(This is going to be another LONG post, so view when you have time to read my long-winded tale. It’s worth it, I promise!)
Apologies for not getting this up sooner. I said there would be a good blog post after the abysmally depressing one earlier, but I’ve been taking care of the munchkin. Bronchitis sucks, but she seems to be doing a little better. Finally broke the 102.5 degree fever, and her breathing is not as labored as the coughing fits have abated to a manageable level. Kudos to ibuprofen, Mucinex and Delsym—these meds are invaluable in managing the nasty symptoms.
Thank you for the sweet emails and comments—they are very much appreciated. Talking about the situation is difficult, which is why most of the details have been limited to protected blogs. Two more chapters are looming on the horizon, and hopefully I’ll be able to deal with them when the inevitable time comes.
Now, to the trip. Hubby hit the ball out of the park with this one. Usually I’m the one who plans the little getaways for anniversaries, vacations, etc, when we can afford to escape. Since I was in emotional overload with recent events, hubby took over the planning.
For our 12th wedding anniversary, hubby arranged a stay up in Marble Falls, Texas, along with a chauffeured wine tour through Heart of Texas Wine Tours. For a set fee, they picked us up at our hotel in a very plush, air conditioned van and took us to five different wineries for wine tastings, all fees included, plus stopping for lunch. Hubby had booked it with highly recommended Annie, but since she ended up being awarded her U.S. citizenship that day, we traded a lovely English lady for Jeff, who was an awesome tour guide himself.
The drive into Marble Falls was a quick hour and fifteen minutes straight up 281. It is a quaint Hill Country town near Johnson City, Blanco and Fredericksburg. We stayed at the La Quinta there, which was a very nice surprise, i.e. being the equivalent of a 5-star hotel with a 2-star price. Yes, I said La Quinta, lol! The La Quinta Inn & Suites Marble Falls is part of the 133 acre La Ventana development, an old World Tuscan style mixed use project. Our room had a private balcony overlooking Lake Marble Falls/Colorado River, and the king sized bed was soooo comfortable. Here are some views from the room:
Hubby had told me where we were going a couple of days before the trip. We’re both big into genealogy, and since he knew some of my pioneer ancestors were from the general area he gave me a head’s up in case I wanted to go traipse through some cemeteries the day after our wine tour. I did my research and made note of Fredericksburg and Hye, Texas.
If you’ve never taken a wine tour, I highly recommend it. I like wine, but unless a certain variety has been recommended by a friend or has won some kind of competition, it’s really a hit or miss when it comes to finding something you like from the hundreds upon hundreds of varieties out there. A wine tasting at a winery usually consists of five different wines–sometimes they let you pick from a selection while other times they have the five picked out. Each adds up to about two generous sips per variety. Hence if you’re a lightweight like me, anything more than two wineries necessitates a designated driver. And the experience wasn’t snobbish in the least. Face it–some people take wines so seriously, they’re cross-eyed from looking down their nose at everything. I wanted a friendly, warm, laid-back experience, and that’s exactly what we got.
The venues/wineries we went to were spread out all over the place. The first was Taste Wine + Art, Kirchman Gallery in Johnson City, followed by Texas Hills Vineyard near Johnson City on the road to Pedernales State Park, then William Chris Vineyards in Hye, Four Point Cellars in Fredericksburg, and last but not least Messina Hof Winery in Fredericksburg. Lunch was after our visit to William Chris at The Auslander Restaurant and Biergarten in Fredericksburg where they serve authentic German cuisine. You know it’s authentic when you make a run to the restroom and the patrons in there are speaking German!
