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The legacies we leave
Written by Editor   
Monday, 12 March 2007 18:03

A woman found her grandfathers diary and self-published it in an obscure little book a century later. The man was twenty when he began chronicling his adventures. He has long since passed but his words remain, reminding us that even words scribbled in a book by the light of a campfire can continue beyond the one who wrote them.

"I hope to keep this little diary going for at least the next few years. [...] I will have to earn some money to buy a horse and saddle, and a grubstake for the trip. I plan to head for the big cattle ranches in West Texas." -- January 7, 1887

"Today I drew my last pay from Mr. Hill. It came to 30 dollars. Jay is ready, so we leave tomorrow. [...] I have a bedroll of two old blankets ready, and a slab of bacon, some flour and coffee. Guess that will hold us until we get a job somewhere." -- March 6, 1887

"Last night we woke up to the sound of a woman screaming, but as we had both heard that sound before, we knew it was a panther. [...] It took us some time to get back to sleep. The moon was bright as day, and we both felt a little spooky." -- March 10, 1887

"Jay killed a rattler this afternoon. He sure was in a fighting mood. The boss said there are lots of them around here, but this one must have been hungry, as it is a little early for them. We will keep our eyes good and open from now on." -- March 21, 1887

"We talked to one old buffalo hunter who told us some wild tales of how even the houses in Fort Griffin were made of hides in the old days. He said the town was full of buffalo hunters, soldiers, Indians and cowboys. [...] Camped tonight on the edge of town as we cannot spend a dollar a day for a room." -- March 27, 1887

"[E]ach time I passed a certain sumach thicket my horse would shy, and the last time I passed the herd was standing looking that way. I didnt think then what it could mean, but I had ridden only about 50 yards when a panther jumped out and attacked a cow." -- September 22, 1887

"[A]n Indian died in an Indian village near here, and all night long they yelled. One of the boys tried to get up a firing squad to go shoot them. [...] Upon opening it we found a dead Indian sitting up in a corner. A possum was eating the reamins. Well, no more possum for me!" -- October 26, 1887

"Well, Dear Diary, this job is quite different from trail driving, but I am going to stay with it until spring, and then go back to work for the Spurs." -- December 27, 1887

-- Diary of a Texas Cowboy, McFall-Nugent, 1989

When putting pen to parchment--or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be--we (being the universal we) rarely consider how our words might look to future audiences. So caught up in the present day, we may rant and rave about this current event or that, as we hammer away at the fluid fiction that is our lives. The man who penned the above passages passed away in 1939. Yet his story remains, to be handed down from generation to generation. And while the road he traveled may seem bland to some, it captures the essence of one mans journey through a seemingly much simpler time.

I only wonder, will tomorrows children say the same of our journeys?

 

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