James C. Carr was born in Fayette Country, Tennessee, and was in his late teens when he and his family arrived in Texas in 1845. There were few people in the state at that time so the neighbors would gather from 10 to 15 miles around to help in house raising or bridge building for the new arrivals.
In his memoirs he stated, “Live! You bet we lived... on hog and hominy, bear meat, deer, turkey, etc. We tanned our own leather to make shoes, dressed skins for clothing, used herbs for medicine, made our own wagons, hats (of oat straw). In fact, we produced and made everything we used.
“We ground our corn for meal on hand-made mills, and hand picked cotton to make cloth on old fashioned hand-made looms. We made our own furniture, bedsteads, chairs, buckets and dishes.
“We raised our own lard, used gourds for cups and dippers. Socks, stockings and underwear such as drawers, were never seen and what few we had was used by the very old people.”
A new family moved into the area and settlers gathered for a log rolling (House building) and quilting party. It was there that James met Miss Peggy Roarer, a handsome young lady — four years older than his age. He described her as tall, and her complexion resembled a turkey egg — a hue of which he was a great admirer.
It was night and the log rolling and quilting was over for the day, when the yard was cleared, the fiddlers started and the dancing began full blast. James was standing against a large tree, too bashful to go nearer to the dancing. Miss Peggy, who sat on the end of a bench, observed him and made room and asked him to sit down. After some small talk and exchange of names, Miss Peggy asked James if he could dance.
He said that he could and had danced to the most popular tunes such as “Dinah Had a Wooden Leg,” “Great Big Tater in the Sandy Land,” “Piney Wood Reel” and Arkansas Traveler.” They danced and talked until late. As everyone was leaving, James told her that he would try to come see her soon, or at least before Christmas which was a month away.
She told him that was so long, and asked if he could come sooner. Bidding each other good-bye they departed, one going 10 miles to the east and the other going 10 miles to the west. He thought to himself... “our tan leather is just about ready and my dressed buckskins are ready to be made into breeches and I can have Ma plait me a new oat straw hat and wash my white cotton coat.”
James decided with his new clothes he would feel the best dressed, and best looking man in the area. True, his naked ankles showed a little, but that didn’t amount to much.
He got the plow gear on their old horse, hitched up the buggy that had been sitting under the trees for 10 months. After working on the buggy with rope and rawhide, he felt he was ready to go courting.
The weather was threatening and a cold norther hit with heavy rain and high winds only a few miles from home. The strong winds soon took away the buggy top, leaving him without any protection, but the thought of Miss Peggy and a good warm supper was consoling.
Nearing the Roarer’s home, he got a glimpse of Miss Peggy and struck the old horse with the whip, wanting to make a great entrance. The horse, never having been struck with a whip, bolted into the yard, running over a hog pen, turned the buggy over, broke two wheels off, throwing James into the mud. The family gathered around as Mr. Roarer poured water over him and washed and scraped off the mud. They all went inside the house, a one story, one room log cabin. On one wall there was a fireplace where the women cooked the meals. Beside the fireplace were shelves where cooking utensils, skillets, coffee pots, etc., were kept.
James was seated on one side of the fireplace and Mr. Roamer sat on the other, while Miss Peggy and her mother cooked supper. James was a bashful boy, and to make himself relax he began fumbling at the end of an old long handled frying pan, sticking his finger through the hole in the handle. Suddenly, he found his finger stuck in over the joint. The mother finally announced supper was ready, but James couldn’t move with the frying pan hanging from his finger, so he just said he wasn’t hungry and remained by the fireplace. While the family was eating James decided he had to get free of the pan, and with a determined twist, cutting off some of the skin, he was free.
Time passed and finally the little boy, and the two older people went to bed, leaving Miss Peggy and James at the fireplace, all in the same room. Finally, Miss Peggy said she was going to bed, and that James could sleep in the back room, at the same time opening the back door, and pointing to a little log house some 50 yards distant. She told him he would find a bed in that room. James found the room had been built as a corn crib with logs, leaving large cracks in the walls. It was becoming very cold. James removed his cotton coat, hat, shoes and still damp buckskin breeches. Thinking to seal out some of the cold, he stuck his breeches into a large crack near his head.
The next morning he reached for his pants, but to his dismay, the pants were gone. He ran around the small hut but discovered what remained of his breeches, a few pieces of buckskin and a couple of buttons. The breeches had been chewed up by the cows.
Mr. Raomer came to the hut, but when James told him what had happened he left and got a pair of his breeches for him to wear. James was tall and slim, weighing only 120 pounds. Mr. Roamer was very tall and weighed about 260 pounds so the pants were not a good fit. James and Mr. Roamer entered the house just as Miss Peggy and her mother entered the back door with two large buckets of milk.
At that time a traveler on horseback was passing in front of the house, causing the dogs to begin barking so Roamers all went into the yard to talk with the man. Being left alone and nearly famished, James raised one of the buckets of milk and began drinking. At that moment the handle on the bucket slipped causing James to drop the bucket over his head. James fell over a chair, turned over the table and spilled the other bucket on the floor.
Mr. Roamer, hearing the commotion, ran back into the house, yelling, “What the hell are you doing?” James ran out the front door, jumped the fence, mounted “Old Charlie” and left, leaving the wrecked buggy, never stopping until he reached home. He never went back.
Years later Colonel James Carr retired from the Ranger duty and moved to San Antonio.