Jeff picked us up around 11:30 and we stopped at Taste Wine + Art. It’s not really a winery, but an art gallery with a home/garden/land attached. The owners were really sweet people. We actually got a double dose there, as the reps from Cap Rock winery were visiting and they gave us five tastings of their wine on top of the five from the gallery. This was an eye-opening experience for me as well as a disappointment. I prefer red wines, not really caring for whites in general. The whites I’ve tried have been at parties, or ones I’ve used for cooking. Eh…no biggie. Then the Cap Rock guy lays out his wares. The winery has a new owner and they are taking it in a new direction. Good for them, and I wish them all the best. The first four wines were okay, some quite nice. The fifth one…oh my God! It was a Moscato, but the disappointment was it’s not one they have commercially available. This wine smelled EXACTLY like an antique rose, and I do mean exactly. It was beautiful. The taste was the same as the smell. It was an incredible experience, especially since it was a white wine. I was seriously bummed that it wasn’t available yet, and the one they do have available now isn’t anywhere near as awesome, so don’t run out and buy a Moscato from Cap Rock. After that sampling the owner of the gallery took us on a tour of the area where all the plants are, the lovely screened-in room/back porch where he invites all to sit and enjoy a glass of wine while looking out onto the Hill Country view, then back to the gallery to look at the art exhibits, mostly by local artists, and then do their wine tasting. We purchased a small cute bird painting that was done in an unusual medium/technique—don’t ask me how it’s done unless I’m reading the accompanying explanation. The bird looked happy, which is what drew me to it. Our front room in our house is where we sit and have coffee each morning, looking out the window at the birds and squirrels raiding the five feeders we have there, so that pic ended up in that room. We indulged in two of the five tastings the gallery offered, but since the rep had given us five it was a little too much at once, so we bowed out of the last three. Nice place, and I recommend stopping there and checking it out.
Next—Texas Hills Vineyard. Their Orange Moscato 2010 is AWESOME. I cannot recommend this one more highly. You can order it off their website if you can’t find it at a local store, and it is worth every penny. If you click on the link above you can peruse their vineyard, winery, store, etc.
Okay, here we come to the “trip” part. We’ve been having a blast with Jeff, talking about the area wineries, the tour business, the locale, etc. I took some pics of the landscape as he’s driving. I wish I could convey the beauty of what we saw, the vividness of the wildflowers, the intense greenery of the plants from recent rains, but I can’t. These pics do no justice whatsoever as they were taken speeding along at 60-70 mph, but give just a vague hint of the true beauty:
We’ve just left Texas Hills Vineyard and hubby asks Jeff if we’ll be going anywhere near Hye, Texas. He says yes, William Chris Vineyards are in that general vicinity. Hubby explains that we are into genealogy, and that my great-great-grandfather, Ambrose Colbath, was a Texas Ranger and his father, my great-great-great-grandfather was John Colbath, who donated land to start the Christadelphian cemetery/church/school back in 1882. They are both supposedly buried at the Christadelphian Cemetery in Hye/Stonewall, Texas, but we’re going to have to try and find better directions than what we’ve got to find the place (I’ll elaborate on that below). Right before we get to the vineyards we pass a sign that says Hye, so we’re happy to get an idea of where we’ll be going the next day.
We pull in and are walking up to the building when hubby tells me to stop so he can take a picture, the first time he has done that. Here it is (let me know if you spot any ghosts or other unusual impressions):
Jeff then takes the camera to get a pic of hubby and me:
We go inside, are greeted and are given the history of the building, which dates from 1905 and has many original components, old vintage wooden doors comprise the ceiling in the back room, a 400-year-old oak tree in the back, and a pioneer cemetery to the left of the building. Ghost Hunters/Paranormal investigators from Texas have been there three times and are on track to designate the building/grounds haunted. Pretty cool. We go to the back room for the wine tasting and the lady is giving us a summary of the history of the property. They are the third owners from pioneer times, the ones before them being the Deike’s, and the ones before that the Washburns. She goes on to tell us that the original owner, Thomas Washburn, was buried out in the cemetery a short distance from the building along with some of his family. The story went that Mr. Washburn had accused a gentleman of killing a steer belonging to him back in 1875. I think, wow, I guess a lot of that went on back then since there’s a story like that in my family tree. Mr. Washburn then tells the gentleman he’s going to kill him. The man has to go borrow a shotgun before meeting Mr. Washburn for this “duel”. Again, I’m thinking this must have been pretty common for the time since this also matches the story in my family. The woman says they met in a hickory thicket on the Pedernales River and shot it out. The man was faster and Mr. Washburn was killed. They buried him out in the cemetery and engraved on his headstone also is the name of the man he accused. I’m thinking, that’s freaking weird, the story in my family states the man who was killed had engraved on his tombstone the name of my relative.
