James David Herod
“Rock of ages cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee”…. They came from a place near Ft. Smith, Arkansas, singing all the way. These were my ancestors, the Herods. My great-grandfather, Joseph Herod, his wife Manda, and their seven children, made the long trip to Texas in 1865. Among these brave, dedicated pioneers was my grandfather, James David Herod. Born in 1858, my grandfather was of Dutch-Irish descent. He was seven years old when he \eh Arkansas. I was told that they suffered many hardships during the trip. They came by wagon train, in covered wagons drawn by horses and oxen. The Indians were quite tame at the time and the family was not attacked. Yet some of their precious possessions were stolen during the trip. When they stopped to make camp, horses, blanket, and food were often taken during the night. The most important possession that the family owned survived the long, hard journey. This was great-grandfather’s fiddle. The Herod family chose to come toTexas because other relatives had come before them. The rich East Texas soil was fine for growing crops and the land was plentiful. There my grandfather remained for the rest of his life. On December 12, 1878, grandfather wed a pretty little Texas girl named Mattie H. Lively. They began to farm a section of the family property, raising cotton, corn, peas, and children. Eleven children were born to my grandparents, my father being sixth in line. I was told that my grandfather was quite tall, being a little over six feet. His body was strong and his hands were massive. He had striking features such as cool gray eyes, the color of some vast ocean. In the fashion of the day, he wore a well-groomed handlebar mustache. He was a quiet man, never having much to say, but he loved music. He had a strong bass voice and played the fiddle with great enthusiasm. In 1905 he purchased a brand new pump organ. His girls learned to play that old organ and would second to the tune of the fiddle. They would spend hours on Sunday afternoon playing songs such as ‘Turkey in the Straw’ and ‘Go Tell Aunt Nancy’. In the quiet moments, grandfather and the girls would sing love songs such as: “There’s a light shining’ bright, In the middle of the night, Somebody waiting’ for me.” Grandfather’s farm was located about a mile from the little town of Grapeland. The house was one large room with a side room built on. Grandpa had the kitchen built in town, and then had it moved out to the farm. It was not attached to the main house; for fear that it would accidently catch on fire. The family attended a little country church called Oak Grove Baptist. Hardly a Sunday went by that Grandpa didn’t herd his brood into the wagon, and drive down the road to church. One summer, a Church of Christpreacher held a revival at the little church. The whole family was converted. From then on, most of the Herods became Church ofChrist members and still are. In 1937, grandfather and Grandmother Herod retired from the farm. They moved to town to live with their youngest son Jim. About a year later grandmother Herod suddenly took ill and died March 9, 1938. Grandfather could neither read nor write until he married my grandmother. Grandmother gave him what little education he had, yet he was very intelligent in other ways. Uncle Jim had brought an elegant RCA Victor radio in 1938. Grandpa would sit for hours listening to programs such Young’s Family’. As he listened, he would stare directly into the radio. The grandchildren would ask him what he was doing.’ I’m a-watching’ the story’, he would answer. Some people say that he had sort of a premonition about the future because television had not yet been invented. After a short illness, my grandfather died on October 1, 1942. He was laid to rest at the side of my grandmother in a Grapeland cemetery. My father, Otis Elmo Herod, was born January 9, 1896. I was told that he was sort of puny as a child. When Dad was just a toddler, he took pneumonia and this left him in a weakened condition. When he grew stronger, my father attended a one room schoolhouse at Oak Grove community. He had the usual chores to do, such as milk the cow, draw water, and work the fields. He would often hire out to neighboring farms for extra spending money. It was not unusual for him to work all day in a hot field for fifty cents. When the children grew older, Grandpa Herod sent them all to singing school.
