History Notebook 884

By Jim Harris

Pioneer Roll Call: 

Families of Early Lovington

            In his Lovington centennial book, “Lovington: Survivor on the High Plains,” Lea County historian Gil Hinshaw gave an enjoyable and informative present to residents with a listing of 43 pioneer men and women involved in the development of the town.

            In the last 24 pages of the book, in what he called a Biographical Supplement,” Hinshaw wrote several sentences about each of the individuals he thought of as being the most influential in helping to make the county seat the contemporary and modern place it is in the 21stcentury.

            As Lea County and Lovington continue to grow and develop economically with the latest oil and gas boom, this is a good time to remember those individuals of a century ago, or for some readers to hear new old names of those who came before.

            Today seems more like a universe away from the frontier era a century ago in Lea.  The remainder of this History Notebook column will very briefly remind and inform readers of early residents Hinshaw wrote about.

            J.S. “Jim” Anderson and an extended family of many settled in 1906 four miles east of Lovington to farm and ranch.

            John Turner Beal (1848-1916) moved from Milam County, Texas, to settle first at Ranger Lake before he moved closer to Lovington where he was a cowboy and freighter.

            William Madison “Uncle Billy” Beauchamp was the “epitome of the public servant,” according to Hinshaw.  Beauchamp came to Lovington in 1914 and died here in 1982.

            Robert “Bob” Beverly (1872-1958) was a cowboy, rancher, peace officer who worked in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  He was a Lea County Sheriff.

            Tom Bingham was a Deputy Sheriff in Lea who was a cowboy and rancher who died in 1944.

            Ernest Byers (1882-1966) lived most of his very productive and serving life in Lovington, but his family first settled next door to the Hobbs family, having moved from Kansas to Southeast New Mexico in 1907.

            Samuel L. Theodore “I” Burk worked as a cowboy on many ranches in Texas before he came to Lovington in 1909.  He passed away in 1968.

            Mary Lou Graham Carson was a beloved school teacher and a pioneer in Lovington schools.  She passed away in 1995 at the age of 92.

            Powhattan Carter (1886-1974) was a Lovington businessman and pioneer in the oil and gas industry.

            J. W. Caudill claimed land in both West Texas and Eastern New Mexico as he helped develop both Seminole and Lovington as a successful businessman and rancher with many of his family in Lea.  He died in 1959 in Hatch, New Mexico.

            George Causey (1849-1903) was a buffalo hunter and rancher who built the first ranch headquarters and windmills on land that would become Lea County 14 years after his death.

            Gordon Cone was a prominent Lovington oil man and businessman.  He died in 1975.

            Claude L. Creighton owned and operated many of Lovington’s first businesses, an electric company and a furniture store.  He moved to town in 1909 from Palo Pinto County, Texas.

            Baxter Culp (1882-1941) was a successful Lea rancher who moved to New Mexico Territory before Lovington was founded.

            Frank Jack Danglade (1898-1957) was a successful land man and oil man who became a New Mexico State Senator before his death.

            Arthur Dearduff (1878-1946) was the county’s first doctor, a man who practiced and lived in several Lea towns, including Lovington.

            Pascal S. “Sim” Eaves was a member of the New Mexico House of Representative, a successful businessman, and a man instrumental in Lea becoming a county.

            Sarah K. Ellis (1884-1945) was Lea’s first superintendent of Lea County schools.

            Charles Fairweather, an Englishman who became a New Mexico cowboy, owned ranches and hotels, including the 1918 Commercial Hotel. Born in 1871, he died in 1945, and only last week his son Sparky was buried in Lovington.

            Troy Fort was one of the county’s greatest rodeo cowboys and a rancher who lived north of Lovington.  He died in 1993 at the age of 76.

            John D. Graham first came to Lea County as a rancher in the 1890s.  He was also a businessman and one of the owners of Lovington’s 1918 Commercial Hotel.

