SAGA OF J.P. 'JOHNNY' GOINS
By Dallas Bogan
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
This article was published in the LaFollette Press.
Preston Goins and
his wife, Annie Smith Goins were residents of Campbell County in 1889
when their son, John Peter Goins was born. John Peter Goins, at a very
young age, fell under the spell of a West Texas land agent and his life
was changed forever, according to an article in the March 12, 1961 edition
of "The Crosbyton Review" of Crosbyton, Texas:
J. P. "Johnny" Goins was a Tennessee schoolboy when he overheard
a West Texas land developer, B. W. Ellison, expounding on the merits
of Crosbyton area land owned by the C. B. Livestock Co. Ellison told
J. C. Ausmus about the future of this new land and unfolded a map showing
90,000 acres being offered for sale. Ausmus was convinced, and so was
young Goins on this September day in 1908.
The youth who was born March 21, 1889
in Campbell County, excitedly raced home to inform his parents of his
plans to migrate west. His father was less than enthusiastic. 'I don't
guess you will,' he firmly told his son. But the determined Johnny Goins
won out. He left his parents' home on November 4, 1908, 'the day William
Howard Taft was elected president of the United States.' Although he
failed to realize fully the impact this decision would have on the remainder
of his life, Johnny Goins became a pioneer in a developing country.
The Tennessee farm boy informed his parents, 'I'll be home in one year.'
He didn't make it! In fact, it was 16 years before he returned to Tennessee
for a visit.
Goins and the Ausmus family bought railroad
tickets to Texas. They changed cars in Kentucky, and stayed overnight
in Kansas City where they turned south. The group 'landed in Seymour,
Texas on November 4' and stayed at the B. W. Ellison place three days.
On the 11th, they hired John Bradford
to drive them to Crosbyton in a horse drawn wagon. Ausmus paid Bradford
$25 to deliver his family and possessions, and Goins' fee was $10.
Camping overnight at Benjamin, Texas,
the Tennesseeans-turned-Texans met Henry Leatherwood and his hired hand.
'Mr. Leatherwood was the first Crosby County man I met' the slightly-built
Goins remembers. He also got acquainted rapidly with the rawness of
West Texas, observing Leatherwood handling wild mules. Stock back home
in Tennessee was 'raised right in the pen and was always tame.'
Goins recalls that Mrs. Ausmus cried the
night they were camped at Benjamin, expressing a desire to 'go back
home to Tennessee.' The Ausmus family 'didn't stay long; they went to
Illinois.' Despite the adversities of this pioneer land, J. P. Goins
The 19-year-old lad had '$15 in cash when
I got to Crosbyton. I bought a little food, and we stayed that night
in a half dugout on B. W. Ellison's place west of town. Along about
midnight, Harley Coffey. Ewing Lawson and Luther Collier reached the
dugout to overnight.' Early the next morning, 'Harley Coffey made breakfast.
He cooked the first biscuits I ate in Crosby County. Ausmus killed an
antelope, and we had fresh meat.'
Saturday afternoon, Goins came to Crosbyton
where he met Julian M. Bassett, general manager of the C. B. Livestock
Co, R. D. Wicks and others. Loyd A. Wicks was the livestock company's
attorney. When he returned to town Monday morning to 'mail a letter
to my parents. Mr. Boggs took me to the supply store.' Here, young Goins
was offered a job by Mr. Craddock for '$25 a month and board.' The employment
lasted until Craddock 'tried to cut my wages $5.
Again, the newcomer was job hunting. He
met ranch foreman Jay Walling, 'one of the finest men I ever knew' and
became a cowboy. Ironically 'when Mr. Walling hired me, he sent me to
Crawfish Ranch to feed cattle. That ranch was the same section in Fairview
Community where Goins six years later purchased land, which has since
been his home for 63 years.
While working for Walling on the ranch
Goins helped 'lay off the route from Crosbyton to Petersburg.' A sled
pulled by four mules was utilized for developing the road. We went across
many farms; most land owners were agreeable. All molding out civilization
in a rugged. new land was hard; there also were fond memories.
Johnny Goins remembers driving a chuck
wagon with the crew which was building the road. Other crew members
were Walling, A. R. Dees, the cook and several cowboys on horses. Goins
jumped from the chuck wagon to open a gate. He was unprepared to see
the horses running off. The mounted cowboys soon had the runaway team
Goins' roots sink deep into this agriculture
country which he literally helped build. In 1909 and 1910 the C. B.
Livestock Co. was erecting Crosbyton's second school. Goins hired on
and worked making concrete blocks. The late Lige Ellison was one of
the men hauling sand from the canyon for the construction job. This
sand was screened to make blocks. Goins explains that 'kerosene was
poured on the cylinder before each block' was produced. The blocks then
were wet down each day until they were cured. An early-day Presbyterian
preacher of whom Goins became fond was another employee. The blocks
were produced in a pit which was covered with a tarp. After the C. B.