At this moment Jeff, the tour guide, comes around the corner and tells us we’ve got to see this, it’s our ancestor, Colbath, who killed Washburn! After picking up my jaw off the floor, I follow Jeff into the front room where there’s a framed summary hanging on the wall. Check it out:
Sure enough, “Ambers” Colbath was actually Ambrose Colbath. After explaining who I was, I asked the owners if we could go see the pioneer cemetery. I didn’t have baby powder with me to accentuate the lettering, but here are the pics:
The headstone reads:
March 12, 1842
June 21, 1875
By Ambers Colbath
Talk about being totally freaked out. We had no idea we would be visiting this particular winery, nor of the history of the grounds it was located on. Toss in the fact that they think the place is haunted, and let’s just say I was ready to hop back in the van pronto! From the family history as well as other sources, Washburn was the one who initiated this incident. Considering the heavy presence of Indians in the area and their propensity of killing cattle, it made it strange that he would accuse his neighbor of killing the steer, not to mention foolhardy threatening to kill a Texas Ranger. Ambrose married in 1875 and was living near his father/family. My great-grandmother was born not too long after this incident. It was one heck of a strange feeling to realize that if Ambrose had been a little bit slower on the draw, I wouldn’t exist.
The next day we went in search of Christadelphian Cemetery. These are the directions I had found on the internet:
“If you know where this school is near Hye go to this school, turn right (you will see the Christadelphian Campgrounds just in front of you) turn left before the Campgrounds and go about a half mile north and turn right in an open field, follow the signs. You will have to go through a gate and the Cemetery is on your left a little farther along. You will approach from the back end of the Cemetery as the Cemetery Gate is on the East side. This School and the Campgrounds are right on the Pedernales River. (North side). You will have to go on the old road off 290 and it is east of the South Grape Creek School which is on the south side of 290.”
Needless to say, we would have never found the cemetery. Luckily we stopped at the Post Office in Hye and had a lovely conversation with Dorothy Beyer who runs the post office. That post office was where LBJ mailed his first letter at the age of 4.
After shaking her head at the print out we had, she gave excellent directions. Take 290 to Ranch Road 1, turn right on Park Road 49/Klein Road. When it T’s, you’ll see the LBJ one room school house to the left, go right to Redstone Ranch Road. Go down until you see a road marker on the left for Miracle Mile, and there will be a sign below it with Cemetery and an arrow. Go down Miracle Mile until you come to Christadelphian Cemetery Road, which T’s in on the right. Turn right, and the cemetery will be down a ways on the left.
We found it, along with the grave sites for my great-great-great-grandfather and GGG-grandmother, John and Mary Martha Neal (Patsy) Colbath, and my great-great-grandfather Ambrose Colbath.
Shared tombstone for John and Martha Colbath:
Ambrose has his marker along with his Texas Rangers Memorial Cross to the right of his headstone:
Other views of the cemetery:
The rest of the trip was quite enjoyable until Friday evening, of course. We learned a lot about different types of wines we like, and fell in love with Moscato as well as Orange Moscato. I picked up a bottle of Grape Creek Muscat Canelli since we had visited their vineyard in the past and enjoyed their wines. The Muscat rates right up there with the Texas Hills Orange Moscato, but if I were given a choice between the two, I’d have a hard time choosing.
I would have never thought a wine tour would end up yielding a gem in genealogy, but it did. I gave both Heart of Texas Wine Tours and William Chris Vineyards permission to pass on this tale at later times in their ventures. I also told the owner I would send them pictures/documents regarding Ambrose Colbath and his service in Company D Frontier Battalion under the command of Captain C.R. Perry in 1874, as well as his grave site.
I wonder if Ambrose wanted his role in this whole thing clarified, since the only documentation was the framed summary at the William Chris Vineyards. Seriously, what are the chances I’d end up there? From what I can tell, he was backed into a corner and he did what he had to in order to protect himself and his family. Me? I’m just happy he was a little bit quicker than Washburn.