The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969

Prairie Scenes and Moods

CARL C. WRIGHT*
N THE FALL OF 1930, I SAID GOODBYE TO A PRAIRIE FARM WHERE,
except for two years in college, I had lived nearly all my life. As
I left the prairie to begin a career in teaching, I realized that I was
saying farewell to a way of life, beginning before World War I and
running through the 1920o's, a period of great change in man and land.
My father, too, was giving up a losing struggle against eroding soil,
Johnson grass, and high rent. Although he had been a blackland
tenant farmer in the same location for twenty years, he would leave
for town and try cultivation of smaller acreage in sandy land. Like
other young people of the community and even their parents, his
children had drifted to towns and cities, looking for better ways of
life.
My farm home in South Central Texas was located in a narrow
strip of blackland prairie, an extensive region shaped like a horn on
the map, curving south and west from the Red River and ending be-
low the heart of the state. Adalia, our community, or more accurately
its school, occupied a tiny spot not far from the tip of the horn. Until
the middle of the nineteenth century, Indians and the lack of water,
except that produced by rainfall, discouraged Anglo-Saxon settlement
of the broad, low hills.' The rise of cotton production, however, en-
couraged settlement; and in 1901 a post office was established with
Silvester Rife as its first and only postmaster." The post office in his
Blue Store, as well as the school a mile away, was named for his daugh-
ter Ada.'
In 1917 when I entered the two-teacher school with an enrollment
of about fifty students, this blackland region was a bumpy patchwork
quilt of farms, a land of cotton, corn, and cane. Although always called
the prairie, it bore little resemblance to descriptions of sojourners
*Mr. Wright is associate professor of English at Pan American College.
1Walter P. Webb and H. Bailey Carroll (eds.), Handbook of Texas (2 vols.; Austin,
1952), II, 99.
'Jane F. Smith, Chief, Social and Economic Branch, National Archives and Records
Service, Washington, D. C., to C. C. W., April 14, 1966. The post office was discontinued
in 1904.
'Floyd Clendenning, former trustee of Adalia School, to C. C. W., interview, August
28, 1967.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/. Accessed September 2, 2014.