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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Several Roscoe Businesses to Re-Open Friday

The Blackland Smokehouse and Wildflower Boutique in downtown Roscoe.
Governor Greg Abbott’s new executive order goes into effect on Friday, and because of its eased restrictions, several Roscoe businesses are set to re-open. 

Under the new guidelines, retail stores and restaurants may open with conditions. In counties with over five confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as Taylor, they can allow only 25% capacity at any given time, but in counties with five or fewer cases, such as Nolan, they can operate at up to 50% capacity.

As a result, businesses that have been closed, such as Cotton Belles, Vickie’s Gifts, and Wildflower Boutique, may now re-open provided they follow the new guidelines. And restaurants, which have been limited to take-out or delivery, may now serve food on the premises so long as they adhere to crowd size and other restrictions, such as disposable menus, condiments in single-serve packets only, and access to hand sanitizers at the entrance.

A survey of local businesses yesterday found that most are more than ready to get back to work on Friday. including the Wildflower Boutique and Cotton Belles. At posting time, Vickie’s Gifts was uncertain as to whether they would re-open that soon. Of the restaurants, the Blackland Smokehouse, the Lumberyard, and the 235 Travel Stop plan to be open, while Burritos Zacatecas remained uncertain.

However, other local businesses must remain closed at this time, including hairdressers and barber shops, such as the Southern Belle Salon, and tattoo parlors, such as the Legacy Tattoo Parlour. However, depending on how the new rules affect the spread of the coronavirus, there is a possibility that they, too, along with manicure and pedicure shops, may be allowed to re-open in mid-May.



On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott released a new executive order for Texas. He will let certain businesses re-open with conditions beginning on Friday. These include retail stores, restaurants, theaters, and malls, as well as museums and libraries, but only at 25% capacity—unless the counties they are in have no more than five cases of COVID-19, in which case they can open to 50% capacity.

On the other hand, barbershops, hair salons, tattoo parlors, bars, and gyms must remain closed, but the governor hopes he can allow them to open in mid-May. Church services should be remote when possible but can re-open as long as appropriate social distances are maintained, and at-risk congregants should have separate seating areas or separate services. Nursing homes remain closed to visitors.

Masks are strongly encouraged for people in public, but fines will not be imposed on those who aren’t wearing one. Licensed health care professionals can return to work, but hospitals must reserve 15% of their capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Failure to follow the executive orders can result in fines of up to $1000 or 180 days in jail, and businesses that do not comply could lose their license.

In other news, the CDC (Center for Disease Control has updated its symptoms for COVID-19 to these six: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and a loss of taste or smell.

Sweetwater got Nolan County’s first official positive case of COVID-19 on Thursday from a 37-year-old woman, who was not hospitalized and is self-quarantining. The other case from last week didn’t officially count since the patient was not from the county but just passing through.

Despite the lighter restrictions on businesses, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to climb in the state as well as in the Big Country. As of yesterday, Abilene is up to 277 confirmed cases, an increase of 113 over last Tuesday, and some Big Country counties are also increasing: Brown, 34; Jones, 13; Eastland, 4; Howard, 4; Comanche 3; Scurry, 2; Callahan, 2; Coleman, 1; Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Nolan, 1; Runnels, 1; Stephens, 1.

Select West Texas counties: Lubbock, 504; Ector (Odessa), 76; Midland, 74; Wichita (Wichita Falls), 63; Tom Green (San Angelo), 44.

Texas was up to 26,171 cases (20,196 last Tuesday) with 690 deaths (517 last Tuesday).


by Andy Wilson

School Provost Andy Wilson provides the following updates on the current situation at RCISD.

Monday evening, the board of trustees appointed Cheyenne Smith and Jerad Alford to replace Wes Williams and Frankie Santiago upon their resignations as board members.

We are working on how to best recognize academic and athletic awards.

We are planning to have a live RCISD graduation as soon as we have permission to gather. It will likely be done with social distancing. The date and time are still to be determined.

WTC commencement ceremonies were canceled according to a March 18th announcement on the WTC website.

