Sam Summers McLemore (1852-1878)

Sam Summers McLemore (1852-1878) lived a violent and short life as an outlaw and gunfighter in Texas.  His father fought and died in the Civil War, leaving Sam at age 12 without much direction.  He occupied his time by practicing drawing and shooting the pistol that he inherited from his father.

At age 18 he was part of a cattle drive, and when some of the wranglers went into town, he was called out for cheating at cards.  He wasn’t cheating but had to defend his honor and killed his first man.  From then on, he found himself having to kill more men who challenged him (see song “The Ballad of Sam McLemore“).

Being a gunfighter was never clearly articulated in his mind, but his life took on a momentum of its own, with him being thrust in the position of defending himself from those who wished to make their own reputations.  For the better part of a decade he lived this kind of life, before taking up with a young prostitute, Sally McCune, rooming with her in the saloon/brothel in West Texas where she worked.

His last fight took place in the dusty street outside this saloon, when he was outgunned by a younger gunslinger and died on that street, age 26.  He did not know it at the time but Sally was carrying his child, Jacob Mac McLemore.

Sally would joke that since her father, a hard shell Baptist minister, was named Horace it was only natural that she took to whorin’.  But once she had the boy, she swore that she’d get out of that life and raise him up right.  And this she did, eventually owning and operating a boarding house in Fort Worth.  This is where Jacob grew up, until he turned 15 and took off for Corsicana when he heard about the oil strike there in 1894.

Jacob Mac McLemore (1879-1977)

Jacob Mac McLemore made and lost more money than any of the McLemore men. When he was fifteen he heard about the 1894 oil strike in East Texas. He started at the bottom working any job he could get, eventually learning enough to strike out on his own.

 

Jacob Mac McLemore never knew his father, who had been an outlaw-gunslinger who died a few months before he was born.  Sam Summers McLemore (1852-1878) never even knew the 16-year old whore, Sally McCune, he was living with was pregnant when he went out in the street to face a younger and what turned out to be faster boy.  Jacob was raised by Sally, who eventually was able to quit the life and lived out her days running a boarding house in Fort Worth.   There’s some who say it was more than a boarding house, but others deny those rumors.

Indians found oil seeping from the soils of Texas long before the first Europeans arrived. They told explorers that the fluid had medicinal values. The first record of Europeans using crude oil, however, was for the caulking of boats in 1543 by survivors of the DeSoto expedition near Sabine Pass.

Melrose, in Nacogdoches County, was the site in 1866 of the first drilled well to produce oil in Texas. Other oil was found in crudely dug wells in Bexar County in 1889 and in Hardin County in 1893. But it was not until June 9, 1894, that Texas had a major discovery. This occurred in the drilling of a water well for the city of Corsicana. Oil caused that well to be abandoned, but a company formed in 1895 drilled several producing oil wells.

Jacob Mac was 15 when the Corsicana oil came in, and for the next sixty years he chased strikes all over Texas and Louisiana. He might make some money here, then invest it somewhere else only to see his investment evaporate in the dusty Texas wind.

 

Jacob was married and divorced four times, the last near the end of his life and the one which really broke him. Of the four marriages, only the first produced any children, one boy, Lee Allen (1903-1989), and a girl, Aurelia.  Lee Allen was Jake McLemore’s grandfather.

If you were to ask those who knew him, what they would tell you about Jacob Mac McLemore was that, first and foremost, he was a decent man whose word was his bond. No one ever knew him to brag or lie and that he never made a deal that he did not keep, and usually made his partners money.

He died at the age of 98, dying peacefully in his sleep in an Odessa, Texas hospital room with his great-grandson, Jake, by his side. You might say that Jacob Mac lived an interesting life, but despite not enjoying consistent good luck he was always in good humor and very good company.

