The Methvin Family Story
July 1, 2023
Pioneer Bluffs Prairie Talk by Nancy Methvin
Note: This is a computer generated transcript and will contain some inaccuracies
[0:28] Appreciate this. I was not crazy about coming here and speaking to anyone, and I can blame Jane back there for hooking me into this kind of program. I wasn’t even sure what kind of programs you people had, but I did get online and look at some of them, and they were very interesting, and the one that we just witnessed was very good also. I appreciate that. And We are not native Kansans, okay?
I’ll take that back. I have one son who is, who can claim to be.
But the rest of us, we’re not born in Kansas, but we dearly love Kansas, and that’s what this program, I suppose, is all about when they ask me to speak here.
But our family has always appreciated hearing these stories of these 100-year-old farms that people have.
Well, if you check our history, we had, we came from Louisiana and we had one that was a little more than 100 years.
And you can kind of learn a little bit about that today as we go into our history there.
Okay, our history with, first of all, this is the state of Louisiana, looks like a boot, hangs off into the Gulf of Mexico.
[1:42] Okay. So, it’s really down south. That little square in, or the, it’s not a nice square, but that is Natchitoches Parish.
Louisiana has parishes, not counties.
And so, when you talk about where you’re from, you’re from a certain parish.
And there are many of them there, but that’s where we were.
We’re right on the edge of the Red River.
[2:07] Let’s see if I can do this right. Okay. The word that looks like Natchitoches, It’s pronounced knack-a-dish, and if you follow the little blue squiggledy line to the right of it and went up to a place called, well, Campty, you can see on the right in the little dot, there’s a loop in the river right there, looks like just kind of a loopy thing.
That was our ranch. We sat in that loop, right there, and I’m going to give you the history of why we ended up right there, but it’s about, oh, 12, 15 miles north of town.
[2:46] And that was where we came from. And people in Burdick, I’ll have to say, because that was our first community that we knew around here, the Burdick area, they still call us the summer people.
Because we only came up here for one summer, okay? And every so often we’re asked about why we’re still here.
And I guess this talk is about why we’re still here. Okay, Louisiana was in 1714 a territory of France. It was not in the United States at all. They had not had the Louisiana Purchase.
[3:22] And so it was French territory, and the French were all over the place. And the French were concerned that the Spanish were going to come in there and take over part of their territories.
So the king of France rounded him up an explorer, and the explorer’s name was Louis Giraud to St. Denis. And St. Denis was asked to go sail up the river and build a fort to protect their territory in Louisiana. So he gathered his men and they sailed up. They started down in New Orleans. Now people will say, oh, well, New Orleans is bound to be the oldest city.
No. It was a little settlement. It had a group of some French, some Spanish, some Creoles, some Cajuns, some different things. But it was not an incorporated city as such. And, ever so often, everybody in New Orleans died with malaria and they would start over. So it was not the real choice place to live. So the French king said, go up the river and find a good spot and build a fort and claim that land, all that land for France. So he He did.
St. Denis went in the river down here in New Orleans and sailed up a little bit in the Mississippi, but it forks off. The Red River comes in there.
[4:48] He took the Red River and went up it as far as he thought he could.
When he got to this certain area that he really thought was a good place to land his boats and so forth, he stopped.
That was where Natchitoches is right there.
The land was inhabited by Caddo Indians, and so they were very friendly, very friendly Indians.
That was a big plus for the French. They went in, they built their fort, so they settled everything, and they started building up around the fort, little houses and so forth.
One of St. Denis’ men that came with him was named…
[5:37] Oh, let me see here. Jacques Goudon. Jacques Goudon, he was a lieutenant, and he came with Saint-Denis. And when they got the fort built, and he happened to be very friendly with the Indians.
He got along really well with the Caddos. And so, when they got the fort built, Saint-Denis, told Goudon, he said, you take a boat and go further up the river than where we are. Go up 10, 15 miles or however far you can go and build a trading post so that these Indians have somewhere to go and trade and they’re not right here in our town all the time.
[6:14] So he did. Gudon took some men, went up the river about 15 miles, and he went up to that loop that you look at on the map.
And he stopped right there at a big bluff, and he built a trading post up there.
And he sat there and traded with the Indians. He loved the Indians. In fact, he loved a lot of the Indians and married an Indian woman.
So he ended up with an Indian wife. He lived up there for a number of years. He and his Indian wife, which was interesting, he wanted to marry in the Catholic Church. Now, these were Frenchmen. So he had this Indian and he thought, okay, this isn’t going to work.
So he went down into Natchitoches and got him a priest and took his Indian bride down there and they got married and the priest christened her and he christened her Marie Anne Theresa de la Grande Terri, which meant daughter of the big earth.
And she’s listed on their records there, which you can still see, as a savant, which means a savage. In other words, she was a native.
They listed that on their parish records, and they are there at the Catholic Church today, that you can go and read those records.
[7:34] Anyway, Marie and Gunon, her husband, went back up. They lived at the trading post a number of years, and they had three daughters.
They never had any sons, but they had three daughters.
And so, they raised their daughters up there, and they traded with the Indians.
Of course, the Indians loved him, and they were always giving him extra land around there.
At that time, the Indians had control of most of the land, so they would give him, you know, if he wanted an extra something over here for a garden or a pasture or whatever, the Indians would say, you know, go for it. I mean, he had an Indian girl.
And so that worked really well for him.
[8:15] In 1743, a young man arrived at the fort from France, and his name was Dilexius Grappe.
Dilexius Grappe came in as a colonel in the army.
He also liked the Indians and got along well. He became good friends with Goudon, who was already up at the trading post.
He said, I’ll go up there and help him with the Indians.
And he, over a period of time, fell in love with one of the good old daughters and married her.
And so, that began a whole list of GRAP people who lived on that particular area in that loop of the river, or we used to call it the bend of the river. And somebody said, oh, there’s a movie by that name.
I don’t think there is.
I think it’s something else. but it was Carrie, not a, what was his name, Clark Gable or somebody made a, you know, something of the river, but I don’t think it was bend of the river, but it was close.
But that’s where these people were. D’Alexis Grepp and Gudon’s daughter, who was also named Marie, by the way, sat there and lived for a number of years and had one son.
And this son lived there in 1796, and he worked as a farmer.
[9:41] And he farmed some of the land that the Indians had given them.
