NMGenWeb Logo, ActiveUSGenWeb Logo, ActiveAn official USGenWeb Project site Dedicated to
Free Information for Home Family Genealogy use only.

Homesteader Stories

Bonnie Jo Waggoner

Bonnie Jo Waggoner was born October 16, 1924, at Dimmitt, Texas in Castro County. She is the fourth child of John and Reina Mae Waggoner.

Bonnie married Olin Jessie Johnson on June 19, 1943, at Tahoka, Texas. Olin's parents were Jess Troman and Cora Lee Petty Johnson. Olin died November 21, 1983, at Lamesa, Texas. He is buried at Tahoka. To this marriage were born two daughters; Oleda Jo (born April 1, 1944) and Cora Jean (born January 26, 1946). Both girls were born at Tahoka.

Oleda married Edward Benton Merrick (born August 6, 1935) on January 25, 1970 at Lamesa. To this marriage were born two children; Cynthia Ann (born February 1, 1971, at Vernon, Texas) and Michael Edward (born April 1, 1974, at Rotan, Texas). Edward is the son of Jess Malign and Elizabeth Elaine dinkins Merrick. He was born at Stanton, Texas.

Cora Jean married Larry Morris Lonis ( born February 12, 1943, at ( ) on September 22, 1975, at Lubbock, Texas. Larry is the son of Henry C. and Morene Lonis.

Bonnie married again on January 30, 1985,in Lamesa to Johnny Newton Sanford (born August 23, 1915,at Tolar, Texas in Hood County). J. N. has two daughters, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

I remember living in Vernon on Lexington Street. My brother, J. L., Jr., and I were under the dining room table eating a raw sweet potato. My little sister, Mattie Faye, was born in another room at this time. I don't remember much about her for awhile.

One day a negro in overalls came to the house and I was the only one at the house, except Mattie Faye. When I answered the door, the negro asked for something to eat. I told her we just had some black-eyed peas and corn-bread. It is then that the negro started laughing. Seems like this "negro" was my half-sister playing a joke on me. When this happened I was about four or five years old.

We had an old man to come by with a horse-drawn ice cream wagon. The ice cream he sold had to be dipped by hand and every time he dipped up some ice cream he would lick the spoon. Our nickname for him was "old spoon licker".

I do remember getting to ride in our four door Model T Ford. Daddy took us for a ride and Mother was home doing work for someone.

Vaguely, I can remember playing with one of the twins, Oleta. She was so sweet. Because my birthday was in October, I was seven before I got to go to school at Sunny Side School near Dimmitt. The bus came by very early one morning and I had to go to school without combing my hair. We lived in the same two room house that the twins were born in at Dimmitt.

Sue was born when I was eight years old. Gladys and Nannie Lee and their families lived in some small houses near us. These may have been chicken houses. We kids were sent to Gladys's house and Sue was born that night. It was January 22, 1932.

Grandma and Grandpa Waggoner lived a mile or two south of us and we really enjoyed walking to see them. One day "Sis" (Lillie Belle) pulled a little red wagon with Sue and Mattie Faye.and I pushed. Not paying any attention to what was going on, we passed over or beside a rattlesnake. We were sure glad Jr. was walking along side of us.

One day at Pie Town, Jr. and I were walking to the mail box--which was about three miles. As it was cold, I had on my old black coat, but no shoes. Walking along, Jr. didn't say anything but he climbed up an old tree and hollered "Wolf!". I jumped up and reached for the nearest branch--wrapping my legs around the limb. But there was my coat—it was hanging down so the wolf could get it. I cried, "The wolf is going to get my coat." Jr. got tickled and fell out of the tree and couldn't get back up. He convinced me there was no wolf and I came down. He was always playing little tricks like this.

Jr., Mattie Faye and I would walk after the cows in the evening. It was always difficult to find the cows as there was a whole section of pasture land on which to look for them. One thing that did help was that one of the cows wore a bell. Lots of times when we were out we would get cedar bark, crumple it in brown paper and then smoke it like a cigarette.

Out where we lived was a good place to find arrowheads; and we found alot of them. Sometimes when we were in the woods, Sis's little dog Sport or one called Bulger would walk so close to us that we couldn't walk without tripping over him. This was usually a signal that some kind of wild animal was close. Once when Cleatus was robbing a pack rat's nest for pinion nuts. Sport kept staying right with him. Cleatus looked up just in time to see a big black wolf. Needless to say, he ran all the way home. Sport found his way through the brush fence and they both got home safe. Our entire 640 acres was fenced with brush and trees and limbs that Dad and the family cut while clearing the land. We just drug them to the property line; only the cattle guard was left open.

