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Homesteader Stories

John Luther Waggoner, Jr.

I was born John Luther Waggoner, Jr. on March 12, 1921, at Bugscuffle, Texas. I am the second son of John Luther, Sr. and Reina Mae Andrews. On February 14, 1957, I married Marcine King in Electra, Texas. Marcine was born in the Rocky Point Community of Wichita Falls, Texas on October 4, 1929. To this marriage two sons and one daughter were born: John Thurman was born September 25, 1961, Orrilea was born February 19, 1966 and Travis Wayne was born August 30, 1967. All three children were born in Wichita Falls.

Thurman married Terri Elizabeth Johnson on August 16, 1980, at the South Side Church of Christ in Electra, Texas. Orrilea married Ronald Wayne Thomas at her home north of Electra. Ronald was born February 26, I960, in Kermit, Texas. His parents are Jack and Laverne Bowles Thomas.

I did alot of babysitting when I was little. Also, I carried wood and water and built fires in the house stove or under the wash pot outside. When the lamps needed filling, I filled them. Another chore was to carry out the ashes. And of course, I did whatever else was asked of me to do. Mother was so sick for so long that lots of times I helped wash clothes on the rub board. I spent alot of time in the kitchen, too, as I did most of the cooking and saw that the little girls went to school.

We traveled back and forth from New Mexico to Texas. In Pie Town, though, I was afraid to go outside at night into the heavy woods as panthers were very numerous. What would be so scarry was the big owl screeching overhead at night.

Mother was so friendly and jolly and was always ready to go or stay. Faye and Cliff married in 1925 and moved from Vernon to Dimmitt. They moved into the house with Mom and Dad. Mom had not learned to drive, so, when she and Faye went places to visit, Faye would crank the old "Model T Car". After it was started. Mom would drive. She would take the three smallest kids when they wanted to go along. Bonnie was just a baby and barely crawling. One afternoon they went to visit the Jollys--who had a farm about four or five miles away. While there, Mrs. Jolly fixed tea cookies and lemonade. Everyone was having a good visit when they heard Mr. Jolly yelling very loud. Everyone rushed outside to see what was wrong. What they saw upon the windmill tower was Cletus and I. We were almost to the top where the wheel with long blades was going around very fast. Everyone was so scared. Up there we could not hear them yelling at us. the wind was blowing so hard—as is common on the high plains and the windmill was also very noisy. Mom handed Bonnie to Faye and up that ladder she went after us. Her skirts were very long and full and the wind was whipping them. This made it difficult for her to climb, but she still climbed with speed and caught us just before we reached the top. Then she helped us down. Mr. Jolly asked Mom if she planned to really whop us, but she said, "No, I think they have been punished enough."

Mom really loved babies alot and she was a devoted mother. These visits with the neighbors were fun as they always had something that we didn't have.

I had alot of nightmares and would cry. After a hard day's work. Dad didn't feel much like listening to me crying in the middle of the night. I got my fanny tanned sometimes for this.

Dad, Bud and John were having a fight when Charlie Rowland drove up and stopped it. The fight was caused about a misunderstanding over who owned the truck.

We built a log house large enough for four families. It had a sixty foot long gabled roof which made the upper story. It had double windows only on the back and front with a lean-to type porch. There was no porch at the back. The roof was covered with tin. The kitchen had an eight-burner wood stove with a water resouvior. Beside the big oven was the fire box. A shed room was beside the house and there was a bunkhouse for the saw mill help. The main house had 13 rooms. We lived there from 1937 to 1939.

We lived in Zunnie Indian territory. An old Zunnie that worked at the sawmill asked me to help him get an old car started. I direct wired the car and the old Indian drove off. The sheriff came and got the Indian because the car wasn't his, but he was stealing it. I was sure scared the sheriff was going to get me.

One Indian, that was a friend of ours, was named Antenito Armiehijo. Once he drove a cow and a calf up to our house to trade for a horse. He did this because he knew we needed milk. He rode the old bronc back home. A ranch is named after him at Adams Diggins.

