Euless HPC

Willie Huffman Byers

With Betty Fuller

WILLIE HUFFMAN BYERS

Euless, Texas was first settled in about 1867 as a small farming community in North Central Texas.  The City is located midway between Dallas and Fort Worth Texas, just west of DFW International Airport.   It was incorporated in 1953 and at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census had a population of 46,005.  The City of Euless encompasses approximately 16.3 square miles. (42.1 KM2)

Willie Huffman Byers was born in 1902 on a street in Euless, Texas known today as Huffman Drive. She lived in Euless her entire life and died in 1996.

Betty Fuller is a long-time resident of Euless, Texas. At the time of this interview she was the member of the Euless Historical Preservation Committee responsible for collecting narrative interviews.


Betty Fuller
February 8, 1995.  I’m at the home of Willie Byers, Willie Huffman Byers.  Your address is?
Willie H. Byers
1803 Summit Ridge
Betty Fuller
Willie is going to tell you some things she has written which I think she should share first, then I’m going to ask her some more questions and we will get some more Euless history.
Willie H. Byers
As we go back in history we find the first store in Euless and the only one at that time was built probably 100 years ago, I, Willie May Byers, 92 years of age, never knew of another one at that time.  My granddaddy Fuller owned that store for many, many years or until death.
Betty Fuller
His name was?
Willie H. Byers
Thomas Fuller. Thomas Patton Huffman, his son-in-law, took it over.  It is unknown if he took it over…if he purchased it or fell heir to it.  It is also unknown who and how the store would be carried on.  But Daddy, Thomas Huffman,  was elected Tarrant County Commissioner of Precinct 3 in 1912, some 80 years ago.  Many changes have been taking place during that time, but he did know he would turn the store business over to a family friend, John Cruse or better known then as "Deb" as he had just been made Deputy Sheriff to enable him to work as a guard at a convict camp set up southeast of Euless.  It housed prisoners from the Tarrant County jail to work the dirt roads over and other duties.  It was such a pleasure for two kids, my brother and I, to visit this camp and see the gravel wagons, the mules and the bloodhounds, but we being only 8 and 10 years of age it was such a pleasure just to eat in the cook shack...
Betty Fuller
Now, your brother that visited with you was?
Willie H. Byers
My brother, Blunt Huffman.
Betty Fuller
Blunt, and you had another…how many were there?
Willie H. Byers
You want the names?  I had another brother, Steve, and I had three sisters, Ruth, Emma and Hattie.
Betty Fuller
Okay, thank you...
Willie H. Byers
It was a pleasure to eat lunch in the cook shack with him and the other deputies and sometime visitors including the Commissioner, my dad.  But after a long time, the camp broke up and moved on and at this time my dad put our friend, Del Cruse, in the store for operation and of course much time had gone by and I had reached my teen age years and loved to help out in the store also.  But to our surprise, one day the Fort Worth Public Librarian, Mrs. Schubert, came by and asked us if she could set up a Library in the store as she felt the need of more libraries in the rural communities and this store was the only available place.  Yes, the arrangements were made and a Euless Library was set up and I had the honor of getting to be the first Librarian and it paid well, $6.00 a month.  But, about all I had to do was to sign out and sign in and see that everything went as it should.  But many memories have gone by and everything went well.  The store had its own ice house also, with different men going to Arlington twice a week in the wagon to get ice.  They would throw a wagon sheet1 over to keep it from melting.  Coming in large blocks made it easy to handle, so anyone living in the Euless area needing 25 or 50 pounds of ice knew where to get it.  But as I grew older, looking back over my childhood days brings more memories like when I was too small to go to school.  I just visited that first year.  In the first year I enrolled in that two room school east of the Euless store and moved to the South Euless School when I was only 10 years of age...
Betty Fuller
Just a minute, Willie, I understand that the school you first went to was just where that new Taco Bell is today.
Willie H. Byers
No, no, it was way on past...
Betty Fuller
Passed it, east of it, east of it, a two room school...
Willie H. Byers
Yes, yes...
Betty Fuller
I think that property was given by W.N.M. (Moody) Fuller.
Willie H. Byers