And they all lived in this loop.
He had six children. Later on, one of his sons farmed in that area, and so on.
And it passed down through about six generations of Graps, and they stayed right there on that land, until one of the sons, who was named John, married an Anderson from around Natchitoches or some of the more settled areas, and they had ten children, but only three of them died.
Only seven of them lived.
It so happened that one of, this woman died when she had her last baby.
[10:28] And several of the children died. So, there was a man left, and he had some sons and three little girls.
One of those little girls was my husband’s mom, okay?
And so, she was there, and the other two little girls, and some older boys.
[10:48] Keep in mind one thing, none of these people spoke English. They all spoke French, okay?
The grandparents never knew a word of English. Now the father, he gradually, because of his interactions with the fort and other things, he began, he was able to learn some English and be able to talk to people in various areas and that kind of thing. But none of the others did. The grandparents never spoke a word of it. And so these children grew up kind of almost bilingual. The two older boys could speak some French, and they mixed it with Cajun and other things they heard. The little girls, however, because there wasn’t a mother in the house, the dad hired a black lady to come and stay there and take care of them. She spoke kind of a mix of English and black English, and so on. That’s what they spoke. They never really got into the French, but we always laughed about the two boys, because they were two of Jack’s, Jack is my husband, okay, Jack’s uncles, and they spoke French, or partially French all of their lives. Neither one of them could read and write well at all. They, would get lost driving to strange places, because they couldn’t read the road signs.
[12:12] They bought and sold cattle at an auction barn. They went down south of Louisiana, where they spoke French down there, to buy and sell their cattle.
When we were having reunions or meetings or anything, and the two of them were there, and they didn’t want anybody to know what they were saying, they’d speak French to each other, make the rest of the family mad.
They were like, we don’t speak French here, but those two did.
Of that. It was an irritant to some of the others, which shouldn’t bother anybody. But But, anyway, they were mostly farmers, most of them that lived up in this loop were farmers.
[12:55] I want to, let me switch over one. Okay, if you look on the map, and this, you can find this on a modern map today.
If you find the new, a new map, if you find Natchitoches, and you go up the river, that little squiggly thing, you will find an area that says Grapp’s Bluff.
It is still named after that family, and that’s where the trading post was.
And that’s where we ended up on the ranch.
Jack’s mother married a man from the hills. That’s what they called, our hills did not look like these hills out here.
But there was, there is hill country down there. It’s full of pine trees.
But he was a rancher.
And he liked ranching and cattle more than farming. So when they married, he said, he looked around at this area on the river and said, hey, you people are wasting your time digging this ground up. We need to run cattle out here.
And he started fencing in things and working and adding to and that sort of thing. So he built it.
[14:06] Up. At the time, they had maybe a thousand acres in that bluff, and he kept expanding and expanding until when we lived there and ranched there, we had about 2,000 acres in the circle, and another five or so that we leased.
[14:30] Where we lived, you could actually drive from our house. There was one road that went up into that bluff, by the way, and you had to use it to get there, and the same one to get out.
And our road, our house was the last one on the road.
And so, but you could leave it and go three different directions and go straight to Red River, either way.
This is a picture of, no, that’s St. Denis.
Okay, everybody honors St. Denis down there. There he is. Everything’s named after him.
There’s a big, you know, cemetery and everything else. He’s buried there. If you’ve seen Steel Magnolias, you walked right by his grave, or they did. That’s where that movie was made, and he’s buried in that big American cemetery there. And he’s always honored in Louisiana In France, also, they have statues to him, but this one is in the American Cemetery there in Natchitoches.
[15:34] This was the old house where Jack’s mother’s family lived. The grandparents lived in this house, and that is on the site where the trading post was for many years.
Now, after her parents, and especially after she married the cattle guy, they kind of did away with the trading post.
And by then, most of the Indians had moved more inland into Louisiana.
Many of them went kind of west.
[16:07] The town of Natchitoches was named after the Caddo Indians, especially after a Caddo Indian chief, and he had a brother named Natchitoches.
Now, if you’ve ever heard of Natchitoches, Texas, that’s where he went.
He went, he took his group, his family, his tribe, whatever, to Natchitoches, Texas, and set up a community there.
So, there was Natchitoches in Louisiana and Natchitoches in Texas, and there still is.
Many of the names around there are Indian names, so you just, you know, many of them also are French.
[16:43] French and a few Spanish thrown in. And about the time they were living in this house, the Spanish gave them a really hard time, because they did come in there and wanted to take over some of the territory.
And they formed a highway from Natchitoches towards the Sabine River.
And it’s best known for probably the fact that Davy Crockett took his men through there on the way to the Alamo.
And they went through, and there was another fort further up called Fort Jessup.
And Davy Crockett and his men spent the night there and kept going on west and across the Sabine River, and went into Texas and went ahead and went to the Alamo from there, which is too bad.
Which is too bad. He should have stayed, okay? But, anyway. And that’s the area that we came, from. Very historical. Lots of history around there. That and the Red River is not a little bitty river. You know, I’m sorry, but when we first moved to Kansas, we’d cross something, and it would say it was a such and such river and we’d go, where is it? You know? It’s this little stream down through here. The Red River looks like this and this is all of it. I mean, And it’s huge. And it’s a…
[18:06] They call it an evolving river, because over the years, it’ll swing one direction, and then it’ll swing back the other way.
So if you have land right on the river, you might have a big sandbar one year that you can do something with, with cattle or cotton or whatever, not cotton down there.
But the next year, that all might be underwater.
So you don’t count your acres by the land on the river. You can’t say, I’ve got X amount of acres because it goes up to the riverbank.
That doesn’t work because next year that’s probably gone.
And it’s a strange river, it’s the way it is.
But it’s not small. You can see the bend in it. Our land was just sitting in that bend.
[18:57] Almost every tree you see on it is a pecan tree. There were hundreds of pecan trees all the way in there.
And that bank right there was very, because of the river and the way it moved and changed, that bank is very capricious in that it might cave at any time.
So we always told our children, you know, stay away from the bank of the river when you go up that way, or when we’re up there doing something, riding or working.
