Honoring Gail and Clyde at Rock Springs and Teterville

C.J. Garriott, Gail’s sister, said, “Coming back from Rock Springs 4-H Ranch, we detoured to find Teterville. It’s where my parents and sisters lived when I was born in 1934.

Cj Garriott - "It's often difficult to show depth, etc., in photos, but thought these came out well! Loved those clouds."

Cj Garriott – “It’s often difficult to show depth, etc., in photos, but thought these came out well! Loved those clouds.”

This is Teter Hill, which is one of the highest hills in Kansas, if not the highest. As a little girl, when Daddy was navigating our car up the zig-zag track that vehicles had worried out of the rocky scrub, I was certain we were going to fall off the world. Teterville is beyond a ghost town these days, just foundations here and there.

The sign for the long-gone town of Teterville, Kansas. Photo by C.J. Garriott.

The sign for the long-gone town of Teterville, Kansas. Photo by C.J. Garriott.

It was lovely. The rain stopped just before we got to the spot, and after we headed back up the road home, it started again! It just let us do our thing without rain falling. Nice.

The road trip started with a tree planting ceremony at the Rock Springs 4-H Center near Junction City, Kansas. Clyde was a 4-Her as a boy and Gail guided many young 4-Hers in her years as a project leader. Having a tree providing shade to future 4-Hers seems like a very fitting memorial for them.

The side trip to Teterville was for the purpose of spreading Mom and Dad’s ashes. They had both chosen cremation. After Dad’s death, we had talked with Mom about making a trip out to the Flint Hills with his ashes. It was difficult to get her and all my siblings together for that excursion.

It was several years later and the time was right, even though not all of us could be there. Teterville was chosen for Mom’s ties to that now-defunct town. Gail’s sister, three of Gail and Clyde’s children, and some grandchildren and great-grandchildren made the trek on a day of torrential rain.

During the brief break in the downpour, the ashes were spread. Some were tossed into the Kansas wind to drift to earth at random. Mom and Dad felt a special affinity for the Kansas Flint Hills. Now they are a part of this scenic area.

Looking across the Flint Hills from Teter Hill. Photo by CJ Garriott.

Looking across the Flint Hills from Teter Hill. Photo by CJ Garriott.

More Teterville Memories

Scanners are a wonderful invention and my sister, Karen, is making good use of hers. She just digitized some old Teterville photos that expand our knowledge of that time in Mom’s life.

Here’s her mother, Ruth (Vining) McGhee in Teterville sometime in the 1930s.

Here’s her mother, Ruth (Vining) McGhee in Teterville sometime in the 1930s.

Here she is, little Gail McGhee, standing in the doorway with some of her older Bolte cousins.

Here she is, little Gail McGhee, standing in the doorway with some of her Bolte cousins.

The photo label says, “Ed Bolte’s home, Teterville. Back: Viola Bolte, Wanda Bolte, Gail McGhee. Front: Lillian Phelps with Jackie and Ruth Bolte with Patsy.” There were three Bolte’s with Ruth in their name, but my sister and I narrowed it down to Ruth Maxene Bolte, a sister-in-law to Wanda and Viola and Lillian.

Examine the pictures and you can see how basic the houses were in this oil boom town. My grandmother spent part of her childhood in a sod house in Woodward, Oklahoma, so at least they are an improvement over that.

You can even see the family cat. Looks like a calico cat to me. Another small detail is the pipe leading into Ed Bolte’s home in the second photo. I’m guessing they piped in gas for lighting and heat. Could be a water pipe though. What do you think?

Read more about Teterville in Home Is Where the Heart Is.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Mom’s earliest days were in the Teterville area. Below is a picture of her with her mother, Ruth Vining McGhee in 1927. Here’s Mom’s description of this time, “Although jobs were scarce all across America, the oilfields of Greenwood County were booming. Those early years in the Teterville area were very prosperous.

Mother’s two sisters with their big families moved from Woodward, Oklahoma to Teterville. They were her older sisters, Lucy and Bessie who married the Bolte brothers, Charley and Ed. My cousins were all older than me. They came to Kansas to find work. Even Uncle Ed’s older sons found roughnecking jobs in the oilfield and wives to marry.”

Ruth McGhee with her 3-year-old daughter, Gail.  Teterville, Kansas

Ruth McGhee with her 3 year old daughter, Gail. Teterville, Kansas

She continues her story, “Then Daddy’s younger unmarried brothers, Jesse, Roy, Lealon and Loren McGhee came. They also found jobs and lived in different company’s bunkhouses.

Life became fun with all these relatives visiting us. When Mother’s cousin, Ed Babcock, came, he brought his guitar. Many evenings were spent singing while Ed strummed.”

That wasn’t all. “Mother’s brother, Albert Vining and his wife, Vina, who was Daddy’s cousin on the Tower side, came from Tyro, Kansas. They were my favorites as we shared a special occasion.

The day they were married, September 13, 1924, was the day I was born. Mother was to be Vina’s matron of honor, only she was giving birth to me. They got married anyway. I always told everyone I was born on Friday the 13th, but Aunt Vina insists it was Saturday.”

The oil boom didn’t last. Mom says, “I don’t remember them all staying in that area as long as we did. Daddy’s job was pumping the oil. Most of the others were involved in the drilling end of the industry.”

 

Rustic Wood with Heart
Rustic Wood with Heart by DizzyDebbieRead more about Teterville’s early history.
I also have a page about Vina Vining’s life. She lived into her nineties.

G is for Girl Friend

Even after 75 years or more years had passed, Mom spoke fondly of her childhood friend, Dorothy Rose Laird. Noller was a small school in Greenwood County and the children lived with their families in company housing at the Phillips Petroleum Camp. All their fathers worked for Phillips.

Gail and her school friends standing by her daddy's new car.

Gail and her school friends standing by her daddy’s new car.

Looking through the vintage black and white photos from her childhood, I remember her telling me that Dorothy was one of the girls in this photo. The middle girl is my mom, Gail Lee McGhee. Which one was Dorothy?

Searching further, I found a school photo that solved the mystery. In the photo with the car, Dorothy is on the right, Gail is in the center and my sister is fairly sure Norma Jean Dowell is on the left.

Gail McGhee and Dorothy Rose Laird - 1933-34

Gail McGhee and Dorothy Rose Laird – 1930s

In case any descendants of these students are searching for them, I’ll list all their names here.

Noller School, District 21, Teterville, Greenwood County, Kansas (1933-1934)

Naomi McKinney, Pauline Ridgely, Buddy Palmer, Agnes Hawthorn (teacher), Dorothy McKinney, Melba McGhee, Gail McGhee, Dorothy Rose Laird, Norma Jean Dowell, Teddy Bernard, Donald Hindman, Roscoe Bernard, Kathryn Peterson.

Here's my mother's friend, Norma Jean Dowell, holding Mom's little sister, Carol Jean McGhee.  1935

Here’s my mother’s friend, Norma Jean Dowell, holding Mom’s little sister, Carol Jean McGhee. 1935