Texas County Family Stories
First Families of
Tales and Tidbits about Texas County
The pioneer and his family encountered many joys and
breaking out this land and making a home in Texas County.
your story and
put your family in our history book!
MOTHER, SON CHALLENGED WEATHER, ROADS IN 1906 BUGGY TRIP
A year before Oklahoma's statehood, in the winter of
1906, the 50-year-old widow of a Texas Ranger and her
teen-age son loaded up a one-horse buggy in Edmond and
left on a trip to the panhandle to claim a homestead in
what once was "No Man's Land." The woman was
Mary Ollie Tucker. The boy's name was Van. Traveling 265
miles through Oklahoma Territory, they arrived at Hooker
12 days after leaving Edmond. A few days later Mrs.
Tucker wrote her daughter Audrey, then a kindergarten
teacher in Oklahoma City, to tell of their journey.
Recently Mrs. Tucker's grandson, Bob Griffin, and Mrs.
Griffin of Waco, Texas, retraced much of the route the
pioneering duo took. They were guided by details in the
letter, the original of which is in the custody of
another grandson, Jack Griffin of Norman. In their trip
to Hooker a few weeks ago, the Griffins located the
original homestead and legal records to his grandmother's
ownership. He has provided a copy of the letter which, he
said, "reflects the spirit of the pioneers of
Oklahoma and the determination required to overcome the
hardships of travel encountered." Griffin calls it
"An Odyssey in Oklahoma Before Statehood" and
dedicates it to "Buster Brown, a Noble Pony."
Hooker, Okla. Feb. 26, 1906 Dear Audrey: I received your
letter and mailed to you yesterday, telling you we
arrived here last Sunday. We had our house moved
yesterday and got lumber today to build a chicken house.
Van has dug quite a hole in the ground where we are going
to build it, so it won't take so much lumber and will be
nice and warm. There are so many dugouts here, and half
dugouts, dug down about half the depth of the house then
built up with lumber. I have two turkey hens but no
gobbler yet. Only have the chickens I brought. I have
sent for an incubator (120 egg size). Van has gone to
work like he meant business. Has done more work in the
three days we have been here than he ever did in that
time. I would like to give you a description of our trip,
but there's too much to tell to write it all. I wish I
could be with you a while. I could talk a whole lot. The
First night we stayed three miles this side of Cassion
(sic). The people had killed hogs and invited us to eat
with them. The lady was not well, and I helped her, and
Van helped grind the sausage; and they didn't charge us
for lodging and horse fee.
The next day we passed through Kingfisher, came on to
Kiel; put our horse and buggy in a livery barn, and we
stayed at a hotel. The man at the barn thought it was
awful that I would underake such a trip with that poor
little pony and such a load and no top to the buggy. I
told him he didn't know what a woman could do. He told me
to sell the chickens but I didn't. The next day we came
through Okeene and on three miles this side of Homestead.
Stayed at a farm house. The people were very kind, would
take no pay. The lady was so interested in us she gave me
her address and asked me to write when we got here. Well,
we left there on Saturday morning and our troubles began.
Three miles ahead of us was what they called a sand hill;
but I called it a sand mountain. We met some men who told
us we could go around it, but whichever way we went, we
would wish we had gone the other way. We decided to go
around it. It was probably not more than two miles, but
it seemed a lot further, and the awfulest road any poor
mortal ever tried to pull over. The sand was so deep we
could hardly wade through, and up one hill after another.
We walked, or waded. The sand was so deep the pony would
go till he thought it time to rest, and stop. At last we
got to where it seemed the top and nothing in sight but
brush and sand.
We came to another road and didn't know which to follow.
Van walked on - he said a about a mile - to see which was
the right one. While he was gone, I pulled grass and fed
the pony so he would be able to pull up the next
mountain. While I was there feeding him, I laughed and
thought if you could see me you would wish for a Kodak
more than ever.
When we were coming up that hill, our lunch basket fell
out of the buggy, bottom side up, so you can imagine
better than I can tell what plight it was in. Broke a
glass and one handle of the basket. Van didn't get
discouraged, he and the pony were faithful as could be,
and I just kept smilling like the dentist told his
patients to do while he was pulling their teeth.
