by Carla Pommert-Cherry, Lifestyles Editor
Hood County News dated November 30, 1991
Early pioneer women had to be as tough as the men, sometimes tougher. Arminda Barton was no exception. Born Oct. 11, 1858 in Cherokee County, Ga., she came with her parents to Hood County in 1873. The family lived near Stockton Bend north of Granbury.
She fought Indians, bore seven children and tended her crops by herself. Her husband was often away.
Arminda is the grandmother of Pauline Holton, 73, of Granbury. Over the years, Holton heard many of her grandmother’s tales of hardship.
Arminda married Ely Morris on June 8, 1875, in Hood County. They were the parents of one daughter, Alice, who died of pneumonia at the age of 10.
Following Morris’ death, Arminda married her second husband, William Jarrett Robertson, on May 18, 1879. He was a lumberman. It was a second marriage for him as well. His first wife, Sally, had died. He had a son, Albert, from his first marriage.
The Arminda-William union produced six more children. During the early years of their marriage, the Robertsons lived near Comanche Peak. “They lived in a one room log cabin with a dirt floor,” Holton said. “Grandma used to cry about that dirt floor. She had been raised a lady in a big old Georgia mansion.”
BATTLING THE INDIANS
According to a book of genealogical history on the Robertsons, the marriage of Arminda to William Robertson was not a very successful one and they did not live together for several years. Therefore, it was not uncommon for Arminda [to be] home alone with her children.
“The Indians were so thick at Comanche Peak she had to work her crops at night. Grandma would lock her children in the cabin and work her farm by moonlight so the Indians wouldn’t see her,” Holton said.
Arminda was a quick thinking woman. One day when she had just finished raking up the coals from the fireplace where she cooked, she heard something near the window. She looked up and there was an Indian with his leg hung over the window watching her. She threw the hot coals on the intruder and caught his clothes on fire. The man left and did not return. “I guess he thought she was vicious,” Holton observed.
In another story, Holton relates how her grandmother cured a man from a rattlesnake bite by killing a chicken and letting the man put his hand inside the chicken’s still warm body. “She said that chicken’s body turned black,” Holton recalled. “The beating of that chicken’s heart sucked that poison out, I guess.”
Eventually, when Mr. Robertson got a job at the (cottenseed) oil mill, the family moved to Granbury. Their new home was built on the Travis Street property belonging to Arminda’s father-in-law, Joseph Wilkins. An ox-drawn wagon hauled the lumber from Cleburne. The house still stands across the street from the Hood County Library.
Some of the furniture, including a bedroom suite, was made by Mr. Wilkins who was a furniture maker.
Once when Holton was in high school she saw a show about Jesse James and told her grandmother how good-looking she thought he was. Her grandmother said that wasn’t so. “He spent the night out there with them once. Grandma said he was the ugliest man she ever saw. She said he had wart-like lumps all over his face,” Holton noted.
In another instance, Holton remembers seeing a large dead eagle tied to a tree and commenting on its beauty. Arminda disagreed. She said when she lived in the country, eagles would carry off kid goats and once even swooped down, grabbed the 1 1/2-year-old son of a neighbor and carried him off. He was never found.
One of Holton’s earliest memories of her grandmother is when Holton’s brother was born. “She and Aunt Nellie came out to visit. I was out in the yard playing. They had a great big gray suit box. Later, when I went in the house, I had a new brother and I thought Grandma and Aunt Nellie had brought him in that suit box.”
Holton said her grandmother never forgot her early lessons in how to be a proper Southerner. “She was a lady and she wore her gloves, her hat, her hose and her girdle everywhere she went,” Holton explained.
“She had a code of behavior. One of my aunt’s friends liked to whistle. Grandma had a saying ‘Whistling girls and crowing hens always come to some bad end.'”
CIVIL WAR EXPERIENCES
Arminda was a young child during the Civil War and often related her memories of things that happened to her family during the war. Before coming to Texas, the Barton family lived near Marietta, Ga., the area of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain about 25 miles north of Atlanta.
Arminda’s family left Georgia because their home was ruined during the Civil War. According to Holton, when General Robert Sherman’s Army came through Georgia, Union soldiers took all of the Barton’s personal property and tore up the floors of their home looking for food, which they didn’t find.
Arminda’s resourceful mother had outwitted the men by burying a ham and bacon in the mountainside. There, too, she buried a gray Confederate uniform she was making for her husband.
According to Holton, Arminda said that “Gone With the Wind” was a remarkably true description of the experiences near Marietta. But she added that Scarlett O’Hara did not dig up a carrot and eat it. It was a turnip.
All six of the Robertson children were born in Hood County. They were Bert, William Kennon, Jesse, Carl, Thomas, and Nellie Gray.
Two of them became attorneys. One, Nellie Gray Robertston, was the first woman to hold the position of Hood County District Clerk. In 1925, Nellie was appointed Special Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court by Governor Pat Neff. It turned out that, under the Texas Constitution, she was too young to serve in that special capacity. However, by special arrangement she was allowed to preside over one trial, so she could say that she had served as Chief Justice.
Arminda lived 99 years. She died July 13, 1957 in her Granbury home. Even in her later years, she actively took care of herself and her home. She is buried in the Granbury Cemetery.