Submitted By Werdna Lee Beaver Niemczak
On March 7, 1893. in Erath County, in a little community named Millerville, Rollie Elbert Beaver was born. He was the third child, second son of Mikiel Edwin and Samintha Azeline Pearson Beaver. He attended school in a one room schoolhouse. His uncle Dudley Hukel was his teacher. His best friend was his third cousin, Elmer Giesecke. He talked frequently about him through the years, as well as all of the Giesecke family. He remembered one remark that Elmer’s father, August Giesecke, used to make. If he couldn’t find something he was looking for he would say to his wife, “Bob Ann, do you know where so and so is?” If she replied, “No,” he would say, “Only the good Lord knows, and I doubt if He does.”
Rollie was very close to his brothers, Kelly and Clay. His older brother Kelly was never in trouble as often as he and Clay were. He told many stories of the escapades he and Clay got into. One of these was when Grandpa Beaver bought them each a new straw hat. They wore them to the field where Grandpa left them to hoe weeds. He told them not to go swimming in the nearby creek, but to stay busy until suppertime. Rollie said tney worked pretty hard for awhile, all the time thinking and talking about going swimming. Finally, they decided to take a dip to cool off, thinking that no one would be the wiser for it. So they took off their clothes, laid their new hats on top of them, and dived into the water. They were having a jolly old time, but there was something they had forgotten. There were hogs running loose along the creek. They came along and discovered the new hats and promptly started chewing on them. They ate the crown out of one hat and the brim off the other one. You can imagine the predicament they found themselves in when they had to go home carrying those wrecked sombreros.
Uncle Kelly, Uncle Clay, and Rollie went to the Callas Fair one summer, on the train. I believe Dad said their ages were 15, 15, and 11. They caught the train in Hico and stayed two days. They hardly had any sleep while they were gone, and very little to eat. On the way back home, when the train was nearing Hico, Uncle Kelly began trying to wake the two tired boys. Kelly being the oldest, Granny had put him in charge of them. Rollie was stretched out in the middle of the aisle, and Kelly was having trouble getting him awake. Finally he roused up, pulled off his socks, stuck them in his pocket, put his shoes back on, and fell asleep again. When the train pulled into the station it was dark and cold outside. Uncle Kelly had to practically drag them off the train, but it did not take them long to wake up when the cold air hit them. Rollie began asking what had happened to his socks.
Rollie bought his mother a pin for her dress at the fair. It was oblong with six large iridescent stones across it, very pretty. She always told us how much that pin meant to her, knowing that he had such a small amount of money, yet he would spend 50¢ for a pin for her.
Rollie went out to West Texas to pick cotton when he was about 17. He stayed with a first cousin, Minnie Pearson Taylor, and family. She was the daugnter of Uncle Frank Pearson, Granny’s brother. Rollie heard, while he was in Kent County, that it was a good climate for asthma and other respiratory ailments. His brother, Clay, was severely ill with asthma, and when Rollie told the folks what he heard, they put Clay on the train and sent him to Girard where he stayed a year with Minnie. His health improved, and he soon was able to work in the fields.
Rollie helped the family dispose of the farm in Erath Co. and move to Kent County. I am sure it was a long, hard trip in a covered wagon. Rollie was the oldest child at home, since Uncle Kelly and Aunt Elizabeth were already married, so it was his responsibility to help get the family to their new home.
When the Beaver family arrived in Kent County, they soon rented a farm and located in the Bonds Chapel Community southeast of Girard. Rollie helped his dad on the farm and attended the Bonds Chapel school. Rollie’s future wife, Donie Artrue Edwards, lived up the road from the Beaver place. One day a peddler pulled up in his wagon at the Edwards place. Grandma Edwards and Donie went out to look at his wares. Soon a young man rode up on his horse and stopped to see what the peddler was showing, or maybe it was to get a better look at his neighbor’s daughter. This young man was Rollie Beaver, and it was the first time he and daughter, Donie, had seen each other. Grandma asked him, “Aren’t you one of the Beaver boys?” He said, “Yes, I’m the one they call Rollie.”
After Rollie had stood and visited awhile Grandma told him they were having a party that night and invited him to come. He accepted her invitation, whereby the peddler proceeded to invite himself also. So he parked his wagon for the night. The party was a great success, with games, singing with Donie at the organ, and lots of good eats. The party may have been fun for Rollie, but the poor old peddler wasn’t quite so happy. He put his hat on a trunk, and somehow it got knocked over behind it. While the party was in full swing, the old house cat went behind the trunk and tinkled on his hat. The peddler was quite upset, and Donie was very embarrassed.
