Weatherford Democrat

Local News

July 2, 2012

East Parker County Library program gives overview on settlers

ALEDO — What would it have been like to have lived with six kids and your parents in a log cabin the size of today’s average living room?

Kim Payne asked a number of children that very question as part of a presentation by the East Parker County Library Saturday. Payne led a discussion aimed for smaller children titled Mysteries of the Past. Payne has deep ties to the area, as her great-great-grandfather A.J. Hood helped settle the area in 1856. The A.J. Hood Pioneer Home in Aledo was the site of the event, which included more than just stories.

Children had the chance to make a simple toy called a whirlygig that pioneer children may have played with.  While it took some time to get going, teenager Richard Fetzeck was showing children and adults within moments how it was done.

Painting and other crafts were also part of the morning festivities, led by Julie Hulce, an art teacher at Starpoint School on the Texas Christian University campus. The home has been renovated over the years but air conditioning has been added to the original home, making things blissful on a warm Texas morning.

Payne, assistant director of Starpoint School on the TCU campus, kept many of the young’uns enthralled with her descriptions of frontier life, asking the kids how did people find their way without electricity or inside plumbing. Hood, a judge and lawyer, made his way to Parker County and owned somewhere in the area of 10,000 acres. Through Payne’s exhaustive research, he was said to have always loved education, having purchased a number of books for his own library. The family also had a number of fossils that were found, including a number of arrowheads.

Native Americans were a major part of the early settlers to Texas’ lives. Elizabeth Hood Simpson, Hood’s first wide, said she found an Native American maiden with her baby on the steps of her home one morning sitting quietly. While many of the natives were friendly, Hood was involved in moving the ones that were not.

Hood had a horse he rode around named “Old Jim” that had a humpback that Hood’s wife painted of him and Payne displayed. Payne also said her grandfather taught ballroom dancing to his children in the cabin after he returned home from World War II.

Payne also said in an older part of the house there was a trap door in case of attacks but she had never seen it. After the story, family members showed her the door on the outside of the house that was used to prepare for attacks.

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