Ada Ruth Walker, born 12 February 1901 at Pecan Grove, was the fourth child born to Alfred Jack and Ada Ruth (Terry) Walker. In 1919 Ruth married Sam Walker.
A brief note on names is in order regarding the two Ada Ruth Walkers! Clarity in genealogy requires one to take into account maiden names. Ada Ruth Terry was born in 1872 and became Ada Ruth Walker upon her marriage to A.J. Walker in 1893. For clarity married women’s names are often written with their maiden name in parenthesis ie. Ada Ruth (Terry) Walker.
Ada Ruth Walker married Samuel M. Walker in 1919. Yes, that’s right – she married a Walker who is not related to the A.J. Walker line of San Saba. At least as far back as 1814 when A.J. Walker’s great-grandfather James Walker was born in Pennsylvania. So upon her marriage to Sam Walker in 1919 Ruth remained a Walker. I suppose genealogically her name should be written Ada Ruth (Walker) Walker.
As maiden names are rarely used in cemeteries you will find two Ada Ruth Walkers buried near each other in the Terry Cemetery.
ADA RUTH WALKER by Pencia Ann Mercadante
There were all kinds of complications on the night of February 12, 1901, at the home of Jack and Ada Ruth Walker. They had planned and prepared well for the birth of their fourth child, but as fate would have it a storm arrived first and the horse, which was needed to pull the buggy to fetch the doctor, was spooked by the thunder and lightning and broke out of the corral. By the time Jack rounded him up and got to town it was already late and, to make matters worse, the doctor had been drinking. He must have had some misgivings, but Jack evidently figured a slightly drunken doctor was better than none at all, so they headed back through the storm, over muddy roads, to the ranch at Pecan Grove.
No one knows exactly what occurred later that night, but a tragic mistake was made, and the joy of the birth of a baby girl was marred by the death of her mother at the young age of twenty-eight years and three months. The baby was given her mother’s name – Ada Ruth.
The newborn was motherless, but was blessed with three brothers – William, John Terry, and Alfred Jackson, one sister – Estelle, a loving father – Alfred Jackson and a dedicated grandmother – Sarah Ann Mariah. They loved and nurtured little Ada and she grew to be strong, independent, strong willed and definitely the maverick of the family. She attended schools in Pecan Grove and San Saba and was still in high school when she met and fell in love with a handsome young mechanic by the name of Sam Monroe Walker, the son of Monroe and Minnie Walker of Mills County. Choosing marriage over college and against the wishes of her father, they were soon married. Their first home was in Mills County but eventually they moved back to San Saba.
Their first born son lived just a few hours and Ada Ruth suffered her second major loss. Soon seven more children came along: Melba Lou, Sarah Janice, Vivian Faye, James Shelby, Sammie Ruth, Harold Lynn and Pencia Ann (Named after San Saba’s Dr. Pence).
Sam was a good farmer and equally good mechanic and Ada was committed to her home and family. They were members of Pecan Grove Baptist Church and several of the children attended school at Pecan Grove as well. There were many hard times, but good times too. Together they endured the depression and Ada recalled that there were times when she had only one dress, which she had to keep patching.
They were just beginning to prosper and had purchased a home in town when Sam’s health began to decline. He was diagnosed with Bright’s disease, at which time they moved again, this time to McMillin, to be near his Uncle Sam and Aunt Leona Walker. He lived only one year after getting sick, dying February 28, 1940. Once again, Ada faced a devastating loss!
In the year 1943, she decided it was time to leave the land of her birth and, showing the same courage and pioneering spirit that her grandmother had so many years before, she headed to California to seek a whole new life in a drastically different kind of place. Instead of the rough country and Indians of her grandmother’s day, she endured traffic, fog, blackouts (because of the war), graveyard shifts and a robbery while coming home late at night. That was her new life in Santa Monica where she worked in the aircraft plants. Eventually, she settled in the San Fernando Valley where she remained for most of the rest of her life. She never remarried, but provided a home and completed the hard job of raising her children. She stayed active in her church and had many friends. Her family found in her a constant source of encouragement and support.
