Christmas Celebration Ended On New Year’s

Henry Bell Lovett, son of Eli and Mary E. Bell Lovett, was born near Dallas on September 21, 1858. In 1876 he came to the Panhandle to hunt buffalo. Since most of the buffalo had been slaughtered, he spent the winter cutting cordwood for the soldiers at Fort Elliott. In the spring he went to his family in Weatherford to try to persuade them to come to the Panhandle. His family was not interested so he left by way of Fort Griffin for his last buffalo hunt, advancing from skinner to shooter on that trip.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

In 1913, at Wichita , Kansas , C.C. Dodd was married to Myo McSkimming by her father, the Rev. D.D. McSkimming. Since their house in Pampa was not ready for occupancy, they stayed in the Liberty Hotel (owned by M.E. Fletcher), 121 E. Atchison , until their house was completed.

The hides were taken on wagons drawn by ox teams to market at Fort Griffin. Henry was left alone for 21 days to guard the hides while his boss was away marketing the hides.

Henry came again to the Panhandle and worked for several ranches: the JA, Francklyn Land and Cattle Company, the Long O and the LX. He made an early venture into ranching for himself starting with 33 head of cattle which he later lost during a hard winter. In 1883 he registered the brand S in Wheeler County.

In 1885 Henry returned once more to Weatherford where he married Mrs. Fannie Long on September 2, 1885. Fannie, born on February 8, 1865, was the youngest of twelve children of James Alvin and Elizabeth Hall Hopkins. At the age of thirteen she had married attorney Sam Long who died three years after their marriage.

In the fall of 1886 Henry left Weatherford with teams and wagons to return to the Panhandle. In November Fannie traveled by train from Fort Worth to Vernon , a tent town which was as far as the railroad was graded. Henry was waiting to meet her, but they had to wait three days for their household goods to arrive. When the goods came, they were loaded onto two covered wagons. With Henry driving one wagon and Fannie driving the other, they followed the stage route making only fifteen or twenty miles a day. They camped on the trail wherever they happened to be when night came.

Instead of following the stage route on to Clarendon, they came by the Rowe ranch to George Owen’s camp on McClellan Creek. The ground was covered with eighteen inches of snow.

After resting for a week at Owen’s camp, the Lovetts continued the long, tiring three-hundred mile journey to Mobeetie, then the capital of the entire Panhandle. Henry worked as a cowhand for several months while Fannie stayed with the family of H.B. Spiller, a surveyor. The Lovett’s only child, a daughter named Mattabel, was born on February 18, 1887. The Lovetts spent the summer at Eldridge, a stage stand and post office several miles north of present Alanreed. In November Henry purchased a half section of land on Grapevine Creek. Using a rod bottom walking-plow, he broke out the first farm on Block B-2. He worked twenty acres and planted Indian corn, kaffir corn and sorghum.

The Lovett’s home on Grapevine Creek was a dugout, ten by twenty feet. Roofed with willow boughs covered with bear grass and two feet of dirt, the dwelling was rainproof. Because of inadequate space inside the dugout, most of the furniture and belongings remained outside covered with a wagon “tarp.”

The furnishings inside the dugout included a table, chairs, bed and a box for dishes. The floors and walls were of dirt, though later the walls were covered with gunny sacks and papered with old newspapers.

The large open fireplace used for cooking and heating was dug back into the dirt wall. A granite coffee pot, skillet with lid and an iron pot were suspended by wires attached to half a wagon tire bent to fit over the fireplace. There was an abundance of “prairie coal” (cow chips) to use for fuel.

The buffalo bones that lay bleaching on the prairie were an important source of income for the early settlers, usually selling for about seven dollars a ton. In 1888 the Lovetts gathered a wagon load of bones which Henry took to Panhandle to sell. To Fannie’s surprise and great delight, he returned with a beautiful black cook stove.

While adding to his own herd, it was necessary for Henry to work on ranches while Fannie remained at the dugout with Mattabel. Often she put Mattabel in front of her on the saddle while she rode over the ranch to keep coyotes and lobo wolves from attacking the baby calves.

Although the mighty herds of buffalo were gone, there was an abundance of cattle, antelope, wild turkeys and deer for food. The Lovetts enjoyed the magnificent distances, the landscapes and the luxurious grass and wildflowers. They were not entirely isolated because the Henry Thut family was within three miles and Smith Gregg lived only seven miles away on the Z-Z ranch. The Lovetts often rode 25 miles on horseback to Mobeetie where Henry enjoyed going to court to listen to lawyers including Temple Houston , J.N. Browning and Frank Willis.