Students will be taking their year-end MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments from home over the next couple of weeks. The MAP assessment is a nationally normed assessment designed to measure student growth. We administered the assessment at the beginning and middle of the school year as well. Since NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) has made it possible to administer the assessment in a distance environment, we feel as though the collection of this data will better inform us on the academic growth (or lack thereof) of our students during this pandemic. The school conducted pilot testing to see how to best administer the MAP assessments early this week, and teachers will be contacting parents and students in the coming days with procedural instructions.


by Dan Boren

EduMake-it is close to fulfilling its goal of providing area hospitals with the N-95 masks they may need during this pandemic.  By the end of this week, the crew from EduMake-it will have delivered 301 3D printed masks and over 500 3D printed filter cartridges to Abilene Regional Medical Center, a group in Hendrick’s ER, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital and Mitchell County Hospital.

The masks were printed by EduMake-it, which is an Edu-Business at Roscoe Collegiate and EduNation.  The cartridges were a collaborative effort between EduMake-it, A.T.E.M.S in Abilene and Westbrook ISD.  All of the masks were provided free of charge to those facilities, and graciously a number of generous donations have been received to cover some of the costs of the materials used to make the masks including the United Way of Abilene.


Roscoe in Years Gone By: Tabernacle Revivals in the 1930s
by Herschel Whittington

Roscoe’s tabernacle looked sort of like this: open on all four sides except directly behind the pulpit. Wooden benches with back rests provided seating for the congregation.

Editor's note: This is another excerpt from Herschel Whittington's Smiles and Tears of Boyhood Years, an unpublished memoir of his growing up in Roscoe during the depression and pre-war years.

The major “entertainments” in Roscoe during the summers prior to World War II were the “protracted” church “revivals.” The First Baptist Church sponsored a two-week revival every summer, as did the First Methodist Church. The Church of Christ usually only held forth for one week. The other two local denominations (Lutheran and Presbyterian) simply did not have enough members to afford or support a revival.

These events took place under the city tabernacle on the block bound by Main, Pecan, 2nd and 3rd Streets. Revival services, usually left in the good hands of a visiting "evangelist" and a visiting song leader, supported by the local minister and local song leader, normally lasted a couple of hours. Morning services, from 10:00 until noon, were informal, and heavily skewed toward the mostly female audience. Evening services, as Dad put it, "...took in after just about everybody."

A typical evening service began with two or three hymns by the choir, a "King James" invocation (lots of thees, thous and thines) by the local minister, two or three hymns by the congregation and choir, an introduction of the visiting song leader who sang a solo. Another prayer by the local minister, an introduction of the visiting evangelist, another hymn by the congregation, a prayer by the evangelist, passing of the collection plate through the congregation for a "free-will" offering, Scripture reading and a prayer by the local minister. At last, as the ladies in the congregation fanned themselves vigorously with their hand-fans provided by Adams Funeral Home, the evangelist launched into a long, cajoling "hell-fire and brimstone" sermon (if it was a Baptist revival) or a "humorous but forceful" homily (if it was a Methodist revival), or a "well-structured argument" for narrow Testament interpretation (if it was a Church of Christ revival). The preaching always concluded with a heart-rending plea for penitence, followed by a dozen or so verses of an "invitational hymn," frequently interrupted by the evangelist as he tearfully pleaded for sinners to come forward and "accept Jesus as a personal savior." Finally, when the evangelist, usually ringing wet with sweat (as we all were), became satisfied that a reasonable quota of converts, backsliders, and repentant sinners were kneeling at the altar, or standing there with heads bowed, he'd stop the music, pray for them, then "pronounce" a benedictive prayer.

According to the Reverend George Washington Parks, Sr., "Any evangelist worth his salt could make a billy goat seek salvation," which was about as tough as getting through to a 12-year-old boy who'd rather have been somewhere else doing almost anything else. In 1938, however, the visiting evangelist did get through to me: I saw the light!

I and several others underwent baptism the following Sunday: the Reverend Easterwood pinched my nostrils together and shoved me under the soul-cleansing baptismal waters in the "dipping vat" before a full house at the First Baptist Church. I've never regretted it; on the other hand, God may have struggled with some serious second thoughts.

For a few weeks it looked as if that evangelist's influence over me might have taken me beyond mere redemption. After church, for three Sundays in a row, I'd go home, pig out on Mama's fried chicken in a manner befitting any fine Baptist preacher, then stand in the open doors of our hayloft and vigorously repeat Brother Easterwood's morning sermon to my docile but unrepentant congregation (made up of our horses, cows, and pigs).



Clouds in the southeast sky yesterday.
In the last week of March, I posted the NOAA’s official national weather forecast, which said we could look forward to a hotter and drier spring than normal this year. And, as wrong as those meteorologists can sometimes be in their forecasts, it looks like they were right on target, at least for this past week and the one coming up.

