This story dates back to the late 1950s. I will be telling it from my perspective, which is the side I was born on.
FP and Florence Lewis had a bunch of kids. There were two girls and seven boys (couple more died young) and they raised them in Smithwick. Best I know they had several pieces of property but our old home place was originally Stinnett land that they bought from Grandmother Florence’s family or inherited it. It was comprised of 450 acres that stretched from FM 1431 down to the Colorado River. It was approximately 1/2 mile of highway frontage and a 1/2 mile of Lake Travis frontage. It started at the old Smithwick Grist Mill and continued up river from there.
In the 20S through the 40s all the kids married and moved away from Smithwick for the most part leaving two sons, Owen and Theron living on the place with their families along with FP and Florence. As the old couple had reached an age to where they needed cared for, Grandmother resided with Owen and Effie and FP (or Pa as I always heard him called) lived with Theron and Leona.
The understanding was that if Owen and Theron kept them until death they would inherit the home-place and then split it. I’m not clear if there was an actually will in place or if it was just an understanding. This was agreed to in the 40s. Splitting up the old folks wasn’t a big deal. The old woman had already sued the old man over some cattle or other belongings and they had decided they would no longer share a bed years before, (That will be in a story written unto itself) but they had continued to live under one roof. They each had their own cattle and bank accounts.
The old woman died in 1953 after moving in with son Owen and his wife Effie, several years before. The old man died in 1956, after being with with Theron and Leona for a good many years.
In the early part of 1958, the other Lewis siblings joined together in a lawsuit to force an equal division of the property. Much ranker and bitterness ensued. Theron died of a massive heart attack in Oct of 1958. At that time his only son, Cecil took on the cause of defending the suit in conjunction with his Uncle Owen. They hired The Hammond Law firm in Burnet.
It is my opinion that few children had any desire to stay on the farm after growing up in the circumstances of the Great Depression. Owning land wasn’t on everyone’s radar at that early time.
But with the river being dammed up and lakes formed everything started to change in our area as with other places around the country. There was recreation and fun to be had. People were wanting to move in and the price of land starting shooting upwards.
Or perhaps the side bringing the suit had decided they wanted a life back on the farm, who knows. What I do know is it caused a riff for at least a decade, to where growing up I barely knew anyone on the other side.
The suit played out over about a five year period with our side prevailing. Cecil and Uncle Owen split the place down the middle, letting the creek which is known as Shop Branch be the dividing line. Since all the surface water (stock tanks) was on our side, a new fence was constructed along the creek with the creek portion going to Owen. When it was surveyed after the fence was built, we had 227acres and Owen had 223 acres out of the 450.
By the time I was grown and leaving home everything was smoothed over and when Cec started subdividing his property. Several members of “the other side” bought parcels of land and moved there. Others returned often to join Cecil at his fishing camp. I have also gotten to know many of my extended family through chance encounters as time has passed.
Facebook has allowed me to get to know even more of those that I didn’t have an opportunity to know throughout the years.
Yes, we are one big happy family and I cherish the relationships we all have. (Now if I didn’t screw that up by writing about it)