Donley County Biographies
DONLEY, STOCKTON P. (1821-1871)
CARHART, LEWIS HENRY (1833-?)
CARHART, EDWARD ELMER (1863-1946)
GLASS, HERMAN A. (1890-1963)
MORRISON BROTHERS, Tom W. and James Newton
BAIRFIELD, WINTFRY (1858-1931)
DUBBS, EMANUEL (1843-1932)
REID, ASA ELMER, JR. (1925-1991)
LEWIS, WILLIAM JENKS (1871-1960)
DONLEY, STOCKTON P.
Stockton P. Donley, attorney, was born in Howard County, Missouri, on May 27, 1821. He attended Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, and was admitted to the bar in that state before moving to Texas in 1846.
He began his law practice at Clarksville and in 1847 moved to Rusk, where he became the partner of James M. Anderson. Donley soon distinguished himself as a skilled criminal lawyer.
In 1853 he was elected district attorney of the Sixth Judicial District. His practical arguments and prodigious ability to unravel crimes were said to have been equal to those of such legendary lawyers as John Randolph and Patrick Henry.
In 1854 he married Judith Evans of Marshall. Their son and only child, William S. Donley, later married Anna Reagan, a daughter of John H. Reagan, and became a prominent attorney.
In 1860 Donley moved his law office to Tyler. When the Civil War broke out the following year he enlisted as a private in Col. John Gregg's Seventh Regiment of Texas Volunteers. Soon after his promotion to a lieutenancy he was captured, along with the entire regiment, at the siege of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, in February 1862.
Due to failing health after he was exchanged, he was assigned to post duty and continued in that capacity until the war's end, after which he resumed his practice at Tyler. He was elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 1866 but removed from office by the Reconstruction military commandant on September 10, 1867.
He then became the law partner of Oran M. Roberts, and later of John L. Henry.q His wife died, and in 1867 Donley married Mrs. Emma Slaughter, with whom he had a daughter. He died at Kaufman on February 17, 1871, and was interred at Tyler. Donley County, in the Texas Panhandle, was named for him.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Zachary T. Fulmore, History and Geography of Texas As Told in County Names (Austin: Steck, 1915; facsimile, 1935). Sidney S. Johnson, Texans Who Wore the Gray (Tyler, Texas, 1907). James D. Lynch, The Bench and Bar of Texas (St. Louis, 1885). Ben H. Procter, Not Without Honor: The Life of John H. Reagan (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962).
H. Allen Anderson
CARHART, LEWIS HENRY
Lewis Henry Carhart, son of Isaac D. and Nancy (Bangs) Carhart, was born in Albany County, New York, in 1833. He graduated from the theological department of Northwestern University and the Garrett Biblical Institute and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1866 he was assigned on trial to the Arkansas Methodist Conference.
By 1877 he was in charge of a pastorate in Sherman, Texas. There he developed an interest in establishing a Christian colony in the Texas Panhandle that would discourage liquor consumption and other "impure" activities. He married Clara Sully, a Canadian whose brother Alfred worked for Austin and Corbett, an influential New York investment firm. The couple had two children.
Carhart launched his advertising campaign from Sherman and attracted prospective colonists from the East and Midwest. Alfred Sully provided the financial backing. In 1878, after traveling via Dodge City and Mobeetie to their colony site in the Panhandle, the promoters founded their Christian colony and named it Clarendon, in honor of Carhart's wife.
In 1879 Carhart established the Panhandle's first newspaper, the Clarendon News. Ed Carhart, son of Lewis's brother John Wesley Carhart of Wisconsin, acted as the paper's printer and later its editor. Although Clara Sully Carhart lived for a time in Clarendon, she never wanted to live permanently in a frontier environment and throughout the next several years retained family residences at Sherman and Dallas.
In 1880 Carhart was appointed pastor to a large Methodist church in Dallas. He placed his brother-in-law, Benjamin Horton White, and another attorney, J. C. Murdock, in charge of managing the affairs in Clarendon. Carhart went on to a two-year pastorate in Fort Worth, after which he returned to Donley County in 1884 and established his Quarter Circle Heart Ranch.
