Joshua Rufus Roper is the first of seven children of William Washington Roper and Cynthia Arminta Hall. (An ancestors chart for J. R. is included at the end of this document.)
The W. W. Roper family left Cherokee Co. NC in the fall of 1886, when J. R. was 17 years old, to move to Christian Co. MO. According to Lawrence L. Little, son of J. R.'s sister Olive and Amanda Cordelia Little's brother Lewis: "The family traveled in a covered wagon, through the Cumberland Gap route into Kentucky and crossed the Mississippi River by ferry at Cairo IL. One of their two horses died in route, and William had to cut timbers to convert the wagon to a one-horse vehicle in order to continue the trip." William was very skilled at many trades; he made wagons, shoes and just about anything else that was needed. (The compiler has an awl that W. W. made for his own use, that was given to the compiler by LaRoy Raymond Roper, a son of James Burton Roper and a grandson of W. W.)
In 1889 they moved to Howell Co. MO and purchased 80 acres of timber land for $2 per acre; it adjoined the land of Daniel Little. The family cleared the land, using the timber for fence rails. Several of the sons, including J.R., eventually had farms surrounding the home place. The sale bill for the W.W. farm sale shortly after his death is included in this document.
Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little is the fourth of eleven children of Daniel Little and Mary Bruce. (An ancestors chart for Amanda Cordelia is included at the end of this document.)
The Daniel Little family left Union Co. GA for Bartow Co. GA in 1878 and went on to Christian Co. MO in 1884, two years before W. W. Roper moved his family there from Cherokee Co. NC, which adjoins Union Co. GA. In 1887 the Little family moved to Howell Co. NC to be near Mary's Bruce family
William W. Roper fought for the Confederacy and Daniel Little fought for the Union in the Civil War. (Daniel received a federal pension for his service; but, of course, W. W. did not. This was a cause of some complaint by J. R. throughout his life.) W. W. used his own horse in his army service, and was allowed to bring the horse home after the war. Daniel had gone north to join the Union Army, and was very anxious about how he would be received back home in north Georgia when he returned after the war. He told of a dream he had as he slept under the stars the last night before arriving home, that he would be welcomed with joy, and apparently he was.
J. R. Roper and Cordelia Little were married at Siloam Springs, Howell Co. MO on 6 Mar 1892. Ten of their twelve children were born in Howell Co. MO. They moved their family by train from Howell Co. MO to Ellis Co. OK in 1910. Their farm sale bill in Missouri just before they left is included in this document. Their 320-acres farm in Missouri was traded for a 160-acres farm in Oklahoma. The last two children were born in Ellis Co. OK. Their family record is on the following pages.
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HUSBAND Joshua Rufus ROPER
B: 24 Jun 1869 Murphy,Cherokee,NC
D: 26 Aug 1954 Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX
M: 6 Mar 1892 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
FATHER: William Washington ROPER, MOTHER: Cynthia Arminta HALL
WIFE Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine LITTLE
B: 7 Jun 1875 Blairsville,Union,GA
D: 20 Dec 1945 Arnett,Ellis,OK
FATHER: Daniel LITTLE, MOTHER: Mary BRUCE ============================================================
1. Allie Martha ROPER
B: 11 Feb 1893 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 20 Jan 1988 Salina,Saline,KS
SP: Richard Paul MILLER M: 14 Jun 1916 Gage,Ellis,OK (has other marriage)
2. Thurman William ROPER
BORN: 25 Sep 1894 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 27 Jan 1982 Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX
SP: Maybelle BROOKSHIER M: 28 Dec 1918 PLACE: Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX
3. Laphenia Armandia ROPER
B: 22 Aug 1896 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 2 Oct 1969 Amarillo,Potter,TX
SP: Edward Austin STEWART M: 16 May 1915 Gage(J.R.Roper),Ellis,OK
4. Hurschel Henry ROPER
B: 15 Aug 1898 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 2 Mar 1986 San Antonio,Bexar,TX
BUR: Sunset Cem,Bexar,TX
SP: Nellie HOPKINS M: Siloam Springs,Howell,MO [has other marriage(s)]
5. George Franklin ROPER
B: 25 Jul 1900 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 18 Oct 1902 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
6. Vester Lee ROPER
B: 9 Jan 1902 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 31 Aug 1989 Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX
BUR: Mt. Olivet Cem,Tarrant,TX
SP: Naomi Rose ACKERMAN M: 19 Aug 1933 Marietta,Love,OK
7. Ora Elizabeth ROPER
B: 27 Dec 1903 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
DIED: 27 Apr 1906 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
8. Edna Irene ROPER
B: 19 Dec 1905 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 20 Feb 1996 PLACE: Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX
SP: Benjamin Walter SCHROEDER M: 28 Mar 1936 Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX
9. Fred Lloyd ROPER
B: 26 Nov 1907 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
D: 1 Dec 1990 PLACE: Enid,Garfield,OK
SP: Eva Lucille FRANKLIN M: 19 Feb 1928 Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX (has other marriage)
10. Oathel Lane ROPER
B: 26 Jan 1910 Siloam Springs,Howell,MO
SP: Rosa Lee STAHL M: 8 May 1943 PLACE: San Antonio,Bexar,TX
11. Winnifred Ilean ROPER
B: 23 Dec 1912 Arnett,Ellis,OK
SP: Robert GRAFFT M: Dec 1933 PLACE: Fort Worth,Tarrant,TX (has other marriage)
12. Virgil Lewis ROPER
B: 21 Feb 1915 Arnett,Ellis,OK
SP: Agnes SHIELDS M: 19 Apr 1936 PLACE: Woodward,Woodward,OK ==============================================================================
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Parents: Joshua Rufus Roper & Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little Roper
|Born:||11 February 1893 Howell County, MO|
|Died:||20 January 1988 Salina, KS, Buried: 25 January 1988 Gage, OK|
|Husband:||Paul Richard Miller|
|Married: 14 June 1916 Gage, OK|
|Born: 11 November 1893 Christian County, IL|
|Died: 3 April 1932 Gage, OK Buried: Gage, OK|
|Husband:||Clifford Myron Gray (second husband)|
|Married: 15 January 1936 Woodward, OK|
|Born: 3 June 1892|
|Died & Buried: 11 November 1971 Whitewater, KS|
|Daughter:||Mary Elizabeth Miller Shields|
|Born: 6 January 1924 Ellis County, OK|
|Daughter:||Pauline Joyce Miller Spedding Ledgerwood|
|Born: 8 September 1920 Ellis County, OK|
|Niece:||Naomi Virginia Humphrey Baker Erick|
|Born: 31 October 1920 Kremlin, OK|
|Niece:||Betty Jean Humphrey Ainsworth Stanford|
|Born: 17 January 1923 Kremlin, OK|
Allie was the oldest child of Cordelia and Joshua Rufus (J.R.) Roper. She was born in Howell County, MO on 11 February 1893 in a log cabin. She and Thurman were both born in this cabin, but not long after Thurman was born her father homesteaded some land not far from her grandfather's farm. They built a log house and J. R. made sure it was tall enough, so that later on they could raise the logs and make a loft room. As the family increased in number her father added a loft to the log house. The loft was heated by the large pipe or flu that came up through the floor of the loft from the heating stove below.
She talked about the tobacco they raised and cured out in their tobacco barn, and, also, about the time the barn caught fire and burned to the ground during the curing process. It was a sad time as it was their crop for the year.
J. R. cleared land for more farm land, and bought mules to raise and later sell. He was a bee keeper; they had honey for their table and he sold the extra honey. He also worked as an assistant deputy sheriff; she said he was always looking for ways to bring in more money.
Some of her early memories were about her grandfather William W. Roper. He made her shoes until she was grown. He made all the grandchildren a pair of shoes each year. Allie said that their shoes would last a year or two. He also made wagon wheels, but she had to watch from outside the blacksmith shop as she was not allowed inside.
She also remembered when her great grandfather Robert Bruce died in January 1907. (Family records show it to be 1 Mar 1907.) Her Uncle Lewis Little got a horse and buggy and came by their place to take her mother to the funeral in Chapin, MO. She stayed home to care for the small children and Edna, who was only six weeks old.
Another early memory of hers was a song that her mother (Cordelia) sang to her and then later to her grandchildren; it was one her mother learned in Georgia which went as follows:
|Go tell Aunt Rhodie, go tell Aunt Rodie,|
|Go tell Aunt Rhodie her old gray goose is dead.|
|The one that she's been saving.|
|The one that she's been saving.|
|The one that she's been saving to make a feather bed.|
Allie attended Star School, finishing the eighth grade at county schools before she left Missouri. She said that her dad wanted her to have a good education.
The family had a farm sale 22 February 1910, and they left 3 March by train for Gage, Oklahoma. Allie was seventeen years old and helped with the seven younger children. Each child that could carried a bundle to help with the freight bill.
A German neighbor, Mr. Beamer, was in town when the Ropers arrived by train, and used his wagons to move them to their new home. They bought bed frames and other items to set up house keeping, but forgot slats for the beds, so they slept on the floor for a while.
Allie attending Normal College at Alva, Oklahoma for two months during the summer after they arrived in Oklahoma. She started teaching that fall at a school south of Arnett. She lived with a family named Ensinger. They treated her as one of the family and she enjoyed her days as a teacher and the evenings in their home.
While teaching at this school Allie received a post card from her dad (J. R.) telling her that she had a new baby sister with black hair, born 23 December 1912; the baby was later named Winnie. This post card was found among a large collection of post cards that Allie kept over the years; the card was sent to Winnie for her to keep and treasure.
The next school year, 1913, Allie taught at Sunny Slope and had thirty-one pupils. She taught school for five years. During her last term of school Paul Miller asked her to be his wife. Paul's parents, Dick Miller, and his family lived on a rented farm near the Roper homestead. They had moved to the farm from Enid, Oklahoma; they only lived there a few years, moving back to Enid about 1912.
Allie finished the school year after Paul proposed and they were married 14 June 1916 at Gage, Oklahoma. Paul was employed by the McCoy Furniture store in Enid, Oklahoma, and that is where they lived after their wedding.
Allie had decided the summer before Paul asked her to get married that she would give up teaching and go to Chillicothe, Missouri to college the next year. She wanted to become a journalist. She loved to write; this included letters to family and long-time friends. She wrote a journal that she kept current until the time of her death.
She had sent a down payment to the college for her tuition. Allie really wanted to be a doctor, but could not afford the schooling. She spoke of this dream often. But love won out and she and Paul started housekeeping in Enid, Oklahoma in 1916.
From 1916 until 1922 Allie and Paul lived in Enid, Oklahoma. They saved a little money and decided to move back to the Gage, Oklahoma area to rent a farm. They lived on a rented farm for a year or two and then bought a farm just a mile from the J. R. Roper home. Allie was still a farmer at heart and loved being back in the country. They started with a few head of cattle and two horses and a buggy. Allie and Paul had been sending Dad a few dollars along as they could, as J. R. could use the cash; so when they started farming, J. R. gave them some cattle in return for the loan they had made to him.
They bought a Model-T Ford in 1923 and life on the farm was stable. Their first daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born on 6 January 1924 and their second daughter, Pauline Joyce, was born 8 September 1927.
Paul's sister Marjorie Irene Miller Humphrey died in 1930, leaving six small children for their father George to care for. The following year, 1931, George decided he could no longer care for all of the children, so he asked for help from some of his family. Paul and Allie thought that they could care for two of the children, so they took Betty Jean, age 7, and Naomi Virginia, age 9, to live with them. They fitted into the family very well, making a family of four girls. They continued to live there until they were grown and always remained a part of Allie's family of girls.
In 1932 Paul became sick. At first Allie thought it was the flu, but in a few days he was much worse and the Doctor said he had spinal meningitis. He died 3 April 1932.
This was a very sad time for Allie, as she was left with a big responsibility - four small girls and a farm to manage. Her father J.R. was a big help at this time. Her brother, Fred Roper, move from Fort Worth, Texas back to Oklahoma and Allie rented a farm just a half mile from her place for Fred and his family so he could help with the farming. He did so until 1936.
Edna, Allie's younger sister, was hired to teach school at Sunny Slope. She lived with Allie and the girls in the fall of 1932 and drove them to school in their old Plymouth. When the chores were done in the evening, Allie read several chapters each night from their favorite books. This was a special time of the day. During the winter they went through several books. Some of their favorite ones were in the Elsie Dinsmore series.
Allie married Clifford Gray 15 January 1936. He had one daughter, Roberta, who was seventeen years old then. She later married Vaughn Shafer of Gage, Oklahoma, who lived on a farm north of Gage. They had two daughters, Vonalee and Gayle.
Betty Jean Humphrey married Nelson Ainsworth on 27 November 1940. Their children were Charlotte, Eddy, Donald, Ricky and Rocky. They lived on a farm for many years near Oakwood, Oklahoma. Betty and Nelson were divorced and Betty married Ron Stanford.
On 24 September 1943 Elizabeth married Maurice Shields. He enlisted in the Air Force Cadet program and spent two years in the Air Force. They had three sons, M. D., Larry and Randy. Larry was killed 11 Jul 1974 in an auto accident. Maurice and Elizabeth settled in Whitewater, Kansas, since Maurice worked as an engineer for Beech Air Craft in Wichita, Kansas after the war.
Naomi Humphrey married Paul Baker on 6 September 1944. He was in the Air Force stationed at Woodward, Oklahoma. They had one daughter Paula. Paul was sent overseas and was killed on 16 April 1945. Naomi then married Harry Erick on 6 March 1946 - he later adopted Paula. They made their home in Shattuck, Oklahoma. Harry was employed at the Shattuck Auto Supply store; several years later he purchased the business.
Pauline married John Spedding on 11 July 1953 in Whitewater, Kansas. Pauline was a teacher at this time and John a student in college. They later moved to Clifford, Pennsylvania, where they managed a hotel and floral shop. They had four children, Raymond, Debbie, Charles and Shawn. She moved back to Whitewater in 1964. Pauline and John were divorced in 1966. She married James Ledgerwood on 25 June 1971. He had three children, Marilyn, Terry and Steve by a previous marriage. Jim was a principal and Pauline was a teacher in the Whitewater grade schoo1.
Allie and Clifford left the farm in 1944, moving to Wichita, Kansas, where Clifford worked in a defense plant until 1945. They then moved back to the farm at Gage. There was not much farming to do since the farm was rented out, but Allie loved to watch things grow - her garden, the crops in the field and the cattle near by.
Allie and Clifford lived on the farm for another year; in 1946 they bought a house in and moved to Whitewater, Kansas, where Clifford worked at a flour mill until he retired. They rented the farm in Oklahoma to Allie's brother Fred Roper for many years and then later to Dix Roper, son of brother Virgil Roper. Allie kept up on farm news, but her great love was her grandchildren; she loved to show their pictures and have them come for visits.
Clifford died 11 November 1971 and Allie continued to live in Whitewater until 1972 when she moved to Salina, Kansas, where daughter Elizabeth Shields and family lived. She moved into the Heather Ridge apartments just two blocks from the Shields. Allie kept busy with her letter writing; she wrote several letters per week, to her girls, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends. You received wonderful letters, full of news if you were on her writing list. She worked in the church all of her life and enjoyed the ladies' meetings. In Salina she helped piece and quilt a quilt for the church fair.
She was never alone, as the Spedding grandchildren lived with her at different times to attend college. Grandson M. D. spent many hours with her; they both enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles.
Allie said one of her happiest days was her 85th birthday on 11 February 1978, for which a surprise party was organized at which all six of her grandchildren and their parents helped her celebrate. There was another celebration for her the next week in Shattuck, Oklahoma. Naomi arranged a big party at the Shattuck Grade School, which included several of her brothers and sisters, friends, her two nieces, Betty and Naomi, and also her daughters, Pauline and Elizabeth. A beautiful birthday cake awaited her. It allowed much visiting and picture taking - a surprise birthday party to remember.
She loved to travel, and had many fond memories of her family reunions with her brothers and sisters. They used to meet once a year, either in Fort Worth, Texas or at the lake near San Antonio, Texas. The biannual Little family (her mother's family) reunion was one she never missed until her health prevented her from traveling. Visiting on the telephone became her means of communication in later years; she talked to her sisters every week. She often called her girls to hear how they were doing and give advice if she thought they needed it!
In 1979 her health began to fail and she gave up her apartment to move back to Whitewater where she lived with daughter Pauline and Pauline's husband Jim Ledgerwood. She enjoyed being back there to visit with old friends. She occasionally returned to Salina to see her doctor when she was ill.
On 11 November 1980 she became quite ill and returned to Salina to the hospital. She lived with the Shields for a while, but had to return to the hospital in 1981 and from there she moved to the Salina Nursing Home. Her health problems continued; her body was not well, but her mind was as sharp as ever. She lived at the nursing home for seven years. During that time she made many new friends, as she worked hard to make it another home for herself. This was a time in her life when her family could give to her and take care of her after all the years she had given to them and taken care of them. She loved their visits and was always eager to get caught up on the latest happenings in her family. When she was feeling good, she would have loved to have been in charge of the nursing home, running the entire operation from her bed - and she could have done it, perhaps with a little help from her friends! She always wanted to be in charge and always had ideas to improve things. She still thought she was in control most of the time of "her girls" and they let her think so to the very end.
Allie was interested in many things; you were aware of this if you spent some time talking to her. She loved to clip articles from magazines and newspapers; she also was an avid reader. She had boxes of clippings on a variety of subjects. She often mailed these clippings and notes about them to her family, if the article made a point she wanted to emphasize.
She was a good farmer who loved to watch things grow. She was a good business woman and kept records or accounts of all her transactions. Sewing was another of her great talents; she started sewing at a very early age, making clothes for her mother, sisters, brothers and herself, as her mother did not sew. Later she sewed for her girls, designing and cutting her own patterns for the clothes she and they wore.
Some of her interests that might surprise you were: listening to opera, keeping up with the Royal family in London by the newspaper, cooking and collecting recipes, art, what was happening in Hollywood, medicine (a great interest of hers), the happenings around the world, what the politicians had said and done and oil and gas news. For oil and gas she had a map of Ellis County, divided into sections, on which she used symbols of her own to denote various activities in leasing and drilling.
She was a good daughter, wife, wonderful mother, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and friend.
Allie died in St. John's Hospital on 20 January 1988 at 94 years of age - almost 95; it was just three weeks before her birthday. She loved life and had a strong will to live, which kept her going for a long time near the end.
Her funeral service was a service of celebration for her life; it was a time of great loss, but a tribute to a great lady!
Elizabeth Miller Shields; 10 February 1990.
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|Parents: Joshua Rufus and Cordelia Little Roper|
|Born: September 25, 1894, Howell County, Missouri|
|Died: January 27,1982, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Buried: Greenwood Memorial Park, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Profession: Attorney at Law|
|Wife: MABELLE BROOKSHIER|
|Married: December 28, 1918, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Born: February 14, 1897, Springtown, Texas|
|Died: November 23, 1982, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Buried: Greenwood Memorial Park, Fort Worth Texas|
|Son: THURMAN WILLIAM ROPER, JR.|
|Born: January 11, 1920, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Son: ROBERT LEE ROPER|
|Born: December 22, 1925, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Died: August 13, 1986, Fort Worth, Texas|
|Buried: Mansfield Cemetery, Mansfield, Texas|
Thurman spent his early boyhood in Missouri; moving to Arnett, Oklahoma in 1910. They arrived in Oklahoma after the sale in Missouri with only their clothes, a thousand pounds of ham and bacon and his mother's feather mattress. His father met them at the train station and purchased a wagon and team along with a bed frame for the mattress.
Thurman helped his father on their farm and went to school. He then attended Normal College at Alva and taught one year in that area. He was teacher, janitor, fire builder, etc. He sent for material from different schools to further his education.
Later he choose to attend Fort Worth's Brantly Draughon Business College. (Still a leading school seventy-three years later.) In later years, his brother Vester would enter the school.
Thurman came to Fort Worth in 1916; a total stranger knowing no one-"A Country Boy in a Big Town." (Fort Worth is about 350 miles from Arnett, Oklahoma.) He was looking for a place to stay and work that would fit his school schedule. He found Harger's Hardware and Boarding House in downtown Fort Worth and got a job working tables in the dining room and doing janitor work. In return, he received free room and board.
Mr. and Mrs. Dan Harger had no children of their own. Eventually they became second parents to Thurman and later to his family and were life long friends. They were very generous to Thurman and his family. (They gave T.W., Jr. his first saddle in the early 1930's.) Thurman finished Business College and went to work as a clerk in the Claims Department of Mitchell-Gartner and Walton Insurance Company. (A leading Insurance Company in Texas for over 50 years.)
Thurman entered the U.S. Army in 1917 at Camp Bowie, Texas. After Boot Camp, he was assigned to the Quartermaster Depot, Camp Bowie, Texas. He quickly made Sergeant in Records and Payroll. He served some time on the U.S.-Mexican border during an uprising in Mexico. His Company Commander had him to apply for Officers Training School.
Thurman said Army pay days were different than any other money that he earned in that he ended up with it, as most of his expenses were taken care of by Uncle Sam. While in the Army he got to the point where he was buying and selling Model T's. Probably his first real thoughts of being a lawyer were in the Army where he met the Grienes twins from Fort Worth who had been attending Law School before going into the Army. He might have seen the need in his brief employment at Mitchell-Gartner & Walton before going into the Army.
His papers came through for Officer Training School. The war was coming to an end. Thurman made the decision to wait out a discharge instead of accepting Officer Training School. He received his discharge December 1918.
His Company Commander was returning to his old employer Gulf Oil Company and wanted Thurman to join him in the land division of Gulf Oil, which he did. Thurman soon discovered his position would require constant changing of locations, never knowing the length of stay or your next location. This was not his style of life so he returned to Mitchell-Gartner & Walton where he spent over fifty years of his working life. He advanced from a clerk to the company's Attorney. He really was one that enjoyed his work and job. He lived, talked and breathed his work, yet he was a devoted family man too.
People talked of Thurman's father being known as a man of his word. His son Thurman was also known in his profession and personal life as a man of honor and fairness. Thurman received his fifty year Masonic Award in 1968.
He met his wife, Mabelle Brookshier, on her job at the T&P Railroad Depot in Fort Worth, Texas about eight months before his discharge from the Army. He was discharged in December 1918 and they were married on 28 December 1918 in Fort Worth.
The Depot in those days served something like a town hall and information center. Thurman had gone with an Army buddy that was looking for lodging for his family who was coming to Fort Worth for a visit. A railroad employee pointed out Mabelle Brookshier and told them her aunt had a big boarding house on Weatherford Street near the Courthouse and that she might be able to help. From that day forward, Thurman and Mabelle helped each other for sixty-four years and along the way helped others. Their home was always open and the "in place" to be company. When they ran out of beds, pallets would be spread.
Several brothers and sisters would make their home in the 1920's and 1930s with Thurman and Mabelle while attending school until they finished and found a job.
The Roper Reunions have been taking place for many years. Fort Worth was the place for the brother's and sister's reunions until around 1960. Thurman and his brother Hurschel from San Antonio, Texas each built a lake home on Granite Shoals Lake in Llano County, which is part of the Texas Hill Country. This became the reunion site; two homes close together could handle the sleeping and eating with ease. After Lyndon B. Johnson became President, the lake was renamed "Lake L.B.J.". Lyndon owned 5000 acres across from Thurman's and Herschel's homes, where he also had a lake home. Lyndon did a lot for the Hill Country while in office, such as constructing the first four lane ranch road in Texas or maybe anywhere at that time. The reunions are being carried on by the offspring of the Roper's and Little's sides of the families. They are referred to as the "Cousin Reunions."
Thurman's law education started and stopped several times due to a growing family and job demands, which put the bread on the table and made the house payments. He did not give up and the time came that he could complete his desire to be an attorney. Up to five nights a week for two years he attended Fort Worth Law College. His study hall after work was the Gusher Cafe where he enjoyed coffee "free refills" and a giant roll as his evening meal while he studied. Thurman lost no travel time in study as the College was located on the second floor. On week-end outings he would take his law books and study while the others played.
Graduation day came and it was time for the Texas State Bar Exams given in Austin, Texas. They are divided into two sessions, each session required about two days each. Thurman passed both sessions of the Texas Bar Exams with good grades on his first attempts. Anyone with knowledge of what the State Bar Exams consist of and the contents they cover knows this is an accomplishment.
Tales are told of Thurman's father, J.R. Roper, being a walker. This was another trait that Thurman received from his father. Thurman was a fast walker. People would tell Mabelle about seeing Thurman on the downtown streets but he did not speak to them. The reason was that he walked so fast he did not see faces. Walking was his main way of travel to the Courthouse and back to the office. Three and four round trips a day were not unusual. That adds up to many miles over the course of years. He said it was good for you and quicker than getting the car in and out of parking lots. He would walk to work and back home in good weather when his car was in the shop.
Thurman and Mabelle loved to travel and were fortunate enough to be able to go anywhere that caught their desires. Their travels started in 1919 through 1978 before Thurman's last stroke slowed them down. Their mode of transportation ran from open touring cars (they carried spare axles for the old Dodges) to buses, trains, ships and jet planes. Their favorite long trip was by train to the west coast; up the west coast, across Canada to the east coast, down the east coast and back home. They made this same trip three times. Lake Louise in Canada being their favorite rest spot among the many.
Thurman and Mabelle bought their first home in 1919 at 1504 S. Lake, Fort Worth, Texas. Both sons were born in this house. They bought a brick home in the TCU area in 1927 at 2504 University Drive. They made the house at 1504 S. Lake into a duplex for rental income. T.W., Jr. can remember Thurman and Mabelle painting and hanging wallpaper at night whenever they needed remodeling and doing minor plumbing and electrical repairs. In 1931 they bought a seven room house on 6th Street for rental property.
In 1932 they bought some acreage in southeast Fort Worth that connected to Glen Garden Country Club (outside of Fort Worth City limits). There was a house on the east side of the acreage. Times were beginning to get rough so they were able to hire a friend, Mr. Lee, a class-A builder as general contractor. They split the house to make it wider and added to the front and back and ended up with a large brick home where they lived many years. Their two sons would later build homes that fronted on the golf course.
Thurman and Mabelle sold their three other places in Fort Worth after World War II. In 1977 they decided, since they were spending more than half their time at the lake house, all they needed in Fort Worth was an apartment. They sold the house and acreage that they had called home for forty-five years.
They loved to play cards. They started playing bridge in the late 1920's and continued playing the rest of their lives.
Mabelle was a housewife for twenty-four years. In 1942 she joined the World War II effort and went to work as a Red Cross Family Service Worker in the Veteran's Hospital. After the war ended she joined the Texas State Child Welfare Division and worked there until retirement in the early 1960's.
Thurman and Mabelle's first son Thurman William Roper, Jr. was born at home, 1504 S. Lake, Fort Worth, Texas on 11 January 1920. He attended what is now University of Texas at Arlington. He served in the Merchant Marines during World War II and was awarded Service Bars in all three war zones. T.W., Jr. married Juanita Reuter on 16 August 1941 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Their first child, James Michael Roper, was born at Harris Hospital, Fort Worth, Texas on 10 March 10 1945. Mike attended University of Texas and Southwest Texas State, San Marcos, Texas. He served two years in the Army and is now employed by General Dynamics in Fort Worth as a supervisor in Engineering Data. Mike married Sheri Regan in 1982. They have two sons; Jerrod Michael, born 19 October 1982, and Justin Morgen, born 26 July 1984, and have another child on the way.
T.W., Jr.'s and Juanita's second child, Karen was born at M & S Hospital in San Antonio, Texas on 18 February 1947. Karen received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Denton. She works in the Keller, Texas School District as Vice Principal of Heritage Elementary. Karen married Robert E. Thompson, Jr. in 1968. Robert is employed in U.S. Customs at D.F.W. airport. Karen and Robert have three children. Robert Todd was born in 4 July 1970; Tracye Shannon on 5 May 1973 and Ryan Taylor on 15 May 1980. All were born in Fort Worth, Texas.
T.W., Jr. and Juanita were divorced in 1965. T.W., Jr. remarried on 9 September 1967 to Lurlene "Sue" C. Bradford, whose parents O.B. and Willie Mae Craddock had rented an apartment from Thurman and Mabelle in the late 1920's. So it turned out that the parents of the newlyweds were long-time friends.
Lurlene "Sue" has one son, Mark A. Bradford, of Euless, Texas. Mark is single and works for U.S. Funds Express, Dallas, Texas.
T.W., Jr. retired in July, 1985 from KXAS-TV. Fort Worth. Sue had to take early retirement in 1977 from her job in printing.
T.W., Jr.'s most profound memories of his father were the business trips that Thurman would take him along into the oil fields and hospitals to investigate injury cases. Thurman would sit on a five gallon can with his portable typewriter on his lap out in the fields and take statements from a witness or other person in regard to the accident and injury. T.W., Jr. remembers the burned victims looked like mummies in the hospitals.
T.W., Jr. enjoys travel like Thurman and Mabelle did. T.W., Jr.'s wife lets him travel, even though her travel is limited. Since retirement, T.W., Jr. has traveled in Europe, the Orient and Africa. Coming up next is an extensive tour of Australia and New Zealand in this year of 1989.
Thurman's and Mabelle's second son Robert Lee Roper was born at home: 1504 South Lake, Fort Worth, Texas on 22 December 1925. He joined the Navy V5 College Program during World War II. Later he enrolled in the Navy V12 Program Flight Cadet School. His primary flight school was in Georgia and the Advance Flight Training was at Pensacola, Florida. He had only a few weeks of training left before receiving his wings and commission when World War II ended. He was offered a choice between either a discharge or signing up for four more years. He took his discharge and went on to receive a degree in geology from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
He worked for Gulf Oil-Gearhart Owens and Owens Oil Tools. Design and testing of explosive oil tool devices and employment of these tools at well sites through out the world was his line of work. He formed his own company, B.R.'s Products, which he operated until his death on 12 August 1986.
He married Jozelle Watson on 4 November 1955 in Fort Worth, Texas. Bob and Jo had two daughters: Victoria Glenn Roper, born in Fort Worth, Texas on 24 February 1958. A graduate of Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas, Vickie is single, lives in Arlington, Texas and is in personnel work in Dallas, Texas.
T.W. "Bill" Roper, Jr.; 2 May 1989
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Fenia was heard to say, "I thought even as a child that I would love to be a grandmother. She certainly made a good one If you were to ask any of her grandchildren what the first thing that came to mind when they thought of their grandma, each one would say, "Her sugar cookies." When she knew any of the children were coming to see her, she always got out the rolling pin and ingredients to make a fresh batch.
Fenia loved her home, family, God and church. She was very much a home-body. It was seldom she would do the shopping. She never learned to drive a car or wanted to do so.
She always enjoyed planting her own garden and caring for it. Each evening she would hoe and water it, and tend to her roses and flowers. She also loved to can and freeze fruit and vegetables.
She liked to make light bread, hot rolls, cakes, pies and cinnamon rolls. Many, many people have sat at her table and enjoyed a tasty feast. She enjoyed sewing and made most of the clothes for her family. She had a shoe last and stand and during hard times she would put half-soles on the worn out shoes.
Fenia was born to Rufus and Delia Roper on 22 August 1896 in southwest Missour1 - near Siloam Springs in Howell County. She was the third child in the family of 12 children. As she grew, she loved the hickory forests and missed them when they moved to Oklahoma. One Or her favorite cousins was Willie (William Smiley) Roper. He was six months younger than her. Years later, she named a son after him.
In March 1910, when Fenia was thirteen years old, the family had a sale and moved by train to a farm near Arnett, Oklahoma. Fenia took the measles and was very sick on the trip. After they got to Oklahoma, all Or the family, including her mother, took the measles, and Fenia had her hands full taking care of everyone.
When Allie, her older sister, graduated from the eighth grade. she passed a state test and became a school teacher. If for any reason she needed a substitute. Fenia filled in for her.
Fenia met a young farmer, Ed Stewart, and he courted her with his horse and buggy. They were married when she was eighteen years old on 16 May 1915 at the home of her parents. The home at that time was on the hill where the cherry trees grew. It was behind the house that they later built.
Ed took her to live at his father's farm near Gage, Oklahoma. His mother had passed away on 10 October 1912. At the time he married Fenia, he had an eight year old sister, Vera, and his father living at the home. Ed did all the farm work.
Ed and Fenia had eleven children. Lanora was born 10 April 1916. Allen was born 20 October 1917. Bill was born 2 December 1919. Joy was born 25 February 1922. Delia was born 12 December 1923. These five were born near Gage Oklahoma. The attending physician at these births was Dr. Kerr, a woman doctor, which was a rarity in those days.
The family moved from Gage to Canadian, Texas in 1924, when Delia was six years old. Ed took a job on the railroad working on the bridge gang. They made this move on the train. Joshua was born 20 August 1926, and John Mark was stillborn on 7 August 1928, both in Canadian, Texas.
Anna was born 4 August 1929 and Mary and Martha were born 3 May 1931 in Blackwell, Oklahoma. Martha was a healthy baby, but she took "summer complaint" and was sick only one day before dying on 4 September 1931.
The family moved west again and lived in Canadian, Texas for a year before moving to Dalhart, Texas in August 1936. Catherine was born 6 July 1938 in Dalhart. Ed and Fenia bought a house at 719 Channing Street and it was their home for the rest of their lives.
Lanora was married to Roy Morse in Canadian on 3 February 1936, and they moved to Hoover, Texas near Pampa where he worked on the railroad. They moved to Dalhart in 1939. On 20 August 1940, they had a son, Albert Dean, but he lived less than a day. He is buried in Dalhart. The following year they had a girl, Caroline Ruth, on 30 August 1941. On 10 December 1944, Cletus Elaine was born. By this time they had moved to a farm one mile north of Dalhart where they farmed and raised cattle. David Roy was born 4 August l946. The family moved to a farm near Allison, Texas in 1947 where they ran a dairy selling milk to the Borden Company. Wanda May was born 24 October 1953 in Wheeler, Texas.
