It was on August 1, 1900 that Arch Bickle and Abner Todd, along with their families left Stone County, Arkansas and arrived 18 days later in Garland, Texas to make their home. These men were first cousins.
Mr. Arch Bickle, his wife Roxie (Gaylor) Bickle, Allie, age 2, and Joe Bickle, the baby, had one covered wagon. His mother was Aunt Nan Bickle, sister of Frances Elmira Haynes Todd.
Abner Newton Todd was born 1854 in Stone County, Arkansas. He marriede Almeda Elliott. They were bringing to Texas nine children in two covered wagons loaded with their possessions. One wagon was bought new for the trip and one he had made in his shop. The home-made wagon was made from green oak timber from the homestead. As the lumber had not been seasoned, it began to get loose and at night water was carried and poured on the wheels hoping they would swell and tighten up. It seemed as though they might fall apart.
Riding with the wagons was Barney Haynes, a 19 year old cousin, son of Noah Haynes. He was the hunter for the trip. Another rider was Craig Futrell who stayed in Garland for a few years, engaged in the photography business.
On leaving Mountain View, Arkansas they crossed Sylamore Creek (part of the White River) on a ferry near Calico Rock. The first day, they covered 30 miles and were as far as Clinton, then 14 miles to Scotland, 20 miles to Appleton and 21 miles to Russellville where they crossed the Arkansas River on a bridge and only made 3 miles that day, stopping at Dardanelle.
One day, Arch Bickle lost his dog which had been trotting alongside the wagons; Mr. Bickle rode back 10 miles and found the dog at the campsite of the night before.
The homemade wagon gave trouble. Abner Todd was uneasy about it. After the 59 miles to Magazine, he came the next day to Booneville and bought a new wagon. He left his homemade one to be sold. The spokes for the wheels had been shaped with a draw knife. A straight bar of steel bought and heated in the forge and shaped into an iron bank, one for each of the 4 wheels and welded together. He never received any money for his wagon he had left at Booneville.
Mr. Bickle lead the way with his wagon. The mules had never seen a train. As they came into Booneville and saw parked box cars on the tracks, Mr. Bickle started across the tracks. When the mules reached the tracks, a switch engine was coming and the frightened mules reared up in the air and bawled like a cow. They ran backwards and backed the wagon away from the tracks. If they had gone forward the wagon would have been hit. It was carrying Arch, Roxie, Allie and baby Joe.
Abner Todd had a 160 acre farm, a house, barn, a well and a blacksmith shop. It was a homestead; it was yours after you lived on the land 5 years. There was no sale made on the land. He sold the crop, his 20 head of cattle, 20-30 head of sheep and 50 head of hogs before leaving. Later he did sell the farm, sight unseen, for $500 to a Mr. Panther who lived on Mud Lane. He paid this $500 by gathering a cotton crop and giving Abner Todd his team of mules. They went to a Lawyer in Garland to prepare for the transfer of the 160 acres from Abner Todd to Mr. Panther. Later on, one of the Gaylors bought the place.
On the 8th day, they moved from Booneville to Mansfield, 21 miles; 9th day 12 miles to Hartford with was the last Arkansas town. The 10th day, they crossed into Indian Territory and came to Read Oak for 22 miles that day. This area was noted as a hideout for outlaws and a watch was set for each night that they were in Indian Territory.
The 11th day, they came to Wister Junction; the 12th day 22 miles to Wilberton. One night along the way they spent with a family named Lynn. The women spent all the next day visiting and washing clothes.
After crossing the Red River, probably at Bells, they were in Texas and did not set their guard at night. The first jack rabbits they had ever seen were around the southern part of Indian Territory. The rabbits were in droves; they ran in all directions. Barney shot some with his Uncle Abner’s gun.
A stop was made at Whitewright, Texas for a visit with the John Todd family. He was a first cousin, also from Tennessee. At the John Todd farm they saw a steam thrasher at work in the wheat field. A big boiler was belching steam in the hot August sun.
It was a hot dusty trip of 18 days. They slept outside at night to be as cool as possible. They brought a milk cow along on the trip, brought food they had raised in Arkansas and purchased some supplies along the way.
Mr. and Mrs. Conner lived at Garland and the group came to their place and camped in the yard. The Todd family lived in a tent the first winter here. It snowed while they lived in the tent. Jeff Todd was 5 years old when they came. He had his 7th birthday, while living in the tent.
Abner Newton Todd, the son of Walker Everett and Frances Elmira (Elvira) Haynes, died on October 13, 1904, from a gunshot wound. Almeda (sometimes written as Alameda) went on to raise their twelve children and became a very successful farmer and business woman, leaving all the children a nice inheritance when she died on May 14, 1935. She never remarried.
Photo: Back row: Thomas Jefferson, Margaret, Albert, Zula, James Monroe Walker, Elizabeth. Front row: Lee, Clara, Abner, Almeda, Bertha Mae (sitting in lap), Myrtie. Lee, the oldest son was absent.
Courtesy Andrea Musgrove Perisho for her family stories blog.