GEORGE WASHINGTON INGRUM. During the era of modern rural development in Clay county there have occurred many instances of unusual thrift and many striking examples of the almost sudden acquirement of wealth, the attaining of a position of affluence and financial independence uncommon and almost unknown in any other commonwealth than Texas. Although the conditions here for him who follows the plow and reaps the grain are far from perfect from year to year, yet with those conditions right barely more than half the time such successes have followed in the wake of genuine industry as to astonish the uninitiated and to awaken an outside interest in the efficacy of Texas climate and Texas soil to provide abundantly for the wants of man. Conspicuous among those whose efforts in North Texas have won him a place among the substantial farmers of Clay county is George W. Ingrum, whose princely estate lies in the rich valley of Red river near the crossing of the Ft. Sill road. Coming to the county as he did in 1894 under financial conditions most adverse and discouraging he has so managed and directed his movements as become the owner of a farm whose productiveness renders it second to none of its area in this section of the state.
Mr. Ingrum was born four miles northwest of Lone Jack in Jackson county, Missouri, October 27, 1852. Elverto Akin Ingrum, his father, settled on a farm there in 1848, from Lafayette county, Missouri, where his birth occurred May 16, 1824. His time was taken up with farming, uninterrupted till the Civil war broke out, when he enlisted in the Confederate army and on August 8, 1863, was drowned in White River. He was a son of John Ingrum, born September 3, 1795, in Virginia, and settled in Missouri at about twenty years of age. He married in Lafayette county to Prudie Rice, a cousin of Governor and United States Senator Jo. Brown, of Georgia. Prudie Ingrum was born February 12, 1801, and died in 1880, while her husband passed away November 11, 1846. The issue of their marriage were: E. A. and William Ingrum, who died in Texas; John, of Belton, Missouri; Daniel, who died in Cass county, Missouri; Nancy, wife of David Powell, died in Lafayette county, Missouri; Evaline, who married James Woods and died in the Indian Territory; Linnie, married James Small and resides in Cass county, Missouri; Mary, became Mrs. Joseph Ewing, of Lafayette county, Missouri, and Ruth, who first married George Pemberton and died in Texas as the wife of a Mr. Zenn.
Elverto Akin Ingrum chose for his wife Hannah, a daughter of Absolom and . . . . . . (Rice) Powell, who emigrated from Tennessee to Missouri very early and became farmers. Their children were: Hannah, Rebecca, Rachel, Louise, Martha, Alvis, Joseph, Oliver and Hiram. Hannah Ingrum bore her husband seven children, viz.: Luvenia, of Jackson county, Missouri, wife of O. V. Tyson; John, who went to Montana in an early day and all trace of him was lost; George W., our subject; Alice, who married John Lindly, and died October 31, 1871; William, who was drowned in White River, December 4, 1873; James of Coffey county, Kansas, and Joseph, of Jackson county, Missouri. Some time after Mr. Ingrum’s accidental death his widow married Rev. T. S. Tyson, whose two children were: Gus, who died while in charge of a government Indian school in the Territory, and Marvin Tyson, of Jackson county, Missouri.
George W. Ingrum received a scant education in the country schools. He began life at about sixteen years of age and worked for wages in summer and spent some of it in school in winter until he acquired a fair knowledge of school books. In June before he was twenty-one he married and at once settled down to the life of a farmer. His possessions consisted of a team and borrowed harness and a few implements and he bought a small place on payments. Corn and hogs held his attention and after about five years he began climbing the ladder of success. Selling out his farm, he settled half way between Leo Summitt and Belton, where he purchased a larger farm and assumed greater responsibilities. He was prospering until the panic of 1892 came suddenly on and caught him with outstanding obligations that he could not meet. Things grew gradually worse and he was finally closed out with only a bare few hundred dollars with which to maintain his family while getting a start in some new country.
