MEMORIES OF MY FIRST 85 YEARS-O. J. MCADAMS
We are indebted to Mr. Obert James McAdams for recording his memoirs and
daughter, Sandra McAdams Gardner for typing them and binding them into a book.
donated a copy to the museum and have given permission for these edited parts
put on the Clay County web page.
He titled it "Memories of My First 85 Years" and wrote in the prologue:
following pages record memories and recollections from my childhood and young
days. I want to share a history of a family and of a time and place where I
adulthood. I have written about the many changes that have occurred during
years...there have probably been more changes during this period of history
any other era. This is for my children, grandchildren and other family
that they may read and know of the past...a past that helped shape all of
"Always remember: 'We have arrived at who we are and what we are because of
started in the past. And we shall grow into the future from these same
"I began my writings to try to explain and understand the many changes that
occurred during the first 85 years of my life. At the time I was born in 1914
old Secret Springs Community in Clay County, Texas, the area had been free from
by renegade Indians for only about forty years. Clay County had been an
county for forty two years. Cambridge and then Henrietta had been at one
judicial center for much of west and northwest Texas only a few years
birth. As a youth, I knew many of the pioneer ranchers who settled the western
of Texas. Some I knew by reputation only...Colonel Burk Burnett, J. G. Halsell,
Waggoner, C. C. Slaughter, and many others. These early pioneers
environment I grew up in. Texas, and Clay County in particular, was
depending on farming and ranching as its main source of income, and this was
most of the United States.
"To try to understand why so much has changed in a short time after being
same for so many centuries, we should ask ourselves some questions. Could
because of inquiring minds seeking knowledge? Could it be because of greed?
be because of necessity created by the Civil War and two World Wars? Could it
combination of all of the above? I will leave the answers to others.
"Since the beginning of recorded history, and probably before, inquiring minds
sought the unknown. Each new bit of knowledge led to another, but it was so very
to spread because of the lack of fast communication. This fact is my
devoting so much space to changes in communication and transportation. Also
space had been used to describe agriculture changes because it is the first
history so few have fed and clothed so many so well. "When Columbus
discovered the so-called 'New World,' was he really trying to prove the
round, or was he really trying to find a safer and cheaper way to get the
the east to his native country for a profit? Two hundred fifty to three hundred
after Columbus my ancestors crossed the ocean to get their share of the new
'riches' using the same small type sailing vessels used from the beginning of
Then, after three or more months of travel on the water, they still had to
same method of travel that had been used from the beginning of time...walking,
an animal, or riding in an animal-pulled buggy or wagon, as did my
arrived in Clay County riding in covered wagons, riding on horses, and
early ancestors came to the New World seeking land and freedom to worship as
wanted. They fought for their freedom from England. In time, the same people
fought for their freedom, citing a need for cheap labor to produce the
other products the New World had to offer, created a slave trade that took
freedom and rights from an entire race of people. This led to the Civil War
its suffering. The Civil War was fought about fifty years before I was
grandparents suffered so much during this war that the results
environment that I was born into.
"I was about four and a half years old when World War I ended, and about all
remember about it was the soldiers coming home and their well polished shoes. I
to manhood in the atmosphere created as a result of that war. Then, World
changed our country in its direction and changed a way of life forever.
"Memories of My First 85 Years" Chapter II - 2nd part of his prologue.
"Now that I am an old man, I have seen many, many things considered to be
as a part of our everyday living come into being and have seen so much change
way we live.
"I was here in this world before radio, television, VCR, radar, ball point pens,
recorders, camcorders, electric typewriters, word processors, and computers.
taught to write using a pen staff with a replaceable pen point that had to be
by a match before the ink would stick to it when dipped into the black ink well
was a part of all school desks. (Some young girls had their pigtails stuck in
wells by the boys sitting behind them even though the boys knew the trouble
would be in.)
"I was here before Xerox, penicillin, polio shots, vitamin pills, and
diapers. Young parents who have not washed diapers and hung them on an
clothes line in freezing weather just have not experienced life as it was.
here long before frozen food and decaffeinated coffee. We thought 'fast
what our Catholic neighbors ate during the Lenten season. I was here before
cheerios, rayon, nylon, Dacron, plastics, and panty hose. I was here when ladies
long flowing dresses, silk hose with a seam in the back, high top pointed toe
patent leather shoes (which were guaranteed to cause corns on their toes), and
whale bone corsets laced in the back. Married ladies had their husbands lace
and young ladies had to get their mothers, sisters, or girl friends to lace
I was here when young girls word bloomers, long black cotton stockings, and
collars. When I heard of 'cleavage,' I thought that was what a butcher used
chopping block. I was here when we talked about 'hardware' and meant hammers,
saws, and plow sweeps.
" 'Chips' were small pieces of wood used to start fires in the wood stoves.
here when closets were to store clothes in and not for 'coming out of.' I was
before 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.' We would not have known what 'software'
"I grew up in a time when smoking and chewing tobacco were fashionable and
signal one 'had arrived.' 'Grass' was for cows and horses to eat. 'Coke' was a
good drink with a little cherry flavoring added, and 'pot' was what my mother
our clothes in. I was here when the work day was from daylight to dark, and
winter kerosene lanterns were a necessity. The work week was Monday through
often much later on Saturday night. I was probably about 24 years old when I
about minimum wages. Sunday was a 'holy day' and was a time to worship our God
visit with family and friends. "I was here when doctors made house calls
night, and when he (the doctors were all men at that time) went there, he would
your throat with iodine and give you some calomel or quinine. To borrow a
'Never did such dedicated men do so much for so many with so little.'
"I was here before natural gas was used to heat homes and cook food. I was
years old when the first city received natural gas. As a youngster, I would
front of my grandmother's gas heating stove and wonder why the asbestos
not burn in those beautiful blue, red, and purple flames. "I was here
prohibition. And I was here before the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution
women the right to vote in 1920.
"I was here before Wolf Brand chili and Kool-Aid. I was here when General
introduced the first successful electric refrigerator with the motor on top and
here when the first sliced bread was introduced in 1928. I was when many doctors
their alcohol prescription books to prescribe a half pint of whiskey per
every ten days. Then I was here when Clarence Birdseye introduced his
vegetables in 1930.
"In thinking back, how did I ever grow up without so many things that
considered necessities of life?
"I was an old man before fax machines and e-mail became a must.
"The automobile was here before me, but the American 'love affair'
automobile was just beginning when I was born.
"These are just some of the changes in my lifetime. I have written of the past
( Comment, not by Mr. McAdams: It seems hardly yesterday that we had the
showing off the museum to a group of students, this time third graders from
the week before school was out. How time flies! Their teacher is a descendent
Westbrooks, who came to Clay County in the 1870's. It was also exciting for me
the parents of many of these pupils had been my pupils in the past. I am
reminded how history repeats itself and how we are living it each day, how
generation builds on the past generation and stretches into the next.
In keeping with this year's parade theme of a salute to the states, we are
people to bring us the stories of their families for the archives. We plan to
map for you to locate where your family originated. If yours is like mine,
have to settle for one of the places they left behind when they came to Clay Co.
This is one thing that makes Mr. O.J. McAdams' story so interesting and also
typical of many of the families that ended up in Clay County. Many of our
were immigrants from Europe in the 1600's and the 1700's and moved down the
seaboard and across the southern states. They often intermarried with
neighbors they had, working always for a better life. Then came the Civil War,
which they all fought, many died and they all lost their livelihood. Many saw
as a land of opportunity where they could start over to build a new life. Some
from "older" parts of Texas looking for a more healthful climate after
typhoid and cholera.)
Mr. McAdams' grandmother on his father's side was Helen Palestine Sellers,
folks came from England in the 1640's to Pennsylvania and North
grandfather was James W.F. McAdams, whose people came from Ireland to South
in 1768. Mr. Sellers and Mr. McAdams both fought in the American Revolution and
families located in Alabama by 1833. Mr. James W.F. McAdams and 5 of his
fought in the Civil War. He and Helen Sellers married in 1866.
Two other families were neighbors to the Sellers and McAdams families
intermarried also, the Jefcoats and the Childs families. It seems they
successful planters but lost everything in the Civil War. They came to Texas by
from Mobile, Alabama, and landed in Galveston in 1866. James Childs
Bluegrove in 1881 and James McAdams arrived in Secret Springs in 1897.
The Jefcoats stayed in Grayson County and Calvin Sellers came, as a widower, in
and spent time with his daughters, Mary Elizabeth Childs and Helen McAdams.
When the McAdams family came to Secret Springs, Clay Co., they leased the
place, on which the spring is located.
Mr. O.J. McAdams' grandfather on his mother's side was James Thomas Christian,
in Illinois in 1848. His grandmother was Lou Tishia Stapp Christian, born near
Texas, in 1867. Her family also fought in the Civil War and she was raised by
brothers in Indian Territory after her mother died when she was small. The
lived close to the Quanah Parker family and knew them well.
James Christian and Lou Stapp married in 1892 and settled in Erath County. They
to Roswell, New Mexico, to file on land but discovered when they arrived that
good land had been taken and returned to Callahan County, near Abilene. They
settled in Clay County and bought the farm joining the Metsger place in
Springs in 1909.
In 1919 they sold the farm to the Dugger family and moved to Henrietta to a
the corner of California and Gilbert Streets. It is said that a big mesquite
the corner is the oldest tree in Henrietta.
Each time Mr. Christian moved and bought a place he paid for it in gold
always carried, never fearing it would be stolen.
Chapter IV, "Memories of My First 85 Years."
Mr. McAdams' father was Claude McAdams, born 1889 in Grayson County, who
Clay County with the family in 1897. They settled in Secret Springs in a log
the site of the springs on the Metsger place, which they leased.
Mr. Metsger had settled there in the 1870's and built the house, a grist mill,
horse-powered cotton gin from oak logs which he squared and notched with a
ax while they were green and held them together with wooden pegs. He also
post office there from 1878 through its discontinuance in 1884. (Alexander
postmaster from 1876 to 1878.) Claude and his brother George bought the Metsger
later and Claude built a new house on the southwest part of the place.
Mr. Obert McAdams' mother, Ida Josephine (Josie) Christian, was born in Erath
in 1894 and moved to Clay County when she was 15 years old; the family settled
farm established by a Mr. Lewter west of the Metsger place. The McAdams and
children attended the Secret Springs School. The county road, laid out about
missed the springs by about a half mile so the school was built on the road
entrance to the Sanzenbacher Ranch. The Secret Springs School was in operation
the middle of the 20th century. Miss Lulu Johnson, daughter of one of the
families in the community of Cambridge, taught her first school at Secret
Claude McAdams and Josie Christian were married December 25, 1910, by W.W.
Justice of the Bluegrove Justice Court. Their witnesses were Harry Brown of
and Lizzie Sanzenbacher of Secret Springs, who were in turn married by Justice
with the new Mr. and Mrs. Claude McAdams as witnesses. Claude and Josie lived
new house Claude had built and had three children, Obert, Berniece and Oather.
boarded at least 2 pioneer teachers, Almeta Houston, who later married George
and Louis Shortes. By 1917 Claude paid off his part of the Metsger place by
large herd of horses which he and Cook Gilbow (a later sheriff of Clay Co.)
Grayson County. Obert remembers seeing them start out their gate and down the
east. They drove them across the Sanzenbacher and Hapgood and other ranches to
time and thus reached St. Jo the first day. Later Claude sold his part of the
to his brother George and bought land and moved to the Neville Community.
Mr. Obert praises his parents highly for their religious beliefs and his
loving upbringing. "My parents were strict but fun loving. They were strict
sense of expecting their children to follow a few simple rules such as
homework, doing our chores without having to be reminded, and washing our
faces before going to the table. No one ever came to eat at my mother's table
their hair combed and wearing a shirt...she thought that cleanliness was
godliness. Yet, my parents were fun loving and never too tired to play a few
games with us before going to bed, or, on a rainy day pitch horse shoes, play
with us, or take us fishing. I began to believe I would never learn to beat my
at a game of checkers. My mother was never too busy to have hot cornbread,
balls, or roasted peanuts when we returned from school. My father had the
laugh regardless of the adversities he might be experiencing, and never saw a
that he did not like. "By today's standards, I was probably born into what
called poverty. But, that was not the case at all at that time. I was actually
into 'riches' in that I had loving and caring parents who owned their own
farm, who taught me right from wrong, and taught me to include God in my life.
a happy child with a sister and a brother. We were taught to take
to entertain ourselves with what we had. We were taught to share with each
Mr. McAdams' mother died in 1947, his father in 1987, his sister in 1935,
brother in 1986.
To continue from Mr. O.J. McAdams' memoirs, "Memories from My First 85 Years:"
Secret Springs Community got its name from a very large spring on land settled
Metsger. It was in a rock outcropping which could not be seen from three sides
one was within a few feet of it. It opened into a small creek on the north
still flows to this time. It is located about a half mile north of the
Sanzenbacher Ranch Road. The spring is almost straight north of the old
Annie Sanzenbacher Lutz home which is now owned by Maurice Lutz. I first
Lutz home as the Jim Goodner place. "The only person that I have known that had
mail postmarked at the Secret Springs Post Office was Mr. Frank Brown of
who stated that he personally had seen a small envelope with a three cent
postmarked Secret Springs, Texas, March 8, 1881
"The only person whom I have ever known that said he had seen cotton ginned at
Springs was Mr. Frank Hurn, who said when he was a 6-year old boy he would ride
his father when he hauled cotton from what is now Hurnville Community to the
"There were three events that probably led to the demise of the Secret Springs
mill, and post office and, eventually, the school although indirectly. The
event was the founding of Bluegrove some five miles to the west. Second
advent of barbed wire around 1876, the fencing of what had been the free
the laying out of the public roads. And third, very large ranches to the
south of Secret Springs prevented farmers from settling in much of the
area. Another factor could have been that the Secret Springs cotton gin was
"Bluegrove was founded in 1881 and 1882 when several merchants set up shop.
the families that called Secret Springs home lived between there and
Around 1876, roads were dedicated and barbed wire came into common use by
protect their property from roving herds of cattle. The roads missed Secret
by about half a mile so the school was built on the road to the entrance
Sanzenbacher Ranch. After these events, no merchants ever set up shop in the
Springs area again. Also, steam powered cotton gin was established at Bluegrove.
