The Old House That Became the Workshop

By Jeep Collins

The old tin covered house where we now make jewelry has had several careers since we bought it and the 61 acres where it sits in 1990.  I found it when an elderly woman, Malinda Statts who went to our church needed some help clearing some brush on her little ranch.  One of my favorite things to do is cut cedar with a chain saw so I willingly volunteered to go help her out.  Malinda was an independent old gal having been a widow for most of her life.  

I fell in love with her place when I turned into the lane that leads to the house.  The road runs along a narrow shelf bound by the neighbors fence on the left and a sheer drop down to the creek on the right.  It was a cool, sunny fall day and the lane had a canopy of oak, elm, bois de arc, and several other varieties of trees with their leaves in different stages of color.  There was a light breeze and I watched the leaves float down to the rippling water where they floated and glimmered in the sun.

Past the creek the lane continued through neighbors pastures about half a mile.  Malinda lived in the old tin house which was the newest structure on the place built in the 1940’s. There were two older structures, probably built in the mid 1800’s, of post oak logs cleared from the field by the house.   One of these was a double log building with a dogtrot between, typical of some of the earliest German houses of Gillespie county.  The chinking had fallen from between the logs and in places had been replaced with shingles to keep out the rain and cold wind. This had been the residence in the early years until the tin covered frame house was built.

Malinda greeted me at the door and offered me coffee and ginger cookies which she was famous for at church get togethers. Just inside the door leaning against the wall was a pump .22 rifle and a double gauge shotgun.  We sat in her kitchen by the wood stove, the only source of heat in the house and she told me what she needed me to do.

Having grown up on a remote ranch at the head of the west prong of the Medina river and now living in town, I was pretty excited about the prospect of spending time on her place doing things she had grown too old to do.  It was a good arrangement for both of us.  There were a couple times over the next year or so that she called me late at night because there was a varmint in the barn.  Her eyesight had become too weak to shoot her guns so I would come out and take care of it for her.  

In time Melinda could not stay by herself so her relatives; she had no children, put her up in a nursing home.  After she went to be with her Lord, and I’m certain that she did because of her testimony, I drove by and saw a sign on her gate; “61 acres for sale by owner.”  Dana and I were excited to be able to buy Melinda's old place and we like to think she would be glad to have us here.