"What is the charm, the mystery, the lure of These High Plains that keep us here and make us love it? Is it the heavenly blue skies with their golden sunsets, the air that elevates rather than depresses, a climate unsurpassed at all times of the year? Or is it the vast tableland, without streams or forests, an eternity of space, that stretches out and on in silence and fascinates us by its immensity and grandeur.”
These High Plains, Mary Honeyman Ten Eyck Turner, Amarillo, Texas (1941)
I have been taking time the past few years to learn more about my family’s history. Those who have read my Tumblr know some of my ancestry from earlier postings.
A cousin of my father’s recently sent me a copy of a book written by my great aunt, Mary Honeyman Ten Eyck Turner. Her husband was Avery Turner, who is shown standing at the back of the wagon above.
"On New Year Day, 1902, Avery and I arrived in Amarillo, to remain ‘two years at the most.’ So he said. We were living in Chicago at the time. Mr. Turner was in charge of the Eastern Division of the Santa Fe Road. I had never heard of Amarillo, so knew nothing about it. But I soon found out."
The book charts the history of the Panhandle region of North Texas, from its occupation by buffalo and Indians to the development of the cattle industry, from the introduction of the railroad (in which Avery had a significant hand), to the introduction of farming, and the creation of Amarillo’s first cultural amenities, including the Amarillo Country Club. Avery Turner was its first president.
Cattle barons Mary and Avery Turner knew like Colonel Charles Goodnight, John Shelton, Lee Bivins, the Landergin Brothers, C. T. Herring, and R. B. Masterson are profiled, and some of them were good friends. Colorful personalities of Amarillo and the surrounding settlements are also profiled, from H. B. Sanborn and his business partner J. F. Glidden (the inventor of barbed wire); to outlaws and the lawmen who chased them, like the charming Billy the Kid - ”a frequent visitor” - and Wyatt Earp.
Quite a bit of discussion is provided about Charles Goodnight, who was late in life by the time Mary and Avery met him:
"Colonel Goodnight always said he considered the cowboy as chivalrous and brave as is possible to be. He respected women beyond words and would fight for them at any time. He loved friends and his horses more than material wealth. His saddle was his home, sometimes costing several times more than his horse."
As an aside, Mary’s thoughts bring to mind an article I have written on WordPress about the noble cowboy, "Cowboy Ethics ~ Ten Principles to Live By" (it is the most-read post on the site).
Mary’s book is lovingly written. It brings what seems to some a “desolate” region of Texas - the Panhandle - to life. Knowing I am related to the author brings me great pride.
Mary Honeyman Ten Eyck Turner was one of the earliest members of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. It is owed to her early involvement and documentation that I was able to join, approximately 100 years later in 2010. So far, three American Revolutionary War ancestors have been proven for me, based upon Mary’s research and my subsequent documentation. Two additional ancestors have been documented and will soon be submitted for final approval to DAR.