Blanco County News
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Early Blanco Settlers
Trainer Family Settles in the Hill Country
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 • Posted October 7, 2008

The first Trainer immigrant to come to America related to the Blanco Trainers was from Dublin, Ireland. He came to settle on a land grant from King George prior to 1776 in South Carolina. His name was James Trainer. When the war broke out between the colonies and England, James sided with the colonies and joined with General Frances Marion, who was known as the “Swamp Fox”. He was killed, leaving a widow and two sons. One of the sons was named James. We have been in America for 10 generations, so I guess we might have a little Irish blood in our veins.

James Trainer moved to Georgia in 1794 and married Ann Brice in Columbia, Georgia on September 27, 1794. They were parents of two sons; David S. Trainer, born in 1807 and William Neil, born in 1808. James, while in Georgia, fought in the battle of New Orleans under Andrew Jackson in the war of 1812. On November 29, 1817, he received a patent for a quarter section of land in Illinois for service in the Payster 42nd and inquiry in the War of 1812.

James and his boys and their families moved from Georgia to Rushville in Shuyler County in the 1820’s. James married a second time to Mary Shield on December 25, 1828. Both his boys married; David married Rebecca Martin and William married Hannah Owen, daughter of Ethan and Hannah Sealey Owen. Both men settled in and started their families. Hannahs’ greatest grandfather came to America from Wales in 1850 and Robert Sealey came from England in 1630. William and Hannah had 9 children. David James, born in November 1839, was the father of John Lewis Trainer. David James Trainer happens to be my great great grandfather and Uncle John is my great uncle. Uncle John was easy going and a quiet man who loved his family and neighbors.

Most all our old families lived in the same community. We kids all had a saddle pony we could ride when we wanted to. Us younger members, when taking a ride, like to stop by the neighbors and check out what they had going on. The families in our hills and valleys were all farmers and ranchers. In those days, when big jobs showed up for our community, all the other families were there to help and the ladies came along with food prepared to feed the men that were doing the job.

After Uncle Billie did what all good citizens did, he took care of the needs of his family. After this was all done, he obtained a grant for 2000 acres from the state of Texas and agreed to raise horses and sell them to the cavalry. You know ...taking care of horses is a big job. There were no fences then and he would climb a big pecan tree that grew in front of the Church of Christ to check where his horses were. The tree died a few years ago but the stump is still there. He always dreamed about having a horse ranch and it came true. He had two stallions. One was named Poindexter and I can’t remember the others’ name. I wish I had written down the tales my granny Annie Trainer Smith told me.

Mr. Speer (John W.) told like he saw it in the 1850’s. The old settlers remember but it would be hard for the young ones to realize the hardships and inconveniences that these “old timers” had to contend with. They went to New Braunfels to mill, a hard enough trip of 4-5 days, and to San Marcos for mail. To both places for lead, powder, caps, tobacco and sugar. No, not much sugar; they had plenty of long sweetening and honey ready for the taking from “Wild Bees”.

We now have mills, mail facilities, churches, schools, etc. The conveniences and blessings of an old settled country.

Some of the “old timers” mentioned above are still alive and among us and some of them have devoted all those years to subduing this beautiful land and making it ready for your enjoyment. They have failed to lay by large estates for themselves; in fact, some of them are old and poor and I call to your attention to that fact, not to wound their feelings, but that we may all show them the respect due to them. Remember that they sowed, we reap; they planted, we eat the fruit. We enjoy this beautiful, healthy, happy land.

In the early years of our beautiful valley, one of our ancestors was William Neil; known by all as Uncle Billie. He had a dream of owning a horse ranch and that was why he brought his family to Texas, where the bed of river was lined with white limestone rocks and it was a clear stream with grass as tall as the spurs of a man on a horse. William Neil Trainer (Uncle Billie) was one of the first settlers and carved a home out in the wilderness. The first thing Uncle Billie did was build a cabin to shelter his family; then to look after his animals, clear the farm land, and plant an orchard. The first people here had to start building schools and churches. The men here had to arrange and help with the building. Uncle Billie and his family were charter members of the Methodist Church. He was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge #216. He helped when building the school and was with the Masonic Lodge in building the Blanco High School. His sons’ home was out in Kendalia on the left side of the road; part of his fathers’ land.

David James, who married Sarah Jane Page Johnson, had two sons: William Pinkeny and John Lewis. The brothers also had a half-brother, James Robert Johnson, who was sheriff of Blanco County for about 8-10 years. These 3 had places off of William Neil’s land. All lived places next to each other and close by David James’ place.

John Lewis Trainer, born in Blanco County in 1871, married Eliza Matilda McCullough on February 15, 1873. John died July 9, 1942 and Eliza died May 7, 1937 and are buried in the Blanco Cemetery. They were the parents of 6 children: Alta Pearl Trainer (October 23, 1893 - February 1, 1971) who was married to Ralph Moore (April 5, 1891 - November 22, 1965). Both are buried in the Blanco Cemetery; Ophelia Trainer (born August 7, 1895), who was married to John Green Moore (born November 23, 1913). Ophelia is buried in Elgin and John is buried in the Blanco Cemetery; David Trainer (September 3, 1897 - March 21, 1963), who was married to Lucilla Byars (born March 18, 1902). Both are buried in the Blanco Cemetery; Beulah Trainer (born October 18, 1900), who married Lee Dechert on July 21, 1920. Both are buried somewhere near Dallas; Gordon Lewis Trainer (born August 18, 1906) who married Thelma Gourley on May 5, 1929. Both are buried in Austin; Gladys Marie Trainer (born December 10, 1910) married Alex Knibbe on August 17, 1932. Their marriage fell apart in 1946.

The continued article is a request of Uncle Johns’ grandaughter, Dorothy Moore Pfeiffer, and Aunt Mae was her grandma. I think his younger daughter, Gladys, was with him when he bought the Whippet touring car. In about 1927, John purchased a two-seater Whippet touring car. He reviewed instructions on its’ operation, then began the journey from town, greatly enjoying all the admiring looks he received en route. As he arrived near home and approached each of their gates between him and the house, he opened them without ever stepping from the Whippet. No, he had no remote control. You see, he realized he had forgotten a very important part of his driving lesson ....how to stop! So through the gates he crashed! Splinters a-flyin’! John arrived at the house and began circling the lawn. The family had gathered excitedly outside, though he was really showing off, calling for him to stop and give rides. But ‘round and ‘round he went! Finally, he shouted what was becoming obvious to the astonished audience, “I don’t know how to stop this thing!”. He continued his dizzying exhibition until nearly dark, knowing he had to make some kind of landing. John headed for the garage, converting it rather quickly to a pass-through. He plowed toward a huge cedar tree full of chickens that had gone to bed for the night. And there he stopped. The next day, he mended the gates and garage. Grandpa John had learned how to stop the Whippet in a more peaceful fashion and was known far and wide for his driving.

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