"When we lived at Secret Springs, we received our mail on a route from
mail carrier was Me. Charlie Arnold, who drove his white horse and buggy by our
each day except Sunday. Mr. Arnold was a very accommodating man who would
supplies to his patrons and would mail packages for them. He also sold
"The Chris Sanzenbacher family was among the very first families to settle
Secret Springs area in 1874. Others were John Sanzenbacher, Mr. Metsger,
Hamilton, the Means family, Barney Davis, the Gilvin family, the Skipworth
the Kimbroughs, the Gilbows. Also families of Sime Graham, June Jones, Lewter,
Campbell, Charlie Lewis, Lowery and others.
"Cris Sanzenbacher was a very frugal man and acquired extensive land holdings
and south of Secret Springs and accumulated large cattle herds. Just as
drought occurred rather often in Clay County. Cattlemen depended on
creeks for water. They also dug a few wells and a few small stock ponds. They
horses and what were called scrapers to dig the ponds. Drought never had an
the Secret Spring, which when taken care of produced large amounts of water.
remember when it started getting dry in the summer my father would meet
Gilbows, Kimbroughs, and Sanzenbachers to set a time for each to drive their
to the spring for water. There was never a thought of charging the
using the water from the spring.
Chapter VI "Memories from My First 85 Years:"
"My parents were married at Bluegrove. I was delivered by a Bluegrove
Bluegrove was my family church home as well as supply center. There were so
relatives living there. I cannot remember my first time there... it was just
The town was named for the large oak tree grove northeast of the town site,
miles west of Secret Springs. Around 1880 some large area ranches and some east
counties that had been allocated school lands began to sell tracts of land to
settlers for farming and small stock farms. School lands included Grayson and
Counties and St. Augustine University. The things very necessary to pioneers,
and water, were plentiful in the area. There were large post oak groves and
shallow, allowing hand-dug wells. "I have been told there is a well about a half
west of the Bluegrove Cemetery on land settled by Johnny Russell that produced
amounts of water. This well was on a trail from Ft. Sill, Oklahoma Territory,
used by soldiers and Indians traveling to Graham to Federal Court. The
still be seen and the well still produces water."
Cotton was the cash crop for area farmers. A Mr. Morman moved a small steam
gin about a mile and half southwest of Bluegrove around 1881. He enlarged
moved it to a location a short distance from the L. B. Brown home. He built a
large dam on a small stream to create a pond from which to run the steam engine.
gin tank was the area swimming hole and the area baptismal fount for many,
people. The gin continued to operate until after World War II, when cotton
declined, making the gin no longer profitable. It had been owned and
Mabry and Cad Powell in its later years. "Some of the pioneer ranchers who had
out and patented large acreage in the area were Tarlton f. Bates, Chariston
Thomas Morehead, Levi Sparks, William W. Yearly, and John Belcher. They were all
or gone from the area by the time I was born except John Belcher."
"In 1881, my Great Grandfather Calvin Sellers, his daughter Elizabeth
husband James Louis Childs, and all of their children left Grayson county in
wagons headed for the new cotton farming area." Names of some other early
families were Roach, Copp, L.B. Brown, Johnny Russell.
In 1882 or '83, A.W. Flynn moved a small grocery store to become the first
in Bluegrove. He also moved in a small post office to make Bluegrove the
trading center for the area.
"It should be remembered that at that time there were only two general
traveling around the countryside. One was walking. The other was riding
riding in vehicles pulled by horses or oxen. Thus small schools, post
stores were located very near each other. Bluegrove was located near the
several of these small communities, a fact that made it somewhat larger than
the others. Sixteen businesses were located in Bluegrove when a tragic
October 7, 1942, destroyed fourteen of them.
Mr. McAdams remembers many of these businesses. General stores run by A. W.
Rupert Speigel; Bud and Edgar Childs had a grocery store that carried some
Ed Childs operated a drug store; Harve Rollins, a barber shop; Roy Van
hardware store. E. A. Copp was a mechanic and blacksmith and sold gasoline; Ed
had an Overland automobile dealership. Cars were just beginning to be used
first few years of Mr. McAdams' life. W.W. King had a drygoods store and Floyd
a variety store. Mr. Piercily had a blacksmith shop and Mr. Fortenberry was a
buyer. The ginned cotton was hauled by wagon to the railroad at Bellevue
shipped to Galveston.
To continue Obert McAdams' story, "Memories from My First 85 Years:" "Mr. O. A.
settled about eight miles west of Bluegrove, taught a school and operated a
office named Shiloh is what later became Halsell." He later had a threshing
a cotton gin and the first telephone system in the Bluegrove area.
Mr. McAdams remembers 4 doctors from the area: Doctors Moffitt, Teddley,
There was a Masonic Lodge in a large two-story building in Bluegrove that
became the home of the JAC Electric Co-op, begun before WWII and finished
Mr. Cad Powell of Brown Community and Mr. W. E. Lanham of Joy were
this most welcome addition to rural Clay County. The family church was in
even after the McAdams family moved to the Neville Community. There were 4
buildings in Bluegrove: Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, and Christian.
were not held in each church every Sunday so there was much visiting
congregations. Summer revivals were held under a brush arbor and after an
generator came in use the bugs proliferated around the bare bulbs. Once
visiting minister J. N. Hunt from Henrietta was preaching, a bug got in his
services were suspended long enough for him to go to the drug store for the
remove the bug. The names of some of the farmers Mr. McAdams remembers are
Lowry, Parker, England, Callaway, McConnell, Herd, Crump, Devers, Albins,
Corley, Douglas, Dean, Brown, Williams, South, Mann, Plemons, Russell,
Akins, Lyles, Trout, Tate, Roach, Jameson, Meyers, Van Houten, McMasters,
Land, Pennington, Phillips, Duberley, Vandiver, Chapman, and others. One
two children die the same day from spinal meningitis. "People feared diseases so
in that time that no one would help the family prepare the children for
neighbors did dig the grave and made the coffins but would not come in contact
any members of the family."
North of Bluegrove Frank Neville and Ben Nutter were partners who owned a large
of land which they divided and sold to smaller landholders around 1917. Among
were Mr. McAdams' parents, Less Thompson, Will Fields, and Harry Brown. The
family continued to trade in Bluegrove and go to church there. Since there
public road, they traveled across the Tom Fields Ranch to a road known
Henrietta Jacksboro Road.
The post office at Bluegrove is still in operation as is the JAC Electric
the Baptist Church. The Methodist Church is now the Community Center. Mr.
said he went to some length to describe the land and people of Bluegrove to show
its growth and decline are typical of the changes he has seen in this
"These changes have turned the United States from an agricultural to an urban
Although Bluegrove had been established 35 or 40 years before I can remember,
it grow from seven or eight business firms to at least sixteen businesses
large implement and appliance dealer, and I have lived to see the businesses
to one. At one time there were five churches, and now I believe there is
that is active. I have seen the surrounding fields, which grew most
watermelons, cantaloupes, corn and other vegetables sold in Wichita Falls
1930's, 40's, and 50's , returned to grass land. Cattle have replaced cotton
kept the Bluegrove gin and the Brown gin running from early morning to late at
And the school is gone."
To continue Mr. Obert McAdams' thoughts on the decline of small-towns,
"Memories of My First 85 Years:" "That which has taken place in the
Community is typical of what has taken place in the small towns of the United
whether it be the Midwest wheat and corn towns, the Wisconsin dairy towns with
cheese plants, or the Southern cotton, rice, and sugar towns. Traveling
country and seeing the abandoned home sites marked only by a few falling
and through the small towns with their decaying buildings and abandoned
school buildings certainly could give one the impression that this is a country
has reached its peak and is on the way down. I do not believe that to be the
"To me, it was sad to travel the roads around Bluegrove and see all the
home sites where happy families had once lived - feeding, clothing and
their children by tilling the soil - and where stay-at-home mothers, along
fathers, instilled in their children the discipline to make them into men and
of integrity. As I traveled around Bluegrove, the town and community that had
much a part. of my youth, remembering Mr. And Mrs ___ lived there and now
only a few trees and Mr. And Mrs. ___ lived there and now only an old
falling-down building remains, I remembered some things I think have been lost
were very, very important in the rise of the United States. I never knew of a
incident where it was necessary to call the sheriff to handle a family
never heard a young person say, "I'm bored. There is nothing to do around
never heard of a juvenile being arrested for destroying the property of
never heard of drugs being used by youngsters, although rarely, one would
home brew. "Just as Bluegrove grew to a prosperous small town and now has
just a memory, so have thousands of other small towns across the nation.
opinion, along with the loss of the small towns we have lost a way of life that
never exist again. But we have also lost something else. We have lost
determination that would cause men to load their families and all they owned
covered wagons and travel for days, or even months, to reach their destination.
they arrived , they cut logs, sawed the timbers for their new homes and
land to plant their crops, and they depended on the elements to produce their
and clothing. The hard work, while depending on God to send the rain, built
and self reliance that are seldom seen in today's work force.
"All of the changes in knowledge, technology and other fields of endeavor that I
seen in my long life fail to compare to the changes brought about by the
small towns in the United States. In my humble opinion, the loss of Bluegrove in
County, Texas, along with thousands of other towns across the nation, is far
important than the development of a newer and faster airplane or a faster
It is a change that one day this nation will regret, but it will probably
late. I have used these several pages writing about a small town and families
most people never knew existed. But I believe one could name it "Any
county, any state, U.S.A. " Bluegrove is just the one I knew and its people,
with my parents, forged my life. My story is just one of millions who
adulthood in Small Town America. The sacrifices and hardships those brave
women endured will probably never again be duplicated
To continue Mr. Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years:" Frank Neville
Nutter came to Clay County soon after the county was organized and formed a
ranching partnership, just by a handshake, no written contract, on lands
north of what was later Bluegrove. Around 1917, the two men dissolved the
and sold land to smaller farmers and stockmen.
Most of the buyers of the Neville-Nutter land were sons of families who were
of other Clay County communities. Some of those from Secret Springs were the
family, that of Les Thompson, John Bumpas, Bill Wallace, and Mrs. Sanzenbacher.
From Bluegrove came the families of Harry Brown, Bill Fields, Sam Russell,
Childs, Floyd McMaster, and Ed Brown. W.E. Collie was from Shannon, W. A.
and Ben Gill from Halsell, Mack Reeves from Deer Creek and Joe Bullinger
Fairview. Others who bought land there were C. B. McDonald, Mr. Claxton,
Calloway, Mr. Carter, Tom Green, Jim Williams.
A school was built near the center of the partnership lands and named
also served for community functions like picnics and elections. School district
did not mean much and transfers were easy to obtain. Since children walked to
rode horses, or rode in buggies, they attended the school that was easiest for
to get to, considering such things as creek crossings, fences, and roads.
like or dislike of a teacher was a determining factor.
Like most schools at the time, Neville had a baseball team. The Neville
consolidated with Henrietta around 1930. The building was later torn down
land was fenced into the Collie Ranch, leaving no evidence of a community or
"Bluegrove remained my family's main trading center at least until 1927 and to
degree until the town was destroyed by fire in the 1940's. My Grandfather
had moved to Henrietta in 1919 and we visited there often. The following is
remember before or around 1927." "The Courthouse made a great impression on me
child. The St. Elmo Hotel was the next largest to the Courthouse. It had
stories with lobby being part of the first floor. Wide sweeping stairs led
second and third floors where guest rooms were located and also the living
of the owners, Mr. And Mrs. Pete Snearly, on the third floor.
"On the first floor Bob Moore had a tailor shop, Homer Butler a barber shop,
café was on the southeast corner.
"The St. Elmo was the meeting place for pioneer cattlemen, bankers,
men, and others. It was 'rumored' that during prohibition days some of those
stashed their 'refreshments' at the St. Elmo. Mrs. Snearly would become upset
group became too loud, and she would let them know about it in terms they
understand. Mr. Snearly had been a gold prospector so he was much more
and was usually involved himself. It was said that Ed Boyd, the black porter,
keeper of the 'cough medicine'.
"North of the barber shop Charles and Mamie Sanzenbacher Scheer operated a
market. H. L. Bear had a hardware store and Jess Cunningham a jewelry store,
Carter family a drug store. On the north end of the block was the
Goods and Clothing store. It had two stories fully stocked with dry goods.
the clerks were Dave Harris, Dub Hines, and a Miss McClure. "Across from the St.
was the two-story Club Building for businessmen. North of that was the
Grocery, operated by Rube Gant, George Smith, and John Kosanke. Farther north
the drug store of Carl Green and later the West Variety Store. Across the
the remainder of the block was the Alcorn Dry Goods Store.
"Across the street south of the St. Elmo was a large two story building
Dale Brothers Bankers. The building was razed and replaced by the present one
housed the First National Bank and now the Clay Co. Appraisal District. Farther
John Cunningham operated an Oldsmobile dealership, and south of that was a
"Foxworth-Galbraith Lumber Company was located east of the Methodist Church
Barlo Weaver the manager.
"Across the street west of Dale Brothers Bank, the lot was known as the
Building with several small stores operating on the lower floor and the K. P.
on the second floor until Olsen-Stelzer bought the building. South of that Jim
had a battery and radio store. He was a dealer for Williard batteries for
cars and Motorola radios. South of him was the Gates Brothers Drug Store.
father had a cotton buying business.
"The drug store also had a soda fountain. I remember when I was a very small
went with my father to sell cotton to Mr. Gates. Someone gave me a nickel and I
to Gates Drug Store and bought a cherry coke. After that, anytime I went to
I could get 5 cents, I went to Gates' and had a cherry coke, the best drink
To continue Mr. Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": Last week's
told about the businesses that were on the 2 blocks of Bridge St. south of the
House in Henrietta.
