yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee

A Pleasant Visit - 1903

from the collection of Brenda Kirk Fiddler

November 13, 1903 Lexington Progress

A Pleasant Visit by the Lexington Progress editor, W. V. Barry

We spent from last Saturday evening until Monday morning most pleasantly with our brother G. S. Barry and our good friend Esq. J. Matt Houston near Parsons. Sterling is the only farmer in the Barry family and he is also yet a printer at present doing the mechanical work on the Decatur County News published at Parsons by B. F. Parlow.

While strolling around, taking in the beauty of the day and incidentally picking up scaly bark hickory nuts, which are very abundant, we observed some points of interest on the Houston place. On that part sold by J. M. Houston to the Beech River Phosphate Company, we saw the place where almost excellent grade of the white and pink phosphate is being dug out of the earth. Another old attraction was a sturdy old whiteoak tree, now some 5 feet in diameter, under the wide spreading boughs of which Davy Crockett once made a speech. The cross tie men cast a longing eyes at this valuable tree but Esq. Matt Houston can not be tempted to sell it. This also reminds us that Sam Houston of heroic fame, the first Governor of Texas, was a cousin of John L. Houston, father of our friend, Esq. Matt.

Esq. Houston is a man of but 65 years and has some remarkable characteristics. He has always assured us that he never in his life experienced the sensation of hunger--that he has gone without eating two days in succession and had not changed in his feelings. He rarely sits down to the dinner table and eats but lightly at the other meals. Esq. Houston is a dear lover of good music and a good dog. Not long ago he lost a good hound and got it back minus the tail--a Negro having cut off the dog's tail and buried it under the doorstep to keep the dog from leaving and sure enough the dog now has to be kept tied to keep him from leaving.

While having Esq. Houston for our subject, we must recall a famous shooting match won by him in the 1870s. His opponent was Brans [sic] Moffitt , a left-handed fiddler and rifle shot. It was at Decaturville and on the first match, Moffitt won by half the breath of a grain of wheat. Houston won second and on the third there was put up some $200 in good money. The match was 6 in 11, at 40 yards off hand. Matt Houston just put his first ball in the center of six more on top of it. Moffitt shot all the 11 and drove center but once. Houston shot "Long Tom," a muzzle loader, (16 now used a 100-yard Richardson rifle), which Lem Hare will remember having run against at Perryville--and Esq. Houston shot at a squirrel last Saturday and missed it.

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