One day Sis's boyfriend and some other guys came by in a Model A Coupe. All of us little kids climbed all over the car while Sis was talking to her boyfriend. All the kids wore long-handle underwear and overalls. To finish out my outfit I had a little red tam that I wore all the time.

We were living in Dimmitt when Sis was riding a horse. She and the horse failed to make a jump together and Sis fell off on to a fence post. She had a bad rupture, but she didn't want to tell Dad. She just wore a truss until she started having bad headaches. Dad had to take her to have the hernia fixed.

We didn't go to the doctor very much, but t remember being real sick and the doctor giving me alot of castor oil. I got real weak and skinny. Once Mattie Faye got a piece of glass in her hand and she went to the doctor to get it out.

I guess "Skeets" and Jr. stayed out alot with Dad as I don't remember much about them except they pestered Sis alot.

Gladys's daughter, Elsie, and I used to fight alot. I can remember Elsie letting the air out of the car tires on our 1928 Ford Coupe (with a rumble seat) that we called "Blue Bird". Anyway, she blamed it on me. I can't remember how now, but I didn't get punished for it. Another time Mattie Faye and I hid in the rumble seatand closed the lid. While we were in there, John Molar and Dad drove the car to Uncle Norman's store.

When we lived at Pie Town, I can remember Mother sitting up a pinion pine tree with Sue in her lap putting a handle in the grubbing hoe with a hammer. Sue stuck her finger between them and she still has a split end on her fore finger.In the evenings, lots of times we would chase bats around and around the outside of the house.

One winter, Jr. and Cleatus got the "itch" (Scabies--a communicable disease caused the itch mite). They would put the red liniment on themselves and would run around the house a few times in the snow--wearing their long-handle underwear. This was to help cool off the liniment before going to bed. I remember, in the dug-out where the kids slept, I wanted to sleep with my brothers, Cleatus and Jr. They didn't want me to, but I did some times go to sleep across their feet. Lillie Belle, Mattie Faye, Sue and I slept in the same bed.

Sometimes Mattie and I would get to. go walking with Dad. When we came to the cattle guard, we would each hang on his arm and hold up our feet and let him carry us across.

On our homestead, Dad dug for water but never found any. So, we had to haul water from Pie Town in the summers. In the winters we used a sled in the snow to haul water. One day we saw Dad coming with a load of water in barrels. The barrels were covered with ducking material placed over the tops. Being in the winter, the water was being hauled on the sled. The team of horses pulling it had a run-a-way. Dad sure had some kind of a rough ride. The team didn't stop until they got home. Dad was glad he only lost some of the water and the barrels were still standing. Dad had alot of experience with horses and mules and he was good at using them. One thing he hated was a balking horse or mule. While in Greens Gap, New Mexico we lived near a saw mill at which Dad and Jr. worked. They were building the big log house and the horse Dad was working started balking. He tied that horse to the fence and hit him across the nose. His nose bled and Dad put some snuff on it. There was never anymore trouble out of that horse.

My Grandpa Waggoner tried to make me eat right handed. My food would usually all wind up on the floor.

I can remember Cletus had an accident and a tree fell on him. As I recall, it crushed some of his vertabrae.

Dad, Sis, Cletus and Jr. cleared a hundred acres of land at Pie Town for farm land. As it didn't rain very much out there, we only made one crop. We would come back to Texas and Oklahoma in the fall to pick cotton and to buy staples to take back to the homestead. Our mail box was about two miles from where we lived and to the main highway. Jr. and I walked to the mail box about two or three times a week—this is how often the mail ran.

I believe it was in 1933 when we moved back to Vernon—after we had been to Pie Town—because of Daddy and Mother's health. Anyway, I know Dad had prostrate surgery six times and had a kidney stone that passed and cut an artery. He had emergency surgery. Mother's health was failing and her heart got bad. The doctors then didn't know what they know now about treating her. Mother's 'health continued to keep her down, although we continued moving back and forth from Texas to Pie Town. Then on February 9, 1937, Mother died. She was buried in Wichita Falls beside her mother, daddy, brother and sister. At this time. Dad was still recovering from surgery. Lillie Belle (Sis) took us to Los Angeles, California with her. Dad came for us when he had his strength back. Sis already had Cletus with her and now she had Jr., Mattie Faye, Sue and myself.