"On the south side of the Courthouse Square, the building on the east was a
story building which still stands. Known as the Eustice Building, the ground
was occupied by J. F. Alcorn Dry Goods and Thaxton Brothers Hardware. The
story was occupied by doctors and lawyers." Also in that block were Slagle
W. B. Worsham and Company Bank, W.W. King Dry Goods, and Floyd South 5 & 10
Store on the west corner. Also, an A & P Grocery was built in that block
1930's and a Mr. Woods operated a variety store there.
"On the east side of the Courthouse Square, I remember the Telephone Switch
Office on the second floor of the first building on the south corner.
Dugger had a loan office on the ground floor in about 1930. This was the
location of the First National Bank when it was organized in late 1933. A
breakfast was there in the 1990's. The block was completely filled with
the Dorothy Theater owned by H. L. Bear, the Koethe Barber Shop owned by
Walter Koethe, a domino parlor owned by Henry Scheer, later a dentist's office.
told that at one time there had also been a saloon in that block, owned by
"On the north side of the square, the building on the northeast was the Oheim
Deere Plow Co., operated by Alf and Fred Oheim and their father. Their main
were John Deere grain binders, breaking plows, disc plows, planters, and
all horse drawn. It is also possible that they might have sold a few early iron
two-cylinder John Deere tractors. West of Oheims, Hanagan Brothers owned a
and egg company. They also bought sour cream to be shipped to creameries by
The Hanagan brothers were somewhat of a topic of conversation themselves. One
bachelor, and one was a widower with several children, all of whom lived
a large two-story house in southwest Henrietta. The brothers walked everywhere
went in town and were always together-one was never seen without the other.
"West of Hanagan Brothers, Pete Harder ran a bakery. He spoke very little
lived in the back of the bakery with his wife and 3 sons. The first bakery
can remember was Mr. Harder's 'Sho Nuff" bread which sold for 5 cents an
loaf. The bakery also made doughnuts and fried pies which a son, Rudolph,
around town on foot carrying a large tray held up above his head with one arm.
Harder, another son, turned the bakery into a grocery store which he
"Much of the west side of the Courthouse Square was vacant. The northeast
used as the City hall and Fire Station. When I can remember, there was one
fireman, Pap Heck, who lived above the fire house. Near the middle of the
Mr. Patterson had an abstract office, which he later sold to Volvney Lefevre.
south end of the block was the Jones Building. Mr. Jones, known as Dad Jones,
Justice of the Peace and had his court in the front of the building while
Coleman and son Clay published the 'Henrietta Independent' in the back
building. The newspaper was notorious for incorrect spelling. "Across the street
of the South's 5 & 10 Store, Mr. Carl Olsen had a boot shop. He later
partnership with Mr. Stelzer and moved to their location on Bridge and Omega.
Hembre operated a dry cleaning business in this block and Mr. Heck ran a meat
which he later sold to Lon Kelly. Mr. & Mrs. Munkres ran a feed store, later
by Louis Kerr, founder of Kerr Feed and Seed Co. The business I remember most in
block was the Merchant and Planters Bank, where Mr. Marberry was the
was the first of three Henrietta banks to fail near or during the 1929
"The first post office I remember was across the alley south of the South's 5
now the office of the Edwards Estates. South of that was Claude McKinney,
Dealer, Jim Hill's Garage and Lindon Garrison's grocery store. "Another
remember was the Denver Hotel located just east of the St. Elmo Hotel with
Thaxton Wells the operator.
"A Mr. Scoggins had a Ford Dealership where the First Baptist Church parking
now located. I remember he always wore leather leggings in the winter. Floyd
was a salesman there.
"Frank Henry operated a feed store and wagon yard near where the frozen food
was recently located. He was a veteran of the Spanish American War, where he
leg below the knee in a battle in Cuba. He wore an artificial leg with a shoe on
"My uncles, Ira Thaxton and Hardie McAdams, operated a livery stable where the
Extension offices were later located. They sold it to Charlie McDonald, who
to use it in his horse trading business after livery stables were no longer
was known as the Mule Barn until it was torn down and the present Senior
Building was erected.
"I also remember a blacksmith shop north of the Oheim Building and the
Brothers opera house at the northeast corner of the next block north. "There
cotton gins owned by Ira Thaxton, Mabry Powell, and Oscar Graves. "Mr. Ebb
operated a garage in a large sheet metal building near where the Waggoner Boot
is now. Bill Sharp ran the White Rose Restaurant near the present Allsups Store.
McAdams also operated a café east of the Clay Co. Appraisal Office."
To continue with Mr. Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years," at this
describing his memory of downtown Henrietta:
"As automobiles increased in numbers, several wholesale gasoline and oil
were established in Henrietta. The first ones I remember were Lee Street
E. Sadler Gulf Oil, Claude Gates Conoco, and Forest Lankford Panhandle Refining
Magnolia dealer built a station on the corner north of the First Baptist
Rollins of the Bluegrove Rollins family was the first operator of the
station that I can remember. The pioneer gasoline and oil dealers all built
wholesale buildings and holding tanks near the two railroads that ran
Henrietta because they received their gasoline and other products by rail.
though I don't remember seeing it, I am told Lee Street used a horse drawn wagon
a tank on it to deliver gasoline and oil to the first few stations he
first filling station that I can remember my father trading at was located
the St. Elmo Hotel near the present Chevron Station. It had one hand
gasoline pump near the road as there was no driveway. Before that, my father
gasoline at E. A. Copps' blacksmith shop in Bluegrove.
"Two major railroads ran through the south side of town. The Ft. Worth and
City in its present location and the MKT (Missouri, Kansas and Texas)
yards north of the Ft. Worth and Denver. The FWDC Depot was about 100 yards
Hwy 148 and the MKT about 100 yards east of 148. A flour mill was between
railroads. The two cotton gins were across the road north of the MKT depot.
that depot was an ice plant that was there in my earliest memory; it operated
several years after World War II.
"Near the ice plant Mr. Ferguson operated a mill and feed store in a large
that at one time had been a cotton oil mill. He would grind wheat into flour
wheat bran. A bushel of wheat would yield about 48 pounds of flour and 12
bran. He also ground corn into meal. I have hauled both wheat and corn to the
a wagon during the depression.
"Mr. Dawson had a blacksmith shop on the east side of downtown. He shod
sharpened plowshares, and was considered an expert welder. At that time,
done by heating the iron and using a hammer and anvil to weld the
Dawson's son, H. L. (Bud) continued to operate the shop until he died after
"The Western Union Office was west of the Floyd South 5 and 10 cent store, where
Goodnough was the operator.
"Mr. Royer had a cigar factory in a small building south of the Methodist
do not remember the brand of cigars he made. His widow was my high school
teacher and his daughter a classmate.
"The Methodist Church was in the same location as the present one, new in the
My first recollection of the old building was attending the funeral of my
Tom Christian. I remember the pallbearers carrying his casket up the steep
and I was afraid they would drop him.
"There were 3 doctors in Henrietta in the 1920's that I remember: Dr. A.
Allison, and Dr. Jones. All three made house calls in town and in the
Jones had his office in his home about two blocks east of the St. Elmo. Dr.
Dr. Allison had theirs in the second story of the Eustice Building. Also, a
Dr. Williamson, had his office there. Compared to the present time, doctors
had very little to work with. Druggists compounded most of the medications
by the doctors. Most medicines used then are no longer in common use. Castor
Black Draught, and Calomel were in common use for stomach problems. Quinine was
to treat fevers. Cough remedies usually contained creosote, alcohol, and
"Dr. Albert Greer was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known. He did so
with so little. (He was the grandfather of Henrietta's present day Dr. David
No one was too poor for him to take care of at any time of the day or night. His
was also a dear lady who suffered sight loss at a young age. I remember Dr.
coming to our house to treat my sister, brother and myself when we were very
He traveled in his Model T Ford Roadster in all kinds of weather over very bad
I have known of Dr. Greer accepting chickens, eggs, a pig, or vegetables as his
If the patient could not pay Dr. Greer, he treated that patient just as he
anyone else. He started his practice using a horse and buggy for
southeast Clay Co. near Newport. "Dr. Williamson, the dentist, was
exceptional man considering the fact that about the only pain reducing
had for use were gas and chloroform. I remember very little pain in his
impacted wisdom tooth when I was about 16
To continue Mr. Obert McAdams' story, "Memories of My First 85 Years":
attorneys also had offices in the Eustice Building. Mr. Eustice made an
me. He was a tall, very erect man, even as a very old man, At one time he
platted much of the west side of Henrietta, as well as the Eustice
walked around town always well dressed and wearing a derby hat and bow tie.
"Mr. R. E. Taylor was a large man who was a very religious individual who spoke
very loud voice. I remember his attending Baptist revivals in Bluegrove when I
more than 5 or 6 years old. In 1927 when my family started attending church
in Henrietta, Mr. Taylor was always in every service. When special collections
taken, he was the first to make a pledge, but I was told he would always
leave his check. I remember a rather funny incident concerning his
Taylor stood up and pledged $500 to a church building fund. Mr. Sherwood
wealthy rancher, stood up and said, 'If Brother Taylor will write his check and
it to the church treasurer now, I will write my check for $1000 now..' Mr.
so and I was later told that was probably the only pledge he ever paid. He was
an early day U. S. District Attorney.
"Another attorney I remember was a Mr. Wantland, who was the father of Lois
a long time school teacher in henrietta and Clay County schools. I also
Judge Vincent Stine mostly when I was young for his capacity for chewing
From my high school days, three attorneys made an impression on me. One was
Rubbin Loftin. I was told that he was a farmer in Young County when he
become a lawyer. He sold his farm, moved his family to Henrietta, and got a job
R. E. Taylor. He read law books and then took the state bar exam. After
test, he became a partner in the Taylor and Loftin law Firm with offices
Eustice Building. Two younger attorneys were Pierre Stine and Earl Hall. Both
to play basketball. The two would be at our high school practice session almost
day to assist our coach. Then, they and Oscar Graves would get two other persons
couple of our team members and scrimmage our team. Pierre Stine was a partner
his brother Vincent and Frank bunting with offices in the Eustice building. Earl
went on to become a District Judge and a judge on the Court of Civil appeals
Worth. "W. F. Suddath was a partner with his son Donley in the insurance
I do not believe he was an attorney. Donley was an attorney and was joined
practice of law by his brother Clyde. The father, W. F., was president and
officer of W. B. Worsham Company Bankers from my first memory until the
collapsed in the spring of 1933.
"Mr. Durley B. Davis operated the first hamburger place that I can remember.
located on Main Street around 1927. We called it a 'hamburger joint'
"Election days were very important days in the lives of Clay County people. A
blackboard would be erected on the bandstand at the southeast corner
courthouse lawn. The names of all the candidates were on the board at the left
with a list of the voting boxes across the top. Road and travel conditions
difficult for the ballot boxes to be brought to Henrietta after the polls
night. So, as the votes were counted, the person in charge would call the vote
the county clerk's office who in turn posted the vote totals on the board
very large crowd to see. Sometime during the next week, the boxes would be
the county clerk's office to be canvassed and certified by the Commissioners
"The way candidates ran for office was also very different in those days.
no television and radio was limited to some state office candidates advertising.
rural people did not have radios until after WWII. Candidates tried to
qualified voters personally.
"The first candidates I can remember traveled around the county in a buggy
horseback. In county campaigns the candidate would start out in a quadrant
county and cover all of the area before returning home. He would spend the night
a friend who would put him up and feed his horse. There would be no problem
lunch as when I was a child no one who was at a home at meal time was
leave before eating. After roads were improved, Model T Fords were the main
transportation for candidates and the methods of campaigning changed. They
cover more area and usually returned home at night as there were very few
purchase gasoline in the county. The candidate still ate his lunch with the
where he might be at noon. He usually carried a plug of Brown Mule chewing
and offered a chew to most men.
"In county-wide elections the south half of the county usually determined who
be elected as that half of the county was more densely settled. Buffalo
Vashti, Joy, Bluegrove, Shannon and Bellevue were the large rural voter
Henrietta had its four boxes.
"Even after Model T's and other cars were used by candidates for
elections, it was not unusual for a candidate to walk long distances across
visit with farmers and ask for their votes. Many times the walk was across
plowed fields in 90 to 100 degree weather. Flat tires and getting stuck in a
in the road were just a part of running for office."
Presidential candidates often toured the country by special trains. At stops
the route, the candidate would make his speech from the observation platform
last car. "The first trains I can remember were powered by large steam engines
used coal for fuel. On both freight and passenger trains, the engine was
a tender car that carried the coal. Clay County trains converted to oil around
"On passenger trains, the tender was usually followed by a mail car and a dining
The sleeping cars would be followed by passenger cars. The mail car was
occupied by a U. S. Railway Clerk. He picked up, sorted and left mail at all
that had a post office on his assigned route. The Postal Service had a mail
to meet all mail trains to receive the local mail and deliver outgoing mail
railway mail clerk. The steam engine had to take on water at most stops
postal service clerk was not always at the depot to meet the train so a mail
erected near the depot from which the mail sack of outgoing mail could be
by the railway clerk. He would just throw off any incoming mail onto the
"Freight trains were made of an engine, tender car and then various types of
cars - cattle cars with slatted sides to let air pass through, oil cars much the
as those used today only about half as big.
"Banana cars had large ice bins on each end and a lid on top. The bins were
with ice, and air passing over the ice into the car did some cooling. The
created a draft through the car and let out the hot air. Any perishable
shipped in this type car that was so called because bananas were the most widely
fresh fruit and one of the few perishable products shipped by rail for many
Since Clay Co. was originally organized in 1861 but dissolved in 1863
Indian raids, then reorganized in 1873, "the settlers I knew and have mentioned
in the second wave of settlers, or in some cases, children of the first
original settlers were, in most cases, owners of large ranches such as J. G.
T. J. Belcher, W. B. Worsham, Sid Webb, a Mr. Scott, the Jolly Brothers, and
all using public domain for all or part of their ranches. "In order for the
Texas to assist in establishing public schools, organized counties were deeded
tracts of the public domain to be used to raise money for them either by
leasing the land. Also, some early ranchers bought large tracts of land directly
the state, and then used other public lands as long as they were classified as
range. Also, there were those who just moved in on the public domain and stayed
someone ran them off.
