Annual Reunion Sunday to Recall Early Days of Lovejoy Family
Denton Record Chronicle, Saturday May 2, 1942
The annual reunion of descendants of the late John Lemuel Lovejoy, pioneer citizen and Methodist minister of Denton County, will be held in City Park here Sunday, and will be attended by a number of relatives from other cities. Lovejoy settled in Collin County and when Alton was made the county site of Denton County he placed a stock of goods at Alton and the store was operated by the late C. A. Williams who established the present store here in 1884, until he was elected sheriff of Denton County in 1856. Lovejoy later moved to Denton. Mrs. Homer D. Wade of Dallas, one of the descendants who usually attends these reunions, will be unable to be here this year, and has sent to the Record-Chronicle a history of the Lovejoy family to be read at the reunion Sunday. This family history was told to Mrs. Wade by her oldest sister, Mrs. Westbrook who lived in the Lovejoy home for a number of years during her widowhood.
The history follows: John Lemuel Lovejoy was born in Georgia in 1800. Phoebe Aaron, later his wife, was born in Mississippi in 1807. Her father was killed in the battle of New Orleans in 1812. Phoebe was near six years of age when her mother, brothers and sisters she followed "a piece" after the company of soldiers marching to war to the drum-beat of young John Aaron. When they no longer could hear the drum beat, they sadly and wearily turned to their home, never to see the brave young soldier again.
Children "Farmed Out" Phoebe and several of the other Aaron children were "farmed out" to neighbors for their keep. School facilities were limited in those days to children whose families were able to pay tuition and Phoebe went to school only when the other children in the family in which she lived were sick, and she was allowed to attend in their places. Se proved apt and learned to read, write and do "figuring" quite well. She proved a worthy and helpful member of the household, spinning and knitting as well as housekeeping. When she was about 15, a tall Scotchman came riding into the Mississippi Valley from Georgia and won her undying love and loyalty. They were married and she rode on the horse behind him to his home. In 1822 their first son was born and they named him George Washington Lovejoy after his grandfather. About that time John Lemuel became ill of swamp fever, which left him sorely afflicted with inflammatory rheumatism. A friendly Indian told him of some wonderful hot springs across the swamps and high in the mountains that would cure him. The Indians offered to guide him, and after getting food and equipment together the party of four started, the Indian walking the entire way and leading the pack mule laden with bedrolls, Dutch oven, coffee pot, frying pan and foods.
Make Long Journey The couple rode on horseback, Phoebe, a brave and energetic woman, carrying her young son in her lap all the way. On the horn of her side-saddle she hung a sack of wool yarn which she had spun from wool of sheep they had raised. Three months they traveled over Indian trails, through swamps and over mountains, camping at nights in deep, silent forests, slowly but surely winding their way to the "magic waters," the Indian guide keeping them supplied with game and Phoebe preparing the bread and coffee for each meal from the pack mule commissary. As they traveled Phoebe knitted while the baby slept across her lap and grew from a puny, sick infant of three months to a chubby, laughing boy of six months.
At the end of the journey Phoebe had completed 24 pairs of wool socks, attesting her energy and skill. It was a rainy day that brought them to their journey's end but the faithful Indian knew of a small, abandoned hut in the hills that might shelter them from the rain, and to where they went already soaking wet. However, the flour and coffee were dry and early next morning were cooking in the oven and pot while the socks and other wet clothing were drying on bushes in the morning sunshine. Happy were they to have completed the long journey, and filled with hope and faith in the healing power of the boiling springs of water the Indian had told about.
This was in 1823, and the U.S. government was just opening the Hot Springs, Ark, reservation, to which the Indian had led them. A company of surveyors were surveying for a government hospital, a bathing pool and other government buildings. They caught a whiff of the aroma of the coffee and the odor of cooking bread and broiling meat and came trudging through the mud and brush to see whom the newcomers could be. They begged for coffee, paying 10 cents for a tin cup, ate and paid generously for the broiled game. Seeing the socks drying in the sun, they bought the entire lot for 50 cents a pair. When they came back in the evening Phoebe had a fresh gooseberry cobbler, more wild meat, oven baked bread and hot coffee. These men working for Uncle Sam became regular boarders in the Lovejoy family, enabling Phoebe to sustain her family while her husband bathed in the radium-charged waters and completely recovered his health.
The Lovejoys continued to live in Hot Springs until 1835, when tales of Texas, its struggles to free itself from Mexican tyranny lured them across Red River and they became a part of the civil, political and religious life of the vast, unsurpassed empire of Texas.