In the year 1906 there was quite a lot of talk in our part of Oklahoma. (which at that time was old Grccr Co.) of land to be homesteaded in New Mexico. A person, either man or woman, twenty-one years of age, could file on 160 acres of land and by making his home on it five years or by living on it fourteen months continuously and paying the government $200, could gain title to the 160 acres. Being young and newly married and desirous of a home of our ow,n we would make the trip across the plains of Oklahoma and Texas and live out a homestead in Eastern New Mexico. We talked it over many times and in spite of advice against it, began to make our arrangements

Many people planned to come to New Mexico and after living out their claim, sell it and use the money to buy a home elsewhere, or sell it and go into some other business. They did not take into consideration the thousands of acres of rich land between Oklahoma and New Mexico that would come into the market before they could sell their New Mexico land. My husband and I were very young and really were desirous of making a home where we could make a real home and raise a fa­mily doing all the things we thought it real family should do.

My husband was well educated for that time and of course part of our dream was to help establish a home and educate our children and grandchildren 'and make good citizens of them. We had been preparing for some time, bending every effort toward the day- when we would start our journey toward New Mexico and our future home. My husband's father, two sisters and two small nieces were to come ahead on the train. His brother-in-law who was the father of the two nieces and who had just recently lost his wife, was to come on a freight train with a boxcar load of household good, farm machinery and stock, also chickens.

I remember quite distinctly the morning we started out from my parents home, the 24th of January. We had a new Studebaker wagon with overjets, it had springs and mattress on these overjets and of course, wagon bows and wagon sheet. Our wagon box was filled with miscellaneous trunks of clothes, a large box of new quilts I had made before we married, household linens, and also our grub box. I had taught school two rather short terms before our marriage and practically all my salary had been spent for household goods for the home that was to be.

My husband had been in school most of his life, at that time was a high school graduate and had had quite a bit of college work. There were but very few people in our part of the county at that time who were even high school graduates. However, his education had not taught him to pack a wagon to make the trip across the plains of New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. So we started off with pretty much of a rattle and bang! Something loose? Yes, a great many things loose. However we somehow got the pots, pans and other things into position.

We were to travel part way with some neighbors who had already filed on land near House, New Mex­ico. So we drove on down to the appointed meeting place, one of our neighbor boys whom we thought a great deal of and who is still a very dear friend, rode with us to the school house where we were to all meet. He. said jokingly "If I had known, you wanted to marry bad enough to try all this 1 would have married you myself.''  My sister just younger that) I had gone on before us to school. She told me years afterward how she had sat at the. window and watched our wagon disappear, the tears drip-ping from her checks. It was to be our longest separation. We had always been inseparable. At the corner of the section where  the Ozark Valley school house now stands, we found our friends awaiting us.  And then the drive to New Mexico and our future home began.  Little did I realize that I was to do most of the driving over that long and often quite lonely expanse of plains country, but at l;east my hands were occupied most of the time.  My mind also.  I had done much driving and riding as I grew up, so it was not too much of a chore.  My husband had been in school for so long that to him it was a lark to take his gun in the crook of his arm and walk for miles hunting rabbits, birds and other small game. He could also ride if he got tired of walking, as we had extra horses with us. A shot gun, a twenty-two rifle and plenty of ammunition, and what else could a He Man of twenty-one years want?  I had not mentioned it before but it being January he had put what was then called a bachelor stove in the front left hand corner of the wagon box so we did not suf­fer from cold.


We stopped in our home town of Altus, Oklahoma for some neces­sary provisions and then headed west. Then it was when a feeling of desolation took possession of me. I was leaving family, friends and the life I knew, to come to an u­known country where I knew no one. I did not know what the customs of the country would be. Now seven hundred miles is a short span traveled by car and rail, but it was altogether different traveling by wagon — forty miles in one day was a good day's drive. After leaving Altus we headed toward the place where I had taught school two years before. I watched the road and countr-side hoping to see a familiar face. I'm sure if my husband had known just how lonely I was he would not have walked so merrily along, but would have ridden in the wagon with me.