In 1884 or 1885 he sailed to England on a stock-selling venture and, with Sully's backing, organized the Clarendon Land Investment and Agency Company. He then returned to manage his expanded ranching operations, ably assisted by his foreman, Al S. McKinney.
Unfortunately, unwise investments, coupled with the drought and blizzard of 1886-87, resulted in tremendous losses, and when the English stockholders sent Count Cecil Kearney to investigate in June 1887, Carhart resigned his position and moved from Clarendon.
He returned to the Methodist ministry, but, in spite of his affection for people and his powers of persuasion, he never regained the leadership that he had formerly had. He moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1891 and invested his remaining money in a bathhouse.
Afterward, he migrated to Sawtelle, California, where he died in the Union Soldier's Home.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Virginia Browder, Donley County: Land O' Promise (Wichita Falls, Texas: Nortex, 1975). Willie Newbury Lewis, Between Sun and Sod (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1938; rev. ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945). Lonnie J. White, comp., "Dodge City Times, 1877-1885," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 40 (1967).
H. Allen Anderson
CARHART, EDWARD ELMER
Edward Elmer Carhart, businessman, the eldest son and third of eight children of Theresa (Mumford) and John Wesley Carhart, was born on December 15, 1863, in Watertown, New York. The family moved to Racine, Wisconsin, in 1871, and three years later to Oshkosh, where Carhart received the majority of his schooling.
In 1876 he and his sister Minnie began publishing a weekly newsletter, the Early Dawn, using the basement of their father's church as a printing office. Soon Carhart's journalistic ability attracted the attention of his father's cousin, Lewis H. Carhart, who had founded Clarendon, Texas, in 1878.
Impressed, Lewis invited him to come and edit the settlement's fledgling newspaper, the Clarendon News, after sending the proofs of its first edition to Oshkosh to be printed at Ed's shop. With his father's blessing, sixteen-year-old Ed stopped over in Chicago to buy a press, proceeded to Sherman, Texas, then the end of the railroad, and arranged to have the press freighted by wagon to Clarendon.
In Sherman he met Mary Estella Brewer, daughter of a Methodist minister, who soon afterward moved with her family to Mobeetie. At Clarendon young Carhart converted the News from a monthly to a weekly publication and a year later sold half interest in it to Charles Kimball. On December 23, 1881, Carhart and Mary Brewer became the first white couple to be married in Donley County. They had four children.
After disposing of his paper, Carhart spent about two years riding line on his cousin's Quarter Circle Heart Ranch and served as county clerk of Donley County. He also worked for a short time as a druggist with Jerome D. Stocking and later with B. H. White and Company, general merchants and ranch outfitters at Clarendon.
In the spring of 1887, shortly before the Santa Fe Railroad reached the town of Panhandle in Carson County, White sent Carhart there with a stock of goods and a portable building to establish a mercantile store, of which Carhart took charge as manager. Later, after White sold the store, Carhart turned it into a thriving drug business with stock he had purchased from Stocking.
Among other products he manufactured quality cigars, which he named after his daughters, Nina and Thelma. He also assisted Henry H. Brooks in establishing the Panhandle Herald. For eight years, beginning in 1889, Carhart served as postmaster, and in 1896 he succeeded Judge James C. Paul as treasurer of Carson County. He held that position until 1904, when he ran for county judge.
He sold the drugstore in 1906 and for the next twenty-one years worked as cashier of the Panhandle Bank. He retired in 1927 to establish the Carhart Motor Company, the county's first automobile business. In addition, Carhart owned a grain elevator just east of town.
Both he and his wife were pillars in the local Methodist church, and their children married and lived in the Panhandle area. Mary Carhart died on November 25, 1938, and Carhart died on February 4, 1946, at Panhandle. Both are buried there.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Willie Newbury Lewis, Between Sun and Sod (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1938; rev. ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976). Buckley B. Paddock, ed., A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis, 1906). Jo Stewart Randel, ed., A Time to Purpose: A Chronicle of Carson County (4 vols., Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1966-72).
