The Log House on White Deer Creek
Page 2

H. B. Price and his two partners, Charlie Patton and James Hyde, were bankers in Reading, Kansas, and also operated ranches. In 1903 the partnership of Patron, Price and Hyde bought the Turkey Track Ranch along the Canadian River in Hutchinson and Hansford Counties, Texas. While retaining their individual interests in their Kansas ranches, they operated the Turkey Track Ranch to handle two and three year old steers.

Panhandle, Texas, was the nearest shipping point for the cattle, and they were driven to and from the Turkey Track headquarters about fifteen miles northeast of Stinnett. Often there were long periods of waiting in Panhandle for railroad cattle cars to take the cattle to market. H. B. Price's son, Willis Davidson Price, Sr., who was then about thirteen years old, saw the wood front buildings, the cowboys with their spurs and the bars which the cowboys frequented. Several ranchers came with their herds of cattle; each outfit had a chuck wagon.

Tom Price was an older but smaller in stature brother of W. D., Sr. On one occasion Patron, Price and Hyde hired teams from the J. C. Rider livery stable at Pampa to go to the Turkey Track Ranch. Charlie Patton thought that Tom was capable of returning the hack, but he was very annoyed when he learned that Tom had driven the horse, "Straight Edge," so hard that the animal was completely exhausted.

Sometimes W. D., Sr. went with his father to Plemons to the boarding house and hotel owned by Billy Dixon, the famous buffalo hunter. There W. D., Sr. heard firsthand accounts of the Battle of Adobe Walls and of Dixon's "shot of the century" which toppled an Indian from his horse at a distance of 1,583 yards (a mile).

W. D., Sr. once went with his father to see T. D. Hobart at the JA Ranch where they spent the night. In the evening friends and neighbors arrived for visiting and dancing. Clinton and Fannie Fern Henry were two of the dancers and Laura Hobart Fatheree played the piano.

As was the custom in early days, the people danced until daybreak because it would have been difficult for them to return to their homes at night with no light. Dances in those days were family affairs; children were put to bed while the adults danced. Frequently dancers paused long enough to take food from heavily laden tables, rest awhile, and then resume dancing.

Once H. B. Price was returning from the Turkey Track Ranch and driving cattle up White Deer Creek, As he sat eating his lunch, he took his knife from his pocket and began to carve figures for some of his land and cattle deals on a cottonwood log. When he finished his lunch, he deleted his figures by scraping them off the top of the log with his knife.

From the time Patton, Price and Hyde bought the Turkey Track Ranch until it was sold, they never supplemented the cattle with salt or feed. Some of the cattle handled by the partnership were from the Spade Ranch near Lubbock and the JA Ranch near Clarendon.

In 1910, Patron, Price and Hyde decided to put the Turkey Track Ranch up for bid among themselves. Charlie Patton got the bid and bought out the interests of Harry Price and James Hyde. Later Patton sold this land to W. T. Coble who then sold it to J. A. Whittenburg.

In later years, Bob Price's mother found a check, dated in 1909, parable to George and J. A. Whittenburg for $8,400. This was to pay for two and three year old steers at $28 a head.

After the partnership of Patton, Price and Hyde was dissolved in 1910, H. B. Price bought 33 sections of land from the White Deer Land Company and an additional 11 sections in the summer of 1911, making a total of 44 sections. H. B., who had a good eye for land, mapped out the land and made his bid of $6.00 an acre to T. D. Hobart, manager of the land company from 1903 to 1924. Hobart, referring to the land company, said emphatically: "They won't take it!"

H. B. was vacationing in Colorado when he was notified that the land company had accepted his bid for the largest piece of land sold by T. D. Hobart, agent for the White Deer Land Company.

This purchase included the old White Deer Lands headquarters ... the log house built in the early 1880s by Harrison Groom. H. B. took possession in 1911 and sent his son, W.D., Sr., to Hutchinson County to oversee the ranch. H. B. continued his ranching interests in Reading, Kansas and Hutchinson County until his death on November 11, 1930.

W. D., Sr.`s first task was to fence the boundary of the ranch to separate it from the property of the White Deer Land Company. Another project was to drill for water so that windmills could furnish water across the ranch. This ranch was operated in a fashion similar to the Turkey Track Ranch; it was used in connection with the Kansas Flinthill Bluestem Ranch. Younger steers were handled and it was strictly a grazing operation.

W. D. Price, Sr. and Margaret Chatterton were married on October 20, 1915, at Reading, Kansas. They moved to the Panhandle and lived at first in the Quinn house which W D., Sr. was leasing. Then they moved to a two room frame house next to the old log ranch headquarters and lived there until they constructed a house in 1918. The materials for this house were carried by wagon from Pampa to White Deer Creek.

Margaret often rode horseback to the Alhambra post office on Spring Creek to collect mail for the Price ranch. The post office was in a general store which had a potbellied stove in the center of the room. The postmaster's wife, who dipped snuff, would spit in a sandbox around the stove. She never missed the sandbox and this amazed Margaret. Magazines for Margaret were often a month late and usually the pages were dog-eared which showed that other eyes had read them before hers.

In addition to the land W. D., Sr. tended for his father, he accumulated 10,560 acres of land to the west on his own in the 1920s. He carried out improvements to the ranch along with his day-to-day operations. The steers on the ranch were shipped to and from Pampa and White Deer by rail until Skellytown got some shipping pens around 1927.

