The Amarillo Pioneer

Amarillo's only free online newspaper. Established in 2016, we work to bring you local news that is unbiased and honest.


Reprint: Thanksgiving on the Panhandle Plains, 1893

This piece was selected by Publisher Tom Warren II for reprinting. This original article was written by Olive K. Dixon and was first published on November 25, 1937.

Thanksgiving Day, 1893, dawned clear and bright after a night that was cold enough to freeze a quarter inch of ice over the water bucket on the back bench. The home of a Portuguese family named Lewis on Reynolds Creek in Hutchinson County, was the scene of quiet activity. To their home had been invited the entire citizenship of the County at that time, about 30 person in all, to partake in a Thanksgiving dinner of wild turkey.

The Lewis home was a three room cedar picket house covered with dirt. The family consisted of Joe Lewis, a bachelor, John Lewis and his wife and five year old son, John, Jr. Mrs. Lewis was a wonderful cook and besides the monster turkey which held the place of prominence on the long improvised table, there were platters of deer, quail and other game. The dinner was not served in courses; everything was placed on the table.

By noon the meal was ready and cowboys from the Turkey Track Ranch and other guests sat down to enjoy the feast. Mr. Lewis being a devout Catholic returned thanks and asked the blessing of God on all present and those in need the world over. There was considerable talk about conditions of the country at that time. Several at the table who read the Dallas Semi-Weekly News, felt they were posted on current events, predicted the country would begin to recover from the panic and the government's gold reserve would rise above the danger point. Faith in President Grover Cleveland was strong and according to Uncle Jake Quick, who had recently returned from the Kansas City markets, conditions all over the country were much improved.

After dinner the holiday crowd left the Lewis home, headed for Old Parnell by horseback, buggy, and buckboard, where an old fashioned dance was to be staged. Parnell, in Roberts County, on the South side of the Canadian River, served as the County seat for Roberts, Hutchison, and Gray Counties. T.M. Cunningham, who died in Amarillo a short time ago, was a County Judge at that time. Here they were joined by scores of persons from Miami, Mobeetie, and Canadian, and to the music of violin and banjo the happy crowd danced in the courtroom of the two story frame courthouse. Dancing started as soon as anyone arrived and lasted until sun-up. The music was furnished by Jake Walstad, a talented violinist and banjo player from Medicine Lodge, Kansas.

The only intermission during the dance was at 12 o'clock when time was taken off for a midnight lunch which consisted of roast turkey, light bread, pies and black coffee.

At daybreak they started homeward- a typical Thanksgiving of half a century ago on the Plains observed.

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