H. Allen Anderson
GLASS, HERMAN A.
Herman A. Glass, education innovator, was born on March 23, 1890, in Granite, Oklahoma, the son of John Thomas and Fannie (Bunkley) Glass. He spent his youth in Donley County, Texas. He attended school at McLean and at West Texas State College (now West Texas A&M University), where he received his B.A. degree.
He received his M.A. degree from the University of Chicago and taught in the public schools at McLean and Clarendon, West Texas State College, East Texas State College (now East Texas State University), and North Texas State College (now the University of North Texas).
Glass pioneered the junior high school system in Wichita Falls and, after a twelve-year tenure there, served as superintendent of schools at Bonham until 1938, when he was appointed director of textbooks for the state. He served in this capacity until his retirement in 1960.
In recognition of his many services to education in Texas, Midwestern University in Wichita Falls conferred an honorary doctorate on him in 1956. He was a charter member of the National Association of Textbook Directors and served as president and secretary of that organization.
Glass married Abbie Clibourne in 1922; they had one daughter. He died on February 19, 1963, and was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Austin.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Austin American, February 20, 1963.
Peggy M. Baker
MORRISON BROTHERS, Tom W. and James Newton
Ranchers Tom W. and James Newton Morrison arrived at Old Clarendon with their father from Pike, Illinois, about 1878. They began running cattle in Donley, Hall, and Childress counties, with headquarters located about halfway between the sites of present Memphis and Hedley on Berkley Creek, a tributary of the Red River.
Known as the Doll Baby Ranch after the Morrisons' peculiar brand, this free-range operation soon came to be surrounded by those of other outfits, including the Shoe Bar, the Diamond Tail, the RO, and the Spade.q Supplies were purchased at Doan's Store, where dances were often held; Fred Estes, who went to work for the Morrisons in 1879, reported that there were "not fifty women in fifty miles of the Doll Baby."
In the 1880 census James N. Morrison and his father are listed as farming and herding cattle. Tom Morrison apparently was the chief partner of the venture. He was among the charter members of the Panhandle Stock Association, which convened at Mobeetie in July 1880.
At Old Clarendon he built a sumptuous home on Carroll Creek from native rock; he was active in local and area civic affairs. Donley County was organized in 1882, and Tom Morrison, along with Charles Goodnight, Leigh R. Dyer, and S. B. Nall, was appointed to the first slate of county commissioners.
In 1883 Morrison and Goodnight certified the first Donley County election for sheriff, which had been held in November 1882.
By 1882 the Morrisons had around 2,000 cattle on their Doll Baby range. That year they reportedly sold this herd to Alfred Rowe of the RO Ranch for approximately $45,000. The land was sold to William Riley Curtis, who annexed it to his Diamond Tail range, and the Doll Baby brand was discontinued.
In 1883 the Morrisons moved south to devote full time to developing a new tract of land they had purchased in 1881. They adopted the Cross L brand on the 81,000-acre "free-grass" range, located on Running Water Draw where the corners of Lamb, Hale, Swisher, and Castro counties join.
They formed a partnership with W. D. (Ramrod) Johnson, manager of C. C. Slaughter's adjoining Circle S or Running Water Ranch. Headquarters was located in Hale County northwest of Plainview. Johnson and the Morrisons formed the Runningwater Land and Cattle Company in 1883, when they traded half interest in 10,000 acres of land for half interest in 10,000 cattle belonging to Slaughter.
The name of the ranch then was changed from Cross L to Circle. On September 1, 1883, R. W. O'Keefe arrived with the first of Slaughter's cattle and became the Circle's first foreman. The Runningwater Land and Cattle Company continued operations until 1890, when Johnson and the Morrisons traded their half interest in the lands to Slaughter for his half interest in the livestock, cattle, and horses.
