In celebration of Blanco County’s 150th birthday, the Blanco County News will be publishing stories from local citizens who descended from the first settlers in the county.
Events on March 8 will continue the year-long celebration. See the schedule on page A7.
By Bernice West
The first Trainer immigrant to America related to the Blanco Trainers came from Dublin, Ireland to settle in South Carolina on a land grant from King George prior to 1776. His name was James Trainer. When the Revolutionary War broke out between the Colonies and England, James sided with his new country and fought under General Frances Marion, known as the "Swamp Fox." James Trainer was killed, leaving a widow and two sons, one of whom was also named James.
This son, James Trainer, had moved to Georgia by 1794 where he married Ann Brice in Columbia City, GA, on September 27, 1794. By 1806, James was in Dalton, GA, where he participated in a land lottery. It was in Georgia that James and Ann Brice Trainer's two sons were born; David S. Trainer, born in 1807, and William N. Trainer, born on April 23, 1808. While the Trainers were in Georgia, James fought in the Battle of New Orleans under Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. He received, on November 29, 1817, a patent for a quarter section of land in Illinois for his service in the Peyster's 42nd and injury in the War of 1812.
In the mid- to late-1820s, James Trainer and his sons William Neil and David S. moved from Georgia to Illinois, to Shuyler County, near the town of Rushville. James married a second time, to Marry Shields, on December 25, 1828. Here too, James' sons took wives; David married Rebecca Martin and William married Hannah Owen, daughter of Ethan Owen and Hannah Seeley Owen, on September 1, 1831. Both men settled in and started their families. Hannah's g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather, Robert Seeley, came from England to America in 1630 and John Owen, the other g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather, came in 1850 from Wales. William Neil (Uncle Billie) and Hannah Owen Trainer were the parents of nine children. Martha Ann (Nov. 15, 1832), Mary Jane (Oct. 24, 1834), Samuel E. (Jul. 31, 1837), David James (Nov. 18, 1839; my g-g-g-grandfather), Hannah (Jan. 1, 1842), William R. (Feb. 15, 1845), John F. (Aug. 18, 1848), and twin boys Marion W. and David M. (Oct. 11, 1852). The twins were killed in the Civil War.
By 1843, itchy feet had infected the Trainer men again. A large group of Trainers and Martins (David's in-laws) left Illinois for Texas and settled in Fannin County near Bonham. David received two grants; they sold out and loaded up the wives and kids, and moved to Gonzales County. The Trainers inspected various parts of the country and settled on Lockhart Springs as a desirable location. Oral history maintains that William built the first cabin. He was a carpenter by trade. His father James died in 1846 and was the first white man buried in Lockhart Springs.
Lockhart developed into a thriving settlement; it was time to move on. David and Rebecca packed their wagons and started West. They settled on the Cibolo near San Antonio. There they had built their home and had nine children—Isabel, Martha J., James M., William, Elizabeth, Ruth, Louisa, David, and Alerena. David's son, James, left on a horse-buying trip to Mexico that had been postponed a year before because of dangerous Indian conditions. It was the last time his family was to see him. He was robbed and killed on the trail. His body was never recovered.
In 1850, Uncle Billie became unhappy with his life in Lockhart. He moved to Curry Creek for a time. In the spring of 1853, he moved his family to the Blanco Valley. Mr. John W. Speer's "A History of Blanco County" shows that Captain James H. Callahan, Uncle Billie Trainer (William Neil), and Uncle Clem (E.C. Hinds) were the first three in the Blanco Valley, along the river.
In the same year, High McLaren, W.S. Johnson, Col. Jessie L. McCrocklin, his son-in-law A.J. Kercheville, and Mr. Blassengame arrived.
The first work for these settlers was to build a cabin, to shelter their families; they were constantly on the lookout for attack from the red savages.
After they have moved in on their pretty valley, after the cabins, were the jobs of looking after their stock, then opening farms, and planting orchards. This is a quote out of Mr. Speer's early history for the boys and girls who may not remember and not realize the hardship the old-timers had when they came. The old-timers went to New Braunfels to mill, a hard enough trip of four or five days; they went to San Marcos for their mail, and to both of these places for their powder, lead, caps, tobacco, coffee, and sugar. No, not much sugar, for they had plenty of honey ready for the taking from wild bees. Compare their surroundings with ours; just remember the pioneers did a lot for us. They sowed; we reap. They planted; we eat the fruit. They subdued; we enjoy this beautiful, healthful, and happy land.
Uncle Billie Trainer helped organize the Masonic Lodge #934 and was a charter member. He was elected commissioner for Precinct #1 and served two terms. While in the office, he petitioned for a road from San Marcos to Fredericksburg. He helped build the Methodist Church and his family was charter members. He also helped with the Blanco High School. He was a Minute Man-Ranger under Captain William Blackwell during the Civil War. He also raised horses and sold them to the cavalry. He had two stallions each with a herd of mares. One stallion's name was Poindexter. Grandmama Annie Trainer Smith told us stories about the horses. Sometimes the stallions would fight and the men folks would have to rope them and pull them apart. Don't I know that was a sight.
When the first old-timers came, they settled by the river and most of them had a clear spring close by.
We owe the "old timers" a great lot of thanks for making our valley such a nice place to live.