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Indian Pioneer Papers - Index

Indian Pioneer History Project for Oklahoma
Date: May 28, 1937
Name: Lula B. Duffer (Mrs.)
Post Office: Mangum, Oklahoma
Residence address: Route #4. Twelve and one-half miles southeast
Date of Birth: March 27, 1871
Place of Birth: Grapevine, Texas
Father: Dr. D. W. Simpson
Place of Birth: Ohio
Information on father:
Mother: Mary J. Johnson
Place of birth: Ohio
Information on mother:
Field Worker: Ruth Kerbo
Interview: #
I, Lula B. Duffer, came to Greer County in April, 1889, from Newport, Clay County, Texas.

Mr. BARTON, a relative of our family, made a trip to Greer County in 1888, expecting to locate here. Doctor Simpson, my father, had been ill and came along with Mr. Barton and his family, thinking the change would be good for his health.

After arriving here, Dr. Simpson's health began to improve and he sent for his family to come on out here. We shipped our furniture, which consisted of bedsteads, range stove, a safe to put dishes in, an organ and a folding-leaf table to Quanah.

We came in wagons and brought two hundred head of cattle and twenty-five head of horses with us.

Mr. SIMPSON filed on a place nine miles southeast of Mangum. This was an open range country with very few settlements in it. Dr. Simpson made a half dugout with sawed logs set upright, extending four feet above the ground with windows in each side and a plank roof which leaked very badly. Our dugout had a dirt floor with carpets on it. We were so crowded that we had to stack our trunks up sometimes three deep.

We hauled our drinking water from the river, Salt Fork. We took a barrel and sank it down in the sand so that water would seep into it and after soaking through the sand the water was not so salty. We also dug mesquite roots for wood and later hauled wood from the Indian Territory.

We had a team of oxen and often they would get turned around somehow in their yokes and I would have to help get them straightened around again. There was no fruit in the country except the wild grapes and plums on the river banks. We made good use of these.

I remember that good hogs were scarce, and a small pig would cost $5.00. We raised cane in the sod land which Father had broken out. I remember we raised one hundred loads of cane in one year.

There were prairie dog towns everywhere and the dogs were so numerous that they would cut our cane down and they destroyed so much that we had to poison them and kill them in every way we could to get rid of them. Rattlesnakes were very numerous also. Sometimes we would discover one in our dugout and everybody would clear out until the snake was killed. One time, a little boy away up the river was bitten by a rattlesnake and the parents, who were almost frantic, did not know what to do for him until the doctor could get there, but kept him drunk on whiskey. Dr. Simpson was the only doctor in the country and on this particular occasion he was gone to Mangum. The family of the bitten boy had sent someone to get the doctor and learning that he was not at home, the messenger went on to Mangum for him. Dr. Simpson was on horseback and went straight on to the boy's home. When he arrived he found the boy in a very serious condition but the treatment he gave saved the boy's life.

My father farmed, was a preacher, and was the only doctor in Greer County nearer than Mangum.

We got most of our supplies from Quanah and had to make the trip in wagons and as there were no roads or bridges, sometimes it would take a week to make the trip.

We went to singing at Ben TALLEY's dugout every Sunday; my father was the leader. Then we had Literary Meetings and Spelling Matches at Emerson's dugout once a week.

There were lots of fish in Turkey Creek and we would go fishing once a week and stay all day. We would fry fish out on a camp fire. Several families would go, especially if the farming season was over. My father organized the first Presbyterian Church over at Barton's dugout in 1889. There was an arbor built in which to hold the meetings in the summer. The Bartons lived on the opposite side of the river from us and I remember one time we went to meeting and a headrise came down the river. The water was so deep and swift that we were afraid to cross but knew if we waited later in the day the water might get deeper, so my father took the horses loose from the wagon and rode them across several times to settle the sand. Then we drove on across but water ran into the wagon-bed and the horses had to swim.

I remember we wore bustles and pretty white lawn dresses and full petticoats, with three widths of material in them and with wide insertions of lace, several rows of tucks, and wide lace often crocheted on the bottom. These petticoats were fixed up prettily with lots of work on them so that they would look pretty through our white lawn dresses. One of my petticoats had twenty-seven rows of tucks with wide insertion and lace on it and I had a white lawn dress that I wore on special occasions all summer. Our dresses had high necks and long sleeves, the skirts were gathered full at the waist and were long enough to cover our ankles. We wore wide sashes with our white dresses.

My sister, Mrs. Flood, got married in our dugout. She went to Mangum to get her wedding outfit and things were awfully high. Ten yards of goods were required to make a dress. She was married on Sunday and the Saturday before she was to be married she went to Mrs. Bartons who lived on the opposite side of the river from us. A headrise came down the river and my sister was unable to cross, and knowing the water might get higher she went back to Mrs. Bartons to see if the boys could take her across. One of the boys came with her and waded across first, then came back and carried her across the river.

Her future husband had gone to Vernon to get their furniture to begin housekeeping and although she did not know it, was water bound at the same time at Doan's Crossing on Red River. He was out near the middle of the crossing when he saw the headrise coming. He was afraid he could not make it across with his wagon loaded so heavily, so he took his horses loose from the wagon and rode them on the rest of the way across, leaving his wagon load of furniture in the middle of Red River. When he reached the other side he looked back and saw that the water was up to his wagon bed and soon it came upon his furniture and he saw that a sack of apples, which he had left lying on top of a mattress on the top of his load had washed off into the water. He returned in time for the wedding but his furniture was all ruined.

My mother used to go to camp meetings down on Turkey Creek. Sometimes she would go two or three times before the meeting was over. She would take a camping outfit and stay several days at a time.

The first school in that country was the Templeton School, which was built on Ben Talley's place, which was two miles north of the present site of Hester and was later moved one mile north of Hester. After the citizens began to organize consolidated schools, the Templeton District was taken in with another and a school was started at Hester. The first school in Hester was taught in a room upstairs over the store. They used home-made seats and Miss Sally DOHERTY was the first teacher.

Submitted to OKGenWeb by Donald L. Sullivan <donald.l.sullivan@lmco.com> 07-2000.