Hidden Treasures of Swisher Co Museum

Hidden Treasurers of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

 

It was just after midnight December 25, 1960. Officer Robert Henry “Bob“ Potter was making his last rounds, before his shift was over as a Policeman for the Tulia Police Department. Officer Potter was not supposed to be at work that night, but a couple of fellow officers wanted to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, so Officer Potter was working their shift.

Officer Potter was out on Hillcrest Road in the SW part of Tulia. At approximately 1:30 a.m. when he noticed a car parked behind Wayne’s Hillcrest Restaurant. He peeked through the window and saw 3 individuals in the process of robbing the place. Officer Potter then went back to his patrol car and called over the radio for backup. He told the night dispatcher Floyd Hatcher “I’ve got three burglars cornered at Wayne’s. Send me help soon as you can!”

What happened in the next few minutes is based on evidence and theory. Officers believe that Potter knocked a hole in a window and fired two shots over the robbers heads and yelled out ordering them to surrender.

One of the men exited the back door and shot Officer Potter at close range twice. The two other assailants vacated the scene of the crime, on foot and stole a car from migrant workers from a nearby labor camp. The gunman left in a Plymouth headed back into Town, to find his co-horts. Where he met Sheriff Darrell Smith who took note of the car he had just met as a Plymouth in his description as he was speeding to the location of the shooting. By the time law enforcement officers arrived at Wayne’s Restaurant, Robert Henry “Bob” Potter was dead from gunshot wounds.

An all points bulletin was sent out to the surrounding area to set up roadblocks for the murders. A Deputy Sheriff in Happy saw the Plymouth pass through Happy so he radioed ahead to Canyon. Sheriff L.S. Johnson rushed south of Canyon to set up a roadblock. The car turned west off U.S. Hwy 87 and headed toward Buffalo Lake. Soon Sheriff Johnson and Deputy Tinsley stopped and cornered the trio down a dirt road.

Sheriff Johnson yelled toward the car to “throw those guns out or I’ll blow your heads off!” “If ya’ll want to fight that was alright with me.” Johnson said “I almost started shooting, I’m not wasting anymore time.” But, in about a minutes time, the trio got out of the car with their hands up.

The three were brought back to Tulia, where they were questioned by authorities. Each admitted to their part in the crime. All three had been in and out of jail and prison and each were escapees from a jail in Anderson, Indiana. They had been on a crime spree that took them through a dozen states, where they had stolen half a dozen cars. In fact, earlier that evening the three were involved several burglaries in Lubbock and Plainview.

A change of venue was granted to Lubbock where the three were tried one at a time and all were found guilty and sentenced to Life Imprisonment. Their names were Groover of Elwood City, Ind., Carlson from Johnston, Pa., and Winnett, the gunman from Sparta, Tenn.

Officer Robert H. Potter was a native of Tulia Texas. Served in the Army in WWII was stationed in the South Pacific. Was a Deputy Sheriff for Swisher County for 4 years and Asst. Chief of Police for the City of Tulia his last 8 months. He was survived by his wife Marzelle, one daughter Sue Potter Tanner, two sons Bruce Potter and Danny J. Potter.

Officer Robert H. Potter was awarded the National Police Officers Association highest award  the Medal of Merit which reads “In recognition of outstanding heroism, valor and meritorious service above and beyond the call of duty on December 25,1960, while investigating a burglary in progress, this officer was shot and killed by three prison escapees. Posthumously awarded on behalf of the American people and his name placed in the Police Hall of Fame in Port Charlotte Florida.”

It sad enough to lose a loved one at anytime, but its I would say it’s magnified when you lose a loved one during a holiday like Christmas. I can’t even imagine finding out that your Father wasn’t coming home for Christmas. Randy and I were in school with Danny Potter and I got to know him a lot better a W.T. we were in the same social fraternity there. I don’t know now you could a better person that Danny was. The type of person you would always look up to. I’m sure that his father Bob Potter would have been proud to have him as his son.

With the Holiday season approaching, take time and cherish the time you have with loved ones this Christmas Holiday. And Thank those who most of the time go un-thanked, but stand watch and protect us day and night like our local First Responders, and Military.

