Brady Creek.
"There were all ranches then. No fences, all open range," he said. "In '88 the first fences were put up. We had some trouble but it wasn't as bad here as it was in some counties. The settlers had come here in the first place because of the open range,"
It wasn't until the Swedes came in the middle '90's that there was any farming here and it wasn't until the farming was started that Brady began to grow, he said.
Mrs. White's father put in one of the first cotton crops, but most of the farming was done in East Sweden, halfway between Brady and Rochelle in the eastern part of the county, where land sold for five dollars an acre, he said.
"I think 1919 was the biggest crop. We had 40,000 bales ginned and 60,000 bales compressed," White said. "For a long time people didn't think they could raise anything but cotton around here."
He said the current cotton crop was one of the shortest he'd seen in the county.
"I've seen drought years and wet years," he said. "I think I saw Brady Creek on the square five times in eight years."
The worst was in 1938 when water was several feet deep in the courthouse itself, he said.
They built their house high upon the hill overlooking Brady in 1908 to avoid the floods.
"The town first started where it was on account of the creek being there, I'm sure, but it sure was a mistake to build it right on the creek," he said, " I don't think anyone ever realized it until the flood of '38 when it rained 21 inches between Monday morning and Friday night.
The Whites first met at the school they walked to every day.
"There's been a big change in schools since then," he said. "I think there is too much stress on athletics today, not enough on arithmetic and geography, If you have a good team then you have a good school,"
White isn't really antiathletic though. He said that he used to play a lot of baseball, although he never had a glove.
For entertainment then the young people would go to socials, Mrs. White said.
"But we never took to dancing and things like that," he said.
"My father wouldn't let us prowl at night," he said. "Now they don't think about going to bed until after 12 o'clock."
White stopped comparing the past and the present for a moment and then he said, "But you cant go backwards."
"People couldn't go back to the way it was," he said. "It wasn't hard if you didn't know any better, but once you've had all the conveniences there are today, you can't do without them."