Below is an article in my notebook of ‘Briles’ information given to me by Mildred Barby. This is an interesting tale of a nighttime ride across the panhandle of Oklahoma.
The Southwest Daily Times (Liberal, KS)
Nov 17, 1966
Lon Briles, Now of Adams, Okla. Tells of Interesting Early Day Experience in Okla. Panhandle
Lon Briles, who came to this area in 1904, and who now lives in Adams, Okla., is writing a series of articles regarding interesting events which have occurred in his lifetime.
Mr. Briles was born near Neodesha, in Wilson County, Kansas, in 1885, his parents having been Rev. Nathan and Susan Briles. His mother, Rev. Susan Briles, was one of the founders of the South Church of God here, she having passed away over twenty years ago.
Mr. Briles tells of hardships he experienced as a young lad, having to work hard, and being homesick as only a young boy could be in a strange country among strange people.
His story includes the joys and heartaches of school days, financial stress, sickness and death in the family. There were better days, too. Memories of good times fishing, hunting, literaries, dancing and prairie music, tent meetings and many other exciting events with friends.
One interesting story has to do with his experience when he first came to this part of the country with a wagon train from southern Oklahoma, when he was nineteen.
He was too young to file on land that he wanted, but could contest the land that he had chosen to homestead. It was Beaver County Okla. then, now Texas County.
After coming all the way out here, he was told the situation of land laws. Just barely arriving and finding the land he wanted, he directly mounted a borrowed horse and rode all night to try and catch a friend who had started that morning to file for land in No-Man’s Land, at the land office in Woodward, Okla.
This friend, Elmer Vaughn, now of Liberal, was not only needed as a witness, but as moral support.
Young Briles trusted his horse to carry him safely through the night over this unfamiliar country. It was an exceptionally dark night, hardly a star to guide or light the way.
As they were riding along, the horse stopped abruptly and wouldn’t go any farther. Getting down on hands and knees and feeling his way, suddenly he sensed there was emptiness just a few feet beyond.
He decided he was on a high cliff. Standing there looking into the dark hollow, he wa bewildered and lost, because he had taken his eyes off the start that he had been following.
As he stared there in the blackness, he heard cattle bellowing near by, and then caught a glimpse of a light twinkling far below.
He called out in a loud voice hoping some one would hear him. A man appeared in his night shirt, lantern in hand. He called out his plight and the man called back, directing him to a deep worn wagon track which would bring him down from the cliff to his ranch.
He invited him to stay the night, saying he didn’t think he could make the journey in the night. But young Briles knew he must go on if there was a chance at all to catch his friend at Beaver City at sun-up.
He rode on hard, asking settlers along the way who lived in adobe houses and dug-outs if they had seen a man of the friend’s description. He found where the friend had mad camp that night, the embers still burning.
He was worn out from the long ride and the horse was badly wire-cut and worn out too. Doubt crept in his mind as to whether he would ever catch up with him at all.
He looked back as he heard some one calling. It was a stranger who had heard that he was trying to catch up with a friend, whom they had seen pass that way about an hour before.
He said, “Ride to that high hill over there and wait. He has gone down in that deep canyon and will have to come out not far from the hill. Your only chance to catch him is to try to call to him when he stops to open the gate.”
The hill was quite sizable now in the morning light. It was chilly and there wasn’t any wind, which would make it easier to be heard.
He rode on fast to the top of the hill over looking the canyon, getting there just in time, as he saw the wagon coming out of the canyon. He wondered what his friend would say when he saw him riding his horse, which was all lathered and ridden hard all night.
He called at the top of his lungs when Elmer got off his wagon to open the gate. It was sheer luck that he was able to make him hear. It was a happy reunion! A long and difficult journey still laid ahead, but with a lot of luck and willpower they managed to make the best of it.
Many events (there after) occurred in the life of Mr. riles.
He was married to Elsie Miller in Liberal in March 1907. She had come to this country as a young girl with her brother, Clyde Miller, who homesteaded in the Oklahoma Panhandle, when long horn cattle still had free range.
Mr. and Mrs. Briles were the parents of nine children, the first two having passed away very young. Mr. and Mrs. Briles retired form farming operations several years ago, and now reside in Adams, Okla.