John Terry Walker, born 5 Aug 1895, was the second child of Alfred Jack and Ada Ruth Walker. Terry and Mattie Maud Brown were married June 20, 1920. Here are some of their family stories and photographs.
Terry and Maud Walker Family History
TERRY GOES TO WAR – John Terry Walker was known as Terry by family and friends. He was born August 5, 1895 and was the second child of Alfred Jackson Walker and Ada Ruth (Terry) Walker. He lived his younger years in the Pecan Grove community of San Saba working on the farm of his father along with his brothers and sisters. He graduated from high school and left to attend college for a couple of years at Texas A & M. World War I was occurring and due to being a part of the corps at A & M, he was among the first of draftees from the county of San Saba. He became a member of the Calvary on September 7, 1917 and was assigned to be a bugler. He later was assigned to the Military Police. While in the army, he had responsibility for a horse called Pat. The war ended and he was released and returned home to Pecan Grove. He heard that the government was returning the horses and they were available for sale. Fortunately, he found his horse, Pat, bought him and brought him home.
Mattie Maud Brown was born in McMillin, San Saba County. She had moved to Wichita Falls, Texas to become a telephone operator. Family illness resulted in her returning to be closer to home and took a job in Brady, Texas as a telephone operator. Her Father was becoming seriously ill and she gave up her job to move back home. She eventually moved close to Pecan Grove on a small plot of land given to her by her father, Andrew Carlton Brown. She farmed this land raising cotton, some chickens and saved her money. She had dated Terry but they decided to not marry until he returned from the service. When Terry came home from the service, they were married June 20, 1920 in the house where she lived using the money she had saved to get their start.
A NEW FAMILY IN PECAN GROVE – There was a house located on A. J. Walker’s property that was on the bank of the San Saba River in Pecan Grove. Terry moved into this house with his bride and they started their family. Reba Elizabeth, the first daughter and Dorothy Jean, the second daughter, were born while they were at this location. Terry worked on the farm along with his brother, Alfred. They raised cattle, hogs, milked cows, raised chickens and turkeys. They had a cream separator and made and sold butter. They butchered their own cows and hogs and canned or smoked the meat to preserve it for there was no refrigeration. There were also many pecan trees that they harvested during season. Many times he and one of his brothers would load up the truck with sacks of pecans and drive to another location within the state to sell pecans out of the truck along the highway. Living was a lot tougher during this period of life for there was no electricity and all work was manual. No clothes washer was available so clothes had to be manually washed using water from the river and in a big pot of boiling water. Farming the land was with some old tractors or behind some mules pulling a plow. At harvest time, all neighbors worked together harvesting each other’s crops without any money ever being exchanged. The cook shack would follow the harvest and the women would cook the noon meals and served the men in the fields.
There was much baseball competition among the towns in Texas during this period of time. No professional ball had come this far south. During County Fair days at San Saba, the baseball games were popular and Terry was the pitcher and was a good one. He was known all around central Texas and some towns actually paid him to come pitch for their teams. However, he had to stop playing and dedicate his time to making a living especially when the depression commenced.
THE WILLIAMS FARM AND THE DO DROP IN CAFÉ – There were some neighbors next to A. J. Walker who were the Williams. Mr. Williams and A.J. Walker were partners in a cotton gin in San Saba and Mr. Williams persuaded A. J. Walker to sell him some property next to him. In later years, Mr. Williams died and Mrs. Williams wanted to sell the property. Terry’s Father convinced Terry and Maud that they should buy this place. They were cautious due to having to go into debt and pay for the property by timely payments. They agreed to buy it when A. J. Walker said he had finances and would back them if they ran into financial difficulty. They moved into the Williams house on the bank of the San Saba River and felt comfortable in life. Terry and Maud had several milk cows and built a separator house where the milk, cream and butter was processed. A truck came by the house often and picked up the cans of milk and Maud sold or traded eggs and butter in town along with chickens and turkeys to make part of the living expenses. They also owned and operated a café called the Do Drop In within San Saba that provided other revenue. They sold ice cream for a nickel a bowl and chili for a dime a bowl. And then events started happening that created turmoil for everyone. The café caught fire and burned down. The great depression of the 1930’s had commenced and no one was making a living. Terry and Maud had plenty of eggs, milk, and turkeys to sell but no one would or could buy them for they had no money. They were unable to make the payments on the home and property they had purchased. A. J. Walker was going to back them but he was unable to get money from the bank for the government had frozen all funds. Mrs. Williams had moved to Corpus Christi, Texas and Terry and Maud drove there to try to work something out with her. Mrs. Williams also had obligations to meet and nothing could be resolved. Regretfully, ownership of the property had to be returned to her.
NEW MEXICO AND THE DEPRESSION – Maud read a lot and had seen where the state of New Mexico was offering free land to homesteaders if they would occupy the land for three years. Terry, Maud, Murrell Terry, and brother Billy Walker traveled to New Mexico to review this property. The decision was made to agree to the terms and they returned home. Terry, Maud, and Billy, along with a milk cow, went back to build a house. Maud’s mother came to take care of the two daughters. They quickly made a small shelter for temporary quarters that later became a chicken house. Billy was a professional in working with masonry. He found they could make adobe bricks from nearby soil and that was used for the walls of the house. The house had two bedrooms. The roof was made of metal and it had wooden floors. The home was completed and Terry, Maud, and Billy returned to San Saba.
Using the bonus money given to Terry for being in the service, Terry, Maud and the girls packed all they could in a Model T truck and a Model A car pulling a four-wheel trailer and started their journey to their new home in Encino, New Mexico. This was a community 100 miles from the nearest large town which was Albuquerque or Santa Fe. The best cattle and livestock were loaded on rail cars and shipped by train to the nearest location to Encino and were accompanied by a Mr. Hess who worked for the family at that time. The remaining stock was sold for whatever they could get for them. Driver’s licenses probably were not a big issue during those days but Maud did not have one and never had a license all of her life. She was driving the Model A car pulling the trailer and had the girls with her. The roads were not near as good as today and the tires on the vehicles were not either. One had to carry tire changing equipment as well as patches for the tube inside of the tire. An air pump that was hand operated was also a necessity. The trip was not made in one day but took several days and they had to camp out at night.
The only unusual thing that is recalled as happening on the journey took place in Lubbock, Texas. Maud and the girls had stopped in town and were waiting for Terry to catch up with them. While sitting in the car, she saw a chicken walking down the street. That was unusual she thought. And then there was another chicken but this time she knew something was wrong. Those were her chickens for she was hauling a bunch of them. A hole had developed in the pen and they were escaping. She patched the hole and started trying to catch the chickens. The people in the buildings saw that they were having a difficult time so they came out and joined in the chase. They finally gathered the chickens up and placed them back in their pen and Maud and the girls went on their way.
Making a living in New Mexico was not easy. Terry farmed growing pinto beans and worked for the WPA, a government created program to help people who were having a hard time and were willing to work. He also worked on the railroads where available. Their crop of pinto beans was the largest around and they stored them in a space provided by the Governor. They attended a school function and while they were gone, someone came and stole all of the beans.
While living in this location, Maud became pregnant. When she was fairly far along with the pregnancy, they decided to move to Albuquerque to be near a hospital. The plan was for Terry to find work but it was still during the depression time and no jobs were available. He and the girls had to return to Encino leaving Maud living in a boarding house near the hospital. On May 2, 1936, John Terry Walker, Jr. was born.
The winter climate in Encino was very harsh. It was extremely cold and the wind blew a lot. There was one incident noted where the chicken’s feet froze to the ground. When hanging clothes out to dry, they would freeze in the basket before they could be hung. There was lots of wildlife including hungry coyotes. When it snowed, the wind created large drifts of snow. Maud felt this was a miserable place to live. The three years of living on the property in accordance with the agreement with the state of New Mexico had been completed. They started looking and advertising to trade their place for some property where the climate was not so harsh.
THE FAMILY MOVES TO ARKANSAS – They traded for some property in Montague, Texas but quickly turned this property around and traded for some in Arkinda, Arkansas. They packed up all of their possessions and were on the road again. Montague must have been fairly close to the route to Arkansas so they stopped there and spent one night just to see what it looked like. All of this trading was accomplished without any exchange of funds. When finally arriving at their destination in Arkansas, they found the family they had traded with had not packed so they had to do some more camping out for a couple of days until all was clear. It was a house with three rooms and came with a storm cellar and a barn. Arkansas was a much different climate than New Mexico. It was more humid and had a lot more greenery. Dad quickly planted a vegetable garden and worked on planting crops. He grew corn, cotton, and hay. Also worked on the neighbor’s land when needed. There was timber on this property and he would cut large pine trees and sold them. He cut them down and he and Dorothy would trim the trees prior to pulling them to the road for pick up. They seldom had to go to town for there was a large truck that came visiting which was like a moving grocery store. There was a lot of bartering occurring to get those items they could not raise themselves. The girls went to school at Winthrop and needed to walk a mile to get to the bus stop. It rained a lot in Arkansas and that produced many mosquitoes. It also seemed to cause a lot of sickness. There was a time when the whole family was sick with malaria except for Dorothy who had to be the caretaker, cook, and anything else that needed to be done. When it came crop-gathering time, the school was closed so that all could help. It seemed that people in Arkansas didn’t like to wear shoes for whenever and wherever they could, they went barefooted. Terry started a Sunday school for the community and the people would come barefooted. Dorothy had to learn as much as she could about running things around the farm for each pecan season; Terry would leave to go to San Saba to help harvest the pecans.
The family lived in Arkansas for around three years. During this time, Maud’s Mother passed away in Mullin, Texas while living with her daughter, Millie. Maud was trying to get a ride to the bus station with the sheriff to be able to attend the funeral services. Word was out that Bonnie and Clyde had robbed a bank in the area and that it was too dangerous to ride with him. Maud was unable to attend the funeral services. Reba was attending college in Dallas, Texas.
Terry’s father found he was really missing the family for Terry was an extremely hard worker and could keep his farm going. His father convinced Terry and Maud to return to San Saba. It must have been in the winter for I can remember it was really cold. A fireplace and a large cast iron cooking stove in the kitchen area whenever cooking was done heated the house. We made beds and slept in the living room area where the fireplace was. Terry would get up at night to put some more wood on the fire to keep the room warm. Terry and Maud had learned to be independent after leaving San Saba to go to New Mexico. They must not have been able to come to an agreement with Terry’s father and started looking for another opportunity.
WORLD WAR II AND BROWNWOOD – World War II had occurred and was going very strong and a large training camp called Camp Bowie had opened in Brownwood, Texas. Maud’s sister, who lived in Brownwood, had told her that there was a real need to have a business where people could go to wash their clothes. They purchased property on the south east side of Brownwood, which was around six acres and had a warehouse on it. They modified and partitioned this warehouse to where the family lived on one side of it. The other side was turned into a Laundromat. Coin operated washing machines and dryers had not been invented yet. The washing machines were the wringer type where the clothes were washed with an agitator and then run through the wringer to squeeze the water out. They were run into another tub or two to remove the soap and then accumulated to be hung on a line to dry. It was a lot of hard work but successful. Terry built small efficiency apartments around the property and rented them. Everything was going well but the war came to a conclusion and they could see that things were going to change. Reba had gotten married to Frank Jolley and had moved to Texas City, Texas. Also, the neighborhood had some persons move into it that they didn’t desire for their son, Johnny, to be growing up with. They sold the property and the business and moved to the south west side of Brownwood onto a small farm.
BACK ON THE FARM – They raised corn, hogs, cows, turkeys, and chickens while here but it either wasn’t challenging enough or they weren’t making a living. After a couple of years, they decided to sell and move again. Dorothy had been working with the Harvey House and they relocated her to Kansas. She came home on vacation and met Bill Cason. They were married and settled in Bangs, Texas.
