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BAIRFIELD, WINTFRY

BAIRFIELD, WINTFRY (1858–1931). Wintfry (Wint) Bairfield, Panhandle rancher, was born in Polk County, Alabama, on June 28, 1858, the son of Seth and Sabrina (Anderson) Bairfield. After her husband's death in the Civil War, Sabrina Bairfield returned to her parents' farm in Georgia with her three sons and an infant daughter, who died soon afterward. Wint and his brothers grew up working on the farm and attended school for half a day whenever convenient. At age twelve he took his first full-time job at a combination gristmill and sawmill near Bainbridge, Georgia. After his mother's death his employer, a man named Powell, took Wint into his own large household.

In 1880, having saved fifty dollars from his meager wages, Bairfield went west to St. Jo, Texas, where several of his friends had already moved from Georgia. Three years later he made his first journey by horseback to the Panhandle, where he punched cattle for one summer. He liked the region and perhaps realized the opportunities there; he returned from St. Jo in the spring of 1884 and began working for Bill Koogle, freighting cedar posts for fences out of Palo Duro Canyon. His long association with the JA Ranch began in April 1885, when John Grady, a wagon boss for that outfit, hired him as a horse wrangler. Over the next few years Bairfield participated in three trail drives to Dodge City, Kansas, before the arrival of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway in 1887. In 1890 Bairfield made his first purchase of dissatisfied settlers' claims on school land within the JA range. He was one of the few JA employees allowed to run cattle of his own; he bought milch calves, grazed them through the winter, and sold them in the spring to JA manager Dick Walsh for a profit.

On March 30, 1896, Bairfield married Lena Elizabeth Scoggins. Their first home was the JA line camp near the head of Mulberry Creek, where Bairfield managed one of the two purebred JJ herds maintained by the JA. In December 1899 the Bairfields left the JA and moved to a claim they had purchased from Joe Beaty at the head of Troublesome Canyon, eight miles southwest of Clarendon. Bairfield obtained a small herd from his father-in-law and started his own ranching operation, using a Lazy R brand. Subsequent purchases made from Cornelia Adair and the JA in 1909, 1913, and 1915 expanded the Lazy R into eight sections, some of which Bairfield had exchanged for his Mulberry Creek claims.

The Bairfields' first child died in infancy in January 1900; they subsequently had three children. Bairfield was a Mason and member of the Methodist Church in Clarendon. He often served on the grand jury and the local school board and for about four years was the Donley County sheriff's bond. He built a one-room schoolhouse on the Beaty claim that served on occasion as a church and area social center. By 1937, the last year the school was in operation, there was only one teacher and one pupil, a fact duly noted in "Ripley's Believe It or Not."

Lena Bairfield died on February 1, 1922. Bairfield died on November 12, 1931, after being stricken with apoplexy. They were both buried in Clarendon. The Lazy R Ranch continued to be operated by the heirs. The Bairfield schoolhouse was given by the family to the Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock in 1972 and formally dedicated on April 16, 1973, by Charles E. Bairfield and his wife, Thelma.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). Charles E. Bairfield, "Wint and Lena Elizabeth (Scoggins) Bairfield: Pioneers in the Texas Panhandle," in RHC Donor Books, ed. Ernest Wallace (Lubbock: Ranching Heritage Center, 1977). Virginia Browder, Donley County: Land O' Promise (Wichita Falls, Texas: Nortex, 1975). B. Byron Price, comp., Ranching Heritage Center Guidebook (Lubbock: Museum of Texas Tech University, 1977).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "BAIRFIELD, WINTFRY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbadv), accessed July 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.