Caroline married Vance Boydston 8 August 1959 in Allison, Texas. They have two sons: Kevin Vance was born 12 September 1965 and Kyle David was born 17 May 1972. Kevin graduated from Texas Tech in Lubbock in December 1988. He received his Associate degree in Radiation from Amarillo College-Don & Sybil Harrington Cancer Center in Amarillo in August 1992. Kyle received his Bachelor's Degree in Biology at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas in 1995. He is now attending a Pharmaceutical School in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
Cletus married Dick Greene 2 December 1964 in Amarillo, Texas. They have two children: Roy Keene was born 4 June 1968 and Jamie Elaine was born 12 November 1980. Roy married Monica Gray 26 May 1990. They have a daughter, Alexis Jade, born 20 October 1992 in Amarillo, Texas. David Roy died 18 November 1966 in Amarillo after a car accident.
Wanda married Ronnie Chapman 7 September 1972. They had one son, Randy Wayne, who was born 5 February 1974. Wanda died 19 October 1989 in Amarillo, Texas.
Allen joined the Air Force and received his wings at Eagle Pass, Texas. He was a flight instructor at Independence, Kansas during World War II. In Independence he met Nadean Lee and they were married 20 March 1944. They have one son, Bret Alan, who was born 21 May 1958. They lived many years in Kansas City, Kansas and Allen worked Kansas City, Missouri as a draftsman. He retired and they moved to Dalhart, Texas. Allen died 12 August 1992 in Dalhart.
Bill joined the Air Force and was an airplane mechanic after schooling in Illinois. He was stationed in England and North Africa during WWII. He contracted malaria while in Africa. Bill married Merdidel (Myrt) Melancon of Baton Rouge, Louisiana on 5 September 1942. Myrt lived with her parents while Bill was overseas. She made trips to Dalhart to visit her new in-laws. They have three daughters. Billie Jo was born 23 May 1945 while Bill and Myrt lived in Arkansas City, Kansas where Bill wag stationed. After Bill left the Air Force, they lived in Baton Rouge, La. where Bobbie Jean was born 23 October 1948 and Jerri Ann was born 18 October 1949. Bill worked for the Ethyl Corporation in Baton Rouge, La. until he retired. He died 23 May 1990 in Baton Rouge, La.
Bobbie Jean married Larry Condry on 4 August 1966. They have one son, Russell (Rusty), who was born 2 August 1967. Billie Jo married Perry Williams 20 September 1969 and had no children. Billie Jo died 10 December 1993 in Baton Rouge, La. Jerri Ann married Bobby Hunt 3 March 1970 and have two children: Scott was born 3 April 1971 and Kelli was born 21 October 1975.
Joy married Lawrence Kelly 8 June 1940 in Clovis, New Mexico. They lived in Dalhart, Texas and had three sons: Larry was born 22 May 1941, Sam was born 3 May 1946 and Bill was born 26 December 1955. They moved to Littleton, Colorado where Lawrence took a job in refrigeration with Martin-Marietta on 18 November 1958. He worked there nine months before dying of a heart attack (his first) on 25 August 1959 while at work. Joy married John Johnston on 8 April 1965.
Larry married Carole Seivers 23 February 1963 in Denver, Colorado. They have three children. Karen Lynne was born 21 July 1966.She graduated with honors from Loretto Heights College in June 1988 with a bachelors degree in English. Nancy Anne was born 13 April 1969. Stephen Edward was born 13 February 1972.
Nancy married Mark Frisbie in Denver on 3 December 1988, and they lived in San Bernardino, California where Mark was stationed in the Air Force. When he left the service, they moved to Aurora, Colorado. They have one daughter. Miranda Lanae was born 25 November 1992.
Larry died 25 July 1991.
Bill married Regina Brammer at Tornado, West Virginia 22 October 1994. They live in Greer, South Carolina.
Delia married Garland Horton 25 August 1942 in Clayton, New Mexico and they have two sons. Garland, Jr. was born 29 September 1943 and Alien Dean was born 12 March 1948, both in Dalhart, Texas. Delia died 23 February 1966 in her sleep ~n the hospital for pneumonia in Amarillo. She was to be dismissed the next morning.
Garland, Jr. married Christy Loper on 27 August 1965 and they have one daughter. Kimberly Renee was born 17 December 1969. She attended college at Arlington, Texas on a basketball scholarship. She married Shaun Lenerose 24 May 1991 in Amarillo, Texas. They now live in Lubbock, Texas.
Allen Dean married LaVonne Henry 15 September 1970 and is now divorced. They had four children. Allen, Jr. died shortly after he was born in January 1971 in Germany. Joseph Russell was born 14 March 1972. John Paul was born 10 December 1974. Janice Cordelia was born 22 August 1976. The children live with Allen Dean.
Josh was in the Army and was stationed at Wolters Army Base near Mineral Wells, Texas. When he had free time, he loved to visit in the home of Uncle Thurman and Aunt Maybelle in Fort Worth. He met and married Peggy Giaonne 24 February 1951 while attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He majored in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and graduated cum laude. Josh moved to California and worked for North American and Rockwell in the space industry and is now retired. They had three sons: Josh, Jr. was born 29 November 1951. Jeffrey Wayne was born 28 June 1955. James Edward was born 23 September 1957. Josh and Peggy were divorced.
Josh married Mary Ripley 31 December 1961. They had two children Terese Renee was born 16 January 1963. Shane Alan was born 15 November 1966. Josh and Mary divorced. Later he married Phyllis Bierdower 24 December 1984. Josh and Phyllis live in Chandler, Arizona. Terese died 9 June 1992 in California.
Josh, Jr. married Debbie Wall 31 July 1976. They have two children Joshua William was born 17 September 1978. Cori Joy was born 13 November l980, Josh, Jr. died of a heart attack after jogging on 14 November 1988.
Jeffrey married Nancy Cook 30 June 1984. They have a daughter-Katie Amanda- born 8 June 1989.
Anna married Ray Ruppanner on 11 September 1949. They have three children: James Ray was born 18 January 1951. Donald Wayne was born 2 November 1953. Kay Ann was born 17 March 1956.
Jimmy married Debbie Lester 5 June 1971. They had four children: Ami and Rami (twins) were born and died 26 July 1974. Nathan Ray was born 13 August 1975. James Brian was born 17 June 1978. Nathan attends college at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas. Brian graduated from Dalhart Hi in May 1996.
Donald married Robin James 13 June 1981. They had two children: James Stewart was born 6 May 1986, He had Down's Syndrome and Leukemia and died 22 February 1987. Austin Andrew was born 15 May 1988.
Kay married James Harris 4 August 1979. He has a daughter named Am Sue. Kay and James are now divorced.
Mary married Albert Christian 24 January 1954 in Dalhart, Texas. They have three sons: Paul Aaron was born 2 June 1950. Mark Boyd was born 12 March 1955. Joseph Delbert was born 8 February 1956.
Paul married Rita Green 5 December 1970. They have two children: Marte Paul was born 11 August 1972. Holle Michelle was born 26 June 1975. Paul and Rita are divorced. Marte married Jill Marie Jensen 30 December 1995 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. They live in Independence, Missouri. Holle is married to Dan Fallas. They have a daughter. Shelby Danielle wa6 born 8 February 1995.
Paul married Jana Richards 6 October 1984. They have one daughter: Julie Armandia was born 4 November 1988. They live at Lee's Summit, Missouri.
Mark married Karla Smart 2 May 1980. They have three daughters: Kara Janea was born 12 February 1985. Courtney Renee was born 29 July 1988. Kalee Denae was born 9 January 1993. They now live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Joe married Vicki Smart 16 December 1977.They have two children: Shanna Nicole Was born 18 February 1980. Geoffrey Quinn was born 29 July 1987.
Catherine worked for the telephone company in Dalhart, Texas and helped support her parents until she fell in love with Russell Claggett, Jr., whom she had known for many years. They were married 2 August 1968 in Dalhart. They now live in Higbee, Missouri. Russell is a retired carpenter.
Fenia was a homemaker, loving daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother until her death from a heart attack on 2 October 1969.
Ed had several strokes and had become too much of a burden for Fenia to care for. He was placed in a nursing home in Dumas, Texas and passed away there on 10 May 1971.
Ed and Fenia, both ordained ministers of the United Pentecostal Church, established several churches in the panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma.
Joy Marie Stewart Johnston: 1996
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Hurschel Henry Roper was born 15 August 1898 at Siloam Springs, Missouri, the fourth child of J. R. Roper and Cordelia Little Roper. Although my father spoke of his childhood and growing up with his brothers and sisters with great love and affection, I know very little of his early adult years from the time he left the farm until he met my mother. For a while he worked as a "roughneck" in the oil fields, but as much of the time was an unhappy period of his life, he preferred to put it behind him and seldom discussed it.
Early in 1928, at a dance in Fort Worth, Texas, a mutual friend introduced Hurschel to Maxine "Babe" Payne. He was 29 and she was 17. This was the beginning of a courtship and marriage that lasted for over 57 years.
At that time H.H. owned a garage and service station at 2816 Azle Ave., Fort Worth, Texas. He was a mechanic and machinist and had studied automotive engineering at North Texas Agriculture College at Arlington, Texas.
Babe and Hurschel dated during the next few months despite objections from her family. In June of 1928, on their way to a family reunion at Corsicana, Texas, they were in a serious auto accident and Babe was severely injured. He right leg was nearly amputated just below the knee. After several months of being bedridden, Babe was finally able to stand with crutches and on 23 December 1928 they were married in her parent's living room. Hurschel's faith and devotion during her recuperation had overcome my grandmother's objections. They moved into the apartment over the garage.
The trials and tribulations of the depression were the stories I grew up on. At various times different relatives lived with them. One of Babe's cousins came to them and they put her through her senior year of high school. Another moved in with husband and child and with Babe's brother Jack as the salesman, the two women took in washing to help out until their services were too much in demand and they had to go out of business. Their home was always open to family and friends.
In 1932, after having made application to adopt a child, they were called to come to the agency to get a little girl with dark curly hair. Instead, they came home with a bald, sickly baby girl in need of ear surgery and, therefore, hard to place. They always had a soft spot in their hearts for the underdog. Barbara Joyce Roper was born 10 July 1932 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Those early years were busy with work, family, friends and some pretty good parties from all the reports I have heard. One summer they rented a cabin on Lake Worth and we spent the summer there. They also had a garage on Seventh Street for a time. As with many during the depression, finances were up and down. They lost the garages and started over more than once.
In 1936 Hurschel was offered the distributorship for most of South Texas for Grant piston rings (a company in California) and on 26 December 1936 they moved to San Antonio, Texas and founded H. H. Roper Auto Parts and Machine Shop. The first years were very hard. H.H. worked out of their home (whether it be "tourist court," apartment or house) while Babe took calls, kept books, made appointments, etc. In 1939 they moved the business out of their home into a building at 501 North Flores Street. They soon outgrew that location and moved into larqer quarters at 403 Brooklyn Avenue.
In January of 1940 they moved into a home of their own they had had built at 108 Lowrey Drive. Business continued to grow and H.H.'s reputation as the best machinist and engine re-builder in the area grew, also. All kinds of engines and motors were brought to him when others had given up or could not figure out what was wrong with them. Many times he was called on to go into the countryside to work on a motor for an oil well or a rancher's water pump.
Although not a joiner, Hurschel was a Charter Member and Lifetime Director of the San Antonio Automotive Wholesalers, the American Association of Automotive Engineers and a Lifetime member of the Optimist Club. During World War II H.H. was offered a commission in the Army, even though he was past draft age. As his work was considered essential, he was given a choice and chose to stay with the business he and Babe had worked so hard to establish.
Some of the best vacations I can remember were the times during the war that Daddy would be given extra ration stamps and the three of us would head out to join with Aunt Maybelle and Uncle Thurman in Fort Worth to go on to Oklahoma for the men to help Grandpa Roper with the harvest and the wives to help Grandma with feeding the harvest hands. It was a wonderful experience for a city kid and great to be with all the family. There were also times that different relatives or their spouses would be staying with us while some other family member was in San Antonio for "Boot Camp." It seemed that we always had someone in our guest room. This only child was never lonely.
In 1948 they sold the house in town and moved into a small log cabin they had built on twenty-five acres out of the city. At the end of a year we moved into our new home at 726 Oak Knoll Drive complete with the swimming pool they had always dreamed of. As always, home and family were the center of their lives and they enjoyed having family reunions and visits from all.
It was sometime in 1948 or 1949 that Babe retired from the business to be a full-time housewife. In early 1954 it was discovered that she had an inoperable brain tumor. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments. These were successful in rendering the tumor dormant, but she suffered from terrible headaches and a gradual loss of vision and equilibrium after that. This curbed their activities greatly.
On 3 July 1950 Barbara (better known as "Butch" to family and friends) married her high school sweetheart, Joseph W. Wofford, who by then was working part-time at the store while he attended St. Mary's University. On 15 October 1952 the first grandchild was born, Terry Sue Wofford, followed on 6 November 1954 by Barbara Jo Wofford and on 7 June 1960 by Joseph Patrick Wofford.
In 1956 Hurschel and Babe bought property on a lake in the Texas Hill Country and built a small weekend fishing cabin. Soon they were joined by T. W. (Thurman) and Maybelle and also one of Babe's cousins. The lake then became the site for more family get-togethers and numerous bridge and domino games. They were both avid bridge players and enjoyed all kinds of card games.
In the sixties H. H. began to ease up on his work schedule and they spent more time at the lake. In October of 1967 they sold the business to Joe and Barbara and retired. In all those years H. H. Roper had built a reputation of honesty, fairness and quality work. He was a man of his word and a very caring person.
In 1972 they sold their house and property on Oak Knoll and built a home next door to Joe and Barbara at 323 Highview. This proved to be a most satisfactory and enjoyable arrangement for all concerned. In October of 1984 Babe suffered a massive coronary. They began the long road to recovery determined that this would not keep her down. In January of 1985 Babe's mother, who was recovering from a broken hip, came to stay with them for several months. During this difficult time there was a definite deterioration in their health.
Then in August 1985 Babe had a stroke which left her paralyzed completely on her left side. Again they started on the road to recovery determined to triumph over this obstacle as they had so many others. Fortunately, the stroke had not impaired her mentally.
In December 1985, just six weeks after his cataract surgery, Daddy was hospitalized for nearly a month. Exploratory surgery revealed that he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He began chemo-therapy and we were optimistic that this would control the disease. On 2 March 1986 Daddy died suddenly of an apparent heart attack. He was at home at the time. H. H. was 87 years old. He was buried at Sunset Memorial Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas on 6 March 1986.
One week later on 13 March 1986 we put Mother back in the hospital only to discover that she had cancer of the colon which had metastasized to her lungs and liver. Ever the fighter, she volunteered to become involved in an experimental chemo-therapy program being conducted by the Cancer Research Institute of San Antonio. Unfortunately, this was not successful and Mother died 6 June 1986 after a valiant fight. It was her choice to remain at home and end her days in the home that she and Hurschel had built together, surrounded by those she loved.
Hurschel Henry Roper was born 15 August 1898 at Siloam Springs, MO and died 2 March 1986 at San Antonio, TX and is buried at Sunset Memorial Cemetery, San Antonio, TX. His parents are Joshua Rufus Roper (born 24 January 1869, Cherokee County, NC; died 26 August 1954, Ft. Worth, TX; buried Arnett, OK) and Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little (born 7 June 1875, Blairsville, GA; died 20 December 1945, Arnett, OK)
Eula Maxine Payne was born 9 August 1910 at Ft. Worth, TX and died 6 June 1986 at San Antonio, TX and is buried at Sunset Memorial Cemetery, San Antonio, TX. Her parents are James Oscar Payne (born 3 November 1889; died August 1965, Ft. Worth, TX) and Jessie T. Jackson (known as Jessie Mae) (born 22 August 1890, Corsicana, TX; died 1 July 1988, Ft. Worth, TX). Both parents were buried at Laureland Cemetery, Ft. Worth, TX.
On 12 January 1980 Terry Sue Wofford married Randolph Neal Vick at San Antonio, TX. They moved to Del Rio, TX where Randy, a Captain in the U.S. Air Force was stationed. In 1981 he resigned from the service and became a pilot for Delta Airlines. For two years they lived in Crystal Lake, IL and he flew out of O'Hara Airport. In July 1983 they moved to Carrollton, TX where now flies out of DFW Airport. Terry Sue attended Baylor University and graduated from Auburn University in Alabama. She is a special education teacher working with the physically and mentally handicapped.
Barbara Jo Wofford married William Walter Cox on 20 March 1976. Both attended San Antonio College and she graduated from Draughon's School of Business. Their first child, Jillian Ashley Cox was born 28 February 1980. Emily Kay Cox was born 14 April 1983. Bill and "Babs" are the owners of Bill Cox Constructors doing residential and commercial building in San Antonio.
J. Patrick Wofford graduated from Texas A&M University in 1982. He is presently employed by Smith Barney, Harris Usham & Co. in San Antonio, TX as a stock broker and financial planner.
As a child growing up I took for granted that both sides of my family, both maternal and paternal, did things together. It was until I was an adult and began to see how other families operated that I began to realize that ours was rather unique. My Mother's parents' best friends happened to be my Father's older brother and his wife. My father's nephew was best friend until his death with my Mother's younger brother. In home movies taken at my Grandmother Payne's house there are my Dad's youngest sister and another brother. In pictures of various Roper reunions there are my Mother's parents, brothers, cousins, etc. I have never seen another family so happy to be related to one another and that genuinely enjoyed each other's company and that loved one another so much. We are all most fortunate to share in that heritage.
Barbara Joyce Roper Wofford, 1989
Much has happened since we last did this in 1989. Mother and Dad would be most pleased to see how their brood has increased.
On July 17, 1990 our "miracle baby", Elizabeth Carlysle Vick, was born to Terry Sue and Randy Vick, followed by a second little miracle on October 26 1992 when Joseph Mackenzie Vick appeared on the scene. How blessed we are.
1992 was a momentous year for another reason - Patrick Wofford married Suzanne Voight on June 12, 1992. Pat is a stockbroker with Smith-Barney. Suzanne is a sales representative/marketing agent for a major medical supply firm. They live in San Antonio.
In 1993 Terry Sue and Randy moved their family to San Antonio. Randy is a pilot with Delta Airlines presently domiciled at Cincinnati, Ohio. Terry Sue has retired from being a special education teacher and is enjoying being a stay-at-home Mom.
Barbara (Babs) works with Bill in their construction business - custom homes and light commercial building. Jillian is finishing her freshman year in high school and Emily will be an ei~hth grader in the fall.
Joe and I are grateful to have all the family here in San Antonio - most especially for the opportunity to be a part of the grandchildren's lives. At this time we are still operating H. H. Roper Auto Parts & Machine, Inc. We are all thankful for Mother' s and Daddy's love and guidance. They were very special people and are much missed.
Barbara Roper Wofford
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I (Vester) was born 9 January 1902 on a farm in Howell County, Missouri, the sixth child in a family of twelve children.
The boy George Franklin Roper just older than me and the girl Ora Elizabeth Roper just younger than me both died during their third year of life. The remaining ten children lived to adulthood, married and lived to become senior citizens past their 73rd birthday.
I have a fair memory of locations of Grandpa Roper and his sons' farms in Missouri. I know Grandpa's farm formed the center piece. Uncle Jim lived just north of Grandpa and Uncle Lawrence lived to the east of Grandpa. The highway from West Plains to Siloam Springs was between Grandpa and Uncle Jim on the west with Uncle Lawrence on the east road running north and south. Uncle Sterling was south of Grandpa with his house on the northeast corner where the highway makes a ninety degree turn to the east toward West Plains. Dad's farm was next to Uncle Sterling's and Grandpa's, possibly to the south and west with Uncle Bob living just west of Grandpa. Our cousin Willie (William Smiley) Roper should know better than I.
I began my schooling in Missouri as I was eight years old when we moved to Oklahoma. The country school house was north of Uncle Jim's farm on the road to Siloam Springs. I would say we had to walk two miles.
My older sisters and brothers did many of the chores in Missouri. I have only a recollection of some of them. I know we must have had quite a large orchard and garden. Mother would can surplus fruits and vegetables in summer time to feed us in winter months. In the fall they would crush lots of apples to make kegs of vinegar and cider and, also, put up kegs of sauerkraut, cucumber pickles and pickled green beans.
In the fall just before the first freeze they would dig holes in the ground, line them with straw and then place in them vegetables, fruits and whatever they had to store, cover them with straw and place removed dirt from the hole to form a mound over the straw. They opened to the south where one could reach in and get what was needed in the winter. The mother earth kept edibles cool during warm days and the straw on top with dirt mound kept them from freezing during cold weather.
My earliest remembrances is that my parents, sisters and brothers had to haul all our water from Grandpa's or Uncle Sterling's. I can remember carrying a few small pales of water myself. Then later a well must have been drilled, as we had all the fresh water we wanted from a well in our yard just by pushing that pump handle up and down!
In Missouri and Oklahoma Dad would raise about a half dozen large hogs to butcher in the fall, which was our year's meat supply. In Missouri at hog butchering time they would dig a trench near a large tree, build a fire in the trench with a vat filled with water over it and construct a platform on one side. When the water was boiling they would kill one hog, roll it onto the platform and into the boiling water to scald, then roll it back onto the platform where they would scrape off the hair. Then they would hoist the white pig by block and tackle to a limb of the tree, where Dad would remove the entrails, liver, heart, etc. The women would remove fat from the entrails and render it and store it to be used for frying food. The cracklings were used to make corn bread taste better. The hog was cut into pieces, salted and stored. This procedure was repeated until all the hogs were butchered. In Oklahoma the procedure was the same except they had to build a scaffold to hang the hog upon as there were no trees.
In Oklahoma our main crop was wheat instead of tobacco and corn that was the case in Missouri. So we went from cornbread to biscuits and loaves of bread. I thought we had gone to heaven! Lots of times when we got home from school Mother would take several loaves of hot bread from the oven and give them to us kids to butter, put preserves on and devour. Was it ever delicious! Fond memories!
I might add, in Missouri on our way home from school many times we would go by Grandpa's blacksmith shop, less than one-fourth mile off of the highway on the north side of the road. He usually had the furnace going making something and we kids would watch. His house was across the road south of the blacksmith shop. I remember that they had a huge fireplace with iron bars over the fire where Grandmother would hang cast iron pots to cook their food in cold weather.
In 1910 when we moved to Ellis County, Oklahoma there was a family living on each one-quarter section (160 acres) of land. It seemed that each family had five to ten children. So in the 1920s they became adults. There were more people than the land could support, so something had to give. As I read Our Ellis County Heritage, we were all poor and almost destitute. As a country editor friend of mine here in Texas told me "We were all in the same boat, and did not realize how poor we really were."
I loved livestock and farming and thought that I would spend my life in Ellis County, Oklahoma. Brother Thurman had encountered too many people and not enough land, so he went to Fort Worth, Texas and took a business course with typewriting and shorthand. He got a position with an oil company and was doing well. He offered me a place to stay for $15 per month, so I took him up on it.
After one year in business school learning typewriting and shorthand I was an excellent typist, but I could neither write nor read shorthand. There was no way I could ever be a stenographer. I had taken several civil service examinations while in business school, so I got a job with the U.S. Corps of Engineers in August 1925 as clerk typist CAF-1 at $1260 per annum. (Later my wife Naomi started work in May 1943 as CAF-l at $1260 per annum; there was no inflation in eighteen years!)
This could not be complete without relating how Naomi came into my life. Naomi Ackerman was born in Lawrenceville, Illinois on 14 December 1912. Her father was an oil well driller in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Texas. He was away from home most of the time.
When Naomi was six the family moved to Electra, Texas to be near their father's work. Naomi's younger sister was not well and the Texas weather proved to be too severe for her to survive. So Mr. Ackerman moved his family back to Winchester, Kentucky, where Naomi finished grade school.
In 1927 the Ackerman family moved back to Texas. This time they selected a larger town, Fort Worth, to give the children better educational opportunities. In the course of time they moved into a corner house on South Lake Street, next to Thurman and Maybelle Roper.
Thurman was now an adjustor for an insurance company. Many times he would make trips out of town to adjust claims. Sometimes he and Maybelle would ask Mrs. Ackerman and her girls to go along. They became very close friends.
In 1930 Oathel Roper, another brother, went to Corpus Christi, Texas to work for the Corps of Engineers. In December 1931 Oathel and I decided to spend Christmas holidays in Fort Worth with Thurman and Maybelle, their boys and Winnie Roper (a sister). Winnie was going to beauty school then and was living with Thurman and Maybelle.
Mrs. Ackerman and her two girls came by T.W.'s (Thurman William Roper) one evening, so Winnie, Oathel, the girls and I played card games. The next day we attended a show, then Oathel and I returned to Corpus Christi. Naomi and I started corresponding, but I never had the false hope that she would ever marry me.
So when the inspector's position on the seagoing hopper dredge Galveston was offered me, I took it. I knew that it was no job for a married man, as you never knew where you would be working. If a jetty channel would start to shoal up, Standard Oil would call and the dredge Galveston was on its way to remove the shoal, anywhere from the Mississippi River to the Rio Grande River.
Naomi and I were married 19 August 1933. We rented a cheap small apartment and lived together a week to a few months at a time. The rest of the time Naomi lived with her mother in Fort Worth and I was on the dredge Galveston.
We had been working for months in late 1938 in the Galveston jetty channel, so we were living in a three-room apartment in Galveston. In January 1939 the administrative assistant position at District Boat Yard and Repair Depot was offered to me. I grabbed it as this gave me a permanent job forever, I thought.
We had been looking at new homes on West Galveston Island, but had not found anything we liked. Then in October 1940 we found a light brick house with a slate roof. We both loved it! It cost $6000. It had two bedrooms, hallway with attic fan for cooling and a nice bath, all on the east side, and a kitchen on the north. On the west side was a large dining room, large living room, nice sun room, two-car garage and a concrete driveway.
We had $3000 in postal savings at 2% interest. We drew out $2000, made a down payment of $1000 and signed a note for $5000 for thirty years at 4.5% interest. Our payments were just under $41 per month including interest, insurance, taxes and small payment on the house. With the remaining $1000 we purchased furniture for the house.
Naomi's mother insisted on us purchasing a dining room suite, a massive oak one from Stripling's in Fort Worth. I thought it too expensive; however, I gave in and we bought it. It cost $119.95 delivered to Galveston. This is the only furniture from our original purchase we still have. We had it refinished several years ago. Before the refinisher returned it to us he said that he could get us $2000 for it if we wanted to sell it. I am thankful that Naomi's mother insisted that we buy it. We love it!
In the early 1940s Uncle Sam had all the younger men folks in uniform to fight a war and there was a shortage of workers in factories and offices, so Naomi went to work at Fort Crockett in May 1943. We applied most of her income to pay on the principal of the house loan. So by 1946 the house belonged to us.
Forces I knew nothing about were at work in the land. When I started working in 1925 the Corps of Engineers owned most of the dredges and dug all channels, so it needed a boat supply yard and repair depot. As years went by a few private dredges came into being. The Corps of Engineers' dredges were wearing out and Congress appropriated money to build modern dredges, except that private companies got to key congressmen and Congress decided that it had no money to buy new machinery. So the old worn-out 500 hp steam engines were installed in new dredges to compete with new 3000 hp diesel engines in private dredges. The private dredges proved that the government dredges could not compete. So by 1946 the government went out of the dredging business. Therefore, there was no need for a district boat yard and supply depot. We were all to be laid off with no job in sight. It was scary!
I remembered from the mid-1930s that the Corp of Engineers had survey parties all over Texas. I did not know what they were doing at the time and did not care. Then Pearl Harbor happened one Sunday morning and the survey parties went into military construction, as we had a war to win. In 1946 the war was won and the Corp resumed its civil works.
The survey parties had been locating sites for dams to be built to prevent flood damage, furnish cities with water, to generate hydroelectric power and to provide recreation for the general public. Two projects were ready to be constructed when I learned of it; Whitney Dam had already selected its personnel and Hord's Creek at Coleman was in the process. I applied for chief clerk at Hord's Creek and got it. Naomi loved her job at Fort Crocket and did not want to leave Galveston.
Hord's Creek was an eighteen month project at which time four dams were to be started in Fort Worth-Dallas area: Benbrook, Grapevine, Lewisville and Lavon. I figured I could get on one of them.
We decided to sell our house and got $12,500 for it in December 1946. The Colonel Naomi worked for got her to work until February 1947. She lived with our friends, the Finkes. Then Naomi resigned and came to Fort Worth, where she placed her work application with several federal agencies.
I had rented a three-room apartment in Coleman, where I ate breakfast and supper and prepared a brown-bag lunch to eat at work. Naomi was preparing to come to Coleman to live with me when she was offered work at the U.S. Public Health Service and Narcotics Farm at the edge of Fort Worth. The federal prisoners there caused it to be designated "hazardous employment."
Hord's Creek was finished in July 1948 and I went to work on Benbrook Dam in September 1948. In January 1950 the sub-office in Fort Worth became a District Engineer Office for Civil Works. In 1951 the Korean War broke out, so military construction was added to the District Office, which about doubled personnel. The Benbrook Dam was completed and I was offered a job in Fiscal Branch Cost Section as Head of Civil Cost. I took it and there I remained until I retired 1 January 1966.
Naomi finished twenty years for the Public Health Service in May 1967 and retired. She had been Agent Cashier for years before her retirement. She was responsible for all cash transactions and prisoners' belongings. She never got paid much for the amount of work she did. She was a GS-7 and I was a GS-8; we never made much salary.
In the original design all dams to be constructed in Texas were to have hydroelectric power, except Hord's Creek and Benbrook. After I was transferred to District Office in 1951 the power companies in Texas got Congress to eliminate the hydroelectric power from all projects except Whitney, which was already completed, and Sam Rayborn, which was well underway. This meant that low-cost, pollution-free energy was denied the people of Texas and surrounding states; it could have been generated by water that is being released daily to supply local city needs and prevent flooding. You figure that one out; I apparently did not get enough education to do so!
One of the blessings of my life has been food. This memo could not be complete without a word or two on the subject. I am sure that Mother, Babe (brother Hurschel's wife) and Agnes (brother Virgil's wife) are the ribbon winners in my family. I will never know how Mother raised ten healthy children with her meager cupboard and source of supply. She was tops!
When it comes to barbecue pork spare ribs, Gerald Welch (sister Winnie's husband) has no equal. With Winnie's pinto beans, salads, cakes and pies, your waist line was expanded when you left their table. Thurman and Maybelle made the best fresh peach ice cream; I have helped them empty many a freezer. One time while visiting Hurschel and Babe in San Antonio, H.H. said we would have a typical Mother breakfast the next morning. It did not appeal to me at the time. However, when I sat down to fluffy biscuits, red-eye gravy, flour gravy, ham, coffee, jellies and jam and, yes, eggs I changed my mind. The flour gravy was perfect! It brought back many memories. It was the perfect breakfast!
When I look at the healthy kids in our family, I think that they were all good cooks.
On the dredge Galveston and other government vessels I had many wonderful meals. When I was served breakfast of salt-pickled herring with Irish potatoes boiled with jackets on them, I thought that this cannot be. When I got through with them I was ready for the next breakfast of herring and potatoes.
Before there was margarine we had one cook who put butter in biscuits before he cooked them; all you needed to do was add preserves to them and they were excellent.
While living in our dream home in Galveston in 1944, Naomi's sister Elizabeth and her eighteen-month son were living with us while her husband J.C. was in the Pacific fighting the Japanese. Naomi was working at Fort Crockett and Elizabeth kept house and did most of the cooking. At that time Mother was visiting in Fort Worth and San Antonio, so Naomi and I drove to San Antonio to visit and bring Mother back to Galveston with us. Dad returned from North Carolina at that time, so they both were with us for several days. One morning while eating breakfast Dad look at me and said "Vester, you married the wrong girl!" I replied "I enjoy Elizabeth's cooking as much as you do, but I did not marry the wrong girl!"
While Mother and Dad were with us a co-worker gave me two wild ducks. One of our cooks had previously told me how to get rid of the wild taste. We placed the dressed ducks in a pot, peeled one Irish potato and one apple, placed all in the pot and brought it to a boil. However, do not actually boil; remove from heat and dispose of water, potato and apple. Place ducks in pan and bake the same as you would two chickens. Mother remarked that she had cooked much wild game, but did not know it was possible to get rid of the wild taste.
I will close this by assurance to Dad and all "I married the right girl!"
Vester Lee Roper; 31 July 1989 and 8 August 1989 (Vester died 1 Sep 1989.)
Vester wrote our biography of much of his life when it was a great effort just to live. On the 23rd day of August 1989 I took him to St. Joseph's Hospital here in Fort Worth, where he died on the first day of September 1989. I never left him except to go home, bathe and change clothes. I took all my meals in the restaurant at the hospital. Vester was a wonderful husband and I still miss him so very much.
My sister, Mary Elizabeth, and I joined forces when Vester died, as her husband had died in December 1988 just nine months before Vester died. We have lived together since that time.
We have many common interests, among which is the love of travel to faraway places with strange sounding names, and have been able to enjoy a few trips together.
Her son, Eddie, lives in Bethesda, Maryland and he and his family stay close in tough and are much joy to both of us. There are two granddaughters. Samantha, the older one, received her masters degree in choral direction from Arizona State University last summer. The younger granddaughter, Martha, also received her masters degree in concert piano last summer from University of Texas at Austin. Now the search for gainful employment in their chosen fields has begun!
Robert and Neil Ackerman, our brother' s sons, live in Dallas. Robert has two sons - one a teenager, the other a ten-year old. Neil married two years ago, so both Robert, Kris and their two boys give us much joy, as do Neil and Gina.
I still keep close with members of the J. R. Roper family both far and near. They, too, are lots of joy! I fill so blessed to be still a member of that family. They are wonderful! Wonderful!
Love you all, Naomi Ackerman Roper
Naomi died on 27 January 2006 in Fort Worth TX.
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I was born 19 December 1905 in Howell County, Missouri, the eighth child of Joshua Rufus Roper and Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little. I had blue eyes, a fair complexion and auburn hair. As far as I know the nearest "next of kin" of mine that had red hair and freckles was an uncle on Mother's maternal side. He also had oil wells, which I didn't inherit.
When we moved to Ellis County, Oklahoma in March 1915 I was over five years old. I don't remember Missouri except for one incident. Mother was going to the field to work with Dad and the four older children, so she spread a quilt on the ground for baby Fred to stay on and brother Vester and I were to look after him. That was my first lesson in changing diapers, and not "Pampers" either.
I grew up as a tomboy because I had only brothers near my age. When we got upset or angry with each other we would have fights and wrestling matches. Poor Mother! What a lot she had to endure! Yet, she said "I wouldn't take a million dollars for any one of them, but I wouldn't give a dime for another!" This was after Virgil, the last child, was born.
I think that all of us enjoyed going to school; it was better than working in the fields. Yes, I helped "top" kafir corn and maize, pull broom corn and pull ears of ripe corn off the stalk. Also, I shocked bundles of oats and sowed feed, a very dirty and itchy job, as well as working in the garden using a "cotton" hoe to cut sunflowers and other weeds out of the rows.
When I was in the fourth grade I went to school every day without being absent or tardy. One cold winter day Vester and I were the only ones that braved the cold to go to school. As I climbed over the fence that separated the Beamer place from the home place I noticed that I did not have a dress on. We all wore long underwear and long black stockings; that day I had on an outer flannel slip, but I had forgotten to put a dress over it. So I went back home to put on my dress in a hurry to get back to school on time.
Older sister Allie taught school and would buy material to make clothes for younger sister Winnie and me. Mother had a sewing machine. Later I would practice sewing when Mother would go somewhere. I finally was able to sew pretty good. I even made shirts for my brothers that had the band to make the collar stiff; that I did not enjoy.
When I was in the eighth grade our teacher was Mrs. Locke, an excellent teacher. I never liked grammar, but she managed to make it understandable and she was a whiz at math. History and geography were my favorite subjects. To get out of the eighth grade We had to pass the state examination
I rode a horse over six miles to go to Arnett High School. If the weather was very bad I would ride to where Allie and Paul Miller lived about two miles east of Arnett, since it was closer than home. During my second year of high school brother Fred and I both rode horses to high school in Arnett. On Sunday 25 September Fred had a sudden very painful stomach ache. The folks took him to the doctor at Shattuck Hospital where he had an operation for appendicitis. When he recuperated we rode to school in a buggy. Later we went in a car.
I spent three years in Arnett High School. My senior year I attended at Gaqe. I roomed with Dora Hattie Koons.
That summer I worked in Canadian, Texas in the Santa Fe Harvey House. It had a dining room and a large room with counters. I worked in the latter and my salary was $1 per day plus room and board. I worked seven days a week. I quit the last of August and went home. I wanted to go to college, but couldn't induce Dad to pay my tuition.
In October I took the State Teachers Examination and passed. I went to work in the County Superintendent's office, where I worked until February. Her niece, who taught in a two-room school in the sand hills east of Higgins, Texas (about sixteen miles from Arnett, Oklahoma) had to have an operation. I finished that term for her and taught there the next year. I stayed with a family that had five boys and no girls; I paid $20 per month for room and board. My salary was $80 per month. I went home over week ends.
I attended summer at Northwestern State Teachers College in Alva, Oklahoma.
I next taught school north of Catesby, going to summer school at Alva each summer, eight weeks for a term.
We took the trip for history study, so battlefields of the Civil War, museums, etc. were part of our tour. We were in Chattanooga, Annapolis, Washington DC, New York, Boston, through the beautiful state of Maine and into Canada. In Canada we visited Quebec, Montreal, Niagara Falls and Toronto. Then we came back into the good USA at Detroit and went on to Chicago, Lincoln NB and back to Wichita. It was a hard but delightful trip. I still enjoy thinking about it.
In 1931 my roommate, Ruth Cronin, and I signed up to go on an Omnibus trip leaving from Wichita, Kansas. All on the trip were involved in school systems (teachers, principals and superintendents). There were 525 of us riding in buses and sleeping in tents. It was a rough trip, but it was well worth the money and effort; the cost was $200 for the seven-week trip. We camped a week near Gatlinburg, Tennessee at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. The flowers there amazed me azaleas, rhododendrons, roses and ferns growing wild. Nothing like that exists in arid Oklahoma. I walked half way up the mountain; some went all the way and spent the night at the top. We also walked to Gatlinburg one evening to attend a concert.
We took the trip for history study, so battlefields of the Civil War, museums, etc. were part of our tour. We were in Chattanooga, Annapolis, Washington DC, New York, Boston, through the beautiful state of Maine and into Canada. In Canada we visited Quebec, Montreal, Niagara Falls and Toronto. Then we came back into the good USA at Detroit and went on to Chicago, Lincoln NB and back to Wichita. It was a hard but delightful trip. I still enjoy thinking about it.
While teaching I took several subjects by correspondence courses from NWSTC at Alva. Even with the summers I attended at Alva I only had the equivalent of two years of college. Maybe that is one reason I enjoy going to classes for senior citizens at Tarrant County Junior College. They don't count toward any degree; they are just something to keep one alert and active. I hadn't become "burned out" on going to school. Now, my main trouble is being able to hear what is said. (Several of we Ropers, including Dad, had hearing problems.)
After the trip to the Northeast I went to school in Alva for the August term (three weeks for five days and class time was doubled). I was just an average student; I made mostly Bs and about the same number of As and Cs. This August term, however, I made straight As and was so proud of it!
Winnie had graduated from High School. Brothers Vester and Oathel came home from Texas for the graduation, and took Winnie back to Fort Worth to go to beauty school. When I came home from school it seemed so lonesome. I didn't realize how much of my life was devoted to her. I told mother that I was so lonesome and didn't think I could stand it. She said "How do you think I feel with you, Winnie and Virgil all away and just Dad and me here?" (Virgil had gone with his Sunday School class on a trip.) I had concentrated on only me. Her words made a deep impression on me and made me realize that other people have feelings, also.
Mother used to tell me that I went around with my feelings on my shoulder and dared anyone to knock them off. I know that if someone I loved said certain things to me I would be deeply hurt, but if I didn't care for a person I could kid right back at them and think nothing of it.
My Mother and I were best friends. I could talk to her and ask her anything for which I needed an answer. We were very close.
While growing up I felt that having red hair was a curse. The school kids would call me "freckles" and "turkey" and torment me about my hair. I would even pretend Mother and Dad had adopted me because I didn't have the coloring that my sisters or brothers had. I really grew up a loner.
The spring Paul Miller (Allie's first husband) died the school board of their school district asked me to teach at their school (Sunny Slope) and take Allie's four girls (Elizabeth and Pauline and her nieces Betty and Naomi Humphrey) and the Rider's two children to school. I didn't have a car so brother Fred let me use their car to take the six children to school, like sardines in a can. I lived with Mother and Dad.
I went to Fort Worth that summer. Winnie had arranged for me to work in a beauty shop. During the latter part of the summer I met Benny Walter Schroeder. To me he was special. But duty called, so I went back home to teach another year. Three weeks later Winnie called and asked me to came back and work in her place as she was quitting. The hardest thing I ever had to do was ask the school board to release me from my commitment, as I really wanted to go back to Fort Worth. They did and I did.
I stayed with brother H. H. (Hurschel) and Babe for several months.
Ben and I planned on getting married on 15 September 1935, but on Labor Day he was laid off. So we postponed marriage. The company had him come back to work after the new year. We did get married 28 March 1936. Ben even wrote Dad about it. I have often wondered what he wrote. Knowing Ben, a very proper man, I'm sure he asked Dad if he would allow Ben to marry me. We never told anyone that we were going to get married, although I had my ring several weeks before. Ben did not want me to work, so I only worked for two more weeks until they could get a replacement for me in the beauty shop.
Winnie and her daughter Jeanne moved in with us when Jeanne was a baby. When Jeanne was weaned Winnie went back to work. Brother T. W. (Thurman) would come by in the mornings and take her to work and she would ride buses back home.
Ben joined the Masonic Lodge. Several evenings a week he had to go for study. Often Jeanne and I would walk until Winnie's bus came by. I would sew dresses for Jeanne; I thought she looked so adorable. Sometimes we would park and Ben would do whatever he had to do while Jeanne and I stayed in the car. People walking by would wave at her, talk to her and mention how pretty she was. Those little fingers of hers twined themselves around my heart. Yes, one can love someone else's child as much as if she were their own. Ben loved her that way, too.
I have always felt very close to Jeanne, David and their four wonderful children (and their four grandchildren) as if they were mine. Their joys are my joys and their heartaches were my pain, also.
About two years after our marriage we bought a house east of the Masonic Home. A few months later Ben asked his boss for a raise. A fellow that worked with Ben told the boss that he didn't have to give Ben a raise, as he couldn't quit because he had just bought a house. Ben didn't get the raise, so he quit and started in business for himself. That is how I became his office helper; I worked for him but didn't get a paycheck. However, I always felt that what he made was ours and he felt that way, also.
When work began on the "bomber plant" he got a job installing its air conditioning equipment. He worked ten hours at night, I think seven days a week.
When the plant was finished the company Ben was working with asked him to work for them. They had jobs to be built in Kansas City, Des Moines, Houston, Pasadena and Waco. That meant much traveling away from home. I suggested that we sell our house so I could travel with him. With T.W.'s legal help we sold the house. I put our "necessary things" in four suitcases and we traveled.
In 1945 the company asked Ben to come to the home office in Harrison, New Jersey. They paid our plane fare and for our stay in Newark, New Jersey and our entertainment there. We took tours of New York involving a boat ride, theater and dinner. We saw Milton Berle and the Rocketts and ate oysters at Jack Dempsey's. We enjoyed it, but were glad to get back home.
The work for the company slowed down, so Ben quit and started in business for himself again in commercial refrigeration service. We bought a house on two acres in the Handley area of Fort Worth. It had an unfinished building on it that Ben planned on finishing to use as his shop. But we did not check with the zoning commission and he was closed down. So he rented a building just south of Montgomery Ward off of Lancaster Street. In 1949 there was a flood that brought the water up to the second floor of Montgomery Ward. A friend took Ben in a boat to Ben's shop and they were able to get onto the roof from the boat. Besides tools and parts, Ben's new compressors were covered with water. Everything had to be dismantled and cleaned. He then sold them at cost with a new guarantee.
When David Noah, Jr. was three years old, Jeanne, David, David Jr. and David's parents took a trip to Colorado, while Phyllis and Phyllip stayed with Ben and me. The twins were 1.5 years old and walking everywhere. Ben and I would sit outside and they would run around. Phyllis would pick up our cigarette butts and put them in her mouth. When we were watching TV Phyllis would watch my cigarette going from lips to ash tray. She convicted me of my smoking. But the nicotine was stronger than my will power.
Easter Sunday of 1958 we went to Sunday school and church with Jeanne, David and family. They had asked us to go many, many times. We had a boat and enjoyed fishing, so we always had something else to do. That Easter Sunday was the turning point in our lives. Brother Noah (David's father) was the teacher. Many of the young people in the class were attending the Assembly of God University at Waxahachie or had graduated from there. Their discussions were very interesting. I wanted to hear more! They asked us back and Ben said that we would return. In October the Holy Spirit brought us to where we knew what we wanted and needed. I was still under conviction about my cigarettes. We made the commitment and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, asking forgiveness. Later one morning as I went into the kitchen to get breakfast, it was as if a voice spoke to me from my chest and said "You won't need them anymore." Was the voice audible? It was so real I'll never forget it. Funny! I knew exactly what it was that I wouldn't need anymore. It was those cigarettes! I never smoked another cigarette and never even wanted one. Praise the Lord!
The day that Ben retired he said that he was going to quit smoking when he had smoked the few he had left. It was hard for him, but he did quit. One day during the summer we had gone somewhere in his truck. When we got home I started rolling the window up and Ben said "Leave it down; until I quit smoking I didn't realize how bad they had smelled." The truck still smelled like cigarette smoke.
Ben quit his business because he thought that he would like to buy a farm. We bought 180 acres between Glen Rose and Granbury. It was almost at the end of "nowhere"! We placed an order for 525 leghorn pullets. Ben had a chance to work at Consolidated (now General Dynamics, the old bomber plant) in the boiler room. We moved to the farm the last of May. We had built a large chicken house that would hold the chickens all of the time. We sold the pullet eggs for 12 to 15 cents a dozen. Later, as the eggs got larger, I contacted an egg buyer that came through the area buying eggs to sell in Fort Worth. He paid us 50 cents a dozen and picked them up twice a week.
We were thrilled when our cows began to calve. One morning I noticed that the angus had a new calf. We had a pup, that was a mixture of chow and terrier, that followed me everywhere. I went down to the cows and the pup followed. I drove the cow up to a pecan tree. The calf seemed tired. After resting a few minutes I put my hand behind the calf trying to get it to move. The pup came closer and the cow bellowed and hit her head against my left side, knocking me down. She just kept hitting me and hitting me; my arms and legs swung around in the air. After a while, the calf moved away with the other cows. The mother cow started to leave. I got up and Bang! she hit me in the side again and I fell to the ground. This time with her constant butting I expected that when Ben came home at 5 pm he'd find me there under the pecan tree, a battered, bloody pulp. I expected to die. Yes, I had yelled for help. But no one was around, except the Lord who saved me. The calf moved away again and the cow followed. I stayed there until she was fifty feet or so away, then I got up to go to the pecan tree. I thought that, if she did come after me, I could get away from her at the tree. When I got to the tree all I could see was black and white things floating in my eyes.
I sat by the tree for a long time. My vision eventually returned and the pup and I trudged to the house. There were many grass burrs in that area, and I felt like I had picked up many of them. When I got to the house I pulled my dress off and put on my gown and robe. It was 10:30 am. I sat in a chair and tried to lie down, but the pain was so bad that I couldn't. I sat in that chair until Ben came home at 5 pm. We didn't have a telephone and I didn't have a car. We only got mail three times a week. So I had no means to get help.
Ben took me to the hospital in Glen Rose. The x-rays showed that I had three cracked ribs and a broken rib that had punctured the lower portion of the left lung; the lung had filled one-third with blood. I sat up in bed and stayed there for eight days. Before I left they put a needle through my back into my lung to put in medication to dissolve the blood. It took much time to heal.
In a few years it came close to time for Ben's retirement and we decided to return to Fort Worth. We had so many lovely large live oak trees on the farm, so we were afraid that we would not have trees in Fort Worth. A month after renting an apartment in Fort Worth Winnie called about a customer who knew a lady had ten acres for sale. When we saw the place we knew that we wanted it, but said that we would be out the next evening with an answer. As we drove in the next evening another car followed us in the driveway. The lady showed us around again and we agreed to buy the place. Yes, it had plenty of nice trees. The people in the car asked the lady if they could see the property, even though we had decided to buy it. They said that they would have bought it if we hadn't.
Ben and I lived there nine years. For Christmas of 1976 we went to Jeanne and David's for breakfast. The next day they came down to our place. David went outside and Ben asked Jeanne and I if we'd like to see something. He unbuttoned his shirt and showed us a large swollen place under his left arm. My heart nearly jumped out of my throat, I was so scared and shocked. Ben had noticed it about two weeks before, but didn't want to ruin our Christmas.
He called the doctor and made an appointment for a 2 January operation. They removed what they could and he began radiation treatment. Lumps appeared in the groin area and in the right arm pit. He had more radiation treatment in those areas. In seventeen months he had eighty radiation treatments. The last month of his life he was paralyzed from his waist down. During that time Jeanne, Winnie and Ben's sister, Ruby, were my life line. I don't know how I would have gotten along without them. The doctor told me a few weeks before Ben's death that his time was short. I told Ruby and she advised me to not tell Ben. I'm sure that he realized the time was near. When I cross "Jordan River" we'll be together, by spirit, again.
I had cataract operations in both eyes the year before Ben's death.
I have lived here since. Jeanne and David bought eight of my ten acres. They built a house, and David Jr. and Teresa and boys live in a trailer house between our houses. (They are planning to build a house there.) It is wonderful that we live together here and can help each other.
In March 1987 I fell and broke three bones in my left ankle. The next six months I stayed with Jeanne and David.
The past five years I have attended the fall session for senior citizens at Tarrant County Junior College. It lasts ten weeks and cost $20 for all of the classes one can arrange. I try to take as many classes as possible. We don't have to worry about tests or grades. They ask us to attend at least eight of the ten classes in each course.
When Jeanne and David's girls were small I would sew for them. When Phyllis was in high school she worked at a drug store or bank and saved money. Then she and I would go shopping for patterns, material and notions. I would cut, sew and fit and she would cook and clean my house. Ben would come by and say "Are you through?" He enjoyed all of the children as much as I did. Sometimes I would sleep with Phyllis and we would stay awake into the wee hours making "girl talk." It was lots of fun.
When we were in the country, before the children started to school, Jeanne and David would bring them to our place and let them stay a few days or a week. All five children enjoyed the country - going down to the creek and exploring the wild acres. There were snakes, possums, raccoons, armadillos, foxes, hawks and owls. We all had fun.
I enjoy knitting, crocheting, walking, eating, reading and especially visiting with church members. My hearing is getting old, I'm only getting older. I plan on staying busy until the Lord takes my breath away and says he's ready for me. I just pray I'll leave a pleasant memory in each of your minds.
It was always exciting to look forward to our J. R. Roper reunion. I am sure that Mother and Dad would be SO proud of all of us, especially the ones who do all the work for the reunions.
My memory of Grandma Little is that she was small and crippled with arthritis. When they came to visit us Grandpa would pick her up and carry her wherever she wanted to be. He was very kind and gentle with her. Mom had a good example in her parents and she fulfilled it. When Grandma Little died, Mother and the three youngest of my brothers and sisters went for the funeral in Christian County, Missouri. I knew my mother loved her mother so much and how the death saddened her. When they left and I went to bed, I pulled the covers over my head and asked God to not let it be so, that Grandma was dead.
I didn't know much about God. We didn't have a church nearer than Arnett, and we didn't go that far in a wagon to church. However, sometimes a traveling evangelist (it seemed that they all were recovered alcoholics from Arkansas) would hold meetings in various school houses. Then the team of horses would be hitched to the wagon and we would all pile in and go to the meeting. They would last rather late. Uncle David Little held a meeting and so did Ed Stewart (oldest sister Laphenia's husband). I would hear about those "Holy Rollers" and they were something I wanted no part of. I found out in later life that, if you can't change them, join them!
When Mother was in the Hospital two years before her death (1945) I spent two weeks in Oklahoma caring for her. I would stay a day, a night and another day at the hospital. Then I would go to brother Virgil's and Agnes' place to eat, shower, sleep and change clothes before going back to the hospital. I appreciated their kindness and love very much. When Dad was in the hospital in Newton, Kansas I spent about two weeks at the hospital and with sister Allie and Clifford at Whitewater.
I'll close with these words from a familiar song: "When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there." I just pray that we'll all be there! What a glorious family reunion that will be!
Edna Roper, May 1990
Edna Irene Roper Schroeder died on February 20, 1996 in Fort Worth TX after a long illness.
The following was written by Winnie, Edna's sister: Edna Roper Schroeder, my sister, was also my best friend. We were so close and our love was wonderful. I remember as always a very pleasant person to be with. She loved to dress up, put on her makeup, and go to senior citizens and church. She also loved to go see her dear friend, Ruth, with whom she went to college. She went every week and would take her something to read. Edna was an inspiration to all in the hospital and the nursing home. She is missed, but I am so happy that she is not suffering, as she is in Heaven.
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He had already sent in a $5 application fee to Oklahoma A&M College when the letter arrived. He had wanted to study to be a lawyer after attending a murder trial at Arnett, Oklahoma. But his older brother Hurschel had an automotive repair shop and gasoline station in Fort Worth, Texas, and needed help. The $50 per month offer from Hurschel in the letter meant that Fred could probably now marry his high school sweetheart, Eva Lucille Franklin. So, in September 1927 Fred took the train from Vici, Oklahoma to Fort Worth where he lived in Hurschel's upstairs apartment of the building that contained the repair shop (2816 Azle Avenue). On 19 February 1928 Eva was persuaded to secretly leave her grandmother's house in Arnett, Oklahoma and catch the same train to join him. Grandmother Mildred Donnell knew about it, but Eva's parents Roy and Cecil Franklin did not.
Fred and Hurschel met Eva at the train station in Wichita Falls, Texas that evening, drove to Fort Worth and Fred and Eva were married that evening in the apartment. Eva wore a pink dress that she had bought in Oklahoma with $7 that Fred had sent to her, along with the money that he had sent for the train ticket. They lived in the apartment with Hurschel for about six months. (Hurschel had just been divorced from his second wife, Alta Stuckey.) For about $700 they bought a new 1928 Ford Model A coupe with a rumble seat, their first car. (Previously, Fred and his brother Oathel had owned a Ford Roadster purchased together for about $500.)
The next summer of 1928 Fred and Eva lived in Fred's parents' (Joshua Rufus and Amanda Cordelia Roper) house at their farm between Arnett and Gage Oklahoma for a few weeks and helped with the wheat harvest. The three-hundred thirty miles of road from Fort Worth had only seventeen miles of pavement; it took a long day to travel the distance. (The first time Fred had gone to Fort Worth was on a one and one-half day trip with his dad and sister Edna in his Dad's used Model T Ford in 1923; brother Vester came back with them to help harvest.) They visited Eva's parents near the South Canadian River; apparently they were forgiven for the secret marriage.
After moving from the apartment, Fred and Eva successively rented two duplexes and a house until May 1932. Their first daughter, Marjorie Mae, was born on 3 May 1929 in the first duplex. Doris Jean, the second child, was born on 17 January 1931 in the house on 2715(?) Azle Avenue, one block from Hurschel's auto shop. Grandma Franklin came to Fort Worth for both births.
In 1932 Fred's sister Allie's husband, Paul Miller, died. Fred and family drove to Arnett, Oklahoma for the funeral. Allie needed someone to take over the farm. Since the depression had severely affected Hurschel's automobile shop, Fred and Eva decided to move back to Oklahoma and farm Allie's land. On 13 May 1932, with Eva pregnant with who was to be Kenneth Lee, the family moved to Oklahoma; a Model T truck and driver was contracted for $25 to haul their belongings.
A vacant house existed on the corner between Joshua Rufus Roper's and Allie Martha Roper Miller's places, so the Fred Roper family lived there rent free until 1936. Kenneth Lee was born on 18 November 1932 in that house while Fred was returning with his mother to help with the birth. Leon David was born on Friday, 13 December 1935 at Shattuck Hospital while they lived on that corner; the total cost of the birth was $26.
In 1936 Fred rented Sam Crider's land and lived in his house for one-third of the wheat crop. This land is across the road from the farm Fred and Eva later bought. Allie remarried to Clifford Gray in 1936 and Fred helped him farm Allie's place for a year, after which Clifford farmed it. In 1937 Sam Crider came back from California and wanted his land back. So the family leased and moved to the George Priest place (later to be become Joshua Rufus Roper's and then brother Virgil Lewis Roper's land) and lived there until spring of 1941. Fred bought his first tractor, a new John Deere Model A, in 1937. In 1938 David sucked a peanut hull into his lung and became very ill with double pneumonia, which later developed into several years of asthma. Virginia Gayle was born on Sunday, 29 January 1939, the last child and only one not born on Friday.
In 1941 Fred and Eva bought a 420 acre farm from Joe Crider for $5000. They borrowed $7322 from the Tenants Purchase Plan of the US government for 40 years at 3% annual rate, with payments of $322 per year. The remaining $2322 was for building a house, barn and granary. Frank Leady won the $1700 bid to build the three-bedroom house and constructed it in about three months. The house did not have electricity until REA arrived in 1945. The loan was paid back in 7 years. In about 1943 Joshua Rufus Roper bought the gravel pit land adjoining the Fred Roper land on the south for $200 and put it in Fred's name; Fred paid that "loan" back after J. R. died. Also, in about 1943 Fred returned to farming Allie's land when Allie and Clifford moved to Whitewater, Kansas. In about 1945 Fred and Eva bought the Schickedanz quarter-section that bordered their land on the southwest; they did it secretly because the US government would not allow purchase of more land until the original loan was paid.
The springs of 1947 and 1948 were heavy tornado seasons. The powerful tornado that did extensive damage and caused many deaths in Higgins, Texas and Woodward, Oklahoma in April, 1947 came near the home place after dark. Some minor damage was done to some sheds. A barn of Mr. August Beamer's, a close neighbor, collapsed on his cows. Fred, Kenneth and David helped clear the barn off of the cows all night long. In April, 1948 another tornado followed the same path along the creek near the home place, but did not hit the two towns. It came earlier in the evening while the milking was being done. The neighbors, Russell and Lela Sims, joined Fred's family in the cellar. When David walked to the house the wind was so strong it blew a large jar of milk out of his hands. The clouds were wildly swirling above. The tornado could be seen coming from a long distance. Fred watched the tornado come over the hill above Sim's house as he walked backward from the barn to the cellar. Chickens and trash could be seen swirling around through the small cellar window and a crash was heard. When they emerged they saw that two sheds had been severely damaged, but only slight damage was done to the house. Trees along the creek were badly mangled.
On 26 November 1947, Fred's birthday, Marjorie married Roy George Wieden at the home place. They moved to Stillwater for two years while Roy was studying at Oklahoma A&M College to be an airplane mechanic. Then they moved back to live on Allie's place and helped Fred farm for one year. In 1951 they moved to the Gage Airport which Roy managed and farmed the land there. Often David would help service the airplanes. In about 1953 they moved to Winona, Minnesota where Roy worked as an airplane mechanic. Roy worked for the Federal Aviation Authority in Oklahoma City, OK and Fort Worth, TX for many years. Their children are: Randall Wayne (27 Mar 1950-Shattuck, OK), Roger Scott(21 Jun 1953-Shattuck, OK) and Ronda Beth (7 Oct 1955-Winona, MN)
On 4 September 1949 Doris Jean married Orville Lee (Jack) Barnett and lived in Arnett for about a year, after which they moved to Baxter Springs, Kansas where Jack was a lead-zinc miner and later worked for the Empire Power Company. Their children are: Jeanetta Carol (11 Jul 1950-Baxter Springs, KS), son Jackie Lee (19 Oct 1951-Baxter Springs, KS), Johnnie David (31 May 1954-Baxter Springs, KS), Mary Jean (22 Jan 1956-Baxter Springs, KS), Cynthia Joan (29 Nov 1959-Shattuck, OK) and Sally Jaree (16 Jul 1967-Shattuck, OK).
Kenneth Lee never married. He graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University and attend Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. His field was personnel management. He worked for General Motors Corp. for several years in Fort Worth, TX, Detroit, MI and New York City. He then worked for Air France, West Chemical and Scientific Methods in New York City.
On 29 May 1955 Leon David married Thelma Lee Rowland at the First Baptist Church in Arnett, OK. David was studying physics at Oklahoma Baptist University then, but in 1958 they moved to Massachusetts where David went to graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a physics PhD degree in 1963. They later lived in Livermore, CA (Dave was a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory), Anchorage, KY (KY Southern College) and Blacksburg, VA (Virginia Polytechnic Institute). Their children are: Tamra Dawn (26 Jun 1957-Shawnee, OK) and Truda Gaye (31 Jul 1961-Boston, MA).
On 3 July 1965 Virginia Gayle married Donald Gordon Smith in Oklahoma City, OK. After the children were born they were divorced. A few years later Virginia moved to Woodward, OK, about 45 miles from Arnett, OK. Virginia attended Oklahoma Baptist University and worked as a computer manager. Their children are: Gary Don (3 Aug 1967-Oklahoma City, OK), Dawn Marie (23 Dec 1970-Oklahoma City, OK) and Mark Mathew (2 Feb 1972-Oklahoma City, OK).
Fred bought his first milking machine in 1945 when REA electricity arrived. In about 1948 Fred seriously began milking Registered Milking Shorthorns. In 1950 the Texas Health Department forced him to build a new barn.
After Kenneth and David had both graduated from high school and moved away from the farm, Fred had a sale of most of his herd in 1954. In 1956 he started buying holsteins and started seriously milking again. In 1959 daughter Doris Jean and husband, Jack Barnett, moved from Baxter Springs, Kansas to help with the wheat farming and milking. They lived in Allie's house until about 1962 when Fred and Eva deeded them forty acres on the southeast edge of the land where they built a house. On 1 January 1972 Jean and Jack sold the house and two acres around it and moved to Halfway, Missouri. In that same year Dix Alden Roper (Fred's brother Virgil Lewis Roper's son) took over farming Allie's land from Fred.
In 1974 Fred and Eva had a large sale and sold all of the farm implements and cattle, and then filed with the Social Security Administration for retirement. His last wheat crop in 1973 was the best he had ever had; it was the first year he had ever used commercial fertilizer and it made about forty bushels per acre. After that Dix Roper farmed Fred and Eva's land.
On 28 August 1983 Kenneth Lee died of a heart attack in New York City. Fred, Jean and David were there when he died.
Eva's health deteriorated rapidly in the last years of her life. She had a double-bypass heart operation in Oklahoma City, but died a few weeks later, after a gall stone operation, in the Shattuck, OK Newman Hospital on 7 May 1985. In 1988 the first daughter of Tamra Dawn Roper Oliver, daughter of Leon David Roper, was named Eva Marie Oliver in memory of grandmother Eva.
Fred Lloyd Roper was born on 26 Nov 1907 at Siloam Springs, Howell Co., MO. His parents were Joshua Rufus Roper (24 Jan 1869-Murphy, Cherokee Co., NC; 26 Aug 1954-Fort Worth, TX; bur. Arnett, OK) and Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little (7 Jun 1875-Blairsville, Union Co., GA; 20 Dec 1945-Arnett, OK).
Eva Lucille Franklin was born on 26 Oct 1908 at Roll, Roger Mills Co., OK and died on 7 May 1985 at Shattuck, Ellis Co., OK (bur. Arnett, OK). Her parents were Roy Ray Franklin (22 Feb 1881-Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., KS; 14 Sep 1973-Santa Ana, Orange Co., CA) and Cecil Marie Donnell (9 May 1891-Marshall, Saline Co., MO; 17 Jul 1975-Santa Ana, Orange Co., CA).
Eva and Fred were married on 19 Feb 1928 at Fort Worth, Tarrant Co., TX.
After Eva's death, Fred Lloyd Roper married Maude Dee Whitson on 8 May 1986 at Gage, Ellis Co., OK.
L. David Roper, with help from Fred L. Roper; 1989
On November 30, 1990 Fred was in a head-on collision with an oil-field pickup at, at least, 90 mph relative speed about two miles west of Woodward, Oklahoma. The pickup had crossed into Fred's lane. Fred's second wife Maude was killed instantly. Fred lived nine hours after the wreck. The young driver was burned in the pickup. Fred was taken to Woodward Hospital and then on to St. Mary's Hospital in Enid, Oklahoma, where he died. Many ribs were broken, One or two legs were broken and his hip was broken. He was a very strong man to have survived such extensive injuries for those nine hours.
Fred was a wonderful son, brother, husband and father. We all miss him greatly.
Fred's and Eva's daughter, Virginia, married Bill Barker on January 19, 1990 in Woodward, Oklahoma, where they live.
Their son David's wife, Thelma Lee Rowland, died on 24 September 1993 after a massive heart attack. David married Jeanne Muriel Baril Howard on 12 February 1994 in Blacksburg, Virginia, where they live.
David Roper, July 1996
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I (Oathel) was born on a tobacco farm in the southwest corner of Howell County, Missouri on 26 January 1910. I am the tenth of twelve children of Joshua Rufus Roper and Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little; there are seven boys and five girls.
I wasn't very enthusiastic about the tobacco farm, so in March 1910 I moved with my family to a wheat farm in Ellis County, Oklahoma. As I grew older I helped with the farming, taking care of the chickens, hogs, horses, mules and cows. There were twice a day chores seven days a week involving milking the cows, feeding the calves and separating the milk. In the spring there was gardening and canning the vegetables, fruit and some meat.
We used the horses and mules for farming. My older brother, Fred, and I would look back at the end of the day and saw a good day's work, more so than a few years before when the three brothers of us, Vester, Fred and I were doing the plowing; they on the walking plow and I riding the moldboard. Each day we had to get the teams in the barn, feed them, harness them, work one-half day, bring them back to the barn, feed them and have our lunch. Then we would go back and work the afternoon, bring them back to the barn, unharness them, feed them and turn them out to the pasture. Oh, for the good old days!
As the older children left the farm and Dad and Mom had bought more land, there was more farming to do. When Fred left, Dad bought a Model-A John Deere tractor and with it I could do more farming than several teams of horses. So when I had a little extra time I would help the neighbors pull broom corn and thus would get $1 per day plus they furnished the meals. I would take two quilts and sleep in a shed, granary or barn. In the early morning it would get cold, often with much dew. I also helped with the threshing of the broom corn, one of the nastier jobs, but I received $2 per day for that. One year I joined a wheat threshing crew; the pay was very good: $4 per day. They furnished the meals and I took my pallet along. That job was not for weak backs; you were ready for the sack at the end of the day.
In 1930 I left the farm and turned it over to a good man, my younger brother Virgil, who was fifteen years of age. I moved to the Oklahoma wheat farm when I was about five weeks old along with Mom and Dad, five brothers and three sisters. Then Winnie and Virgil joined us in Oklahoma.
