Bantam

The Bantam Well in 2019, by Larry Standlee

Fannin County, Texas

Bantam, a small community, & a forever flowing well, by Alvin Loschke.  Honey Grove Signal- Citizen April 6, 1990


Not too many years ago, before I became unable to walk and drive my car, I visited my birthplace which is located a quarter of a mile west of a small community called Bantam. Bantam, a community that has almost completed disappeared ex­cept for the house where I was born and it stills stands today, is located about 5 to 6 miles north of Windom and 3 miles west of Allens Chapel Community, where I now reside. I was bom September 21, 1905, a son of
Charley and Marv Loschke. and spent my early childhood years near this little community called Ban­tam. I’d like to relate a few of my memories and things that I remember about this little town of Bantam for the benefit of my daughters, grandchildren and great­-grandchildren and anyone else who might be interested in this little com­munity of the past.

Bantam consisted of a large store with a post office in one end of the store, a blacksmith’s shop, a doctor’s office, a cotton gin, and several houses grouped together which made up the city limits of this community. I don’t remember there being a school or church in this community, which was unusual for a community of this size.

Everyone who lived near the town received their mail at the local post office, but since we lived too far out out mail was delivered by the mail carrier who delivered the mail to Bantam from Honey Grove in his 2-wheel horse drawn cart or by horseback. His name was Tal Richardson.

I always enjoyed going to Bantam with my Dad when he went to town to do his trading. I remember Mr. Tom Ramsey who owned and operated the Blacksmith Shop. It always amazed me to see Mr. Ramsey shoe horses. I could not understand how he could drive those nails in the horse’s foot without it hurting the horse, but the horse never flinched. 


The cotton gin was another place I remember quite well. Back then cot­ton was the main crop grown in these parts and almost every town or community had a cotton gin. This day and time lots of people have never seen a cotton gin in operation. This gin was later moved to the Allens Chapel community and operated there until the 40’s when it burned and it was never rebuilt.

Dr. Lee, the town’s doctor and the doctor who delivered me into this world, had the first car I ever remember seeing and having the pleasure of riding in. Someone was sick at our house this particular day I remember, probably my sister, Lillian, who is 18 months younger than I, and the Dr. made a house call. The person sick needed some medicine which Dr. Lee did not have with him, so I rode back to town with him to get the medicine needed. Boy, was I riding high, my first automobile ride. I remember look­ing down at the dashboard and see­ing a glass cylinder with something running through it. At that time I did not know what it was, but know I think it had to be oil.

Another thing I remember about my birthplace was that the house was built high up off the ground as was lots of houses back then. This made an idea place for little children to play. One day I was playing under the house along with the chickens and ducks. I was picking up rocks and throwing them at this old hen and her baby chicks and they would peck at the rocks thinking I was throwing them corn or something to eat. Well, I picked up one that was a little too large and hit one of the baby chicks in the head. It just fell over and quivered like it was dying. Boy was I scared to death thinking what my Mama would say about me killing one of her baby chicks, so I picked it up and put it on the floor joists and went about my business playing something else. Later that afternoon I remembered about the baby chick so I went to move it to a better place and discovered that it was gone. Well this convinced me of heaven, I just knew that chicken had died and gone to heaven and I never told my Mama about killing one of her baby chicks. You see, my mother being a very pious woman and good mother, had taught me at a very early age about Jesus and heaven. She said if I was a bad boy I would go to the bad place and if I was a good boy I would go to heaven. This lesson stuck with me for the rest of my life.

My first hunting trip was another experience in my childhood that I shall never forget. My grandmother, who spoke mostly German, and my Dad’s brother, Frank, and sister, Clara, lived across the road from us. Uncle Frank was a great one to go hunting. One day he came over to the house and told my mother that he was going to take me hunting. No, she protested, he is too young, as I was not of school age yet. But after a little convincing her that what he wanted me to do would be safe enough I did get to go. This flock of geese had stopped to graze on the oats patch on their way south for the winter.  The oats patch was south of the cotton patch and Uncle Frank wanted me to walk down to the cot­ton patch and wait until he was situated on the south end so that when I walked to the end of the row of cotton that was higher than my head, the birds would see me and fly off giving him a chance to get a shot at them. Sure enough it happened just that way except they did not fly south, they flew east instead. That was my first experience at hunting and after I became older I remember going goose and duck hunting lots of times with Uncle Frank.