We were up the worst of the hill by noon, but pulled
through sand until the middle of the afternoon. Finally
we came to a house so we could inquire the way. Then the
rest of the day we didn't pass a house till near sundown.
We came to a house inside a pasture where a man lived. He
told us we would have to go 3 1/2 miles and ford a river
before we could stay all night. That strip belongs to the
Indians, is why there are no more settlements.
We went on and passed groups of Indian tents. When we
came to the river, it was wide but not deep, so the pony
waded right through. We drove on until almost dark and
came to a store and house nearby, where they kept weary
pilgrims, and stayed all night. They were very nice and
kind to us Outside were five wagons en route for Beaver,
thirty miles west (sic) of Hooker.
Next day was Sunday. There was a chilly south wind but
fortunately we had our backs to it. We drove about
thirty-four miles and thought we were not going to find a
place to stay. At last we went off the road a short
distance to a big square house and found the folks all
ready to go to church, but one boy. They took us in and
were very kind but awfully dirty. Van slept on the floor
in the kitchen with our bed covers, and I slept in
another room with the daughter and the old man and woman.
We had two beds but they were awfull close together. They
had four grown boys upstairs. We ate breakfast with them,
and they fed our horse and gave us an armful of corn for
the chickens, and didn't charge us a cent.
The next day was Monday. We had only gone a mile or two
when it began a slow drizzing rain. We kept going,
watching for a barn where we could get shelter for the
pony and buggy, until we, and everything in the buggy,
were wet. We topped at a dugout, and the lady of the
house let us in. We ate dinner there, and it kept up the
The middle of the afternoon I saw that the woman was
tired of our wet lap robe and the rest of us, so I told
Van we had better drive on. About the middle of the
afternoon we started on, watching at every house for a
shed to put the buggy in. A while before night we saw a
vacant shed. I went to the door and talked to the woman.
She said they had company and a sick girl, but after
talking a little while she said come on in out of the
rain. I told here we had bedding and could sleep on the
floor, and sleep on the floor we did. But the people were
real nice, and we rather enjoyed our stay.
It turned cold that night and snowed some. The man where
(we) stayed killed hogs the next day. About three in the
afternoon we started for Woodward, 8 miles against a
fierce north wind. The roads were awfull sandy, but the
rain and freeze had improved them. By whipping and
driving up, we got to Woodward without freezing. We put
our horse and buggy in a livery barn and rented a room
for the night in a hotel nearby, with a stove and bed,
and cooked and ate our supper there. We were too dirty
and tackey (sic)to go to the table.
On Wednesday by noonthe weather had moderated. We went to
the barn and sked the man if he thought we could cross
the river. He said there was a mail route through tere
and the mail carrier would have the ice broken, so about
noon we started, expecting to drive to Ft. Supply 8 miles
When we got within 2 miles of town, we came to Wolf
River. It was quite wide, but there had been teams ahead
of us and broken the ice. There were pieces of ice that
looked to be a yard square, but there were no houses for
miles back, and we didn't know when anyone else would
come along, so we started in.
We had not gone far when the big pieces of ice blocked
the wheels, and the pony couldn't pull it. We got out on
the step and pulled the ice out the best we cold; the
pony got contrary and wouldn't try to pull. We coaxed and
shipped quite a while, but not an inch would he budge.
There we were, the water and ice up over the hubs on both
sides of us, and no prospect of getting out. I told Van
the only thing to do was to pull of our shoes, roll up
our pants and wade out. I don't know how long we were in
there, but it seemed like a long time. At last Van pulled
off his shoes and socks and jumped in the water. He shook
all over and said he was freezing. He went and tired to
lead the ony out, but no, he wouldn't budge.