There was only one day that the high wasn’t at least in the eighties, and that was Saturday, which topped out at 73°. Otherwise it was warm and dry. Monday’s high was 91° with a strong southwest wind, and yesterday was even hotter with a high of 97°, which is this year’s hottest day so far. Unfortunately, it may hold that distinction less than three days since we’re predicted to get our first 100° days of the year this weekend. Despite the showers we’ve had here and there this spring, farmers and ranchers are already looking to the sky for some nice rain clouds as things heat up (and dry out) here below.

Today, thanks to a stiff north breeze that arrived last night, the temperature will be as cool as we’ll be seeing it for a while with a high of only about 80°. But tomorrow, the wind will shift to the southwest and the temperature will rise to 90°, then on Friday it should hit the century mark, and on Saturday reach 102°. A cool front moves through on Sunday, lowering the maximum to only 94°, but on Monday it will be back up to 98°. And this is only May we’re moving into.

The chances of rain for the coming week are 0% for every single day.



Graveside services for Ada Lou (Wallace) Mogford, 86, of Spring Branch, formerly of Roscoe, were held at 1:00pm on Sunday, April 26, at Roscoe Cemetery. McCoy Funeral Home directed arrangements. She passed away on Wednesday, April 22, in San Antonio.

Ada was born May 1, 1933, in Roscoe to the late Claudy P. and Ruby Odell (Miller) Wallace.

Survivors include her sons, John David Boyd and wife Cheryl of Boerne, and Jimmy Ray Boyd and wife Robin of Austin; daughters, Ellen Elaine Hitchcliff and husband Doug of Lubbock, Rebecca Diane Shindler and husband Charlie of Corpus Christi, and Diane Gutierrez and husband Arnold of San Marcos; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Roscoe Collegiate Turns Crisis into Opportunity

As RCISD adjusts to the constraints imposed upon it by the coronavirus pandemic, it is doing its best to turn the proverbial lemon into lemonade by adapting to and improving its online instruction at all levels. Its predicament and progress are summed up in the video above and the message below that Provost Andy Wilson sent on Saturday to the STEM Advisory Committee, which was unable to hold its annual spring meeting here this year.

Dear STEM Advisory Committee,

Our head of Edu-Drone operations, Cade Garrett, along with our head of Edu-Drone curriculum, Dusty White, has prepared a video capturing the essence of continuing public education at a distance.  Empty hallways, empty classrooms, and empty playgrounds have become the norm over the past four weeks.  However, instruction, planning, and relationships have continued to be the focal point at RCISD.

I can't brag enough on our paraprofessionals who have not missed a day of helping teachers prepare, our teachers who have learned how to instruct at a distance and evaluate student work at all hours of the day and night, our parents who have worked hard to keep their students busy on their assignments (and learn a few new things themselves), our campus administrators who are making home visits to struggling students and their families, and especially on our students who are working hard to become a little smarter with each assignment that they complete.

In addition to instructing at a distance, RCISD has been able to keep all of its interns working in internships. An example of this is the work that Edu-Make-It is doing to produce N-95 masks for neighboring hospitals. They are making about 25 per day but have orders of over 500 to fill.



Abilene’s KTXS-TV and Amarillo’s KVII-TV channel 7 featured Roscoe Collegiate’s mask making project in newscasts this past weekend. The segment lasts 1:42 and may be viewed by clicking here.



As far as the news goes these days, the elephant in the room once again is the coronavirus, which is disrupting the entire world to the point that we may someday look back on this spring in much the same way as the history books now look at the stock market crash of October 1929. This week the price of oil actually dropped into negative territory for the first time ever because all the storage tanks are full, and unemployment claims are at the highest levels since the great depression. It’s hard to imagine how we are going to return to normalcy with the impact the pandemic has had and will continue to have until we beat the disease once and for all.

Although there are a few places where the deaths and contagion seem to have peaked, at least for the moment, Texas is not one of them. Its number of cases continues to rise, especially in the cities. Abilene is a good example with confirmed cases continuing to roughly double with each passing week. Four weeks ago on Tuesday, March 24, there were none. Three weeks ago, on March 31, there were 14. The following Tuesday, two weeks ago, April 7, it had grown to 38. Then, last Tuesday, April 14, it was up to 74, and yesterday, April 21, it was 164. If it continues at this rate, by next Tuesday it will be over 300.

