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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jason D. Williams & Lucky Tubb Play Lumberyard Saturday for West Texas Rehab's Don Richburg Scholarship

Jason D. Williams and Band
The Lumberyard will be rocking this weekend with two great performers. Jason D. Williams plays boogie-woogie piano in a way not seen since the style was perfected in the fifties by Jerry Lee Lewis, the man said to be his father. Williams is the adopted son of Baptist missionaries, hence his last name, and his talent at the piano is phenomenal. In fact, he was the piano player in Great Balls of Fire, the movie of Jerry Lee Lewis’s life starring Dennis Quaid. He never rehearses his shows but just plays in response to the crowd. His 2014 album Hillbillies and Holy Rollers was recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis. He has appeared in numerous TV shows and played backup for Johnny Rivers, Dale Watson, Billy Ray Cyrus, and others.

To confirm that he's a chip off the old block, check out his version of “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On” by clicking here.

Lucky Tubb
The show will feature both him and Lucky Tubb, a great nephew of country great Ernest Tubb. Tubb’s music is a lot less rock & roll and a lot more country,  as  this video of “Damn the Luck” demonstrates.

The performance is for a good cause since proceeds will benefit West Texas Rehab’s Don Richburg Scholarship fund. People in Roscoe all remember Don, a local farmer who was a guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier when he served in the military and the father of Allen Richburg. His work with West Texas Rehab over the years is the reason for the scholarship, which is given to deserving students connected with that organization. More details are provided in an article and video on the Big Country Homepage. Both can be accessed by clicking here.

So, contribute to a worthy cause and come on out for what should be a memorable evening at the Lumberyard. With a great show in store, you’ll be glad you did.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the show. Tables are $150. For reservations and more information, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



Don't remind the kids, but the start of school is just around the corner. The Roscoe Collegiate Independent School District begins its fall semester on Thursday, August 10. The early start for Roscoe is done so its finish in May will be more in sync with that of Western Texas College in Snyder, which offers many of the classes the RCHS students take. 

Since most schools start the following week, the State of Texas's tax-free weekend for school supplies and clothing is that weekend, August 11-13. For details, consult the Texas Comptroller's Office by clicking here.



(This article is an update of one that appeared in the Hard Times on February 29, 2012.)

Maurine Whorton in 1914 and the cover of her novel published in 1975.

A while back I learned that someone had written a novel set in Vista*, the early-day precursor to Roscoe, and, when I did, I immediately went online and did a search for it.  I located a hardback copy for ten dollars at a bookstore in North Carolina, ordered it, received it a few days later, and read it.

It was written by Maurine Whorton Redway, a graduate of Roscoe High School and member of the class of 1914.  Her father, Daniel Boone Whorton, was one of the first settlers of the area, and much of the novel is based on family stories Maurine heard while growing up.

The story begins in 1890 with the arrival of the Hunter family at Stop 53 west of Sweetwater.  Stop 53 is the author’s fictional name for Katula, the original name for what is now Roscoe. The main character, Boone Hunter, is obviously based on the author’s father, and his family closely resembles the Whorton family that came to Roscoe at that time.

At first just a boxcar used as a depot, Stop 53 was a water stop for the T&P trains that came through.  Their steam engines had to stop for water about every ten miles, so depots were set at each of the stops, and most of them later became communities: Cisco, Baird, Clyde, Abilene, Tye (originally called Tebo), Merkel, Trent, Eskota, Sweetwater, Roscoe, Loraine, Colorado City, etc.

When the Hunters arrive from Georgia in a boxcar to buy a farm and settle on the cheap, rich, newly available land of the Blackland Divide, only one other family lives by the depot, the Fullers, and they immediately become friends.

As the story progresses, the Hunter family undergoes all the trials and tribulations encountered by early day settlers—drought, tornadoes, ice storms, wild animals, rattlesnakes, and worst of all, a group of rowdy cowboys led by the scoundrel Buck Brooks.  These remnants of the open range drink whisky, run wild, and oppose the coming of the “nesters” who want to civilize the area, cultivate the land, raise families, build churches, and start communities.

While the story is fictional with the plot elements and characterization that make a novel a novel, it is laced with a lot of the early history of the area and provides the reader with a pretty good picture of what it must have been like to live in Roscoe in those early days when it was still known as Vista.

When the author describes the first church meetings taking place upstairs in the community’s only store, and the first school as just a bare building with desks paid for by fund raisers such as box dinner auctions, she is no doubt basing her descriptions on fact.

Sometimes she throws in long forgotten tidbits of history that are a revelation to read.

One example is the Johnson grass seed that Boone Hunter brings back from his first trip to Colorado City in 1890.  Given to him by a farmer there, he is told that it will be good for grazing, but Boone has read that it is hard to get rid of, a fact substantiated that same year when the Texas legislature passed a law prohibiting the sale or gift of Johnson grass seeds.

Characters in the story include the Long family whose farm was southeast of town and Germans from the German settlement west of town, both obviously based on historical fact.  

The story builds to a wild climax with a shootout and a big fire, after which peace is restored and the locals move into the twentieth century with high hopes for the future of their growing community.

Although the novel, published in 1975, never won a Pulitzer Prize or any other major literary awards, it is a rewarding read for anyone interested in the settling of this area and life as it was in the 1890s in Vista and early Roscoe.

     * The first inhabitants of Roscoe originally called their new community Vista, but when they applied for a post office in 1891, they were told that there was already a town in Texas by that name, so they decided to call it Roscoe instead.


About the author: Born in Roscoe in 1898, Maurine Whorton grew up here and graduated from Roscoe High in 1914.  She later earned a B.A. from the University of Texas and an M.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.  She taught in Texas high schools for twenty-six years before joining the faculty at SMU, where she taught history for five years.

Her other books are Early Texas Homes, Marks of Lincoln on Our Land, and Marks of Lee on Our Land.  She died in 1981 and was buried in the Roscoe Cemetery.  Roscoe relations include the Whortons, Jays, and Frys.

Maurine Whorton Redway. Out of the Whirlwind: A West Texas Saga. San Antonio: Naylor, 1975.



Southeast skies on Sunday.
Unlike other parts of the year when variations in the weather typify this area, late July is almost always the same, and this year appears no different. Winds are from the south, skies are partly cloudy, and the weather is relentlessly hot with 95° to 100° temperatures in the afternoons cooling off to somewhere around 70° to 75° in the early mornings. Showers are possible but not likely.

And that’s just the kind of weather we got this past week. We did get a shower on Sunday in some places. Here in town I got a quarter of an inch, while Kenny Landfried reported an official .31”. Some places got a bit more while others didn’t get any. The high for the week was Saturday’s 101° and the low was 64°, also on Saturday.

The forecast for the rest of this week is for more of the same with highs of 96° or 97° and lows of 73° or 74°. Starting on Sunday the weather should cool off somewhat and stay that way for the rest of next week when highs will be only in the upper eighties and lows in the upper sixties. There’s also a good possibility of rain with chances ranging from 30% to 60% all week. At least, that’s the forecast for now. Let’s hope the Weather Channel is right and we get a shower or two.


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