The Story of H. H. and Kate (Lard) Heiskell

Harmon Howard Heiskell, born October 4, 1880, came from Kyle, Hays County to Gray County in 1908.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

After threshing grain several months for Sam and Charlie Thomas, he drilled water wells with them for four years before he began his own business as a water well drilling contractor. He became well known throughout the Panhandle and his services were in great demand. He knew the water depth, formations of the land and the best formations to get water. Known as “Shorty,” H. H. Heiskell was six feet, five inches tall and weighed about 230 pounds.

He liked to say that he was 5 feet, 17 inches tall. because he knew the roads so well, whenever Dr. Brunow was called out during the winters of 1913 to 1918, Shorty would drive the doctor, day or night, to take care of the sick. Shorty was turned down for service during WWZ because the trigger finger of his right hand had been cut of f in an accident. On April 9, 1911, H. H. Heiskell married Jennie Katherine “Kate” Lard, daughter of Albert Lee and Annie Zeporia (Newby) Lard in their ranch home on Tallehone Creek in Roberts County. Kate was born on April 10, 1892 in a dugout near Tallehone Creek.

At the time Shorty and Kate were married, Shorty was drilling wells for the Santa Fe Railroad at Fort Sumner, New Mexico and then at Shattuck, Oklahoma. In the latter part~ of 1911, he bought a two=room house on Ballard Street. Later he bought a house at 725 East Kingsmill when there were only a few houses in the east part of Pampa. Shorty and Kate had six children: Avis Katherine, Annie Winifred, Harmon Orville, Bessie De Aun, Claude Albert and Grover Lee. They also reared Kate’s niece, Kay Lard, whose mother died when she was five days old. On Saturday nights, the children had to have baths. Kettles and dishpans were filled with water and heated on a big black range in the kitchen — on the bur- ners, in the oven and even in the reservoir.

The children took turns bathing– beginning with the youngest and going up to and including Kate. Shorty went to Brown and Wise Barber Shop (115 North Cuyler) for his bath, shave and hair cut. Along with the bathing, the children laid out clothes in chairs in readiness for going to church on Sundays. On Sundays the family attended the First Christian Church in the 200 block of North Ballard. Sometimes neighbors were heard to comment, “There goes Kate and her brood to church.”

They also went to tent revivals where collections were taken to pay the visiting minister for traveling expenses with church members providing food and lodging. At times the church members gave the local pastor a “pounding “consisting of food his family would need for the winter. Christmas was a special time with a program at the church on Christmas Eve and a visit from Santa the next morning when the children found nuts, candy, fruit and perhaps toys in the stockings they had laid out for his visit. They knew that they had to take care of their toys for they would not have any more until the next Christmas.

Shorty and Kate were kind and loving but they were very strict and kept a tamarack switch handy for misbehavior. When there were dances anywhere within miles, the Heiskell family would go. Shorty and Kate were a sight to see — he was so tall and she measured only five feet and four inches. Some of the dance tunes were “Over the Waves,” “After the Ball,” the N-N Waltz” and “Westphalia Waltz.” The dance steps were the Two Step, Heel and Toe, New Shoes and the Square Dances. The family enjoyed visits to carnivals and silent movies where the player piano was pumped by someone while the show was going on.

There was also Buster Brown and his dog Tige and the Harley Sadler Tent shows, with Harley playing his usual role of “Red-headed Toby.” The Heiskell children started to school in the red brick building at 309 North Cuyler. Some of the teachers were Miss Mattie Kirk (Mrs. Ivy Duncan), Jenkie Collins (Mrs. Bob Campbell) and Miss Maude Hall (a sister to Mrs. Walter Purviance). The children were very good so that they could take turns ringing the bell in the tower and then slide down the banister that was as slick as glass.

The knees of the boys’ pants were worn from their owners playing marbles, and the girls’ dress tails were worn thin by their owners sitting on the steps or walks to play jacks that usually consisted of small pebbles. In the winter months, sometimes the only pupils present were those who lived close to the school. When Grover was in Pampa High School, he wrote an article describing Dr. Brunow’s apartment as an assignment for his English class. East of the Heiskell home at 725 Kingsmill there was a wheat field so tall that children were hard to find if they were playing in the field.

This wheat field was the place where the Heiskell children learned how to excel in sports that later earned them many trophies in track, baseball, football and basketball. The Heiskell home was a playground for all of the children, and Kate was the happiest when there were children around. Often she did not know how many she would have for a meal, but she would usually have something to feed them. Kate missed the children when they became older and left Pampa. She made a Place for several young people to live in the Heiskell home while they went to school.

She was recognized for her services to the community by being officially named ~Pampa’s Good Neighbor.”She died on November 3, 1960. Shorty became an avid golfer and played 18 holes when he was 81 years old. He died on January 11, 1973. * **

Most of this information was obtained from an article written by Avis Heiskell in 1968. The article was sent to the White Deer Land Museum by Kay ~ of Phoenix, Arizona. ***

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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