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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Opinion

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Gunns homestead
at foot of Sharptop

Leaving things until the last minute is a weakness I have, and it always trips me up. Like now. I need to be on the road at this minute, but just realized I hadn’t written a column.

The following is the first chapter in a book I am compiling of columns and memoirs. It has not run as a column, but introduces the book and the Gunn family at Flomot:

Licurgas Aurelious Gunn staked his claim to 160 acres of mesquite pasture just below the Caprock in 1903. Lying at the foot of Sharptop Peak in Motley County, the half-section stretched along the Floyd County line.

On a nearby ranch, the first Flomot post office was named for the two counties. It was later moved several miles east, where a cotton gin was built to serve farms in the area.

L.A., or “Curg” as he was called, brought a large family to live in a half-dugout, rock house on his new farm. Robert Houston, the youngest, was eight when the move from Bell County was made in a covered wagon.

Houston and Jackie, his first wife, lived briefly in the rock house. After her death by her own hand, Houston worked as a cowboy, farmer and restaurant cook until, at the age of 35, he married Sallie Ann Matthews.

From that union came six children. The first, Peggy Jean Gunn, was stillborn and is buried in an unmarked grave at Flomot. Walter Houston was born in Lockney in 1931, and the three girls, Mary Elizabeth, Peggy Jane and Cora Gail, were born on the Leonard Crowell farm northeast of Flomot over the next six years.

Jerry Winn was born on the Calvin Franks place east of Flomot in 1938.

Walter noted that his Dad “had a little Gypsy in him,” and the family moved from one rented farm to the next, sometimes staying one year, sometimes several. Mama Sallie insisted that the children go to school, so they were never far from a bus route that would take them to Flomot.

The year after Jerry Winn was born, the Gunn family moved to the Cheston Franks place northeast of Flomot. Walter and Mary Elizabeth walked about half a mile from the house to catch the school bus.

One spring day in 1940, the school bus struggled through a blizzard to reach the Gunn dropoff point, but the driver wisely refused to let the frail 6-year-old and her brave big brother off the bus. He returned to the Washington residence, where they and others spent two nights.

Houston and Sallie, trapped with their three youngest in a plank shack with snow piled over the doors and windows, worried about their older children, but hoped they were safe at school. They were relieved when a neighbor brought them home on horseback, little Mary wrapped in a quilt.

The next year, Houston rented the Moore place northwest of Flomot, where blowing sand had filled up the cellar. When they shoveled out the sand, they found a tattered book about a little Indian boy named Red Wing. With Mary’s help, I learned to read from that book, and to appreciate the Indian culture.

After the weight of blown-in sand caused the ceiling to collapse on Houston and Sallie’s bed, Sallie insisted on moving to the scrub oak country north of Dallas, where she was born and still had family. The children attended the one-room school at Spring Grove for one year before lack of work forced Houston to take them back to Flomot.

We lived on the Harley Gunn place that fall and helped with the cotton harvest. Here I, age 7, earned my first dollar by gathering 100 pounds in one day to help complete a bale to take to the gin.

“The Lord is going to take away your job!” Isaiah 23:19, CEV

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager. Contact her at HYPERLINK "mailto:peg2@pecos.net" peg2@pecos.net

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