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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.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

City Council Hears Reports on City Works

Whitney Underground workers set a manhole at 9th Street yesterday.
At its monthly meeting in City Hall last Tuesday, the City Council was updated on City works currently in progress as well as plans for the immediate future.

City Manager Cody Thompson reported that work on Seventh Street will resume next week and will be done by the first week of August. The street will then be sealcoated along with other City and County streets and roads.

Work on the sanitary sewer project is on schedule. New lines and manholes are currently being laid in the alley between Cypress and Bois d’Arc Streets and has progressed as far as Tenth Street.

The City’s B Board has allocated funds to have a mural painted on the west wall of the former McFaul’s Garage on Broadway. The artist, Calina Mishay Johnson, is the same person who recently painted the mural on the building behind Smacker’s on Main Street.

The City Council will update the City ordinance on the keeping of chickens in Roscoe at next month’s meeting. The ordinance will conform to the recently passed Texas Senate Bill 1620, which mandates that Texas towns and cities allow residents to raise chickens. Individual municipalities may limit the number of chickens over six that a household may raise. They also may prohibit breeding and the raising and keeping of roosters, and may also set a minimum distance between a coop and residential structure.

The City Council will hold its next budget workshop right after the next regular City Council meeting, probably Thursday, August 10.



by Shelley Gunter

Texas FFA Vice President John Smithwick, Hannah Ward, Agriscience Fair Supt. Dr. Rudy Ritz, and the ExxonMobil Gold Sponsor.
Corpus Christi.– Hannah Ward of the Roscoe FFA Chapter placed first in the Texas FFA Agriscience Fair at the 89th annual Texas FFA State Convention held July 10-14 in Corpus Christi.

Ward participated in the Animal Systems category, division one. The Agriscience Fair fuses the traditional science fair with agriculture. FFA members conduct cutting edge agricultural research to compete in categories such as biochemistry and microbiology, environmental science, zoology, botany and engineering.

The Agriscience Fair was made possible by the ExxonMobil Corporation. State award winners in each category will receive a scholarship from the Richard Wallrath Education Foundation.

The 89th annual Texas FFA Convention recorded approximately 12,000 members and guests. Members of the state’s largest agricultural youth leadership organization spent the week attending leadership workshops, participating in events and activities, being recognized for their achievements, and serving as the legislative body for the Texas FFA Association.

The Texas FFA is the nation’s largest state FFA association with a membership of more than 119,000. FFA gives students the opportunity to apply practical classroom knowledge to real world experiences through local, state and national competitions. For more information about the Texas FFA, visit

If Ward’s project passes preliminary judging at the end of July by the National FFA Organization, Ward will be headed to the National FFA Convention in October to compete against other Agriscience projects across the United States.

Roscoe FFA members at State Convention. Back: Logan Wicker, Hannah Ward, Nolan Reeves, Caleb Boren, Kayla Justiss, Abigail Meadows. Middle: Tait Fullwood, Kaylee Palacios, Morgan Bowers. Front: Zeke Murphy, Becca Shaw.


This year’s school football camp for grades 2-9 will be held on Monday, July 24, and Tuesday, July 25 from 6:00-8:30pm at Plowboy Field. Registration begins at 4pm on the 24th. Camp is free of charge, and campers will be provided with a camp t-shirt that allows them free admission to all home Plowboy games.

For questions and concerns, contact Plowboy head football coach Jake Freeman at 325-721-0892.



Jason Williams, the son of Jerry Lee Lewis, and Lucky Tubb, the great nephew of Ernest Tubb, will perform at a special concert at the Lumberyard on Saturday, July 29, to raise money for the Don Richburg Scholarship at the West Texas Rehab Center.