Don’t get close to the bank. Well, one year, for some reason, I don’t know why he did it, my husband decided to plant a little field of, I think it was corn, he was going to plant, up there right on the river. And he planted it, you know, pretty close. And he was driving along on his tractor and he was having a good day and he was getting his planting done and all that. And he got that tractor too close to the edge of that bank, like this bank would be right here and one of these wheels slipped off and he realized that he couldn’t get that wheel back and he just jumped as hard as he could and jumped over on the bank and that tractor went whoosh and so we have a tractor and a, planter and I’m not sure what I’ll end the Red River today. I doubt that anybody has ever gone in there. That is a deep, deep river so it’s in there somewhere unless Someone has you know gone in and dug it up.
[20:23] But we always gave him a hard time and said you know if you can’t follow your own Instructions about staying away from the river. What do you think?
[20:31] So anyway, that’s where our land was And we bought and sold cattle. That’s what we did that was our business and.
[20:41] The cousins Some of the people of the other rap families that had grown up there, They moved south of Natchitoches, and they raised cotton.
They were big cotton farmers, and a lot of them are there today.
They’re big, some of his cousins are right down there raising cotton.
This is another one of the river and moss and such. It’s a very Louisiana looking picture. I know.
[21:09] Let’s see, okay This is some of our cattle up under trees, and that’s one reason, we came to Kansas in the first place because cattle in Louisiana in the summertime were hot and.
[21:24] And they would get up under trees and just sit right there and try to cool off.
And you’re not going to gain any weight sitting under this tree trying to cool, you know?
So Jack would constantly, in the summer, he would try to find somewhere to send a few.
He wouldn’t send a whole lot, but a couple of truckloads of cattle somewhere.
He had sent them to Nebraska, to Idaho, to…
I don’t think he’d ever sent any in to Kansas until we came here But anyway that was that was one of our great projects was to get those cattle out of there in the summertime because it was too hot Okay, this is what the pastors looked like down there basically and, All that you can’t see the white too much in the background a lot of that is birds white birds, They’re white egrets, and they come up out of the gulf, and they’re all over the place, and they ride around on the backs of your cattle.
If you see pictures from the south, you see that in Florida too, where there are white birds sitting on top of the cattle.
They’re eating the bugs off the cattle, so they’re not hurting them.
Yeah, it’s probably helping them, but anyway, there are lots of those white egrets.
I could look out my back window there and just the ground would be covered with them sometimes.
[22:43] Let’s see Natchitoches the oldest city in the Louisiana purchase, Not only was it the first one there and the fort with the first it is listed as the oldest city in the entire Louisiana purchase when in that purchase was made they were already incorporated as a city there and they had French mostly French Indians and, Other people who had come in there to farm or whatever So that’s how it is listed on their registers the fort is now rebuilt it sits there if you are, Tourist Lee inclined to go there someday you can go to the fort and see where it was built, And all about it, It’s famous for food I’ll tell you that first. The food down there is wonderful. It’s famous for a meat pie.
[23:38] In fact, that meat pie is sold all over the United States as Natchitoches meat pies. You can look it up online.
Okay, they are a looks like a tart folded over tart with spicy meat inside. It’s really good, But they’re really well known for that. They’re known for their Christmas festivals that they have every year.
They have a lot of Christmas lights on the riverbank.
You’ve seen Steel Magnolias and their big party, and they were dancing around and having fun, and the river was behind them. That’s it.
At Christmas time, they have these big celebrations.
It’s known for its brick streets. The streets are really old, and they’re brick.
Every so often, somebody wants to take up the brick streets and say, Hey, why don’t we fix our streets, because they’re so rough?
My mom used to call them the hysterical ladies. The historical ladies would have a fit, and say, No, we can’t change the streets, because they’re historical, and they’ve been here for all these years, and so, therefore, they’re still there, all those brick streets.
Yeah, they’re rough, but everybody loves them.
[24:51] Let’s see. I mentioned iron grill work. The buildings on Front Street in Natchitoches have the big old iron grill work, just like New Orleans.
You see pictures of New Orleans, it’s the same thing.
The main cemetery dates from the 1700s, and St. Denis is buried there, as many, many of the early, early settlers.
And some of the Indians are buried in there.
[25:19] Let’s see, movies, this is a prime place to make movies. The movie people like it.
If you’ve seen the Western movie Horse Soldiers, John Wayne, William Holden, I don’t remember which year it was, but they came down on the river and made their movie there in the plantation that they used in that movie is just south of town.
And they rode, we all laugh when we watch that movie, because they’re supposed to be riding back and forth through this, riding through this big, deep, I don’t know if it’s supposed to be a, what it’s, we call it a slough.
But it’s water, and it’s kind of, kind of like a swamp, okay.
But they picked a place up on the river, and that’s really the only place that thing is.
And they just rode back and forth and back and forth through it, and the way they filmed it, You’d think they just rode and rode and rode through that thing.
But anyway, it’s a very good movie, not too bad. Steel Magnolias, most people, at least the ladies, have watched Steel Magnolias.
And if you watch it and you look at the street scenes or the houses or the storefronts, that’s all Natchitoches.
The church they used for the wedding was the First Baptist Church downtown.
[26:39] There are just a lot of big historical places in that movie.
Okay, I’m trying to think if there’s anything else you need to know about that, We live there like I say Jack and I married in, 1962 61 years ago, it’s been a while, but we moved out on the ranch and.
[27:02] Raised our first well we had first our first what five kids there But we were raising cattle, and he was training, working with horses.
We were, that ranch is what was well known for really good quarter horses.
We were members of the National Quarter Horse Association, Louisiana Quarter Horse People, and our kids rode in quarter horse shows, that kind of thing.
They liked, we had a lot of really good horses. In fact, Jack trained one that was so good that we had a girl in town that was winning all kinds of things in high school rodeo.
And so she came and asked if she could borrow that horse to go to the national finals.
She qualified to go to the national finals in cutting. And he said, okay.
So we were all shocked that he’d let her take it, but he did.
And she loaded him up and they went to, I think they were in Las Vegas that year.
I’m not sure where she went, but anyway, and she read and she did well. I Don’t even remember where she placed, but it was good.
[28:11] Some of the differences there the climate down there is hot now you think today’s hot hey the humidity is not bad in here Louisiana you’d just be sitting in a pool of water. I mean the humidity is It’s terrible there.
[28:27] It has lots of rain, which we would give anything for right here, I know, now.
We won’t rain so bad. But everything there is green, green, green. Lots of trees everywhere.
