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Walter Forrester Shepherd

Walter Shepherd, with his father, mother, five brothers and one sister, came from Iowa to Kansas in a covered wagon. They ran a mail route from Ulysses to Hugoton, later moving to Cripple Creek, CO where his father worked on a coal shute.

They decided to come to Oklahoma to look for a new location and a home. His father came on ahead and filed on 160 acres, 4 miles northwest of Fargo, Okla., then he sent for the mother. She and the six children came in a covered wagon. They lived for a time in one of the old barracks at Fort Supply, the first time they had been in a house for some time.

They landed at Fargo, June 7, 1900, the day Walter was 13 years old. They lived in the overjets of the wagon, until a sod house could be built. Walter got a job herding sheep for 17 cents a day.

In 1910 they built a frame house, where Wlater lived with his parents and farmed the place. He was married to Spicie Treat in 1912, at Canadian, Texas, but continued to live with his parents and farm.

In 1914 they each bought 160 acres in Beaver County, 4 1/2 miles east of Ivanhoe. On Jan. 8, 1915 with his wife and 6 month old son Victor and his parents, they moved to their new home in wagons. Walter drove the cattle through, which took 2 days. Our house was a frame house in which the five lived until 1926, when we bought and moved a frame house from north of Follett, Tex. This house was home for 43 years. His mother died in 1924; his father died in 1928.

Walter bought the 160 acres belonging to his father, later buying the 160 acres belonging to his brother George.

While living here, two more children blessed our home. While the children were small we always tried to keep up the good spirit. There was not much for Christmas, so we decorated a tree limb out of popcorn strings and colored paper chain links and the children had Christmas.

The three children started and finished school at the Lovell School. They family attended Sunday School and church at the Catesby and Fairview Churches, as both were just 8 miles either way.

After coming to Beaver County, each one of the family had to do everthing possible to make all ends meet.

One year Walter went to Alva and worked two weeks pitching wheat to the threshing machine for $2.00 a day, he also took four horses north and plowed for 25 cents an acre.

After the children were old enough to help, we milked 32 cows by hand, separated and sold cream. Walter took a team south of Follett and worked on the railroad that was coming through there.

In 1935 the dust storms were raging and we did not raise anything. Walter and the boys bailed up thistles to feed a few head of stock. Leaving six horses and one milk cow for me to care for, he took about 25 cows and went to Mutual, Okla., as some wheat pasture was there. He milked the cows, sold the cream to pay the pasture bill, and worked for a family for his room and board. Walter left in November and brought them back the first of April. He had just seen the family one time during those months.

Homer was going to high school at Follett, staying in a little house alone. Victor took a buzz saw east to the black jacks to saw wood. He and Jack Wilson made a house of part dugout and brush and batched there and sold wood. Gay worked that winter in Follett, for $2.00 a week. I stayed alone on the farm, fed what stock we had left, and milked the cow.

Yes, it was hard times, but we were determined to hold our home. In the spring of 1936, Walter brought the cattle home, as it had rained. He went to work on the W.P.A., on the road north of Slapout, camped and slept in a cellar, and at one time he froze his ears. Times were hard, but we enjoyed the privilege W.P.A. gave us, working for the money we received from the government.

Then bad luck struck. Walter's health began to fail. He and I went south three winters ,to try to find relief. He gradually grew worse, and in 1959 we left the farm and moved to Laverne, where Walter passed away in 1966.

As told by Spicie (Treat) Shepherd, who passed away in 1997.


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