■ SUBMITTED BY TIMMY SPAIN
Editor’s note: Columnist Tim Spain wrote a piece about the Albritton family in May, 2018. This is part two of that series.
Aaron Robert Albritton or “Twister,” as many folks came to call him, was born in 1861 in Polk County. (I may well be wrong about the location.) He married Emily Elizabeth McLeod, and they homesteaded enough land to raise 8 children.
I don’t know a lot about Twister other than that he was one of my ancestral grandfathers, and the look on the face in this photo seems to me like he wasn’t the kind of man you’d want to get aggravated.
I have been told by my Granny Eva Murphy Watson that Twister rode his steer up to the Johnny McLeod homestead, and Elizabeth saw him for the first time. Granny said that Elizabeth looked at her sisters and said, “That’s the man I will marry.” That is exactly what she did. She was born in Manatee County in 1867, lived 98 years and had eight children.
The family has survived thanks to hard work. I have discovered more knowledge of how strong my ancestors were and their descendants are to this day.
One of them was a man named Thomas Henry Albritton, who came to Florida in the 1840s and homesteaded an amount of land to raise a family.
That man was driven to raise his family as best he could and make a living for himself and his wife and kids. He’s a grandparent of Twister and had nine children.
He lived there his entire life, and during his elder years, he showed great signs of strength and sound decision-making.
One of the best accounts of how he made decisions was when he and Morgan Mizell, along with Cicero Platt, were talking after they had heard the Sunday sermon at the Pine Level Church in Lily, Fla. This is located in present-day eastern Hardee County. Captain Tom, as they called him, said, “Boys, my bear grease is getting low, and I think we need to hunt a hog, because the hogs in Pine Level should be plump by this time of year.”
A plan was made to meet at Captain Tom’s house the following morning.
The next morning, Capt. Tom and the rest of the bunch gathered at his homestead. Asbury Albritton, one of Tom’s sons, had already saddled the horses, and they set out on a hog hunt. They didn’t take any guns, because this was a hog hunt and guns weren’t needed and would probably be in the way. So they set out to find a hog. Capt. Tom and some other Albrittons, Platt and Morgan Mizell began to hunt a hog. They didn’t find a hog but they found a panther. That panther found a tree and climbed it. As the Crackers looked at the panther, it was determined that someone would need to return to Morgan Mizell’s homestead and retrieve his muzzle-loader to kill that cat. There was a bounty on them during that time. Cicero Platt galloped off to get Mizell’s muzzleloader.
While the dogs kept that panther up that tree, the other dogs jumped another panther, and this panther didn’t want to find a tree to escape; he was ready to stand ground, and a fight happened. That panther backed up against an upturned oak stump and stood his ground. Neck hairs raised and claws showing, he slapped the dogs every time they made attempts to catch him.
Capt. Tom could hear the panther-dog fight and the sounds of his dogs. It seemed that the panther was getting the best of his glass-eyed leopard curs. Capt. looked at his friends and said, “Boys, I ain’t gonna let that panther kill my dogs. I need them, and that cat might kill my young hogs, so I have to do something.
So the captain dismounted his horse and waded through the palmetto scrubs and found the fight. With great might and the courage of a lion, he began to pound that cat in the face with his bare hands and with the help of his dogs catching the cat like they’d been trained to grab a hog, he found his pocket knife and ended the fight.
As of press time, Tim Spain learned that his wife Lauren had been diagnosed with leptomeningeal, a rare cancer in which the disease spreads to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
He has started a GoFundMe account to help her through the journey. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/v4jc8-breast-cancer-battle for details.