In November of 1909, times were very hard, and my Dad decided to move the family to Paris, Texas, where he had a job with his brother- in-law working for a cemetery. Dad was hired to dig graves - a dollar and a half a grave. We lived in Paris for about a year and while we were there my second sister, Ruby, was born. Dad had rented our place at Bantam to a man named Tyler.

In 1910 we moved back to Bantam. Then came 1911 which turned out to be a very dry year. After farmers planted their crops and got them up the rains just stopped and the crops burned up in the fields. The stock ponds went dry and people had to haul water for their stock. This was just terrible. Everyone was frantic about what they were going to do for water.

My dad, Charley Loschke, Jim Wilerford and Major Moore, formed a well-digging crew. They tested and checked the soil everywhere around for water. They used a drop-auger that my dad had had made at the blacksmith shop. I will try and ex­plain what the drop-auger looked like for you who do not know what it looks like. It had a cylinder from 16 to 18 inches long and 6 to 8 inches in diameter with a bail head on top. A rod was welded to the top of the bail. One side of the cylinder was split all the way up and down about a half inch opening. They would drop the augur down and pull it up down and up, and as the augur was jabbed into the ground, dirt would collect in the cylinder and they would clean it out. They could go pretty deep with this augur, about 80 feet. Their efforts were fruitless, however, and they did not find water. Major Moore was known as a water witch. He could locate water with a forked stick or limb, about 8 to 12 inches long. He’d hold it up in his hand with the point of it up and walk along and at the in­dication of water, the stick would turn in his hand regardless of how hard he gripped it. But, he was unable to locate water anywhere either, so he just gave up. One morning, I’m not sure how late in the year it was, Major Moore started to our house walking. About halfway from Bantam to our house, he stopped dead in his tracks. There was a fresh pile of mud, that was brought up overnight by crawfish; Well, that set him on fire! He went back home and got his spade, shovel and hoe, and went back to the spot and started digging. All the neighbors saw him, so they pitched in and helped him dig. I remember I wanted to go down there so bad but Mama would not let me go. I could see them digging and throwing dirt out of the road ditch onto the road. I heard my Dad say they dug down twelve feet and struck water, oceans, of water. My dad said that right in the middle of the well the water just gushed up through a layer of sand and gravel. They couldn’t pump it out fast enough without getting wet.  They had a time bricking up the wall of the well because the water was coming in so fast. They would lower a bucket of brick down and bring a bucket of water out with a bucket made by cutting a barrel half into and putting a bail in the top to pull it up and down. Since the people were in such need of the water, not a drop was wasted. There were people there with buckets and barrels to haul the water home. I can remember seeing water wagons and teams of horses lined up waiting for the water. People who owned property on either side of the well thought they would dig a well on their property just across the fence but no one struck water anywhere else but just this one place. A few years back when I visited the old Bantam well it was still there, forlorn and lost to the public. Trees have grown up on both sides of it. I walked up to the well and looked in and it was still full of water within a foot of the top of the ground. As I looked into the well and remembered back when it was dug, it was just like it was saying to me “Have a drink on me.” I remember hauling water from this well after I was grown one year when I worked at the gin.

I started to school in the year of 1911 in the little school west of Bantam. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Van Kirk. I wonder if she might still have relatives living in the area. I remember her quite well and loved her as a teacher very much.

My family moved to Allens Chapel in 1914 and it was a thriving community at that time with two churches and a school. My dad bought a grocery story and operated the store and farmed for the rest of his life in Allens Chapel. I helped him do the farming and helped in the store n some too. After we moved to Allens Chapel four more children were born, my brother, Carl, sister Frances, brother Paul and sister Katherine. Only four of us survive today, myself, my sister Frances Ryser of Allens Chapel, my sister Lillian Helms of Honey Grove and my sister, Ruby Anzur of Denver, Colorado.

December 17, 1928, I married my wife, Addie Prickett, one of the neighbor’s girls and we have continued to live in the Allens Chapel Community for the 61 wonderful years of our marriage. We have three wonderful daughters, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Thanks to the help of our daughters and the people who work for us, we are still able to reside at our home in Allens Chapel. For our many blessing, we are very thankful.


