I was born June 21, 1913, at Girard Texas. My name was Iona Beaver, and the name, Jane, was added when I was in high school. I was the youngest child of Ed and Minnie Beaver, and the only one born in West Texas in the family of eleven children. My life was not always a bed of roses, being the youngest, growing up with so many brothers and sisters, but I soon learned to con my way about most everything. We had loving, but firm parents, who taught us to love God and keep His commandments. We learned honesty and integrity from their fine example of clean living. Although our home was humble, and bare of luxuries, it was our refuge and shelter from the storms of life, and there was love and respect for our parents and for each other.
When I graduated from Girard High School in 1930, I wrote our class song, and was second from the top of my class. It may sound like I am boasting, but you see, there were only twelve in my class.
I married J.T. Stephens October 16, 1932. We had a double wedding with his sister, Frankie and Glenn Skinner, in the preacher’s home at Spur, Texas. We lived two weeks with J.T.’s folks, saved our cottonpicking money, and moved into a little shack on my dad’s place, our first home. Samintha made our first biscuits and showed me how. Dad asked for his rent house back from the renter, and we moved into it January 1, 1932. We borrowed money for our first crop, and it was a failure. Those were the days of the depression when Wall Street crashed and banks across the country closed their doors. We ate our home grown food, such as chickens, pork, eggs, and beef, along with our milk from the Jersey cow. We fed our horses pie melons that grew wild in the shinery mottes. We also made pies and preserves from pie melons; not good, but filling. We gathered wild plums for our homemade jams and jellies. We had no car, and those who did had no money to buy gasoline. We could get five cents a dozen for eggs, when we could sell them at all. 1933 and 1934 were also dry years, and crops were poor, but with the help of our good parents, brothers, and sisters, we felt that we were blessed, and really never thought we were poor. We had many friends, and our entertainment was clean fun, such as, forty-two parties, Dr. Tate’s Medicine Show, Harley Sadler’s tent shows, church activities, and family get-togethers. Our dads were Elders together at the Girard Church of Christ, and J.T. and I were both members there.
Our greatest blessing came in 1935, when our first child was born, on February 18. Oh, what a joy to have a baby boy all our own. We named him James Michael after his two grandfathers. My dad didn’t like my spelling, as his name, Mikiel, went back to the original French-German way of spelling it. Mike was the first grandchild in the Frank Stephens family, and there was never a baby loved more, kissed more, and held more. I do believe it turned him off of women for the rest of his life. He is still a charming bachelor.
Hub and Juanita and Sam and Craig lived in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico, so we eventually moved there, too. J.T. worked at several different jobs: the Highway Department, Hub’s tailor shop, and building the Alamogordo Dam near Ft. Sumner. We shared a house with Sam and Craig at the time their son, Larry, was born. When Mike was two, we moved back to Girard and lived on J.T.’s father’s farm. Because of crop failures, we moved back to New Mexico. While living in Clovis, J.T. worked for the Pontiac Garage and Phillips 66 Service Station.
April 8, 1940. another baby boy was born to us, Patrick Nolan. After a few hours, we learned he could not live, due to a deformity of the esophagus, and after eleven days he went to live with God. What a sad time for mother, dad, and little five-year-old brother, to see the empty bassinet and unused baby clothes. But we had a lot of faith, and we held on close to each other, knowing he was safe in heaven. He is buried on the Stephens plot in the Girard cemetery.
The year 1935 was when we saw our first black dust storms sweep in, bringing darkness with clouds of rolling, choking dust. The chickens would go to roost in the daytime because it was so dark. Many people were fearful the end of the world had come.
Our next move was to Pampa, Texas, where J.T. had taken a job with P.K. Oil Company, driving butane and gasoline trucks. It was here, on September 1, 1941, that we had our first baby girl, pretty Mollye Sharon, just sixteen months after we had buried our little Pat. We were so happy, and proud of her. When she was two months old, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. Knowing that J.T. would be drafted if he didn’t get into defense work, we moved to Borger where he became a security guard at a rubber plant west of Borger.