The good news is that so far there are no confirmed cases in Nolan County, although it’s hard to say whether this may be due more to the lack of testing here or because it just hasn’t started yet and may increase like Abilene and elsewhere when it does. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, stay safe, be careful, lay low when possible, and don’t forget to wash your hands. 


Roscoe in Years Gone By: Some Troop 37 Memories
by Herschel Whittington

This is an excerpt from the memoir of Herschel Whittington, Smiles and Tears of Boyhood Years. He was the kid brother of Hillman and Ray Whittington who grew up in Roscoe during the depression. Hillman was a war hero killed in the Battle of Midway in 1942, and Ray was a glider pilot in Europe who survived the war. Herschel's memoir is a valuable record of life in Roscoe in the 1930s and early 1940s. As with other Roscoe boys, he was a member of  Roscoe's Boy Scout Troop 37 and was 14 years old during the time he writes about below. 

Roscoe boys pose on the City's new fire truck in 1938.
During the early months of 1940, George re-vamped Troop 37. He'd long had it divided into several Patrols. But, because our numbers had increased somewhat, and because we were planning to attend the Buffalo Trail Council in Big Spring during the coming summer, he added a couple of Patrols and re-assigned several of us—I’d been in Bud Dobbins' patrol until then, and it was Bud who'd taught me to swim, and Dobbins possibly saved me from drowning at least once.

One of the new entities was the Bat Patrol, soon to become infamous as the “Bats.” A. T. [Smith] was Patrol Leader, I was Assistant Patrol Leader, Dowl [Wilson] had some sort of leadership role, and most of the members were quality kids, certifiable “Bats.” I wish I could remember all those in the original group. Edward Basham certainly was, and Walter Maloney, LeRoy Pietzsch, Derewood Snyder, Don Massey, and Max "Skin" Smith. I apologize to others for not remembering, because they all contributed to making us the most gung-ho Patrol that Troop 37 ever experienced.

1934 Chevy sedan.
George Parks, I should note, owned a 1934 Chevy four-door sedan, and almost any time he drove anywhere in it at least a dozen boys would be crammed into it or hanging on the outside of it. And he involved boys in some sort of adventure almost daily. We went swimming in ponds, “tanks,” pools, holes, creeks, rivers, and lakes. We camped overnight on the 18 Ranch, the Shields Ranch, the Jones Ranch, the Double Heart Ranch, in Mulberry Canyon, at Buffalo Gap, Seven Wells and half a dozen places I've forgotten.

We went jack rabbit hunting at night, often firing .22s from the front fenders of that 1934 Chevy. We went on Saturday outings to area points of beauty or interest, and to college football games. Sometimes he simply drove us to Sweetwater for a chocolate malted or a purple cow at the drive-in, or ice-cream sundae at Tom's. That car must have had a million miles on it—all of them loaded with boys.

Perhaps it was because Hillman and Ray lived at home that summer, but I seemed to have more time for fun during the mid-months of 1940 than any other summer of my youth. At the three-day Buffalo Trail Council meeting in July, we competed with Boy Scout troops from communities all over West Texas in such Scouting activities as trail blazing, semaphore signaling, mapping, knot tying, wood burning (designs burnt into wood) and carving, fire building (without matches), bugling, astronomy, archery, and a dozen other competitions. Our main challenge came from our nearest neighbors, the troops from Sweetwater. They talked a good game, but in the end we swamped all competition and brought home nearly every possible award. And the Bat Patrol was responsible for a majority of those wins.

Toward the end of July, George borrowed our school's largest bus and, with Tots Falkenbury driving, took about 40 of us boys on a two-week outing to New Mexico.

We drove west on Highway 80, stopping at Big Spring to see the big spring, at Odessa to see the meteor crater, and at Pecos to see Judge Roy Bean's saloon/courthouse. That first night we camped beside the Carlsbad (New Mexico) power-plant, which straddled the Pecos River. Because I was prone to walk in my sleep, George made me place my pallet (we didn't have sleeping bags, just bed rolls) between two older boys so I wouldn't wander off and fall into the exhaust-rapids below the power plant.