Bantam - The Rest of the Story, by Bernice Hill Beaty


The article in the Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, Friday, April 6th, 1990, by Alvin Loschke about Bantam has created much interest. Several people have phoned me to ask if I live in the house where Alvin was born. The answer is “yes.”

After talking to Betty, Alvin’s daughter, I would like to add a little more history about Bantam.

My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Twyman Hill, bought the farm from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Loschke March 9, 1914. We moved here that fall and I have lived here ever since except the ten years we lived in Dawson County. After a few years, my father also bought the Frank Loschke farm located across the road south.

I do not know exactly when the small community of Bantam was first settled; but in the book, “Our Town Windom, Texas”, I read this: “Joseph B. Jolley married Sarah Elizabeth Carter and they moved from Arkansas to the community oi Bantam, where their son, James T.  Jolley, was born July 24, 1896.” So Bantam was a small town before 1896, and it may have been established long before that year.

I am not sure about why the community was named Bantam.

I have always heard this story about the name Bantam. Before the post office was opened the town needed a name. Someone said the town was so small it resembled a bantam chicken and the residents of the community decided to name it Bantam. I think “Four Comers” would have been more appropriate because Bantam was located six and one-half miles north and three-quarters of a mile east of Windom on the old north Paris and Bonham road. The roads at that time went in all four directions from Bantam. The east and south roads have long since been closed. 

Bantam may have been named after one of the early settlers of the area. An entry under the name Banta in Hodge’s “A History of Fannin County” states that Isaac Banta (b. 1827) and his wife Elizabeth settled north of Windom in 1840, and that the community that began there took the name Bantam. One Banta descendant, Dale Cain, was a banker in Windom in 1966, when “A History of Fannin County” was published.

Bantam had a general store that was owned and operated by Mr. William Fenley Brown. Mr. Brown lived about 2 miles northwest of Bantam. At first he commuted to and from the store on horse back. Later he used a horse and buggy to make the trip twice a day.



The rest of the story by Bernice Hill Beaty

The article in the Honey Grove Signal-Citizen, Friday, April 6th, 1990, by Alvin Loschke about Bantam has created much interest. Several people have phoned me to ask if I live in the house where Alvin was bom. The answer is “yes.”

After talking to Betty, Alvin’s daughter, I would like to add a little more history about Bantam.

My parents, Mr. and Mrs. Twyman Hill, bought the farm from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Loschke March 9, 1914. We moved here that fall and I have lived here ever since except the ten years we lived in Dawson County. After a few years, my father also bought the Frank Loschke farm located across the road south.

I do not know exactly when the small community of Bantam was first settled; but in the book, “Our Town Windom, Texas”, I read this: “Joseph B. Jolley married Sarah Elizabeth Carter and they moved from Arkansas to the community oi Bantam, where their son, James T. Jolley, was bom July 24, 1896.” So Bantam was a small town before 1896, and it may have been established long before that year.

I am not sure about why the community was named Bantam.

I have always heard this story about the name Bantam. Before the post office was opened the town needed a name. Someone said the town was so small it resembled a bantam chicken and the residents of the community decided to name it Bantam. I think “Four Comers” would have been more appropriate because Bantam was located six and one-half miles north and three-quarters of a mile east of Windom on the old north Paris and Bonham road. The roads at that time went in all four directions from Bantam. The east and south roads have long since been closed. *

Bantam may have been named after one of the early settlers of the area. An entry under the name Ban-ta in Hodge’s “A History of Fannin County” states that Isaac Banta (b. 1827) and his wife Elizabeth settled north of Windom in 1840, and that the community that began there took the name Bantam. One Banta descendant, Dale Cain, was a banker in Windom in 1966, when “A History of Fannin County” was published.

Bantam had a general store that was owned and operated by Mr. William Fenley Brown. Mr. Brown lived about 2 miles northwest of Bantam. At first he commuted to and from the store on horse back. Later he used a horse and buggy to make the trip twice a day.


