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
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
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
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
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.