My father attended once a week and developed a fine tenor voice. At the age of fourteen, my father began to play Grandpa’s old fiddle. In his spare moments, Dad would get the fiddle down off the mantle and practice. He began to play at local get-togethers and barn dances and developed quite a talent for fiddle playing. On warm summer nights the local population would spring alive as he tuned up and prepared to play. He played songs such as “Hop Around Ladies, Your Cake’s all Dough” and “Pretty Little Redwing.” Even as a young man, Dad was quiet. Like Grandpa, he never had much to say. If something was bothering him, he would take it out on the fiddle. I was told that if my father was happy, he stood in the middle of the room, sawing the fiddle, with his foot tapping time to the music. If he was worried, he would sit in the corner, playing some haunting melody. When the other children grew up and left home, Dad stayed to help work the family farm. Grandpa had two fine mules named Spot and Little Un’. Dad would load the wagon with corn and old Spot and Little Un’ would haul it to the grist mill. They also hauled many loads of cotton to the local gin. When World War I broke out, my father was drafted into the army. He was twenty-four years old at the time. With no military training, my father was sent directly to the German front. Dad was stationed at Grah, Germany and was in active duty for about one year. He was then known as PFC Otis E. Herod, CO E 360 Infantry. After being wounded in the heel by machine gun fire, Dad returned home in 1919. He continued to work the family farm with his father. After the war, Dad became very popular with the local female population. His striking good looks and quiet personality drew girls to him like a magnet. One hot night, his infant niece lay dying in a near-by community. He went to help out, and there he met a dark haired beauty named Effie Irene Estelle. After a long engagement, they were married September 2, 1922. Shortly after their marriage, Dad and Mom moved to Greenville, Texas, to open a cafe. After about a year, they grew homesick and moved back to the family farm in Grapeland. He purchased parcels of land owned by his older brothers and sisters. Like his father before him, my father settled down to raise cotton, corn and kids. Eight children were born to my father and mother, I being the last in line. After Dad bought his farm, he yearned to play the fiddle again. Since Grandpa still played the old family fiddle, Dad bought one of his own. Uncle Tuse Lively sold Dad our family fiddle. Uncle Tuse was my grandmother’s brother and world champion fiddler thirty-nine times. Dad paid fifteen dollars for the fiddle and it was considered an antique even then. From then on, Dad played at family reunions and church socials until he became too ill to play. Mother had a lovely alto voice, and I can remember when she and Dad sang together. They mostly sang church songs, but sometimes they would sing old World War I ballads such as “Smile a While” and “Keep the Home fires burning.” Being farm folks, the depression didn’t affect my parents very much. Well, they didn’t have any money, but there was plenty to eat. When Franklin Roosevelt was president, the government took over. City people were hired to can farm produce. Dad got three-fourths of the produce and the government got one-fourth. This helped to feed the hungry people in theUnited States. Dad once said that Franklin Roosevelt was the greatest president in history. In 1940, Dad bought a little grocery store in Grapeland. About three years later he sold the farm and built a new house in town. He was a Grapeland merchant twenty years before he retired. After Dad’s retirement, he began to get sick. He developed Parkinson’s disease. The family managed to take care of him at home for five years. He spent the last three years of his life in a Crockett nursing home. He passed away November 7, 1972, and is buried a few steps from his father and mother in the same cemetery. On November 22, 1946, a chubby, red-faced girl child was born. I was christened Cynthia Ann. My early childhood was a bit lonely because most of my other sisters and brothers were grown and had left home. When I was born, our family owned a huge upright piano. I was told that at the age of two, I crawled upon the bench and began to play. My mother said that she actually recognized the tune I was playing. It was an old church hymn. Since I had been going to the local Church of Christ three times weekly, it was probably the only music I knew. Mother also said that I could hum a tune before I could talk. By the time I was four, I could sing soprano, tenor, and alto. This was really not surprising to the family, because all of my sisters and brothers can sing and play musical instruments. By the time I came along, Dad had just about quit playing the fiddle. Even before his retirement, his hands had begun to shake. On special occasions, he would get the old fiddle down from the closet shelf and play a couple of tunes. These are some of my fondest memories of early childhood. I attended Grammer school and then high school in Grapeland. During my high school days, I entered two different talent contests. I won first place both times. My singing and piano playing ability gave me a sense of pride during my adolescent years. After school, I married my childhood sweetheart, James F Weisinger, on April 16, 1965. Soon after my marriage, we moved toLufkin, Texas, for about one year. Our little girl, Mira Michelle, was born August 11, 1966. Soon after she was born, we came toDallas in search of a better future. On August 14, 1982, our only child married Ronald Longoria of Dallas. James, my husband, works for the Texas Highway Department and I am struggling for a degree in Child Development. My husband and I think of Dallas as our temporary home even though we’ve lived here for almost sixteen years. Our real home is Grapeland, for James was also born there. My family history is built around music, the church, and a strong will to survive. My generation is completely different from that of my father and grandfather.
