Back to where it all started: Lefors family descendant from Texarkana comes back to Gray County

From left, Monica Whitehead, Tammie Moore and Alexandria York stand over the old Perry Lefors dugout.

Gray County has a rich history of families who have settled and stayed here.

The Lefors family, settled by Perry Lefors, is just one of the several families whose name pops up in several spots across the area, most notably in the town of Lefors.

Tammie Moore lives in Texarkana and is the granddaughter of Catherine Lefors Trenkle, the niece of Joe Lefors (Perry’s brother). Catherine used to tell Moore stories of Joe and the rest of the Lefors clan, but it wasn’t until there was a commemorative coin given to Moore that she knew the magnitude of her family’s history.

“Grandmas have a tendency to embellish stories, and as kids we never know the difference,” Moore said. “About two years ago, a special agent Archer (unknown first name) from the Union Pacific Railroad came and gave my supervisor a commemorative coin. Agent Archer and I were talking and I asked if he had ever heard of Joe Lefors and he told me, ‘Did you not see the coin?’ Joe Lefors is on the center of that coin.”

Moore said the coin has picture of a train car with men on horses in front of it. Moore went on to explain that she is kin to Joe Lefors. 

“I remember seeing in one of my books that Pampa was where they (Perry, Emma and the family) had settled,” Moore said. “I started researching, got a hold of the library and they helped some. But I got a hold of White Deer Land Museum and got in touch with Anita Gullett, and she was real excited after I gave her some background information and pictures I had.”

Gullett got Moore in touch with Bill Gething, who was able to give her more information on Emmett Lefors (another descendant in the Lefors line). Moore and Gething spoke for several months and visited about the Lefors family. Gething eventually suggested Moore come to Pampa to see some of her family’s history herself.

Moore, her daughter Monica Whitehead and granddaughter Alexandria York all came to the Gray County area to learn more about the area.

“All three generations came to Pampa and Anita gave us a tour of the White Deer Land Museum, which was wonderful,” Moore said. “She put us in touch with Matt McComas and we got to go last Wednesday to the dugout/cellar at the home-site, to me, where it all began. It was really moving, I was in tears. I finally ended my journey and saw where it started.”

What was almost as impactful to Moore, however, was just how great the people in Pampa treated her.

“It was almost like they were cut out, they were all the same,” Moore said. “They were so hospitable and friendly. I don’t know what I expected but everybody was the same.”

Moore enjoyed her time here so much she said if she was gonna live anywhere else it would be Pampa.

“We got to go to Finley’s Fountain, Coney Island, etc.,” Moore said. “Being there from Monday through Thursday, I’m sure there were other things I would have wanted to do, but what I went to do I got to accomplish.”

After visiting the dug-out/cellar at the home-site outside of Lefors, Moore said the experience was emotional and over-whelming.

“I was beside myself with joy and emotion,” Moore said. “I was standing in the same spot a Lefors family member had stood. I never thought I would make it that far. I had everybody crying. It was very emotional.”

Moore added the more she heard the stories about her family history, the more emotional she got. Now she gets to pass those stories on to other members in her family.

“I don’t want those stories to be lost,” Moore said. “I didn’t realize how respected Perry and Emmett Lefors were. I saw an article that said Emmett was the son of a pioneer. It humbled me. I’m just a simple person, I don’t look at anything like that (with prestige). But I thought, ‘Dang, that’s pretty cool.’”

The only Lefors family member Moore knows about now is her cousin, David Lefors. 

“We (her and David) have visited back-and-forth some,” Moore said. “But he’s busy and I’m busy. We keep in touch, though.”

Even with such a rich family history, Moore’s outlook on life hasn’t changed any.

“I just think it’s so cool,” Moore said. “It gives me some information.”

Looking ahead, Moore would like to continue her journey of learning about her family history, which may take her to Lawton, Okla.

“Perry had a brother named Rufe (Rufus) Lefors,” Moore said. “He was in Lawton, Okla. as one of the first 12 lawman in Lawton. He’s on a plaque in the sheriff’s office in Comanche County. That’s gonna be my next mission.”

Moore would eventually like to take the information and turn it into a photo album for the family to cherish for many years.

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