Mike “Sarge” Broussard (1948-2014)

Mike “Sarge” Broussard  (1948-2014).  Great-great grandson of Coleman Broussard (1842-1910).  Born in Vivian, Louisiana then his family moved to Shreveport in 1953. He had one brother, Cole Lucas Broussard (1946-1965), who was two years older than Mike.  They spent time in Shreveport before Luke was drafted and went off to Vietnam, where he was killed (see song “Shreveport, 1963“).  Prior to leaving for his overseas tour of duty, Luke married Cherie Shnexnaidre and had a son, Cody Cole (1965), who turned to Mike as a surrogate father figure.

Mike also served in the Vietnam War, 1966-1968, without incident and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.  He owned a filing station/auto repair shop in Vivian.  Has a daughter, Rosalie Broussard (1969).

Mike comes from an old Louisianan Cajun family that first settled in Natchitoches, Louisiana in the late 18th century.  Later the family made its way north to Shreveport, then Vivian.  Coleman Broussard, Mike’s great-great-grandfather, was the cousin of Levi Motts who died during the Civil war, at the Battle of Mansfield, leaving behind his pregnant fiancée, Ruby Robison.  Coleman decides to ask Ruby to marry, a proposal she accepts, in order to legitimize his cousin’s child and they go on to have several more children.  These were Mike’s direct ancestors.

The Acadians, who descended from sturdy French peasant stock, originated during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in a colony known as Acadia in the present-day Canadian province of Nova Scotia. By the time Acadia fell to British control in 1713, the Acadians had become a close-knit, clannish, and culturally distinct group of French-speaking folk who had fashioned their own identity. But once the Acadians became British subjects, and for decades thereafter, they experienced continuing problems with their British overlords. In an effort to end these difficulties, Great Britain began a forced exportation program after the Acadians refused to take oaths of allegiance. The authorities relocated thousands of Acadians against their will in various colonies, including those of the Atlantic coast and the Caribbean. This mass movement, known in Acadian history as the dérangement, separated entire families.

cajun dispersion map

The migrating Acadians did not arrive in Louisiana as their initial destination, but some of them eventually found their way to the lower Mississippi from other New World colonies to which they had been exiled by the British. Thousands of Acadians arrived in Louisiana during the 1770s and 1780s. The Spanish government provided them with material assistance in establishing their farms. Most of the Acadians settled to the west of the Mississippi River in the bayou areas along the southwestern prairie. There they soon developed a unique rural lifestyle based on hunting and farming. The French inhabitants already in the colony shunned them, most likely because the Acadians appeared to them as unsophisticated and simple folk. These Acadians became the forebears of today’s Louisiana Cajuns.

Mike Broussard enlisted in the army during the Vietnam war and rose to the rank of sergeant.  He was good with cars and was assigned to the transport unit and served with distinction.  After the war he came back to Louisiana and opened a Texaco filling station and repair shop, which he ran for over forty years (see songs, “Sarge” and “D.W.“).

He had one daughter, Rosalie, with whom he became estranged but not because of anything he did.  However, he did have a loving relationship with her son, James.  Rosalie had James when she was sixteen and Mike and his wife Nina raised him.  When James was around ten, he and Mike would go in the back yard and play catch (see songs, “Jenny or James” and “Catch“).

Sarge lived a long and productive life, consistently honoring the service of military vets, dying in 2014.

D.W. Washington (1949-2011)

Dwight Wayne Washington was born and spent his early life in Detroit, Michigan. He was drafted into the Army in 1967 when he turned 18 and was sent to Vietnam.  Eventually he was assigned to the 515th Transportation Company in Cam Ranh Bay under Sergeant Mike Broussard.  Here he learned just about all there was to know about repairing cars and motors.

D.W. Washington2

 

Instead of going back to Detroit, D.W. decided to move to Vivian and continued to work for Mike in his filling station and auto repair shop for the next 40 years.  D.W. and Mike were best friends despite D.W.’s tendency to get drunk most weekends forcing Mike to drive by his house on Monday morning and get him up for another week of work (see song, “D.W.“).

D.W. died in 2011 shortly before his sixty-fifth birthday from congestive heart failure (see song “Out on Cross Lake“).