In the fall of 1930 I moved to Texas for a job in Corpus Christi. Boy, was it a snap! I was paid $3.50 per day, but put in only eight hours a day and had two fifteen-minutes coffee breaks. I didn't like coffee, so I would just loaf around and plain relax. We were rebuilding pontoons for the pipeline dredges.
Once we went to Port Lavaca to rebuild a bulkhead that had washed out by a hurricane. We lived on the derrick barge and they furnished our meals, about three weeks of work. The short working hours, good food and beautiful weather must have agreed with me, for in the four months I went from 187 lbs to 227 lbs. I want to forget the day at 227 lbs, the most I ever weighed. It was a Sunday and I didn't feel very good; but brother Vester wanted to go to see actor Richard Dix in the movie "Cimmaron." To this day I do not know what the show was about. The next morning I could not go to work. Vester went on to work but came by at noon to see how I was doing. He saw I was in bad shape so he took me to the hospital, where it was determined that I had 105 degrees fever - typhoid fever. When Vester came by the hospital that evening after work, the doctor told him I was very sick and perhaps had one chance in one hundred of surviving. I took the one chance and made it with the loving care of my Mother, who came down from Oklahoma to help Vester take care of me. Mother left Winnie and Virgil to run the farm, as Dad was on vacation in North Carolina and other points east visiting relatives. They were fortunate to have our oldest sister, Allie, within one mile near by in case of any problems. Winnie and Virgil were 17 and 15, respectively, and mature enough to handle the job.
While in the hospital I went down to 150 lbs; the day I left there I was 163 lbs. I was in the hospital for forty-four days.
I continued working on the derrick barge until all of the pontoons were rebuilt; then I was out of a job. I did odd jobs for little money. I decided to go back to Oklahoma to help with the hay crop and other work.
Then I got a call that there were openings on the dredge Galveston, where I had left my application. I started out as deckhand at $57.50 per month. We lived on the dredge and worked twenty-four hours a day, from midnight Sunday until noon Saturday. Then we took on groceries, water and oil to last another week. In about six months I was promoted to dredge hand at $62.50 per month. After a little over a year I was promoted to dragtender at $78.50 per month. All the while I had a place to live and all the food I could eat, yet I never went over 215 lbs. We received 2.5 daYs Per month paid vacation - 30 days a year.
When a quartermaster or junior deck officer went on vacation I would fill in for him. One time when the cook died I even helped run the kitchen. They had good cook books, so the crew didn't starve.
In late 1936 I left the dredge and opened a Western Auto Associate store in Commerce, Texas with the help of Vester's money. That was a struggle. From seven am until about seven PM, then on Friday and Saturday nights I was in the store, as the farmers didn't know when to go home. They would come in mostly for looking and maybe by 10:30 or 11:00 they would leave and I would close the store.
On early Sunday morning I would clean the store with the cigarette butts stepped on and twisted into the wood floor. I had purchased two spittoons, but the customers found it more convenient to spit between the parts bins rather than mess up the spittoons; they were too pretty to put cigarette butts in them.
One year in the store and I was ready to leave. I just broke even, but it was a good lesson in finance. I learned not to trust anybody. There are a few people (if still alive) in Commerce who owe me a few dollars. In 1937 I left the store in Commerce, did odd jobs and ended up in Harlingen, Texas, where I worked in the valley until 14 January 1938.
I went to San Antonio, Texas. I was going to spend the night with my brother Hurschel and his wife Babe. When I got there they were getting ready to go to a birthday party and asked me to go along. The party was for a young lady celebrating her eighteenth birthday. I met her and went on with the men to play cards. She later became my wife, but she was much too young then.
About two years later I had my first date with Rosa Lee Stahl. We dated irregularly for over a year. Then the army draft called me to US service in January. Rosa Lee and I wrote regularly. When Japan hit Pearl Harbor on 7 December I knew I was in for the duration. At the time I was stationed in Camp Bowie, but had spent the night in Fort Worth. Sunday morning I and some buddies went to sister Edna's and her husband Ben's house where I heard the news about Pearl Harbor.
After the attack we started on preparations for the future. By the middle of summer in 1942 we went to Louisiana for maneuvers and then to Orlando, Florida, then to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and on to Massachusetts. There one morning I was told to pack my gear as I was being transferred, the first sergeant didn't know to where. When I arrived a sergeant in charge gave me a sheet showing I was part of a cadre of eleven men of the 2008th Ordinance Maintenance Company and that I was the staff sergeant in charge of service and supply. We spent several days together, then the eleven enlisted men ranked from T4 to master sergeant, were put on a train for Spokane, Washington. We arrived Christmas morning.
We spent about three months in Spokane with seventy-nine enlisted men and five officers, all second lieutenants. We then were sent to Santa Marie, California, where we picked up some sixty more men and we were shortly shipped to Kelly Field at San Antonio, Texas. We then had two hundred and nine men and seven officers. We began receiving the equipment we would need over seas, over two hundred crates. Only one piece of equipment was broken despite the rough handling - a seven-foot drill press, which we were able to weld.
When we were at Kelly Field I spent what time I could with Rosa Lee Stahl, a most wonderful, congenial and lovely lady. I asked her to marry me and on 8 May 1943 we were wed. She continued to live with her mother.
I was promoted to technical sergeant at $87 per month. In August we left San Antonio for New York and then South Africa. In South Africa we were able to set up pretty good living conditions. We spent over a year there. Then we went to the island of Corsica and then on to Italy. As the war was winding down in Europe, we were put on a boat for the Pacific by way of the Panama Canal. We were out on the Pacific five days when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan.
We went on to New Guinea and three days later on to Manila in the Philippine islands - forty-four days by boat. By then I had enough points to go home, so I waited until there was a ship going that way. I finally got on board with 4000 other soldiers going home. About six days out in the North Pacific we hit a storm which was the worst I had ever seen. No troops were allowed on deck. When it was over there were only two life boats left; the rest had been torn loose and swept overboard.
We finally landed in California. As soon as they could process me I caught a troop train for San Antonio, Texas. It had wood slat seats, but that was OK because each clack of the wheels brought me closer to home! We arrived on Armistice Day, 11 November. As soon as they released me I caught a bus by brother Hurschel's auto shop and talked to nephew Bill Roper a few minutes. I then took a bus to 602 Harrinan Place where my brother-in-law Sandy Sansone, whom I had never met before, met me.
Rosa Lee had the day off as an official holiday, and Sandy was fixing a good Italian dinner and said that she would be home soon. They didn't know that I was due in so soon. I can't go into the details of what happened when she arrived, but it was nice after she had a good cry.
About a week later we caught a bus for Fort Worth, Texas, spent a day or two there and then went on to Oklahoma to see Mother and Dad. Just as we got to Amarillo, Texas the bus broke down. The driver stopped a car and asked them to send a bus out to pick us up. It was quite cold, but we did not have to wait long for the bus. We were going to have to stay all night in Amarillo as the other bus we were supposed to catch had already left. We ordered a cup of coffee, then I thought that we might be able to catch a train to Shattuck, Oklahoma, about fifteen miles from the home place. I rushed to the phone and called the depot and they said that the train was due in five minutes. I had seen a cab as we went into the cafe, so I grabbed Rosa Lee and jumped in the cab. We had to wait thirty minutes at the cold depot for the train.
The train was a troop train and we had to ride in the vestibule on barracks bags. Cold wind and snow were blowing through the cracks. A poor lady with two small children were also there; the children were crying because they were cold. I wrapped them in my overcoat until we arrived at Shattuck, Oklahoma. My folks were there to meet us.
We had a nice vacation but finally decided it was time to go home and go to work. We lived in my in-laws' garage apartment where our first child was born on 1 September 1952. Russell Lane Roper, who weighed only three lbs at birth, was seven months old at the time of the Roper reunion in San Antonio. His twin sister didn't live and he had spent six weeks in the hospital, most of the time on oxygen. The total bill was $1600. But he made it with plenty of help from doctors and much love and tender care. He had braces on his legs for 1.5 years, an eye operation and then a jaw operation. In high school he had braces on his teeth. He only grew to six feet tall and a little over 200 lbs.
His sister Lori Ann was born 25 December 1957 with no trouble, except eventually braces on her teeth. She was kind of puny at five feet ten inches; healthy and happy.
We bought our first and only house at 128 Miami Drive in San Antonio, Texas in May 1958.
Rosa Lee was a very good cook; she loved to make the best enchiladas I have ever eaten. She was a good mother and wife; I don't know how she managed all that she did - PTA, coach and assistant coach for baseball, volleyball and track. She also had time for much work at the church. She held all parts at church up through the PTC that takes in all south and west Texas from El Paso to Houston. Then in her spare time she was in charge of the Girl Scouts and always had plenty of time for me.
No wonder that she passed away at such a tender age of only 53 years on 22 February 1974, while Lori Ann was in high school.
I kept working until July 1980, when I retired. In a short while I could not understand how I ever had time to go to work. The cooking, cleaning house, yard work and laundry kept me very busy. After that it was time to rest and start another day.
I can say I have been one lucky person, with two wonderful people as my parents and no better men and women were ever made than my loving and helpful sisters and brothers!
I have a wonderful friend now, Evelyn Moor, that I play bridge with. We have taken a few trips together to the east coast and down through Florida. We are planning a trip to California this summer if all goes well. Then we plan to attend the up coming Roper reunion in Oklahoma. Hope to see you all there.
Love to all, Oathel Lane Roper, 16 February 1990
Oathel died on 17 August 2006 in San Antonio TX.
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I was the eleventh child born to Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little and Joshua Rufus Roper (J. R.). My Dad must have been proud of me; he wrote to older sister Allie, then living at Parkman, Oklahoma, on a card about my birth: "Monday night 12-23-12 Dear Allie: Will write you to let you no, that you have a new sister, born at 7: o'clock this morning. Weight 10 lbs has a fine head of Black Hair. Your mother is getting along fine. Write again. J. R. Roper" I still have the card and I framed it. After Allie died, her daughter Liz found it with Allie's things and sent it to me. I am so happy she gave it to me.
The first I can remember we lived on a rock hill. When it snowed we kiddoes would slide down the hill in a shovel; it was so much fun! We walked around the rock hill looking in and around the crevices; it was exciting and educational. One time Dad and Mother went to neighbors to visit, so we kiddoes (Edna, Fred, Oathel, Winnie and Virgil) decided we would smoke like Dad. We rolled up a paper and stuck it in the coal stove - whoof! We almost set the house on fire. There was no more smoking for us.
I think I was about four years of age when I went to visit Allie and husband Paul Miller in Enid, Oklahoma. They bought me a pair of red shoes. Oh, how proud I was of them! I guess it was my first pair of shoes. Being the eleventh child, I wore lots of hand-me-downs.
When we moved down below the hill into two rooms, Uncle Sterling Roper came and built on a living room and two more bedrooms. When they had the floor joists down for the living room, I tried to walk across them and fell and almost broke my nose. It was red and swollen. I guess that is why it looks like it does now. We had no bathroom, only an outside "out house." We had to carry water from a well. Some times to get away from working we would go to the out house, lock the door and look at the Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalog.
I faintly remember during the 1918 War (WWI) that Grandma Roper came to visit us. We all were sick with the flu.
I got my first doll when I was about five or six years old. Edna got one, too. I have a picture of us holding our dolls; it is very cute as we were dressed in cute dresses made by Allie.
When I was five or six I went with someone to milk the cows, thinking it would be fun. Dad found out I could milk, so from then on during cold, hot, rain or snow, twice a day I had to go milk. When Dad said anything we did it! No excuses. I was not his little girl any more.
I started to ride my pony Flora when I started to walk. When I was about ten Virgil and I were riding around the old home place on the hill and Flora got scared and jumped. Virgil and I fell on a barbed wire fence. It cut a big gash in my left arm between the shoulder and the elbow. We had no way to get to a doctor so Edna, using the first aid she had learned at high school, sterilized and bandaged it.
When I started to school we walked a mile and a half through the pasture and wheat field to Lone Star School. I will never forget how good our home smelled when we walked in. A slice of Mother's home baked bread by itself was sufficient. I was the cookie maker and still love to bake them.
When I was eight or nine years of age I had a ringworm on my left cheek. Dad took me to Arnett in the wagon to Dr. Bamber. He pulled the skin off and put iodine on the wound. Coming home in the wind on the wagon, I had severe pain and thought I would not live through it.
Growing up I was bothered with leg pains. Mother would get up from bed, come to my room and sit on the bed to rub my legs, with skunk oil she said. (We had plenty of skunks around for Dad to set traps for.) Anyway, her being near me would make the pain go away.
A fun time growing up was when we heard the hen's cackling. You then knew it was time to gather the eggs. I would go, following Mother, and she would let me pick them out of the nests. I sure felt smart and big!
Since I was the youngest girl all my brothers were very good to me. I remember in my early teens Fred (bless his heart) would take me with him to court Eva. I sure had fun watching them kissing and carrying on! I thought it sure would be great to be grown and go on a date. Eva was so pretty. I loved to go and watch her play basketball.
Other times when Edna would come home from college on weekends I would get into her clothes and wear her silk stockings. (No, she didn't kill me.) Also, we would get to go to Gage on Saturday afternoons and walk and walk and walk around the square and she would buy me a coke.
One day a man came by our house with a radio. Now that was something to sit and hear all that went on at that time while sitting at our home! Dad bought one. At nights Dad would be sitting there smoking his pipe, Mother would be mending or patching clothes and Virgil and I would be on the floor by the coal stove - all listening to the radio.
When Allie and Paul moved back on the farm near us, Edna and I had the pleasure and fun of dressing Elizabeth and Pauline up, like our own cupid dolls. We really loved those little girls!
Mother and Dad did not have money to buy us Christmas gifts. I guess my first Christmas they hung a man's sock up and put an orange in it for me. I have never smelled or tasted an orange that good since! It was a wonderful Christmas!
Mother impressed on us kiddoes that if we couldn't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything. That I have tried to stick by.
We always had a big garden. Breaking a watermelon open and eating it there in the garden was so much fun and it was so good!
I went to Arnett High School. Sometime a friend of mine, Deon Sibley, would invite me home with her for lunch. Her mother would put a wiener on a slice of bread and fold it over. I thought that was a great treat, because we never had wieners in our home.
I was active in 4-H and won a trip to Stillwater. Boy, was that ever fun staying in a dormitory and eating out! I really thought I was lucky. When I was in my senior year I was interested in playing with hair, and some times I would set someone's hair in the rest room at school.
In my senior year I joined and was baptized in the Christian Church at Arnett.
Mother and Dad did not have the money to send me to beauty school, so brothers Vester and T. W. (Thurman) got together to figure out a way for me to go. Vester would pay my way to go to Fort Worth, where they were living, and would pay the $100 for six months at Matney's Beauty School. T. W. and wife Maybelle would let me live with them; I slept on a couch in the living room. I felt right at home with my little nephews Bill and Bob. They were all very good to me.
Before I started to beauty school Vester and Oathel rented a house in Corpus Christi, Texas. They invited a cousin of ours, Norma Shue, and I to stay a month for our graduation present. Walking around on the beach was very pleasant. Some times in the evening we would go to the beach with friends and make a bonfire and cook fish. It was great fun
I had three new dresses that I had made when I went to Fort Worth.
Thurman drove me to beauty school each morning and I would ride a bus home. After I graduated I got a job right away at Bob's Barber and Beauty Shop on Hemphill Street. Shampoo and set cost 35 cents and a permanent $1. Would you believe that I saved some money?
Cleo Skidmore worked in the beauty shop. We decided to rent an apartment together. We walked back and forth to work together. I am very good at walking. Cleo was going with a guy from Weatherford, Texas. One time he came over with a male friend, Bob Grafft. Finally, Bob and I got married on December 1933. We moved to Kilgore, Texas, where he had worked in the oil fields. We lived in a housing development of rooms. We cooked and slept in one room, and shared a bath house with all the tenants. It's difficult to imagine doing that now. I started to work in a beauty shop there. We then found a nice place to live with a family.
When I was eight months pregnant I packed all my belongings in a pasteboard box, got on a train and went home to Mom and Dad in Oklahoma. Bob was to come later. He got there the day before Jeanne was born, 12 August 1935 around 7 PM. She was a beautiful 7.25 lbs black headed baby. Oh, I was so proud of her! The birth cost $25. Bob went back to Fort Worth when Jeanne was one month old. He called to say that he had a job and for us to come to Fort Worth. He had no job, so took us to his Mother and Dad's home in Weatherford. Then he left after a week. Edna and Ben (Schroeder) had been married about a week; they came and took us to their home. For the next nine months we lived with them, T. W. and Maybelle, brother Hurschel and Babe, and Vester and Naomi. Then I started looking for a job.
Edna and Ben were living close to the Masonic Home, where I lived with them and Edna cared for Jeanne while I worked; I gave them $7 a week. T. W. and Maybelle lived close by. I started working at Amelia Ralph on Magnolia Street, a big beauty shop with many operators. It was a nice place to work and had good customers. T. W. would pick me up in the morning and I would ride three buses to get home in the evening. Edna said that Jeanne was so good during the day, but when I came home she would start acting up. I wonder why?