J. N. Morrison subsequently made his home in Dimmitt, where he died in 1896 and was buried in the Castro County Cemetery. His son Lucian L. Morrison helped organize the Castro County government and was county surveyor. A grandson, Lucian, Jr., opened a law practice in San Antonio. Almost nothing more is known regarding the later activities of Tom Morrison.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Castro County Historical Commission, Castro County, 1891-1981 (Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Mary L. Cox, History of Hale County, Texas (Plainview, Texas, 1937). Willie Newbury Lewis, Between Sun and Sod (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1938; rev. ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976). David J. Murrah, C. C. Slaughter: Rancher, Banker, Baptist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).
H. Allen Anderson
Wintfry (Wint) Bairfield, Panhandle rancher, was born in Polk County, Alabama, on June 28, 1858, the son of Seth and Sabrina (Anderson) Bairfield. After her husband's death in the Civil War, Sabrina Bairfield returned to her parents' farm in Georgia with her three sons and an infant daughter, who died soon afterward.
Wint and his brothers grew up working on the farm and attended school for half a day whenever convenient. At age twelve he took his first full-time job at a combination gristmill and sawmill near Bainbridge, Georgia. After his mother's death his employer, a man named Powell, took Wint into his own large household.
In 1880, having saved fifty dollars from his meager wages, Bairfield went west to St. Jo, Texas, where several of his friends had already moved from Georgia. Three years later he made his first journey by horseback to the Panhandle, where he punched cattle for one summer.
He liked the region and perhaps realized the opportunities there; he returned from St. Jo in the spring of 1884 and began working for Bill Koogle, freighting cedar posts for fences out of Palo Duro Canyon. His long association with the JA Ranch began in April 1885, when John Grady, a wagon boss for that outfit, hired him as a horse wrangler.
Over the next few years Bairfield participated in three trail drives to Dodge City, Kansas, before the arrival of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway in 1887. In 1890 Bairfield made his first purchase of dissatisfied settlers' claims on school land within the JA range.
He was one of the few JA employees allowed to run cattle of his own; he bought milch calves, grazed them through the winter, and sold them in the spring to JA manager Dick Walsh for a profit.
On March 30, 1896, Bairfield married Lena Elizabeth Scoggins. Their first home was the JA line camp near the head of Mulberry Creek, where Bairfield managed one of the two purebred JJ herds maintained by the JA. In December 1899 the Bairfields left the JA and moved to a claim they had purchased from Joe Beaty at the head of Troublesome Canyon, eight miles southwest of Clarendon.
Bairfield obtained a small herd from his father-in-law and started his own ranching operation, using a Lazy R brand. Subsequent purchases made from Cornelia Adair and the JA in 1909, 1913, and 1915 expanded the Lazy R into eight sections, some of which Bairfield had exchanged for his Mulberry Creek claims.
The Bairfields' first child died in infancy in January 1900; they subsequently had three children. Bairfield was a Mason and member of the Methodist Church in Clarendon. He often served on the grand jury and the local school board and for about four years was the Donley County sheriff's bond.
He built a one-room schoolhouse on the Beaty claim that served on occasion as a church and area social center. By 1937, the last year the school was in operation, there was only one teacher and one pupil, a fact duly noted in "Ripley's Believe It or Not."
Lena Bairfield died on February 1, 1922. Bairfield died on November 12, 1931, after being stricken with apoplexy. They were both buried in Clarendon. The Lazy R Ranch continued to be operated by the heirs.
The Bairfield schoolhouse was given by the family to the Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock in 1972 and formally dedicated on April 16, 1973, by Charles E. Bairfield and his wife, Thelma.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876-1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). Charles E. Bairfield, "Wint and Lena Elizabeth (Scoggins) Bairfield: Pioneers in the Texas Panhandle," in RHC Donor Books, ed. Ernest Wallace (Lubbock: Ranching Heritage Center, 1977). Virginia Browder, Donley County: Land O' Promise (Wichita Falls, Texas: Nortex, 1975). B. Byron Price, comp., Ranching Heritage Center Guidebook (Lubbock: Museum of Texas Tech University, 1977).