Livestock Co. had completed the school building, the school board voted
bonds for its purchase.
This became the basis for one of the area's
first major lawsuits. The structure was condemned in 1914, and the school
board filed suit against the livestock company for reimbursement. C.
B. Livestock Co. won, but the school board appealed, and the case went
before Judge Dix in New Orleans. The federal judge reversed the earlier
decision and ruled in favor of the school board. Goins remembers that
Bassett said this was one of only two cases he ever lost."
Crosby County and neighboring counties
were beginning to change somewhat from grassland to farmland by 1910.
'Mr. Hayden was the first ag man' employed by C. B. Livestock Co. Goins
was employed on the C. B. farm when 'the second manager was hired. It
didn't work out because he hired men on an hourly basis--they quit before
dark." C. P. Sanders was the "third ag man" employed
by C. B.
Another landmark came for Goins on Jan.
1, 1909 when 'a bunch of us poured the foundation on the first bank'
[now the site of the present Citizens National Bank]. The men were mixing
concrete by hand 'on the foggiest day you've ever seen.'
Another first was seeing Frank White distribute the first issue of the
'Crosbyton Review' in January 1909. In fact, he had spent part of Christmas
Day in White's office watching him set type for that initial publication
by hand. A copy of the first issue of 'Crosbyton Review' was sent 'to
my father in Tennessee.' Johnny Goins, who has been taking the Crosbyton
papers most of the time since then, must surely be the Review's longest
The former Tennessee farm boy worked as
a freighter in 1909. He hauled freight on a wagon, going to Plainview
on a route. The job had its good points. 'You could get good meals for
25 cents at a boarding house run by a family in Plainview. It also had
its bad features. 'I had a full load of Irish potatoes when it came
up a freeze, and they all spoiled.' The 'bad' finally won out! 'I burned
out on that job because of the weather. One night, me and my team nearly
Despite the advice of 'Uncle Joe McCarty.
a fine fellow' who was staying with the Ellisons, Johnny Goins had an
even worse job experience. Uncle Joe warned the youngster that 'I was
making a mistake working for a man who couldn't pay me.' The advice
rang true. 'After several weeks work, I gave the man my watch to help
him out, and I never got paid.'
Soon after, Uncle Joe McCarty, another of Johnny Goins' favorites, 'got
a splinter under his fingernail, took blood poisoning and died.'
Although Johnny Goins admits 'I never
had a chance to go to school much,' he was rapidly learning the ways
of foundling West Texas. In 1910, he had an opportunity to vote 'for
the first time.' The decision was whether to move the county seat from
Old Emma to Crosbyton. Did he vote for the change? 'l sure did,' Goins
replied without hesitation.
After seven years in Crosby County, Goins,
now a full-fledged Texan, became a landowner. He made a deal with Bassett
of C. B. Livestock Co. for 160 acres of land in the Fairview community.
Actually it was an agriculture lease for five years. The agreement called
for $1 per acre lease the first year, $1.25 the second year, $1.50 the
third year, $1.75 the fourth year, and $2.00 the fifth and final year.
'The lease money was to be deducted from the $5 an acre."
The transaction was finalized in August
1916, and Goins took possession of the land December 31, 1916. The diligent
little man moved to the site January 17, 1917 and 'broke out the sod
with a walking plow.' Actually, Goins moved to Fairview community in
1912 and was self-employed until 1959.
'Exceptionally dry years' prevailed across
West Texas in 1917 and 1918. And World War I was declared in 1917. These
were troubled years. Goins 'registered at Cone' for military service
on June 7, 1917. He was re-classified three times and never did have
to go into the army. The war ended November 11, 1918. The situation
was improving. 'The drought broke, and we had a good crop in 1919.'
He planted and harvested 'wheat, oats, and high-gear' [heigera, a form
Goins 'bought my first car' October 11, 1921. His first registration
papers were issued by the late B. W. Mitchell, then sheriff and tax
Goins, who has a penchant for recalling
events from the early years in Crosby County, also has a tendency to
keep items from yester-year. He has in his possession 'my first poll
tax receipt from 1910 and the last one I ever paid.' He also, kept his
first auto registration papers and auto tags, his registration cards
from the first world war and World War ll.
The spry pioneer points out that he vividly recalls events from his
childhood in Tennessee -- recalling the Bible verse from his final Sunday
school lesson there-- and 'things when I first came out here are fresh,
but I don't remember other things' more recent.
(I have contributed much more history/genealogy on the 'local' Goins
family to the Campbell County Historical Society/Museum in Lafollette.