Fannie (Cummings) Culbertson

Source: V.Culbertson <vculbertson@plateautel.net>, Unknown Newspaper, 1948,


Mrs. Fannie Culbertson, 86, Was One of Real Frontierswomen of Old-Time West

This Northwest Plains area lost one of its few remaining real frontier women, and a grand personality, this week when Mrs. Fannie Culbertson, 86, moved over the Great Divide.

There were no such things as strangers to "Grandma" Culbertson, as she was affectionately known to her many, many friends, nor to her home which was always open to all who wished to visit.

She was born Fannie Cummings in Hoovers Valley, Burnet County, Tex., Jan. 27, 1862. The place was named for her grandfather, Isaac Hoover, who was a Methodist preacher and rode circuit on horseback. "Grandma" loved to recall the old days in that part of the country, and her children, grandchildren and friends delighted to hear the exciting stories.

Indians, Grandma recalled, were numerous, and treacherous in those days. Her grandfather on his circuit wore an ammunition belt and two six-shooters strapped on his hips and carried a shotgun on his saddle. When he started to preach, he would lay his pistols on the pulpit and stand the shotgun in a corner handy, she said.

An incident which made a deep impression on her mind happened when she was eight years old. A man by the name of Whitlock, Grandma said worked in the old fashioned cotton gin for her father, Charles C. Cummings. But he lived across the river, a short distance away. One evening, Whitlock said he felt uneasy, and thought he had better go home. The next morning, the Cummings family noticed a huge fire across the river. They investigated, and found that a roving war party of Comanche Indians had pillaged the place, killed the whole family, and set fire to the buildings.

Mrs. Culbertson's father, she remembered, built a large coffin, in which they placed the mother, father and three children for burial. The grave still bears a marker with the family's names, she said. A monument, too, later was placed where the old home stood.

She told too, how her mother would hide the children under the beds, when she knew Indians were near. Because, she explained, the Indians would come back and kill the family if they thought they were seen when they were scouting out a place. However, if they thought they were not noticed, they would leave the family unmolested. For that reason, Grandma recalled, families had to forcibly make themselves ignore the Indians when they saw them prowling around. They chained and locked their horses and cows to trees, she said, because if they used a rope the Indians would steal the animals.

One of her uncles, one time was captured by the Indians when he became separated from his hunting party, Grandma told her listeners. But while they slept at noon, he managed to escape and get back to the other men.

Fannie Cummings and Joseph I. Culbertson were married in 1879. They moved to Concho County in 1884 and ranched between Eden and Paint Rock, two towns which still stand. They moved to the town of Burnet in 1889 where they stayed until 1891 when they moved to Cottle County. In 1902 they moved to a ranch in Moore County, and a few years later moved to Dalhart.

In 1905, Mr. Culbertson was killed in an old livery barn, just back of where the DeSoto hotel now stands. He had driven a team of horses into the barn and tied them to an upright pole. One pulled down the pole, letting boards and hay fall on Mr. Culbertson. The couple had ten children, eight of whom are still living. They lost an infant daughter in 1890; and Clyde died several years ago in Dalhart. [1918]

Last rites are being held this afternoon at 3:00 in the Central Methodist church, with Rev. J. O. Quattlebaum in charge. Burial will be in the family plot in Memorial Park cemetery beside her husband and son.

The surviving children are W. O. of Dalhart; Dan and Charles C (Chili) of Bueyeron and Rufe of Springer, N. M.; Mrs. Olen (Ella) Wharton and Mrs. Bud (Besse) Clayton of Tucumcari, N. M.; Mrs. Emory (Anna) Brown of Los Angeles and Mrs. Jim (Madge) Schelledy of Liberal, Kans.

Following Mr. Culbertson's death, Mrs. Culbertson lived on a little ranch of her own near Tucumcari. About 15 years ago, she left the ranch, and has lived with her children, spending much time in Liberal, Dalhart and Tucumcari.


For more information on this family, go to

Charles C. Cummings Biography and

Cummings entry in Photoalbum

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