Probably so, probably so.  The South Euless School was very special to me because my daddy, his brother, J.D. Huffman, and our family doctor, Dr. Rhodes, were the first Trustees ever in the Euless School System.  A Historical Cornerstone was honored just a few years ago with a great celebration in their memory.  After all of these memorable events just about finished up the wonderful memories of my childhood days.   And now more recent news, Trinity High School was built on the north edge of our Huffman property and residents of Euless were asked to submit a name for the new school and why you thought it should be so.  Guess what, I was the first to submit a name, would you believe Huffman High was the name and I had a good reason also.  But I still love that beautiful Euless High School even if Trinity did win its name.  Now that all this era has come to an end, the Huffman property is no longer there, since the Airport Freeway came through.  The property was sold to the HEB School system, which bought the first half; and to the beautiful First Baptist Church; the Magnolia (Mobil) filling station on the corner of 157 and Huffman service road, and then the last sixteen acres went to Ector Square Apartments.  It was such an honor to…it was such a pleasure to have all of these honorable places on our property when it could have not been so desirable.  The last to go of the Huffman Estate was the Byers Family. Billy Byers and the Billy (Lee) Byers Family who settled in the beautiful Trailwood Addition.  So we have been pleased to have had a part of Euless history, a place we have called home for so many years.  Willie Byers, 1803 Summit Ridge.
Betty Fuller
Willie, I know that you are a Huffman and I’d like you to tell us when you were born and where the house was, where you were born?
Willie H. Byers
I was born in the year of 1902 and the house that I was born in is still standing today on Vine Street.  It had been moved off the Airport Freeway and at that time stood just east of Furr’s Cafeteria (now Acme Brick) on the same side.
Betty Fuller
and that house is still there on Vine Street.  Now, your momma and daddy…who was your daddy and then tell us about your mother.
Willie H. Byers
My daddy was Thomas Patton Huffman and my mother was Cynthia Elizabeth Fuller who married a Huffman.
Betty Fuller
And her daddy, was that Tom Fuller that had that grocery store?  Tell us his name. He had several girls; tell us about that; his name and his girls.
Willie H. Byers
His name was Thomas Fuller and he had four daughters, Cynthia Elizabeth, "Betty" was her nickname, Sarah Emaline "Sally" was her name, Amanda Jane was her name and Nancy Jane was "Nanny".
Betty Fuller
Who did they marry? Tell us who each one married.  Do you know who they married?
Willie H. Byers
Yes, yes, Cynthia Elizabeth married Thomas Patton Huffman; Sarah Emaline married Ed Cromer; Amanda Jane married Stonewall W.  Weatherly; (son of Susan Trigg Weatherly2) and Nancy Jane married Uncle Joe Huffman, which is a brother to my mother/to my daddy.
Betty Fuller
I also understand that Tom Fuller was Mood (W.M.N.) Fuller’s brother, and he came from Tennessee.  I understand that his first wife, the mother of these girls, died in Tennessee.  Where did they come from in Tennessee?
Willie H. Byers
I was told they lived in Coffee County Tennessee and when she passed away, so I was told, she left four little girls, these four little girls I just mentioned, and her name was believed to be a Wall.  His first wife a Mrs. (Sarah "Sally") Wall.  Then he brought his four little girls to Euless, why I’ll never know.
Betty Fuller
Well, Mood Fuller came at the same time to Euless.  Mood came then too, didn’t he?
Willie H. Byers
I don’t know...
Betty Fuller
Yes.
Willie H. Byers
...and there was a lady.  I have forgotten her name.  She lives at Tow, Texas.  She told my granddaddy that she would be glad to take his four little girls and keep them until he could manage and make arrangements for them.
Betty Fuller
So one of those little girls was your mother?
Willie H. Byers
One of those little girls was my mother.
Betty Fuller
And your daddy (granddaddy) married again.  Who did he marry?
Willie H. Byers
Then my (grand) daddy married again.  He married a (Harriett Priscilla "Prissy") Huffman, granddaddy Huffman’s daughter, and then they had three more children.  They had Willie Fuller Booher.  Willie Fuller married Tom Booher.  John Fuller married Eula Neeley.  Kate Fuller married Johnny Neeley.
Betty Fuller
There were three more, I mean in your mama’s family.
Willie H. Byers
That’s right, yes.
Betty Fuller
They became your uncles and aunts.
Willie H. Byers
Yes, that’s right.
Betty Fuller
A long time ago, Willie, you told me that there was another school out near here called the Crossroads School.  Tell me a little about that and why you visited there.
Willie H. Byers
Well, there was another school and I have as many memories of that school as I do of any school, because it was on the southwest corner of the Airport Freeway and 157, I believe now there is an Exxon Station there, but it was a one room school they had a big stove right in the center and I was not old enough to go to school but I would visit with my brothers and sisters, which was Blunt, Steve Huffman, Ruth Huffman, Emma Huffman and Hattie Huffman.  All my brothers and sisters went there, so they would let me come and visit, especially on Friday.  Friday was a big day at school because they would make candy for recreation.  People would bring sugar, milk, molasses and so on and so forth, and they would make candy on that stove.  When it was cooled they would pull3 that candy…they’d have a candy pulling and they would pull it out and put it on a desk and roll it out into a great long roll. Then they’d cut it in sticks so everybody got a stick of candy.  Then another thing they would do on Friday for recreation was that they would get out in the road, which had no cars or trucks or anything, (horse and buggy days), they would walk to the top of the hill and race down to see who could get there first, get down to the school first.  The one who got down to the school first would get the prize. I have so many memories of that school.  Of the kids going out and dusting erasers, sitting on the wood pile, eating our lunch and everything like that.  And inside the school they had a water keg back in the corner, filled with water every morning.  Every pupil in that school had a little tin cup with a number on it.  There was a nail on the wall with a number on it and if they didn’t keep their number on that nail with this number or if they misplaced or lost that cup, they didn’t get a drink for the rest of the day.  That made everybody very careful to take care of their drinking cup.  I have many memories of that school which was also called the Evatt School.