Details are provided in an article and video on the Big Country Homepage. Both can be accessed by clicking here



A photographer for the Abilene Reporter-News was on hand at the Plowboy Mudbog on July 1 and got some excellent photos of the event. They have been posted in the Reporter-News’ Big Country Journal, which you can access by clicking here



Jo Dee Messina
Country music great Jo Dee Messina will make her first appearance ever at the Lumberyard Saturday night. Over the past two decades, she has had nine number one singles on the Billboard country charts, been nominated for two Grammy awards, had two Platinum and three Gold-certified albums, and been honored by the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. She is also the first female country singer to have three number one songs from the same album.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, she always loved country music, and after playing local clubs in the northeast, she moved to Nashville when she was 19. In 1996 she released her first album, Jo Dee Messina, which had two top ten hits and was certified Gold by the RIAA. Her second album, I’m Alright (1998), sold over two million copies and was certified Platinum. It had three number one singles. Her third album, Burn (2000), contained the hit singles “That’s the Way” and “Bring on the Rain.” Since then, she’s released three more studio albums and five EPs and other albums. Her latest CD is entitled Me.

Top singles include “Bring on the Rain” (with Tim McGraw), “Bye Bye,” “My Give a Damn’s Busted,” “I’m Alright,” “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” and “Stand Beside Me.” Her latest is “Noel.”

For reservations and more information, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



Summer clouds over Roscoe yesterday.
This past week was typical July weather for west Texas, sunny and partly cloudy, winds from the south, hot days, and warm nights. It wasn’t scorching with triple-digit numbers as July sometimes is, but it was definitely summer. The high temperature for the week was Saturday’s 95°F and the low Sunday’s 69°. Other than Sunday when showers threatened and actually produced some rainfall west of town, about a half-inch, it was dry as July typically is. The lowest high was also on Sunday when the temperature rose to only 90°.

The forecast is for more of the same with the highs for the next nine days within a degree either way of 95° and lows of 73° or 74°. And according to the Weather Channel website, the next chance of rain is not until July 31 when the chances rise to 10%.

The recent thunderstorm on July 4 was devastating for about 5000 acres a few miles west of town, where the hail was more intense than elsewhere. A lot of baby cotton was wiped out either partially or completely, and we extend our condolences to the farmers of the affected area.



Funeral services were held 11am Saturday, July 15, at First Baptist Church in Roscoe for Forest Hess, 90, of Roscoe, who passed away Wednesday, July 12, at Lynn County Hospital in Tahoka. Interment followed at Hillside Memorial Gardens in Snyder under the direction of McCoy Funeral Home.

Forest was born July 22, 1926, in Inadale to the late David and Bernice (Simmons) Hess. He married Norma Lacy on December 26, 1946, in Lubbock.

He is survived by his wife, Norma Hess of Roscoe; sons, Jimmy Hess and wife Vickie of Lubbock, and Bruce Hess and wife Maureen of Slater, Missouri; daughters, Cathy Mitchell and husband Byron of Ropesville, and Lois Chambliss and husband Terry of San Angelo; ten grandchildren and eleven great- grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a favorite charity or to the Benevolent Fund at First Baptist Church of Roscoe, 401 Main St., Roscoe, TX 79545.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Large Crowd Enjoys July 4th Celebration

The fireworks show.

The July 4th celebration was once again a huge success for the city of Roscoe. From the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast in the morning to the fireworks show that evening, people gathered to enjoy the day and celebrate the nation’s independence. Downtown, street vendors sold food, drinks, and merchandise on Cypress and Broadway, kids played in the park or swam free at the swimming pool, and the Roscoe Historical Museum was open and received many visitors.

At the baseball field, the Plowboy Mudbog was in full swing as drivers from all over the Big Country and as far away as Dallas and New Mexico tried their hands at driving their mud vehicles through the blackland slush. In the evening, a huge crowd estimated at around 3500 was on hand for the free concert and the fireworks show.

And afterwards, many continued the celebration at the free music and dance at the Lumberyard. As far as I could tell, everyone who attended had a good time.



The Astros are going to the playoffs.

All three of the Roscoe Little League teams that play in the Colorado City League are going to the State Playoffs, two of them to Colorado City and one to Groesbeck, which is east of Waco. The playoffs will be later this month. The freshman Astros (ages 12-14) qualified by winning their division, the Brewers (ages 10-12) finished second in theirs, and the Rangers (age 9 and under) won theirs.



