History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


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 stayed!

     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 under control.

     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 subscriber.

     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 froze.'

     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 of maize].
Goins 'bought my first car' October 11, 1921. His first registration papers were issued by the late B. W. Mitchell, then sheriff and tax collector.

     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.

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