Come by and visit Swisher County Museum we would love to show you our Robert H. “Bob” Potter exhibit. We hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Swisher County Archives and Museum. Swisher County “Home of the Richest Land and the Finest People”.

 

 

Hidden Treasures of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

I was skimming the Swisher County History Book written by Grace Evans in 1968. As I was reading a story caught my attention. This particular story was written by Inez Christian Doshier, in 1938. It was about two JA Cowboys that were from the Tule Division, which was headquartered on Tule Creek about 10-11 miles East of Tulia.

In the Fall of 1893, it was Fall Roundup time. Time to gather all the Cows and calves, and brand new calves and wean the older calves to ready them for market. The roundup was taking place close to today what is called Burnham Hill which just happens to be the highest point in Swisher County in the Northeastern part of the County.

It had been stormy with a lot of cold rain. Bob Bishop was boss of the Tule Division. Mitch Bell was wagon boss and Dick Walsh was overall general manager of the JA, all had pitched in to help the Tule in the roundup.

Warner Reed and Bob Christian were Tule Cowboys, they were holding the cuts as the cattle were being sorted. Anyone who has ever been close to a lightning strike knows that when the flash and the clap of thunder is at the same time, your pretty dadgum close, and the misfortune of these two cowboys was just that.

Other cowboys said that lightning filled the sky and most all felt tingling over their bodies, and their hair stood on end. As they looked around after the jolt they saw a horse and two cowboys on the ground. Warner Reed was dead and not long after Bob Christian was too. In the flash of an eye two young cowboys were no more.

The two men were taken back to the Tule Headquarters, Walsh went into Tulia to buy some new clothes to bury them in, along with a couple of pine boxes.

Fred Scott and Willis Fisher dressed and cleaned up the bodies. Warner Reed’s family lived in Silverton, but Bob Christian’s family lived down state near Jacksboro. But Bob did have a couple brothers that worked across the canyon north in Armstrong County for the same outfit the JA. Their names were Jim and Will Christian they were contacted along with the Reed’s in Silverton. With wet conditions it would take close to 3 days to take the bodies to Amarillo for embalming. So it was decided to bury the boys together in Silverton without embalming them.

After the funeral Jim Christian rode the train home to tell their kin about what happened to his brother Bob. Bob’s body is still buried next to his friend Warner Reed. It’s said that the people of Silverton at one time paid a special tribute to these two on Memorial Day, by some of the older pioneers of Silverton.

Mrs. Cornelia Adair owner of the JA Ranch, paid for both of these JA Cowboys funeral expenses and erected a double stone at their burial plot there in Silverton.

So next time your outside in a thunderstorm, remember what happened to these two hard working JA cowboys, they were struck down (literally) in the prime of their lives.

Come by Swisher County Museum and we can visit about the great pioneers that helped make Swisher County one of the best places in the great state of Texas.

Hidden Treasurers of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

While were still in the Holiday Spirit, I remember a story my Grandmother Mrs. Frank (Fern) Cobb told me several years back now, but I can remember the story like it was just yesterday, as she was telling it to me.

The story was about some people out in the Vigo Park area where my Grandmother and Grandad lived.

There was a bunch of brothers that lived out around Vigo, and their last name was Norris. They sometimes were a mean bunch but most of the time they were just ornery, and just wanted a laugh or two so they were known for playing tricks on most people.

It was just a few days before Christmas and there was always a community Christmas Party at the School House. Well the Norris Brothers let it be known that the Christmas Party this year was going to be busted up by the brothers. I can’t remember who went into Tulia and reported to the Sheriff what the Norris Brothers planned to do on Christmas.

Well the next day the Sheriff went out to Vigo Park and found some of the Norris Brothers and he Deputized the meanest one of the bunch, and came back into Town.

As the story goes the Christmas Party went off without a hitch. I guess the Norris Brothers didn’t believe in breakin the law with their brother being the new Deputy Sheriff. I’ve always got a kick out of that story.

Come by Swisher County Museum we would love for you to come by and visit. Swisher County “Home of the Richest Land and the Finest People.”

