Finley & Jess Williford -Last Team Of Oxen In Comanche County?

No one is really sure, I suppose, but brothers Finley and Jess Williford, sons of Milas Williford, gave an interview to the Comanche Chief back in 1972, saying that they believed they might just have been the ones to claim the honor.

The team of four was named Lep, Red, Bright, and “Now what in the tarnation was his name?” the brothers asked each other. They did remember that Lep and Red worked as a team as did the other two.

(I assume photos were taken by my dear friend, Bill Wilkerson.)


The brothers went on to recall how they used to hitch up the oxen and head down to the Rush Creek bottoms where they loaded cordwood and took it to the gin in Van Dyke where it was used to feed the gin boiler. Often the boys would use the team to help other young men clear out new ground.

The Willifords weren’t strangers to hard work. Milas Williford’s father, Frank, moved to the county from Arkansas in 1865 and established a freight line that ran from Fort Worth to Comanche and most points in between.

The boys parted company with the oxen in 1906 when their father traded his 80-acre farm in Van Dyke for ½ interest in his father’s 1,246-acre ranch in Mercer Gap. The beasts went to the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Finley and Jess Williford

Finley and Jess Williford

And just for the record, Finley was 13 and Jess 12 when they said goodbye to Lep, Red, Bright, and “What in tarnation was his name?” who just might have been the last four oxen worked in the county. If you have different information, please feel free to add it to our comment boxes below.

Quite a bit more can be found on this family in this particular article of the Comanche Chief. I wish I had the exact date that it was published, but all I can see is 7, 1972…I cannot tell which month.

Good Luck!

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for and marketing small-town Texas.
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2 Responses to Finley & Jess Williford -Last Team Of Oxen In Comanche County?

  1. James Boldebuck says:

    Good article. Finley was my uncle . I spent a lot of summers working on his place and part of the time working for Jess.

    You were never too young to have a job on the farm. Please note the ages of Finley and Jess when they were hauling logs with an Ox Team Young people reading this article should stop and give thanks that they will never be required to work that hard.

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