Ruby Remembers I: Jesse James, bobbed hair

This is the first part of a series of reminiscences f rom Ruby Murray Harris, former Milam County resident previously published in the Hico News Review.

Descendents of Marmaduke Gardender left Ireland to come to the United States in Revolutionary War days.

They moved from Missouri to Texas, fought in the Civil War and survived reconstruction .

Dia r ie s revea l some family members traveled with Jesse James from Missouri to "Central Texas."

This was before the Jesse James gang became actively involved in gang endeavors.

Life in Rockdale for the Murray family was during the time when wooden buildings on Main and Cameron streets were replaced with brick and mortar.

City Hall's second story was used for school basketball games and large gatherings. The I&GN Railroad built a passenger depot and a freight yard at the end of Main Street.

The SA& AP Railroad came to town. Its line ran north to south.

Coal mines sprang up east and south of Rockdale. These were good economical times for the Rockdale area.

Then some things changed. The old bell tower on the City Hall which was used to summon firemen for fires was torn down and the bell placed on the lawn outside the building.

The town's water well and water troughs were removed from the Main-Cameron intersection.

Whether it was hot, dry or cold and wet, vehicles of that time would bog down in deep sand or in mud.

Dur ing the hot dr y times, a water wagon would wet the streets every day to keep down the dust. In the winter when it was cold and wet, you just walked where you wanted to go.

During this time the city would place board paths on which to cross the streets.

Our country was really beginning to change in the 1920's. Pioneering hardships were lessened when a special tax was levied and the streets were paved.

About this same time electricity, water and gas became a reality in Rockdale.

Life was becoming easier with all these modern inventions.

Women were given the right to vote and about that time rid themselves of corsets and high top button shoes.

They cut their hair in a "bob," shortened their hemlines and learned to drive.

This was just before the days of the Great Depression.

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2009-07-23 digital edition

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