By Don McAlavy: CNJ Columnist
Ike Stanford was born in 1905 in Pontotoc County, Okla. He was only a year old when he came with his family by covered wagon to these parts. His father, Richard Penn Stanford, filed a homestead four miles south of Blacktower. When Ike was 5, the family moved into Clovis so his father would be nearer his job with the Santa Fe Railroad.
In 1914, when Ike was just 9, his mother died, leaving five boys and a girl. The boys were sent to their mother’s sister in Fort Worth for a while. Ike is also typical of those people whose families were deeply religious. “When I was 11, I attended a joint Methodist-Baptist revival in Clovis. I became conscious of the need to have Christ in my life and was converted,” he said.
“I graduated in 1927 in a class of 40 students. My best classmates were Dale Campbell, Madge Holland, Kenneth McCullough, Pearl Dale, Elizabeth Graham, Almaretta Growden, Kathleen Kiely, and Clark Smith, to name a few.”
That fall he enrolled in Simmons University (now Hardin-Simmons).
During the summers, he would return to the railroad working with the extra gang or with the B&B (bridge and building) crew. He was at Taiban with the gang when word came of the flood at San Marcial on the Rio Grande.
“In 1931, I was qualified to teach school. I still have my letters of recommendation from Gov. Andrew Hockenhull and Professor James Bickley,” he said.
“But I never got my first school. In 1931, my wife, Ella Mae Head and I had our first baby, Imogene Lenora.
“Then my brothers and I started the Stanford Jersey Dairy. I have worked at a lot of things. (Ike served his church well. He recorded church services, then re-recorded them on cassette tape and takes them to shut-in members.”
It has been several years now since his wife died, but Ike continued his many hobbies and memberships in several groups, notably the High Plains Historical Society in 1972. This is where I met Ike when I started the historical society. I also got well acquainted with Harold Kilmer and the three of us were buddies every after. The three of us would go hunting cemeteries and recording the names and dates on the tombstones.
The three of us also liked country music and singing.
Ike and his family were proud of their heritage and Ike was especially proud of his grandfather, Issac Franklin Stanford, who was a preacher. He died in 1913. Ike died June 19, 1996. He has been missed.
Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: