The Life of a Remarkable Woman
Written October 20, 1960
in Vernon, Texas
By request, I will attempt to write a short autobiography of my life for my children only.
First, let me say a few words about my grandparents and my parents. My grandparents on my father’s side, Benjamin Franklin Lloyd and Naomi Ann Lloyd were born and reared in Georgia but moved to Montgomery, Alabama in early-married life. My grandmother was Benjamin Lloyd’s second wife. By his first wife they had twelve boys, then by his second wife my grandmother they had three daughters and six sons and my father was the youngest of all the family.
During the time they were raising this last family they lived on a big plantation near Greenville, Alabama and the boys and girls got their education in Greenville and Montgomery which was not too far away. They were well educated.
Before the Civil War the Negro slaves, dozens of them and their families, lived in quarters or cabins around this plantation, and after the Negroes were freed all over the South, these loved my grandparents so much that they wanted to stay right there, so my grandfather rented the land to them and let them continue to live in their cabins and till the soil.
One of these families, Jim and Frances McCoy and their two small children, Henry and Maggie, lived in the servant’s quarters near the “big” house. Jim was the yardman while Frances was the maid inside to help my Grandmother Lloyd.
During my Grandfather Lloyd’s later life, he started in to write 500 songs for a church hymnal, but got sick after he had written 496, so he asked one of his sons to write the other four for him, and Uncle Carey Lloyd wrote five more making 501 songs for the hymnal. Someone else set the music to these songs and the hymnal was printed and used for many years. We had a copy of this hymnal in our family library for years. This Grandfather Lloyd was a strong Primitive Baptist Minister, but two of his sons, Uncle Carey and Uncle Lafayette made Missionary Baptist preachers. Uncle Lafayette Lloyd served as pastor for a Baptist church in Dallas, Texas for a number of years.
My grandparents on my mother’s side were Frances Marion Brown who was born on December 26, 1817 in Macon County Georgia and Sarah Francis (Wimbray) Brown, who was born April 21, 1823, also in Georgia. They moved to Butler County, Alabama soon after they were married. They farmed also, with lots of Negroes working for them. They later moved to Texas, living in Rusk most of the times and died there years ago, Grandfather Brown at 74, and Grandmother Brown years later at 84.
My father, Albert Adam Lloyd, the youngest of all the 21 children, and by the way, some of them were grown, married and died a long time before he was born, came into this world on November 13, 1858. It was the custom in those days that where families lived on plantations, each son in the family had a little Negro boy to wait on him. These Negro boys felt so honored to have the job. They followed them around and waited on them constantly. The Negroes had the habit of calling their masters “Moster”, and since my father’s name was Albert, this little Sam called him “Mos Abb” for short. He waited on and spoiled my father until they were both about grown.
My mother, Salena Havana (Brown) Lloyd, was born on July 6, 1859, in Greenville, Alabama. She too, got her education in Greenville and Montgomery, Alabama. From all accounts, she was a very popular young, lady and had lots of girl and boy friends. I think it was hard for her to decide which boy to choose for a life partner when she was 18 years old. But on November 15, 1877 Albert Adam Lloyd and Salena Havana Brown were married in Greenville, Alabama when she was 18 and he was 19 and they lived near the Lloyd plantation until 1881 when they moved to Texas.
I, Lillian Lloyd, was born on December 24, 1878 and came with my parents to Texas in l881 when I was two and one-half years old, and my baby sister, Annie Francis, who was born on July 1880. My father took me almost everywhere he went, and just before we left Alabama, he took me into Uncle Jesse Lloyd’s drugstore and Uncle Jesse gave me a blue box of candy. I remember the candy and the uncle, but that is all I remember about Alabama.
While I was still a baby, Grandfather Lloyd’s servant and yard man, Jim McCoy died and then soon after that, his wife, Francis got burned so badly by her dress catching on fire from the big fireplace that she soon died, leaving the little girl and boy, Maggie and Henry. My Grandmother Lloyd was so fond of these children that she didn’t want them to go out into the world and maybe have a hard time living, so she persuaded my father and mother to take the little girl, who was three years old, and another one of her children to take the boy who was older.
Maggie was always so much larger than I, that she could hold me in her lap and rock me when I was a tiny baby. She lived right in our home and helped to take care of all of us children while we were growing up. My mother taught us how to do the work together, and later “Mag”, as we called her, became the housekeeper and cook for the family. My parents never let her live out in a servant house. She always had a back bedroom in the house where she could look after the children at night, and she did that until they were all grown and married. If at any time any of started to do something we shouldn’t, Mag would correct us just the same as our mother would. We all loved Mag, and obeyed her. She looked after my mother and father long after the children were married and moved away.
When our family left Alabama and came to Texas, we landed near a little inland town called Lone Star in Cherokee County, east Texas. My father was a farmer during my early years, and he always seemed to like to move, but he didn’t like to rent. So he would buy a farm, live on it a few years, and sell it and buy another farm. I remember some of the places where we lived as he usually called them by the name of the farmer whom he bought the place from, such as the Boggs farm, the Tipton place, the Lary place, the Murphey place, etc., etc. All of these places seemed to surround Lone Star, and were real to the little town.
In those days children were not started in school as early as they are in this day and time. I remember I was seven in December but did not get to go to school until the next September. I was a very quiet timid little country girl, but my parents always taught us to have nice manners, and we were always very considerate of others. That goes with a big family.
We lived in a beautiful wooded country just one mile out of Lone Star. All children walked to school unless they had several miles to go, and the only way of conveyance was by horse and buggy or by wagon. Of course no one would ride if it was just one mile, but my mother did not want me to go alone that mile, so she asked a neighbor who lived a short distance down the road, and who had a grown son, who had to pass our house on his way to school, if I might walk, with him. Well, I was so timid that I walked about a block behind him every morning. I am sure he watched after me closely but I never knew it. I am sure he had a lot of laughs for my being so timid. Anyway, the next year my sister Annie started to school and there were two of us and we were glad to go with each other.
Children were not taught to love and be companionable with their teachers then as they are now. We put them on pedestals away above us, and we were seared to death of them. My sister and I were so honest and so sincere that we would not have disobeyed the teacher under any circumstances. We had wonderful, loving, sincere parents, but they were very strict and we were taught to obey. So when the teacher would ask the whole class not to do something like talking or whispering during school hours, we would not break the rule.
During school if you disobeyed you had to “stand in the corner”, facing the wall, ‘or sit in “the bad seat”, or wear a “dunce cap”. I remember one time the teacher said, “I am going to ask the whole room a question, and I want every one in this room to be honest and tell me the truth if any one of you has whispered or talked to some one near you during this whole week I want you to raise your hand (I mean during study hours).”
Everyone in the room raised their hand except Annie and me. We were so surprised that all of them were so naughty. Then the teacher said she would consider every seat in the room a “bad seat” except the ones on the stage where she sat, and that Lillian and Annie Lloyd were the only good pupils that she had, and that we were to come up and sit on the stage with her. That was really cruel! We would rather have died than to sit up there in front of everyone. How we did wish we had talked during school hours. We resolved then and there never to be so good again. I happened to have on a new dress and I felt like everyone in the room was gazing at me, and it made me so self-conscious. Another time, Annie and I walked to the Post Office a block away to mail some letters without getting permission to leave the school grounds, and to our surprise, the teacher had us to sit on the “bad seat”. Annie cried so hard about it that she only kept us there a very few minutes. Times have changed so much since then. Now the teachers and pupils are real chummy and there is greater understanding between them. I like the new plan much better.
Anyway, Annie and I always studied hard and made wonderful grades of which I am proud. We attended this school for several years and we were always at the head of our classes. We used to have spelling “bees” every Friday afternoon, where they would choose up with two sides and one side would spell against the other with the teacher pronouncing the words. In dividing the spellers, I was chosen on. One side and Annie on the other and when everybody else was spelled down, we two would be left standing – still spelling. Sometimes the pupils would just stand in one long line and as they misspelled a word they would have to sit down, but I was always left standing and Annie next to me when everyone else had been seated.
As we got older, when Friday afternoon came, the girls had to read essays that they had written themselves and the boys had to give declamations or some times debates. There were always programs on Friday afternoons.
I remember while we were still living in this part of the country my father built a new home on a farm that he owned a mile out of Lone Star. (Lone Star was about half way between Jacksonville and Rusk, Texas.) This home was built in a place that was surrounded with beautiful native trees. Even in the yard he just removed the ones that he didn’t want and then kept them trimmed and topped so as to make wonderful shade trees all over the big yard. Around this place on the outside of the yard, we had black walnut, hickory nut, sweet-gum, live oak, black jack, and a score of others, alone with orchards of apple trees, peaches, persimmons, figs, plums, grapes and berries. Blackberries and dewberries grew wild in the fence corners everywhere. The entire country was made beautiful with nature blooming everywhere. The sweet smelling dogwood was there too.
Of course we didn’t have the conveniences inside the homes then that we have now, but we didn’t know the difference at that time, and life was beautiful with all the surroundings of nature.
By this time four brothers had been born into the Lloyd family, namely: Jesse Clarence Lloyd was born on August 18, 1882, Benjamin Frances, called Frank, born on June 8, 1885, Orren Cabot born on April 5, 1887, and Joseph Holt born on June 26, 1889. They were all darling little boys and we did love them so much.
In January of 1891 when I was past 12 years old, our family left Lone Star and Cherokee County and moved to Hood County, central Texas, to a neighborhood called “The Colony” which was two and one half miles south of Tolar, Texas and ten miles from Granbury, Texas. My Grandfather and Grandmother Brown who had been living in the Lone Star house with us for more than a year and whom we left living in the house for the time being, grieved terribly because of my parents leaving with the grandchildren. They loved the baby Holt so much and would hunt his little tracks in the sand every day.
My father bought this place in the “Colony” near Tolar and we enjoyed living among such nice people, and going to school in this good community. There was a good school building and good teachers. Then there was a Baptist Church and a Methodist Church, and all denominations held revivals there during the summer months. These meetings were held under what they called brush arbors. These arbors were built in the middle of a big plot of ground with all the country around as parking space. Of course what we had to park were buggies, horses and wagons. In this neighborhood “The Colony”, there was just one big arbor and when summer time came, the Methodist people would hold their revival, then the Baptist, then the Presbyterians and so on down the line and everybody in the whole community around would attend every meeting of every church. So you see the people were very co-operative.
My sister Annie and I both were converted during Baptist revivals under this arbor. She at the age of 12 and I later when I was 15. I so wanted to be a Christian for several years, but I was expecting too great a change. I remember one day when my mother was buttoning up my dress in the back she said, “Lillian you want to be a Christian so badly but I believe you are expecting too great a change”. Right then I slipped out of the house and went down behind the barn, got into a fence corner and poured out my heart to God Our Father in Heaven, and he heard me and gave me the faith to believe, and I was saved then and there. I felt so relieved and happy and I joined the church that day. I had thought before that I would get “shouting” happy as so many did in those days, but my happiness was so calm and so quiet. I have never doubted for a minute my conversion.
Our home in this community was the center of attraction for all the young people. Every Sunday afternoon there were horses and buggies hitched all around our big yard and the young people were there to visit and sing together. My sister and I both played the organ for them, and they were always welcome. My parents were very strict as I have said, but they liked for us to have a good time, and they loved the young people too, so they went out of their way to make it pleasant for everyone. Sometimes when there was not enough buggies and horses to take everybody, some of the young men would get a wagon and put three spring seats in it and fill the wagon with girls and boys. We were at the right age to enjoy life, and we did have such good times. Always crowds together, In those days there were no places of entertainment like we have today, so we had to make our own entertainment. Especially in the smaller places.
On June 22, 1892 my mother gave us another little baby sister and we named her Katie Eugenia, and called her Kate, but when she got grown and married she didn’t like her name and she changed it to Kathryn, which we all like better.
Then on November 41 1894 another little boy was born Into the family and we named him Albert Arthur Lloyd. You see there was no such thing as birth control and everybody wanted big families. In 1895 my family moved to Granbury, Texas and then on January 29, 1897, almost three years after Arthur was born my mother gave birth to another set of twins. (I was born with a twin sister who died immediately.) These second twins, a girl and a boy were named Thelma and Bernard Lloyd. They both died within the first year of their lives. During the same year my brother Frank passed away at the age of twelve. My mother almost grieved herself to death over the loss of these three. Then two years and some months later we were all made happy when she had another baby girl, Mattilene, whose birth was on March 24, 1899. Mattilene was born a few months after I was married.
You will remember that my mother and father were just 19 and 20 years older than 1, so I really helped to raise this big family. Our Negro girl Maggie McCoy, and I were very necessary around the place.
Now back to the time when we lived in the “Colony”. My parents had certain rules that we must abide by, and one was that we could not have a date alone with a boy until we were fifteen. Well, just before my fifteenth birthday, my Dad suggested to my mother that she fix a nice dinner and have a birthday cake and invite several girls and boys, and to be sure and invite Ray Stokes who seemed to like me so well and had been wanting to go with me. However, my Dad didn’t like Ray too well. Well, that pleased Ray and he was my date for quite sometime. Of course, in those days we did not tie ourselves down to one boy or “go steady” as they say and do now, with one boy alone. We girls had lots of dates a different one every Sunday. We could not date during the school days or nights. I still think by having several boy friends to come and go, each of you have a chance to pick the one that is most suited to you, and when the time comes to select a partner for life you will know better how to make a choice.
Ray Stokes did fall desperately in love with me (I was sorry for him) but I could not love him to save my life. I told him I liked him very much as a friend, and that he was one of the nicest boys in the whole country, but he would have to look somewhere else for a life partner. Ray never married and did not live too many years.
I had lots of boy friends but these were very special. There was John Bates, Albert Eberhart, Charley Morris, Tom McLemore, (Ray Stokes), and Nath Bowers. These were all grown settled young men and seemed to be very fond of me and proposed matrimony. And there were a number of younger men or boys whom I liked and we went places and saw things and had good times together-, especially while I was in college, but of all of them there was only one for me and I realized when I was sixteen that Nath Bowers was the man who had won my heart.
Tolar, Texas was a very small town, but the girls and boys who lived there liked to come over to our house and we liked to visit them, so the girls over there organized a Riding Club and invited Annie and me to join the club with them. My father had some big fine horses and then some ponies. He gave Annie and me a pony each, and then sometimes we would ride one of the big horses. We had good times riding together.
My parents always wanted us to have a good time as I have said, and enjoy life. If at any time we were invited to a party and did not have a boy friend to take us, why Dad would take us while my mother stayed home with the smaller children. Sometimes too, we would go to these parties on horse-back there in the country. Dad would ride his big bay mare while we two girls rode our ponies and we would run races with him. He would always say that the “bay mare” could trot as fast as our ponies could lope, but we would let ours really run and I would always come out a-head on my fast pony. And by the way, we rode sidesaddles too, in those days.
Sometimes when my Daddy would come home from his farm work for lunch and to feed his horses in the middle of the day, Annie and I would take two of the big horses that he was working and rush down to the fields where the ground was ploughed up and soft, and we would try to learn to ride fast on bare-back like Barnum and Bailey show girls did in those days. Of course, we would slip right off into the soft dirt, but would get up and try it again and again. Often when Dad would be ready to start back to work he would go out and find his horses gone, but he had patience with us, and he would smile and wait until we came rushing in with the horses. Then he would have to wait a little longer until the horses could finish eating their corn and hay and fodder and off they would go to do some more ploughing with the cultivator.
In our school work at this time we had a lot of memory work to do. I remember one time I had to repeat seventeen long verses of poetry on a Friday afternoon. It was Thursday before I found the piece. So that afternoon when I got home from school I took my long poem and walked up and down a little branch with lots-of trees on either side that extended from our side-yard away up into the pasture. I memorized every word of it and gave it as a recitation the very next day at school. O, if I just had a memory like that now, wouldn’t it be wonderful?
Now I will talk about the man I fell in love with. Nathan Bowers, called Nath, was born in Tennessee on September 30, 1870. He came to Tolar, Hood County, Texas in his early manhood and roomed and boarded with his brother Adam Bowers and family. Later he was given the job of ginner in a cotton gin there in Tolar, for a number of years, and he boarded with some friends during that time.
Then he decided to try farming for awhile. Early in the spring when he was just past 24 years old, he came over to the Lloyd farm, two and one-half miles south of Tolar, and rented a tract of land from my father, A. A. Lloyd, and made a good crop that year while he boarded in our house. Farming was very hard work in those days as there was no farm machinery to speak of and the people used walking plots, mostly one-horse plows and hand tools, and, therefore, could only till small plots of ground.
During the latter part of that year Nath and I discovered that we were in love with each other but, since I was only 16, we both realized that I should finish my education. So when the crops were harvested in the late fall, Nath moved back to Tolar and my father sold the farm and our family moved to Granbury, Texas where we rented a farm just one mile south of town and I entered Granbury College while my sister Annie and my brothers entered elementary schools. (There were no high schools at that time in that part of the country). In other words the schools were not graded.
I attended the college three years, had great times in all the school activities, made splendid grades always except on examination days I would forget my mathematics. I could make good grades each day on math but would forget it by the end of the month. In everything else I would make one hundred plus. I just did not like mathematics and it was hard for me.
During those college years I had lots of close girl friends and lots of dates with the college boys. The girls always loved to come out to our house because we lived in the country. They did enjoy mothers and Maggie’s good cooking. And then in the fall we so often would go pecan hunting. About one mile from where we lived was a part of the Brazos River bottom that was filled with big pecan trees and every fall the ground would be literally covered with pecans, and we could have all we wanted to take home.
I shall never forget that during the year before Nath and I were married a young lady, Etta Nutt, came down from Joplin, Missouri to visit some relatives there in Granbury and in Tolar. She remarked one day that she enjoyed breaking up engagements. So when she found out that Nath and I were in love with each other, she decided to break us up and said she was going to make it hard for that little Lloyd girl. Well, Nath found it out and told me about it. I told him to go right on and be nice to her and have dates with her and I would help him all I could to prove to her that she could not always succeed in doing the wrong things. He and I worked hard together during the three or six months that she was there. O, but I would get jealous at times. However, I would have died before letting him know it. Miss Nutt fell desperately in love with Nath and he continued to be nice to her until she left for home. The day she and her father left by train to go home he drove up from Tolar to bid her goodbye. When they were on the train and he said goodbye to her, she told her father in his presence that they were to be married at Christmas. But it was Nath and I that married at Christmas. All of his friends rejoiced because she had broken up so many couples in Tolar and in Granbury as she often visited there.
On that very day when I knew he would be coming out to our house after the train left, I realized I could not see him, so I got a bunch of girls together and we went to the river bottom to hunt pecans. We did not tell my mother in which part we would be. He came and after talking to my mother, went to the river bottom but could not find us as we went far into the grounds where the trees and vines were very thick. He had to drive the ten miles back to Tolar on a dirt road all the way. It was a week before I saw him. This was in late summer and I didn’t tell him how jealous I was at times until after we were married in January. Then, of course, he said he never ‘would have done it if he had known. I am not given to jealousy because I think it makes people very unhappy, but sometimes one can’t help being jealous, when it is so close to one’s heart.
During the three years I attended college, Nath was manager of a cotton gin in Tolar. Then on January 4, 1899 we were married in my parents home and, at the same time, Nora Bowers (Nath’s niece) and Dr. Perkins, his best friend, were married in her home in Granbury as her parents, the Adam Bowers family had recently moved from Tolar to Granbury. We had planned a double wedding but each mother wanted her daughter to be married in her own home with just close friends and relatives present. We did that and then the two couples, with their friends and relatives, had a dinner party at the Adam Bowers home. Mother Lloyd was sick at the time and could not attend the dinner party.
A few weeks before bur wedding, Nath had rented a little white house in Tolar, and after a few days of honeymooning, we went right down town and bought furniture for the cottage and started in to housekeeping, while he continued to work at the gin during the year.
Then at the end of the year, my parents and family had decided to move from Granbury, Texas to Greer County, Oklahoma in January 1900, and Nath and I decided over night to go north with them.
In a few days, the Lloyds, the Bowers, and two other families got their heads together and made up a “wagon train” consisting of six or seven wagons, a two-seated hack, and a buggy, with several extra horses and two or three milk cows. There were 26 or 28 people including one or two hired hands to help do the driving and look after the horses and cows. It was planned to be a lot of fun with camping out and seeing a lot of country. But after having been on the road for a day or two, it started raining and continued to rain through the entire trip, causing it to take ten days to go from Granbury, Texas to seven miles west (north west) of Altus, Oklahoma.
It was a terrible trip because of overflowing creeks and washed out bridges. On getting into Seymour, Texas, we found the Wichita River bridge was washed out and we had to go 50 miles out of the way by Wichita Falls, Texas. Then before getting to Wichita we came to a little town called Holliday, and we had to cross Holliday Creek which was usually very dry, but because of so much rain the creek was filled to overflowing, and when the wagon crossed the water came up almost to the top of the side-botras and the horses had to hold their heads high out of the water.
The immediate family was removed from the hack and the buggy and placed in the high wagons, and one man drove the hack across, while Nath drove the buggy across by putting the top back and sitting on the back of the seat with his feet in the seat, and the horse had to swim while the buggy floated across. Holt Lloyd, on horseback, led the way across the deep stream, and this was all very dangerous. Clarence Lloyd and another man rode extra horses and kept the cattle rounded up. Their horses some times bogged down to their hocks, which made it all very discouraging as well as dangerous in the quick-sand.
The “Wagon Train” passed through Vernon then north to Altus, Oklahoma, by crossing Red River. There was no bridge at that time and the wagon ruts in the river had to be kept filled with oat straw all the way across the river so that the wagons would not sink into the quick-sand. These ruts had to be filled after each rise of the river. These rivers were always treacherous until in later years when wonderful bridges were built.
All of these families settled down in a neighborhood seven miles west of Altus, Oklahoma, My parents and family and Nath and I moved into a big ranch house that my father had rented a few months before from Mr. Mart Kizziar (who later became Annie Lloyd’s father-in-law).
In a few weeks my father found a tract of land (160 acres) that he bought and on it he built a large dugout (half-dugout) and two large rooms. They built the half-dugout firsts and Nath and I moved into that and lived there while Nath helped to build the two large rooms, and then he occupied the whole house. This half-dugout had a nice size window in one end and a big door in the other end with large store-room on each side of the door. Nath farmed the new place while the Lloyds farmed a part of the ranch. The rest of the ranch was used for cattle grazing.
After a while when the cotton and the corn, the maize, the sorghum, the caffi-corn, and all the feed-stuffs were growing and prospects were looking wonderful for a grand harvest all over the country a siege of grasshoppers swept through and destroyed everything in their path. They devoured all or the greater part of the Lloyd crop, but just touched into the Bower’s field. Then when harvest time came, Nath and I moved into the town of Altus, Oklahoma (this was the fall of 1900), and let the Lloyd family gather what was left of both crops, while Nath went to work at the Moppin cotton gin. During this time we had a small home built for us in the west part of town.
In the fall of 1901 the Federal Government announced that the Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory were going to be opened up for homesteading on a certain date and this date was announced. Then while the government was having it surveyed and dividing it up equally, the people had a chance to go and look the new country over and see for themselves if they wanted to settle in this “No Man’s Land”. When that date came and the signal was given, early in the morning, for the men to start on the “run”, hundreds of Altus men who had their wagons and teams and camping outfit all lined up, hurried into their wagons and all raced country roads, 20 miles to be exact, to the uninhabited country where there were no roads at all, then took out across the prairie over the stubble grass, located a corner which had been marked, sunk a post into the ground, fastened the end of a big roll of barbed wire to this post, hastened to the next corner of the 160 acres of land and planted another post, fastened the wire to that post, then to the third corner planted the post and fastened the wire, then back to the first corner where the last end of the wire was fastened good and tight to the first post. In that way there was a temporary fence all around the 160 acres of land and that land belonged to the man who had staked it off provided he moved on to it within six months, and during that time had built a house and barns of some kind.
Then he could live on this land 14 months and pay a certain amount of money, “pay it out” as it was called, get the papers fixed, and it was his farm to do as he pleased with it.
Or, he could move onto it and live five years, then “prove up”, pay a small amount of money (about $160), get his final papers and the place was his.
Nath made this “run”, camped there a few days, then came home along with all the others, with the understanding that all the men and their families had to be back there within six months time, living in their own homes.
In January and February of 1902, Nath took some helpers and went over and built a big half-dugout first, as these were a necessity because of the many storms and cyclones in that part of the country, then built a three room house joining the dugout. In the midst of all of this, our first child was born on January 25, 1902. We named her Cleopatra Bowers calling her Cleo. She was named for a very dear friend of the Bowers family. As the six months were just about up when the baby was six weeks old, we took a nurse-maid and moved from Altus into the unfurnished house on this farm where Nath had left the doors and windows nailed up until he could get back and swing the doors and put in the windows.
Before these people made the “run” the land had been divided into square sections of 640 acres, and then each section was subdivided into four squares of 160 acres each, and these quarter sections were the ones the people made the “run” for.
All the roads were to run north and south and east and west, and were to be a certain number of feet wide. While these roads were being cleared of the heavy sage grass and being made ready for travel, the people had to get into their wagons and drive across the very rough prairie to the nearest town for their mail, and for their groceries, fuel, and everything that they needed or had to have. It was prairie country everywhere with no timber at all except down on the few small creeks where the trees were very limited.
One peculiar thing in this part of the country was, in coming to the Salt Fork and the North Fork of the Red River there would never be any hills or trees or banks of any kind. You would just drive off of the level ground right into the water of the river. A person had to know these rivers because so often there were suction holes and quick-sand. Then some times too, the river would be entirely dry at the crossings. I remember one time I was driving my buggy from Altus over to my father’s farm and when I reached the Salt Fork of Red River there was not a drop of water in the river bed. The river was about 100 feet wide at this crossing, so I drove on dry land about three-fourths of the way when I looked up and saw a way up the river, a stream of water the full width of the river bed coming down toward me. I put the whip to my horse but just before I got out, the water reached the back wheels of my buggy and it came up to the hubs, but I got out safely.
It was a beautiful sight and exciting too, to be on the dry ground in the river bed and see a thick slice of water ten or twelve inches deep reaching from one side of the river to the other coming in, all at once, and covering the entire ground. I spent the night with my parents and family on the farm and then the next day when I returned to my home the river had settled down to about six or eight inches all across. One of my brothers drove down with me to see me safely across the river. This was soon after Nath and I had moved into Altus and before we had drawn the “claim” in Kiowa County.
The location of our farm of 160 acres in Kiowa County was three or four miles west of Manitou, Oklahoma, and two and one-half miles north-east of where Tipton, Oklahoma is now located. Manitou was the first Post Office in that community, and then later Tipton was built into a little town with a Post Office and a few other business concerns. Earlier, a neighborhood grocery store was built by a Mr. Johnson, in his side yard about two miles from the Bowers home where everybody shopped for their groceries.
Before any churches were built in the community, Nath and I both taught Sunday School classes under the few big trees down on Ottar Creek which was nearby. This Sunday School was made up of neighbors of all faiths, and we studied the Bible together. Later on some churches were built in Tipton and everybody attended church and Sunday School there.
On December 18, 1903, our first son was born. A little black headed, black eyed boy that looked like his Daddy. Cleo was almost two at that time. We named this boy Dalton Nathan Bowers (later nicknamed Dick). Then on July 13, 1905, another boy was born. He was of fair complexion with light brown hair, and looked like his mother. We have always been proud that these two boys are natives of Kiowa County, Oklahoma.
During the five years stay on this farm, Nath was very successful with planting and raising what they called “row-crops” consisting of cotton, corn, all kinds of feedstuff, good gardens, and lots of watermelons for the whole neighborhood, along with chickens, guineas, pigs and Jersey calves. The whole prairie was covered with cotton-tail rabbits and hundreds of prairie dogs which had to be gotten rid of as they were so destructive. Kiowa County was especially noted for its prairie dogs.
Of course, being pioneers in a new country, there were always a lot of unpleasant things and inconvenient things to overcome, like on one summer morning when the sun was shining bright and the weather was very pleasant, I put the tiny little Cleo out in the yard to play on the grass while I cleared the breakfast dishes, then suddenly I heard a bunch of white chickens that were in this fenced-in yard making a funny noise, so I ran to see what was happening and there was a big coyote or wolf not more than ten feet from my little girl. I was so scared – I ran out and picked up the child, clapped my hands and yelled at the wolf to be gone. He leaped the fence and trotted off across the pasture. He was really after the chickens I suppose, but the baby was never left alone in the yard again.
Then another time when Cleo and Dalton were a little older they were playing in the yard and Cleo sat down in a red ant bed. They started stinging and she started crying. I ran out to see about them and brought them into the house and when I examined Cleo there were twenty big red ants with their heads buried in her flesh. I picked them out as fast as I could and then called the doctor. He gave me a remedy to use while he drove the four or five miles in a buggy to get there. During this time the poison had thrown the child into a burning fever, but he treated her and in a few days got rid of the poison and she soon got well.
About a year before we left the farm, two of my brothers, Clarence and Holt Lloyd, came from Vernon to make us a visit, and after being there a few days, they both came down with a bad case of smallpox, This was such a surprise to all of us, but later in tracing back as to where they might have been exposed to the dreaded disease, we found that the two brothers had visited on the streets in Vernon with a man that had just gotten over the smallpox a short time before they started to Oklahoma. They both had a very bad case, of it. Nath hurriedly had the three children vaccinated, but they came down with it in the allotted time. Dalton had it so bad that he almost died, but Cleo and Verne had a very light case. Dalton’s face is still pitted from it. Nath and I had been vaccinated five years earlier and we were immune, but the whole family had to be quarantined for a month or two. We could not get off our farm, so the grocery man would bring our groceries to the side yard and unload them, then after he was gone, some of the family would go out and pick them up. The man bringing the medicine from the drug store would do the same thing. They would call to the family as to how they were improving. We had our coal and wood for fuel already stored on the place. We did have a wall telephone which was very new at that time, and very convenient, even if it was on a rural line. With all the inconveniences we are glad that we were pioneers, because we had a chance to learn a great deal about the ways of life.
On this farm we had two fine horses, two jersey cows, a wagon, a buggy, and after Dalton and Verne came ‘Vie bought a nice surrey for the family conveyance. Of course we kept the buggy too. We had lots of unheard-of experiences. One time I decided to go two or three miles to visit a neighbor (this was while I had just the one child, Cleo). I hitched one of the horses to the buggy, took baby Cleo in my lap and started driving up the rough road which had washed our ditches on either side. The horse got scared at something perhaps a bird in the grass, and ran away. I stuck the baby down between my knees, and held the lines tight, keeping the horse in the middle of the road until he got too tired to run anymore. The ditches on the sides made it very dangerous, but after he got tired of running I went on to visit the neighbor, then drove back home just at sunset and met Nath in the yard coming in from his work. I told him about the run-away, but it was too late to worry, and he complimented me for keeping the horse in the middle of the road.
In the first part of the year 1907, Nath leased the farm to Clarence and Holt Lloyd (my brothers) and we moved back to Altus into a rented house for a few months, and went into the grocery business.
Shortly thereafter, on March 9, 1907, Nath and I had our third little boy. We named him Hansel Glenn Bowers. He looked like his daddy, too. In a few months, Nath traded the farm to a Mr. John Ethridge for town property, consisting of a nice five room home and some valuable business property. Both the town property and the farm were valued at $10,000 a little later. That was lots of money in those days. However, the farm is said to be worth $20,000 at the present time, and the John Ethridge family still owns the land, now more than 50 years since the transaction. Of course, the city property has increased just as much in value, too.
During that same year, on November 17, 1907, Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory were formed into a state and named Oklahoma State. On that same date a Governor for the State of Oklahoma was installed. His name was Governor Haskel.
Nath remained in the grocery business for more than a year, then had a good chance to sell and get into something he liked better. He sold the business and bought out the only picture show that was in Altus at the time. It was in a building on the north side of the square. Altus has the Court House in the center of the town and the square is around the Court House. He did a splendid business but always said he bought it to keep busy while he was looking for something better. When summer time came he built a big “Air-Dome” and had the show out in the open at night. There were no cooling systems in those days, and it was pleasant in the open.
We always attended church on Sunday. I was a Baptist and he was a Methodist so we would go to my church one Sunday and then to his church the next Sunday, but when the older children got large enough to attend the Sunday School I surprised him by joining his church, so as to place them in one Sunday School. He had always said he could not be a Baptist, and he would not ask me to be a Methodist, but I knew I could work anywhere for the Lord. We all went to work in the Methodist Church and remained there as long as he lived.
On September 25, 1908 our second little girl was born. We named her Salena Ladelle Bowers, calling her Ladelle. She was always a beautiful brunette child looking like her father.
Then on June 15, 1910 our third little girl came into the world. She was given the name of Natha Josephine Bowers, calling, her Natha, and then later in life calling her Natha Jo. She was named for her father and her Uncle Joe Bowers. She was a pretty brunette, too,
The saddest of all things though was that before Natha Jo was born, her father Nathan Bowers, known as Nath, took typhoid fever and pneumonia and was very sick for two months, then passed away on January 10, 1910. In that way little Natha never saw her father.
Nath and I were so very happy together and we did love our little children.
Nath was a very out-going person, very handsome with his dancing black eyes, loved people as I do, and every person who knew him was his friend. He was jolly and could entertain people for hours by telling funny jokes. He always liked to have friends visit us in our home, and he took time out to see that they were comfortable and were enjoying themselves. He loved books and read constantly, and always kept himself posted on the news of the day.
“Nath Bowers was a member of the Methodist Church, a good Christian gentleman, a good provider for his family, a loving father to his children, and a devoted husband.”
Nath was very interested and very active in civic and community affairs. He was a member of the Altus City Council for a number of years.
At the time of Nath’s death, he was owner and operator of the “Empire Theater” where stage shows were performed, and moving pictures were shown. At this time the business was located on the south side of the Altus Court House square in the winter, and up the street west a couple of blocks, in the “Air-Dome” in the summer time.
While on his sick bed, Nath advised me, that in case he didn’t get well, to sell the show business, because another picture show was to be opened up right soon, and there would be a lot of competition. He told me what to ask for the business, and not to take less. In a few months I did sell the show for cash (the amount he suggested), and invested the money or a part of it, into a large two story home where the children and I could live on the first floor, and I could rent out rooms on the second floor, as it would be necessary for me to have an income for my family. At this time I had never done any kind of work outside my home.
The children and I moved into this home on Broadway Street and rented the house on Violet where Nath had died, to some friends, and I was successful in keeping the upstairs bedrooms rented.
Then late in the fall of 1910, I sold the big home for cash and moved to Vernon, Texas to be near my parents who had moved to Vernon about seven years before. This, to be exact, was on October 18, 1910, when I moved my family into the seven room house which was formerly my parents home. (They were building a larger home for themselves at this time). I paid my father cash for this home, and right away I added two more rooms upstairs, making the house a story and a half with nine rooms where I could continue to rent out rooms.
When I got ready to move to Vernon with my six little children, I chartered a car on a freight train and had my household goods, my buggy, my jersey cow, and my fine horse loaded into this car (one horse and the surrey had been sold earlier) and the children and I got on the passenger train and moved the 35 miles.
At that time there were no automobiles, no paved roads, and no moving vans in this part of the country. Also there was no bridge across the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas, so the only way possible was to move by train.
I was so terribly grieved after losing Nath, that everything was hard for me, but realizing that I had my children to care for and to love, and with the great responsibility in front of me, I did keep busy, and that was a help.
As I have said above, I did rent out rooms the first year I lived in Vernon, and I stayed pretty close at home with my children. Then the second year while I continued to rent out a part of the house, I got a job as saleslady in a ready-to-wear and piece-goods store down town; while I had a hired girl to keep my house and look after the children. This girl stayed with me day and night and was real good and the children loved her.
I clerked in stores for several years and was considered a good saleslady. Then I helped to organize and was made secretary of a Home Mutual Life Insurance Company. I held that office for years until the company was sold and merged with another away from here. I believe this was organized in 1914. My territory for this Home Mutual Life Insurance Company was 50 miles every direction from Vernon, and since there were no cars in Vernon at that time I traveled all over the country in a little sports buggy with my beautiful horse pulling it along. Of course, if I got too far from home I would have to spend the night with someone who would take me in, as traveling was slow with a horse and buggy. The people were always lovely to me and I always had a place to spend the night. Of course I would pay my fare. I remember when traveling on the dirt roads in the buggy, I wore a duster for protection and a black and white checked cap with a long green veil to tie under the chin. The children thought it was beautiful.
Then later on when there were cars in Vernon, I bought a five passenger Ford, the kind that had side curtains to button on all around. They called it a touring car. Then I could go all over the country and get back home at night. Of course, we had to crank the car by hand to get it started and some mornings when it was cold it was awfully hard to start. However, after it was warmed up for a time then it would start easily. I called my oldest son, Dick, my starter boy sometimes he would crank and crank and then fall down on the ground and cry because it would not start and it had taken all the strength in his young body trying to get it started. I would feel so sorry for him, but he could do it much better than I could.
At that time I knew everybody in the town and in the country, too. I always thought of the business men down town as my big brothers. They were all so very kind, and they admired my boys because the boys always wanted to help me make a living for my family. The boys always had a job from the time they were big enough to hold down one. They sold papers, cleaned up grocery stores, bottled coca cola, and worked in drug stores. I’ll never forget when the three of them worked at the Coca Cola Bottling Company for Mr. Eunice Wilson, and when their week’s work was over on Saturday afternoon, and they had received their pay they would all three come rushing into my office, pour their money out on my desk and say, “Mother it is yours to help with the family expense.” The business men knew this and – they had a right to admire my boys.
After Cleo, the oldest of the girls was big enough, she took over a lot of the work at home after school hours and was a wonderful help to me. Then when the two little girls, Ladelle and Natha, got older they did a great part in washing dishes and helping to do the housework. I couldn’t have managed without my three little girls to take over at home, because sometimes we could not get help.
Cleo was the first to finish high school , and she was the Salutatorian of her class. Of course, she and I both wanted her to go to college, but we first thought there was not enough money, then I told her that if we wanted her to go badly enough, there would be a way provided. Her grandfather Lloyd gave her a hundred dollars as a graduation present, and I borrowed another hundred, and that, with what we had already saved made it possible for her to enter the State University of Texas, and that made us both very happy. When she had been in the University a little more than a year my health failed, and Cleo had to come home and take over the running of the house for a time. Then later she went to work in a law office as stenographer. She was very efficient in shorthand and typing as she had specialized in that line and soon she became County Court Reporter then later on she became District Court Reporter in Wichita Falls, Texas and had an office in the Court House there for years.
In 1935 Cleo and Lee E. Erwin of Wichita Falls were married and have lived in Wichita Falls all these years. They have two daughters, Nancy Gail Erwin Hudson and Judith Elma Erwin Spradlin. Shortly before Cleo and Lee married, she took me on a vacation trip to Washington, D.C. and New York City. We also visited Glenn and his family in Jersey City, which was just 15 miles across the Hudson River to New York. Glenn acted as our guide and showed us all the sights in the city, as he had lived in the city before that time, and was familiar with the lay-out.
Just before Cleo finished High School, the oil boom came on in the nearby Burkburnett fields, and I started selling oil stock, oil leases, and real estate. People from everywhere flocked into all the little towns around and there – as not room for them to live. Every vacant house in town was rented and occupied and yet there were more people. I built a duplex in my side yard with three rooms and bath on either side, furnished it and rented it for $65.00 per month each. That was lots of money for apartments in our little town. I also turned a part of my home into an apartment for rent.
People were organizing oil companies in Vernon and in all the towns around. Early in 1919 I organized a company of nine men and myself, making a company of ten known as the “Bowers Oil Company”. (The men in this organization named it for me because I organized the company.) We leased 50 acres of land from a Mr. Foster whose property joined the Burk Field. We then sold Bowers Stock all over the United States and then drilled our first well at the depth of 1,850 feet. When the drillers struck the big strata of oil after drilling for days and days, they choked it off for the time being, and set a time to bring in the well. So one night at one o’clock, Baber Hockersmith called me on the phone and said the men were going to bring in our well at two o’clock, and would I like to go and see it come in? If so, he and Horace Anderson, both of them stockholders, would come by in their car and pick me up. I said surely I wanted to go. I rushed upstairs and waked up Dick who was 14 or 15 years old, and asked him to get up and dress quickly as we were going to the lease and see the well come in. He was as happy as I was about it. This lease was 35 miles northeast of Electra, and we were over there in a very short time and saw the well come in.
It was the most thrilling time of my life! There were hundreds of people there to watch it being brought in. When they removed the apparatus, cap, or whatever it was, and let the oil flow, it shot away up over the top of the derrick which was 96 feet high, and then flowed in a big steady stream for days into an oil pit or dirt tank until they could get metal tanks on the ground.
After watching it flow for awhile and everybody rejoicing over it, and I saturated my pretty lace handkerchief with the black oil for a souvenir, we, the nine man and myself with my little son, Dick, moved away out on the prairie and built a bonfire for light, to discuss selling the well. There were two men buyers on the ground who joined us a little later and who offered us one-half million dollars for the well and the lease. We debated the question and finally decided that we ought to have a million dollars for it. They didn’t buy it and we were glad for the present time. It was a good well and paid nice dividends for a long, long time. The Bowers Oil Company later drilled another well right near this one. It was not so good as the first, and finally our dividends got smaller and smaller. Of course, the dividends had to go to so many people all over the country. In later years, after the dividends got to be so very small, we sold the wells and the lease back to the man we leased from, and the money was divided among all the stockholders with no one getting rich. It was a wonderful help for a long time though, and I would do it again if I had the opportunity, only I would sell for the one-half million dollars.
During all this time I continued to sell oil stock and leases for other companies, and real estate here in Vernon.
I remember one organization in McKinney, Texas had a bunch of us, about ten men and Ruth Bachelor and myself, to come down there and sell stock in a well they were fixing to drill. Ruth was our secretary and the rest of us were sales people. We stayed a week and sold lots of stock for them. At the time we were leaving, the two boss men offered me a permanent job and a room in one of their homes as they were going to drill more wells and would sell more stock. But I told them I had my little family at home and I had to get back to them. Then these men asked me to recommend one of our men to take the job. I did and they gave Mr. Philips the job, and he stayed with them a long time. He thanked me over and over for recommending him.
During the Oil-Boom I had an office down town in Vernon in a large store building that had been fenced off into booths with a wide hallway down the center of the building. The booths, with temporary walls or petitions between them, made offices for about 20 people. Our town of Vernon was on such a boom that everything in town was occupied.
During the first part of my life in Vernon I was a widow for ten years living with my little children, three sons and three daughters. I did love them so very dearly and we were so close to each other as we practically grew up together. I was only 33 when we moved here. Of course, I worked hard to take care of my little “brood” and we didn’t always find it too easy, but we were very happy, and the Good Lord in Heaven watched over us. I realized my dependence on Him, and I prayed each day, and He heard, and forgave, and helped. For six and a half years of that time I taught a Sunday School class. I was teaching in the Junior Department and my class was made up of eleven year old boys one year and the next year it would be eleven year old girls. Then boys again, then girls again, etc., etc. My children went right along with me, and one year five of them received a Bible each for not missing a single Sunday during the whole year. Ladelle missed only one Sunday because she was sick, so the Sunday School gave her a Bible, too. I thought that was a coincidence for so many in one family to attend so regularly.
Of course, we were all proud and always wanted to look our best, but with so much responsibility it was difficult for the mother to remember everything. One Sunday morning as we stepped out the front door to start to the church, one of the children said, “Mother! You don’t have on your top dress”. I looked down and saw that I had an apron tied over my black slip for a last minute “something”, and I had hurriedly put on my hat and gloves, grabbed my Bible and started for the car. Then another time I got out to the car with my house shoes on. If the children hadn’t helped me I never would have made it to the church.
I did enjoy teaching those girls and boys. Some of them still live in Vernon and have their children all grown up and married. They often walk down the aisle of the church, or down the street with their arm around my shoulders reminiscing about the past. It is wonderful to get old and to be loved.
Of course, while I was a young widow I had a few admirers and among them was Mr. H. D. Hockersmith. He was superintendent of the Junior Department where I was teaching. When they would call a teachers meeting, he always wanted them to meet at my house which was logical because I never wanted to leave my family at night. They did this for a long time, then finally he wanted to take me places, but I refused to have dates and go out. I told him he could call on me at my home, but I could not see myself going some place with a date, since I had my family of children.
He came to see me for three years and finally persuaded me to marry him. I hesitated for so long because of my children, and because of his being 19 years older than I. I was afraid he would not have patience with the children. I did realize, however, that he was very fond of me, and I admired him very much. He was very intellectual, well educated, well informed, and a broad-minded person. He read everything and remembered well, what he read. Whenever there was an argument in the church, or in the city affairs, or any place where he was concerned, his judgment was always considered right.
On December 18, 1919, Mr. Hockersmith and I were married in Fort Worth by Dr. Forest Smith who was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. We were married in Dr. Smith’s home with his wife as a witness.
At this time Mr. Hockersmith was working for the Government out of Washington, D.C. as an employee of the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, with headquarters in Houston, Texas. He had a week’s vacation and we met in Fort Worth and were married, stayed there a few days, then came home to Vernon. At the end of his vacation he returned to Houston, but would come back every two weeks for the weekend until his job was finished there. We lived in my home-place on Pease Street for two years then moved to his home on Paradise Street, living there until death took him away.
Mr. Hockersmith returned to Vernon from Houston. He took up his insurance business where he had left off, and then later took my office work as secretary of the Home Mutual Life Insurance Company, while I continued my oil and lease work. I will say here that I continued to work because I had my children to educate, and I realized that it would be a job for a man to take on a wife and six children. He was glad to help me all along. In 1926 he was elected Mayor of Vernon and served in that capacity for 12 years – a longer time than anyone before or since.
Earlier, my oldest son, Dalton (Dick) Bowers and Clarie Skipworth had married while they were both in school here. Dick had worked behind the soda fountain in drug stores several years before he was grown, and he continued to be a salesman in the drug business and lived in Vernon for some time after they married. His only child, a son, Don Bowers was born in Vernon. And now, during the last several years, Dick and Don have owned and operated a big drug store business in Dalhart, Texas; after Don had gotten his degree in Oklahoma University, specializing in pharmacy. At the present time they own and operate a new pharmacy in connection with a clinic in Dalhart, Texas.
In 1924, my second son, Verne Bowers graduated from High School here in Vernon, and in the fall of that year he entered A &M College at College Station, Texas, and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1928 specializing in Electrical Engineering. Three months before Verne finished college he had secured a job with the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in San Antonio, Texas. He has been with this company now some 32 years. At this time he is buyer for the company in the southwest, along with other responsibilities. Verne served his country during World War II as commander and instructor in the Signal Corps as a Lieutenant, with gradual promotions, and now is a full Colonel in reserve.
While in the service in the Philippines and in Australia, Verne met his future bride, Lois Handley of Melbourne, Australia, wbo was doing Red Cross work in Sidney and Brisbane, Australia. When the war was over, Verne flew home to Vernon, and shortly thereafter Lois came over by airplane and they were married by Dr. E. S. James, our pastor at that time, in my mother’s home at 1403 Pease Street, where I was living at that time. Verne and Lois have lived in San Antonio, Texas all these years.
In 1925, my third son, H. Glenn Bowers, finished High School here, and that fall entered Norman Oklahoma University in Norman for one year. Then the next year two prominent business men here, Mr. Frank Massey and Mr. Will I. Stephens, persuaded Glenn to go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and enter the Westinghouse School of Engineering. He did that and attended school at night while he worked for Westinghouse in the daytime. He finished his School of Engineering there, and is still with the Westinghouse Company, now more than 30 years. Glenn married a Pittsburgh girl, Mildred (Hall) Bowers, and they have two sons. During his tenure of service he has worked in New York City and Newark, New Jersey. He and his wife now live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After the oil boom here in Vernon ceased, I was asked to take the job of helping to get gas into Vernon for domestic purposes. The Upham Gas Company, with headquarters in Wichita Falls at that time appointed me, with six ladies working under me, to call on everybody in Vernon, who owned property, and explain to them the great advantages of using gas for heating and cooking instead of the smutty coal. We made a house to house call and got everybody in the city to say they wanted gas and to sign papers saying they approved of getting gas into Vernon, Texas.
Then a short time later the company sent a Buick car over to me with a driver and asked me to make a personal call on everybody in the city and talk up the gas proposition, and explain it a little more. I did this and everyone seemed so anxious to get the gas. The company then started right in to digging ditches and laying pipeline, and in a very few months we had gas in Vernon. The company retained an office here all that time, and I had a job there the whole time helping to keep records, etc. They told me that they were so pleased with our work that the job was mine as long as I lived or until I resigned. A funny thing happened. Just as our company got to the edge of town with their pipeline, the Lone Star Gas Company, who had started work by this time too, slipped around and got their line into the town ahead of us. Just a few days, however.
After we got the gas installed I was cashier and assistant bookkeeper for the Upham Company for four years, and then the company sold out to the Northern Texas Utility Company. I continued to hold the same position with them for a year and a half. Then the depression came on and everybody in the United States had a hard struggle. In 1931 this new company decided to lay off all the married women between Houston and Shamrock, Texas, so as to give more men, and women who had no husbands, work so that everybody could live. You will see that my work for the gas company altogether was five and one-half years. I liked that work very much.
In later years this company sold out to another. Finally the Lone Star Gas Company bought them out, and now we have just the one company in our town of Vernon, Texas,
After I gave up that job in 1931, I sold real estate for a few years, then retired and stayed home with my husband.
In 1938 my father, A. A. Lloyd, got very sick and died on January 8, 1939. Then on December 26, 1941, my oldest brother, Clarence Lloyd, who lived in Oklahoma City, and who had come to visit my mother and me, died with a heart attack.
In 1943, Mr. Hockersmith got real sick, had two operations within six months, and passed away on November 14, at the age of 83, after suffering many months. At this time he has been gone 17 long years,
Mr. Hockersmith was Senior Deacon in our Baptist Church, and for many years was the Chairman of the Board of Deacons.
Mr. Hockersmith came to Vernon from Seymour, Texas in 1900 and built the first Telephone Exchange in this city. Then in 1901 he constructed the first Electric Light Plant in Vernon and continued the operation of both for a time, selling the telephone system in 1906, and the light plant in 1910. He was in the insurance business for many years, and then later, after he became Mayor during his tenure of service, many city improvements were inaugurated to keep the city in the forefront of progress in this area. Mr. Hockersmith was a highly appreciated Christian gentleman. He had two children, Baber and Grace Hockersmith, by a former marriage.
While Mr. Hockersmith was still living, and after my youngest son, Glenn, had gone up North to Westinghouse, I still had my two sweet little girls, Ladelle and Natha at home with us. They were two sisters that were inseparable, and everything that belonged to one of them, belonged to both, while they were children growing up. Now since they are grown and married, they are very considerate of each other.
