vintage picture of Mr & Mrs PayneDavid D. Payne was born in Cooke County, Texas, November 25, 1871, to Robert Treat Payne, a descendant of the signer of the Constitution, and Melinda Peery Payne. Robert Treat Payne had been one of the early pioneers in this area and had helped to locate the 100th meridian before the war in 1857. He had come with his family to Greer County, Oklahoma, by 1889, when Texas claimed that part of the state. There they made their home for some time.

By 1890, Robert Treat Payne had bought a small ranch on Graham Creek, south of Mobeetie, Texas, and put a few cattle on this land. David came that year—by horseback—to Texas to bring part of the cattle from Greer County. He thought he would just visit here and help take care of his father’s cattle, but before too long, David was cowboying and liking the country better all of the time.

By the time he was twelve years of age, he had worked and made the fine sum of $15.00, and so David invested this in a cow—his first livestock. He was the co-owner of this animal, being in partnership with his brother, and this started David in what was to be a lifetime business in cattle.

His first brand was BP on the left side. This, however, was not a registered brand, so when someone else took that brand, David changed to 7 Bar. In time, that brand was taken by someone else, so he branded S6 until 1924 when he took the Tripple Y and registered this one. He operated his cattle interests for the next 24 years with this brand.

In 1908, David married Jennie Smith of Quanah, Hardeman County, Texas. They began their married life by moving out onto the river where in 1900 David had bought some land. He now had a good start in the cattle business and had bought two sections of land. At each chance he had, he would either buy more land or file on Stat School Land (Bar C Ranch) and increase his holdings. He worked hard, lived frugally, and paid on his purchases.

There was a dugout on the river place when he and his bride came to their new home, and so they lived in this dwelling the first year. They were very happy, working together and dreaming of what they could achieve together. By the end of the first year, when they sold their yearlings, they were able to build a house on the place. This house is still standing and has been in use on the ranch ever since it was built.

Canadian Texas Merchant StoreThe nearest town was Miami, some twenty-five miles away; however, the Paynes did most of their trading in Canadian, as they found they had better protection for traveling if a norther came up while they were making the trip to town. They only went to town a few times a year.

David recalled that all of his early years were busy, busy paying for the land he bought. At every opportunity he acquired more and more land. Life was not exactly easy, but they did not consider that their hardships were great. He told of his first winter on the ranch, before Jennie came to live there, when he lived in the dugout alone. He had no one to talk to, and all he had to read was a small dictionary, so he applied himself to that. To the day of his death, he could usually pronounce any word, spell it correctly, and give the meaning to most of them.

In 1914, David invested in a Ford sedan for $600.00, which allowed the Paynes' to go to town almost every Saturday.

By 1929, the Paynes, by their frugality and good business sense, had acquired 11 sections of land and had prospered to the extent that they decided to build a home in Miami. This home they kept until Jennie died in September 1936.

Texas Panhandle RanchingIn 1940, David married Nona Shelton Wilcoxon and took her to the ranch to live. David was still a young man of 69, so they planned to live a few years more on the ranch before retiring. In 1940, they built a new home on the ranch where they continued to live until David decided to retire in 1958 at the age of 87. At this time, they leased out the ranch, sold all of their cattle, and for the first time in 75 years, David was out of the cattle business. They bought a home in Pampa, Texas, and moved to town to stay.

David still drove his car and was very active for a man of his age. Until the time of his death, he stayed mentally alert, was interested in all changes going on in the world. He read as long as his eyesight permitted him to do so, and then when his eyesight failed, he was able to keep abreast of the times via radio, television, and by others reading to him.

Through his years of ranching, Mr. Payne normally ran about 600 head of cattle year round. The most cattle he remembers having for any length of time was about 900 head. He usually shipped his cattle to Kansas City and went with them by train. Mr. Payne still owned his 19 section ranch on the Canadian River north of Miami, in Roberts County, Texas, at the time of his death on May 25, 1969 at the age of 97 years.

Cowboy Hall Of FameThe Payne-Kirkpatrick Memorial Building at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is a memorial to Mr. Payne. He was also elected as a Great Westerner in the Hall of Fame there.

Nona Shelton was born June 14, 1889 in Bloomfield, Iowa to Miller A. and Elizabeth Smith Shelton. She attended school in Bloomfield and worked in Enid, Oklahoma, Wichita Falls, Texas and Amarillo, Texas. She married David Payne on May 4, 1940 in Mangum, Oklahoma and moved to the ranch where she lived until his retirement in 1958. She was a life member and benefactor of National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where she was an honorary director and trustee.


Buffalo Bill Sculpture

Mrs. Payne became friends with the Cowboy Hall when she began a project to memorialize her husband. She partnered with John Kirkpatrick to build the great Payne-Kirkpatrick Memorial, and along with Jasper Ackerman, she built the great Buffalo Bill statue. The David D. and Nona S. Payne Foundation, Inc. also contributed to the End Of The Trail Pavilion.

Nona was a life member of the Panhandle Heritage association and a director, a life member of Boy Scouts of America, Policemen’s Asso., Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, Future Farmers of America, and member of First Christian Church. Mrs. Payne took a great interest in the Pampa High School Choir and Band. In 1978 she established two trusts that continue to give a $1000 scholarship each year to one choir student and one band student at Pampa High School. The Pampa High School Band continues to pay tribute every year by designating their spring concert as the Nona Payne Concert. In her life, Mrs. Payne gave generously of her time and money to every worthy cause in the Panhandle area.


Payne Memorial Plaque