Hidden Treasurers of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

It’s been said that Matthew “Bones” Hooks was the greatest black cowboy that their ever was. He was born in Robertson County near Hearne Texas in 1867. He was the son of former slaves.

At a young age he started riding a horse and working with cattle. He became very good at it. He worked for a man named Steve Donald until he was nearly grown at 16 yrs. old when he ran away from home to join a herd being trailed over to the Pecos River.

Soon Bones became about as good horseback as anyone had ever seen. He led many cattle drives north to the railhead in Kansas.

Bones once said that there is a town called Clarendon Texas where the people are so good and honest that the jail there has fallen down because there was no need to use it. And the saloon owners were so nice they could have been Sunday School Teachers. Bones rarely said anything bad about anyone.

Bones worked on many Ranches thru the years but he was devoted to one man named Tom Clayton. He told Bone’s that a man’s color didn’t make any difference to him. They became true partners. What one was lacking in the other made up for it. Bones said that he was one of his best friends.

After 25 years of being a cowboy out on the prairie, Bones in 1900 started to work for the Amarillo Hotel as a Porter. He then worked for the railroad as a Porter for the Santa Fe Railroad in about 1910.

One day Bones overheard a couple of men on the train talking about a horse that Mart Davidson, of Pampa Texas owned that hadn’t ever been ridden. Bones interrupted the conversation and said “I can ride that horse!” the men looked at him and said they doubted he could. Bones said “If you’ll have that horse at the corrals of the Pampa Depot on next Thursday, I’ll step off the train and ride him right quick.” The men grinned and said they would put up $25 if he could ride the horse. Bones nodded in agreement.

A few days later as the train was pulling into Pampa, a rumor was traveling through the train that somebody was going to try to ride a wild unridden horse at the next stop. As the train stopped quite a crowd gathered to see if this black porter off the train could really ride this ornery horse.

Bones removed his porter’s uniform and donned his cowboy clothes and of course boots and hat. As they say Bone’s rode that horse until he quit bucking, almost to a complete standstill. The crowd agreed that it was one of the greatest rides anyone had ever seen. Bones simply collected the $25 and thanked Mr. Davidson for the opportunity and hopped on the train and donned his porter attire and went about his job.

Bones was 43 years old when he rode that mean old bronc. World Champion saddle bronc rider Booger Red said “Bones could ride anything bareback that it would take me a saddle to ride.”

Bones would send a single white carnation when a panhandle pioneer would pass away, he was so grateful for many of the original pioneers fortitude of taming the Texas Panhandle.

He worked to try and make all people equal. He thought that he had as many white friends as he did black ones. A prominent white man in Amarillo, John Trolinger  placed a single white carnation on Bone’s Casket during his Funeral as a symbol of their friendship.

There is a park in Amarillo west of Thompson Park in a black neighborhood that carries Bones name. It’s called Bones Hooks Park.

Bones had a few quotes, he said that “The Negro is the only race that did not bring his own religion with them.” “I’ll will not judge a fellow until I know what I’m talking about.” and “The only thing wrong with the Texas Panhandle, is the cowman perfected his calf before he perfected his own son.”

Bones Hooks, The Man, The Cowboy, The Legend of his time.

Come by Swisher County Museum we would love to visit with you. Swisher County “Home of the Richest Land and the Finest people.”

 

Hidden Treasurers of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

Here it is the middle of November and everyone is starting to think about what they will be doing for Thanksgiving. That started me wondering, about who may have had the first Thanksgiving Feast in the United States, and Texas.

Everyone thinks of the pilgrims and the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1621, of being the first Thanksgiving. Or the possibility of Thanksgiving being celebrated in Virginia in 1619. But I wonder if there were others even earlier.

First to come to mind would of course be the Native American Indians that traveled all over our state before any European Explorers ever did. They may have had a harvest feast of some kind at one time or another, but knowone knows. As the Historians say, it was undocumented.

The Spanish Explorer Don Juan de Onate supposedly held a Thanksgiving Feast in 1598 near present day El Paso,Texas. In San Elizario. Although the date was not in November, but on  April 30thof 1598. Onate had just traveled across the Chihuahua desert for several months where they ran out of water the last few days, until they arrived on the Rio Grande near El Paso. So they had a good reason for a celebration of Thanksgiving.

