White Deer Land Museum

J. C. Short – Early Mail Carrier

Very likely J.C. Short attended a gathering which was also attended by George Tyng when Tyng was circulating a petition for a post office at Pampa. The gathering was held in a cottonwood grove close to the home of Henry Thut near present Lefors.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

On June 4, 1892,Tyng wrote to Frederic Foster: “There were 60 males and 36 females of dancing age. Those attending favored Clark against Hogg for Governor of Texas .

“We enjoyed the picnic with lots to eat and Thut’s ‘wine,’ and the adjournment to the Lovett dugout on Survey 28, Block B2 where dancing was kept up until Sunday morning’s sunrise made it impossible to longer set back the clock … besides which the fiddlers were exhausted. We sent down to the roundups near Cantonment for them on Saturday afternoon.

“The men were of all sorts. The women were a charming surprise … well dressed, well mannered and with self possession not to be expected from their isolated lives.

“Like a nice bird I sneaked off to my blankets under a cottonwood tree as soon as sure that the ‘pizen’ was working right; but Henry Taylor represented White Deer throughout the fandango with becoming energy.”

Seventeen days before the post office was established at Pampa , the post office at Lefors was established on October 12, 1892 with Henry Thut as postmaster. The post office was in the Thut home. A location paper in the National Archives shows that the name “Vera” was crossed through and the name “Lefors” was substituted. (Vera was the oldest child of Perry and Emma LeFors). The Postal Service-required that “Lefors” should be written with a small “f.”

J.C. Short was elected the first rural mail carrier and carried the mail from Mobeetie to Lefors. The mail was carried on horseback, and sometimes on buckboard, once a week. Often J.C. would make the long trip in the worst of weather carrying only a postal card.

James Cornelius Short had first come from Cook County to the Panhandle with a herd of cattle in 1889. The following year he added his herd to that of John Stump with the intention of homesteading in this area. His wife, the former Amanda Elizabeth McCarty, came by train to Clarendon where she was met by her husband. With two children they traveled by wagon about 70 miles to join the Stump group, who were living near the present site of Miami .

J.C. looked after his cattle and helped men who had large herds. There were no fences then to keep the cattle confined to one location. The plains were covered with tall grass, and the only trees grew along the banks of the creeks and rivers.

In 1891 J.C. and Amanda filed on a homestead quarter section of land about a mile north of present Lefors. The land was bought on a 40-year contract at $1.50 an acre.

The Short family lived in a half dugout for a number of years. The dugout had a huge fireplace in one end, two windows and a door in the other. The dirt floors-were covered with wooden boards.

A deep well pumped water into a barrel. From there the water flowed through the milk trough where the milk was kept cool in gallon crocks. The excess water ran into a dirt tank for cattle. A hinged lid covered the trough which was shaded by a large tree. Wild grapevines climbed the windmill tower.

At that time there were only a few scattered farms in the area. There was plenty of fresh water and grass and an abundance of prairie chickens, quail, deer and antelope. Large lobo wolves caused a great deal of trouble by stealing cattle.

Because most of the land was known as open range, settlers began to build fences running north and south to keep the cattle from drifting. The cowboys who were hired to ride and watch these fences were called “line riders.” Many disputes between ranchers were held over these drift fences.

A few yards in front of the Short home there was a well traveled trail over which cattle were driven to market at Dodge City . These cattle were of the longhorn variety and came from southern and central Texas . They were driven in herds of about 200 in a division and were kept about two hours apart.

Many arrowheads were found in a nearby ravine. This indicated that the site must have been an Indian battlefield.

In 1905 J.C. and Amanda built a six-room, two-story house where they spent the rest of their lives. During their long years of service, they did much for the growth and development of Lefors and Gray County . Amanda died on September 26, 1935, and J.C. died on January 26, 1943. Both are buried in Fairview Cemetary at Pampa .

Their children were George (who died at birth), Dora, Zella: May, Helen Lee, Margaret, Bertie Idella, Alice Etolia, James Michael “Jim,” Sophia Anna, Josephine Blanch and Charlotte Pauline.

Dora had two interesting experiences when she was very young. One day J.C. was digging post holes for a fence when he discovered that his small daughter was no longer with him. After the family and neighbors searched for some time, they found Dora wedged tight in a post hole.

Another time Dora was rocking her baby sister while Amanda was hanging washed clothes on the line. A large animal which looked like a dog came toward the little girl. Dora, who thought the animal was a dog belonging to the Thut family, said, “Hello, Sport!” The animal, a mountain lion, ran away and was later killed by Jim Williams.

Alice, who married John L. Smith at Lefors on June 6, 1943, was well known for her many philantrophies. With Vera Back she started the Alanreed McLean Museum in 1966. She died at McLean on October 3, 1980, and was buried beside her husband and parents in Fairview Cemetery at Pampa .

Bertie, who was a single woman at the time, was elected a school trustee when the present Lefors High School was built in 1928. She married Arthur Henry at Amarillo on February 16, 1929. For several years they lived near and in Perryton with their children Patricia Ann and James Arthur.

After J.C. Short died in 1943, the Henrys leased and later bought the Short ranch near Lefors. Now, in 1989, Pat Youngblood, the Henrys’ daughter, and her two daughters live on the land which Pat’s grandparents homesteaded in 1891.

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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