W. B. AND CLARA WETSEL
At the time of his
death in 1982, W. B. (Dub) Wetsel (born 1899) was the
oldest native-born resident of Sweetwater.
“Dub” spent most of his early life in
the saddle on the Barron Ranch in Fisher County and
developed a lifelong love for ranching and rodeos.
He wore only shop-made boots for 67
years and was one of the first participants in the
Stamford Cowboy contests.
The ranch world in which W. B. grew
up was in many ways that of the 19th
Toward the end of his life, when
asked to name the biggest change he had seen in a
lifetime, he replied without hesitation:
At the Hodges ranch
on Christmas Day in 1919, W. B. married Clara Hodges
(born 1901), daughter of George Palmer (1879-1939) and
Lula Cranston Hodges (1881-1905).
Mr. Hodges had left Cotton Valley,
Louisiana, in 1888 with his father, Alex, settled in
Jones County and bought land in Fisher County in the
Clara’s mother, Lula, was the
daughter of Jones County rancher, William David
Cranston, who emigrated as a boy of eight to
Pennsylvania from Scotland.
He brought the first registered
Hereford cattle to West Texas from Missouri.
The herd was purchased by the Largent
Ranch at the time of his death in 1907.
His daughter, Lula,
had died in 1906, leaving two children:
Clara and Cranston (1903-1940).
In 1908, Palmer Hodges married Rachel
Their three daughters, Rachel, Hazel
and M. E., grew up with Clara on the Hodges Ranch.
Mr. Hodges, long remembered for
sharing his automobile, the first in the area, with
neighbors in need, installed telephone lines from his
ranch to Roby, Rotan and Sweetwater.
He organized an annual rabbit drive,
furnishing bar-b-que and ammunition to hunters from
Sweetwater and Fisher County.
Clara graduated from
Capitola Rural High School; her sisters, Rachel (Risinger)
(1911-1981), Hazel Baugh (born 1913) and M. E. (Fomby)
(born 1916), were graduates of Sweetwater High School.
marriage, W. B. and Clara Wetsel lived in Fisher County
until 1925 when they moved to the Hodges-Henshaw (now
Brooks) Ranch south of Sweetwater.
In 1928, they moved to Sweetwater so
that son Buck (born 1922) could start school.
In 1936, they bought the Judge Hamner
house at 509 East Third Street.
W. B. continued ranching and Clara
opened a beauty shop.
She soon became involved in the
campaign to initiate state licensing of the hairdressing
profession and served as an officer of the Texas
During the over fifty years of
operating Wetsel’s Beauty Shop, she has been active in
the Methodist Church and the Business and Professional
During World War
II, Clara was chairman of the U. S. O. Girls and opened
her home to servicemen from nearby bases who listened
with attention to W. B.’s tall tales of early-day Texas.
In 1981, Clara was named Sweetwater’s
Outstanding Citizen in recognition of her religious,
business and professional service to the community.
W. B. (Buck) WETSEL
W. B. Wetsel, Jr.
(“Buck”), the son of W. B. and Clara Wetsel, was born in
1922 in Fisher County.
He graduated from Sweetwater High School in
1939 and from Southern Methodist University in 1943.
While serving in the U. S. Navy during World
War II, he married Elizabeth Heriot Evans (1925-1975),
who was working with Army Intelligence in Washington, D.
The couple returned to live in Sweetwater in
“Buck” ranched in Fisher County with his
father, was named Outstanding Young Man of the Year in
1953 and worked in personnel relations for the Flintkote
Company until his retirement in 1982 after 24 years of
He retired from the U. S. Navy after 27 years
active and reserve service.
Elizabeth (Libby) Wetsel, a graduate of the
University of South Carolina, worked as a journalist
(Women’s Page Editor, Sweetwater Reporter) and hosted a
daily radio program (“Ad Libs with Libby”) on local
Three sons, William
David (born 1949), Roderick Evans (born 1953) and James
Torrey (born 1957), graduated from Sweetwater High
School and the University of Texas in August.
While attending the University of
Texas, David and Rod were elected to Phi Beta Kappa and
received Bachelor’s Degrees in Liberal Arts in 1971 and
Torrey was also an honor student and
received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Petroleum
Engineering in 1980.
David received the
Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1978 and teaches
French literature at the University of Texas at Austin.
Rod, a graduate of
the Law School of the University of Texas, practices law
in Sweetwater with the firm of Nunn, Griggs & Wetsel.
In 1972, he married Kathy Jane Gause.
A son, Roderick Evans Wetsel II, was
born in 1974.
They divorced in 1975 and the son
lives with his mother, Kathy Gause Morrell in
Torrey, who works as a
petroleum engineer for Tennaco Oil Company in Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma, married Jim Lunday in 1983.
W. D. WETSEL
The first of five
generations of Wetsels arrived in the county in 1878
with the building of the Texas and Pacific Railroad.
Mathilda Wetsel Beula, whose first husband,
David Wetsel (born 1830, Richland County, Ohio), had
arrived in Texas in 1868, made her way to the new
settlement of Sweetwater in 1878 with her three sons,
William David Wetsel, Ross Wetsel and Artie Beula.
She set up tents to lodge railroad workers and
later built Sweetwater’s first hotel (the Palace) near
the corner of Pecan and Broadway.
Her lodgers included many of the first
settlers in the county:
Lang Aycock, R. C. Crane, Tuck Focht, Ben
Mrs. Beula’s sons Artie Beula worked on the
railroad and Ross Wetsel built houses for arriving
Will (born in 1860, Collin County) drove
cattle and horses west to the Pecos country before
finally settling in Sweetwater.
Mrs. Beula and her three sons are all buried
in Sweetwater Cemetery.
In 1887, William
David (Will) married Miss Charlie Barron (born 1872,
Hamilton County), daughter of early day rancher Sol
Barron and Fannie Cole, orphan sister of the notorious
Mr. Barron moved his family to Sweetwater in
His daughter, Charlie, attended the first
public school (the old East Ward), subsequently attended
by three generations of Wetsel descendants.
W. B. (Will) Wetsel was one of a group of
cowboys who rode out to meet the first train to reach
Sweetwater, an event remembered in local lore because a
cowboy by the name of Fitzgerald managed to rope the
smokestack of the approaching train.
The home of W. D. and Charlie Wetsel was built
by his brother, Ross, at the corner of Oak and Fourth
The house was later sold to Lang Aycock, who
had lived at Grandmother Wetsel Beula’s hotel with his
young bride, Annie.
The W. D. Wetsels
raised ten children – Pearl, Fannie, Willie Gertrude,
Nadine, W. B., Joe, Lesa, Lois and Charles – and
celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in
1937 at their ranch home in Fisher County.
All ten children survived their parents’
deaths (1949 and 1950), an unusual family record for the