They were a generation of farmers, but I have never lived on a farm. They had little or no formal education, but I’m striving for a college degree. The one thing I have in common with my ancestors is the musical heritage of the Herod family. Music has changed greatly since my father’s time, but at family reunions, we often sing some of the old songs to keep the family traditions alive. To my regret, I never learned to play the fiddle, but I cherish the memory of it. To this day, Dad’s old fiddle hangs on my wall. It is one of my most prized possessions. HEROD FAMILY TREE In the year 1878, James David Herod, son of Joseph and Armanda Herod ofArkansas, met Mattie H. Lively, a pretty little Texas girl, and decided to unite the states by way of Holy Matrimony. On the 12th of December, 1898, they were wed and lived a long and happy life as East Texas Farmers. From this wonderful Christian union came eleven children with their descendents as follows, totaling 49 grand children, 85 great grandchildren, 74 great, great grandchildren, and at his writing (April 1969) 1 great, great, great grandchild., a whopping total of 220 descendents. Mattie H. Lively, born December 28, 1860, the daughter of Thomas Lively and Jane Dotson Lively, died March 9, 1938, at Grapeland, Texas with burial atParker Cemetery in Grapeland, Texas. James David Herod, born February 15, 1858, the son of Joseph and Armanda Herod, died October 1, 1942 at Grapeland with burial at Parker Cemetery in Grapeland, Texas. Born to them: 1. Joseph Thomas Herod-born November 20, 1880; died in infancy. 2. Ada Mae Herod-born July 26, 1882, died September 15, 1964. 3. Jettie A. Herod-born October 16, 1884. 4. Anna Ola Herod-born September 16, 1886, died in infancy. 5. Lydia M. Herod-born June 22, 1888. 6. Una C. Herod-born July 24, 1890. 7. Horace L. Herod-born January 23, 1893, died November 1968, burial Albany, Texas. 8. Otis Elmo Herod-born January 9, 1896. 9. James Oren Herod-born January 8, 1898. 10. Mattie Velera Herod-born August 16, 1900. 11. Hubert F. Herod-born April 10, 1903, died May 8, 1905, CHILDREN OF JIM AND MATTIE HEROD BY FAMILIES: ADA HEROD married Abb Smith, August 15, 1898. (Abb Smith born March 6, 1880, died January 25, 1967). Vinnie Smith Powell-born November 8, 1889, died March 1, 1920. Abbie Smith Wade-born September 17, 1904. Mattie Smith Mitchell-born April 4, 1907. Lessie Smith Nicholas-born November 21, 1909. Alta Smith Irwin-born April 13, 1912. Arlen Smith-born August 14, 1914. Horace Smith-born October 8, 1916. Vena (Dolly) Smith-born October 13, 1920. Dorothy Smith Byers-born October 15, 1921. JETTIE HEROD married Ben T. Masters, April 13, 1902. Elven-born June 20, 1903, deceased. Coborn Masters-born August 22, 1904, wife Zelma. Their children: Cozel, (married Miller Thompson, 4 children), Margie (married Bill Lowery, 3 children). Delmar-born July 18, 1907, deceased. Wife-Sybil, 2 children; son Charles married Jan, 4 children. O.D.