The next morning we walked through Carlsbad Cavern—all 14 miles: 7 in and 7 out. Nothing in my life, to that point, had awed me so thoroughly. In the afternoon, we walked around the town of Carlsbad. I sauntered, hands in pockets, whistling some tune I'd heard on the Silvertone [i.e., the family radio], head high, and happy. At least I was until Hollis Ward suggested my "'Country" ways were embarrassing him: "I don't think people walk down the streets of big cities whistling at the tops of their lungs!" he said. Big city? Carlsbad?



Warm, sunny skies over Roscoe yesterday.
Despite a couple of cool days last weekend, the weather is feeling more springlike as temperatures rise into the eighties in the afternoons, and yesterday with its high of 89°F was hot enough to prompt use of the air conditioner to cool things off inside. For the first time in a while, we went the entire week without getting any precipitation, but the moisture from recent rains has the countryside looking just about as green as it ever gets around here.

The forecast for the rest of the week is for sunny skies with highs in the eighties and lows in the fifties. Today will have a strong west wind and a high this afternoon of 85°. Tomorrow will be similar with a projected high of 86°, but the wind will shift to the north on Friday and cool things a bit with a high of 82° Friday and 76° Saturday. Temperatures will climb back into the 80s on Sunday and Monday and into the 90s on Tuesday.

There is no rain in the forecast for the next seven days.



Military graveside rites for Wilburn G. Hughes, 90, will be on Tuesday, April 28, at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. He passed away in Roscoe on Sunday, April 19.

There will be a family visitation today, April 22, from 6:00 to 8:00 at McCoy Funeral Home.



Graveside services for Emily (Lee) McFaul will be at 2:00pm today, April 22, at Roscoe Cemetery with McCoy Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. She donned her wings on Sunday morning, April 19, with her children by her side and took her heavenly flight to her Lord and Savior and all the friends and loved ones who have gone on before her. After months of bedrest, immobility, and distress, she is now free from the burdens of this life and is rejoicing and reuniting with Willard McFaul, her husband of 66 years, her parents, Calvin Lee and Geneva Lee Williamson, and her sister, Joan Johnson.

Emily was born in Conroe on January 7, 1930. She graduated from Roscoe High School in 1947 and married Willard on November 25, 1948. She was a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend to many.

She is survived by a son, Wayne McFaul and wife Annette of Gilmer, Texas; daughters Susie Alford and husband Jerry of Roscoe; and Cathi McFaul of Mansfield. She has five grandchildren: Justin McFaul of Longview; Misti DeLoera of Roscoe; Jonathan McFaul of Longview; Jerad Alford of Roscoe, and Chris Alford of Kansas. She has 12 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Emily was a member of First Baptist Church, Roscoe, for 81 years. She served as the church secretary for several pastors. She also was the original owner of the Cotton Belles dress shop in the 1970s. She was instrumental in getting the SNAP Meals on Wheels delivery in Roscoe. Her many talents included sewing, cooking, and planning and organizing church events. She played the piano and sang for many years in the ladies’ trio at church.

Pallbearers will be Wayne McFaul, Jerry Alford, Justin McFaul, Jonathan McFaul, Jerad Alford, and Armando DeLoera. Honorary pallbearers: Amri DeLoera, Mason Alford, Amrin Deloera, Amrik DeLoera, and Kennedy Alford.

The family would like to extend special thanks to Emily’s hospice nurse, Valerie Pruitt and caregivers Mary Ham, Connie Hernandez, Patricia Reed, Lupe Gutierrez, and Karron Clark.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Open Door Child Development Center at FUMC, Box 489, Roscoe, Texas, 79545, or to the SNAP Meals on Wheels program, 1701 Elm, Sweetwater, Texas, 79556.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

City Council Approves Rate Change Ordinance

City Manager Cody Thompson reports at yesterday's City Council meeting.
At its monthly meeting in City Hall yesterday evening, the City Council approved an ordinance establishing water, sewer, and garbage rate changes. It also received a public works update, approved the quarterly investment report, approved an ordinance denying a proposed change in Oncor Electric rates, canceled the City Election of May 2, and approved advertising for swimming pool bids for this summer. 

Following the rate changes proposed for the City’s water and wastewater study to pay for the $2,130,000 loan from the TWDB (Texas Water Development Board) for City water and wastewater line improvements, the Council approved an ordinance incorporating the necessary adjustments that need to be made to cover the debt payments. The new system of payment will no longer be based on the number of bathrooms in a residence but on the number of gallons used. The rates will be increased for both water and sewer while trash pickup remains the same. The increased rates will begin with next month’s (May 2020) bill.