Most of the trees are pecan trees. Our ranch was full of pecan trees.
And we had people that came in and picked them up on shares every fall. They picked up just tons and tons of pecans, and we turned them into the local co-op, and they sold them.
And so, one thing we really missed when we came to Kansas was pecans, and that’s an odd thing to miss, maybe, but it was.
[29:06] Everything, I tell you, you can stick a stick in the ground down there, and two or three days later, you’ve got a tree.
Everything grows like mad. And so, we had to run bush hogs, I don’t know what you call them up here, clippers?
Clippers, bush hogs, behind a tractor to clip the pastures.
We had to run those every day of the summer almost. Jack helped high schoolers, hired and some black boys that had no jobs and other people, whoever he could get to run one.
And they ran and clipped pastures right and left all the time.
If you didn’t clip them, they grew up and you had a jungle in your pasture.
So you couldn’t graze cattle on that. You had to run those things.
That was a job. The first time he saw the Kansas Flint Hills, the first thing he said was, you can’t clip these.
[30:01] That’s good. Anyway, because the grass was good, and there was a lot of it, you could run a cow down there to every three acres.
Now, the people out west think we’re crazy, but that’s true.
You could run way more cattle.
The grass was not as strong as the Kansas grass we’ve discovered here.
[30:23] We had lots of snakes down there. Okay, that is not a plus for that area.
I told my children way down there, I think there’s seven poisonous snakes in the whole United States and every one of them live in Louisiana.
Okay, that’s true. They’re all there and you have to be careful.
Well, on our ranch, we had moccasins by the dozens.
You watch where you step. You watch when you move a pile of brush or anything.
You keep your yard mowed really good.
All that kind of good stuff.
We had big ponds on our place. One in particular, it was so big, they called it a lake.
They called it Possall Lake.
Possall Lake not only was full of moccasins, it was full of alligators.
And so you didn’t go fishing in Pasaul Lake. You know, you looked at it and once in a while we’d go up there and shoot things.
We’d go up and shoot snakes or whatever.
We had a black man that liked to work for us a lot.
And he was always wanting to go up there and go fishing. And Jack warned him.
He said, you know, you’re going to mess around up there and get in trouble, you better watch for the alligators. But he’d go.
[31:40] And he went raccoon hunting at night, so he could do that out in the trees.
But he went up there one night and he came back in just a short time.
And he came back and he said, you don’t ever want to fish in Passau Lake.
And we were like, we told you that. He said, all there is is a bunch of ice floating all over the lake.
And so they stayed away from there.
But every now and then, we would go up and shoot snakes.
One day, Jack had gone to town, I think he had hurt his leg, Thank you so much for watching. I’ll see you next time.
[32:15] And he had had some surgery on his knee, and he was coming home from physical therapy.
He was in his pickup truck, and he was driving home, and as he came up the road towards our house, he met an alligator right in the middle of the road, just coming down the road like it was going to town.
So he stopped, and he looked at it, and he said, well, we can’t let that thing crawl around up here around our homes and our yards.
[32:39] And he had a rope in his truck so he got out and he got his rope and he went out there and if you kind of mess with them their heads will flip up you know they’ll they’ll kind of want to threaten you and their heads will shoot up and he roped that alligator he roped him and then he pulled him up tight and tied him to his truck well then he got in his truck and he drove it up and the first house he came to was his mother’s and she had a chain-link fence around her house so he pulled that alligator up in there and tied it to that chain link fence and then he got out and he went in and called the fish and game people and he said we have an alligator out here on our property that we’d like to do. Back then you couldn’t kill them. They, were a protected species. Now you can shoot one in a minute because there’s too many of them. But anyway, we couldn’t kill them then. So the fish and game man came right out and And he looked at that alligator and he said, oh man, I got to get rid of that thing.
So they worked and they pulled it up in his truck, it got in the back of the game warden’s truck and he took off with it and Jack was like, okay, the alligators guns were okay.
[33:46] Well that night he called our house and he told Jack, he said, if you ever find another alligator, don’t catch him, don’t call me, just shoot him and go dump him in the river.
Nobody will ever know.
[33:59] He said he had to haul that thing all the way to Baton Rouge Something to do with his job and his performance, And they required him to take it all the way down south and he said it was a mess trying to haul an alligator around anyway, that was, That was the end of that and we didn’t catch any more alligators. We tried not to try to stay away from them, all this happened before the 1970s and in the 1970s, I mean, we were going along raising cattle, doing what we do, and raising our kids, had them in school, different things. We had a daughter and three sons at that point.
[34:39] In the early 70s, Jack’s dad died. They were very close. They’d worked together for years and years.
That was hard, but not only hard, it turned everything over to him and his brother to run this ranch.
He had to keep up with all the cattle numbers and everything.
So, then in 1974, we had a 10-year-old daughter, and she came up with a knot on her leg.
And we thought, maybe we better go get this checked, you know, and better go to the doctor and see. You’re always taking kids to the doctor for something or other, and you don’t get excited until you go.
But we went to the doctor, and it turned out that she had an osteogenic sarcoma, which is a rare form of bone cancer.
Okay? And she had that in her leg. And so we were in and out of hospitals for a year, that particular year with her.
And she didn’t, she lived until just before her 11th birthday.
[35:45] So we lost her that year. And then the following year, in 1975, we had another baby.
It was a little girl, which everybody celebrated, and then in 1977, we were all gone to, I was at a school function with my kids, and Jack was out, and our house caught fire and burned down.
We were not there. The wires shorted out somewhere.
[36:16] That’s what they told us anyway. So, that was not a fun set of years there in the 70s.
We were thinking, okay, so, you know, somebody’s got our number somewhere.
Things aren’t going well.
So, after the house burned, we were sitting there trying to determine about, you know, rebuilding, what we’re going to do here and there.
And Yonion Jack said, well, it was in the fall, and he said, why don’t we take some, go take some of our cattle next summer somewhere out west and go with them for a little while and just take a break. He said the boys need a break, we all need a break, we need to go somewhere different. And I thought well that sounds good to You know, we hadn’t had time to really plan like we should for the house.
[37:00] And I said, okay, let’s go somewhere. I said, where do you want to go?
And so I told him, I said, you can go anywhere except Montana.
He always liked Montana. And we’d been up there twice to look at ranches.