Tables were full at the Pancake Breakfast Saturday morning.
The Roscoe Lions Club would like to thank everyone who came out and supported the Pancake Breakfast during Roscoe’s Independence Day Celebration! All the money raised will go towards the Club’s civic and charitable projects. We hope everyone enjoyed the breakfast as much as we enjoyed preparing it, and we hope to see you all again!



Max Tomlin was one of the Parade winners.

Here are the winners of the various categories of parade entries:

Best Antique Vehicle: Dean Sells
Best Bicycle: Lydia Draper
Best 4-Wheeler: Dakota Freeman
Best Motorcycle: Keith Willman
Best Western: Max Tomlin
Best Semi: Stealth Trans. & Crop Production
Best Overall Float: Roscoe Little League
Most Patriotic: The Medicine Place
Biggest Truck: Toby Walker “Back Door Muddin’”

The July 4th Parade would like to thank the Lumberyard for sponsoring the event and the following for goodie bags: Sonic Drive-In, First National Bank, Vickie’s Gifts, Wildflower Boutique, TSTC, Compass Hospice, Kindred Hospice, Medicine Place, Rockin’ S Cantina, Roscoe Fire Department, Hagerman’s Auto Parts, State Farm Insurance.

Thanks also to the Department of Public Safety, Roscoe Fire Department, Roscoe Police Department, and Nolan County Sheriff’s Office, who let the kids look at and climb in the vehicles and engines.



Here are the top three finishers in each of the vehicle classes of this year’s Plowboy Mudbog. Distances are listed unless the vehicle cleared the pit, in which case the times in seconds are given.

1. Jeff Walker               Corinth             “Mudstang”        302’ 9”
2. Kevin Weinrick       Granbury          Chevy Blazer      297’ 4”
3. Braden Walker        Corinth              “Mudstang”        293’ 1”

1. Jared Waters            Hobbs, NM        “Mistress”           372’
2. James Nelson           Hobbs, NM        “Mistress”           371’
3. David Smallwood     Rotan                 “Mudslut”           369’

Super Modified
1. Wacey Daniel             Big Spring         “Green-Go”      7.3 sec.
2. Anthony Montgomery Big Spring      “Green-Go”     9.5 sec.
3. Raymond Martinez Colorado City  Dodge Dakota  10.75 sec.

1. Jeremy Sisk          Sweetwater    “Harley Worth It”  14.06 sec.
2. Toby Walker        Midland           “Karma”                18.56 sec.
3. James Pantoja      Roscoe            “Nothing Sacred”    448’



It’s summertime, and these hot July nights are perfect for outside shows, country music, cold beverages, dancing, and seeing the singers whose music you love. Two of those singers will be at the Lumberyard this weekend—Wade Bowen on Friday night and Sam Riggs on Saturday.

Wade Bowen

Bowen, originally from Waco and a Texas Tech grad, has grown in popularity over the years and now has a large following. His albums include Try Not to Listen (2002), The Blue Light Live (2004), Lost Hotel (2006), If We Ever Make It Home (2008), Live at Billy Bob’s Texas (2010), and The Given (2012), Wade Bowen (2014), and Then Sings My Soul: Songs for My Mother (2016).  He’s also produced two CDs with fellow Texas Country artist Randy Rogers—Hold My Beer, Vol. 1 (2015) and Watch This (2016).

Top singles include “Trouble,” “Songs About Trucks,” “Who I Am,” “Mood Ring,” and “Why Can’t You Love Me.”

Sam Riggs
Sam Riggs will be making his first appearance ever at the Lumberyard. He’s an Austin-based singer/songwriter who’s receiving more recognition than ever. He learned his finger-picking style from Ray Wylie Hubbard, and after playing in cafes and bars in and around Austin, he released two extended plays before his first studio album, Outrun the Sun, in 2013. Its first two singles made the top ten on the Texas Music Chart, and the video for “When the Lights Go Out” hit number one on CMT’s Pure 12-Pack Countdown. He was named Artist of the Year at the first Texas Magazine Texas Music Awards, and his second album, Breathless, debuted last year at number 12 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. His popularity is increasing, and his shows are drawing ever larger crowds.

