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Dickens County Biographies

In Remembrance of

Eugene and Edna Blakley
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Birth Date: Aug 25, 1864 Birth Date: Jul 25, 1869
Death Date: May 26, 1935 Death Date: May 27, 1912

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Edna M. Sartor was born in Milam County, TX, the daughter of William Sartor and Martha White Sartor
Eugene Harrison Blakley was born in Santa Rosa, CA, son of John A. Blakley and Elizabeth N. Knox McPeak Blakley.
Eugene and Edna fell in love when he helped her grandparents, William and Martha White, move their family from Brown County to Callahan county. He returned to Baird to ask for her hand in marriage. They were married in Baird on September 4, 1884. They lived in Callahan County, Texas when Nora, Cora, and Johnny were born. When Edna was seven months pregnant with Cora, they traveled to Milam County, probably by wagon, to sell one hundred acres of Edna´s land to her father, W.C. Sartor, for the sum of $250, papers signed on September 30, 1887. With the untimely death of Bill Sartor´s wife in 1874, and with Texas community property laws and apparently leaving no written will, husband, and two children each shared 1/3 of the jointly owned property. Edna had just had her eighteenth birthday in July, so now that she was of legal age, married, and living some two hundred miles away, Edna sold her part of the land to her father so that he would have a total of two hundred acres.

The young Blakley family later moved to Devil´s River Ranch (owned by the Taylor´s) near San Angelo. Eugene moved Edna and the children into town for their fourth baby to be born, because he was afraid the ranch was too far from a doctor. Edna and the children lived in a barracks type apartment. When Gene was born he weighed 2 1/2 pounds and almost died. A woman who lived in one of the other apartments is given the credit for keeping him alive. She simply took over and nursed him to health. Meanwhile, at the ranch, Eugene was seriously ill with pneumonia. Neither knew the other was sick. A man at the ranch was a state doctor and pulled him through.

Jim Massey, one of the ranch hands, caught a wild mustang and broke him for Johnny.

One day Edna was in the house when she heard shooting. She knew Eugene was working on a fence line, so she was afraid something had happened to him. A few minutes later two Mexican men came to the door and asked her if they could have some salt. They wanted to cook and eat a rabbit they had just shot. She could see that they had something wrapped in a red bandanna. They went behind some bushes to cook the rabbit. She finished her own supper and waited for Eugene to come in and eat. When he didn´t come in by dark, she decided that she had better feed and water Johnny´s colt. When she came back to the house, the door was shut and she couldn´t hear the children. She immediately thought of the Mexican men, and was afraid they had taken the children. The children, thinking their mother had been gone too long, thought the Mexicans had taken her. So Nora and the other three children had all gotten into the rocking chair in the middle of the room and were keeping very quiet. Edna decided she had better go see if she could find Eugene. She had gone just a short distance when she met him coming in. He decided he had better go up on the porch whistling as the children would know it was him coming in and not be afraid.

Eugene was allowed to keep 100 head of cattle on the ranch, but his health got so bad that he sold them for $24 a head. The doctor told him he needed to travel for his health. They went to Uvalde, TX where Edna´s Uncle Johnny White lived on a ranch. They stayed there for a month and then went back to San Angelo. They bought a house and lived there four years while Eugene did carpentry work. Agnes and Altha were born there. William White, Edna´s grandfather, came and moved them back to Callahan County in 1897. May was born there, then in 1898 the family moved to Dickens County, Texas.

"Papa heard of land in Dickens Co., that you could file on, so he and Uncle Buddy went out west and filed on a section of land and dug back in a hill and built a half dugout. It was big with 2 rooms, and a fireplace in one end. They hauled the lumber from Abilene. Uncle Buddy stayed there and Papa came back after us. First, they had taken some horses out there. They dug out some of the mesquites and shinnery thickets on the land and turned the horses loose on the place at Broning springs. Then Uncle Buddy came back to Grandpa´s. We were at Grandpa and Grandma Blakleys. He sure hated to see us leave He thought we would starve out here so he had Papa to load one wagon with groceries, meat, lard, corn flour, fruits, sugar, meal. We had 3 wagon loads. Papa drove one wagon, Uncle Buddy one, and Mama one. Johnny rode a horse driving a milk cow (old Linnie). We got about 2 miles before we missed our old dog Shep., Johnnie went back after him. We made it to Abilene. It took over a week. We stayed one night at Duck Creek. Our cow hnd a calf and we had to leave her at the Stinnet´s and it was two weeks before we could get her, as it started snowing. Mr. Stinnet wanted to buy her. He said she was the best he ever saw. She gave a water bucket full of milk.

It was night when we got to Dickens Hill and the wagon with groceries broke down so we had to leave it. It had $900 in a sack of meal in it. We had to leave it 2 weeks. When we got to our place, Uncle Buddy had piled up a lot of wood in the cabin which had a big fireplace. They built a big fire and they carried the children in as everything was covered in snow. They unloaded the wagons next day. Then they put up the beds and cook stove. We thought it was the coldest country."

(Written by Altha Blakley Hall)

"My father, Eugene Blakley, early pioneer, moved with his family to Dickens County on December 9, 1898, in a covered wagon. We arrived in a snow storm. Father and a brother-in-law, had gone to Dickens several months before and bought 640 acres of land for $1.00 per acre. they had built a half dug out, hauling the lumber for it 90 miles. We were snowed in for two weeks.

As soon as the ground thawed, he began to improve the place and land. We planted four acres of fruit trees and grubbed out mesquite trees for the farm. The only fuel we had for cooking and heating was mesquite. Our closest neighbors were Brother Cobb and his family. He was a minister and a school teacher. Other neighbors were Mr. Baker, Mrs. Charles Buchanan, and Brother Wilson, who was also a Minister, and Mr. Holly and families. the first year, we had no school. In July the men took time and built a one room school house and called it Liberty Hill. The first day of school I wondered where all the pupils came from. We went five miles to church in a wagon. Later we built a church and a school close-by. It was called Midway."

(Written by Nora Blakley Mayfield)

Source: "Dickens County, Its Land and People", Dickens County Historical Commission, ©1986

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Mrs. Eugene Blakely died Monday at her home in the Afton country after an illness of several weeks duration. The remains were interred Tuesday in the Dickens cemetery, the ceremonies being attended by a large number of sorrowing friends and relatives.
©The Texas Spur, May 31, 1912

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