When Mollye was two, we moved to Caldwell gin in the New Deal Community, to help Hub in the farming and ginning business. It was not long until we knew another baby was on the way. And so, on September 7, 1944. our Peggy Maxine was born, so cute and smart that we still remember many of her funny antics and sayings. She was our little blond. J.T. became manager of a gin, and we moved to it at North Spade, where we also farmed some acreage.
On August 7, 1946, one more baby girl came to bless our home and happy family. She was born in Littlefield. Dr. Still said, “It’s a big black-headed boy.” She was our black-headed girl, beautiful and smart. We named her Judie Ann.
We moved to Littlefield where Mike graduated from high school with honors. After a stint at Abilene Christian University, he decided to join the Marines. He was sent to Pearl Harbor, and while there he studied at the University of Hawaii. He was discharged there September 28, 1955. He lived in California for awhile, then moved to Dallas where he lives now.
We moved to Lubbock in 1952, where J.T. worked at a cotton yard. Mollye graduated from Monterey High School, then married Max Busby the next night. They left the next day for Ft. Hood, Killeen, Texas, where Max was stationed. Max was our neighbor across the street, and he and Mollye had been sweethearts for many months.
Mollye and Max have three children: Sheri René, who is Mrs. Jimmy Chapman; Preston Max, their only son; and Lori Ann, who is Mrs. Brian Gibson. Mollye is an art teacher in the schools at Quinlan, Texas, and Max is in the meat business.
Peggy also graduated from high school in Lubbock. She was married to Ron Holly who was also a neighbor boy. She has two children, Greg is seventeen and a senior in Richardson High School, and Gina, who is sixteen. Peggy is a licensed counselor in Junior High School there, and also has some private practice.
Judie Ann married Randy Jones, in Lubbock, and they had one son, Kevin. He is a student at Texas Tech at this time. Judie later married Lyle Davis, and they have a baby girl, Whitney Star, two years old. That little Star really lights up our life. Judie and Lyle live in Odessa and both work for KMID-TV in Midland.
My career had been mostly “mothering” until 1959, when I went to work for Sears in Lubbock. I worked there for 17 years and then retired July 1, 1976. J.T. has worked many places during our 52 years of marriage: farming, cotton and compress work, defense work during WWII, before spending his last 15 years of work with Montgomery Ward, where he retired in January 1978. We now live in Denton County, Texas, on Lake Lewisville.
My remembrances of my Beaver grandparents are not very clear. I do remember seeing Grandpa Beaver when he was very ill, in 1918, mostly his long, flowing, white beard. Grandma lived with us for a time after he died, and I can remember her smoking her clay pipe, and her stern voice as she helped our mother discipline us four girls.
The Stephens family were old settlers in both Kent and Dickens Counties. J. T.’s grandpa Carlisle was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. He later helped lay out the town sites of Spur and Dickens. So, we are both from pure stock, long-lived, and dedicated Christian families who were not wealthy, but millionaires in blessings.
Cancer has plagued this generation of Beavers, and I have been one of it’s victims. So far, I have been able to arrest it with the new medical knowledge, and with the love and prayers of my family. “If I have helped someone along the way to be happier, more loving, more faithful to God, then my living has not been in vain.”
Lois, we all love you for doing this book, and we hope that our children will carry it on.
The following is a poem Jane wrote about her newest grand-baby:
TO WHITNEY STAR
God looked down from heaven afar
And said, “I’ll send one more little star.”
To brighten the home of a couple on earth,
A home to shine on, a mother for birth.
A father to care and plan for her life,
A loving, devoted husband and wife.
He looked over His galaxy and found one so bright.
It would shine through the day and into the night.
So He plucked it away from the sun and the moon
And sent her to the earth on the eleventh of June,
In nineteen hundred-eighty-two,
She came with eyes so big and blue.
We love her, adore her, and thank God for His love,
In sending this special “STAR” from above.