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White Deer Land Museum

116 S. Cuyler

Pampa, TX 79065


Desks at museum are reminders of Hopkins community

Real Audio by Eloise Lane


In 1888 James Alvin Hopkins, Jr., in partnership with his sister and brother-in-law, Fannie and Henry Lovett, drove a herd of cattle from Parker County to the Panhandle. The trip was long and hazardous; they had to build fires around the herd at night to keep wild animals away from the cattle.

In 1892 James bought a ranch and farm west of future Lefors. He met Maggie Holman at a neighborhood gathering, and they were married on June 20, 1894 at, James' house.

In 1902 James was elected Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3 in the newly-formed Gray County. He moved his family to the plains in 1907 and built a two-story home. Since the children had no place to go to school, James and Moore Davidson, a neighbor to the north, decided to start a school and moved the Hopkins smokehouse between the two ranches. Hopkins Common School District # 18 began in 1909 with six pupils: Bessie, Willie and Lucille Hopkins, and Ethel, Ed and Claud Davidson.

James was killed by lightning in July, 1918. Maggie, with the help of her older sons, continued the farming and ranching. A week after her death in 1945, the Hopkins home was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

In 1904 Myrtle (Bird) Davidson with three children and her husband's brother, Moore Davidson, settled in two dugouts by a huge running spring of water in Section 64, Block B2. The spring, an early day landmark in Gray County, was used by early churches for baptismal services.

After oil was discovered in Gray County, some oil company officials who were trying to lease Myrtle's land, came to her house when she was having her usual evening meal of Post Toasties. She set out a bowl for each of them and put a box of cereal in the center of the table - probably not their usual dinner.

Myrtle, who married William (Jack) Jackson in 1938, was remembered for the many ways she used her oil income to help others in the community.

Moore Davidson was the owner of "Old Bob," the "unridable" black mustang that was successfully ridden by "Bones" Hooks, the famous black cowboy.

In 1908 Joe and Lizzie Bowers started buying land (now Bowers City) eight miles south of Pampa. They bought from the White Deer Land Company, a section at a time, as they could pay for it, at $3.75 to $5.00 an acre at 10% interest on the loan.

All of the ranchers had greyhounds, and their greatest sport was to get together and hunt coyotes. The ranchers had dances and parties which lasted all night. The participants rode horses or went in buggies or wagons to the dances. Inez (Worley) Carter taught John Bowers (father of Tommy) to dance.

In 1910 Earnest Vanderburg, age 18, purchased a train ticket to take him as far west as he could go. He wanted to reach Amarillo but had to leave the train at a little switch east of Alanreed. He went to William Jackson's ranch where he went to work for $15 per month plus room and board.

Earnest met Ethel Davidson the first Sunday he was at the Jackson ranch. Five years later they were married on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1915, at Lefors with Siler Faulkner performing the ceremony.

About two years later, Earnest bought from the White Deer Land Company a section of land 14 miles south of Pampa in the Hopkins community. Many descendants of Earnest and Ethel still live in the area.

In 1911 John and Mae Mackie moved "lock, stock and barrel" in a covered wagon from Collin County to an area near Lefors. Shortly afterward they bought a homestead 11 miles south of Pampa and engaged in farming and ranching.

People could not afford machinery to harvest so they hired threshing machine crews. Ray and Exie Beasley had such a crew, and Exie cooked for these crews in her "cook-shack," a horse-drawn wagon filled with necessary items for cooking a meal.

After wheat was cut and threshed, the grain was hauled in mule-drawn wagons, sometimes as many as ten, to the elevators at White Deer. There was a big hill to pull if they hauled to Pampa, and they would have to unhitch their wagons and use two teams to pull one wagon up the hill.

In the spring of 1911, William Elmer Melton, age 19, and his older brother, Henry, came by buggy from Matador to see Jim Hopkins. Not only did Elmer get his start in the cattle business, but also he met his future wife, Bessie Hopkins. Elmer and Bessie married in December 1915.

