La Feria News

The Mystery of the Stolen Horse

CentennialSeal

The city of La Feria will be celebrating its 100th anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we will be digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past. 

This week’s Centennial story is an excerpt from For We Love Our Valley Home by Miriam Chatelle, a long out-of-print book published in 1948 that describes early Valley history. 

The Mystery of the Stolen Horse

by Miriam Chatelle

There was a landmark located in the very heart of the little town of La Feria which many say existed until the late 1940’s and it had been known to the Indians long before the community was settled. It was extremely beautiful and shapely ebony. The ebony is a slow-growing tree, and it surely must have been very, very old, for it was the largest ebony I ever remember seeing. I remember another thing- or rather, it reminds me of an incident to think of that ebony tree.

It happened one fall, when my father, E.C. Swann, was preaching there during his ministry in La Feria. It had rained and rained, making him late in collecting his Conference claims. So he asked Mr. Knight if he could borrow one of his horses to make his country calls, since he was sure the “Model T” would get stuck.

In this photo: A view of La Feria from 1929 that includes a rather large tree. Could this be the large ebony tree that Chatelle describes in her recollections of her father E.C. Swann’s stint as La Feria’s Methodist preacher? Click for larger image.

In this photo: A view of La Feria from 1929 that includes a rather large tree. Could this be the large ebony tree that Chatelle describes in her recollections of her father E.C. Swann’s stint as La Feria’s Methodist preacher? Click for larger image.

 

Mr. Knight was glad to let him use one of his good saddle horses; in fact, he said he would tie him to this said ebony tree downtown, since he was coming to town very, very early the following morning, which would be Monday. So Daddy dressed all up for his task, walked downtown and sure enough there was the beautiful animal, saddled and all ready to go. He mounted and rode away.

Somewhat later Mr. Knight, who had had an unexpected delay in his plans, brought the horse and tied it to the ebony tree and left. Neither he nor Daddy was aware that Daddy had ridden away on the Sheriff’s steed, the absence of which had sent the sheriff in search of the thief.

The mystery was solved long before Daddy returned to be accosted and threatened to be thrown into jail, much to the glee of quite an audience. He told his congregation at church the following Sunday that he’d daresay there never had been suc an instance before as that-a Methodist preacher stealing a sheriff’s horse to make Conference collections.

Editor’s note – Chatelle noted that the population of La Feria was 2,630 in 1948 when her book was published.

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