Ada Ruth died December 2 1988, at age 87. She was taken back home to San Saba and on yet another cloudy, rainy day, and was buried beside her mother in the Terry Cemetery, not far from the place of her birth. She had seven children, eighteen grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren at the time of her death.
LOOKING BACK OVER TIME AT THINGS I REMEMBER by Sarah Janice Walker – July 9, 2005
When looking back over time, many happy memories come to mind. Some not so happy but that’s life as you know it.
School Days at Pecan Grove and Living There
The teachers there at that time were: Opal Walker, Helen Terry, and Irene Gibson. Also Gladys Click, Mrs. McCarry and Alta Taylor. Opal was a bundle of energy and what she couldn’t think of to have fun couldn’t be thought of. (1) The Treasure Hunt started at the school, went all the way to the river bottom, searching under every rock and tree; went all the way back to school where it was found under the front steps right where we started from. My, what a joke on us. (2) Then there was the Fish Fry and all night on the river, the Rhythm Band all dressed out in Red and White. All of this kept us awake during the long hot days of spring. Of course, there was baseball when Woodrow Ratliff threw a curve ball and hit me square in the stomach and that woke me up. I usually played second base.
I loved Helen Terry’s dry sense of humor. She was into County Meet, a spring festival of competing talent. I came out for Declamation with Little Boy Blue. One year – not the one under the haystack – but the one with all the toys which he kissed one night before going off to bed, never to awaken. They are still sitting in that little chair all covered with rust and dust just waiting for his return, wonder “what has become of out little Boy Blue since he kissed them and put them there”! Just like a cat or dog waiting for his master’s return. I won second place at the County with this presentation. Eugene Field wrote this poem.
The next year I entered with the “The House With Nobody in It” by Joyce Kilmer. This is an old broken down house sitting by the side of the road with its shingles broken and black. It is a sad sight sitting with the weeds grown up around the vines needing trimming and it needs a new coat of paint. It goes on to say “If I had a bit of money and all my debts were paid, I’d buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be and find some people who needed a home and just give it to them free. It goes on to say – “so whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track, I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back. Yet, it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart for I can’t helping thinking that the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.” I came out third with this one – not much to brag about – but Helen was thrilled with our efforts as a lot of time was put into it. I kept seeing this old house in my sleep long after County Meet was over. I still have the memory of the pretty pea-green silk crepe dress and white shoes mother, bless her heart, bought me for the occasion – all blossomed out for spring. Talk about something engraved in memory- this certainly is.
Mrs. Gibson would read to us after lunch sometimes and put us all too sleep – me anyway – that’s the reason I don’t remember much about “The Bobbsey Twins”! She came to see me long after I left Pecan grove and was working at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas. This was the last time I saw her. She was at the hospital on business and was surprised to find me working there. We had a nice visit, so it’s a small world sometimes.
We looked forward and enjoyed going to church every Sunday. I’ve never had that kind of spirit about Church since. I still like going to church but the spirit isn’t the same. That’s where I got my sense of perception and conscience trained. We looked forward to meeting our friends and cousins and dinners on the ground. It was always sad when Sunday was over because it would be a whole week before we went back again.
