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My daughter, Emily, recently went to Lubbock Texas.  Her organization, in conjunction with Texas Tech, hosted a conference on arid and semi arid land.  Seemed like a pretty fitting topic for west Texas.  Here is the link to the conference.  Her grandfather Willett, grew up about an hour away in Amherst Texas.  Emily grew up hearing ALL the stories from her Papa Willett.  So she decided to go a bit early to Lubbock, rent a car and go see this town her grandfather so often spoke about.  She also lives in Washington D.C. without a car, so wide open road driving appealed to her.  Here is the story.

My grandfather, Rogers Willett, Sr. moved his family to Amherst, Texas sometime between 1922 and 1925.  He and his brother in law, Cornelius Duffy, opened the State Bank of Amherst, which was chartered in 1925.  Rogers was married to Mabel Hughes and Cornelius was married to Alma Hughes.  Between the two families there were quite a few children.  My dad often mentioned that the Willett kids, along with the Duffy children, ran roughshod over the county.

Here are the three pictures I have of Amherst back in the day:

Rogers Willett, Sr.

Rogers Willett, Sr.

Rogers Willett, Jr. and his brother, Howard

Rogers Willett, Jr. and his brother, Howard

Roggie Willett and Mary Ellen Duffy (?)

Roggie Willett, Jr. and Mary Ellen Duffy (?)

You can read all about the history of Amherst here.  The industry was cotton, irrigated by the famous Ogallala sandstone aquifer.  The Ogallala is still the life blood of the Lamb Cotton agriculture scene.  Emily’s conference included a talk on that very thing.

My dad left Amherst when he was 16 to further his education in Austin, fight in WWII and then college at Texas Tech.  His father died in 1956ish and his mother, Mabel, left in the early 1960’s.  The bank remained in the extended family until a few years ago.  My dad had sold his shares many, many years ago.

The most famous line in my father’s storyline was “when I realized there were trees in other places, I knew I would never return to west Texas”.  He was pretty good at not going back and I don’t remember going to Amherst more than one time in my life.

And here are the pictures that Emily took:

The bank

The bank

Emily was a big fan of the brick streets.

Another view

Another view

Brick road

Brick road

Cotton Field

Cotton Field

More fields

More fields

My dad had great memories from his years in Amherst.  He had great stories of his family, his Duffy cousins and his aunt, Alma.  The trajectory changed when his younger brother, Howard, died when my dad was 16.  Every memory after that, regarding Amherst, was tainted.

Emily certainly enjoyed her road trip to Amherst and her week in Lubbock.  I enjoyed hearing about it and remembering all the stories I had heard about west Texas.



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18 Responses to When in Lubbock, go to Amherst

  1. Emily says:

    What a great post! Thanks for filling in all the family history associated with the town. I was so glad to be able to visit.

  2. James Willett says:

    Great post, great pictures. I remember Dad’s stories as well. I am interested to know if that is a pistol on Dad’s hip?

  3. MJ says:

    Fabulous pictures and great post!!!

  4. Charlotte says:

    I totally get not wanting to live anyplace that doesn’t have trees!!!

  5. Pat Flathouse says:

    Probably not a pistol on Uncle Rog’s hip, but I understand that Granddaddy Willett always carried a derringer in his boot. He was the one who opened the safe at the bank each morning and the gun was protection. I think Molly Sadler now has that derringer.

  6. Liz says:

    Loved this history lesson and the great photos! Maybe that is a knife in that holder???

  7. Brock says:

    I’m a decendent of the Weaver and Harmon families. We have tons of stories about Lubbock. We lived there until 1988, then moved to Lubbock. My Grandma DormaNell Weaver has a full history of the town from the early 1900’s onward. I need to find a place to post that history. Amazing little place, as probably 60% of the world’s denim came through Amherst or Littlefield until 25yrs ago.

    • Brock says:

      Sorry, stories about Amherst, not just Lubbock. My little old Granny is still in the nursing home there.

      • catherine says:

        Thanks Brock. My dad always talked about growing up there and his family and his cousins the Duffys. I have some of the Duffy family but it has been quite a while.

  8. Mike says:

    The bank they chartered in 1925 was The First National Bank of Amberst. It remained that until it was sold in 2014 to the First State Bank of Shallowater. He last president was Cornelius Duffy III.

    • catherine says:

      Oh thank you for the information! Cornelius Duffy III’s grandmother and my grandmother were sisters from Magnum Oklahoma. My dad thought the world of his Aunt Alma!

  9. Claire Sadler says:

    Do you think the picture was of Martha Willett McCrory, aka Mimi? My grandmother? Great pictures! Mimi talked about Howard. She loved her brothers, sisters and the times they had together.

    • catherine says:

      It certainly could have been. I thought Papa Willett always said it was Mary Ellen, but I might be wrong. Yep, Aunt Martha was a rare gem of a woman.

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