Mules That I Have Known



In many ways the mule is the most interesting of all animals that the Creator made “after his own kind.” There much said in the Bible concerning this humble, unattractive, but hard-working beast of burden. The animal is especially mentioned in Genesis 36:24 – “This was about Anah that found the mules in the wilderness.” A certain mule had more sense than the straddling, pussy-footing preacher upon his back. He saw the Lord, but the pussy-footing preacher did not.

Another mule had more sense than the man that rode him, for this man’s hair got caught in the limbs and the mule went out from under him.

Our Lord honored this humble, domestic animal by riding one into Jerusalem when they shouted “Hosannah.”


It has so often been said, “horse sense, horse sense.”

I don’t want horse sense, I want mule sense. Let a horse get his hind leg caught in a wire fence and he will cut it off. One of the finest horses we ever had cut his hind leg off and we had to shoot him. A horse will step in a hole in a bridge and break his leg, but never a mule.

Let a mule get his hind leg in a wire fence. If he can’t get it out himself, he will wait until you come along and take it out for him, and he won’t kick you. He will show his gratitude.

Not horse sense, but mule sense. Two o’clock one morning, our barn caught fire and we had two horses and two mules in that barn. I rushed out and opened the door of the stable for the horses and had a hard time getting them out, and when I did they turned around and ran over me and plunged into the fire and burned to death. When I opened the door to the two long-eared mules they came running out, tails afire, and ears singed. They hit the fence, broke it down and never stopped until they ran across the field, got on top of the hill and then looked back at the burning barn where those two fool horses were burning up.

Not horse sense, but mule sense – I plowed a mule once and came by a dead pine tree with a hole in it about 6 inches above the ground. And that mule stopped, backed off, and stepped out of the tugs and looked at that hole, and I dragged the plow clear around. One of that mule’s ancestors was snake-bitten, and he was going to take no chances. I never knew a mule to get snake-bit, but we had a fine horse that a rattler bit, and the horse died.

A mule is not superstitious, but takes precaution. I rode a horse through the woods and no amount of noise would disturb him. But I tried taking a mule through the woods once, and heavy snow was falling and limbs were cracking – and that mule came near throwing me.

Molly Bailey’s Show, “the greatest country show on earth,” had a lot of stunts, and one of them was a little, greased blue mule with a $5.00 reward for anybody that would ride him. All the boys wanted that $5.00, but that’s as far as they got, for when they jumped on that mule it would just bow up in a knot, and it would take several minutes for that boy to come to after he hit the ground. A Negro boy came along and wanted the $5.00, and he said, “I will show you how to ride that mule.” He got it, put his heels in his flanks, fastened his hands under his neck and said “turn the mule loose.” He ran down the road a piece and then threw that boy over the hedge on a rock pile. After several minutes, the boy came to, staggered to his feet, and said, “Now, white folks, that is the way to do, whenever you sees a mule is goin’ to throw you – jes’ git off!”

The first year I was away at college, I came home for Christmas holidays, and my Dad had enough plowing laid out for the two weeks’ holidays for the four mules and the two of us to do for the whole time.

One day, at the end of the row, we stopped and let the mules rest, and we rested, each of us sitting on the beam on the steel plow. The hired hand was named Julius –
a long, tall Tennessee mountaineer who had come to Texas to start life.

While resting, he said, “Frank, what do you do to get religion? Your Ma has been talking to me about it, and praying with me, and I never had no ma like you got. I don’t remember my ma; she died when I was a baby, but what do you have to do to get religion?”

I was eighteen, and I didn’t have much myself, but I tried to explain to him the plan of salvation. Julius was desperate and in earnest. First thing we knew, we were both down on our knees on the plowed ground, praying and crying, and I never shall forget how he brought a shout you could hear all over the field.

The mules seemed to understand, for they both looked around. Julius unhitched his mule and jumped astride and struck out for the house, and I unhitched mine to keep up with him and he was shouting every step of the way. When we got to the house, he jumped down, ran in and grabbed Ma and told her how he had been saved.

That was one of the greatest meetings – four mules and two country boys in the back side of the fields!

The mule is a very religious animal.

A thoroughbred, long-eared mule is a good Fundamental Baptist. He is doing one of two things all the time – either pulling or kicking.

I had two little Spanish blue mules, and I loved them very dearly. No amount of load could ever be put on them that they could not pull. I remember one fall I drove this pair of mules with six bales of cotton twenty miles to market. It was before the days of paved roads, and it was a black land. It is said, “If you will stick to the black land in dry winter, it will stick to you in wet winter.” I remember crossing White Rock creek; there was a long steep hill on the other side of the creek. When we got out into the creek, I stopped and let the mules drink, and went around to talk to both of them and said, “Beck and Jude, you see that long hill in front of you, the mud is deep and the hill is steep.”

They nodded and said to me, “Go back and get on the wagon and let’s go.”

I was sitting on the front end of one of the bales of cotton, and we had not gone very far. I leaned over and saw the wheels cutting the deep, black mud. Failure looked certain. I stepped down off that bale of cotton and stood on the double tree and put one hand on back of Beck and the other on Jude and said, “Come on, Beck; come on, Jude: we can make it.”

They were knee-deep in the mud and every time they would pull out a foot you would hear it pop. On they pulled; on they tugged. They were covered with lather. On they pulled, on they tugged. They were slowing down when we passed the half-way mark to the top of the hill. You never stop in mud like that, for you can’t get started again if you do. On they pulled, and on they tugged, and I was patting both of them, encouraging them. At last we made the top of the hill. I jumped down and ran around in front, threw my arms around both of them and they put their heads on my shoulders and both whispered: “I told you we would make it.”

I have had many faithful deacons just like those two mules!