This serial story is an alternative view of actual Texas history. Created with fiction, this six-installment series will reveal an imagined view of the early days in East Texas and the grit and vision of Longview’s founding family, Margaret and O.H. Methvin.
May 1, 1842
Margaret Methvin plunged a staff into the thick, sour milk, plotting her future with each up and down stroke. Her shoulders ached from churning as her mind spun thoughts — swapping between revenge and justification with each creamy splatter. Reaching into the churn, she pulled about 6 pounds of butter from the liquid remaining. Enough for the week, but not enough to lessen the shame of nearly exposing a revolutionary network to the speculation of the enemy. Thankfully, Sam Houston freed her from jail before recruiting local men to join him in the march on General Santa Anna. What he couldn’t give back was her security.
Since her incarceration, Margaret had avoided anyone whispering rebellion. She wouldn’t even walk by the postmaster’s house for fear someone would raise the alarm she traded secrets
with travelers. Neighbors shunned her, and even those coming to her father-in-law’s wagon shop didn’t make eye contact.
If it weren’t for the vows she’d made to O.H., she might have packed the boys and ran back to New Orleans. But, God help her, she loved that man. And she’d stay. Though living behind this pine curtain had to be negotiable. Wiping sticky hands on her apron, she dreamed of a house with a view of wide open spaces.
The whinnying of O.H.’s horse broke apart her thoughts as she watched her husband saddle his horse. “Going somewhere?” she asked, approaching the barn.
“I can’t stand it, Meggie. I’m riding to Jacksonville and hear firsthand if the Texans have won this revolution.”
Yesterday’s headlines consumed today’s conversations. “It’s killing you to think you couldn’t fight. With your injuries.”
“Yes.” Checking the cinch was snug, he glanced at her. “How am I supposed to make a difference stuck here with old men and rejects?”
She could think a whole list of ways. Removing her bonnet, she scratched at the hair growing back after the wagon accident. “You convinced Houston to rally the locals to finish the task. What more do you want?”
“My rifle is itchy. I want to be on a front line.”
Margaret weighed the dreaded words. Weeks ago, she’d appealed to his dream of farming land — which he couldn’t do if shot full of holes. If she and the children weren’t enough motivation to stay out of the fray, she didn’t know what else would work.
“Go.” She’d sooner stop the wind. “But you’d better come back. You hear me? Don’t you leave me a widow.”
Ossamus Hitch Methvin grabbed her by the shoulders and kissed her full on the lips. “You’re about the bossiest woman I ever have met.”
A smile trembled around her mouth. “If that’s your goodbye, it could use some polish.”
He kissed her again, then struggled onto his horse. “I’ll be back by the end of the week. I promised to help my father with the new orders.”
Watching dust trail him from the yard, she prayed he’d snag the attention of guardian angels. He would need all the help he could get.
Alexander ran through the yard, chasing a cat. His squeals couldn’t lift her mind from the mire, so she’d tackle the next task on her list. Plucking a chicken and soaking it in leftover buttermilk would guarantee one good meal until O.H. returned.
Clangs of iron from the workshop irritated her nerves as she walked behind the barn toward the coop filled with squawking birds. Three men, wearing dirt-stained shirts, oil-streaked pants, and bandannas over their faces, hid just inside the woods.
Heartbeats rang loud between her ears.
Scanning the space, she knew Richard Methvin was in his shop with two apprentices, and his wife was in the cabin feeding the baby. Alexander, she’d pray, was somewhere far, far away. And O.H.? Well, he’d be halfway to town by now. She was on her own with these dead-eyed men.
“We got nothing here,” she yelled. “You all scoot. Go away.”
“Meaning no disrespect, but we’re not leaving without a prize.”
Margaret stuffed her hands into the deep pockets of her skirt. “I’ll let you help yourself to the chickens, but that’s it.”
“Hand over the purse.” The tallest one spoke. “We know the wagonmaker has cash.”
“The purse?” She surveyed the tall pines behind the crooks wishing there was more visibility from the road. “Mr. Methvin doesn’t trust anyone with cash, and he’s not here.”
The men glanced at each other, laughing at her boldness.
The tallest one slid his gaze from her short hair to her scuffed boots, before he climbed from his horse and tossed the reins to another. He scraped the bandanna down his jaw as he swaggered across the dirt. “I’ll just have to entertain myself while we wait for the wagonmaker.”
Margaret had seen a similar glint when Garcia’s men had threatened rape, and would have, had Mrs. Earp not sat sentry in the jail.
She wrapped her fist around the pistol in her pocket, the one she’d learned to shoot on her honeymoon.
“You can show me the way to the hay bales, if you like,” he said, stopping a few feet away.
“And if I don’t?”
He raised his hands as if the question weren’t something he needed to answer.
As his smirk shifted to something demonic, Margaret pulled the gun and aimed it at his heart, pulling the trigger in the same breath.
Resounding gun battle deafened her senses. She fell backwards, landing in the horse trough. When she wiped water from her eyes, blood splattered the pines as three bandits lay slumped in death.
Scrambling, Margaret looked around knowing her pistol didn’t create that kind of carnage. O.H. and the two apprentices walked from the wagon shop, smoke drifting from the ends of their shotguns.
“You, okay, Meggie?” O.H. asked, as he walked over to knock one of the bloody men from his horse, poised to shoot if he moved after the fall.
Stunned, she nodded.
“I swore I’d kill the next man that threatened you.” He ducked his head in apology. “I’m sorry you had to witness that, but I saw them in the woods and turned back.”
Margaret looked at the man fallen at her feet, wondering if any of her tiny bullets made a hole in his body.
“And for the record,” O.H.’s breath came out in a tangled gasp. “My itch is satisfied.”