ROBERT E. SAWDON, one of the large farmers of Clay county, is a gentleman whose advent to the vicinity of Thornberry dates from the year 1893, when the Illinois colony purchased and took possession of one of the most beautiful and fertile neighborhoods of the Wichita and Red river country. The following year he purchased a tract of thirteen miles northeast of Wichita Falls and undertook the initial work of preparing him a home. His first purchase was a half interest in a half section but since the additions to his holdings have been sufficient to make his estate aggregate eleven hundred and sixty acres.
The quality of the soil and the nature of the climate adapts the locality where Mr. Sawdon resides to the growing of small grain. All the elements are present necessary to the production of a bountiful crop annually, and with the annual rainfall properly distributed through the seasons no agricultural zone exists surpassing it in profitable results to labor. Corn and cotton seem to grow and produce as abundantly as elsewhere and with the planting of a variety of cereals and other products Clay county lands have demonstrated their reliability as a farming country as satisfactorily as sections in the same longitude in the wheat belts farther north. These conditions were fully considered by Mr. Sawdon and his purchase of large tracts of this cheap land is a result of wise deliberation and not of reckless speculation.
Robert E. Sawdon is American born of English parents. His birth occurred in Pike county, Illinois, November 2, 1867. His father was John Sawdon, a farmer, who died in 1868, at the age of forty-one. After his death the widowed mother returned to Yorkshire, England, with her family and remained there ten years, then bringing them again to Illinois and locating in Pike county. Mrs. Sawdon was a lady of English birth, her maiden name being Mary Breckon. Her five children were: Thomas W., of Brown county, Illinois; Lucy, who died young; John H., of Pike county; and Robert E., of this sketch. In 1890 Mrs. Sawdon died at her hold home in Illinois, aged sixty-one years, having reared her small family to become useful and honorable men.
Mr. Sawdon of this notice received his education on the country schools. At about fifteen years of age he began life as a wage worker on a farm. He left the maternal roof finally when some years past his majority, having accumulated means with which to invest in real estate in the cheap land district in Texas. Being yet single, he made his home for several years with the family of J. W. Butler at Thornberry and for seven years lived in this way a bachelor’s life. March 29, 1904, he married, in Wichita Falls, Miss Ethel Fesler, a daughter of Henry A. and Mary (Phebus) Fesler, whose other children were: Lela, wife of Frank Hall, of Ashland, Missouri; Robert, of Clay county, Texas; Jacob, of Summer Hill, Illinois; and James, of Bowen, Illinois. Mrs. Sawdon was born in Pike county, Illinois, October 6, 1884. The Sawdon home is a neat though modest and unpretentious one, surrounded by vast acres of fertile prairie. It is presided over by a lady whose excellent and domestic habits are apparent everywhere, an ideal companion for an ambitious and industrious husband.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 657-658.