Terry and Maud had done well with the apartments they were renting at the previous location so they found and purchased a motel that was for sale in Brownwood called the Willow Garden Courts. This proved to be a real pain and a lot of work. It was especially hard on Terry. Maintaining everything was hard enough but the pain came due to people ringing the bell at all and any time of the night to rent a room. He would awaken to rent the room but then had a very difficult time returning to sleep. He was always tired due to not getting enough rest. They decided that this was not the kind of business they wanted so they sold and moved again. This time it was to the north east side of Brownwood on the Cisco highway. This was where home was and included around three or four acres. They had a couple of cows here but they also bought another place where they started ranching. I don’t know how many acres but it was enough to grow several head of cattle. It was about 15 miles west of Brownwood. They had some troublesome times with the cattle for the land was very brushy and it was sometimes hard to find the cows. The cows were a Brahma mix and that seemed to make them wild. When they would have their calves, the calves may be several days to weeks old before they saw a human being. They were as wild as deer. Screwworms had not been controlled and it seemed every calf would get a case of them. It was a real challenge for Terry to patiently wait and walk around to where he could rope the calf so that it could be treated. The day came when it was time to sell the calves that had grown to be very large. It was found they could not be called or driven into a pen. Terry had to actually feed the cattle in one spot daily and build a pen around the cattle in order to capture the calves.
While they had this property and the cattle, there was a drought that caused a lot of extra work. He or Johnny had to go feed the cattle daily and that involved taking a blowtorch and burning the thorns and stickers off of prickly pears. It was a strange way to feed the cows but they loved them when they were about the only green things around. They couldn’t wait for the pears to cool and as soon as we would finish burning one, a cow would grab it in her mouth and curl her lips up from getting them burned. It looked like they had big smiles.
HOME TO SAN SABA AT LAST – Terry’s father, Jack, passed away. It was sad time but Terry inherited a portion of his property. It was the section that included the old home place of A.J. Walker. A part of this property had the San Saba River as a border and was very beautiful with the river bottom and pecan trees. The family camped out on the river many times and set lines for catfish. So it was time to move again and Terry and Maud sold their property in Brownwood and along with Johnny moved to San Saba. A. J. Walker’s old house was moved farther back and was replaced by a little more modern house with two bedrooms. They became stock farmers raising some beautiful Hereford cattle. When their cows and/or calves went to market, they brought top dollar for the buyers knew they were top quality.
Several years passed which saw Johnny graduate from high school and then from college. He moved to Houston and later was married. Terry and Maud now had their farm to run by themselves. There was one occasion where Terry was irrigating near the river and had gone to the house to get some gas for the tractor that was running the pump. When returning to the river, he had an accident falling from the tractor he was driving and broke his hip. Of course, it was very painful and it took him a long time to recover from this. He was 65 years old at this time. Maud had to be called upon again to do the driving of the car or truck and she still didn’t have that driver’s license. The decision was made to lease the farm and moved to town. A house was bought on Wallace Street, which was the busiest street in San Saba. Although Terry was bored with not enough to keep him occupied, they lived here happily for several years. Terry and Maud would visit the local rest home along with church members and they would all sing songs for the resident’s entertainment. Terry had taught himself many years ago how to play the harmonica. The seniors greatly enjoyed his playing and looked forward to his returning. The family visited quite often and they also got much enjoyment out of his harmonica playing.
When Terry was around 84 years, he started having light strokes. He and Maud were at the age where they needed help in maintaining their lives. They moved to Baird, Texas to stay with Dorothy and her husband, Bill Cason. While he was here, the light strokes had caused his mind to slip considerably. He contracted the flu and when leaving the hospital, he moved into the rest home in Baird. After a short stay in the rest home, he died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 87 and is buried in the San Saba Cemetery. The staff at the rest home said he was a joy to have there for they also loved to hear him play his harmonica.
Maud stayed with her daughter, Dorothy, for a while. However, a niece, Janice Walker, the daughter of Ruth Walker, was retiring as a nurse. She consented to take care of Maud in her home on Wallace Street and stayed with her for several years. She said that Maud was a joy to be around and was always so easy and nice to work and live with. Maud contracted the flu and that turned into pneumonia. She was taken to the hospital in Brownwood, Texas but couldn’t survive the illness. She lived to the age of 95 and is buried next to Terry in the San Saba Cemetery in San Saba County, Texas.
Submitted by John Terry Walker Jr., Houston, Texas