accidentally walking up on the young couple sitting on a wagon tongue
near Brushy Creek outside Round
Rock that day would have realized they discussed something very
important. Indeed, their topic had to do with the rest of their
Twenty-seven-year-old Dick Tisdale – Kentucky-born, Round Rock-raised
– had been up the Chisholm Trail and cowboyed in Montana and Idaho
as well. Though they grew up only a few miles apart, he had not
known 18-year-old Ada Saunders for very long. Dick quickly decided
Ada was the girl he wanted to marry, but not quite yet. He wanted
to make a little more money first.
with the older, confident Tisdale, Ada agreed to wait for him and
Two years later,
in the fall of 1886, Tisdale showed up in Round
Rock with a rock of his own – a diamond engagement ring. Ada
accepted it, but back then, a girl’s father had to say yes, too.
to see E.L. Saunders and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Not wanting to make a snap decision on something as important as
his daughter’s future, Saunders’ answer was no answer. Instead,
he invited his daughter’s suitor to join him on a deer hunt.
County had plenty of open country back then, the white tail
deer population had been hunted heavily for years with no thought
toward conservation. The older farmer and the young cowboy hunted
hard all day along a creek on Saunders’ property, but did not see
any game. Near sundown, they finally jumped a doe which ran briefly
before freezing in a stand of trees.
“If you can get that deer, you can have her,” Saunders told Tisdale.
Toting a shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot, Tisdale raised the weapon,
aimed at the doe and pulled the trigger. Mortally wounded, the doe
ran a few yards on instinct and adrenaline before dropping dead.
At that, Saunders
turned to face Tisdale. “You can have the girl,” he told his future
The two men field dressed the deer and went to see Ada. The family
would have venison for supper and wedding plans to discuss.
A century later,
two of their descendants – Marie C. Tisdale and Albert A. Tisdale
– would tell the story of how Dick and Ada came to be married in
a self-published family history, “Texas Cousins: Correll, Tisdale,
and Related Families.” Nortex Press printed the book in 1986.
Getting back to Dick and Ada, on Nov. 11, 1886, the couple exchanged
their wedding vows at her home in Saunders, then a rail stop seven
miles north of downtown Austin.
They lived on the Saunders family farm between the small community
named for the Saunders family and Round
Rock. Dick made a living buying and selling mules.
After the birth
of their first child in 1888, they moved to Georgetown
where Dick fed and sold cattle. In 1891, they had a second child.
stayed in Georgetown
for more than a decade. In 1901, having made a little money in livestock,
Dick bought four sections of land in Hartley County near Channing
in the Panhandle.
They relocated to the upper edge of the state, alternately making
some money and surviving vicious, stock-killing winter weather or
soil baking droughts. In 1906 they sold their ranch, moved back
to Central Texas and settled where they had started out, on the
Saunders place not far from where good shooting led to what must
have been a good marriage.
They couple had another child when Ada was 40 and went on to celebrate
their golden wedding anniversary in 1936. Not long after that, Ada
died, but Dick lived until January 1953, dying at 96.
The story of
how a successful deer hunt had made their marriage possible lives
on in the family lore of their descendants.
© Mike Cox - "Texas Tales"
November 8, 2007 column
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