|PART 6. TEXAS|
|6.1 Nocona Texas, 1908
Will moved his family by then including seven living children, to a fine farm he bought near Nocona, Texas. Raymond Leslie was born there in June of the next year.
George was still unmarried. He had been Willís constant companion since boyhood and still lived with Willís family.
The Nocona farm was prosperous. It was a menagerie of horses, mules, cattle, goats, sheep, turkeys, chickens, geese, and every other kind of domesticated animal and bird known at the time. They used the geese to pluck grass from the crops and even rented them to neighbors for the same purpose. They kept a stallion and jack for breeding purposes and rented their services to neighbors. Will was a good farmer. He always had the best crop in the area, even in bad years.
|PART 7. OKLAHOMA|
|7.1 Hall Community, 1913
Will decided in 1913 that the family needed access to open range to raise cattle and hogs. All of the land around Nocona was developed and fenced. Will and George, after several days of fording streams with their wagon, drove through Fort Thompson and arrived at Hall School, about five miles southwest of Antlers. They found a farm for sale just across the road from the school. The land was producing 40-50 bushels of corn per acre and had lots of open rangeland to the west and northwest. The 160 acre farm was supporting three families at the time. There was one house where the present house is, another one about 1/8 mile south of that one and one on the northwest corner. The farm had good rail fences over most of it. Will decided to buy the farm. He evicted the tenant farmers and tore their houses down.
The family sold the farm and most of the livestock at Nocona and began the trip to Hall Community in two wagons and a hack. The family made the trip in nine days, contending with heavy rain most of the way. They crossed the Red River with the wagons and hack on a ferryboat near Ardmore. Ray L. and Jack rode in the wagons, which had waterproof beds for fording streams. The older boys rode horses and drove about 30 head of livestock. The livestock swam across the rivers and creeks, which were all at high levels because of the rain. They almost lost the hack at one crossing in Oklahoma. The family moved into the two-story house on the northwest corner, which was made of rough-cut lumber.
There was a small settlement at Hall. A one-room schoolhouse was just across the road from the farm. An additional room was later built on the schoolhouse. There were few fences on the land around the settlement and it was mostly covered with timber. Choctaw Indians, who had been given parcels of tribal land when Oklahoma became a State, owned most of the land.
The road in those days ran from Fort Thompson past the Hall School House, then northeastward past Hall Cemetery, around the Spears farm (in 1988, part of it could still be seen), then meandered through the woods to the Beaver Creek bridge, south of Antlers. The section lines and roads were not laid out until the early 1920ís. Will was a road boss during that time. The roads were built by volunteers who were not paid, but were required to work two days per year in order to vote Ė a form of poll tax, which was later ruled unconstitutional.
Will and Susan had their last child, Randall Weldon (Pete) at the new permanent home in Oklahoma in 1915. Will was 54 and Susan was 45.
In the spring of 1916, the family was briefly reunited with Sherman, Willís youngest brother who had been left in the care of Dr. Moffitt in Missouri. Sherman, by that time had married Maude Estella Shriver and had four children. His wife contracted tuberculosis, and their doctor said she must move out west to regain her health. They sold their belongings and took a train to Antlers for a visit on the way west. Will met the family with his wagon and took them to the farm. This was the first time Sherman had seen the family since they left Missouri in 1892. It was a joyful reunion. After two weeks, Sherman bought a wagon and team for the futile drive to Amarillo. The family returned to Missouri for Maude to die.
Will bought the Wade place, just to the south in 1925. He leased and fenced the two quarter sections to the west of the farms. Thus, an entire section was under his farming operation. As the children married, most lived in houses on the farm or adjoining leased land.
The family raised most of what they needed to live on at the Hall Community farm, and sold part of the harvest and some livestock for profit. They had every kind of animal and bird in captivity on the farm, just as they had at Nocona. The geese were a plentiful source of down for mattresses and pillows, and they were again handy for cleaning grass out of the crops. Ray L. and Clyde were responsible for breaking about ten horses and mules to work and ride every spring. They killed several hogs every winter to feed the family all year. They had beef when they needed it. The farm produced enough for all their needs. Will used his large workforce of sons effectively, giving each of his instructions for the day at breakfast before dawn.