My mother was born in Attala County Mississippi, on May 28, 1871, to Jeff and Miltilda Green Melton, She was the third child born into this home. Joe and Sam were twins, then Mother, John, Dora and Andy ~ In 1880, Grandpa Melton sold his property in Mississippi and moved to Texas and bought a farm in the Whatley community, some six miles northeast of Wolf City. Here he built a nice home for his family (see picture of home).
How shall I describe my mother? Maybe by saying she was ninety-five pounds of pink porcelain, plump as a partridge, beautiful white hair, bearing the loveliest nickname ever given to a woman, "Aunt Patsy. " God fashioned her heart to be gracious, her body to be the mother of children, and as to hear special gift, a gift of grace- the art to cook and entertain company. I have seen her cook for a s many as twenty to thirty people at one meal.
Patsy Brian was the mother of eleven lusty babies, ten of whom she reared to manhood and womanhood. Elmer, the first child: born July 23, 1892, and on March 17, 1893 was burned to death.
I always remember my mother with her long white hair. When she was about thirty years of age she had typhoid fever and her hair came out and when it grew back it was whit(Her hair was white many years before my birth.
Even with a large family to look after she found the time to keep an immaculate house, to set a table renowned in her community, to entertain with unfailing hospitality all who came to her door, to beautify her home with whatever means she could command, to embroider, crochet, and piece quilts. But her greatest gift was conceded by all to be the making of things to grow, at that she was wonderful. She started dainty little vines and climbing plants from seeds, shoots and roots from every source available. Tulips, daffodils, star flowers, lilies, dahlias, hyacinths, petunias, asters, verbena, larkspur, phlox, roses -- well, you name it and she grew it.
Dad and Mother were married on October 2, 1891, at Ladonia, Texas. Three of the eleven children were born near Wolf City, namely Elmer, Cora Bell and Norma Jeff. Dad then decided to move back to Little Rock, Arkansas. Loucille was born there. In 1899, the family moved to Brownwood, Texas, and in 1900 Alfred Aaron made his appearance and joined the clan. Also in this same year a tidal wave arid storm hit Galveston and some 5,000 lives were lost, among this number Joe Thomas Brian and his family. He was a brother to Aaron Brian, my grandfather.
In 1901 Dad moved his family to Eastland County and bought a place known as the Old Mountain Place. It was here that Melton Dessex Rosa 'Victoria and Walter Lee discovered America. Then in 1908 he bought a place about two miles north of Desdemona (see picture of our home on another page). It was here that the author of this book, William Preston, joined the gang. Being very small but plenty of life, my sisters would dress me up as a teddy bear, hence the nickname of "Ted" which has stuck through the years.
Dock came to live with us in 1913. Really, his name is Dalton Delmont but you will note that a large family is famous for giving nicknames. Then the last one but not the least, Samuel Ellis, made his arrival. By that time Papa and Mama had run out of names. Dr. Snodgrass, the family doctor, asked them, "What are you going to name this fine boy? " When they shook their heads, he replied, "Name him after me!" So he bears the name of a real fine family doctor.
The boll weevil hit the cotton in Eastland County in 1915 and 1916. Hard times faced my dad trying to make a living for a large family. He decided to go west and find a new country. In July of 1916, we left in covered wagons going west. I was old enough then to remember several things, such as eating the good food that my mother and sisters cooked on the open campfire.
We went as far west as Peacock where we lived for two years, which didn't help us any financially as both years a drought cam, and nothing made. In the fall of 1917, we went by wagon to East Texas, near Commerce where we picked cotton. I remember spending Christmas with Grandpa and Grandma Melton near Wolf City. About the first of January we went by train back to Peacock, to our old rock house on the Salt Fork of the Brazos. Another dry year moved us to the high plains. We gathered maize and picked cotton near Plain view and then we moved just north of Petersburg and lived there some few months and the rented a farm between Idalou and Lorenzo where we lived most of the year of 1919. That fall my father bought the place of Mr. Mantooth, near Lorenzo, at Estacado. At least for the younger children, this must have been home more than any other place. All the children spent many happy hours here, even by those who were married and would come back for a visit real often.
We can all say that Mother completely submerged her own life in usefulness and lost her life in countless deeds of service to others. Jesus said, "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:39. This was her purpose. Sacrificially, she surrendered her life to her husband, her children, her grandchildren, and to the needs of others who reached out to her for understanding and compassion. The Lord called her home July 2, 1950, while visiting with Dud at Bronco, Texas. She is buried in Lorenzo Cemetery.
Elizabeth Melton Brian, the author's mother. She was about eighteen when this picture was made and this was two years before her wedding.
The author's father was descended from a long line of ancestors of Irish blood. He was named for and traced his origin back to Kleber Dessex, son of King Boru of Ireland, To his Irish traditions and the customs of the family, Kleber Dessex Brian clung with rigid tenacity, never swerving from his course a Particle under the influence of environment or association. All his ideas were clear-cut, no man could influence him against his better judgment. He believed in God, in courtesy, in honor, and in cleanliness, in beauty, and, most of all, in a good name. The last time I talked to him, just before his death in 1946, he said to me, "Ted, I am not leaving you children any worldly property, but I am leaving you a good name." I have thought of this many times since and of how God's word bears this out. "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold." Proverbs 22: 1.
