Grandpa had told his youngest son, Ron, that he and his sister, Willie Francis, were born in a dugout that his father, James Franklin Leatherwood, had burrowed from the east bank of Little Elk Creek on the land he claimed in the 1982 Oklahoma land run.
In 1915, Grandpa was twelve years old when his father, James F., died. His sister Willie was about thirteen and their mother, Mattie America Stewart, was fifty years old. Grandpa, his mother, and sister, knew hard times, and hard work.
Grandpa’s success as a farmer/rancher speaks volumes of a man with a fourth grade education and a physical disability. Though at the time, his disability had no name, it did not curb his ambition. Now, we know that his disability was a hereditary neuropathy known as Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT). Walking across a field, climbing on a tractor, horse, or working with his hands, was not always easy, but he was still successful. I also have CMT and Grandpa has been an inspiration.
In the early years, Grandpa worked his farm with four mules. Their names were Buck, Red, Rat, and Snake. They were two sets of prized red mules. Later, he sold them for $400 a team, about the time he bought his first tractor. Pictures below, Grandpa and his mules.