"At the time Clay County was first settled, there was still open range here
barbed wire was not in use until the late 1870's or early 1880's. I can
seeing the ruins of a very few rail and rock fences in the southeast part of
around Shannon and Post Oak. "Colonel W. S. Ikard was a very tall man who stood
straight until his death at an advanced age. I never saw him without a bow
had been credited with being the first rancher to introduce Hereford cattle to
Colonel Ikard, at one time, controlled over 200,000 acres of range land in
Archer Counties. Colonel Ikard and his gracious wife attended the Henrietta
Baptist Church until their deaths. Their home was in the western part of
"Colonel Ikard's son, Lewis, and grandson, Frank Neville Ikard, were
my having seen Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees play baseball. In 1928 the New
Yankees scheduled a game with the Wichita Falls Spudders. Frank Neville invited
go to the game with him and his father. Since it was on a school day, my
not going to let me go until Lewis Ikard convinced her it would probably be my
chance to see Babe Ruth play baseball. As it turned out, Babe Ruth hit two home
which thrilled me very much." Another family Mr. McAdams tells about is that of
Neville. "The Neville family was very involved in the development of the self
in the auto industry. Frank had a brother who was a machinist who developed the
successful self starter for Ford cars and other makes and along with a
launched a very successful manufacturing company in Cleveland, Ohio, which
exists. I understand the company held a patent on the Bendex spring used
starters at that time. One of the sons, Bill, was a director of the company as
as I can remember and a grandson, Percy Neville, Jr., my classmate, became
of the company. Even with all of Mr. Frank Neville's business experience,
to his daughter-in-law, Mae Snearly Neville, he had his problems learning to
the Model T Ford. She told me that soon after she had married Percy, Sr., Mr.
bought a new Model T Ford. He wanted to show her his new car so he invited
take a ride out to one of his ranches. She stated that when he drove up to the
he forgot to put on the brake and ran through the gate before stopping. She
got out and repaired the gate and then, when he started to drive on, he put his
on the reverse pedal and backed through the gate, tearing it down again. She
did not say a word but was very quiet for awhile.
"Several pioneer attorneys were very much a part of Henrietta's business
have already written about Mr. Eustice and Mr. Wantland. Mr. Wantland's wife
lot and after he passed away, she was very lonely. Donley Suddath said she would
him and talk for as long as he would listen. He said when she called and after
spoken to her he would just continue with his work, and after a few minutes he
say, 'Yes, that is right.' When he thought she had talked long enough, he would
'I have to go. It was nice talking to you.' and then he would hang up.
"One of the smartest men that I have ever known was a black man who shined
many years at the old St. Elmo Barber Shop. He could barely write his name,
he accumulated what was considered to be considerable wealth for the time. His
was, 'It doesn't matter what you make. It is what you do with it.' Doug did not
to have laws to give him respect...he earned respect. I consider it a
have known him and to have had his friendship. "A gentleman known only as
was a widely known resident of the Huggins Ranch in east central Clay Co. His
was one that fascinated many who knew him. He was a cowboy who showed up
work and even though Mr. Huggins never knew who he really was, Antelope was
the best bronc riders he had ever seen. Sometime just prior to 1920 he was
from a horse on the ranch and suffered a severe injury to his spinal
recovered physically but not mentally. The ranch owner let him live on the
paid him his regular wages though he did very little work. He had spells and
came over him he would start walking and hitch hiking rides. He did not care
direction or where he went. He might start out traveling west, and at the end of
ride he might go back east. Finally when the ranch was sold, Antelope was
to the State Hospital. My brother Oather was employed there and saw Antelope
He said no one could get Antelope to do any work even though working was part
treatment. My brother told me that on one occasion he saw Antelope pushing a
barrow turned upside down. He said he asked him why he was doing that. His
that if he turned it over those 'fools' would put brick in it and he was just
his head as he would not haul brick for anyone. "
Chapter XV As we continue Mr. Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years,"
this doesn't bring back memories to many of you who attended a country school in
"I started to school in the fall of 1920 in the 2nd grade at the Neville
Because of the distance to the school, my parents taught me at home for
"The Neville School was a large one room frame building about four miles
from our house. The teacher was expected to teach anyone who wished to
first year we were in school our teacher had students from 1st through 10th
The school board, called trustees, was made up of my father, Claude McAdams,
Thompson, and Mack Reeves.
"My first teacher was Miss Lena Ray, who was almost 18 years old when school
and she had one year of college. At that time, a person could get a
teach school in one of two ways...one year of college or a passing grade on an
given by any county school superintendent. The elected county superintendent
member of all the rural school boards. The only independent school districts in
were Byers, Petrolia, Henrietta, and Bellevue. If there was more than one
a school, the lead teacher was the principal. "My teacher boarded at the home
Less Thompson, whose son Dwight started to school that year. Miss Ray and Dwight
to school on a Shetland pony. Since my sister and I also rode to school on a
they waited for us and we went together. Weather did not stop us although we
at school with very cold feet and sometimes very wet.
"I do not remember the number of students in that first year, but there were 3
in the 10th grade who were older than the teacher. Around Christmas time, two
boys who were cousins had a fight over the teacher - each claimed her
girlfriend - in the school yard at morning recess. One of the boys suffered a
head injury that required stitches. The other had a broken collar bone. The
were going to suspend the two boys but were saved the trouble when neither of
returned to school. The third older boy also dropped out about the same time.
"Some of the families whose children were in school while I was there through
grade were McMasters, Reeves, McAdams, Thompson, Carter, Ray (no relation
teacher), Chappell, Warren, Brister, Russell and Lockhart. "My second grade
was Miss Pearl Cunningham and the third Miss Ora Vaughn. Miss Vaughn boarded
Jim Williams home and walked over a mile to school. She later married the
son, Boss, and they lived the rest of their lives in Clay Co.
"During the mid 1920's country schools were spaced probably no more than
eight miles apart because of the scattered farms and lack of transportation.
were five schools within five miles of our house, Neville, Bluegrove, Halsell,
"Our school term was seven months from October to early May. The first 3
rode horses to school, and the last three we rode in a one horse buggy with
and side curtains but no wind shield. It was warmer and drier than riding
"The Neville School was a large one room building with a stage and blackboard
the back of the room. There was a very large wood and coal stove near the
the room. The front door was never locked. The first boy to get to school
morning started the fire in the stove in cold weather. If it was very bad,
Reeves, who lived about three hundred yards from the school would get up and go
the fire very early in an attempt to warm the building by school time.
beginning of each school term, the teacher would appoint a 'monitor' for each
school. He (it was always a boy) was responsible for having a daily supply of
coal brought in from the storage building. The wood was placed in a wood box
back of the room, or if we were burning coal, the coal bucket was to be
sitting by the stove. It was also his responsibility to bring in a bucket of
water each morning. The water bucket was placed on a shelf at the back of the
and had a dipper each one used. There was also a wash pan and soap for washing
hands. A girl monitor was responsible for sweeping the floor.
"There was also a privey for boys and one for girls about one hundred yards
school building and about a hundred yards apart. A privey was an outdoor toilet
was larger than most and had a wrap around wind breaker around at least two
including the door. The wind breaker was about the same height as the toilet
probably as much for privacy as for breaking the wind. "The teacher would
nearer the stove on really cold days because the building was too large and
the students to stay warm in the rear of the building.
"We were fortunate to have one-student desks which probably prevented a
whispering. The teacher divided the room according to grade and number of
the grade. All classes were held at the front near the teacher's desk and
blackboard. When the class being taught was called, students in that class would
to the first row of seats, or to the blackboard if the class was math or
"Our school day was from 8:00 to 4:00 with two recess periods of fifteen minutes
and a lunch period of one hour. All of the students brought their lunch
the Mack Reeves family who lived nearby. Most students ate their lunches in the
or wood shed next to the school unless the weather forced them inside. There
playground equipment of any kind so the boys spun tops and played marbles
girls played jacks. When spring came, all the students would sometimes choose
and play ball.
"In my lifetime of 85 years, I have probably seen more changes in the way the
American lives and travels than had taken place in the past several hundred
"In land transportation, changes have occurred that my grandfathers would not
even if thy were to return to this earth and see them. Both of my parents'
came to Clay County in covered wagons, on horseback, and walking. My mother
that when her father would decide to move from place to place she and her
would walk along behind the wagons driving the family milk cows and horses. I,
have traveled many miles in a horse drawn wagon, and I rode to school on
and in a one horse buggy. "Automobiles were around before I was born, but they
not practical for general use for the necessary daily travel because they
dependable and roads were not suitable for cars.
"The roads were little more than wagon trails. As cars became more
demand for good roads increased. A law was passed requiring each land owner to
time to working on public roads. The County Commissioners Court would
supervisor and assign so many days of road work to each land owner or
worker furnishing a team of horses or mules worked half as many days as a man
"My father was appointed supervisor for a section of roads while we lived
Neville Community. He and others succeeded in improving the road from
Halsell and on to Scotland so automobiles could travel over it. Around 1919 a
route was established from Henrietta to Scotland and later on to
designated Star Route 2.
"The roads were built by using horse drawn graders and fresnos. They were
by horse drawn 'drags' after each rainfall. Since very little dirt could be
the graders or drags, all roads were sloped from the middle of the road to the
All automobiles were built high off the ground so drivers would straddle the
of the road to be able to stay out of the ditches. If two cars were to
usually tried to find a place to stop and let the other move slowly by. The
motorized road equipment was a real treat to rural people.
"I have seen statistics that indicate there were about 500,000 automobiles
world in 1910, and by 1920 there were 8,000,000 in the United States alone, with
being manufactured after 1915. The Model T Ford led the way to the U.S. 'love
with the automobile. Some of the names I have heard for automobiles when they
not start or were stuck in the mud would probably lead one to think it might
been a 'hate affair.' As the early day automobiles chugged and backfired
roads and trails, they frightened many, many teams of horses and buggy horses
them to run away.
"All of the makes of cars at that time depended on a coil and magneto system
electrical supply, and there was only one type of gasoline that was just a
above kerosene. In fact, I have seen many Model T Fords run on a mixture of
"The engines were most of the time very difficult to start. Both the spark and
were controlled by levers somewhere near the steering wheel. Before
motor, the spark lever was always placed in the 'off' position to prevent
firing. The engine was started by turning a crank at the front of the car. Often
the spark 'off,' the engine would backfire anyway causing the crank to turn
reverse direction at a rapid rate resulting in many broken arms and bruised
In cold weather hot water was often poured on a burlap sack placed over the
to warm the gas and help start the motor. Sometimes the driver would jack up a
wheel and put the car in gear. The wheel would act as an extra flywheel
person turning the crank to get a little faster rotation of the motor, helping
start. I have also seen a pulley attached to a back wheel. The person trying to
the car would wind a rope around the pulley and spin the wheel in an effort to
the car. Some of the difficulty in starting the early day cars was probably as
the driver's fault as it was the motor. One must remember that these were
had absolutely no mechanical experience other than greasing a wagon
suddenly they found themselves trying to operate a complicated mechanical
To continue Obert McAdams's story of the Model T from his book, "Memories of My
"The Model T had a box under the dashboard that contained four coils...one for
cylinder. The box had a cover but it was seldom in place as the points
controlled the spark were on top of the coil. When a cylinder began to
driver reached down and flipped the stuck point with a finger. The coils were
rectangular boxes about five inches long and two or three inches wide filled
wires. There were no wires to and from the coil directly to the magneto and
plug. Contact was made by electrodes on one side of the coil wedged
corresponding electrodes on the front of th coil box, making it necessary
coil to fit tight in the coil box. If it did not fit tight enough, the operator
make a wood wedge and push it down behind the coil.
"Plain water was used for cooling the engine. This, along with the starting
did not allow use in extra cold weather. The radiator would freeze in the
while the motor was running as early day cars did not have water pumps. Some
used wood alcohol as anti-freeze but its low boiling point caused it to boil
quickly. Most people just heated the water before putting it into the
always started the engine before pouring it in. This practice continued until
anti-freeze was developed after WWII.
"Lights were another problem with early model cars. They would almost
completely when the moor slowed down. I have seen a number of Model T Fords
coal oil lantern hanging on the radiator for night driving from church to home.
after WWII did engineers figure out a regulator that supplied an even electric
Overheating engines were another problem not solved until after WWII and even
"Tires were another problem not solved until then. The first ones were known as
pressure clincher tires with inner tubes. They were made of rubber and cotton
and carried sixty to eighty pounds of pressure. They were very small around and
easy to puncture or have the fiber broken by rocks in the road. Flat tires were
of life for the drivers of cars. The first tire with a conditional guarantee
can remember was in 1933. The tire pump, tube patch, jack, boot, and lug wrench
standard equipment until after WWII. Boots were made from the same type
rubber as the tire and were used inside the tire to cover the breaks in the
itself. No one knew what balancing tires meant even after balloon tires began
used in the late 1920's. "The first windshield wipers that I can remember were
in the late 1920's and were hand operated.
"Most progress in automobile development started in the late 1920's when
introduced its Model A in 1928. Chevrolet may have been ahead of Ford at that
well as several other makers. Ford had been so successful with the Model T
statistics indicate that he made 15 million of the 1912 Model T's without a
"Driving early model cars was complicated. The 'spark' was controlled by one
gas by another, choke by another, and so on. The Model T had three doors as
no front door on the driver's side because the main lever to put the car in
of gear was on the driver's left side and acted as a gear shift and emergency
There were three pedals on the floor. One pedal on the left, when pushed down
same time the gear lever was released, started the car moving. There were two
gears, low and high. The driver had to judge the speed in using the high
pedal at the same time he had to operate the gear lever to get moving. The
pedal on the floor was the reverse pedal with the operation the same as the
pedal except the reverse gear was more powerful than the low gear. The third
was the brake and had to be operated with the gear lever. The choke was at the
of the car by the crank. With the spark lever pushed to the off position,
would idle very rough and if the spark was not increased, the engine would soon
So it now seems comical to remember a man cranking his car and then hurrying
the side to give it spark. From the time I can remember up to 1928, it was my
give the car spark when my father cranked it. The Model T Ford was probably the
complicated of the early day automobiles to operate but it was by far the
popular make for a number of years.