Rollie and Donie began seeing each other, attending church together, going on picnics and to parties, but always with her sister, Klonie, along. They became engaged and were married on January 13, 1914, at the Girard Church of Christ. The minister, George P. Rucker, performed the ceremony before family and friends. Donie was born in the Oklahoma Indian Territory, March 30, 1895. Her parents were George and Harriet Lucinda (Lewellen) Edwards.
Their first home was with Grandma Edwards for over a year. While they were so happy living there, a baby girl was born to them, April 21, 1915, and named Hettie Aretta. Hettie was for Donie’s sister, Hettie Spradling, and Aretta was the name of a girl in a book Rollie was reading. When Aretta was a baby they moved to Spur, where Rollie worked on the railroad. I don’t know how long they lived in Spur. However, they bought a small farm at Girard and moved onto it in a two-room house. World War I was declared, and Rollie registered for the draft, but because he was married with a child, he was not called. He would have been called on the next list, but the Armistice was signed before it came up.
There was a new rural route designated for Girard in 1919. A Federal examination was given to select a carrier for the route. Rollie took the exam, along with Lucian Boling and Noel Booth, and he made the highest score. But since the other two men had served in the Army, they had points added to their scores, putting Rollie #3 on the list. Lucian took the route and carried the mail awhile, then gave it up for a higher paying job. Noel took over the route and only stayed six weeks with it. Rollie took the job and stayed with it 33 years. It was a ten mile route, and he carried the mail in a buggy, sometimes on horseback if the roads were impassable. He finally bought a Model T Ford, and from it several different cars, lastly a jeep. The route was 40 miles long at the time of his sudden death. He loved his route, and the people on it were very dear to him. I remember sometimes on Christmas Eve he would be very late getting home because the roads were bad and he didn’t want a single child to be disappointed on Christmas morning if he didn’t get their packages delivered. So, he fought all kinds of weather to get through with their mail. When I was a kid I remember there were several little country schools on his route, and since people didn’t have cars, he would leave the Post Office some days, carrying groceries, school supplies, medicine, and the mail.
On January 12, 1923, I was born, another baby girl. They named me Werdna Lee. Again, Rollie was reading a book in which a woman expecting a baby had planned to name him after her husband, Andrew. When the baby arrived it was a girl, so she just turned the name Andrew around and named the baby Werdna. They gave me that name and added Lee after my Aunt Lee Ella Beaver.
Six and a half years later another baby girl was born to Rollie and Donie, on July 1, 1929. She was almost three months old before she was given a name, because they couldn’t agree on one. Rollie wanted to name her Red Wing, after the Indian maiden in the song, but Donie didn’t agree. It was decided that each of us would select a name and put it in a hat, then draw one name out. Sure enough, the name that was drawn was Red Wing, and Donie still would not agree. Aunt Lee came over to spend the night and said, “We aren’t going to bed until we give this baby a name.” So, after much discussion of various names, they decided to name her after Rollie’s grandparents, Nancy and Joe Beaver, and the baby became Nancy Jo Beaver.
Rollie and Donie lived and reared all three of their girls in Girard. They were faithful and devoted members of the Church of Christ, and throughout the years they gave room and board to numerous visiting preachers. Rollie was the song leader and the teacher for the adult Bible Class all the years until he died. He also went to neighboring towns, during the summer months, to lead singing for their meetings. He was always interested in teaching the gospel, and never passed up an opportunity to do so. The last Bible verses we heard him read aloud were II Timothy, Chapter 4, verses 6,7, and 8, on Saturday night before he died on the next Thursday. We have wondered if he had a feeling that his time for departure was near. He died in Dallas, Texas, where he had gone to a doctor, April 7, 1953, of a massive heart attack.
Donie lived the last few years of her life with Nancy Jo part of the time and with me part of the time. She died at my house in Santa Ana, California January 30, 1971, of heart failure. She and Rollie are buried at Girard.
I feel grateful and proud to be the daughter of Rollie and Donie Beaver, and the grandaughter of Grandpa and Granny Beaver, Ed and Minnie Beaver. I am sure that I can speak the same for my sisters, Aretta, deceased, and Nancy Jo.