Noah Husbands

A Tribute to
Noah Lee Husbands
8-30-1887 to 10-22-1957

    Noah Lee Husbands was the third child born to Noah William and Mary Elizabeth (Buckner) Husbands. He was born in Bell County, Texas on the 30th of August 1887. The family located to Rusk County, Texas when Noah Lee was a young boy, and settled in the Brachfield/Minden area, and were farmers in 1899, his father died. To make ends meet, the older children were hired out to work for others that had money. Noah Lee went to work for the Jones family, where he would meet his future wife, May Henry Jones, the daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Anna Buckner Jones. Noah and May married in 1910 and raised seven children, three boys and four girls, the third child was my mother' Ethel Mildred, who was born on March 22, 1915. Noah Lee lived all his adult life in the Brach field/Minden area. For reasons unknown to me, they moved to other houses in the area. The house I remember most was just north of Minden, and was called "The Armstrong Place." The house had tall ceiling and had a "dog trot" that went from the front porch (Grandmother called it the gallery) to the back porch. For those who don't know what a "dog trot" is; it is an open hall-way that separates one side of the house from the other. This allowed the cool air to pass through during the spring and summer, cooling the house a little.
    In 1974, there was a short story written and published in Gary, Texas, about Noah Husband. The short story was written by a family friend; David Rousseau, now a radio personality in Tyler, Texas. The story was told to David Rousseau by Noah Husband's oldest daughter, Pauline Whitehead of Henderson, Texas. It was titled, "Practical Joker." The story tells of the many pranks he "pulled" on unsuspecting victims, and soon, gained local fame as the community's practical joker.
    I remember other things about this unique man. He was loved by every member of his family, and he, in turn, showed his love. Noah Husband was my grandfather. Granddaddy, as he was affectionately called by his grandchildren, was a man of many talents. He was a local farmer in Brachfield; a community near Henderson, and was usually called on, or volunteered to help at the local cotton gin, and during the season, operated the small syrup mill for the farmers that raised sugar cane. Since we lived in Marshall, Granddaddy would always save us stalks of sugar cane. I used to watch him operate the syrup mill, as he stirred the juices from the sugar cane. A mule, then later, a tractor, with a pulley, turned the part of the mill that crushed the cane. As it was crushed, the juices flowed through a hose into a shallow vat that was heated with burning logs. Granddaddy had a tin cup that he used to taste the juice and he would let us taste it before it became thicker. Granddaddy once lived just outside of Brachfield on what we called "the Richard Orr Place" and he worked the "bottom land" where he raised cotton and sugar cane.
    Granddaddy was not a man of wealth; unless you counted that he had an entire community as friends. Considering that, he was richer than most people that had large bank accounts. Granddaddy and Grandmother (May Husband) raised six children and they inherited the qualities that their parents possessed. I never heard my granddad speak bad of anyone. One of many talents that my granddaddy had, was the ability to play tunes, using a lead pencil, placed against his teeth and tapped out tunes; such as "Turkey in the Straw" and "Wildwood Flower.
    During the holidays, especially Christmas, the entire family always went to Granddaddy's in Brachfield. With the sons and daughters, and including all the grandchildren; there was always a crowd. The table was full of food, usually brought in by each family. I especially enjoyed the pies and cakes. Not having much money in those days, my grandparents couldn't afford expensive gifts, like toys, etc. But Grandmother always made something for each grandchild. It may have been a homemade handkerchief or a rug made from old socks, but it was treasured by each grandchild.
    I remember staying overnight during the summers. We slept on feather mattresses on iron bedsteads. During the cold months, the house was heated by a wood-burning fireplace. Granddaddy would always get up before daylight and build a fire, before he and Grandmother went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Then, he would wake everyone and say, "If you want breakfast, you'd better get out of bed." Breakfast usually consisted of fried eggs, sawmill gravy, ham, bacon or sausage, and homemade biscuits, hot coffee made in an old coffee pot, and fresh cold milk. They had their own laying hens and the bacon or sausage usually came from someone who owed Granddaddy for some odd jobs he performed for them.
    I don't ever remember Granddaddy having running water. There was a well just off the back porch, with a rope and pail to bring up the cold water. A person had to walk several yards from the house to use the bathroom (an outdoor toilet). Not having electricity until the middle of 1950's, they had to use coal-oil lamps. I remember Granddaddy listening to the Grand Ole Opry on a battery-powered radio. Usually the battery was low, and Granddaddy had to lean over close to the speaker, to hear Roy Acuff , Dave Macon and others singing. My granddaddy was a big man, but gentle. He stood 6 foot 4 in his socks.
    Granddaddy loved to fish, and Caddo Lake was his favorite place to go. I loved being with him on those fishing and camp outs. He liked to trot-line fish out of "Crips Camp." We'd rent a flat bottom boat and set the trot-lines several yards from the shore. After baiting the hooks with some "stink-bait", we'd return to camp where there would be a fire built and I'd listen to him tell stories of his younger years. One time, as we were "running" the trot-lines; and it was my job to pull up the lines and remove the catfish; I pulled up a snake that had gotten hung up on the hook. Not knowing it was dead, I almost jumped into the lake. You should have heard Granddaddy laugh. He never laughed loud, only snickered. He always liked to tease his grandchildren, by pulling jokes on them. I remember one time, when he and I were in the woods and he walked around some bushes from me and made a noise like a wild hog. That scared me and Granddaddy got a kick out of that later.
    My granddaddy passed away in the fall of 1957. I was in boot camp in San Antonio and unable to come home. But the memories of this wonderful man will live in my mind and heart forever.

By his grandson, Dale Gentry
August 16, 2007
A photo of Noah
A photo of the old Armstrong Place where he lived.