Singles include “The Lucky Ones,” “When the Lights Go Out,” and “Hold On and Let Go.”

For reservations and more information, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.



Friday showers. (Photo by Chris Brawley)

It’s been a week for typically hot summer weather with mostly sunny skies, two days that hit triple digits, and the rest all reaching 90°F or above. The most potentially significant event of the week, however, came yesterday afternoon at about 4:00pm, when a cloud unexpectedly made up practically overhead and then rained for about a half-hour, more or less depending on the location. The moisture of course was welcome, but this shower also came with high winds and hail. Here in town, my rain gauge recorded .60” with some wind, but not enough to cause much, if any, damage. There was also some hail, but it never got larger than pea or marble size.

Hailstones that fell on Allen Richburg's farm west of town.
West of town, however, the storm was more intense. The rain fell harder, the wind was higher, and the hail was thicker and in some cases larger. Some was even golf-ball sized. I was told that on I-20 cars pulled over and those who could took shelter under overpasses. In many fields, the cotton is still small enough that the hail and high winds could cause considerable damage. I haven’t talked to enough people yet to know just how much the crop was affected or in what areas damage was done other than west of town. After the rain stopped, I went out and checked my garden, but as far as I could tell, here in town the damage was minimal.

Yesterday’s rain wasn’t the only one we got this past week. At about 4:30 early Saturday morning we also got a shower. On that one, my rain gauge recorded .40”. So, combined with yesterday’s .60”, I got an even inch for the two showers. Kenny Landfried got only .28” in his gauge in east Roscoe.

And that’s really about it for weather events. The hottest days came on Thursday and Friday, which both reached 101°. The coolest maximum came on Saturday, when the high was only 90°. Lows were all within two degrees of 70° except for Saturday with a low of 64°. Sunday, Monday, and yesterday all had highs of 95° or 96°.

Today’s high should be slightly cooler at 92°, tomorrow’s 93°, and then the next seven days are forecast to have highs of 94° to 96° and lows of 72° or 73° with partly cloudy skies. Today and tomorrow have a 20% chance of precipitation, but the weekend and the next week or so are given a 0% chance with the exception of Sunday with 20%. Skies will be mostly sunny.



Ina Gloria (Gabler) Althof, 89, of Roscoe passed away Sunday, July 2, at Hendrick Hospice Center in Abilene.
The family celebrated her life on Saturday, July 1, by having her 90th birthday party with friends and family. A video of 90 years of memories was shared by all.

A graveside service was held on Monday, July 3, at Roscoe Cemetery with Reverend Steve Carter, a family friend, and special music by Daylon and Nancy Althof. McCoy Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Ina was born July 6, 1927, in Roscoe. She married Raymond Althof October 14, 1944, in Roscoe. She was a homemaker, farmer, lifelong resident of Roscoe, and lifetime member of First Salem Lutheran Church. She served as leader of youth, Luther League and Sunday School, and served on the ALCW women’s board and the board committee to help build the new Lutheran Church in Roscoe. She also served on the first board committee to help build the Roscoe Community Center. She received an award for “Outstanding Conservation of Soil, Water and Related Resources” in 1993, “Conservation Homemaker Award” in 1994, and County 4-H Chairman. She loved to have lots of company and cooking, quilting, needlework and embroidering, and loved social gatherings and making cakes for her cottage friends.

Ina is survived by her daughters, Maxine Watt and husband Tom of Roscoe, and LeAnna Pitts and husband Danny of Streetman, Texas; four grandchildren, Bryan Watt and wife Shannon of Amarillo, Vikki Woody and husband Brandon of Aiken, South Carolina, and Kellie and Britney Pitts of Dallas; five great-grandchildren, Layton, Levi, Lane, and Lauryn Woody and Aiden and Abbigail Watt.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Arthur Gabler August 1, 1987; Anna Lydia (Sauer) Gabler October 19, 1988; her husband, Raymond, October 26, 2009; sister, Gladys Ona Morris Johnson, January 4, 2000; and her brother, O.C. Gabler, September 11, 2003.


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