Nancy Elizabeth Beaver was born Movember 15, 1339, in the Millerville Community of Erath County, Texas. She was the oldest of eleven children, being followed by six brothers and four sisters. The events of her young life consisted of going to school and church and learning, through experience, to cook, keep house, and help take care of little boys. She was allowed to attend parties, candy breakings, school programs, and box suppers with selected groups. At one of these gatherings, she met a young man named Joseph Hayden Ratliff, who became attracted to her, and though he was five years her senior, he could tell at once that, at fifteen, she was experienced beyond her years. His infatuation gradually turned to thoughts of love, and so, two months before her sixteenth birthday, he came to our house and asked for her hand in marriage. Because our parents respected him as a good, honest man, and because Elizabeth was so in love, they gave him permission to marry her. On September 23, 1905, they were quietly married at her home.
They moved into a small.house in Grandpa Joe Beaver’s back yard. This little house had been variously occupied by different ones to whom Grandpa had lent a helping hand. Grandpap Wilson lived there after Grandma Kitty passed away. Lolette, the first of Joe and Elizabeth’s children, was born there; then came Pete and Mark. From there they moved to their own house near Duffau, on the banks of Big Duffau Creek. They lived there for ten years, and Joe farmed some acreage. During those ten years, four more children arrived.
In September of 1921, Joe and Sis and their seven children moved, by covered wagon, to west Texas. They spent some time in Coleman County visiting Joe’s relatives near Santa Ana, finally arriving at Girard. I remember how happy we all were to see them. We enjoyed many good family get-togethers with them the two years they lived at Girard. Sis was a wonderful cook. I recall eating steak and biscuits for breakfast when I used to spend the night at their house.
While living at Girard, their eighth child was born, Joe Beaver, named for Grandpa Joe Beaver, Jr. We were saddened when they left Girard in 1923 and moved to a farm near the town of Floydada in the Texas panhandle. While living there a baby daughter was born, and they named her Artrue. About 1927 they moved to a farm near Quitaque, Texas, where they stayed until 1936.
While living at Quitaque, their tenth and last child was born, Billy Price. Their oldest son, Pete, and his wife lived in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico where Pete owned and operated a restaurant and bar. Joe and Sis, with the five children still at home, moved to Ft. Sumner in 1936. Joe worked at the restaurant for a while, then moved into the Pecos valley and started raising livestock and doing truck gardening, delivering his wares in a Model A Ford truck. I remember the cantaloupes and prize tomatoes he raised. “Oo-wee Buddy.” Joe was a good man, always thoughtful of Mama and Dad.
Joe died February 21, 1965, and Sis died February 27, 1965. They are both buried at Ft. Sumner. They were loving parents, who reared their ten children to upright, respectable, and prosperous adulthood. Two of them have passed on, Mark and Nadine. Both are buried in Ft. Sumner.
Their children and grandchildren are :
- Lolette, born July 13, 1906. She married Gradus Partain, deceased. She lives in Garland, Texas.
- Donald Ray
- wendell Bryan
- Jimmie Dean
- Marshall (Mark), born July 23, 1909. He married Ozell West. He passed away December 27, 1971.
- Marshall (Sonnie)
- Michael (Mickey)
- Lawrence Colquit (Pete), born March 1, 1911. He married Jessie Mae Philips. They live at Ft. Sumner.
- Wallace, born June 1, 1913. He married LaVene. They live at Hydro, Oklahoma.
- Azeline, born July 13, 1915. She married Olin Beauchamp, deceased. She lives at Rankin, Texas.
- Jo Beth
- Zelpha Elizabeth, born January 12, 1913. She married Raymond Atkinson. They live at Clovis, New Mexico.
- Paul Ray (Adopted).
- Nadine, born March 22, 1921. She married Mike Clement. She died in 1975.
- One baby daughter, killed by a car at age 3.
- Joe Beaver, born July 16, 1923. He married Jackie Herndon. They live at Albuquerque.
- Gerald Wayne
- Artrue, born August 11, 1925. She married Dave Norris. They live at Odessa, Texas.
- Billy Price, born May 15. 1933. He married Barbara Longbotham. They live at Clovis, New Mexico.
Joe and Elizabeth celebrated their Golden Anniversary in 1955. All ten of their children were present for the celebration, which was held at the Community Center in Ft. Sumner. Mama was visiting with us at Albuquerque, and we drove down for the big event. Several of the brothers and sisters of Elizabeth were there, as well as some nephews, nieces and cousins.
FIFTY GOLDEN YEARS
A poem read at the 50th Anniversary of Joe and Elizabeth
Let us reminisce a little, as we’re pausing here today,
To dream some old dreams over of an unforgotten day.
And let the past unravel, making theme for this true rhyme;
Of a tale of love undaunted that’s as old as Father Time.
‘Tis a pleasant retrospection, back to nineteen-hundred five;
When two hearts became united, promising that they would strive
To keep their vows unbroken until death should separate;
Ever trusting, never knowing, how or what would be their fate.
‘Twas a lovely summer evening when young Joe of twenty-three.
Rapped upon her door requesting that her parents he should see.
Nervously, he somehow uttered the few words that he had planned:
“It’s a solemn question. Madam; may I have Elizabeth’s hand?”
“Why she’s not quite sixteen, Mister,” was the mother’s fast reply.
But her doubts were soon banished by the gleam in Elizabeth’s eye.
And so they started life together, life with all its good and bad.
And the sky has been the limit of the blessings they have had.
God smiled on them from above, bringing happiness complete.
When He sent a little bundle they unwrapped and called “Lolete,”
Then came Marshall, Colquitt, Wallace, Azeline, and Zelpha, too,
Nadine, Joe Beaver, Artrue, said Elizabeth, “That will do.”
But years went by, and God revealed that He knows what is best,
When he sent them little Billy, pride and joy of all the rest.
Ten fine children to one couple, some may say it isn’t fair.
And if you’ll listen you’ll agree, their blessings don’t stop there.
They have twenty-three grandchildren, and great grandchildren two;
And a very fine group of in-laws; they’re necessary too.
A half century has passed before us as the tale of the rhyme ends.
A GOLDEN WEDDING ANNIVERSARY, may this be where life begins.
For you, Joe and Elizabeth, as you live from day to day;
And may God keep smiling on you in His tender loving way.
Lois Beaver Smith 1955