Let Me Tell You About Delbert and Nancy Boultinghouse

(My Mother’s Parents)

This is a compilation of stories I wrote some time ago about my mother’s parents and what life was like back in the 20s and 30s in Smithwick, Texas. Much, if not all of their married life Nancy and Delbert was spent in Smithwick.

Nancy was a member of the Martin Family from Burnet. I believe Delbert was raised primarily in Smithwick.

My Maternal Grandparents marriage license. Oscar Delbert Boultinghouse & Nancy Ella Martin married on Jan. 15, 1915.

After they married in 1915, they lived on what has always been known to me as the Old Boultinghouse Place, which is a couple of miles east of the Smithwick Cemetery. A quarter of a mile east of Balcones Springs Camp.


Remnants of the old house and fireplaces could still be seen along RR 1431 a few years ago. It has become so overgrown, that I’m not sure what can now be seen.

The house, not large at all for a family of that size, was comprised of 2 halves. One side had the kitchen (of course some cooking was done outside, too) and a dining area, but also doubled as a sleeping area. The other side was the bedroom. The way I remember it, there was just one big room but accommodated several beds and room for pallets on the floor as well. Each side had a large fireplace.
Between to two rooms was an open breezeway, or a dog run as it was called. During seasons that allow for it, beds, cots and pallets would be brought out there to get a breeze when there was one. (More on the house later)

The place was comprised of 303 acres. They raised livestock and fowl as well as areas for growing crops. Besides eating what they raised on the land, they hunted and fished. Game of all types was plentiful in the early days. The Colorado River was only a mile or so from the house and there were a lot of catfish caught.

However it is my understanding that the Depression Years decimated the wildlife. Everything that moved was taken for food.

Up the creek from the house under the a huge grove of oak trees was Delbert’s sorghum molasses mill. People from all around that raised cane and sweet sorghum would bring it there to be pressed and the juices cooked to make syrup and molasses. The press was turned using horses or mules traveling around and around in a circle attached to long pole which extended from the center of the mill.
Fires were built and huge iron pots were suspended above to cook the juices.

Horses or mules were hooked up to long beams that attached to the top of the mill and were led in a circle. Sugar cane was fed into the mill, where all the juice was squeezed out. The juice then cooked in big cast iron pots to make the molasses.

The old mill was retrieved by my Dad, Cecil Lewis some years later and was left under an Old Post Oak Tree over on our place, where he had unloaded it with the aid of a come-along attached to a large limb.

When Kenny and I started looking for it a few years ago and it was nowhere to be found. It was completely rusted up but something nice to look at. We think it was hauled off and scrapped by junk scavengers sometime after Cec’s death.

The Walter Tips Company, that sold the mill was an old Austin business that we did business with even up into the 1980’s. (More on the Tips Co below)

This is a cane molasses mill like the one at the old Boultinghouse Place when I was a kid.

There was an abundance of cedar in that area, which was used for fence posts and other building needs. The Boultinghouse men, as well as many others in the community were all involved in the chopping of cedar right up until WW 2 started. A few that didn’t qualify for Military Service continued to chop cedar. (More on Cedar Choppin below)

Back in the later 1930s, times got very hard, Grandpa Delbert took a job up in Arkansas to make ends meet. He was working in a sawmill, where he had an accident. The result was the loss of a leg.

Upon retuning to Texas his health was never much good after that. He passed away when his youngest daughter was but 4 years old. Most of the girls were still at home and the War was going on so, times were hard, to say the least.

This is a FB Comment that I added one time that gives more context to Delbert and his accident.
Nimrod Lake Dam currently

Grandma Nancy was a hardworking old gal and always had a positive outlook. She stayed with it for several more years there on the place, with family members that were away sending money to help and a great deal of perseverance. Around the later 40s, she and the younger girls moved to Austin where she got a job cooking at the State Hospital at Guadalupe & 38th St. She continued to work and live in central Austin until the girls were all married off a decade or so later.

After that she came to live with us near Jollyville, Tx. for several years until we all returned to Smithwick in 1964. She spent time with her kids with extended visits to California and around Texas until she passed away in 1972.

The Boultinghouse Homestead

These are pictures of the old Boultinghouse home. It was called the John & Mary Boultinghouse Home, built in 1867. Most of us know it as the Nancy and Delbert Boultinghouse Place.
I’m not sure if Nancy and Delbert were the ones that stayed there while the siblings moved on or why they ended up with the place after the old folks were gone.

I have posted other pictures but this will show it as the times started to wear on it. The car, being most likely a “51” Ford, so you can see it was in fairly good shape when it was still lived in. Most likely that picture was not later than 1954. The other pictures were no later than the early 60’s with no one living in it for only 5 or 6 years at the most.

I know this because by 1963 it was so severely overgrown you wouldn’t have been able to get a clear unobstructed picture of it from any side.

Also included is the John and Mary B’House family with dates of birth and death. That photo was taken around 1897.

I think the house may have been built by other than John. He was only 24 when the house was built. Their first child wasn’t born until 1882. That would have been a long time for them to have settled in and waited before starting to have children. Therefore most likely, it was built by Daniel B’House and his widow lived in the house raising their children. Daniel died in Burnet Co. in December of 1867, the year the house was built.

Have I confused you yet?

The Letter Delbert Wrote To Nancy While he was in Arkansas.

This is a letter written by my Grandfather, Oscar “Delbert” Boultinghouse to his wife Nancy on Aug. 11, 1941.

My wife transcribed it for us. She left it as close to his own words, spelling and punctuation as possible.
You be the judge of what some of the meaning are. I think I have a good grasp but it’s hard to be for sure.
She said if she attempted to change anything it may alter the feel of the whole letter.

The first 3 pages are her type written pages and the last 9 are what she worked from.

As you may or may not know, times were hard and he had left Burnet Co. in an attempt to provide for his family. In doing so, I lost a leg (or foot and eventually the leg) to a saw mill accident while in Arkansas working. This letter addressed some of the issues concerning that, therefore the time of the mishap was prior to Aug. 1941.
The loss of this leg was the beginning of the end of his life, as he died in 1942. This left Grandma Nancy to raise most of her 11 kids without a real means to make a living, except for what they could scape together. Times were hard. With a strong faith, good neighbors and family she endured and came out on top.

There are 2 more letters that were written soon after this one that Madeline has agreed to transcribe for us. For that I give thanks, because I’m doubtful I’d ever muster the patients to get it done.

I hope you all enjoy this.

At Smithwick for the funeral of their mother, Nancy Ella Martin Boultinghouse in December in 1972.
This is a picture of all the sons and daughters of Delbert and Nancy Boultinghouse, except for Joyce Boultinghouse Carson Deets who was tragically killed in a car wreck in 1970.
The Dalmatian peeking out from the rear was Harry, the dog we had the last few years I was living at home.

CEDAR CHOPPIN

Most people that have lived in and around Marble Falls and the Hill Country for very long either have Cedar Chopper’s for ancestors or at least have family friends that were.

When I was growing up, there were still a couple of Cedar Yards right in town in Marble Falls, another on the south end of the bridge and yet another near the entrance to the Holiday Inn Express south of town.

It was hard work, but for most people life was hard in those days: The 20s, 30s, 40s & 50s.
It put food on the table and clothes and shoes on the family.

My Grandpa Delbert is sitting on the running board, the younger boy is his son Stanley. The other three men are members of the Kirkland Family.

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