I've been feeling like research has been going slow, especially after the highlight of speaking with Mrs. X a few weeks ago, the first peron I've found who knew someone who built or worked at the Ore Terminal. I haven't had any luck finding a descendant of David (?) Rutledge, the customs inspector, nor anyone else, except Farmer Jennings.
I'm now pretty much convinced this is the Farmer Jennings as cited in Arthur Gomez's book...and he's the only one that any author mentions by name who was associated with this thing.
So today, I thought I'd do a little back tracking. I was reading about the indices at the Center for American History's website and somehow ended up trying to find out where Farmer Jennings was buried. I knew it was near San Marcos, TX. Seeing as I'm in Austin, I was thinking I'd go down to photograph the headstone.
I had done this research before, so all I was doing was trying to find the exact location so that I could drive there. Turns out, the cemetary has a website. It's called Humphries Cemetery. Farmer's buried there.
So, I emailed the webmaster, also a Jennings, to see if he had any information to share.
I also discovered the webmaster had another site dedicated to the Jennings Family. There's a picture there of Farmer's headstone. To see it, go here and click on page eight. It's the picture named "tombstone_rfj".
The webmaster then emailed me saying he didn't have much info on Farmer, but gave me the name of another person to contact South of Austin that may know more. So it looks like I'm back on track. Hopefully, the discussion with that person will prove fruitful.
Hiking the trail and being overwhelmed by the physical challenge of building the tramway made me think of the people involved in mythic terms. Man taming nature; man against all odds. Talking to descendents and seeing his tombstone makes Jennings more human to me. It's almost like I've got faint outlines of his life and am just beginning to fill in the picture with a little color.
I interviewed Mrs. X today over the phone to see if her father-in-law, Farmer Jennings, was the Farmer Jennings I'm looking for. She said she wasn't sure if she built the terminal and tramway because he was a rancher, but it wouldn't surprise her if he did.
This Farmer Jennings is the one that shows up in the 1930's census in El Paso. He was born in 1882, which would make him around 24 when the tramway and terminal was built, so he is a candidate. There are no other Farmer Jennings in the US Census in Texas, so I think he's the one.
Despite her not knowing, it's thrilling talking to someone who's most likely a descendent. She said she'd do a little research; hopefully it will come to something.