Digging a hole eight feet into Brazoria County's gumbo soil isn't a task most folks would take on voluntarily, but Uncle Bubba didn't have much choice.
He was Mr. Brit's slave and he had to do as he was told. Actually, he was Miss Nancy's slave now. Mr. Brit would soon take up residency in the void Bubba was making in Bailey's Prairie.
Why eight feet deep and not the standard six? That was Mr. Brit's wish.
His last will stated:
"I recommend my soul to God from whence it emanated and body to the Earth to be buried in decent Christian form...with this particular request and injunction on my friends and executors, to have my remains inter’d erect with my face fronting the west."
Brit Bailey was a a true Texas individualist. He did things his own way and dared the world to have an opinion about it.
Born in North Carolina during the American Revolution, he was blazing trails and taking Indian scalps in Kentucky by the time his beard came in. Then the Navy gave him a ship to captain during the War of 1812.
He fathered six children. Drank. Was convicted as part of a counterfeiting ring. Drank. Was widowed. Drank. Married his late wife's sister. Drank. Fathered another five children, quarreled, dueled and...in 1819...brought his sister-in-wife and their brood to Texas.
Brit acquired a league and labor of land on the Brazos from the Spanish government on which to make a plantation. Then Mexico won its independence and refused to recognize the claim, instead making it part of Stephen F. Austin's empresario grant.
In 1823, Austin showed up to move the Baileys off that land, but thought better of it when confronted with the fact that Brit was unwilling to leave, but very willing to render Austin a corpse by means of his Kentucky flintlock rifle.
A few months later, probably due to his usefulness to the militia, Austin recognized Brit Bailey's "squatter's" claim.
You could say Brit was colorful. He painted every building on his place red, even his fine brick house, the first in Texas.
And he made a habit of participating in every fist fight he witnessed, whether or not he knew the parties involved. He just joined in yelling, "Free fight, boys!"
Yup...a real Texas individualist. But back to Uncle Bubba's hole...
Mr. Brit had made his reason for this unusual burial request known.
"I've never stooped to any man, and when I'm in my grave I don't want it said, 'There lies Old Brit Bailey.' Bury me so that the world must say, ‘There stands Bailey.' And bury me with my face to the setting sun. I have been all my life traveling westward and I want to face that way when I die."
And so they did. Packed him in his coffin with rifle, powder horn, 150 rifle balls and a jug of whiskey...just as he wished.
But before they lowered him feet first into the hole, Miss Nancy told Uncle Bubba, "Fetch that jug out the box."
They say Old Brit's ghost still wanders Bailey's Prairie at night, taking the form of a lantern light...looking for his jug...or a fight.