When W. D., Sr., H. B. Taylor and Bert Isbell brought cattle for the Whitsell Ranch to White Deer and Pampa, they had to cross the Canadian River at the mouth of White Deer Creek. Once the river had risen so high that the crossing was a mile wide, and the men decided to wait for the water to recede. After four or five days, the water was still too high, but the men herded the 500 to 600 head of cattle into the river. Several head of steers drowned, and the men pulled several head out of bogs and quicksand. They came out on the other side about one-half mile downstream from where they wanted to be.

W. D., Sr. and Margaret Price had four daughters and one son. The daughters are Mary, Martha, Harriett and Margaret; the son is Willis Davidson Price, Jr. (Buddy), who was born in Pampa in 1928. When Mary was old enough to go to school, W. D., Sr. built a house at 521 North Somerville at Pampa.

In 1928, W. D. Price, Sr. built Breezy Point which became the headquarters for his ranch on White Deer Creek. Larry Rider, who had been one of the ten pupils in the first school at Pampa in 1903-04, helped to build the house and barn at Breezy Point. Larry hauled all the gravel, concrete and lumber for the house. Part of the lumber for the barn came from the old Tom May place near White Deer Creek and the rest, as well as the lumber for the barn and windmill, was ordered pre-cut and came into White Deer (town) by rail. The lumber was freighted in two wagons chained together and drawn by a six-mule team.

First a well was dug; then a windmill tower was built and raised over the well. Next came the barn ... a huge affair with concrete feed bins and a runway in the center. Two years were spent in building the house because the workers had only hand tools. George Walstad and Ervin Turman helped in the building process; Walstad did the painting and all of the cooking for the carpenters.

Larry Rider had many memories of the times he spent trapping and fishing on the Price ranch. Hamp Brown, a Pampa barber, who often came to fish with Larry, usually managed to fall in White Deer Creek. Once, after he had caught a big crappie, he stood up in the boat: shook hands with himself; bowed in self admiration and promptly took an unplanned nose dive into the water.

People used to come from Pampa and pick wild plums. Once, after Larry and Carrill (Crill) Sloan picked a wagon full of plums, they camped on the creek for the night. Although they haltered and staked their mule team, one mule got away and ran into a den of rattlesnakes. Fortunately, Larry and the mule escaped unharmed.

The log house on White Deer Creek was unoccupied from around 1920 until the latter 1930s. Then the creek rose after a heavy rain and the house was washed away by the high water. All that remained of the first White Deer Lands headquarters were a few hoards and part of a grayish adobe wall about two or three feet high. W. D., Sr. treasured the hoards and stored them for safekeeping.

In 1950, W. D. Sr., bought 5,760 acres of land in Lipscomb County near Higgins, Texas. With his son, W. D. Price, Jr., he continued his ranching activities until his death on December 13, 1964. Margaret had passed away previously on October 7, 1956.

W. D. Price, Ir. followed his father's footsteps in the ranching industry. While his family was living at 521 North Somerville at Pampa; he often visited the home of C. P. Buckler which was next door at 410 \Vest Buckler. Frequently M. K. Brown was there to play the piano while the people present sang for hours.

Willis Davidson Price, Jr. and Ida Ruth Taylor were married on July 7, 1951, and moved to the Flying W Ranch headquarters on White Deer Creek. Except for a few years while their children, Mary, Jane and Willis III, were in school at Pampa, they have lived on the ranch until the present time (1988). On the Flying W Ranch, remains of dugouts, one of which has a tree growing through it, may still be seen and the location of the old log house may still be found.

In January 1986, Buddy and Ida Ruth Price gave the boards which Buddy's father had saved to the White Deer Land Museum where they are on display. The boards, with initials and other carvings, are reminders of the house built of logs from cottonwood trees that grew along White Deer Creek.

It seems appropriate that these boards from the first headquarters building of the White Deer Land Company are now housed in the last headquarters building of the company, which discontinued operations in 1957.


Amarillo Sunday News Globe,Vol. 50, No. 8, February 19, 1984 - "Almost a Century in the Panhandle"

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Marcy, Randolph B. The Prairie Traveler: A Handbook for Overland Expeditions. New York (Harper and Brothers, Publishers), 1859, p. 259.

Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. Panhandle-Plains Historical Review. Vol, XXVII, Canyon, Texas, 1954, pp. 10-17: (mao) pp. 25-27.

Price, W, D. , Jr. - Conversations, January 18, 1986; February 13, 1988; June 15, 1988.

Rathjen, Frederick W. The Texas Panhandle Frontier. Austin, Texas. (University of Texas Press). 1975, pp. 127-128.

Robertson, Panline Durrett and R. L. , Cowman's Country. Amarillo, Texas. (Paramount Publishing Company), 1981; pp. 152-153.

Sheffy, Lester Fields. The Francklyn Land and Cattle Company. Austin. Texas, (University of Texas Press), 1963, pp. 6-8; 14-17; 46-41); 60; 71; 74.

Stanley, F. The White Deer Story. Nazareth, Texas (F. Stanley), 1974, pp. 3-4.

Texas State Historical Association. The Handbook of Texas. Vol. II, Chicago, Illinois and Crawfordsville, Indiana (Lakeside Press), 1952, p. 896.

The Pampa News. Pampa, Texas. "Up Close", March 13, 1983.

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Last Update: 05/25/96
Web Author: David White