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Jimmy Britts

Tails and Trails
- A History of Longview and Surrounding Area
Pages 51-52
-by R. D. Runciman.

Jimmy Britts came from the U.S.A. and homesteaded two and one half miles west of Longview. This land was divided by Bull Creek; the north half was covered with brush and he was 60 years of age when he cleared this brush by hand. His shack was built on a south slope by a spring and was so small that he could light the fire and make coffee in the morning before getting out of bed. The walls were lined with building paper on which he had pencilled verses and pictures, but few survived the years.

Jimmy bought a saddle mare from Tom McMaster, but was never known to ride; this mare had a foal and during a cold spell he kept it in the shack. Then when the flies were bad he would leave the door open so the horses could stand with their heads inside in the shade. He worked at haying and dug wells; once he was away so long that the neighbors began to think he was dead. They were wondering whom to notify and what to do with his possessions; suddenly Jimmy turned up; he had been working north of the River and a rainy spell had raised the river so that he could not get home. Tom McMaster said there were some sheepish expressions when Jimmy said, "I bet you fellows thought I was dead and were wondering what to do with my outfit, and who was going to get what!"

Some of Jimmy's neighbors once got him in a poker game with the hope of cleaning him out; to their surprise he skunked them all. He had about twenty head of cattle, and at round-up time riders had difficulty getting them out of a field known as the brush pile; but he would walk the three miles with little sack of salt, and by giving them an occasional lick they would follow him home.

Jimmy never returned after a trip to the U.S.A., but his shack can be seen at the Bull Creek Ranch. It has served as a school room and is now a tack room. The most fitting epitaph for Jimmy Britts is surely one he pencilled on the wall of his home:

JIMMY BRITTS

Honest man here lies at rest
As ear God with His image blest
The friend of man. The friend of trooth
The friend of age and the guide of Youth
Few hearts like his with virtue warmed

Few heads with knowledge so informed
If there's another world
He lives in bliss
If there's none
He made the best of this.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup