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:
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:
Emily was a big fan of the brick streets.
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.18 Comments