Written by FREDERICA WYATT
Junction of the Llanos where the Glory of the Past
Meets the Challenge of the Future
From the upper Llanos, with an abundance of wild and luxuriant vegetation came a beckoning call to the frontiers man of 1860. Despite the ever-present danger of attack from hostile Indians, and the distance to the nearest trading post, or medical aid in event of snake bite or serious illness, those fearless pioneers answered the call of romance and adventure offered by a virgin, unspoiled country "whose bosom no plow had touched." It was the call of "come and take".
A hilly, broken topography, except for the valleys, made up Kimble County and area suitable primarily for the raising of livestock rather than for fanning. Shin oak, cedar, mesquite, and live oak were found in abundance. Other trees of varied qualities found were elm, cottonwood, hackberry, white oak, pecan, persimmon, Mexican (wild) plum, sycamore, blue thorn, willow, sumac, and a variety of bushy growths. A few wild mulberry trees could be seen in isolated sections. A species of walnut of but little commercial value grew in the creek beds and river bottoms.
A variety of native grasses covered the hills, plateaus and valleys. The mesquite and grama grasses were the most common, and were found to be especially valuable as drought resistant, as well as being fattening for livestock. These grasses were hardy 2and served to hold the soil and present erosion. The first settlers came in ox wagons, horses were scarce in those days each wagon was drawn by from two to four yoke of oxen...
...The roads into the upper Llano valleys were uncharted except for a dim, rarely traveled government road that crossed the Llanos near the junction of the two rivers and followed the Bear Creek route to Ft. McKavett.
Awaiting the Kimble pioneer of 1860 was an abundance of wild game of almost every description known in Southwest Texas. Deer skipped about in silent wonderment ... Wild Turkey by thousands let their curiosity make them appear half friendly...
... The settler found 'wood and water in abundance, and a place to camp for the night. The sloping knee-high grass lots were close by and inviting. The air was filled with a rich aroma of flowers, and all nature was singing a song of quiet and peace. In the distance could be seen the meandering outline of the Main Llano, studded on either side by the towering pecans which reflected a deep blue against the evening sunset. Small wonder the settler of that day dared the wilderness of the upper Llanos!
The valleys of the Llanos were indeed a rendezvous for game. Here was a retreat – a Utopia for the wild things. Peaceful were these valleys. The deep, rich soil was kept fertile by overflows from the bordering hillsides. The valleys proper "were several miles wide in places presenting a smooth, rolling topography, breaking roughly toward the surrounding hills. Down the North Llano came a pure, spring-fed stream with a lively flow the year 'round.
From the south came another Llano, a more restless, meandering stream. With source that provided an unlimited supply, with millions of gallons pouring and gushing wildly from a mountain side, its flow had been a steady continuous one for untold ages. As the two streams con- verge, the waters become more tranquil.
The Texas norther had far from spent its fury when it unleashed a whirling blast from over the rim and into the Llano valleys. The northers usually came unannounced, without any natural warning. In sheer fury and terror an Arctic blizzard might have appeared relatively moderate. Like a whiplash, the clouds appeared over the horizon driven and whipped about in a disorderly fashion as if by some phantom demon...
... After raging for perhaps forty-eight hours, the storm would subside. The sun would shine down upon the countryside and the resulting fresh, pure atmosphere became bracing and invigorating.
Following the last blast of the North wind, came the slow, southerly breeze and spring time. Nature put on her spring clothes for the admiration of the settler, and the valleys have the appearance of artificially arranged flower bed. Blue ranges hovered in the distance and the dark forms of tall tree seemed to lean heavily against the mountainsides ... As spring advanced, flowing layers of bluebonnets made their appearance in the valleys and on the hillsides. Bordering the blue fringes the wild phlox and poppies added a restful pink to the color outline...
.... Into these valleys came those first Kimble settlers - men and women, who were not afraid, who ha their own lives to live...
...The Kimble County valleys surrounded by shin oak hills and cedar coated canyons, became the stage for new life dramas to be played out by new actors.
(Taken from "It Occurred In Kimble" by O.C. Fisher - Reprinted in part from Chapter I).
GENE COLE JR