T. W. and Maybelle were active in Eastern Star, so I joined and was Ester for three Years.
Business wasn't very good, so I started going to Brantly Droughon Business College at nights after work for three nights a week. The General Dynamics plant had opened and Vester thought that I could get a job there, and would make more money than at a beauty shop and the work would not be so hard. Then business picked up at the beauty shop and I loved that work, so I stayed there.
With T. W.'s help (he was a lawyer) I got a divorce in 1944.
Ben started to travel in his work and Edna wanted to go with him, so I found an apartment for Jeanne and I. Finally, after eight years I found my dream home with a furnished beauty shop in it on Lipscomb Street in November 1945. With some financial help from Mother and Dad I made a down payment and had a contract with a bank to pay it out in a year. Yes, I sure did! I opened the beauty shop 6 November 1945 with one operator; later I added one more. All of my family were so excited! Mother came down, Hurschel and Babe came up and helped me remodel it. Mother was so happy for me to finally have a home for Jeanne and me. Also, Oathel had just returned from the Army and was living in San Antonio.
I cannot remember Mother not having gray hair. I was always so concerned about her being old with gray hair. It was so pretty! I cut it and gave her her first permanent.
I only had the shop opened a month when Mother got sick. She was in the Hospital and all brothers and sisters were there before she went to Heaven on 20 December 1945. That was the saddest day of my life. Mother was always very special to me and always there when I needed her. She was very patient, kind, generous and loving. I asked her one time "Which grandchild do you love the most?" Her reply was "I have a special love for each one of them." and that was true.
After I had started to work and had a little money, I thought of the fact that Mother never had a wedding ring. I talked to Edna and we decided to buy her one. It was a gold band that cost $6. Mother was so happy and proud of it. It went with her to heaven.
When Mother died Dad asked me to set her hair. I didn't think I could do it. I said to myself "Winnie, this is what Mother would like for you to do, and it is the last thing you can do for her." Edna went with me. Mother was beautiful and peaceful looking.
On 3 August 1946 I married Gerald Welch of Saginaw, Texas, my dream man. He and Jeanne fell in love with each other the first time they met. I had no other choice than to marry him. Jeanne was eleven years of age when we married. Gerald adopted Jeanne in 1947 with T.W.'s help. Gerald worked at Hobbs Trailer (now Fruehauf) on North Main Street as Maintenance Superintendent.
Jeanne married David Noah on 4 October 1954. David was in the Navy. They lived in Fort Worth for a while and then moved to Dallas. Their children are: David Dean, Jr. born 18 April 1955; Phyllis Jeanne and Phyllip Mark born 17 January 1957; Miriam Ruth born 8 Auqust 1961.
In 1970 Gerald got a medical discharge from work with Parkinson disease. Several years earlier we bought a cabin at Eagle Nest, New Mexico, where we spent some vacations. He wanted to sell our home and shop and move to Eagle Nest, where he thought he would live longer and feel better. Finally, on 1 July 1972 we sold our home and moved to Honeymoon Cabin, as I called it. We enjoyed our relatives coming to see us at our beautiful home in the mountains. After two winters with temperatures -50 degrees and so much snow that we could not get out, we sold it on 1 July 1975. We moved back to Fort Worth and rented an apartment in Arlington Heights. Soon we got tired of apartment life and wanted a home and yard. We found a beautiful home in Crowley, Texas where we moved on 26 August 1980. It is only eleven miles from my precious daughter and son-in-law and my beloved sister Edna.
Before this time Jeanne and David had bought eight acres from Edna and Ben in the country. They lived with Edna and started to build their home. Finally, they moved in and finished their beautiful dream home. They built most of it by themselves.
Phyllis Noah married George Holdman Sawyer on 7 November 1975. George is a minister of Calvary Assembly Church in Decatur, Alabama. They have two girls: Meredeth Danielle born 12 June 1979and Nicole Jana born 6 August 1981.
David Noah, Jr. married Teresa Lynn Loftin on 11 June 1977. David is a construction worker.
Miriam Noah married Wade Walter Ziesman on 17 November 1984. He is a landscaper and they are very active in church.
Jeanne and David now have their own concrete finishing business. Phyl is working at Walmart and living with Jeanne and David.
Gerald and I were in Calgary, Canada in August 1954 when Jeanne called and told me that Dad had died. Gerald and I immediately went to Gage, Oklahoma. Dad was a good provider and worked hard for all of his children. I am very proud to have had a Dad like him.
Dad left 64 acres of the home place for each of the ten children. All these years I have kept mine and each year I got a check from its profits. I have felt so lucky to have it.
I am very proud of my heritage of working hard, being truthful and giving love that was instilled in me by my parents.
Winnie Roper Welch, May 1990
There are a several errors about Winnie's family in her section and in Edna's section. The correct data are in the J. R. Roper and A. C. Little descendants' list in this document.
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Virgil Roper, the twelfth and last child born to Amanda Cordelia Sarah Catherine Little and Joshua Rufus Roper, made his entrance into this world at the family home on the hill six miles from Arnett, Ellis County, Oklahoma on 21 February 1915. He "remembers" it was snowing that day!
No doubt he was a joy, and possibly sometimes a trial to his older siblings, especially when he was in their care. A case in point: One day Virgil was in the header barge - brother Vester told him to get down. Virgil was a little slow getting out, so Vester threw a rock to hasten his descent. The rock hit Virgil in the back of the head; the scar is still visible today. He bears another scar on his face that was the result of a smoking incident. Mother and Dad had gone to a sale, so some of the older children were trying their hand at smoking, using catalog paper to roll Dad's tobacco in. Virgil got too much paper and not enough tobacco; it flared up and burned his face. He was probably three years old then.
They moved from the hill to the new house down the hill west about one-half mile. Sometime after they moved, Vester took Virgil along as he went to drill wheat. He left Virgil to play around the machinery at the old home place while Vester went on east to the forty acre patch. After playing a while, Virgil felt something hitting him on the head. He thought Vester must have slipped up behind the house and was throwing rocks at him. It seemed which ever way he went, the "rocks" kept falling all around him, so he started running down the hill towards the new home. What he thought were rocks was his first experience with hail! Imagine Vester's feeling when he came to pick up little brother and he was nowhere to be found!
Other memorable experiences include three trips to town. The first time was just after World War I. Dad had sold some mules so Virgil rode along as Dad took them to the stock yards at Gage, Oklahoma, about eight miles from the home. Sometime later he got to go to Arnett. He thought if he was ever turned loose there by himself, he would surely get lost in that big place (a few hundred people)! Another time was a trip to Gage with brother Hurschel. He was most impressed by the delicious meal they had on the way home - store-bought bologna and crackers, a real treat for a farm boy.
A childhood memory he holds dear is of going to sleep many nights while Vester was chording on the piano. He remembers Hurschel playing, also.
Virgil attended grade school at Lone Star School about one and one-half miles from home. His only whipping took place when Bill Harrell was the teacher. He whipped three at the same time. Virgil stood in the middle, so he stepped forward a little and never got hit.
One day during a game in which he was being chased, he looked up to see the teeter totter at eye level just as he collided with it. The result is still visible as a ridge on his nose. Eva Benger was the teacher then.
He remembers Thelma Shields as the teacher when some 22-rifle shells were tossed into the coal stove by some of the older boys. It must have been a noisy popping good time!
Sometimes the eighth-grade boys would hit on the north side of the school house with big tree branches just before they went in to resume classes after the noon hour. About the time class started the main spring in the big clock on the north wall would suddenly unwind. More fun and games!
One can only imagine what the teacher endured! All the boys trapped skunks, and sold their pelts. The odor must have been overwhelming at times!
Another first was seeing a herd of buffalo as they were driven by the school on the way to Shattuck to be butchered.
Lone Star School was consolidated into the Arnett School District 1929-30, so Virgil started to school there at midterm. He still had to walk to the Stuckey corner to meet the bus, a distance of one and one-half miles by the road, a bit shorter if he cut across the fields. The bus driver at that time would tolerate no tardiness. If they were not at the corner when he got there, he just drove on even if they were only a short distance away. Virgil ran the four miles to Arnett many times, sometimes out of necessity, other times by choice.
He said that he never really appreciated school until his senior year of 1934. The early thirties were the dust-bowl days. Times were hard financially, but everyone was in the same boat. The class of 1935 had a print-dress and overall banquet because of the bad economy.
In 1932 drilling was started on Roper No. 1 oil well. There was much excitement throughout the area because of "oil fever." Virgil had a job hauling water with the horses to the water-well drilling rig at the oil-well site. He was to be paid $2 per day. He was planning big on taking an airplane ride on the big celebration day when the well was christened. Wiley Post and another aviator had their planes available for rides. One of them landed north and south in the pasture, the other east and west in the wheat field. When the big day came no one had been paid, so there was no plane ride for Virgil, which was a big disappointment. In fact, the entire project soon collapsed and the promoter left the country. It was much hard work for nothing!
Virgil especially enjoyed the summers of 1933-34. He and brother Oathel exchanged jobs. Oathel came home from Texas and farmed while Virgil filled in for him on the USS Dredge Galveston. There he saw the first "automatic iron" in use. Capt. Lane would fold his shirts and put them under his pillow to press them.
The first summer they went to Mobile, Alabama to dry dock. The second summer he was up in Vester's quarters one evening when he felt a big bump. An oil tanker had hit the dredge mid-ship. He thought the bow of the tanker really looked big when he looked over the side.
One day at meal time Virgil had taken a bite of beef when a fellow called Finn said, "Roper, pass the horse meat." Even though he knew it wasn't horse meat, the longer he chewed it the bigger it got - he finally gave up!
On 29 June 1935 Virgil took Agnes Shields to the movie show at Shattuck, Oklahoma. The date had been arranged by mutual friends. They had been in high school together; Agnes graduated in 1935. That date eventually led to marriage on 19 April 1936, though they did not announce it until July 4.
Because there was no housing available nearby, they made their home with the Ropers for three years. The little bed room they had was just wide enough to accommodate a double bed placed lengthwise against the north wall under a window. Many times they awoke with snow on their bed. Those were the days when one took a hot brick or iron wrapped in paper to bed on cold nights to keep the feet warm.
A day never to be forgotten was 9 April 1937. A northern blew in. The family milked the cows, but half of the milk blew out of the buckets on the way to the house. The cows were left in the barn with enough feed to eat. The wind and snow were blinding; one could not even see the barn, so no milking was done that night and was done only once a day thereafter until the storm let up. Three pigs were covered up for three or four days, but were found to be alive when dug out.
Eventually a house became available on the Mac Crider place two miles east. Virgil and Agnes cleaned, painted and papered the walls. An attempt was made to paper a ceiling, but they decided that was not conducive to marital bliss. The necessary furniture was purchased: a bedroom set, a table and four chairs and a kerosene cook stove. Everything was in place, but they were never to live there. An unexpected event was about to happen that would change their plans.
Agnes' sister Thelma's husband died as the result of a tractor accident. Thelma made the decision to go back to college and complete her education. She was going to live with her mother until the fall term started, so she wanted Virgil and Agnes to live in her house, which they did. They lived there two years. During this time their first child, Linda Jane, was born on 20 August 1940. When she was eight months old they moved again. By this time older brother Fred had purchased the Joe Crider place and moved his family there, so the Priest place was available for occupancy. The move proved to be a permanent one. Virgil later purchased this 320 acres place from his Dad.
In 1942 a rock crushing plant was set up on the hill west of the house to supply rock for the airport at Gage. B24 bombers were to land on heavy duty runways there whose base was made of the rock from the Priest-Roper place. It was a training base for pilots. Virgil worked with the crushing plant, helping tend the engine and doing repair work, at a wage of $0.75 per hour. The foreman of the crew asked if he could stay with them. He was of Swiss descent and came from New Glarus, Wisconsin. It was an interesting time having him in their home .
Jan Eloise was born 21 November 1944, another blue-eyed light-haired girl.
In 1947 there was a big tornado on April 9. The main path of the storm passed through two miles north. Every home on the road west to the Shattuck road was either damaged or destroyed. The storm started at White Deer, Texas and continued on a northeast path across Texas and Oklahoma ending somewhere near the Kansas border, occasionally lifting up and then setting down again on its destructive way. Hundreds of lives were lost and many were badly injured. The livestock toll was qreat. Towns and rural areas alike were left in ruins.
It being Wednesday night, the family had started out the door to go to church when the lights went out. Due to the strong wind and blowing rain they decided not to take the children out. It was not until the next morning that they learned what had happened, and realized how fortunate they were to be alive and well.
Dix Alden was born twelve days later on 21 April 1947.
Farming and dairying call for long hours of work, on Sundays and holidays, too. They progressed from milking by hand, separating the cream from the milk and selling the cream, to milking with machines. The milk was then poured into ten gallon cans and taken to the Plains Dairy plant in Arnett. The next improvement was remodeling the milk barn into a Herringbone style with four cows on each side and a milking pit between. Milk was carried by a stainless steel pipeline to a stainless steel cooling tank, to be picked up later by trucks that took it to Shattuck where it was transferred to a milk transport that took it to Amarillo, Texas.
Life centered around the family, church, school and community activities. Virgil served for nineteen years on the Arnett School Board, which was a challenging and rewarding time for him.
Some of the highlights for the family were trips to Fort Worth, Texas, San Antonio, Texas and Granite Shoals, Texas for family reunions. One was held at Woodward, Oklahoma. Pictures taken during those times bring many fond memories to mind, and are reminders of nephew Bob Roper's talent for photography.
The years passed quickly through grade school, high school and then college graduations. All three children attended Oklahoma State University at Stillwater. Linda graduated in 1962, Jan in 1968 and Dix in 1970.
Linda married Gary Staiger. They live (1990) in Liberal, Kansas. Gary is an independent building contractor and Linda is coordinator of learning skills in the Department of Business of the Liberal Area VoTech School. Their children are: Kurt Lewis Staiger b 30 July 1962; Lance Dale Staiger b 31 May 1963 d 1 June 1963; Brett Lee Staiger b 30 August 1966 d 22 June 1969; Shana Lynn Staiger b 19 September 1969.
Kurt graduated in 1984 from Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana with a degree in computer science. In 1990 he works for NCR Corporation in Dayton, Ohio as a support systems analyst. He married Patricia Carol McCracken on 18 August 1984. Their children are: Samantha Erin Staiger b 29 April 1986; Stephanie Ryan Staiger b 29 April 1986; Karl Erik Staiger b 27 August 1988.
Shana Lynn attend one year of college in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 1990 she is in Liberal, Kansas continuing her education in physical therapy.
Jan Eloise Roper married Vernon Max Malone on 29 August 1967. They work with the Indians of Western Oklahoma under the auspices of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. They live at Arapaho, Oklahoma. Their children are: Florence Leona Malone b 30 August 1966; Travis Scott Malone b 10 October 1968; Jan Newakis Malone b 7 March 1970; Alana Maureen Malone b 9 August 1973; William Andrew Malone b 27 January 1978.
Travis attended Southwestern State University at Weatherford, Oklahoma and is now (1990) working as day manager of the Tropicana Inn in Weatherford. Newakis is in her second year of college at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where she has a basketball scholarship. Alana is a junior in high school. She was a National scholarship winner in 1989 with her 4H dog program. Billy is in the sixth grade in 1990.
Dix Alden Roper married Judy Faye Dyer. Their children are: Tommy Charles Roper b 7 August 1966; Dana Michele Roper b 21 November 1970; Mark Christopher Roper b 16 September 1973.
Tom graduated from Southwestern State University at Weatherford, Oklahoma in 1989. He married Teri Ann Heacock on 18 July 1987. Teri will graduate in 1990 from SWSU. Both have degrees in accounting. Dana is in her first year at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater. Mark is a junior in high school in 1990.
Dix Alden Roper married Catheryn Jane Kelln on 25 October 1988. Four daughters were added to the family: Rebecca Rae Lucas b 26 April 1972 DeLyn Larue Welch b 31 May 1974 Katina Lea Welch b 9 December 1975 Kellie Anne Welch b 18 June 1980
Dix Roper farms, owns and operates Roper Salvage (rebuilds cars and pickups) and is Assistant Mail Carrier. He is qualified to serve as a deputy in the county Sheriff Department and is called on occasionally for that.
In retrospect Virgil feels fortunate to have grown up as he did. He loved his brothers and sisters and was loved in return by them. He could always count on Mother and Dad being there when he got home from school. He learned the dignity of hard work. He learned not to bring frozen cow chips into the house, when that product was one of the sources of fuel. He survived the Black Sunday of the dust bowl days. He remembers getting only one Christmas present as a child - a pair of overshoes. Usually it was an apple and/or a orange. Times were hard, but he never felt deprived. They always had plenty of good food to eat and sufficient clothing to wear.
To now have a family one is proud of, the joy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren - what more could one ask for?
Virgil and Agnes Roper; March 1990
Agnes died 31 Oct 2005 in Seiling OK.
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|Sale bill for J. R. Roper in Missouri|
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|Sale bill for Mrs. W. W. Roper in Missouri|
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