"By the time I can remember, everyone with a blacksmith shop was trying to
automobile: Essex, Overland, Nash, Hupmobile, Studebaker, Mitchell, Hudson
Arrow, Berline, Packard. I never saw one but I have pictures of a Duryea
Ford (1893), an Oldsmobile (1896), a Haynes, a White Steamer, and some electric
built around 1900."
Chapter XVIII To continue Mr. McAdams' story of transportation in his book,
of My First 85 Years":
"I don't know when trucks were first introduced, but none were very successful
about 1928 when Ford and Chevrolet came out with trucks that could carry
loads sufficient enough to make trucking profitable. Mack made one of the
really useful ones. Many early models had solid rubber tires made on the wheels.
of the early trucks were chain driven. I remember that Model T trucks could
haul as much as four thousand pounds. "I remember a Mr. Pennington who lived
Bluegrove who hau led cattle to the Ft. Worth Stockyards using a Model T
could haul 4 cows or five or six calves in each load. The main problem
condition of the roads, dirt and rough. All the truckers had trouble getting
'Decatur Hill.' As late as the mid 1930's, many truckers would unload a part of
load at the bottom of the hill and take the rest to the top, leave them and go
after the first ones. This was what is now Highway 287. Both mud and sand
problems for both cars and trucks on many main roads until after WWII. Ranger
Eastland Co. gave truckers problems as late as 1965 on what is now
Later, development of road building machinery made it possible to cut down the
and eliminate some of those problems.
"As it was with early day automobiles, many small companies were trying to
trucks. The 'Wichita' was made in Wichita Falls with solid rubber tires and
drive. One of the first I can remember was used to haul cotton bales from the
Gin at Bluegrove to the railroad in Henrietta. It was a very strong framed
could haul a little more than a wagon and was faster. "As long as I can
'good roads' have been an issue and how to pay for them just as big an issue.
towns and cities used bricks to pave some of the streets. The first concrete
used to pave a street was about 1922. Main Street in Henrietta was paved
concrete along with the other streets around the Courthouse Square. The
machine was, in my mind, the largest machine I had ever seen. Some of the cost
paving was paid by property owners. If the owner refused to pay, that
left unpaved. For years the street north of the Court House Square had
sections, as well as many other streets also.
"Before 1923 a 'good roads' district was formed from the Montague County line
Wichita County line through Bellevue, Henrietta, and Jolly. It extended out
road a few miles in each direction and property owners along the road were
taxes to finance the road. They soon realized that a lot of people were
road who had contributed nothing and other means of financing were found, like
sharing, gasoline taxes and others.
"All of the dirt work in the 'good roads' district was done with horse and
power. I believe the road across Clay County was paved in 1925 through 1927
known as Highway 5. The second paved road ran from Henrietta east to Montague
and is now Highway 81. It was completed in 1936. "With improved roads and
railroads lost business and many lines were abandoned.
"The first airplane that I can remember seeing was an open cockpit bi-wing in
Although I was only 3 years old at the time, it made such an impression on me
still remember it as if it were just yesterday. I was playing in our back yard
heard a loud noise. When I looked up I saw what had to have been an army air
plane. It had two sets of wings, was khaki colored, had a U.S. flag on the
behind a man sitting in between the wings. He was wearing goggles and a cap
tight on his head. It was about 500 feet off the ground, going about 60 to 75
an hour. Since I saw it first flying behind our barn, I ran in and told my
there was something out behind the barn that she should come see.
"I have seen airplanes develop from the single seat bi-planes to the huge
seating more than 300 people and traveling 400 to 500 miles per hour. I have
from Amarillo to Los Angeles, taken care of business and returned home in less
than it took me to travel in a wagon from the home farm in Clay County to
(10 miles) and return." Chapter XIX
To continue Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "I was probably
years old when I saw my first radio, a crystal set homemade by my cousin,
McAdams. There was a broadcasting station in Ft. Worth. Leland had long wires
around the ceiling of his room for antennas, and we could sometimes hear voices
of the time, just static) from Ft.Worth, a distance of about 80 miles. The
manufactured radio I can remember was made by Motorola with a large horn
the top for a speaker. Mr. P.C. Lockhart, our neighbor, bought one in about
1924 and invited the whole neighborhood to listen to it the first Saturday
owned it. I do not remember the type battery used for power, but his party
very successful. The radio had several dials that had to be set just right.
the program we heard was static since it was a stormy night.
"I do not remember the year when I saw my first television set, but it would
been after 1937. The picture was black and white with a lot of snow
probably caused by the quality of the telecast.
"The telegraph was in general use long before I was born. Transmission was
if a person did not live near a telegraph station, delivery sometimes took a
two, but even so, it was much faster than the U.S. Mail. "Communications have
unbelievable strides in my lifetime. I cannot remember when my parents did not
telephone. Mr. E. A. Blake of Bluegrove owned the telephone system
switchboard located in Bluegrove. The telephones were powered by dry cell
placed inside a rather large phone box. The batteries could be rejuvenated
three times by soaking them overnight in rain water. Well water was not used
sometimes the chemicals in it would damage the batteries. The line was a
strand of smooth wire fastened to insulators, usually along the tops of fence
running from the switchboard to different areas. To call another person on your
you simply turned the crank in a series of long and short turns since each
had his own ring signal. To call someone off your line you went through the
at the switchboard. Since all lines were party lines, everyone often listened
often joined in the conversation. Needless to say, service was very bad and
necessary to talk very loudly.
"If an announcement concerning the community was to be made, the switchboard
would make a rather long ring, then wait for people to get to their phones and
make the announcement. Local patrons could do the same in case of emergencies,
fire. The operator would often hand deliver messages to people who had no phone.
came single party lines but still needing an operator, then automatic
with an operator for long distance calls to the cellular phones today which
wires or operators.
"I remember a rather amusing event which happened several times on Sunday
before Prohibition became law. This certain rancher would go to Henrietta on
and buy a keg of beer. He would lower it into a well that had especially cold
in it that was near a stock tank down in the pasture. Then, on Sunday
would get on the telephone and make the long emergence ring and say, 'We have
in the bog on our place and we need help to get her out.'
To continue Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years ": "The
describing the various types of businesses as I knew them as a young person
show the differences between the family-owned business and the present-day
owned giant multi-purpose stores.
"Prior to WWII the U. S. was a rural agrarian society with a vast majority
population living on farms and ranches or in small towns and communities that
their existence to farming and ranching. Just as this was the situation in the
it also was the case in most of the U.S. The migration from the farms and small
began during WWII when the giant armaments factories began to draw people away
farming and small town life. Young people continue to leave today to find
paying jobs. As costs of producing food and fiber have increased, larger farms
necessary, replacing smaller units and displacing people.
"Prior to WWII the nearest thing to today's conglomerate stores were the two
order businesses - Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward. There were a
limited number of companies such as J. C. Penney, S.H. Kress and Woolworth's but
did not locate in the smaller towns. Where they did locate, J.C. Penney stores
only clothing and Kress and Woolworth stores sold only small items that they
sell for five or ten cents. The owner of a store in smaller places was almost
present at the business and he (most owners at that time were men) stuck to
knew best, groceries if he had a grocery store, for instance. An exception
very small places there might be only one store called a general merchandising
that would stock some groceries, patent medicines, plow parts, and some dry
the basic needs of the community. "In my younger days a grocery store was just
they handled food products. A hardware store sold nails, hammers, and small
used in farming such as plow shares, binder twine, hinges, etc. A dry goods
handled clothing items. "The grocery store I remember as a child sold wheat
24 or 48 pound cotton cloth sacks, corn meal in 24 pound cotton cloth sacks,
bulk from barrels, pickles by the dozen from barrels, bacon, cheese, bananas
available, canning supplies, candy and other staple food items such as salt,
spices, and flavorings. Baking powder and soda were packaged much as they are
with Calumet and Arm & Hammer the favorite brands. Fleischmans yeast was sold
cake form that did not require refrigeration and was a big selling item since
housewives baked the family's bread. Smoked dry salt bacon was sold in slab
unsliced. Cheese was shipped to grocery stores in large round 40-pound
store had special round boards for the cheese to be placed on and the grocer
cut off what the customer wanted, nearly always in triangular pieces the way
pies today. I was probably 20 years old before I knew that cheese came in
shapes and types other than sharp cheddar, when grocers began selling longhorn
which was a long round 20-pound horn. Bananas were shipped to the store on a
and hung by a rope from the ceiling. They were sold by the dozen and pulled
stalk as the customer ordered them.
"Since most families grew and canned their own vegetables, the grocery sold what
called fruit jars. Vinegar was shipped in a barrel and sold by the gallon, with
people furnishing their own glass jugs. The only candy I remember as a boy
chocolate covered round with a very sweet center, sold in bulk form by the
nickel would buy about ten pieces. The first candy bars I remember were Baby
Hershey bars which sold for a nickel.
"In the fall and early winter apples would be sold by the peck or bushel.
generally handled delicious apples, oranges, walnuts and Brazil nuts and
Christmas. All grocery stores sold lard in tin buckets to be used in baking
pie crusts. Dry pinto beans were another staple sold by the pound. Fresh
might be found in season or might be available from a peddler. "Larger
farmers' markets where grocers could buy wholesale from farmers who brought
produce in very early in the morning. After grocers filled their orders, the
would buy at a lower price what was left and peddle it to housewives along a
route. The one in Wichita Falls was still peddling as late as 1940, when I last
"The cotton domestic bags in which flour and corn meal were sold found many
the homes, such as dish towels and clothing. During the Great Depression the
companies started using a better grade of material with various prints on it
became standard material for making work clothes. "All other items were usually
in brown paper bags or tin buckets. All grocery stores carried a limited
goods in tin cans. Pork and beans, sardines and salmon were some of these.
"Since most people used oil lamps for lighting their homes, most grocery stores
coal oil since gas and oil stations were few and far between." (Dry good
meat markets next time)
To continue Mr. O. J. McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "In
type clothing worn when I was young, one should remember that the home and work
were so very different from those of today. There was no central heating and
conditioning so a completely different type of clothing was needed.
homes and buildings was unknown, and the only warm place in the winter was
stove. There was no cool place in the summer. "The dry goods and clothing
remember in my young days were just that. They sold material, patterns, and
for use in making clothes worn by most family members. Overalls, khaki
blue denim shirts were the usual work clothes for men. I suspect the shirts
reason for the term 'blue collar worker.' Men's dress suits were made of wool,
warm in the summertime. Men's dress shirts, I remember, were always white
collars being separate. The collars were always heavily starched or
celluloid. Separate collars allowed their being worn with several different
The shirts ha double cuffs so cuff links and collar buttons were necessary.
museum has several personalized collar boxes with collars and buttons.) Many men
derby hats or western Stetsons or even caps for winter dress. They wore straw
hats with straight brims and flat tops for summer dress. Most boys wore bill
with ear flaps in winter and straw hats in summer. For work, both men and boys
large straw hats, or some men wore the so-called ten-gallon felt hats, which
"Boys wore suits with short pants that buckled just below the knees, called
Most of the ties that were worn were hand-tied bow ties. Most men and women
heavy wool overcoats and slickers for bad weather. The slickers were made of a
oil cloth with a black hat of the same material. Shoes and boots were staple
The shoes were stiff and required a breaking in period. Two items probably
sale today but popular then were sock supporters to hold up men's socks and
made of either wool or leather to keep men's legs warm. As leggings went
style, men began to wear spats to keep their ankles warm. Long flannel
a must for winter wear for most people. Men and boys wore either home-made BVD
underwear in the summer or store bought BVD's. Many flour sacks ended up as
"Women and girls wore bloomers that could be bought or made from material
dry goods stores (or flour sacks). There were silk stockings for women to
Sunday and ribbed cotton for everyday wear. Men wore socks made of cotton in
and wool in winter. Whale bone corsets were a big item in women's wear. No lady
anywhere without being laced into her corset. Ladies shoes were also very
when I was young. To be stylish, ladies wore high top laced or eyelet black
leather shoes with a pointed toe.
"The dry goods and clothing stores I remember would stock about everything
wore but nothing else. A few stores advertised ladies ready-to-wear but most
and girls wore home made dresses of cotton, silk, linen, lace, or wool
Singer sewing machine was one of the necessary items in most homes. "Another
type of store popular when I was young was the meat market, located only in
cities that had electric or gas cooled vaults. The conditions under which small
meat markets received meat were far removed from today's methods. The meat
owner or his butcher would purchase an animal at the farm or ranch paying so
dollars per animal. The butcher would kill the animal on the farm and field
carcass and then haul it to the vault for cooling. After the meat was
butcher either quartered it or halved it. The customer would order so
whatever cut he wanted. The butcher would tear off two sheets of butcher paper
sheet of wrapping paper and lay the paper on the scales. Then the butcher would
a quarter of beef or pork out of the vault and cut off the approximate
amount, placing it on the scale on top of the paper. Then the cut was weighed
cost determined. Meat was hung in the vault on a roller attached to a circle
that extended outside the vault for ease in handling. A butcher friend of
asked why so much paper was used. He said, 'Paper is cheaper than meat, and it
add to the weight.' "Another source of fresh beef in summer was the peddler who
dress the beef and cool it with ice. He then traveled around the neighborhood
his meat in tubs of ice and sell the meat.
"Some people canned their meat for summer use.
"The large packing plants furnished the dry salt bacon, bologna, and some
meats to the grocers who had no way of cooling. Their fresh meat went only
large towns and cities that had railroads and sufficient electricity to operate
vaults. The stores would buy the meat by the quarters of the beef or pork.
Armour were the main players in the meat business. Armour operated many small
plants in the Southwest, all of which closed several years ago. "Boxed meat
rather recent way of shipping fresh meat.