H. Allen Anderson
Emanuel Dubbs, pioneer, minister, and county judge, was born on March 21, 1843, on a farm near New Franklin, Ohio, the youngest of the six children of Daniel and Elizabeth (Meckley) Dubbs. He attended Mount Union College and at the outbreak of the Civil War enlisted in Company I of the First Ohio Infantry.
After the war he moved to Elkhart County, Indiana, and engaged in the lumber business with his brother. He married Angeline Freed in 1868. After a fire destroyed his sawmill in 1871, Dubbs and his wife moved to Kansas, where he worked for a time with railroad-construction crews and then engaged in buffalo hunting and dairy farming. He was said to have built the first house in Dodge City.
In 1873 he opened a dairy farm and beer garden on Duck Creek about five miles from Dodge. He served beer and "milk punch" to passersby, and soon his "Buttermilk Ranch" became a favorite refreshment stop for travelers. In 1874 he accompanied A. C. Myers and Charles Rath to the Texas Panhandle and helped construct the buildings at the Adobe Walls trading post.
He claimed to have taken part in the second battle of Adobe Walls, on June 27, 1874. The accounts of William (Billy) Dixon and others at Adobe Walls do not mention him, however, and the most reliable sources indicate that he was not present at the battle; Andy Johnson, an eyewitness of the battle, stated that Dubbs was at Dodge City at the time.
Dubbs continued hunting and reportedly had two more close brushes with Indians. He also rode in the posse that broke up "Dutch" Henry Born's horse-stealing ring. In 1875 Dubbs and his hunting party established a headquarters camp near the site of present Clarendon.
His dairy cows all died of milk fever, but by 1877 he had accumulated about 400 longhorn cattle. Weary of a barkeeper's occupation, Dubbs sold his ranch and in the spring of 1878 moved his wife and three small sons to Sweetwater Creek in Wheeler County. Near Mobeetie he built a rock house with a dirt floor and roof and made money by selling meat and vegetables to the troops at Fort Elliott. Two more sons were added to the Dubbs family in Wheeler County.
When the county was organized in 1879, Dubbs was elected its first judge. Lacking practical experience in law, he often made decisions with little consideration for legal technicalities. He was shortly compelled to resign and go to Dallas to stand trial for ruling a series of arrests by a deputy United States marshall illegal and releasing the prisoners. He was acquitted, and in January 1880 was unanimously elected to serve again as county judge. He was subsequently reelected to that office in 1884, 1886, and 1888.
In 1890 he moved to a ranch northwest of Clarendon near his former buffalo-hunting campsite in Donley County. Having always been active in church work, Dubbs became a Disciples of Christ minister in 1896 and was placed in charge of that denomination's mission work in the Panhandle.
In 1898 he was made pastor of the Christian church at Clarendon, where he made his home until 1922. Dubbs contributed several sketches, including his own reminiscences of his early years as a buffalo hunter, to the book Pioneer Days in the Southwest, published in 1909.
His wife died in 1910, and after 1922 Dubbs moved to Amarillo to be near his sons. He died in July 1932 and was buried in Clarendon.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Virginia Browder, Donley County: Land O' Promise (Wichita Falls, Texas: Nortex, 1975). Seymour V. Connor et al., Battles of Texas (Waco: Texian Press, 1967; 3d ed. 1980). Millie Jones Porter, Memory Cups of Panhandle Pioneers (Clarendon, Texas: Clarendon Press, 1945).
H. Allen Anderson
REID, ASA ELMER, JR.
Asa Elmer (Ace) Reid, Jr., cowboy cartoonist, son of Asa E. Reid, Sr., and Callie Bishop, was born on March 10, 1925, at Lelia Lake, in Donley County, Texas, the first of two children. Growing up during the Great Depression in a rural community near Electra in Wichita County, young Reid helped his father with livestock, oilfield operations, and sharecropping.
