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Note - most stories are fictional and do not refer to anyone in particular living or dead. True stories will say they are true!
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Over the last year papa had made some friends who were the
chief politicians and government men in the area.
The time was getting nearer to the land rush and papa had
picked out several parcels he wanted, It was well watered land by a full
flowing creek. He had all of us boys get familiar with the lay of the land and
how to set the markers. All told we had several thousand acres we were going to
lay claim to on rush day. I wasn’t too interested in living out on the claims
but knew I would have to make improvements over the first years of ownership.
Then there was the new town that was going to spring up.
Papa had picked out several lots that were laid out in what was going to be the
new town. After waiting for what seemed to be an eternity it was only a few
more days to rush day.
It wasn’t but five o’clock A.M. and I couldn’t believe my
eyes when I saw all the hundreds of people lined up to make the run for parcels
they had picked for them selves.
Papa had us to be a part of what was later called Sooners,
It wasn’t a title to be proud of but it assured you got the land you wanted. My
brothers had already headed out to the place we were going to claim as ours.
After being amazed at the number of people who were already
lined up I left the mass of people and circled around as if I was heading back
toward what was going to be the new town then I turned toward our claims.
When I arrived there I saw some Sooners who had the same
idea as Papa but they weren’t in very good shape after my brothers got through
with them. We put them on their horses and told them there was some pretty good
land to the east of where we were standing. Albert advised them to head over
there before some other Sooners beat them to it.
Shortly thereafter all we could see was a cloud of dust.
The boys had already placed our stakes and markers. Papa had
all the necessary paper work ready to file as soon as the clock struck twelve.
He also had a bag of money to spread around to the officials. I headed back to
town and met with Papa, his new wife, and Mercy and we claimed our lots in the
As the sun set we had prime land on the prairie and some of
the best lots in town.
By the end of the week papa had wagon loads of lumber on
their way to our new property. There was a lot of available labor due to many
not getting a piece of land so our houses and barns went up pretty fast.
Papa sent me to some of the towns east of us to buy
furniture and other supplies. When I finished shopping I had several wagon
loads of goods and headed west.
I dropped off one wagon in town for Papa's and my houses in
town and then headed out to where the brothers were overseeing the construction
of the houses out there.
Even with the long list of goods I bought the brother's
wives were arguing over who got what.
Since I was on title for one of the ranches I had to live
there (at least part of the time.) Mercy
liked being out on the ranch because of the privacy we enjoyed but she also got
pleasure from spending much of her time in town. When she was on our ranch it
wasn't too far to visit the other brother's wives if she wanted to catch up on
the latest gossip.
My next task was to find cattle for our ranches. I must say
what I ended up with was a mixture of Mexican, scrub and longhorn cattle that
were pretty much a poor looking bunch.
Papa had some unkind words for me about my selection even
after I showed him how cheap I had gotten them for. After a half days grumbling I told him to go
himself and see what he could find. That shut him up for the time being for
after one days search he came home with a sorrier looking bunch than I had
found and paid more for them.
After seeing his demeanor when he returned I decided it
would be best not to say anything about his poor effort and the result.
After a few months on the rich, lush, grasses the cattle
began to look pretty decent and brought a good price when it came time to sell
them. We acquired a lot of calves from them so we were on our way to building
up our herd.
By running all the cattle together under one brand we saved
a lot of money compared to what the other ranchers costs were.
After the second year a number of people had given up and we
bought their terrain from them. They had found that even though the land was free
it took many dollars to make the property profitable.
Mercy's and my lots in town were prime property and as the
town grew they were some of the most valuable in the town.
Papa considered them to be his and wanted to sell them early
on but Mercy and I balked at that notion. We felt if we waited they would be
worth many times what he could sell them for at the present; and as it turned
out we were right.
Papa had another idea which was to start a general store on
one of the lots. Again Mercy and I objected because I knew too many people
would buy on credit and never pay what they owed.
As usual Papa prevailed on that one. It turned out that
things were better than we thought it would be at least for the first six or
seven years. Then what we feared became to pass.
People were beginning to fall on hard times because of lack
of rain and failing crops; and Papa began to buy up properties from people who owed
us money they couldn't pay. Some just packed up and left while others sold out
for almost nothing. Most of the land was as worthless to Papa as it was to the
people who left it but Papa said some day the rains would start again and then
we would make more money than we ever dreamed of.
Papa refused to sue for the money people owed us but when he
cut off their credit they had no other choice than to sell cheap or just move