Yoakum County Memories


A Collection of Funny and Sweet Remembrances    from Yoakum County residents as told to the Yoakum County Historical Commission and published in the 2004 Yoakum County Calendar.


Kaye Murphey Chandler

  • "Voting Day was great. We would go in to town to vote and visit with friends and neighbors, and stay until late that night for the votes to be counted and see who won."

Evelyn Carr Curnutt

  • We were nine miles from Plains and two miles from the nearest neighbors, the Beans and the Clevelands. There were plains, a rather rugged canyon, and sandhills; there was red earth and shinery. There were wolves, coyotes, antelope, hundreds of prairie dogs, badgers, skunks, and even a remuda of wild horses. It was rattlesnake heaven. Every night at the supper table by the light of the Coleman lantern, all the men would report the number of rattlesnakes they had killed that day, and a total arrived at. Rain was a rarity, but the grass held out

Johnnie Fitzgerald (24 yr Yoakum Co Commissioner Pct 4)

  • During the closing days of one of my re-election campaigns, I was conversing with a pretty young lady at the PHS Concession stand about my experience and seeking to win her vote. She listened intently and then so seriously and truthfully said, “Yes, but Larry Murphree (my opponent) is so good looking”!  
    Campaign on hold - day ruined!

Johnnie Fitzgerald (in memory of Dillie in 1979)

  • Melba was discussing miracles in the Methodist Church SS Class. Johnnye Conner spoke of the miracle of healing and God saving the life of her son Russell. Dwayne Canada talked about the miracle of the seed and how it feeds the world. But, I said that one of the greatest miracles is the gift of Motherhood. Tell your Mom she is God’s greatest miracle. This is my first Mother’s Day without mine.

Ed Gayle

  • Before they got trucks to haul cattle, there was a cattle shipping place at Seagraves, and the cattle were driven from New Mexico to Seagraves. The cowboys would drive the cattle to the (Annie) Armstrong Ranch, and she would put them in pens and let the cowboys stay in the bunkhouse.

Commissioner Clyde "Arkie" Hartwick

  • When a new female extension agent came to town, Commissioner Clyde Hartwick or “Arkie” as he was known, would tell the “home demmer” “Everyone that has come to Yoakum County has either got married or got shot.”

Sit Jones

  • One commissioner came into the County Clerk’s office and said, ”Mrs. Jones, I am in trouble; would you help me? I owe a man money and I don’t know how to spell caliche or Clendenon.”

Teddie Knox

  • In 1971 we thought our son was lost. The neighbors and police looked for hours. He crawled out from behind his Grandma Gladys’ sofa after sleeping there for several hours

Don Lackey

  • George Washington Lackey and Mary Frances Lackey and their children…moved to section 503, where they were able to get water. The well was dug with a rotary drill powered by a mule walking in a circle. The well was 165 feet deep. Unknown to them, most of the five sections had water sufficient to provide irrigation in later years at a depth of 185 feet

Maidelle Mitchell

  • We would sit in our living room on Ave F and read the newspaper by the light of the flare (15th & Main ).
    When Wesley Alexander was in high school, he came to J.T. (Mitchell) to get pliers to de-fang a rattlesnake he had! You can imagine what J.T.’s reaction was!
    In 1959-60, Sue Ann and Dennis Harrison, Willie and Wayne Edwards, J.T. and I went to all the football games. They say I had on so many clothes when we sat in the ice in the playoffs that all they could see were my eyes!

Grace New

  • Wash day for the family was a big project in the early days of Denver City . When it was time to hang the clothes to dry on the line, two aspects had to be considered. Was the wind going to blow in a sandstorm or was some neighbor going to burn their trash in the oil barrel drum used for such purpose? Both events could keep your clothes from that fresh smell.
    Gussie Boulter, who moved from Wasson to Denver City when the town was started in 1939, opened a laundry across the street from the present day post office. She said there was another factor then when she spread the clothes on the line. Oil wells were being drilled in the town site and every time a gusher came forth, oil sprayed over the area and on her newly washed clothes. She would rush out to take the laundry off the line

Bill Overton (to Dairy Queen customers)

  • Yes, we have two water towers in Plains. One is for hot and one is for cold.

Dallas Powell (story retold by Dallas)

  • County Judge P.G. Stanford (who donated Stanford Park ) in Plains came driving up to the Red and White Station and ran over the gas pump. “That’s OK”, said Kit Morris “I knew you were coming and should have moved it!”

Wilma Luna Powell

  • When we went visiting my Aunt Ara at Bledsoe, Mother put heated rocks in blankets to keep our feet warm because it took several hours to go thirty or forty miles in a 1919 Chevy.
    Instead of iceboxes in the early days, we had a milk trough in the house with fresh water running through it as the windmill pumped. We had lots of fresh cream, butter, sweet milk, clabber and buttermilk to drink. The running water kept them cool on the hottest days.
    We kept weevils out of our corn meal and flour by putting 2 or 3 bay leaves in the air tight containers. It still works!
    When cowboys and cowgirls traveled and arrived at their destination, they would put hobbles on the horses’ front legs, close to their hooves. The horses could graze on grass, but could not run off and were easy to catch.
    Plains boasted of a “Beef Club”, consisting of Roy Fitzgerald, Fred Cox, Murphy Luna and Sam Dixon. On a rotating basis, each month of the summer period, one of the men would kill a steer, and the meat would be split among the families

Eva Hamilton Prichard

  • My father, Blackie Hamilton, would go clear the rattlesnakes out of the yard before he would let us kids go out and play
    We lived five miles west of what would become Denver City , but we lived in Gaines County . Thus, the Gaines County schools had to make two round trips a day to pick us up and take us home. Since the five of us were the only kids in Northwestern Gaines County , this was very expensive for them. They worked out an agreement between the counties. Gaines County gave Yoakum County a strip of land one-half mile wide along the boundary of the two counties so we could attend the Bledsoe School , six miles north of us in Yoakum County . They later tried, after oil was discovered, unsuccessfully to get this land back.
    During the depression, our mother raised a garden and canned all summer so we would have food to eat during the winter. She stored the jars of canned food under the bed. When we were called to Lea County , New Mexico , when my grandfather was dying that winter, a blizzard struck. When we got home, all the canned food had frozen. The jars had broken, and ruined vegetables were all over the floor.