Hearing something of the virtues of Texas climate and the fertility and possibilities of Texas soil he came south on a prospecting tour with the result of his ultimate location in Clay county. The tract which he bought was about to be surveyed and sold in small farms and in his “dicker” with the owner he arranged to take the whole four hundred acres, agreeing to pay one dollar an acre cash, the interest annually and one thousand dollars the second year and the balance later. A crop failure the first year pinched him to meet his interest, live and plant again the next year. By maneuvering with stock on the shares and buying and selling on short notice he met his $1,000 payment by getting a year’s extension, met his interest, provided for his domestic wants, paid his taxes and erected new castle of hope for the future. A good crop or two placed his head far above the swelling tide of depression and in six years his home was secured and he was ready for other fields to conquer. In 1898 an opportunity to buy six hundred acres adjoining came and his success with the first deal gave him courage to try the second. His farm was becoming substantially improved and his stock of implements, horses and help had multiplied so that any arrangement to pay a few thousand dollars a few years in the future was amply justified. His acquirement of his second tract gives him a farm of six hundred acres without a blemish on it and four hundred acres of good pasture land. In recent years Mr. Ingrum conceived the idea of raising mules with the result that he has some seventy head of fine animals, from colts to five-year-olds, as are to be found anywhere. The profit from this source is sure and considerable and, all told, the “doubling up” process on his farm is now in a flourishing condition.
While the management and much of the work resulting in his vast accumulation in so few years has belonged to Mr. Ingrum he owes much to his loyal and industrious wife and children. They have been until recently an united family with a single purpose and every energy was bent toward its accomplishment. They have endured the bitter and enjoyed the sweet along with him and the pride with which he beholds his children is a fatherly one indeed. The breaking of the farm, the fencing it and the planting and cultivation of crops the first years was entailed with many hardships. The farm was infested with prairie dogs and they were eradicated by the children simply guarding the corn and keeping the animals in their holes till they literally starved to death. Grain is the commodity upon which the family have depended in the main but cotton and other side-issue crops have been grown and the farm has been one of busy push for full ten years. In 1903 a splendid new residence, with cellar, closets, toilet and bath, was erected and the pioneer shanty took its place in the lots among the other buildings for grain and stock.
June 12, 1873, Mr. Ingrum married Senia, a daughter of Fleming and Mary J. (Slaughter) Harris, both Virginia born and early settlers in Missouri. Mr. Harris died November 19, 1885, and his widow passed away in February, 1893, aged sixty-five. Their children were: Puss, who died in Jackson county, Missouri, as the wife of Henry Corn; Joseph, of Jackson county; Martha A., deceased, married George Alley; John R., of Jackson county; Senia Ingrum, born March 18, 1854; James L., died in Clay county, Texas, in 1900; Luther, of southeast Texas; Silas D., of Jackson county, Missouri; Daniel B., of the same place, and Marshall, who died young. Mr. and Mrs. Ingrum have children whose ages are as follows: Rosa Frances, born January 16, 1874, is the wife of Edgar Spielman, of Clay county, Texas; Mary J. F., born September 28, 1876, married William H. Conrad, and resides upon a farm adjoining her parents; Sina Della, born May 21, 1878, was educated in the Baylor Female College at Belton. She has demonstrated splendid talent in painting, drawing and sculpture and is a musician of fine ability. Her sweet voice and her charming piano performances have contributed to make home the dearest place on earth; George N., born July 31, 1880, died at thirteen years; Joseph Daniel, born February 15, 1882, is a ranchman near Amarillo, Texas; Olaver H., born February 19, 1884; Mattie Cleveland, born August 11, 1885, and a teacher in the public schools; Louise Hannah, born March 15, 1887, and Grover Allen, born October 20, 1888, constitute the issue to grow of accountability.
In his political relations Mr. Ingrum was for many years a Democrat. His early training was in that faith and until his personal observations taught him to the contrary that party received his every vote. In 1896 he changed his allegiance to the party of McKinley and supported him twice for the presidency. In 1904 he voted for Roosevelt and the policies of the present national administration suit him to the letter. Some years since he became an Odd Fellow.
It will be seen that George W. Ingrum has been a useful citizen in the development of Clay county’s affairs. While his efforts have been directed toward his own success his achievements have redounded toward the benefit of his county, and the present as well as the generations to follow will accord him the credit and the honors due to a worthy and successful man.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 535-537.