Friday, December 30, 2011

Living Here

Ruin in Terlingua Ghost town
They can be found nearly everywhere in the region, traces of people's lives who made a place for themselves in our Chihuahuan Desert.  Adobe or stone, they represent the dreams, hard work and determination it takes to live in such wild land.  The ruins remain for us to ponder, to question if we had the stuff to make a life out here.

There are so many stories, too many to relate here.  But consider the story of J.O. Langford, who set out to establish his home and regain his health...he came to Big Bend in 1909.  The National Park's website says this about the Langfords:

"During the early 1900s the motto was “Go West Young Man.” In 1909 J.O. Langford heeded this call and headed for West Texas with his family. He came to this area not to find fame or fortune, but to regain his health. As a child living in Mississippi he had contracted malaria and his reoccurring bouts with this disease ravaged his body. In the lobby of a hotel in Alpine, Texas he heard tales of a spring that would cure anything:

“Stomach trouble, rheumatism, all sorts of skin diseases,” the old man vowed.
“I wonder why it is that I’ve never heard of those springs before. It looks like somebody would have tried to develop them like they’ve done at Hot Springs, Arkansas,” the Mississippian replied.
“Nothing down there but rattlesnakes and bandit Mexicans. And it’s too far away---that damned country promises more and gives less than any place I ever saw,” the old man replied.

After verifying the story with other townspeople, without even looking at the land, J.O. knew he had to have that spring. He rushed to the county surveyor’s office and filed his claim under the Homestead Act. Two weeks later the Langford family received word that the claim was theirs.
The Homestead Act stated that one had to have 3 years of continuous occupancy and $300 in improvements to the land in addition to a minimum bid of $1.50 per acre. Others had filed on this land but no one had been able to meet the requirements of the Act.
With his wife, Bessie, an 18 month old daughter and a baby on the way, the family began an eleven day journey to reach their new home. Today the trip from Alpine takes about 2 hours."

Read more about the Langfords and the establishment of the Hot Spring in Big Bend here.
And here, there's a book called, "Big Bend, a Homesteaders Story."

Click here to read other stories about places in Big Bend. 

We invite you to explore the region, but with a caveat...please respect private property and don't cross fence lines onto other people's land.   That's one of the reasons we champion the stories and the people who have a legacy in what's now state and national parks....they're open for all of us to explore!    

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