Rosalie Broussard (1969- )

Rosalie Broussard was a troubled girl from a very young age.  Her parents worried about her spending long periods secluded in her room and not hearing a sound from behind her door.

They never knew about her intense love of books.  Yes, they knew she liked to read, and would take her to the library as often as she asked.  But they had no clear grasp of the kind of books she liked to read.  For example, she read and re-read Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”  In fact, she kept the book hidden under her bed, never returning it to the library.  She claimed that a boy threw the book out of the bus window while they were on the Red River bridge.  She saved her baby-sitting money and paid the library what they said she owed.

You could say Rosalie was precocious, sexually mature for her age.  She got herself pregnant before she was sixteen and decided to have the baby, a boy, whom she chose to name James (b. 1985) (see song “Jenny or James“).

Rosalie ran away when James was barely one year old, leaving the child to be raised by his grandparents, Mike and Ellen Broussard, but remaining in Louisiana.  She would come home every now and then and spend some time with the boy, but after Rosalie’s marriage to Tully Tate, she went to live in Mobile, Alabama, leaving James behind.

Rosalie and Tully had twin girls a few years later.  Throughout these early years of her marriage, Rosalie would run off from time to time, forcing Tully to find her and bring her back, only to run off again a few weeks later (see song “What Tully’s Done“).

Finally, Tully just gave up on her and let Rosalie go (see song “Rosalie“).

Tullison “Tully” Tate (1967-2013)

Tullison “Tully” Tate (1958-2013, Opelika, Alabama).

Ancestors: Jonathan Tate (1758-1833, Ulster, Ireland) Scots-Irish immigrant to colony of New York.  Joshua Tate (1828-1904, Perry County, Alabama).  Tullison Tate (1852-1924, Perry County, Alabama).  Hazel Tate (1886-1963, Linden, Alabama).  Joseph “Sonny” Tate (1946-2003, Opalika, Alabama).

Tully’s father was country singer Sonny Tate.  Tully married Rosalie Broussard (born Vivian, LA; father, Mike “Sarge” Broussard) who was an unstable woman and runs off repeatedly from the family home.   Initially after his marriage Tully and Rosalie lived in Mobile, Alabama but then they moved with their twin girls to Hosston, Louisiana. There he works at the Springhill pulp paper mill driving a timber truck and reconnects with his boyhood friends the Broussard and Thibodaux families.

Tully is a decent, hard-working, family man but who also likes to drink and party on occasion.  His primary worry in life is his wife, Rosalie, who will disappear from time to time, leaving the twins unsupervised.  For a while, Tully would track her down and bring her back home until, finally, he gives up and let’s her go (see song “What Tully’s Done“).

Although his job in Springhill ended when they shut down the paper mill, he and his girls remained in Hosston until his death in 2013 after a short illness (see song “Hosston to Bastrop“).

Sonny Tate (1946-2003)

Sonny Tate (1936-2003) was born in Opalika, Alabama and displayed musical talent at an early age.  He could mimic Hank Williams and would stand on his father’s bar and entertain the patrons who were delighted with the youngster’s uncanny ability.  Sonny would later go on to have something of a professional career as a country singer but never making it really big.

He performed on the Lousiana Hayride and was even invited to perform at the Opry once when he had a Top-20 song, but they never invited him to join the Opry as a member.

After Sonny’s wife passed away, he was left to raise  his son Tully alone.  This he did despite still trying to carry on with his career as a singer.  Tully would travel with him and stand backstage as Sonny performed and was adopted by all the musicians and other performers something like a mascot. Sonny outlived Tully who predeceased him in 1993.

Sonny is remembered as someone who could sing and sell a song but not hold his liquor. He is also remembered as a loving grandfather to Tully’s son, Mike, who lived with Sonny until 2003 when Sonny passed away and Mike moved to Nashville.

Mike inherited Sonny’ guitar and had some dreams of following in Sonny’s footsteps as a country singer.