He was even a good cowboy, though he preferred drawing horses to riding them. During his last two years in high school, he made himself an art studio in an old chicken house at his parents' home. Reid quit school in 1943 to join the Navy for three years.
After duty in the Pacific theater, including a visit to Nagasaki a month after the atomic bombing, he returned to the Panhandle to speculate in the oilfields, raise livestock and crops, travel in Mexico, study art, and plan his career as a writer and artist.
On September 11, 1949, in Dallas, he married Madge Parmley, daughter of the doctor in Electra. After several business and artistic ventures in Dallas and Wichita Falls, Reid and his wife moved to Kerrville in 1952. A son was born in 1954.
After many difficult years, Reid, drawing on his regional past, launched himself as a cowboy cartoonist and in 1961, despite a diagnosis the day before that he had leukemia, bought a house and 250 acres, which he and his wife called the Draggin' S Ranch.
For the rest of his life, Reid resided on this ranch and worked from his studio there and his office in nearby Kerrville. From 1958, when he brought out his first Cowpokes book and calendar, sales and syndications grew steadily across Texas and the western United States until his death in 1991, long past the five years he was told he might live in 1952.
A friend of other Hill Country personalities like Frederick B. Gipson and John Russell (Hondo) Crouch, Reid became one of the clearest and most honest recorders and interpreters in twentieth-century Texas of a West that was no more. His captions and sketches plumbed the region's culture.
"All my kinfolks were horse breeders, ranchers, or bank robbers," he joked. "There was nothing middle class about us." Millions of devoted readers and fans identified with such timeless and seemingly simple humor.
Reid, described by one critic as a "Texas pen-and-ink Will Rogers," died on November 10, 1991, a victim of the cancer he may have contracted at Nagasaki.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: John R. Erickson, Ace Reid: Cowpoke (Perryton, Texas: Maverick, 1984). Kinky Friedman, "Good Humor Man," Texas Monthly, March 1994.
Glen E. Lich
LEWIS, WILLIAM JENKS
William Jenks Lewis, Panhandle rancher, the oldest of three children born to Charles J. and Hallie (Koogle) Lewis, was born on May 7, 1871, in Frederick, Maryland. His father, a Maryland merchant, became a partner in the Half Circle K Ranch, with his brother-in-law, Bill Koogle, in 1885.
Young Will was immediately taken with the Panhandle frontier environment and started working as a cowboy on the Half Circle K. His gentle Eastern mannerisms soon aroused the ire of the authoritative ranch foreman, Red Williams, who tried to break the "boss's kid" by giving him various undesirable tasks; but Will quickly proved adept as a cowhand and gained the admiration and respect of most of his peers.
Throughout his early years on the range, he seldom swore or carried a gun and preferred low-heeled shoes to boots, relying mainly on the tapadero, the leather guard over the front of the stirrup, to keep him from getting "hung up."
After summer droughts, bad investments, and the Big Die-up marked the decline of the Half Circle K venture in 1886, Charles Lewis refused to go into bankruptcy and stayed on in Clarendon to gradually pay off the debts his in-laws had accumulated.
When the town moved its site to the newly-completed Fort Worth and Denver City Railway in 1887, he opened a mercantile in the business district and also served as postmaster. In the meantime Will, in addition to helping out at the store, began working for the neighboring RO Ranch.
Alfred Rowe, its owner, had taken a liking to the boy and thus started him off as an "outside man" for the outfit. Over the next few years Lewis was elevated from apprentice to top hand and was eventually given the responsibility of shipping RO cattle to the firm of Clay, Robinson, and Company in Kansas City.
By the late 1890s Will Lewis was ready to go out on his own. With the backing of John Clay, president of the Kansas City firm, he began buying and selling cattle throughout Kansas, New Mexico, and the Panhandle, sometimes with partners and always on leased land.
