Descendants of Matt & Lillian Williams



With the passing of time, many of the descendants of Matt and Lillian Williams feel the need to pass on to others some of their feelings and thoughts of being a part of Yoakum County.

It was a cloudy, cold winter day when Booger Beal received his notice from the draft board. He was 1A. A few days later we all stood by the back gate as Papa drove him to Plains. Our thoughts that day….when will he come back home? Where is Pearl Harbor? War is spreading over the world…will it come here? As they drove off, Mother hurriedly walked back to the house “to get busy” she said. That was all she said that day. She scrubbed the kitchen, top to bottom. Anything to keep her mind off of what had taken place that morning.

We all remember Jim’s (Williams) death. He died much too young. Nita is so little…will she remember her father? Faye and Alfred Bearden raised her in a Christian home. Nita is now a grandmother and a lovely lady. Her father would be proud!

When we were growing up, Billy Queen was a goat herder. As we grew older, we were a little surprised to find out he was a hired hand and not a member of the family. He was with the family almost 20 years.

If we were sick, we never mentioned it around Papa. He thought an over-sized glass of warm water with a heaping tablespoon of Epsom Salt added would cure anything! All scratches and cuts had to be smeared with “Monkey Blood”. Oh yes, there was also Vick’s Salve and then the dreaded Castor Oil for other ailments.

Bobbie always wanted a bicycle. Papa wouldn’t hear to it. “You mean you want a bicycle with all those horses out there in the pasture?” What she wanted to say was, “I am scared to death of all those horses out there in the pasture!” She couldn’t say that since she always wanted his approval.

Occasionally he would ask Bobbie to ride out with him to check on a windmill or check the fence. She rode her horse a few paces behind him. She also remembers how he sat in his saddle. Matt sat straight and tall and the horse and rider always seemed to be as one. Bobbie sat on her horse with both hands on the saddle horn and bounced along hoping she wouldn’t fall off. Papa would halt, turn in his saddle and say, “Bobbie Jean, You doing O.K.?” “Yeah, I’m O.K.” She would try to muster up a little excitement in her voice. She liked being with Papa, but NOT on horseback!

The holidays were always special occasions in the family. One Christmas was just a little different. The week before Christmas, we spend a day in Brownfield and that evening we drove on to Lubbock to spend the night with Joe and Donald Shoemaker. What Lillian didn’t know was that when Matt was visiting all his friends in both towns, he invited all of them to Christmas Dinner.

On that Christmas Day the family had already gathered and was ready to eat. Much to Lillian’s surprise, all these cars began to drive up out by the back gate. Matt was out there greeting everybody. Lillian realized she needed to check the pantry for jars of canned green beans, corn, peaches, etc. She didn’t have time to look up and realize that all these people had brought their favorite casseroles and homemade bread. All the women gathered in the kitchen getting their food ready to put out on the table. Not all the women knew each other but soon got acquainted. That day we remember from Brownfield came Mr. And Mrs. Red Newton, the watch repairman from Nelson-Primm Drug Store and Mr. Collins who had a store in Denver City and his wife; also, Mr. And Mrs. Self, who worked there, and a car salesman from Red Tudor’s Motor Company. Then there was John and Babe Witt from Tahoka, Fred Spikes, who had a furniture store in Lubbock, Coke Fillingim and his wife from Petersburg. Later that night when the kitchen was cleaned and all the leftovers put away, Lillian said to Matt, “Why didn’t you tell me all those people were coming out?” Matt said, “Well, I just told some of my friends to come on out for Christmas dinner and I have to say I was a little surprised myself to see so many of them take me up on it!”

Wanda and Betty Shoemaker loved their vacations in Yoakum County. When we arrived, Mother would have an angel food cake baked and custard in the fridge. She used the egg whites for the angel food cake and the yokes for the custard. What a treat after our long trip!

We always remember our summer nights there. At night, we loved playing games in the yard. After supper the adults would bring out chairs from the house and more or less place them in a circle in the yard. The adults visited while the kids played. Charles’ favorite game was “kick the can”. WE all liked playing “hide and go seek”. The only light was the light from the moon. When it was bedtime, it was such a treat to sleep outside and listen to all the night sounds of the country. So often there would be the sound of a car off in the distance. It seemed to echo across those still, summer nights. We could always find the big dipper. It was fun counting the falling stars. The Milky Way was always such a mystery. The lull of the windmill helped us drop off to sleep. At the end of our vacations, we were never ready to leave for our home in California. Time and a few sandstorms have erased our footprints, but not our love for Yoakum County.

Nobody enjoyed the country life more than Roy and Gene Sharp. Gertrude Taylor was sick. She was Ruben’s sister. Ruben, Tad and the boys, Roy and Gene, came back to be with her. The boys stayed at the ranch while their parents stayed with Gertrude. We had just eaten breakfast our first morning there when Granddaddy said, “You boys take the jeep over to the field, load some bundles and feed those cows there in the cow lot.” At that time we were about 12 and 13. We ran out the back door eager to get behind the wheel of that old jeep. We had never driven before. Gene managed to start the jeep, find the right gear and we took off. We even managed to cross a cattle guard west of the house. There, we loaded some bundles and headed back to the house to feed the cattle. When we walked in the house, Granddaddy said, “You boys have any trouble? Always remember to be careful out there.” After that first day, we didn’t have to be told to get bundles. We drove down cow trails and dodged prairie dog holes. We also learned lessons the hard way since the old jeep had bad brakes! We explored the horse pasture; then we went over to pick up the feed. Soon we learned to get the bundles last or they might bounce out of the old jeep.

Roy and Gene Sharp did have one bad experience on that trip. We begged Jeff Beal to let us have some of his Red Mule Chewing Tobacco. Over the years we never asked again! To say we were sick was such an understatement! We thought we were at death’s door and Jeff began to tease. “You boys sure you don’t want another chew? Now, just let me know. I’ve got plenty right here in my shirt pocket!” At that point, all we could do was shake our heads ever so slightly.

The years have slipped by so quickly. The Yoakum County we knew growing up has changed. But not really, we only have to close our eyes and remember……

By Bobbie Rogers of Richardson, TX
This page was last updated on 05/27/2016