White Deer Land Museum

Early Pampa Was A Cattle-loading Center

Until the White Deer Land Company began to promote the sale of its lands for agricultural purposes, the little village of Pampa was mainly known as a shipping point for cattle. Since much of the White Deer Lands was leased to various cattle companies, such as Matador, Swift, Scharbauer and others, cattle to be shipped came from these leases.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

Also cattle were driven from ranches on the Canadian River . Some early accounts state that these cattle came over what is now Cuyler Street on their way to the stock pens.

About 1905-06 some of the Canadian River ranchers began to move to Pampa so that their children could attend school. These families included the Lards, Ledricks and Walstads.

Albert Lee (Bert) Lard came with his parents to Fort Elliott in 1881. In 1891 he married Annie Zeporia Newby whose parents, the John Newbys, owned a ranch 24 miles north of Pampa on Tallahone Creek. The Bert Lards bought the Newby ranch and lived there until they moved to Pampa about 1905-06.

Their children born before the move to Pampa were Kate, Frank, Jeff, Elida Ellen, a stillborn daughter buried on Chicken Creek, John and Roy . In Pampa the Bert Lards first lived in the 200 block of East Francis where Elsie Lard Hall was born on October 10, 1906. Albert and Amy were born later.

Henry Lee Ledrick with his wife, Jenny Lard Ledrick, and their two sons, Lee and Claude, settled on 13,000 acres in mid-Roberts County in 1886 while it was still Indian country. From the hills overlooking the ranch, one could see the entire valley of Chicken Creek covered with teepees.

In 1900 Lee Ledrick married Carrie Inga Walstad, a member of a Norwegian family headed by Christian Jacob Walstad and Marian Ander Olsen. The Walstads moved to Roberts County in 1886, the same year that the Ledricks settled across the Canadian River south of them.

The entire group of Ledricks and Walstads moved to Pampa in 1905. They built homes, including barns, corrals and orchards, on four blocks of East Kingsmill , one-half block each extending from Kingsmill to Francis. George and Mary (Ely) Walstad took half of the 400 block; Claude (P.C.) and Fannie (White) Ledrick took the other half. Lee and Carrie (Walstad) Ledrick took the first half of the 500 block, and Grandma Jenny Ledrick the other half. Grandma Marian Walstad occupied one-half of the 600 block.

The Lee Ledrick home, still standing at 505 East Kingsmill, was the first solid brick home built in Pampa .

The children of Lee and Carrie Ledrick were Cassie (Balthrope), Vera (Shriver), H.L. and Paul Claude (“Mickey”).

Claude and Fannie Ledrick had no children.

The children of George and Mary (Ely) Walstad were George C., Jr., Archie, Louise (Castles) and Jack.

Some of the White Deer Lands northwest of Pampa was leased to the Wilson-Popham Cattle Company for the U-Brand Ranch. Erasmus Wilson of Los Angeles , California , was the company president and Al Popham of Amarillo was the manager. The company had a breeding ranch at Saragosa , Texas , and the steer ranch at White Deer, Texas .

An entry in the White Deer Land Company records, dated February 28, 1906, shows that Al Popham sent a check for $2,993.80 for rental due on 139,930 acres under lease No. 142.

Joe Shelton (May 6, 1888-February 25, 1988) remembered working on the U-Brand Ranch and being in the first headquarters of the White Deer Land Company on White Deer Creek near the Canadian River . At the end of April in 1908, he was with eight men who drove 1,400 head of cattle to the railroad cattle yard north of the present Hobart Street underpass in Pampa . They came south on present Hobart Street which at that time was a dirt path. A fence in the center of the path turned to the east at present Kentucky Street and made a corner of the cow pasture. (This is the location of the NBC Plaza .)

All afternoon the cowboys had been watching a storm coming from the northwest. It was an “all hands in the saddle” kind of storm which reached Pampa about about ten that night. Joe was very grateful to have a good night horse that knew more about cattle than he did. Miraculously the cattle stayed in the corner and did not knock the fence down.

