Wild West

A GUN IN THE CLOSET

In the early 1950s my sister, Jan, and I screamed around our Tulsa, Oklahoma, neighborhood reenacting TV Westerns. Of course, we were also curious what real Old West cowboys looked like. One day our father, H. Rodman Jones, surprised us by opening his old photo album and pointing to a photograph dated 1912. “This was my mother’s father, George P. Watkins,” Dad said. “He was born in 1862, so he was 50 when this was taken. Papa (that’s what everyone called him) was at least 6-foot-4, a giant in those days.” This “giant,” my great-grandfather, had indeed been a genuine hardworking cowboy. What’s more, the same year that photo was taken he was involved in a deadly shootout in New Mexico that he was reluctant to talk about.

George Price Watkins was born. “Also at the age of 21 he went with A. Belcher’s cowboys up the Chisholm Trail through the Indian Territory to Honeywell, Kan., to sell a large herd of cattle. He really did love to handle cattle and was more at home on the horse than anywhere at that time. In 1891 he was united in marriage with Francie [Fannie] C. Glidewell at Bells, Grayson County, Texas, and to this union four children were born.”

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