White Deer Land Museum

Oil Dollars Replaced The Oil Money

In 1916 John Antony Baggerman, whose parents had settled southeast of Pampa in 1907, bought Section 173 of Block B2 from the White Deer Land Company for $17.50 an acre. He met Odell Stokes at a dance near Groom, and they were married in the churchyard of the Baptist Church in White Deer on August 14, 1926.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

Their first home was a 10×16 foot shack, but in February, 1927,John started building a 13-room home from plans he had drawn. The large basement was dug by hand with a pick and shovel and the dirt was hauled off in a wagon.

During the depression years the family raised their own food and sold eggs and cream. Hogs were hauled to town and sold for $2.50 to $3.00 per hundred pounds live weight. Through the years John raised horses to sell and to use on the farm. A black Percheron stallion that weighed approximately 1800 pounds was the sire of many work horses around the country.

In 1944 the first oil well was drilled on the Baggerman farm. When John told Odell that oil was found on their land, she said, “I have never been very bossy, but there’s one thing we’re not going to do and that’s milk a bunch of cows to buy groceries as long as we’ve got oil coming out of the ground.”

The cows were sold and John purchased land with the oil money he received. When his eleven children were grown, he gave each one a half-section of land.

For many years John and Odell helped with the annual Grandview barbecue by donating the beef. They were honored by the Grandview community with a silver tray for their services.

John died in December, 1969, at age 75. In January, 1984, a barbecue and dance were held at the Grandview-Hopkins School in honor of Odell’s 75th birthday. She died, at the age of 76, the following February after having lived in the Grandview community for almost 60 years.

Roselle Baggerman Collingsworth, youngest daughter of John and Odell, began to work for the Grandview-Hopkins School in 1984 as the cook for the cafeteria. She also drives the school bus.

In 1916 Joseph and Maude (Oler) Fortenberry moved from Lone Oak in East Texas to Gray County . Their land, 20 miles south of Pampa , was on the northeast corner of SH 70 and FM 2477 which leads to Lake McClellan .

The Fortenberry home, one of the closest to present SH 70, was a convenient place for travelers to stop and have a refreshing drink of water.

One Fortenberry family member, an old English bulldog named “Bob,” was not as cordial as the rest of the family. Many times Joe and Maude returned to their home to find a salesman or traveler sitting on the roof of the house or the windmill tower. The visitors would be praying that the occupants of the house would soon return and rescue them from old “Bob.”

In 1917 Edwin Gleason Nelson drove a wagon pulled by a four-horse team from Oklahoma to begin farming in the newly developing area south of Pampa . As a graduate of Oklahoma A&M and as an expert with figures, he found employment at the Groom State Bank to earn extra income when he was not breaking sod and building a house that he could call home.

He soon became a respected member of the community, and, on September 18, 1921, he married Ellen Mae Fortenberry, daughter of Joseph W. and Maude Fortenberry. The newlyweds and another local couple, Guy and Maude Andis, were shivareed by the mischievous residents of Groom.

As the years went by, Edwin and Ellen Nelson continued farming, but they enjoyed traveling, especially to visit their son Joe and his wife and their three daughters. Joe’s family lived at various times in Oklahoma City , Enid and Dallas .

After Ellen died in January, 1974, Edwin invited his granddaughter Jan and her husband, Bill Ragsdale, Jr., and their infant twin sons, Jereme and Joseph, to come to live with him on the farm.

On July 2, 1984, Edwin died as the result of an automobile accident.

Jan Nelson Ragsdale, with her husband and sons, now lives on land that once belonged to both sets of her grandparents. She teaches at Grandview-Hopkins School where her father and her sons received their elementary education. In 1983 Jan, who is a talented artist, completed a three year project: painting a 12×18 foot mural depicting world, national and county history on a wall in the White Deer Land Museum .

Probably about 1921, residents of the’ Grandview community,had a picnic which began the tradition of having a barbecue at the end of each school year. For several years some of the farmers, which probably included L.P. Eakin, father of Paul and Jim, would fatten a calf for the next year’s feast. In later years John Baggerman donated the beef for the yearly event.

There are reports that a reunion of those who have lived in the Grandview community prior to consolidation with Hopkins is being planned for August, 1991.

(Stories of families mentioned in this article are in Gray County Heritage.)

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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