Van waw a fire out on the bank and went to it; said he
was freezing to death, I persuaded awhile, then whipped
awhile, but to no avail; so I pulled off my shoes and
stockings, put on my rubbers, rolled up my pants and
jumped in. I tell you, it was a cold jump. I took the
rope and tied (1st) around the pony's neck and tried to
lead him. Still he persisted in standing in the river. I
stood and pulled my best for several minutes. At last he
had to step forward a step or two. That loosened the
buggy and he followed me out. The water was over my
When I got out to the fire, my feet and legs had no more
feeling than if they had been a rock. Van gathered some
sticks and put on the fire, which had been built by some
campers. I rubed my legs with the blanket and warmed by
the fire, but they didn't feel natural for a long time. I
thought sure they were frozen, but they didn't hurt after
they got warm - did't even ache - and I didn't take a bit
of cold. I didn't know till that night when my legs began
to smart that I had cut a great gashes clear to my knees
on the ice.
We drove on to Ft. Supply before night. We went to the
livery barn to leave our horse. I said to the man,
"I hate to go to a hotel looking as I do", and
he said if we wanted to we could cook supper on his
monkey stove and sleep in the barn loft. So Van went out
and bought some steak, we cooked it on his stove, and had
a very good supper. We took our bedding to the hayloft
and spent a very pleasant night.
Next day we drove to Shearmore. Had no trouble worthy of
mention. Next day we passed through Custer and stopped on
a hill this side for dinner, or lunch.
While there, a boy came along and said we could only go 1
1/2 miles farther. Said they had quarrantined against
smallpox 21 days. I went on to a house. There was no one
to stop us, but I was aftaid if we went into the strip
they might not let us out. So I stopped and ask the man.
He said the health officer had been there just a short
time before and quarrantined for six miles for 21 days.
Said one went south and one west. Said we might get
through and advised us to go on. So we went through the
six miles west. We just made the little pony (june)(?)
through there and got through without being molested.
All that evening we didn't pass anything but sod houses
and cabins that people had built to hold their claims,
and some were vacated.
About sundown we stopped at a little one-room house and
told them we were hunting for a place to stay all night.
They didn't know of any place ahead. They wouldn't turn
us away but said they had two extra men, and had to make
down one bed. I didn't see any place for us to sleep
unless it was on the table. I saw a good-sized house half
a mile off the road and we went down there. They had a
three room sod house and a big barn. They took us in and
were nice to us. Were old ranchers and had been there 20
years. They fed us and pony and didn't charge us.
We left there Sat. morning. Were 7 miles from Beaver
City. We started late and had a good deal of sand to pull
through, so we got there a little before noon. Just after
leaving Beaver, we had to cross the Canadian River again.
It was wide and rather deep, but "Buster Brown"
waded right through. We named the pony Buster Brown
because he is such a noble little fellow, we thought he
ought to have a big name.
We came across the river and up the hill before we
stopped for lunch. The hill or hills this side of the
river are terrible. It was up one sand hill and down
another for a mile and a half or more. Van was sick from
eating too much canned chili a day or two before but
managed to walk up the hills, and Buster got the buggy
up. These were the last hills of any consequence we had.
I guess it was well for us that we had such a poor pony
and such pitiful objects, for everyone we have met were
so kind to us and wanted to help us. If I met a man in a
wagon where it was a little hard for me to turn out, he
would say, "Stay in the road. I'll go around
you." And if I met one on a hill, he would wait and
see if I got up all right.
We came 20 miles this side of Beaver and stayed all night
with a young Mr. Smith of Edmond. We were then 25 miles
from Hooker. We left there early Sunday morning for home.
It seemed so nice that we would not have to hunt for a
place to stay another night. Buster was nearly worn out
and so was I. Van would have trotted Buster to death that
day if I had let him. We got home at 1:30. Van is
delighted and has gone right to work. Well, I guess I
have told all that is worth telling, except that we were
brown as a side of bacon. My nose and forehead are
Apparently the "homestead" in Hooker didn't
work out. Mrs. Tucker spent most of the rest of her life
in Oklahoma City and Edmond, where she died in 1954 at
the age of 99 while Van, a World War I veteran, owned and
operated a nursery and greenhouse in Oklahoma City for
many years and now, over 90, lives in a retirement home
There is no record of what became of Buster Brown.
have additional information for this page,
please contact the Texas County Coordinator.
This page was
last updated on
Sunday, 29-Mar-2009 16:13:11 MDT