Thursday, September 27, 2012

Before the Birds: Family Names at Hagerman NWR

By Doug Raasch
(Originally published in the Featherless Flyer, July, 2009)

When is Goode good ?  Maybe Goode is goody.   No dude, Goode is gewed.  Look at Steedman Marsh, but pronounce Steedman as Steadman.  We have Deaver Pond and Dunning Pond, but don’t forget those Derby Ponds.  OK, enough of that.

The more you use Hagerman Wildlife Refuge, the more you become familiar with the names that define and identify geographic points.  In the early 1940’s, small family farms grew a little cotton, grazed a few cows, fattened a hog, gathered chicken eggs, and most of all, raised children.  Those farmers that tired of the toil, moved to the small but bustling town of Hagerman.  Unfortunately, while this little town was a good place for a railroad switch, it was also a perfect spot to build a lake.

As World War II was expanding, huge Lake Texoma was filling with runoff from 91,430 square miles up the meandering Red River.  When Harold Ickes established a wildlife refuge in February, 1946, it was apparent that the little farms and the little town lost the race for survival.  Migrating waterfowl were the winners and still rule to this day.  Oddly enough, there is nothing bearing the name of Ickes.  Ickes Pond ?? Ickes Marsh ??  Harold’s name is a bummer for titles.

As the local folks abandoned their homesteads, the family names were left behind to become eternal markers on the maps of the refuge.  Area cemeteries hold the familiar names on the grave stones.  The grave of J.P. Smith, the father of Hagerman town, overlooks the Hagerman cemetery.  Georgetown cemetery holds the  long and prosperous line of the Goode family.  The Steedman family has burial plots in Mt. Tabor and West Hill cemeteries. 

Fortunately, a number of descendants of the early settlers still live in the area.  They are a diverse and interesting group, friendly and willing to discuss what they know about families in the area.  Violet Jones Bruce and her brother Herschel Jones remember Hagerman as a near perfect place to grow up.  Their father worked for the KATY railroad and made the decision to move to town in a house across the street from the school.  Since their front yard was a playground,  Vi and Herschel always had ball games available.  Vi rode a goat to school once, but when high school came, brother and sister took the bus to Denison high school.  One of the main events that the people of Hagerman looked forward to was the “hog killin’”. This get-together provided the opportunity for trading, which was Daddy Jones true calling.  Cars, cows, horses, canned food and any other necessity came from his shrewd bargaining.

Dr. Carlos Araoz and his late wife, Eulalia Steedman Araoz, are Life Members of the Friends of Hagerman.  Eulalia’s family history traces back to L.A. Steedman and wife Lilly Jane who left Sherman in 1908 to farm the area around Deaver Switch.  L.A.’s father was a Grayson County judge for eight years beginning in 1888.  The post office at Steedman, Texas was located in the family home.  The year 1907 marked the formation of the Hagerman Independent School District.  In 1920, a two story brick school house was completed to accommodate the three teachers with the names Steedman, Ballard, and Goode.  The upper floor of the school house became a meeting place and a cultural center for the north Texas area, featuring debates, literary societies, music, and plays.  The last program took place in 1942, with Lake Texoma threatening just outside. 

Gerald Payne is a descendant of the Goode Family and has direct connection to the refuge.  Gerald explained that the Goode family lost most of their farm to Hagerman refuge, but his family still owns 97 acres along the boundary near the Refuge Road entrance. 

E.Y. Goode moved from Kentucky to Grayson County in a covered wagon.  E.Y. eventually bought 2500 acres of land and became the Chisom Trail Cattle Inspector.   He had the power of attorney to confiscate cattle judged to be stolen and return them to their rightful owners.  The Goode family farm eventually covered the area that became Perrin Field.  After building a 14 room house, the farm became the 55 Ranch.  E.Y. was one of the original owners of the M & P Bank.

Other farms that have familiar names are Curtis Terry (Terry Lane);  Wiley Dunning (Dunning Pond); Daucy Harris (Harris Creek);  John Ballard (Cedar of Lebanon);  Richard Meyers (Meyers Creek).  
The next time you plan an outing at Hagerman, look for the ghost of the characters that make up the history of the refuge.

ED Note:  Doug Raasch, long time volunteer at the Refuge and original author of the popular trail guide series now has a trail named in his honor.

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