Cattlemen Together: the Cains


     The marriage license of William Cain, Jr. and Sarah J. Bailey in Orange County, North Carolina, was dated July 21, 1846. In 1873, the year before Peter Jackson (1823-97) rode his mule to Texas, the couple came with their children from Illinois by train, purchasing wagons and teams in Paris, and moving west. They had four boys and three girls: Frank, Fred, John, Henry, Sis, Anna and Mary. In the fall of ‘74 near Warren the Cains met Peter Jackson and his younger children. They spent a first Christmas together on Caney Creek. Remembering “five kinds of wild meat—rabbit, squirrel, possum...” became a shared tradition of the two families.

    William’s son Fred (1855-1929) married Pete
r’s daughter Nannie (1859-1936); between 1882 and 1901 their nine children were Lula, Jennie, Alva, Alta, Glassie, George, Waldo, Earl, and Elmer. Jennie Cain married John Moore, a son of Lucy Lightfoot Moore, in 1903. She wrote years later to family in Mulberry:

     My dear Margaret & Audry... I got this out of Mama[‘s] Bible so it is all I know.... Mama has said when they came to Texas the 3 little [Jackson] boys Jim, Bill, Mose, were in her care & I know they did all live with she & Papa. Our grand father [William] Cain is buried in Sandy cemetery & they came before the Jacksons.

There were 4 boys & 2 girls....                                                            Fred Cain: “he always rode a white horse”

     The Peter Cornelius Jackson family, without wife and mother, Nancy Jane (1830-74) , entered Mulberry’s story in 1874, from Missouri. Frank, the oldest son, was twenty-four. In 1876 he married Nancy Ann Spencer. Her brother, William Tom, became the first postmaster of “Rosedale” in 1885. Their first two children were born in Mulberry, followed by four additional children born in Arkansas between 1886 and ’97, before the family moved back to Mulberry. Peter Jackson died on September 24, 1897; buried at Mulberry. From family recollections:

     Aunt Jessie recalled the move from Mulberry, Texas, to Wade, Indian Territory, in Bryan County in 1905, when she was eight years old. Her father, Frank Jackson, brought their stock across the Red River on a ferry. Frank had several black slaves [ ! ] at that time. He farmed for awhile, then opened a general merchandise store at Wade and eventually went back to farming.

    Wilbur “Bill” Jackson (b. 1867) never married. He lived with his sister Nannie. Bill Jackson and Fred Cain were cattlemen together.

     Fred operated a ferryboat on the Red River and Uncle Bill operated a saloon on the Texas side. They both got along well with the Indians who crossed over into Texas to trade trinkets and ponies in Ravenna for merchandise. In the summertime they baled hay in Oklahoma (Indian Territory at that time). They camped out most of the time.

    As I have written, Uncle Bill operated a saloon on the Texas side of the Red River. Late one night several men rode up to his establishment on horses. They spent the night, sleeping wherever they could find a quiet corner. Uncle Bill was very nervous, as he had never seen any of the men before and they looked very desperate with cold, steely eyes. He noticed their tied-down guns and hard-ridden horses. Early the next morning, after feeding them biscuits, etc., one of the men called him aside and told him not to tell anyone they had been there. Uncle Bill was greatly relieved when they rode off. A few days later, he found out they were the Jessie James gang.... [Jesse James died in 1882.] In such a wild, unsettled area, it makes one wonder how he lived to be an old man dying peacefully instead of violently.

     One day it came a bad thunderstorm while they were baling hay in Indian Territory. Uncle Bill was struck by lightning. They carried him to a black couple’s house and they nursed him back to health. Later he was engaged to a girl from Ravenna. She and her father went to Bonham to buy her wedding gown. While returning home, the team ran away and she was thrown from the wagon and killed. She is buried in a cemetery near Caney Creek. Mulberry didn’t have a cemetery at the time. Her father buried her in her wedding dress. Uncle Bill never dated another girl.     [from Charlene DaVault’s Kindred Spirits]

Fred and Nannie Cain in Mulberry

with sons George (in hat), Earl and Elmer (right), and daughter Jennie Moore with her four children

     Alva Cain, the first of Fred and Nannie Cain’s five sons and four daughters, was born July 30, 1885. He married Myrtle Bramlett in 1910. As a grandfather, Alva Cain could still point to the house in Mulberry where he was born, remembering when his mother gave up cooking on the fireplace hearth. She was the first to have a wood-burning cookstove. Sometime he had not actually “seen” his stories, but only heard them. A cottonwood still stands beside the road between Mulberry and Ambrose. It seemed he never passed it without telling:

     In those days the road led to Warren. A saloon was beside the tree. Almost always a group of men was there. Horses were tied to a rail, wagons were there. One day a good-looking young man [like Doyle, I will imagine], hardly more than a boy, came to the saloon and went inside. Some of the men watched him and commented on the beautiful horse he rode. He said it was a fine horse. Soon he got back on, and left. It wasn’t long until a group of men rode up. They tied their horses to the rail and went inside. Had anybody seen a young fellow? They described the horse exactly. The men rode off in the same direction, and they all came back together, the young man still riding the beautiful horse. Everybody came outside. Most only watched what happened. The men who brought the young man back, hanged him on that tree. Then they had shovels brought and paid two onlookers to dig his grave. They took the horse.


        photo: Alva and Myrtle Cain on their wedding day

1873: A horse-thief was found hanging to a limb in Parker County, a few days ago.

