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February is Black History Month... June 'teenth'
Tuesday, February 10, 2009 • Posted February 10, 2009

June "teenth" was a time of fun and celebration for the Mason-Jackson black families who lived across the Comanche Creek in the northwest part of town. (The negroes of Texas have always celebrated that date, June 19, as their "Emancipation Day," because word came to Galveston June 19, 1865, that slaves were free.) The following story is from a recollection of Sandy Miller.

A big barbecue dinner at noon was to be held. Uncle Gus Jackson did all the preparing and cooking of the meat by himself. Carl Kothmann always gave two goats and Kurt Martin would give a sheep. This continuned as long as they were both living. Leroy Schmidt would also give a goat. Uncle Gus would get up at 4:00 a.m. to get things started.

First, he would build a fire and let it burn until there were only red hot coals left. In the meantime, he put four wooden pegs in the ground and stretched chicken wire over it. Then, he brought the coals and put them under the chicken wire. The meat was layed on top of the chicken wire. The meat was usually ready around 10:00 o'clock.

A 25 pound block of ice was purchased at the Ice House. The ice was broken up and put in the ice box, and the rest was put in tubs. Iced tea would be served at the noon meal.

Potatoes were bought for the potato salad and J. D. Leifeste donated the beans. The beans were cooked in a big, black washpot. Mrs. Kothmann loaned her big pans from the hotel, which were used for the cooking of the potatoes. The potato salad was made in two big dish pans. Hands were used to mix all the ingredients and wide-eyed, hungry looking young 'uns standing around cried out, "let me lick your hand, let me lick your hand."

There were many cakes and pies on hand for the festive occasion.

In the afternoon, you dressed special with a new dress and then proceeded to watch the baseball game. A man out of Austin would catch balls while sitting in a rocking chair. This was a feature act to help sponsor the baseball team when they were getting started.

Sometime, you would be able to get an all-black orchestra from out of San Antonio and have a dance that night. Ed Tom (Lightning) and Jake Miller got sand out of the creek and mixed it with water and cement to make a slab or patio to dance on. This was built to the south end of the shack. Part of it still remains to this day. Beer and whiskey were available to all, and it is said, "Everybody got drunk on June "teenth" except the children."

The June "teenth" celebration was started sometime in the 1930s and continued into the early 1960s. Not long after that, family members began moving away to other towns, and some were deceased. The closeness that for so many years knit the Mason-Jackson clan together was forever being unraveled at the sam by a birght and vigorous younger generation, and no one can keep "time from marching on."

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