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  Texas : Features : Columns : N. Ray Maxie :

On Moss's Mill Pond -
Who Owned It?

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
Walden Pond, this is not. Nor is it "On Golden Pond". But, in my humble opinion, a very close second. Some early childhood memories will always remain.

From the beginning of my memory, as a small child barely old to remember anything on this planet, I clearly remember a serious quarrel. A quarrel that very nearly escalated into a deadly situation, but cooler heads prevailed. You know how things like a serious conflict can permanently stick with a small child very quickly and forever? It was a neighborly quarrel that involved a very strategic and important property line. The property line in dispute involved Moss's Mill Pond. The pond was actually a nice lake, about four acres in size with a rapid current. The water was really cold and clear. It had a nice spillway on the upper end that had previously been used for a "great" mill site.

Moss's Mill Pond was about two and one half miles due north of McLeod, in Deep Northeast Texas. There's a large region there known as the Tri-States area, encompassed by the much larger Ark-La-Tex region. My family tells me that I was born in an old farmhouse under a big walnut tree only a couple hundred yards east of the mill pond.
N. Ray Maxie 1942 family photo
"Recently found this picture of me and my family... It was taken in 1942..."
The main county road running north out of McLeod, to the Maxie place, was wide and very sandy. The sand was deep and unstable. That old 1939 Chevrolet truck's wheels would spin in the sand and jump up and down real bad as my father drove to and from McLeod. On one trip into town, we had a bucket full of eggs. About three dozen fresh eggs gathered from our hens nests and placed in a metal bucket to carry to town and sell. As that old truck jumped up and down on the sand, the severe shaking broke every last one of those eggs. It was a scrambled mess. There went the much needed egg money for that day. Proceeding on, after the long stretch of deep sand, we would go up a long hill, which turned into clay and down the hill into another long stretch of sand. Soon, we approached the mill pond on the east side of the road at the Moore's homestead. Turning right, we proceeded to enter the Maxie place.

My grandfather wanted half of that mill pond very badly. It was his best source of water for livestock. He had bought his place with the understanding and the paperwork that showed the property line was the center of Moss's Creek. The creek was there long before the mill pond was ever built many, many years earlier. The Moores had papers that were prepared after the mill pond was built, that showed the property line to be the high water marks on my grandfather's side of the pond. So you can see how this serious dispute occurred. My family understood that they owned half of the mill pond, out to the center line. The Moore family understood that they owned the entire pond.

Bad tempers flared frequently. Angry words were exchanged over time. Threats of vengeance often arose and violence was sometimes very near. This was during a time of very little law and order in that part of Cass County. But, eventually, to the credit to everyone involved, cooler heads did prevail. Favorable negotiations developed and a mutually agreeable deal was struck. I am extremely happy that it was. Throughout history and even in this modern day and time, killings very often occur over property line disputes. My grandparents later divided all the property between their four surviving children. Years later they all sold out and headed for greener pastures, like city life. Moss's Mill Pond is still there and I am fond of visiting it occasionally. After all, it is my birthplace.
N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray" August 15, 2005 Column
piddlinacres@consolidated.net

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