In 1903-04 Lewis purchased the Bell Ranch cattle and leased its land in New Mexico until he could dispose of them. In 1910-11, when Edward F. Swift of the Swift packing firm was selling the Shoe Bar Ranch's land and herds, Lewis bought 43,000 acres of that ranch centered around its Ox-Bow Camp and maintained its famous brand.
About three years later, in partnership with John Molesworth and Theodore Pyle, he took a five-year lease on acreage owned by the Espuela Land and Cattle Company (Spur Ranch) in Dickens County. They also leased 10,000 acres of former Mill Iron Ranch from the Continental Land and Cattle Company on which to graze their Spur cattle and bought 12,000 head of Mill Iron cattle.
In 1917 Lewis made arrangements to purchase the remaining 72,000 acres of the RO Ranch from the Rowe family for $595,113.26, thus fulfilling a dream of his youth.
On September 19, 1912, Lewis married Willie Newbury (see LEWIS, WILLIE N.), daughter of Dallas merchant Henry L. Newbury. They had first met in the summer of 1911, when she was visiting in Clarendon with a schoolmate, Lila McClelland.
The couple's first home was at the Spur Ranch headquarters in Dickens County; later they built a town residence in Clarendon and also maintained a home on Swiss Avenue in Dallas. At times Lewis's conservative-Victorian attitudes and devotion to his ranching interests contrasted sharply with the preferences of his socialite wife, but they became the parents of a son, William Jr., and three daughters, Betty, Anne, and Joan. While Lewis maintained the old RO headquarters on Skillet Creek as his "home ranch," the family seldom stayed there.
Among cattlemen's circles, Lewis was widely reputed as a modest, mild-mannered businessman whose word was his bond and whose integrity enabled him to "finance almost any deal through the banks." Only once during the early 1930s did Lewis encounter serious financial difficulties when the bank with which he had carried his operating loan sold the notes to a Kansas City banker without his knowledge until a few weeks before the notes were due. However, John Huddleston, a Kansas rancher and banker, came to his rescue.
During World War II Lewis, who desired no public recognition, turned down an invitation from the federal government to represent the cattle industry in Washington. In 1942 he and a partner, Shorty Rorie, purchased 36,000 acres of former Mill Iron properties; within seven years Lewis bought out Rorie's share and established the Flying U Bar Ranch for his daughters.
His son, Will Jr., became owner of the Shoe Bar property and later was made an equal partner in his father's business interests. In all, Lewis had built up an empire consisting of 140,000 acres of land and over 10,000 head of high grade Hereford cattle, which he continually sought to improve with the young thoroughbred bulls that he purchased annually.
In 1945 the Lewises purchased a spacious home in the Highland Park area of Dallas, where they resided most of the time. Avid horse racing fans, they made annual summer vacations to southern California and joined the prestigious Del Mar Turf Club at the famed Santa Anita Race Track near Pasadena.
His health gradually failing, Lewis died on July 23, 1960, in the Gaston Hospital in Dallas. Following services at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Clarendon, where he was a charter member, he was buried in Clarendon's Citizen's Cemetery.
His widow subsequently took up permanent resident in Dallas and published several books, including Tapadero (1972), the story of her husband's early years in the Panhandle.
Will, Jr., and his wife, Vera Noland Lewis, continued to manage their Shoe Bar property and other family ranching interests. He was a director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and also of the Donley County State Bank.
He died suddenly at a Boston hospital after a bout with cancer on March 11, 1961, and was buried beside his father in Clarendon. Since that time, the Shoe Bar and part of the old RO Ranch have remained in possession of the Lewis estate.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Virginia Browder, Donley County: Land O' Promise (Wichita Falls, Texas: Nortex, 1975). William Curry Holden, The Espuela Land and Cattle Company: A Study of a Foreign-Owned Ranch in Texas (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1970). Willie Newbury Lewis, Tapadero: The Making of a Cowboy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972). Willie Newbury Lewis, Willie: A Girl from a Town Called Dallas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1984).
H. Allen Anderson
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