Ladelle finished the last half of her High School in Lubbock along with a special typing course, in 1928.
Natha finished High School in 1929, and then took a special course in Dramatic Expression in Kansas City, Kansas, and taught expression in Bristow, Oklahoma. While in Bristow she met Jess A. Woolf, who was a traveling salesman for a grocery concern, and they were married the following year.
Ladelle married Ferris L. Thompson, a Vernon and Crowell boy, one year after Natha married. They have one son who is married now and lives in Oklahoma City. He, Joe Bob, and his wife, Sue, both got their degrees in Norman Oklahoma University. Joe Bob is an artist and sculptor. Ferris is a traveling salesman for a hose company.
Ladelle and Natha both married their husbands in my home here in Vernon, but are living in Oklahoma City, just across the street from each other.
After Mr. Hockersmith passed away, I lived in the home-place for six months, then sold the place and moved down to my mother’s home in east Vernon to take care of Mother and Maggie. My mother was getting very old, and “Mag” as we called her, who had been so faithful to the family all these years, was all crippled up with rheumatism and had a bad heart. She could no longer keep the house, take care of mother, and do for herself. I tried to sell real estate too, but soon found out that it took all my time keeping up the home and taking care of the two. This home was a two story six bedroom house where my parents had finished rearing their family.
Then on April 12, 1946, Maggie McCoy, the good old negro woman who had been in my parents home for 66 years, died early in the morning with a heart attack at the age of 69. Maggie helped me to rear my children, too, and we all loved her very much.
On September 21, 1947, my second brother, Orren C. Lloyd, died of a heart attack in Amarillo, Texas, and his body was shipped to Vernon for burial in the family plot.
Later after my mother, my brother, J. H. Lloyd, and I were living alone in the big house, she had me to sell it for her, and we tried to find a smaller house to please us, but not finding what we wanted, we decided to rent for the time being. After living there for three years, mother passed away on April 26, 1954. This was just two months and ten days before her 95th birthday.
My mother was a very outstanding person. She was very intellectua1, well educated and so refined. She was very reserved but had that sweet personality that made everyone love her. She was such a gentle woman. I shall always be so glad that I had the opportunity to take care and to look after her the last ten years of her life. She was always such a good Christian, and the sweet memory of her will abide with us always and forever.
It surely was hard to lose so many of my loved ones so close together. I continued to live in the rented house through the month of May while we got things settled. Then on June 1, 1954, 1 moved up here into this Birdsong Apartment house where I have been living now, six and one-half years.
This is a two-story brick building with two apartments downstairs, and two up-stairs. I have five nice large rooms in the main front of the building on the first floor. It is a lovely apartment and I have my own furniture. It is six blocks from town, three blocks from my church and in a lovely neighborhood with beautiful yards and pavement all around. I like the large apartment so my children can have room when they come to see me. I hope to live here the rest of my life.
Of course, it took-some time for me to become adjusted to living alone, and to live without my loved ones, but after all these years I can truly say I really like to live alone now. I like to keep house, and I like for people to visit me. Whatever I do I put my whole soul into it. During the 30 years that I worked down town I put my whole soul into my work and loved it, and I have always loved people.
While my children were small and I was working at home and down town I had no time for club work of any kind, but as they got older, I did join a study club, in the spring of 1921, known as the “Delphian Club”. A few years ago this club changed its name to the Sorosis Club. I am still an active member having served as president for two years 1957-1958 and 1958-1959. I am serving as Club Councellor at the present time. Our club of 38 women belongs to the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs, and is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs with headquarters in Washington, D.C. In the spring (1961) I will have been a member for 40 years. I still like to study and read and keep up with all the work of the clubs in the Federation.
After I got into club work, for quite sometime I was a member of the Garden Club and also a member of the Home Science Club. While in the latter, I was chairman of a committee to organize a younger woman’s club, and we organized the “Social Arts Club” which is a study club, and is one of our best clubs at the present time. Before this, I was on a committee from the Sorosis Club that organized a study club in the South Vernon Oil Fields which proved to be a very outstanding club.
A number of years ago, while Mr. Hockersmith was still living, I was secretary of the Wilbarger County Federation of Women’s Clubs for two years, and then the next two years I served as president of the same organization. In later years we re-organized the Federated Clubs into what we now call the “Woman’s Forum”.
I have held every office in the Sorosis Club, some of them more than once, and have served on every committee. We are a member of the Forum. I do love my club work. I like the association with well read women, and I like to keep myself informed generally on the things that are happening every day of our lives. As I have said before, I love people and I like to progress.
Then I like fun, too. In 1927 ten of us women got together and organized a “Little Sewing Club”. We still meet once a month, do a little handwork, tell each other about our families, have lovely refreshments, and have a nice visit with each other. Since people are too busy to go visit with their friends anymore, we take this time to visit and to know each other better.
In October of 1956, eight of us (all widows but one) got together and organized a “42” Club. We meet once a month at seven P.M. in our homes, taking it alphabetically, have dessert when we arrive, and then play “42” until ten o’clock. We have lots of fun and enjoy playing immensely.
I attend lots of parties for the young and old alike, because I know so many people in our town.
During my life time I have had lots of happiness, and lots of heartaches, lots of struggles and fears, but a strong faith in our Father above to help overcome the struggles and fears. My life has not been perfect by any means. I have made lots of mistakes as we all do, and have had to ask forgiveness every day. I am so thankful that we have a Heavenly Father who watches over us and knows everything that we do, and will forgive if we ask and believe.
I love my church and my church work. I never fail to attend Sunday School and the preaching service on Sunday unless I am sick or out of town. I attend all our class meetings in the church or in our homes, and I go part of the time to our W.M.S. meetings. I do keep busy all the time. We must remember that happiness is the by-product of a useful life. It comes out of service for others.
I think every person should have a hobby. I have always had several. I think my most favorite hobby is to take something that is old or has been discarded and make something worth while out of it. I like to work over old furniture and make it look like new. Or take old light fixtures from the old fashioned ceilings and make modern floor lamps or table lamps out of them. I like to make pretty floor pillows or couch pillows, and bedspreads, and especially do I like to make draperies or draw curtains.
I am so glad I am living. I love life. I am thankful for the wonderful health that I have, and hope I will always stay well. I love my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren. I love all my kinsmen, and my friends everywhere.
When my children were small, to save time, I had to learn to be very systematic about everything in my home and in my business. I try to have a place for everything and then keep things in their place. It makes it easier on everybody concerned and makes the home look more inviting. I like pretty things in the home, and I like it well kept so that when friends come in they will want to relax and stay awhile. I want my home to be restful. If there are flowers growing in the yard, I always have some in the house as they make it more cheerful.
All together I have lived a variated but colorful life. I have always had confidence in myself and in other people, and have never feared to accept a position or job that was honorable in order to assist in my family’s finances. I don’t have any moneys left from my labor, but I know I have had a very successful life because of my six wonderful children. They are a credit to the world because they are honest upright Christian citizens. I am proud of them.
And now 0 Lord, I pray Thee to help them and all of us to continue to be honest upright Christian citizens, and when our time is here no more, may we be good citizens in Heaven. Amen.
I want to present this little story of my life to my children next month on December 24, 1960 when I will celebrate my 82nd birthday.
With love and appreciation,
Lillian Lloyd Bowers Hockersmith
Contributed by Evelyn Brooks Long
Also Mikhael Bowers
Reprinted with Permission of Wilbarger County Texas GenWeb