Living on the Tall Grass Prairie

For over twenty-five years, I made my home in Wichita County in North Texas where the land is rolling hills, arid, and for the most part, barren. I can’t imagine what the early settlers must’ve thought when they first laid eyes on it. It doesn’t even remotely resemble a fertile place in which to make a home. There’s just not much to recommend it so I have no idea what the attraction was.


Other than a few trees that grew along the streams and rivers, wood was a scarce commodity. So when pioneers came west and settled here, they had nothing except dirt from which to make a home. They grabbed a shovel and set to work. The early settlers carved dugouts into the sides of hills around here. Also, the dugouts were actually warmer in winter and cooler in summer than other types of houses.


But they were nothing to write home about. They were dark inside with only a door to allow light and in most the floors was nothing but dirt. Can you imagine a woman trying to keep things clean?

Or keeping the creepy crawly things out.



Or for the pioneer woman to see to do the sewing, cooking or reading.

It must’ve been miserable even though they were lucky to have the shelter.

According to the Wichita Falls Museum of North Texas History, one of the early families to make friends with the Wichita Indians and set up housekeeping on the tall grass prairie was the W. T. Bunton family. He carved a dugout from a hill that is near the present day downtown area and lived in it with his wife and two boys. Several more children were born to them there. I’m sure cramped wasn’t the word for the tight quarters. Everything was in one room. The women who lived back then were as tough as a piece of dried shoe leather. They did whatever needed doing to survive.

Another family to settle in Wichita County was Monroe Dodson with his wife and children. He too carved a dugout from a bluff. Here’s an excerpt from a young adult nonfiction book titled “In the Land of the Wichitas” by Dorothy Crowder that describes the Dodson dugout:

“Other than a few cowboys from the Samuel Burk Burnett 6666 Ranch, there were no other white neighbors of the Dodson family. Let us go near the dugout which serves as the family home. It is carved from the red earth of the river’s bluff. It is 14 x 14 and houses the entire family and the hunting dog. Mr. Dodson has carved a fireplace into the south side of the dugout. The chimney does not draw well, and the tiny room is filled with smoke…. The children are tumbled in piles of fur, which form their beds….”

Oh, lovely! The pioneers paid a handsome price for adventure, cheap land, and wide open spaces.

The book doesn’t mention what kind of fuel the Dodson’s burned but I’m sure it was mostly dried buffalo chips or something like that. Thousands of buffalo roamed this area until they ran headlong into the mangy buffalo hunters’ big guns.

Gold line divider

I’m currently writing a series called Men of Legend and it’s set in the Wichita Falls/Vernon, Texas area on a large fictional ranch called The Lone Star. It was established by patriarch, Stoker Legend, and comprises four hundred and eighty thousand acres that he’s carved out for his sons—Houston, Sam and Luke. The land is wild and unforgiving and requires a blessed mental toughness to survive.

These men have what it takes. They’ve fought Comanche, drought, fires, floods and outlaws to plunk down roots so deep it would take forty pounds of dynamite to blast them out. Their blood is spilled on this land and they’re not running from a fight.

They are a proud family. They are blood. THEY ARE LEGENDS.

Highlight October 4th on your calendar. Book one – TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER – will ride into bookstores and online. You don’t want to miss this.


Living on the Tall Grass Prairie — 12 Comments

  1. Linda- what a beautiful write up on Wichita County. I just can’t imagine the hard ache and trouble the folks went through back then for a chance to own their on land and start over. But because of all their hard work and determination they settled and created a lasting legacy. I can’t wait to read your new book, my calendar is marked and I’m going to pre-order my copies for my friends and family, who have now become Linda Broday fans.

    • Hi Tonya……..Great to see you. Always, always. You’re a bright ray of sunshine. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Yes, I’m sure the rugged land broke many spirits. Only the hardiest and most god-awful determined survived. It’s the perfect place to set my Legend family and their sprawling ranch. Thank you so much for telling your family and friends about me and my books. You’re a sweetheart and I love you for that.

  2. My husband was born and raised in Wichita Falls. We were just there for his 50th class reunion in September. He left to spend 22 years in the Navy. I can’t wait to read the new series.

    • Hi Paulette…….Thank you for coming by to read my post. You have lots of ties to Wichita Falls and Wichita County. You’ll have no trouble relating to my Men of Legend series. I moved away from there in 2009 but occasionally I feel the tug to go back. Lots of memories for me there.

      Thanks again for coming. I hope you enjoy this new series that kicks off with Sam Legend in To Love a Texas Ranger.

    • Hi Jacqui……Thank you so much for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Wichita County, Texas is full of history. So many things happened there. I liked that aspect when I lived there but the terrain/landscape was not my favorite. I like trees and valleys and water–none of which Wichita County has. But it sure suits my rugged Legend family. Glad my new series is catching your interest.

      Have a good day, my friend.

  3. What a fascinating post. And I CANNOT WAIT for your new series! The sod house doesn’t sound so great, but the series sounds awesome!

    • Hi Elisabeth…….Always makes me smile to see come over. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Nope, no sod house for me, thank you very much. Those and dugouts were little more than a badger hole in the dirt. But then the people lived pretty much as the wild animals did. Ha!

      I’m glad the new series intrigues you. It can’t come soon enough for me. I want all my readers to know about this proud family that never knows the meaning of the word quit. 🙂

  4. I’m afraid I’m to in love with green spaces and trees to think I could have endured this barren landscape. I’m thinking that sweeping those dirt floors would have been endless and frustrating work.
    A very informative blog. I wish you great success with your new series, Men of Legend.

    • Hi Sarah…….Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s great to see you. Absolutely. Barren landscape doesn’t have much to recommend it. I hated living there for that reason alone. The people were great though and I had my three kids and raised them there. Lordy, it’s hot in the summer! And sweeping dirt floors is not my idea of keeping house. Dirt had to get in your lungs, your food, your water. I can’t even imagine. That wouldn’t have been a very good existence.

      I’m glad my Legend men have intrigued you.

  5. This post does take the romance out of this way of life. The location today may be nice and I am sure it was appealing back then, but it had to be a hard and lonely existence.

    • Good morning, Pat……..Thank you for coming to visit. It thrilled me to see your name pop up. I feel you’re an old friend. Yep, Wichita County and North Texas in general isn’t very romantic. It takes a special kind of person to see the beauty in the stark land. I think it would’ve been a really hard existence and only the hardiest survived.