Memories Of A Past . . .

According to Wilma Terrill's research of Fairvalley that she compiled in 1997, ". . . The beginning of Fairvalley dates back to 1893 and was a wide open prairie with only cow camps located here and there and the longhorns roamed the range of lush grass and sweet water springs."

Anna Eden's Memoirs . . .

Before Anna Eden died she wrote down her memoirs for her family and the families in the area and donated them to the museum at Nardin, Oklahoma c/o Merle Smith. This story is taken from "Anna Rose Eden's Memoirs" concerning a story the cowboys always told about the hills (Wildcat Hills) to the east of the Eden land out near Fairvalley.

Anna's Story of "Wildcat Hill"

"The hills could be sighted for miles around and the cowboys making the drive with the herd from Texas to Kansas sighted them to make our spring their watering and camping grounds. These trips were made each fall at market time with their salable cattle. On one of these drives a quarrel and an open bout occurred between the negro cook and the cowhands. The fight ended in the cook getting a skillet of hot grease poured over him and soon died from the burns. Before dying he requested that his body be placed on one of the high hills so no cattle could tramp over his grave."

Wildcat Hill-present dayThis Photo was taken October 1997 from the Freedom blacktop that connects with Highway 14. You are viewing Wildcat Hill located on the south side of the road and looking West. To this day a sunken place resembling a grave may be found on the largest, flat-topped hill.

According to Darrell Eden, "I remember going up to the top of 'Wildcat Hill' to actually see the sunken place that my ancestors told me about."

The cowboys recanted many stories of their thrills and acts of daring while hunting or riding herd all alone on the plains. Anna's only regret was that she had NOT set down some of their tales. She did remember Alf Updegraph telling George (her husband) and herself of the wonderful sight he once experienced -- "When Alf was looking for strays one day he accidentally topped a hill where below was a peaceful valley, a clear, quiet lake and an immense herd of wild deer, grazing peacefully. The wind being in the right direction, he gazed with wonder, then turned and left them in their wild habitat. Something one seldom could do with that wary animal. He said the sight was beyond an artist's dream."

Other cowboys talked of surprising or having seen or heard thousands of buffaloes in a herd grazing peacefully away on a slope or plunging down a ravine in flight.

Family Memories of the Cattle Drives

There is still a part of Fairvalley that is wide open prairie that my sisters and I now own. You cross the cattle guard on the north end of the valley and it is located just south of where the B & N Railway use to cross the road and run through the valley of rolling hills of sagebrush, grassland, and sand dunes. Virgil Russell's land is located just south and adjacent to our land. Another cattle guard separates the land at the roadway and a fence lines the pastures.

When I was a young girl in the 1950s and into the 1960s -- I remember my folks would drive their herd eastward from Fairvalley up the blacktop road passing by "Wildcat Hill" on the way to the corrals at the ranch which was located about five miles away on highway 14. Some of us were put on foot; some of us were on horseback; and some of us in an Old DeSota automobile.

We would get up early in the morning before dawn to eat a hearty breakfast. Some of the younger kids would still be wiping the sleep out of their eyes as we all piled into the Desota for the trip to Fairvalley to round-up the cattle. It was only a five mile trip west from the ranch house, but Gene wanted to get the cattle rounded up and in at the corral before the day got hot. That would give the cattle the rest of the day to cool off and calm down before we worked them the next day.

On the trail ride back to the ranch house I remember many times being dropped off ahead of the herd at intersections and in low spots where the cattle might decide to make a wrong turn. We were told to stand back out of sight only to be seen if the cattle decided to turn in our direction. Then give that "Yeeee.....Haaaa'' holler that cowboys hollered at the cattle. Being a small child back then, my "Yee...Haa" was small and timid compare to my father's (who had more experience and knowledge)!

As a young girl standing back in a neighbors field waiting for the cattle to be driven past, I always wondered what wild creatures were lurking under rocks, dead tree trunks and the like. It seemed that everything was bigger than I was. It was really great standing out in the pastures viewing all the wild flowers, rolling hills, clumps of small tree gatherings, and the different types of rocks you could find in the area. Not to forget to mention the occasional pieces of interesting driftwood that you might spot. I was lucky enough to never have been bitten by a rattler. I have had a few toes stepped on by a few calves and chased by a few cows. BUT -- I survived just as my ancestors survived -- AND -- They didn't have the luxuries that we had when I was a young girl.

Anyway . . . We were picked up afterwards and taken to a new spot again ahead of the herd. Gene could find all sorts of short cuts through pastures and flew the DeSota (or whatever vehicle he was driving at the time) around the mile sections. Some times he would ease gentle through the herd to the beginning and scout out the next place to drop us off.

Most people nowadays just round up their herd and pack them in trucks and trailers and haul them to stockyards to market. BUT . . . . My Dad (Gene) would conserve expenses whenever he could and did it the "Old Way". It seemed to me at the time that we usually did it twice a year (in the Spring and the Fall) when the cattle needed to be worked and weaned.