            E.L. “Lem” Harbison was a pioneer farmer who settled near Prairieview in 1909.

            Jefferson D. Hart (1864-1948) was a business and civic leader who was vice president of the First Territorial Bank and the Lovington School Board.

            Allen Clinton Heard was also a successful businessman and rancher, the owner east of Lovington of the Mallet Ranch, which became the High Lonesome Ranch.  He died in 1944.

            Mettie L. Jordan (1904-2001) was a teacher and historian of Lea County schools, publishing in 1991 a book detailing the stories of all the schools that appeared in Lea County in the first decades of the 20thcentury.

            I.W. Lister was the owner and operator of Lea’s first pharmacy when he came to Lovington in 1917 and opened Lister Drugs.  He built several still-standing structures, including the 1931 Lister Building, on the south side of the courthouse.

            James “Jim” Benjamin Love was one of the two Love brothers who in 1908 lived and worked in the town named for the family.

            Robert Florence Love was the older of the two brothers, a man who served the community he built in a number of positions, including as a state representative and as a county sheriff.  He died in 1943, his brother Jim dying two years later.

            Georgia Lusk (1893-1971) was the first woman from New Mexico to serve in the US House of Representatives.  A superintendent of county and state schools, she was the wife of rancher and businessman Dolph Lusk, and then the successful owner and operator of the ranch after his death.

            Wesley McCallister (1878-1940) was an affluent businessman and one of the men who helped the Love family develop the town of Lovington.

            Jake McClure (1900-1942) was a champion rodeo cowboy who died in an accident while practicing roping on his ranch outside of Lovington.

            Henry Clay McGonagill (1879-1921) was thought of as the best of the rodeo cowboys during his life, and he also died in a riding accident.

            Matthew Hawkins “Hawk” Medlin moved to Southeast New Mexico with his family in 1885 when he was only 4 years old.  He owned several ranches and died in 1952.

            H. C. Pannell (1905-1976) was the superintendent of Lovington Schools and the first president at New Mexico Junior College.

            Eugene H. Price was a rancher who in several writings and maps recalled the story of ranching in this corner of New Mexico before the 20thcentury.  He died in 1952.

            Henry Record was an extremely successful rancher in the hard sandy country south of Monument.  A difficult-to-work-for boss, he was generous with his wealth following his death in 1962.

            Luke Roberts was a businessman and civic leader who owned the Lovington Leader.  He passed away in 1942.

            Tom Ross may be the county’s most famous outlaw, a man who robbed banks and killed more than one man.  He killed himself when cornered by lawmen in Montana in 1929.

            A cowboy and a camp cook who worked on many ranches, Alfred “Allie” Green Rushing owned and operated the Caprock Store when he died in 1953.

            Rancher Matthew Elmore “Math” Sewalt (1876-1918) was born in Fluvanna, Texas, and died in Kansas City from the pandemic of flu that killed millions worldwide.  He was one of the men who built the 1918 Commercial Hotel, and he built a house at Jefferson and Love.  It also belongs to the Lea County Museum.

            Frank G. Teague (1873-1970) was a blacksmith and wheelwright in both Knowles and Lovington.  He was a key figure in turning the frontier land into the modern communities for thousands of people.

            John Thomas “T-Bar” White (1868-1926) and Allen Heard created the High Lonesome Ranch east of Lovington.

            Ethel Rose Yadon (1891-1984) was another of the most important teachers in the frontier communities of Lea County.  Loved by her students, she had an enormous influence on the quality of life for thousands of her students and adults who were her neighbors.

            To conclude, families transform geographic spaces into communities, and probably everyone of these individuals in this biographical list would say if they were here today, “It is not just the individuals, but the families who should be thought of as the makers of Lea County history.

            We should be reading of the Bingham family and not just Tom; of the Graham family and not just John D.; of the Lister family and not just I.W.; and of the Medlin family and not just of Hawk.