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(picture on previous page) J.B. and Celia Masten Family; 13 of 15 children shown (Gillar was married; Buddy
had deceased). The year is about 1895 based on size of youngest child, Leona born in 1890. In later years,
a porch was added on the north side of house which joined the porch shown here on the east side. The
house burned in 1946-47 after Celia and J.B. had both deceased.
The first eleven of the children were born in Dade County, Missouri while the remainder were born in Cooke County,
Texas. The family moved to Texas in late 1884 - probably in the same trip with J.B.'s father, Wyle and his family.
J.B. and Celia's youngest child was less than a year old, and the others were all less than 15. In later years, one of the
sons told his children that the family had come to Texas "in a covered wagon when he was a small boy, and that they
had a great time - most of the boys walked rather than rode - and they ran around in the prairie free as the wind".
J.B. and Celia Masten worked hard, and they acquired a fairly large estate during their lifetime. When J.B. died on
June 24, 1927, they owned over 900 acres of prime farm land - and there were no debts or mortgages due on any of
the property. The estimated value of the estate was $100,000. At present day levels, this may not seem like a huge
amount, but in 1927, it certainly was.
Several different crops were grown on the Masten farm: wheat, oats, corn, and cotton. Such diversity meant that J.B.
and Celia probably always had some successful harvests in spite of erratic results which are so often a part of farming.
Nevertheless, farm life was hard. The story is told that while J.B. and the boys worked in the fields, Celia and the girls
all worked at the house. When lunch was ready, Celia would go out and ring the dinner bell. The mules - or horses -
would automatically turn and head for the barn.
Although the 1860 Tennessee Census indicates that J.B. had attended school, it's believed that he didn't complete very
much formal education - the family stories are that he actually couldn't read or write. (It's said that Celia would read
legal documents to him and, if they were acceptable, then his signature was simply his "mark", an "X".) Nevertheless,
J.B. was quite a businessman - in addition to the farms, we believe that he also owned the first coalfired, steam-driven
threshing machine in Era (and maybe in the entire county). It's quite impressive that J.B. & Celia moved the family to
Texas - for a new start in a new location - at a time when J.B. was already around 40 years old. We don't know how
long he was physically active on his farms, but he may have worked only 20 to 25 years, yet they amassed a sizable
estate in a relatively short time.
John Baxter Masten died on June 24, 1927. We believe that he worked that day at his threshing machine, got sick,
and died later that evening at home. After his death, Celia Ann remained on the family farm. She became the land
lord for the farms that were operated by her children. During the harvest season, she would sit in her automobile and
keep records of the number of loads of harvested grain that was threshed.
Celia Ann died on April 26, 1940. Both J.B. and Celia Ann are buried at the Era cemetery. Today, there are no
Masten heirs living on any of J.B. and Celia's original 900+ acres, and there are no heirs in Cooke County with the
Masten name (although there are heirs with other names).
Celia Masten & Children June, 1927 at time of J.B. Masten funeral
Back Row: Jessie, Clint, Lewis, Wiley, Henry, Monroe, Perry,
Front Row: Johnie, Minnie, Celia (Mother), Viola, Gillar, Jeff
(Leona was unable to attend funeral due to pregnancy)