"My mother's brother, Leslie Christian, operated a meat market in Byers for
years. He bought the animals - cattle, hogs, sheep - at farms in the Byers
handled them as stated. (Drug stores and hardware stores next time)
To continue Mr. Obert McAdams' story, "Memories of My First 85 Years": "Drug
were very different from the modern drug store. Most of them in small towns
have a doctor who had his office at the store. If his office were elsewhere, he
write all his prescriptions for a particular store unless the customer
different one. What we now know as a pharmacist was then called a druggist who
have been to school for a six week course or he might have read some books and
"Several types of patent medications were stocked. Some that I remember were
lineaments, Lydia Pinkhams, and Doan's Little Liver Pills. Several so-called
remedies were sold as well as iodine, turpentine, and other products.
prescriptions were mixed by the druggist...many in powder form. He would
the required amount of each ingredient by weighing it and then mixing all
ingredients together in a bowl using a mortar stick. After the ingredients
mixed, the druggist would spread the mixture on a sheet of paper and arrange it
square form. With a special knife designed for such use, he would
medication into equal doses. Then he would place each dose on a small square of
and fold it in a way that would keep the medicine from spilling out. To
medicine, the patient usually mixed it in water. The taste was usually not too
the filler used in most dry powder mixes was baking soda with the long
bicarbonate of soda. For liquid medication such as cough syrup, the druggist
the ingredients by the ounce by pouring from a large bottle into a smaller
The filler for cough syrup was alcohol. Later on, the druggist would mix the
the same way but put them in capsules. This made the medications with a bad
easier to take as well as being more convenient.
"The most frequently prescribed medications were quinine and purgatives,
calomel, black draught, and castor oil. It was recommended by makers of
and also by many doctors, that a person take at least three rounds of
year for good health. Considering the fact that most water came from unsealed
or wells, that outdoor privies were used, and other existing conditions such
family water dipper used by all for drinking, it probably was a good idea to
three rounds of purgatives a year. "A few patent medications in common use
still used, such as iodine, turpentine, menthols, and camphor.
"Quinine was used for typhoid and other fevers. Its extremely bitter taste
the expression "bitter as quinine." When I was about seven years old, I
heard a doctor tell a druggist that a good dose of soda never hurt anyone...in
words, sometimes when a patient thought he was getting a medication, he was
only soda. This was not meant to deceive the patient but was simply all the
doctor had to prescribe. "For cuts and scrapes, the average drug store would
camphor based salves or liquid. Paregoric was the only medication I can
doctors prescribing for dysentery, which was common. It was so strong that it
be taken by the drop in a glass of water. The taste was very bad, and if too
taken, then more purgatives were needed.
"By the time I remember, drug stores in the larger towns had electricity and
would have a soda fountain. There a person would sit on a tall stool or on
chairs at a round marble top table. Most soda fountains offered coke, root
lemonade, and ice cream. The coke could have cherry flavoring added. The drinks
mixed at the fountain using the syrup and soda water. Thus, the term "soda
born. Many stores in smaller towns had their own generators, but if there
electricity, there was no soda fountain.
"The three hardware stores that I remember from my youth all had very similar
and show cases. One wall of each store was covered with shelves, drawers, etc.
floor to ceiling and had a ladder that hooked onto a rail at the top and
the bottom so the clerk could move it along to reach the higher drawers and
The drawers would be filled with bolts, nails - including shoe nails
various sizes, door locks, door knobs, and other small items. The shelves were
to store larger items such as buckets, larger tin items, and water well buckets.
"One of the hardware store's big sellers was all kinds of stoves from the large
and wood burning furnaces to the small one burner coal oil space heaters. Some
very plain and others would have silver trim and enamel on them. The hardware
I knew also sold guns and ammunition as well as all kinds of knives. They also
small hand type garden plows and all kinds of plow shares, shovels,
posthole diggers. Of course, there were many other items like binder twine,
wire, rope, harnesses for work horses and buggy horses. Stove pipes for wood and
stoves were also a big item since it was rare for them to last more than a year
"From the time I can remember, there were other types of businesses that
considered to be necessary. The blacksmith shop, the saddle maker, the
dealer, the ice plants, feed stores, and cotton gins. "The blacksmith did
which was much different from today's welding. He also sharpened plow shares and
horses. He was the one who kept the farm machinery of that day operating. To
iron or steel, the blacksmith would heat it to a point where it was semi liquid,
join the two pieces by hammering them together on his anvil, using a
hammer. The different types of iron required different heating, causing him to
all of the types of iron and steel. The blacksmith was so necessary that almost
community had one or more.
"The saddle maker did leather work as well as make saddles, which were very
at that time. His shop was operated by skilled leather craftsmen. Young people
forward to getting their first saddle much as young people today look
getting their first driver's license. A good saddle made by a good saddle maker
last a lifetime if given the proper care. Good harnesses for both buggy
work horses could be bought at most hardware stores but if a person wanted an
fancy leather harness, he would have it custom made at the saddle shop. Also,
shops would customize horse bridles to the customer's liking.
"The implement dealer sold farm tools, buggies, and wagons. They were much as
are today except for one thing. The implements sold long ago were horse
much, much smaller. There were no motorized implements until the late
types of plows, grain binders, grain drills, hay balers, etc. that were sold
implement dealers prior to the 1930's are now collectors' items. This is also
"I cannot remember when there were no ice plants. Since railroads were heavy
bulk ice, all of the plants were located near a railroad with a track up to a
dock. The trains would take on large 300 or more pound blocks for cooling
other perishables that they might be hauling. All of the ice plants that I knew
froze the ice in 300 pound blocks that were grooved so that they could be broken
into 25, 50 and 100 pound blocks to be sold at the front dock. Exact weight
myth as the plant employee would use an ice pick to break the block of
sometimes the buyer might get 20 pounds or, then again, it might be 30.
"The buyer might be in a wagon and later a car. He would have some type of
to wrap around the ice block to keep it from melting. Some people used wagon
which are now called tarps while others might have a burlap cotton bale
most common wrap was an old quilt since the cotton was good insulation.
merchants in smaller communities, such as Bluegrove, would sell ice so that
could make ice cream on weekends. The merchant covered the ice blocks with
The ice was delivered to him in 300 pound blocks by freight wagons and then
trucks. City and town dwellers were served by horse drawn ice wagons on
routes. Housewives had a square card with numbers 25, 50, 75, and 100
them, usually in large red letters. On the ice delivery day on her route, she
the card in a front door or window to let the ice man know how much ice she
that day. The ice wagon was pulled by one horse who knew the route as well
delivery man. The horse would know where and when to go as well as when to
when to go again. This method of delivering ice in towns and cities continued
electric refrigerators became popular in the late 1930's and in some cases
"In Clay County, Virgil Townley and a son started ice routes for farm and
people around 1936. They delivered the ice in Chevrolet trucks and
routes until the US entered WWII. The railroads used so much ice in the war
that ice rationing was necessary. Following the war, the Rural Electric
Associations were able to complete their electric lines so that farm people
electric refrigeration. This, coupled with mechanical refrigeration of railroad
and truck trailers, caused the demise of ice plants as they had been for many
We now have two generations who have missed the opportunity of keeping the
under the wooden refrigerator empty and two generations who have not had the
of lugging the old quilt to the ice plant for a chunk of ice make a freezer
cream." (Next: cotton gins and feed stores)
To continue Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "Most farmers raised
of their livestock feed and seed but those in the towns needed a place to buy
for their buggy and saddle horses, their chickens and hogs; thus most towns
feed and seed store. It also sold garden seed, baby chicks, wheat bran,
livestock medications and vaccines, and some manufactured feed like cotton seed
and cake. Strange as it may seem the same type of store exists today but
different type customer. Today, many feed store customers are town and city
buying for pleasure horses and seed for bird feeders. Many feed stores today
protein supplements for livestock as well as block salt and mineral
"Another type of business still flourishing today but in a completely
manner and area is the cotton gin. Cotton was the cash crop of early Clay
much of Texas as well as the southern United States from the earliest settlers
after WWII. After the cotton was ginned and baled, it was hauled to a cotton
where it was weighed by a public weigher and sampled. The cotton gin and the
yard were a dreaded disaster for many places without fire fighting equipment
for the bucket brigades.
"It was customary for businesses to stay open late during the busy cotton
season as farmers often brought their cotton to the gin late in the afternoon.
getting their cotton ginned, they would stop by the stores for supplies.
store owners had electricity, they lighted the buildings with oil lamps and
gasoline lamps. If and when a store received electricity, there would be an
fan over the entry door to keep flies and other flying insects out of the store.
"Wholesale companies located in large cities had drummers, now called
called on the store owners for their orders. The drummer sent the order to his
by telegraph when he found a telegraph office. Dry goods and hardware drummers
call on their customers around four times a year. Grocery drummers called
The drummers I first remember traveled to a central location by train and then
a horse and buggy to make their calls. Drummers were very good customers of
stables until around 1930 when they began to use cars. That which they
shipped by railroad to the nearest depot and delivered by horse drawn wagons.
"When I was born in 1914, a great majority of families in the U.S. lived and
their living on small farms or in small unincorporated communities and in small
and cities that depended on the farms and ranches for their existence. "Even
beginning of colonization of what was to become the United States, land grants
made by the King of England, the rulers of Spain and the rulers of France to
farming and ranching. After the War for US independence and the Louisiana
homesteading became the tool used to settle large areas of the
southwestern US. Homesteads ranged from 160 acres to 640 acres,
location. Two of my father's brothers, George and Hardie, got their start in
homesteading 640 acres in Moore Co. in the Texas panhandle. My wife's
Jackson Evans, received 160 acres as a homestead in Eastland Co. and since he
pioneer doctor, he was given a grant of more than 1000 acres by the state.
"Some migration from farms to cities had begun by the time I can remember,
among young people seeking work in the growing automobile and machinery
But the early movement was very slow, and those leaving agriculture were
children from large farm families who were unable to get work on farms or
small rural communities. Migration continued at a very slow pace until the
of the conflict in Europe in 1939, the beginning of WWII. "The Roaring 20's,"
we still sometimes use to describe the period from the end of WWI to 1928 were
that, a time of great prosperity in the United States. Farm products were
great quantities to feed and clothe our growing population as well as to help
war torn Europe. Farm product prices and land values were at an all time
popularity of the automobile reached a frenzy as Henry Ford and others
large quantifies of cars at reasonable prices for the time.
"But while all this was going on, the methods of farming and raising food had
very little from the beginning of the colonies in the new world. Some
kinds of crops and varieties had been made and some improvements in processing
evident. But the raising and harvesting of crops depended on horse or mule
manpower creating many millions of jobs. This changed very little from the
iron plow was invented until after I was born in 1914." (Next: The Great
"The Great Depression of October 1929 really started on the farms of the U.S.
fall of 1928. It took a year for the depression in agriculture to reach Wall
and the streets of large cities and towns across the United States. The 1920's
large impact on my memory as my parents and many members of their families
agriculture and living in small communities that depended on farming and
"From the time I was born until about 1925, my father's main interest had
raising and training horses and mules with some cattle. Cotton and wheat farming
returning good profits so he decided to go into farming on a large scale for the
and times. He bought and rented additional land as well as some new
1927 he was the largest cotton farmer in south Clay County and making good
expanding further - his banker told him to buy anything that would make
1928 cotton crop was a very good one. The first few bales sold at what was
high price - the mid $.20 per pound. By mid October, the price dropped to about
per pound or lower.
"Following WWI, the market for food and fiber reached new highs because of the
to rebuild war torn Europe. The world supply of wheat, corn, and cotton
sufficient to meet the needs of Europe. At the same time, the internal
engine was being adapted to be used in large iron wheel tractors making it
for millions of acres to be plowed and planted in crops in the Great
western Texas. This caused an explosion in grain, corn, and cotton supplies.
mid 1920's, Europe had recovered to the extent that it could again produce
fiber crops, and by 1928, the world found itself with an over supply of
products with the U.S. being the main producer. Farmers, finding themselves
large grain supplies, increased their livestock herds. This caused an over
meat as well as wool, mohair, and hides. The age old supply and demand formula
in with disastrous results for agriculture, and as hard times hit the
ranchers, they stopped buying. Since at that time more than eighty percent
population was in agriculture, the end result was world wide depression.
"My father continued to gather cotton as long as he could clear $5.00 per
cotton ginners began ginning the cotton for the seed, allowing my father to
the entire 1928 crop. Many farmers plowed under the latter part of that year's
Wheat declined to around $.30 per bushel, oats $.10 and corn $.10. Hog prices
to as low as $.02 per pound. I remember my Uncle George McAdams shipping his
crop from Muleshoe, TX, to the Ft. Worth Central Market, where the cattle
bring enough to pay the freight and commission. He had hoped to have at
couple of dollars a head above expenses. Instead,, he received a small bill.
"Many farmers and ranchers were unable to make their payments. Many banks
them to continue to operate if they could pay interest on their loans and
taxes. Soon, the collateral for their loans had little or no value. I personally
farmers who wrote their banks where the collateral was and they could come get
"Mr. Luke Williams, agricultural agent for the W. B. Worsham Bank,
interesting story about a farmer customer. He had borrowed money from the
finance the next year's crop but ran out of money before he had finished
He went to the bank to borrow enough to finish. He told Mr. Williams he didn't
money enough to plant and to buy groceries. Mr. Williams told the farmer to
planting and to catch a jack rabbit for groceries. A few days later Mr.
a letter from the farmer telling him he had taken his advice and was running a
rabbit through Bowie and the rabbit was still going. He said the farm tools
the barn and the horses were in the lot and that if Mr. Williams wanted them
better go get them. That rabbit was still running east and he thought it
stop until at least Louisiana.