And every time I went there, I thought I was at, you know, at the end of the world.
And I thought, I’m not going to Montana to live.
So I told him, I said, I don’t want to go to Montana, but you go somewhere else, and that’s fine.
It’s only for the summer anyway, so it wasn’t any big deal.
So he started traveling around.
And he went to all sorts of places. I know he went to Idaho, he went to Nevada, he went to Nebraska, looking at places to lease.
And it was kind of hard to find. You know, people wanted to sell things, but they didn’t want to lease a ranch for the summer. But he looked and looked.
And then, so I know one night he called me and he said, I have a ranch I think we can lease.
And I said, where is it?
He said, well, it’s in Idaho.
No, wait a minute, that was in Nevada. And I thought, okay, the only thing I knew about Nevada was Las Vegas, you know?
And I thought, okay, well, I don’t mind going there for the summer.
Well, then he called back and said, no, that deal fell through.
One of the men that owned the property backed out.
[38:15] So he said, I’m going to look at some places. I met a man, and I’m going to look at some places he has in Kansas.
And I said, whatever.
So he came to Kansas. The man he had met was named Bob Hudson.
He was one of the directors of Hudson Oil.
[38:36] And Hudson Oil owned land all over the place. Still, probably still do.
But I know they own several big ranches.
And he went to a big one around Eskridge and another one out of Manhattan and one here in Chase County.
And when he got here to Chase County, he just fell in love with it. He took one look at the hills and said, this is what we want. And he called me and he said, okay, I’ve finalized a deal, we’re going to come to Kansas. And I thought, okay, you know, what did I know about Kansas? Nothing. I thought I’d never been here. I thought it was flat. And I thought, I can’t remember what I thought.
Well, yeah, they grow wheat in Kansas. I was trying to remember what I knew about Kansas and it wasn’t much, but I said it didn’t matter because I’d go anywhere for a summer, like a vacation anyway. It was going to be kind of like camping out with all these kids.
So we came home.
[39:33] Got a trailer load of horses and hauled them up first and put them on the ranch.
Then he came back and he got one of our boys and all the rest of us really and we loaded things up.
I pulled a little U-Haul because we didn’t have much stuff. Our house had burned down, but people had given us stuff so we had dishes and things we would need and my folks, my mother was a music teacher and she didn’t think I could live without a piano or an organ.
One of the other stuff she had given us once, we had all that thing with us, you know, stuff like that. And he had come up here and rented a little house for us. And he rented it just south of Burdick on Diamond Creek. It was the old Atkinson Ranch there that some of you probably know a lot about more than me. But it was owned by Leon and Carolyn Nelson at the time. And he rented a little house from them that was on their place. And so he told me, he said, there’s beds in the house, there’s a couch. I went and bought a couch and I thought, oh man, there’s no telling what he bought. And just to put in it. And.
[40:45] Then he said, but there’s no, there’s no table. He said, we’ll have to eat in the kitchen because there’s no table. And I thought, oh, so what? You know, we don’t care. So we were kind of camping out. So the kids and I, we loaded our Suburban. I drove it. He drove a cattle truck with more horses and a good cattle dog. And one of the boys rode with him and I took our oldest son so he could take care of the baby because I had a little two-year-old girl and another son. And he took care of those for me. And we headed for Kansas. Well, the only thing I can remember about that first drive up here was we got off the interstate somewhere around Cassidy and there was a sign out there that said Prairie Chicken Capital of the World. I don’t know, I guess that sign’s still there, I don’t know.
[41:34] But I looked at my son, who was, he was what, 13, 14, riding with me. I said, what’s a prairie chicken you reckon? And he’s like, I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out, you know. And we discussed prairie chickens most of the way on in because we weren’t sure what it was. Anyway, we drove up in there and we drove to this little house that he had rented and we unloaded our kids and we said okay and then Carolyn and Leon Nelson came over. Super nice neighbors. They were really good and kind to us.
They were the first people that we met here and she brought my kids cookies so I loved her forever. You know and that kind of thing and so we said okay this this is it and then he took us up into the hills the next day I was like, you know, are you sure this is where you want to be?
All right, that’s Jack on the left and his dad over there on the right.
His dad was the one that really started the ranching business in their family.
[42:39] This, this is part of our, I didn’t show you these. Okay, this is part of our ranch in Louisiana.
In fact, that’s part of our home in the background, the one that burned up.
And then that’s one of my boys. These pictures were taken just not too long before we moved by a newspaper and that’s why they’re good because they wrote a good newspaper article about it. That’s Jack moving some cattle around. We, did we did business in Shreveport with a bank up there and they had asked the paper to do to do an article of this ranch before we ship cattle. You can see all those trees, pecan trees out there and you don’t see wide open pastures like you see out here. That was a set of pens that we had and we had really good pens. They built the corner post and a lot of the others out of cross ties. We had a railroad not too far and whenever they tore up the railroad and put in all new stuff, Jack and some help would go down there and load up truckloads of cross ties and bring them out there. So we had stacks of lumber handed, ready to build things with.
[43:53] That’s another one with one of the boys. And that was one when he’s working with one of his horses, but that’s not the one that went to the – I was hoping I’d add one that went to the national finals, but that’s not him. This one was okay, but not as good as That’s the other one.
[44:16] Oh, I guess one thing I forgot to mention, too, down there we had a lot of cross-bred steers.
We had some really nice, big, tall Brahma bulls. You know what a Brahma bull is?
It’s got the hump on him and everything is a big, nice, white thing, they’re real pretty.
And we had some nice, pretty ones. And we were real proud of those Brahma bulls, and we got, you know, cross them with an Angus, you get a Brangus calf, and you cross them with a Hereford, you know, and you get a Braford Whatever and they may had real good big thick hives.
[44:51] Well, we love those frame of bulls and when we moved to Kansas we thought oh, this would be so nice You know we bring those bring my bulls up here. We’ll really have something, Well listen the first winter we were here. We brought the spring we brought three I know maybe four of them the first year We brought them up here, and as soon as it snowed those things laid down on the ground and died, I mean they didn’t even think about living we tried everything we put them on some hay, We took feet you know feed out and water out whatever you need and they died right there, Jack said well, we won’t bring any more rainbow bulls up here. Don’t think that’s going to work on our cattle, This was our main big barn that we had down south, Okay I’ll stop right here and insert just a little piece of family history because so many people asked me about it, Or ask him when they find out our name, This man’s name is Henry Methvin Henry Methvin is known in the annals of history as.