City Manager Cody Thompson reported that the City’s Spring Clean-Up went well with tons of debris collected. City workers are waiting for a new pump to be installed in the Main Lift Station, and a final clean up of the area will begin soon. 

There have been some complaints about the sewer smell at the sewer plant, most of which are related to the cloudy, humid weather. Workers are now rotating the inflow from lagoon to lagoon for maintenance. These actions are mandated by the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality).

Streets will once again be the focus when they dry up for a sufficiently extended period of time.

The Council approved the Quarterly Investment Report and canceled the previously scheduled May 2 City election since none of the Council seats up for election this year were contested. The Council also denied the proposed change in rates of Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC.

Finally, the Council approved advertising for swimming pool bids for the City Swimming Pool this summer.



Roscoe School superintendent and Edu-Nation Chancellor Kim Alexander is the latest leading educator to be interviewed on “The Rural Scoop,” a national education podcast focusing on rural school issues. In a 45-minute interview, he explains Roscoe’s P-20 program, its evolution and attainments, as well as its goals for the future.

The interview provides a comprehensive view of Roscoe's program and how it works on many levels. It is conducted by Melissa Sadorf, who is also the superintendent of Stanfield Elementary School District in Tucson, Arizona.

In the podcast series, Dr. Sadorf covers in-depth interviews with educators who are bringing new ideas, innovative curriculum, and current rural school issues to the table and highlight what is working in rural communities nationwide. “The Rural Scoop” is now in its third season and her interview with Kim Alexander about Roscoe’s program is the most recent episode.

It is available for listening by clicking here.


by Dan Boren

Mask makers Caleb Boren, Veronica Cuellar, and Esperanza Sanchez.

Operation: Mask the Big Country continues to plow along as participating students delivered their first 10 masks to Cate-Spencer and Trent funeral home in Sweetwater on Monday. Edu-Make It (EMI) plans to deliver a total of 75 masks to Mitchell County Hospital, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital, and Abilene Regional Hospital by Friday. In total they have 500 requests for their 3-D printed N-95 equivalent masks.

The EMI team is honored to be able to help the Big Country community in this small way. EMI has teamed up with Westbrook ISD and ATEMS (Academy of Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Science) in Abilene to make the masks.

If you would like to contribute to help cover the costs of materials, you can do so at the GoFundMe page established for that purpose by clicking here.


A camera has been installed near the Water Treatment Plant to identify illegal dumpers.


Another week has gone by under the Texas Governor’s and Nolan County Judge’s executive orders with schools closed along with all but essential businesses. People are trying to be mindful of social distancing, and the federal CDC (Center for Disease Control) is urging people to wear masks in public situations.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Abilene grows daily and was up to 74 confirmed positive with 6 of those new as of yesterday and 137 tests awaiting results. Age groups of those testing positive are as follows:
  •   0-19:  3
  • 20-29: 20
  • 30-39: 15
  • 40-49: 11
  • 50-59: 10
  • 60-69: 6
  • 70-plus: 9
Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater announced yesterday that they began treating their first positive case Sunday. The patient is not a resident of Nolan County but was just passing through on I-20.

According to health officials, he stopped at the TA Truck Stop on Sunday between 2:30 and 3:30pm, used the restroom, and bought some food at Popeye’s, went out to his car to eat it, got to feeling bad, and called paramedics. He was admitted directly into isolation, where he remains. Health officials notified the TA staff to monitor themselves for signs of COVID-19 and urge TA customers at that time to take precautions.  

Other Big Country counties reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases as of yesterday: Brown, 11; Comanche 3, Eastland, 3; Jones, 2; Scurry, 2; Callahan, 1; Howard, 1; Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Stephens, 1.

Other select West Texas counties: Lubbock, 317; Tom Green (San Angelo) 39; Midland 32; Ector (Odessa) 45.


Roscoe in Years Gone By: Hugo Zetzman's Mysterious Death

The Zetzman blacksmith shop, ca. 1910. Left to right: John Zetzman, Willie Zetzman, and an unidentified carpenter.
Editor’s note: Let me say at the outset that this is not the Hugo Zetzman that most people think of when they hear that name but his father, whose name was also Hugo Zetzman.

Hugo Zetzman was a blacksmith and farmer who lived with his family west of town in the German community near Champion. Born in Germany in 1860, he was raised east of San Antonio and lived in Shiner before moving to west Texas after the death of his first wife.

On March 18, 1915, when he was 54, his mother, Elizabeth Zetzmann, 86, died in Shiner. He bought a train ticket to go to her funeral and went on the T&P passenger train to Fort Worth, where he had a layover before catching the train that would take him to Shiner. It was during that time that he mysteriously met his death.

Because his body was found in a downtown alley behind a bar at 2 a. m., an autopsy was performed with the verdict being heart failure, according to the autopsy doctors, T. G. Rumph and L. A. Barber. This finding contradicted the original suspicion that foul play was involved and that he might have died in a nearby bar or saloon. Police had inquired at the nearby saloons, restaurants, and boarding houses, but none of the employees reported having seen him. His body being found in the alley also raised suspicions.

An article that appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on March 20 explained the situation:
Stretched out full length, with face downward and with the left hand extended, the body had every evidence that it had been dragged into the alley. The toes of both shoes had been scraped in the dirt, and Zetzman’s vest and coat front were soiled with dirt and sawdust. The body was stiff when found and had evidently been without life for two hours or more. The patrolman had passed that spot on his rounds before, and he did not see the body then, he said.
The surgeons believed, however, that he had pulled himself along in his death struggle. As Zetzman appeared robust and healthy, they said they didn’t suspect heart failure until they performed the autopsy.

With this verdict of death by natural causes, the body was placed in a casket and put on a baggage car of a Texas & Pacific train for shipment back to Roscoe. However, a second article appearing the next day said that Justice Emmiett Moore was not satisfied that foul play had not been involved and ordered that the stomach be examined. Suspicions of robbery were supported by the fact that no money, valuables, or train ticket were found on Zetzman’s body, and detectives also thought it unlikely that if he was having a heart attack, he would have gone up the alley as far as where he was found. Police surmised that he had stopped over between trains and wandered uptown to spend the time.

So, the body was taken from the railway station back to the morgue and the operation performed. On March 23, the Star-Telegram published a third article revealing the results of the stomach examination.  Both chloral and whisky were found, suggesting that he had been drugged with a mickey, or “knockout drop,” as they called it. Chloral is a drug, which when mixed with water produces chloral hydrate, a fast-acting and long-lasting sedative that slows the activity of the central nervous system, sometimes referred to today as the “date-rape drug.” Prof. R. H. Needham of the T.C.U. Medical College, who performed the examination, declared the cause of death as the administration of chloral combined with the victim’s diseased heart.

Patrolman Ike Boyd, who found the body said, “It had been dragged from this little alley. I took my searchlight and traced it. Next morning at daybreak, I went over the ground again. The tracks were plain where it had been dragged. The man had been dragged on his stomach, with the toes of his shoes scraping the ground. The marks of the shoes led from this little alley. The body was stiff then, and I knew it had been lifeless for hours.”

The police then declared their intention to canvass every store, restaurant, saloon, pool room, and rooming house in the area in an effort to find out who Zetzman’s companions were on Friday night.

However, no other reports on the topic appeared in the Star-Telegram after that, and the person or persons who performed the deed were apparently never found.

At the time he died, Mr. Zetzman was reported to have ten children, five from his first marriage, three belonging to his second wife, and two with her.


“Dies on Way to Funeral of Mother.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 20, 1915.
“Body Taken from Train to Probe Theory of Murder.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 21, 1915.
“Search for Zetzman’s Companions,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram. March 23, 1915.



Cloud in the northeast sky on Friday.
This past week was another week of mixed weather, ranging from sunny and hot to freezing cold with wind chill. There was even thunder, lightning, and rain early Saturday morning, not a lot of rain, though. My rain gauge had .28” in it, and it was enough to make puddles here and there. In east Roscoe, Kenny Landfried recorded an official .20".

High for the week was last Wednesday’s 89°F, and low was Monday’s 31°. Yesterday morning’s 34° combined with a sharp, north breeze brought the wind chill down to 25°—that’s too cold for April, if you ask me. So was yesterday’s high of only 48°, although the sun did come out in the late afternoon.

Today’s high will climb to 68°, which is an improvement, and tomorrow it will increase to 78°, but so will the south wind at 23mph with gusts that are higher. Friday's wind will shift to the north, and the high will drop to about 57°. Saturday will be much warmer, however, with a high of 79° along with cloudy skies and a 40% chance of rain.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday will all be cloudy but warm with highs of 77°, 82°, and 87° respectively.


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