In Vernon, we lived across from Parker School on Olive and Violet Street, Jr., Mattie Faye, Sue and I were home a lot alone. Jr. worked at the newspaper office at night and made $2.50 a week. We stayed home good, like we were suppose to, but as with all kids we were alittle mischievious. For some reason I wasy always getting my nose blooded. I don't remember doing anything wrong, but I remember a big girl threw a goard and hit me in the nose—which made it bleed. Then, on the school yard, several kids were together with the same girl and they hit me in the nose. Once again my nose started bleeding. Another time my nose started bleeding while Jr. was pushing me in our little red wagon. The kids saw us and really embarrassed Jr., and he said, "Now look what you did!". The kids were laughing at us. Jr. probably would have gotten them if there hadn't been so many or them. I do remember throwing a tin can at a boy we knew and cutting his face— I wasn't very proud of this. We grew up in one piece somehow.

I have fond memories of my growing up even if we had some rough times. We had a good home life. Daddy and Mother were good people and took good care of us. I always felt safe at home.

Going back to Pie Town, we slept with the doors open and there were no screens on the doors or windows. At times, small bears would come into the house hunting for food. Mother would be alarmed, but Daddy told her not to get up and to stay very still. Mother was always afraid the bear would go down in the half dugout where five or six of us kids slept.

After Mother died, Daddy would buy our clothes when we were in Pie Town. Once he bought me a pair of size 6 shoes and I wore a 7 or 7-1/2. They were too small, but I had to wear them for a year anyway. I still have problems with corns on my little toe.

When we moved to Tahoka, Daddy did most of the cooking. One meal that he fixed was chili, pork and beans and fried potatoes. He thickened everything with corn meal. This particular night, we had company—a girlfriend of mine. We were afraid she wouldn't like it, but I never saw anyone enjoy eating any more than she did.

I had friends over from time to time, but it was hard for me to spend the night with anyone. Early the next morning I would get up and get home before breakfast.

Downtown in Tahoka one day I was standing beside the drug store talking to a friend and I saw Jr. coming down the street in his old Plymouth car and he was really speeding. The windows were down and his hair was blowing in the wind. Then I noticed a police car chasing him. Talking to my friend I said, "I wonder what that policeman is doing chasing Jr?" I thought Jr. could do no wrong. I asked him later what had happened. He said the police told him to get that old smokey car out of town. What I didn't know was that Jr. gave the police quite a bit of trouble. Jr. told me when we were grown that he had spent several weekends in jail.

Back in Vernon, after Mother had died. Mattie Faye and I had to do the laundry on the rub board and with a bar of P & G soap. She was only 10 years old then. It took so long to do the laundry one day, that it was time for me to go start dinner and I told her to rub the clothes while I was gone. Well, when I came back out she was playing dolls. Oh, yes, the dinner I fixed—which was a first time—was mashed potatoes that I poured into a platter. We also took turns washing dishes. Sometimes Mattie Faye would hide some of the dirty dishes under the wood stove.

Not too long after we moved to Tahoka, I married Olin at the office of the Tahoka Courts Motel by Rev. Aurther E. Brown. He was the manager of the courts and the pastor of the Assembly of God Church. Olin's dad and a couple of friends attended our wedding on June 19, 1943, at 7:30 P.M. Olin was a private First Class in the Air Force and was stationed in Pampa, Texas. We only got to be together a couple of weeks at a time or until money ran out and I would catch a bus back to Tahoka. I stayed with his folks most of the time. Then Oleda was born. At this time, Olin made $32.00 a month, so I could only live in Pampa for awhile. Twenty-one months later, Cora Jean was born. We were then transferred to Enid, Oklahoma. In 1945 the war was over and Olin was transferred to Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas. He received his honorable discharge December 10, 1945 . Olin was born in Hillsboro County, Texas.

Olin came to Tahoka on January 1, 1946. We farmed the north side of his Dad's land. We had been on the farm 26 days when Cora Jean was born. It was a dry land farm and a drought in the early 50s made farming hard.

In 1955 we moved to O'Donnell, Texas and bought a house and completely remodeled it. We sold it in 1958 and bought 26-1/2 acres of land. We moved in an old house and completely remodeled this one, too. We lived here until 1963 and then sold our house and land and moved to Lamesa on May 20, 1963. June 19, 1968, we sold this home and took off with a 1963 Pontiac, a new 22 foot camping trailer, a wheel barrow and an ice cream freezer. We just traveled that summer. On our journey, we went to Oregon to see Sis and Oliver. Then in February of 1969, we bought some vacant lots--six in all—and put in a Mobile Home Park there in Lamesa.
We retired May 15, 1983.