[45:55] The man who rode with Bonnie and Clyde Okay, if you watch the history channel, Sooner or later They’ll give you the story of Bonnie and Clyde and what went on and so on and the next thing you know here comes Henry Miffin right in the middle of it. And people always, ever so often, the History Channel plays that thing. And when they do, we get all these phone calls. We saw this person, you know, named Miffin, that’s riding with Bonnie and Clyde. Is that kin to you? I want to say no, but it’s a lie, because he was. He was a distant cousin of Jack’s father.
So I always say, you know, we didn’t know him, they didn’t know him, but he was a distant cousin Jack’s father knew who his father was but none of us met him. I actually, tell you the truth, had a…
[46:48] Aunt and uncle down south that didn’t meet Monty and Clyde, they didn’t know who they were at the time, but they drove up in their driveway and wanted to wash their car.
It was real muddy. And so my uncle and aunt sitting out there by themselves way out in the woods, and they said, sure, you know, you can wash your car at our well.
And they got out and she got out and helped him and she had on this long dress.
They watched them and they thought, hmm, they were all dressed up, but they were washing this car.
And they washed it really good, it was an old-timey car, and they got all through, and he was very mannerly.
He came over to the porch where they were and thanked them. She got back in the car, and he thanked them for letting them wash the car, and they got in it and drove off.
And my uncle and aunt thought, well, that was nice, they were a nice couple.
The next day, they saw their picture in the paper.
And it was Bonnie and Clyde, and they were like, oh my word, you know.
But Henry Method rode with them until actually his father managed to kind of pull a little trick to get him away from them.
And when they were killed, he was not with them because they had stopped in a town just north of where they were and sent him in for sandwiches.
And then they got nervous because one of the police or the cops came down the street and they ran off and left him there.
[48:14] And so, he was trying to find a way to get back out to his place, and they drove out through the hills where his father lived.
They lived in kind of northern Louisiana.
If you go to Shreveport and you drive to Monroe, in between there, there is a road that turns off and there is a Bonnie and Clyde Museum right there.
But anyway, on that road, if you take it and drive up through the hills, you can find where Henry’s family lived.
And so, Bonnie and Clyde went that way, and Henry’s father had parked his truck up on a hill.
He was so scared that the rangers that were after them was going to kill his son.
And so, he was trying to figure out something to get them in trouble so his son wouldn’t get killed.
So, anyway, he parked his truck and raised the hood, so it looked like he had trouble, and he knew they would recognize his truck.
So he got under the truck to hide, and they came running up the hill or over the next hill and they saw it.
And they said, oh, let’s go over here and stop because they knew it was him.
Well, there were Texas Rangers on both sides of the road.
[49:26] And when they pulled up at the car and stopped, they didn’t even get the motor off.
They just shot it full of holes, both sides. So they had no chance whatsoever.
And he was up under his truck all this time, so he didn’t get hurt.
But if you go to the Bonnie and Clyde Museum, which you can as soon as you walk in the door, there’s a big old picture of Henry Method.
We wish they’d take his name down, but they don’t.
In there. And pictures of them, you know. And the car’s in there, the whole bit.
[49:58] This is him with Clyde Barrow, outlaw man. And we don’t think he ever killed anybody, but he did go with them on some robberies, and he did drive their car when they shot some people.
They would shoot anybody, especially law people.
They hated rangers and they hated sheriffs because Clyde had been in prison.
[50:22] And he said he was badly treated and all that kind of good stuff, like most prisoners probably would say.
But anyway, he hated all of them. But that’s, I guess, our accidental claim to fame, and we try to not let anybody know about it if we don’t have to.
But people see that thing, and then they immediately call and say, you know, was that some of your family?
And I always say, not a close family. Wasn’t anybody close. Okay. Anyway, this one is up here.
All right. So, we left all that. We came up here with all these kids.
And we tried to get our ranch going out in the hills. We loved those hills.
The boys and I rode, and the only help Jack had for that first summer, we didn’t know anybody. We didn’t know anyone when we drove up.
The only people we met for quite a while was Carolyn and Leon, and of course he was doing his own thing, and she was, and her children.
But it was really nice, because she had a little girl that was almost the same age as our little girl.
So I had a place to leave her when I would go up in the hills and help them move cattle around and, So the boys and I would go up and help Jack we ride and move cattle whatever there was nothing up there, On the all the hills there wasn’t a single.
[51:41] There wasn’t anything we’d take our big trailer up there And that was it and we’d move from one area to another but we loved those hills I wrote my mom one time and I told her I said, it’s just like a John Wayne movie out here. I said, you you’re riding along and you expect Indians to come up over that hill any minute. You know, I mean they don’t come, but you think they’re going to. It looks like that and it’s just beautiful. And I took pictures, pictures, pictures, pictures, photographs. I sent them home to different people and I said, this is God’s country right here. You, know, the only thing we didn’t like about, well, necessarily where we were is that there was no buildings on it at all.
I mean, we didn’t have anywhere really to live other than we were renting this little house.
But anyway, for the summer, it was great.
You know, we were having a good time.
[52:34] I know one day we rode up, it was Jack and I and our two oldest boys, and we had moved some cattle and it was real cloudy, some kind of big thunderheads rolling along. And Jack said, maybe we had a big trailer up there, truck and trailer parked in the middle of the hills. And he said, we may, we better go back over by the trailer, get ready to go back to the house in case it rains. Well, we rode that way. And while we were riding along, I didn’t, wasn’t paying a a whole lot of attention and all of a sudden a big lightning bolt hit and it, came down and it struck just not too far from where Jack was riding and fire just went boom you know and it proved that this is really the Flint Hills because a.
[53:17] Fire just went everywhere and we were like oh my gosh Jack jerked he had a I don’t know if he had a jacket he had something or one of the boys had said they pulled all those off they went out there and beat that fire out and he’s He told everybody to get themselves in the trailer at that point, but that was the first experience we had with the fact that these hills would burn madly if you left them alone.
That lightning could actually start a fire.
Louisiana, lightning could hit you all over the place. It’s wet.
It’s not going to do anything. You might get shocked, but you’re not going to burn up.
Anyway, that was interesting. The one thing I missed up here the most were trees.
We rode around out there, there weren’t any trees. There were a few.
And I kept thinking, gosh, this country has no trees.
But it was okay. Then our closest community was Burdick.
[54:16] We were down on Diamond Creek, but that was the closest place.
So our boys soon got to know some Burdick kids, and they invited them to join 4-H.
Well, our boys were big 4-Hers in the South, but 4-H in the South is through the school system.
It’s not through the community. The schools have big clubs.
And so, they were like, whoa, we get to go to just, you know, this little small club.
And they joined their, the 4-H club and enjoyed that. And we got to know some more people that way in Burdick.
So, that was good.
And I met the most interesting, one of the most interesting ladies I have ever known in Burdick at that point.
[55:01] Her name was Bonnie Sill, and she and her husband, Raleigh Sill, were very super nice people, and they were up to their eyeballs in history.
They loved historical things, and Bonnie loved to talk about the history of the area, and she was working on the Santa Fe Trail, and getting some sites set up on the Santa Fe Trail that came through that area, and all sorts of things.
So, she and I had lots of really great visits together, and then she told me, she said, you ought to research those pastures you’re on out there, because they were part of that 101 ranch.
[55:40] And I said, no, that couldn’t be, because I know where the 101 is. It’s in Texas. And she goes, no, there’s also one up here. And I said, okay, I’m going to find out about that. So, I went to to work and research the 101, and sure enough, there was one in Kansas. But it’s the 101 is a confusing thing to people. Everybody thinks they have only one. However, there were three 101 ranches strung around. One was in Texas, one was in Oklahoma, and one was up here. And so I went to work and wrote a whole big long history of the 101 here.
This one. And spent most of the summer working on that. But soon it became fall. I was working on that and it was fall and I thought we got to get our boys in school, you know, it’s going to be Christmas. We got to go home and build a house. There were a lot of other things to do than write and research.
And so Jack came in one evening and he said…
[56:45] We can’t go home yet because I have to ship these cattle and I have to have help and you’re it, You know you and these boys so you can’t go home He said i’d be up here by myself and I thought well, that’s your fault. You got us up here, But anyway, I said well the deal was we would come and stay this summer and then we come home, He said I know it but it’s not working out that way We’ve got to stay and do this and he had a good argument going there, I guess and then he kept saying well We don’t have anywhere to live down there yet. Anyway, Why don’t you wait and we’ll go ahead and do a year here.
We’ll do, you know, until we ship the cattle and so on. And I said, well, we’ll ship them before Christmas. That’s another year.
[57:25] But anyway, he said, okay, well, let’s see what we can do. Well, we decided to stay for a while, maybe.
And so, we put the boys in center school system because that was where they were, I don’t know, that was their district or whatever you call them out here.
And we had three boys that had to go to school. And I said, okay, we put them in there.
So, we stayed that fall, and then we stayed, and we shipped the cattle.
Boys were busy in school, and they loved the school.
And I was like, this is odd. Boys never loved school, especially not our oldest one.
And he came in the first day, and I said, what do you think about that school?
And he said, oh, I love that school.
And I was like, yeah, why is that?
And he said, I went in the first class and sat down, and it was full of girls.
[58:16] Well, our children in Louisiana had been in nothing but private schools all their life, all of them.
They had been, we had a private school. In fact, there were two private schools in that town, in Natchitoches, because there were a lot of problems in the public schools.
And so there were two private schools, and they were in one of those.
They’d never been in a public school.
I said, okay, we’ll take this for a while. Anyway, we stayed until Christmas, and then we went home for Christmas to see my folks and to spend Christmas with them.
And to our great surprise, nobody wanted to go back.
They were like, oh, let’s go back, you know, up to Kansas. We’re not through with this, that, and the other.
So we went back, and we spent that winter, which was the worst winter of our lives up here.
That was the winter of 78, and it snowed, I don’t know. Some of you probably remember that.
We, listen, I’d never seen snow till I was a teenager.
And we came up here, and all of a sudden it snowed, and you couldn’t drive, you couldn’t go anywhere.
It just covered everything. School was out for a week or two, and the roads were terrible.
It was a mess. But anyway, we lived through it.
[59:38] That next fall, we had another baby boy, and we decided that we would stay for a couple of years.
We kept adding years on these things. I don’t know. He talked me into this, I think.
He kept saying, oh, we’ll just stay for another year and see how it works, you know.
The cattle were doing great. The grass was good. Everybody, the kids were loving it.
And I was like, okay. So, I went back to work on the research on the 101.
And this is the main information on the 101 in Kansas, not everywhere else, okay?
The most famous 101 Ranch is in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
[1:00:19] And the reason it’s famous is that it also ran a Wild West show.
And it had a traveling show, and it traveled around to different places.
And they always called it the 101, you know, traveling show.
But it’s sometimes now referred to as the Miller Ranch. Some Miller people owned it.
But anyway, they traveled around and they hired, excuse me, they hired good people like Tom Mix and a bull rider.
And I have the bull rider’s picture, if I get to it, and I’ve walked out of your range there, sorry.
And his name was, let me see if I can get him up, I’ve got clips, I’m like, bless her heart, the other lady that lost all her paper there.
This there’s the bull rider.
[1:01:13] He was famous for throwing bulls by biting them in the ear and throwing them.
He didn’t touch them, he just got them by the ear and pulled them down all the way and flipped them over.
That’s the famous Bill Pickett, and he was a very famous bulldogger, and that was the picture they made of him at Burdick one year.
But he did that for the 101 in Oklahoma, so he was real well known for that.
The man just before that, him, was Mr. Hilton.
Okay, there was a group of people over in England and Scotland, and they formed a land and cattle company.
They, and they bought 7,000 acres out here in Kansas.
And then they sent this Mr. Hilton over here. He was actually from Scotland.
They sent him over here to run the ranch for them.
And so he got out here and looked at all this and started putting it together.
And they already owned about a hundred and sixty something thousand acres in Texas And that’s where your hundred one brand came from out there.
[1:02:19] Mr.. Hilton came here and started setting things up and, Trying to add to the ranch and adding property, and he was having a hard time and then in, 1886 I believe a blizzard hit and it was a terrible terrible blizzard out here They said the records, the history records tell you that 100 settlers died.
A lot of cowboys got caught out on the range and died.
