My parents, Orville John Huxford and Mary Ethel Hale,
were married March 17, 1908 in Centenary, Illinois in
the home of her father, John Hale.
Daddy was the oldest son of John Huxford, Jr., and
Rhoda LaVille Hawkins. Creola (Hayes, Gormey) was
the middle child and Clarence the youngest.
Orville was born Aug. 17, 1888, at the family home, a
farm on the bank of the Wabash River near Clinton,
[Editor's note: I grew up with the Indiana State Song,
“On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away,” being almost
as familiar as “Texas, Our Texas”:
"Oh, the moonlight’s fair tonight along the Wabash,
From the fields there comes the breath of newmown
Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
On the banks of the Wabash, far away."
The words and music by Paul Dresser was adopted as
the Indiana state song by the 68th regular session of
the Indiana General Assembly on March 14, 1913.
Of course, I got that information from the Internet, so
there’s another story. That one is that the song was
written by the novelist Theodore Dreiser. Credited to his
brother Paul, the novelist is “believed to have written the
lyrics to this chorus.”]
Mother was the youngest of three daughters of John
Hale and Naomi Wright. Dolly (Allison) was the oldest
and Florence (Wright, Nichols) was the middle child.
Mother was born Nov. 3, 1889, at their home near the
state line (Indiana and Illinois) near the Centenary
church and school.
The courtship of mother and daddy consisted of Sunday
afternoon visits by him to her home. He usually stayed
for supper and sometimes they went for buggy rides.
Play Party Games (something like our square dances)
were the usual entertainment. Box suppers at church,
school or community buildings were another form of
Mother had a new red dress with a full skirt and tight
bodice. She felt that her bust was too large, and since
brassieres were unknown, she pinned a cloth as tight
as she could from just under her armpits to her waist.
After three games she almost fainted and had to
excuse herself, unpin the cloth and return for the rest of
Mother had only three years of formal education. To
improve herself, she studied our school books, was a
PTA officer several years, was the first president of the
Tulia Home Demonstration Club, charter member of the
1934 Study Club in Tulia, Eastern Star, Tulia Garden
Club, an officer of the T.E.L. Class and the First Baptist
Church. She read as much as possible and became a
very knowledgeable person.
Daddy always wanted to be a doctor, and he worked
and studied with a doctor in Clinton until he learned he
was not physically healthy enough to continue his
My grandfather Hale's mother was Elizabeth Jane Miller. She
was the daughter of a plantation owner, perhaps in
Mississippi. Her parents disowned her when she eloped
with Vincent Hale, a Yankee. She took her little black slave
with her when they left her home, but she had to sell her to
buy food before they reached Illinois. [There's so much
wrong here I scarcely know where to start. It took Abraham
Lincoln and the Civil War to convince some people that it was
wrong to uproot children from their families, take them away
from the only homes they'd ever known and sell them to
strangers, to sell them at all.--Editor]
Mother's mother Naomi died of a brain tumor in 1918 after
having been institutionalized when mother was a young girl.
Mother, daddy and my oldest sister Marie left Indiana
because of daddy's health. All their belongings were in two
box cars. He had asthma and developed TB.
A real estate company had been formed to sell land in
Texas. It was being sold to people in Vigo and Park counties
in Indiana. One of the buyers was Vorhees Huxford, an uncle
of daddy's. He told daddy that, since he needed to go to a
high, dry climate, he could go to his land near Vigo Park.
That was the name given to the store and post office 25
miles east of Tulia.
The doctor told mother to be sure and take a black dress with
her as daddy might die on the train trip.
The longer they were on the train, the better daddy felt and the
worse mother felt. She had to lie down with a migraine
headache. As they crossed into Texas near Dalhart, daddy
said, "Ekie, if you want to see Texas, look out the window."
She raised up, saw the bleak plains, and fell back saying, "If
this is Texas, let me lay back down and die."
A man from Vigo Park was in Tulia, and the folks made
arrangements to ride in the wagon with him. They started the
twenty-odd-mile trip, cutting across sections [square miles].
Mother was sitting on the wagon seat. She held Marie with
one arm and her wide-brim merry widow hat with the other.
Along the way a "blue norther" blew in, and she rode the rest
of the way in the bed of the wagon, covered with the wagon
I was born June 15, 1921, at our house about a block from
the court house in Tulia. Mrs. Nobles came to be with
mother, and Clara (Spear) Wright came to care for the family
and me. The folks had wanted a boy, and the name Billy
John had been selected. They could think of no names for a
girl. Marie suggested Clara for Mrs. Wright and June for the
month. Daddy always called me Billie anyway, except when
he was very angry or disappointed in something I had done.
[So in a sense, I was named for my mother, but I doubt that
that would explain much when people tell me they want to
speak with Mr. Billie Silvey.]
When they were out of money, daddy took Marie, and mother
took Katie (my two sisters), and they picked up horse and
buffalo bones on the Mackenzie Battle Ground. They received
$7.50 for two wagon loads of bones, spent $2.50 for
groceries and brought $5.00 home with them.
About this time, a Mr. Webster, who owned the store in Vigo
Park came to visit and asked daddy if he would be interested
in buying the store. Mr. Webster was returning to Indiana.
Daddy thanked him, but said, "I couldn't buy and pay for an
old setting hen."
However, Mr. Webster sold the store to daddy on credit and
put $50 in the cash drawer. To this, daddy added his $5 from
bonepicking, and became the owner of his first business. A
handshake was their contract.
Daddy later owned a grocery store, variety store and dry
goods stores in Tulia, Happy, Silverton, Dimmit and Sunray,
* * *
On the following pages are the stories of my mother, June
Wesley, our work in the newpaper shop and some memories
of the popular culture of the 1950s.
You're welcome to share your reactions and your own
memories. Just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An eclectic website about Women, Christianity, History, Culture and
the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
From the Banks of the Wabash...
|The July issue of my website is the third chapter of my memoirs, which I’m publishing between now and the end of the
year. The second chapter was about World War II, when my father was a link trainer instructor and I was born in
Sacramento, CA, in 1942. Being born in California made me feel like a Californian even though I grew up in Texas.
This third chapter is the story of my mother's family, Orville and Ethel Huxford, who moved from the lush Wabash River
bottomlands of Indiana to Vigo Park and Tulia on the Texas plains. There they went from being bone pickers on a
battleground to owning a chain of dry goods stores. The account on this page is my mother's words from her "Family
Facts and Remembrances of June Huxford Wesley" rather than being my own writing. I've inserted comments in italics.
My sister and I come by our love of history honestly, but I never realized just how much until I started reading my mother's
memoirs for this website. The style fits right in, but the words are all hers:
Photos (top to bottom)
Abraham Lincoln and
the Civil War, Ethel and
Orville Huxford and
(below) walking down
the street in Amarillo,
and their house in Tulia.
Merry Widow Hat