His name is supposed to be Caro Watson.

Alva also remembered that the plantation owner,

Gideon Smith,

hanged himself “in that barn.”

It was 1891,

when Alva had turned seven.

     Waldo Cain (b. 1895) died in Scotland in 1918 of the influenza epidemic. His body was buried there and, after the war, returned to Mulberry. Hear Georgie Cain: Fred met the train at the depot.

     1917 May 4: (Bonham News) Roustabout Is Still Patriotic.
We’ll Hang Our Harps Upon the Willows and Off to the War Again. It has been the fortune or misfortune since the founding of the American government for every generation to have a war, and we have come out victorious in all of them. Proud America knows no defeat.

     1917 July 24: Young Men of County Drawn. The drawing for the order of service in the National Army which is being recruited by selective draft began in Washington at 9:30 o’clock Friday morning and continued through the day and far into the night. To determine the order of service the numbers were mixed and drawn by blind-folded men who handed them to an announcer who called out the number and it was recorded. Each number drawn called out the man having a like number in each district in the United States. The News will give the names of Fannin county boys in order drawn, with their serial numbers: ... 3505 - Allen Spies, Ravenna...; 3117 - Loyd Rich...; 3498 - Samuel Smith...; 926 - Felix Deupree...; 1517 - Oliver Hyatt...; 2857 - Roy Palmore....

                photo: Wado Cain (left) and Samuel “Son” Bramlett

      1917 August 21: Balance of List of Drafted Men...[from Mulberry including] Chester Hill, Rolan Lee Price, Ira Rosser Wisely, Waldo Cain, Robert Price, Donald C. Parks, Thos. Jackson, Perry Parks, Olif Vaughn, Frank Underwood, Willie Stephenson, John Rich, Samuel Bramlett, John Underwood, Jno. Vaughn, Lusk Dehoney, Howard Lester, Milton Sanford, Loyd L. Nipper, Alsie L. Nipper, Henderson Gentry, Oscar Blankenship....

        1917 August 24: [and Roustabout writes again] Judging from the reading of the daily papers the English, French, Italians and others will have the Hohenzollerns, Hapsburgs and the Kaiser whipped and canned before the Sammie boys and Old Glory will ever get a taste of the grandeur or glory of battle. Hurry up boys or you will lose your chance for honor and fame.... Last Wednesday we made a trip down through the valley farms to Red River.

            photo: Gravestone in Mulberry cemetery

       Elmer, the youngest son of Fred and Nannie Cain (b. 1901), became the father of “Doyle and Dwight,” who frequently rode with my father to see about the cows. Doyle died against the north abutment of a bridge that crosses Timber Creek north of Bonham, on February 6, 1968. His brother Dwight survived. I was working in London.     

        Cain’s death was the second traffic fatality in Fannin county for 1968.
Highway Patrolman Dwayne Cox, who investigated, said Dwight Cain was driving south on State 78 when the car swerved off the pavement onto the shoulder and crashed into the bridge. Patrolman Cox said Cain apparently was thrown into the windshield by the force of the collision. Cain’s father, Elmer Cain, a former Bonham policeman, was fatally injured in a traffic accident near Lake Tawakoni several years ago.... Doyle Cain, an employee of the Bonham Livestock Commission Co., live with his mother, Mrs. Grace Cain at 249 Victory in Bonham. He was born Oct. 12, 1931 in Mulberry.... (Bonham Daily Favorite)

     In Memoriam.... Written with lots of love for [one] whom I consider a very strong, wonderful woman (Mrs. Grace Cain) [by] Your friend, Ileene Eason:

     When tragedy strikes a family/ Twice in the very same way,/ “It’s hard to understand it.”/ That’s the least that we can say/ ...When you see the grief of the Mother/ With the loved ones gathered near/ It makes you realize more clearly/ That her children are very dear/ ...As the years of adulthood came/ And they went out on their own/ A lot of things have changed/ But Mother was still at home./ Waiting, watching and praying/ As the days went one by one/ That only good things would happen/ To her daughter and her sons./ As Doyle shaved and promised that morning/ “Mother, I’ll see you tonight.”/ And prepared to go to the sales barn/ There was no hint of horror in sight,/ But in the wee hours of the morni
ng/ ...As death was stalking the highway/ Shortly after midnight/ ...Just how the accident happened/ We probably will never know./ The family can’t understand it./ It came with a shocking blow./ As time heals some of the heartache/ And part of the pain is gone,/ With smiles and tears/ You’ll cherish the years/ When all the family was home/ ...To all Doyle’s friends and family/ We share their earthly grief/ But only God, in a time like this,/ Can give your soul relief.

photo: Elmer and Grace Cain, with son Dwight

Alva Cain’s place in Mulberry

(about 1975)


Fred Cain in Missouri photo (offered for sale online in 2014)