The Long Road Home, Chapter 2: Lonesome Texas Highway (Jasper)

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**Author's disclaimer: This story is written about a time period of American history that dealt very bluntly and often unfairly with issues of race. Slavery was a fact of life, and racism was the rule and not the exception. Do not confuse my accurately accounting the prevailing attitudes and beliefs with endorsing such. Thank you.**

**Chapter Note: This chapter is told from Jasper's POV, and begins during his childhood. According to canon, he was born in 1843 in Texas. I did make up his middle name, since there's never one mentioned, but I think it sounds nice ;) All history referenced in this chapter is real. Thanks for reading!

Chapter 2: Lonesome Texas Highway (JPOV)

I've told my story in bits and pieces a dozen dozen times over to many different people; I've even had it picked directly from my mind by those possessing such abilities. But I've never sat down and recounted the entire thing, from beginning to end, until now. I've been told my tale is an interesting one, although "interesting" isn't exactly the word I'd choose to describe the path my life has taken. So, to make others happy and to help myself remember things that I've begun to forget, I'll tell you about myself.

I was born Jasper Charles Whitlock III in a small town on the outskirts of Houston, Texas in the spring of 1843.

That was a crazy time in Texas. When I came into the world Texas was actually called the Republic of Texas, an island of defiance in the middle of the skirmishes between Mexico and the United States. The Lone Star flew on the flag proudly; Texas needed no one, it said.

The Whitlock family has a long history, going back to England hundreds of years. I won't bore you with that. They originally settled in the Americas in the East, along the coast from the Carolinas to Alabama, becoming Americans by determination and birth.

Years later, Great-grandfather on my father's side decided he'd had enough of the drama and strife of the Old South. He made a plan move his clan West, into the great wide-open wilderness, where every man has his opportunity to make himself anew. After all, the government was expanding Union territory west by leaps and bounds, nibbling and gobbling up territories from the Mexicans, French and Spanish, offering those newly-claimed lands to industrious and enterprising settlers for practically nothing.

So Great-Grandpa Whitlock dragged his part of the family, most kicking and screaming in protest, across hundreds and hundreds of miles of rutted roads, muddy trails, forested mountains, and rushing rivers, to settle in what would eventually become Oklahoma. There they settled amongst the rolling hills and determined to make a new life.

When Mexico's Santa Anna laid claim to the vast tracts of lands to the south of Oklahoma, what would become Texas, as Mexican territory, he offered generous bonuses and excellent opportunities to any Anglos who chose to make Texas their home. And my father, tired of the constant quarrels with Indians and Union soldiers in Oklahoma Territory, decided he'd take the Mexicans up on their offer. Apparently the Whitlock family has itchy, wandering feet.

He'd recently married my mother, a delicate Virginia belle he'd met while attending University; she wasn't nearly so enthusiastic about the prospect of moving to Mexican territory as Father was. He practically had to tie her to her saddle to get her to go. With everything they owned packed tight in a little wagon, trailing the horses and cattle behind, they struck out south, crossing the Red River, and made their way.

The Mexican government awarded Father a nice little tract of land outside of Houston, although it wasn't called Houston back then. Father used the grant money they supplied and built himself a house and barn and storage buildings, and a mill to supply water and grind grain. He was able to hire local workers, Mestizos for the most part (Mexican-Indian mixed people), dark-skinned and humble people who work hard without complaining for very little reward.

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