Rabbits, deer, prairie chickens, any animals out there died.
The temperatures went to below zero.
They had high wind, ice, snow, everything you can have in a blizzard, I guess.
It was estimated that 80% of the cattle in the Flint Hills died that year.
And so Mr. Hilton ran around after the blizzard cleared out and bought out all these people, that had lost their cattle, their, some of their people, whatever. He bought their land, and he added to it. So he had a lot of land and that he was running cattle on all this time.
[1:03:29] And he named the ranch the Diamond Ranch. And so he went about, you know, you have to register a a brand. He tried to register the diamond brand, but it was already taken. He couldn’t get it. He tried and tried and tried. So he gave that up, and he thought, well, I’ll just use the one we got in Texas. So he used a 101 brand. So it became known as the 101 Ranch.
[1:03:51] Because of the brand. Anyway, he did that, and it’s best known actually for building up the communities of Strong City here and Heimer and Elk community. Now, I know Heimer, we have, we loaded cattle out of Heimer and every time I’d go there, I’d look around and think about this Mr. Hilton. I thought, what was he thinking about? First of all, he named it Hilton Station. He built a station and a railroad stockyards there. But the people changed it to Heimer because that was their little community. So, it ended up being called Heimer. But they had two general stores, a post office, a church, a blacksmith shop and a school. Now, you know where Heimer is. A lot of you are like, I know where that is.
There’s nothing there now. You see lots of old ruined buildings and the stockyards are shot and all that kind of stuff. And we go through there and think, I wonder where the the church was, the school was, all that stuff was. I don’t know. Anyway, the main thing about the 101 is it had a beautiful headquarters. And the headquarters were up on Diamond Creek.
[1:05:08] And it’s where Eddie Whitney lives today. If you know Eddie Whitney and his family, he lives in the headquarters of the 101. Beautiful place. It was, you know…
Well respected and well known at that time. When I, the ranch, oh by the way, the 101 only lasted 20 years in Kansas.
I was shocked to find that out.
Because people kept saying, oh the 101 was this, that and the other.
No, it only lasted 20 years. I’ve been here longer than that.
And I’m thinking, okay, it just kind of came and went.
But the Western Land and Cattle Company, which is this group that Mr. Hilton worked for, they were not into cattle business.
They were really in the land business, and once they built all this land up, they were ready to sell it, make money, and go somewhere else.
It took them 20 years, and what they did was they fenced their place off, and then they started selling off parcels of it.
Mr. Whitney bought a big chunk over here. He was one of their managers, and he bought part of their place, and several other people.
But one of the best experiences that I had with them was the fact that I got to meet Miss Sally Whitney.
[1:06:23] And all the Whitney family and interview them when I was visiting with them about this.
I got to visit with a bunch of people that knew a lot about the 101 Ranch.
I talk to.
[1:06:39] Well, Eddie has the original 101 Ranch letters, documents, all that stuff, and he let me look at all that.
And up in his house, there’s a room where the cook lived, and the cook was a Chinaman, and it was always called the Chinaman’s Room.
So I got to see the Chinaman’s Room and all those things, which were great.
Also Mrs. Keith Davis, I visited with Elizabeth Rogler about that, and also the Fry Ranch.
Anyway, in 1983, Joe and Jim Ronsick offered to rent us their place on Striby Creek, and then his mother had passed away, and we rented her house.
And then Jim decided to retire in 96, and they sold us the whole place.
And then I had to research that place, which was the Frye place.
And I have a lot of information on it, but we don’t have time to do all of that today.
But it was really interesting.
The Frys were great people and they also contributed a lot to Chase County.
Let me run through their pictures real quick for you. It’s Bill Pickett.
Oh, I have the original deed signed by Ulysses S. Grant to the Fry property.
[1:07:59] I was standing in my yard one day in Omalou, Mushrush, and probably a lot of you knew her.
Drove up, she and Bob in our yard, and she said, I have a whole packet of information for you I’d like to give you.
And I thought, okay, you know, I didn’t know her that well. I knew her sort of.
And she brought me pictures of the original ranch, information on the ranch, all sorts of things about it.
And these are some of the ones that she brought.
[1:08:30] She had saved all this, and I’m like, I’m not even in your family.
You know, wouldn’t you like to give these to family members?
But she’s like, no, you all are taking good care of our place, and I want you to have it.
So, aren’t you glad you don’t have to do that in the heat now?
[1:08:52] This was a band, and I would love to know who these people are.
If anybody knows who was in the Middle Creek Band back then, let me know.
I thought that was so fun. This was the first house that he built, and there are two homes on our place, and this is one that one of my, well, Joe and Jim Ronsick lived there, and one of my sons lived there for a while. nobody lives in it.
This was the house that the Frey’s son built, four rooms, two down and two above.
And then later on, he came along and built and bought a house and attached it to the front of that house.
And then he put a porch right there in the front.
And that’s the house that we live in. Only it doesn’t quite look like that right now.
Well, that’s what it kind of looked like when we moved there.
This is what it looks like today. And so, it went from those four rooms to this, okay?
[1:09:50] So, we have enjoyed knowing the history of where we live, no matter where we live.
Louisiana here, any other place. We move somewhere else, I’m going to research it and find out all about it, because it’s important. I think your kids need to know where they are from, where they lived, what the land was, who had the land, all that.
You know, the stories that go with the land are important, Every time an old person dies, you lose a whole life history.
You have to remember that. Every time somebody dies, there, I can think right now of people I wish I could talk to and I can’t because they’re gone.
Okay. So, anytime you get a chance to research your place, wherever it is, I don’t care where it is, and your life is not uninteresting either.
People say, oh, it’s not interesting to do that. It is, too, and to your children, it’s priceless.
And people ask me why we’re still here. Well, sometimes I wonder, but most of the time I don’t.
This is one reason, because I can go across the road and see this, and I’m like, yeah, be at peace right there.
I can walk out in my backyard and see this, or this one, either one.
[1:11:09] And out of the six of us that showed up here in Kansas all those years ago, we now have that many people.
There’s only two couples of them don’t live in Kansas. All the rest of them are here.
So we’re populating the state as we go.
And I do, I feel like it’s a great privilege to live here. And it’s a privilege to be in these Flint Hills.
So I hope you all remember that.
It be that we’re born here feel that way all the time.