Picnic to Honor Murdered Settler
When James Loving decided to leave Kentucky for the Three Forks of the Trinity in 1843, he had in mind free rich land and great navigated rivers. He did not know he and his brother Oliver would be murdered.
Neither did he know that 108 years afterward on August 11, many of his 350 descendants would gather at a manicured lake where he knew a tangled forest on a creek called White Rock. And that they would picnic on public tables in a county of 600,000 where he was called the sixteenth settler, and that a great-granddaughter, Mrs. James W. Cullar, would tell of his trip into the unknown.
Early in 1843, according to Mrs. Cullar, tall, red-haired James Loving, 33, and his slaves built a flatboat, loaded it with ax, skillet, pot, silverware, wood spindle bedstead, featherbed, Seth Thomas clock, spinning wheel and loom, chest of drawers, cannonball rifle and a cap and ball pistol. Then Loving, his wife, two sons and four slaves started on the long journey.
Down the Ohio and Mississippi they floated and of course the youngest boy, Henry Loving had to fall into the river. But when he came up his father grabbed him by the hair.
They reached New Orleans and went to Shreveport, probably by steamer, there bought oxen and wagons and set out for Texas. First they stopped in Lamar County and he and his brother Oliver put in a corn crop. Later they headed for the Three Forks of the Trinity in what was then Nacogdoches County. Two miles east of what is now Rose Hill, Dallas County, James liked the flat, black acres of hip-high grass bordering Rowlett Creek which would provide fuel (tall timbers). So he accepted from Mercer’s Colony 640 acres-for nothing.
They lived in their wagons, cut timber, built a log house, split logs for puncheon floors and made a chimney from rock mortared with clay. Jones Loving planted his corn, Missouri style. He slashed with an ax sod burned clear of grass, dropped in a grain and closed the gash with his foot. Later he kept down weeds with a plow made of a fork of bois d’arc tree and harness of buffalo hide.
There were no mills and the Lovings pounded corn in a mortar for meal. Sweetening was wild honey from bee trees. Meat was no problem, for Rowlett Creek and East Fork were full of fish and there were wild turkeys and deer everywhere. In fact, later when the handful of huts fifteen miles west called Dallas grew numerous enough James Loving sold jerked venison at 3 cents a pound.
A garden fenced with brush provided vegetables. Plentiful were wild fruits such as persimmons, dewberries, plums and haws and they were there for the gathering hickory nuts, black walnuts and pecans.
Their water came from Rowlett creek a quarter mile away, causing Margaret Loving to say if she had 1,000 acres of land she would give 900 for a well. So in time James Loving built one and lined it with rock, a well that furnishes water to this day (1951).
About a mile from the Loving home was a bare place where not even grass grew and to it were many trails. To it the Lovings took a pot, boiled water and earth and got their salt-from a salt lick.
The Republic of Texas joined the United States and the legislature created Dallas County and James Loving purchased more land.
Oliver Loving moved to what is now Plano, began freighting, drove cattle overland to Illinois in 1858 and Colorado in 1860, the first man to do so. In 1861 two boys of James Loving went off to war, Oliver Loving supplied cattle for the Confederacy, James was a commissioner to see the women had planting seed and supplies.
After the war Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight drove cattle up the Pecos into New Mexico. In the summer of 1867 Loving and one-armed Bill Wilson, ahead of the herd, were attacked by Comanches in what is now Loving County. Loving died of his wounds.
James Loving of Dallas County didn’t know it, but his big, smart, beautiful bay horse which easily carried Loving’s more than 200 pounds would be the cause of his death. The horse was on land adjoining that of a tough named Parker, suspected of rustling and banditry. Parker started using the same JL brand as Loving and claimed the horse.
On August 12, 1869, James Loving dressed in his best homespun to ride to Dallas on business. Behind the barn his oldest son, Willis, was feeding stock when Parker and several toughs covered him. Keep quiet or die, they said.
In a few moments James Loving came toward the barn. Parker leveled a shotgun. Loving went for his pistol. The shotgun roared, Loving died.
Parker’s gang held guns on the family to give Parker a chance to escape. Susan Parker, 16, said “I’m not afraid of you,” and ran to the house of Silas Bryant. A posse was organized and set out. Near McKinney they were told Parker’s gang had deserted him because he had white swelling in the leg and couldn’t keep up and Parker had killed himself.
Eighty-two years after the sixteenth settler of Dallas County was murdered for a horse and buried in a winding sheet across the road from what is now J. L. Anderson’s store east of Rose Hill, many of his descendants will picnic Saturday at a manicured lake where James Loving knew a tangled forest.
At that picnic will be grandchildren who still own a portion of that original head-right: Minnie Loving Anderson, Sula Loving Clark, Cora Loving Shipley and Marvin Loving who also lives on it.
Back of Marvin Loving’s home runs no animal path James Loving might have known, no trail, no wagon ruts he followed, but something that proves how correct was his vision- Superhighway 67.
By Kenneth Foree, Reporter, Aug. 8, 1951, Large clipping, newspaper unknown. (Mr. Foree was outdoor editor for the Dallas News at one time.)