Mary Elizabeth Knight


October 27, 1930 - October 17, 2013
Role: Ranch Family Member, Historian
Maiden name: Welder

Mary Elizabeth was born and raised in Beeville, Texas. She is a member of several of the pioneering Texas families, the Welders being the most notable. She would go to the ranch with her father, Ray Welder, whenever she could. “I was this little kid holding on to Daddy's hand, and all these old black cowhands, old trail drivers, would be lined up and down the block propping up the buildings. When Daddy would be taking me into the Bonn's Cafe, he always stopped to shake hands and visit with every one of 'em. I'd get the little lecture. “This is Uncle so and so. He worked for the Woods or the Welder's, whatever years, and they don't come any better. I want you to shake hands when you meet him and say, I'm glad to meet you Uncle so and so.” “When we go on, I want you to shake hands again and say, I'm glad to have met you Uncle so and so. I want them to see that Mother and I have raised you right and you know your manners.” Of course, I complied. They were fascinating. I was thrilled to death to be in the grownups’ world---a privilege. I was the only child down there at 4:30 in the morning.” Mary Elizabeth went on to become a real expert on the different cultures that populated the Coastal Bend: Irish, Mexican, and German. Her weekly letters revealed a considerable expertise and are invaluable stories in themselves. A devoted “junker” and collector of antiques, her finds in the flea markets were the joy of her life only surpassed by the joy she found in preserving history for future generations. Her contributions to this project are enormous.

Introduction to Mary Elizabeth Knight

Louise S. O'Connor
00:01:25
Voice of Mary Elizabeth Knight
00:01:43
Mary E. Knight – I remember a young Navy wife in the '60s remarking about knifings, how terrible they were, how uncivilized. "Why do people use knives? Why didn't they use guns?" And I looked at her and I said, "Which is cheaper, a gun or a knife?" And I said, "Which do you have to load or unload, a gun or a knife? And which is easier to hide, a gun or a knife?" And she looked at me and she said, "Oh!" And I said, "This was a frontier country and a hard country, and ammunition was always very often very hard to come by." I said, "What's going to do you more good steady in a pinch that you can depend on, a gun or a knife?" And she looked at me and she said, "Oh!" And this was the same girl who preached to me a lecture on how wild that you hung people who stole horses! And I said, "Damn right we did!" So, I got this big thing on the barbaric, uncivilized Texans. And I said, "Wait a minute." I said, "How far is it in a pinch from one good source of water to the other in the country you grew up on?" And she said, "Oh, two, three miles." And I said, "Alright. Suppose you're a young rancher's wife living outside of Laredo. And they get word to you that your father is dying in Goliad. And you get thirty miles, your husband is gone; your father is dying and asking for you. And you get the horse and buggy, and the kids, and you get thirty or forty miles out of Laredo, and somebody holds you up and takes those horses and you're left with a couple of little kids." I said, "How far are you think you are going to make it?" And she looked at me and she said, "Oh!"