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Frank Pierce is an old time citizen of Hopkins County, he came into the county in the early forties. He married Miss South at an early day and reared a large family in Hopkins County. This family was unfortunate and died in early life. J. K. Pierce, a prosperous farmer and stock raiser and a wealthy citizen of the county, is his son. Frank Pierce Jr. is another son. They had different mothers. In the year of 1848 Frank Pierce was a member of the Grand Jury, during the sitting of the District Court at old Tarrant, John T. Mills presiding judge.
The courthouse was built of logs and the Grand jury occupied a small log cabin which was built of poles upon the banks of a little dry branch some three hundred yards east from the court house building. Eldridge Hopkins, who was county clerk, ran a boarding house; this house consisted of a couple of log cabins with hall and piazza on either side. The Grand jury, the judge and attorneys boarded with Mr. Hopkins during the sitting of the court. The Grand jury was composed of Harry Hargrave, Frank Pierce, Carroll Crisp, Joe Salmon, Harry Hopkins, the names of the other members of this body have passed from the Mind of Mr. Pierce. The planks that were placed upon the sleepers of Mr. Hopkins cabin hotel were not confined by nails. He accommodated all the court and some of their wives to lodging, and was a jolly good fellow. The judge convened court on Monday and dismissed it on the following Saturday at twelve o’clock. There were no convictions, no bills of indictment found. When the jury was discharged and court adjourned, the jury was paid for their services in county script, which Mr. Hopkins accepted in payment for board.
Only one incident transpired during the sitting of this court that is worthy of record. Col. Bill Young, prosecuting attorney, and Brad Fowler indulged too freely during the week and got on a high lonesome. They, too, boarded at Eldridge Hopkins hotel. When these two gentlemen became too gay and hilarious, Mr. Hopkins in a persuasive and kindly manner asked them to respect his guests. One night in the week Col. Young secured a pair of Texas cowboy spurs, these spurs were profusely and lavishly belled. He arranged with Brad Fowler that he place himself in the position of a horse, and he would ride him over the hotel floor. This feat was performed in the still hours of the night. When Fowler began to pitch, in imitation of a mustang horse, the bells upon the spurs began to tinkle, the loose plank in the floor began to rattle, and Young hallowing ” Woah, woah, woah,” a noise fell upon the ears of the inmates like the crack of doom and frightened them, men and women, almost senseless. It appeared to the inmates of the hotel that his satanic majesty with all of his imps had come upon them with the fury of a tornado and that destruction and devastation was upon them. Men and women left their beds and pallets and sought safety in the open air. When the excitement and alarm was over and it was ascertained that the trick was all a joke, the guests returned to their sleeping quarters and rested till day. This incident was a subject of talk for months after.
There was one whiskey house in the village of Tarrant, owned and run by Tom Louden, tin cups were used for glasses, and gourds for dippers. When court adjourned each juryman bought a Spanish gourd of whiskey, hung the gourd by means of a raw hide string tied around its center to the horn of the saddle, and hied himself to his home. The refined and delicate feeling of the reader, may be shocked at the foregoing incident. This is an occurrence of real life, and the actors of this scene have long since passed from the stage of life, gone to learn the dread reality of an unknown world. When God lays his hands upon a man the world should let him rest. No more will we hear of the actions of these men until we all meet on eternity’s wave, beyond death’s chilling flood, to enjoy the association of the angels of heaven in eternity.
Justice and mercy should be our motto; these words should be inscribed upon our banner. We plead for our fellow human, a greater charity from those who would sit in judgment. The greatest men and the greatest minds have long since recognized that what those of a lesser would call vices, are really diseases of the mind and body, afflictions that need our tenderest pity and sympathy and which is our duty to alleviate as far as lies in our power, by that humane fellow feeling, which makes the whole world a kin. The whole philosophy of life consists in knowing what is true in order to do what is right. Every good act is charity. Exhortation to another to do right is charity. A man’s true wealth hereafter is the good he has done in this world to his fellow man.