Betty Fuller
Willie, when you went to the school that was about just east of where the Taco Bell is now and South Euless School, did you walk?  How did you get there?
Willie H. Byers
We walked everywhere.  Now when I went to my first school actually what used to be east of E-Z Way (Taco Bell) store and we walked to school.  My older brother and sister’s school was in the first little Methodist Church, just a frame church.  We would walk from our school, kick around in the dirt and walk up the road.  There weren’t no cars or nothing, no traffic hardly.  We would go to this church and wait for our brothers and sisters and then we would walk home.  One day, I don’t know how come this special person asked me if I knew that my daddy had a Model T car, and oh, brother, was I happy, I didn’t walk, I ran every step of the way home.  I was so proud of that car.  So that was the first car we ever had.
Betty Fuller
Willie, did you go to Euless School through the tenth or eleventh grade?
Willie H. Byers
When they finished South Euless School, it really was Euless Tarrant4 School.
Betty Fuller
Not Tarrant?
Willie H. Byers
That’s the reason it was first put, because it was half way between Euless and Tarrant as possible.  So the children from both towns could go to school there.  I don’t remember just exactly when they dropped the Tarrant but I believe it was when they made it the high school, but yes I was ten years old when I went to the South Euless School.  Quite a change too because at the little school east of the store, there was nothing there as far as games and things like that.  When we got down there, things picked up a little better for us.
Betty Fuller
And you went all the way through grade...?
Willie H. Byers
I don’t remember exactly ever having a graduation when I went to school.  I just kinda believe we went through and they gave us a report card and told us to get going.
Betty Fuller
Ok, thank you.  Well, where did you meet your husband?
Willie H. Byers
Well, I guess I was about fourteen or fifteen and he (Lee Byers’ family from Georgia) moved into Euless actually where granddaddy Huffman had lived earlier.  They bought that place and he was kinda cute I though.  He got to running around with Warren and Raymond (Fuller) and other boys in Euless.  He didn’t take a liking to me at all at first, I don’t know, we just kinda got to going together and finally fell in love, you know.
Betty Fuller
How old were you when you married Lee Byers?
Willie H. Byers
I was twenty-six years old.
Betty Fuller
You weren’t a spring chicken5 for those days where you?
Willie H. Byers
Oh, I was lucky to get married at all.
Betty Fuller
Ah, that’s not true! Willie, what year did you marry Lee Byers?  What year did you marry?
Willie H. Byers
1926
Betty Fuller
Okay and how many children did you have?
Willie H. Byers
Had two.
Betty Fuller
Tell us their names.
Willie H. Byers
Billy Lee Byers, he’s on the…he operates the Euless Lumber and Mary Elizabeth French, lives at Millsap, Texas.  She just retired from the Mineral Wells State Park.
Betty Fuller
Okay, how many grandchildren do you have?
Willie H. Byers
Honey, it would take a half a day to count, I have nine grandchildren.  I’m not right sure, sixteen or seventeen great-grand, and...
Betty Fuller
Sixteen or seventeen great-grandchildren, that’s marvelous.
Willie H. Byers
I do have five great-great-grandchildren.
Betty Fuller
Five great-great-grandchildren.
Willie H. Byers
Three little boys and two little girls.
Betty Fuller
That is wonderful!  I know that you play the piano beautifully.  My husband and Mary (Byers) graduated from high school together. You were one of the room mothers.  When they used to have reunions, you played the piano every year when we had a reunion, which usually was here in Euless.  But tell us about your first piano and when you started playing.
Willie H. Byers
Well, Betty, it goes way, way back.  The first piano I ever saw really was when I was about eight years old.  My daddy heard of a piano for sale and went in the wagon and bought it, brought it home, backed it up to the back porch and before he could unload it, I had never seen a piano before,  I got up on the wagon wheel and raised the lid; I had never seen as many black and white notes in all my days.  All I had ever seen was a pump organ at my first little church, little friends church.  Many, many years ago, I raised that piano lid and with my one finger, I picked out “In the Sweet By and By.”  Then he unloaded the piano and rolled it into the parlor.  It was a parlor in those days, it wasn’t a living room…, it was just a parlor, windows didn’t have screens, floors didn’t have rugs.  It wasn’t used, but we were always happy with what we had.  He put the piano in the parlor and I was set on the stool.  I still have the stool today, over a hundred years old, I’m sure.  I was set on my stool, my feet wouldn’t reach the floor, but I began picking out other little tunes with one finger.  And I just went from there to where I am today, I’ve been playing many, many years.
