We recently talked about the beginnings of the little settlement of Proctor, Texas. Ruth Adele Moore Waggoner was kind enough to share with me the writings of her ancestor, Mollie Moore Godbold, whose father, T.O. Moore, was the Proctor Post Master of the original settlement location (near the Proctor Cemetery on what is now Chisholm land).
The following gives us the proverbial bird’s eye view of life in Proctor at that time.
“…In going through the contents of his battered, tin-covered trunk in search of family letters and papers in November, 1954, I found the document appointing him to the office. It was signed by Marshall Jewell, Postmaster General, and showed that the appointment was made on the 25th of June, 1874. [Almost exactly one month after John Wesley Hardin killed Deputy Charlie Webb in Comanche and the mob hung three men illegally.]
“Dad was postmaster of Proctor for eight years, or until we moved to the town of Comanche in 1882. As the country was thinly settled and the people neither wrote nor received many letters, his duties were light. Probably a good part of the reading matter that came to the post office was addressed to my parents.
“Aunt Mollie, Dad’s sister, the late Mollie E. Moore Davis, sent them books and magazines. The Wallis-Landes families sent them reading matter too, but less often that Aunt Mollie. And Dad himself took several newspapers, among them the Galveston News and the Comanche Chief.
“My parents shared their reading matter with the people who came to the store to trade or to get their mail at the cubby-hole of a post office…
“As the round trip to the post office was one of eight or ten miles for some of the settlers, more times than not when a man asked for his own mail he would ask for that of his neighbors. This he would keep until it was called for or deliver it on his way home.
“In addition to the delivery service with which the settlers accommodated one another, Dad offered a sort of curb delivery service.
“The settlers knew one another’s teams by sight. When a wagon came into view they had only to look at the team to know who was approaching. ‘Here comes John Luker,’ perhaps Dad would say to Mother when the sound of hoofbeats and the creaks of a wagon had brought him to the door.
“If he had reason to think that Mr. Luker wasn’t coming to the post office but was taking his wife and children to spend the day with some of their kin or was on his way to Comanche, if there was any mail for the family, he’d be standing by the road ready to deliver it when they drove by.
They’d visit for a little while, Dad and Mr. Luker. Then, the news of the neighborhood exhausted, Mr. Luker would five a cluck to his team, a pull on the lines, and drive on. But not before he and Dad had exchanged the invitation common t the time: ‘Come to see us; bring your family and spend the day.'”
Ms Godbold went on to quote from a letter written by her father’s sister, Mollie Moore Davis.
“They have two mails a week at Proctor, and since my brother is postmaster the post office is at his house. The mail is brought out from Dublin by the stage which runs daily between that place and Comanche. Long before time for its coming, the men and boys of the neighborhood ride up to the house and dismount, and by two o’clock the house is full and they have overflowed into the yard and are perched on the fence like a flock of crows.
“To some of them a letter or a paper comes about once in six months. Many of them never get anything but they come and ask all the same, and receiving a negative answer they stay on and gossip the rest of the long summer afternoon. But some of them do take latest periodicals and keep up with the news of the world in every direction.”
And if it crossed your mind to wonder how these men and boys had the time to sit around and visit so much…and just what the poor women and girls were doing…well, I did the same thing!