The cotton gin, known as the Cravens Gin, was kept busy in the fall. My uncle, Dave Brewer, was the ginner and William Smith was the bookkeeper. It was at this gin that Alvin Frazer got an arm injury that caused him to lose his arm. The gin was later bought by Mr. Hugh Lee and was moved to Allen’s Chapel. My uncle, Dave Brewer, continued as ginner as long as the gin was in operation.

There was a barber shop across the road (no streets) west of Tom Ramsy’s blacksmith shop. George Tyler was the only barber Bantam ever had.

Dr. R. E. Lee was the town’s only doctor. He made house calls in a buggy, but later bought a car. He was the father of the late Ernest Lee of Windom.

Brother Wyatt, a Baptist minister, took care of the spiritual needs of the town. He was the great-grandfather of Jack and James Ridge of Windom.

Mrs. Tom Ramsy organized a Red Cross chapter in Bantam. She would go to Bonham and get the material and the ladies of the community would meet in the back of the store once or twice a week and roll bandages to be sent overseas. Some of the older women knitted mufflers to be sent to the soldiers.

The everflowing Bantam well is still flowing. The water is just below ground level the year around. People who lease the Francis Council farm use the well to water their cattle.

About one-half mile straight north of the Bantam well is another everflowing spring. I feel sure they are on the same underground stream.

The church and school buildings were located about one and one-half miles southwest of Bantam. They were known as Lone Elm.

There was a two room school house at Lone Elm when I started school there. My first teacher was Miss Mary Riddling, and Mr. Robert Baker was another teacher.

After two years, a new three room school building replaced the old 2 room building. The three teachers for the first year in the new school were Mr. Oscar Rorie of Cooper, Miss Sibyl Carver of Bonham, and Miss Evelyn Vessels of Allen’s Chapel. All of the teachers roomed and boarded with my parents. Miss Carver and Mr. Rorie later married. A few years ago they were living in Tyler. Mrs. Evelyn (Vessels) Burnsed is living in Paris.

The only water supply for the Lone Elm School was from a cistern on the east side of the house. Water pipes ran the water off the roof into the cistern. The water was drawn up with a chain and bucket. Those who had cups dipped water out of the bucket. The ones who had no cups, drink out of the bucket. No health inspectors in those days!  I never 

heard of anyone taking a deadly disease from drinking the water. Later two water fountains were bought which helped a little.


In later years, the number of teachers at Lone Elm School fell from three to only one. In the mid-1940’s Lone Elm went the way of all rural schools - it was consolidated - with Windom.


The consolidation meant school buses and school buses meant improved roads. It was shortly after this time, with the help of Judge Choice Moore, that our farm-to-market road 1743 was built. The school building was sold and was made into a dwelling house on highway 82 west of Dodd City.


The Lone Elm church did not fare so well. In the spring of 1920 or 1921 a cyclone (they were called cyclones then) came from the southwest and completely demolished the church. It continued on to Bantam and did extensive damage to the store.


The men of the community decided to build a brush arbor for the summer revival meeting. After the meeting, some mischievous boys thought the dry brush arbor would make a good bonfire - and it did!


Mr. Brown did not repair the store, but retired instead. Later a smaller store was built. Mr. Jim Wilford operated this store for several years.


In addition to the names mentioned above, this is a partial list of people, who with their families lived in or near Bantam before 1950.
Ben Alexander, O. L. Apple, J. L. Ashcraft, Dave Brown, Frank Brown, W. M. Butler, J. M. Bray, Jim Carlock, A. B. Carmichel, Jim Carter, Elmo Cox, Adison Flatt, Isaac Flatt, Norman Flatt, Mrs. Clara Frazer. Also Will Gayoso, Wm. H. Humble, Charlie Knight, Hilman McConnell, J. M. Milam, Major Moore, Jim Roden, Chris Runkle, Sr., John Swatzel, Mr. Sanders, Jim Taylor, David Tyler, John Tyler, and R. K. Tyler.


Not one original house is now standing in Bantam. Only a caved-in well, a gnarled pear tree or a japonica bush is left to remind us of the once thriving little town. Now you know the rest of the story.


(EDITORS NOTE: Thank you very much, Mrs. Beaty, for the rest of the story about Bantam. I thoroughly enjoyed it as I am sure several others will who read it. We appreciate your time and effort in writing this for us. Thanks.