Beryl Wayne Vicars: Early Pampa Historian

Beryl Wynne Vicars was one of Pampa’s earliest historians. The articles she prepared for the Pampa Genealogical and Historical Society in 1964 have been very helpful to those who are interested in the early history of Pampa. Beryl’s father was Jesse “Jess” Smith Wynne who came with S. V. Barton in 1880 to Jericho in Gray County.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

The men brought 1000 head of stock horses and established the Bow and Arrow Cross Ranch on McClellan Creek. This was the first and only horse ranch in Gray County. After most of the horses were sold, Wynne worked on several ranches and was in the hardware business in Panhandle before he bought his own ranch four miles southeast of Panhandle. Beryl’ s mother was Anna Minna Davies, a native of Wales, who came to Panhandle to visit in the home of Judge 0. H. Nelson. Jesse Smith Wynne and Anna Minna Davies were married on May 18, 1880 at Panhandle. They were the parents of two daughters: Mary Alice Wynne, born February 157 1891, and Minna Beryl Wynne, born November 22, 1892.

Alice and Beryl were two of the ten pupils who attended Pampa’s first school (1903-04) in the one-room white frame structure at 513 E. Francis. They boarded in Pampa — very likely at the home of Eli and Georgia Vincent at 109 S. Cuyler. (On the day, October 18 1902, that the first Gray County courthouse was dedicated at Lefors, the Wynnes met Eli and Georgia Vincent and Wiley and Katie Vincent. The Vincent men were brothers, and Georgia and Katie were sisters of Tom Crawford, first sheriff of Gray County. The Wynne , Vincent and Crawford families became good friends and, in later years, Alice Wyrine married James Riley Crawford, brother of Tom, Georgia and Katie. J.S Wynne bought the Eli Vincent house and moved from Panhandle to Pampa in 1907.

Each Monday morning at the schoolhouse for 24 weeks, Edith (Mrs. Hal) Townsend, sister-in-law of Sam Case, wrote a Bible verse on the blackboard. Each verse began with a letter of the alphabet except x and z. At the end of the 24 weeks, Beryl received an award for having memorized the most verses. The reward was a book, “The Ship-Wrecked Girl,” which Beryl kept for many years. In the schoolyard, Beryl once picked up a star from the first schoolhouse flag — it had become tattered in the Panhandle wind. At first she kept the star for a pat- tern since it was difficult for her to draw a five-pointed star, and then she kept it for sentimental reasons. For the 1904-05 school year, Alice and Beryl attended a school close to their family ranch near Panhandle, but Beryl returned to Pampa for the school year 1905-06 when John V. Thomas (brother of Sam, Charlie and Josephine) was the teacher.

At the close of each day Thomas gave a little purple card to each pupil whose “deportment” merited it. When a pupil had acquired 20 little purple cards, received a large purple card with the Biblical quotation. “Let me not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” In later life this quotation meant a great deal to Beryl who had received a large purple card. (Pampa had no high school for Beryl, and it is believed by some that she continued her education at Clarendon.) About 1907 Beryl acquired a namesake — her first but not her last — when the six-year-old son of W. R. Beydler named his pig for her. Beryl said that nearly every family had a pig because that was the town’s “garbage system.” In 1907 the Ladies’ Library Club was organized over the First National Bank (101 N, Cuyler). Beryl, who was the second librarian, received $0.50 a session for keeping the library open two afternoons a week.

Box suppers, plays and musicals were held to buy books. When the first beauty parlor was opened, Beryl asked, “Who would go away from home to have her hair washed?” The shop soon closed because there were no customers. In 1909 Beryl taught her first Bible class in the first school building where the Union Church was meeting at the time. As a member of the First Christian Church, she continued teaching Sunday School and Bible classes for more than 40 years. From 1911 to 1.918 Beryl worked at the First National Bank~ While there she notarized the deeds when Fairview Cemetery (begun in 1994) was surveyed into lots with 16 grave spaces which sold for fifteen dollars. She was an active member of the Red Cross during the great flu epidemic of 1918 and the anxious days of World War I.

On November 30, 1921, Beryl Wynne and DeLea Vicars were married at Amarillo. Their home in Pampa was in the red brick house at 303 N. Frost which is now the Vicary House Tea Room. DeLea Vicars came with his family from Virginia in 1908 and attended school in the first schoolhouse where the class of 1908 “finished.” That was all the pupils did in those days. He eagerly started work at the First National Bank as the boy who swept the floors before going to school each morning. He worked his way up through the ranks to become president of the bank from 1934 to: 1944, DeLea was an outstanding citizen of Pampa and devoted his entire career to his beloved community. He engaged in many activities and gave generously in monetary support of numerous civic and charitable organizations both in and out of Pampa.

Even after he suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1981; he exerted a tremendous effort physically to keep active in Pampa affairs. Although he had no children, he was regarded as an exemplary “City Father” of-Pampa. But as long as he lived, he got excited about the famous robbery of the First National Bank on March 31, 1927. Beryl was also generous with time and money, especially when it came to helping the less fortunate. She had a dynamic personality and amazing energy until the last few years of her life when health problems made her a near invalid.

Her brother-in law, Kermit Vicars, said the only way he remembered Beryl was with her knitting needles going 90 miles an hour and her tongue keeping pace. She was an efficient record keeper and history buff and had a world of stories to tell. She had a fantastic collection of pictures, newspaper clippings and memorabilia of the Texas Panhandle, which she happily shared with all who showed an interest. Beryl died on March 17, 1974, and DeLea died on November 26, 1984.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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