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NewsTown TalkFriona Flashbacks

Friona Flashbacks: Historical Preservation

By Sharon White

What to do to preserve the past effectively while moving on into the future?

What is the best use of resources?

These and many other questions are asked as the current owners of Reeve Farm Incorporated considered the property close to Friona.

No one wants to see the past disappear, but there are few sources of revenue to see it preserved.

Citizens have been able to preserve the first church as the Parmer County Museum. They also moved the depot to the city park and made a scenic place for all to enjoy. A group would also like to see the Women’s Club House preserved, and the Parmer County Historical Association is hoping to preserve the “oldest house in Friona” on the old Maurer property.

In light of these considerations, the houses on the Reeve Farm property on the edge of town have been demolished. That seems like such a permanent word, but memories surrounding the lives there will go on as they continue to be recorded.

Stories surrounding the two story

In Prairie Progress, the second Parmer County history book, one can find the George Corwin Messenger story written by Rosalie Messenger. The story records that George married Sarah Ruth Kirk, daughter of George L. and Elsie Livings who moved to Friona in 1908. Although this story doesn’t specifically mention the property, apparently the Livings built what later became known as the “two story”. Because Mrs. Livings was the Messenger children’s grandmother all the children were born there in the late 20’s and 30’s. Steve Messenger, the first born, was the father of Jay Messenger who married Sally Kendrick Messenger, both Friona High School graduates. The triplets, Floyd, Loyd and Sarah Ruth were born there in December 1932. (Sarah Ruth died on the same date.)

As information was gathered for the 100th Reeve Reunion, Allo Reeve shared about life in the “two story”, the main structure on the property. Allo and Glenn married February 7, 1935 and moved to Friona in May and lived in the two front rooms. (Glenn Jr. was born that same year.) They had a “path” for a bathroom. “Dad Reeve” (F.W. Reeve) bought the land on which the house set on November 27, 1934 from George L. Livings (as recorded in Parmer County Courthouse records). It had been vacant for years, so much cleaning was required before they moved in. Allo and Glenn moved out and Glenn taught in Earth for a year. They eventually moved back into the “two story” in 1937 where there was now an indoor bath. Don was born in 1938 and Allo mentioned that the family moved into “one room” to make room for Chick Schlenker and his wife.

Fay Reeve shared the following in a story written in 1976: “On April 1, 1944, we moved to the farm just west of town one half mile. The “old two story house” built in 1909 was home for us for twenty two years.” Their son, Floyd Scott Reeve, was six months old at the time having been born in Belleville, Illinois where his father, Hadley Reeve, was a civilian instructor at Scott Field. Sharon was born in 1944, David in 1950, and Carol in 1955.

In 1994-95, Fay wrote a detailed story of her life. From her writing: “Time marched on, we got the old two story fixed up to where it was livable. I even did a lot of painting inside and helped Mrs. Monroe White, Ted’s grandmother, paper the wall and high ceilings.” “The house looked pretty good, so on August 31, 1947 my sister Sue had her wedding there.

The mention of the “two story” is when Fay moved out into a new home she had built on 10th Street in Friona. She writes: “Floyd and Betty lived in the ‘old two story’ when he finished at West Texas.” “A memory that stands out in my mind is when we all came back from Abilene and Canyon (this was after the college graduations of Floyd and Sharon in 1966) Floyd backed the pickup into the yard at the old two story house and we started cleaning out the basement and getting other things we had not moved to the new house. Floyd would say, ‘keep or throw away’ and we would have to decide quickly if we wanted to ‘keep’. Sharon, Carol and David were almost in tears as a lot of their cherished possessions were hauled to the junkyard. I was almost numb after the big weekend, but I said we would have to throw away what would not fit into the new house or storeroom.”