Elmer thought of going to New Mexico with Henry and came to Pampa to buy sheets and bows for making a covered wagon. Instead he bought a section of land 12 miles south of Pampa for $9.00 an acre and a load of posts for fencing. He bought a little house that had been used for a one-room school and lived in it several years.

Elmer, who died at age 98 on May 25, 1989, enjoyed playing dominoes at Senior Citizens Center. He could always be recognized by his jeans tucked into his boots and a plaid shirt with either a bandana or a bolo tie. Rufe Jordan has said that Elmer is the only man he ever knew who could look at a cow and tell what the price of alfalfa would be the next summer.

In 1912 Oll Crossman moved with his parents, Spence and Alice Crossman, from Texola to Lefors in the vicinity of Moody Farms. On November 14, 1915, he married Roberta (Bertie) Susan Mackie, daughter of John and Mae Mackie. At first they lived in a halfdugout on the old Bird place, and in 1919 they bought a farm 12 miles south of Pampa.

Because of an injury which prevented his farming, Oll leased the farm in 1924 and operated a service station and cafe at Lefors. The family returned to the farm in 1929 and operated a dairy in addition to the farming. They delivered milk, butter and cream to people who lived in Bowers City, sometimes called Phillips Camp.

The Crossman daughters Lois and Ollie Marie attended school at Hopkins #1, amd Donna (Mrs. Wayland Acker), who lives on the homestead where she grew up, attended Hopkins #2.

In 1923 Grady and Kate Enochs, with their children, Katherine and Ray, moved to a farm south of Hopkins School. Katherine Enochs Farris remembered an itinerant preacher, "Ole Brother Ingram." Arriving at the school before 4 p.m., he was dressed in conventional parson's black, very wrinkled and dusty. He made the most of his captive audience, threatening the pupils with "hell fire." Then he followed one of the pupils home to receive a good home-cooked meal as payment for his status.

Katherine wrote of early school days: "Some of the older, grown-up boys would come to school on horseback. Each boy had his own handsomely saddled mount, complete with coiled rope handy. They dressed in full cowboy regalia - chaps, boots and hat. Each carried his own roll-your-own sack of Bull Durham. Most teachers forbade smoking on the school grounds, and the fellows delighted in shocking or terrorizing the teachers. Their main targets were the spinsters who would attempt to expel them and send them home.

"Teachers were expected to go early to build fires in the large coal heater which was surrounded by an abestos lined jacket. Once a fire was started in the old building where we were supposedly playing. We broke windows and scooted out feet first. Of course no one would name the culprit."

In August, 1930 Moore Jones came to Pampa to find work and lived at first with Moore and Myrtle Davidson. At his new job with the Phillips Petroleum Company, he received the nickname,"Cowboy," because he arrived for work wearing a cowboy hat and boots.

By November he moved his wife, Leone, and children to a 12'x24 oilfield shack at the Hopkins No. 2, Phillips camp south of Pampa. Leone said, "It was a shack! But it was wonderful because we had running water and gas to cook with."

In 1926 the original Hopkins CSD #18 became Hopkins School #1, and Hopkins #2 was established at the Phillips camp (Bowers City). Hopkins #1 was eliminated as a school after the 1940-41 school year.  Beginning with the school year 1973-74, Hopkins #2 was consolidated with Grandview to form an independent school district. Sometime after 1979, desks from the Hopkins school were brought to the White Deer Land Museum in Pampa. The desks were placed upstairs in the schoolroom of the museum and serve as reminders of a school that was the center of an early day Gray County community.

(Stories of these families, in more detail, may be found in Gray County Heritage).

Note:  Hopkins Farm and Ranch, established by James Alvin Hopkins Jr.  in 1892, is one of thirteen area farms and ranches honored by the Texas Department of Agriculture during its 25th annual Family Life Heritage ceremony held in January 2000 at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Auditorium on the University of Texas Campus In Austin.  The Family Life Heritage Program honors families whose farms and ranches have been in continuous operation for 100 years or more.

The land in currently in two trusts overseen by Martha Hopkins Bowes and Virginia Hopkins Jones.  They are granddaughters of the founder.  The trusts are owned by the children of Bowes and Jones.