Our frequent guest blogger, G.M.C. Massey — my grandfather — wrote in his memoirs of some characters who left him with lifelong impressions.
I will now endeavor to explain why JOHN BEAVERS Life: Even though he was a lawyer, had such an influence upon my life.
He lived at Mt. Vernon and practiced his profession over a wide Area: I am telling this that it might help some people to see that, Even a lawyer can be honest.
Or as I sometimes say that if a man is honest, he will be honest under every condition. As I sometimes tell my children that the LORD will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand and with every temptation he will make a way of escape.
And upon this specific occasion: my grandmother (my father’s mother) was old as well as crippled up considerably with Rheumatism. And she lived On a public road about 9 miles from Mt. Vernon; And John had a lot of business in that vicinity.
My grandmother Had several hogs out on the range; (they had open range and every one who cared to risk it and was able to take the risk; Had hogs out on the range) and she had had hogs out there for several years; and she had only had enough of them killed the year before for her own use: therefore at this time that I am talking about she thought that she had about at least 40 or 50 hogs out in the woods. So she made an offer to any one that could get them up: to give half for having the other half put in her smoke house.
After a few days there were two men came to her and told her that they had found her hogs But there were not as many as she had thought that here were: They said that they had about 25 up and if she wanted them to, that they would kill them and clean them and bring the half of them to her and take the rest.
So grandma told them that she knew that there must be at least twice that many out there than they had gotten up. And told them she would try to get over there and see about them. And they told her that there was no use of all that trouble about It that they would do the right thing about it. But they left at that and left it up to grandma.
So my Grandmother was musing over the situation and John Beavers came along, and She called to John to come by. And he did and she just told him the whole story. And John told her that was a thieving bunch that she was dealing with.
And furthermore that he was by there just a little earlier that day and that they had at least twice that many hogs up there in their lot right then; And he told her that he would saddle her horse up and would go with her Over there to see about them.
So he saddled up her mare for her, and helped her upon her horse, and they went to see the hogs: — And when they got there they rode up to the fence (made of rails in the old crooked rail fence style).
John asked Grandmother if they were hers And she told him that they were colored like her hogs and about half of them had her mark on them and that she had marked them up over a year ago and that the rest of them were too young to have her mark for they had been pigged since that time. And they were colored just like the older hogs, and that she believed that they were all hers, And he agreed that they were all of the same drove.
Well these men came out and one of them had a shot gun and told John that they were not of the same bunch, But John told them that any body could see that they were all of the same drove, and he was going to take them home for her. And they told him just lay off of them that they was to get half of them for getting them up. John told them that if they had been honest about the matter; that they would have gotten that deal; But as they planned to steal Half of the hogs, and only report that they had only found so many and wanted to settle with this old lady for half of only half of them that they were not going to get anything for what they had done.
And he got down and began to lay the fence down (the fence was a crooked rail fence) and the man kept telling him not to let the fence down; but he kept on till it was down, and he went inside to let them out, and they dared him to drive the hogs out; But he drove the hogs out, and drove them off to my grandmothers and “if you are not satisfied with this you can take it to court and let us expose you and your crookedness to the whole world.”
John did not get a thing out of it. He was as honest as they make them and as brave as a lion. What, you say? An honest lawyer!
Yes: just listen to this; John Hays near Winsboro killed his brother-in-law Mr. McDonald in cold blood and tried to get John Beavers to take his case. John told him to sit down and tell him all about it; and if he could take the case then he would tell him; So he told him all about it and John told him if he lied about it and caused him to take the case that when the truth came out If he had lied about it that right there he would walk out of the case.
So I guess that Hays told him the truth. Any way when Hays got through telling him John told him that he could not take the case at any price; For he was guilty as he could be; and he just did not do that kind of service. For love or money for any body under any circumstances.
When I grew up to be a Man and was teaching School, I had him to come over and speak to my school several times when we were having some kind of entertainment or school closing. He had moved to Quitman by this time and I was teaching in Wood County, And about this time He Ran for Congress and he had for an opponent R.G. Andrews of Winnsboro and another or two, But the other opponent was the victor I know that neither Andrews or Beavers were elected, Right does not always prevail. If money would have won, Andrews would have doubtless have been Elected; and if good principal had won doubtless Beavers would have won. But in politics; there are tricks that tend to win.
But sometimes we meet men who will not stoop to them; And they have to bow to the inevitable. They do not always win here in this world. They have laid up their treasures in heaven. GOD BLESS such men as John Beavers. Their works do follow them.
I am glad that I was permitted to live in his day: for I feel that I am a better man for having been associated with him as much as I was, And I feel that my inspiration that I received from the association helped me to be able to pass it on to my posterity: thank GOD.