Lydia Augusta Dupier Richey

  • We (the Jake Dupree family) moved to Yoakum County in April, 1939…. The road to Denver City was a blown out, sandy wagon road and was almost impossible to travel. So we did our shopping in either Seagraves or Brownfield. There was no school in Denver City , so the (Texas Pacific) camp children attended Sligo school, about a mile east of the camp.
    We had no electricity (in the Texas Pacific Camp), so we had to use kerosene lamps. The men finally rigged up a generator, but everyone had to burn all their lights at the same time, or it would become too hot—it even melted Lillie Gibson’s iron when it had a power surge.
    During World War II, tires and gasoline were rationed. Since we lived 12 miles from Denver City , the women would take turns driving to town once a week to get groceries. Women of the camps formed a club and sometimes we made quilts. Mrs. L.P. Bennett had the only room large enough to hang quilting frames, so we took a covered dish for lunch and spent all day quilting at the Bennett Ranch House. We also knitted sweaters for the Red Cross.

Virginia Price Sanders

  • My Granddad and I would walk 1/2 mile to highway 380 to get the mail. A car might pass going west. Most people carried white canvas water bags on the bumper of the cars. My Granddad would say, "Kid, those folks are probably going through the desert on the way to California" .
    My Dad ranched, but times were hard and at that time the Government sponsored a program for ranchers to get help building dirt tanks. The tanks had to be dug or made by certain specifications. My Dad inspected tanks. I remember going with him sometimes and one time we went to a Dugout where a family lived. I told my Mother when we got home that those people
    don't have to sweep or mop the floor! Mother didn't seem as impressed as I was!
    The old Baptist Church had very long pull cords on the lights. Ozella Hunt came to church and stood in front of us. When we sat down, this lady's hat (with lots of flowers) hung on the long cord and began to swing. I was reminded that laughing in church was rude.
    I was often late for school because Bill Harris Powell drove the bus and chased coyotes across the pasture when they crossed our paths...Of course he carried a gun. One time he put a frozen eagle in the pickup bus to warm up...It really flopped around as it thawed.

Ruth Davis Shoemaker

  • We cut paper dolls out of the Sears Catalog. Then, we had funerals for the old dolls when the new catalog came out and we were able to cut out new paper dolls.
    In 1918, it was so cold that the chickens’ feet froze off and cattle died. We would heat irons and put them in the beds to keep warm at night.

Myrl Slentz

  • During the period of time (early 50s) when many hours were spent at the (Denver City) airport, which still had dirt runways with no lights, I recall that when a plane came in for a landing after dark, it would buzz over town and those who knew there were no lights would drive to the airport and shine their headlights on the runway in order for the pilot to see how to land safely
    In 1980, the ( Denver City ) Chamber of Commerce sponsored ‘Oil Appreciation Day’. Huge oil field trucks and equipment paraded up Main Street and out to Yoakum County Park , where a gathering of approximately 5,000 were in attendance for the celebration. Texas Governor Bill Clements addressed the crowd. Also attending was Texas Secretary of Agriculture Regan Brown, and George W. Bush, who at that time lived in Midland and was campaigning on behalf of his father.

Wanda Smith

  • When we moved to Denver City in 1954, we could see the Plains Highway from our new house on Jaycee Ave.
    There were no yards planted when we moved to Denver City in 1954, and the sandstorms were terrible. We came back home after being gone for the weekend, and the locks were sanded down. Joe had to take the doorknob off before we could get into our house.

Mary Jo St. Romain

  • Our dolls were made of small ears of corn. They had beautiful wavy corn silk hair and often were served mud pies by the children.

Inetta Teaff

  • “A whistling woman and a crowing hen will always come to some bad end.” Opal Perkins used to tell me this when I was working in the beauty shop.

Sherm Tingle (as told to Lee)

  • When we gathered cow chips for fuel, we had to use a toe sack….and had to be careful not to get the fresh ones. People with more money used washtubs to gather them. 

Anna Beth Anderson Ward

  • Re: dating…”You don’t shop for t-bones at the dog food counter!” 

Jerry Warren

  • In 1958 we had a small tornado (in Plains). It moved the Neil Parks home off of its foundation, took some shingles from the Elementary School, tore up the Travis Bean Laundry and dissipated in Stanford Park

Connie Webb

  • I remember the first time we saw Sputnik. The announcement came over the black and white television that Russia had launched a satellite and told the times of the night to watch it pass overhead. My Mom and Dad, my sister and about twenty people gathered in our Denver City front yard gazing skyward.

Marian Webb

  • When we lived east of the light plant in the 50s, we would wet down sheets in the bathtub and hang them over the windows to help keep the sand out.” 
Submitted by Linda Grau Powell, Editor
Copyright © 2004
Yoakum County Historical Commission
This page was last updated on 05/27/2016