Over time some things got better at Pecan Grove and pretty new brick building replaced the old one. Complete with a nice reception area for dinners – not on the ground. This was an improvement beyond real! We were a family of singers. Uncle Billie and Uncle Terry would drive for miles just to hear some one sing and sing themselves and sing they did. Melba, Vivian and I went with Aunt Pearl and Uncle Billie one Sunday to China Creek to hear the Stamps Quartet and Mr and Mrs. Huggins sing. (Remember them anybody?) “Just Look For Me at the Gate”, “No Tears in Heaven”, “I’ll Fly Way”. I wish I could hear singing like that again – don’t you? We had lunch under the wedding tree on the way over. Grandpa and Mom loved pretty singing too. Sometimes at Christmas Grandpa would pile a bunch of us in his little White Willis car and take us caroling to his old friends in Pecan Grove, Harmony Ridge, and San Saba. There was Melba, Reba, Dorothy, Betty Jo and I all in that little Willis. We made the rounds and ended the day out on the Lometa Hiway at the filling station (as we used to call it) and filled up on some of that good cold soda pop, there in the little electric ice box, in real glass bottles. It was a good way to end the day before going home. I always drank Orange Crush and Grandpa had grape. Grandpa enjoyed life at Pecan grove riding his horses, tending the sheep and cattle and pecans. He was a good farmer and rancher.
Aunt Maud is among my memories. I was with her the last six years of her life. She was a very pleasant person to be with during that time considering her age and condition in that I never heard a complaint or cross word – and that is very rare. She enjoyed her home there in San Saba and was very active up until a few weeks before passing away. We went for rides back to Pecan grove and looked at old familiar places – went to the Mill Pond and watched the ducks swim. She would go to the grocery store with me and sit in the car and greet old friends as they stopped by going into the store.
One Sunday we went to the Homecoming at Pecan Grove. Murrell Terry met us at the door and in his dry, Irish humor said “we are having dinner on the ground here today”, and I said “I’ll bet – what’s wrong with that nice reception room back there”? Well, Murrell and Aunt Maud are gone now, along with “dinner on the ground”, but their memory lingers on.
Harmony Ridge crosses my mind many times. The blackberries from the garden, black-eyed peas and watermelons from the field. The old oaken bucket and family dipper swinging in the breeze on the front porch, full of good, cold, ice water from the well. The scent of lilacs and honeysuckles and iris. Aunt Stelle used to come and help with the canning of the fruits and vegetables.
We walked to school and church and by lantern light at night to the school plays and Christmas programs. I was Little Miss Muffet once. I remember the cute, blue chambray dress Mom made for me. We didn’t mind the walk. It was good exercise and fresh air. We were never sick and all grew to a healthy old age. Miss Juanita Fry, Ragsdale now, was the school Marm at that time. One day recess I was fooling around with a few others in the building and playing” teacher” when I broke her blackboard pointer. Boy, was I scared. I mean I feared for my life. However, I remembered my training and confessed my sin and repented. Jehovah was with me and things turned out pretty well. She was a sweetheart.
Lynn was born at Harmony Ridge on November 4, 1931. We were so proud of our little baby brother at home and could hardly wait to get back home after school let out, to take turns holding him. He had soft fuzzy, black hair. When he grew up a little bit, he liked to imitate Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. He was a happy person, smiled a lot, liked to play his guitar and made friends easily. Little did he know of the bumpy, rocky road that lay ahead of him. He’s resting now at Terry Cemetery along with Mom and his Dad who died at the early age of 40.
Aunt Lou (Lane) Patton, mother’s great aunt, came and helped with the baby and housework. I remember the sweet, kind, elderly, snow-white haired lady standing before the fireplace holding her dress up to warm her legs and the long white pantaloons. I never saw her again after that time that I can remember.
We had some happy times together and I thank Jehovah for my being among them for what seems such a short time. Well, the old clock on the front cover and my scribbling tells me its time to go. So until we meet again take care and may the good Lord Jehovah hold you in the palm of his hand.
Sarah J. Walker.
LOOKING BACK VOL. II – A Brief History of Pecan Grove and Some of the A.J. Walker Sr. Family and Other Residents – by Sarah Janice Walker July 12, 2008
We Leave Harmony Ridge. It was back in 1931, Lynn was a baby. The lease on the Harmony Ridge property was up, and we had to consider relocating to a different school. There were several school-age children and transportation was a challenge back then. We moved to one of Grandpa’s places back at Pecan Grove across the slough, as we called it, that was a big ditch for water run off from the river when it rained.