History fails to mention much about the Thanksgiving Feast and Mass by Spanish Explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles and the Timucua Indians in St. Augustine Florida on Sept. 8, 1565. But many speculated that they ate salted pork, garbanzo beans and biscuits. A mural in St. Augustine’s Cathedral Basilica, one of  the oldest church congregations (parish) in the U.S. depicts such a feast.

By the time Jamestown and Plymouth were established many towns and villages were already established by Spanish Explorers in the Southwestern U.S. and Florida. One that comes to mind was Santa Fe, established in 1610, or earlier.

The Texas Society of Daughters of the American Colonists supposedly placed a marker just outside Canyon, Tx., Claiming that Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and Friar Juan Padilla in May of 1541 had a Mass and Thanksgiving observance. But has been debunked later when it was said the celebrants gathered grapes and pecans for the Thanksgiving Feast. Most people figured out that grapes and pecans were not native to Palo Duro Canyon. It is thought that it was most likely further south, maybe Blanco Canyon near Crosbyton, Tx.

Today on Thanksgiving, a lot of the Holiday Traditions have been changed and or lost. Today instead of the Thanking the Lord for this day and for bringing family together for the traditional family feast, a lot of families plan around Football games and early Black Friday shopping sprees. But things are forever changing!

So remember during your Thanksgiving Meal, or Halftime, or between stores sales, when someone mentions the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts, Say not so fast, It may have been closer than you think!

Come by Swisher County Museum we would love to see you. Swisher County “Home of the Richest Land and the Finest People”!

Hidden Treasures of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

Here it is nearly the middle of January that means it’s almost time for the Livestock Shows to start. That brings back memories of showing pigs and calves. They were particular fond memories and stories.

Back in the early 1970’s there were a lot more animals shown than there are today. I remember the County Steer Show had over 100 entries back then. The initial cost for animals back then is a mere fraction of what animals cost today.

One thing that was different back in the 1970’s was the size of the FFA chapters that we had back then. I know that FFA had over 100 members back in those days. So there were a lot more animal projects back then. When I say back then, It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but it’s getting close to 50 years ago.

I was so lucky to be friends with some of the families that were more accustomed to how things were done with stock show animals. They helped me and taught me how to care for my animal in preparation for the big show day. My Thanks, to those Families, they were the Burnett Family and Finck Family for showing me and helping me prepare my show steers. That really meant a lot to me then and now.

Being a city boy I didn’t know a lot of the everyday things that country boys were accustomed to. My calves were in a pen down were the Ag Pens were in the SE corner of town. It seemed like ballgames or ball practice were always getting in the way of feeding time. Thanks to Mom and Dad for helping out, when I couldn’t. So when awards were handed out at the show, mine weren’t you might say top awards, more in the way of middle of the class. But it was an experience that I’ll always remember.

One of my Ag Teachers was a man named John Coats, nice guy but for the bunch of boys he was teaching he was most likely to nice of a man. I remember one day out at the show barns we were getting the pens ready for all the animals. And as boys will at that age, chewing and dipping tobacco was something new to explore. Mr. Coats was leaning against some pens talking to someone and drinking coffee out of a styrofoam cup. As people will do they sit their cup down for a minute and pick it backup. Well someone around there was dipping and their spit cup was sitting along that rail next to where Mr. Coats had sat his cup down. Well you guessed it, Mr. Coats picked up the wrong cup and took a sip of what he thought was his coffee. Oh boy, wrong cup, to say the least! Anyone caught dipping or chewing tobacco from then on, was in bad trouble.

I don’t mean to step on any toes but today it seems like the animal projects and stock shows are more Adult driven than Student driven. What I’m trying to say is that there may be a need for another Division at stock shows. We already have the Student Division and maybe we need to add an Adult Division. It seems like the cost of show animals has gotten out of hand. This last spring a couple of show calves brought over $100,000 each. And they are to be for shows this winter. Student driven? I don’t think so. I have said my piece.

I’ve added a few more pictures this time. One is of the old show barns now the VFW and a show line up of Hereford steers at the corner of Broadway and Maxwell.