Henry and Fannie worked and saved and occasionally another room was added to the dugout until seven rooms in all were built. The Lovetts planted fruit and shade trees and large patches of flowers of every hue.

More land was added to the original half section until there was a total of fourteen sections. Records show that H.B. Lovett filed on Section 28, Block B-2, H. & G.N. Survey on July 3, 1889.

In 1898 the Lovetts moved to a small wooden house. Henry’s half-brother, Bill Brooks, lived with them for many years until his death in 1916.

Henry was interested in politics and served as tax assessor for Roberts, Gray and Hutchinson counties when Gray and Hutchinson were attached to Roberts. He helped to organize Gray County in 1902 and served as commissioner for three terms.

Mattabel attended boarding school in Goodnight and Clarendon College . Just before leaving to attend school at Polytechnic Institute in Fort Worth , she was stricken with typhoid fever and died on September 14, 1904. She was buried in the cemetery at Miami nearly six months before the first grave was dug at Pampa .

In 1906 the Lovetts bought a block of property in Pampa bounded by Foster, Houston, Kingsmill and Gillespie Streets. Eventually they built a gray stucco house at 121 North Houston . They donated the lot at 302 East Kingsmill for Pampa Jarrett Hospital which opened in 1926.

In 1917 the Lovetts relocated their ranch house to Turkey Creek several miles south of their earlier home on Grapevine Creek. In 1926 the Lovetts leased their land for oil and sold royalties and moved permantly to Pampa .

In 1929 Mattie Velma Brown, a great niece of Fannie Lovett, came to live with the Lovetts. She remained with them until she married Clyde Yoes on May 15, 1940.

In their retirement Henry and Fannie enjoyed traveling, but were self sufficient staying home and playing solitaire and pitch. Henry was an elder in the First Christian Church and was often called on for advice concerning church business. Following several years of ill health, he died on January 25, 1940 at the Lovett Home. Fannie died on October 2, 1949. Both Henry and Fannie are buried beside Mattabel in the cemetery at Miami .

The bulk of the Lovett estate was placed in a trust to be dispersed for “charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes.” The Lovett Memorial Library, dedicated on January 18, 1955, was funded through the estate of Henry and Fannie Lovett.

An interview from Fannie Lovett to Lorene 0. Locke was printed in The Pampa Daily News, October 12, 1952.

“We thought nothing of riding 25 miles to Mobeetie to a dance, and dancing from sun-down to sun-up. Mr. and Mrs. Tom O’Loughlin, who had a hotel-in Mobeetie, gave dances regularly. Mrs. O’Loughlin, who was a wonderful cook, would have great big dishes of sliced roast beef, baked ham, pots of beans and stewed fruit on a board shelf on one side of the room. Everyone just helped himself, as he wanted to, and of course there was a big washpot of coffee always hot on the stove.

“Then there were the ranch dances. You know, that was our only amusement. I remember our ‘Protracted Dance.’ That was on the White Deer ranch, Christmas of 1889. Cowboys rode a hundred miles to attend it. We borrowed a cart to go in, as the weather was below zero. We went for Christmas and stayed to dance the New Year in.” .

Fannie explained that the White House, headquarters of the ranch, had just been completed, so the protracted dance was by the way of being a celebration. The Niedringhaus brothers of St. Louis had leased the ranch and as they were large graniteware manufacturers, they had sent down a carload of graniteware dishes and cooking utensils.

Fannie continued: “We had plenty to put in them, too. That cook seemed to be in his glory. There was never a minute, day or night, that there was not plenty of good things to eat, and it all tasted very good too.

“The women had good beds in the ranch house and the men slept in the bunk houses. We danced until we got tired, slept awhile, and then danced again. Everything was nice and quiet. There were never any drunks at those dances. A drunk would have found himself out in the cold too quick to tell.

“It has been so long ago that I don’t remember many of the girls who were there. I do know the White girls from Canadian were among them. Johnnie Jones rode from Clayton, New Mexico, 125 miles, to be at that dance. And I remember that Jack Guntle and Jack Ramsay were both there. We danced the square dance, the polka, the schottische and the waltz. Many of the men were good callers, especially the cowboys, and we had some good fiddlers, too. People are always talking, nowadays, about the hard times of the early settlers, but we had our fun, too.”

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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