|ELIAS AND SUSANNAH THOMAS||WILSON AND MARY LUMPKIN||CYRUS AND MARY JANE JOHNSON||FRANCIS AND VALENDA MCFARLAND|
Jesse Ray was born Aug. 5, 1896 in Missouri and grew up in Elton LA. He always went by the name of Ray or JR. Juanita Celeste Johnson was born Sept 24, 1900 and was known as Celeste or "Lesy". JR and Celeste were probably married in Elton, LA or in that vicinity probably between 1920 and 1922. JR died in late spring of 1953 and Celeste died Feb 1968.
JR was on the highschool basketball team. They used to ride the
to the neighboring towns where they would play. JR enlisted at
LSU and had one year of pre-med before WWI. He played in
the trumpet in the LSU marching band. He was in WWI but
went overseas like his brother, Arless, did and who was killed.
JR contracted the flu and was hospitalized. Years later in the
early 30's the flu led into turbuculosis of the spine.
Some time after the war, JR went to colorado for a while to help is dad, Kimmel.
In 1924 their son, William Ray Thomas, was born in Port Arthur.
In 1925 JR was a roughneck on a oil wildcat drill rig in Port Arthor TX, when a cable block broke and hit him in the head, nearly killing him. He tried to sue the oil company but the company bought up all the lawyers in town.
Peggy Jane Thomas was born on March 8, 1926 at Elton Louisiana, which was in the middle of one of the three Cajon areas in Louisiana. In 1926, after he recovered from his injury, JR and Juanita moved, in a model-T car, to Perryton TX where his father, Kimmel, and uncle Russ were already living. He was a carpenter when he first moved to TX. Later in the early 30's he got the TB of the spine and could no longer be physically active and so he became an agent for "McCain and Thomas Real Estate and Insurance." Perryton was a very small new town that became the northernmost county seat in Texas, only 7 miles from Oklahoma. They lived in a small house that had a hard pack dirt yard that her mother swept daily so the children could play in it. The family had a milk cow and chickens and for one year they had two baby alligators, courtesy of cajon uncle Otis back in Louisiana.
About the time Peggy was in the first or second grade, the depression business was bad and so JR's father, Kimmel Thomas (KK), bough him some bare farm land and they moved from town into the farm, which was used to bring in addional income. They moved a house from town to live in and made a place for the chickens and a cow. Slowly over the next few years other buildings and fences were added to the farm. He continued to run his real estate and insurance business as well. When the family moved to the farm it was in the depression and located a few miles from the geographical center of the dust bowl.
At first the family had kerosene for lamps, cooking, heating the house,and hot a water heater for the Saturday night baths. Later on they upgraded to 6 volt lights which ran off a wind charger and car battery (http://www.farmcollector.com/Farm-life/Charged-by-the-Wind.aspx). They went from this to 32 volt DC electricity with big glass batteries http://www.farmcollector.com/Farm-life/Charged-by-the-Wind.aspx(http://www.powerstream.com/1922/battery_1922_WITTE/batteryfiles/chapter17.htm) and propane for cooking and heating hot water. The farm never got any better.
JR's son, William Ray Thomas, grew up on the farm with his sister, Peggy. They had between 12 and 22 cows. William learned to drive at the age of 9 or 10, with an old model T truck that had a curved doorway but no door, like this one: . He milked the cows by hand, seperated the mild and used the blu-john to feed the hogs. They had 50 to 60 hogs. Raised 500 new chicks every year. Sold eggs, butter and cream in town. They got up to 20 gal of cream a week. About 48 doz eggs (2 double crates) a week.
In the 1930's JR started to wear a back brace, which looped over his shoulders and buckled around his waist. In 1943 he got a bone graph while his son, William Ray Thomas, was in Germany.
JR eventually died of a heart attack at the age of 56.
W.R Thomas said: Celeste liked frog legs. When the family went
to visit uncle Leo in Lousiana (Celeste's borther), he would stock up
on the frog legs.
It was said that Jesse recieved significant finacial help from his father, Kimmel, helping him in building his insurance company. Peggy Thomas Bakken mentioned that Jesse would ask his father, "What are you doing for sis?", refering to his sister Cora.
