Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Growing up in Baca County by John Havens. Episode 9 part 2


   Dad and Uncle Tony always looked forward to a reunion at the Boise City Cemetery of the Havens and Snodgrass clan.  Then we went from Boise city to Guymon to place flowers on the grave of the 13 year old sister of my Dad’s and Uncle Tony.  She had died during the year the family had spent there.  Our Memorial Day trip brought us home by way of Elkhart.  In all my years of growing up I don’t recall we ever missed that trip.

   One Summer I got a job driving a gas delivery truck for Obed Hancock.  This gave me the opportunity to get acquainted with many farmers South of Walsh and Vilas.

    I shall never forget delivering gas to one farm where the farmer’s wife came out to where I was filling the barrels.  I had known this older couple many years.  She wanted to know if I would like a piece of fresh baked gooseberry pie.  Boy, that sounded good.  So she returned to the house and brought the pie out to me.  It looked so delicious and I could hardly wait to dig into it, but I took one bite and she noticed the expression on my face, then she said,  “O good Lord, I forgot to put any sugar in it.”  I shall never forget that experience.

   On one occasion while refilling my delivery truck with gas I heard someone yelling and screaming.  I soon discovered there was an elderly bachelor living in a small shack near the gas depot.  I went in to try and help him.  He had fallen and was unable to get up.  There were baby chickens running all over the floor and the stench was almost overwhelming.  I got him p and somehow got someone to come and care for him. I don’t know how the man could live in such unsanitary conditions.

   One last memory I will share was an experience that happened in 1940 when I was 14 years old. My Mother became one of the Census Takers for Baca County.  Her territory covered Vilas and much of the area South and West.  Since she would be driving on back country roads I persuaded her to let me go along and drive, since I was just beginning to drive at that age.  I learned where many people lived who came to Vilas to trade at Tony’s Market or Dad’s Service Station.

    After finishing her work in Vilas, we then went to Campo the Richards and Mt. Carmel Communities.  Even as a teenager it made me realize how many miles these people had to drive to get groceries, and even farther to see a Doctor in Springfield.  We didn’t have much in Vilas, but only a stone’s throw to a café or to get groceries, and just 10 miles to a doctor.  We take so many things for granted and forget to count our blessings.

   Memories keep flooding my mind of those days of Growing Up in Baca County.  The days of delivering papers, the Denver Post and the Grit, to homes in Vilas.  When every kid in town got together and played games all over town on a Summer evening.  The Butlers, the Walkers, the Williams, the Gordons and myself.  Then there was the Women’s softball Team, and in the Winter the Town Basket Ball Team. 

We can’t go back to the good old days, but how good it is to remember the experiences and our friends of the past who helped make life better for all of us.             John Havens,   age 90

Pratt, Kansas.


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