A.M. Wilbanks Family


Highlights from the Past to the Present turns east this week as we visit in the Wilbanks home some three miles south east of Spearman. The spotlight of our story looks back some sixty two years as another important pioneer family moved to Hansford County.

In 1877 Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Wilbanks were married in Cleburne, Texas, it was there they made their home carrying on farming for their livelihood. Nine children were born to the couple near the town of Cleburne, being Andrew Jackson, Mrs. J.B. (Pearcy) Towers, A.M. Jr. . (Bogus), Howell L. (Hix), Edgar(Ed), Sam, Wanda Reed and Ruth Hawkins.

A desire to move west to better land and a bright future brought the Wilbanks family to the Panhandle of Texas and to Hansford County in l902. The family packed their belongings in two covered wagons, a buggy and a surrey and left for Fort Worth where they were joined by some thirty-five other families with the same desire of moving west. Forming what is called a wagon train The Wilbanks family along with the other wagons moved west as a group in search for a new home with bright opportunities. The people would camp for their meals and at night to sleep. Only once on the trip did they stay in a wagon yard another was at Childress.

Arriving in Hansford County on May 2. 1902 the family made their home on four adjoining sections on which Mr. Wilbanks had purchased for $200 apiece. Their first home was a dugout which was far from luxury and particularly small for a large family. Until the family was able to build their home some slept in covered wagons at night while the kitchen table was made into a pallet for the two small girls.

The two older boys, A.J. and Bogus, were married when they moved to the county and they had two of the sections which their father had purchased and began farming. Mr. Wilbanks broke his sod planted his crops as well as fenced his land to make preparation for his first crop. Aside from the farming and ranching which kept the family quite busy, Mr. Wilbanks also drilled water wells. He was assisted by his son Edgar who continued drilling wells throughout his life. Many of the first water wells of the county were drilled by Mr. Wilbanks and his son Edgar. They also drilled may of the, wells on the XIT Ranch .

The son Sam died during the World War I , Wanda Reed retired just recently from the position she has held for over thirty years as Superintendent of Nurses at Northwest Hospital in Amarillo, Mrs. Ruth Hawkins makes her home in Austin, Texas.

The early pioneer days brought the service of a telephone on the top of a barb wire fence for the family. The men remained quite busy with the farming and ranching as well as the well drilling, while Mrs. Wilbanks and the girls were busy tending to the garden, canning and washing as well as the regular household chores.

Many hardships were faced by the family, but one of the biggest problems seemed to be getting to market and back. The closest market and railroad was Channing and the eighty mile trip would take three days to make while another day was needed to buy the supplies. Then the return trip home would also take three days therefore a week was needed to go for supplies. -.Many times the men were unable to make the trip and Mrs. Wilbanks and the two small girls would go by themselves. They would camp out on the prairie and cook out also as the trip to Channing was made.

The children who had not completed their education in Cleburne attended the schools of Happy Jack. 'The Wilbanks home was often the center for parties and several members of the family were musically talented so these two factors led way for many dances and socials.

As the time moves forward we look into the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Hix Wilbanks, for Hix was born September 171 1886 in Johnson County Texas. His wife Trixy Evans Winn was born February 26, 1885 near Colombia, Missouri. She was the daughter of Young Ewing and Georgia Alice Winn and was the youngest of seven children. She attended the schools in Warrensburg, Missouri where was trained to be a teacher. Upon completion of her education she came to Hansford County Texas where she began teaching in the Micou and Happy Jack Schools.

She roomed and boarded in the A.M. Wilbanks home where she become acquainted with her future husband, Hix Wilbanks.

Hix Wilbanks and Trixy Winn were married October 11, 1908 by Reverend Wilson in his dugout parsonage, some five miles northwest of Old Hansford. The couple had four children of their own and reared one foster son, The children were Mary, twin daughters Beth and Ruth, Julia and a foster son Marcus Larson.

After Mr. and Mrs. Hix Wilbanks married Hix traded two mules for their first automobile which made six miles per hour. It is recalled that one time while out in the car enroute to the Micou school a rain came making the ground muddy and impassable without chains. Mr. Wilbanks got out. let the air out of the tires, put the chains on then, aired the tires back up and continued on the muddy path.  He didn't know that the chains could be put on without letting the air from the tires.

While boarding at the Wilbanks home during her teaching years at the Happy Jack school it was remembered by Mrs. Wilbanks that a big snow came and the school was a halfdugout, therefore Hix was afraid that teacher could not find her way to school because it might be buried by the snow. He took the plow plowed a furrow to the school for her to follow to find the school.

After Mr. land Mrs. Hix Wilbanks married he farmed and ranched but he also served as Sheriff of the county for nineteen years, serving the terms from 1919 to 1922 and 1928 to 1945 both as Sheriff and tax assessor and collector. Hix Wilbanks was known as a sheriff "who never wore a gun."  He would say that he kept one around where it would be handy in case he needed it. During his first three years in office he never made an arrest. He would not go out to look for an accused or guilty party just sent word to the party to come by his office and the party would usually drop by to see him.

When Mr. Wilbanks was first elected Sheriff there were only 135 votes to be cast in the county. While the depression and dust bowl days were devastating the residents of the county, Mr. Wilbanks had the chore to go out and investigate drought-burdened forms in the county before the farmers could get loans to help them keep their land and belongings. Friends and residents of the county recall that Sheriff Wilbanks never found a farm that he couldn't approve for a loan.

In April Of 1941, Mr. Wilbanks tracked down Orrin J. Brown of Lookout, California by starting from a shoe label as the only source of evidence. He brought him back to Hansford County where he faced a charge of murder with malice for the hammer-slaying of a 40 year old woman, Mrs. Leota Murphy of Marion, Indiana whose body was found on a country road some seven miles west of Gruver.

In 1920 Mr. and Mrs. Hix Wilbanks moved to Spearman where they lived until they built their modem brick home on the Wilbanks home place southeast of Spearman. The couple celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1958. On November, 25, 1959 Mr. and Mrs. Wilbanks were involved in a car accident which took Mrs. Wilbanks life. Hix Wilbanks recovered from the accident and continued to make his home at the home place until his death on June 4, 1963.

The Hix Wilbanks four daughters and one son make their home in the state of Texas with Mrs. Calvin Hazelwood of Fort Worth, and Mrs. G.R. Billingsley of Lubbock, Mrs. Ray Phelps, Mrs. Joe Don Bryan and Marcus Larson all of Spearman.

This brings us to the end of another of the quite outstanding life histories of the Hansford County Pioneers. We see a family who yearned for a home in the west with opportunities and have also seen that this family fulfilled their desires and made themselves a prosperous and well known family who will be remembered throughout the years to come.