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Mrs. Allie Riddle, Ovalo Pioneer Recalls Drouth, Hardships of '86

By LILLIAN HURD

Ovalo, April 30, (RNS)- If you think we are having a drouth now, you should have arrived in Taylor County in 1886 when Mrs. Allie Riddle of Ovalo came with her mother from Robertson County to the Cedar Gap Community. That was the year of the worst drouth in history.

Born Almeda Frances Bradford Sept. 21, 1870, in Robertson County, Mrs. Riddle's parents were Nathaniel and Sarah Bradford. In early childhood the Ovalo woman remembers hearing her father talk with relatives and friends about Buffalo Gap, in Taylor County and of his desire to live there. His dream was never realized. In 1879, when her mother's health failed and two children died within thirteen months time, Mrs. Riddle said her father sold their farm and bought two teams of oxen and started toward the land of his dreams.

Severe weather overtook them at Waco and they could not travel so they rented a farm and lived there until next summer. Resuming their journey they were again caught in a blizzard and their oxen froze to death, forcing them to abandon the trip for a time. In 1883, her father died of a cerebral hemorrhage, leaving his wife and three children. Mrs. Riddle, the oldest, was twelve. Going back to Robertson County, they found most of their relatives had moved to this area. In 1886, they sold their few remaining cattle and joined the relatives here.

BUFFALO BONES SOLD

They arrived in April. Mrs. Riddle said, to find most of the able-bodied men had gone to other places to work. Women, children and old men left here were gathering buffalo bones to sell in Abilene. Missing...

[?Brother T.G. Leg]….gett of Abilene preaching. There were two candidates for baptism but no water where the rites could be held. The minister and citizens of the community set a day to fast and pray for rain. "The prayers went up and the rains came down," Mrs. Riddle stated. The prayer day was on Friday and rain began falling Friday night and continued through Saturday. All the creeks and tanks were filled with water and the baptism was held on Sunday. One of the candidates baptized is Mrs. Lula Cope of Loraine, aunt of Mrs. Riddle.

With the drouth broken, men came back to their farms and other families moved into the county. Abilene, formerly a tent city, was fast becoming the largest town between Fort Worth and El Paso, the Ovalo women reported.

In 1890 while boarding in the Tom Cross home in Buffalo Gap, where she was taking music lessons, Mrs. Riddle was married to Lloyd Strother, a rancher from Missouri who owned and operated a ranch east of the present site of Ovalo. Her wedding dress was cream-colored cashmere with a lace overskirt, she recalled, and the ceremony was read in the Cross home.

FANCY WEDDING BREAKFAST

Following the wedding, the couple went to the three-room home on the Strother ranch where Henry Strother, brother of the bridegroom and partner on the ranch, had prepared a wedding supper for them. It consisted of baking of powder biscuits, fried bacon, syrup, stewed currants and black coffee.

On the ranch, the Strothers raised purebred steel dust horses and were well known for their fine horses. In 1888 they traded a steel dust stallion for 110 acres of land. Missing...

DUGOUT HOME

The Ovalo pioneer stayed and lived in a half dugout home. The first year and there were two rooms above ground made with lumber from Abilene and Ovalo. With few roads in Mrs. Riddle said they placed lanterns on the windowsills for travelers that have become lost on the……

Included in hardships of the Taylor county pioneers that of giving birth. Alone with two young children. Her husband went to get the doctor. Wife took care of the birth myself. When they arrived he pronounced us both in good condition. Mrs Riddle said the Strothers returned to the ranch here in 1894. A few years later they bought two sections of land sixteen miles south of Merkel and moved there. In 1898, Mr. Strother died leaving a wife and children. They moved back to the Ovalo ranch near Ovalo and in 1901 she was married to Allie Riddle of Fort Worth. Two other children were born to them, a daughter Mrs. Rachel Bush lived Lubbock.

A son died at the age of three. The Strothers children: Wade and Loy of…… Vane Strothers of Lynwood and Mrs. Maurice Hale. Mr. Riddle died in 1937...    Riddle built a home where her mother lived until she died. Had eight grandchildren. Mrs. Riddle is a member of the Ovalo Baptist Church, which was organized in 1890. Missing…….

Source: Article courtesy of David Cope  This article was published in the the Abilene Reporter early 1930s included a photo of Mrs. Riddle taken by Clint Kapus.

Notes: L.T. Strother married Allie Bradford 10 December 1890 Ref: Taylor Co.Clerk’s Office.
Mrs. Allie Riddle died in 1937
Wade Strother b. 13 April 1892 d. 3 May 1964
Lowell Strother b. 1893 d. 1954 His daughter was Ganie Marie.

 

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