Webb L. Lumpkin

WEBB L. LUMPKIN (1871-1925), son of Wilson Lumpkin (1838-1919) and Mary Melinda Long (1845-1913), was born in Fort Dodge, Webster County Iowa, on August 11, 1871. We haven't yet discovered what the "L" of his middle name stood for. Perhaps it was Lemuel or Long, after his mother's family; but he also sometimes signed his name "Webb M. Lumpkin." He spent his youth working hard at his father's farm and lumberyard in Fort Dodge, Iowa. In 1889, when he was 17, his parents went to Oklahoma to homestead on the Cherokee Strip, in the great land rush. Of this event is written,

"Authorities declared almost 1,900,000 acres in central Oklahoma open for settlement at noon, April 22, 1889. Thousands of settlers moved to the border to await the opening. The army held them back until a pistol shot signaled the opening. Then a wild race began to claim the best farms and townsites. About 50,000 people had moved into Oklahoma by that evening. In a single day, Guthrie and Oklahoma City became cities of 10,000 persons."
     (from World Book Encyclopedia).

Webb may have already left home by this time, because we know that he struck out on his own at an early age, and it is not certain whether or not he went to homestead in Oklahoma with the rest of the family. (In his later life he told his children that he left home because he felt that he had to do more than his share of the work around the place, because his older brothers were overweight and unable or unwilling to do very much, and they forced him to do their work as well as his own. Perhaps they suffered from diabetes like their mother did, and their father was away preaching too much). As seen in the transcripts from the family bible, Webb's sisters Cora and Lula were married in or near Guthrie, Oklahoma, in 1892 and 1893. Webb had certainly left home by this time, and he went to Colorado. Not much is known about his activities there, but he must have been working as a miner and prospector.

In 1897, when he was 26, he went up to the new gold rush in the Klondike, or Yukon territory in northwest Canada. From historical records we learn that the prospectors in this gold rush traveled by steamship to Skagway, Alaska, north of Juneau, then had to carry their equipment and supplies by dogsled or on their backs, and make an arduous journey over high Chilkoot Pass and down the Yukon River to Dawson Creek. Supposedly there is a monument on the pass bearing the names of the first miners to cross in 1897, including the name of Webb L. Lumpkin (this is according to his daughter Grace, my grandmother). He apparently was one of the lucky few who got there early enough to get a good claim. He got quite a bit of gold at the Klondike, for he sent money to his youngest brother Harry in New York, to help put him through law school. Harry Lumpkin became a lawyer in New York City and lived there for the rest of his life.

Webb returned from the gold rush and went back to Colorado, where he married Beulah Mae Elledge on 30 July 1903, at Manassa, Conejos County, Colorado. He was 31 years old and Beulah Mae was 21. She was the daughter of James Harden (or James Horton) Elledge (1854-1942) and Mary Ann Wilson (1857-1940). Their first child,

    BEULAH MARY LUMPKIN, was born in LaJara, Colorado, 5 May 1904.

Soon after this, Webb went to open up a homestead in Duchesne County, Utah, where some of the Indian land had been made available for homesteading after the turn of the century. This was the last homestead act passed by Congress. Webb went up into the Uinta mountains to cut logs, and hauled them down to build a house for his family. Until the house was ready, his wife Beulah stayed in Vernal, Utah, where their second child,

    LORENA DARE LUMPKIN, was born 24 Nov 1905.  

After the home was ready, the family moved out to the homestead. The town of Myton was located at the bridge over the Duchesne River, and the Lumpkin family later also bought or rented a home here. They lived part of the year at Myton, where the children attended school, and part of the year out at the homestead in Antelope District, about 20 miles south of Myton.

The next children,

    ROY WILSON LUMPKIN, b. 15 Sep 1907, at Myton
    EVA CORA LUMPKIN, b. 25 Feb 1910, at Myton
  **GRACE ALLENE LUMPKIN, b. 12 Feb 1912, at the homestead 
       in Antelope District, Duchesne County, Utah.  

Franklin Bascom Wilson, Beulah Mae's maternal grandfather, died in Myton in 1913; apparently she took care of him and he lived with her family for a while before his death. He is buried in the Myton cemetery.

After this, three more children were born to the family, making a family of 6 girls and 2 boys.

    ADA WEBBIE LUMPKIN, b. 27 April 1914 
    VIOLET ETHEL LUMPKIN, b. 13 Apr 1916 
    LEONARD RAY LUMPKIN, b. 15 Feb 1919

Grandma (Grace) used to tell many stories of growing up on the homestead near Myton, swimming in the canal, helping to herd the family cows, etc. Her father was a deputy sheriff, and they had occasional Indian problems. She said that one time when her father was away, the Indians came to their home, wanting some food, and they just came in and started taking everything in the house. Perhaps they were angry at the U.S. government and took it out on the deputy's family. Beulah Mae was holding her baby, wrapped in a blanket, and apparently the Indians wanted the blanket, so they just yanked it away and the baby fell to the floor, landing on her head, which subsequently caused her some problems for the rest of her life. When the Indians went back outside, their chief or leader, who was sitting on his horse, apparently told them to go back in and give a little food back to the family so that they wouldn't starve, so the Indians went in and took a little out of each sack and placed them in little piles on the table: a few potatoes, a pile of flour, a pile of sugar, etc., and then they left without saying a word.

Another time when the children were older, the Indians came and started picking cherries from the trees in their yard when their parents were both gone. Grace said that her brother Roy, who was about 12 at the time, got down his father's gun, loaded it, and went out and told the Indians to leave or he'd shoot. It sounds like quite a rough, frontier life. Sometimes the men would get together and go over to the next town, to start a fight with the men from the other town and beat them up. (This was their form of recreation and excitement in those days, since organized sports for men to watch and participate in was not available yet). Grandma said that when they went to beat up the men in the other town, the men would always try to get her father to go along with them because he was as strong as three ordinary men, they said. He wasn't too tall but he had a very stocky, muscular build. But of course her mother didn't like it when he went and got in fights.

They had some happy years on the homestead, but then the Lumpkin family went bankrupt and lost everything they had because of an unfortunate combination of circumstances. They had been doing quite well and decided to invest in cattle, since the market for beef seemed very promising. Webb put all of his money into a herd of cattle from Texas; they were going to fatten them up that year and sell them to the army. But when the cattle arrived by train they were very thin and sickly, and many of them died; also the demand for beef went way down and the value fell, since many people had the same idea and invested in it at the same time. To top it all off, the bank in Myton failed after the banker embezzled a lot of money and skipped town. The Lumpkins had their mortgage and loans foreclosed by the new owners, and everything they owned had to be sold off in an auction; about all they had left was the clothing on their backs. They borrowed a horse and wagon, and went to Salt Lake City. They had to camp outside of the city for a while until Webb found work, and then they were able to rent a house.

After about two years, they were just getting on their feet again when Webb died suddenly; it is said that he just dropped dead on the street one day, on his way walking home from work, Oct. 15, 1925. He was 54 years old at the time. The cause of his death was believed to be either a brain aneurism, stroke, or a heart attack (although my grandma sometimes said she believed he had been poisoned by his employer, who owed him money and didn't want to pay him. Grandma also started saying at one time that he had been shot; but I think she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease even at that time, and it was hard for her to distinguish reality from things that she only imagined might have happened). Webb Lumpkin is buried in the Salt Lake City cemetery (Plot L-37-29-1-W).

Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra Shuler Bray