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.
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.