West Texas And The Dust Bowl Years

From pbs.org

From pbs.org

My parents were William Cornelius Cox and Minnie Steward Cox. Daddy was a farmer and a very good one, very hard working. In the very early 1920s, Daddy’s brother, Joe Cox, and wife, Malinda “Linnie” Barker Cox, moved to West Texas. In about 1924, Uncle Joe’s stories of how good the crops were in West Texas convinced Daddy to move out there and try his hand at West Texas farming.

My brother, Wilburn (1915), and sister, Geneva (1919), were the only two children that Mama and Daddy had at that time. Wilburn told me about the move to West Texas. He said Daddy rented a box car for $77.00, loaded the livestock and furniture on it, and had it shipped to West Texas, probably to where Uncle Joe and Aunt Linnie were living. I never thought to ask him how they traveled themselves. We have tax receipts that show that they lived twenty-four miles from Big Spring, Texas.

Daddy said that West Texas land would promise less and produce more than any he had ever seen. His money crop was cotton, and they raised lots of milo maize, sudan, and other row crops. Wilburn said that Daddy got the land ready for planting and when it rained, he planted corn, peas, and beans. It was nothing for them to have 400 to 500 jars and cans of vegetables put up for the winter.

For a number of years, things went really well. Mama and Daddy were doing well, and when the Great Depression hit, it probably didn’t affect them as much as it did city people. For one thing, they lived in the country and raised their own vegetables. They also had cows for milk and butter, chicken for fryers, fat hens for dressing and eggs, and fat hogs to butcher for their meat.

Then the drought came, bringing the Dust Bowl years with it. I was born in 1930, and some of my earliest memories are of seeing the dust and sand blowing outside and hearing the wind howling around the corner of the house. My mama said that their house was pretty tight, but there was no way to keep all of the dirt out of the house.

Mama said that one time two young men came to the house looking for work. She said that they were nice and clean and that Daddy hired* them to work on the farm. They lived in the house, and Mama did the cooking for them. She said that when she set the table, she put the plates upside down so that the dirt could not get on them. She also told us that one time one of the boys forgot to turn his plate over when he filled it, and he ate on an upside down plate!

Daddy, Wilburn, and Geneva talked about how hard they all worked in those years, heading maize and picking cotton and taking it to the gin. They also talked about how there was simply no way to sell these crops because no one had the money to buy them.

This is when the family decided to leave West Texas and move back to Comanche County. - Missy Jones

*This tells me that Missy’s parents managed well. Not many people could have afforded to hire these men during the depression.

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 texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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