CHARLEY TANNYHILL,OUR NEIGHBOR
It must have been the year of 1929 and at the age of three, I remember
my sister's husband Jack Murrell setting me in the saddle of Mr. Tannyhill"s
black horse with a white tail, white mane and white stocking feet. It
was a sunny summer Sunday afternoon and everyone was out in the yard
on the old Lake place West of Gotebo. It was not uncommon for Mr. Tannyhill
to ride his horse to one or more of the neighbors, especially if other
people had come to visit.
On this particular afternoon Mr. Tannyhill rode up, got off his horse
and dropped the reins. Not long after Mr. Tannyhill rode up, Jack grabbed
me and set me on the horse, and I guess it startled the horse as he
took off in a dead run across the plowed garden. He hadn't gone very
far when I fell off in the plowed ground. It didn't hurt me, but scared
me half to death. I remember dirt getting in my eyes, nose and mouth
and I was bawling, but, other wise 0 K.
Charley Tannyhill was born in 1866 in Indiana according to the 1910
Kiowa County U. S. Census but indicated on the Census that he did not
know where his father and mother were born. In 1901, Mr. Tannyhill applied
for a homestead in the Lottery in Oklahoma Territory and drew a 160
acres of land in the Northeast corner of Section 23 Range 17 West and
Township 7 North in Kiowa County. He later bought a quarter across the
road North and a quarter in the Southwest corner of Section 23. This
quarter bordered my grandfather John Henry Mayes' homestead on the South.
Mr. Tannyhill named his farms the Circle Dot Ranch. All his corrals
were round with a post in the middle representing a Circle Dot. The
driveway crossed over the dam of two ponds leading to his house and
had a circle driveway outlined in rock with a large white rock in the
middle. His Branding Iron for his cattle was about 4 inches in diameter
with a dot in the middle. He believed in having plenty water for his
cattle as be built several small ponds in each pasture.
He had a blacksmith shop and several out buildings and built a large
split level barn where he could throw down hay to his cattle from the
upper level. He guttered the barn where he could have plenty of water
in the cistern for household use. He had a windcharger to make his electricity
in the early 1930's. Mr. Tannyhill never married. He told one time of
having a sweetheart and that she had died not long after they had met.
He said he never met another that he wanted to marry.
He also told about his life before coming to Oklahoma. He said he traveled
with the Ringling Brothers Circus for a number of years and that one
of his jobs was to drive the Band Wagon with an 8 horse hitch in the
Parades. He had traveled all over the United States and part of Europe
with the Circus.
In 1933, my parents moved to the Bluebaker place across the road East
of Mr. Tannyhill when I was about 7 years old. Many a time my father
and I would go up the pasture to "Tannys" as we called him. He had cow
skins on the floor for rugs, had a old coal heating stove with generally
a pot of beans on simmering and with a pan of peanuts roasting. You
were always welcome to help yourself whether he was there or not. He
also kept a jar of whiskey on the table labeled poison to prevent anyone
from taking a drink of his private stock.
Of Course, if he was there he usually had something for you to do. He
would say I need some help making rope or lariats for my horses or cattle,
or he would say I need to brand these calves today, or work on the wheat
binder, or clean out the barn.
Tanny always wore jeans that he would order out of the Monkey Ward catalog
and would not change til they were dirty enough to throw away. Dad would
say when Tanny took off his pants at night he wouldn't lay them down,
he would just stand them in the corner. He never wore a shirt in the
summer time and his skin would be as red as a beet and his skin looked
tough as cowhide. He wore red suspenders made from innertubes of the
He would go to Gotebo barefooted saving his boots to work around the
place. I have seen him go into Theissens Grocery Store and buy a whole
sack of over-ripe bananas that he bought for a bargain price and would
sit on the curb of the street and eat every one. He would cut his own
hair, that is to say he would clip it so short with hand clippers that
it would look like his head was shaven.
One day, my Dad and I went up to his place and a short distance from
the house we heard him moaning and groaning. We went in and he was down
in the floor trying to pull his tooth with a pair of wire pliers.
Tanny always had a good horse to ride and generally it was a paint horse.
You would see him riding around the country on his horse with his white
dog named "Snowball" visiting neighbors or just looking over the crops
One Christmas I decided that we needed a Christmas tree but no money
was available so I climbed up in the top of one of his cedars and cut
the top out of it for a Christmas tree. Well, it didn't take long for
him to spot it and he asked me about it. I admitted that I cut it, and
was sorry, but that was the only way I could get a tree. It seemed to
satisfy him and I was pretty sure it was all right after my mother invited
him for Christmas dinner.
Tanny owned a Model "T" Ford but never learned to drive. One day when
I was about 12 years old my mother needed to take the eggs and cream
to town as my Dad was working at the wheat elevator at Komalty. I decided
to asked Tanny if I could borrow his Model"T" Ford car to take my mother
to town. He said yes so I jacked up the back wheel and cranked the engine
and got it started and we headed for Gotebo.
When we started home everything went OK until I stopped at Carrol Harris
Service station to get some gas and the thing stopped and I couldn't
get it started even with the wheel jacked up. Well, I guess I must have
cranked an hour, but finally discovered that the spark lever wasn't
in the right position.
After I was grown, everytime I would go by his place, I would stop and
visit with him. In 1947 I stopped by to visit with him and he asked
where I was working and I told him I was working at Safeway in Guthrie.
He said to me that he wanted me to remember "that a rolling stone gathers
In the 1950's I heard that Tanny had died. They found him in the driveway
on the way back to his house from the mail box apparantly dead from
a heart attack. I was told his estate went to a brother and sister in
California. It was reported that he had a large amount of War Bonds
that he bought during World War II. My sister Kathleen and her husband
Dan Schmidt bought the North 160 acres of the Circle Dot Ranch in the
This information on one of Kiowa County's early settlers was provided
for this site by J. T. Mayes. This information remains the property
of the submitter.
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