The J. S. Wynne Family Moved To Pampa In 1907

Jesse Smith Wynne was born July 24, 1861, on the old Wynne plantation near Henderson in Rusk County, Texas. Orphaned at an early age, he lived with his grandparents until he was seven. Then he lived with his uncle Will for two years before running away and going to work as a cowboy for Bobbie Farrell, an old trail driver, who had a government beef contract to supply west Texas . From 12 to 15 cowboys were needed to make a delivery of 2,200 head of cattle to each fort.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

After six years with Farrell, Jesse lived on Judge W. D. Irvine’s horse ranch near Kaufman , Texas , before going to Arkansas to visit his uncle Jesse W. Wynne. The younger Wynne accompanied his uncle to Tennessee , which he did not like. He spent a winter working in a stave factory in Arlington , Kentucky , before he returned to Judge Irvine’s horse ranch.

Those who knew Wynne when he was growing up said that his knowledge of horses was uncanny for he could handle horses as only the experts did. In later years he helped “Bones” Hooks, the famous black cowboy, to improve his skill in managing horses.

At the age of 18, Wynne developed malaria and was advised to leave the climate of Kaufman. In the fall of 1880 he was employed by S. V. Barton to help bring a thousand head of horses to the Panhandle. It had been planned to take the horses to Wolf Creek and winter them in Hansford County , but they stopped at McClellan Creek on the way.

It was November 14, 1880, and the ground was covered with snow. Wynne rode down the divide for a short distance and found a crossing. He was so impressed by the luxuriant green grass growing under the snow that he returned to tell Barton, “You won’t find a better place to winter the horses than right here.”

Soon after they camped that night, Barton mentioned that he owned nine sections of land somewhere in the area. He had made surveys for the state in 1873 and following years and had received the nine sections at 30 cents an acre in preference to pay of $3 a day. Barton got out his maps and discovered that he was camping on his own land.

The men with Barton constructed dirt sheds and dugouts and later built a rock house on Barton’s land on McClellan Creek about four miles north of Jericho . The men were paid $45 per month. Their board and mounts were provided, but they had to furnish their own beds.

The horses were fed on grass and on hay bought in Mobeetie. During the winter of 1880 and the spring of 1881, most of the horses were sold to various ranches. Wynne stayed with the few remaining horses until the summer of 1882 when he went to work for the Quarter Circle Heart ranch established by L. H. Carhart, the founder of Old Clarendon. The Quarter Circle Heart holdings extended north and south forty miles. The extent east and west varied from twelve to twenty miles. The ranch, crossed by many creeks, including Salt Fork, McClellan and Barton, ran about 26,000 head of the longhorn variety.

Usually the cowboys had very little to do in the winter, but they were paid all year so that hands would be available for spring and summer work. During the severe winters the Hearts put out “floaters” — one or two men from each of the four camps who went in a wagon to look for cattle and drive them back into the protection of the breaks. It took the stockmen new to the Panhandle country three years to learn that the cattle were smarter than the men and that cattle would go to the breaks by themselves.

The chief duty of the cowboys during winter was “bog riding.” In the low marshy places cattle bogged down and had to be pulled out. Cattle died if they were left in the bogs too long.

When Wynne first came to the Panhandle in 1880, there were no fences north of Red River or south of Cimarron . He saw his first barb-wire fence on the Diamond F ranch near the present town of White Deer . No cowboy would build fence or plow. When fences became necessary on the ranches, the owners had to turn elsewhere than to their cowpunchers for help.

An old freighter named Waggoner put up most of the fences in that section. He furnished his own working crew and the posts (which were cedar he had cut out of canyons) and he hauled the wire, but the company paid for wire. Waggoner was paid by the mile.

The Quarter Circle Hearts went south and east to buy cattle which were shipped to Wichita Falls and then to Old Harrold, and still later to Quanah.

McKinney , assistant manager of the Hearts, and his partner owned a hardware store in Mobeetie. During part of the winters McKinney sent Wynne to help with the store, and in 1885 Wynne left the ranch to work full time for the McKinney and Huffman Hardware Company. When sending supplies to the Diamond F ranch, Wynne often had occasion to correspond with George Tyng, who came to the Panhandle in 1886 as manager of the White Deer Lands.

In April, 1887, the hardware company sent Wynne to Panhandle with a stock of hardware to start a new store. He was paid $60 a month and board, but he slept in the store. He worked for McKinney and Huffman until the Southern Kansas ( Santa Fe ) R.R. reached Panhandle City at the end of 1887.

When Carson County was organized in 1888, Wynne was elected sheriff. The hardware company failed, and Wynne served attachment papers on himself and closed the store. In 1889, he bought a hardware store from Chandler and ran it until 1891.

About this time Wynne met Anna Minna Davies, a native of Wales , who had come from Kansas to Panhandle to visit in the home of Judge O. H. Nelson. On May 18, 1890, Jesse Wynne and Minna Davies were married At an evening service in the courthouse at Panhandle by the Reverend B. F. Jackson, Methodist circuit rider.

They lived at the N-N(former Diamond F) ranch until it closed in 1893. In July they moved to Panhandle and then to a ranch northeast of Panhandle. They moved back to the former N-N in 1895 to take charge for George Tyng. They returned to Panhandle when the former N-N land was leased to Jeffries and Beverly in 1898. Some time that same year they moved to their own ranch four miles southeast of White Deer in Block B2.

Wynne was the first man to buy land from the White Deer Land Company before it was divided. He was elected commissioner in Carson County and had held this office for six years when an official survey showed that he had actually been living in Gray County . He sold his eight sections of grass land in 1914.

In 1907 the Wynne family consisting of Jesse, Minna and their daughters, Alice and Beryl, moved to Pampa . They lived at 109 S. Cuyler in the house formerly occupied by the family of Eli and Georgia Vincent. Also in 1907 Wynne was elected president of the Gray County State Bank, a position he held until he retired in 1919. Although officially retired, Wynne was a tireless civic worker and was active in all affairs for the upbuilding of Pampa .

In 1926 Jesse and Minna Wynne moved to 317 N. Frost where he died in1940 and she died in 1947.

Wynne was a member of the band organized in the town of Panhandle by Alex Schneider, Sr., who had previously organized the first band in the Panhandle at Mobeetie. The Panhandle band played at the N-N and Turkey Track ranches and at the opening of East’s hotel at Hartley , Texas . Wynne, who played the violin was known as “a mighty good fiddler.”

In later years Wynne played on his “fiddle” while Roy Riley, long time art teacher in the Pampa schools, played on her “Jew.’ s harp.” After the deaths of Jesse and Minna Wynne, Roy Riley bought the Wynne house at 317 N. Frost.

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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