Jesse Ray Thomas first came to Perryton in 1925 to stay temporarily with his parents, K.K. and Lulu Thomas. He was recuperating from an accident suffered while roughnecking in the oil fields near Port Aurthur. Shortly thereafter, complications from the flu contracted while in the service in WW I required him to wear a body cast the rest of his life - a fact which did not dampen his cheerful disposition and zest for living.
While Ray was recuperting from the accident, his wife Celeste, with their not quite two-year-old son, William Ray, was awaiting the birth of their second child with her parents, Perry J. and Sally Johnson, in Elton, Louisiana. The enforced seperation was difficult for both parents and in letters they dreamed of the time they could be together to start their new life in Perryton.
The dream began to come true when Ray went to Louisiana in April 1926 and brought his family (now including 6-week-old Peggy Jane) back to Perryton, driving a Model A Ford with two ets of spark plugs. While one set was in use, Celeste cleaned the other set.
Perryton was a new, frontier town and the stories recalled by their children involved Main Street boardwalks, water sold by the barrel, and law enforcement by Texas Rangers. Louisiana born and bred Celeste had the essential rice and chicory coffe sent to Perryton by her family.
Ray joined Tom McLain in McLain and Thomas Real Estate and Insurance, and the partnership endured until Tom's death. Ray continued the business alone until he died at age of 56 in 1953. Their false-fronted office building was located on Main Street next to what is now the Perryton Office Supply Company. The building itself has been moved to the Museum of the Plains and is outfitted as a general store.
Ray also owned, with A.K. Wooten, the Thomas-Wooten Implement Company. He was also head clerk of the Cattle Auction for many years. Celeste worked there as assistant clerk.
The family firstt lived at 302 South Colgate. In 1935, in the middle of the Depression and Dust Bowl era, they moved to a farm three and a half miles northwest of town. Celeste many times told the story of having to to prepare breakfast several times one particularly bad morning, in an effort to get the food to the table before dust covered it.
During this era, they became discouraged and made a trip to Arkansas with the thought of moving there. Althugh they returned with a car full fo fruits and vegetables, the prronounced it a "land of no ambition" and elected to remain in Perryton. During the war in 1944, unable to get help on the farm, they built a home at 717 South Colgate.
Both Ray and Celeste were active in community and church affairs. Ray was president of the VFW in the 30s, served on the Ration Board during WW II, and was active in the Rotary. He was an entusiastic supporter of the school athletic teams, frequently acting as offical time keeper for the basketball tournaments, and was a lie Deacon and dedicated worker in the First Baptist Church.
Celeste was active in the Sorosis Clu and the First Baptist Church, where she served as president of the WMS and was for many years the superintentent of the Sunda School Primary Department. In 1956, three years after Ray's death, Celeste became a dormitory director at Wayland Baptist College in Plainview, position she held for eight years. In 1964 she went to live with her daughter in Virginia, ntil her death in 1968 at age 67.
After her Mother's death, Peggy discovered Ray's letters to Celeste during their health-enforced separation in the winter of 1925-26. The post script on the last letter before their reunion stated that their foremost desires were to be together, to be happy, and to educate their children.
Their children both graduated from Perryton High, Bill in 1941 and Peggy in 1943. Bill attended Oklahoma A&M for a year prior to enlisting in the Army. He served with the 99th Infantry Division and was in the Battle of the Bulge. He returned to Perryton after the war and was associated with his father in farming. In 1949, he went to Denver University, receiving a BS degree in mechanical engineering in 1954. He is a registered professional engineer in Arizona and continues to work as a design and production engineer in Phoenix.
Peggy received a BA degree from Baylor in 1947. After teaching in Spearman for a year, she helped put KEYE on the air and worked at the station for two years. She attended the University of Alabama and received a MA in 1955. After 29 years of teaching speech, she retired from Marymount College in Virginia as Professor Emeritus, and resided in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina untill her death in 2007.
Ray and Celeste Thomas are both buried in the Thomas plot in Ochiltree Cemetery, and though their children have been gone for many years, they still consider Perryton their home and return as often as possible to touch base with friends. - Peggy Thomas Bakken
Married Martha Rodgers. Had one child.
Married Roberta Kelsey. Have 4 children.
WILLIAM AND ROBERTA THOMAS
|Married Walter Whiteker. Had one son.
Married Dave Bakken. No children.
DAVE AND PEGGY BAKKEN