 After Altus, Hollis was our next stop. By that time I was pretty well assured that I would not see anyone I knew so I devoted my attention to the business in hand, that of driving that team safely to New Mexico. It was not long until we were in the ranch country. Several time we camped near windmills where the cattle watered. Sometimes there would be only a few cattle around the water tanks, at others there might be a large herd. It may sound strange but I always experienced a feeling of loneliness when there were only a few that I did not have if there were a great many. We also saw many herds of antelope. They would stand with their heads up in the air until some unusual movement caught their eye. Then they would bound away with their tails erect, not unlike so many white flags. Sometime there would be as many as two hundred in a group.


The cattle also were very wild, the reason for this being that there was so little travel on the ranch that they did not see anyone other than an occasional horseman. In the area where the city of Plainview, Texas, now stands, and on until we reached the Texas line I only saw two cowboys in the three days travel. Now there are several small towns. Where the headquarters of the Old Sod House Ranch was at that time we came upon a crew of cow-boys repairing a water tank. The man ahead of our wagon had to be helped through the mud. The cowboys decided since I was young that they would have some fun, so they said to rne, "We are not going to help your teams until they fail to pull through." I replied "This team has not failed to pull anything we have come upon since we started." Then I spoke to the team and how those small Spanish ponies put their attention to pulling that wagon thru that mud. And how those cowboys threw their hats into the air and yelled in appreciation.


Another thing I have not mentioned was the feeling of loneliness at night. We always tied our team to the side of the wagon-box at night and put their feed where they could munch on it all through the night. I lay awake at night listening to those horses chew that feed and occasionally stamp a foot. Then perhaps a coyote would start his serenade. Lonely? I do not know of anything that could have made me feel lonelier.


At the time of our coming to New Mexico there was not a town of any size on the route we chose. The few that there were would be classed now as vil­lages. However they have since, at least several of them, grown into fairly large towns and where the large ranches were there arc thou-sands of acres of rich farm land and nice country homes. Much of the land is in irrigation, a rich farming country.


I drove on into Portales which at that time was a new town. It was also at that time sustained by the trade of the ranches surrounding it. It all seemed so lonely and de­solate to me after living in a farm country where we had good small farms, schools and churches and also fair sized towns. We spent our first night at Portales in a wagon yard where now stands the Booth Pharmacy and Allen Lumber Yard.


Next day I drove on out to our "claim" finding my husband's people already there and pretty well established in what was called a half dugout. That was a dwelling place dug about four feet into the ground, with three feet of lumber and a roof above the excavation.  As we drove out from Portales there was a lady and her fourteen year old son in a wagon just ahead of us. She was taking lumber out to their claim. Her husband was at home sick with asthma. The lumber slipped and my husband adjusted it for her. Then began a lifelong friendship, our claim was not many miles from where they were living. They were from Minnesota, and came here because of the father's health.

I must admit I was sadly disap­pointed in the appearance of my chosen home, miles and miles of land without a single tree. No home in our valley larger than two rooms and but very few that large and even smaller shacks of what the cattlemen called the "nesters." No school house or post office nearer than eight miles. Our only mode of transportation was by horse, wagon or buggy. Text Box:  
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 I looked over the barren winter-swept country and felt that I could not stay. However we soon took hope and began to work toward that home that we had talked of and worked for so long.

Being a farm raised girl I knew better how to do the things that I saw would have to be done than my husband did. However, he soon began teaching school. Then he was elected as a member of the county hoard of education and helped to bring about fulfillment of his dreams of good schools in reach of all the children in our county. By the time our oldest children were ready for high school, he and his co-workers had the high schools ready for them. Our small one-teacher schools were consolidated, transportation was furnished and in a very short time our State of New Mexico stood-fourth in education in the United States.


We have raised and educated that "dream" family. Have a good home and are considered well to do farm­ers. At present we have four grandchildren in college, others are grad­uated and have good paying posi­tions.

.So now in the evening of our life I feel that "All is well on the home front."  ,

Mrs. John W. Russell