This was a nice pleasant place. A modern one bedroom house under a sprawling live oak tree with an automobile tire swing attached where we spent many happy hours. The tree also served as a roosting place for the turkeys, which also served as an alarm clock to wake us up at 5 a.m. to go to the cotton patch or school. I also remember the big white peace rose bush in the front yard too. There was also a big pond not far away where the ducks swam and the mosquitos grew, which wasn’t too pleasant, but you’ve gotta have a little rain along with the sunshine sometimes, you know!
We had good times there. Our cousins lived just across the pasture and they kept us good company. There were community events that we attended such as school programs, church, box suppers, singing conventions, parties and baseball games.
Sam Walker – San Saba Auto Mechanic. Daddy would take us into town once in a while to the medicine shows and to see the first train that began running thorough San Saba. I don’t remember the date, but it was a long time ago. Daddy wasn’t home much. He attended and graduated from an automobile school in Nashville, Tennessee and was working in San Saba as an auto mechanic. He worked from sunup ’til sundown trying to make ends meet as we were in the throes of the Great Depression. I am sure some of you remember that quite well, while some of you had the good fortune of not experiencing it at all.
Raising Turkeys and Picking Cotton. Mama raised chickens and turkeys, and we picked cotton for extras such as school supplies and clothes. We thought this was the worst job a person could possibly have. We came home with sore fingers from the sharp cotton bolls and aching backs from dragging the long sacks behind. But on looking back now, I think we had a pretty good time out there in the fresh, hot air picking cotton along side our cousins or neighbors or anyone else who came along and wanted to chop and pick!
We would eat our lunch and take a break under the wagon at the weigh station. We had a nice jug of good cold water that the breeze hit and kept cool. That was the only shade around. We slept good when we went home at the close of day. We didn’t lie there and toss and turn from deep mental depression, thinking and wondering how to solve a lot of problems back at an enclosed smoky office the next day.
There was a lot of cotton around back then and it was hard work getting it to the gin. You wondered if it was really worth all the effort, but I guess it was because a lot money of was made considering all the drawbacks. It is much easier now with the new improved picker and you don’t have to sweat it so much I guess. Ask Billie T’s son about it. He knows all about it I hear, much more than I. He’s deep into it. Well, I ‘m glad they’ve made some improvements and glad those days are long gone even with the good and the bad because we sure hated those turkeys flying out of that tree and making all the noises so early in the morning.
Ruth Walker – Family Pharmacist. We had an old swimming hole down there on the river where we went to cool off and freshen up on hot summer days, as well as get some earaches too. Mama took care of that with her hot salt packs. Mama was a good home-made doctor. She had a small pharmacy right there in the house. It was made up of salt pork for fresh open wounds to draw out the poison, Epson Salts for bruises, kerosene soaks and baking soda for stings, feeniment, castor oil, and Black Draft for spring cleanings as she felt necessary. And a Vicks Vapor Rub for “the croup”, a children’s ailment which was a barking cough, hoarseness, with fever and sometimes difficult breathing. Vicks is even in use today. These worked quite well and we didn’t have to sit and wait at the ER if there was one, like today. Doctors were hard to come by and hospitals unheard of. The nearest one was a hundred miles away. Well you might as well forget it and do the home remedies.
Oh My! “Backward Turn Backward Oh Time In Your Flight, And Make Me a Child Again Just for Tonight”. (E.A.A.)
Terry and Maud Leave San Saba. It was a sad day when Dorothy and Reba had to leave us when Uncle Terry and Aunt Maud left for New Mexico looking for greener pastures. It was the end of the school year and at the end of the school program that night, we all sang “Til we Meet Again”. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the curtain came down.
The next day I stood there, as did others, by the fence in the school year and watched as the brown Model A Ford drove out of sight down Leverett Lane, stirring up dust as it went along. The car was pretty well loaded with the chicken coop and chickens tied behind. This was in the middle of the Dust Bowl, if you remember. I would recall that sad day in later years when reading John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” which was a poignant story about the times and circumstances. Many families were looking for greener pastures in those hard days.