Betty Fuller
You played at the church didn’t you?
Willie H. Byers
I played at the church, by the time I got old enough to play at the church, the Methodist Church, under the Tabernacle6, I would play and Warren Fuller would lead the singing and the more I would play the more the people would sing.  We just had a good singing.  Yes, I played for the church many, many years.  One Sunday, after church, they made up an offering for the visiting pastor, and they got more money that they expected and so they decided they would pay me.  They wrote out a check for twenty-five dollars and handed it to me and I told them “no way” I would not accept it.  I never had taken a music lesson in my life, did not know anything about music and it didn’t cost me nothing, therefore, I would not accept it, I never had and wasn’t going to begin it now, but, they insisted, and I said I will take it under one condition, I will give it to my Woman’s Society of Christian Service.  I gave that check to them and they in return made me a life member of the Woman’s Society of Christian Service.
Betty Fuller
Oh, what an honor Willie, that was wonderful.  Thank you.  Willie, I know that times were hard in the olden days and I wondered if you ever worked to help Lee out.  Did you ever work?
Willie H. Byers
Yes, I was, I guess about fifteen.  When we were fourteen/fifteen we didn’t know about the birds and bees, not like they do today, we were still kids, but I took a notion that I would like to work in town and my Mother and Daddy did not listen to that at all.  They just thought if I did, I was sure gone, but I persuaded them, finally persuaded them to let me work in town, if I could get a job.  I would stay with my cousin five days a week and I’d come home and go to church and go back on Monday morning, if I could get a job.  So I went and put my application in at Kress’s7 and Woolworth’s8. Way back then, you know they paid good money. Woolworth’s paid nine dollars a week and Kress’s paid ten.  I didn’t have a bit of trouble getting on at Kress’s and I did just that.  I went there and I stayed with some people by the name of Jeff and Mattie Craft9 and they had three children and they were glad to have me to stay there because they were very involved in the Hemphill Heights Methodist Church and they being so much younger, even though there was no meanness, no violence or anything in those days they left the doors open and the windows open right there in Fort Worth, but I was company to them.  They were glad to have me stay there.  So, I worked at Kress’s and I would go home and I’d go to church and then I would go back, however, after about two months time of that or maybe three, I got enough of that and I wanted to go home and I never have worked since.
Betty Fuller
Except you worked at the South Euless School.
Willie H. Byers
Yes I did, I did kinda pinch-hit (cook) at the South Euless School and I really loved that.  I worked with my friends and we had a lot of fun.
Betty Fuller
Who worked with you?
Willie H. Byers
Ruth Millican, Jennie Payton and Kate Neely, which has passed on now.  Every Wednesday was Society Day, and Mother Cannon, we called her, Mother Cannon lived across the street.  Mother of Jesse Cannon Fuller.  She would have the meetings at her place and we would rush up on Wednesday and have just short orders so we could get out of the lunchroom and get across the street to her house and she would have the Methodist Guild, the Women’s Society of Christian Service every Wednesday and we appreciated that.
Betty Fuller
Thank you Willie for sharing with us.

This narrative history was produced through the efforts of The Euless Historical Preservation Committee with assistance from the staff of the City of Euless Parks and Community Services Department.


Endnotes

  1. Wagon sheet: a tarp coated with a water proof substance that protects the contents of the wagon from the weather.
  2. The Trigg family: some of the members were first settlers in Euless
  3. Pull: taffy is made from sugar, molasses and butter boiled and pulled by hand while still warm to lighten the color and cool it until it stiffens into a hard candy.
  4. Tarrant: A small town southeast of present day Euless. Tarrant was located on the Rock Island rail line that ran between Dallas and Fort Worth.
  5. Spring chicken: slang for a young person
  6. Tabernacle: a structure often built outdoors, without sidewalls, used for worship.
  7. Kress’s: a chain of "five and dime" retail department stores in the U.S. which operated from 1896 to 1981.
  8. Woolworth’s: a "five and ten cent" store founded in 1879.
  9. Craft: Mattie Emmaline Mayes Craft was the granddaughter of Henry B. Fuller, brother of Willie’s grandfather, Thomas Fuller.  Henry B. Fuller was killed on November 29, 1884 by a runaway team of mules.  He was married to Thomas Fuller’s sister (Mariah Emmaline Wall).  Mattie and Willie’s mother were double cousins.