Cletus and I shared a very pretty horse named Shorty. Shorty was very fiesty and loved to run. He would jump cattle guards, fences and ditches. He was also good at traveling in the cotton field or wherever. We were so proud of him.

To help get some of the things we needed, Cletus and I would hunt rabbits and sell them in Quamada, New Mexico where we would trade for bullets, staples such as salt, pepper, etc. and some candy. At Pipe Springs we had a big corral for Bud's stock that he used at the sawmills and for riding stock. There was a pond where Pipe Springs ran into the north tank. It was here that we would get drinking water, before it got to the stock tank. Before going to school at noon, we had to round up the stock. Sometimes we would run to school in a deep dry arroyo. One time I was barefooted and ran around a bend and ran into two lobo wolves. I ran up the side of a bank and on to school. After school a friend and T went back and killed them. Those two hides brought $7.00. Another time I caught a huge bobcat in a trap. I tanned the hide myself and swapped it off in Tahoka. In a bear trap that I had once, a bear that I caught would set one foot on the trap and pull the other one out. Once I did catch a bear in my trap. I found him while out horseback riding. The horse got scared and I fell off. Being free, the Bear started after me, but he could not [run] down the hill very fast. Dad had started to help me, but the bear stopped and ran away. I had really made him mad by shooting him with a .22 rifle.

Dad and I were out in the woods one day, when lightening or something started a brush fire. There was no water for milesaround. Dad got excited and said "Wet on it Shorty! Wet on it". I told Dad I had just wet alittle while ago and couldn't right now. Dad said, "You had better make some water quick or I'll give you a whipping". I don't know where it came from, but I wet on it and we put out the fire.

We traded our homestead for 16 acres of land in Tahoka, Texas. I lived in Tahoka until I volunteered for the army' in 1944. My basic training was in Ft. Knox, Kentucky and was sent on to Germany. In Bastrop, Germany the United States was liberating a town. Once we got there, I needed to go to the bathroom and I stopped at an old store. The only place I could find to go was a showcase that had some manicans in it. I went inside and preceded to removed my pants. Before I could get it taken care of, I fell through a trap door. I managed to catch myself with my elbows and not fall all the way down. Unknowing to me, there were German soldiers and civilians down there. My helmet and gun fell through but my buddy got them for me. The Germans started laughing and when I held my gun on them to take them prisoner they were still laughing. I thought I was saying "I'm going to shoot you if you don't come with me". However, in German, the word shoot and another word sound nearly the same. One German soldier was laughing so hard that he had to sit down—even if he was going to be shot.

I received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star, but I threw them away so I could come home. In Cologne, Germany I was hit by some fragmented heavy artillary shell. I really didn't know it until I felt something sloshing in my boot. My leg was badly wounded.

After the war was over I returned to Electra, Texas where I lived with Clifton and Faye Waggoner.

My wife, Marcene, and I have three children; two boys and one girl. The boys work with me in the oil business. I took them out in the oil field where I worked when they were still in diapers. By the time they began to talk, their first words were the oil field language. I am ready to retire and turn my oil field business over to the boys. My daughter is married and lives in Electra.

Marcene and I live in a large seven room brick house that we bought and remodeled. I have helped my oldest son drill an oil well and to learn the costs and benefits of the oil business. My favorite pastimes are hunting and fishing. I also farm a little of my land near our house and raise a calf or two for eating purposes. I am looking forward to retirement so I can enjoy my later years.

John Thurman and Terri are the parents of John Michael Waggoner—born on June 27, 1986, in Witchita Falls.

From Top Left:
1 - 6) The old homestead in Pie Town, New Mexico - forty years later
7) Pie Town, New Mexico. One room school house including all twelve grades.
Pictured: Lillie Belle, Jr., Bonnie Faye and others unknown at this time
8) This lady was a Nazarene Circuit riding preacher named Iona Hutton. Bud Molar furnished land for a church and J.L. Waggoner and the community built it
9) Lillie Belle and Cletus Waggoner