I heard that the chickens escaped as they waited in downtown Lubbck for Uncle Terry coming behind on the train with the cows. Well they rounded up the chickens with the help of some of the businesses who were watching from high up and came down to help. They met up with Uncle Terry and continued on to Encino, New Mexico. I don’t know how green the pastures were but they built a nice adobe home and Johnny joined the family. He was a great asset to the family too.
They lived there for quite a while, but returned to Pecan Grove in their later years to live out their lives from where they started. Johnny finished college in San Marcos and became a public accountant.
Mooney Family Tragedies
Another point of interest was with the Mooney family who lived on the Pecan Grove road between Grandpa’s house and the school house. There were four children in the family: Betty Lois, W.T., Dick and Nadine in that order. Dick and Nadine were members of the Rhythm Band and Dick played the drums. They looked veery professional in their red and white suits. The family eventually moved over on the river in the big, two story, white house after Aunt Maud and Uncle Terry left. Dick had a history of sleepwalking and at breakfast the next morning, it was discovered that Dick was missing. They got to looking around and traced his footsteps to the banks of the river. He must have had a dream about going swimming? Who knows the why and wherefores of dreams or sleepwalking. They are strange things and would be a good subject for research, I think.
Anyway, a Search and Rescue Team from the community was immediately formed and the search began. They searched up and down the river night and day for several days or for quite a while I think. Finally, Billie T. sounded the discovery shot and the search ended.
A short while before Dick’s fate Nadine became seriously ill with poneumonia. I think there was about a three-month or so interval between the incidents, according to a report I heard. Doctors were few and many miles away, so the neighbors took over and helped with illnesses. One cold day Mama wrapped up and took her jar of Vicks over and gave Nadine’s chest a good rubbing and sat with her all night, but to no avail. She passed away the next day.
Well Jehovah tells us in the scriptures that we must expect some thorns among the roses and some along with the sunshine. Now I understand that, but when it pours in such in a short period like that, well that’s ‘way to much. We’ll have dark clouds hanging over us for a long, long time and we wonder where is the sunshine? Lord Help Us.
When I visit the cemetery I always go over and look down at the little native headstones and reflect on the sad, tragedies of so long ago.
Well, I’ll be back next year with another edition. This story is like a fine wine. It gets better with time so don’t miss it. See you then… Sarah J. Walker.
About the Author
Sarah Walker was born March 7, 1923 and grew up at Pecan Grove and Harmony Ridge in San Saba County, Texas. She passes along some of her best childhood and teenage memories in these brief light-hearted biographies. Sarah lives in Tucson, Arizona
© 2008 – Sarah Janice Walker, All Rights Reserved
Looking Back – Texas and Seasons of the Heart – Volume III by Sarah Janice Walker
Sarah Janice, This is Sarah’s third story in her Looking Back series. In this story she describes the Seasons as she recalls them from her childhood days on the family farm. As in the first two stories Sarah relates her memorable impressions of growing up in rural San Saba County during the post World War I and Depresson era. Her description of her first train ride at age 13 to visit The 1936 Texas Centennial in Dallas is particularly well done and skillfully portrays the excitement that she clearly has never forgotten. Click here to read Looking Back – Texas and Seasons of The Heart by Sarah Janice Walker.
THE CELLAR by Pencia Ann Mercadante
Pencia Ann, Sam and Ruth’s youngest daughter, has written a short story about her grand uncle Samuel Gufford Walker and his wife Leona. The story is based on her childhood and visits with her uncle and aunt as she recalls them. Uncle Jess in the story is Samuel Walker. Aunt Leona’s name remains unchanged. Pencia is a gifted writer with an interesting tale of life in the rural San Saba countryside from a child’s point of view. If you grew up in this hill country you’ll be home again. If you didn’t – then you may wish you had. Click here to read The Cellar by Pencia Mercadante.