Come by Swisher County Museum we would love to have you come by. Swisher County Home of the “Richest Land and the Finest People.”

 

Hidden Treasurers of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

 

In 1939 as part of Roosevelts, New Deal Project Historians set about to document the oral history of American West Cowboy. One name that always stood out and was referenced more than any other as the leading influence on Cowboy Culture was this individual, known for his ruggedness and toughness. No it’s not John Wayne. He paved the way for John Wayne and all the Hollywood Cowboys. He was the hero of most every cowboy of his time.

In 1864, in Williamson County, near Georgetown Texas on a Ranch, a young redheaded boy was born, “Some say he never was a boy he was always a man.”  And one day this young man would become the greatest Bronc Rider of all time. His name was Samuel Thomas Privett Jr. When he was about 6 years old he and his family moved to Erath County near Dublin, Texas.

By the age of 12, this young man was already known as “Red” or the “Redheaded Kid” and was already Breaking Horses, not for a living but for fun. On a Ranch the Bronc Buster was the  most respected cowboy of the whole bunch.

When Christmas came around that year Red and his best friend were packing a hole in an old tree stump full of gunpowder for a Christmas Fireworks display. While they were putting in the gunpowder, it accidently ignited. Red was blown back about 20 feet. Reds good friend was killed, Red was very badly burned and cut from the splinters of the tree in the face. On the way to see the local Doctor, a young friend looked in the wagon at Red and said “Red you sure are Boogered up”. That name stuck with him and from that day on they called him “Booger Red”.

The name always brought a smile to Reds face. Although, It took about 6 months for Red to even open his eyes. Red was permanently scarred for life. He had to have his eyes, nose and mouth cut open several times while he was healing up. He also lost most of his sight in one eye.

Booger Red eventually healed up, but his face was horribly disfigured by the explosion and splinters from that tree. But he used his misfortune to his advantage. He would say “Come see the ugliest man dead or alive, Booger Red.” Red only stood 5’4” but he had the heart of a Giant. They said he looked like a pumpkin with two bullet holes for eyes.

On day Red met a young lady who was a great horseman in her own right. Her name was Mollie Francis Webb she was only 15 and Red was 31. But they were married in Bronte, Tx. in 1895.

Red opened a wagon yard in San Angelo, ranchers and horseman from all over would bring him their horses to break especially the tuff ones. Red had a standing bet that if anyone brought him a horse he couldn’t ride he would pay them $100.00. Pretty soon people were coming from all over bringing him outlaw horses that no one else could ride. Booger Red never had to pay off.

One day a telegraph came from a man in Montana. It said “I have a horse that had not ever been rode.” The Montana man also said “I have a bank roll to wager that you can’t ride my horse either.” Red never thought more than a second or two and wired the man back and said “bring your horse and money on down to San Angelo, Tx.” And that he would be waiting.

Well the news went through town like a prairie fire that a horse all the way from Montana was coming to be tested by Booger Red. A few weeks later the man from Montana showed up with his horse and money. Supposedly the horse was unbreakable, and had also hurt several cowboys, breaking one man’s back. As a crowd gathered the horse was turned out in the arena. Red eased up to the horse and put his saddle on and eased up on the horses back saying “Folks this horse came all the way from Montana to get a Booger on his back, and so away we go!”, As he slapped the horse on the behind.

Well as they say “The Dust Blew and the Crap Flew.” The horse and man were almost evenly matched. This horse was by far the tuffest that Red had ever sat on. But Booger Red finally prevailed. The Montana man turned over his bankroll to Red but Red said,”I’d rather have the horse.”The owner finally begrudgingly agreed.

Booger Red named the young bronc Montana Gyp. For 23 years Booger Red would showcase his ride on Montana Gyp. Gyp’s spirit was never broken he bucked as hard every time as if it were the first time.

Booger Red and his Family would travel with shows all over the U.S. with Gyp. They even traveled with Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and several others through the years. He and Mollie had seven children whom all became very talented in riding or roping.

Once a bronc fell with Red, breaking his leg, but Booger Red stayed on the horse until the horse got up and like always Booger Red finished the ride.