Kleber Dessex was born on July 5, 1871, at Inman, South Carolina, the third child of Alfred Aaron and Mattie McDowell Brian. He left South Carolina when just a small lad and never returned. I have heard him say that his great desire was to make a trip back to the place of his birth, something he could never do because of the responsibilities of a large family of ten children. I told much of his travel history in with Alfred Aaron Brian, his father, and his wife Patsy, so I won't retell it.
All his life, with no thought of fatigue or thinking of self, Kleber Dessex Brian worked hard to Provide for others. To him the love of God could be shown so genuinely in no other way than to live with Christ in his heart. In the year of 1922, the Baptist Church at Estacado, Texas, laid hands on him and ordained him a deacon, the place he filled with high honor until his death on February 11, 1946, some twenty-four years. I have heard several men say who were his pastors, "Your father is a pastor's friend, you can always count on him."
My father was strict and most of the time very stern. He expected and exacted obedience. He believed that discipline commenced early surrounds a child with safe limits for his growing up. We had as many pleasures as the times accorded. We went occasionally to spend the night with a neighbor or a kinsman. We went sometimes to the small towns near us. A few times our father took us to the county seat town of Lubbock. It was a marvel for our young eyes to see the city, and we would ask our father a lot of questions, which he would always try and answer. Most of all, we went to church whenever there was a service; this came first with my father. I have been asked many times by many, "Was your father a preacher?" I would answer, "No, just a deacon." Then another question, "Then why five preachers in one family?" I would reply, "Our mother and father lived such dedicated lives that we saw the Lord in their living. This is the great reason that the Lord called five as preachers, one as a deacon, and the four girls dedicated to the Lord, good wives to their husbands, great mothers to their children and just wonderful sisters to pray and encourage their brothers in their ministry.
Even before I can remember, my father bought an organ, a wind instrument, to be pedaled by foot. From my earliest recollections, after the evening meal we would gather around it and sing. I had brothers and sisters who could play it, and we would sing the great songs of Zion. I don't ever remember my mother singing, but my father always helped with his great mellow bass voice.
I know now, though our father seemed stern and hard, his love was very deep for his children. I remember when my sister Loucille died at our home in 1927, that my dad was so stunned with her going that for weeks he went around in a daze. In fact, he carried the scar of her death with him to his grave, asking, "Why did we have to give her up?
I never heard my father tell a smutty story, or talk with ill against anyone. Never did one of his children ever hear him swear, or use profane words. His by-word was "Ah-shaw!" I noticed this good quality about my father and all my life I have never taken the name of the Lord in vain, of which I can be thankful.
Our father firmly believed in the teachings of God's word. Especially in this verse Of scripture, "Spare the rod and spoil the child. "--Proverbs 13:24. I believe all the children can vouch that he used the razor strap pretty often. Then we can say that he carried out this old saying, "An idle brain is a devil's workshop," for he could always find plenty for us to do. Hoe, plow, tend the stock, milk, Pick cotton, head maize and dozens of other things.
I always considered my father to be a very handsome man, with his black hair, light skin with a wonderful suntan, and then his smile for one and all. I don't suppose he very often gave a smile where not needed, but whenever someone needed it for a bit of cheer, it was always displayed from ear to ear. My father was not an extra large man, five feet eleven, and weighed about one hundred and seventy pounds. Yes, he was a man among men.
Kleber Dessex and Elizabeth Melton Brian. Lorenzo, Texas Cemetery
The Jeff Melton home where my mother, Elizabeth Melton Brian, lived from the age of nine until her marriage. I visited my grandparents here several times while a child.
Seated, William Preston Brian, Sr.; Standing, left to right, Kleber Dessex Brian, Anderson Arcemus Howard, and his father, Alexander Portman Howard. Picture made in 1927.
Kleber Dessex Brian, made some time before his wedding. He was about
twenty. Father of the author.
Left to right: The baby, William Preston; Kleber Dessex, the father; Rose with the doll, Walter Lee, with hand in mother's; just to back of mother is Melton Dessex; back of my father, Alfred Aaron II; next to him, Norma Jeff, Cora Bell and Loucille.
William Preston Brian in flower garden of his mother, Elizabeth Melton Brian. This was the house where I was born, two miles north of Desdemona, Texas.
The old rock house that Kleber Dessex Brian family lived in on the Salt Fork of the Brazos River, Peacock, Texas. Loucille Brian Evitt standing in door, Melton Dessex to one side.
From left to right: Seated: Samual Ellis, Elizabeth Melton and Alfred Aaron Brian. Standing: Dalton Delmont, William Preston, Walter Lee and Melton Dessex Brian.
All of them became preachers except Melton Dessex and he became a deacon. Picture made August 1948.