"Many loans were long past due before foreclosure took place. This resulted in
small town and city banks being closed. Herbert Hoover, the Republican
blamed for the depression with its long soup lines in the larger cities of the
and for the foreclosures in the Southwest. As a result, Franklin D. Roosevelt
1932 election by an overwhelming majority. Soon after taking office in
President Roosevelt took some very drastic action in an attempt to right the
States' economy. He had limited success. "One of his first actions was to
bank holiday, whereby all banks were required to close for a short period to
called 'runs' on the banks. People had lost faith in all banks and were
their money. Only banks that were considered financially sound were to reopen.
banks that reopened failed in the following months, including the W. B.
Company Bank in Henrietta. This was the bank that was financing my father. The
thing happened to the bank that my wife's father used. I believe the Worsham
paid unsecured depositors about $.17 on the dollar after all the bank's assets
"The failure of the Worsham Bank changed my life forever. All of my father's
were in that bank; there was no money to pay for my college education, forcing
leave college never to return. My wife Cleo suffered the same fate. That,
with the depression, changed my parents' life. My father was forced to sell
hundred acres of land and a number of cattle. From that time until his death in
he never again would borrow money to expand his farming operations. I
group of very good cows that he bought just before the price decline that he
about three years. When the cows and two calf crops were sold, my father did
his first dollars back that he had invested in the cows. It also made a
impression on me that probably has caused me to be over cautious about
and borrowing money throughout my life. "The depression influenced the people
fathers's generation who were able to struggle through with at least a home and
land or their business intact by making them over cautious about expanding
ahead. Others who lost their life savings were broken in spirit and never again
to restart a business or own a home.
"For the generation of children, such as myself, who were old enough to
roaring 20's and watch their parents struggle to keep a home for their family
food on the table and clothes on their backs, there was the fear of a repeat of
Thus, they were so over cautious about borrowing money to expand that they soon
"As farmers and ranchers started losing money, they stopped going to movies.
quit buying ready made dresses, pants, coats, and shirts. They quit spending
except for basic necessities. When they quit spending money, millions of
manufacturing plants found themselves out of work or working for greatly
wages. This also contributed to the Great Depression." (More on the Depression
Chapter XXVI To continue Obert McAdams' discussion of the Great Depression
book, "Memories of My First 85 Years":
"President Roosevelt used the entire resources of the United States
trying to restore the economy of the country. But in spite of all he tried to
depression never really ended until after World War II. The Reconstruction
Corporation, with Texan Jessie Jones as the head, financed businesses. The
Conservation Corporation furnished jobs for young men employed in
projects such as building roads and school buildings, flood control, planting
for wind breaks on the great plains, and other public projects. The Works
Administration furnished jobs on public projects such as building roads.
programs designed to reduce surplus commodities were started. Farmers were
reduce the number of hogs raised and acres of corn planted. Farmers were paid to
under a portion of their cotton crop in either 1933 or 1934 - I do not
exact year - but I plowed under a lot of good cotton. Cattle, especially
heifers, were bought and killed right on the ranches. This program drew a
public criticism and was used only one time. In fact, of all of the programs
by President Roosevelt to relieve the depression, this was probably the
criticized by the general public. The cattle were slaughtered and left to rot
ranches - the meat was not for consumption; many felt the meat should have been
to feed the hungry, and there were millions of hungry people in the cities
eastern United States, as well as the larger cities of the south. But, of
use the meat would have defeated the purpose of the program which was to
price - the old supply and demand formula, again. I personally know people
use some of the meat.
"During the depression of 1929 with its unemployment, reverse migration from
to farms was common. Although there was little money to be made in farming, one
raise enough food to feed a family. In early 1933, the federal government
program designed to encourage people with farm experience to return to
government would buy large tracts of raw land and develop it into small farms
to 40, and sometimes 80, acres of land. Then the government sold it to
wanted to farm. The terms were nothing down and 30 years to pay for it
government loaning the farmer the money to purchase horses, feed, seed,
living expenses for the first year. Also, in Texas, a milk cow was a
was very familiar with this program as I worked as a certifying officer for
Wichita Counties in 1934 and 1935.
"The Supreme Court ruled that many of the president's programs were
In most cases, what the programs were designed for was accomplished. Even
depression, while somewhat relieved, continued until after World War II. We
became adjusted to cheaper prices after the effects of the roaring 20's had
To continue Mr. McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "All of the
written to describe conditions in my early childhood and youth in order to get
great advancements I have witnessed in my lifetime and the changes in our
since my birth in 1914." Agriculture saw many changes from small one bottom
plows, one row listers, planters and cultivators, usually pulled by two horses
the farmer walking along guiding them. Small two section drag harrows, ten hole
drills, row binders and seven foot swath grain binders were also in use. Then
1925 came two-row, horse-drawn equipment. "Preparing the land for planting
took all winter and early spring. The first riding turning plows I remember
one bottom 'sulkey' plows and the two disc turning plow followed by two bottom
"The first tractor that I can remember seeing pulling a plow was a large iron
steam engine designed to power thrashing machines; it was not successful.
early 1920's a two cylinder 'Rumley' replaced steam engines in powering
some cotton gins. In this same time period, International Harvester Co.
large gasoline burning 'Wheatland,' used for large western wheat and other
farms to prepare and seed grain land. International Harvester, John Deere Plow
Case Implement and other companies developed iron wheel tractors that could be
for both grain farming and row crop farming. Some were successful, but the
change from horse, man, and mule power to mechanical power for farmers came
late 1930's and early 1940's when manufacturers began putting rubber
tractors and developed implements especially for mounting on or pulled by
"So, I have seen farming advance from the horse drawn one row walking
today's giant four wheel drive diesel powered tractors with air conditioned
radios, heaters, and computer controls capable of pulling fifty foot plows
fifty foot series of grain drills behind them. Some tractors have computer
that adjust the depth of the plows so that all the field is plowed at the same
"The grain thrashers in use by the time I remember consisted of two units, the
and the separator. They were efficient but very labor intensive. The separator
powered by a belt usually ten or twelve inches wide and about one hundred
hundred fifty feet long. Since the front of the tractor faced the front
separator, the belt had to be twisted. The engine was supposed to be started
crank, but often it was necessary for several men to take hold of the belt
engine and pull it as fast as possible to assist the starting operation. Later
efficient gasoline powered tractors were developed, some with self starters.
"A thrashing crew usually consisted of eight or ten bundle haulers, four or
pitchers, clean up men, engineer, and separator operator. The bundle haulers
wagons with hay frames on them pulled by two horses to haul the grain bundles
field to separator. The pitchers pitched the bundles with a pitchfork up
person running the bundle wagon. Each was responsible for loading two
clean up man kept the loose bundles and straw around the separator cleaned up
it through the separator where the operator usually stood on top, being sure
properly oiled and operating as it should. The operator also fed the horses
times a day. The engineer operated the tractor, keeping the belt tight and the
oil and water at the proper levels. Some crews were hired by the owner of the
and carried a bedroll and ate at the cook shack, a wagon equipped as a
kitchen. Other crews were the farmers and their neighbors trading out work
their own crops harvested and the women folks cooked for them. Working days
long, usually starting at sunrise and ending at sunset. The work was hard and
with grain dust a big problem. Nearby stock tanks or creeks were usually
crowded after dark as the hands tried to get the dirt and dust off their bodies.
"From the time I can remember, the separator was very efficient in
grain out of the heads and separating it from the straw. The wagons
bundles from the fields drove up on both sides of the separator where the
the bundles into the separator feeder. A chain devise pulled them in and
strings as it fed them into the separator. The grain and straw went
cylinder which did a very good job of loosening the grain which then passed
series of shakers which started separating grain from straw. As it passed
back of the separator a series of small fans blew the chaff and grain dust away
the grain which then fell into a bin at the bottom of the separator where
picked up and carried by a chain auger to the top of the separator and dumped
weighing devise. As the weight bucket reached the pre-set weight, the
dumped into an auger that carried it to the grain wagons where it usually was
and carried to the owner's's storage bin. The straw was blown by a large fan
a pipe called a stacker to the straw pile. Since the stacker would rotate as
a half circle, the farmer could set it to make any size straw stack he wanted
cattle could eat the straw in the winter. "The owner of the grain stored it in
and took it to a dealer later in the winter when he had more time, since
wagons was slow.
"Machines were developed to take the place of the grain binder and the
combining parts and functions of both, hence the name 'combine.' Their
limited until the late 1930's when better tractors were built and shorter grains
bred to stand up better and produce less straw. The 'Gleaner' was pulled by a
but Massey Harris developed a self-propelled combine after World War II. Trucks
developed to carry grain directly to market from the field, greatly
labor needed to harvest the crops.
"Modern combines allow one man to harvest and thrash in one day the amount of
and acreage that formerly would have taken twenty-five men as much as a week or
of hard dirty work plus twenty-eight or more horses and mule teams just to
grain. Another step in harvesting was eliminated: shocking the bundles.
picking up the bundles formed by the binder and placing them into small
stacks to let the grain dry."
"Just as there were tremendous changes in the growing and harvesting of
other grains as related in the last article from Mr. McAdams' "Memories of My
85 Years," so there were many changes in the growing and harvesting of cotton,
was one of Clay County's most important cash crops in the early years.
"From the beginning of cotton farming in this country on a commercial basis,
little in its cultivation and harvesting changed until around 1935.
generally planted with a horse drawn one or two row planter, was cultivated
horse drawn cultivators. To produce taller and larger stalks, the farmer
several seeds per nine inches and then thinned the small plants with a hoe,
rise to the term 'cotton chopping.' The choppers also cut out the grass and
"Shortage of labor during World War II brought about changes. Farmers learned
cotton plants thicker in the rows produced a smaller stalk with fewer bolls
produced more cotton per row. They also found ways to remove weeds
"From the beginning of cotton cultivation in the U.S. to the 1920's, all
hand picked by laborers taking the cotton from the burrs and keeping out of the
all leaves, burrs and other trash. Gin machinery was improved until about 1927
it could remove burrs and other trash. This enabled the cotton pickers to
entire open cotton boll from the stalk, hence the term 'pulling bolls.' This
possible for the laborer to double the amount of cotton he could harvest in a
often from 400 to 600 pounds. This was still hard, heavy, dirty work
laborers crawling along on their knees with a long cotton sack across their
accumulating weight as they went. Hours were from first light until dark. I have
pickers strike a match to be able to read the scale weight for their last sack
day. "Thousands of migratory workers, as well as many locals, made their
picking cotton. This added tremendously to the economy of small and large
the cotton belt.
"Cotton prices dropped in 1928-29 to a point where it did not pay the
harvesting and ginning. Farmers began to look for ways to cut costs.
companies developed cotton strippers after World War II that did a good
harvesting the cotton without the waste that was involved in versions that
before the war. Now two or three people could harvest and haul to the gin
bales a day. About 1800 to 2000 pounds of cotton would yield about 500
lint, 750 pounds of seed, and the remainder waste.
"Later improvements resulted in today's self-propelled, eight to twelve row
with mounted storage bins so the cotton can be dumped directly into a
trailer to be hauled to the gin. Often times, the cotton is dumped into a
machine that presses about 7 bales into one module which is left in the field
later time when there is less glut and fire danger at the gin. The
cotton farming eliminated many thousands of jobs but allowed what was a very
intensive commodity to be produced at a much reduced cost. "Of course, the
of other crops was affected by advances in machinery just as much as were the
and wheat industries.
"I have written a great deal about changes in farming practices to attempt to
the effects of these changes during my lifetime and how these changes
entire United States. As we analyze the changes, we come to the question, 'Did
the chicken come first?' Did the development of machinery cause the rural
to move to cities or did the fact that workers leaving farms was a cause
development of the machinery? Also, what part did inflation play? What part did
War II play in the changes? Keep in mind that there is no usable substance or
on this earth that did not come from the earth in some raw form. I think
fact will determine the road the United States will follow in the next 200
To continue O. J. McAdams' observations in "Memories of My First 85 Years": "
the beginning of the United States until about 1940, a farmer and his family
well on a farm of 80 to 160 acres with proper management. Larger farms
combined some farming with ranching, raising cattle and horses. Some larger
had 'share croppers' working part of their land. They rented all or part of a
with the owner furnishing the land, farm tools, horses or mules, and seed.
some type of house was also furnished. The share cropper furnished all the
planting and gathering the crop; then they divided the crop half and half. This
us the term 'share cropper.' This was a way a person could get into the
farming but most of the time he remained a share cropper. This practice
totally disappeared after World War II. It was this type of farming that gave
the memories of good times down on the farm with Grandmother and
memories shared by many town and city dwellers.
"The size of farms has increased greatly. Although there are always exceptions,
experts think that a farmer in general farming today - raising cotton,
beans, etc., will need at least 1200 acres to be able to own the necessary
and to expect to make a reasonable living. Some exceptions are specialized
such as fruits, vegetables and dairy farming. "During my lifetime, this
gone from an agrarian population to an urban population, The United States
best fed, clothed, and housed population in the world. The farm labor
described earlier occurred throughout most agriculture related products, leaving
a small number of food and fiber products that are still labor intensive.
"According to government estimates at this time in 1999, only two per cent
population is engaged in producing the food and fiber used by the United
also a large part of that used by many other nations. While only two per cent
population is engaged in producing agriculture products, some thirty to
per cent have jobs connected to agriculture in processing and distribution.
"During the Great Depression of 1929 and the 1930's farm families in the
probably suffered the least of all. Their cash crops were hit very hard and some
their farms. But, for those who showed that they were trying and
lenders and the taxing authorities were very lenient. Farmers raised their own
and fiber crops. They had milk cows, hogs, and chickens providing food. They
get by without many items the merchants had for sale and they could trade
eggs, butter, and vegetables for necessities such as sugar, coffee, tea and
items they could not produce. Their expenses were generally low - no electric
generally no heating bills. Horse power and man power were cheap.
"Increased hostilities in Europe in late 1938 and 1939 sparked an increase in
spending. Then, the build up of the armed forces took laborers from
businesses. The need for farm products increased dramatically. To find
replace lost laborers, the farmer turned to using and developing more machinery.
period of time was also the beginning of the great exodus from the farms
cities. The coming of electricity, butane, and propane to the farms made county
more enjoyable but also more expensive. Farm prices did not keep pace with
costs of operation. This led to the farmer's need of more land and bigger
and to farms being combined which led to more people moving to the cities.
