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A Love Story

That men who fared forth to brave the labors and dangers of the wilderness were strong-minded and sturdy of physique might be taken for granted. The unknown beyond the frontier held no charm for the frail or timid of either sex. So the student finds no cause for wonder in the material achievements of the pioneer, for he would not have ventured upon the task before him had he not been of the mental and physical fiber which both fitted him for and inclined him to the undertaking.

The student therefore, visioning the pioneer, sees something of the hardness and sturdiness, and reading of his achievements, learns of the results of his toils and privations, and into that record he finds it difficult to weave a thread of romance, a woof of tender sentiment. He might as readily picture the rough coated, towering oak bringing forth the shrinking, delicate violet.

But hearts were tender in those days though bodies were hard, and sweet sentiment sang to the bearded pioneer in harmony with the caroling of the birds, just as it does now and eve. has. History makes no record of the love stories of man and maid while the axe hewed their homes out of the wilderness, and for these we must rely upon legend and family lore.

One of these legends tells of the love of Joseph Pulsifer for Margaret Grigsby, and his steadfastness to his sweetheart when she was but a memory. Because it serves so well to soften our estimates of his contemporaries, it is set down here.

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The Maiden's Grave

Joseph Pulsifer was one of the small company of earlier settlers who laid out the town of Beaumont. He had come to the little settlement from the east and established a drug business at a point just across Pearl street from where the courthouse now stands. He was one of the earlier volunteers to join the patriot army that eventually won Texas freedom, and afterwards served as clerk of the county.

Margaret Grigsby was a daughter of Joseph Grigsby, wealthy cotton planter, living at Grigsby's bluff, near the site of Port Neches. Joseph Pulsifer loved her and his love was returned, and they were to become man and wife. While they waited for the war's echoes to die away and the new-born state to find its balance, they played, just as lovers now, among the prairie flowers and beneath the spreading trees where the birds trilled in love notes no tenderer than those that sang in their own hearts. On the quiet bosom of the Neches they floated in the moonlight and builded castles in the air, even as sweetly sentimental lovers do now, and visioned the home they would together build, and spoke, perhaps timidly of the family they would found.

Then death came and took Margaret away, only a few weeks before the wedding was to have taken place, and Sorrow sat beside the young lover where Happiness had briefly lingered. And Sorrow remained with him throughout his days, for the legend relates that Joseph Pulsifer never found another sweetheart and remained throughout a long life faithful to a memory.

A short while after Margaret's death, Joseph embarked in a small sailboat for New Orleans, and successfully braving the waters of the gulf, brought back a plain marble slab upon which he engraved with his own hands the words:

"Margaret Darling, Rest in Peace."

This he placed over her grave beneath towering forest trees. While he lived he cared for the little mound and for many years after he was gone the people, knowing the story, protected the grave and kept it inviolate -- a service in which they testified that the sentiment which moved Joseph Pulsifer had a place in their own hearts.

But the time came when the progress of industry, the coming of the Texas Company, blotted out the lonely grave. Cattle were loosed upon the plains and sought shade beneath the trees that sheltered the mortal Margaret, and beneath their hoofs the monument to a faithful love was ground to dust, leaving only legend to preserve the story of Joseph and Margaret as proof that hearts were both tender and steadfast in those days.

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