Probably cattle to be shipped from Pampa came from the Lovett, Saunders, Williams, LeFors and Gething ranches near present Lefors.

Henry Bell Lovett came from Parker County in 1876 to begin buffalo hunting in the Panhandle. In 1885 he went back to Weatherford and married Mrs. Fannie Hopkins Long, a sister of Gray County pioneer James A. Hopkins.

In 1887 the Lovetts and their baby daughter, Mattabel, moved to a new dugput on Grapevine Creek southwest of Lefors where Lovett had filed on a quarter-section of land. Eventually the Lovetts acquired a ranch of seven sections and built another ranch house on Turkey Creek.

Earlier, in 1906, they bought a block of property in Pampa and sometime afterward built a gray stucco house at 121 North Houston (location of Lovett Memorial Library). They moved to this house permenantly after they leased their ranch in 1927.

In 1875 George Henry Saunders was sent from Kansas City to manage the holdings of a commission that had acquired land east of present Lefors. In 1887 he bought the land that had been occupied by the Z Bar Z outfit of C.E. (Tobe) Odom. He kept the Z Bar Z brand that had been recorded at Mobeetie in 1882; the brand is still owned by his granddaughter, Bette Bates.

Saunders, who became the first County Judge of Gray County , married Lou Ollie Davis. Their sons were Guy Cecil and Horace Edgar, father of Bette.

James “Jim” Ewing Williams from Denton County , Texas , began working for the Diamond F ( Francklyn Land and Cattle Company) when he was 19 years old. This was in 1886 when the Francklyn company was reorganized as the White Deer Land Company. Later he worked for the Z Bar Z and was allowed to start his own herd of 128 steers.

In 1874 he filed on land south of Lefors and established a ranch still owned by the estate. He married Lucy Wilks in Canadian in 1900. Their children were Ewing , John and Flora. The family moved to Pampa in 1921 where they lived at 320 East Foster and later at 621 East Francis.

J.E. Williams was the author of a book, Fifty-eight Years in the Panhandle of Texas.

In 1877, as Perry LeFors was helping to drive cattle across the Panhandle to Dodge City , he was so impressed by the grasslands near present Lefors that he urged his father and brothers to settle at this location. He continued to drive cattle for ranchers and was the foreman for Diamond F while he was acquiring land for his own ranch on Cantonment Creek. This land was sold to W.W. Mars in 1913, and in 1936 it was sold to Dr. O.M. and Mrs. Anne O. Franklin. (A vaccine to prevent blackleg in cattle was developed by Dr. Franklin.)

At Mobeetie on January 15, 1887, Perry LeFors married Emma Lang, sister of Mrs. Henry Thut, Sr. and Mrs. Alex Schneider, Sr. They were the parents of one son, Emmett, and six daughters. Perry and four of the daughters died of typhoid fever in the fall of 1909. Emma LeFors came to Pampa to live at 311 North Frost in 1928. Her daughter, Vera (Mrs. A.H. Doucette), lived at 211 North Frost.

Arthur Edward Gething, a barrister born in Wales, first came to Gray County to look at land in 1881. On a trip to England in 1892, he married London-born Elizabeth Ellen Smith and brought her to an area ten miles east of present Lefors.

“Nana,” as Elizabeth was called by her granddaughter, found living in the Texas Panhandle very different from England, but she learned to love the harsh frontier land. She often served as midwife or nurse; she held religious services in her home for ranchers and oil field workers; she was known for her refinement independence, determination and fortitude. After breaking her hip, she moved to Pampa in 1950 and became a loyal member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. She died on November 25, 1963, as president John F. Kennedy was being buried.

Her grandson William “Bill” Edward Gething and his wife Grace (Gotcher) spend most of their time at the Gething ranch but they have a home in Pampa at 1717 Mary Ellen where a yard full of crocuses bloom in the spring.

(Interesting stories about these families are related in Gray County Heritage, available at The Gift Box, 117 West Kingsmill).

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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