-born October 27, 1909, wife Clota, 2 children. (Wanda married James Spykes, 1 child). Travis-born February 8, 1912, wife Opal, 1 child, Gwenda married Bill Gunn, 1 child. Dois-born October 17, 1914, wife Hazel, 2 children. Orage (Dick) -born September 17, 1918, wife Doris, 2 children. Zeffie Ann married Don Parrish, 2 children. Rudolph-born October 22, 1923, wife Juanitie, 2 children. Reed married Sueann, 1 child. LYDIA HEROD married John Henry Bynum, September 3, 1905. (John H. died December 3, 1945). J.D.-born 1906, wife Hazel, 4 children. Clarence-born 1909, wife Lola, 1 child. Opa Lee Bynum-born 1911, wife Jamie, 3 children. Clifton-born 1913, wife Maurine, 6 children. Una Fay-born 1919 died 1919. Louise-born, husband B.A. Hamrick, 5 children. Sybil-born 1922, husband, Everet Parmly, 3 children. Mattie Vera-born 1926, husband Cecil Gee, Ish Talbott, 2 children Mary Doris-born 1932, husband Bill Buehrle, 2 children. UNA HEROD married Robert Montgomery, September 22, 1912. Robert George, Jr.-born July 22, 1913, wife, Nell, 2 children, Pamela and Nancie (married Jerrie Ford, 1 child). Lois-born, husband Coy Clark, 2 children, Patricia (married Joe Fruge, 2 children), Curtis (married Pamla Germaine), Carrole. Lee Elmo-born April 28, 1918, wife Martha, 2 children. Lee, Jr. (married Nelta Porter, 1 child), Gennett (married Dial Cox, 1 child). Oran-born January 5, 1921, wife Lelah, 2 children, Don and Grace. James Thadaus (Pat)-born December 28, 1923, wife Sylvia. Died in World War II,France. Albert Leroyce-born October 26, 1926, wife Ann, 2 children, Raymon, Viccie. Mary Alice-born March 12, 1929, husband Clyde Miller, 2 children, Sue, Marilyn. Viola Zerline-born April 25, 1933, husband Eddie Cummins, 3 children, Charles, Robert, Dufie. HORACE LENORD HEROD married Lillian Evans. Erman-born April 15, 1924, wife Wilda. 3 children, Jack, Jeanne, Jon S. Dell-born February 10, 1926, wife Rosemary, 4 children, Richard, Elizabeth, Martha, Linda. John Earl-born April 24, 1928. Billy Ray Herod-born February 11, 1933, wife Sandra, 3 children, Diana, Steven Ray, Vickie. OTIS ELMO married Effie Estell (b. September 12, 1902), September 2, 1922. Wanda Merie-born June 1923, husband John E. Long. Marceline-born July 13, 1924, husband Tommy Kuykendall, 3 children. Charles Hill-born May 7, 1927, wife Elaine Kirby, 3 children. Nell Ruth-born May 25, 1934, husband James Harrison, 3 children. Otis Carel-born October 7, 1937, husband Eugene Whitt, Jr., 2 children. Jerry L.-born December 23, 1941, wife Cayle, 3 children, Cynthia Ann-born November 22, 1946, husband James Weisinger, 1 child. JAMES OREN married Dorothy Bridges (b. December 16, 1901), December 16, 1920. Rena Maye-born August 14, 1926, husband Darrel Shaver, 2 children, Don and Jana. MATTIE VELERA born August 16, 1900, married Sidney Smith, August 9, 1916. Kenneth Hulan-born March 15, 1921, wife Macaria Sanchez, 2 boys, Ken Jr. (wife Sharron Lewis, 1 daughter, Kesha), and Bruce. Harold Sidney-born September 12, 1924, wife Dorothy Wallette, 3 children, Sherri (married Donald Ray), Roger, Glenn