"Of all the changes I have seen in my lifetime, I believe that the exodus
farms to the cities may be the most dramatic single event so far as the future
U.S. is concerned. In my humble opinion, all of the changes technology has
about pale in comparison to the demise of a lifestyle that sustained the
States from its beginning to rather recent times. In the future, people will
by some means. People will still communicate one way or another. But, never
as long as the United States stands and operates under the form of government
has, will the rural lifestyle that fed and clothed the masses from the
colonization until the World War II years be seen again. This nation has had,
its beginning, a cheap food policy caused by plentiful land and cheap
United States still enjoys a cheap food policy now made possible by
developments never dreamed of in years gone by. "I can remember my
Christian saying he would not believe an airplane could fly even if he
happening. I wonder what he would say if it were possible for him to see the
made since 1925 in farming, which was his longtime occupation.
"Today's farmer is likely to live in a small town and commute to his farm when
is to be done. He is likely to have a hired man living on the farm doing much
work. Today's farmer is likely to be well educated, and, if he is a younger
usually inherited all or part of the farm. He probably will be using a
keep his records and to determine which crops to plant and how much
fertilizer to use as well as to map out his operation.
To continue Mr. Obert McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "When I was a
Christmas was very different from that celebrated today. Remember, there
electricity any place except in the larger towns and cities until the late
in much of the rural U.S. until after World War II. The only Christmas trees I
saw prior to 1930 were the community trees in the churches. The decorations
homemade or were made at school using homemade paste and different colors of
usually red, white, and blue. There were popcorn strings and lighted candles
carefully on the tree. " Gifts for children were dolls for the girls, air
the boys, and iron wheeled tricycles, iron wheeled red wagons, cap pistols,
crackers, and fruit and nuts for both boys and girls. Some children who lived
larger towns might be lucky enough to get a bicycle. Bicycles could not be
the country because the tires could easily be punctured by goat heads and
burrs. If a girl was very fortunate, she might get a doll made from porcelain,
not so lucky, her doll might be either a rag doll or a celluloid dolly. The rag
was usually made by the girl's mother... maybe she was the 'lucky' girl after
"In most homes, there would be lots of homemade candy, an extra orange or two,
walnuts, brazil nuts, and almonds. At our home there was always a coconut. "I
do not have the words to really describe the difference in the Christmas of my
and that of today. The routine on Christmas was pretty much the same at our
that of our neighbors. After Santa visited - it was always while we were
evening meal - we would hurry into the living room to see what Santa had
never could figure out how Santa Claus always came to our house while we were
our night meal. There were never gifts wrapped and sitting around before Santa
We always received just one gift from Santa. We had been taught to share so if
us received a very special Christmas gift such as a red wagon or a tricycle we
all three of us were to get to use it. We took care of our toys because if we
them there were not going to be any others. It was not that our parents
afford more presents; there simply were very few toys on the market. The
toys in stores today did not exist at that time.
"We always had an abundance of peanuts, popcorn, and pecans produced at home.
the toy we received, there would always be nuts, a large red apple and an
stocking and sometimes clothing. For some reason, Santa always left fire
sparklers for my father, which he always shared with us children. With the
of my Uncle George McAdams, we never received a Christmas gift from our
uncles or aunts.
Late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve we would see Uncle George riding up
horse to spend the night with us. For some unknown reason, he always had met
along the way and Santa gave him a present for each one of us children.
say, we were always looking for him to arrive.
"After we opened our presents, my father would take some coals from the stove
would go outside to shoot the fire crackers. If the night was still, we could
all of the neighbors doing the same. After the firecrackers were gone, we
return to the living room to get warm by the pot-bellied wood stove with one
hot and the other side too cold. Then Father would crack open a coconut, giving
one of us some of the coconut milk and a slice of fresh coconut. "Then, just
going to bed, our mother would read the Christmas story from her Bible. We were
tucked into bed for a very happy night's dreams. If the weather was extra
Mother would place sacks of salt in the cook stove oven to heat so we could
them in our bed to keep our feet warm.
"On Christmas Day after lunch, Uncle George would get on his hors, Old Snip, and
away, regardless of the weather, leaving us children sad to see him go. "As I
before, by today's standards, we might have been considered to be living in
I think not - I think we were 'rich' beyond belief."
To continue Mr. McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "I have lived at a
when the knowledge and technology gained by mankind since the creation have
brought together and developed by creative and knowledgeable people that
resulted in changes in all phases of human endeavor at a more rapid pace than
other like span of time in mankind's history. "Prehistoric man seems to have had
knowledge about the sun, the moon and the stars. He had some knowledge of
engineering, travel, and providing shelter and food but he did not
technology to develop that knowledge. He knew greed and how to make war on his
man but he failed to develop the knowledge of peace and how to control his
"In my lifetime, I have seen two world wars. Each was fought to end all wars and
brought weapons more destructive than the preceding war. I have never known a
my life that was free from war or the threat of war someplace on earth. Peace
to be the one accomplishment that man has been unable to achieve. "In
striving for peace, we have used our energies and our resources to develop
war capable of destroying entire armies, cities, nations, and maybe, the world
"Methods of making war changed very little until the Chinese developed gun
"From the beginning of time until science developed gun powder, warriors
hand to hand combat. The invention of gun powder and muzzle loading flint cap
and small cannons allowed armies to stay separated by a few hundred feet and
each other. The battles for the independence of the United States and the war
the States were fought with those types of weapons. Then someone discovered
shell could be made with cap, powder, and bullet all in a case or shell. This
hundreds of shots to be fired where only one shot at a time could be
"By the end of World War I - the first war to end all wars - on November 11,
machine guns and long range cannons were in use. The cannons could send a shell
would explode on impact for a distance of twenty miles. Armored tanks were in
well as a limited use of airplanes and submarines. Then, by the end of World War
the second war to end all wars - airplanes capable of destroying entire cities
in use. Now, in 1999, bombs hundreds of times more powerful than those
Japan in 1945 are capable of being launched thousands of miles from their
Motorized weapons are capable of moving troops at an amazing speed.
"So in my lifetime I have seen the weapons of war being developed from what
would call a 'deer hunting rifle' to missiles capable of untold destruction. I
witnessed war planes develop from the single seat bi-plane armed with a
machine gun to the huge B-52 bomber to the modern stealth bomber and to
planes capable of speeds above the speed of sound and flying as high as 60,000
"What a wonderful world this could be if mankind had in some way
secrets of peace."
To continue O.J. McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "What a wonderful
this could be if mankind had in some way discovered the secrets of peace. If
could conquer greed, if the energy, the resources and the money that have been
in my lifetime to kill, injure, and destroy could have been used in a peaceful
perhaps there would be no poverty, hunger or homelessness in all of this world.
"But, then, we must ask ourselves a question in a prayerful, humble and honest
of mind. 'Is the survival of the fittest God's plan for his earth?' "Out of war
lifetime - even with all of its sorrow, heartache and destruction - has come so
that we today consider necessities of life. These things might have been
anyway but probably at a much slower pace. Necessity is the mother of
number of times my father told me a story of his father when he was in the
the war between the states. The confederate army had run out of cannon balls
engaged in close combat with the northern troops. In their search for cannon
they found a large amount of nails which served the purpose.
"I believe that greed is the root of all wars. Someone wants what someone else
At the time of the war between the states, the cost of firing a rifle was only
cents, and the rifle would not destroy the land and buildings. Now, the
firing a missile that will not only kill but also destroy large areas is
be over $1,000,000. Could it be that the cost of war will be one thing that
force man to find a way to peace? Or will greed continue to control man until
only destroys his kind but also the world as we know it. "I will never forget
the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. I was in Plainview, Texas, and went
a café where all the people were gathered around a radio. I, along with
others, had no idea as to what kind of bomb had been dropped. It was
imagine the destruction being described. It was as if we were not believing
"The celebration of victory and peace following World War II was short lived.
our nation was involved with the Korean War, the Vietnam disaster, several
very localized operations, and Operation Desert Storm. Now in 1999, our
become involved in the Balkan area - the same area where World War I started.
"Is it any wonder that I am pessimistic about prospects for peace?" (More later)
To continue O.J. McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years": "The two most
developments, in my opinion, that completely changed the way most of us lived
the invention of the internal combustion engine and the discovery of
Farm labor became easier, sanitation methods improved, preservation of food
allowed a more balanced diet and advances in medical practices made life far
"It was not until 1935 when the Rural Electrification Administration Act was
that electricity was brought to rural areas and small towns. The building of
etc.,was interrupted by World War II but quickly resumed and resulted in the
of many jobs and the development and sale of numerous appliances. "The
combustion engine combined with electricity made so many changes possible. I
explain one very common event - taking a bath - that will show why so
appreciated the two inventions. In order to take a bath, one had to draw the
from the well, carry it to the house, heat it on a wood stove, and then take a
in a wash tub - usually in the same water that other family members had already
Electric water well pumps that made running water possible and later electric
heaters made a common event much easier. "Electricity made possible
perishable foods in refrigerated trucks to improve the variety and safety
"One thing that stands out in my memory is the first time I saw a hamburger,
though they had probably been around for some time. At the Texas State Fair in
around 1922, the man who was cooking them sang out, 'Get them while they are
onion on the bottom and a pickle on top.' It sure tasted good and only cost 5
and probably had more meat on it than a Big Mac has today.
sanitation and medicine that I have seen and experienced in my lifetime
applauded and praised enough. Long after I was grown, the 'old oaken
family dipper were a fact of life. Sealed water wells were unknown even though
was usually some sort of covering.
"The wonders of medication, vaccination and surgery that have occurred in my
seem to be nothing short of magic. Sulfa drugs, which preceded antibiotics,
be the first really new medication developed for hundreds of years and replaced
home remedies. The only vaccine I knew about as a youngster was for smallpox.
was one of the most dreaded diseases for years until the Salk oral
developed. Advances in surgeries have taken us from the time when a
appendectomy was a major operation to our time of organ transplants.
"There have been many drastic social changes in my lifetime, some good and
so good. For the most part, this country was settled by God fearing people who
their children to learn to read, write, and add as well as learn to worship
church and school were often times the center of the community. Prayer was
the regular school day and most community gatherings. Now prayer has been
of the schools. This concerns me as prayer is one of the foundations of our
"I am also concerned about the seemingly inability of some educators to lead
schools. Too many people think passing more laws and throwing more money at
problems will solve them. More parents need to get involved and help instill in
children a desire to learn.
"I am concerned about the use of so-called recreational drugs and abuse of
so many in our society. I was 19 years old before I even heard of marijuana. I
there were such things as morphine, opium and codeine for medicinal use but I
least 40 years old before I heard of their use as recreational drugs.
home brew were the drugs of choice when I was growing up, along with corn
which was also known as white lightning.
"I am also concerned about some of the changes in the way that people dress.
clothing come and go and do not bother me at all. But the casual look that
around 1965 seems to me to have gone too far, causing some to lose all
themselves. A trip to a modern mall will convince one that either a lot of
not own mirrors or are afraid to look in one. "I have seen some good social
that were not even thought of in my childhood. Integration of the races
schools and society in general may have been a highlight for me."
To conclude Mr. O.J. McAdams' "Memories of My First 85 Years:" "At this time
history, many people seem always to be in a hurry and always wanting
everything - faster computers, faster cars, faster airplanes, faster trains,
just about everything. Why are we in such a hurry? We are only going to pass
this world one time, as far as we know, so why don't we slow down and
journey just a bit more? "With all of the changes in technology and knowledge
have seen and experienced in my lifetime, I think we have gone too far with
our endeavors. I am afraid we leave God out of too much of our lives. Not
prayer in school is, to me, a tragedy. The lack of reverence for the
shocking to me. I think we have carried casual dress and living too far. "I
lack of authority to lead and discipline in our public schools.. I fear the
morals shown by so many and I fear the greed that seems to be rampant in
life and in business. I fear the lack of self-respect as indicated by the
cleanliness and common decency. I fear the lack of respect for the laws of our
nation and for those who make and enforce those laws. It seems that many
principles on which this great nation was founded have fallen by the wayside.
"I have lived at an exciting period in time. I have lived a good and exciting
was born to a loving mother and father who wanted only the best for their
was lucky to have found a beautiful and loving lady for my wife and lifetime
I thank God each day for my wonderful children, grandchildren and
"I have heard people say in recent times, 'I wish we could return to the
days' or 'I will be glad when things return to normal.' Let me tell you
'good old days' mean to me. It means sweating in the fields in summer and
the winter while riding in a wagon or on a horse. It means trying to milk a
she swats me in the face with a tail filled with cockle burrs. It means
pallet around the house in the summer trying to find a spot with a breeze cool
to let me sleep. It means huddling up to the stove in cold weather with my front
too hot and my back side too cold. To me those are the 'good old days' and
though I have many fond memories of those days, I do not want them back.
'returning to normal,' I am not sure what normal is. If I were to see it, I
probably be scared silly. Air-conditioning, now an absolute necessity, was
developed by enterprising business owners who realized that people shopped
bought more if they were in a cool pleasant place to shop. Also,
establishments learned that more people would come to a cool place and
learned that people would pay more attention if they were not having to use a
much. (I suspect that we have at least two generations who have never
cardboard fan such as was used in churches before air conditioning. These fans
advertisements for business establishments and were complimentary.) It was not
after World War II that air-conditioning was developed for use in southern
"If a shy country boy born at Secret Springs, Texas, and growing up during the
Depression of 1929 could later find himself in the presence of three president
United States discussing problems in his chosen field of work, and being on a
name basis with one of them, then there is no limit to what my
great grandchildren can accomplish. I pray that they get the chance to be as
and blessed by God as I. "They may never experience the same type of pleasure
did on receiving a cap pistol or a flash light along with a few nuts,
oranges at Christmas. They may not be as proud of their first car as I was
first horse. Things change - so many precious things have been lost - but they
have their own pleasures in a world that has changed so much in my lifetime".
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