"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

East Texas cousins

Families spread out over the years and miles from relatively simple beginnings. In the early years of the 20th Century, in East Texas, Thomas Ezra Culp, whose daddy had been a Texas Ranger, married Sophie Elizabeth Beard, and they had six children, four girls and two boys.

The four Culp girls.
They're all gone now, except for one surviving widow of the baby in the family. But they were a prolific bunch, with 14 children born to them, beginning in 1931. Three of the cousins have died tragically, all children of one of the boys, the first of the children to die. His name was J.C, but he was know as "Addy"  because he had his adenoids out I think, or "Son."

Most of the cousins still live near their deep East Texas  roots, from across the line in Louisiana and to near Austin. One of the girls, the third to be born, was my mother, and my brother's, Francis Faye Culp, born in 1909. She died in 1980. Our family of four moved from Fort Worth west to Albuquerque in 1951, so we didn't get to see as much of our cousins, except in summer vacation trips, though we have lots of black and white photos of many of us as babies from the earlier years. I migrated to Oklahoma and my brother to Lubbock, so we still don't get to see much of them.

But we just completed our third first cousin reunion. The first was held 21 years ago at a cousin's beach house near Galveston, and another was about eight years ago at Livingston. This time, we went to a cousin's beautiful ranch style home at Plum Grove, 20 miles east of Conroe and about the same from rapidly expanding Houston. Many brought kids and grandkids and great-grandkids--45 in all, feasting on bar-b-cue, stories, old photos and more photos.

I think it's remarkable because it shows how much life has changed. Who has that many cousins any more? And that stay in touch?

That's enough details. Here's the group shot.

From left: Charles (Lindy) Culp, son of E.T. Culp the baby of the Culp clan--his mother Lamerle is still alive); Carole Gee Wilson (second daughter of Ima), David Culp (on of E.T.); Charlotte Faye Gee Guidry (oldest daughter of Ima); Brenda Gee Reed (kneeling, youngest daughter of Ima); Jerry B. Clark (youngest son of Faye); Charles Lutrick (oldest son of Gladys); Sandi Gee Russell (kneeling, third daughter of Ima); Sara Beth Lutrick Foote (daughter of Gladys--the reunion was at her and her husband Bob's house)); and me (Faye's son).

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