In 1924 at the age of 60, Booger Red had retired, and was sitting in the rodeo crowd at the Ft. Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. During the Bronc riding a cowboy was thrown off a mean Bronc and the crowd started chanting “Give us Booger Red” Soon someone in the crowd said “Here he is!!” Red started down the aisle where a group of young cowboys put Red on their shoulders and carried him into the arena the Bronc was put back in the chute and Booger Red jumped aboard. When they opened the chute the bronc leaped high into the air and landed on all four legs and then began to pitch from side to side, trying to dispatch its rider with every move.

Soon everyone in attendance knew they were watching the Greatest Bronc Rider that ever lived. Booger Red is still the legend that all their Dads had told them about.

Two weeks later Samuel Thomas Privett Jr. “Booger Red” with his Family around his bed, He left these words for his children, “Always be Honest for it will always pay in the long run. And have all the fun you can because when you are dead, you’re a long time dead.”

Booger Red was buried near Miami, Oklahoma. His wife Mollie estimated that he had ridden over 25,000 Bronc’s in his lifetime. He was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City in 1975. In the Historic Ft.Worth Stockyards there is a saloon that bears the name Booger Red’s in honor of the famous cowboy.

Come by Swisher County Museum we would love to visit with you. And don’t forget about our Annual Meeting January 26th at noon a complimentary meal will be provided. Please Come!

Swisher County Home of the “Richest Land and Finest People”.

 

Hidden Treasures of Swisher County Museum

By Frank G. Reeves

I was skimming the Swisher County History Book written by Grace Evans in 1968. As I was reading a story caught my attention. This particular story was written by Inez Christian Doshier, in 1938. It was about two JA Cowboys that were from the Tule Division, which was headquartered on Tule Creek about 10-11 miles East of Tulia.

In the Fall of 1893, it was Fall Roundup time. Time to gather all the Cows and calves, and brand new calves and wean the older calves to ready them for market. The roundup was taking place close to today what is called Burnham Hill which just happens to be the highest point in Swisher County in the Northeastern part of the County.

It had been stormy with a lot of cold rain. Bob Bishop was boss of the Tule Division. Mitch Bell was wagon boss and Dick Walsh was overall general manager of the JA, all had pitched in to help the Tule in the roundup.

Warner Reed and Bob Christian were Tule Cowboys, they were holding the cuts as the cattle were being sorted. Anyone who has ever been close to a lightning strike knows that when the flash and the clap of thunder is at the same time, your pretty dadgum close, and the misfortune of these two cowboys was just that.

Other cowboys said that lightning filled the sky and most all felt tingling over their bodies, and their hair stood on end. As they looked around after the jolt they saw a horse and two cowboys on the ground. Warner Reed was dead and not long after Bob Christian was too. In the flash of an eye two young cowboys were no more.

The two men were taken back to the Tule Headquarters, Walsh went into Tulia to buy some new clothes to bury them in, along with a couple of pine boxes.

Fred Scott and Willis Fisher dressed and cleaned up the bodies. Warner Reed’s family lived in Silverton, but Bob Christian’s family lived down state near Jacksboro. But Bob did have a couple brothers that worked across the canyon north in Armstrong County for the same outfit the JA. Their names were Jim and Will Christian they were contacted along with the Reed’s in Silverton. With wet conditions it would take close to 3 days to take the bodies to Amarillo for embalming. So it was decided to bury the boys together in Silverton without embalming them.

After the funeral Jim Christian rode the train home to tell their kin about what happened to his brother Bob. Bob’s body is still buried next to his friend Warner Reed. It’s said that the people of Silverton at one time paid a special tribute to these two on Memorial Day, by some of the older pioneers of Silverton.

Mrs. Cornelia Adair owner of the JA Ranch, paid for both of these JA Cowboys funeral expenses and erected a double stone at their burial plot there in Silverton.

So next time your outside in a thunderstorm, remember what happened to these two hard working JA cowboys, they were struck down (literally) in the prime of their lives.

Come by Swisher County Museum and we can visit about the great pioneers that helped make Swisher County one of the best places in the great state of Texas.

 

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